Finding the missing child

Researching ancestors is an ongoing process.  There are always records that elude discovery; people for whom you can never answer the question “what happened to them?” Today I am sharing the story and excitement of finally finding a missing child.

The story began when I first started researching the family of Jean Baptiste Bernardin and his wife Marie Charlotte Taillefer.  I wrote about them here.  A distant relative had shared with me one of the books written by Professor Charles Bernardin, who had done  extensive research many years ago.

One thing about the Professor’s research intrigued me.  According to the Professor, Jean Baptiste Bernardin and his wife Marie Charlotte Taillefer had 12 children, yet my research had uncovered 13 children.  The Professor’s list of children had a 4 year gap in birth dates between 1820 and 1824, which was unusual in French Canada.

I had found baptismal certificates for two sons named Charles.  Charles Michel born in 1823 and Charles Jules born in 1837.

Bernardin Charles Michel b1823 baptism excerpt

Baptism of Charles Michel Bernardin 29 Jan 1823, Nicolet (cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste) > Drouin Collection

Bernardin Charles Jules b1837 baptism excerpt

Baptism of Charles Jules Bernardin 27 Feb 1837, Nicolet (cathédrale St-Jean-Baptiste) Drouin Collection

For some reason, the Professor’s research had not uncovered the baptismal record of Charles Michel. Therefore, he believed that his direct ancestor was Charles Jules who had married  Victoire Peloquin in 1854. I questioned that since Charles Jules would have been only 17 years old at the time.  I believed that it was Charles Michel, born in 1823, who married  Victoire.

In addition, the Professor had overlooked the fact that his ancestor’s gravestone gave his initial as M. and his birth date as 1823.

Bernardin Charles Michel b1823 Grave St. Mary's Cemetary

St. Mary’s Cemetery, Lawrence, Massachusetts. Picture posted with the kind permission of Charles (Pete) Bernardin

So what ever happened to Charles Jules, the “missing” child? Other than his baptismal record, I had found no trace of him.  Then recently the Professor’s son found my blog and shared some background documents of his Father’s with me.  One of these was an overview of the Bernardin family written in 1936 by Yvonne Bernardin (Sister St. Lucille), a great-granddaughter of Jean Baptiste Bernardin and Marie Taillefer.  In it she writes of a son called “Gilles” who:

“secretly answered the call for volunteers of the Army of the United States, possibly recruiting for the 1848 War with Mexico.  Only after he had crossed the frontier was his father notified of his intention to join the American Army and nevermore was any news heard of the fugitive.  Conjecture after conjecture as to Gilles’ whereabouts and doings would burn the anguished minds of the afflicted parents whose grief lasted as long as their life.  Many a time the aged sire, ready to partake of his meal, burst into tears at the thought of his prodigal son and turned away without eating a morsel.”

Another document was a memoir by Marie-Louise Hamel (Mrs. Therrien), granddaughter of  Jean Baptiste Bernardin and Marie Taillefer . It includes this:

“Everything was going well when suddenly Gilles, who had military blood in his veins, decided to go off to war in the United States, and unfortunately, never came back, nor was ever heard from again.  This was an enormous grief for his dear parents.  It aged his father and weighed heavily on the soul of his mother, who often used to say to us: “Dear God, if my Gilles is alive, push him toward us.  If he is dead, let his spirit appear before me and tell me where he is.”  It was really very sad for everyone.”

My first thought on reading these documents was that Gilles must be the missing Charles Jules! The names “Gilles” and “Jules” could easily be confused in an oral interview!

The Professor knew of these stories and investigated whether or not a Gilles Bernardin had become a soldier in the United States.  He concluded that these were just family legends and that no such person existed. Of course, there is much more information available now than when the Professor was doing his research.  Plus, he did not know that he was missing a child!

Searching through Civil War records online (Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System) I discovered that a “Julius Bernarden” was a Private in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 47th Regiment.  Using the “United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934” at FamilySearch, I also found out that he had applied for an Invalid Pension. With this information I was able to request his pension records, from NARA (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration).

Pension index

It was months before I received all the files….Eureka!  It’s him! “Julius” Bernardin was born in Nicolet, Lower Canada. He enlisted in the Union Army on June 15, 1861, serving as a Private in the Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 47th Regiment.  He was discharged February 16, 1863 at Point Pleasant, Virginia, his discharge certificate being signed by the surgeon in charge of the General Hospital.

