The Thibeau family...
Spellings for this name include: Thibeau, Thibeaux, Thibault, Thibaut, Thibot, Thibow, Thiebou, Thebo, Tebot, Tibot, Tibo, Tiboo.
I believe the pronunciation to be "Tee-boh" whatever the spelling, anything after the oh is silent.
Thibeauville, Richmond County, Cape Breton Island
This page begins with information about Thibeauville then moves into information about the family. The history of the village and the people are so linked that it doesn't really allow the two to be separated into two webpages.
The Burke connection to Thibeauville is through Ellen Jane Thibeau, who married Abraham Alfred Damien Burke on January 8, 1908. Thibeauville was a small community, an assemblage of neighbours, 3/4 of a mile north of River Bourgeois. Farming (crops, domesticated animals, with sustainable hunting and trapping) was done on local scale. There was some industry and work in basic trades - steam-powered mills for lumber and shingles, wool carding, carpentry, blacksmithing. There was a post office. A number of Thibeau residents worked as fishermen and at local processing plants. My impression is that Thibeauville was a kind of pioneer village.
Origins of the names Thibeauville, River Bourgeois, L'Ardoise and Richmond County can be found here...
A far better description of life in the River Bourgeois area, including Thibeauville, can be found in Garvie Samson's book "The River That Isn't: A tale of survival and prosperity, River Bourgeois, Cape Breton, 1714-1994".
(If you are wondering about wool carding, Garvie explains: "A carding machine could process 12 pounds of wool per hour, the equivalent amount by hand would take 12 days.")
This is an example of the detail to expect in Garvie's book. The most recognizable name for me on page 25 is Celeste Anne Landry, my grandfather's sister. I am learning who the others are gradually.
Garvie also described a number of significant fires that destroyed multiple properties.
Another passage hits home for me. Years ago, my mother described people moving houses from place to place, in the winter, on ice. Garvie recounts it this way: "Many early buildings in River Bourgeois were relocated, or parts were removed, hauled and used for other purposes, such as starter homes or sheds. The best time for hauling was on a Sunday afternoon in the winter, when the ground and the harbour were frozenand covered with a light dusting of snow. The Pastor announced the event at Sunday Service and after lunch the owner could be assured of a large and enthusiastic crowd. The building would be fitted with runners, a few skids, and a long, strong rope."
For those who don't have Garvie's book available or do not have time to read it at the moment, I asked ChatGPT, the online artifical intelligence model, this question...
What was home life and work like in the first half of the 19th century in the Cape Breton River Bourgeois area? Describe farming, fishing, natural resource industry, social activity, school, and travel.
This was its response...
"In the first half of the 19th century, life in the Cape Breton River Bourgeois area would have been characterized by a combination of subsistence farming, fishing, and natural resource industries, all deeply intertwined with the social fabric of the community. Here's an overview of what home life and work might have been like during that time:
Farming was a crucial component of daily life. Families would have cultivated small plots of land for subsistence farming, growing crops such as grains, vegetables, and fruits. Farming techniques were likely labor-intensive and reliant on manual tools and animal power. Crop yields were often used to sustain the family and provide food for the community.
Fishing played a significant role due to the area's proximity to the ocean. Many families would have engaged in fishing as a primary occupation, especially during the fishing seasons. Techniques included shore fishing, dory fishing, and possibly even some early types of lobster and crab fishing. Fishermen would have relied on traditional methods and equipment to catch and preserve fish.
Natural Resource Industry:
The abundance of natural resources in the Cape Breton area would have led to the development of industries such as lumbering, shipbuilding, and mining. Timber would be harvested for construction and fuel, and shipyards might have produced wooden vessels. Depending on the specific resources available, other industries like mining for coal or iron might also have been present.
Social life in the community would have revolved around local gatherings, church services, and community events. Neighbors would often come together to help with tasks like barn raising or harvesting. Church was a central point for both religious worship and social interaction, providing opportunities for people to connect and share news.
Education would likely have been provided through local one-room schoolhouses. Education was basic, focusing on reading, writing, arithmetic, and possibly religious instruction. School terms might have been limited due to the agricultural and fishing seasons, with children often contributing to family work.
Travel would have been challenging and limited by the available means of transportation. Roads were likely primitive and unpaved, making travel by foot, horse, or horse-drawn carriage the norm. Rivers and coastal waters would have been important for transportation, enabling movement by boat.
It's important to note that life during this time was demanding, with families working together to support their livelihoods and sustain the community. The daily routine would have been closely tied to the changing seasons and the demands of farming, fishing, and other industries. The social connections and cooperation within the community were crucial for survival and shared prosperity.
Albert Thibeau, great great great grandson of Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau, remembers...
...I remember my father and aunts and uncles often talking about going to Johnny Stewart's store in Grand Anse near Louisdale when they were children.
They would mention about walking down the railroad tracks to the store with a pail of eggs or other farm produce to trade for sugar, molasses, or salt - things which they couldn't produce on the farm. This would have been a distance of about five or six miles. This would have been in the 1890's and early 1900's. There was also the main road, which was called the post road, which ran to the north of Thibeauville and would have been another route they could have taken to the store - but the railroad tracks was a much shorter route for someone walking. At this time in Thibeauville, say 1880-1920, there would have been at least six families of Thibeaus in Thibeauville - all descendants of Jacob Thibeau and his three sons, Sylvester, John and Peter.
The closest community of any size was River Bourgeois, and it was here that people went to church and children went to school. The only other family that lived in Thibeauville besides the Thibeaus were a family named Madden. To the north of Thibeauville was a larger community called Balmoral.
Most of the Thibeaus lived by owning small farms with cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, and by growing vegetables. The area was a heavily wooded area (and still is), so many of them would also work in the woods cutting lumber or pit props. Also, many of them like my grandfather would have worked in the inshore fishery, fishing for lobster, herring and other fish.
People began moving away from Thibeauville sometime between the first world war and the second world war. By the time I was born in 1945, there were only three familes of Thibeaus left in Thibeauville. John Henry Thibeau's family left in the early 1950's, and we moved out in 1960. The only remaining family were the descendants of Peter Thibeau. There were three brothers - the last one of them died in the early 1980's. Currently there are only three of the original Thibeau houses left in Thibeauville, all owned by people with different names. Most of the old original farms have all grown back to forests.
Allthough the name Thibeauville continues to exist, it is really a lost community from another time. Today, the property where I was born is a forest with a new highway running through it, and would be completely unrecognizable to our grandmothers and grandfathers.
Two maps, for orientation...
With most inhabitants gone for a number of years now (many to the U.S.), there is little to see on a satellite image besides trees. This topographical map shows the relative location of Thibeauville to River Bourgeois, in particular, to Pointe à Bouleau (the red dot) where my great grandfather (Damien Bourg Jr.) and my great grandmother (Eugenie Landry) resided in my Mom's memory, where my Burke grandfather Alfred was living when he met and married Ellen Jane Thibeau. The map does show the name Thibeauville, presumably its center. A side note... Recently, in 2023, I spoke to some N.S. government employees in Richmond County about Thibeauville property records. They had never heard of the village.
The 200 acre lot that ancestor Jean Jacques (Jacob) would be granted is shown as a red box, a close approximation of its size and location. Highest elevation on the 200 acres is about 20 meters (above sea level, what River Bourgeois is, salt water inlet not a river). Lowest elevation on the property is about 8 meters. There is a rise from SW to NE or the creek wouldn't flow as it does. There appears to be a low area in the middle that may be meadow or swamp. The path of the False Bay Brook tributary follows the light blue colouring to empty into False Bay. There is an image showing this, just not onscreen. On good authority, I understand one could fish for sea trout in the creek.
If the 200 acre lot is close to being square, then it would be roughly 14.14 by 14.14 acres. Each acre is 208.71 ft x 208.71 ft. 14.14 x 208.71 ft. or 2,951 ft., therefore, would be the approximate length of any side. In miles, that would be .5589 of a mile.
False Lake (First Lake today) is visible with Streetview in Google maps. It is just to the north side of the north lane. The length of a side of the 200 acre lot is roughly the distance from the southwest corner to a midway point on the south shore of First Lake, roughly the calculated 2,951 ft.
The next image (below) is from this interactive Google map position. It shows First Lake (False Lake) on the north side of Hwy 104. Click on the map to enlarge it. There are several details of interest: Cannes, False Bay, Thibeauville Road (Camerons Mountain Road), and in small print you can see Burkes Road which leads close to where Damien Bourg Jr. and Eugenie Landry's house was in the 1920's and 1930's (when Theresa Burke would visit them).
The 179.80 m (590 ft) portion of Thibeauville Road that was between Hwy 4 and the junction of Riverview Drive and South Side River Bourgeois Road is not a road anymore. There may be a path but all that is visible in a satellite image is trees.
The second image (click it to enlarge) is of evergreen trees on what is likely the southwest portion of the original 200 acres.
The maps are split-screen, a way of showing where the photo image was taken by a Google Streetview vehicle. "Pegman" indicates where, the arrow at his feet indicates which way he is looking, north is generally up. Streetview images can also be taken with cameras mounted on people, to get images in places not travelled by cars. Accurate latitude and longitude are part of the URL.
