Peter Parish. I remember the first time I saw his name. Back then, I was trying to track down Matilda Tourville in Ferrisburgh, Vermont, before her marriage in 1865 to Louis Tourville, son of Charles Tourville and Sophie Arpajou. Matilda, whose maiden name I had just found out was LaQuire (Lequin in Québec).
So I was looking at the Ferrisburgh’s 1860 US Census hoping to get something about Matilda. One Peter Push, age 25, was listed with Mary Push, age 15. The census informs me that they were married within the year. As these two were living within the Leguin‘s household, I thought she might have been a relative of them and Matilda. I later concluded that I was right as she was Matilda’s first cousin.
Afterwards, I searched for a marriage record for Peter and Mary Push. Despite the fact that only the Vermont Vital index card had survived, I obtained the marriage’s date and place for Peter Parish and Mary Laquier: September 24, 1859, in Ferrisburgh before a Methodist minister. I managed to gather a few facts about them: Mary was 15, born in Canada East (Province of Québec), it was her first marriage (thank God!) and her parents were John and Mary Laquier; Peter was 25, born in Canada East, it was his second marriage and his parents were Joseph and Mary Parish.
You gotta be kidding me! I wished for a Hyacinthe and an Émérentienne. You know, the kind of first names you can easily trace in Québec records. Parish… I could hardly think of any French Canadian names from which Parish could be derived. So I let it go.
Étienne Arpajou. I remember the first time I saw his name. It was in St. Peters Church Marriages Repertoire for Vergennes, Vermont. Of course, I thought immediately of Sophie Arpajou. Could they be related? I did spot Étienne Arpajou in the Québec records. Born on May 25, 1834, baptized in St-Jude, Richelieu County, Québec, Étienne was Sophie’s nephew and his parents were Joseph Arpajou and Marie Gazaille dite Saint-Germain.
Étienne (Stephen in the church repertoire) married Ellen Saint-Germain on October 13, 1856, at Vergennes’ St. Peters Church. The same day, Sophronie Arpajou married Israël Saint-Germain. Unfortunately, I have never been able to identify Sophronie. If she was Étienne’s sister, maybe she was baptized under another first name. I did identify Ellen and Israël though. They were sister and brother. Ellen, baptized Eleonore, and Israël, baptized Louis Israël, were the children of (Pierre) Saint-Germain and Marguerite Sorel.
I have never located Stephen or Étienne and wife Ellen in the 1860 US Census. It is as if they have vanished from the face of the Earth. That drove me crazy for a while. I thought maybe he died in the Civil War. I couldn’t seem to find him anywhere. So I let it go.
My first big break came with the publication of St. Peters Church Baptisms Repertoire, for Vergennes in 2010. I was ecstatic! Finally, some new clues! Here are the entries I retrieved from it:
- Arpagoux, Stephen, born 20 Oct 1857, Ferrisburgh, baptized 14 Nov 1857, parents: Stephen Arpagoux and Eleanora St-Germain, sponsors: Ambrose Ploude and Margaret Sorel
- Arpagoux, Henry, born 6 July 1860, Ferrisburgh, baptized 22 Jul 1860, parents: Stephen Arpagoux and Celina Leguin, sponsors: John B. Forcier and Marie St-Germain
- Arpagoux, Edward, born 1 Nov 1861, baptized 9 Feb 1862, parents: Stephen Arpagoux and Celina Leguin, sponsors: Baptiste Letient and Mathilda Letient
- Arpagoux, Julia, born 20 Jan 1864, baptized 14 Feb 1864, parents: Stephen Arpagoux and Celina Leguin, sponsors: Israël St-Germain and Vitalia Plante
- Arpagoux, Francis, born 13 Oct 1865, baptized 26 Nov 1865, parents: Stephen Arpagoux and Celina Leguin, sponsors: Francis Leguin and Marie Leguin
Well, well, well, will you look at that! So Étienne married one Celina Lequin. Unfortunately, I have never located a marriage act, either in church or civil records. Then again, no trace of them in the 1860 US Census.
While working on my then future Vermont Project two years ago, I made a list of all French Canadians living in Ferrisburgh and Vergennes in 1850 and, when combining same with the information extracted from the new St. Peters Church Baptisms Repertoire, I could identify a lot of families and trace them back to Québec.
Salt Lake City, November 2014. There I was on a Sunday, the library’s closed, telling myself I should take another shot at finding out what happened to Étienne Arpajou.
I ran through the children’s names again, I even checked the census again, no luck. Then I decided to work with Family Search Website. Let’s try for a “Henry” born around 1860 in Vermont. Of all the possibilities listed, I noticed this one:
Ferrisburgh, births for the year 1860, line 21:
- July 6, 1860, Henry Parish, born in District 1, parents: Peter and Mary, residence of parents in District 1, father is a laborer, father born in Vergennes, mother born in Ferrisburgh
Hum! Peter Parish again. Wrong Henry! Then I looked at the date again, jumped to my database for Henry Arpajou. They have the same birthdate and place! G-E-T O-U-T!!!
OK, take a deep breath! Wait, wait… LaQuire! The wives of both men are named LaQuire! I had never really inquired on Mary Parish. So I did the math, and it seems to me that Celina and Mary could be the same person. By that time, I had identified Mary’s parents as being Jean-Baptiste Lequin [John LaQuire] and Marie Saint-Germain. Also, I remembered suddenly that it was Peter Parish’s second marriage. Peter’s parents were Joseph and Mary… Joseph Arpajou and Marie Gazaille dite Saint-Germain?
