According to my father his paternal grandmother, Della Gaum, was born in Ohio before later moving to Kansas. This is all that I knew about my great-grandmother before discovering on my own the story of her family. In 1985, I made a trek to the National Archives branch in southern California. At the National Archives, after searching for and finding the Bannon family, I found a census record for my father's family in the 1910 census for St Marys, Pottawatomie Co., Kansas. This entry for August & Della DeBacker confirmed that Della had been born in Ohio. It also listed her father's birthplace as Ohio and her mother's birthplace as Pennsylvania. From her listed age, I was able to determine that she had been born around 1868. Feeling good about finding something so quickly, I decided to look for her family in the 1880 census for Ohio. It did not take me long to find what I believed to be my great-grandmother and her family living in Stark Co., Ohio in 1880.
As it turns out the person that I found was Adeline Gaume (b. 1867), a daughter of Louis Gaume by his second wife. It was not until 1996 when I was contacted by my father's cousin that I realized that I had made a mistake and learned that my Della Gaume was actually a daughter of Frank Gaume and, as it turns out, both related to the Louis and Adeline Gaume that I had previously found.
In tracing the French origins of the Gaume family, I concentrated my efforts on answering a few basic questions. Primarily I focused on determining the relationship of four or five different Gaume families living in Nimishillen Township, Stark County, Ohio in the mid-19th century. Secondly, I wanted to determine the relationship of two or three different Faiver families living in the same area. Primarily in this regard I wanted to know if Elizabeth Faiver, wife of Francis Gaume and my gg-grandmother, was related to Josephine Faiver, wife of Louis Gaume. Lastly, I looked at a number of collateral families that came to be linked with the Gaume and Faiver families in the hope that by learning their French origins this would aide me in discovering my French origins.
Della Gaume (g-grandmother) was born May 21, 1868 in Canton, Ohio of Francis & Della Gaume. It appears that Della's mother died only a few weeks after she was born. According to a pension request filed by Francis Gaume's second wife some fifty years after the fact, Della's mother's maiden name was Pickering and that Francis Gaume and Della Pickering were married around 1867 in Wisconsin.
Della, the daughter, was raised by her grandmother, Elise (Faiver) Gaume; the two appearing together in both the 1870 and 1880 US census for Nimishillen Towns., Stark Co., Ohio. It is unclear as to where Francis Gaume was during the time between the death of his first wife in 1868 and throughout the decade of the 1870's, but it is certain that sometime around 1883 both father and daughter had relocated to Kansas. By this time, a number of relatives had also moved west from Ohio. Della Gaume married Dr. August DeBacker of St Marys, Kansas in 1887, at the age of 19.
The Gaume family along with a number of other families came from the regions of northeastern France and the Swiss Confederation and settled in northeastern Ohio in the 1830's. This was back in the log cabin days of early America and it is hard to imagine what life was like for these early settlers in a region that is now become built up as one the great manufacturing centers of the US.
In an obituary of one of these early settlers, I found the following account:
"Mrs. Lallement ... was born in Bouron, department Haut-Rhin, France... When she was but three years of age, her parents sailed for America from Havre, France, which necessitated a long stage ride from their home in Bouron. The ocean voyage covered a period of forty days, after which they landed at New York and then began another long and tedious journey by canal to Massillon [Stark Co.], Ohio. Their stay at Massillon was short. Mr. Voisard [Mrs. Lallement's father] bought a tract of woodland south of Louisville [Ohio], several acres having been cleared and a small log cabin stood thereon. There were few settlers around here at that time and it was with difficulty that they found their way through the dense woods."
In scanning through obituaries of a number of the early settlers and their descendents in and around Louisville, Ohio I had found the mention of the following place-names of their origins: Territorie de Belfort; Bouron, department Haut-Rhin; Doubs; Britonvillar, Canton Durersey; St. Sauveur, Haut-Saone. Other communities that have come up were Mandeure and Montbeliard in Doubs, Franche-Comte and the town of Lure in Haut-Saone. While these places may seem far-flung with some in Alsace, some in Franche-Comte, and some in Haut-Saone; they are within close proximity of each other, all centering on the tiny Territorie de Belfort near where the border of France meets the borders of Germany (Baden) and Switzerland.
The region that these families settled in is in the northeastern section of Ohio. The county of Stark, Ohio is approximately 50 miles south of Cleveland and 50 miles west of the Pennsylvania state line. In the early days, this area was entirely agriculture with the prime focus being hogs and corn. During the Civil War and in the years following the economy shifted towards manufacturing. In the later part of the 20th century, the largest employers in this area were the steel companies.
