Case Study: Alexandre William Comeau (1889-1937)
At the request of a descendant, I examined the case of Alexandre William Comeau, adopted son of Charles Comeau and Marie Lavoie. According to his baptismal record, he was born January 6, 1889 and baptized on December 17 of that year in St. Albans, Vermont.
He married in Beloeil, Quebec, Félixina Gaulin on August 31, 1914 and they had three children.
There is a second marriage in Detroit, on November 16, 1925 with Alexina Capelle and they had six children.
He died April 4, 1937 in Detroit.
The question was to find information on the parents and to confirm the status of adoption of Alexander. To date, no information has been found on this couple. No marriage or other record may help to determine their ancestry. Knowing that several Comeau of Vermont come from the area of Sutton, Quebec, I focused on the families of that region, known to cross the border on a regular basis. One family in particular caught my attention, Alexandre Comeau and Olive Nault. They have one child named Charles, born May 27, 1863 in Dunham, Quebec and who died January 16, 1941 in Waterbury, Vermont. He seems to have spent much of his life in the Vermont State Hospital for the Insane, where he was interned. We can trace him throughout the censuses:
In the census of 1870 living in Morristown, Vermont, USA 9 years
In 1880 census living in Morristown, Vermont, USA 17 years
In 1881 census living in Sutton, Que (single) 18
In 1891 census living in Sutton, QC (widower) with his parents 27 years
Arrived in Waterbury, Vermont around Sept. 27, 1895 based on the death certificate.
In 1900 census living in Waterbury, Vermont, USA (Vermont State Hospital for the Insane) 36 years married
In 1910 census living in Waterbury, Vermont, USA Divorced
In 1920 census living in Waterbury, Vermont, USA married 56 years
In 1930 census living in Waterbury, Vermont, USA married 66 years
In 1940 census living in Waterbury, Vermont, USA 76 years married still interned at the hospital
The census most noteworthy is the 1891 canadian census in Sutton, Quebec. We can observe:
Alex Comeau, 49 years married
Olive, 49, married
Charles, age 27, widowed, other
Alfred, 15, son
Edna, aged 13, daughter
Alex Jr., age 8, son
Adelard, 5 years, other
Willie, 2 years, other
Willie could actually be Alexandre William, probably named Willie because there were already two other Alexandre in the family. And from that possible conclusion, his adopted father, Charles, would be the son of Alexandre and Olive. The missing link that would prove this link would be a marriage record for Charles and Marie Lavoie with the parents named which I can’t find in Sutton, nor in Vermont. The census suggests that the couple adopted Alexandre William around 1889 and that Marie Lavoie died before the 1891 census.
Another question remains is why the couple adopted Alexandre. By searching the records of the parish of Saint-André, Sutton, I found this record:
So July 20, 1888, in Sutton, the church baptized and illegitimate child named Alexandre, son of Marie Royer (sponsors were Antoine Lefebvre and Lucie Royer). It may well be that this child is actually Alexandre William.
The second part of the study is to clarify the adoption of Alexander, whether he would be a Comeau adopted or not. DNA testing was done by two male descendants of the marriages of Alexander and comparison with DNA tests from descendants of Pierre Comeau show that there is no link. A more comprehensive test could help determine the surname and perhaps push the study further.