Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Croteau Connection: 52 Ancestors #64

Researching my great grand-aunt Marie Rabideau/Rabida, I was puzzled by the location of her marriage to Toussaint Croteau: the small Vermont town of Jamaica. There didn't seem to have been any Croteaus or Rabidas in or around Jamaica; it's in the southern end of Vermont, far from where Toussaint might have crossed the Canadian border and far from Marie's origins in Coos County, New Hampshire; and I couldn't discern any possible connection to the place for either the bride or the groom, despite their declarations that both resided there.

Still, their oldest daughter, Eva, was listed in each census as having been born in Vermont, and her marriage record gave a specific birth place of Jamaica, Vermont. Eventually I located a birth record in Jamaica for a Carrie "Creteau" whose parents and date of birth matched Eva's.1 So they did in fact live in Jamaica for at least nine months!

At the same time, I wondered if there was any connection between this Toussaint Croteau, and the Beatrice Croteau who had become the second wife of Louis Rabida, Marie's father, around 1881. It could be coincidental – Croteau is a fairly common French-Canadian surname – but it didn't seem likely that a 16-year-old Marie would have run off to an obscure Vermont town to marry a Croteau with no relationship whatsoever to the Coos County Croteaus (how would she even have met him?).

So I decided it was time to investigate the Croteau connection: Where did Beatrice and Toussaint come from? Were they related? And what was Toussaint doing in Jamaica?

Beatrice Croteau

Death of Mrs. Beatrix Robida, 1914
The 1914 death record for "Mrs. Beatrix Robida," wife of Louis Robida, has her father's name as Louis, no mother's name, and gives her date of birth as 15 Aug 1846, in "Black River, P.Q."2 That's more specific than usual for a Canadian immigrant at the time – I'm usually lucky to get just "Quebec" instead of the almost useless "Canada." Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any locality called Black River in Quebec today, only a river by that name. The 1900 and 1910 censuses, plus records of children's births, deaths, and marriages, establish her name as Beatrice, Bessie, or Mary B. Croteau; the 1900 census gives an Aug 1846 birth date, while in 1910 her given age of 62 yields a calculated birth year of 1847-48. She claimed to have immigrated in either 1877 or 1870.3

In Ancestry's "Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968" database, the only "Marie Beatrice" in the right time frame was a baptism for Marie Beatrix Croteau, daughter of Toussaint Croteau and Marie Belanger of Saint-Gilles, born 31 Aug 1847 (baptized at St-Nicolas).4 The date was off, the "Black River" location was unexplained, and the father wasn't named Louis, but death records are notoriously unreliable for birth information, and the correct month, off by one year, is certainly plausible for a birth date. (And we have only to look at Marie Rabida's husband to see that Louis is a plausible nickname for a Toussaint!) Or she might have been baptized as Marie, with the "Beatrice" added later.5 So my identification of her as "my" Beatrice was only tentative.

Baptism of Marie Beatrix Croteau, 1 Sep 1847, Saint-Nicolas Parish

Toussaint "Louis" Croteau

The record of the 1894 marriage of Toussaint "Creteau" to Marie Rabida in Jamaica, Vermont, gives his age as 28 (calc birth 1866), born Canada; his father's name was also Toussaint, and his mother's was Marie Obeline "Creteau".6 This information came from his "groom's card" in Vermont's state-wide vital records card file, and I wondered if there was any additional information in the original town records. I was pleased to discover that FamilySearch has digitized the Jamaica town vital records, and even more pleased to find that the certificate of marriage for Toussaint and Marie had one additional piece of information: instead of just "Canada," Toussaint's place of birth was stated to be... Black River, Canada.7 Though I still didn't know where Black River was, I began to view a possible connection as increasingly likely.

Certificate of marriage, Toussaint Creteau and Mary Rabida, 29 Sep 1894, Jamaica, Vermont

Census records give a birth date of Mar 1864 or calculated birth years of 1865-66. The immigration date of 1898 is clearly inaccurate, as he married in Vermont in 1894.8 The censuses and his children's birth and death records all variously call him either Louis or Toussaint, while his death record gives his name as Toussaint.

A search for Toussaint Louis Croteau, born about 1865, in Ancestry's Drouin Collection database again yielded only one likely candidate: Toussaint Alfred Croteau, son of Toussaint Croteau and Marie Dionne, born 14 Mar 1865 in Saint-Gilles.9 There were a number of Croteaus baptized "Louis" circa 1865 but none of the fathers were named Toussaint (or Louis, for that matter). Again, the birth month is correct and the year off by one (by comparison to the 1900 census). The mother's name is no help, other than noting it was neither Croteau (from Toussaint's marriage record) nor Belanger (Marie Beatrix's mother's maiden name).

Baptism of Toussaint Alfred Croteau, 15 Mar 1865, Saint-Gilles Parish
 It was time for some more in-depth research into the Marie Beatrix Croteau and Toussaint Alfred Croteau I had identified, to see if I could verify that they were my Beatrice and Toussaint "Louis" and whether they were related.

Reconstructing the Croteau Family

For this, I turned to Genealogy Quebec and the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH, Research Programme in Historical Demography) at the Université de Montréal. PRDH has constructed a massive online database of Quebec baptisms, marriages, and burials, linked into "family reconstructions." Although it is not free, and currently runs only through 1849, it is invaluable for French-Canadian research and well-worth the cost.10 Genealogy Quebec complements PRDH by providing integrated access to the images of the original church registers and the civil copies. Its LAFRANCE database is similar to the PRDH database, but extends to 1860 for baptisms and burials and to 1917 for marriages, offsetting the lack of a "family group" view like PRDH has.11

So, I began by searching the PRDH for the parents of Marie Beatrix noted in her baptismal record. Toussaint Croteau and Marie Belanger were married 1n 1845 in St-Nicolas, and had three children born before 1850: Jean Baptiste, Marie Beatrice, and Michel.12 I then searched for the couple in the LAFRANCE with interesting results. Not only did it turn up four more children baptised between 1851 and 1858, and marriages of three of their children from 1878 to 1882, but also the burial of Marie Belanger in 186113 – and Toussaint's remarriage in 1862 to Marie Obeline Dionne.14 In other words, the Marie Dionne who was Toussaint Alfred's mother was almost certainly the same as the Marie Obeline Creteau who Toussaint "Louis" gave as his mother on his marriage record.

A search for Toussaint Croteau and Marie Obeline Dionne provided the 1888 marriage of their son Napoleon, and a third marriage for Toussaint, to Philomene Cote, in 1879. Marie Obeline Dionne had died in 1876.5 (I might note that on the same day Toussaint married Philomene Cote, his son Michel married Mathilde Cote, who happened to be Philomene's sister. The Cote sisters must have been sickly, because Michel was a widow remarrying in 1883, and Toussaint likewise in 1885, to his fourth wife, Philomene Breton.)

