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October 12, 2010

Lost & Found: L. Pellerin Metal Trunk - a Genealogy Treasure

Hubs and I share a love of antiques as well as a love of genealogy and history. At an antique auction this weekend, we spotted a beat-up metal storage box.

At first we thought it was an Army footlocker. It was painted black and had a name and address stencilled on the top and two of the sides. Its rough shape couldn't hide how well made it is. Although the stencilling was faded and worn on the top, the sides were fairly clear so the name was legible. Hubs best guess re age of the box is 1900 to 1950, and probably closer to 1930-1950.

Impulsively we bid on and won this well-used item. It was the name and address that hooked us. The box was sent by L. Pellerin in India to himself in Shawinigan Falls, Quebec. Of course we wanted to find out who L. Pellerin was and do a little genealogy research on him!

Part of the street address was missing. We could only read "188 _RIGON STREET" I used Google Maps to look at all the street names in Shawinigan and easily found Rue Frigon (Rue means Street). Clicking on Street View brought me to an actual view of the street and perhaps the very home where this box was delivered!

A quick Google search revealed only one L. Pellerin in Shawinigan Falls - Louis Arthur & Albertine Pellerin of Shawinigan Falls Quebec had a son Emile Roger Pellerin who was killed 24 November 1943 while serving in the Royal 22e Regiment RCIC. Louis seemed a good candidate for our trunk with the name L. Pellerin

The Drouin Collection on revealed the marriage of a Louis Arthur Pellerin to Albertine Caron in 1917. Louis was living in Trenton Ontario (a Canadian Air Force base) but the couple married in Shawinigan.

Next I searched for and found Louis in several census records using

In 1891 he was in St. Maurice, St. Etienne des Gres which is Trois-Rivieres, with parents Arthur and Annie (which confirmed the marriage record). Shawinigan is considered part of this area. He was 2 years old so his date of birth was circa 1889.

The 1911 census found them in the same general area. It was very difficult to find the family and I had to use many tricks on - wildcards, no names, dates of birth only, etc. The family was misindexed badly as "Pattersn" Yes - no "o", not "Patterson" but "Pattersn" which isn't even close to the actual name of Pellerin. Louis was misindexed as "Ls"

We were still not certain that our trunk belonged to Louis who was born in 1889. With hubs leaning more towards 1930 to 1950 as the time period, I looked for a son with the initial "L". Once again the Drouin Collection on came to the rescue and I found a son named Joseph Lucien Yvon was born in July 1929 in Shawinigan. It is almost certain he would be called Lucien and not Joseph. Did he own the trunk?

I think we have found the right family and the trunk belonged to either Louis Pellerin (born circa 1889) or his son Lucien born 1929. One of them went to India (we think the sending address is Kundara, S. India) and shipped his trunk back home. Was it military? We are not sure although the trunk does resemble a military footlocker. Did he ship his military kit back home? Was it a personal trip? Did he send back gifts for family members?

Even though we are not sure of the provenance of this trunk we feel a connection now to the family who owned it. And that has changed our minds on what to do with the trunk. At first hubs was going to repaint it after cleaning up the rust. But we don't want to paint over the name! So hubs is going to carefully and gently clean it, then leave it as is.

Perhaps someone who knows the family or who is a descendant will read this blog post and contact me. Perhaps one day we'll know the full story of L. Pellerin in India shipping something back home to Shawinigan Falls Quebec.

Meantime we will continue to treasure this little find and hubs is going to store his own genealogy family treasures in it (his baby blanket crocheted by his great-grandmother, his grandfather's silver christening cup, various family documents etc)


Anonymous said...

Bonjour, parlez-vous français? I'm sorry, I speak very bad english.You need a traduction.

Louis-Arthur Pellerin et Albertine Caron étaient mes grand-parents. Ce coffre ne leur a pas appartenu, et leur fils mort à la guerre était mon oncle que je n'ai pas connu, car je n'étais pas encore né. Je peux vous assurer que ce coffre ne leur a pas appartenu et qu'ils n'ont jamais demeuré sur la rue Frigon à Shawinigan. Auusi, personne n'est jamais allé en Inde. Il s'agit donc d'un autre L. Pellerin. De toute façon, mon grand-père siganit toujours L.A Pellerin oiu son nom au complet qui était Louis-Arthur Pellerin.

Je susi désolé pour vous, mais je suis sûr que vous trouverez.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Bonjour, je viens tout juste de vous écrire. J'ai oublié de vous dire que mon grand-père, monsieur Louis-Arthur Pellerin (ainsi que ma grand-mère, madame Albertin Caron-Pellerin), n'a jamais eu de fils né en 1929. Voilà une raison de plus pour laquelle ce coffre ne peut lui appartenir. Leur fils, Émile-Roger Pellerin, mort à la deuxième guerre mondiale, est né en 1918 à Shawinigan. Ils ont eu quatre autres enfants, et le plus jeune s'appelait Yvan (mon autre oncle)

Good luck again!