The county of Stark is divided into 17 townships; of which Nimishillen township, wherein the town of Louisville is situated, was my primary focus. The township of Nimishillen was formed in 1809 and was named for a stream that runs through the area. The stream was named by the Native Americans of the area who saw the large amounts of black alder, or winterberry, that grew along its banks, and called it Missilla. That coupled with the prefix ni meaning stream or water, gave the township its name. The village of Louisville was first laid out in 1833 and was named for the son (Lewis) of one the founders of the town. It was first called "Lewisville". The name was changed to "Louisville" after the founders realized that there was already another Lewisville in Ohio. Other cities and towns that surround Louisville are Canton (SW), Alliance (NE) and Massillon (west of Canton). Massillon was an important city in the early, pre-railroad days of this region. When the Ohio-Erie Canal opened in 1828, Massillon became known as the "Port of Massillon," with wheat being its principal export. Immense wagons of grain crowded the streets as farmers brought in their crops to be loaded on the canal barges or stored for later marketing.
Five Gaume Families in Mid-19th C. Ohio
In examining the US Census of 1850 for Nimishillen Township., Stark Co., Ohio, I counted four or more distinct GAUME families including the family of Francis Gaume, Sr. (ggg-grandfather) living in the area in the mid-19th C. Another distinct Gaume family, that of August Gaume, shows up by 1860.
There was in Nimishillen township in 1850 the family of Francis Gaume, the family of Julian Gaume, the family of John Gaume, the family of Louis Gaume, and the family of Mathias Gaume. Later on, by 1860, the family of August Gaume appears. All of these families can be traced throughout the rest of the 19th C. and into the 20th. A number of Gaume's left Ohio for the west in the late 19th C., including some of the sons and daughters of my ggg-grandfather, but they all appear to have continued to maintain ties with their Ohio relatives as evidenced by their obituaries appearing in the local paper thirty to forty years after they had left the area.
- John Gaume The first Gaume family found in the 1850 census (US Census 1850 Nimishillen Township., Stark County., Ohio, pg. 475a) is the family of John & Mary Gaume. This family appears in the listing immediately following two MENEGAY families, Francis & Mary Menegay and Claude & Mary Menegay. I mention this because one of the daughters of Francis Gaume, Sr. married a son of Francis Menegay (see Eugenia (Jane) Gaume below).
It was later on that I learned extensively about this family primarily from the records of the St. Louis Catholic Church in Louisville, Ohio sent to me by a fellow researcher, but I have not been able to find any connection with my Gaume family and the family of John Gaume.
- Julian Gaume The Julian Gaume family appears on two pages in the 1850 census (US Census 1850 Nimishillen Township., Stark County., Ohio, pg. 487b & 488a). This family lived in Ohio up until the late 1860’s when they re-located to Kansas. I have not been able to find any connection with my Gaume family and the family of Julian Gaume.
- August Gaume Another Gaume family that shows up in the various records for Nimishillen Township, Stark Co., Ohio is the family of August & Josephine Gaume who probably arrived in Ohio by way of Connecticut in between 1850 and 1860. What I found important about this family is that the obituary for August Gaume gives some detail regarding his place of birth. His obituary, which ap-peared in the Louisville Herald May 4, 1894, states that he was born in Bri-tonvillar, Canton Duersey, Doubs, France.
- Mathias Gaume This is a difficult family to follow because of the way it appears it the 1850 census. In this listing (US Census 1850 Nimishillen township, Stark Co., Ohio, pg. 469b) the head-of-household is shown as the 24 yr. old Joseph Gaume followed by the 58 yr. Mathias, yet the real property value of $800 is listed for Mathias, and there are two Josephs in this family making it very confusing. The word Ditto in column 7 indicates that the four males in this family were all occupied as farmers. I still not certain what the connection is with the family of Mathias Gaume and the families of Francis Gaume and Louis Gaume, but due to proximity to Louis Gaume in the 1850 census they appear to be related.
- Louis Gaume Immediately following the family of Mathias Gaume on the same page (US Census 1850 Nimishillen township, Stark Co., Ohio, pg. 469b) is the family of Louis & Josephine Gaume. It is unclear from the record what the relationship is between Mathias and Louis Gaume. Louis appears to be too old to be a son of Mathias and ages differences make it appear that they were not brothers. The Louis Gaume family lives in the next immediate household from the Mathias Gaume family and ditto marks are used in place of the last name to indicate that the family name is GAUME. It appears likely that Mathias Gaume is an uncle of Louis and Francis, Sr., but Mathias has not been found in the Montecheroux records. I did a quite a bit of research on this family for a number of reasons. When I first began to research the family of my g-grandmother over 15 years ago (1985) I had thought that Della Gaume was Adeline Gaume, a daughter of Louis Gaume by his second wife. This Adeline was born in 1867. I later learned that she was not my g-grandmother and that my Della Gaume was the daughter of Francis Gaume (Jr.), son of the Francis Gaume mentioned earlier. Another reason for interest in this family was that a number of its mem-bers left Ohio and settled for a time in Kansas - a place where other of my ancestors had settled. I was also curious about the first wife of Louis Gaume, Josephine Faiver, and whether or not she was related to Elizabeth Faiver, wife of Francis Gaume, Sr. and mother of Francis, Jr.