Returning to Ancestry, I searched their Drouin database for Croteau baptisms between 1860 and 1880 in St-Gilles (where Toussaint Alfred was born) and St-Agapit (where some of Toussaint's children married), eventually assembling what I believe is a complete picture of the elder Toussaint's families by his first two wives. (So far I haven't found any evidence that either Philomene had any children by Toussaint.)

Children of Toussaint Croteau (1821-aft 1901) and Marie Belanger (abt 1825-1861):
  1. Jean-Baptiste "John" (1845-1920) m. Delima Desange Noel
  2. Marie Beatrice (1847-1914), m. Louis Rabida
  3. Michel (1849-1919) m. (1) Mathilde Cote, (2) Marie Adeline Guerin
  4. Louis Benjamin (1851-1913), m. Virginie Carrier
  5. Marie (1854-1855)
  6. Joseph (1856-1900), m. Delvina Bergeron
  7. Marie Delvina (1858-1930), m. Milton F. Spencer

Children of Toussaint Croteau and Marie Obeline Dionne (d. 1876):
  1. Francois Xavier "Levi" (1863-1938), m. Josephine Nadeau
  2. Joseph Napoleon [twin] (1865-), m. Alida Bergeron
  3. Toussaint Alfred "Louis" [twin] (1865-1940), m. Marie Rabida
  4. Jean-Baptiste (1867-1867)
  5. Joseph Alfred (1869-1970), m. Augustine Nadeau
  6. Charles Gaudiose (1871-1871)
  7. Louis Gaudiose (1872-1874)
  8. Marie Delvina (1876-1876)

The Croteau Connection

It was now clear that "my" Toussaint Louis was Toussaint Alfred. Two of his full brothers, Francois Xavier "Levi" and Alfred, moved to Berlin, N.H., married there, and died there. His twin, Napoleon, lived at least briefly in Berlin – one of his children was born there – though he apparently returned to Quebec shortly thereafter.

But was "my" Beatrice actually Toussaint Louis's half-sister Marie Beatrix? She was nearly 20 years his senior, and very likely never lived in the same household. I hoped to find some indication that Toussaint retained ties to his older half-siblings – making the connection to Beatrice more plausible – or alternatively, some indication that Beatrice retained ties to her own (presumed) full siblings. To that end, I looked for signs of the older Croteau siblings around Milan, N.H., where Louis and Beatrice Rabida lived; in Jamaica, Vt., where Toussaint and Marie Rabida had married and had their first child; and in Massachusetts, where Toussaint and Marie eventually settled.

I actually found all three.

Coos County, N.H.: I found one John B. Croteau living in Coos County, from 1870 until his death in 1920, from being gored by a bull. In 1870 he was in Northumberland, but from 1880 on he lived in Milan, and in 1900 he was enumerated only four households away from Lewis and Mary B[essie] Rabideau. His death record identifies his parents as "T. Croteau" and "Mary Belanger"; the given birth date in 1846 is a bit off, but this is clearly Jean-Baptiste Croteau, the first son of Toussaint and Marie (Belanger) Croteau, born in 1845. And his place of birth? Black River, P.Q.16

Massachusetts: Another possible connection appeared in a somewhat unexpected location. Toussaint's half-brother Michel moved his family from Quebec to Fitchburg, Mass., in 1901, where they had several more children. Michel's wife Adeline died there in 1915, and Michel in 1919. Several of their children, who would have been Toussaint and Marie's nephews, remained permanently in Fitchburg. Hardly definitive evidence of a connection, but it's worth noting that both Toussaint and Michel named a son Wilfred, and it could explain why Marie appears to have ended up in Fitchburg in 1930.

Jamaica, Vermont: Finally, the link to Jamaica was still nagging at me. Initially I had found no evidence of a Croteau presence in Jamaica beyond Toussaint himself. But I recalled that I had some problem finding the groom's card for his marriage – for some reason the search algorithm seems to be erratic about finding the "Creteau" variant if you search for "Croteau", and this spelling wasn't a one-off error in Jamaica's records, because the same spelling was on their daughter's birth record. So I tried searching for "Creteau", and lo and behold, found another Creteau marriage registered in Jamaica, less than three months prior to Toussaint and Marie's marriage!

Marie D. Creteau, marrying Milton F. Spencer on 3 Jul 1894, was 35 (born about 1859), from Canada, and her parents were given as John and Mary Creteau – so apparently, and disappointingly, not one of Toussaint Senior's children.17 Still, I refused to believe that two "Creteaus" marrying three months apart in this obscure location were completely unrelated, so I started tracking Marie (Creteau) Spencer through the years. The Spencers were still living in Jamaica in 1900, but by 1910 had moved to St. Albans, Vt. Milton died in 1915, and Marie in 1930. Her death record was much more forthcoming than her marriage record had been: her place of birth was St. Gilles, Quebec, and her parents were reported to be Thomas Croteau and Marie Belanger.18 Still not quite Toussaint (though for all I know that might be an Americanization), but the mother certainly fits my hypothesis. Put that together with the fact that Marie (Belanger) Croteau's last child, born 1858 at Saint-Gilles, was named Marie Delvina, and I was convinced that Marie D. (Croteau) Spencer was indeed Toussaint's half-sister.  I still don't know how or why they found their ways to Jamaica in the first place, but at least I know that Toussaint did have a connection in that place.

The Final Confirmation

Of course, this still didn't quite prove that Beatrice (Croteau) Rabida was actually the Marie Beatrix who was Marie Delvina's sister and Toussaint's half-sister. But as I was writing this and looking up census records for Marie D. Spencer, I also found her probate records. And these, quite unexpectedly, gave me just the proof I'd been looking for, in the form of two bequests in her will, written in 1926.19
I, Marie D. Spencer... give, devise and dispose of all my estate... in the following manner:
I give to my nephew, Francis Rabida, of East Hardwick, in the County of Caledonia and State of Vermont, One Thousand Dollars ...
I give to my nephew, Thomas Rabida, brother of said Francis, of said East Hardwick, the like sum of One Thousand Dollars...
Francis and Thomas Rabida were the two oldest, and only surviving, sons of Louis Rabida and Beatrice Croteau. The 1920 census places the brothers in Walden, Caledonia County (Thomas, whose wife had recently died, was enumerated in Frank's household), only eight miles from East Hardwick. Clearly, Marie Delvina had remained close to her sister, Marie Beatrix, to make such substantial bequests (over $13,700 each in today's dollars) to Beatrice's sons.

