Monday, September 06, 2010

The Family of Victor Lefebvre and Marie Louise Leontine Robillard of Lowell, Massachusetts

Marie Louise Leontine Robillard was my great-grand aunt. Born to Jerome Robillard and Sophie Riberdy on 6 Nov., 1868 at Sainte-Melanie, Joliette, co., Quebec. She was the 17th child of 23 born to her father and his two wives.

[Gabriel Drouin, Institut Généalogique Drouin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Le Fonds Drouin 1621-1967, Quebec vital records, 1868, Ste. Melanie d'Aillebout, Co-Joliette, PQ, pg. 17, B.69 Marie Louise Leontie, Register Photocopy to the Greffe of Joliette]

Leontine married Victor Lefebvre (Joseph, Eugenie Jacob) in Lowell, Massachusetts on 6 Sept. 1887.

I have not been able to find a birth record for Victor to confirm his date of birth or who is parents were.

On the 10th of April in 1891 the family of Victor and Leontine are enumerated in the 1891 Canadian Recensement and are found living in Ste-Melanie, Joliette co., Quebec. Victor is enumerated as being 23 years old, his occupation at this time is that of a boulanger. His wife, Leontine, as I call her, is 22. The couple, at this time time, have two children, a daughter, Rosanna, born in E.U. (Etats-Unis) is 1 year and 4 months old and a son, Achille, born in Quebec is only 4 months old. has an alternate name listed for Victor's wife, Leontine, in this census. The name is Marie Louise Riberdy. Which is wrong. I wish people would thoroughly research before they go adding alternate names.

[1891;Canadian Recensement: Dist.#158, Ste Mélanie, Joliette, Quebec. Roll: T-6398, Family No: 40.]

On 5 June, 1900 I find the family of Victor and Leontine enumerated in the census by an Alexis F. Fecteau, and living back in Lowell at 196 Perkins St. Victor who is the head, is enumerated as being 32 years of age and has a birth date of April of 1868, born in Canada-French, as are both his parents. Married 12 years, he immigrated into the United States in 1884, he's been in the states for 16 years and he is an alien. Renting his home and working as a cotton weaver, he can read and write but he can't speak English. Leontine, who is enumerated as being 32 and born in Nov of 1867 [sic], has given birth 8 times with only 5 children living. Married 12 years, this census also enumerates her as immigrating to the states in 1884. She can read, write and speak English.

Victor and Leontine now, in 1900, have five children.
  1. Rose A./daughter/w/f/Dec./1889/10/s/Mass/Can-Fr/Can/Fr/at school/10/yes/yes/no
  2. Achille/son/w/m/Dec/1890/9/s/Canada Am Cert/Can-Fr/Can-Fr/at school/10/yes/no/no
  3. Amede A./son/w/m/June/1892/s/Canada Am Cert/Can-Fr/Can-Fr/at school/9/yes/no/no
  4. Fabiola/daughter/w/f/Nov/1893/6/s/Mass/Can-Fr/Can-Fr/at school/8/no/no/no
  5. Alexis/son/w/m/Mar/1896/4/s/Mass/Can-Fr/Can/Fr
[1900; Census Place: Lowell Ward 7, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll  T623_661; Page: 9B; Enumeration District: 809]

Now, in 1910, I find Leontine as the head, enumerated as living at 21 Hancock Avenue in Lowell, MA. She and her brother, Louis Joseph Zenon Robillard, and his family, reside in the tenement. Leontine, a this time is enumerated as being 41 years of age and widowed. 9 children born with 5 living, she was born in Canada-French as were both her parents. Immigration year is 1894 and she speaks English. Working as a weaver in a cotton mill, she has not been out of work in the past year. She can read and write and she rents her home.

[Year: 1910; Census Place: Lowell Ward 6, Middlesex, Massachusetts; Roll  T624_600; Page: 44A; Enumeration District: 861; Image: 609]

It's funny, in an odd kind of way, that Leontine has claimed herself as being a widow in the 1910 census. Because her husband, who is clearly estranged at this time, doesn't die until 1911. Sadly, I can only surmise that they, Victor and Leontine, had some rather serious marital problems as Victor commits suicide on the 29th of June in the year 1911. Below is an article from the Lowell Sun published on the front page of the evening edition on that same day. I must note, for you dear reader, that on Victor's certificate of death it documents his birth as being in April 1870 in New York and that his burial was at St-Joseph's cemetery in Chelmsford, MA. However, when I went to go find his final resting place, the cemetery had no record of his burial. His wife, Leontine, according to burial records, was buried 1 Dec., 1911 in section J, lot 514. For a copy of Victor's certificate of death please click here, and for more information in regard to my research on the families of Victor and Leontine please contact me.

