Tag Archives: Quebec

The Adam Brothers

When five of the six living sons of Timothée and Marguerite (Chicoine) Adam gathered in the Midwest circa 1913, it was deemed an occasion worthy of a photograph.1 From left are pictured brothers Louis (1848-1927), Peter (1852-1936), Joseph (1850-1926), Prosper (1867-1943), and Timothy Adam (1846-1919). Although the twenty-one year span in age of these brothers is impressive, in fact, twenty-seven years passed between the births of their eldest sibling and the youngest, who arrived when his mother was fifty years old. At least fourteen children were born in total, with all but the youngest born in Quebec. All got their start in life in the cotton mills of Indian Orchard, Hampden County, Massachusetts, which had lured the Adam family from rural Quebec to America.2

Brothers Louis, Peter, Joseph, Prosper, and Timothy Adam(s), ca. 1913; digital image 2010, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2018. Image courtesy of Dorothy Bouchard.

Timothy, at right, likely resided in Jefferson, Union County, South Dakota at the time this picture was taken,3 not far from Peter, second from left, and Prosper, second from right, who had both settled in Sioux City, Woodbury County, Iowa.4 Joseph, at center, had apparently traveled from his home in Ponca City, Kay County, Oklahoma to reunite with his brothers, as well as, undoubtedly, his twin sister, who lived in Jefferson.5 Louis, the one brother to have remained in Hampden County, Massachusetts, traveled the greatest distance for this reunion.6 The only living Adam brother not pictured here was Euclid John (1856-1940), who spent his adult life in Southbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts.7 Whether he lost touch with his brothers or was simply unable to make the trip to visit them at the time that this photograph was taken is not known.

The Adam brothers, some of whom adopted the surname Adams in addition to Anglicized versions of their given names, held a variety of trades between them. Census records indicate that after leaving the cotton mills, some went on to become carpenters, barbers, homesteaders, clerks, pool hall operators, and hotel-keepers, among other occupations. All married, and all but Joseph had children of their own.

This photograph is a photocopy of what was said to be a real photo postcard, a format designed to be easily sent by mail to friends or relatives. Like the only known (or suspected) photograph of the mother of the Adam brothers, the original is believed to have been lost.8 Despite the poor quality of this photocopy, it is apparent that the brothers have dressed sharply, with their hair neatly combed and several in ties, although this was apparently not such a formal occasion that they opted to wear jackets. It is also plausible that it was quite hot, if their reunion took place in the summer months, and the gentlemen may well have opted to be as comfortable as possible. Several appear to wear sleeve garters, arm bands that helped to adjust the length of one’s sleeves.9 While the men’s appearances are distinct from one another, particularly given their disparate ages, similarly prominent noses—and, when visible, even hands—help to link them convincingly as brothers.

Copyright © 2018 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.
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Tombstone Tuesday: Timothy and Odile (Millette) Adam

Timothy and Odile (Millette) Adam experienced nearly forty years of marriage together that were anything but ordinary.

Timothy, baptized in St. Pie, Quebec on 8 August 1846, the son of Timothée Adam and Marguerite Chicoine, crossed into America with his family as a teenager.1 They settled near the textile mills of Indian Orchard, Hampden County, Massachusetts, which is where Timothy married at the age of twenty-one on 22 September 1867 to Odile Millette.2 Odile had been born in the French Canadian community of Rouse’s Point, Clinton County, New York on 11 July 1847, the daughter of Maurice Millet and Isabelle Quemeneur dit Laflamme.3 She, too, had relocated to Massachusetts as a teenager, where she also found work in the mills.

The couple was said to have had ten children together, eight of whom have been identified: Timothy Maurice, Alexander Amadée Edmond (known as Edward), Joseph Frederick (known as Alfred), Marie Julie Malvina, Albina Lena, Henry Joseph, Martin Theodore, and Permelia Marie.4 Only five of these children are known to have survived to adulthood; at least one succumbed to scarlet fever as a toddler.5

In 1883, the family made the decision to move west.6 I have to wonder if this move was spurred by the deaths of at least two of their own young children circa 1880, as well as by the deaths of Timothy’s younger brother and sister who died within a week of each other in February of 1883: one of pneumonia at twenty and the other of tuberculosis at twenty-four.7 In fact, tuberculosis had caused the death of Timothy’s mother just five years before.8 Perhaps the idea of fresh air and the countryside appealed to the couple as they must have feared for the health of their children.