Excerpt from 1926 will of Marie D. [Croteau] Spencer, bequests to nephews
Black River

And what about the mysterious Black River, where the death records of Beatrice, Toussaint, and Jean-Baptiste "John" had claimed they all were born? As I pointed out above, there is no locality in Quebec named Black River today. But, as it turns out, there was in the late 19th century. In the 1873 edition of Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America, I found the following entry:
Black River Station, or St. Agapit de Beaurivage, a post village in Lotbiniere co., Que., on the G T R, 21 miles from Quebec... Pop. 300.20
Saint-Agapit is less than six miles from Saint-Gilles, where most of the elder Toussaint's children were born and baptized, including the younger Toussaint "Louis". And following the younger Toussaint's birth, the rest of the children, starting in 1867, were baptized at Saint-Agapit. Most likely they never moved, though; Saint-Agapit parish was only formed in 1867, from parts of Saint-Apollinaire and Saint-Gilles-de-Beaurivage.21 Very likely Black River Station existed in Saint-Gilles before Saint-Agapit was formed (I haven't found an earlier gazetteer to check). So when the Croteaus said they were born in Black River, they almost certainly meant a village in Saint-Gilles Parish that later became Saint-Agapit, known as Black River [Station]. The Black River itself is a tributary of the Beaurivage River which runs through these parishes.22

The Relationships

My great grand-aunt Marie (Rabida) Croteau was both step-daughter and half-sister-in-law to Marie Beatrice (Croteau) Rabida. That makes Thomas and Frank Rabida (Beatrice's sons) both uncles and half-first cousins to Eva, Wilfred, and Leonce (Marie and Toussaint's children). I'll bet that could make for some complicated DNA matches!



(This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow's 2018 "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.)

SOURCES
  1. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 3 Oct 2018); birth of Carrie Creteau, 30 Jun 1895, Jamaica.
  2. "New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 May 2012); death of Mrs. Beatrix Robida, 1 Jul 1914, Berlin.
  3. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, New Hampshire, Coos County, Milan, enumeration district (ED) 268, sheet 5A-5B, p. 242 (stamped), dwelling 96, family 97, Lewis Rabideau household. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, New Hampshire, Coos County, Milan, enumeration district (ED) 67, sheet 2A, p. 158 (stamped), dwelling 26, family 28, Louis Rabideau household. Both viewed as digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Jan 2014).
  4. Saint-Nicolas Parish (Saint-Nicolas, Quebec, Canada), Parish Registers, 1847, folio 22r-v, B.104, baptism of Marie Beatrix Croteau, 1 Sep 1847; database and images, "Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967", Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Jun 2012); Saint > St-Nicolas > 1847 > images 22-23 of 36.
  5. Or she may have been baptized with some other second forename – the birth record of one of her children gave her name as Rose (though that seems to have been an error that was corrected in a later copy).
  6. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," database and digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Nov 2017); groom's card for "TousSaint Creteau"-Mary Rabida marriage, 29 Sep 1894, Jamaica, Vt. While Cr[o]teau was probably his mother's married name (Marie's mother was listed as Mary Rabida on the bride's card), I couldn't rule out the possibility that it might be her maiden name.
  7. "Vermont, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1732-2005," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/search/collection/1987653 : accessed 2 Oct 2018); Windham > Jamaica > Births with index, marriages with index, deaths with index 1857-1945 > image 917 of 1380; Toussaint "Creteau"-Mary Rabida marriage, 29 Sep 1894.
  8. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Maine, Cumberland County, Brunswick, enumeration district (ED) 37, sheet 18B, dwelling 198, family 327, Louis Crotteau household. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Lawrence, enumeration district (ED) 1942, sheet 2B, dwelling 28, family 47, Louis "Crouteau" household. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Lawrence, enumeration district (ED) 115, sheet 13A-B, p. 235 (stamped), dwelling 150, family 246, Toussaint Croteau household. All three viewed as digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2017).
  9. Saint-Gilles-de-Beaurivage Parish (Saint-Gilles, Quebec, Canada), Parish Registers, 1865, folio 5v, B.12, baptism of Toussaint Alfred Croteau, 15 Mar 1865; database and images, "Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967", Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Sep 2018); Saint > St-Gilles > St-Gilles-de-Beaurivage > 1865 > image 6 of 20.
  10. PRDH-IDG (https://www.prdh-igd.com/en/home). PRDH access is "hit-based" – searches, by individual or couple, are free; viewing each individual profile, family summary, or BMD "act" details costs one "hit". The subscriber can buy hits by the 100 or 1000.
  11. Genealogy Quebec (https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en/). Genealogy Quebec offers monthly or annual subscriptions to their suite of research tools, including The LAFRANCE database and the Drouin Collection of register images.
  12. "PRDH Genealogical Dictionary of Families, 1621-1849," database, PRDH-IDG (https://www.prdh-igd.com/en/home : accessed 16 Sep 2018); family #233336, Toussaint Croteau and Marie Belanger. 
  13. Saint-Gilles-de-Beaurivage Parish (Saint-Gilles, Quebec, Canada), Parish Registers, 1861, folio 6v, S.8, burial of Marie Bélanger, 14 Aug 1861; digital images, "Drouin Collection", Genealogy Quebec (https://https://www.genealogiequebec.com/Membership/en/fonds-drouin/REGISTRES : accessed 28 Sep 2018); Québec > St > St-Gilles > St-Gilles (St-Gilles-de-Beaurivage) > 1860 > 1861 > d1p_16620805.jpg.
  14. Saint-Colomb-de-Sillery Parish (Sillery, Quebec, Canada), Parish Registers, 1862, folio 13v, M.8, marriage of Toussaint Croteau and Marie Obeline Dionne, 14 Jul 1862; database and images, "Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967", Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Sep 2018); S > Sillery > St-Colomb > 1862 > image 15 of 37.
  15. Saint-Agapit Parish (Saint-Agapit, Quebec, Canada), Parish Registers, 1876, folio 2v, S.4, burial of Marie Obéline Dionne, 3 Apr 1876; digital images, "Drouin Collection", Genealogy Quebec (https://https://www.genealogiequebec.com/Membership/en/fonds-drouin/REGISTRES : accessed 30 Sep 2018); Québec > St > St-Agapit > 1870 > 1876 > d1p_1632a1300.jpg.
  16. "New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947," database and images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 2 Oct 2018), death of John B. Croteau, 20 Apr 1920, Berlin.
  17. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," database and digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 3 Oct 2018); bride's card for Milton F. Spencer-Marie D. Creteau marriage, 3 Jul 1894, Jamaica, Vt.
  18. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," death of Mrs. Marie D. Spencer, 1 Jul 1930, St. Albans, Vt.
  19. "Vermont, Wills and Probate Records, 1749-1999," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Oct 2018), path: Franklin > Estate Files, Spaulding, Carrie-Spiller, Leroy C, 1900-1960 > images 959-60 of 1067; will of Marie D. Spencer, 1926.
  20. P. A. Crossby, editor, Lovell's Gazetteer of British North America (Montreal: John Lovell, 1873), p. 37, entry for Black River Station; digital images, Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org : downloaded 2 Oct 2018).
  21. "Saint-Agapit," Originis (https://www.originis.ca/paroisse_saint_agapit.html : accessed 12 Oct 2018).
  22. "Rivière Noire (rivière Beaurivage)," Wikipédia (https://fr.wikipedia.org : accessed 12 Oct 2018).

