The Thibeau family...

Thibeauville, Richmond County, Cape Breton Island

The Burke connection to Thibeauville is through Ellen Jane Thibeau, who married Abraham Alfred Damien Burke on January 8, 1908. Thibeauville was a small town north of River Bourgeois. With most inhabitants gone, there is little to see on a satellite image so this style of map has been chosen to show the relative location of Thibeauville to River Bourgeois, in particular, to Pointe à Bouleau.

Map of Thibeauville in relation to Pointeà Bouleau (Cannes)... (click to enlarge)

Thibeauville is roughly a two kilometer walk from Pointe à Bouleau, not too far away for Fred Burke and Ellen Jane Thibeau to have made an acquaintance and begun a relationship.

An article written by Paul Touesnard a grandson of John Henry Thibeau, that appeared in the River Roundup - a small newsletter that is published in River Bourgeois.

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. He was listed as a native of Spain, was married with two children and had lived in the province for 10 years.

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. At the marriage of his daughter Ann to John Sheen in 1842, he is listed as Jean Thibeau and his wife as Anne McKeagney. At his death in 1856, at the age of 69, he is named Jean Jacques Thibeault survived by his wife, Marie McInley.

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.

If one begins from the premise that Jacob's last name really was Thibeau, then it is likely that he is somehow connected to the other Thibeau Acadian families that had inhabited the lands around the Bay of Fundy prior to the deportation in 1755. By the 1780's some Thibeaus had returned to Nova Scotia and settled in Clare (between Digby and Yarmouth). Others had returned to Québec and settled in Bécancour near Trois-Rivières.

Much revolves around his name. The name Jacob is not French/Acadian, however its later variation - Jean Jacques - is. 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 : On the first page of the 1678 census, in a list - 10 barrels La Ramée and this comment... "With regard to La Ramée, he was Charles Melanson, the son of Pierre Laverdure, senior, and of Pricilla; he had married around 1663 Marie Dugas, daughter of Abraham Dugas. He had a brother, Pierre, who had married around the same time Marie Mius d'Entremont, daughter of Philippe Mius d'Entremont and of Madeleine Hélie. He is often mentioned as LaVerdure, after his father. Although there were a certain number of Acadians to whom this name was given, the La Verdure of our census most probably applies to him. It is strange that these two prominent families of Port-Royal are not recorded elsewhere in the census."

Albert Thibeau, a cousin, 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.

1901 census of Thibeauville

Many Thibeaus are mentioned in the 1901 census. Some instances are noted below. This is a link to details on the Census of 1901 (how it was made, conventions of recording data, etc.)

The Thibeau family...

Jean Jacques ("Jacob") Thibeau

Follow this link to see more details about River Bourgeois families in the 19th century.

Census of Canada, Province of Nova Scotia, District No. 41 Richmond, Sub-District No. 6, River Bourgeois - portions of interest...

Census taken by Daniel Sampson, April 6, 1891. 225 families recorded.

Husband, John Thebo
age 32
Labourer, lobster factory
Wife, Annie
age 20
Daughter, Ellen Jane
age 4
Son, John Henry
age 1
Mother, Susan
age 58

How this family fits...

The generations to present include :

Jean Jacques THIBEAU / Anne McKEAGNEY


John Antoine Pius THIBEAU / Anne Basilisse ROBERTSON

Abraham Alfred Damien BURKE / Ellen Jane THIBEAU

Alfred Thomas Burton LONGHURST / Theresa Mary BURKE

This file last modified 1/31/2016...

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