Timothy and Odile first joined French Canadian relations in southeastern South Dakota, where a son was born to them in the summer of 1885.9 In December of the following year, Timothy claimed a homestead a short distance away near Moville, Woodbury County, Iowa.10 The family would remain here for a number of years; by 1900, they had relocated to a dairy farm closer to Sioux City.11

The coming years were unexpectedly tumultuous for Timothy and Odile. First, in 1900, their twenty-nine-year-old son Edward, who had been out of touch for nearly a decade, returned home and began harassing his parents and younger siblings. Timothy went to court in order to obtain a restraining order against him.12 Then, over the next several years, Timothy and Odile may have suffered marital discord. Timothy was not recorded in the 1903 Sioux City Directory; he appeared again in the same household as his wife the following year.13 In 1905 he was again absent, and it was at this time that Odile implored the enumerator of the 1905 Iowa State Census to bring her any word of her two eldest sons, Edward and Fred, who had traveled west and had not been heard from in several years.14 It was also in 1905 that Odile recorded her will, leaving her real estate to her three youngest children: Henry, Theodore, and Permelia. No mention was made of her absent sons – or her husband.15

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Grave of Odile Milliette Adam (1847-1906) and Timothy Adam (1840-1919), St. Joseph Cemetery, Elk Point, Union County, South Dakota; 2014, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015. Note: Timothy’s date of birth on his gravestone is incorrect. He was born in 1846.

In 1906, the final year of Odile’s life, she operated a boarding house at 508 Perry in Sioux City.16 Notably, Timothy resided not at home, but at the Washington House Hotel.17 It does seem possible, however, that the couple reconciled whatever differences they may have had by the time of fifty-nine-year-old Odile’s death from hepatitis on 16 December 1906 in Elk Point, Union County, South Dakota.18 Notably, when the 1907 Sioux City Directory was printed at some point in late 1906, likely shortly before her death, both Odile and Timothy were named as residents of 508 Perry.19

Timothy, a carpenter again as he had been in his younger years, remained in the house with his children for only a short time before resettling in nearby Jefferson, Union County, South Dakota. He remained here for the next decade; as of 1910, he operated a billiard hall in this small, largely French Canadian community.20

By 1917, Timothy, now seventy, had returned to Sioux City where he lived with his married daughter.21 He died there on 22 February 1919 at the age of seventy-two, his cause of death recorded as senility.22 Timothy Adam was buried beside his wife, Odile Millette, at St. Joseph Cemetery in Elk Point, Union County, South Dakota, his name squeezed as though an afterthought at the base of her gravestone.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Last Canadian

In honor of Canada Day, I introduce my last ancestor to live and die a Canadian: Leon Chicoine, who was baptized Joseph Leon Chicoine on 12 April 1785 at St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the son of Francois Chicoine and Marie Elizabeth Tetreault.1

St-Charles-sur-Richelieu

“View of St-Charles-sur-Richelieu from St-Marc-sur-Richelieu,” 2014, Saint-Charles-sur-Richelieu, Montérégie, Québec, Canada; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Tango7174.

Little is known of Leon’s early years. By the time he was twenty-five, he had made his way to Longueuil, located on the south shore of Montreal. It was there that he married Longueuil native Marie Varry on 17 September 1810.2 Their marriage took place at the impressive Cathédrale St-Antoine-de-Padoue in a ceremony led by Father Augustin Chaboillez, who, according to contemporary accounts, managed his parishioners with a firm hand. In fact, earlier that same year, he had a parishioner jailed for daring to interrupt his sermon!3

Leon and Marie did not remain there for long; they soon settled in St-Marc-sur-Richelieu, a rural community just across the Richelieu River from where Leon himself had been born. They remained in this area for the rest of their lives.4 Family lore states that Leon served in the military during the War of 1812.5 Then, twenty-five years later, war came to St-Marc when British troops defeated a number of Canadian rebels there during what is known as the Patriot War.6 Leon was in his fifties at this time; might he have participated in the futile attack? We may never know for sure.

Attack-on-Saint-Charles

“Attack on Saint-Charles 25th Novr. 1837,” 1840, Lord Charles Beauclerk (1813-1842); McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec.