The first image in this next pair is a look at the types of trees that are on the 200 acre lot close to its southeast corner. The second image is up Camerons Mountain Road, Thibeauville Road in its day. Google Streetview never drove the route so this is, in a way, the end of the road for what can be seen of the property using Streetview. The road can be seen curving back towards the Thibeau property. By the direction, that would be Camerons Mountain in the distance.
I knew False Creek had to go under the highway at some point. This is where, on the south side, the creek emerges. The creek is less visible on the north side, but you can follow the link and manipulate the view to see it. There must be a culvert or two under the roadway.
This satellite view (click to enlarge) shows the brook as it travels through the property, passes inder the highway and empties into False Bay.It also shows just how little development there is in this area now.
Follow this link to Google Maps, satellite view of this area. If you zoom in on the light green portion of the property, you can see what looks like individual trees. This may be where the homestead was, where farming may have been taking place as the trees were cut and cleared, near brook water, the closest quadrant of the property to Cannes. Zooming in on the buildings that are just outside the property to the northeast can help with scale.
This next snip is from a map found online that shows points of interest for Thibeau history. The Strait of Canso separates Cape Breton Island (Ile Royale) from the mainland, clearly showing the need for a road and rail connection. Lenox Passage separates Isle Madame from Cape Breton Island. Accessing Bras D'Or Lake through a canal at St. Peter's can be visualized. The proximity of Grand Anse (Louisdale) to Cannes in River Bourgeois (6 miles) and Cannes to L'Ardoise (15 miles by land, 10 miles by boat) can be appreciated, with just 2.5 miles between Thibeauville and Pointe à Bouleau. Further west is Manchester, originally in Sydney County, in Guysborough County by 1861, the date of this map. Manchester is about 2 miles east of a waterway feature very similar to River Bourgeois called Milford Haven River. It goes 6 miles inland from Milford Haven on the coast, is almost a half a mile wide in places, and would be 0' ASL, salt water.
The green dot indicates the approximate location of the 200 acres granted to "Jacob Chibaut" in 1824.
This next map at the Nova Scotia Archives, dated 1925, entitled Map of Nova Scotia Indicating Natural Resources and Transportation Routes, shows a railway - from Port Hawkesbury to St. Peter's. waymarking.com: "The Cape Breton Railway extension between Port Hawkesbury and St. Peter's was opened in 1903. Though once intended to connect the Canso Straight with the port of Louisbourg, the line never went beyond St. Peter's. When taken over by the Canadian National Railways in the 1920s, the Cape Breton Railway became known as St. Peter's Branch. No train has visited this station since 1977. The portion of the railbed from St. Peter's west to the crossing of the River Tillard is now a recreational rail trail: St. Peter's Coastal Trail." See comments below re the Back Route rail trail.
Note the rail break at the Strait of Canso. There was a ferry from Port Hawkesbury to Mulgrave that could take rail cars, trucks and passenger cars. The Canso causeway, built from Port Hastings and across, was not completed until 1955.
The diagonally-lined yellow colouring indicates "Other Lands :-(second growth and severely culled timber, also barrens)". The solid beige colour indicates farming. The only commercial enterprises noted in the immediate vicinity were a lobster cannery in St. Peter's, and fish and lobster curing plants in L'Ardoise and Petit-de-Grat. Cod and haddock were ocean offshore catches.
Note: the Thibeau property would be about where the thick part of the "C in Richmond (County) sits. One can see how the rail line would have made for a very nice six-mile walk from the property to Stewart's store in Louisdale (just south of Grand Anse).
The green dot near Boylston is about where Manchester is (important for the 1817 census). The distance from Manchester to Thibeauville is about 40 km (as the seagull flies). The prominent catches for fishermen are shown (cod, haddock, pollock, mackeral, herring, and lobster). In this small area, there were numerous notable commercial fishing processing plants - for fish and lobster at Port Hawkesbury, Petit-de-Grat, Queensport and Canso. St. Peter's had a lobster cannery, L'Ardoise a fish curing plant. Port Hawkesbury also had a creamery.
Note: the viewing tools at the Archives site (link above) provide the best enlargements. The scope of the full map is the entire province.
Local colour, community news and events...
River Bourgeois has a website. It is riverbourgeois.ca
It is kind of plain and direct, but I like that. The history page quotes from Garvie Samson's book (The River That Isn't).
One nicety is that there is an archive of the River Roundup newsletters which were published from September 2000 to December 2012.
2000 had four issues, September through December. 2001 to 2012 saw monthly editions. The River Roundup interspersed historical articles amongst community news and information about local events.
Just about everyone who has ever lived (or died) in River Bourgeios gets mentioned at one time or another.
Using the site search parameter at google.ca can facilitate finding information in the River Roundup editions.
Go to http://www.google.ca
In the search field, enter
and add something you want to search for, such that the query becomes
site:riverbourgeois.ca "paul touesnard"
or some such.
Using quotes makes the search specific. Using more than one parameter at a time is allowed also.
site:riverbourgeois.ca "paul touesnard" "first settlers"
The Thibeau family...
An article written by Paul Touesnard, a grandson of John Henry Thibeau, a great great great grandson of Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau, that appeared in a 2001 edition of the River Roundup - a small newsletter that is published in River Bourgeois, has insight as to the origin of the Thibeau family in River Bourgeois is examined below...
Touesnard has an extensive record of numerous families in the River Bourgeois area. The family names are listed on this page entitled "River Bourgeois Families in the 19th Century". In particular, there is a page about the Thibeau family. The statistical lines below and elsewhere in this site have borrowed in large part from his website presence. If his webpage is down, try this snapshot dated 2023-08-13.
For his article in the River Roundup, Paul was working from census records, church records, a land grant petition and family lore to develop this compelling analysis. For all his fact-finding and insight about the origin of the Thibeau family in River Bourgeois, though, Paul concludes: "The search continues..."
I have included quotes from Paul's work on this webpage about the Thibeau family for almost twenty years. I have tried at times to find additional records, especially records in France about Jean Jacques Thibeau, but I have limited access and, up until recently, I have not been able to add much that is meaningful to what Paul has to say here.
Having said that, an unexpected bit of news came to me in the summer of 2023. Hard news, virtually conclusive news, revelatory news about Jean Jacques Thibeau.
To include this news I must first reframe what has been on this page for a long while and add to it some new material from fresh research.
To start with, here is how Paul began his article about JJT (an abbreviation for Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau that I will use going forward).
PT: "The Thibeaus of River Bourgeois: All of the Thibeaus from River Bourgeois are descended from one man: Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau. Jacob arrived in the area in the 1820's, however, there is little known about where he came from, making it difficult to trace his origins.
The facts are as follows: An original land grant was made in 1824 to Jacob Chibaut for 200 acres ¾ mile north of the head of River Bourgeois..."
Paul's conclusion that JJT arrived in the area in the 1820's seems to be based principally on the absence of records Paul had found him on that pre-dated 1820 by the time his article appeared in 2001.
This is a screen snip from the Nova Scotia archives website about the petition (also known as a memorial) sent in with "Jacob" "C"hibaut's name on it.
Nova Scotia Archives provides a description of the grant process on a page entitled Nova Scotia Land Papers 1765-1800
To search through the grants, follow this link... Cape Breton Island Petitions 1787-1843
Regarding the identity of "Wallace"...
There is this Wikipedia article. "(Michael Wallace) was named surveyor general of the king's woods in 1820, following the death of John Wentworth."
I queried ChatGPT about the job description.
"The Surveyor General of the King's Woods was a colonial official appointed by the British Crown to oversee and manage the timber and forest resources in the American colonies, particularly in North America. This position was established in the 17th century and continued into the 18th century. The role of the Surveyor General of the King's Woods included several key responsibilities:
Timber Management: The surveyor general was responsible for overseeing the management and conservation of timber and forest resources within the colonies. This involved monitoring the cutting and harvesting of timber to ensure sustainable use and prevent over-exploitation.
Royal Revenue: Timber was a valuable resource, used for shipbuilding, construction, and other purposes. The surveyor general played a role in collecting revenue for the Crown by regulating and taxing timber production and trade.
Land Management: The surveyor general was involved in surveying and mapping forested lands to determine their boundaries and assess their potential for timber production.
Enforcement of Regulations: The surveyor general enforced various regulations and laws related to timber harvesting, transportation, and trade. This included preventing illegal logging and ensuring that timber was harvested and transported according to established rules.
Interaction with Colonists: The surveyor general interacted with colonial settlers, landowners, and other stakeholders to address disputes, grant timber licenses, and promote compliance with timber-related regulations.
Reporting to the Crown: The surveyor general provided regular reports to the British Crown on the state of timber resources, revenue collection, and other matters related to the management of the King's Woods."
What does the original petition actually say?
I received a copy of the original petition from the Nova Scotia archives (2973 RG20 "B"). It appears to have been written on two pages. When the warrant approval is signed back, it appears to be written on a blank area of the reverse of page two of the petition.
I read its several parts as saying...
"Jacob Chibaut's Petition"
"To His Honour Michael Wallace Esquire, President and Commander in Chief in & over the province of Nova Scotia."
(Cam's note... Wikipedia: "Wallace was president of the Shubenacadie Canal Company", not president of Nova Scotia.)
