Dec 052017
 

Madame Voisin

To find the ancestors of my great-grandfather Joseph Voisin (1858-1916) in connection with the Ontario patriarch, Joseph Voisin (1807-1892), it helps to research other families in the area that may be related. They can help me “triangulate” in on my direct-line ancestors. With a little detective work, one such family proved to be a surprising discovery.

An early settler in Waterloo County, Ontario was Maria Voisin, and her son August Voisin, who was a tailor. A reference to her and her son is found in a history of the Catholic Church in Waterloo County.1 The reference indicates she was present in or before 1850 and it includes a picture of Madame Voisin herself. I suspected she was related by marriage to Joseph Voisin (1807-1892), and was perhaps his sister-in-law.

Mother and son appear in two Canadian censuses from 18512 and 1861.3 In each entry, August is listed as a tailor who would have been born about 1826. Maria would have been born in the mid to late 1790s.

Next I found reference to a French passport issued to a Marie Anne Voisin in 1848. This is consistent with the Maria Voisin who was an early settler in Waterloo County about 1850.4 She was listed as a cook, born in Reppe, France and residing in Belfort, France. Interestingly, her intended destination was “Waterlo,” which may possibly be Waterloo County, Ontario. Unfortunately, the passport did not mention that her son, August Voisin, would be traveling with her.

With a connection to Belfort, I searched the French census of Belfort for 18465 and for 1841,6 but I found no entry for a Maria Voisin. I did find an Auguste Voisin, working as a tailor’s helper in 1841, and at the same location in 1846, as a tailor. He was 20 in 1846, meaning he was born about 1826. Since Maria Voisin listed Belfort on her passport application, it is likely she eventually lived in Belfort, perhaps just before leaving the country.

There is no evidence of a connection between the Maria Voisin on the passport and August Voisin, the young tailor in Belfort. However the names, occupations and approximate ages do agree. At this point, we have a cook named Marie Anne Voisin born in the mid 1790s in Reppe, France, who emigrated from Belfort, France in or after 1848. In Belfort was a young man named Auguste Voisin, born about 1826, who worked as a tailor.

Shortly thereafter in Waterloo County, Ontario, we have a Maria Voisin, born in the mid 1790s along with her son August Voisin, a tailor, born about 1826. Both arrived in Waterloo County in or before 1850.

I searched for August Voisin’s father, Maria Voisin’s husband. After all, for Maria Voisin to have a son named August Voisin, it means her maiden name would be something other than Voisin. However I found no marriage record for a man named Voisin, with a wife named Maria, Marie Anne, Marianne, and so on. Instead I found a birth record for an Alexander August Voisin, born in 1826 in Reppe, France to a Marie Anne Voisin.7 No father was recorded. The mother was a cook in the household of Henri Denier.

Again the names, the occupations of cook and tailor, and their approximate ages all agree. The surprise is, Maria Voisin was not married when she had her son August and therefore Voisin was her maiden name. The only Maria Voisin I found who was born in Reppe, France in the mid 1790s was Marianne Voisin, daughter of Vincent and Anne Eve (Denier) Voisin. She was born in 1798.8

Now Joseph Voisin (1807-1892) was also born in Reppe, France to Vincent and Anne Eve (Denier) Voisin.9 Marianne was therefore his sister! She must have raised August Voisin as a single mother.

In Ontario, August Voisin went on to marry Caroline Wilhelm in 1861.10 They had two children, one of whom died, before Caroline herself died in 1864. August was married again, in 1866, to his second wife Carolina Schäfer.11 That marriage record strangely lists August’s father as “Maria” and his mother as “Anna Voisin.” This seems to indicate he had no father and his mother was Maria Anna Voisin.

August and Carolina had at least seven more children. The family appeared in the 1871 Canadian census.12 Presumably August’s mother Marianne Voisin was also listed in that census, this time alone in a separate household.13 Maria Anna Voisin eventually died in September 1879 when she lived in Berlin (now Kitchener), Ontario.14 She was listed as a pauper, which probably meant she received public assistance or charity.

August and Carolina (Schäfer) Voisin and their children moved to Mecosta County, Michigan about that time. Their daughter Isabella was born in July 1879 in Waterloo, Ontario15 and I could find no entry in the 1880 US census for the family. They likely immigrated in late 1880 or thereafter. August Voisin is reported to have died in September 188916 and his wife Carolina in November 188917, both in Mecosta County, Michigan.