In any case, the majority of Leon’s life was likely spent in a more peaceful manner as a forgeron, or blacksmith.7 He fathered at least ten children, including my ancestor Marguerite Chicoine, although not all survived to adulthood. Sadly, Leon’s wife, Marie, passed away before she was forty; Leon remarried to Francoise Desautels in 1829.8

Leon Chicoine would live to the age of ninety two. When his granddaughter recorded his death in January 1877, she noted that he was by that time the grandfather of fifty-six grandchildren.9 His burial occurred at his birth parish of St-Charles-sur-Richelieu, likely in the churchyard of the striking eighteenth-century stone church located on the banks of the Richelieu River.10

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Searching for Marguerite

There is both good and bad news about this photograph:

Unidentified_Marguerite_Chicoine_Adam

Unidentified photograph, ca. 1860-1866; digital image 2015, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2015. Image courtesy of D.B.

Twenty-seven years ago, my parents traveled to Massachusetts and made a stop in the community of Indian Orchard, where, my father knew, his ancestors had lived for a time in the latter half of the nineteenth century. As it turned out, these French Canadian immigrants had descendants who still lived in the area, and thanks to the staff at Saint Aloysius Parish, he was able to connect with one such descendant. Later, he began corresponding with two more cousins, both of whom were kind enough to share their research about our shared French Canadian and Acadian ancestors. Family lore and even a few photographs were also exchanged – including this photocopied image thought to be a photograph of Marguerite (Chicoine) Adam (1816-1878).1

Marguerite Chicoine is one of the first ancestral names I learned as a child and amateur family historian. I loved hearing that she was said to be Native American – a bit of family lore since (mostly) disproven, but it did work quite effectively to capture my attention at the time. I had always hoped to see the original of this photograph that was sent to us by our late cousin, but learned two years ago that an original may no longer exist. Apparently, when she was moved to a nursing home, her family history materials were thrown out.2 This serves as an important reminder to make an estate plan for the preservation of your own family history materials.

While I can’t rule out that somewhere out there, a cousin might hold another copy of this same photograph – that fortunate scenario has happened before – it’s also possible that this is the only version of this photograph that I will ever see. In any case, let’s take a look. Could this realistically be a photograph of Marguerite Chicoine?

Marguerite died in Massachusetts in 1878 at the age of 62.3 Thus, this photograph would have to predate 1878. As the photocopy indicates that this was a carte de visite – most popular between approximately 1860 and 1866 – that is entirely possible.4 All of Marguerite’s fifteen known children were born before 1862, with the exception of her youngest, who was born five years later. As Marguerite relocated with her family from Quebec to Massachusetts circa 1864-65, it seems plausible that she may have had her picture taken during this time period as a memento to share with relatives at home.5

Marguerite was fifty years old when her youngest child was born at the tail end of the most likely timeframe for this photograph; in order to have had a healthy pregnancy so late, perhaps she had a more youthful appearance than one might otherwise imagine for a mother of fifteen. The woman appears to have dark hair without noticeable graying, and her dark complexion and strong nose make it easy to see how rumors of significant Native American ancestry could have gotten started. However, I find it difficult to get a sense for her age, due in part to the poor quality of the image. Could she be over forty-five, or is this woman in fact decades younger?

Marguerite did have three daughters who would have reached adulthood by the 1860s: Marguerite Adam, Marie Adam, and Julienne Adam.6 While I do have a photograph of Marguerite, who does not appear to be a match, could this photograph show instead either Marie or Julienne as a young woman in her early to mid-twenties?

The woman wears a buttoned shirtwaist with a windowpane pattern, the sleeves neither significantly fitted nor puffed, and a high linen band collar is visible.7 Her belted skirt is of a straightforward design. Notably, it is not worn with a fashionable hoop as one would typically expect in the 1860s; this more unassuming skirt would perhaps have been in line with what a woman in rural Quebec or an immigrant in a New England mill town might wear.8 The backdrop is similarly domestic in style with a practical wooden chair and what looks to be a fireplace.

The good news? This could be a photograph of Marguerite Chicoine. It depicts a dark-complected woman of evidently simple means who was photographed in the 1860s, a physical description, socioeconomic background, and timeline that fit with what is known about Marguerite.