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Marie (Rabideau) Croteau: 52 Ancestors #63

One of my earliest "52 Ancestors" posts, more than four and a half years ago, was a sketch of Célina (Cloutier) Rabideau, my second great-grandmother, about whom I knew – and still know – very little. Besides my great-grandfather, she had three daughters, Adeline, Xalia, and Marie, according to the 1880 census.1 At the time I wrote that sketch, I had found further records only for Adeline, aside from a single mention in my great-grandfather's 1946 obituary2 of a surviving sister, "Mrs. Mary Croteau of East Gardner, Mass." (Adeline had died in 1934.)

The following year, Ancestry published the Social Security Applications and Claims Index database, and suddenly I had one more record for Marie, daughter of Louis Robidas and Celina Cloutier: not only did it provide a birth date and place for her (28 Apr 1879, Berlin Falls, N.H.), it confirmed that she was Mary Croteau in the 1940s.3 So last year, I finally began to follow up on the "Mary Croteau" lead, and see if I could track down great grand-aunt Marie.

There were Croteaus aplenty in Coos County, New Hampshire, by 1900 – indeed, Marie's father Louis Rabideau had married a Marie Beatrice Croteau around 1881, shortly after Célina's death – so the logical first step was to see if she had married one of them. But no marriage of a Marie Rabideau/Robida to a Croteau could be found in the previous decade, and I had to assume she married prior to 1900 because she wasn't found under her maiden name in the census.

With no clue as to where she had married, or her husband's first name, I approached the search from the other end, in Massachusetts. Perhaps she had had children there, and the Massachusetts VRs are detailed, and well-indexed, through 1915. Searching for Croteau children with a mother named Marie Rabideau (or a variant) proved fruitful: a number of births, and almost as many deaths, in Lawrence, Mass., and (earlier) in Maine. The father's name varied, usually Louis but sometimes Toussaint, and Marie (or Mary) was described variously as being born in New Hampshire, Maine, and Canada, but once correlated with the 1900-1920 census records,4 it was clear this was all the same family.

Now that I had a first name (or two) for her husband, a marriage search centered on New Hampshire with surrounding states produced an 1894 marriage for Toussaint "Creteau" and Mary "Rabida" (father Louis, mother Mary Rabida) that appeared to fit in with the other available data. The one puzzle was the location of the marriage – the small town of Jamaica, Vermont.5 Though both bride and groom claimed to reside there, their connection to the location was a mystery that I left for another day (and another 52 Ancestors post).

Marriage of Toussaint "Creteau" and Mary Rabida, 1894, Jamaica, Vermont

Putting it all together yields the following picture of my great grand-aunt Marie's life.

Marie Rabideau/Robida was born sometime between 1873-1879 in Coos County, New Hampshire.6 The birth information of 28 Apr 1879 at Berlin Falls, New Hampshire, from her Social Security application, is plausible enough except for the year: the family was living in Berlin in 1880, but Marie was listed as 2 years old, with a 1-year-old sister, so 1878 is more likely. Lacking a birth record, that census is the most contemporary record we have.

Of course, thanks to the lost 1890 census, the only thing I really know about Marie between 1880 and 1900 is that on 29 Sep 1894, in Jamaica, Vermont, she married Toussaint Croteau, a farmer from Canada.7 Exactly 9 months later, on 30 Jun 1895, Marie gave birth to their first child, named Carrie (but by 1900 called Eva).8 They must have moved to Milan, New Hampshire, where Marie's father and stepmother now lived, around 1896 or 97 – their second daughter, Lovia, was born there – and by 1898 had moved on to Brunswick, Maine, where they had two sons, Wilfred in 1898 and Leonce in 1900.

Eva, Wilfred, and Leonce were the only children who would live to adulthood; early in 1902 Lovia died from tuberculosis. Marie would bear five more sons over the next five years, but none would survive past early childhood. The first, born in Brunswick in 1902, was unnamed on his birth record; no death record was found, but he was missing in the 1910 census. Shortly after his birth, the family moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts. Alfred, born there in 1903, died before his first birthday from inflammation of the brain and cholera infantum; his brother Joseph was born prematurely the same day, and died the following day. Eugene, born in 1905, succumbed two and a half years later to membranous croup (probably diphtheria). Within the month, their final child, George, was born – again, prematurely – and died about a month later. Marie was not yet 30.

First Eva, then Wilfred, married six months apart in 1916. In 1920, Eva and her family were still living with Toussaint, Marie, and Leonce in Lawrence, while Wilfred had settled his family in nearby Andover. Leonce married in 1921 and had his own home in Lawrence. At that point, Toussaint and Marie disappear from the Lawrence city directory (Eva and Alexis continued to live at the same address) and I lose their trail for many years, with only fleeting glimpses before their eventul deaths and burials.

A possible candidate for Mary in the 1930 census is the 51-year-old Mary Croteau in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, a resident cook at the City Infirmary.9 She is listed as married, was born in New Hampshire, and was 15 when first married; though this seems a bit young, it actually matches up with the age in that Social Security application and on her gravestone.

1930 U.S. Census, Worcester County, Mass., Fitchburg, Mary Croteau, servant in City Infirmary
I have yet to discover a trace of Toussaint in 1930. In fact, the only sign of him before his death in 194010 is a 1939 Andover city directory listing which shows him as "ret[ired]" and living with his son Wilfred.11 This would explain why he died in Andover, and his death must have been before the census date, as he was not in Wilfred's household by then.

1939 Andover, Mass. directory, entries for "Touissaint" and Wilfred Croteau
 Significantly, there is no parenthetical listing for Mary following his name, though Wilfred's wife Antonia is so listed. The only conclusion I can draw is that they had separated. From the timing of their disappearance from Lawrence, it seems this may have occurred once their last surviving child married and left the nest.

