Thursday, February 2, 2012

Louis Theophile Auger - Brick Walls 101

In my previous posts I’ve mentioned my great-grandfather Louis Theophile Auger. Besides being a fascinating character to me he is also one of my most persistent brick walls or road blocks as I do not know with certainty where he is buried.

Louis T. Auger

I'll go through the sources I've searched for him in, but wanted to give a bit of background first.

For years I assumed that Louis was buried in St. Peter's Cemetery in Lewiston, Maine. This was a natural assumption for me as the rest of his family is buried there and being a French Catholic, St. Peter's was the natural choice. However, I have always been bothered though by the lack of evidence placing him there. Father Youville Labonte's Necrology does not list him as buried in St. Peter's Cemetery. The large family plot headstone doesn't list him (as an aside it does list his god-son Louis E. Auger which was a source of confusion. Because of the similar death dates (1904 for Louis Edmond Auger) and being listed on the stone, Louis E. was assumed by some to be my great-grandfather and it was accepted he was buried there by the family until I located his birth certificate which revealed his middle name as Theophile).

Anyhow, as I was searching for information I reached out to the Maine Franco-American Genealogical Society who informed me that they checked the database for St Peter's and Louis was indeed buried in St. Peter's and had him listed in the same family plot that everyone else is buried in. I was thrilled, however, soon after I reached back out to my source to get a printout of the evidence he had provided me, and he told me he had erred and could not confirm he was buried there. He said there are two "Louis Auger’s” in St. Peter's but can neither deny or confirm if either one is him. Back to square one...

So here's where I have checked (probably missing a few, but want to get this out sooner than later). I welcome "fresh eyes" on this!
• Death records: I've searched in the Town of Poland's (which is where he died) records as well as the State of Maine's death records. Both records do not list a burial place for him.
• Cemetery records: I've contacted St. Peter's on numerous occasions now and finally after years of insisting a Book of Interments existed for the cemetery (as an old letter referred to it), was able to have them check the original hand-written Book of Interment records and he is not listed. I've also contacted Oak Hill, Riverside, Mt Hope Cemeteries which do not have records for him. I've also checked with the Town of Poland's Historical Society and he is not listed in any of their cemetery books. I've also went to the old farm property in East Poland where Louis died (which is now subdivided) and spoke to the current landowners who assured me there are no gravesites on the properties. I've also bought the St Peter's Cemetery CD and couldn't locate him.
• Obituary and funeral notice: Neither of these which I've found in the Lewiston Sun and Journal list where he is buried. I've checked in Le Messager and have found a "condolence" write-up about him, but nothing about burial.
• St. Louis Church: As Louis' funeral was at St. Louis, I reached out for burial info, but none exists.
• Funeral Records: As Louis' undertaker was FX Marcotte I spoke to Jim Lynch of Dillingham & Sons who informed me that all of FX's records from that time period burned in a fire.
• Church Records: For over a year now I've been trying to access the original church records from St. Peters and St. Joseph's (for other records as well). They have not been able to locate Louis' death to date. I've also gone through a ton of microfilm from LDS looking at both old City and Church records from Lewiston and can't locate his burial info.

Louis T. Auger's obituary

My current plan is as follows:
• Continue to work with Prince of Peace Parish (now the custodian of the old St Peter's and St. Joseph's records) to look once again for his death/burial record. A former secretary there told me there were some old death record books that should be searched through. I've offered to volunteer for them doing lookups as they no longer have a volunteer - am waiting to hear back.
• Contact City of Auburn. While Louis died in Poland, his funeral was in Auburn so there is an inkling of a chance that he might be listed in an old record.
• I hope to meet with a distant cousin soon who apparently has a box of old photos. My very distant hope is he might have a funeral card for Louis.
• Continue to search in Le Messager and other local newspapers of that time period.
• Check with the Town of Poland as it is rumored they have “genealogy books” in the Town Office.
• Blog about this hoping a very helpful distant cousin can help me break down this wall (done!)


  1. I'm surprised you didn't find anything written up describing the details of his funeral service in Le Messager. As most of funeral write-ups I've found in L'Etoil, a historic French newspaper published here in Lowell, MA, have included the burial details as well. Bonne chance avec votre recherche,

    1. Thanks Michelle! I agree with you, his funeral should be listed in Le Messager. If I recall correctly there were a few days missing in Le Messager microfilm at the Lewiston Library around the time of his death, so it is possible it was printed in one of those papers I haven't viewed yet and is "out there", which is why I plan to keep checking Le Messager. I did find his funeral notice in the Lewiston Sun and it conspicuously leaves out the place of burial.

  2. The folks that helped Carlene and me in the City of Poland didn't mention and "genealogy books." We dug around for one of her ancestors (don't remember which one) about a year ago, but only through marriage and death records.

    I know that you have tried the Androscoggin Historical Society...probably unsucessfully as well.

    If Grandpa Auger was a prominent member of the community did he belong to St. Jean Baptist Society? There may be something in their membership rolls. Or a member of the Knights of Columbus? The Knights of Columbus are big on pomp at funerals, if he was a member there may be something in their minutes.

    Also, Biddeford has a French Language newspaper La Justice and the library in Biddeford has it all on microfilm, there may be a mention of him in that newspaper. Slim yet still possible. Good Luck!

    1. Thanks Jan! I'll let you know what I find out about the genealogy books in Poland. Another local genealogist gave me the tip about them.

      That's a great idea about the St-Jean-Baptiste Society as my grandfather and his older brother Alfred both portrayed St-Jean-Baptiste in the parade, so perhaps their father Louis Theophile was a member - will have to look into that. Any idea where one would find their membership rolls?

      I'll put checking the McArthur Library in Biddeford for La Justice on the list as the Auger family did first arrive in Biddeford from Canada back in the 1860's and lived there for a few years before moving to Lewiston - so while it is a stretch, ya never know!

      Great ideas - thanks!

    2. Jan - FYI I've reached out to the Franco Collection at the University of Southern Maine and the Franco-American Heritage Center (former St. Mary's Church)to see if either organization has info about L'Institut Jacques Cartier as apparently that was the group that organized the parade from 1875-1966.