Although all the official government documents list him as “Julius”, he signed his name as “Jueles”.

Bernardin Charles Jules b1837 signature

On April 1, 1863, he applied for an Invalid Pension.  In this application he states:

“that at or near a place called Sewell Mountain [West Virginia] in the month of January 1862, he caught a succession of colds, which resulted from exposure while standing on guard duty; which resulted in lung disease.  That he is by occupation a farmer & unable to perform manual labor, which resulted from this lung disease.”

He was granted a pension of $6 per month. On December 15, 1863 he applied for an increase in his pension, stating that:

“ his disability stated in his former declaration has increased so that he has lost his speech & is so disabled by consumption as not to be able to work.”

On April 8, 1864 he was granted an increased pension of $8 per month. His address is given as 57 East Third St., Cincinnati, Ohio, which turns out to have been a boarding house.

And there the records stop.

I was so hoping that the NARA pension records would record a death date, or at least indicate when pension payments stopped, but alas they don’t.  I have not been able, so far, to find a death date, a burial record or a grave.  Given the state of his health, I expect he died in 1864/65.

I don’t know exactly when he left home.  His father, Jean Baptiste, died in 1857, so he had obviously left by then.

Why did he never contact his family back in Quebec?  A question that will never be answered.

Of all the interesting stories I’ve discovered, I must admit I never expected to find a Civil War soldier in our family’s past.

Here’s a chart showing Mémère’s relationship to Charles Jules Bernardin.

Relationship chart

 

Joseph Noel Taillefer, part 3

Here is my last post about Joseph Noel Taillefer.  Having established that he arrived in Red River in October of 1872 as a member of the third contingent of the Red River Expeditionary Force,  I went looking for newspaper articles about his time here.

On the Manitobia website I found several articles that mention him, mostly in the French language newspaper Le Metis.

He appears to have been well regarded in the French community.  Bishop Tache performed the marriage ceremony on February 3, 1873 on the occasion of Joseph’s marriage to Mary Jane McDermot, daughter of Andrew McDermot, a wealthy and notable merchant in the city.  Didn’t take him long to find a soulmate, did it?

Zouavania says that Andrew McDermot disinherited his daughter for becoming a Catholic.  McDermot was an Irish Catholic who broke with the Church in later life. However, I have read his will at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba, and he did leave both money and land to his daughter Jane.The will was written February 19, 1873 after Jane had married.  Hmm… her married name is not used in the will, unlike her other married sisters.

Joseph and Jane had four children, all born in Manitoba:

Mary Jane who married Gabriel Belanger

Joseph who married Virginie Poitras

Alfred who died in 1890 at the age of 14

Henriette who married Francois Xavier Poitras

In December 1878, Joseph won the provincial election for St. Agathe by acclamation.  Sounds wonderful, except that result led to gunshots and a controversy!  Seems the returning officer declined the nominations for two people running against Joseph, for rather technical reasons.  Supporters of the opponents tracked down the returning officer the next day, a scuffle ensued, and shots were fired.  Joseph was shot in the thigh, and one of the supporters shot also.

St. Agathe election

Manitoba Free Press, December 13, 1878

By January 25, 1879 the Manitoba Gazette was reporting that new nominations were accepted for Taillefer, Mr. Kyne, Mr. John Grant and a Dr. Bedford.  Bedford withdrew before the election on January 29th, and Taillefer won. (I haven’t been able to determine whether this Grant was the John Francis Grant I wrote about here).

In the December 16, 1879 election, Taillefer again won election, this time for the Morris riding. He did not run in the 1883 election.  In 1884  he is listed as the Police Magistrate for Provencher.

Winnipeg Directory 1884

Winnipeg Directory 1884 page 354

Sometime before the 1891 census the family moved to the area of Broadview  in the Assiniboia area of the Northwest Territories (present day Saskatchewan).

The book Holiday rambles between Winnipeg and Victoria by George Bryce, published in 1888, locates Taillefer in the Qu’Appelle Valley:

“At one point of this part of the Qu’appelle is a settlement of French people, two of the settlers, Taillefer and De Cazes, being well-known in Winnipeg as having been in years gone by officers in the Provisional Battalion.”

