Frank Théophile Labor born 27 March 1863

Théophile Labarre was baptized 5 April, 1863 in the parish of St-Hippolyte in Wotton, Quebec. His baptism record says that he was born 27 march 1863, but doesn’t give the location. He was the fourth of five children of Joseph Genest dit Labarre and Marie-Célina Martin. He was known as Frank T Labor.  In many, but not all records, he claims to have been born in Biddeford, Maine.  No birth record for Frank has been found to support that.  It is possible that he was born in Maine, and then taken to be baptized up in Quebec in his parents’ home parish.  Could they have made that trip in 9 days, in late winter to early spring?  That is a trip of about 240 miles.  However, since the Catholic infants were normally baptized the same or next day, what else might explain the delay of 9 days?  The international borders were more open in those days, and it was common for workers from Quebec to work in the States, moving back and forth. 

At some time, the spelling of LaBarre changed to Labor, as Frank’s father Joseph was called Labor while still in Quebec.  Frank had an older brother and sister, Joseph and Marie-Delimas, who both died as infants.  He also had an older brother Louis and younger brother Marcel. 

When Frank was a young boy, his mother died.  Joseph remarried and started a new family with Lydia DeGoosh.  In the 1871 Canada census, Louis and Theophile lived with their grandparents, Pierre Labor and Marie Louise Manseau, in Ste-Camille.  Marcel was a couple years younger, but was not with them, nor with Joseph and Lydia. 

The family eventually moved to Vermont, where Frank and his brothers all started families.  Frank was counted in the 1880 census.  He worked in a saw mill, boarding with the Nathaniel Folsom family, whose household also included his step-mother’s brother Nathaniel DeGoosh. 

Frank met Isabel “Lizzie” Laclair, daughter of Barnabas LaClair and Sarah Ann Hawkins, at Twin Mountain NH.  The accepted date and place for the marriage is 9 April 1882 in Westmore, VT, although I was not able to confirm that with the city clerk’s office in Westmore, as they are missing the records from 1868 to 1888.   

Frank was described as an uneducated man who could not read or write English, as French was his native language.  He did unskilled labor all his life.  He worked on the railroad building stone bridges.  He worked as a farmer and saw mill laborer.  He was physically very strong and could lift up one end of a rail. Family lore is that while working as a lumberjack, he accidentally cut his foot so bad with an ax that he had to physically cut away the severed part of the foot with his own pocket knife in order to get himself to the doctors. More family lore was that they “had to lock him up when he was drunk so he wouldn’t hurt anyone”.   Photographs show him as a tall man with a mustache, often working with horses. 

In 1887, Frank and his brothers were listed in Barton tax records as he and Marcellus paid $2 poll tax and Lewis had livestock.

In 1897 Frank and his father Joseph owned 3 1/2 acres of land and buildings, valued at $225. This property was later transferred to Anna Labor (Joseph’s third wife), then transferred to Joseph Hanna. 

The 1900 census of Barton lists Frank and Lizzie, with their children. Frank was as a day laborer.  They were a few doors from Lizzie’s sister Josephine LaClair Hemming and family.

Frank and Lizzie had nine children.  Eugene, Bessie, Joseph, Ralph, Lana, George, and Frank were born in Barton.  Joseph had died as an infant and is buried in Barton.  The family moved to Lebanon in about 1902, and Wilmer and Ruth were born there.  Wilmer’s birth record in the Lebanon town report lists Frank as a stone mason.  

The farm house in Lebanon had eight small rooms and a water pump in the kitchen with a barn and an outhouse.   The younger children attended a one-room school about a mile from the house. 

I have not been able to find Frank and Lizzie in the 1910 census.  In 1920, the family was counted in the census in Lebanon.  Frank’s occupation was laborer in the woods.  Family reunions were common in the 1920s.    

Lizzie died in 1924, and she is buried at Willoughby Cemetery in South Barton.  When Frank’s daughter-in-law Helen died, a housekeeper named Mary Badger moved in to help George.  Frank also came and helped care for the grandchildren for about three months.  When Frank went back to his farm, Mary went with him. 

The 1930 census shows Frank living in Lebanon, a laborer doing odd jobs.  His household includes Mary Badger, widow, housekeeper.  A family story is that she shot at him for looking at another woman.   Frank was also listed as a farmer, living on Meriden road, in the 1935 and 1938 Lebanon city directories.  In Frank’s later years, he sold fish house to house from the back of a horse-drawn wagon.  Sometime later a truck was purchased and a driver was hired. 

Frank died 25 July 1939 in Lebanon, and was buried in Barton with his wife and infant son. 

1939 Obituary:  Frank Laber died Tuesday at his home on the Meriden road after a long period of poor health due to heart trouble.  Mr. Laber has lived here for the past 35 years, having come to Lebanon from Barton Vt.  He was born in Biddeford, Maine, April 9, 1858, the son of Joseph and Mary Martin Laber.  In 1882 he was married to Lizzie LeClair who died some years ago.  Eight children were born to them; the following six are now living, Eugene R., Fitchburg Mass., Bessie E. Woodward and Lena N Woodward both of Lebannon, George H. of Haverhill, Mass., Frank D. of Cornish and Ruth L. Stevens of Grantham.  Funeral services were held yesterday at the Laber home, Rev. W. J. B. Cannell officiating, and the remains were taken today to Barton, Vt., for burial.

Note:  The cemetery in South Barton is known as the Willoughby Cemetery, on Willoughby Creek, not to be confused with the Lakeview Cemetery, on Willoughby Lake in Westmore, VT.

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