Our Family Forest
The LaBrune Family

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French immigrants

excerpt from passenger list showing LaBrunesThe LaBrune family arrived in New York on November 7, 1833 aboard the Robert Morris. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Philippe LaBrune was born in France in 1794. He married Anne Reine/Rayne in about 1818. (She was born in France in 1793.) In the summer of 1833, they boarded the Robert Morris in LeHavre (north coast), France, with their fourteen year old daughter (born circa 1819) and their three boys, aged five to eleven. From comparison with subsequent census records, we know the eleven year old was George (born circa 1822) and the youngest was Nicholas (born circa 1828). I don't yet know the names of the daughter and the seven year old boy (born circa 1826). Census records say the children may have been born two or three years later than indicated on the passenger list. According to this list, Philippe was a weaver. Historical data suggest they probably spent about 18 days to cross the ocean. This passenger list is the earliest record I've found of our LaBrune family.

Migration west

I find the family seven years later, in the 1840 US census, in Clermont county, Ohio, near Stonelick township, in the southern part of the state. (Stonelick township is 17 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio, on the East Fork of the Little Miami river, about 10 miles from the Ohio river and the Kentucky border.) The oldest daughter is no longer with the family. Since she would have been nineteen to twenty-one years old in 1840, and because Philippe later returned to live in this area, I suspect that their daughter married and lived nearby. Meanwhile, another daughter, less than five years old in 1840, had been born. Later that year, Jean-Baptiste, their last child, was born in Ohio.

Rickardsville, Dubuque county, Iowa (pin location). River is Mississippi.

By 1846, the family had moved to Dubuque county, Iowa, on the Mississippi river. (George was married there in 1846.) This region had historically had a large French population because it had been a French territory (prior to about 1800?) and had been an excellent trapping and trading area, a common livelihood of Frenchmen at the time. As the population grew, the land was used for farming. The 1850 census finds Philippe and Anne in Jefferson township, 10 miles northwest of Dubuque city. 10 year old Jean-Baptiste, 19 year old Nicholas, and George's family are all living in their house. Both George and Philippe are farmers. Anne passed away in 1868 and is buried in St. Joseph Catholic Church cemetery in Rickardsville, near Dubuque. Curiously, Daniel Dooley, a neighbor and brother of their daughter-in-law, Catherine Dooley, is buried next to Anne LaBrune, presumably in the grave that had been intended for Philippe.

Different family members in different records, marriages, children born, ... This is the family as best I know it from all of these records:

Some explanation: "left family" means that I could not find that person after that date. For a daughter, this could be because she married and I don't know her married name or it could be that she died. For most families it could also mean that the person moved away, but the name LaBrune was very uncommon and so far easier to find in available records. If a LaBrune could not be found anywhere, it's likely he or she died, or that she married. For now, I believe that three children survived into adulthood: the oldest daughter, whose name I don't know, George and Jean-Baptiste.

1874 plat map of Jefferson township, Dubuque county, Iowa1874 plat map of Jefferson township, Dubuque county, Iowa. (Click on image to enlarge.)
The LaBrune and Dooley farms are circled in red. Crevier and Schirmer farms are nearby.

Philippe returns to Ohio?

I've already mentionned that Anne died in 1868 and is buried in Rickardsville, but that the adjacent grave site was used for Daniel Dooley, a neighbor and something-in-law. I have found no record of Phillipe's death in the area. We had previously assumed that Philippe died sometime in the 1860s because he is not shown in the Iowa 1870 census, and the absence of a grave was a curiosity. The last local record of him is a listing in an 1865 property tax roll. In October of 1868, nine months after Anne LaBrune's death, a Philip LaBrune, born in France in about 1796, about the same age as our Philippe, married Josephine Oligée in Brown county, Ohio, adjacent to Clermont county, where the LaBrunes were living in 1840. I believe that this is our Philippe. It is because he had moved away and remarried that Daniel Dooley was buried in his plot just one year after Anne LaBrune's death. I suspect that their oldest and only surviving daughter lived in southern Ohio and that Philip moved to be near her, possibly to help care for him. There, he met Josephine and remarried. I have not found evidence to support all these details. Records that I have found include (1) the marriage of Philippe and Josephine in Brown county, Ohio, in 1868, (2) census records in Perry township of that county in 1870 and 1880, in which Philippe is listed as an invalid (1870) and then as having "swollen legs" (1880), and finally (3) widow Josephine's death of "old age" in 1887, still in Perry.

George LaBrune family

We've only been able to track two of the six LaBrune children: sons George and Jean-Baptiste. George married Martha Breault (b. 1828 in Canada) in 1846. (Her name has also been Mathilda and Mary, and her last name has been Bron and Brow in different records.) They ran a tavern on "the old stagecoach road" in Rickardsville early in their marriage, but census records show them to be farmers. Their children were Mary (1847), Celina (1850), Josephine (1852), Caroline (1854), George Nicolas (1856), John P. (1858), Joseph Daniel (1860), Adeline (1864), and Mathilda (1866). In 1864, Mary married Peter Limoges, oldest son of French Canadian immigrant Pierre/Peter Limoges and his American wife, Julie. In 1871, Caroline married Amab Cousley, proprietor of the Seven-Mile House at Julien Station, and also of French descent. George Nicolas married Adeline Crevier, possibly in the Sioux City area in the mid 1880s, as this is where their children were born and they died there in 1932 and 1929, respectively. The Creviers and LaBrunes were neighbors in Jefferson township in an 1870 plat map. Joseph married Josephine Limoges (younger sister of his brother-in-law of 20 years, Peter), in Jefferson township, but they also headed toward Sioux City, as most of their children were baptized at St. Peter's Catholic church in Union county, South Dakota. In 1880, Martha and daughter Mathilda are the only ones at home. George died in 1873. Martha was living with her son John P. and the family of daughter Mathilda LaBrune Schwind in 1900. She died in 1914. She and George are buried in St. Joseph's cemetery in Rickardsville.

