FORGET DUVERGER, JACQUES-FRANÇOIS, priest, missionary; originally from the diocese of Angers (dept. of Maine-et-Loire), France; d. after 1764 in France.
Jacques-François Forget Duverger was ordained a priest in the spring of 1753. Shortly afterwards he was sent to the seminary of Quebec by the Séminaire des Missions Étrangères in Paris, which was intending to post him to the Sainte-Famille mission among the Tamaroas at Cahokia (East St Louis, Ill.). The superiors in Quebec were well satisfied with the new recruit, their colleagues in Paris writing the following year: “We are quite delighted that his character is agreeable to you and we bless the Lord for having preserved him in his favourable sentiments towards the missions; we are firmly convinced that they will be strengthened in his contact with you. Our kindest regards to this dear gentleman.” When the letter, dated 28 April 1754, reached Quebec, Forget had already set out to join the Tamaroas. He had left on 22 April with Lieutenant Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros* de Léry, who had been detailed to take a detachment of troops to Fort Detroit. The expedition reached its destination on 6 August, and Forget set off again on 3 September for his own post.
The Sainte-Famille mission consisted at that time of an Indian village and a small French establishment called Cahokia or Kaokia. Two missionaries were there already: Nicolas Laurent, the superior and the bishop of Quebec’s vicar general, and Joseph Gagnon. Both died in 1759, and Forget was left alone. When the news of the cession of Canada reached him at the end of 1763, the unhappy missionary was panic-stricken. Convinced that the British would confiscate church property, he took it upon himself to sell to two traders in the region, Jean-Baptiste Lagrange and Pierre-Étienne Marafret Layssard, all the mission’s belongings – the house, four square leagues of land, two mills, and even 12 black slaves – for 32,500 livres, a sum much below their real value. The contracts, which were signed on 5 Nov. 1763, stipulated that the buyers would pay in six annual instalments, due not to the Quebec seminary but to the seminary in Paris, for which the missionary claimed to have power of attorney. After this splendid achievement Forget fled to New Orleans, whence he sailed for France on 6 Feb. 1764.
Jacques-François Forget Duverger was severely condemned by his superiors, who quite rightly refused to ratify a sale made without authorization of any sort. In the autumn of 1764 Forget retired to Candé (dept. of Maine-et-Loire), France, and what became of him after that is not known. As for the buyers of the belongings of the Tamaroa mission, Lagrange and Layssard, the former died insolvent some time later and the other disappeared without leaving any trace. Needless to say the seminaries of Quebec and Paris never received the least payment for the property disposed of by Forget. Steps were taken to obtain annulment of the transaction of 5 Nov. 1763, but they produced no results.
ASQ, Lettres, M, 122–26; P, 122, 123; Missions, 20, 23, 25, 26, 30, 32–40; Polygraphie, XIX, 54; XXVI, 42; Séminaire, VIII, 28, 38; XI, 23–23b. [G.-J. Chaussegros de Léry], “Journal de Joseph-Gaspard Chaussegros de Léry, lieutenant des troupes, 1754–1755,” APQ Rapport, 1927–28, 355–429. JR (Thwaites), LXX, 292; LXXI, 37. Old Cahokia: a narrative and documents illustrating the first century of its history, ed. J. F. McDermott (St Louis, Mo., 1949).