John and Julie (Houle) Benoit
John (1847 – 1903) and Julie (1845 – 1903) were both born in Quebec and came to the US as young people. There are some conflicting census records, but it appears Julie’s family emigrated when she was a toddler and several of her younger siblings were born in Illinois.
John and Julie married when they were both about 30 years old. Both were very devout Catholics and were parishoners at Notre Dame de Chicago, their local church on the Near West Side. John was a shoemaker and apparently fairly successful in his profession.
We have no way of knowing why, but the couple never had any children (Julie lists no children born on the 1900 census). Both died just a few months apart in their late 50s, Julie in July and John in December.
John made out a very thorough will in October of 1903, and from its tone, it seems safe to infer that he was not in good health at that time and likely expected he would follow Julie soon.
His will very carefully outlined his wishes for his own funeral and for his and Julie’s burial plot, but he left only two bequests — for the Little Sisters of the Poor (les Petites Soeurs des Pauvres) and his executor. He left the rest of his estate to his church.
It seems there was some particular fondness for the Little Sisters as the will also specified that order members ride in the first carriage in his funeral procession. This may mean something I’m not understanding, so if anyone has insight on that, I’d be interested to know. He doesn’t mention any family at all, though at least a few of Julie’s siblings lived nearby.
This is not the original monument that was placed for Julie. The will ordered that monument removed and a new one erected between the two plots at a cost of $1,000 (about $32K today). A codicil specified that Louis Bouchard, an undertaker, should oversee all the funeral and burial arrangements. It’s unclear who had this marker designed, but I imagine conversations took place with either his executor or M. Bouchard.