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

 

 

 

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)

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.