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 Antoine Dominique Canivet has perhaps been one of the more difficult individuals to conduct research on. Not much was known about Antoine through my lineage, thus I basically happened upon his name after much work. In fact, I knew nothing of him until one day I received a copy of Tandy's and Dollie's application for marriage[1]. Tandy listed his father as "Antoine Canevit." After years of research and conferring with other researchers, it is quite obvious that Antoine is the family link back to France. The tough part has been to trace him directly to a family line in France. This is due to several pieces of information that are missing still.

My most recent information has been obtained mainly from Arthur K. Hall who has conducted an enormous amount of research on Antoine's life and family. Arthur's lineage descends from James Edgar Canavit, the eldest son of Antoine and Martha Canivet. This latest information has been obtained through correspondence with Arthur, as well as from his book, The Gin Ridge Clans.

Antoine was born in France (city still unknown) on July 15, 1822 [2]. It is still unknown the exact date which Antoine came into the United States. Some family lore mentions that Antoine actually came to and fro the United States several times before settling in Missouri [11].

Throughout Antoine's lifetime, he probably saw an enormous amount enough political instability that existed in the dynamic world at the time. Consider that the 1820's was a time where King Charles X attempted to restore the monarchy as it existed before the French Revolution. As a result of the many political blunders of the monarch, such as allowing inflation to rise as well as taxation, public resentment led to political disaster. In July of 1830, public fighting led to Charles X's abdication, and a new constitutional monarchy was replaced by Louis-Phillippe. Later, France had another revolution in 1848 which yielded to a military dictatorship for a time under General Louis Cavaignac.

Oral stories handed down to Arthur Hall suggest that Antoine fled from France perhaps around the 1848 revolution that led to many of the aristocracy to the guillotine. Arthur mentions in The Gin Ridge Clans that a family story has been passed down which mentions Antoine was the only son of a French noble family who was educated to enter the priesthood. One story also passed down was that Antoine and his family lived in the only castle that was within the city limits of Paris. Arthur Hall notes that it would have been unusual for Antoine to be the only son of a wealthy family to be groomed for priesthood since the inheritance of the estate would be in jeopardy. Searches conducted by myself and Arthur Hall have not produced the actual point of entry into the US. I have concentrated on New Orleans as a possible point of entry, and Arthur Hall has conducted searches on New Orleans and Galveston. Currently, many of the ship registers in these ports are being transcribed and placed on the web on various sites. Finding this ship is an important piece of information for the Canivet family in France, who can then narrow the search for Antoine's descendents. Arthur Hall mentions in The Gin Ridge Clans that there was a family story that stated Antoine worked his way across the Atlantic Ocean on a cattle boat. If this story is true, it would explain the difficulty in finding Antoine listed as a passenger on a vessel as many of the crew of these cattle boats were not listed on any register.

Not much is known about Antoine's initial contact with the new world. There are family stories that Antoine came from a wealthy family, but since he fled from France he may not have had much money. He did settle in Missouri, and many French settled in the area around St. Louis. In fact, the Ozarks seems to have been named for the French phrase "Aux Arcs" which means "with the bows" [11], perhaps so used as a way of identifying the original denizens of the mountainous region . I surmise that Antoine lived in Iron County for a time, perhaps working in a pottery that was reputed to have been quite prominent (operated by Elihu Shepard) [11]. This is based on documentation that he was a resident of Iron County when he purchased his land later in Shannon County in 1858. Iron County is located Northwest of Shannon County by way of Reynolds County and was founded in 1857 [15]. Oral tradition held that Antoine was a potter, but he could have easily worked the iron mines in the county as well to save for his eventual purchase [11].

