Mystery Monday: Where did all the kids go?

One branch of my family, the Dions, came from Quebec and spent a large portion of their time in St. Bernard, Dorchester, PQ. They had at least 14 children (there are some gaps in time that need to be researched), but not all of their children were baptized at the St. Bernard parish. The neighboring parishes, Ste. Marie, St. Patrice-de- Beaurivage, and St. Elzear were all blessed to host the various baptisms of some of my ancestors. The sponsors (godparents) of most of these children were neighbors from the area where my family farmed.


On the 1871 census for St. Bernard, all of the children of my ancestors born up to this date are accounted for. However, in 1881 there are two children listed whose births I have not yet confirmed, but there are also 4 missing children. One of these children I have confirmed died 7 years prior to this census. Another of these children I have no record past the baptism, so this child too may have died prior to the census. But there are two children, my great great grandmother (who obviously lived to have children of her own), and one younger brother (who lived to be about 80 years old) who are not shown. This means that at least two children are unaccounted for on the 1881 census for this household.

My theory? The other children were probably at a friend's or family member's house at the time of the census. These children were both under 6 years of age at the time, and since my family farmed, it could be that it was harvest season and the children needed to be sent away for the duration. Being under 6, I don't imagine that there were many jobs suitable for the age. Or there could be a wholly different reason. I still have research to do about the time and place of this particular census, which will hopefully reveal some more juicy tidbits.

Another mystery that surrounds this census is why the youngest child listed, George, is reported as being 12 when in fact he would have only been 7 at the time. Is he yet another child who shared a name with a sibling, and one whose birth I need to confirm? Or did the family purposely report a false age for him? Or did the person reporting the information truly believe him to be older? But I digress!

After combing through all 37 pages of the 1881 census for my family in the parish of St. Bernard, I did not find the children. However, knowing that my family had their children baptized at various parishes in the vicinity, my next step will be  to search census records for those areas. Hopefully some light will be shed on where all the kids went. And who knows, maybe I will find more people to add to my tree!

Happy tree climbing!