Posts Tagged ‘La Rochelle’

52 Ancestors, week #15 – Louis Napoleon Chalifour – UPDATE!!

No Story Too Small has issued a New Year’s Challenge: “Have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor.”  

My husband ran into a cousin, who mentioned her mom was interested in genealogy.  He returned home and asked “does the name Napoleon ring a bell?”  Yes, husband, we have talked extensively about Napoleon….he is your g-grandfather.   Husband says, “I thought the name sounded familiar, I can’t remember all these people!”

 

I took a French Genealogy class at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG) years ago, and was able to trace Napoleon back to Mathurin Chalifour born abt 1593 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France.  My husband’s response when I shared the news: “You mean I am French?”…. “Yes, dear, where did you think the French Canadians came from? Australia?  🙂

Chalifour

Chalifour La Rochelle

Mathurin Chalifour’s son Paul Chalifour, the first in the line to immigrate to Quebec was 15 years old during the Siege of La Rochelle in 1627.  The Siege of La Rochelle (French: Le Siège de La Rochelle, or sometimes Le Grand Siège de La Rochelle) was a result of a war between the French royal forces of Louis XIII of France and the Huguenots of La Rochelle in 1627–28. The siege marked the apex of the tensions between the Catholics and the Protestants in France, and ended with a complete victory for King Louis XIII and the Catholics. During the siege, the population of La Rochelle decreased from 27,000 to 5,000 due to casualties, famine, and disease.

Paul Chalifour (master carpenter specializing in putting up timber-work) is the only child of Mathurin  who later appears in Canada (he married there in 1648).  We don’t know if he had siblings and what became of them and his parents.  He likely lost many relatives and friends in the siege

The remaining Protestants of La Rochelle suffered new persecutions, when 300 families were again expelled in November 1661, the year Louis XIV came to power. The reason for the expulsions was that Catholics deeply resented a degree of revival of Protestant ownership of property within the city.

The episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?” featuring Tom Bergeron which first aired on 30 Aug 2015 recounts the horrific details of these ancestors who were subjected to starvation and religious persecution: http://www.tlc.com/tv-shows/who-do-you-think-you-are/videos/tom-bergeron/.

Louis Napoleon “Napoleon” Chalifour, a descendant of Mathurin and Paul is the subject of today’s sketch.  He was born to Jean Elie Chalifour and Helene Gagnon and baptized 29 January 1879, in Plessisville, Québec, Canada.

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Napoleon baptism

Napoleon has not yet been located in the 1881 and 1901 censuses.

In 1891, Napoleon, age twelve (placing his birth at about 1889), is found residing in Plessisville (also known as  the village of Somerset) with his widowed mother and a few siblings.  He was enumerated as Louis Chalifour.

He married, in Montreal, Marie Josephine Rose de Lima LeBlanc, daughter of Antoine LeBlanc and Herméline Thuot, on 5 Feb 1902, in Quebec (she was an Acadian who is the link between my husband and I – we are 7th, 8th & 9th cousins through multiple lines!).

The marriage record names Napoleon’s parents and indicates his father is deceased and his mother is of Saint Cecilia de Valleyfield (she likely moved to be near or with family; Napoleon’s sister Beatrice married two years earlier, in 1900, and at that point, their widowed mother was said to be of Plessisville).

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marriage

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Napoleon had four sons – Henry, Leon Pierre, Louis Albert and George between 1903 and 1907.  My husband descends from Albert.

In 1911, the family lived in Jacques-Cartier, Quebec.  They are Catholic, primary language is French, and Napoleon is in construction. Napoleon is listed as age 32 and his birth as January 1879.

Napoleon census 1911

Napoleon emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts (my husband’s birthplace) before May 1915 – the date when his family crossed the border, claiming they were to join him.

manifest

The family lived together on Foster Street in 1920. A 43 year old Napoleon, which places his birth at about 1878, was listed as a house carpenter who had applied for naturalization.  He is listed in the 1922, 1924 and 1926 city directories, as a carpenter, at this address.

Napoleon census

That’s where the trail ends. The 1927 and 1928 city directories are not available online.  In the 1929 & 1930 city directories and 1930 census, his wife is listed as a widow. The only Chalifour’s listed in the 1926 to 1930 Massachusetts death index are Alfred J A, Elie and James Henry all of Salem. A Declaration of Intent to become Naturalized has not been found.

Family lore says: “We do not know when Napoleon died as he went to Pennsylvania to find work, and no one ever heard from him after that.  He may have been killed in a log-jam as he was working there. ”

Napoleon was in Pennsylvania, years earlier, working as a Carpenter, in 1918, when he registered for the WWI draft.  He lists a birth date of 27 July 1870 and names Rose Chalifour of Salem, Massachusetts as his wife and nearest relative.  The birth year is a bit off (perhaps an error, or he was trying to make himself appear older to avoid military service).