Jean-Baptiste LaBrune family

1874 plat map of Jefferson township, Dubuque county, Iowa 1874 plat map of Jefferson township, Dubuque county, Iowa

Two pages of the 1870 census of Jefferson township, Dubuque county, Iowa, showing the family of Jean-Baptiste & Catherine LaBrune. (Click on image to enlarge.) The LaBrune family is outlined in red.

In 1858, Jean-Baptiste married neighbor Catherine Dooley, born in Ireland in 1833. They lived with his parents, possibly until Anne's death in 1868. Perhaps Philippe left Jean-Baptiste with the family farm when he left for Ohio. Though I'm not sure of the exact properties, Jean (aka John, Jean-Baptiste and Baptiste) remained in Jefferson township until at least 1905, and in Dubuque until his death in 1930. [He was living with his son, John, in Dubuque in 1910, and near his daughter, Anastasia Hogan, in a St. Louis boarding house in 1920, and with Lyda in Rickardsville in 1925, but passed away in Dubuque.] According to the 1880 US census, Baptiste and Catharine owned $10,000 in real estate and $1300 in other assets. This is much larger than the assets shown for Philip and Anne ten years earlier, and is a lot of money compared to most families I've seen in the census. This family was doing well, financially. They had 8 children: John Philip (1859), Anastasia (c1861), William (1863), Mary (1864), Thomas (1866), Daniel J. (1869), Josephine (1871) and Lyda (1882). Three did not reach adulthood: William died when six weeks old, Thomas when barely two years old, and Josephine at the age of two and a half years. Mary passed away in 1883 when nineteen years old. All are buried in St. Joseph cemetery in Rickardsville. As are Jean-Baptiste (d. 1930) and Catherine, who passed away in 1899.

John P. married Lizzie Rooney in Holy Cross, Iowa in 1880. Their only daughter, Clara, was born the following year, in 1881. They lived mostly back in Ricardsville, John making a living in a variety of endeavors. In 1885 they were farmers. An 1896 newspaper article describes John as a former Rickardsville postmaster, a dealer of race and draught horses, and proprietor of a newly acquired store and saloon. In 1901, another newspaper article announces that "Mssrs. Ferring and LaBrune" invite the public to Herb's Brewery, their place of business, for lunch. I assume this Mr. Ferring is John LaBrune's son-in-law, John Ferring, married to Clara LaBrune in 1899. John is a merchant and horse dealer through at least 1910, but must have fallen on hard times shortly thereafter. In 1915, he is an "agent" and no longer owns his home. In 1920, John is a salesman for a cement company in Great Falls, Montana, where he and Elizabeth are renting a room. And in 1930, they are back in Dubuque, renting a house, and John is a hotel worker. Lizzie died in June of 1934; John just two months later. Both are buried in St. Joseph cemetery in Rickardsville.

Anastasia was living with the family of her uncle, William Dooley, in St. Louis in 1880. This is where she met James Hogan, a nephew of William's wife and her future husband. [Read more about Anastasia and her descendants on the Hogan page.]

Daniel remained on the farm with his father until his death in 1907, at the age of 38.

Lyda (Lydia) was adopted by Jean-Baptiste and Catherine between 1887 and 1894. By this time, Daniel was the only child still living on the farm. He in his early 20s and Lyda not yet in her teens, there was a considerable age difference between her and her adoptive siblings. Lyda was born Lyda Arnold in Dubuque county in 1882. Her abusive father abandoned the family and her parents divorced, this in western Iowa, Sioux county, far from Jean-Baptiste and Catherine LaBrune. When and why the three daughters were given up for adoption is unclear. Lyda's mother, Emma Goodwin Arnold, remarried and started a new family in the 1890s, with which she moved to San Diego in the early 1900s. (Read more about Lyda's birth family.) It turns out that Jean-Baptiste's niece, Adaline LaBrune Luchsinger, was a neighbor of Emma's in Sioux county, and perhaps this is how Lyda came to the attention of and was adopted by J-B and Catherine. After Mary's death in 1883 and Anastasia's marriage in 1887, the LaBrunes may also have been looking for a young lady to help with the household work. Lyda married Frank Schirmer in Rickardsville in 1900, when almost 18 years old. Their two children, Blanche and Matthew, were born in 1901 and 1909, respectively. They were farmers there for many years. Frank passed away in 1942, Lyda in 1955. They are buried in St. Joseph's cemetery in Rickardsville.

Name spellings

The name is most often LaBrune, but I have seen census spellings of LaBroon, LaBrun, and LaBruner, too.

Copyright © 2017 by Michael Cushing.

labrune.shtm last updated 29 August 2017