The search for Mercy

This stereopticon view of the “pure bridge” in Bolton, Vermont, would have been acquainted to Mercy Mercury within the twenty years she lived within the city. Objects of Bolton information printed in Burlington’s Free Press turned the important thing to figuring out family who visited Mercy and her husband.

Rhetorical query for persistent (obsessive!) genealogists: how lengthy do we persevere in making an attempt to resolve a thriller? This case research illustrates the complexity of French-Canadian surname variants, the imprecision with which individuals reported their ages and birthplaces, as nicely the problem in monitoring migrant farm households who moved continuously.

“Mercy Mercury” smoldered in my unfinished file for nearly 20 years. Discovering her dad and mom didn’t appear crucial as a result of she was the spouse of my nephew-by-marriage’s great-great-uncle Alexander Mercure (1855–1936) — but my lack of ability to resolve the puzzle nagged at me. So, as a brand new 12 months started, I laid out the items of the puzzle, yet another time. That began with this entry from the 1880 census of Altona, Clinton County, New York:

Click on on census photographs to enlarge them.

Marcelline Mercry, age 28, born Vermont, spouse of Alexander Mercry,[1] like her husband, might neither learn nor write. No marriage document has been discovered for this couple. A baptismal document in 1882 of their daughter, Edel Malvina (“Mina”), revealed Marcelline’s maiden title, Hébert. Mina’s 1899 marriage document to Burton Bracey listed her mom as “Mary Abor” — Abair and Abare amongst widespread phonetic renderings of “Hébert,” whereby the H is silent in French. By 1900, having moved from Altona to Vermont, Alexander and Marceline had been recorded within the census of Bolton, Vermont:

Murcy Mercury’s beginning date written as April 1852 in New York, not Vermont. She and “Allec” appeared to elude the 1910 census, however in 1920, they had been as soon as once more recorded in Bolton:

Right here “Mercier Murkury,” age 74 [approximating a birth year of 1846], birthplace, Vermont, managed to realize an extra six years. If she stayed in Vermont, Mercy’s demise certificates might need disclosed the names of her dad and mom, however she died in Brome, Québec, on 7 December 1921, on the residence of her daughter. The burial document from the Anglican church for “Mercy Hebert,” spouse of Alexander Mercury, supplied no data on birthplace or dad and mom. A stone in St. John’s Cemetery, Brome, bears the inscription “Alic A. Murcury [no dates], His Spouse/ Mercy Hibbard/ Born Apr 6 1849/ Died Dec 7 1921.”[2]

Looking out amongst dozens of Hebert/Abare households in New York and Vermont, together with printed Catholic baptismal repertoires from 1850 to 1870, simply didn’t appear to show up the appropriate household. In the end, the very best clue emerged from a “Bolton” information column within the Burlington Free Press for 23 March 1921: “Charles Abare, who has been lumbering in Monkton [Vermont], is visiting his sister, Mrs. Mercy Mercury.” Scouring the 1920 census for all Charles Abare/Abair/Héberts born in Vermont or New York inside twenty years of the Civil Conflict ultimately led to a viable speculation.

Charles Abare of Monkton proved to be the identical as Charley Hibbard who died in Bristol, Vermont, in 1946, age 78; birthplace Grand Isle, Vermont; father’s title Stephen Hibbard, mom’s title unknown. A twenty-year hole between Charles’s beginning 12 months, 1868, and that of his supposed sister Mercy/Marcelline, circa 1848, nonetheless left room for doubt. In 1870, the family of Stephen Abare, age 43, spouse Alice, 39, in Chazy, New York, had a protracted checklist of kids, ending with Charles, age 2, however no Mercy or Marcelline. A decade earlier, the identical household lived in Alburg, Vermont, and this time, Marcelline, age 12, was counted within the enumeration:

Thriller nearly solved, however not totally. Vermont-born Marcelline Hébert had her baptism recorded in Iberville, Québec, about 25 miles from the Vermont border. Her baptismal registration in St. Athanase-de-Bleury Church on 11 September 1848 clearly states she was born on 6 April within the state of Vermont, the daughter of Etienne Hébert [Stephen Abare], day laborer. and Leocadie Bomardier:

Marcelline’s mom died when she was three, and her father quickly married Edesse [Alice] Bombardier, mom of Charles. They certainly shared the identical father. What a tangle varied on-line bushes have made in complicated two totally different moms, each with the Bom[b]ardier surname!

For all of the years of puzzlement, I now take pleasure in a kind of Eureka! moments relished by researchers who simply is not going to surrender.


[1] Mercry, Murkury, and Mercury persist as garbled variations of Mercure. Virtually all French-Canadian Mercures descend from immigrant ancestor Jean-François Mercure dit Villenouvelle (1666–1747), whose progeny lived in Cap Santé, Québec, for generations.

[2] Headstone picture, #103717901.