The bad news? We may never know for sure. It seems equally plausible that could be a photograph of one of Marguerite’s daughters or a close relative. Lacking an original for closer examination, it can still be hoped that another copy of this photograph might exist in different branch of the family, and that it may hold additional clues regarding the true identification of the mysterious dark-haired Québécois.

Copyright © 2015 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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An Iowa Homestead

Winter was well on its way when Timothy Adam claimed a homestead near Moville, Woodbury County, Iowa, in December 1886. At that time, only a claim shanty existed on the property.1 I have to wonder if Timothy weathered the winter alone, with his wife and children situated somewhere in town, or if they joined him in what certainly must have been far from ideal living conditions. In any case, the next year, Timothy built a house that measured fifteen by twenty-one feet – three hundred and fifteen square feet for a family of six.2

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Timothy Adam (Woodbury County) homestead file, final certificate no. 2560, Fort Des Moines, Iowa, Land Office; Land Entry Papers, 1800-1908; Records of the Bureau of Land Management, Record Group 49; National Archives, Washington, D.C.

The Homestead Act was signed by President Abraham Lincoln on 20 May 1862.3 My first ancestor who took advantage of the one hundred and sixty acres offered to qualified applicants who lived on the land for five years and made specified improvements was Jens Madsen Schmidt, a Danish immigrant who settled in South Dakota in 1870.4 I had assumed that any ancestors who claimed homesteads in the years to follow would have had to journey even further west to find available land, but as it turns out, this was not necessarily the case. It would be sixteen years before Timothy would claim his homestead to the east, in northwestern Iowa.

The new yet modest house must have seemed positively roomy in comparison to the original shanty, and perhaps it was an improvement over what may have been an even more crowded situation back in Massachusetts. Timothy had been born and raised in St. Pie, Quebec, but by the time he was twenty, he had settled in Indian Orchard, Hampden County, Massachusetts, with his wife, Odile Millette.4 For nearly two decades, they relied on the cotton mills to earn a living, although Timothy was a carpenter by trade.5 Life in Massachusetts was likely difficult; Odile reportedly gave birth to ten children, of whom only five survived to adulthood.6 At least one succumbed to scarlet fever.7

Life in Iowa proved to be a fresh start for the family. Within a few years, the homestead boasted a barn, corn crib, hen house, shed, two wells, and fencing, valued altogether at eight hundred dollars. Timothy had cultivated ninety acres, and had raised crops every season. In addition, he had become a naturalized citizen. Finally, in 1893, at the age of forty-five, Timothy Adam became the proud owner of the NE 1/4 of Section 29, Township 88N, Range 45W in Woodbury County, Iowa.8

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Tombstone Tuesday: Marguerite Chicoine

Whenever I hear that someone is a Chicoine, I tend to assume that we’re related. From what I’ve been able to learn, most, if not all of those who bear the Chicoine surname – in the United States, at least – can trace their ancestry to the early settlers of Quebec. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, many of these French Canadian Chicoines immigrated to New England, and from there, many moved on to settle in southeastern South Dakota. The Ancestry.com surname map reflects this migration pattern.

SaintAloysiusCemeteryMargueriteChicoine

Grave of Marguerite (Chicoine) Adam, 1816-1878, Saint Aloysius Cemetery, Indian Orchard, Hampden, Massachusetts; image date 1987, privately held by Brian Adam [personal information withheld].

The last of my ancestors to carry the Chicoine surname was Marguerite Chicoine of Indian Orchard, Hampden County, Massachusetts.1 Marguerite was baptized on 31 August 1816 in Saint-Antoine-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, the daughter of Leon Chicoine, a forgeron, or blacksmith, and Marie Varie.2 According to family lore, Marguerite was of Native American (First Nation) descent through her mother.3

Marguerite married Timothée Adam on 23 October 1837 in Saint-Marc-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.4 They farmed in Saint-Hyacinthe County,5 and together, they raised at least fourteen children: Marguerite, Marie, Julienne, Timothy, Louis, Joseph, Marie Vitaline, Pierre Pie, Joseph Magloire, Euclide Jean, Marie Elisa, Marie Arcelia, Elzear Henry, and Prosper Phillip Adam.

