Monday, July 04, 2011

If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words ...

... somebody better get creative because I think I've used up all the 4-letter ones!

I was avoiding doing my math homework yesterday*, so I decided to work on my 2nd great grandfather, Joseph Zenophile Lanctot.  He's a French-Canadian gent who was born in Quebec on 15 Jan 1861 (according to his death certificate, WWI Draft Registration, and every census record between 1881 and 1910) ... but baptized on 15 Jan 1860 (according to his baptism record).  I know, right?

I originally sent the baptism record to Laura to see if she would have any luck transcribing/translating the record.  Fortunately, she sent me back a partially-transcribed and partially-translated document, which was awesome and enabled me to get the gist of what it said (and helped immensely with the handwriting).  It was the date that had me perplexed: "Le quinze janvier mil huit cent soixante."  Every translator I plugged that into said 1860.  Granted, the document is really terrible on a legibility level, especially if you don't speak 19th century French.  I had to resolve the discrepancy in the birth years!

So I looked at the record again ... really hard ... with a magnifying glass and everything.

If you look waaaaaay over on the right-hand side, almost in the margin, you can see the word "un." Okay, I solved part of the mystery.  He was actually born/baptized in 1861.  After 4 hours of fighting with it, and asking for help from the French message board on Ancestry, I think I've got it fully transcribed:
Le quinze janvier mil huit cent soixante un nous soussigné maire de cette paroisse, avons baptisé Joseph Zénophile né hier du légitime mariage de Pierre Lanctot, cultivateur et de Sophie Longtin de cette paroisse. ---- Le parrain a été Francois Simonneau?, qui ainsi que le père, a déclaré ne savoir signer, et la marraine Elise Longtin, qui a signé avec nous. Un mot rayé nul.
... and translated:
On January 15, 1861, We, undersigned Mayor of this parish, have baptised Joseph Zénophile born yesterday from the legitimate marriage of Pierre Lanctot, farmer and of Sophie Longtin from this parish. ---- The godfather was François Simonneau?, who, as well as the father, said not knowing how to sign, and the godmother Elise Longtin, who signed with us. A word crossed off void.
So apparently he was born on January 14, 1861, baptized on the 15th.  Now comes the second part.  Ol' Zenophile was magic!  He had the ability to be in two places at once!  Here he is listed as a single 19-year-old male in the 1881 Canadian census with his parents:

Here he is on the 1900 U.S. Census with his wife and children:
See the date he put as having come to the United States?  1876.  Only 15 years old.  Also, notice that it says the couple were married when they were 19.  Hmm ... that's 1881.  But they were married in Nebraska, or so I'm told.  It also says she was born in Illinois.

Now, here's the 1910 U.S. Census, where he is listed again with his wife and children:
... only this time, he says he came the U.S. in 1874.  In 1874, he would have only been 13 years old.  I doubt his parents just dropped him off at the border and said "have a good time, sweetie! We'll be back to pick you up in 7 years."  Notice, her place of birth still says Illinois.

He dies in 1913, so I have no additional census records to consult.  If we go back in time again and look at the 1880 U.S. Census for his wife, Eliza, we'll see that it says she was born in Michigan:
Her obituary says she was born in Michigan, and I'm pretty sure her parents would have given the correct information to the census enumerator.  Should I chalk this up to hubby just not remembering correctly in 1900 and 1910?

I have only done a cursory search for Zenophile's immigration and naturalization records, but am coming up empty.  I also am not having any luck locating a marriage record in 1881 Fremont, Nebraska.  I'll have to look for churches there.  In order for them to both be 19 years old when they married, they would have had to marry between January 1 and January 14, 1881.  That should narrow my search a bit.  So my working theory for now is that Zenophile did come to America in 1874/76, married Eliza in January 1881, and returned home to visit his parents at the time of the census in April 1881.  Now I just have to prove it, and figure out why he's listed as not married on the 1881 census with his parents.  Perhaps he hadn't told them yet?  Perhaps the census was taken in early January - before they got married (after all, Zeno is listed as 19 years old and he would have been 20 on January 14, 1881)?

Here's my list of to-do items:
1. Find Eliza's birth records (either Illinois or Michigan);
2. Find the marriage record for Zenophile and Eliza - search churches in Dodge Co., Nebraska and surrounding areas;
3. Locate any land records, city directories, etc. placing Zenophile in the U.S. prior to 1881;
4. Find Zenophile's immigration/naturalization records, and maybe even a passport (if he indeed made a return visit to Quebec);
5. Find birth records for all of their children.  They had 8 total, but only 5 survived.  This will help identify all the children and help identify where they were living.

If anyone can see any holes in my logic, please let me know.  My brain is sorta like oatmeal right now.

*No matter how frustrating this research gets, it will always be better then algebra.


Nancy said...

How I sympathize with you, Jenny! Your logic looks good. Now, if records will just cooperate and present themselves, complete with all the information you need.

I really enjoyed reading this post.

Jenny Lanctot said...

Thanks, Nancy! I'm glad it makes sense. Now, I have to make time next weekend to do a dance for the historic records gods so they will look favorably upon me :)

Cindy said...

Jenny - great work! BTW, totally agree with you on the Algebra front. It has been many years, but I always dreaded the math homework! My son is about to take Algebra II, and I do not envy him :)

Jenny Lanctot said...

Thanks Cindy! Only 5 more weeks left of algebra and then I finally get my degree in my hot little hands. Tell your son not to throw away ANY of his notes, especially if he plans on going to college!

Post a Comment