Antoine married Martha Jane Singleton on March 27, 1853 in Washington County, Missouri, at the county courthouse located in Potosi. For a time, it appears that they lived in Iron County, Missouri [4] where Antoine may have worked for some time in some of the iron mines. Perhaps Antoine did well enough as a potter that he was able to save the money to become a landowner. It should be noted that land in southern Missouri was significantly cheaper  than in the north (20 dollars an acre in the north, compared to about 12 1/2 cents and acre in 1858), which made owning land near Antoine's residence in Iron County even more practical. In 1858, Antoine purchased land in Shannon County, Missouri, and owned 160 acres of land there (valued at $500.00 in 1868) [4]. This land is currently located off of Shannon County Road P 289. To get there, travel south on Missouri Highway 72 from Bunker. After driving a few miles, turn right on County Road P. Drive on this road for a few more miles until you go down a long hill where a creek exists at the bottom. Right before reaching the creek, Shannon County Road P 289 is on the right, and it is a gravel/dirt road. The current farm, owned by Dean Lanham, is located about one mile down the dirt road [14]. The land is quite hilly and has quite a few pine trees, thus the majority of the land was not well-suited for farming. Allen Jones recalled that Antoine and his family raised sheep on the land as well as cotton [12]. They had four children: James Edgar (born December 25, 1852, probably in Iron County, Missouri. Some information suggests that he was in fact born in Pilot Knob, MO); Rachael (born September 11, 1856, probably in Iron County as well); Antoinette (born May 28, 1864 in Shannon County, Missouri); and Tandy (born February 15, 1867 in Lewistown, Illinois) [5].

The Civil War broke out in 1861, dividing the state of Missouri in half and sending turmoil throughout Shannon County. Family legend recalled a battle that occurred on the Canivet homestead. Antoine refused to ally himself with either side, having to hide once for three days because southern sympathizers believed Antoine was a northern sympathizer. [11] Allen Jones also noted that Martha nursed some soldiers from both the North as well as the South.

During one skirmish that occurred on the Canivet homestead, Antoinette removed a bayonet from a fallen soldier. The bayonet is still in the family to this day. Also, research by Arthur K. Hall seems to indicate that there really were no battles that were fought on the Canivet homestead, yet it is quite possible that skirmishes did occur. [11]

After the Civil War concluded, Shannon County was in a state of disrepair. Antoine took his family and fled in 1866, probably because "the carpetbaggers were worse than the soldiers"  [12]. The period after the Civil War was harsh and many outlaw gangs ran the gamut through Missouri. Quantrill's Raiders and Bloody Bill Anderson's gangs were among those that struck fear into the denizens of Missouri. Jesse and Frank James and the Younger Brothers rode with Quantrill's Raiders who were known for being exceptionally violent and brutal to Union soldiers and sympathizers [13]. Arthur Hall noted that the Quantrill Raiders started raiding Shannon County between 1863 and 1865 [11]. Besides the raiders, there were other outlaws who roamed the county, often called "jayhawkers". These gangs did not ally themselves to either the north or the south who terrorized families to get whatever they wanted. The Union soldiers often tried to arrest these jayhawkers and bushwackers.

The family met with Elizabeth McPeak Singleton, Martha's mother, who was widowed and living in Fulton County, Illinois. For some reason, Antoine's life was in danger, and he hid in the back of a wagon through the day as they rode to Illinois. There, Antoine would start over again, and he took on a job as a laborer [11]. Initially, he was planning to return the family back to Missouri once things stabilized. In any case, Antoine would never return to Missouri, and his land was sold for $98 to pay taxes before 1870 [6].

Antoine himself seems to have been quite educated. On one of the documents that he signed, he did so with a paraph which is quite elegant. Arthur K. Hall seems to believe that it could lead a great deal of information for the family one day, as do I. Family legend indicates that Antoine could speak German, French, and probably English [11]. He seems to have been an artist, a potter, a glassblower, and a farmer [11]. Not much about Antoine really remains aside from his tombstone. Eddie Canevit possesses a musket that once belonged to Antoine. A rumor exists that some dishes Antoine made for Martha remain in a storm cellar on the old homestead in Missouri; however prior investigations have not revealed them.

