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.

 

 

Marie Rosilda Girardin

Marie Rosilda Girardin was the sister of my great-grandfather Napoleon Girardin, and thus an aunt of Mémère’s.   At first she was a bit of a mystery to me, as it was hard to find many records for her.

She was baptized 10 Feb 1855 at St-Félix-de-Valois in Kingsey, Canada East (Quebec).

Girardin Rosilda baptism

Baptism of Marie Rosilda Girardin St-Félix-de-Valois in Kingsey, Canada East 10 Feb 1855 record from FamilySearch

In 1861 she is in the census in Kingsey with her family.  We know the family lived in Massachusetts for awhile before most of them emigrated to Manitoba. Rosilda however did not. We don’t know why, at only 23, she decided not to follow the family to Manitoba.  She wasn’t married, but she must have had a strong independent streak.

After 1861 there is a 40-year gap before I find her again! French-Canadian names were often terribly mangled in official records.  I can’t find Rosilda (Rose) in the 1870 U.S. census, nor the 1880, and the 1890 census was almost completely destroyed in a fire.

I finally found her in the 1900 census living in Haverhill, Massachusetts.  She is single, living in a boarding house, and works as a shoe stitcher. Perhaps she is working in the same shoe factory as her brother Charles? She gives her date of birth as February 1854.

She’s not in the 1910 census. However, I did find a record of her marriage on 18 Apr 1911 to Louis Arthur Gourdeau.

Rosilda marriage

Massachusetts Marriage Records accessed on Ancestry.com

He was a widower and this was his 4th marriage.  It was a first marriage for Rosilda, and she claimed to be 43.  She was actually 56!  How I wish I had a picture of her! After 1900 she consistently “fudges” her age.

After this date I can track her living in Somerville, Massachusetts with her husband.  She was widowed in 1922, but I can find her in the 1920, 1930 and 1940 census records, as well as many city directories.

I confirmed her death by ordering her death record from Massachusetts Vital Statistics.  She died 20 Oct 1944 in the Westborough State Hospital.   The Certificate of Death lists the following details:

Gourdeau, Rose M. (Gerardin)

Widowed

Residence 38 Chandler, Somerville, Mass.

Age given as 76. (She was actually 89).

born in Canada

father’s name Paul Gerardin/maiden name of mother cannot be learned

Informant Westborough State Hospital Records.

Girardin Rosilda death

 

 

 

John Francis Grant, part 1

A few years ago I picked up the book A Son of the fur trade: The Memoirs of Johnny Grant, edited by Gerhard J. Ens, with genealogical charts by Anita Steele.

I read the book simply because I am interested in fur trade history, but was delighted to find four family connections! The book is an oral history, dictated to his wife before he died in Edmonton, Alberta in 1907. You can read a review of the book here.

John Francis Grant was a very colourful character. He was born at Fort Edmonton to HBC clerk Richard Grant (later to become a Chief Trader) and Marie Anne Breland, but raised in Trois-Rivières by his paternal grandmother after the death of his mother. As Anita Steele explains on her excellent website William Grant of Trois Rivieres:

Johnny Grant -as he was known in the U.S.- remained in the U.S. for twenty years. During that time, he was one of Montana’s earliest settlers, a trader, a cattle and horse rancher, owner of a store, a saloon, a dance hall, a grist mill and a blacksmith shop. His enterprises took him west and south as far as Fort Vancouver, WA,, and Sacrament, CA; and as far east, south and north as St. Louis, MO, Trois Rivieres, PQ, and the Red River Settlement of MB, and to many locations between.

Johnny’s Montana ranch is now a National Historic Site. You can read more about the ranch here.

John F. Grant had several wives and many children. After selling his Montana ranch in 1866 he brought his family to Red River. He established a ranch near present day Carman, Manitoba, as well as a home on the banks of Sturgeon Creek. There is a historical mural in Carman that includes Johnny Grant and his wife Clotilde Bruneau. You can see it here.

So what is our connection to John Francis Grant? It’s that three of John’s children married into the Hogue, Dease and Bernardin families.

In A Son of the fur trade there are references to these marriages. On page 234, Johnny reminisces about having a party in 1870:

As usual, we sent invitations to all the elites of Winnipeg and nearly every one of the two parishes that were fit to invite and some outsiders. We had sixty-two couples besides the family and that was twelve counting my son-in-law, William Dease. That was quite a few for a country dance, but they were all welcome and everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly. We had a jolly good time. We dance[d] in three rooms, three and more violins going at the same time, all the liquor they wanted of different kinds. But I am proud to say not one was worst of liquor and the table, well you can imagine. I had plenty of money those days and we were not stingy.”

