Benoit Pelletier
Philip C. Pelkey, 1827-1892: Nicolet, Quebec and Concord, NH
Mon Jun 26, 2017 11:01


Also known as Philippe Pelletier.


The spelling "Pelkey" reflects the French pronunciation of "Pelletier."

As Pascal Poirier wrote in "Le glossaire acadien," compiled between 1875 and 1925:

"The name 'Pelletier' — into which enters the palatalized syllable 'ti' —, sounds, in the Province of Québec, so close to 'Pelkié' that the name of the world heavyweight boxing champion, [Arthur Pelletier,] a Canadian, is often spelled 'Pelkey' in newspapers throughout New England."

"The official [French] pronunciation of 'Pelletier' comes only from books, introduced into the language by the eyes and not by the ear."


Baptism, St-Jean-Baptiste Parish, Nicolet, P.Q., 1827:

Le trente juin mil huit cent vingt sept par moi Prêtre Vicaire soussigné a été baptisé Charles Antoine Philippe de Néri né de ce matin du légitime mariage d’Antoine Pelletier cordonnier de cette paroisse et de Marie Séraphine Toupin. Ont été parrain et marraine Charles Toupin et Louise Cloutier soussignée oncle et tante de l’enfant. Le père et le parrain ont déclaré ne savoir signer.

Louise Cloutier
H.L. Girouard Ptre Vic


Philippe Pelletier’s ancestor from Gallardon, France, migrated with his wife and two sons to the French colony at Québec in the early 17th century. In 1668, a branch of the Pelletier family known by the byname "Antaya" migrated upstream to the western extreme of Lac Saint-Pierre. They were fur trappers and traders, "coureurs de bois," based in the area of what is now the city of Sorel, some 40 miles northeast of Montréal. By the mid-18th century, many Pelletier-Antaya descendants were established in Sorel, while others had settled around the Great Lakes and in the upper Mississippi River valley, marrying among the native people there. Some descendants who remained in Canada became farmers in the territory east of Sorel, in what is today Baie-du-Febvre and in Nicolet. Philippe’s great-grandfather, born in Baie-du-Febvre, settled in Nicolet in 1745.

Philippe Pelletier was born in Nicolet in June 1827 to cobbler Antoine Antaya dit Pelletier and his wife, Séraphine Toupin, who had married three years before. Their first son had died when Séraphine was six months pregnant for Philippe. Three daughters followed, one of whom survived childhood, and Séraphine Toupin died two days after her last child was born, in August 1832. Philippe was baptized and raised Roman Catholic and belonged to the parish of Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Nicolet.

By 1848, Philippe, whose name means “friend of horses,” had established a leather shop in the center of the village of Nicolet, where he crafted saddles, harnesses and other horse tack. The following year, in October 1849, he married Rosalie Bail, whose father, like Philippe's, was also a cobbler.

In January 1851, Rosalie Bail gave birth to a child who was baptized immediately and who died shortly thereafter. Rosalie died the following day. Both she and her baby were interred in the cemetery at Nicolet.

In May 1851, Philippe married a second time, to Julie Lemaire. They had two sons and a daughter in Nicolet before coming to seek a more secure life in the United States. They settled in Concord, New Hampshire, where there was a thriving harness and horse goods market, which complemented the carriage trade.


Marriage, Saint-Jean-Baptiste Parish, Nicolet, P.Q., 1849:

Le vingt trois octobre mil huit cent quarante neuf vu la dispense de deux bans et la publication du troisième entre Charles Philippe Antaya dit Peltier sellier, fils majeur de Antoine Antaya dit Peltier et de défunte Séraphine Toupin de cette paroisse d'une part; et Rosalie Bail, domiciliée en cette paroisse, fille majeure de Étienne Bail et de défunte Marie Louise Hamel de Bécancour d'autre part; ne s'étant découvert aucun empêchement au dit mariage, nous Vicaire, soussigné, avons reçu leur mutuel consentement de mariage en présence de Charles Toupin et de Zéphirin Pratte et de plusieurs autres soussignés.