When Andrew McDermot died in 1881, his daughter Jane was mentioned as Mrs. Taillefer  in the obituary in the Manitoba Free Press. She is also mentioned in the obituary of her sister Annie McDermot Bannatyne in May 1908.

However I believe I know where the story of a disinheritance comes from.

Joseph Taillefer died May 31, 1897.  Here’s his burial record from St Coeur de Marie, Marieval, Saskatchewan that I accessed on FamilySearch.

Taillefer Joseph b1828 burial

Burial record for Joseph Taillefer 3 Jun 1897, St Coeur de Marie, Marieval, Saskatchewan, Canada

On FamilySearch I also found his probate record, which for some reason was not filed until 1906.  It includes a copy of his will dated July 16, 1896, in which he provides for his wife and two of his children (one having already died).  Then he says this:

“My dear children, although your sister Mary Jane is excluded from this will, do not conclude I have cast her from my heart, in acting thus towards her, it has been her lot, freely taken.  Before God I forgave her the way she left me and her home, and I enjoin you in case she would knock at your door to receive her as your sister, and in case she would be left alone, to give her shelter and divide your bread with her.  Moreover you will give her a milking cow valued about twenty dollars.”

Why would Joseph have disinherited his daughter?  Mary Jane Taillefer had married Gabriel Belanger January 30, 1893 at St. Coeur de Marie.  Bishop Tache himself had given a dispensation for the reading of banns, and no impediments to the marriage had been found.

Mary Jane’s brother Joseph was godfather for her first child Marie Josephine.  Was it only her father from whom she was estranged?

Not to fear, family relations must have been restored after Joseph Senior’s death, as Mary Jane’s sister Henriette was godmother for Mary Jane’s son Albert in 1903.

Mary Jane’s brother Alfred who had died in 1890 had property in his own name.  A probate was conducted in 1910 and Mary Jane Taillefer Belanger was included in that arrangement.

I have been able to track Mary Jane and her husband Gabriel Belanger in the 1901, 1906, and 1911 census records.  They are enumerated on the Crooked Lake Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan.  Could this have been a factor in the disinheritance?  I can’t find them in the 1916 census, except for a Gabriel Belanger who is a prisoner.  But that may not be the same man. I’d love to know what happened to them and their children, but that’s a research project for another day.

As for Joseph Noel Taillefer’s widow, Jane McDermot, the last documentation I have  found for her is in the 1921 census, when she is living in St. Boniface, Manitoba with her son Joseph and family. Some public trees have her death listed as 1927, but I have not been able, so far, to verify that date.

So there you have the story of Joseph Noel Taillefer, born in Quebec, died in the Northwest Territories. A lawyer, a Papal Zouave, a soldier, a politician, a farmer…and an extremely interesting person to research.

 

Joseph Noel Taillefer, part 2

I’m continuing the story of Joseph Noel Taillefer, first cousin of my great-great grandmother Marie Louise Bernardin.

Drolet’s Zouaviana, about the Papal Zouaves, does not give a date for Taillefer’s joining the Red River Expeditionary Force that came to Manitoba. However at least two sources state that he came in 1870. The MHS Memorable Manitobans site states:

“Coming to the Red River Settlement with the Wolseley Expedition, he stayed behind at the conclusion of the engagement, took up farming, and married Mary Jane McDermot, daughter of merchant Andrew McDermot.

The second source was the Dictionnaire historique des Canadiens et des métis français de l’Ouest

Now I was confused! The Wolseley Expedition was sent to Red River to keep the peace after the Riel Resistance.  It was headed by Colonel Garnet Wolseley  who led a force of 1200 men across the Dawson trail, some 600 miles, arriving at Fort Garry on August 24, 1870. However, if the Zouaves didn’t return until November of 1870, how could Taillefer have been part of a force that arrived in Red River in August of that same year?

Also, why would he join the Wolseley Expedition?  It was, by most accounts, quite a virulent anti-Catholic, anti-French contingent, with many Ontario members seeking revenge for the murder of Thomas Scott.  The Papal Zouaves were staunchly conservative Catholics.  Why would Joseph join this?

So, I set out to learn more about the Wolseley Expedition.  On Google Books I found an excerpt to the book Toil & Trouble: Military Expeditions to Red River by George F.G. Stanley.  The Winnipeg Public Library has the book, so I borrowed it.  It had two references to Ensign Joseph Taillefer  “a former Papal Zouave”.

