About that Harvard lawyer….

According to family lore, my GG grandfather Eduoard Boisvert once studied law at Harvard.  It is possible, after all Harvard Law School did open its doors in 1817.  However, I am pretty sure that this family story is a tall tale.  And I haven’t even checked to see if the law school has kept admission records for the 1860s yet….

Why do I doubt?  It is all in the records that I can find.

Eduoard’s paper trail tells the story of his work life…

  • In 1870 he was a laborer (1870 US census.)
  • In 1871 he was a blacksmith (his marriage record.)
  • In 1874 he was a painter (his daughter Mary’s birth record.)
  • In 1880 he worked in a tannery (1880 US census.)
  • In 1881 he was a mill operative (his daughter Eugenia’s birth record.)
  • In 1886 he was a laborer (his son Arthur’s birth record.)
  • In 1888 he was a laborer (his death record.)

That is a whole lot of working with one’s hands for a man who studied law….

Plus, Eduoard was the son of a blacksmith.  His dad, Hubert Boisvert, is recorded in both the 1842 and 1861 Canadian census as a “forgeron.”   Even as Hubert migrated from Ste. Croix, Quebec to Arthabaska, Quebec, he kept the same trade.

Hubert died in 1866 when his eldest son was 18 years old – and four years later Eduoard was working as a laborer and living with his mother and four younger siblings in Adams, Massachusetts.  It is hard to imagine that he took time off to study law while the family coped with Hubert’s passing with a move to the United States.

My grandmother also told me that  as a little girl she enjoyed showing off Eduoard’s wooden leg to special friends.  The leg was kept in a large wooden box in the attic.  His original leg had to be amputated after he was kicked while shoeing a horse.

None of this screams Harvard lawyer to me.

I am sure that my family had its reasons for making this up.  Now if I could only figure out how to document them….

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4 thoughts on “About that Harvard lawyer….

  1. Perhaps he started to study law, but had to come home to support the family when his father died…

  2. leslie frank says:

    You are more generous with my relatives than I am. Thank you! I will have to give the Harvard archives a call after all. It might be a long shot, but you never know until you find out!

  3. leslie frank says:

    I found a catalog of Harvard graduates 1636-1930 online. http://pds.lib.harvard.edu/pds/view/6796688?n=5&imagesize=1200&jp2Res=.25&printThumbnails=no None of my relatives surnames show up there. I still have to place a call to special collections to verify whether they kept the records of enrollees. If I don’t update this soon, the answer is no.

  4. leslie frank says:

    Posted too soon. This catalog from 1890 includes all students of Harvard Law School from 1817-1887 whether they graduated from the school or not. http://lms01.harvard.edu/F/FCM57V2HEQF57EL5MTJBIBTQIC9ECPE8ABA4QEMJJNEP7V9CKH-41485?func=find-acc&acc_sequence=023303755

    My ancestors names did not appear in the list. I checked both the French and the English versions of their names. There were no options for the French — and no relevant options for the English. Too bad.

    I got all of this information via the Harvard Law School Library’s special collections online biographical research guide: http://www.law.harvard.edu/library/special/research/biographical-research-guide.html

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