I am searching for information on the interrelated families of Brusseau (Brousseau, Brosseau, Brosaw, Brewsaw, Breusseau, Bruseau, Brusso and other possible variants), Wakefield and Merritt (also spelt Merrett) in Parishville and Hopkinton and possible elsewhere in St Lawrence county, New York state from about 1820 and possibly earlier to about 1882 and possibly later. Later movements of the family include Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Manitoba, California, Tennessee, and Hawaii (to name the ones that arise in this posting). Pre- Saint Lawrence county, NY state origins of these families are focussed primarily on Vermont and current-day Quebec (Lower Canada).
Joseph Merritt (sometimes called Joseph J. Merritt) was born 1839 or 1840 at LeRoy, NY or in Pennsylvania (the most exact birth information found so far cites him as born 25 April 1840 in PA [according to the 1901 census of Rossburn, MB]). According to family information, he was a soldier in the U.S. Civil War. Civil War sources reveal that he joined the Union Army at Ogdenburg, NY on 14 September 1861 with rank of private serving in Company K, 60th Regiment, New York Infantry. He was discharged at Alexandria, VA on 17 July 1865, with the rank of sergeant). On 4 Feb. 1866 at Hopkinton, St Lawrence county, NY, he married Lucretia Sabin Wakefield (b. 18 May 1847, NY state), who was probably the daughter of Gilbert Wakefield in whose residence she was enumerated in the 1850 census of Hopkinton, St Lawrence county, NY and his wife Mary (apparently born Brusseau).
It appears that Gilbert was 37 in 1850, making his possible birth year 1812 or 1813 depending on when in the year, relative to the date the census of 1850 was taken, his birthday fell. Lucretia's death certificate reveals that her father's name was Samuel Wakefield, and as, in my travels through Mrs Cady's (kudos!) very helpful website at rootsweb.com, I have come across reference to an S.G. Wakefield (and also a G.A. Wakefield and, in the Civil War muster rolls, Nathan Wakefield, possibly a son of Gilbert and identical with the Nathan recorded at Hopkinton in Gilbert's household in 1850, aged 10), I wonder if his name wasn't Samuel Gilbert Wakefield.
Searches of the Accelerated Indexing Services (AIS) fiche at my local (Burnaby, B.C., Canada) FHC have revealed the presence of other people bearing the Wakefield surname(mostly derived from what appears to be census data), some of whom look to be likely connexions of Gilbert/Samuel/S.G. Wakefield, especially when reference is made to other sources, indexes and search modalities: most notably Hannah Wakefield (1820, St Lawrence county, NY, p. 154, Parishville), Eli Wakefield (1840 St Lawrence county, NY) and Judson Wakefield (1840, Stockholm, St Lawrence county, NY; Lucretia Sabin Wakefield, Mrs Joseph J. Merritt, had a son Judson W. 'Juddy' Merritt, born 1876, who was possibly a namesake of this Judson Wakefield, whose own given name probably commemorates an even earlier Judson relative, probably a Miss Judson, who came in on a distaff side of the Wakefield pedigree).