It turns out that the Red River Expeditionary Force was made up of more than just the contingent commanded by Wolseley in 1870.  Joseph Noel Taillefer was one of the officers in charge of  the Provisional Battalion of Rifles that came in 1872, the third contingent to come to Red River.

Footnotes in Toil & Trouble led me to search out two specific sources.  One was an article entitled “Dawson Route Military Expedition”, published in the Manitoban in 1872.  Luckily I found it online at the OurRoots website.

It includes a humorous incident involving Taillefer.  He had forbidden the men to race their boats, but having his boat “passed” by a boat made up of Ontario men, he

hurls a diminutive Frenchman from the oar and taking his seat at it –a Hercules in strength and size – gave one tremendous stroke and breaking the thwart pin, went on his back with heels in the air with the momentum of a battering ram.”

The second reference was to “The Journal of the Provisional Battalion of Rifles at Fort Garry” (PAM, MG6, B5) in the Province of Manitoba Archives.  A visit to the Archives allowed me to read this for myself.

Further research on the Red River Expeditionary Force led me to the website The Canadian Military Heritage Project  where I learned that Fred J. Shore had written a PhD Thesis at the University of Manitoba in 1991  entitled “The Canadians and the Metis: The Re-Creation of Manitoba, 1858-1872.” I was able to access this thesis online through the University of Manitoba Libraries.  This, in turn, led me to Library and Archives Canada documents from the Department of Militia and Defence: Register of service, Red River Rebellion, 1870–1877. I found Taillefer here.

All of the above confirmed that Joseph Leon Taillefer did not arrive in Fort Garry until October of 1872, and that he resigned on the 24th of July 1874. His joining the militia in 1872 makes more sense to me, as by that point it may have seemed just a career choice, or a chance to homestead, or perhaps just an adventure.

Just for good measure I looked to see if I could find him in the 1871 Census.  Not only did I find him in Ste Martine, Châteauguay, Quebec, where he was an “avocet” (lawyer) and living with his widowed mother and his brother Alfred, but I discovered he was the enumerator for the census which was taken in April 1871!

Taillefer 1871

1871 Census, Ste Martine, Châteauguay, Quebec; Roll: C-10055; Page: 29

Enumerator

On the 3rd of September 1871 his mother Angelique died, and Joseph signed the burial record.

Desormiers Angelique death

Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979,” FamilySearch Sainte-Martine > Sainte-Martine > Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1860-1876 > image 295 of 442

So far, I’ve confirmed that Joseph Noel Taillefer was related to our family, that he was a Papal Zouave, and that he came west with the Red River Expeditionary Force in 1872.

I’ll continue Joseph’s story in my next post.

 

 

Still more moves

I’ve written about the various moves the Girardin and Bernardin families made in their quest for more economic opportunities. What determined, hard-working people our ancestors were! To move from Quebec to Massachusetts to St. Daniel (Carman) to St. Alphonse/Bruxelles… and they weren’t finished yet.

Farming conditions had not been very favourable in the 1890s in the prairies, and wheat prices were not high. For various reasons, the families were choosing to move again. Many of Louise Bernardin’s brother Joseph’s family moved to Elie, Manitoba, a new community about 30 km. west of Winnipeg. There’s a fascinating local history book, Treasures of Time: The Rural Municipality of Cartier, 1914-1984, that has a great deal of information about the Bernardin family. Joseph’s son, Louis, married Lea Dufresne, whose father, Elie Dufresne, was one of the town’s first settlers. Apparently the town was named after him.

After Onesime Allard’s death, Napoleon Girardin moved his family to La Salle ( a subject for another post).

At some point, Louise Bernardin’s daughter, Caroline Girardin Hamel, moved to Ste. Anne. In 1915 she married Damase Dion.

Here’s a map showing all the places in Manitoba where the families homesteaded.

Manitoba places
The most surprising move to me, however, was that of Louise Bernardin and her second husband, Bruno Charbonneau, who left Manitoba to go back to Worcester, Massachusetts, about 1898!  Louise was 74 and Bruno about 71. They lived at 6 Southgate Street, and Bruno did find employment, according to the Worcester, Massachusetts City Directory.