By 1865, Marguerite had relocated with her family to Massachusetts, to a community where many, including her husband, sought work in the cotton mills.6 However, her time there was short-lived; Marguerite succumbed to consumption on 12 September 1878, days after she turned sixty-two.7 She is buried at the Saint Aloysius Cemetery in Indian Orchard, Hampden County, Massachusetts.8

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A Tintype Wedding Portrait

One of my favorite aspects of genealogical research is photograph analysis. I can never take just one glance at an old photograph, as I love to detect clues about the eras, lifestyles, and relationships depicted within. I hope to share a photograph and analysis on a weekly or monthly basis, including both photographs from my family’s collection, as well as photographs, unidentified or not, that I’ve come across in antique stores.

Timothy Adam and Odile Millette photograph, 1867, Springfield, Massachusetts; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

Timothy Adam and Odile Millette photograph, 1867, Springfield, Massachusetts; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2013.

This is a scan of a tintype of my third great grandparents, Timothy Adam and Odile Millette of Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts, who were married on 22 September 1867.1 At the time of their marriage, Timothy and Odile, both of French Canadian heritage, were twenty years old. Timothy worked as a dresser at a cotton mill; prior to their marriage, it seems likely that Odile would have worked at a mill as well.

This tintype has several features worth noting. Smaller than my hand, the original has hand painted pink accents on the cheeks of the couple. The corner of the tintype has been bent, but the overall quality of the image is good.

Was this tintype made at the time of the couple’s marriage? First of all, we know that tintypes were in use from 1856-1930. They gained popularity in the 1860s as they were inexpensive to produce – Timothy and Odile may have paid only a few cents for this image at a local studio.2

In the image, Odile stands at Timothy’s side while he sits in a chair. His feet are planted firmly on the ground, and Odile rests her hand on his shoulder. Timothy’s gaze focuses directly on the camera, while Odile gazes slightly above. Their expressions are serious, but not unpleasant.

Timothy wears a three-piece suit for the occasion. He appears to be a slight young man, and his dark suit is somewhat loose fitting – perhaps it was not brand new, as closer fitted, ready-made styles became popular in this decade.3 There is trim at the borders and cuffs of his suit, which he wears with a white collar, a cravat, appropriate for a formal occasion, and what may be a pocket watch at the lapel.4 Timothy’s hair is parted on the side, and he sports a faint mustache.

Odile wears a skirt and waist style of dress, the simple waist accented by jet buttons. Over this, she wears a Spanish jacket in a contrasting color with a bold trim.5 Her otherwise plain skirt features a belt or sash and a wide hoop, which is compressed slightly by her position against her husband’s chair. Her dark hair has a center part and is pulled back into a plain snood, or hair net, in an everyday style. She wears earrings, and a brooch adorns her high collar.

Odile’s style of dress reflects a fashion seen in the 1860s. In May 1863, Peterson’s printed the following:

“[…] All the thin summer goods are very much risen in price, so that the present fashion of wearing old skirts, with Spanish and Zouave jackets, is a most convenient one […] pretty jackets in velvet, silk, and cloth […] very useful for wearing with old skirts, the bodices of which are worn out.”6

Furthermore, in June 1866, Godey’s noted “a charming assortment of fancy jackets” worn by women.7 Though the high prices of fabric reported in 1863 were most likely a result of the Civil War, which concluded two years prior to Odile’s wedding day, as she was a young millworker of limited means, it does not seem unreasonable to assume that she might have remade an old dress in an economical fashion for the occasion. With her dark complexion, a Spanish jacket proved an attractive choice.

The clothing and hairstyles worn by the couple indicates that the image was made in the 1860s, and the apparent age of the couple suggests that it was made in the latter half of the decade. It therefore seems likely that this was indeed a wedding portrait of Timothy Adam and Odile Millette, who would have had their picture made on or around 22 September 1867 in Springfield, Hampden, Massachusetts. It provides a unique glimpse into an important day in the lives of two young people of French Canadian heritage, who sought opportunity in the textile mills of New England in the years following the Civil War.

Do you have any tintypes in your family collection?



SOURCES
1 “Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915,” digital image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 30 Aug 2013), Timothy Adams and Julia Mellett, 22 September 1867, Springfield. Odile Millette used the name Julia early in her life.
2 Maureen A. Taylor, Family Photo Detective (Cincinnati: Family Tree Books, 2013), 37.
3 Joan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1995), 259.
4 Severa, Dressed for the Photographer, 209.
5 Severa, Dressed for the Photographer, 277.
6 Severa, Dressed for the Photographer, 241.
7 Severa, Dressed for the Photographer, 277.