The Raphael Robidoux Mystery

The following reproduced web publication goes a long way in solving the mystery of Raphael Robidoux’s birth and his family linkages.

I sincerely appreciate the wonderful work of Clyde Rabideau and his making this publication available on the web. I hope he is honored by our presentation of his material and analysis.

If you get an opportunity, please visit Clyde Rabideau’s website to see what new publications are under development.

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IN PURSUIT OF MY ANCESTORS

By Clyde M. Rabideau

I started trying to determine who my ancestors were in 1990 when I was living and working in Ottawa, Canada. It was not long before I was at a dead end. My parents were Medard [Medor] Rabideau and Lillian Varin. My paternal grandparents were Noel Rabideau and Agnes Rousseau. A close look at my grandfather’s death certificate showed his name as Newell and parents as Russel Rebedeau and Philanda Mathews.. [...]

It did not take me long to determine that my great-grandfather’s name was actually Raphael Robidoux. I was able to locate his immigration papers at the Clinton County Clerk’s office in Plattsburgh, New York. He immigrated from Quebec in about 1855 when he was 13 years old and became a citizen on October 21, 1884.

raphael-robidoux-immigration-papers-21-oct-1884

My next step was to find out where he was married. I was able to locate his marriage in the St. Pierre’s [Peter’s] church records in Plattsburgh:

raphael-robidoux-euphemie-robidoux-marriage-9-jan-1860

Unfortunately, the marriage record did not show any parents. This meant that I would have a much more difficult time in my pursuit. The Clinton County federal census records showed them living in Alder Bend in the town of Altona which is where my grandfather, Noel, was born. I still had the problem of going backwards. I started with Raphael and used Quebec church records that were available at the Quebec Archives located very close to the American Embassy in Ottawa, Canada. This location was very close to where I was posted to and working for the U. S. Government. After a considerable search, I was able to find his baptism record in St-Constant, Quebec. St-Constant is located south of Montreal and very close to the Caughnawaga Indian Reservation.

raphael-robidoux-baptism-20-nov-1842

Unfortunately, I was now at a dead end. The baptism record did not provide any clues as to Raphael’s actual parents. His death certificate showed his parents as Russel [Raphael] Rabideau and Mary Lashway [LaJoie]. I could not find any records on a Raphael Robidoux and Mary LaJoie:

raphael-robidoux-death-21-aug-1909

I had no other choice but to change my research to find out more about his wife, Euphemie Robidoux. Family records and written family history had her name as Philomene Mattis or Philenda Mathews and Philomene St. Germain. Her death certificate did show her mother as Salome Boyer:

euphemie-robidoux-death-14-oct-1921

All of the church baptism records of Raphael and Euphemie’s children had her last name as Robidoux. Euphemie is oftentimes shown as Philomene of Philanda or something close to that. As shown on my grandfather’s death certificate her name was Philanda Mathews. On the death certificate of Euphemie’ daughter, Mary, it was shown as Mary St. Germaine. There were several baptisms of children in the Clinton County area to Leon [Leandre] Robidoux and Salome Boyer. Assuming that her name was actually Euphemie Robidoux, I began my search for her birth. I concluded through circumstantial evidence that the Leon Robidoux that attended her wedding was her father. I further concluded that the Pierre Robidoux attending the wedding was the Peter [Pierre] Robidoux who was married to Esther St. Germain and lived in the area of West Plattsburgh.

Based on these conclusions, I began my search of Euphemie and her parents, Leandre Robidoux and Salome Boyer. I found her baptism record shown below:

euphemie-robidoux-birth-24-jan-1838

I was still at a dead end but subsequently found the marriage of her presumed parents, Leandre Robidoux and Salome Boyer. The actual marriage record in French and English follow:

leandre-robidoux-salome-boyer-marriage-15-jan-1839-original
leandre-robidoux-salome-boyer-marriage-15-jan-1839-english-transcription

I then began to research Leandre Robidoux only to find that it was a another complicated task. Footnote 1 of the English translation that I did on the marriage of Leandre Robidoux and Salome Boyer indicates that Julian Laplante, uncle, was married to Marie Anne Robidoux. This was based on my research of Julian Laplante and the connection to the Robidouxs. Marie Anne was the daughter of Toussaint Robidoux and Marguerite Vautrin and the brother of Joseph Robidoux who was born on October 26, 1796 in St-Phillipe, Quebec. Joseph was the only brother of an age that could have fathered Leandre out -of-wedlock or illegitimate, as the Quebec church records describe the baptism. Joseph did not marry until November 22, 1825 when he was 29 years old. It was very uncommon to wait this long to marry during that time and based on the evidence available, I determined that Joseph was the father of Leandre.