 

Worcester City Directory 1898

Worcester City Directory 1898

It’s likely that once in Massachusetts, Louise would have occasion to visit, or receive visits from, family members such as her son Charles, and her daughter Rosilda, who lived in Massachusetts. Perhaps she also was able to visit with her sister Marie Elyse who still lived in Warwick, Quebec.

Tragically, on December 16, 1904, Bruno died suddenly of a heart attack.

Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 from Ancestry

Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 from Ancestry

By 1907 Louise had returned to La Salle to live with her son Napoleon. There would have been several great-grandchildren by this point.  My Dad would be born in 1909, so Louise would have had the opportunity to hold that great-grandchild.

Louise Bernardin died June 2, 1912 at the age of 87, having outlived two husbands.  She is buried in the La Salle Cemetery, in the same plot as her grandson Arthur. Although her gravestone gives her year of birth as 1825, her baptismal record states 1824.

 

Grave of "Grandma Louise" La Salle Cemetery

Grave of “Grandma Louise”
La Salle Cemetery

And this is the descent from Louise to Mémère:

1-Marie Louise BERNARDIN (24 Sep 1824-2 Jun 1912)
+Paul GIRARDIN (14 Oct 1804-29 Sep 1878)
2-Napoleon GIRARDIN (8 Apr 1851-16 May 1929)
+Onesime ALLARD (20 May 1852-29 May 1896)
3-Marie Emma GIRARDIN (23 Jun 1878-28 Aug 1979)

The Girardins move again

In 1885, the Girardin and Bernardin families were on the move again. They sold their properties near present-day Carman, Manitoba and moved to a newly-created settlement area near St. Alphonse and Bruxelles. We don’t know the reason for this move, but can assume that it was in pursuit of better economic opportunities.

As before, the family members moved together, and chose to settle very near to each other. Louise, her sons Napoleon, Edouard, Simeon, Oliver, as well as her daughter, Caroline Hamel, moved to Bruxelles. Louise’s brother, Joseph Bernardin, and his sons Joseph, Louis and Dosithe, moved to St. Alphonse.

Library and Archives Canada has some images from their database Land Grants of Western Canada 1870-1930.

Patent issued 18 Apr 1891 to Napoleon Girardin for NE Section 31 of Township 6, Range 11, West of principal meridian

There were other changes occurring in these families. Louise, widowed for nine years, remarried on April 10, 1887 to Bruno Charbonneau, also a widower.

Louise’s younger sons were also finding wives.
Simeon Girardin married Helene Rheault in 1889.
Edouard Girardin married Marie Paradis in 1891.
Oliver Girardin married Albertine Rousseau in 1891.
(Louise’s youngest child, Jean-Baptiste Girardin, is said to have become an Oblate missionary. I’ve found no documentation for that.)

Louise was gaining more grandchildren, among them were Mémère’s siblings. Arthur had been born as soon as Napoleon and Onesime had arrived in Manitoba. He was followed by Albert, Napoleon, Marie Maximillenne, Geraldine, Telesphore, Marie Helene, Florent and Caroline.

Tragedy would strike in several ways. Edouard’s wife was unfaithful and left him. Six of Oliver’s seven children, by 1900, had died young, of typhoid and influenza. But the greatest tragedy for Mémère was the death on May 29, 1896 of her mother, Onesime Allard. Family lore is that she died pregnant with her 14th child. Mémère, a month shy of her 18th birthday, would take on the responsibility of helping raise the family.

From Massachusetts to Manitoba

So, how and why did Mémère (Emma Girardin) move from Massachusetts to Manitoba? The answer to that question centers around the political and social situation that followed the Red River Resistance of 1870 and the creation of the Province of Manitoba.

John Welsted tells us in his book The Geography of Manitoba: Its Land and Its People:

“By 1870, the year of the first Manitoba census, over 80 percent of the population of over 12,000 was of mixed Native and European ancestry. The French-speaking mixed-bloods, most of whom were Roman Catholic, numbered 5,754 (48.1 percent). The mostly Protestant English-speaking mixed-blood numbered 4,083 (40.8 percent).”

These numbers would quickly change. The federal government  wanted to encourage the settlement of western Canada. To this end it passed the Dominion Lands Act in 1872, which gave a free quarter section (160 acres) of free land to people who settled in western Canada. A settler needed to pay a $10 registration fee, and, of course, have money for equipment and seed.