Antoine passed away on April 18, 1868 in Lewistown, Illinois at the age of 45 [7] after a long, lingering illness [11]. He is buried at Apple Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant Church, in Lewistown, Illinois. He was buried with two bibles, apparently one written in French and one in German. Years later, his body was exhumed and the bibles were removed. The pages disintegrated in a few days, yet what was readable was believed to be in German and French [11].

Three years later, Martha re-married to Jonah Scalf on July 28, 1871[8]. Stories have it that Jonah Scalf married quite a few times, and his marriage with Martha was short lived [9]. She later remarried to Dan Harris who would precede her in death[11].

A lot of ambiguity resulted concerning my family heritage after Antoine's death. I am not sure if Martha was literate enough to know how to spell the family name, although the 1870 census listed her as able to read and write [10]. I noticed that on the administrator's bond which served to record Antoine's estate (Antoine's name is spelled Canivett and Canivet on the documents) Martha did not sign any documents and had someone else represent her (probably an attorney). Later, some of the children would spell their names as CANAEVIT, while James Edgar spelled his CANAVIT. Antoine's last name is spelled CANAEVIT on his tombstone.

Martha continued living in Illinois until her death. Martha's parents were Joshua Singleton and Elizabeth McPeak, and Martha was born in Russell County, Virginia [11]. She was born September 22, 1835, and died November 17, 1906 in Canton, Illinois.


Children of Antoine and Martha:


James Edgar Canavit - Click here to view James' web page for information about he and his family


Rachael Canaevit - Click here to view Rachael's web page for information about she and her family


Antoinette "Netty" Canaevit - (Born May 28, 1864, Shannon County, Missouri; married Alexander Pollitt; died December 25, 1945)


Tandy Nathaniel Canaevit - Click here to view Tandy's web page for information about he and his family

Note: All references to The Gin Ridge Clans are copyrighted by Arthur K. Hall. Any reprint or publication or use otherwise is prohibited without written consent of the author.


Sources Cited

[1]    Office of the County Clerk, Fulton County, Illinois, Application for a Marriage License, Tandy Canevit and Dollie R.M. Collins, dated 30 December 1891.

[2]     IGI Record, Batch Number M515901, FamilySearch® International Genealogical Index™,

[3]    National Archive Record, Cash Entry Certificate Number 33917, Land Title Deed, Jackson County, Missouri, listed Antoine D. Canivet as owner of land, September 2, 1858.

[4]    Office of the County Clerk, Fulton County, Illinois, Administrator's Bond, The Estate of Antoine D. Canivet, May 4, 1868.

[5]    IGI Record, Batch Number M515901, FamilySearch® International Genealogical Index™,

[6]    Correspondence with Arthur K. Hall, author of  The Gin Ridge Clans, March 24, 2000, via e-mail.

[7]    Office of the County Clerk, Fulton County, Illinois, Administrator's Bond, The Estate of Antoine D. Canivet, May 4, 1868.

[8]    Office of the County Clerk, Fulton County, Illinois, Marriage License, Jonah Scalf and Martha (Matty) Canaevit, dated July 22, 1871.

[9]    Correspondence with Arthur K. Hall, author of The Gin Ridge Clans, March 31, 2000, via US mail.

[10]    US Census, dated 1870.

[11]    Hall, Arthur K (1998). The Gin Ridge Clans. Decorah, IA: Anundsen Publishing Co.

[12]     Allen Jones, from The Gin Ridge Clans.

[13]    Reidel, M., & Welsh, W. (2002). Criminal violence: Patterns, causes and prevention. Los Angeles, CA: Roxbury Publishing Company.

[14]    Hall, Arthur K (1998). The Gin Ridge Clans, and Personal Visit August 23, 2003.

[15]    Iron County, Missouri, Webpage at Rootsweb,

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