Charles Bouchard's Journal

Poem titled "La Prière" or "The Prayer"
Poem titled "La Prière" or "The Prayer"

When I was growing up, usually 3-4 times a year my family would pile into our 1991 Ford Aerostar van to hit the road and visit my grandparents in New Mexico. I have vivid memories of sitting in the backseat and watching the landscape all around us transform into the empty red desert of the Southwest. One of the first members of my mom’s family to settle in that part of the world was my great-great-great-great grandfather, Charles Bouchard. This is a poem from his journal that my mom discovered buried in my grandparent’s attic a few years ago. Charles used the journal to document his experience immigrating to the United States from Quebec, Canada after his parents died when he was 14. He traveled nearly 700 miles by ox train on his way to join his uncle in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where he would go on to become a drug store owner, wagon master, local politician, and probate judge. 
Charles was a natural storyteller. His journal is full of dramatic entries about his run-ins with outlaws and native americans. My mom can still remember stories her grandfather would tell her about Charles that sound like the plot of several John Wayne movies. Charles had a penchant for the kind of romantic flowery language he used in this poem from April 19, 1863 titled, “La Prière” or “The Prayer”. The middle stanza translates to: On the beach of a lake surrounded by greenery. When the bird perched for the solitary night. When the green foliage mingles in the prairie water. We did well to pray. 

Place(s): Canada,New Mexico
Year: 1860

– Tom Powers

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more