In the 1850 census, Gilbert's reported birth place was in VT, so, having found no Gilbert born in VT at the Mormon website, I checked the IGI and other indexes for the birth of Gustavas/Gustavus A. Wakefield (for whom I had census and directory references whose discovery I owe also to Mrs Cady's excellent website) and came up with a nice match for him, namely Gustavus Adolphus Wakefield, born 8 Feb. 1808 at Montpelier, Washington county, VT, the son of Rufus Wakefield and Hannah Gilbert (a nice possible derivation for Gilbert Wakefield's first or second given name. N.B. There is also a nice precedent for the use of the second name in Gilbert Wakefield's presumed family as I find the Alva [sic] Wakefield of his 1850 Hopkinton household listed in subsequent censuses in MB, Canada, 1881, 1891 and 1901, variously as A.G. (1881 census, Winnipeg, MB), Alvah G. (1891 census, Rossburn, MB) and Gil Wakefield (1901 census, Rossburn, MB) making it clear that his name was, indeed, Alvah Gilbert Wakefield and that he was generally known as Gilbert or 'Gil' Wakefield. In the Mormon IGI, under the name 'Alvah Gilbert Wakefield' he appears as having been born at Parishville on 7 June 1849[which agrees with the exact date of birth listed for him in the 1901 census, op. cit.], the son of an unnammed father and a mother for whom only surname is listed as 'Brasseau' [sic, for Brusseau, as it now appears]. This entry was presumably submitted by the late Mormon, William J. Stocks of Bonners Ferry, ID [see his AF contributions on his Stocks and Dennison relations], who was related to A.G. Wakefield's first and second wives Ann Dennison, and her agnate niece, Sarah Alice 'Allie' Stocks). This Hannah Gilbert, Mrs Wakefield, may be the one, presumably a widow, who is recorded in the AIS early census reference (1820) in St Lawrence county as living in Parishville, when she was, presumably, the head of the Wakefield household there. It seems likely, that, along with their children (possibly including Gilbert born circa 1812-1813), Rufus and Hannah (Gilbert) Wakefield, who married in VT in 1803, had migrated from Montpelier, Washington county, VT to Parishville, St Lawrence county, NY sometime after the birth of their children Albert Gallatin Wakefield (b. 1803, m. 1845, Lucy Griffin Forbes), Hannah Stone Wakefield (b. 1805, m. 1831, Benjamin Franklin Curtis) and Gustavus Adolphus (b. 1808). It may be that Gilbert, Samuel, or Samuel Gilbert Wakefield was not born until the Wakefield family's arrival in NY (thus providing for a reason for his non-appearance among the extracted VT vital records contained in the IGI which furnished most of the foregoing details about the family of Rufus and Hannah).
Turning to the Brusseau surname: this appears (according to family information and the IGI reference to Alvah Gilbert Wakefield's birth) to be the maiden name (as Brasseau/Brusseau) of Mary Wakefield, who was apparently the wife of S.G./Samuel/
Gilbert/Samuel Gilbert Wakefield, according to the 1850 of Hopkinton. She was then aged 26, placing her possible birth date in 1823 or 1824. Her birthplace was listed as Canada (presumably, then, she was a French Canadian from Lower Canada, now the province of Quebec. This is confirmed by the 1891 census of Rossburn, MB, in reference to her son, Peter Brosaw [sic]). By 1880, she is listed in the household of Joseph J. Merritt in township of Rushford, County of Winnebago, WI, as 'Mary C. Hancock widow, aged 55'. She is absent in the 1885 WI state census. Family information indicates that she married again, presumably after 1880, to a Mr Berry. Her daughter, Lucretia, and son-in-law, Joseph J. Merritt, emigrated from the U.S. and settled in Rossburn township, MB, Dominion of Canada, in October 1888, only a month or so after the birth of their son, Chester Alvah 'Chet' Merritt (b. 19 September 1888, Pleasant Valley, St Croix county, Wisconsin, U.S.A.; d. 23 May 1977, and buried in Brookside cemetery, Winnipeg, MB). Mary may have been remarried to Mr Berry by this time. By her previous husband, Mr Hancock, she had two daughters, Sylvia, Mrs Ira D. Blanchard (also referred to as A. Blanchard) and Eva, Mrs A. Glavin. Sylvia (Hancock) Blanchard lived in Crookston, MN, in 1888, and her son Chester Orlean Blanchard (b. 1868, d. 1952), corresponded with many of his relatives in Canada and throughout the U.S. contacting many 'Brusseau heirs'.
In the 1891 census of Rossburn township, I find reference to 'Peter Brosaw, 56, uncle', in the family of Joseph and Lucretia Merritt. His age fits with the one recorded in the 1870 census of Hopkinton as being for 'Peter Brewsaw 35, born NY,' with wife Leonora and son Harvey (whom almost indecipherable family information claims was called Harry, who died in 1880). Child's Gazetteer of St Lawrence County, NY, 1873-1874 (courtesy of Mrs Cady)in the section for Hopkinton, lists 'Peter Brusseau, Farmer, 100 [acres], Parishville [sic]'. In 1891, he is listed a being the son of a U.S.-born father and a Quebec-born mother. The 1901 census of Manitoba (Rossburn township) again shows Peter Brusseau, this time as a trapper, who is of American nationality, of French origin, and whose mother tongue was French, born 12 March 1835, U.S.A. The 1870 census of St Lawrence county N.Y. had his parents as being both foreign born, but there may have been a border adjustment in the intervening period which rendered both answers correct when reported (or this may be a simple error, or proof that one is dealing with two distinct Peter Brusseaux). BTW, Peter Brusseau's surname appears as Peter Brewsaw in the 1870 census, as Brosaw in the 1891 census and as Breusseau in the 1901 census. I have yet to find a reference to him in the 1880 U.S. federal census, Obviously, people found this French surname difficult to spell correctly, though he had it listed in a more orthographically French way in 'Child's Gazetteer', op. cit, in 1873-74 and the census in 1901 got close to matching this.