The William Dease referred to is William Dease Jr., son of William Dease, Sr. whom I wrote about here. William Dease Jr. married John’s daughter, Mary Agnes Grant, whose mother was Louise Serpante, a Shoshone woman. Mary Agnes was born in 1851 and she married William in 1869.

Here’s a chart showing the relationship to Pépère.

Dease chart
William and Mary Agnes did not have any children, but they appear to have led an adventurous life! They lived in Red River, Dakota, Montana, Oregon, and California. From the Montana Historical Society I obtained a biographical sketch, and copies of two letters William wrote to his father.

 

Biographical sketch by A.E. Dease, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

Biographical sketch by A.E. Dease, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

 

Transcript of letter, December 4, 1876, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

Transcript of letter, December 4, 1876, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

 

Transcript of letter, June 19, 1886, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

Transcript of letter, June 19, 1886, William Dease papers, 1876-1886, SC 612, Folder 1, Montana Historical Society Research Center, Archives

I have been unable to find out exactly when or where William and Mary Agnes died.

As I mentioned, John Francis Grant had a ranch near present day Carman, Manitoba, the same time the Girardin and Bernardin families were homesteading there. This leads to our second family connection. On page 274 of the book we learn:

Among the French families that had come from the states, there was one who had rather a grown up family: 3 sons, big enough to work, and three daughters. My son Billy was often at the Ranch that winter. There was attraction out there [between him and] the oldest of the girls. The consequence was that in June of 1878 their Wedding was coming on.
She was a good girl. If he had searched the country over he could not have found a better person better suited to him. She was so patient.’

The family he is talking about is that of Joseph Bernardin and his wife Marie Peloquin. The daughter is Oxilia. And Billy is William Grant, born in 1856 to John Francis Grant and Quarra, another Shoshone woman. Here’s a chart showing the relationship between Oxilia and Mémère:

Bernardin chart

On Anita Steele’s website there is this photograph.

Grant pic

Labels on the back of this tintype were not totally clear, but have been analyzed as:
(R) Billy Grant, son of John F. Grant
(C) First name: Louis. Surname looks like Bernasdene. Perhaps Bernardin(e)
(L) First name: Napolian. Surname looks like Geradine. Perhaps Germain(e)

It seems quite likely that the Louis in the picture is Oxilia’s brother Louis Bernardin, making him brother-in-law to William Grant.

And it also seems likely that the Napoleon is Oxilia’s cousin Napoleon Girardin, Mémère’s father.

Here’s a side by side comparison of Napoleon’s wedding picture from 1873 with the picture above.

Napoleon 1

Napoleon 2

 

 

 

And here’s a comparison of a picture of a picture of Louis Bernardin taken from the book Treasures of Time: The Rural Municipality of Cartier 1914-1984, with the picture above.

Louis 1

Louis 2

 

 

 

 

Tragically, William and Oxilia’s marriage was a short one, as William died in 1886. They had at least two daughters, and perhaps one son. The only child I’ve been able to track is Anna Grant, who married Edouard Roy. Co-incidentally, Edouard was the widower of Eva Rheault, whose mother was Marie Rouleau whose second marriage was to Napoleon Girardin.  Are we confused yet?

I don’t know where William Grant is buried, but Oxilia is buried in Holy Sacrament Cemetery in Elie, Manitoba, near her father Joseph.

Grant Oxilia obit

Oxiliagrave

 

I’ll continue writing about the Grant connections in my next post.

The Girardins of La Salle, part 5

This is the last in a series of posts about Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings.

Florent Girardin was born August 25, 1892. He was 4 years old when his mother, Onesime Allard, died. He married Marie Louise Marcoux on November 9, 1921. They had 8 children, one of whom died at birth.

Florent was a member of the First Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment, during World War Two, but did not serve overseas.

Florent Girardin military service act 1917 particulars of recruit

Library and Archives Canada RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 – 80 Item Number:413891

He farmed in La Salle and later in St. Norbert, Manitoba.

There are a couple of pictures of him in the La Salle history book, Then to Now.  I won’t post pictures that I don’t own, or haven’t received permission to share.  However, comparing those pictures to one I have, I THINK this is Florent.

Florent.

Possibly Florent Girardin

Florent died December 13, 1953 and his wife, Marie Louise on January 23, 1972 (while on holiday in California).

Girardin Florent obit1953

Obituary of Florent Girardin Winnipeg Free Press, Monday, December 14, 1953

Marcoux Marie Louise b1900 obit1972

Obituary of Marie Louise Marcoux Winnipeg Free Press January 26, 1972

 

2009 07 10_1061

Gravestone of Florent Girardin and Marie-Louise Marcoux La Salle Cemetery

Mémère’s youngest sibling, Caroline, is very much a mystery to me. She was born July 22, 1894. She was only 2 years old when her mother died. In the 1901 and 1906 census records, she is at home with her father in La Salle. In 1911 she is living with Mémère and Pépère, and works as a house servant in a boarding house.