Edmond Forget Made Heroic Attempt to Rescue Drowning Man

Brooding over family troubles and in a state of temporary aberration of mind, Victor Lefebvre, aged 46 years, committed suicide this morning by drowning in the Pawtucket canal. Edmond Forget, a young man living at 230 Cheever street made an heroic effort to save the man's life, but although the drowning man was brought to the edge of the canal, he died in Forget's arms before he could be pulled to the surface.

Victor Lefebvre, who was also living apart from his for thre past four years, was employed in a mill at South Boston as weaver. According to his son Achille, he had not been feeling well for the past few weeks, and two weeks ago he came to this city for rest abd stopped with the latter at his room, 152 Ford street. For the past two or three days the boy noticed that his father was acting strangley and he did the best he could to cheer him up and bring him to his senses.

Last night the father refused to retire and did not sleep all night. At 5.30 o'clock this morning he went out and was seen running up and down Ford street several times in an excited manner. His son went after him and took him into the house. A few minutes later he went out again and at 5.45 o'clock Mrs. William Smith of 239 Cheever street saw him jump over the fence of the canal opposite James street, and then into the water. Mrs. Smith screamed and attracted the attentiopn of Mrs. Edmond Forget, a neighbor. The latter awoke her husband and Mr. Forget, jumping out of bed, slid on a pair of tights and running around the building dived into the canal.

In the meantime Lefebvre had gone to the bottom, but shortly after he was seen floating and making efforts to sink. Forget swam across the canal and catching the man around the neck, swam to the canal's edge. There, however, he was handicapped for the wall was some two feet higher, and it was impossible to climb with Lefebvre who was still alive. The rescuer called for help and a few minutes later a young man named Leo Vigeant was on the scene, but his efforts in trying to pull the two to shore were fruitless. Forget was still clinging to the wall with the now lifeless body of the suicide. Undertaker Joseph Albert and patrolman Charles Jennell were notified and with the aid of a rope tied around the body of Lefebvre,
The ambulance was summoned, but it was useless, for the unfortunate man had expired. The body was remoced to the funeral parlors of Undertaker Joseph Albert and later to the home of the deceased's sister, Mrs. Elzear Harvery, 200 Perkins street.

Forget is to be congratulated on his heroic act, and had it not been for the fact that the water was somewhat lower than usual, he could have saved Lefebvre's life. Mrs. Smith, who saw the man jump into the water, said that Forget must have held the prostrate form of Lefebvre for at least seven minutes, clinging to the wall with one hand while waiting for help.

The deceased is survived by a wife, Leotine Robillard Lefebvre, and five children., Victor, a student at Poughkeepsie, N. Y., Rosanna and Achille, Mesdames Ernest Paquin and Alfred Waterhouse; his father, Mr. Joseph Lefebvre of Mechanicsville, N. Y.; five brothers, Auguste of Mechanicsville, N. Y., Theotime of Bangor, Me., Lucien, Emile and Alfred of Lowell; four sisters, Mesdames Joseph Tremblay and Elzear Harvey of this city and the Misses Malvina and Virginie Lefebvre of Lowell.


  1. Nessa Burns Reifsnyder2:31 PM

    Hi Michelle, I'm really glad you posted this info, tragic as it is, about Victor Lefebvre and Léontine Robillard. They are the parents of a woman who married Ernest Paquin...her baptismal name was Marie Amédia, and she was born on 6/11/1892 in Ste-Mélanie-d'Aillebout to Victor and Léontine. Her husband, Ernest Paquin, was my great-great uncle. Now that familysearch and the NEHGS have released so many Massachusetts and NH records--and the Drouin info is searchable on've made a lot of headway on these Paquins, whom I never knew because of my parents' divorce. I am finding quite a few tragic stories among them, must have been a trying time to live in Lowell, with economic hardships and many babies lost to illness. Anyway, I will certainly continue to review your blog; what a great resource for those of us with Lowell-area Québecois ancestors!

  2. You're welcome Nessa. And thank you for the information and sharing your relation to my family. The story of Leontine & Victor is a very tragic one. One of many that I have come across for this time period. If you would like to correspond privately please feel free to contact me at