Jean Garceau and Marie Ann Gingras – Immigrant Ancestors

Jean Garceau and Marie Ann Gingras are the last of my 8 sets of 3rd great-grandparents I have left to write about.  Jean and Marie Ann are my great-grandfather Albert Peltier’s maternal grandparents.  Other Garceau/Gingras  descendants include those associated with Garceau Grocery, which not all that long ago still existed on Centerville Road near Lake Vadnais.

Jean Garceau was born to 26 year old Jean Baptiste and 19 year old Madeleine (Rivard dite Laglanderie) Garceau on October 19, 1800 at Yamachiche, Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada.  He was the oldest of 16 children.1  The family would eventually include 8 boys and 8 girls.  Jean was baptized the same day at Sainte-Anne de Yamachiche.2

Church of Sainte-Anne d’Yamachiche
Yamachiche, Quebec, Canada on the north side of the St. Lawrence River and Yamaska on the south side of the river.3
Sainte-Anne d’Yamachiche, October 19, 1800 Jean Garzot [Garceau] baptism record


77B (77th baptism at Ste-Anne d’Yamachiche in 1800)

Jean Garzot [Garceau]

The year one thousand eight hundred on the nineteenth of October by me, the undersigned priest, was baptized Jean, born of this day of the legitimate marriage of Jean Baptiste Garzot, farmer, domiciled in this parish and of Magdelaine Rivard, the godfather was Jean Matot, the godmother Marie Louis Rivard aunt of the child who did not undersign this in question.

                                                                                        Signature of the priest

End of translation.

Marie Ann Gingras, Joseph’s future wife, was born on March 5, 1810 to 34 year old Joseph Gingras and 35 year old Marguerite Beliveau.  She was baptized the same day at Saint-Michel d’Yamaska.4  Joseph and Marguerite would have a total of 9 children, 6 boys and 3 girls, with Marie Ann being the 6th child born.5

Saint-Michel d’Yamaska, March 5, 1810 Marie [Ann] Gingras baptism record


B (baptism)

Marie Gingras

The year one thousand eight hundred ten the fifth of March was baptized by me priest undersigned Marie Gingras born of today of the legitimate marriage of Joseph Gingras farmer of this parish and Marguerite Beleveau the godfather was Antoine Leroux [Theroux] the godmother Madelaine[Madeleine] Gingras — — that the father of the infant present at the baptism declared did not know how to sign.

                                                                                                P. Hebert (the priest)

End of translation.

Antoine Theroux and Madeleine Gingras, husband and wife, are Marie Ann’s uncle and aunt.

Jean and Marie Ann married on November 8, 1825 at Saint-Michel d’Yamaska, Pierre-De-Saurel, Quebec, Canada.6  Jean was 25 years old and Marie Ann was 15 years old.

Jean Garceau and Marie Gingras marriage record, November 8, 1825, Saint-Michel d’Yamaska

Although the text in the record is quite legible, I’ve chosen not to translate it.  However, I noticed that there is a Paul Peltier listed near the bottom.  I’m sure he is my 5th great-grandfather who was married to Marie Therese Gingras (another of Marie Ann’s aunts).

Marie Ann gave birth to their first child, Marie, on April 20, 1827.  Nine more children would be born in Canada over the next 18 years, with only one of them not surviving to adulthood.7

Jean Garceau and Marie Gingras family PRDH #155387 (entries have been modified and added)

The Garceau family immigration is documented in the book, Little Canada…A Voyeguer’s Vision:

“In 1846, Jean Garceau decided to take his family, which at that time consisted of his wife, seven daughters and three sons, and travel to Oregon where his wife’s brother had a sheep ranch.  However, on reaching St. Paul, June 7, 1846, with the huge fortune of $9 in good American money, he was advised to remain here [St. Paul] as the Indians were on the warpath and it was deemed unsafe to proceed any farther.  Consequently, he settled in what is now Vadnais Heights, and took possession of a 40-acre tract of land.

He built a home for his family on the southeast shore of what was later to be called Lake Vadnais.  There they had two more boys and one girl, Marie Celina, Joseph and Damase (known as Tom).  They were members of St. John’s of Little Canada.”8

As can be seen in the PRDH record shown above, the older of the Garceau children started to marry in 1849.  Those that were married had all done so by about 1870.  Jean and Marie Ann’s daughter Clara died shortly before her 16th birthday and brothers Jean, Joseph and Damase appear to have never married.

An interesting story about one of Jean’s and Marie’s daughters, Marie [Marie Louise], was written by their grandson George S. Belland on September 27, 1954.  He wrote that:

“My grandfather, Jean Garceau, had then seven daughters and two sons.  My mother’s oldest sister, Marie Louise was, soon after her arrival from Canada, employed as a maid in General Sibley’s house.

Upon learning that a new baby had arrived at the Garceau home; situated at the time on the southwest shore of Vadnais Lake, General Sibley asked Marie whether they had a stove in the house, and being informed that the only means of heating the house was an open fire place, he ordered a stove from St. Louis, Missouri.

When the stove arrived, grandfather Garceau was notified and he came with his yoke of oxen and took the cast iron stove home.

On September 2, 1867, Marie Celina Garceau, born May 19, 1848, then nineteen years of age married Narcisse Belland and grandfather Garceau gave her the old stove; which continued in use from 1867 to 1891.  At which time Narcisse sold that old stove to a junk dealer, who promptly broke the stove into pieces.  The only original piece spared being an old skillet which was kept by Damase Garceau, the youngest member of the Garceau family.  This skillet has been in the Garceau family 106 years.”9 

I believe Marie Celina, George Belland’s mother, is the baby in the story.  I wonder if the skillet is still in the Garceau family?