In 1877, according to this article in the Manitoba Free Press, 6511 people immigrated to Manitoba, over half of them from Ontario.

Manitoba Free Press March 2, 1878

Manitoba Free Press March 2, 1878

Although Manitoba was created as a bilingual province with protections for the French language and Catholic schools, it attracted many English-speaking Protestant settlers from Ontario. This was a worrisome trend, especially to the Roman Catholic clergy in Manitoba, most notably Archbishop Tache.

The Archbishop encouraged the creation of La Société de Colonisation du Manitoba in 1874. Its aim was to persuade French-speaking Catholics in Quebec and New England to come to Manitoba. They placed ads in newspapers, and hired immigration agents to encourage French-speaking settlers to take up the offer of free land.

Here’s an example of the type of advertising used in the United States.

Were Paul Girardin and Louise Bernardin tired of city life in Worcester, Massachusetts?  Perhaps they longed for the rural life they had known in Quebec. Whatever the reason, the year 1878 found Paul and Louise with four of their sons, Edouard, Olivier, Simeon and Jean Baptiste, as well as Louise’s brother, Joseph Bernardin, his wife Marie Peloquin and 7 of their children come to Manitoba.

Paul and Louise were leaving behind their daughter Caroline, married to Pierre Hamel; daughter Rosilda, who would later marry Louis Arthur Gourdeau; their unmarried son Charles; son Napoleon and daughter-in-law Onesime Allard.

The trip would have been by train to Minnesota, and then by boat on the Red River. I don’t know exactly what date they arrived, but perhaps they were part of this group described in a newspaper article.

Manitoba Free Press Apr 27, 1878 from Manitobia

Manitoba Free Press Apr 27, 1878 from Manitobia

By July 12, 1878, both families had obtained homesteads in the St.Daniel, Ilets-de-Bois area (near present-day Carmen, Manitoba).

There is a puzzling question about Paul Girardin. He died September 29, 1878. I can’t make out the cause of death on his registration, although I can see that he was sick for a week before he died.

Paul Girardin death registration

Paul Girardin death registration

The death wasn’t registered until June 24, 1884.  The informant was Father Kavanagh, who presumably would have presided over the burial (a location I have yet to find). The puzzle is that Louise is the one whose name is on the homestead, and not Paul’s. Regulations stated that only women who were the head of a family could apply for a homestead.

Eventually Louise, her sons Edouard, Oliver and Simeon all had homesteads adjacent to those of Louise’s brother Joseph Bernardin and his sons, Louis, Dosithee and Edouard.

In 1879 a nephew of Louise’s, called Charles Bernardin, came for the first of two short visits to Manitoba, but eventually settled back in Massachusetts.

In 1880 Louise’s son Napoleon with wife Onesime Allard and daughter Emma (Mémère) arrived in Manitoba. Mémère was 2 years old and Onesime was very pregnant. She gave birth to  a son, Arthur, August 2nd in Winnipeg and shortly afterwards they went to live with Louise.

Sometime in 1882, Louise’s daughter Caroline left her husband in Massachusetts and came to Manitoba with her four daughters, Marie, Emma, Lea and Louise. She then gave birth to a son, Edouard,  on September 29th.

In 1884, Louise’s son Charles must have come for a visit, as his son, Charles Wilfred, was born here. By 1886 Charles, his wife Stephanie Rondeau, and family were back in Massachusetts. Do you think it was the weather than dissuaded them from settling here?

In the long run, the effort to attract French-speaking Catholics to Manitoba met with little success. From the website Manitobia we learn:

By 1891 French-speakers accounted for only 7.3 per cent of the population.

Oh my! From 48.1 % of the population in 1870 to just 7.3 % 21 years later.

Meanwhile the Girardin and Bernardin families, showing what appears to be a very strong sense of optimism, made yet another move in 1885!

Massachusetts

So why did Paul Girardin, his wife, Louise Bernardin, and their family move to Worcester, Massachusetts? Research indicates that they were not the only Quebec family to do so. According to the article French Canadian Emigration to the United States, 1840=1930 by Damien-Claude Belanger and Claude Belanger:

“Between 1840 and 1930 roughly 900 000 French Canadians left Canada to emigrate to the United States.”

