- Family and Parenting
How My Mother's Family Got Its Name
The Original Name
My mother's paternal line is named Cadore, and I remember her telling me that the original name was Dutour. Mom didn't know how or when the name change occurred; she said family legend had it that her first ancestor to arrive in the U.S. from France, Francois Dutour, was on the lam from the police and changed his name to make a fresh start. Thanks to the family research tools available to us today, and contact with a distant cousin during my research, that has proven to be a fireside tale, and I now know the real story.
Before I began my family research some years ago, I knew my mother's father's name--Oscar Henry Cadore--but not the names of his parents or siblings. I didn't know whether Francois Dutour was his father or had come considerably earlier in the family line. One day while surfing the internet, I stumbled onto a 10-year-old post left on a personal web site by a lady who was searching for information about “Francois Dutour-Cadore, his wife Heloise Vaillancourt, and their children: William, Damia, Oscar, Charles, and Mitchell.” Mom had told me her father had three brothers and one sister, so I knew I had found my great-grandparents. I contacted the lady who had left the post, and it turned out she was primarily interested in the Vaillancourts and had no other information about the Dutour-Cadores. Nonetheless, it was a start. The 1900 photo shown here, found by my sister shortly thereafter, enabled me to see these family members of whom I'd previously known nothing. My mother was becoming forgetful by then and couldn't remember their names, but when she saw this picture, she exclaimed, "Oh, my folks!"
Searching the U.S. Federal Census records for Mom’s home town of Watseka and county of Iroquois, Illinois soon led to other Cadore and Dutour ancestors. Contact with a third cousin whose husband is a descendent of Francois’ older sister, Henrietta, provided the answer to the mystery of my family’s name change.
My mother’s French ancestors came to the U.S. through Canada, a fact of which I had been completely unaware. They began arriving in Quebec in the 1600s and settled all up and down the banks of the St. Lawrence River, from Trois-Rivieres in the south (on the Quebec side) to Rimouski in the north (the New Brunswick side), including the early village of Quebec. Thanks to prolific record-keeping by the Catholic Church, I’ve been able to find records of birth, baptism, marriage, and death going back many generations. (Who knew my smattering of high-school French would come in so handy?)
My first French-Canadian ancestor to come to the U.S. was not Francois, but his father, Joseph Dutour. Attracted by reports of cheap, abundant land for sale in Illinois, Joseph and his three brothers (Jean-Baptiste, Napoleon Paul, and Victor) gathered up their wives and children between 1846 and 1848 (according to varying census reports) and emigrated to the U.S. They settled in the town of Bourbonnais, in what was then Will (now Kankakee) County, Illinois, 50 miles south of Chicago on the Indiana border. Established 18 years earlier by Francois Bourbonnais, Sr., a fur trapper, hunter, and agent for the American Fur Company, Bourbonnais was largely occupied by French-Canadian immigrants and was a natural destination for the Dutours. My great-grandfather Francois was born there in 1852, and by the time of the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, he was known as Frank.
The Civil War
During the first year of the Civil War, Joseph and his oldest son, Leander, went into town in January 1862 to enlist in the newly formed Illinois 1st Light Artillery. Leander, age 24, was accepted and assigned to Battery E, also known as Waterhouse’s Battery. Joseph, however, was rejected because of his age, which was somewhere between 43 and 51 (during his life he reported birth years ranging from 1810 to 1818); at the time the maximum age for enlistment was 40. Leander went off to fight at Shiloh, the siege of Corinth, the Central Mississippi Campaign, and the Seige of Vicksburg, and Joseph went home full of indignation.
By January 1865, the maximum age for enlistment in the Union Army had been increased to 45 (source: General Order 99, dated 9 August 1862). Another newly formed unit, the 150th Illinois Infantry Regiment, came to Iroquois County seeking recruits for its Company D. Despite the fact that he was now somewhere between 46 and 54, Joseph decided to try again to enlist. It is said he dyed his hair and beard black; what is known for certain is that he had to lie about his age, and that he gave a false name: Joseph Cadours. His ancestors had emigrated in the 1700s from the village of Cadours (rhymes with "the doer") in the Haut-Garonne region of southern France, and it’s likely that he chose this name in homage to his forebears, a practice that appears to be fairly common among French-Canadians. He succeeded in enlisting for a one-year term and served with the 150th until it was deactivated and he was mustered out on 16 January 1866 in Atlanta, Georgia. Whether it was he or the enlistment clerk who misspelled his new name, it was entered as Cadore, and census, probate, and land records show that he kept that name for the rest of his life, as have his descendents.