Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sibling Saturday: The Carriveau Curse


My husband’s maternal grandmother was a Corriveau by birth.  They were a family who seemed to live under a shadow of misfortune. 

The patriarch of the family was Laurent Corriveau, who came from Quebec to Michigan in the late 1800s after his young wife died (probably in childbirth).  He and his second wife Eugenie, who went by “Annie,” settled in Huron County, Michigan—“The Thumb” as Michiganders say—where they began to spell their last name “Carriveau.”  In the 1910 census Annie reports that they had “thirteen children, eleven still living.”  Nine are shown in this picture, with Larry and Annie front and center.

Those eleven children, all long dead now, had interesting lives...  One of the sons, who took over the family farm after he was grown, spent some time as an “inmate” at Pontiac State Hospital—an “insane asylum” as they were called then.  Another was the “responsible son,” who had no children of his own, but took in a younger sister after her divorce and was guardian of a nephew.  Another son was a hunchback, according to his WWI draft card.  One daughter was married young and had nine children—six of whom she raised alone and in severe poverty, dishing out some “pretty severe punishments” on them, according to one son.  Another daughter married at age 16 to a man of 55; the last two of her many children were most likely the children of her husband’s nephew.  (After her elderly husband died, she lived with the nephew for many years as man and wife.)  Another daughter, it was said by her nephew (my father-in-law), committed suicide.  Eliza, my husband’s grandmother, died in her thirties after she fell backwards and was drenched in boiling oil.  One of Eliza’s sisters married an abusive alcoholic at age 16; she and her two young sons ended up living with her brother.  Another sister also married young, to a man of the same last name (brothers?), and she ended up the same way—leaving him, and moving back in with her parents.

One son was a steeplejack who returned to Canada as a young adult, and apparently escaped the family curse (as far as I know)—as did one other son, the youngest. 

How I came to research the Carriveaus is a story I told in a post called “For the Love of Norman.”

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