CROWN POINT - Blanchard, Charboneau, Curtis, Duval, Genier, LaPointe, Martin, Nadeau, St. Pierre, Trombley, Trudeau.
If any of those surnames is found in your family tree, you may have French ancestry, like 40 percent of people living in the Lake Champlain region. The French were the first Europeans to settle in Essex County, so it follows that some of their descendents might still live in this area.
But what were the seasonal routines of life for the French inhabitants who settled, more than 250 years ago, within a few miles of today's Champlain Bridge?
This question will be answered during a 1 p.m. presentation by Andr Senecal in the museum auditorium at Crown Point State Historic Site on Saturday, Oct. 31.
Pointe la Chevelure -"Scalp Point" in English - is the original French place name for both Chimney Point on the Champlain lakeshore in Addison County, Vt., and for nearby Fort St. Fr d ric at Crown Point during the 1740s and 1750s. In this place today the two states are united by the Champlain Bridge.
French settlers here had to clear land, grow wheat, cut and stock wood, raise livestock and - for 75 percent of the men - lead a soldier's life at Pointe la Chevelure. The public is invited to come and find out how this was done and how the inhabitants of this place worked with the seasonal rhythms of the Lake Champlain valley, a natural calendar which corresponded perfectly with the calendar of the Christian church: a ciphered cycle that incorporated a celebration of the life of Christ and an explanation of all history. No admission fee will be collected.
Senecal, a professor of French and Quebec Studies in the Department of Romance Languages at the University of Vermont, will illustrate the topic using PowerPoint. Shortly before joining the faculty at UVM, he earned his advanced degrees at the University of Massachusetts in the 1970s. While at the Burlington campus, Senecal has been a researcher who specialized in the early French settlement on Lake Champlain, such as at Fort St. Fr d ric and its environs.
Senecal's scholarship into the rise and fall of the 18th century French settlements (Domaine du Roy and Seigneurie de Hocquart) at Crown Point and Addison, Bridport, and Panton, Vt., have introduced a generation of Vermonters to a history that had become nearly forgotten. His far-reaching research from the archives of Quebec and Ottawa and Paris now provides a glimpse into everyday life at Pointe la Chevelure during the era of New France.
"Dr. Senecal is now moving to Idaho, so Crown Point State Historic Site is especially pleased to have the opportunity to host his public lecture as the close of this 2009 Champlain quadricentennial year approaches," said Tom Hughes, site manager.
Crown Point State Historic Site is located at the north end of Bridge Road, right beside the southern approach to the Champlain Bridge. There is free parking near the auditorium.
Crown Point State Historic Site encompasses two registered National Historic Landmarks and is one of 36 historic sites and 170 parks operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. For more information call 597-4666 or go on line at at www.nysparks.com/historic-sites/.