French names in the
1850 US Census of Aroostook County, Maine

First names | Last or family names
One of the biggest challenges of using the 1850 US Census to find people in the French-speaking parts of Aroostook (especially in Hancock, Madawaska, and Van Buren Plantations) is the spelling of the names. The census taker apparently knew little French, and since many of the people were not literate, he had to guess at the spelling.

Another complication is that the pronunciation of French in northern Aroostook county (as well as in neighboring parts of Québec and New Brunswick) has its own specificities; thus, Eloi is pronounced roughly like Elway, rather than the Parisian French Elwah. So imagine an English-speaker hearing a French name, in the accent not of Paris but of Madawaska, and trying to figure out how to write it. That's what we're seeing in the 1850 census. Needless to say, many of the names are very difficult to recognize.

Another thing to keep in mind is that in 1850 there was no single, standardized way to spell many names, so even if people could read and write they may have spelled their name differently from others with the same name. This explains much of the variation.

This is only a guide to deciphering the names. For those names for which I have definite information, I have included the correct spellings of the names in the "Remarks" section on the census transcription pages. This page is meant to be a guide, that is, to suggest possible ways that some common names were spelled; and to suggest possible correct spellings for some of the more common names found in the census to help point you in a direction for further research. Before you assume that the equivalents given here are correct for a specific individual, you should find other evidence for that spelling of his/her name.

If you have any other examples, or know specific names in the census, please Thanks.

Please note: This is only a guide. You should always check other sources to confirm the actual spelling of names.

First Names

First or given names, if they were common ones, were put down in their English equivalents. Thus Jean became John (and the common name Jean-Baptiste was usually written down as John B.), Edouard - Edward, François - Francis, Michel - Michael, Antoine - Anthony, Henry - Henri, Marie - Mary, etc. Others were written down phonetically according to how the census taker heard them. They were rarely consistent in spelling.

Male names ending in French in -ent were written -a, or -ah, which to English speakers creates an apparently confusing situation of what seem to be female names for people who are marked down as males (sometimes it was written as -o). Thus Flora is Fleurent; Laura, Laurent, etc.

Please note: This is only a guide. You should always check other sources to confirm the actual spelling of names.

 "Real names"---> 1850 census version

Amable = Ama, Amat, Marble

Anastasie = Stausee or Stausie

Basile = Bozeel

Béloni = William

Clement = Clemo

Damase = Daumause

Donat = Dana

Eloi = Elway

Fleurent = Flora

Gregoire = Gregway

Jean-Baptiste = John B.

Laurent = Lora

Hortense = Octan or Octans

Henri = Onry

Michel = Mitchell, Mishal, Marshall

Nathalie = Tellie, Tallie

Narcisse = Nercis

Priscille = Presel

Prudent = Pruda, Prida, Predan

Raphael = Raffel, Roffel

Renaud = Runno

Simon = Semo

Théophile = Tuffer

Xavier = Savia, Xavia


 1850 census version ---> "real names"

Ama, Amat = Amable

Bozeel = Basile

Clemo = Clement

Dana = Donat

Elway = Eloi

Flora = Florent

Gregway = Gregoire

John B. = Jean-Baptiste

Lora = Laurent

Marble = Amable

Marshall = Michel

Mitchell = Michel

Nercis = Narcisse

Octan or Octans = Hortense

Onry = Henri

Presel = Priscille

Pruda, Prida, Predan = Prudent

Raffel, Roffel = Raphael

Runno = Renaud

Savia = Xavier

Semo = Simon

Stausee or Stausie = short for Anastasie

Tellie, Tallie = short for Nathalie 

Tuffer = Théophile

William = Béloni

Xavia = Xavier

Last or Family names

As with first names, last names or family names also suffered. Some were written phonetically, a few were "translated" into their English equivalent (Roi into King; Levesque into Bishop).

Here are a few that have stumped me:

Crock mystery solved: This is one of the most common names listed in the French-speaking parts of Aroostook in the 1850 census, but I couldn't figure out what name it was... To find out, click on the link.

In addition to the problem of spelling French names, there is also the challenge of what are known as "dit names"; that is, in some families two different last names were used either together or separately. Thus, someone with the last name of Roy may have been listed under Roy, or under Voisine, or under both. Following the list of misspelled names is a list of dit name equivalents. For more information on dit names see FrancoGêne's page on Dit Names and Linda Jones's page on dit names.

Please note: This is only a guide. You should always check other sources to confirm the actual spelling of names.

"Real names" ---> 1850 census version

Albert = LBare, LBaire

Ayotte = Yott

Beaulieu = Boulzier

Bouchard = Bushu, Busheaud, Bushore, Bushur

Bourgoin = Bengen, Bergorane, Burguine

Chassé = Shossa

Chorette = Shaurette

Corbain, Corbin = Carbah, Curbey

Cormier = Cormea, Cormie

Corneau = Corno

Cyr = Crock
(How do you get Crock from Cyr?)