A plat map of Morton Township in Mecosta County from 1900 shows an “R. Voisin” owned 80 acres near the town of Mecosta.18 There was also an additional 40 acres owned by an “R. Vosen.” This could possibly be their son and heir, Robert Voisin, born about 1869.

It is interesting to note that my great-grandfather Joseph Voisin (1858-1916) reportedly immigrated to Michigan and first came to Remus, Michigan, very near Mecosta. Joseph then purchased his farm land in 1879 near Beal City, Michigan. This means Joseph came to the area first, and may have convinced cousins like August Voisin back in Ontario to come to the area. This is speculation, but consistent with the evidence.

Further records indicate Robert A. Voisin went on to marry Anna Coan at Cheboygan in northern Michigan in September 1900.19 He listed his parents as August Voisin and Caroline Schafer. This means Robert Voisin is likely the patriarch of the Voisin families in northern Michigan, and they are indeed related to the Voisin families in central Michigan. However, since August Voisin was illegitimate, it is unlikely the Voisins in northern Michigan would match a Y-chromosome DNA test.

Genetic genealogists use the term Non-paternity Event (NPE) in these cases. August Voisin was given the maiden name of his mother Marianne. However it is clear she was always by his side. She likely worked as a domestic cook to support his apprenticeship as a tailor, and then emigrated from France to Canada and withstood the hardships of pioneer life. August went on to America, where his children continued to thrive.

Joseph Voisin (1807-1892) and Marianne Voisin (1798-1879)

Looking back at the photograph of Mme. Voisin I first saw over a decade ago, I can see a family resemblance to Joseph Voisin (1807-1892). It is now very likely they were brother and sister.

Important Notes: As of yet, there is no documented proof that Vincent and Anne Eve (Denier) Voisin were the parents of Joseph Voisin (1807-1892), but circumstantial evidence points to that conclusion.  The case of Marianne Voisin is further circumstantial evidence.  She was a Voisin from Reppe, France who settled in Waterloo, Ontario.   From her passport application, she may have known another Voisin in the area, who was probably her brother.

Also, Vincent and Anne Eve had another daughter, Marie, born in 1800.20 The recurring name “Marie Anne” or “Maria Anne” leads me to conclude August’s mother was Marianne Voisin, born 1798, and not her sister Marie Voisin, born 1800.

In the nineteenth century, ages of individuals varied widely in birth, marriage, death, and census records.  This inconsistency makes it difficult to identify the same individual over the years.  In Marianne Voisin’s case, her recorded age was off by 3, 4 and even 6 years in various records, making her all the more difficult to identify.  I think a person’s exact age was not as important as it is today.  Either they couldn’t do the math, or they couldn’t or wouldn’t remember the exact year they were born.