In the 1901 census, 'Peter Breusseau' gives his year of immigration to Canada as 1882, so it appears likely that he travelled directly from St Lawrence county, NY to Manitoba following the death of his son Harvey/Harry in 1880. Once in Canada, he joined his nephew Alvah Gilbert Wakefield who had immigrated to Manitoba from the U.S. in 1874, being naturalised a British subject in 1882. Peter Brusseau was followed there in October 1888, by his niece and her husband, Lucretia Sabin Wakefield, Mrs Merritt, and Joseph J. Merritt, who was naturalised a British subject in 1900.
Other likely Brusseau relatives include William Brusseau born in 1829 in NY, who m. (1) 1854, Adaline LeValley/Levielle (probably recte, Adeline Leveille) and (2) circa 1863, her possible sister, Carolyn LeValley/Levielle (probably recte Caroline Leveille). There is a possible reference to this William Brusseau recorded in the AIS references I have found pertaining to St Lawrence county, NY as 'William Brusso, St Lawrence county, NY, p. 123, Parishville, 1850), which again appears to be a reference to census data on this man and his family. One of William Brusseau's descendants, Terri Lee Dill Johnson, of Olympia, WA, has submitted information to the Mormon AF on this branch of the Brusseau family because of her decent from this William Brusseau's son Harry H. Brusseau of Eugene, OR (with whom Chester O. Blanchard apparently had a unsatisfactory attempt at correspondence). Other persons following this line are Edward A. Brusseau, Sr, and his wife Lottie. Edward A. Brusseau apparently derives his descent from another of William Brusseau sons, George Allen Brusseau, who settled in Memphis, TN, after the U.S. Civil War, and once there kept quiet about his Yankee origins(!). This then gives to the U.S.-born Brusseau progenitor and his Quebec-born wife, at least three children.
Though Peter Brusseau was recorded once as a Baptist (1891 census of Rossburn) and once as a Methodist (1901 census of Rossburn) in the Canadian census data I have for him, he was probably actually baptised a Roman Catholic as is likely for the rest of his siblings. It seems likely that all the Brusseau family would have been known within the family by the French forms of their names alternately with the English forms thereof by Anglophone communities in NY and MB. I find that the available Roman Catholic parish registers for St Andrew's, Norwood serving also Hopkinton and Parishville, St Lawrence county, NY, run from 1877-1915, while Holy Cross parish, Hopkinton's registers run from 1893-1915, which is too late to catch references to most of this family. Luckily, a search of the LDS FHLC on-line reveals that in the years prior to 1877, the parish registers of the Canadian parish of St-François-Régis, Saint-Régis, P.Q., 1762-1876, included mission chapelries in St Lawrence county to which the border-crossing Brusseaux probably resorted for the rites of their church. These dates dovetail nicely with the inception of local R.C. registers in relevant parts of St Lawrence county. Later on, the family probably appears in the Free-Will Baptist (Marriage Registers kept by the Rev. Wm Whitfield, 1841-1891 of 421 marriages performed in St Lawrence county. G.S.U. MFM # 1033762, item 12) and/or Methodist Episcopal records (Church records, 1853-1982, Rensselaer Falls [preaching] station, St Lawrence county, NY, on G.S.U. MFM # 1378829, item 10)cited for St Lawrence county by the FHLC. One or other of these registers will, one hopes, yield the original entry of marriage (and hopefully, fuller details) of Joseph Merritt and Lucretia Sabin Wakefield celebrated in 4 Feb. 1866 in Hopkinton according to the research of the late Ivan Orville Merritt (1916-2000).
