Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Tanguay Snafu: When cousins have the same name and get married around the same time.

I'm trying to document all of the blood relatives with their baptism, marriage, and burial records from Drouin.   Up until now I've been mostly relying on Tanguay for information (it's far easier to digest since it's printed), but I've found several situations where Tanguay appears to get his facts wrong.

A user on pointed me to the web site that has been going through the entire Drouin collection, identifying people mentioned in events which has been helpful, despite the extra expense (about $10/month).   The nice thing about this is that for the marriage records, they show the identification of the parents, making following trees easier to do.

Last night I came across this conundrum:  while looking up the children of 1st cousin 9x removed Marie-Françoise Guimond (1685-1725) and her (second) husband Joseph DeLavoye (1678-1727) I found that her son Augustin's marriage didn't agree with what's listed in Tanguay.   He's listed as marrying Marguerite Michaud sometime in the late 1720's.   But the LaFrance/Drouin record shows him marrying Angélique Duchesne (7 Feb 1729).   Some more poking around in Tanguay (because the DeLavoye/Michaud marriage doesn't seem to have a Drouin record) finds the Duchesne marriage to an Augustin DeLavoye, but with Augustin's father as Jean,  not Joseph, and Augustin as a widower, having married Angélique Mignier in 1728.

Now, Jean and Joseph are both sons of René DeLavoye (1628-1696) and Anne Gaudin (1639-1678), so the two Augustin's are cousins.   So - this much is true:

We know there are three marriages mentioned in Tanguay, two of which we have Drouin records:
  1. 7 Jan 1728 to Angélique Mignier;
  2. 7 Feb 1729 to Angélique Duchesne;
  3. (date unknown, probably in 1729) to Marguerite Michaud.
According to Tanguay, it's Augustin, son of Jean who has marriages #1 and #2 (presumably Angélique Mignier dies soon after the marriage, and thus, when he marries Angélique Duchesne he is a widower).   Meanwhile, Augustin, son of Joseph marries Marguerite Michaud.

But the Drouin records say differently.   For marriage #2, it's Augustin son of Joseph who marries Angélique Duchesne in 1729:

It's right there at the end of the third line of barely legible scribbling: "fils de feu Joseph Lavoye et de Françoise Guimond" ("feu" indicating that Joseph died before the marriage).    OK - so Tanguay got it wrong and has his Augustin's swapped.

Oh - were it THAT simple.   But usually the marriage records indicate when someone is a widow or a widower, and here that's not the case.   Augustin's marital status is single.    Now we have to go back to the first marriage listed in Tanguay, to Angélique Mignier in 1728:

OK - here I'm relying on the people at the Québec Genealogy site to have done the transcription because I cannot for the life of my READ this.   But according to them, this says that Augustin's father is Jean, and - like in the other marriage record - Augustin is single at the time of this marriage.

So, Tanguay has it right - for THIS marriage - but is wrong about the second marriage.  

What about marriage #3?   There isn't a Drouin microfiche image to go blind trying to decipher, but there is another clue.   Marguerite Michaud has her birth and death dates:  1707–1784.   Her first child is Joseph-Marie baptised on 18 Feb 1730 (and that record is in Drouin) with a whole set of children born out to 1750.   So if she got pregnant immediately after marriage, that means this marriage had to have taken place no later than May 1729.   If the records are correct in that both the Jan 1728 and Feb 1729 marriages were to Augustins who were not widowers, than the only arrangements of things that makes sense has to be:

  1. On 7 Jan 1728, Augustin — son of Jean and Madeleine Boucher — marries Angélique Mignier;
  2. Angélique Mignier dies within the next 12 to 15 months.  No children.
  3. On 7 Feb 1729, Augustin — son of Joseph and Françoise Guimond — marries Angélique Duchesne.
  4. Sometime in the spring of 1729, the widower Augustin — son of Jean and Madeleine Boucher — marries Marguerite Michaud.
So - there are three errors in Tanguay:

  1. Augustin (son of Joseph) does not marry Madeleine Boucher;
  2. Augustin (son of Jean) does not marry Angélique Duchesne;
  3. Augustin (son of Jean) does marry twice, but it's to Madeleine Boucher, not Angélique Duchesne. 

