THE JOSEPH VALLEE AKA GIROUX MYSTERY
Around the summer of 1990, my daughter, Tracy Lynn Pearo and her birth father, Dennis Steven Pearo, came to me asking for my assistance in tracing the ancestors of Dennis. It was said in their family that they were part Indian.
I told them that they must first do a little leg work because I needed info to start on. I sent them to Mackinac County Michigan where Dennis said his grandfather, Earl Pearo had been born. Earl had married Mary Valley, daughter of Joseph Vallee and Agnes Bushey. I said, check the courthouse for vital records, wills, land, check the cemeteries for gravetones, census records, try to find members of the family who might provide personal information.
They returned with information. Among the things they had collected was a story about Joseph Vallee, along with a copy of his application for naturalization.
They told me they had talked to a man by the name of John Dutcher. He told them that it was always said in the Dutcher family that the Dutcher’s were related to Joe Vallee. It was also said that Joe Vallee was really named Joe Giroux, He had come from Penetanguishene, Ontario after killing a man in a bar brawl. He fled to Michigan and settled in the Cedarville-Hessel area to escape imprisonment for the murder. They also said that Joe’s wife, Agnes Boucher or Bushey was not really his wife. Hemmmm. What’s with that? Agnes died in Muskegon, Mi in 1930 and is listed as the wife of Joseph Vallee and it gives her parents as Touissant (Sam) Boucher and Josephte LaFreniere.
When Tracy and her Dad told me the story (which I told them sounded rather hokey), I asked them; how are the Dutcher’s related to Joe Vallee and where did this story originally come from? They hadn’t bothered to ask. Several years passed and we just never seemed to be able to find much to confirm any of this mystery. According to the naturalization papers, Joe Vallee gave his birthdate as Feb 28, 1866 in Penetanguishene. He names his wife as Agnes Boucher and children as Josephine bn 06 Oct 1896, Mary bn 09 Aug 1897, Edward bn 10 Dec 1893, Walter bn 09 Dec 1900, Lavina bn 13 Mar 1904 and Ernestine bn 20 May 1907, and Elizabeth E. bn. 29 Oct 1909
After Agnes died in 1930, Joe married Charlotte Watchorn in 1934. On this marriage record he gives his date of birth as Feb 28, 1868 in Penetanguishene, Ontario. He names his parents as Jake Valley and Delfie Valliere. His social security record shows a birth date of Feb 28 1875 in Penetanguishene and names his parents as Jacko Vally and Dephine Vallier.
After Tracy’s death in 1998, I decided that I would continue to look for the proof we needed. I would finish what she started.
I told Dennis that he needed to find this John Dutcher fellow and and ask more questions. He did contact John who told him that if he really wanted to learn more that he needed to talk to Victor Visnaw. He had all the information that we would need.
Victor was living in Flint at the time and I was in Kentwood, a suburb of Grand Rapids. Vic agreed to met Dennis and I at my house and he was bringing all his stuff with him. He arrived with 3 tubs of loose papers. I was overwelmed.
We went through numerous papers and listened as he relayed the story of the murder that took place somewhere near Britt or Bing Inlet Ontario. The story was that there had been a bar brawl and a bunch of men were told to take the fight outside. According to Joe Vallee’s application for naturalization, he said he had arrived in Michigan June of 1900. So we had assumed that the murder took place during that period.
Vic also said that he had spoke to a lady several years back who had attended the funeral of Joseph Vallee. She had been working in the hospital as a nurse when he had been admitted to the hospital. She too was from Penetanguishene and recognized him as being a man named Joe Giroux. I asked Victor what the woman’s name was and he said he didn’t remember and she was now deceased anyway. Vic also said that a friend or relative of his named "Snooks" Morrow had attended the funeral and told him that while he was there, a man from Ontario walked in. He went up to the coffin and said "Yup, that’s my brother, Joseph Giroux!" Then he left.
I really thought that was dumb. Wouldn’t yo think someone would have said something? Wouldn’t someone think it was strange that here’s a dead man that for 60 years everyone had called him Joe Vallee and this stranger walks in and calls him his brother and says he is really Joe Giroux. Wierd.
Vic told us that it was always known in the Visnaw family that Joe Giroux (Vallee) was related to them somehow. Victor’s great grandparents were Jean Baptiste Visnaw and Mary Mathilda Giroux. Mary Mathilda had been born in Collingwood, Ontario according to her death record. She was born around 1837.
With all this information and the crazy stories, I set out to see what I could find.