Mary survived her husband by 20 years, though for the remainder of her life she is almost as elusive as he was. I believe she may be the 60-year-old Mary Croteau in the 1940 census, a houseworker in a private home in Winchendon, Mass., born in New Hampshire and in 1935 living in Fitchburg.12 Not only is this consistent with the Fitchburg Mary from 1930, but Winchendon is adjacent to Gardner, where her brother's obituary places her in 1946; there is also a single directory listing for a Mary Croteau in Gardner in 1943, an assistant cook residing at Gardner State Hospital.13 This is so similar to the situation of the Mary Croteau at Fitchburg City infirmary in 1930 that I feel fairly confident that these are all the same person, and that she is "my" Mary.

1940 U.S. Census, Worcester County, Mass., Winchendon, Mary Croteau, servant in Pelletier household

Finally, in the 1951 and 1953 Andover city directories, we get one last glimpse of Mary, now living with her son Wilfred at 43 Beacon Street.14 She wasn't there in 1949, and 1953 is the last Andover directory in the database, so it's impossible to know how long she stayed there.

1953 Andover, Mass., directory, entries for Mary and Wilfred T Croteau
 I do know that she died in Danvers, Mass., in 1960.15 That's the site of the Danvers State Hospital, a psychiatric institution, so I have an sad suspicion that her last days may have been spent in dementia. If so, I can only hope that the period was brief.

Toussaint and Marie may have separated in life, but they are buried together in the Bedard-Croteau plot in Sacred Heart Cemetery in Andover, along with Wilfred and Antonia.16

The children of Toussaint (Louis) Croteau and Marie Rabideau:
  1. Eva (born Carrie), b. 1895, Jamaica, Vermont, married Alexis Perron, d. 1950
  2. Lovia Orelia, abt 1897-1902
  3. Wilfred, b. 1898, Brunswick, Maine, married Antonia Bedard, d. 1973
  4. Leonce, b. 1900, Brunswick, Maine, married Emma Dube, d. 1967
  5. Unnamed son, 1902-bef 1910
  6. Alfred, 1903-1904
  7. Joseph Alcide, 1904-1904
  8. Eugene, 1905-1907
  9. George, 1907-1907
Marie (Rabideau) Croteau is my great grand-aunt (or second great-aunt).


 (This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow's 2018 "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.)

SOURCES
  1. 1880 U.S. Census, Coos County, New Hampshire, Berlin, ED 29, p. 2-B, dwelling 11, family 16, Loi Rabida household; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 18 Jan 2014). 
  2. "Peter L. Rabideau" obituary, Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 17 Dec 1946, p. 2; digital images, Google News Archive (http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=IT5EXw6i2GUC : accessed 28 May 2013).
  3. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," database, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 Jul 2015); entry for Mary Croteau (Mary Robidas), SSN 014-20-2184.
  4. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Maine, Cumberland County, Brunswick, enumeration district (ED) 37, sheet 18B, dwelling 198, family 327, Louis Crotteau household. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Lawrence, enumeration district (ED) 1942, sheet 2B, dwelling 28, family 47, Louis "Crouteau" household. 1920 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Lawrence, enumeration district (ED) 115, sheet 13A-B, p. 235 (stamped), dwelling 150, family 246, Toussaint Croteau household. All three viewed as digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2017).
  5. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," database and digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 30 Nov 2017); bride's and groom's cards for "TousSaint Creteau"-Mary Rabida marriage, 29 Sep 1894, Jamaica, Vt.
  6. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," database, entry for Mary Croteau (Mary Robidas). Several of her children's birth records state that she was born in "Grovetown," "Grafton," or "Groten;" the nearest possibility seems to be Groveton, a Coos County town some 20-25 miles from the Milan and Berlin locations where I know they lived. I have no other indication that her parents ever lived in Groveton. Her birthplace is also variously noted in other records as Manchester, N.H., Maine, and Canada, so this must be taken with a hefty grain of salt; perhaps it's a corrupted version of "Gorham," where her sister Adeline claimed to have been born, and which is only a stone's throw from Berlin.
  7. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," database and digital images, "TousSaint Creteau"-Mary Rabida marriage.
  8. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1760-1954," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 3 Oct 2018); birth of Carrie Creteau, 30 Jun 1895, Jamaica.
  9. 1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Worcester County, Fitchburg, enumeration district (ED) 14-159, sheet 20A, p. 38 (stamped), 4904 (penned), line 8, Mary Croteau, servant in City Infirmary; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2017). 
  10. "Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980," database and digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Dec 2017); entry for Toussaint Croteau, 1940, Andover; citing vol. 2, p. 36.
  11. Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts, Directory, 1939 (North Hampton, N.H.: Crosby Publishing Co., 1939), entries for "Touissaint" Croteau and Wilfred (Antonia) Croteau, p. 108; database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995," Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Dec 2017).
  12. 1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Worcester County, Winchendon, enumeration district (ED) 14-319, sheet 3A, p. 4310 (stamped), household 42, Mary Croteau, servant in Alfred Pelletier household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 28 Jul 2017).
  13. Gardner [Massachusetts] Directory, 1943 (New Haven, Conn.: The Price & Lee Co., 1943), entry for Mary Croteau, p. 141; "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995" (accessed 6 Oct 2018).
  14. Andover and North Andover, Massachusetts, Directory, 1951 and 1953 (North Hampton, N.H.: Crosby Publishing Co., 1951-1953), entries for Mary Croteau and Wilfred T (Antonia) Croteau, p. 174 (1951) and 183 (1953); "U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995" (accessed 7 Oct 2018).
  15. "Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980" (accessed 3 Oct 2018); entry for Mary (Robidas) Croteau, 1960, Danvers; citing vol. 43, p. 27
  16. Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi  : accessed 28 Jul 2017), memorials 176316476 and 176316496 for Toussaint Croteau and Mary Robida Croteau, with digital photo of Bedard-Croteau monument; both by "TECK" (13 Feb 2017); citing Sacred Heart Cemetery, Andover, Essex County, Massachusetts, plot S.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Elizabeth (Murphy) Mason: 52 Ancestors #62

The final player in my "tentative third great aunt/uncle" Murphy lineup is at least a bit more straightforward than the others: only one marriage that I know of; findable in both PEI and Newburyport; and no inexplicably vanishing children. Still, she's not without her mysteries.