Philippe Pelletier
Charles Toupin
Charles Toupin fils
Rosalie Bail
Zéphirin Pratte
P. T. Pratte
J. Macquet ptre


Marriage, Saint-Jean-Baptiste parish, Nicolet, P.Q., Canada, 1851:

Le vingt sept mai mil huit cent cinquante un, vu la publication de deux bans de mariage faite au prône de nos messes paroissiales, et la dispense de la troisième publication entre Philippe Peltier, veuf majeur de Rosalie Bail de cette paroisse d'une part; et de Julie Lemaire, domiciliée en cette paroisse, fille majeur de Olivier Lemaire et de Josephte Belletête d'autre part; ne s'étant découvert aucun empêchement, nous curé soussigné avons reçu leur mutuel consentement de mariage en présence de Antoine Peltier père de l'époux et Olivier Lemaire père de l'épouse qui tous à l'exception de l'époux n'ont su signé.

Philippe Pelletier
Louis-Th. Fortier Ptre


Death Notice, The Daily News, Gardner, Mass., 1892:

In this town, February 24, Philip Pelkey, aged 65 years.


Obituary, The Evening Monitor, Concord, N.H., 1892:

Philip C. Pelkey, a former well known resident of Concord, died suddenly this morning in Gardner, Mass., where he had lived for the past 4 years. He is survived by a widow, 4 sons, Charles E., Oscar G., and Napoleon of this city and Philip of Gardner, and 3 daughters, Mrs. Belisle of Suncook, Mrs. Chester Witham, and Eliza, unmarried. The body will be brought to this city and the funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on Friday.


Memorial obituary, composed Sept. 2016:

Philip C. Pelkey, 64, a native of Canada and a former well-known resident of Concord, N.H., died Feb. 24, 1892, in Gardner, Mass., where he had lived for four years.

Also known in French as Philippe Pelletier, he was born June 30, 1827, in Nicolet, P.Q., Canada, the son of Antoine Antaya dit Pelletier and Séraphine Toupin. He immigrated to N.H. in 1858 with his wife and children.

He was a communicant of Saint-Jean-Baptiste Church in Nicolet and of Saint John the Evangelist Church in Concord.

He was one of 22 founding members of the "Association canadienne-française de Concord," the first fraternal benefits society in N.H., established March 22, 1868, under the leadership of journalist Ferdinand Gagnon.

A lifelong harness maker, Mr. Pelkey operated his own saddlery shop in Nicolet. In Concord, he was cofounder and co-proprietor of the Crocker & Pelkey harness shop, 28-32 Warren St., in operation from 1878 to 1882, with partners Luigi A. Crocker and Fred K. Favor. The partnership dissolved after Mr. Crocker’s death in Dec. 1881. In addition, he was employed by James R. Hill & Co. in Concord for many years and by the G. R. Godfrey Co. in Gardner beginning in 1888.

Mr. Pelkey became a naturalized citizen of the United States on Nov. 1, 1880, at Concord Police Court.

Survivors included his wife, Mrs. Julia (Lemaire) Pelkey of Concord, whom he married May 27, 1851, in Nicolet; four sons, Charles E. Pelkey, Oscar G. Pelkey and Napoleon Pelkey, all of Concord, and Philip A. Pelkey of Gardner; three daughters, Mrs. Celina M. Belisle of Pembroke, N.H., and Miss Eliza A. Pelkey and Mrs. Georgie J. Witham, both of Concord; two grandsons, Oliver E. Pelkey and William C. Pelkey, both of Concord; three granddaughters, Edith A. Belisle, Lena G. Belisle and Eva M. Belisle, all of Pembroke, N.H.; and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his first wife, Rosalie Bail, and their newborn son, in Jan. 1851, as well as by infant siblings, Charles, Marie-Séraphine and Élise, and by a sister, Rose Pelletier, who died at age 12 in 1841.

Temporary entombment preceded burial on April 28, 1892, in the family lot in Calvary Cemetery.


Pelkey family lot at Calvary Cemetery (measuring 10' by 16') purchased May 3, 1892, by son Philip A. Pelkey for $24.00. Headstone appears to have been installed by grandson William C. Pelkey about 1929.

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