And Then There Were 8

Last week I wrote about 2 previously unknown children of Francois and Tharsile Vadnais, twins Marie and Marie Celina.  One thing that struck me as unusual was that the twins were born in 1849 and then there aren’t any other children until 1858.  Tharsile was 16 years old when she lost the twins, were there other children, like them, that had yet to be included?  I was curious; I had to act on my suspicion.

The church records where I found the twins aren’t indexed to accommodate a search engine.  It is possible that there are other siblings in the records and my computer program just isn’t finding them.  As tedious as it can be, my plan was to look through the handwritten church index covering the years 1850-1858 to see if there were more records associated with the family.

I went to the index and was quickly distracted by the beautiful handwriting documenting many well known Minnesota French-Canadian surnames: Baillargeon, Bibeau, Forcier, Houle, Lamotte, Nadeau, Garceau, Rivard…  I wanted to go find each of the associated records.  In addition, the person compiling the index showed an artistic flair.  Many titles and first letters of surnames had been embellished with fanciful small decorations.  The decorations make me wonder who created the index: a cleric, a church secretary or maybe someone that secretly wanted to be an artist?  It is too easy to lose sight of my original plan.  Back to it! 

After turning several pages I found Timothe Vadnais in the 291 baptismal records recorded in 1850 at St. Aime.1  As you can see below, it shows Vadnais, Timothe and 7R (page seven, right side in the church register).  I know that Timothe is a male, because the name ends with e-accent-aigu (the mark above the e).  If it ended as e-accent-aigu-e (ee on the end with an accent mark on the first e), then the subject would be female.  So who are Timothe’s parents?

Timothe Vadnais in St. Aime Church Index for 1836-1876

Now I needed to find the record in the 1850-1870 church register.  The year would be easy to locate since it is the first year recorded in the register.  I didn’t know the birth month and day, but I knew Timothe’s record should be on page 7.  I found it, and the parents shown are Francois and Tharsile.2  There is another child!

Timothe Vadnais St. Aime baptismal record, March 9, 1850


Baptism 20

Timothe Vadnais

Today, March 9, 1850, we the undersigned priest, have baptized Timothy, born the day before, son of Francois Vadnais and Tharsile Lemoine. Godfather Olivier Salva who signed the godmother Marie Bochette did not know how to sign — the father.

                                                             (Signed) Olivier Salvas Jr.

                                                                            (Signed) Father Desauniers

End of translation.

In the record the priest wrote that Timothe was born the day before he was baptized, so he was born on March 8, 1850.  Now I needed to know what had happened to him.  Armed only with the baptismal record, I continued searching through the church index.

Several pages later in the 1852 burial index I found his name, or at least I thought it was his name.  I wasn’t sure if it was the same Timothe who had been born just 2 years earlier.  This one has “ee” with an accent on the first e as an ending, which would be a female.  And to confuse things more there is another Vadnais listed on the page, Francois.  I had not found an earlier baptismal record for a Francois.  Who were Francois’ parents and why no baptismal record?

Francois and Timothee (sic) Vadnais in 1852 St. Aime Church index3

Back to the church register: the record for Francois would be on page 65 (right side) and for Timothe(e) on page 75 (verso).  I decided to first find Timothe(e)’s record to see if it showed Francois and Tharsile as the parents.  Sadly, as seen below, it is the record for the burial of their 2 year-old son Timothe.4

Timothe Vadnais burial record 1852


Sepulture 47

Timothe Vadnais

Today, May 1, 1852, we, the undersigned parish priest, have buried the body of Timothy in the local cemetery, who died two days ago at the age of two, son of Francois Vadnais and Tarsile Hus Lemoine. — Joseph Pepin and Basile Lavallee who failed to sign.

                                                             (signed) Ed: Lecours priest

End of translation.

According to the information given in the burial record Timothe died on April 29, 1852.  I now had 7 known children born to Francois and Tharsile.  Was the Francois also in the index going to prove to be another son of theirs?

A little more looking and I found the burial record for Francois Vadnais at the bottom of page 65.5  Yes, Francois and Tharsile are his parents.  The record is labeled “ondoyede” (ondoye) which refers to a child in a case of extreme necessity being baptized by a layperson.  It is why I didn’t see a baptismal record for Francois in the index.

Francois Vadnais burial record 1852


Sepulture 6

Ondoyede (conditionally baptized) Fr. (Francois) Vadnais

Today, January 24, 1852, we, the undersigned parish priest, have buried in the local cemetery the body of a legitimately baptized child born of the legitimate marriage of Francois Vadnais and Tarsile Hus Lemoine, who died three days ago. — Joseph Pepin and Basile Lavallee who failed to sign.

                                                                            (signed) Ed: Lecours priest

End of translation.

Based on the information provided in the burial record, Francois was born on January 21, 1852.  Another curious thing in Francois’, and the other 3 children’s burial records, is the mention of the same two witnesses, Joseph Pepin and Basile Lavallee.  At first I thought they were relatives, but I now know that they were not.  I find them listed in almost all of the church burial records across several years so I tend to think that as witnesses at most burials they were probably the grave diggers.

So much tragedy to endure in the short span of 3 years; Francois and Tharsile (who was only 19 years old) had lost all 4 of their children.

I finished looking through the 6 remaining years in the index.  Only one other Vadnais appeared and she was born to Francois’ younger brother Louis and his wife.

Francois and Tharsile immigrated to Minnesota in 1858 and that same year Marie Theresa was born, the daughter that I originally thought was the oldest.  William (my great-grandfather), Cordelia and Mathilda would follow over the next 12 or so years.  So many, including myself, have only recorded this family as having 4 children,  but they were just the 4 youngest children who had survived to adulthood. 

I have not found another family tree with the 4 oldest children.  Francois and Tharsile had 8 children: the 4 born in Quebec and the 4 born in Minnesota.  Although the 4 oldest, my 2 great-granduncles and my 2 great-grandaunts, were not with us for very long they are a part of our history and are now included in our family tree.  

Thanks for visiting, come back soon,

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