Whew!  I'm glad we've straightened this out.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Intermarriages: Clouding Consanguinuity

As I'm tying together the last of the Québec direct ancestors, I'm finding several cases where couples are (usually) distant cousins:

Great Grandparents (C:3,0)

Elusippe Guimond (1871-1926) and M.Ernestine Vaudreuil (1875-1916) are 6th cousins with common ancestors René Hubert (1648-1725) and François de la Croix (1640-1711), my 8th great-grandparents.

2nd Great Grandparents (C:4,0)

However, Ernestine's parents, Ferdinand Vaudreuil (1837-1916) and Clarisse Bélanger (1844-1917) are FIRST cousins sharing grandparents (C:6,0 to me), Jean-Baptiste Maillot (1784-) and Marie-Madeline Pérusse (1772-1879); their mothers are sisters. In the 1869 marriage record, the church notes the relationship and notes the dispensation, but doesn't say WHY they let this go.

Here's the relationship diagram:

(Click to enlarge.)

(I know - "Ewwww" - right?)

Ferdinand has the name Vaudreuil while his parents have the family name Tousignant dit Vaudreuil.  I don't know why he moved to the "dit" name (though marrying his cousin might have something to do with it).   Ferdinand and Clarisse had nine children.

Likewise, Elusippe's parents Alexandre Guimond (1842-1930) and Célina Boulé (1840-1928) MIGHT be distant cousins - in this case 7th cousins once removed - with Hélène Desportes (1620-1675) as a common ancestor (my 9th great-grandmother).  She's Elusippe's 8th great-grandmother with her second husband Noël Morin (1616-1680).

I say "might" because we're still not certain about Célina Boulé; it's possible that she's adopted into the Boulé family, which wouldn't make any of the Boulés blood relatives (at least so far).   Provided Célina isn't adopted, her 7th great-grandmother with her first husband Guillaume Fournier (1619-1699).

4th Great Grandparents (C:6,0)

If Célina is actually a natural Boulé, her grandfather, Pierre Boulé (1776-1842) and grandmother Marie-Reine Blanchet (1780-1852) would be my 4th great-grandparents.   In any case, they are 3rd cousins once removed, sharing Guillaume Fournier (1619-1699) and Françoise Hébert (1636-1716) as his 3rd great-grandparents, and her 2nd great-grandparents.   Françoise is also the daughter of Hélène Desportes from her first marriage to Guillaume Hébert (1604-1639).

5th Great Grandparents (C:7,0}

Marie-Reine's parents,  Charles Blanchet II (1757-1833) and Marie-Reine Blais (1751-1824) are 4th cousins, again with Hélène Desportes, and both Noël (for Marie-Reine) and Guillaume (for Charles).

Here's a handy diagram for those last three:

(Click to enlarge.)

If you're paying attention to the dates: yes, Hélène gave birth to Françoise at 18 to a man who was 34 (and who she married at 14 when he was 30), then Françoise married in 1651 (at age 13!) to Guillaume Fournier who was a year older than Françoise's mother.

That's 17th century Québec for you.

Now, Françoise and Guillaume's first child wasn't born until Françoise was almost 16 (he died in infancy); their 2nd child is Marie (1655-1717), is Marie-Reine's 3th great-grandmother.  Pierre's 2nd great-grandmother is Marie's younger sister (by 16 years) Françoise Fourner (1671-1734).

