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Welcome to Tenacious Genealogy! This is another post for the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge that I’m participating in this year. It is a challenge hosted by Amy Johnson Crow every year and I figured I’d get in on the fun.
This is the week 7 prompt (which you can already tell I’m lagging behind on) and it is: ‘Love’. While this prompt was originally in conjunction with Valentine’s Day, because I’m so late, I figured I’d focus on a different kind of love in my family – sibling love.
In particular, I’m going to talk about the close relationship that one of my ancestors had with her brother. That of Domitilde Vilandre and her brother Fabien. This relationship seemed to continue as both siblings had their own families, living near each other and becoming godparents to each other’s children over the years.
While some of this is theorized, it is due to records that I have on both families from the early 1840s onward to the turn of the century. (I talk more about these records in a blog post I did specifically on Domitilde a few years ago.)
Domitilde & Fabien – The Records
The first records I have for these two siblings is their marriage records. In February of 1846, Fabien Vilandre married Marie Olive Marois. In the record for their marriage, it notes Domitilde as one of the witnesses. Nearly two years later, when Domitilde married Henri Michaud, Fabien is listed as one of the witnesses to their marriage.
And in between these two marriages, (June 1847 specifically), there was the birth of a little girl named Elizabeth. In her baptismal record, she is noted as being illegitimate, with Fabien Vilandre and Olive Marois being her godparents. In later records, (censuses and marriage records) she is noted as being the daughter of Henri Michaud and Domitilde Vilandre.
These records seem to imply that 1) Elizabeth was Domitilde’s (and likely Henri’s) daughter and 2) that Domitilde may have been living with or close to her brother and his wife prior to getting married.
After her marriage to Henri, it seems that they lived with his family for several years in the nearby town of Ste. Melanie. In 1855, their daughter, Marie Victoria was born there, however, the church record for her death nine months later, notes that Domitilde and Henri’s family resided in the town of St. Gabriel. What is interesting about this is that Fabien and his wife moved to St. Gabriel in 1852. What’s more, in the 1861 Canadian census, the two families (and their many, many children) were living next to each other. This pattern continued in the 1871 census (at which point both families had moved to another nearby village) and to a lesser extent in 1881 when the two families lived a few households apart from one another.
Reinforcing this fact are other documents noting the closeness of the families, such as other children being named godchildren of each respective couple (so Fabien and Olive were godparents of at least one of Henri and Domitilde’s children and vice versa), the fact that while there were Michauds and Maroises near the two families, neither siblings of Henri’s, nor siblings of Olive’s seemed to follow or hold as tight to their families of origin, and that Henri, Domitilde, Fabien, and Olive pop up regularly in church records for each other, particularly as witnesses in said records.
So it seems, Domitilde and Fabien Vilandre were close as siblings (and not necessarily in a weird way). And as it always is in genealogy, the question of why? comes up. Why does it seem that Domitilde and Fabien were close, even as adults? While it could be that the two just got along better than most siblings, it could also be because the two of them had to rely on each other more so than many siblings do.
Domitilde & Fabien – The Theories
While not much is known about their parents, it seems that they died prior to both Domitilde and Fabien getting married. (The only records I have connecting Domitilde and Fabien to their parents are their respective marriage records.) Also, I have yet to find any living siblings (or other Vilandres) connected to Domitilde or Fabien after they each get married. Given the large families that many Quebecois had during the time (and that both Domitilde and Fabien had), I found it surprising that there were no other siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, or other relations in the area during this time. So it is likely that the two were orphaned or were otherwise without family for several years before they pop up in St. Ambrose de Kildare in the early 1840s. If this is the case and they didn’t really have much in the way of a family other than each other, then it’s likely that they were close and that relationship stayed throughout their lives.
That said, whatever the reason, it is certainly interesting to see such close siblings when researching family history.
Questions & Comments?
Questions or comments about this post? Are there any love stories in your family? Romantic or otherwise? Curious about the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge? Let me know in the comments! And if you like what you’ve been seeing on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get freebies such as ‘10 Tips For Starting your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber-only’ items.