Saturday, December 20, 2014

52 Ancestors: #49, The Elusive Louis Robidas

Writing my most recent 52 Ancestors post, on Marie Pauline (St. Cyr) Robidas, reminded me once again that I still have not found a baptismal record for her husband Louis. In fact, I don't have a whole lot of information about my 3x great-grandfather, but what I do have conflicts wildly regarding his date of birth. Here's what I do know:

Marriage of Louis Robidas and Marie St. Cir [sic], 1849
Louis Robidas was born to Jean-Baptiste Robidas and Divine Girardeau, apparently in October sometime between 1827 and 1833, probably in either Trois-Rivieres or Pointe-du-Lac, St. Maurice, Quebec.1 He married Marie St. Cyr on 4 June 1849, at Saint-Norbert-d'Arthabaska, and was described as a "fils majeur" (at least 21, hence born no later than 1827).2 They had 11 children between 1850 and 1872, in Saint-Norbert, Wotton, Saint-Paul-de-Chester, and Sherbrooke. They appeared with three children in the 1861 Canada census in Chester West, Arthabaska County; Louis's age at his next birthday was given as 28 (hence born 1833).3

1861 Canada East census, Chester West, Arthabaska, Louis "Rabida" household
After that, aside from the children's baptismal records, there is nothing certain until 1921. Louis, widowed, age 91 (implying an 1829 birth), appeared in the 1921 census (in June) as a "logeur" in the Hospice du Sacré Couer in Sherbrooke.4

1921 Canada census, Sherbrooke, Hospice du Sacré Couer, Louis Robida
Not quite six months later, Saint-Michel-de-Sherbrooke buried one Louis Robidas, a resident of Hospice du Sacré Couer, and husband of the deceased Marie St. Cyr. He died on 28 November 1921 at the age of 91 (implying an 1830 birth).5

Burial of Louis Robidas, Saint-Michel-de-Sherbrooke, 1921
As you can see, there's little consensus on when Louis was born.

My starting point for Louis's birth was an entry in Claude Jutras's website, stating that Louis was baptized 26 October 1832 at "Trois-Rivieres ou Pointe-du-Lac."6 The date is very specific, but the ambiguous place means it couldn't be based on an actual baptismal record. Nevertheless, in analyzing other records, I worked on the assumption that the "26 October" part of the date probably has some validity.

I combed through the FamilySearch "Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979" collection, browsing the register indexes (where they exist) or the registers themselves for the full potential time period in, first, the two parishes where I knew his parents had lived: La Visitation-de-la-Pointe-du-Lac in Pointe-du-Lac, and Immaculée-Conception in Trois-Rivieres; and then, in any other parish that existed at the time in the surrounding counties where they might conceivably have had a child baptized.

I could find no baptismal record for Louis in any of those places.

In addition to the handful of records which I'm certain belong to "my" Louis, I have located four census records in the intervening years that might belong to him, if you look at them with an open mind and a healthy skepticism about the accuracy of census records in general.
1871: No trace of Louis Robida. There is, however, a William Rabidoux household in Magog, Stanstead County, with a wife Marie, and children of similar names, in the right order, though somewhat younger than expected. Maybe a neighbor answered the enumerator's questions? William Rabidoux was said to be 38 (at last birthday), meaning born in 1832.7

1881: Louis and his family seem to have vanished utterly. His three younger sons would all marry in Lewiston, Maine, in the 1880s, but I haven't found any of them in the 1880 US census. It's possible that the whole family moved to Maine just after the 1880 US census and before the 1881 Canada census, with Louis and Marie returning to Quebec later.

