There is a Joseph Robitaille, a 20-yr-old Canadian shoemaker, on the 1880 census for Cook County, IL, living as a boarder in Chicago with another Canadian shoemaker. Two years later (the same year in which Joseph and Philomene married), there is a marriage between Joseph Robitaille and Philamina (sic) Meyer (sic) in Cook County. Joseph Robitaille, shoemaker, is in the 1890 and 1892 city directories for Chicago.

Joseph Robitaille, “foreman,” shows up in the St. Louis City Directories for 1906 and 1907, but not in 1908, by which time Joseph Robitall was in Pike County. Joseph is described as a “foreman of a shoe company” on the Pike County census for 1910 and as a shoemaker in the 1911 city directory for Louisiana, Missouri, by which time his wife Philomena is also listed.

Another Joseph Robitaille is in the St. Louis directory for 1906-1908, just a block or two away from the first, described as a shoemaker. Fabian John Robitaille was born in St. Louis in 1907; Joseph and Philomene had a son named Fabian born in Missouri in 1907. It seems highly likely that the earlier Joseph Robitaille is also the later Joseph Robitall.

In Missouri, Mother of the West (1930), Joseph is referred to as a “resident of Montreal, Canada, where Mr. Robitall is superintendent of a shoe company.” This suggests that he returned to Canada, perhaps following the marriage of his daughter in 1908.

The Centennial History of Missouri (1921, see below) says Joseph was the superintendent of the McElroy Sloan Shoe Company. This book says that Joseph was originally from France, went to Canada, and then to Missouri, but census data gives Canada as Joseph’s birthplace.

Philomene’s first name gets spelled lots of ways, and her maiden name does, too. Later 20th century documents, typed rather than handwritten, show it as “Maheau.” The family seems to have gone by Robitaille when they were in Canada and Robitall in the U.S., though that name also gets misspelled. Robitann, for example, is the family name given during one handwritten census to a family with all the same first names as the Robitaille/ Robitalls. 

It is interesting tome that this family is made up of shoemakers, while in France at the same time depth there was another family that owned a shoe factory. Daughters of these two families became my great-grandmothers.

I can see Joseph and Philomene on census documents until 1921, when they had returned to Canada, after which time I lose them. Joseph was 61 in that year, and Philomene would have been 57.