Joseph Zenophile Lanctot is my paternal 2nd great grandfather. He was born in Quebec, Canada, on 14 Jan 1861, the 5th of 8 children born to Pierre Lanctot and Sophia Longtin. The family lived in Saint-Philippe, Laprairie, Quebec.
In April 1877, he emigrated to the United States by way of the port of Detroit, Michigan. It is believed that his brother emigrated with him, but I have not been able to find any proof of this.
Sometime in 1881, he married Eliza Bourke, supposedly in Fremont, Dodge, Nebraska. However, in the same year, Zenophile is found back with his parents (and his brother) in the 1881 Canadian census in Quebec. Wait. I thought he emigrated in 1877? (Normally, at this point I would assume I had the wrong Declaration of Intent … but I haven’t found too many Zenophile Lanctots in my research).
Zenophile signed his Declaration of Intent on 10 April 1883, only two years after he is found on the Canadian census. In August 1884, for the low, low price of $200, he and his little family settled on 160 acres in Charles Mix County, South Dakota. By this time, Zenophile and Eliza had (at least) one son: Arthur Pierre. They built a small house measuring about 12 feet by 14 feet with a garden for their personal use, a stable measuring about 12 feet by 16 feet, and a well. They grew 45 acres of flax, 5 acres each of wheat and oats, 8 acres of corn, and 2 acres of potatoes. The other 90ish acres would have been used for timber, as he agreed to do when he purchased the land. The pre-emption was approved and the patent was entered on 6 May 1890. (I explore the land records much more in-depth in this previous blog post).
In the meantime, the couple has added three more children to their family: Josephine, Louis Phelisa, and Leo. There are two other children born prior to 1900, and I think one of them was born between Arthur and Josephine, but did not survive.
The family remained in Darlington Township in Charles Mix County until August 1900, when Zenophile purchased two lots in Armour, Douglas, South Dakota. By all accounts after reading a couple county histories, it seems that the land just wasn’t good for much of anything, and after giving it the ol’ college try, they decided to move. Once they were in Armour, they gave up on the farming business and became proprietors of the first hotel in the town. It was called Armour House. It just so happens that I have photographs of the inside (but not the outside, unfortunately) of the hotel … which include my 2nd great grandparents, Zenophile and Eliza.
They continued to run the hotel until Zenophile died of hemorrhage from the lungs as a result of chronic nephritis and hepatitis at 10:00 p.m. on 20 July 1913. He is buried in plot H-020-6 of Pleasant Ridge Cemetery in Armour, South Dakota.
What don’t I know – and how will I find the answer?
Did he and his brother emigrate together? I need to find his brother’s declaration of intent, which (hopefully) will have his date and port of entry into the U.S.
Where and when were Zenophile and Eliza married? Dig further into Nebraska marriage records, but also check South Dakota, Michigan, and Illinois. Church records may also hold clues.
Why was Zenophile back in Canada in 1881? Check for passports issued to Zenophile OR his brother.
Where the heck is Zenophile’s naturalization certificate? Continue looking in South Dakota, but also check Nebraska.
Who were the two children that died before 1900? I may never know the answer to this question, but will check birth and death records in South Dakota.
Where was Zenophile between 1877 and 1881? How could he and Eliza have met? I may never know the answer to this either, but will try to determine where their paths may have crossed (guess I know the topic for my next post …).
Do we share ancestors? Email me: lostancestors AT gmail DOT com
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