Deschênes = Dushane

Dionne = Yohn, Sionre

Dubé = Dubay

Dubois = Dubeau

Duperé = Duprey

Émond = Emmo

Gagnon = Gormeo or Gorneo

Gaudreau = Gudrow

Guérette = Gerist, Gonit, Gaist

Hébert = Albert

Jalbert = LBaire, LBare

Labbé = Libbie

Laferrière-Charron = Laffere

Langlais = Longley

Langlais-Wabore = Webber

Lapointe = Sharp

Lavoie = Loveway

Marquis = Makee

Massé = Mossey

Mercure = Marcus

Michaud = Mishoe, Mishauld, Misheaud, Misheau

Nadeau = Neddo

Parent = Parrow, Parrah

Pelletier = Pelka

Picard = Pecor

Plourde = Pleward, Pluard

Proulx = Prew

Raymond = Remmo

Roy = King

Saucier = Sosee

St.Pierre = Stone

Tardif = Tardy

Thériault = Tarrio, Terrio

Vaillancourt = Veancoeur, Veancoe

Ouellette = Willet, Willett, Willot 

1850 census version ---> "real names"

Albert = Albert, Hébert

Bengen = Bourgoin

Bergorane = Bourgoin

Boulzer = Beaulieu

Bushu, Busheaud, Bushore, Bushur = Bouchard

Carbah = Corbain, Corbin

Cormea, Cormie = Cormier

Corno = Corneau

Crock = Cyr
(How do you get Crock from Cyr?)

Curbey = Corbin

Dubay = Dubé

Dubeau = Dubois

Duprey = Duperé

Dushane = Deschênes

Emmo = Émond

Gaist = Guérette

Gerist = Guérette

Gonit = Guérette

Gormeo or Gorneo = Gagnon

Gudrow = Gaudreau

King = Roy

Laffere = Laferrière-Charron

LBare, LBaire = Albert, Jalbert

Libbie = Labbé

Longley = Langlais

Loveway = Lavoie

Makee = Marquis

Marcus = Mercure

Mishoe, Mishauld, Misheaud, Misheau = Michaud

Mossey = Massé

Neddo = Nadeau

Parrow, Parrah = Parent

Pecor = Picard

Pelka = Pelletier

Pleward, Pluard = Plourde

Prew = Proulx

Remmo = Raymond

Robishaw = Robichaud

Shaurette = Chorette

Sharp = Lapointe

Shossa = Chassé

Sionre = Dionne

Sosee = Saucier

Stone = St.Pierre

Tardy = Tardif

Tarrio, Terrio = Thériault

Veancoeur, Veancoe = Vaillancourt

Webber = Langlais-Wabore

Willet, Willett, Willot = Ouellette

Yohn = Dionne

Yott = Ayotte 

Dit names


Cyr and Crock

One of the most common names among the French-speakers in the 1850 US Census of Aroostook was written "Crock". I was very confused by this, since I had never seen that name among the French names of the region, and while the census taker did invent spellings for some names, it didn't remotely sound like any of the names of the region. Separately, I noticed that there were very few families with the name Cyr in the 1850 census, which was strange given how common that name is. I didn't put the two together though.

Then, I found this in an article on early settlers of the Madawaska region:

"...members of the Cyr family [were living in 1783] . . . just above the Keswick stream, on the opposite side of the St. John at a place known as Crock's Point. Tradition says that the older Cyr used to manufacture large quantities of maple sugar in the disposal of which he used smilingly to ask his patrons -- 'Vout-ils en avoir de quoi à croquer?' But whether the name of Croque, or Crock, really originated in this way is hard to tell. It is at least certain that for a considerable while the sobriquet largely supplanted the name of Cyr, but in later years has gradually fallen into disuse." Raymond, p.345

Here's an alternative explanation (thanks to Ken Roy for forwarding this to me):

This Jean Cyr is also known as Jean-Baptiste "Crock". He earned this nickname either from his habit of always carring a pitch fork or of saying that he would chew his enemies.  (Translators note: from "croc" meaning hook or a form of pitchfork and "croquer" meaning to crunch or devour). (From Father Thomas Albert's The History of Madawaska, An English Translation by Sister Therese Doucette and Dr. Francis Doucette, Madawaska historical Society Second Edition, 1990, pp.35-36)

Mystery solved. If you are looking for Cyr in the census, check under the name Crock.

Return to the 1850 US Census of Aroostook County Page
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Last revised 9 Jan 2007
© 2003-2007 by C. Gagnon