1891: I found a Louis and Marie Rabideaux, aged 63 and 66 (hence born ca 1828 and 1825), in Eaton (about 15 miles east of Sherbrooke). The household includes three children surnamed Cloutier, identified as two nieces and a nephew. Conceivably, these might be the children of an unidentified brother of Celina Cloutier, first wife of Louis and Marie's oldest son Louis. If so, they would be the younger Louis's nieces and nephew by marriage, and thus loosely identified as so related to the elder Louis. But this is admittedly a pretty tenuous hypothesis.8

1901: Marie died in 1895, and I found a widowed Louis Robidas, age 69, with a date of birth given as 28 Oct 1832. Interestingly, this is almost the same as the 26 Oct 1832 baptismal date found on the Jutras website, and it's quite possible the date came from this census; the image is extremely fuzzy and low-contrast, and the 28 could easily be read as 26. Add in the fact that he's in the household of a Thomas Robidas, who happens to be Louis's youngest brother, and it would seem that this must be "my" Louis Robidas. There's just one little problem: his relationship to the head of household is given as "beau frère," or brother-in-law. So I'm still not sure I have the right Louis, but on the other hand I'm not aware of any Louis Robidas who would be Thomas's brother-in-law. Possibly, the census enumerator recorded the relationship incorrectly. I give this one a fair amount of credence.9

1911: Another "possible" find, a widowed Louis Robida with date of birth and age given as Oct 1824 (or possibly 1828; again, very fuzzy image), age 76. Of course, if the year is 1824, the age should be 86; if 1828, it should be 82. But the month of October is at least consistent! His relationship to the head of household, Napoleon Durand, is given as uncle; if this is "my" Louis, he's actually Napoleon's great-uncle. I'm actually reasonably certain of this one, but the age and date ambiguity leave it open to some question.10
In summary, I have the following possible dates of birth, of varying degrees of plausibility (note that certainty as to whether the record is "my" Louis does not necessarily correlate with plausibility of the birth year):

Which still leaves me without an actual birth/baptismal record. So when – and where – was Louis Robidas born? Well, I have a theory.

When I wrote my post #36, on Jean-Baptiste Robidas (Louis's father), I listed what I knew, or thought I knew, about Jean-Baptiste's twelve children. I've made a couple of discoveries since then, and it turns out there were only eleven.11 And now, I'm beginning to suspect there may actually be only ten.

According to my current information, the last five children in the family were:
  • Jean-Richard, b. 24 Apr 1827, Trois-Rivieres
  • Marie-Marguerite, b. 11 May 1828, Trois-Rivieres
  • Joseph, b. 27 Oct 1830, Trois Rivieres12
  • Louis, no baptismal record, apparently b. in October between 1827-1833
  • Thomas Damase, b. 29 Mar 1833, Pointe-du-Lac

It's important to note that I have located the baptismal records for all but Louis, so he has to fit in among these fixed dates. Where is there room for him?
  • It's clear that he cannot have been born in 1827 or 1828, despite his marriage record's claim that he had reached the age of majority. Jean-Richard and Marie-Marguerite don't leave any room for Louis.
  • Astute readers may note that I previously had Thomas listed as being born in 1834. That, like Louis's supposed birth in 1832, I had obtained from the Jutras website. It provided plausible two-year intervals between Joseph, Louis, and Thomas, so I didn't question it until I tracked down Thomas's baptism.13 As you can see, his actual birth in March 1833 makes it impossible for Louis to have been born in October 1832 (unless Thomas was quite premature).
  • Assuming he really was born in October, that leaves 1829 or 1831. Unless...

Unless Louis was actually baptized Joseph.

Baptism of Joseph Robidat [sic], 1830

Several points bolster this hypothesis:
  • Joseph was born on 27 October. Is it a coincidence that this is almost identical to the 28 October date from the 1901 census record that is quite possibly "my" Louis Robida?
  • Every one of the children is accounted for (now that I have the Maries and Marguerites straightened out), either by a burial record for an infant death, or by a marriage record, mostly followed by children, census, and eventual burial records. Every one, that is, except Joseph. There is not a trace of Joseph after that baptism.
  • When Joseph was baptized in 1830, the family already had a Joseph, born in 1815, and still living (he lived to the age of 82, in fact). While it wouldn't be unusual for a family to give two sons the same first (baptismal) forename, they would normally be distinguished by giving at least one of them a second forename... say, "Joseph-Louis."
  • The baptismal record is a bit garbled: the parents are given as "Baptiste Robidat" and "Divine Galerneautx" – still recognizable as Jean-Baptiste Robidas and Divine Girardeau, but perhaps an indication of a careless recorder, or one who was unfamiliar with the Robidas family. It's not hard to believe that he might have inadvertently omitted a crucial forename, recording Joseph-Louis as just Joseph. (His parents were illiterate, so they wouldn't have known.) Also worth noting is that the next baptism, on the same day, is also for a Joseph; perhaps the name was mistakenly recorded for both children.