"The Petition of Jacob Chibaut humbly herewith"
(Cam's note... looks like the C may have been written overtop of a vertical, but the T in "The" does not dip below the base line so it does not appear to have been a C overtop of a T. Overtop a small "t" perhaps, although the small "t" in the surname doesn't extend below the under-line, and all the rest of the letters for that matter are at a greater slant than whatever may have been underneath.)
"That your honor's petitioner is a native of Spain, 33 years of age, is married & has two children, has resided about ten years in this province, has never received any lands from the Crown nor holds any by purchase or otherwise and prays Your Honour will grant him a Lot situate about three quarters of a mile to the northward of the head of the Riviere du Bourgeois on a brook that empties itself into False Bay, which is neither claimed nor (improved?) but lies at the disposal of the Crown & which petitioner has not agreed to sell or otherwise to transfer but intends to reside on and improve forthwith."
"Petitioner prays Your Honour will grant him the above Lot and as in duty bound petitioner shall ever pray."
(Cam's note... double "c" in Jacob, plainly Thibaut, not Chibaut. Who did sign this? Not the document writer's handwriting. Not the JP's handwriting. I believe Jacob was illiterate. Perhaps Anne signed it? Is that J in Jacob a heart? Did Anne spell Jacob as she heard it, with no correction from Jacob because of his illiteracy?)
"Jacob Chibaut took the oath of allegiance & swore to his petition as above written at (time, or place?) this 16th day of June 1824 before me.
Charles W. Na___, J(ustice of the) Peace."
According to the NS Archives, this important note: "The document might be written by the petitioner, but more frequently was prepared by a notary or Justice of the Peace, especially if the prospective settler had only limited literacy skills."
(Cam's note... Would a JP allow a wife to sign her husband's name, or would he have the petitioner sign with an X and have the wife undersign it? Would an agreeable or complicit JP allow this?)
On what appears to be a fold-out quarter panel of the submitted petition is the approval of a warrant by Michael Wallace.
"Petition of Jacob Chibaut, R. Bourgeois"
"The land herein desired appears to be at the disposal of the Crown." (appears to be signed by a clerk)
"Approved for a warrant of 200 acres (asking?) for if it does not interfere with previous claim. M.W." (Michael Wallace.)
"26 Aug 1824".
ChatGPT: "In some cases, a warrant might be used as a step in the process of granting something. For instance, a warrant might be issued to authorize the survey or assessment of land before an official land grant is made."
Jacob's petition took just 40 days to approve to the warrant stage of the grant.
This series of five images shows the text portions of the petition. Click on any image to enlarge.
This PDF was received from Nova Scotia Archives, with permission to share it received on 2023-08-23... (2973.pdf)
Map of land granted throughout Nova Scotia...
The Nova Scotia Ministry of Natural Resources and Renewables (MNRR), Crown Land Information Management Centre, has maps showing the land granted over time in Nova Scotia. The maps are so large and detailed, the province has been divided into 140 sections.
The maps are organized for access on this page. The section of interest is number 118. Louisdale appears on map 111. Unfortunately, map 111 has a crease in it at a most unwanted place. In 2022, I asked that it be fixed but got no reply.
Map 118 in its entirety can be viewed at the source or locally as a PDF by clicking here. (It is huge.)
This snip from it shows several things: where in Richmond County the land granted was, where in relation to River Bourgeois the land was, who the neighbours were. (No doubt relationships with neighbours led to marriages.) The title holder was Sylvester Thibault (Thibeau) at the time the map was updated. Sylvester was the first son of JJT.
"Et al." is interesting. This indicates to me that there were more people than just the immediate family on the land.
"200A" indicates its 200 acre size. The creek shown running into the property from the east actually continues through the property then goes south, emptying into False Bay (Rae Cove on the lot map). The delineated area that looks like a hair dryer seems to correlate to an area of low elevation on the property.
The property (green dot) is roughly a two kilometer walk from Pointe à Bouleau (blue dot), not too far away for Fred Burke and Ellen Jane Thibeau to have made an acquaintance years later and begun a relationship.
To the west of the 200 acre lot, there is mention of "HYWAY 104". This tell me that the map was prepared after planning for Highway 104 had begun. If the lines above and below the word "HYWAY" indicate the planned route for Hwy 104, this would fit. The topographical map above shows the lot as an overlay on Hwy 104. The entry point onto the property is pretty close to actual.
The rail line, about 1,000 feet from the northwest corner of the property, ran from Port Hawkesbury to St. Peter's. Albert Thibeau described it as a way to walk to Stewart's store in Louisdale, about 5 or 6 miles, 90 minutes or so. The rail line is being converted to a "rail trail", a dirt/unpaved trail officially known as the Richmond County Rail Trail, from Port Hawksbury to St. Peter's. Part of the rail trail is described as "Thibeauville/Back Route Road". Back Route Road begins near Grand Anse at Hwy 104 and takes a northern route above Thibeauville. It reconnects with Hwy 104 at its eastern end near River Tillard. See earlier comments and map re St. Peter's Coastal Trail. One can assume that the rail trail is graded to within rail standards of the era. It probably has a lot of curves around obstacles (hills, waterways).
PT: "(JJT) was listed as a native of Spain, 33 years of age, was married with two children and had lived in the province for 10 years."
Cam's note: having lived in the province for 10 years when the petition was submitted puts JJT's coming to Canada somewhen about 1814 - if the comment on the petition was accurate and not self-serving exaggeration or obfuscation.
Cam's note: being 33 years of age at the time of the petition makes his birth year 1791 - counting back from the 16th of June, 1824. (His death in 1856 at age 69 will differ from this by four years.)
Cam's note: being married indicates there should be a record of marriage somewhere. Having two children indicates there should be two baptismal records somewhere and, unless twins, the first child was born at least a year before the petition was submitted. Is there a passenger list or other documentation that substantiates JJT's arrival in 1814?
PT: "Two additional pieces of information come to us from family folklore. One is that old Thibeau had an accent that others found difficult to understand. The second is that he was somehow connected to the army. One version is that his nickname was Ramé (l'armée, possibly, or La Ramée). Another is that he had a uniform or some other memorabilia in the attic. How accurate this information is remains to be seen."
PT: "Much revolves around his name. The name Jacob is not French/Acadian, however its later variation - Jean Jacques - is.
Cam's note: Jacob is actually a common nickname for someone named Jacques. From Wikipedia: "As a first name, Jacques is often phonetically converted to English as Jacob, Jake (from Jacob), or Jack." I think I would be making a mistake to pronounce Jacob "Jay-cob". If an abbreviation for Jacques, it would be "Jacques-ob", "Jeux-ock-ob", quickly, as two syllables. One might sound out and write this in English as Jaccob, as I believe Anne did on the petition when signing for her illiterate husband.
PT: "The reference to being a native of Spain is problematic. If this reference is correct then some possibilities include his being a fisherman, an army/navy deserter, etc. The Basques from northern Spain had had contact with North America for centuries. Was the last name Thibaut or Chibaut? Or has the name been altered in the same way Giovanni Caboto became John Cabot. The majority of the evidence suggests that his name was Jean Jacques Thibeau and he was descended from the Acadians. One possible resolution to the native of Spain is that Florida was a Spanish colony from 1783-1821, which covered his birth period and early life.
His connection to the army, if it existed, still remains a mystery. Some possibilities include English, French, Spanish, American, etc. He lived in an interesting time (Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812, etc.) and was the right age to have fought is some of these battles. The search continues..."
Cam's note: until something comes to light about JJT's origin, all of this remains folklore and speculation on Paul Touesnard's part.
Searching for Jean Jacques "Jacob" Thibeau - considerations for discovering JJT's early history...
Paul Touesnard: "The Thibeaus of River Bourgeois: All of the Thibeaus from River Bourgeois are descended from one man: Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau.
Where would one begin to look for the earliest records of Jean Jacques "Jacob" Thibeau today?
First, the name... Jacob seems to be what JJT went by. My assumption is that he was illiterate which means that anyone writing his name down for him has to sound it out and spell it in some fashion that suits their background and experience. If pronounced as I have come to believe he pronounced his given name, it would be the way I believe his wife sounded it out for the 1824 petition - "Jeux-ock-ob". Since it may prove to be that Jacob's wife will have a background in the UK, she may not have been that familiar with the spelling of Jacob.
Add to that "Thibeau". I believe the pronunciation to be "Tee-boh" whatever the spelling, with anything after the oh silent. As a reminder, I re-list here the versions of his surname that I have seen to date: Thibeau, Thibeaux, Thibault, Thibaut, Thibot, Thibow, Thiebou, Thebo, Tebot, Tibot, Tibo, Tiboo.
And what about Thibeau? What is its origin? According to forebears.io, the Thibeau surname definition is: (French) Descendant of Theudbald, Thibaut or Thibaud (people, bold). This site has distribution statistics also.
According to ChatGPT: "The surname "Thibaut" is more common than "Thibaud" or "Theudbald." However, it's important to note that these surnames are all variations of the same name and have historical and linguistic connections. "Thibaut" and "Thibaud" are variants of the Old Frankish name "Theobald," which means "brave people." This name has been used in various forms across different regions and languages. "Thibaut" is the French form, while "Thibaud" is a similar variant. "Theudbald" is an older form of the name and is more representative of its original Old Frankish form. In terms of modern usage and popularity, "Thibaut" is likely more common, especially in French-speaking areas or among individuals with French ancestry."