There were many economic reasons for this emigration movement. Life was hard in rural Quebec. The population was expanding at a faster rate than agricultural land could support. The New England states were an easy train ride from Quebec and wages in the U.S. factories could provide a higher standard of living for a family.

In the same article we learn:

“Often, the emigration of an entire nuclear family would begin with the departure of a couple of its members who would sound out the general situation in a given town and then would send for the rest of their family. Cousins, uncles and nephews would often join the initial family before bringing their own relatives down, creating a pattern of settlement where family ties became the primary source of support and information in the United States.”

In the book The French-Canadian Heritage in New England by Gerard J. Brault, we learn:

“Immigrants wrote enthusiastic letters home or, when visiting, forcefully pointed out the advantages of living and working in New England mill towns.”

and

“Some industries actively recruited labor from Canada, especially in the years immediately before and after the Civil War.”

Were Paul and Louisa encouraged to move by other family members? Were they approached by recruiters? I am still trying to piece together exactly when the various members of the families moved. It is a time-consuming process, searching census, marriage, death records and city directories, but one I confess to enjoy!

To begin with, two of Louise Bernardin’s siblings are found in Lowell, Massachusetts in the 1870 U.S. Census. Charles Michel Bernardin is with his wife Victoire Peloquin and family. Joseph Bernardin is with his wife Marie Peloquin and family. They may have returned to Warwick, Quebec at some point. Several of Charles Michel’s children married in Massachusetts,  he died in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1890, and a great many of his descendants stayed in Massachusetts.

And what of the Girardin families? Two of Paul Girardin’s brothers, Antoine and Casmir are in the 1870 U.S. Census for West Boylston, Worcester, Massachusetts. Antoine’s and Casmir’s children, ages 10 to 19, are working in the cotton mills. Another Girardin researcher has determined that Antoine and Casmir were paying taxes in Massachusetts by 1869.

I have not, yet, been able to find Paul and Louise in the 1870 U.S. census, although I suspect they were there. The earliest record I’ve found is when their daughter Caroline Girardin married Pierre Hamel on July 4, 1871 in Worcester.

In the 1873 city directory for Worcester, we find Paul and his son Napoleon, who is listed as a shoemaker. By 1877, Napoleon’s brother Charles Girardin is also in the directory. Both Charles and  Napoleon are listed as working at 9 Barton Place. Further research revealed that 9 Barton Place was the address of H.B. Fay & Co. Bootmakers.

 

Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1876

Worcester, Massachusetts, City Directory, 1876

 

Shoe factories were a thriving business in Worcester. Hours were long and the work was tedious. Here’s a picture of a  factory in Lynn, Massachusetts in the 1870s.

 

In terms of direct family history the most important event to occur was the marriage of Napoleon Girardin to Onesime Allard September 29, 1873 in Worcester.

Girardin Allard marriage

Notice the spellings of their names on their marriage certificate…Jourdan and Allerd! French Canadian names were often mangled in census records and directories.

Onesime had been born 20 May 1852 in St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. In the 1871 Census of Canada she was still living at home with her parents. I don’t know when or why she came to Massachusetts. Two of her brothers, Joseph and Frederic can be found in Massachusetts by 1877. That’s the year Joseph’s daughter Laura was born and Frederic married. Frederic’s wife died young, he returned to Quebec, married again and died there. Joseph remained in Massachusetts, also marrying a second time after his wife’s death. He died in 1920.

Paul Girardin and Onesime Allard had three daughters who died tragically young:

Georgia Girardin born 18 Oct 1874 and died 22 Feb 1878 of inflammation of the bowels
Lydia Girardin born 11 Nov 1875 and died 12 Jul 1876 of cholera
Marie Diana born 1 Mar 1877 and died 1 Aug 1877, no cause of death given

Infant death was not uncommon. Napoleon’s sister Caroline, wife of Pierre Hamel, also buried two young daughters in Massachusetts in 1876 and 1877.

All three of Napoleon and Onesime’s daughters were dead by the time Mémère, Emma Girardin, was born 23 Jun 1878.

Girardin Emma birth1878Again we have mangled surnames…Girard and “Olisseum Allore”.

So, there you have the story of how Mémère came to be born in Massachusetts.  How did we end up in Manitoba?

Stay tuned.