First is the question of her age. Like her presumed sisters, Mary and Catherine, no baptismal record has been found for Elizabeth Murphy. I'd be inclined to think she was born around 1841-42, based on her age in the 1881 census and her death certificate, were it not for the difficulty fitting her in among Patrick (Dec 1838 – baptismal record), Catherine (tentatively May 1840), and James (May 1842 – baptismal record). Moreover, there's an inviting empty slot in 1934 between Mary (tentatively 1832) and Daniel (1836 – baptismal record), but then that's even earlier than her 1900 census reported birth date of June 1836. Still, considering that Mary's and Catherine's birth dates are questionable as well, I suppose it's futile to try to fit them all together rationally. (For that matter, there could even be a set of twins among the three women.)

The first time Elizabeth actually appears in a record is 11 Nov 1869, when she marries Demas [Nicodemus] Mason, by license, at Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Georgetown, P.E.I. They are noted as bachelor (B) and spinster (S) respectively, presumably indicating a first marriage for each.1

Marriage of Demas Mason and Elizabeth Murphy, 1869

The only baptismal record found for children of the couple is one for a daughter, Mary Jane, born 6 Jun 1873 in Charlottetown and baptized on 22 Jun at St. Dunstan's Basilica (Catholic Church).2 Yet when the 1881 census rolls around, we find Demas and Elizabeth in Charlottetown with not only 8-year-old Mary Jane, but also a 19-year-old son, John!3

Baptism of Mary Jane Mason, 1873, St. Dunstan's Basilica

1881 Canada census, Prince Edward Island, Queens County, Charlottetown, Demas Mason household

Two things immediately jump out at you here: First, John's implied birth year of 1863 is a full six years before the couple's marriage. (Although his age at first appears to be 14, examination of other 4s and 9s on the sheet shows that the numeral is actually an unclosed 9; all 4s are decidedly angular, as in Elizabeth's age of 40.) Second, if Demas's age of 32 is correct, John can't possibly be his son. Possibly he's adopted, or else he is Elizabeth's from an earlier relationship. Demas was born in Nova Scotia and John in P.E.I., so it's unlikely he's a younger brother. (There is also a 3-month-old boy in the household, George Thomas Burns, with no clue as to his origin. He's not seen again.4)

Moreover, we'd typically expect to see at least four more children between the 1869 marriage and the 1881 census for a Catholic family in that era. (The Anglican Church marriage notwithstanding, all members of the family are noted in the census as Catholic, as would be suggested by Mary Jane's Catholic baptism.) And indeed, in the 1900 census,5 Elizabeth indicates that she had borne a total of ten children, only two of whom (presumably John and Mary Jane) were living. The question is why there are no other extant baptismal records.

1900 U.S. census, Massachusetts, Essex County, Newburyport, Elizabeth Mason household

While Elizabeth and the children in later censuses report their immigration as occurring, variously, anywhere from 1870 to 1885, it's likely that the actual year was about 1883, as Demas and John first appear in Newburyport city directories in the 1884 edition.6 (Oddly, that is also the year of Catherine's first directory appearance, despite being listed in the census in 1880.) John lived with his parents until marrying Sarah O'Grady in 1891. Demas worked as a laborer, and died from gastritis on 12 Mar 1895.7

1884 Newburyport city directory, entries for "Demes" and John T. Mason at 60 Marlboro St.
1894 Newburyport city directory, entries for Demas and John T. Mason
1896 Newburyport city directory, entries for Demas (died), Elizabeth (widow), and John T. Mason
1900 Newburyport city directory, entries for Elizabeth Mason and Daniel Murphy at 6 Elbow Lane
1906 Newburyport city directory, entries for Elizabeth (died) and John T. Mason

Elizabeth continued to live with her daughter at 6 Elbow Lane following Demas's death. Her brother Daniel boarded with them at least for a while, as he was enumerated there in the 1900 census and is listed there in the 1900 directory. Elizabeth died of "exhaustion from cancer" on 1 Feb 1906, and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Newburyport. According to her death certificate, her father was William Murphy and her mother's name was "unknown."8

Death of Elizabeth (Murphy) Mason, 1906, Newburyport, Mass.

After her mother's death, Mary Jane (who never married) lived for a time with her cousin Pius (Peter) Murphy, son of her uncle Daniel.9 She died from pulmonary tuberculosis on 18 Oct 1913, and was buried in St. Mary's Cemetery.10 John and his wife Sarah had two daughters, Honora A. and Elizabeth Mary. Sarah died in 1930 and John in 1942. Neither of their daughters married.

I have no direct evidence that Elizabeth's father was Michael Murphy. However, indirect evidence (a brother Daniel Murphy residing with her in 1900, and Mary Jane living with Daniel's son, her cousin, in 1910) ties her to Daniel, and my (and my brothers') DNA matches strongly indicate that Daniel and my great-great-grandfather William have the same parents.

It's also interesting to note that both Elizabeth's son John, and Mary's daughter Annabelle, as informants on their mothers' death certificates, reported the deceased's father's name to be William, 12 years apart.11 Perhaps a misconception on John's part (stemming from William Murphy's residence in Newburyport at that time) got passed along to cousin Annabelle? Again, DNA matches indicate a link between Mary and my great-great-grandfather.

Unfortunately, since both Elizabeth's daughter and her two grandchildren died without having children of their own, I won't be finding any DNA matches to confirm Elizabeth's place in my family tree. Like Catherine, she will remain as a likely – but unproven – third great aunt.

(This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow's 2018 "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.)

