Tag Archives: Laurent Charbonneau

A Charboneau by any other surname variant

Any genealogy researcher will tell you that having an unusual surname can be a bonus when combing through records in search of ancestors — and I was sure my Charboneau surname fit into this category.

By: Karyn Christner
The letter C.  Charboneau is a unique enough surname that it should be easy to identify in record searches — if it were not for those pesky surname variants! By: Karyn Christner

“How do you say your last name, Molly?” my teachers would ask each year — hesitating over the printed sheet when they called roll on the first day of school.

“SHAR-buh-no,” I would reply, which is how my family pronounces it.

My childhood friend Betty Ann’s dad said Charboneau sounded like “shrapnel” to him — which morphed into “shrabnel” and soon enough I was known as Shrab over at their house.

Because it’s a tricky surname for those with no French background, I usually have to spell Charboneau in full when leaving a phone message or calling anywhere that requires account verification.

My younger siblings got so fed up with this, they frequently substituted an easy-to-spell “pizza name” — such as Clark — when ordering a delivery.

An endless stream of variants

So, when it came time to look for my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau in the federal and New York State census returns, I figured it should be easy enough.

Surely, our unique surname (give or take an “n”) would pop right up in genealogy indexes and record searches — and be quicker to pinpoint than a more frequently-occurring moniker.

Well, was I ever wrong! I had no idea there could be so many variants of the Charboneau surname.

Seeking every census

Laurent immigrated to New York State from Québec in the early 1850s — last appearing in the Canadian census with his family of origin in 1851/52 — so I hope to track him through all the U.S. and New York State censuses after his arrival.

Here are the five surname varients I have found so far (and notice his given name varies, too!):

  • Sharbono — My ancestor appears as Laurence Sharbono in the 1870 U.S. census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y.
  • Charbonno — He is listed as Laurence Charbonno  in the 1875 New York State census for Boonville, Oneida County, N.Y.
  • Sherbenon — An 1880 New York State census manuscript schedule in the Utica, N.Y. public library shows his name as Lawrence Sherbenon.
  • Shavanaugh  The 1880 U.S. census of Lyonsdale, Lewis County, N.Y. enumerated Laurent’s brother — Louis Desiré Charbonneau — as Desiré Shavanaugh.
  • Charbono —  The 1900 U.S. census for Forestport, Oneida County, N.Y. lists my great, great grandfather as Lawrence Charbono.

So that just leaves New York State censuses for 1855, 1865 and 1892 and federal censuses for 1860 and 1880 to search — and now I have a whole bunch of Charboneau name variants to choose from.

Wish me luck, and please stop back for more on this as the search progresses.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1860: The sad demise of Olivier Bouchard

Second in a series about the younger sister of my French-Canadian ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, who  emigrated from Québec to New York State around 1852.

When researching an ancestor, such as my great, great grandfather Laurent Charbonneau, an unexpected path sometimes opens into the lives of collateral relatives. In this case, it was the life of Laurent’s younger sister Elise.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eglise_Saint-Eustache,_Saint-Eustache,_Qu%C3%A9bec,_Canada.jpg
Dec. 2012: Historic Church of St. Eustache, showing damage from the British military suppression (circled) and a memorial to the 1837 Patriots (right). This land-marked Catholic church was the likely site of many baptisms, weddings and funerals for my Charbonneau ancestors and collateral relatives. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Upon discovering in the 1861 Canadian census that Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard had lost her husband and two children in 1860 — which I wrote about in 1861: The widow Elise (Charboneau) Bouchard — I was moved to learn more about her star-crossed family.

Who was Elise Charbonneau’s husband?

Seeking details about Elise’s family life, and the name of her late husband, I searched the Drouin Collection of Québec parish records and found a marriage record for Olivier Bouchard and Elise Charbonneau — signed by her father (my ggg grandfather) Louis Charbonneau.

The record indicated Elise and Olivier were married in 1858 in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — about a year before their daughter Elise Bouchard was born.

Olivier Bouchard: A St. Eustache apprentice

To learn more about his background, I searched in the 1851/52 Canadian census for an Olivier Bouchard around age 20 — and found only one person of that name and age living in St. Eustache during the census year.

In 1851/52 Olivier Bouchard, 21, resided in a household of seven headed by Charles Bouchard, 39, a meunier [miller]. Was Charles his father? Possibly. He was 18 years older than Olivier.