One night, after endless tries on the internet; I sat back in my chair and staired up at the picture of Tracy on my deck. "Come on little girl, you are up there with all your relatives now, and I know you can help with this mess. Show me where to look. There must be something on this murder story that can confirm the thing." I thought and thought….where can I look, one would think something like that would have been in the news. A newspaper!!! Sure, what place was close by? So I did some exloring to see what towns were around Britt or Bing Inlet. The largest I could find was Perry Sound. So I googled "Parry Sound" newspaper. Lo ad behold, it brought up the "North Star" printed in Parry Sound since 1885. Oh my gosh.
There was actually a place to contact the editor. So I jotted off an email. I explained about the murder mystery and the debate between the name of Joe Vallee and Joe Giroux and he had fled to Michigan in 1900. Was it possible without knowing who had been murdered and without an exact date, could I find proof of this crazy story somehow?
The next day came my reply. Good thing I was sitting down. The letter started out with "Dear Cindy; Thank you for your wonderful story about Joe Vallee Giroux. I hardly know where to begin and I about fell over when I read your letter. My husband’s great grandmother was a Giroux from Penetanguishene. In fact, my mother-in-law remembers her mother talking about the murder and Joe Giroux’s involvement. My father-in-law owns the North Star and I have all the back issues in the files at my desk not 2 feet from where I now write to you."
I had somehow managed to connect with probably the only person around who could provide me with proof of this story. She said it was weird but just less than a week before I wrote, they had been sitting around the dinner table talking about that very topic!!! No one will ever convince me that somehow, Tracy hadn’t had her mitts in this connection somehow. I have no other explaination for it.
I had already contacted several persons in Penetanguishene about this mystery. I was refered to someone who had been said was an expert on many of the local familes including the Boucher and Giroux’s. I contacted him about a birth record for Joseph Giroux or Vallee for the dates 28 Feb 1866, 1868, 1869, 1870, 1872 and 1875. Between the NP; marriage record, census, SS and death record nothing was consistant for the year…only the date of Feb 28th had always been used. The fellow informed me that there was nothing on a Joe Vallee for those years and nothing for Joseph Giroux either.
I had to find something. I had confirmed the story of the murder and Joe Giroux’s involvement, but it still didn’t prove one way or another that Joe Vallee and Joe Giroux were the same person. Well, there was only one thing left to do. I ordered the baptism records from St. Ann’s at Penetanguishene from the LDS. Also ordering the marriages.
I carefully went though the records. Finally!! There it was; dated 28 Feb 1875, Joseph Giroux, legitmate son of Jacques Giroux and Delphine Vallee. He had taken his mother’s maiden name.
I also searched for a Joseph Vallee baptism…….only one Vallee family and that was his mother’s family, from which her father Charles had all girls.
I also made another astonishing discovery….a marriage for Agnes Boucher ( supposed wife of Joe Vallee aka Giroux). The marriage of Alexandre Bergeron of Sillery, Quebec to Agnes Boucher dau of Toussant Boucher and Josephte LaFreniere married 20 Nov 1889 Penetanguishene, Simcoe, Ontario, Canada. I also located four children born to this couple, namely, Edmund/ Edward Bergeron 10 Dec 1893, (note, a birth recorded by the church has had the name Bergeron scratched out and the name Vallee written in pencil over it.; Josephine 06 Oct 1896, Marie Louise 09 Aug 1897 at Britt, and Joseph Walter Bergeron 09 Dec 1900 at Britt. All four children list the parents as Alexandre Bergeron and Agnes Boucher.
Joe Giroux stated on his naturalization papers that he had arrived with his family 30 June 1900 at Sault Ste Marie on the vessel "Chippewa". However, on the 1901 census at Bing Inlet, the family of Alexandre Bergeron with wife, Agnes Boucher, and children Edmund, Josephine, Mary and Walter appear. Also is listed Joesph Giroux. So this is evidence that they did not leave Canada until AFTER the 1901 census there. The family does appear in Michigan for Mackinac Co. on the 1910 and 1920 census.
It has never been determined why Agnes left her husband. I do know that she and Joseph Giroux were second cousins. I have been able to locate a death record for Alexandre Bergeron. He died 18 Mar 1927 in St. Colomb, Sillery, Quebec. The death record says he was the spouse of Agnes Boucher and that she is deceased……..kind of weird since we have her death record at Muskegon, Mi dated 1930; three years after Alexandre’s death. So they had what was considered a country divorce.
So, I have been able to prove this crazy story. The first four children of Agnes Boucher belong to Alexandre Bergeron; while the last four children were fathered by Joseph Giroux. All took the last name of Vallee. Agnes and Joseph were never married as far as I have been able to discover. Another interesting fact, is that on Mary’s marriage record to Earl Pearo, she lists her parents as Joseph Vallee and Agnes Adoskin, yet her death record says Joseph Vallee and Agnes Boucher.Older postNewer post