I went back to the Ferrisburgh vital records for the 1856-1859 era and I noticed these:
Ferrisburgh, births for the year 1857, line 8:
- Nov. 20, Peter Alpare, male, born in Ferrisburgh, parents: Peter and Laura Alpare, residence of parents: Ferrisburgh, father is laborer
Ferrisburgh, deaths for the year 1857, line 11:
- Nov. 30, Laura Alpare, age 16 years, 10 months, 11 days, female, married, cause of death: birth of child, died in Ferrisburgh, place of birth: Ferrisburgh, parents: Peter and Margaret German
Ferrisburgh, deaths for the year 1858, line 13:
- Jan. 3, Peter Alpare, age 1 month, 12 days, male, single, cause of death unknown, residence of parents: District 1, born in District 1, name of parents: Peter and Laura
I went back to the Ferrisburgh 1860 US Census. Peter and Mary Push [Parish], no children listed and no Henry. And Henry Parish was not dead yet because he was listed in the US 1880 Census. And of course no trace of the family in the 1870 US Census.
As I was in Salt Lake City, my genealogist friend Rhonda told me that the birth of the child in 1860 was in July, so that’s probably the reason why his name was not listed, the census’ date being June 1. She told me my theory made sense but then I said: “How can I prove it?” In fact, besides a big hunch, the only proof I had was that when one man was “present” the other wasn’t.
I went back to the vital records of Ferrisburgh, this time for the 1861-1870 era and located the following:
Ferrisburgh, birth records for children born to Peter and Mary Parish:
- Jesse P. Parish, born 2 Oct 1865 in District 1, parents’ residence: District 1, father is farmer, parents both born in Canada East
- Peter Parish, born 3 Sep 1867 in District 3, parents’ residence: Ferrisburgh, father is laborer, parents both born in Canada
- John Parish, born 6 Jul 1869, in District 3, parents’ residence: Ferrisburgh, father is laborer, parents both born in Canada
Ferrisburgh, death record for 1870, line 8:
- March 9, Mary (Laquire) Parish, age 27, female, married, cause of death: consumption, residence in District 3, born in Canada, parents are John and Mary
Peter married for a third time with a woman named Emelina Geally (or Jelly), born in New York State. They were married at Vergennes’ Congregational Church even if the Vermont vital record index card indicates that the wedding was performed by a Catholic priest. That’s why you always have to go to see the real thing! Their children are not baptized but I could find the following births in the Ferrisburgh vital records:
- Lucy Parish, born 14 Aug 1871 in District 3, parents’ residence: Ferrisburgh, father is laborer, father born in Canada, mother born in Chazy, NY
- George Parish, born 17 Jan 1873, in District 3, parents’ residence: Ferrisburgh, father is farmer, father born in Canada, mother born in West Chazy, NY
- James Marcelle Parish, born 12 Jul 1878, in District 3, parents’ residence: Ferrisburgh, father is laborer, father born in Canada, mother born in West Chazy, NY (the original entry was Canada but it was corrected by “word of Peter and Emeline’s daughter, Lucy Parish Perkins”)
January 2016, Longueuil. At home, sitting in front of my bookshelves. I am working on my Vermont Project and I am kind of challenged with a surname. Starts with an “O”. I am reviewing the church repertoires I have. Also, I never forget to check Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Repertoire for Charlotte, Vermont, because that church is so close to Ferrisburgh that lots of children from that town were baptized there.
Then I saw these:
- Olpayou, George, born 17 Jan 1873 Ferrisburgh, baptized 10 Mar 1873, parents: Stephen Olpayou and Ermina Joyal, sponsors: Louis O’Brien and Justine Fountain
- Olpayou, Marcel, born 12 Jan 1878, Ferrisburgh, baptized 24 Feb 1878, parents: Stephen Olpayou and Erma Joyal, sponsors: Marcel Guedes and Julia Laflamme
Have you heard me scream? How can you go to sleep when you unearth that kind of information at 20 to midnight on a Sunday night before returning to work after the Christmas break? Trust me, you can’t.
By looking at the 1880 US Census, now that I know and that I have the proof, each child seems to fit the bill:
- Franklin Parish, age 13, is Jesse P or Francis, born either 2 or 13 October 1865, his real age at census is 14. He is indicated as being disabled (hunchback).
- Peter Parish, age 12, born 3 September 1867.
- John Parish, age 10, born 6 July 1869.
- Lucy Parish, age 8, born 14 August 1871.
- George Parish, age 7, born 17 January 1873.
- James Parish, age 2, born 12 July 1878 (buried as James Marcelle).
So, please, let me introduce to you, Étienne Arpajou, also known as Peter Parish, born in 1834, who married three times: first, to Eleonora Saint-Germain; then, to Marie Celina Lequin; and, finally, to Ermina Joyal. He lived in Ferrisburgh from 1859 to at least 1880 and maybe moved to Brandon, Vermont, where he passed away from Brights disease (chronic nephritis) on July 20, 1884. We do not know in which cemetery he has been buried and I am afraid we never will. I have never found any indication regarding the death of his third wife Emelina. Maybe she died before the 1900 US Census.
The name Arpajou was misspelled as Olpayou in St. Josephs Church in Burlington as well, for a sponsor in that case. How come have I missed those entries in the Charlotte Repertoire, I have absolutely no idea!
I also noticed through the Saint-Germain’s research that Nettie Tourville, Louis’ sister, was married to Joseph Saint-Germain, son of Pierre Saint-Germain and Marguerite Sorel. As you can see, lots of relationships exist between Arpajous, LaQuires, Saint-Germains and Tourvilles.
There you have it. With these four families started my obsession with the French Canadians of Northern Addison County.