According to ancestry.ca: "The Thibeau family name was found in the USA and Canada between 1880 and 1920." This would fit with records that appear further down on this webpage, with the movement to the spelling "T-h-i-b-e-a-u" taking over more or less across the board in Richmond County by the 1901 census.
It would seem that, depending on the time period and location being searched, the spelling of the surname should vary. Thibaut when searching overseas; any of the listed soundalike variants when searching early records in Canada where and when enumerators are principally English speaking and are sounding out spellings for illiterate citizens who are often recent immigrants; and Thibeau after 1880, when increasing literacy allows for uniformity and consistency.
I would think that documents pertaining to JJT's birth and youth would lean towards his formal name Jean Jacques Thibaut, and searches should be for places outside Nova Scotia. As he aged, the name Jacob seems to have been put upon him and became his personal preference - this should influence the selection of search criteria for his adult life. But there would be times when his proper name would be used. His first son (Sylvester) named his son Jean Jacques (he, too, would go by Jacob). For his death, for the formal record, Paul Touesnard notes: "At his death... he is named Jean Jacques Thibeault..." - a reversion to his given names and surname.
Friendly search engines that accept wildcards and return soundalike matches may help. Realizing that political and geographical borders and names change over time can improve search effectiveness.
These questions can guide the search...
Was he Spanish as suggested by the land grant petition? Basque? Old World fishermen have been coming to Canada's coast for fishing and trade for years. Was he in the Spanish military?
Was he in the British or French military as suggested in folklore about his connection to an army? While these were the most significant forces active globally in the early 1800's, there were other countries, too, in the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon. The list includes: United Kingdom, Austria, Russia, Prussia, Sweden and Spain as well as Portugal, the Netherlands, Sardinia and a range of smaller German states including Bavaria and Württemberg.
Was he in the American military? The War if 1812 had the Americans pitted against the British (and, by extension, Canada) for the years 1812 through 1815.
Age 33 (per the petition) pegs his year of birth at 1791. While the age of conscription was typically 18 in the U.S., 19 in France, and 18 in England, a volunteer could begin serving as early as age 14 in some cases. This puts the range of service in the military to be anywhere from 1805 to 1814.
With a name like Jean Jacques, it would seem that he was either from French Canada (the Acadian region or Lower Canada, Quebec), from France itself, or from some other French-speaking nation, or region or locale.
Having lived in the province for about 10 years in 1824 puts him outside the province in 1814 and earlier.
"Difficult to understand" speaks to his having lived outside the region.
Making a request for a specific lot of land suggests where in the province the family might have been in 1824. Having familiarity with the Richmond County area may place them there. Having business in Richmond County might also place them there with a residence nearby.
Between 1814 and 1824, JJT should appear on the 1817 census. Searches for Jean, Jacques, Thibaut, Chibaut, return nothing. But a search for Jacob finds something promising.
In the return for Manchester in Sydney County, on the 17th of February,? 1817, one can find Jacob Tiboo (see additional 1817 census images below)
Jacob is shown as American while his wife and daughter are shown as Acadian (which might be taken to mean born in Nova Scotia). Definitely clues, or errors, or misinformation. The report does align with the 1824 petition except for the man's nationality. To my knowledge, supporting documentation like a record of marriage or records of birth have yet to be found.
In 2023, with my interest renewed, my on/off membership with ancestry.ca, a similar database at familysearch.org, public records like the censuses, passenger lists, border crossings, were all utilized but I did not see anything that took JJT back prior to 1817.
I had to be directed to geneanet.com and pointed at a specific record to see, finally, a record of interest and a way forward.
This section will continue shortly below...
Harriet MacDonald, daughter of Michel MacDonald and Pauline Burke, was born in 1873. Harriet married Thomas Francis Thibeau in 1892. Thomas was the third son of Sylvester Thibeau, who was the first son of Jean Jacques Thibeau.
It seems that JJT's property may have been passed down through son Sylvester as a kind of trust. It is Sylvester's name that appears on JJT's lot of land on the map shown earlier on this webpage, but I believe that Sylvester's two brothers lived on that land equally with him. Sylvester named his first Son Jean Jacques Thibeau, his second son after himself. If JJT divulged any secrets as to his identity, ancestry or history, they would likely have come down to us through Sylvester's descendants. That is, if JJT wanted to tell his story.
Harriet and Thomas had four children, a daughter and three sons. First male Sylvester Michael Thibeau, born in 1897, would carry both his grandfather's names into the future.
Before Harriet died in 1959, she apparently wrote a history of the Thibeau family and of Thibeauville. She would certainly have been in a position to do so. And it would only have come down through a century or so which is only three generations of storytelling. With repetition over years, son Sylvester (born 1826) hears it from his father JJT whose memory reaches back to his grandparents, parents, siblings and the place of his birth; Sylvester then has years to pass it down to his son Thomas Francis Thibeau (born in 1866), who in turn passes it over as a matter of marital trust to his wife Harriet who has years to develop and write the history out by 1955, before she dies. As simple as that. JJT passes the story on to his son (Sylvester) who passes it on to his son (Thomas Francis) and directly or indirectly to his daughter-in-law (Harriet) who writes the story. The chance to tell the story is there.
Don Boudrot, retired English teacher, author and historian, who wrote articles for the Port Hawkesbury Reporter had this to say about Harriet...
DB: "Thibeauville was a small, isolated, heavily-wooded community. The name was bestowed in honour of a Jacob (or Jacques) Thibeau who settles there in 1836. An old resident of this area, Henriette-Anne (MacDonald) Thibeau, deceased some years, provided this history in 1955. This hamlet, according to her, was founded by three brothers who changed their true names to Thibeau. Mistreated on a naval warship, the three brothers deserted and went into hiding. This retreat evolved into a hamlet..."
There are several difficulties with this extract which makes me want to read more.
JJT would have settled his 200 acres much sooner than 1836. The land grant warrant date is 1824 and while there may have been a survey or assessment pending, this would not have interfered with JJT and family starting to build their homestead legally, if within the anticipated perimeter boundaries.
While Harriet and Thomas had three sons, it was probably the three sons of JJT she was referring to - brothers Sylvester, Jean Pierre and Peter.
In changing their "true names", Harriet could be referring to unifying on one spelling. Their surname has been spelled in so many different ways - Tiboo in 1817, Chibaut and Thibaut in 1824, Tibo in 1838, Tibot in 1861, Tebot in 1871, Tebo in 1881, Thebo in 1891 - of these, Thibaut is most likely the original name, appearing as JJT's signature on a legal document produced on his behalf. Coming together to use Thibeau would be a step forward, and a step away from the past. While not a direct effort of the three (the last of the brothers passed in the 1880's), this unification could have become a legacy effort completed by the turn of the century. Since 1901, on the last four consecutive censuses released to the public by Statistics Canada, it has been Thibeau. Organizing this change would allow for naming the area they all lived in as Thibeauville in 1907.
Otherwise, did Harriet have knowledge of a change from something else altogether, farther back in time? Was JJT's surname actually something else before 1817? What would have caused him to change his name if he did?
In a book called Nova Scotia Place Names, written by Thomas J. Brown in 1922, Thibeauville is described this way: "This place received its present name August 1st, 1907. It was named after the majority of its inhabitants, who are named "Thibeau." It was first settled by Jacob Thibeau about 1836." (This could be where Don Boudrot got the year.) This would indicate that the unification around the spelling of Thibeau-sounding names was well underway or complete by 1907. And this also indicates that, as late as 1922, it was generally accepted that Jacob Thibeau was the original settler - not some other person, or this person with another name.
"Mistreated on a naval warship" - none of the three brothers had served in the military. The region was virtually conflict-free during their lifetimes. Was Harriet referring to JJT himself having two brothers and that the three of them deserted and went into hiding, perhaps partially explaining the absence of historical record for JJT prior to 1817? When Harriet said "brothers", was she referring to "brothers in arms"?
If JJT had "lived ten years in this province" when he petitioned for a land grant, he had therefore made his way here from somewhere outside the province, by 1814. If there is anything to "three brothers" having deserted, would the desertion have taken place outside Canada or within it? Did they arrive as part of a military outfit or did they desert elsewhere and make their way here as part of their escape? What force had the trio deserted? Canada was at war with the U.S. from 1812 through 1815. The British and its allies were still fighting Napoleon's army and navy in Europe and on the high seas until 1815. The petition mentions JJT was of Spanish origin - Spain was part of the allied forces against Napoleon. If not Spanish, the 1817 census has Jacob identified as an American with an Acadian wife and Acadian daughter which would not contradict his being in Nova Scotia since 1814. And what of his language? Why was he hard to understand?
Does Harriet's description of what would become Thibeauville as a "retreat" suggest that this is where the "three brothers" came to hide out after deserting, or had they deserted together then gone their separate ways? Did JJT come to the area, hide out by blending in, then apply after a time for a grant of specific land with which he had become familiar once he had put down familial roots in the area? Could he and his family have been living in the area? Drawing an arc below the land grant with a 20 km (12.5 mi.) radius would include the villages Louisdale, River Bourgeios, St. Peter's, and L'Ardoise. It would also include most of Isle Madame (D'Escousse, Arichat, Petit-de-Grat). Did the family live somewhere in this vicinity when the petition was written? (Note to self: figuring out who the Justice of the Peace was could help.)
