Biography of Francis German/Germain, Mexico, NY 
& Alexis Courbat, Hastings, NY
By Esther Rancier
        In 1804 Francis German/Germain was born in France.  He immigrated to Mexico, NY before 1842.  He likely came north on the Erie Canal to Syracuse, NY where he probably was approached by a French-speaking agent for George Parish, the large landowner of Oswego County, NY.  He was encouraged to buy land at Colosse, an area of Mexico with a sizeable French Catholic population.  There were few Catholics in the county with which to make common cause.  He may have brought his wife Sophie with him to the US.  
        On 23 September 1846 Francis was naturalized a US citizen.  His witnesses were Frederick Baldwin and Francis LeClare, both of Mexico.  LeClare was the leader of the French Protestants in Colosse.  With LeClare as his friend, the suggestion was strong that German/Germain had made friends with the larger community and was adjusting into his new country.
        A French Catholic church St. Ann’s was erected in the mid-1840’s on French Street atop lot 156.  This church operates to this day.  In the summers it offers mass on Sundays.  There are still some burials in the churchyard.  
        The spelling German was used for Francis in his naturalization papers and in the 1850 census.  The enumeration for his family:
  German, Francis 46 farmer $2000 France
  Sophia              34                     “
  Eliza                   8                    NY
  Selena[sic]          6                     “
This spelling of the name seemed not to have been used further. 
        All the tombstones at the St. Ann’s churchyard were transcribed using the spelling Germain.  Selina/Celenie married ca. 1866 Joseph Larobardiere, another large French Catholic family, but their life together was brief.  They had one child born in 1867, Selina Larobardiere.  The mother Selina died in 1867.  Her father Francis died in 1869.  They were both buried at St. Ann’s.  Francis’s wife Sophia was destined to live a much longer life.
        Daughter Eliza Germain wed Alexis Courbat born in Switzerland of Swiss parents in August 1840.  He was the son of Anthony Courbat, a weaver.  Anthony and his family came to the US in 1845, settling in West Monroe with his wife Margaret Purgrey.  Their children were Alexis, Joseph, John M. and Mary.  This family removed to Hastings in 1865 onto a 170-acre farm. 
        In 1861 Alexis and Eliza Germain married on the farm on which the family lived to 1895.  Their children were Frank, born in 1863; Otis, born in 1870 and Emma, born in 1880.
        Joseph Courbat, Alexis’ brother, born in May 1842, lived at first in West Monroe.  In 1886 he moved to Mallory near his married sister Mary (Courbat) Piquett.  Joseph erected a saw, grist and planning mill.  He became the area’s largest manufacturer and dealer in lumber.  In 1862 he had wed Mary Ann Piquett, daughter of Peter Piquett of Cicero.  Their children were Charles, George, Frank and Octavia.  Charles still lived at West Monroe in 1895.
        By 1880 Alexis Courbat still resided in Hastings, NY.  The Hasting census showed:
  Courbat, Alexis       40 Switzerland farmer
  Eliza                     37     NY        wife
  Francis                  18      “         son
  Otis                      10      “          son
 Jerman [sic] Sophia  65    France    mother-in-law
        Sophia Germain died at age 79 in 1891.  Anthony Courbat died in 1889, age 83.  Eliza (Germain) Courbat passed away in 1904, age 62.  Alexis died in 1908, age 60.  They were all interred at St. Ann’s. 
 Selina Larobardiere wed James Tackley from another French Catholic family.  Their children were Lulu Tackley who wed John Carl Miller; Ethel Tackley; Hazel Tackley who wed Adrian Leon Bourlier; Frances Tackley who married Clayton C. Rio; Marion Tackley who married Carl Larrabee; and George Tackley who wed Raymond Nellis.  Georgie died in 9 May 1981.  
       Joseph Courbat was still alive in 1920 at age 77. In 1930 another Courbat, Otis, son of Alexis and Eliza resided at Jefferson, Butler Co., Iowa.  He was 60 years old, a farmer.  The 1930 Jefferson census said:
Courbat, Otis F. 60 farmer NY
 *Rita M.       60       wife        NY
 Randel O.      23        son        Iowa
 Arlo M.         21       son         “
*Rita likely was a second wife.
       The 1895 Iowa State Census listed Otis, age 25 in Albion, Butler Co., Iowa.  His wife was called Ida, age 25, born in NY. They traveled west through Illinois where they had a daughter Zellie, age 2 in 1895, living in Albion.  Otis died in 1938.  He was buried in the Riverside Cemetery at Shell Rock, Iowa.
Special thanks are due to Carol Gass who so kindly shared some of her research.  

 Sources:

Cemetery Census of the Town of Mexico, Oswego County, New York.  Mexico: Mexico Historical Society, 1984.
Churchill, John C. Landmarks of Oswego County, New York.  Syracuse: Mason, 1895.
Iowa.  Secretary of State.  State Census, 1895.  (LDS microfilm #1020336).
Iowa Cemetery Records.  Available [online] http://ancestry.com [16 December 2003]
N.Y. Oswego Co.  Card File Naturalization Papers.  (LDS microfilm #1010069).
U.S. Census, Jefferson, Butler Co., Iowa 1930.
U.S.  Census, Hastings, Oswego Co., NY 1880 & 1920.
U.S.  Census, Mexico, Oswego Co., NY 1850.
WorldConnect Project.  Available [online] http://worldconnect.rootsweb.com [16 December 2003].  


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Copyright © Dec. 2003 Esther Rancier
Copyright © Dec. 2003 Carol Gass
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