SOURCES
  1. "Prince Edward Island, Canada, Baptisms, Marriages, Burials, 1780-1983," database and images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Sep 2018); Various Church Records; Mount Stewart, Georgetown; 1842-95, 1911, 1918, 1946, 1977 > image 64 of 290, p. 15, Demas Mason and Elizabeth Murphy, 1869; citing FHL film 1630110.
  2. "Prince Edward Island Baptism Card Index, 1721-1885," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 14 Feb 2014); baptism of Mary Jane Mason, 6 June 1873; citing St. Dunstan's Basilica, record book no. 3, p. 341.
  3. 1881 census of Canada, Prince Edward Island, district 2, sub-district A, Queens County, Charlottetown, p. 30, dwelling 135, family 135, Demas Mason household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 14 Feb 2014).
  4. I can't help but wonder if there is any possible connection to Catherine Linklighter's residence in the John Burns household in Newburyport in 1880. The timing makes it seem unlikely.
  5. 1900 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Newburyport, enumeration district (ED) 419, sheet 2-A, p. 87 (stamped), dwelling 16, family 21, Elizabeth Mason household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Feb 2014).
  6. The Newburyport Directory, 1884... (Boston: Sampson, Davenport, & Co., 1884) and The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, [year]... (Boston: Sampson, Murdock, & Co. 1886-1906), entries for "Demes" or Demas Mason (1884, 86, 89, 91, 94, 96), John T. Mason (1884, 86, 89, 91, 94, 96), and Elizabeth Mason (1896, 98, 1900, 02, 04, 06); database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Feb 2014). 
  7. "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," database and digital images, American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org : accessed 22 Feb 2014); Newburyport, vol. 454, p. 530, death of Demas Mason, 1895; citing "original records held by the Massachusetts Archives".
  8. "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910"; Newburyport, vol. 1906/68 (death), p. 189, death certificate, Elizabeth Mason, 1906.
  9. 1910 U.S. census, population schedule, Massachusetts, Essex County, Newburyport, enumeration district (ED) 438, sheet 3-A, p. 2145 (penned), dwelling 47, family 52, Peter Murphy household; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 Sep 2016).
  10. "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915," database and digital images, American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org : accessed 14 Feb 2014); Newburyport, vol. 1913/75 Death, p. 481, death certificate, Mary Jane Mason, 1913.
  11. "Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841-1920," database and digital images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 19 Jul 2014), Newburyport, death certificate #220 (registered #152), Mary A. (Green) Bamber, 18 Jul 1918.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – How Many Ancestors In the 1900 Census?

I decided to accept this week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun assignment, from Randy Seaver's Genea-Musings:

How many of your ancestors are in the 1900 United States Census?  List them all, their location, their age, and their occupation.  Were any ancestors missed by the census enumerator? [Note: For folks who have census entries in other countries, substitute your country for the U.S. and the closest available census to 1900.]

Working backward through the generations, I have:
  • Grandfather Chester F. Kirk, resided in Andover, Oxford County, Maine; age 42, "veternerry surgeon"
  • Grandmother Mary Milliken Hodsdon, resided in Andover, Oxford County, Maine; age 18, chamber maid
(Yes, that age difference is correct and not a typo. While they were not yet married at the time of the census, they would be later that year. She would be his fifth wife. Interestingly, with the exception of wife #2, who was of an age with Chester at 28, all of his wives were between 17-19 when married, while he aged from 23 to 43.)
  • Grandfather George W. Murphy, resided in Township 8, Prince County, Prince Edward Island; age 14, "farmer's son" [!901 Canada census]
  • Grandmother Glenna M. Rabideau, resided in Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire; age 1

  • Great-grandfather Silas Kirk, resided in Freeport, Cumberland County, Maine; age 73, carpenter
  • Great-grandmother Sarah C. (Sukeforth) Kirk, resided in Freeport, Cumberland County, Maine; age 64, no occupation

  • Great-grandfather Marchant Hodsdon, resided in Andover, Oxford County, Maine; age 58, farmer
  • Great-grandmother Kate Maria (Rand) Hodsdon, resided in Andover, Oxford County, Maine; age 45, no occupation

  • Great-grandfather Dominic Murphy, resided in Township 8, Prince County, Prince Edward Island; age 48, farmer [!901 Canada census]
  • Great-grandmother Roseanne (McIntyre) Murphy, resided in Township 8, Prince County, Prince Edward Island; age 37, no occupation [!901 Canada census]

  • Great-grandfather Peter Louis Rabideau, resided in Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire; age 30, day laborer
  • Great-grandmother Eva (Woodward) Rabideau, resided in Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire; age 29, no occupation

  • Great-great-grandmother Dolly (Brister) Rand, resided in Andover, Oxford County, Maine; age 82, no occupation

  • Great-great-grandfather William Murphy, resided in Township 51, Kings County, Prince Edward Island; age 70, farmer
  • Great-great-grandmother Flora (McDonald) Murphy, resided in Township 51, Kings County, Prince Edward Island; age 68, no occupation

  • Great-great-grandfather Louis Rabideau, resided in Milan, Coos County, New Hampshire; age 51, farmer

  • Great-great-grandmother Mary (Washburn) Woodward, resided in Dummer, Coos County, New Hampshire; age 69, no occupation

  • Great-great-great-grandfather Louis Rabideau, resided in Stoke, Quebec; age 69, occupation unreadable [!901 Canada census]

In summary:
  • Three grandparents in the 1900 US census, one in the 1901 Canada census
  • Six great-grandparents in the 1900 US census, two in the 1901 Canada census
  • Three great-great-grandparents in the 1900 US census, two in the 1901 Canada census, eleven deceased
  • One great-great-great-grandparent in the 1901 Canada census, the rest deceased

A total of 18 of my ancestors were alive in 1900-1901 and were enumerated in the 1900 US and 1901 Canada censuses. None were missed.

Thanks for the assignment, Randy!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Catherine (Murphy) Linklighter: 52 Ancestors, #61

Previously, I posted a three-part series on each of two of the four "tentative" third-great aunts and uncle in my Murphy line, "Mysterious Mary" (Murphy) (Bowlen) (Green) Bamber (starting here) and Daniel Murphy (beginning here). Since then, several 4th-cousin autosomal DNA matches to descendants of both Daniel and Mary have shown up in the match lists for me and/or my brothers, leading me to believe that my tentative addition of these two to my tree was indeed justified.

That still leaves two more potential Murphy sisters, Catherine and Elizabeth, living in Newburyport, Mass., during the same time period, late 1800s to early 1900s. Catherine Ann (Murphy) Linklighter is by far the most tenous identification of the whole bunch.

As with her (possible) sister Mary, I haven't found a birth record for Catherine Murphy on Prince Edward Island, and if the 1900 census can be believed, she immigrated in 1860 – not as early as Mary, but still long before PEI's first fully nominal census. (The lack of an 1871 census for PEI is fully as frustrating as the lost 1890 U.S. census.)

Unlike Mary, who first showed up (albeit as an ostensible Campbell rather than a Murphy) in Newburyport marrying George Bowlen in 1853, and can be found in the census and city directories thereafter, Catherine doesn't make an actual appearance there until 1880. Even then, we don't have her first name – just an initial – or her maiden name.

In the somewhat messy 1880 census listing for the John Burns household,1 "C Linklighter" (female, age 40, widowed) is identified in the Relationship column as House Keeper, which is scratched out. Born in "P.E. Island," her parents were born in Ireland and Scotland. With her is 10-year-old Walter Linklighter, "son of H[ouse] Keep[er]", thus distinguished from the subsequent Burns children, each listed as "son of John" or "dau of John". Walter, himself born in Massachusetts, has both parents born in P.E.I.