Boudrot's concise description of Thibeauville as a "small, isolated, heavily-wooded community" fits well, though, to this day.
This is a thin slice of Harriet's history of the family and village, I expect. More needs to be found for further inquiry and analysis.
Searching for Jean Jacques "Jacob" Thibeau - discovering JJT's early history (continues)...
There is still much to investigate on this side of the ocean, but for a change of pace, I would like to turn to something else. I had been told about geneanet.org - "the largest community of genealogists involved in mutual aid and sharing in Continental Europe". geneanet.org is similar to both ancestry.ca and familysearch.org. It describes itelf as a "freemium" website; much is free, some is fee.
What I needed it for was to view what was sent to me about a Jean Jacques Thibeau candidate pre-1817. This contact (MW for short) had a DNA test result that showed a strong connection to a male Thibeau born mid-20th century who has strong personal ties to Thibeauville. The connection was to MW's father, who was born in Wallonia, Belgium. In searching for a candidate from there, MW found a record for a person with a story that aligned well with the story to date about JJT. Additionally, MW's candidate could take the family ancestry back several generations to the late 1600's.
It was this military record, for Jean Joseph Thibaut, that held clues. The name was close, but it was the dates and details about desertion that made it interesting. Conscripted in 1807, JJosT began serving his term with the 1st Line Infantry Regiment on May 17, 1808. As a new recruit, JJosT could have seen action in the Battle of Medina del Rioseco, a battle that took place on July 14, 1808 during the Peninsular War in Spain (providing a Spanish connection). French forces, that may have included the 1st Line Infantry Regiment, defeated Spanish forces just this one time in the entire Peninsular War.
Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's brother, was appointed as the King of Spain in 1808 following the French invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. His reign as King of Spain was marked by resistance from the Spanish people and the Peninsular War against British and Spanish forces.
JJosT deserted on April 2nd, 1809 when his regiment may still have been in Spain. The Peninsular War lasted from 1808 to 1814 with the French forces eventually retreating in the general direction of Paris, but fighting was going on elsewhere. After his sentence is pronounced in absentia, JJosT's service record ends August 27th, 1809. Since the punishment was public works, he may have been handed over to local authorities somewhere in France. This sentence may have involved forced labour, loss of pay and privileges, and confinement - all to some degree. Desertion was quite common in the military in all armies of the era so one would think stigmatization would be minimal, and might even have been regarded as honourable in some circles.
Registrant # 2,609 of 3,000 for the 1st Line Infantry Regiment. The registrations took place between 17 May 1808 to 1 March 1809 (registrations 1 to 3,000).
SHD/GR 21 YC 1 to 963 - "service registers for non-commissioned officer and enlisted men of the line infantry (1802 to 1815)". JJosT is in YC 3. (Is YC a battalion within a regiment? Is GR group?)
For future reference, for any service person in France. This is a difficult site, use a webpage translator if you need one...
The full page that this was taken from is available at this external link (page 439 of 554) and also locally on this site. Pages 1 through 4 of the full document set are bureaucratic instructions for filling out the forms. Notably, page one states that these 3,000 registrants are for the "1er régiment d'infanterie de ligne" (1st Line Infantry Regiment). 6 records per page would be 500 pages of registrations. 49 pages of semi-alphabetical one-line listings start on page 505.
Beside the subjective description (face shape, forehead, nose, mouth, hair, eyebrows) the record does show JJosT was 1 meter 62 centimeters tall, not quite 5' 4". The average male height in many European countries at the time was around 5' 5" to 5' 7" for common men. Nutrition, and the availability of good food, played a part.
This is the portion of the record that describes the desertion. Translated with assistance from MW: "Deserted April 2nd, 1809: Judged in absentia the 27th of August, the same year, condemned to the punishment of five years public labour and amends of 1,500 francs." The sentence would have been completed in 1814, the year JJT is reported to have begun living in Nova Scotia (in the land grant petition).
To locate Jean Joseph Thibaut for study, the details are...
The family can be traced back to François Thibaut, born _____ , married January 23, 1701, Aublain, deceased February 6, 1719, Aublain.
This is a link to the geneanet.org page with more details about this family.
In 1795, Rienne is part of the Belgian territory that was annexed by France during their Revolutionary Wars. This was how JJosT could be drafted into the French Army (at the usual age of 19). After the Napoleonic Wars end, the land is returned to Belgium. The Battle of Waterloo in 1815 took place in present-day Belgium.
If his father died in 1814 (at age 66), the year JJosT's sentence was to have been fully served, there may have been reason for upheaval in the family. The 62-year-old mother could have continued to farm the land (as cultivatrice) or have moved in with any family member depending on their means and needs. The land, if any owned, would have eventually transferred to the 38-year-old firstborn son. JJosT may have felt liberated to leave the country to start a new life.
I haven't seen any records of JJosT that show he was still in France, or anywhere else for that matter, after 1814. He is a dead end going forward while JJT is a dead end going backward at the same moment.
MW: "I believe (JJT) wrote native of Spain on the land grant in 1824 in Nova Scotia because Wallonia, Belgium used to be part of the Spanish Netherlands. He had an army uniform because he was drafted into Napoleon's Army. After 5 years of hard labor for desertion in 1809 he arrived in Canada in 1814. That's why in 1824 he had been in the province for 10 years."
On the positive side, MW has found a French-speaking Belgian with the same last name, with the same first name, with the same first- and middle name initials; who was from the same region as his DNA-matching (to a Thibeau) Belgian father; who was about the right age; who had a military background and who had deserted; who had plausible Spanish connections; who had reason to emigrate, and who could well have done so in the same year that JJT is believed to have arrived in Nova Scotia.
The only problem with this is that MW's family name is not Thibeau or Thibaut. If this was JJT he had found, there must have been some interaction between the two families that caused a name change to Thibaut, an adoption or affair perhaps. After all this time, such an interaction would be difficult to find and prove.
The reasons for JJosT's desertion are not known at the moment, but I would think that the reasons anyone deserts are probably much the same. The danger (mortality) might seem paramount, but I expect that the fighting was not day-to-day, rather it was short periods followed by longer periods of inaction as troops moved from place to place and prepared for action. One might forget the hazards after a short while especially if those nearby are keeping their heads. The living and working conditions may well be the number two reason soldiers (and sailors) desert. Lack of health care, food, clothing; exposure to the elements; low pay or delay in pay could all build up a sense of resentment. Personal issues, like hearing there are crises at home, could supercede all.
"Judged in absentia", on the face of it, does suggest that JJosT was not captured and did not serve his sentence, although - is it possible to have been judged in absentia but not be absent? ChatGPT says yes - for a variety of reasons, citing availability, credibility, security concerns, procedural and legal concerns, and impact on morale.
(Note about ChatGPT... Its available data set at this time is dated 2021. To see a full response when I have abbreviated or paraphrased it, simply copy the question and enter it yourself into the ChatGPT AI. The answer you get back will be very similar but not identical. It does seem to retain some contextual knowledge from previous questions. In this case the question asked was: "If judged in absentia, would there be a reason in wartime for having not allowed a Napoleonic army deserter to testify?")
Is it likely that JJosT would be tried in absentia if he was dead? No. If he was reported as prisoner of war? That's not desertion, though he may have deserted and been captured by the enemy, and was subsequently reported as prisoner of war. If he surrendered to the enemy with the intent to join them? Hard to prove surrendering was desertion, but an intent to defect...
If truly a deserter on the run, what were JJosT's options and prospects?
Joseph Bonaparte was appointed as the King of Spain in 1808, following the French invasion of the Iberian Peninsula. His reign as King of Spain was marked by resistance from the Spanish people and the Peninsular War against British and Spanish forces.A French-speaking Belgian would stand out in Spain. He would have to shed his uniform and replace his garb with something local. He would need shelter and food. He may have some money, but how much could a soldier earn and be expected to carry? He would have to take his chances with making contact, likely in a rural setting. If taken to be a spy, he would be arrested and perhaps executed. As a deserter, he might well find sympathy.
JJosT could not hide out indefinitely, but certainly for a while. How long might the conflict go on for? ChatGPT: "In 1809, the Peninsular War, a conflict that began in 1808 when Napoleon's forces invaded the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), was still ongoing. The war was characterized by resistance against French occupation by Spanish and Portuguese forces, often with British support." "Spanish and Portuguese resistance to French occupation persisted. Guerrilla warfare, characterized by hit-and-run tactics and irregular warfare, was a prominent feature of the conflict. Local militias, known as "guerrilleros," played a significant role in this resistance." "The war remained in a state of relative stalemate in 1809, with no clear resolution in sight. French forces were stretched thin due to ongoing guerrilla warfare and the need to control large areas of territory."
If JJosT became one of the guerilleros, this would certainly be a way to take on the characteristics of a Spaniard. Was he interested in staying in Spain long-term? Would he fight with the guerilleros until he could return home to a free Belgium? Was the New World a third alternative, especially in the case that France was to somehow win, thereby retaining the Namur region, leaving him effectively homeless?
