A circus family, part two

The 1870 census, showing a Caron household in Connecticut.

The weekend after my blog post was published in July, I sat down at my kitchen table and knocked down that brick wall. Welcome to part two of my quest to uncover my ‘circus family.’

I joined a website called Genealogy Quebec (https://www.genealogiequebec.com/en) on the recommendation of a co-worker and dedicated a rainy Saturday to my search. I started with the information about which I was confident: my great-grandmother Nora Caron’s birth and death certificate listed her parents as “Alphonse Caron” and “Mathilda Gauthier.” I had searched previously for information on Alphonse and came up with his death certificate in Rhode Island, which listed his parents as “Joseph Caron” and “Zoe Perron.” When searching on the Genealogie Quebec website, you’re able to search for individual names or couples. On an off-chance, I searched for Joseph Caron and Zoe Perron: zero results.

I moved on to try to find all children named Alphonse who were born 1845–55. Alphonse’s date of birth fluctuated in records from 1846 to 1849, so I wanted to make sure that I widened my range to include all records that might relate to him. My search resulted in seventeen promising families!

I decided to look through each baptismal record for specifics that might lend a clue, like the child’s name, the parents’ names, and any god-parents’ names. I entered all of my research on a spreadsheet to help organize my findings. After deciphering a multitude of bad handwriting, I found one result that possible could be a match: François Coron and Zoe Garault St. Onge.

My search resulted in seventeen promising families!

With a little help from my French-speaking family members, we were able to translate the baptismal record to state that Alphonse, son of François Coron and Zoe Garault St. Onge, was born in the winter of 1847. Also included in this record was a godfather named Clement Coron, and a godmother named Clemence Coron. The one item that stood out to me was the spelling of the surname: Coron. All of my previous research listed the surname as Caron. So, my new search continued with François Coron and Zoe Garault St. Onge.

I was able to confirm the children of François and Zoe as Adeline, Zenaide, Clement, Michel, Alphonse, and Alphonsine. My next search continued to find the marriage of François and Zoe. François Coron and Zoe St. Onge were married on 2 February 1840.  Also listed on the marriage certificate were Zoe’s parents’ names: Jean Baptiste Stonge Garault and Marie Labossiere. The most pertinent information on the marriage certificate was that François Coron was previously married to a Veronique Guertin on 7 August 1826, but no additional information was provided to link to the previous generation of the Coron family.

The marriage record for François Coron and Veronique Guertin was legible, which is quite rare in French-Canadian church records! It listed François as the son of François Coron and Marie Josephte Gaudet, who were married in 1782.

I didn’t want to press my luck, since things were moving along smoothly with the help of Genealogy Quebec. So, I turned my search to find when François and Zoe died. François Nicholas Coron was born 12 March 1800 and died in 1849. I suspect he may have died before his daughter Alphonsine was born because I have her baptismal date listed in 1850. Soon after François passed away, his widow married Antoine Gervais (on 24 September 1850) and had two more children: Marie Milvina, born in 1852, and Antoine Pierre Auxias, born in 1855.

This link tells me that I have found my ‘circus family’! Can you tell I’m smiling from ear to ear?!

In my previous ‘circus family’ article, I mentioned an 1870 census report from Baltic, Connecticut, where Zoe is listed with her children: Alphonse, Alphonsine, Malvina, and Osias. But they are all listed under the surname Caron. This link tells me that I have found my ‘circus family’! Can you tell I’m smiling from ear to ear?!

Despite the discovery of my ‘circus family,’ the process has led to many additional questions, which often happens during genealogical searches. If Zoe was married a second time, her surname should be Gervais, but in 1870 she’s listed as a Caron. What happened to make her keep her first husband’s name? What happened to the first few children of the Coron family, born between 1841 and 1847? They aren’t listed in the Connecticut census at all.

Although brick-walls can be quite frustrating, it is quite rewarding when you’re able to chisel through the wall a little at a time. Through perseverance and discussions with fellow genealogists, I was able to use a new resource that helped tremendously in finding my Coron family and in unlocking a mystery for my entire family. Stay tuned for part three – did you think the story was complete?!

Sarah Dery

About Sarah Dery

Sarah, who lives in Plymouth, is a graduate from Rhode Island College in Providence. She has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and English. Sarah participated in a week-long archaeology dig at James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia, along with visiting many Civil War battlefields on her childhood family vacations. She continues her love of history as the Research Services Coordinator at NEHGS. Sarah performs administrative work for the Research Services team; by supporting the researchers in ordering microfilm, managing correspondence with constituents, and organizing research materials. Sarah grew up in North Attleboro, MA and today, she enjoys reading, visiting the beautiful Rhode Island beaches, and spending time with her family.

7 thoughts on “A circus family, part two

  1. While we wait for part three, I would venture a guess (having researched several family lines in Baltic) that Coron morphed into Caron because there were many immigrant Caron families in that town after the mills opened in 1857.

    1. I am aware of a “Caron” boarding house in Baltic, CT around 1870, but unfortunately, none of those Caron families match up with mine.

  2. Your success gives me hope for my French-Canadian brickwall. My 3rd great-grandparents were Raphael Jereau or Giroux and Marianne “Goderre” and their New England born children. The seemingly million ways to spell Jereau, the lack of children’s birth records, and because they family moved to western New York has been a major stumbling block in my research. The family, headed by “Raffle Gero,” only appears on one census record in 1855 in Hanover, Chautauqua County, New York. Later they lived on the nearby Cattaraugus Indian Reservation. The Cattaraugus Indians were not enumerated on the 1860 or 1870 census so the family seems to disappear. However, I know from their daughter’s Civil War widow’s pension application they lived on the reservation as that is where she was married. I’ve been trying to trace them forward in US records but now maybe I should try to trace them back in Canadian records.

  3. Nice! It’s cool when a genealogy comes together. And no, the story is never complete and we need to hear more about the circus part of their adventure.

  4. Congratulations on the success of your search!
    Perhaps the first married name of Zoe was used in the Connecticut census record because the senior male in the household at that time was her son Alphonse of that name.
    Now that you have identified your Quebec family, it will likely be possible to trace your family back to all or most of the immigrant ancestors in the mid 1600s, using the Drouin collection records. For many of the Quebec immigrant ancestors, the family origin in France is also known and listed in Cyprien Tanguay, _Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Canadiennes depuis la Fondation de la Colonie jusqu’à nos Jours_.
    The Drouin collection of Quebec vital records is also available at Ancestry.com. A possible death record for Zoe’s second husband Antoine is this one:
    https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1091/d13p_1193c0284/8122423. The image is difficult to read, but perhaps one can detect the words “Epouse de Zoe Saintonge” at the beginning of the next to the last line of the record. This Antoine Gervais was buried on 15 December 1855 in the cemetery of St-Trinité, Contrecoeur.

  5. Yeah! and thank you for sharing… it’s fun to get the follow-up to your ‘Circus Family’ story. I look forward to the next post. The Coron’s/Caron’s could make an interesting mini-series.

Leave a Reply