And then she disappears! I can find no marriage or death records for her. At one point I thought she had married, but that record turned out to be her aunt, also called Caroline. There are public trees on ancestry that give her death as 1936, but none of these trees have documentation for that date.  She remains, for the time being, my “brick wall”.

And what of Mémère’s father, Napoleon? So many changes in his life! To recap, Napoleon was born in 1851 in Kingsey, Quebec. He moved with his extended family to Worcester, Massachusetts where he worked as a shoemaker, and married Onesime Allard.

Their first three children all died young. In 1880 with their daughter Emma (Mémère), they moved to Manitoba where Napoleon’s mother (Louise Bernardin) and brothers had already settled. They lived first in St. Daniel, then Bruxelles/St. Alphonse and had another nine children before Onesime died in 1896.

Napoleon moved his family to La Salle. He farmed, and most of the children married. In 1922, at the age of 71, Napoleon married again, to Marie Rouleau, who was the widow of Ferdinand Rheault. And here’s one of those strange connections we sometimes find. Marie was actually the mother-in-law of Napoleon’s younger brother Simeon, who had married Marie’s daughter Helene!

Napoleon died May 16, 1929 and is buried in La Salle, although apparently his grave is unmarked.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 death1929 pt1

Death registration for Napoleon Girardin

As is so often the case, even this “official” document has errors.  Napoleon was definitely born in 1852 in Quebec, not 1851 in Massachusetts, as evidenced by the baptismal record in St-Félix-de-Valois parish in Quebec.

Girardin Napoleon b1851 baptism

Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec (Collection Drouin), 1621 à 1967, Kingsey (St-Félix-de-Valois), Québec, 1851. Baptism of Napoleon Girardin, accessed on ancestry.ca

I’ve never seen a record where Napoleon’s father, Paul, is called “Adelard”.  The maiden name of his mother was Louise Bernardin.  Charbonneau was her name after her second marriage.  But these are the sometimes inaccurate details that you find when you research.

I THINK Marie Rouleau died in 1941, and is buried in Elie, Manitoba.

Now if I could just track down the elusive Caroline!

The Girardins of La Salle, part 4

I’m continuing the story of Mémère’s (Emma Girardin) siblings. Telesphore (Bill) Girardin was born May 9 1889. He was 7 years old when his mother, Onesime Allard, died.

Telesphore (Bill) Girardin

Telesphore (Bill) Girardin

Telesphore never married. He farmed in La Salle for most of his life. Telesphore was a Private in the 1st Depot Battalion Manitoba Regiment, but I don’t believe he was ever sent overseas, serving from November 11, 1917 to his discharge on August 27, 1918.

Libary and Archives Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 - 88,Item Number:413899

Libary and Archives Canada, Soldiers of the First World War, RG 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 3566 – 88,Item Number:413899

Telesphore died on January 8, 1970. I don’t have a picture of his gravestone. His obituary states he is buried in Garden of the Holy Sepulchre, which is now known as Glen Lawn Memorial Gardens.

Obituary for Telesphore Girardin

Obituary for Telesphore Girardin

Marie Helene (Ellen) Girardin was born July 19, 1890. She was 6 years old when her mother died. I have had the good fortune to have had one of her granddaughters find my blog and share pictures and information.

Marie E. Girardin

Marie E. Girardin

Marie is believed to have spent some time in a convent/boarding school in St. Boniface, as did her sister Geraldine. She married Walter Milton Gerdin, from Minneapolis, on December 8, 1917, in Minneapolis. Her granddaughter tells this family anecdote:

“From the time I was a little girl, my mom would tell stories about her
family. She described her mom as fun loving.  Everybody loved Marie. She was
a waitress in Winnipeg when my grandfather’s brother and wife met her and
thought my grandfather would love her.”

They raised one son and four daughters. Their son,Warren, died in World War II.

Walter died in 1950 and Marie in 1956.

Obituary for Marie E. Gerdin

Obituary for Marie E. Gerdin

And here is one of the most intriguing photographs that has been shared by one of Marie’s granddaughters.

Girardin Girls

Girardin Girls

The photograph was identified as Emma, unknown, Marie, Geraldine.  Isn’t it beautiful?

And here’s another picture.  Marie is the one standing.  The other woman certainly is a sister…there is such a strong resemblance, but which one?

Marie Ellen Girardin (standing) and ?

Marie Ellen Girardin (standing) and ?

It would be amazing if some other Girardin descendant  owns a copy of these pictures, so we can compare identifications.  Hope springs eternal!