In Spain, JJosT would not need identification and travel papers as a guerillero. In France, should he return home, he would. If questioned, he would be required to show his "livrets". He could not resume life at home without a believeable set that didn't incriminate him.
ChatGPT: "Livrets... were identification and employment records often used in France. They typically contained information about an individual's identity, occupation, and place of residence. These documents were used for various administrative purposes, including tracking the movement of individuals. In occupied territories, the occupying forces sometimes imposed their administrative practices and institutions on the local population. However, the extent to which such practices were implemented in Spain during the Napoleonic occupation would have varied by region and time period."
When would JJosT have realized or decided that the New World might be his best option for a future? Weighing the option of staying in Spain (permanently, or at least until the war ended), against the risk of going home, or either option against leaving Europe altogether could have brought JJosT to this realization quickly.
The Peninsular War had professional campaigns as well as guerilla fighting. The English, Spanish and Portuguese armies working together had handed the invading French a series of defeats in Spain between 1809 and 1813. If JJosT was still alive and involved by 1813, whether he was aligned with the major forces or just part of the resistance in the background, he would be seeing significant change in France's ability to maintain control of Spain.
Did JJosT really want to go home the way things were?
France had annexed the Belgian territory in which he was born in 1795, effectively taking his ancestral nationality away. He had been drafted into an army fighting an aggressive territorial war that he didn't want to fight in. In the 18th century, JJosT's Belgian forefathers had lived through several significant historical events, enduring revolution and upheaval time and again. It's even possible JJosT had had his family's blessing to desert, with pre-departure instruction to leave the continent if an opportunity arose.
Question: "What significant events occurred in Belgium between 1700 and 1814?"
ChatGPT: Between 1700 and 1808, Belgium, which was part of the larger Low Countries, experienced several significant events and changes due to shifting political and territorial dynamics in Europe. Here are some of the notable events during this period:
War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714): The War of Spanish Succession had a significant impact on the Low Countries, including parts of modern-day Belgium. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 led to the Southern Netherlands (including Belgium) coming under the control of the Austrian Habsburgs.
Austrian Rule: Belgium became part of the Austrian Netherlands (also known as the Southern Netherlands) under the rule of the Habsburg Monarchy. This period of Austrian rule lasted for most of the 18th century and brought relative stability to the region.
Brabant Revolution (1789-1790): The Brabant Revolution was part of the larger revolutionary wave in Europe. It saw unrest and uprisings in the Austrian Netherlands, including Brussels and other Belgian cities, as the population sought greater political representation.
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: Belgium was directly affected by the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. In 1794, French revolutionary forces, under the command of General Lazare Hoche, invaded the Austrian Netherlands, leading to the end of Austrian rule in the region.
French Annexation: Belgium was annexed by France in 1795 and became part of the French Republic. This marked the end of the Austrian Netherlands and the beginning of the French era in Belgium.
Napoleonic Era: During the Napoleonic era, Belgium was part of the French Empire. Napoleon Bonaparte implemented various administrative reforms in the region.
Request: rank the top five events in neighbouring France that affected Belgium.
ChatGPT: Certainly, here are the top five events in neighboring France between 1700 and 1814 that had a significant impact on Belgium:
French Revolution (1789-1799): The French Revolution, with its revolutionary ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, had a profound influence on Belgium. The ideas of the revolution inspired political and social changes in the region, leading to the Brabant Revolution and calls for greater representation and rights.
Annexation by France (1795): Belgium was annexed by France in 1795, effectively ending Austrian rule in the region. This marked a significant political shift and introduced French administrative, legal, and cultural influences to Belgium.
Napoleonic Era (1799-1814): Under Napoleon Bonaparte, Belgium was incorporated into the French Empire. This period brought further administrative and legal reforms, such as the Napoleonic Code, and cemented Belgium's integration into the French state.
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: The wars of this period, involving French forces, had a direct impact on Belgium. Military campaigns, battles, and occupations occurred on Belgian soil, affecting the local population and landscape.
Congress of Vienna (1814-1815): The Congress of Vienna, which aimed to redraw the map of Europe after Napoleon's defeat, resulted in Belgium becoming part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands. This marked the end of the French era in Belgium and its re-integration into a larger political entity.
In JJosT's young life, he had not known pastoral peace. He did not want to fight for France, and he may well have had enough of Napoleon's aggression and ambition to want to return to life under his rule.
Emigrating to the New World may have become JJosT's only option.
Question: "Can you name the notable battles in the Peninsular War between 1809 and 1813, and which side won?"
ChatGPT: "Here are some notable battles in the Peninsular War between 1809 and 1813, along with the outcomes:
Battle of Talavera (1809): The battle took place in July 1809 between the French, commanded by King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, and the British and Spanish forces under General Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington). The battle ended inconclusively, but it was considered a British and Spanish tactical victory.
Battle of Albuera (1811): This battle occurred in May 1811 when French forces under Marshal Soult attacked a combined British, Spanish, and Portuguese army commanded by William Beresford. The battle was a costly and brutal engagement, but it ended in a victory for the Anglo-Allied forces.
Battle of Salamanca (1812): Fought in July 1812, this battle was a major engagement between the British and Portuguese forces led by Wellington and the French forces commanded by Marshal Marmont. The battle resulted in a decisive victory for the Anglo-Allied forces.
Battle of Vitoria (1813): In June 1813, this battle took place between the Anglo-Allied forces led by Wellington and the French army under King Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother). The battle ended in a decisive victory for the Allies and marked the beginning of the French retreat from the Iberian Peninsula.
Battle of San Sebastián (1813): Following the Battle of Vitoria, the British and Portuguese forces besieged the city of San Sebastián, which was held by the French. The city eventually fell to the Allies, contributing to their overall success in the campaign.
Battle of Nivelle (1813): In November 1813, this battle was fought between the Anglo-Allied forces and the French under Marshal Soult. The battle resulted in a victory for the Allies.
Battle of the Pyrenees (1813): This series of battles took place in July and August 1813 along the Pyrenees Mountains as the French retreated from Spain into France. The battles were fought between the Anglo-Allied forces and the French, and the outcome was generally favorable for the Allies.
These battles played a significant role in the Peninsular War and contributed to the eventual liberation of Spain and Portugal from French occupation. The Anglo-Allied forces, led by Wellington, achieved several important victories during this period."
Read a firsthand account of this time in The Journal of James Hale, by Sergeant James Hale, Ninth Regiment of Foot, published in 1826. Vittoria is first mentioned on page 104, San Sebastián on page 108.
The event that stands out to me is the Battle of San Sebastián. (Watch an 18-minute documentary about this battle, entitled The Peninsular War: The Siege of San Sebastián (1813) and ...)
Maritimeheritage.org: "...By the summer of 1813 the Peninsular War had reached a crisis. The Port of San Sebastián had to be captured fast if Wellington's British armies were to avoid a humiliating retreat due to lack of supplies. But in San Sebastián was the wily French commander Louis Rey. The scene was set for a classic siege campaign.
The British, Portuguese and Spanish armies of Lord Wellington had defeated the French in Spain and were poised to invade France itself. But the supply situation was critical. All of Wellington's supplies had to come from Britain to Lisbon and were then carried over bad roads, mountain ranges and dusty plains for hundreds of miles to reach the fighting front. Wellington needed a port with good harbour facilities close to the battle front. There was only one available, but it was held by a French force under the command of General Louis Rey who was desperately repairing and reinforcing the defences. The siege began on July 7, 1813..."
Why this event? The battle takes place on Spain's northern seacoast. If JJosT was involved, or if he had just been following the Allied advances in the hopes of getting home, he would have found himself near numerous seaports, including the port of San Sebastián, from which fishing boats regularly left Spain for Atlantic destinations including the North American coast - for fishing, whaling, and merchandise trade. JJosT may have been hearing stories of the many opportunities across the ocean for years.
Could JJosT have made his way to Spain's northern coast, found a willing captain to take him to the New World, perhaps work his way across, then disembark at an inviting port to start life anew? Could a port in Nova Scotia have been that kind of port? Canada did not require identification papers at the time. There were no warrants out for his arrest in the British Empire. He was young and able. He was a farmer after all, not a fisherman, so was it a port on the mainland, say, in the Manchester area of Sydney County where a Jacob Tiboo would be enumerated on the 1817 census with a wife and child?
Of course, this is all speculation. But Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibaut came from somewhere, spoke French, petitioned for land as a "native of Spain", was believed to have had a military background and may have been a deserter, and was believed to have arrived in Nova Scotia in 1814. The Jean Joseph Thibaut in this story spoke French, had been living the life of a Spanish person for several years, had a military background, was a deserter, and could have arrived in Nova Scotia in early 1814.
JJT has no records predating his statement of having arrived in Nova Scotia 10 years before 1824. And no records or life events in Europe have been presented for JJosT after his military record abruptly ends in 1809, when he is supposed to have started his five-year sentence.
One item that might solidify JJosT's military existence or post-war life would be his receiving the Saint Helena Medal. If either JJosT or JJT were to be found in the database, we might learn something about them and their whereabouts. Some records include name, date of birth, town of residence, country, occupation and more.