So as of now, my working hypothesis is that "Louis Robidas" was born 27 October 1830, in Trois-Rivieres, and baptized Joseph-Louis Robidas at Immaculée Conception Church in that city. He probably never used the baptismal "Joseph", with an elder brother with that name in the household.

This would explain why I can't find Louis's baptism; why there's no sign of Joseph after his baptism; and why the family would name a second child Joseph when the first was still living.

True, that still makes him under 19 at his marriage to Marie St. Cyr – hardly a "fils majeur" – but then, his bride was not quite 20, and she was supposedly a "fille majeure." Both fathers were present at the marriage, so presumably they approved.

(Note: This post is in response to Amy Johnson Crow's "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks" challenge at No Story Too Small.)

  1. His siblings born 1815-1823 were born in Pointe-du-Lac; from 1825-1830 were born in Trois-Rivieres; and the last child in the family was born in Pointe-du-Lac.
  2. Saint-Norbert-d'Arthabaska Parish (Arthabaska, Quebec), parish registers, archive copy, 1849, folio 16r/v, M.8, marriage of Louis Robidas and Marie St. Cir [sic], 4 Jun 1849; digital images, “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 18 May 2012); citing “Quebec Catholic parish registers. Quebec County Catholic Parishes, Canada”. Although dated 4 Jun and numbered M.8, in the archive copy this marriage act is found in the middle of July between B.72 and M.9, with another, different M.8 recorded in June. In the 1845-1850 church copy of the register, it is found in the correct order in June.
  3. 1861 Census of Canada East [Quebec], Arthabaska County, ED 2, Township of Chester West, p. 4 (penned), p. 160 (stamped), lines 24-28, Louis Rabida household; index and digital images, ( : accessed 4 May 2012).
  4. 1921 Census of Canada, Quebec, district 205, sub-district 12, Sherbrooke, p. 53, Hospice du Sacré Couer, line 4, Louis Robida; index and digital images, ( : accessed 1 Nov 2013).
  5. Saint-Michel-de-Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Quebec), parish register, archive copy, 1921, folio 66v, S.64, burial of Louis Robida, 29 Nov 1921; database and digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967,” ( : accessed 18 May 2012), citing Gabriel Drouin, comp., Drouin Collection, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
  6. Claude Jutras (, Site de données généalogiques ( : accessed 8 May 2012), listing for Louis Robidas, child of Jean-Baptiste Robidas and Ludivine Girardeau, in "Index général des mariages".
  7. 1871 Census of Canada, Quebec, district 141, Stanstead, schedule 1, sub-district C, Magog, p. 16, dwelling 51, family 64, William Rabidoux household; index and digital images, ( : accessed 15 Dec 2014).
  8. 1891 Census of Canada, Quebec, district 149, Eaton, schedule 1, sub-district g2, pp. 18-19, dwelling 51, family 75, Louis Rabideaux household; index and digital images, ( : accessed 22 May 2012).
  9. 1901 Census of Canada, Quebec, district 187, Richmond and Wolfe, schedule 1, sub-district h, Stoke, p. 6, dwelling 55, family 55, Louis Robidas in Thomas Robidas household; index and digital images, ( : accessed 22 May 2012).
  10. 1911 Census of Canada, Quebec, district 192, Richmond and Wolfe, schedule 1, sub-district 37, St. Camille, p. 1, dwelling 4, family 4, Louis Robida in Napoleon Durand household; index and digital images, ( : accessed 22 May 2012).
  11. It seems that the alleged Marie (born 1829) who married George Paquin was really Marie-Marguerite (born 1828), and the Marie-Marguerite who married Louis Mosly-Reid was really Marguerite (born 1820).
  12. Immaculée-Conception Parish (Trois-Rivieres, Quebec), parish register, 1830-1836, folio 13v, baptism of Joseph Robidat, 1 Nov 1830; digital images, “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900,” FamilySearch ( : accessed 20 May 2012).
  13. It's recorded under "Damas Robidas," so it wasn't immediately apparent that this was Thomas.

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