As Mary C. Brusseau (Wakefield, Hancock, Berry) was born in Canada (Ontario or Quebec) in 1823-1824, William in New York State in 1829, and Peter in New York State in 1835, it appears that the Brusseau family migrated from nearby British North America (now Canada) to St Lawrence county, NY between 1823-24 and 1829. A reference in data obtained from ancestry.com as deriving from the the National Archives of Canada (i.e. 'Pierre Brusseau, 1825 census of Montreal, living in Montreal, immigrant' from microfilm reel C-718' Canadian Immigrant Records', p. 2081-2100) looks like it could be a reference to a possible father for Mary, William and Peter Brusseau recorded during a sojourn in Canada [when, conveniently, Mary was born]). This would mean that Brusseau père had to cross and recross the border, which is quite within reason, especially if he were himself of Canadian-born parentage and returned to the 'la patrie' to find a bride, the woman consistently listed as foreign-born or Canadian born who was mother to Peter Brusseau, born 1835.
The only reference so far to any likely parent of Joseph J. Merritt, appears in the 1870 census of township of Angelo, county of Monroe, WI, as "Caroline Merritt, 57, occupation housekeeping". This does not fit with the only reference I found to possible parents for Joseph Merritt from the 1870 census data (John Merrett and Rachel) for Joseph in St Lawrence county, but that is not surprising as I do not have a firm fix on Joseph's birthplace as he cites LeRoy, NY in his army record but consistently gives PA in his census information. Sadly, his Manitoba death certificate reports neither of his parents' names. I do, however, have a reference to a Caroline Merritt's death certicate which may relate to this lady which I found during ancestry.com's Christmas 'open period', recorded as "Caroline Merritt d.o.d. 8 April 1877, county Jackson, WI, vol. 1, p. 6, reel 35, sequence number 256432" (Wisconsin Deaths, 1820-1907).
A final curiosity found in the census data for St Lawrence county concerns the only other person recorded in the 1870 census household of Gustavas [sic] Wakefield. This is one Mary Fox, aged 46. This Mary looks to be the right age to be identical with Mary C. Brusseau Wakefield Hancock Berry. This, however, would entail her husband Gilbert Wakefield's death and her remarriage to Fox before 1870 (the death of Wakefield was already notionally placed before 1880 anyway, due to the 1880 census data referring to her as Mary C. Hancock, widow). It would also imply that her new husband Fox was either dead or away in 1870, that she remarried again, between 1870 and 1880, this time to a Hancock, and was once again widowed by 1880, and that she remarried yet again, this time to a Mr Berry sometime after the 1880 census, making her four-times married. One wonders where her children were in 1870, though all appear to have been old enough to have left home and married by 1870, so at least in terms of strict possibility, if not greatest plausibility, this scenario of four husbands is workable. Now to find any independent corroboration for any or all of these marriages.
It would be interesting to know if anyone has access to any of the records mentioned in this screed or to "Early history of the town of Hopkinton, history of East Village, Nicholville and vicinity : diaries of Elisha Risdon and Artemas Kent, soldiers of the Civil War, genealogical record of sixty of the pioneer families; with two maps and a hundred and forty ilustrations. Sanford, Carlton E."; or to the "Census for the year 1845, town of Hopkinton, county of St Lawrence, New York. Author: New York. Secretary of State (Main Author). Notes: Microfilm of original records in possession of Walter and Mary Smallman, Hermon, New York. Arranged alphabetically by first letter of surname", or "Hopkinton, New York, cemeteries" (incl. Catholic cemetery), St Lawrence County Historical Association (New York)?
Any further details of these or allied families would be most gratefully received as would suggestions of where to look for relevant information.
Many thanks, Richard
Chester O. Blanchard married Addie Eureah Taylor at Duluth, MN in 1895. They had two daughters: Neva Eurene Blanchard a long-time photographer at the Walker Studio, Hilo, HI, who was born in MN in 1896 and died in CA in 1976, unmarried & Clara Rosina Blanchard who married Charles Augustus Fleming, a career officer in the U.S. army, by whom she had issue: Robert, Neva (Mrs Bowling) and Margaret.
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