WWI draft.png

So… Napoleon is on my “list” of folks to research this summer. Did he return to Pennsylvania? To date, I haven’t found any evidence to support this nor have I located a record of his death there (Pennsylvania death certificates are online at Ancestry.com).

UPDATE: 22 August 2016

A Napoleon Chalifour  registered for the draft in 1942 in Oklahoma.

This Napoleon is listed as 5’5″, 160 pounds with blue eyes, blonde hair and ruddy complexion.  The WWI draft card list’s my husband’s Napoleon as medium height, stout build with blue eyes and brown hair – not exactly a similar description….other than the blue eyes.

But, he claims a birth of 27 January 1878 in Plessisville, Canada. This birth day (January 27th) matches that of the WWI draft record.

All baptisms were examined in Plessisville and there was only one Napoleon listed in that parish in that time period. Yes, my husband’s “missing” g-grandfather, who was baptized 29 January 1879.

Napoleon draft card

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Further, there was only one other Chalifour family baptizing children in Plessisville in that time frame (records were examined from 1854 to 1885).  Hilaire Chalifour and his wife, Flavie Moreau baptized a son Georges in April of 1879, thus it is unlikely that they also had a son Napoleon that same year who’s baptism went unrecorded. Note that baptisms were recorded individually, implying the children were baptized soon after birth (vs. having to travel to a priest or wait until a traveling priest was in town to baptize multiple children at once).

Last, my husband has a 2nd-3rd cousin Autosomal DNA match on 23andme to another descendant of Jean Elie Chalifour and Helene Gagnon through their son Elie, so it is pretty likely hubby’s Napoleon is the one baptized in Plessisville and the one who appears later in Oklahoma.

In 1942, Napoleon’s close contact (at the same address) is Mary Chalifour.

The 1940 census lists Napoleon and Mary as husband and wife living in Crutcho, Oklahoma.  Napoleon’s occupation is “carpenter”.  The same occupation as my husband’s Napoleon.

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A Find-A-Grave entry lists  a Napoleon Chalifour buried at Fairlawn Cemetery, Oklahoma City

Birth: 1879 – Death: 1947
grave

A note on Mary’s record reads:

Birth:

1882 Toronto Ontario, Canada

Death:

Jun. 29, 1949 Oklahoma County Oklahoma, USA

Died of cancer at St Anthony Hospital. Lived in the United States about 30 years. No living relatives are known.

A social security death claim was made for Napoleon Chalifour in 1947:

Name:

Napoleon Chalifour

SSN:

444100923

Birth Date:

27 Jan 1876

Birth Place:

Verdun, France

Death Date:

1 Mar 1947

Claim Date:

11 Mar 1947

Type of Claim:

Death Claim

Notes:

10 Nov 1977: Name listed as NAPOLEON CHALIFOUR

Note that the birth year and place differ from the 1942 draft registration (but the date is again listed as 27 January).

Other records have not been located – I primarily searched for a marriage record to Mary, the 1930 census, his application for Naturalization, death certificate and obituary. I also searched for the Napoleon of Oklahoma in earlier records without success; this negative result is another indicator that Napoleon of Oklahoma and Napoleon of Salem are the same person.

A comparison of the 1918 and 1942 signatures are inconclusive.   It is interesting that both sign as Nap not Napoleon. The C in Chalifour is similar.

Np signature.png

I ordered Napoleon of Oklahoma’s SS-5 (social security application) to see who he named as parents and to match up the signature with that of the draft cards!  Note that social security numbers beginning with 444-10 were issued in Oklahoma from 1936-1950, so this neither supports or disproves the theory……  A copy of the application, completed by Napoleon, should arrive within 3 weeks  Stay tuned!

UPDATE 3 September 2016

The SS-5 has arrived!  Napoleon Chalifour of Oklahoma likely filled out the application, dated 17 July 1937, where he names his parents as Eli Chalifour and Helen Gagnon (a match to the man baptized in Plessisville, Canada and to the man who married Josephine Rose de Lima LeBlanc)  and a birthdate of 27 January 1876 (matching the birth month/day of the Napoleon of Salem; he perhaps added four years to his age to claim Social security benefits earlier?).

He does report a birth place of Verdun, France (perhaps he was fearful the government would identify him as the missing Salem man? or perhaps this fib makes it less likely they would have the ability to disprove the 1876 birth year).

However, the signature on the SS-5 and employer [Mack Denny/ MH Denney] matches that of the 1942 WWII draft card, where he reports a birth year of 1878 and place of Plessisvill[e], Canada

Despite a few inconsistencies, this further supports the theory that Napoleon of Salem and Napoleon of Oklahoma are the same man.

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