Baraboo Name Study

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Location: United States of Americamap
Surname/tag: Baraboo
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How to Participate

Please contact the Study's coordinator Gerald Baraboo or post a comment at the foot of the page. If you have any questions, just ask. Thanks!


  1. This is a One Name Study to collect together in one place everything about one surname and the variants of that name. The hope is that other researchers like you will join our study to help make it a valuable reference point for people studying lines that cross or intersect.
  2. List the category and sticker on all Baraboo family profiles.
  3. To further link the family profiles to their family history.
  4. To add at least one DNA report of a Baraboo family member.
  5. To add historical documents, images and bibliography information in regard to the Barbeau French and French Canadian history and their connection to the the Baraboo River.
  6. To list the national and state flags of Baraboo families.

Baraboo River Surveying History

The name Baraboo derives from French ancestry. The Baraboo family evolved in North America from Barbeau.

The name Baraboo is not found anywhere else but in the United States of America.

An American surveyor under direction of The United States Congress with specific legal instructions to survey the Wisconsin Territory in 1832 inadvertently surveyed a river that drained into the Wisconsin River that was owned by the Winnebago Nation. The surveyor was of Scottish roots. He verbally heard the name of the river from the native Winnebago Indians who owned the river and later from others at Fort Winnebago, including an Indian agent and his wife, Juliette A. McGill Kinzie, who recorded her translation of the river's name in her book. The surveyor listed in his field notes as he was placing surveying stakes, describing the geography and Indian villages located on the "Barraboo River."

Years later when the river was gained by treaty to the United States the river was named "Baraboo" by the supervising surveyor at that time, probably taken from the notes of the inadvertent survey. There was a further attempt to shorten the name to Barboo but that failed and the river was named Baraboo. The Scottish roots of the surveyor may have played a part given that Beau is often spelled Boo in the Scottish language.

The United States surveyors were given instructions to follow the established names of rivers they came upon if possible. The Baraboo River had already been mapped with French names and the first surveyor heard the river called Barribault by a Winnebago Chief and the Indian agent at Fort Winnebago . (See Baraboo River History.)

Baraboo Family Name transition from Barbeau

Onezime "Levi" Barbeau (1843-1932) ( represents the first Barbeau dit Boisdore generation to change the Barbeau surname to Baraboo when he became an American. He moved from Sainte Maritine, Chateaugay County, Province of Canada to New York and made the change after moving from New York to Wisconsin sometime between 1870 and 1890.

Onezime and two of his Barbeau brothers, Joseph and Louis, all migrated to the Wisconsin and Michigan area at about the same time. They each had married three Menard family sisters of the same Menard family.

Levi Barbeau changed his last name spelling to Baraboo after he established himself in Egg Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin. He and his wife named all their children born in Wisconsin Baraboo. Their children born in New York were named Barbeau.

His brother Joseph may have changed his spelling to a variation "Barboo," as many of his children born in Wisconsin and Michigan carried Barboo as their surname. His memorial stone also is spelled Barboo.

His brother Louis may have also used Barbeau and Baraboo as a spellings; however his children born in Wisconsin and Michigan kept the Barbeau spelling. Louis's memorial lists Barbeau.

Reason for changing Barbeau to Baraboo by Levi

Onezime Levi Barbeau may have changed his surname to "Baraboo" as a part of his naturalization process. He may have adopted the spelling used by a Wisconsin federal census taker. He may have Americanized his name in order to make a transition at a time and location in Wisconsin when Canadian-French settlers in Wisconsin were trying to fit in. The family oral history does not provide an exact reason.

The French custom of families changing their given name with variations when they migrated is well established especially among French siblings. The research I've collected suggests that he probably followed the French custom to change his family name for his descendants when they migrated to Wisconsin to distinguish his family line from his brothers.

The name Baraboo was already established as a river, city, and geographical region in Wisconsin when Levi and his brothers arrived. I think Levi knew the Barbeau family history connection to the Baraboo River passed by his ancestors to him. He may have chosen to honor his ancestral Barbeau voyageur roots that are a well-known part of the Baraboo River French history while Americanizing his name to Baraboo .

Levi and Mary's first daughter, Delia, was born in New York and given the surname Barbeau. Levi's other children born in Wisconsin were given the surname Baraboo.

He married Marie Menard and on the marriage license his name is spelled Onezime Barbeau.

Some of Joseph Barbeau (Barboo) descendants who were named Barboo later changed their last names back to Barbeau.

River de Barboux (Baraboo) River French History

The Baraboo River is a tributary of the Wisconsin River, about 70 miles long, in south-central Wisconsin in the United States. Via the Wisconsin River, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.