1880 U.S. census, Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, C Linklighter
and Walter Linklighter in John Burns household
Thanks to that missing 1890 census, we only get to see Catherine in the census one more time, in 1900.2 This time we have her first name, a birth date of May 1840 (consistent with her age of 40 of 1880), and the information that she has had only one child (presumably Walter), and that she immigrated to the U.S. in 1860. She now states that her parents, like herself, were born in Prince Edward Island. Walter, now 30 (born Jan 1870,3 Massachusetts), is still with her, still single, and working as a "boucher" in the shoe industry.4

1890 U.S. census, Newburyport, Essex County, Massachusetts, Catherine Linklighter household
The Newburyport city directories5 from 1884 through 1904 list Catharine Linklighter (Kate beginning in 1894), widow, first at 174 Merrimac Street (rear) – the same address where she was enumerated in the 1880 census – and later on Atkinson Street (her 1900 enumeration address). Walter was also listed at her address beginning in 1891, when he would have been 21. His occupation was given as "morocco dresser"6 until 1904, when he is listed as a clerk.



The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, 1891 (top) and 1904 (bottom), Linklighter entries
And then, they both disappear from the directories. Kate, at least, was still in Newburyport at the time of her death on 4 Jan 1909, but Walter seems to have disappeared utterly. He was not the informant for his mother's death, as one might have expected; I have been unable to find any trace of him in the 1910 census; and there is no death certificate for him in Massachusetts, unless it's grossly mis-indexed. For that matter, there is no record of a Walter Linklighter born anywhere in Massachusetts any time around 1870, despite what the census says. It's as if mother and son had been beamed down by aliens to Newburyport in 1880, and the son was beamed up again in 1905.

Where, you may ask, did I get the idea from all of this that Catherine was even a Murphy at all, let alone one of my Murphys, and the sister of Mary? From her death certificate.7 Granted, details on death certificates are notoriously suspect, and I have yet to identify the "Miss McDonald" who was the informant (she could have been a hired nurse who didn't really know her). Catherine's age is off compared to the census (64, implying a birth year of 1845), and I'm suspicious of the 40-years-dead husband's name being Walter (it may have been assumed that her son was named for his father).

Catherine Ann Linklighter death certificate, 4 Jan 1909, Newburyport, Mass.

However, it's doubtful that any informant would give Catherine's maiden name as Murphy at random. It seems certain that someone present knew that was her maiden name. And it seems equally unlikely that the informant would pull the specific name Michael Murphy out of a hat for Catherine's father; if she didn't know, wouldn't she simply have left it blank, as she did the mother's name?

The final link in my tentative identification chain is the address of Catherine's residence at death: 41 Market St. If you happened to read my 2014 posts about Mysterious Mary, you might recall that Mary Green, along with assorted husbands, children, and sons-in-law, lived at 41 Market Street – as Mrs. Daniel W Green, Mary A Greene, and Mrs. Mary A Bamber – from 1874 right through her death in 1918. Now, Mary did seem to have an occasional unrelated boarder, and Catherine was never listed as a resident at that address, but I can't believe it was a coincidence that she died there after living on Atkinson Street with her son for over 10 years.

My guess is that Walter either left town or died (although the absence of a death record is puzzling) around 1905, and Catherine moved in with her sister Mary, perhaps after Mary's husband Samuel Bamber dropped out of sight around 1906. Being unemployed and not a head of household, she probably would never have been "enumerated" for the city directory. This doesn't, of course, explain why Catherine's father's name was known but not her mother's.

It also can't explain the curious lack of documentation for this woman and her son, aside from two census records, a death certificate, and a series of directory listings. There is nothing before 1880, no marriage record, no birth record for Walter, no death record for Mr. Linklighter, no 1870 census. Linklighter is a somewhat unusual spelling variant of the surname Linkletter, associated with Prince Edward Island but fairly uncommon in the U.S. Either variant should stick out like a sore thumb in the records, but they're just not there. I have to wonder if Catherine (presumably a Catholic judging by her place of burial) had decided that alleged "widowhood" from a non-existent Mr. Linklighter was more acceptable than admitting to, say, unwed motherhood, abandonment, or divorce. If such was the case, then it's no wonder I can't find any records.

Unfortunately, it appears unlikely that I'll find any verification of Catherine's ancestry via DNA matches, as there is no indication that her only child Walter ever married and had children, or even if he survived his mother. So probably Catherine will remain in the "likely but unproven" category in my tree.

(This post was inspired by Amy Johnson Crow's 2018 "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge.)

SOURCES
  1. 1880 U.S. Census, Essex County, Massachusetts, Newburyport, ED 227, p. 2 (penned), dwelling 12, family 19, C Linklighter and Walter Linklighter in John Burns household; digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Feb 2014). 
  2. 1900 U.S. Census, Essex County, Massachusetts, Newburyport, ED 422, sheet 7A, p. 129 (stamped), dwelling 129, family 146, Catherine Linklighter household; digital images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 13 Feb 2014).
  3. Note that if Walter was born in Massachusetts in Jan 1870, he and his mother, at least, ought to be found in the 1870 census. They're not; I've searched for various combinations of Catherine and Walter, with and without ages and birthplaces, with surname Linkl*, Murphy, and none.
  4. Darned if I can figure out what that is – "boucher" is French for butcher, and I can't find any connection to the term in the shoe trade, even in the detailed listing of "semi-skilled operatives" in shoe factories and tanneries in U.S. Bureau of the Census, Classified Index to Occupations (n.p.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1921), pp. 109-112.
  5. The Newburyport Directory, 1884... (Boston: Sampson, Davenport, & Co., 1884) and The Newburyport and Amesbury Directory, [year]... (Boston: Sampson, Murdock, & Co. 1886-1904), entries for Catharine Linklighter (1884, 86, 89, 91), Kate Linklighter (1894, 96, 98, 1900, 02, 04), and Walter Linklighter (1891, 94, 96, 98, 1900, 02, 04); database and digital images, "U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989," Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Feb 2014). 
  6. Morocco leather was a fine goatskin used for, among other things, gloves and the uppers of ladies' shoes. A morocco dresser was one who tanned or otherwise prepared the leather. for use. This may, perhaps, shed some light on Walter's "boucher" occupation in the 1900 census; possibly someone who cut up the leather before or after the tanning process was considered to be a "butcher" of sorts?
  7. New England Historic Genealogical Society, "Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910," database and digital images, American Ancestors (http://www.americanancestors.org : accessed 22 Feb 2014); vol. 1909/73 Death, p. 296, death of Catherine Ann Linklighter, Newburyport, 1909, bizarrely mis-indexed as Catherine A. [Murphy] Linkovitch.