Doing Some Hard Genealogy With Catholic Records

So I broke away from all the other toys to actually do some hard genealogy. I’ve written many times about Record Search at FamilySearch Labs. I noted awhile ago that I had found there the records of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois, which includes an area of my research interest, the village of Prairie du Rocher in Randolph County, Illinois. That’s location from whence come the Micheau/Mischeaux family that I’ve been studying.

A few months ago, I translated and transcribed a number of the records relating to St Joseph’s Church in Prairie du Rocher as well as Our Lady of Lourdes Church in nearby Sparta. It took a combination of skills that I’ve honed doing indexing for FamilySearch and my certainly imperfect recall of church and law Latin and the bits of genealogical French that I’ve picked up in the last few years. But I think I’ve got it right.

Having translated and transcribed some of the relevant records, I have now put them to some use.

I’m interested in the origins of the Micheau/Mischeaux line in French Illinois. Early in my research, I traced a line of present day family members back to George Micheau (1852-1942). That wasn’t very hard because still-living family members recall him vividly. He was born in Potosi, Washington County, Missouri, lived in Prairie du Rocher, and died in St Louis. According to family members, he was married twice: first to Emma Roy, and then to someone the living family members recall simply as “Grandma Rosie.” I also knew from the 1870 census that George Micheau appears that decade in the household of a senior George Micheau (their names were spelled “Misho” in that census). The 1870 census did not explicitly show relationships, but presumably, George was the son of George. I cannot find the family at all on the 1880 census.

So what did the church records add to my knowledge of this family? First, I found a death notice for Emma Roy. I had known that she was born in 1855, but not much more beyond that.

[Click to enlarge]
Death Registration, Mary Emma Roy, page 120,
Liber Defunctorum, Ecclesia St Joseph, Prairie du Rocher, 1864-1956, Records of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois (retrieved from Record Search Pilot,

The Latin reads: 

Die 12a Julii 1900 obit Maria Emma Micheau uxor Georgii Micheau, annos circa 46 nata, ejusque corpus sequenti tumulatum est.


And I translated it:

Maria Emma Micheau, wife of George Micheau, died on July 12, 1900. She was about 46 years old. She was buried in the general burial ground.

We learn her full name and her date of death. There is also a death notice for “Grandma Rosie,” but it is in English:

[Click to enlarge]
Death Registration, Rosine Micheau, page 199,
Liber Defunctorum, Ecclesia St Joseph, Prairie du Rocher, 1864-1956, Records of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois (retrieved from Record Search Pilot,

Now we know a bit more about Grandma Rosie, including her maiden name. Then, a curiosity: recall that Rosine was George’s second wife who he married after the death of Emma Roy. But when he died in 1942, here’s what the priest wrote:

[Click to enlarge]
Death Registration, George Micheau, page 221,
Liber Defunctorum, Ecclesia St Joseph, Prairie du Rocher, 1864-1956, Records of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois (retrieved from Record Search Pilot,

Does this tell us something about the family or about the pastor or both?

Moving on to the elder George Micheau we find notice of his death too, on page 136 of the same set of records, also in English. The page follows another which is headed “1906.”

Died May 13th George Micheau, the oldest colored member of the parish in his 94th year, as verified by the following extract of the baptismal record of 1813, viz.:

[Click to enlarge]
Baptismal Registration, George Micheau, unnumbered page included with
Records of St Anne du Fort de Chartres, 1721-1765 Records of the Catholic Diocese of Belleville, Illinois (retrieved from Record Search Pilot,

This baptismal registration was found with the records of St Anne’s Church at Fort de Chartres, Illinois, which existed before the church at Prairie du Rocher was constructed in 1765. It is in French:
Le vingt deux fevrier mil huit cent treize a ete baptiste George ne de Julie esclave de fem Mv LaChange ont ete parrein Ignace et marrein Marguerite tous deux esclaves de Mde Ve D’Amour.
What does this mean? I have an idea, but help us out, you French scholars! More to come!

3 Responses to “Doing Some Hard Genealogy With Catholic Records”

  • Laura Adams says:

    I don’t know if this will be relevent whatsoever, but I am a descendant of “Madame Widow D’Amour” and I thought you might cross reference better if you knew that the full family name was D’Amour de Louviere. Oftentimes, especially in more recent years, they went by Louviere and when the Americans came it became simply Louvier. The road you took to the cemetery used to be named for them, and the piece of black plastic and dirt mounds are part of an archeological excavation on the old D’Amour de Louviere home. They found an intact limestone foundation, a huge double stone fireplace and many artifacts, several of which they believe are slave related. They are dating the home to about 1790s. I’m sure someone told you that they moved the village in the 1850s due to flooding. The cemetery is still there because it was behind the original poteaux en terre church (prominent people were buried under their pews, the sexton still has issues when he goes to dig a grave) and the village surrounded the church. The site of the dig will be cemetery but we are trying to generate interest in having the dig preserved as an interpretive or historic site. Any ideas?

    Thank you so much for this blog, it is wonderful!

  • Craig Manson says:

    Thanks, Jenny. That actually makes more sense in the context of the next post, now in draft, but set for a few more hours from now. This is an “ancestor-in-law”!

  • Jenny Schwartzberg says:

    You didn’t quite transcribe the French correctly. I looked at the original and I translate it as: “The 26th February 1813 was baptized George born of Julie a slave of the deceased Mr. LaChange, who had for godfather Ignace and godmother Marguerite both of them slaves of Madame Widow D’Amour.” Is this one of your ancestors? I wish I could go back that far!

July 2008
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