Two boys with the same name
First of a four-part series of the real and imagined life of Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire (1824-1895)
In 1824, two boys were baptised with the same name in St-Ours – one, Joseph Valentin on January 15 (son of Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire and Marie Anne Dallaire), and the other on the 8th of July, named Joseph Valentin Gregoire, son of Pierre Valentin dit Gregoire and Archange Arpin of St-Jude. The similarity of names and proximity of the two families in the same geographical area presented some research challenges.
As a result, reviewing documented evidence based solely on a name to piece together the life of one or the other of the boys born in 1824 was going to require additional corroborating information to form more definite conclusions. Some documents were too vague to attribute to either one of the Josephs with any degree of certainty.
Are these two Josephs related in some way? Did their paths cross? Were their destinies similar or different? Certainly, they seemed to have almost identical starts in life.
What are the key factors that differentiate one Joseph from the other? Looking at the baptism records we see that one is named Joseph Valentin and the other Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire. One would hope Father Hébert, the parish priest, might have pointed out the name similarities to avoid future confusion (identity theft not being a concern in those days, apparently). Perhaps that’s why only one of them includes the dit name. Regardless, we have this to work with:
- Parents – Joseph & Marie Anne Allaire vs. Pierre & Archange Arpin
- Parish – even though both Josephs were baptised in St-Ours, one had a father from St-Jude parish where that family lived.
- Wives – in later records, we can rely on the wife’s name to validate which record belongs to whom.
Notwithstanding the subtle differences in their birth names, in later years both Josephs are seen in records as Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire and eventually just Joseph Gregoire. Further complicating the matter are records that are references to Joseph’s father, also named Joseph in the same manner.
For instance, in the 1825 census we see a Joseph Gregoire listed in St-Ours near an entry for the Allaire family, but the headcount doesn’t match the makeup of the family – no young children under six are listed (there should have been three). Even digging into the census for the possibility that Joseph and Marie Anne were living with one or the other of their parents in an extended family setting doesn’t yield a satisfactory result.
The St-Ours Valentin-Gregoires and the St-Jude Valentin-Gregoires were not close neighbours, but close enough. The two communities were about 17 km apart (a three-hour walk, much shorter by carriage or horseback). Therefore, it’s quite possible their paths crossed at some points. We do know that they both descend from the same St-Ours couple from three generations back – Theodore Valentin and Marguerite Rondeau – who married in 1753. Their two sons formed the two branches of the families in question which would make our two Josephs 2nd cousins.
|Thomas Valentin & Marguerite Rondeau|
|Louis & Marie Josette Girouard
Joseph & Marie Anne Dallaire
Joseph Valentin (of St-Ours)
|Pierre & Catherine Fontaine
Pierre & Archange Arpin
Joseph Valentin dit Gregoire (of St-Jude)
© Janet Comeau – July 2018