When six Leborgnes and sixteen Girardins returned to Miquelon in the spring and summer of 1816, they were part of a historical moment — a long anticipated repatriation. My (then unmarried) 4G grandparents, Francois Leborgne and Polonie Angele Girardin, were among them. Did they make their voyages alone? Or were these ancestors family with the other Leborgnes and Girardins upon the ships?
The answer is easy to find in Polonie Angele’s case. The list of Miquelon returnees shows that she sailed aboard La Salamandre with her entire family. Her father, Jean-Baptiste Girardin, was 48. Her mother, Polonie Rose Gaudet, was 49. They traveled with eight children.
- Genevieve, 27 years, born in Miquelon — soon to marry Joseph Vigneau, the father
- Polonie Angele, 23 years — soon to marry Francois Leborgne
- Hypolite, 16 years (son)
- Jean, 13 years
- Elise, 11 years, born in La Rochelle
- Emilie Malvina, 9 years, born in La Rochelle
- Severe Celinia, 7 years, born in La Rochelle
- Gratien, 3 years (son), born in La Rochelle
But they weren’t the only Girardins on the list. There were four other Girardin family groups on La Salamandre:
- Francois Girardin (43) and Anne Bertaud (35), their one-year-old son, Joseph, and his three children from a previous marriage — Benjamin (18), Theodore (16), and Hypolite Eduoard (10).
- Joseph Girardin (38), Jeanne Pautrot (39), their daughter Sophie (13), and their son Pierre Hermine, born on the way to Miquelon.
- Joseph Briant (48) and Genevieve Girardin (46), and their children — Marie Anne (20), Louis (18), Julie (16), Pierre (14), Francois (12), Prosper (10, son), Benjamin (8), and Emilie (6).*
Who are these Girardin? They are Polonie Angele’s aunts and uncles. They are found together as siblings with their parents (Pierre Girardin dit Manceau and Catherine Leger) in a variety of censuses taken in Miquelon and St. Servan (France.) Tracing out Francois Leborgne’s traveling companions is harder. The only other Leborgne who traveled on his ship, La Revanche, is a 17 year-old named Laurent. It is possible, but unclear, whether they were brothers. Other Leborgnes made the journey though — just on different ships.
- Marguerite Leborgne (27) arrived on La Caravane with her husband, Alexis Poirier (37) and their daughter, Eugenie Marguerite, probably born at sea. Alexis’ mother, Marguerite Vigneau, and two of his sisters (Louise Genevieve and Marguerite Melanie) were also aboard the ship.
- Nicolas Leborgne (35) arrived on La Salamandre with his wife, Marie Elisabeth Briant (36), and their son Louis (10). (Originally I claimed Louis was from an earlier marriage, but the comment below has me thinking that the Miquelon returnee list erred when Louis was listed as his grandmother’s son — it is much less creepy this way.)
- Jeanne Leborgne (38) arrived on La Lionne with her husband, Jean Giffard (52) and their children — Rose (7) and Louis (2). Jean’s daughter from an earlier marriage, Angelique (22), was also aboard the ship.
Who were these people and how did they relate to Francois? It is hard to tell from the Miquelon censuses. The Leborgnes only appear once (1776) — and no one’s name and age matches those found in 1816. However, there are genealogies on the web that help piece together the puzzle, if you are willing to play the 6 degrees of separation game.
- The Archive of St. Pierre and Miquelon lists Michel Leborgne, Genevieve Sceau, and their children Michel, Francois, and Jean as present in Miquelon in its 1776 census. The boys are too old to be Euphemie’s father — but could they be her grandfather?
- The Louis Girardin descendency page lists Francois Leborgne, husband of Polonie Angelique Girardin, (Euphemie’s parents) as the son of Francois Leborgne and Rosalie Bonnevie — which seems to indicate that it is Euphemie’s grandfather listed in the 1776 Miquelon census.
- To tie the knot a bit closer, there were Miquelon Bonnevie. They were also present for the 1776 census. Armand and Catherine Godet live there with their children Pierre, Modeste, Marie, Amand, Jean and Rosalie.
- But wait, there is more…. Evangeline’s Cousins, an Acadian genealogy website, lists the children of Michel Leborgne and Genevieve Sceau as Michel, Francois, Jean, Marie Anne, Jeanne, Louis Nicolas, Genevieve Francoise, Rosalie Perrine, Marguerite and Anastasia. The ages of the eldest three children (none of whom returned to Miquelon) are in the right order and are within one year of the kids listed in #1. The children in italics match the birth order of the returning Leborgne refugees.
- Curiously, the 1776 generations of Leborgne and Bonnevie were quite tangled. The Blou family page at Acadian-Cajun Genealogy shows Francois Leborgne as the spouse of Rosalie Bonnevie. So does the Caissy family page. These records also show that two of their siblings also married: Michel Leborgne married Marie-Madeleine Bonnevie. Amand Bonnevie (junior) married Marie-Anne Leborgne. In addition, The listings also show that Francois Leborgne (senior) and Rosalie Bonnevie died before Miquelon was repatriated. She died in 1809, he died in 1810 — which explains why they weren’t on a boat in 1816.
- According to the returnees list of the Archive of St. Pierre and Miquelon, Marie Modeste Bonnevie (an elder sister of Rosalie in #3), her husband Joseph Doucet, and two of their adult children sailed in 1816 to Miquelon on La Revanche, the same ship that Francois sailed on. This Marie Modeste also appears as Joseph Doucet’s wife in the Blou and Caissy family pages listed in #5.
All of this might be coincidence. All of this still needs to be verified with primaries. But I believe this: Polonie Angele Girardin was not the only one to travel with the comfort of family to Miquelon in 1816. Although his parents died in France, Francois Leborgne came over with family too. He and his brother Laurent traveled with their maternal aunt and her family — while their paternal aunts, uncles, and cousins (Marguerite, Jeanne, Nicolas, and Louis) returned on other ships.
I also looked briefly to see how many of the in-laws traveled in large numbers to Miquelon in 1816. The families of Bertaud, Pautrot, and Bonnevie only sent one representative each. The Doucet and Godet/Gaudets sent three representatives. The Giffards sent six. The Briand/Briants sent thirty family members back to Miquelon. And the Vigneaus and Poiriers sent thirty-four representatives each. Wow.
Do you know more than I do? Have a different reading of the facts? Please share!
*There are two intriguing stories suggested in the listing of this family. First, the Briants’ oldest daughter was also accompanied by her husband Joseph Miniot (38.) They returned to France in September 1816. Perhaps he was homesick. Second, the Briants’ daughter Julie married Pierre Lucas in 1820, but died in 1821. Perhaps she died in childbirth.