Henry Sibley portrait about 1860
Henry Sibley home in now Mendota Heights10

Henry Sibley was the regional manager of the American Fur Company and he was also the first governor of Minnesota.  His home was built between 1835 and 1836 and holds the distinction of being the oldest private residence in Minnesota.  Sibley lived alone in the house as a bachelor for 8 years.  It is here that plans for the Minnesota Territory were drawn up and in May 1840 the house became the temporary territorial headquarters.11  Marie Louise Garceau would have worked in this house and possibly lived there for the duration of her employment.  More than likely Sibley spoke to Marie Louise in French, her native language.  He would have had experience communicating with French-Canadian voyageurs because of the jobs he had held in the fur trading industry.  Although her role in early Minnesota development would have been fairly insignificant, I can only imagine the history she unknowingly witnessed.

The Garceau family is enumerated in the 1850 Minnesota Territorial Census.12

Jean Garceau and Family – 1850 Minnesota Territorial Census

The names on lines 31-40 were shown transcribed as: Iran, Davie, Angele, Merace, Matter, Jean, Malie, David, Clara and Lavona.  They are actually Jean and Marie Garceau followed by 8 of their children: Angele, Emerance, Domitille, Jean, Emilie, David, Clara and Celina.  Domitille on line 35 should be a female, not a male.  The 2 oldest daughters: Marie [Louise] and Marguerite had married by 1850 and the 2 youngest: Joseph and Damase had yet to be born.  Jean is a farmer and they live next to Jean and Lisette Vadna [Vadnais], shown on lines 41-42.  Lisette [Marie Louise] is Marie (Gingras) Garceau’s sister.

John Gerson [Jean Garceau] and family – 1860 U. S. Census

The 1860 U. S. census shows John and Mary Gerson [Jean and Marie Garceau] with the 7 youngest of their children: Jean, Emilie, David, Clara, Celina (shown as Sarah), Joseph and Damase.  John and Mary are recorded using anglicized versions of Jean and Marie.  The farm is valued at $550 and their personal estate is valued at $400.  They are still living next door to John [Jean] and Louise Vadwie [Vadnais].13

By the 1865 Minnesota census, Clara has passed away.  Their last name, still misspelled, is given as Garciel.  The family is listed as John, Mary, Lauie, David, Lagrange, Joseph and Dervaice.14    I am unsure, but believe the children listed are Celina (Lauie), David, Jean (Lagrange), Joseph and Damase (Dervaice) because, Celina wasn’t married until 1867,  David married about 1870 and the other 2 boys never married.

John Garcial [Jean Garceau] and Family – 1865 Minnesota Census

The 1870 non-population agricultural schedule associated with the 1870 U. S. census gives some insight into his farming operation.  At the time of the census Jean would have been almost 70 years old and Marie Ann 60 years old.

John Garsow [Jean Garceau] – 1870 Non-population Schedule

On the schedule, the farm is valued at $2000 with 20 improved acres and 35 unimproved acres.  The livestock consists of 2 horses, 1 milk cow, 8 other cattle and 3 swine with a total value of $450 and during the previous year he had harvested 80 bushels of spring wheat, 50 bushels of Indian corn and 220 bushels of oats.15

The following picture has shown up in a number of Vadnais Heights and Little Canada publications and has been labeled as Jean.  However, I believe it is not him.  The same picture, with more than just his head, is shown with his son Joseph’s obituary in 1932.  I do think whoever provided the picture to the newspaper would have known whether it was of Jean or Joseph.

Joseph Garceau, NOT Jean Garceau

Going back to Little Canada…A Voyeguer’s Vision, the Garceau story continues:  “In those days it was the custom for parents, upon reaching a certain age, to give up their home and possessions to one of their children on the condition that board and keep be provided for them for the balance of their lives.  So when Jean Garceau and his wife reached that age, they wanted to make arrangements for this situation.  They first approached Narcisse Belland who was married to their daughter, Marie Celina, with the proposition but he was not keen about such an arrangement and declined their offer.  It then fell to their son, David, born December 14, 1842, to assume the responsibility. 

David married Aglae Labbe of Mendota and they resided in the original log house built by his father in 1846.  As this house was not well suited to meet the changing conditions, David Garceau built the main part of a new Garceau residence, located on Centerville Road just east of Edgerton and moved into the house in October of 1871. The new residence was quite large and provided a special room for the old folks.”16 

Garceau home built in 1871 (located just north of the old Garceau shopping area on Centerville Road near Edgerton)

Both Jean and Marie Ann lived out their lives with David and Aglae.

Marie Ann passed away on February 28, 1880.  She was buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Little Canada, Minnesota.17

Marie Garceau gravemarker – St. John’s Cemetery, Little Canada

Jean is last recorded in the 1880 U. S. census.18  It shows Jean is a widower and is still farming.  His age is given as 70, but he is really 79 years old.  Jean is living with his son David, his wife Aglae and their children.  They all are living on the original Garceau property.  They also have a boarder, Jean B. L., a laborer born in Canada.

1880 U. S. census showing Jean Garceaux [Garceau], son David and his family
1887 C.M. Foote & Co. Map of Ramsey and Washington Counties showing original Jean Garceau property19 (marked in yellow)

Jean passed away at 82 years old on April 9, 1883.  He had lived almost half his life in Minnesota.  He was laid to rest next to his wife in St. John’s Cemetery, Little Canada, Minnesota.20

Jean Garceau gravemarker – St. John’s Cemetery, Little Canada

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