Wikipedia: "The Saint Helena Medal (established in 1857) was awarded to all French and foreign soldiers, from the land armies or naval fleets, who served the Republic or the Empire between the years 1792 and 1815 inclusive. The medal was awarded with no condition of minimum time of service or participation in a particular military campaign; it was, however, necessary to prove one's right to the medal with a record of service or leave record. A later decree of 16 April 1864 added the Saint Helena Medal to the list of awards that could be revoked following a condemnation to a fixed prison term of one year or more for a crime committed by the recipient."
Should JJosT have initially received the medal "with no condition", he might well have had his award revoked, but there is no record of his having received it in the large searchable database online. No matching results returned for Thibaut, Thibaux, Thibeau, Jean Joseph, Jean Jacques or Rienne at this time.
Questions remaining in this search for Jean Jacques "Jacob" Thibeau...
There is still the significant original problem of the names Jean Joseph and Jean Jacques being different that, in and of itself, can negate all of this supposition. Still, the truth may not be far off this speculation.
Answering these questions might provide some insight...
Where exactly was the 1st Line Infantry Regiment on April 2, 1809 when JJosT deserted?
Are there any records of a JJosT after this date that show JJosT had returned home to a life there, had begun a life somewhere else or had died (and where)?
Are there any records from anywhere that would put JJT anywhere before Manchester, Sydney County, in 1817? These might include a marriage record, or birth or baptism records for his wife and child?
I can trace Jean Jacques (Jacob) Thibeau forward from 1817 by following Nova Scotian and Canadian census entries (where they exist) up to my grandmother Ellen Jane Thibeau - born in 1886, daughter of John Antoine Pius Thibeau and Annie Robertson - appearing on Canadian censuses for 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921 and 1931. (When Ellen Jane Thibeau marries Abraham Alfred Damien Burke on January 8th, 1908, my ancestry slides over to the Burke line, on this page.)
To begin, there is the 1817 census, Manchester, Sydney County...
The 1811, 1817 and 1818 censuses are grouped together at the Nova Scotia Archives website. It appears that different areas were done in different years, for different reasons. The 1817 census, known as the "Heads of Families" 1817 census, or as the 1817-1818 census, was actually performed on January 6, 1818.
JJT (in various known spellings) does not appear in either the 1811 or the 1818 censuses which I take to mean that he was not in Nova Scotia in 1811 and he was still in Manchester, Sydney County, in 1818.
To help understand his entry in the 1817 census, I have taken a legible header from a different page and placed it above his representation. Interestingly, he is the last entry on the last page about Manchester. Is there significance in that?
Total number of persons: 780, broken down as 13 English, 49 Scotch, 47 Irish, 48 Americans, 4 German and other foreigners, and 619 Acadians.
Jacob is shown as American while his wife and daughter are shown as Acadian (which might be taken to mean born in Nova Scotia).
Sometimes neighbours appear in sequence so I have captured a dozen names above Jacob's entry.
1827 census, Nova Scotia
Using the search engine provided, no records for JJT (using the various spellings) appears. Perhaps River Bourgeois was too remote (a reason highlighted below).
Not all of Sydney County is missing for I was able to find entries for Tracadie in the same county.
From ChatGPT: "The Nova Scotia Census of 1827, also known as the "Horton List," was a comprehensive census taken in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1827. However, it is important to note that not all areas within the present boundaries of Nova Scotia were included in this particular census.
The 1827 census primarily covered settled regions and districts within the mainland of Nova Scotia, focusing on the following counties: Annapolis County, Colchester County, Cumberland County, Digby County, Halifax County, Hants County, Kings County, Lunenburg County, Pictou County, Queens County, Shelburne County, Sydney County (which included Cape Breton Island at the time).
The census aimed to record the population, land ownership, and other demographic information of these settled regions. It did not include areas that were sparsely settled or less accessible at the time, such as some remote regions and wilderness areas. As a result, some of the more remote or less populated regions of present-day Nova Scotia might not have been included in this particular census."
1838 census, Nova Scotia
PT: "In the 1838 Census, Jacob and his wife Anne Tibo had seven children : one boy and one girl under the age of six, two boys and one girl between the ages of six and fourteen, and one boy and one girl over age fourteen."
Cam's note: the 1838 census can be viewed at the Nova Scotia archives website, presently at this link. The census is searchable. JJT appears as Jacob Tibo, his wife as Anne Tibo.
Jacob Tibo, Township of Lennox, Richmond County, 1838. Reference: Commissioner of Public Records Nova Scotia Archives RG 1 vol. 449 no. 118.
The upper of the coupled images is a snip from the page. It contains the page header and the line on which they appear closer together for comprehension. The full image can be viewed to see who their neighbours might be and what their occupations are. (The occupations on this page are merchant, fisherman, farmer, cooper, blacksmith, and taylor).
Names of heads of families (Jacob and Anne), Occupation (farmer), Males under six years of age (0), Females under six years of age (0), Males under fourteen years of age (3, the three sons), Females under fourteen years of age (2, the two youngest daughters), Males above fourteen years of age not heads of families (1, other), Females over fourteen years of age (1, oldest daughter Anne, age 22), Total number in family (9, Jacob, Anne, 3 sons, 3 daughters, 1 other).
One might assume from this that the couple had seven children, but Jacob and Anne were known to have six. The male over fourteen could be a relation, a hired hand or boarder.
The lower of the coupled images shows the way their entry appeared. "Ditto" - that he was a farmer like Martin, on the line above.
The family may not have dispersed as yet, so there may be no other entries for family members anywhere else in this census.
Nova Scotia Assessment and Poll Tax records, up to 1838...
Regarding these records: "None of the census, assessment or poll tax records presented here is complete for the province even if they claimed to be so at the time. None of the individual returns is complete internally either; people and households were overlooked, and sections of communities were undoubtedly missed. Many documents, or portions thereof, have been lost over the years; some have been destroyed various pages of several early census returns, for example, were mouldy when they arrived at the Nova Scotia Archives 75 years' ago and were disposed of after transcription; others have deteriorated through time and handling names that were legible 50 years ago have since literally crumbled away."
2023-08-24. To date, While I have found census data about this family for 1838, I have not found any assessment and poll tax records for Thibeau or its variations.
1851 census of Richmond County, entries of interest
To be confirmed, nothing available for this census. Returns are missing for all counties in Nova Scotia except Halifax and Kings.
In Nova Scotia, the following information was obtained (so this is lost):
1860-1861 census of Richmond County, entries of interest
(With information from the page about censuses, particularly about the 1861 census.)
Searching for names in this census period may be difficult due to spelling and the interpretation done by the transcriber.
Heads of families are reported with information about their households is available.
In the case of Jean Jacques "Jacob" Thibeau's family first thing to know is that the name is spelled Tibot.
Records are available for the sons Sylvester, John (Jean Pierre) and Peter, for the husbands of the three daughters Anne (Sheehan), Margaret (Toole) and Felicite (Hearn), and for an Anne McKeagney (since this census was taken after the death of JJT) though it is not clear why she would revert to her maiden name.
Report of the Secretary of the Board of Statistics on the Census of Nova Scotia, 1861.
Certain pages from it with some analysis can be found on the Census Reports page along with many other census reports of interest.
From this one paragraph of its introduction, one can see what kind of information was being sought about people...
1st. Personal Census.
The most difficult and tedious part of the work was the classification of the ages, deaths, marriages, deaf and dumb, blind, lunatics, idiots, &c, distinguishing between male and female, married and single, widowers and widows; also the number between 5 and 15 years of age, and above 15, who could not read and write, which arrangement in one abstract, occupies no fewer than 150 columns. Next comes the classifications of origin, religions, trades and occupations, deaths and causes of deaths, each requiring separate abstracts.
This is the header for these pages.
The line entry for son John. The full image here.
The line entry for John Shean (Sheehan), whose wife is first daughter Anne.
The consecutive line entries for John Toole, whose wife is second daughter Margaret, and Edward Hearn, whose wife is third daughter Felicite.
The line entry for Anne McKeagney is on line 16 of this full page. Is this JJT's wife? JJT passed away in 1856, and she would be a widow, but why revert to her maiden name?
A possible relation, James McKeagney, appears on line 3. Anne's line entry shows a female child between the ages of 1 and 2; 3 males and 5 females for a total of 8 individuals. Anne is in Polling District 1 while the others are in the usual Polling District 5. A district was the period equivalent of a county. Anne was in a different county. Click to enlarge.
1871 census of Richmond County, entries of interest
"Tebot" was the spelling du jour for the 1871 census, taken on April second of that year.
The families of JJT's three sons are enumerated in sequence - they must live close together.
Sylvester, born 1826, is shown as age 46; Jean Pierre's family (Jean Pierre died in 1866 at age 27) is shown in his place; Peter, born 1830, is shown as age 39. (within margins of error and calendar overlaps)
With the death of Jean Pierre, "Mrs." Susan Tebot (nee Pottie) became head of the family. John, age 12, is shown with his siblings. Peter, shown as "fisherman", will lead the way for the family into that industry.
Peter Thibeau (39), wife Margaret (32) and family can be found in a search for Tebot. Peter is the last child born to JJT and Anne.
To view both of these snips on the original page, click here. Page 9 of the Richmond County River Bourgeois district, sub-district polling station #6.
