John Gilbert Tourville b 21 April 1879

John Gilbert Tourville was born 21 April, 1879, Chateaugay, NY, the third of eight children of Charles Tourville and Maria Angeline Langevin.  He was baptized 5 May 1879 in Hitchinbrooke, Quebec.  His godfather was Gilbert Gireau. They were counted in the 1880 census in New York.

Probably the next year, Charles moved the family to Colorado.  They were counted in the 1885 state census in Eagle County.  The family lived in and near the mining town of Leadville. This would have made them neighbors, more or less, of Margaret Tobin who married James Brown.  Interestingly, in the movie, she called her husband “Johnny” not James.  And while she went by Maggie in real life, the movie was called “Unsinkable Molly Brown.”

In 1900, the Tourville family lived in the town of Lakes. 

The 1902 Leadville city directory lists John Tourville as a driver for F.E Brown and Co, living in rooms at 309 East 8th.  (As of May 2006, that building no longer exists.) 

About 1907, John married Elsie Stapleton Patch from Nebraska.  They had two children – Chester, born in Colorado, and Thelma born in Nebraska.  In 1910, the family was in Lakes with his parents.  In 1913, John bought a bakery.  He also received a divorce from Elsie, in Eagle County, on 3 October 1913. 

The 1920 census from Salida, Chaffee, CO lists John G. Tourville, age 41, as running a boarding house.  There is no wife listed, but he has a son (possibly Chester age 11) and daughter, Thelma A, age 8.  He is listed as divorced. John G Tourville rented his home at 118 ½ F street.

The family also lived in Idaho at some time.  On 18 August 1926, the Canadian Immigration Service recorded John and daughter Thelma crossing from the US into Canada at the Port of Kingsgate, BC.  Thelma’s birthplace is listed as Stella, Nebraska.  John was listed as a US citizen of French descent.  His home town looks like “Slaby City” NY.  Do you suppose that is “Chateaugay”?  John’s occupation was farming, and his destination was Edmonton, Alberta.   They were listed as “from Idaho” and Kingsgate port of entry is on the ID/BC border. 

I have not located the family in the 1930 census, but according to the obituary of his father Charles, John was living in Glenwood Springs.  He bought property in Mitchell Creek for “one dollar and other valuable considerations”.  The family also lived in Idaho at some time, according to another descendant.

John married Mary Alice Messer about 1935. Some Internet sites list Mary Alice Mosser as his children’s mother.  However, since the date of divorce from Elsie is after they were born, and  since Allie Tourville is the one who arranged his funeral – she should be his second wife, not first.  Allie was actually Mary Alice Wyatt, widow of Andrew Jackson Messer, and mother of about a dozen children, all of whom were adults by the time she married John. 

His mother’s obituary in 1939, and his brother Williams’ in 1942 both list him as a resident of Glenwood Springs.  John moved to Rangely, CO about 1946. 

John’s niece Loretta wrote of John in 1974:   “John went to Idaho and acquired property and was a plumber, and carpenter.  He married and had a boy and a girl, I do not know the girl’s name, the boy was Chester.  After William left grandad’s farm at Glenwood, his brother John sold out in Idaho and came with his son Chester and his family to run the fruit farm.  He inherited the whole thing when Granddad died.  Uncle John died in the 1950’s at Rangely, Colorado where he had finally settled after selling the property at Glenwood.  When my father (William) died, Uncle John came to his funeral.  He seemed like a nice man and this is the only time we ever saw him.    At that time he asked us to go to the Orphanage in Denver and visit three of his grand children and see how they were being treated.” 

[After the divorce of John’s son Chester, the children were adopted out, in about 1944.]

John died 15 November 1949 in Rangely.  His wife Allie arranged the funeral through Burdge mortuary, and secured the costs by his estate.  His father’s funeral costs had been paid mostly with firewood, berries, apples, and rabbits.  I don’t know if Allie used similar methods.  John was listed as a carpenter.  He was buried at Rosebud Cemetery in Colorado Springs. 

Glenwood Post Thursday Nov 17, 1949 Vo 60, No 46, front page: 


John Tourville of Rangely passed away there Wednesday morning.  He has lived in Rangely for the past three years and prior to that time he made his home in Glenwood.  His body will be sent here for funeral services and burial.  The services will be held Sunday afternoon at the Burdge Mortuary with the Rev. J. D. Hargis reading the service.  Burial will be made at Rosebud cemetery.


1 Comment

  1. Linda Davis said,

    August 17, 2016 at 16:46

    In the spring of 2001, I was in a discount bread store in Medford, Oregon and an older woman, Violet Cox and I began conversing in line. She lived in nearby Jacksonville, but she was from Glenwood Springs. I medtioned that my Tourville ancestors had lived there. She said that she knew a Mrs. Tourville. She had rented a house from her and her son “Med” Merideth Cox and Mrs. Tourville’s son Dick Messer were best friends. She also remembered a Tourville grocery.

    There was a Richard Messer Birth: 11 Jul 1910 in Strunk, KY
    Death: 11 Sep 1958 in Glenwood Springs Garfield Co Col
    Burial: Rosebud Cem, Glenwood Springs Garfield Co Col
    He was killed in a motor vehicle crash.

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