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WURTELE, JOSIAS, merchant, landowner, and seigneur; b. 11 April 1760 at Strümpfelbach (Federal Republic of Germany), son of Jacob and Elisabetha Wurtele; m. first Catherine Andrews, and they had ten children; m. secondly 30 April 1814 Eleonor Ramsay at Quebec, and they had at least two children; d. 30 May 1831 in Montreal.

Several members of the Wurtele family immigrated to the province of Quebec in the 1780s. Some chose to settle in Montreal but Josias, like his brother John, picked Quebec where his uncle Jonathan Eckart, who sold tobacco and sundries, was living. Eckart owned a house and retail business on Rue Buade which Josias inherited in 1795. The next year Wurtele added to his property by buying a house on Rue Saint-Louis and obtaining the grant of a lot on that street from the Ursulines. In 1799 he paid £500 for his brother’s house, which was also on Rue Buade. Later Wurtele purchased two lots in the faubourg Saint-Jean, one stone house at the corner of Rue Saint-Stanislas and Rue Sainte-Anne, and another in the faubourg Saint-Vallier. He also acquired two stone houses in the faubourg Saint-Laurent in Montreal.

In 1800 Wurtele began buying land in the Eastern Townships. He sought out chiefly militia veterans who had each received a 400-acre lot there from the government for their service in the War of American Independence. In this race for land Wurtele joined forces with John Savage, whose task was to explore the townships and advise Wurtele on the quality of the land as well as the price of lots. The two men split profits and losses. Over a ten-year period Wurtele bought 50,245 acres in this way, mainly in the townships of Windsor, Granby, Somerset, and Milton, but also in those of Chester, Auckland, Stoke, Nelson, Halifax, and Grantham. As well, in 1830 he owned five lots totalling 860 acres in Gloucester and Hawkesbury townships, Upper Canada.

In addition, Wurtele had his eye on seigneurial properties. On 5 Oct. 1808 he paid the sheriff of the district of Trois-Rivières £1,300 for the seigneury of Deguire, which had been seized from the estate of William Grant*. Then on 28 Oct. 1822 he paid a similar amount for the adjoining seigneury of Bourg-Marie-Est, with its manor-house, sawmills, and flourmills.

Wurtele made sure that his real estate investments returned a profit. Thus, in January 1809 he sued some residents of Bourg-Marie-Est seigneury and Upton Township for cutting wood on his lands. That month he hired a habitant to fell pine and spruce trees suitable for masts on the Deguire domain and deliver them to him at Quebec. In February he started construction of a flour-mill on the domain. He built a spacious manor-house on it in 1812, and a sawmill some years later. On his land in Windsor Township he erected a house and sawmill which he rented out. Wurtele left the management of his property in the hands of his estate agents, who looked after the collection of various dues, lods et ventes, cens et rentes, rental fees, or other moneys owing.

Wurtele lived on Rue Buade at Quebec, where he attended to his retail business. From 1815 till 1819 he was in partnership with Pierre Rochette, a merchant in the faubourg Saint-Jean. Wurtele had also opened a general store on the Deguire seigneury with an inventory valued at £925 0s. 9d. in 1814. He retired from business in 1819, handing his store on Rue Buade over to his eldest son, Jonathan. He went to live on the seigneury and from there continued to advise his son. Later he moved to one of his properties in the faubourg Saint-Laurent in Montreal, where he died.

In his will Josias Wurtele bequeathed all his possessions to his wife, the children born of his two marriages, and his grandchildren. By its terms the estate was to be managed by certain members of the family in the interests of the others. The seigneuries of Deguire and Bourg-Marie-Est, the core of the estate, went to Jonathan with the proviso that he was under no circumstances to let them go to anyone outside the family. Wurtele’s three other sons received the lots in the townships, a total of 46,929 acres. His daughters, the grandchildren, and Mme Wurtele shared the money and the other landed properties. Only his direct descendants were beneficiaries since Wurtele made no charitable bequests.

Céline Cyr

ANQ-M, CE1-63, 1er juin 1831; CN1-187, 12 avril 1830; 14–15, 19–24 juill. 1831. ANQ-Q, CE1-61, 30 avril 1814; CN1-178, 18 avril 1795; 9 juill., 8 août 1799; 29 mars, 18 juill., 27 août 1800; 10, 12 janv., 13, 16 févr., 20, 23–24, 28, 30–31 mars, 5 avril, 14 sept. 1801; 20 nov. 1802; 21 janv., 5, 28 févr. 1803; 12 mars, 12 juin 1804; 31 juill. 1805; 26 sept. 1807; 13, 16 sept. 1815; CN1-230, 18 août, 1er sept. 1796; 14 août 1801; 29 oct. 1802; 14 avril, 1er oct. 1803; 26 janv., 30 avril, 8 juin 1804; 17 janv., 18 févr., 9 oct. 1805; 11, 15 févr. 1806; 11, 22, 27 juin 1808; 27 janv., 9 févr. 1809; 5 nov. 1810; 17 mai 1811; 10, 28 févr., 10 juill. 1812; 25–29 avril, 5 mai 1814; 13 nov. 1815; 24 févr. 1816; 30 mars 1818; P-279. Quebec Gazette, 20 March 1806; 24 March, 29 April, 13 May 1819.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Céline Cyr, “WURTELE, JOSIAS,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed April 16, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/wurtele_josias_6E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/wurtele_josias_6E.html
Author of Article: Céline Cyr
Title of Article: WURTELE, JOSIAS
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1987
Year of revision: 1987
Access Date: April 16, 2014