When a small boy about 13 years of age, Aunty Dubeau (my father's sister), speaking to my father, called him Moreau and, after recollecting it and being inquisitive, I asked Aunty why she called him Moreau. She stated that was what they called him when he was young. He had drove Old Doctor Moreau around making his official calls and for that reason he got the soubriquet of Moreau. At another time, while speaking of the family, she called them Les Commissiere and, again being inquisitive, I asked her what she meant by that. She said that the older members of her family, her grandfather and great-grandfather, were police officers and were called Monsieur Le Commissiere (an office handed down from father to son). Her father, Augustin, being a man of small build, not being of requisite size and weight, to become such was not acceptable. In that age of time, it was all physique and no brain. In the present age neither qualification is necessary. In July, 1870, my father sent me to College at Terrebonne, P. Q. Canada, a village about 18 miles north of Montreal. On arriving there I visited all of my father's folks, one of whom, Uncle Vanant, living at La Chime, 10 miles from Montreal. He and his children were called Les Commissiere. One day, while strolling through the town, he said "Allo, Allo," to an old frenchman and said, "Vien ici je vu que-tu recontre, le garçon de Moreau Commissiere." I said, "Non, Non, le garçon de Frank Robert." They both laughed.
In or about 1896 Uncle Theophile, a brother of my father, came on a visit to St. Paul with us and we discussed the family relationship. He stated that originally we sprang from the Scottish race. He further said that Lord Nelson sent his son to Canada for some reason or other. The son, also a Lord, on leaving took with him valet named Robert. Soon after his arrival, with a lot of money at his command, bought a large tract of land near Cóte de Neige, a suburb to Montreal. He established or formed a Corporate Government, making himself the Magistrate and Robert, his valet, le commissiere de police. Hence the name of Robert with its succession of Les Commissiere. Both married Canadian Belles.
Believe it or not
However, true or not, the writer was for nearly 30 years a Peace-officer, and the son of Vanant Robert (above mentioned), Napoleon Robert, was Chief of Police, and Chief of the Fire Department at La Chime for more than 30 years.
In 1867 or 1868, August Robert (my father's eldest brother) left St. Paul, Minn., and went to California and got work at Vallejo Shipyards. At an election there, he registered his name as August Commissiere. On election day, he presented himself to vote giving the name of August Robert. He was immediately pinched and put in jail and it took several months to procure affidavits and depositions to prove and reconcile the fact that the name of Robert and Commissiere were one and the same.
At an earlier date, this same August Robert went to New York City to work and, shortly afterwards, his brother Theophile, joined him there, both working for the same company. On payday, the paymaster handed August his envelope then, handing Theophile his pay, looked up and said to August, "how come your name is Commissiere and your brother's name is Robert."
August's wife was an invalid and Aunty Dubeau went there to take care of her. She died, leaving two children (Billy and Caroline). I met them both. Uncle Dubeau went to N.Y. City and there was married to Aunty. August married 3 times and was, it is said, the father to 26 children
................................................ Believe it or Not
The Genealogy (The Family Pedegree)
Believe it or Not: This story is the only place where I have seen this formula in Pip's stories. I believe it is a sign he did not believe this one. The story of the family getting the name Robert from the Scottish valet of a son of Lord Nelson is not believable and is contradicted by Pip's own hand written note describing his ancestors to well before Nelson's time.
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This page last modified on Wednesday, November 21, 2007