1881 census of Richmond County, entry regarding the parents of Ellen Jane Thibeau
"...in the first year of the reign of Her Majesty Queen Victoria" - Victoria ruled from 1837 until her death on January 22nd, 1901. Wikipedia: "Victoria turned 18 on 24 May 1837, and a regency was avoided. Less than a month later, on 20 June 1837, William IV died at the age of 71, and Victoria became Queen of the United Kingdom."
John Antoine Pius Thibeau married Anne Bassilisse Robertson in 1886. Prior to this they were living with their respective families.
On this census, John, age 22, fisherman, is shown with his mother Susan Tebo (age 46, nee Pottie) and younger brother Patrick, age 18, also a fisherman. (John's father Jean Pierre had died in 1866.)
This is a cropped section. Click to enlarge.
Follow this link to the full pages 34 and 35. The families of the three brothers are enumerated in sequence again.
Susan "Tebo", widow of Jean Pierre (JJT's second son), and family.
Peter "Tebo", JJT's third son, age 50, and family.
Melinda "Tebo", widow of Sylvester (JJT's first son), and family.
See John's brother Peter with his wife Rachael on this page.
Anne Robertson, daughter of Peter Robertson and Rebecca Dugas, is shown with her family on the 1881 census, River Bourgeois, Polling Distric 6, page 2.
1891 census of Richmond County, entry regarding Ellen Jane Thibeau (age 4)
Census of Canada, Province of Nova Scotia, District No. 41 Richmond, Sub-District No. 6, River Bourgeois. Census taken by Daniel Sampson, April 6, 1891. 225 families recorded.Many Thibeaus are mentioned in the 1891 census. Below is a snip that mentions my great grandfather John Antoine, his wife Annie, my grandmother Ellen Jane, my grand uncle John Henry (the fiddle player), and my great great grandmother Susan (nee Pottie). Her husband, my great great grandfather had died 25 years earlier in 1866.
Ellen Jane is 4 years old.
|Husband, John Thebo||
Labourer, lobster factory
|Daughter, Ellen Jane||
|Son, John Henry||
|John's mother, Susan||
Above John's entry, Peter "Thebo" and wife Rachel are shown with five-year-old "boarder" Charlotte Boucher. This Peter would be this John's nephew.
1901 census of Richmond County, entry regarding Ellen Jane Thibeau (age 14)
This is a link to details on the Census of 1901 (how it was made, conventions of recording data, etc.)
Many Thibeaus are mentioned on a single particular page of the 1901 census (click to view).
Line entry 172 on this page is my great grandfather John Antoine Pius Thibeau, age 38; his wife Annie (Robertson), age 34; my grandmother Ellen Jane, age 14; my grand uncle John Henry, age 11; my grand aunt Mary Azelene, age 3. Susan Thibeau is Susan Pottie, age 68, John Antoine's mother. His father had passed by this time.
Here is a snip of the census page at the link above.
Other Thibeau familes represented on this same page are:
168, Alexander Thibeau, age 29; wife Elizabeth (Rainey), age 24;
169, Edward Thibeau, age 30; wife Mary (Ann Maddox), age 24;
170, Thomas Thibeau, age 36; wife Harriet (MacDonald), age 27;
171, (Jean Jacques) Jacob Thibeau, age 49, grandson of JJT; wife Sarah (Burke), age 52;
173, Peter (Alexander) Thibeau, 49; wife Justeen (Justine LaRade), age 29; son Robert, age 3; son John, newborn; John Antoine's older brother;
174, Patrick Thibeau, age 37; wife Virginia (MacPhee), age 28; John Antoine's younger brother;
176, William Thibeau, age 40; brother Daniel (Thibeau), age 28;
177, Peter Thibeau, age 40, wife Catherine (Fougere), age 33; note there is a second Ellen Jane now, Elsie, age 7;
The fact that the three brothers could be enumerated in sequence tells me they were living very close to each other, perhaps at the heart of Thibeauville. Still considered to be River Bourgeois, Richmond County as a legal entity, for the purposes of the census. With the other relations being just a line entry or two away, they must also be close.
1911 census of Richmond County, entry regarding Ellen Jane Burke (nee Thibeau)
Ellen Jane Thibeau married Abraham Alfred Damien Burke on January 8th, 1908. In the 1911 census, she appears as Ellen Jane Bourque. She appears in the 1921 and 1931 censuses as Ellen Jane Burke also.
She should appear in the 1941 census when it is released in 2033, but she passed away in 1942 so that will be her last census appearance.
In this snippet from the 1911 Census, the family name is spelled "Bourque". Making him harder to find, Damien (French) has been anglicized to become Damian. Ann is Celeste Anne. The first two daughters of Fred and Ellen Jane, Lillian and Angela, are mentioned. Fred and his father Damien are both noted as being fishermen. Family members are noted as being French Roman Catholics. Note: "Cannes" is a municipal division of River Bourgeois, on the south side.
A column-by-column explanation of what is being asked of those enumerated can be viewed here.
Since this is a transitional moment for Ellen Jane, moving from the Thibeau family household to the Burke family household, it is interesting to look at this block of columns from the census - about education and language. It seems that Ellen Jane brought the English language to my mother, my family. This suggests that the Thibeau household Ellen Jane grew up in spoke English. I suspect that Fred was also bilingual, though, speaking French while with his parents. I read the report as saying...
|Damian Bourque, cannot read or write, communicates in French.|
Eugenie Bourque, cannot read or write, communicates in French.
(Celeste Anne), in school, can read and write, communicates in French.
|Fred Bourque, can read and write, communicates in French.|
Ellen Jane (Thibeau), can read and write, communicates in French and English.
Lillian Bourque (age 2).
Angela Bourque (age 12 months).
Later columns about health, physical and mental, are interesting.
1921 census of Richmond County, entry regarding Ellen Jane Burke (nee Thibeau)
This first image shows the family of Fred Burke and Ellen Jane Thibeau, residing in Louisdale.
(To view the full page image, click here...)
Note: Delta Thibeau is Ellen Jane's sister. A picture further down on this page shows Delta holding infant Lou with Theresa (my mother) beside her looks to have been taken in 1929. Shown here as a boarder, it may be that Delta lived with the family for eight years or more.
This next image shows an abbreviation of the complete data.
1931 census of Richmond County, entry regarding Ellen Jane Burke (nee Thibeau)
The 1931 census for Canada came online in June of 2023. Go to this link to jump to the Richmond-West Cape Breton pages for Louisdale.
Province: Nova Scotia.
District: Richmond-West Cape Breton.
Sub-district: (Unnamed), No. 6.
This screen should appear. Click to enlarge.
Select the 4th page, 5th image to view the entry for Ellen Jane Thibeau and family.
Ellen Jane is shown as wife of Fred Burke, age 44, homemaker. Their children, except Lillian (recently married), are shown.
To view the pages for River Bourgeois, to see who lived in Thibeauville in 1931, go to this link to jump to these Richmond-West Cape Breton pages.
There are thirteen pages of names, with most, if not all, Thibeaus grouped on one page, the fifth image. John Antoine Pius Thibeau and wife Annie (Robertson) had both passed before this survey.
Connecting to the Thibeau family in River Bourgeois...
I have assembled data for the Thibeau family members that lead up to my grandmother Ellen Jane Thibeau being born in 1886, daughter of John Antoine Pius Thibeau and Annie Robertson. If I was given branch information from a reliable source, or if I cam across branch information of note, I have included that also. The information tapers off for the living as I try not to post anything of consequence about someone who is still alive, but the ancestor count doesn't. The goal is not to be a definitive source of information but to provide enough connection points so people can link to other sources. Typically with ancestral records, researchers are working with the best available information at the time. If hypotheses are posed, or if conclusions are drawn, better information in the future may require re-thinking.
The bold blue text indicates my line up to Ellen Jane. My line jumps to Burke when Ellen Jane marries Abraham Alfred Damien Burke (descendant of Antoine Bourg). In brief, it is JJT (my great great great grandfather), his son John (born 1828, my great great grandfather), John's son John Antoine (born 1859, my great grandfather), John Antoine's daughter Ellen Jane (born 1886, my grandmother).
Below the next line separator are many details that help tell the story and what should help you connect if you do. I credit ancestry.ca, geneanet.com and Paul Tousenard's web pages at rootsweb.com as well as a few individuals who have provided information from direct knowledge for the names, life events and dates shown. Paul's web pages cover nineteen family names, adding much depth and colour, and he includes notes about sources as explained here. He has done a remarkable amount of fruitful research from U.S. sources. I never realized how many Richmond County residents relocated to the United States.
The spelling of the surname has been here held to Thibeau. Early on, several variations were used, and on any given document that you may come across, the name may be spelled differently.
Follow this link to see many more details about River Bourgeois families in the 19th century, at Paul Touesnard's website.
How this family fits...
The generations to present include :
Jean Jacques THIBEAU / Anne McKEAGNEY
John THIBEAU / Susan POTTIE
John Antoine Pius THIBEAU / Anne Basilisse ROBERTSON
Abraham Alfred Damien BURKE / Ellen Jane THIBEAU
Alfred Thomas Burton LONGHURST / Theresa Mary BURKE
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