However, Marie-Anne Parent, 29 — who was listed with Charles — was too young to be Olivier’s mother. There were also three Boucher toddlers in the household, suggesting she might have been a second wife of Charles — or that Charles may have been an older brother or other relative of Olivier’s.

Coronor’s ruling: accidental death

On the census, Olivier’s occupation was given as apprentice — perhaps a miller’s apprentice in Charles Bouchard’s facility, or maybe in another trade.

Either way, the term “apprentice” implies an occupation that might have been hazardous — a job where inattentiveness while mourning for his lost sons might have proved fatal for Olivier if his accident occurred at work.

In the  Drouin Collection, I found a record of Olivier’s burial on 19 December 1860, which indicated:

  • He was the spouse of Elise Charbonneau, of the parish of Montréal [where she was born].
  • He was from St. Eustache parish and was buried in the parish cemetery.
  • He was buried two days after dying accidentally, according to the coronor’s verdict, at age 30. [The circumstances were not given.]
  • Charles Bouchard and Louis Bouchard were named as present at Olivier’s burial.

Family support for Elise

More research is needed to fill out and confirm the full details of Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard’s family tragedies, and to shed light on the circumstances of Olivier’s death and those of their two children — research for another day and a future blog post.

But for now, this much is certain: My ggg grandparents Louis Charbonneau and Suzanne Marcille opened their home to Elise and her two daughters (even employing a servant to help with duties at the inn) — so she and the children had family to turn to for warmth and support in their time of sorrow.

To be continued.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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1861: The widow Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard

First in a series about the younger sister of my French-Canadian ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, who emigrated from Québec to New York State around 1852.

Stained glass fleur de lis bordered in black. The year 1860 was a traumatic one for Elise (Charbonneau) Bouchard, younger sister of my ancestor Laurent Charbonneau, because she was mourning the deaths of her husband and two children in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Quebec. By: local louisville

Elise Charboneau, my great, great grandfather Laurent’s younger sister, is not a direct ancestor of mine. But I feel tremendous compassion for her because of the family tragedies she experienced as a young wife and mother.

According to the 1861 Recensement Personnel [Personal Census] of Canada, she appears to have lost not only her husband but also two babies during the previous year — the sad story revealed in the census-taker’s log.

A tale of heartbreaking loss

During the census year, Elise was a widow living with her parents, her younger brother and a servant at her father Louis’s inn, located  in St. Eustache, Deux Montagnes, Québec — which I wrote about  in 1861: Charbonneau parents and siblings.

Two little girls (Elise Bouchard, 2, and Marie Bouchard, 1) –presumably her daughters — were also listed with her. Although this part of her family remained intact, the widow Elise was doubtless still in mourning after the untimely events of 1860.

 1861 Recensement Personnel [Personal Census] of Canada – District 1 of St. Eustache village Deux Montagnes (county) – from Library and Archives of Canada http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng
Person No. Name Age (next birthday) Born in 1860 Died in 1860 Age/Cause
 7 Elise Charbonneau 23 2 Male

 

3 Male 7 mos. debility

9 mos. debility

30 yrs. accident

 8 Elise Bouchard 2
 9 Marie Bouchard 1  1 Female

What happened to the Elise’s family?

From her census return, translated and abstracted above, Elise Charbonneau appears to have given birth to triplets — two boys and a girl — in 1860.

Multiple pregnancies are still considered high risk — even with today’s skilled maternity teams and modern neonatal units. So the difficulties would have been much greater in the mid-1800s for a midwife-assisted home birth of triplets.

Alas, Elise’s two tiny sons — apparently too frail to survive — succumbed at ages 7 months and 9 months from débilité [debility]. The surviving triplet is most likely her daughter Marie Bouchard — who according to this census was born in 1860 and would turn one year old on her next birthday.

As if the loss of two children was not enough, Elise appears to have also lost her husband the same year. This census shows that a 30-year-old male associated with Elise’s enumeration died in an accident in 1860.

What a devastating year that must have been for my great, great grandfather’s younger sister — and her entire extended family!

In search of answers

When I began researching my ancestor Laurent Charbonneau’s early life in Québec, I never expected to find such a gripping saga affecting one of his siblings. But having discovered Elise’s story, I felt compelled to pursue it further — guided by many questions.

What was her husband’s full name? What type of work did he do? What kind of fatal accident did he have? And what else could I discover about Elise’s young family and the circumstances of her husband’s premature demise? More on what I found in the next post.

To be continued.

© 2016 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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