Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Edward Church Dubois Family

Edward Church Dubois' French Grammar Book
   I was contacted today by a member of the family of the descendants of Edward Church, Jr. by his French wife Marie Phillipe Dubois. This branch of the Edward Church family traces its roots to the marriage between Edward Church, Jr. and Marie Phillipe Dubois in Paris in the early 1800s. That marriage produced five children to include a son named Edward Church. The Church Dubois Family identifies Marie as an actress. If true, that certainly influences the reaction that marriage would have brought in very early nineteenth century France.*
   Edward Church, Jr. while still presumably married to Marie Phillipe, then, for some unknown reason, married Elizabeth Bentley in England, without divorcing Marie Phillipe. This Church family's lore has it that Elizabeth Bentley Church's father, learning of the bigamous marriage to Marie Dubois, financed a move for the Elizabeth Bentley Church family (to include the son Edward Bentley Church), to Kentucky, far from English society. The Church Dubois family is at a loss to explain Edward Jr.'s behavior and is as perplexed as the rest of us have become. Some speculate that it was Elizabeth Bentley's father who commissioned the portrait of the Church family by Vallin to somehow bizarrely document Edward's transgressions. But then, the Church women would have had to have been very desperate to go along with it. And would Edward, Jr. countenance it?
   Edward Church, the son of  the union between Edward Church, Jr. and Marie Dubois was born in St. Germaine, France on December 9th, 1806, migrated to Northampton Massachusetts circa 1844 and, in 1844, copyrighted a grammar book titled "Church's French Spoken." Edward then moved to London and married  Emma Davison there in 1845. He returned with his wife to the United States; their first child, Edward Church, was born in Cambridge, Mass in 1846. He arranged to have his grammar book printed in Philadelphia and then moved to that city. Unfortunately, his son, Edward, died there in July 1847. Overcome with grief, Edward and Emma moved back to London where their second son, also named Edward Church, was born in 1848. They returned to the United States in 1853.  In 1857, in New York City, Edward Church published his second French grammar book. Believing that the name "Church" had been a detriment to the sale of the first book, Edward decided to adopt his mother's maiden name, Dubois, and published and copyrighted the French grammar as "E.C. Dubois's System of Teaching French."
   The Church family then decided to continue with Edward's family name change and to this day refer to themselves as the "Church Dubois" Family.
   The Church Dubois family now has its roots in Rhode Island, returning to the state where the patriarch of the Church family, Col Benjamin Church, spent most of his life. Edward Church Dubois, the French Grammar author's son, was educated in Rhode Island, practiced law in Boston, but then moved to Rhode Island. where he served as Attorney General from 1894 to 1897 and as Associate and then Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court from 1899 to 1914.
Edward Church Dubois

  I wonder what the Colonel and the Deacon would have made of this.
                      There are family histories and there are family histories! 
* The following is from an essay by Lenard R. Berlanstien, Professor of History at the University of Virginia, on the perception of French actresses in France in the nineteenth century and a specialist on the subject:
In France women were banned from the stage until the early seventeenth century, and for the next two hundred years, respectable people held them at arm's length. Compared with developments in other countries, French acceptance of women on stage as normal and desirable required a particularly protracted and contentious struggle between advocates of enlightenment and those of morality...Starting in the eighteenth century, French opinion makers began to say that men could appear on stage honorably but women could not.


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