Barbeau Family of Voyageurs

Family of Voyageurs

The Barbeau voyageur trading history is first recorded circa 1632 ( Kirk Brothers History in Quebec) when Joseph Barbeau tried by force while standing on a French frigate looking out at Quebec City to retrieve his furs. He was trying to persuade and retrieve his furs from the the (English) Kirk brothers who had taken control Quebec by force. Joseph alleged his furs were in a Quebec store house and that The Kirk brothers had illegally confiscated them.

Research demonstrates there were several generations of Barbeau Voyageurs of Montreal, Laprairie, Quebec and Prairie du Rocher (Illinois). One group of Barbeau families together with other Nouvelle French families formed an independent Nouvelle France fur trading company in Montreal circa 1699-1706.

One of the Barbeau dit Boisdore voyageurs was also the resident superintendent for fur trading at Fort Michilimackinac between 1730-1770. (Francois). He acted as a god father to several Indian family baptisms.

Circa 1750-1800 lists several Barbeau brothers, (Francois, Joseph and Louis) working under contract as Voyageurs in the region that later became Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan.

Circa 1790-1810 list multiple Barbeau Voyageur contracts, (Simon, Joseph, Louis) in Osage River, Platte Rivers, Northwest Canada and the Missouri-Illinois areas.

James Stanley Goddard, surveyor, noted in his official record that the river known today as Baraboo was called "River de Barboux" in 1766.

Goddard, also a fur trader at that time, knew and traded with the Barbeau voyageurs who were established in Montreal and at Fort Mackinac Trading Post on Mackinac Island. (Michilimackinac) One Barbeau was resident fur trader at Fort Mackinac.

Circa 1830-1834, Pierre Barbeau dit Boisdore of Sault Ste. Marie acted as successful voyageur and agent with the Northwest Fur Trading. He later was an agent for the American Fur Trading Company. He is known to have traded in the Baraboo River region with the Winnebago Nation and may have had one daughter born there. Pierre was interviewed by a journalist and stated that the Baraboo River was named for him and his ancestral Barbeau family Voyagers who were traders on the river. Pierre Barbeau dit Boisdore of Sault Ste. Marie is a voyageur working independently and as a clerk with the Northwest Fur Trading and American Fur Trading Companies in the Wisconsin Territory region. According to family oral history In the winter of 1834 Pierre and his wife are trading with the Winnebago Nation in the area when she gave birth to their daughter Henriette.

Wisconsin's , Baraboo river is named for its Nouvelle France and Canadian Voyageurs who traded with the Indian Nations in the area over several generations .


Juliette A. McGill Kinzie, Wau-Bun, the "Early Day" in the North-West (Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1992)

Research Notes:

Note: The supposition that Onezime Levi Barbeau deliberately changed his surname from Barbeau to Baraboo rather than it being changed by census takers is a strong possibility.

He came from the French custom of French siblings often adjusting their surnames to distinguish their family line, especially when they migrated. Levi was able to read and write French and was married to Marie Menard who was fluent in French and English. On the initial census in Wisconsin he is listed as Barbeau. His marriage certificate from New York is listed as Barbeau. His first child born in New York is listed as Barbeau. He was brought up in his Barbeau family household and attended Catholic school. He certainly was able to distinguish and know the spelling of his given name.

The spelling of his name Baraboo appeared during his 1880 federal census. It stayed consistent to 1930 except for the 1900 census when he is listed as Barbeau. Levi first purchased land in Door County, Egg Harbor Township about 1869-1870 and he is listed as Barbeau. In 1884 he purchased land in the village of Egg Harbor and it is listed as Baraboo. He had a hotel and grocery business and he was known as Baraboo. From 1874-1884 he named his five children Baraboo. Levi probably changed his name sometime between 1870 and 1874.

His brothers and other family members during the same period did not change their names to Baraboo. Levi was close to his family members in location, business and church. He would have had their knowledge, cognitive sense and advice. The three Menard sisters who were wives of the brothers knew of their husband's surnames, could read and write and would have been aware of name transitions, especially how they might affect their children's surnames.

One consistent piece of information from the family verbal histories is that "there were three brothers who had a falling out and they changed their names." The identifies of those brothers were not shared when that information was collected from several Baraboo-Barbeau family lines. [1]

Note: It is known that Barbeau voyageurs traded and wintered on the river that became named Baraboo. The research I've conducted includes information and the possibility that other French Canadian voyageurs might have traded in the same river area. Baribeau, Barbaud, Barbeaux and Baribault are family surnames to consider.



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