Footnotes
  1. Theobald Spetz, The Catholic Church in Waterloo County. Book I : with a summary history of the Diocese of Hamilton. Book II : and a list of the clergy who labored in its district from the beginning to the present. Book III. Catholic Register and Extension, [Toronto?], 1916, page 176.
  2. 1851 Census, Canada West, Waterloo Township, Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada, district 3 Waterloo Township, Waterloo County, Page 149 or 17, Lines 25 – 26, August Voisen ; digital images, Library and Archives Canada, Censuses (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx : downloaded 12 November 2017).
  3. 1861 Census, Canada West, Waterloo, Waterloo County, Ontario, Canada, district 1 Village of Waterloo, Waterloo County, Page 7, Lines 1 – 2, August Voisin ; digital images, Library and Archives Canada, Censuses (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx : downloaded 12 November 2017).
  4. Dominique Dreyer, Liste des Haut-Rhinois ayant émigré vers l’ Amérique entre 1800 et 1870 (Colmar: Archives départementales du Haut-Rhin, 1987), Page 245, Voisin, Marie Anne; digital images, Doczz (http://doczz.fr/doc/216177/les-%C3%A9migrants-haut-rhinois-en-am%C3%A9rique-1800-%C3%A0-1870 : downloaded 25 October 2017.
  5. 1846 Census of Belfort, France, Listes nominatives de recensement de population numérisées, Page 176, Number 22, Auguste Voisin Rue Grande fontaine; digital images, Le Départment, Territoire de Belfort, Archives Départmentales (http://www.archives.cg90.fr : downloaded 3 December 2017); Image 177 of 185.
  6. 1841 Census of Belfort, France, Listes nominatives de recensement de population numérisées, Page 44, Number 1107, Auguste Voisin Rue Grande fontaine; digital images, Le Départment, Territoire de Belfort, Archives Départmentales (http://www.archives.cg90.fr : downloaded 3 December 2017); Image 40 of 230.
  7. “Etat Civil and Registres Paroissiaux,” database, Departmental Archives of Belfort, France, Archives départementales du Territoire de Belfort (http://www.archives.cg90.fr/: downloaded 2 December 2017), Reppe, Etat Civil, Naissances, Deces, Mariages 1803-1981, 1803-1869, image 243 of 774, entry 9.
  8. “Etat Civil and Registres Paroissiaux,” database, Departmental Archives of Belfort, France, Archives départementales du Territoire de Belfort (http://www.archives.cg90.fr/: downloaded 10 October 2017), Etat Civil, Reppe, “Naissances” (Births) 1793-1803, image 43 of 80.
  9. “Etat Civil and Registres Paroissiaux,” database, Departmental Archives of Belfort, France, Archives départementales du Territoire de Belfort (http://www.archives.cg90.fr/: downloaded 10 October 2017), Etat Civil, Reppe, “Naissances, Deces, Mariages” (Births, Deaths, Marriages) 1803-1981, 1803-1869, image 23 of 774.
  10. “Waterloo Region Generations”, family group sheets, Waterloo Region Generations (http://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/index.php : viewed 1 December 2017), “Alexander August “August” Voisin,” Caroline Wilhelm; submitted, [contact information for private use]; citing Berliner Journal of Feb. 7, 1861, “Feb. 5, 1861 August Voisin and Caroline Wilhelm, both of Waterloo, by Rev. Funcken in St. Agatha”.
  11. “Ontario, County Marriage Registers, 1858-1869,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QSQ-G9GF-B916?cc=2568642&wc=Q866-Z8B%3A1589652483%2C1589662489 : 31 March 2017), Waterloo > 1865-1869, vol 76 > image 34 of 58; citing The Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
  12. 1871 Census, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, district 32 North Waterloo, subdistrict Village of Waterloo, Page 15, Family 125, Lines 9 – 14, Auguste Voisin ; digital images, Library and Archives Canada, Censuses (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx : downloaded 19 November 2017).
  13. 1871 Census, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, district 32 North Waterloo, subdistrict Wellesley, Page 5, House 15, Family 19, Line 10, Marianne Voisin ; digital images, Library and Archives Canada, Censuses (http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/census/Pages/census.aspx : downloaded 19 November 2017).
  14. “Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-6GVS-PTG?cc=1307826&wc=3LKQ-L29%3A1584243504%2C1584270101%2C1584270102 : 19 May 2015), Deaths > 1879 > no 13197-18963 > image 273 of 729; Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
  15. “Ontario Births, 1869-1912,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-Y3SH-VLX?cc=1784212&wc=QZ3B-G43%3A1584203503%2C1584204203%2C1584213701 : 15 January 2016), Births > 1879 > no 31017-39444 > image 165 of 805; citing Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
  16. “Waterloo Region Generations”, family group sheets, Waterloo Region Generations (http://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/index.php : viewed 1 December 2017), “Alexander August “August” Voisin,” August Voisin; submitted, [contact information for private use].
  17. “Waterloo Region Generations”, family group sheets, Waterloo Region Generations (http://generations.regionofwaterloo.ca/index.php : viewed 1 December 2017), “Alexander August “August” Voisin,” Caroline Schaefer; submitted, [contact information for private use]; citing Berliner Journal of 28 Nov 1889, “Nov. 16, 1889 Carolina Voisin, nee Schäfer, widow of the recently deceased A. Voisin, died in Mecosta, Michigan at age of 45 years.”
  18. Plat book of Mecosta County, Michigan / drawn from actual surveys and the county records by P. A. & J. W. Myers & C. H. Cameron.
    Myers, P. A., Myers, J. W., Cameron, C. H., Cameron, C. H., Consolidated Publishing Company., E.P. Noll & Co.
    Minneapolis, Minn.: Consolidated Publishing Co., 1900. https://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micounty/3927900.0001.001/18?view=image&size=400.
  19. “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HT-D8SS-K1B?cc=1452395&wc=9663-K68%3A1041534202 : 9 May 2014), 004208640 > image 63 of 624; citing Department of Vital Records, Lansing.
  20. “Etat Civil and Registres Paroissiaux,” database, Departmental Archives of Belfort, France, Archives départementales du Territoire de Belfort (http://www.archives.cg90.fr/: downloaded 10 October 2017), Etat Civil, Reppe, “Naissances” (Births) 1793-1803, image 63 of 80.

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