I was not able to locate the illegitimate baptism record for Leandre but was able to find him and Euphemie with their children in the 1851 census of Quebec, Canada. They were in Sherrington, Quebec and the age and birthplace is shown for each person. The census below shows that Leandre was born in 1815 in St-Phillipe, Quebec:

leandre-robidoux-salome-boyer-family-1851-census

I now attempted to find where and when Leandre died. Family history had him dying in Beekmantown, New York at the age of 104 with the name of Leandre Mattis. As usual, family history is not always accurate. I was in the Wead Library in Malone, New York looking through microfilm when I came across a two line notice that a Leander Robedeau had died on January 22, 1907 at the age of 94. I eventually was able to obtain a Certification of Death from the Village of Malone clerk in October 1994. The notice in the January 30, 1907 edition of The Malone Farmer read, “ROBEDEAU – In Malone, N. Y., Jan 21st of apoplexy, Leander Robedeau, aged 94 years.”
leandre-robidoux-death-22-jan-1907

The certificate indicated that Leandre’s mother was a Laplante. More than likely, she was a sister of Julian Laplante and as close to the Robidoux family as Julian was. I have not been able to pinpoint exactly which Laplante was her mother. This solved the mystery of my great-grandmother, I thought.

It was not until 2008 when the Northern New York Library Network brought The Malone Paladium on line on their public access site for newspapers in northern New York, http://news.nnyln.net/, that I was able to solve the 80 year old mystery of the Mattis/Robidoux name. I found these articles:

gilbert-mattice-civil-war-registration
leandre-robidoux-6-sep-1906-malone-palladium-articleleandre-robidoux-13-sep-1906-malone-palladium-article
To correct some of the information in these two newspaper articles, I must point out that in 1906, Leandre was 91 years of age and not over 100 or 97 as his son, Theodore told the newspaper. In the September 13th article, the editor got the age right.

Also, Leandre was visiting his daughter, Euphemie, who lived in Alder Bend, and not his sister. Euphemie was 68 years old at the time. I could find no record of a sister, let alone one living in Alder Bend with my great-grandparents.

These articles solved forever the family history of Euphemie’s surname and revealed that there were several Mattis, Mattice, Mathes, Mathieu, Matthiew that lived in both New York and Massachusetts that were descended from Leandre Robidoux and Euphemie Robidoux. I found several of her siblings that had taken the Mattis name which subsequently evolved into the names shown above. It appears that Euphemie and Theodore, the two oldest children, were the only siblings to retain the Robidoux name. In Euphemie’s case, she apparently told her family that her maiden or surname was Mattis.

The following obituary was found in the May 8, 1929 Malone Farmer Newspaper:theodore-robideau-death-newspaper-article

Euphemie’s brother, Leandre Mattis, moved to Lowville, New York and her brother, Gilbert Matthews, lived in Malone, New York for several years before moving to Massachusetts. Both had large and extended families. Theodore and his brother, Gilbert, both served in the Civil War. Theodore as Theodore Rubadue and Gilbert as Gilbert Mattice. It had been a difficult task but I now had a line back to Andre Robidou, the original Robidou that came to Quebec in the 1600s . There are now over 70 spellings of the last name of the Robidou name.

Now, for the rest of the story. By January 2009, I was getting the itch to retry to connect up my great-grandfather, Raphael Robidoux. I spent a couple of months researching the Quebec vital statistics and possible connections. Remember, my grandfather’s name was Noel and my father’s name was Medard. Finally, I used these names as a clue in my search. Both names were extremely rare in the over 9,000 Robidou/Robidoux Quebec record of vital statistics. I found a Medard Robidoux born on June 9, 1798 in Yamaska, Quebec, son of Antoine Noel Robidoux and Josette Godin.

This was too much of a coincidence to pass up. I discovered that Medard married Marie Brouillard on Feb 2, 1819 and they had eleven children born in Quebec. Further, most of their children lived in the Schuyler Falls, Morrisonville, and Cadyville area of Clinton County, New York area. It turned out the Pierre Robidoux attending Raphael & Euphemie’s wedding was a son of Medard Robidoux and Marie Brouillard. This further pointed to Medard Robidoux as the possible father of Raphael. But of course, I did not have any proof.

I had in mind how I was going to prove the connection but I needed to do some more research. I traced the male descendants of Medard Robidoux & Marie Brouillard [...]

I purchased two paternal lineage DNA Test Kit-Y-Chromosome 33s for $79 each from Ancestry.Com with one to be sent directly to the male descendant [...] and one to sent to me. The test kits were received in May 2009 and I completed mine and returned it for testing. He also completed his and returned it for testing. I then had to wait about a month.

The results of the test were emailed to me in June 2009 with a perfect match! Raphael had been born out-of wedlock to Marie Lashway with Medard Robidoux as his father. This meant that the Pierre Robidoux attending the wedding was Raphael’s half-brother and that the male descendant [...] was my third cousin. He was not nearly as excited as I was about the match. It also meant that many of the local Rabideaus were closely related to me and that my long search for my roots was successful.

clyde-rabideau-dna-match-to-medard-robidoux

Hampshire Gazette, Massachusetts

Monday, October 17,1921
Mrs. Russell Robideau, aged 92, died Friday evening at the home of her son, Joseph, on Payson Ave. [in Easthampton]. Mrs. Robideau came here in September to visit her son. The body was sent last evening to Altona, N. Y.

Russell- Euphemie Robidoux Grave before modification Raphael & Euphemie Robidoux Grave
Grave before modification (addition of Euphemie’s name) Raphael & Euphemie Robidoux Grave after the addition of Euphemie’s name by Clyde Rabideau. Location Holy Angels Cemetery, Altona, NY.

Note: Please notice the many different spelling of both the given names and the surnames of all of the ancestors.