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.)

  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 ( : accessed 18 Jan 2014). 
  2. "Peter L. Rabideau" obituary, Lewiston (Maine) Daily Sun, 17 Dec 1946, p. 2; digital images, Google News Archive ( : accessed 28 May 2013).
  3. "U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007," database, Ancestry ( : 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 ( : accessed 28 Jul 2017).
  5. "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908," database and digital images, Ancestry ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : accessed 28 Jul 2017). 
  10. "Massachusetts, Death Index, 1901-1980," database and digital images, Ancestry ( : 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 ( : 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 ( : 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 (  : 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.

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