Head swimming yet?   Try this mental image:

Imagine it's Christmas 1673, and the family is all gathered together.  You're 17-month old Pierre-Alphonse Blanchet with his mommy Marie (who is 18) and daddy Pierre (who is 27).   You're in front of the fire playing with Aunt Françoise (who is 2 1/2) and Uncle Louis who is 7 months old.   Sitting around are your other six uncles and aunts - mommy's younger sisters and brothers.   Your oldest aunt, Aunt Agathe (age 16) is very pregnant with your cousin Louis (who will be born in March) with her husband, "uncle" Louis (age 34).   Aunt Jacquette (age 14) just got married to her husband, "uncle" Jean (age 26) in June.    Grand-mère Françoise (age 35) and grand-père Guillaume (age 54) are doting on all you and the other infant children and toddlers (she will still have three more aunts and uncles for you over the next six years).   Great grandmother Hélène (age 53) and step great-grandfather Noël (age 57) are there too.   (Your other grandparents are also 53, Noël and Madeleine but they're in France.)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Well, it eventually had to happen... 19th cousin 9x removed

George Washington (1732–1799)

It's not that I feel much kinship to someone so far flung on the tree, but it's an interesting path to GET there.  Going up the three (20 generations) to get to his 18th great-grandfather (my 27th great-grandfather), and solely through his paternal line:

George Washington {C:29,20} (1732 - 1799)
John Washington {C:29,17} (1631 - 1677)

Here we cross from Virginia to England, where we stay for 16 more generations:

Robert Washington I {C:29,10} (1404 - 1483)

Somewhere around this time "Washington" becomes "Wessington" which isn't so much a surname as a placename:

William, Sir of Wessington {C:29,3} (1183 - 1239)

... and at this point we lose the placename altogether and revert to Scottish patronymics.  So probably the William we just passed was known as "William Fitzwilliam" before he becomes "of Wessington":

So, we see we have common Scottish roots (based on the name).   Raby castle is actually in County Durham which is in Northumberland, but close to the (modern) Scottish border.  If we go a generation back, we start finding ancestors who were on both sides of the Norman Invasion (including both of the protagonists). 

Coming back down the tree, we stay in noble families for several generations; earls, barons and the like (including a few knights):

... and here we briefly cross over into France:

... but not for long because now we go over to Québec:

I find it very funny that George Washington has a distant cousin (Jeanne Millet's grandaughter Hélène Desportes who is also a 11th great-grandmother) who is the first French citizen born in Canada (in fact they're 17th cousins, 3x removed), and whose family (and their close relations) were established in Québec in 1617, before the Pilgrims at Plymouth, whereas George's ancestors didn't arrive in the New World until great-grandfather John (1633-1677) came in 1657.  (On his mother's side, however, the Ball family arrived in Boston in 1635.)

Anyway, we can now go through the Québec records to the current day:

MARGUERITE LANGLOIS {C:12,0} (1595-1665) - who was married to Abraham Martin (1589-1664) a notable figure in Québec history.  Followed by several other notable Québec founding families:

MARIE-JOSEPH-ANNE MARTIN {C:11,0} (1635-1699)
XAINTES CLOUTIER {C:10,0} (1660-1725)
MARIE-ELISABETH FORTIN {C:9,0} (1695-1733)

Now we cross over to the Guimond family:

FRANÇOIS GUIMOND {C:8,0} (1730-1790)
ANNE ERNESTINE "Annie" GUIMOND {C:2,0} (1895 - 1954)

... and of course Mom and me!

(For my nephew: that makes George your 19th cousin 10x removed.)

Of course the relationship could be (and likely is) closer if any of GW's ancestors are closer cousins and we have a common ancestor from more recently.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The (Almost) Last Great-great Grandparent in the Tree

While I've been very successful finding some truly ancient ancestors in the family tree, there has been one[1] gaping hole in the maternal branch: who is Célina Boulé (1840 – after 1921), and where are her parents?

She was the wife of Alexandre Guimond (1842–1930), married in 1863 in Saint-Louis-de-Lotbinière.   I've got her Drouin marriage record:

Sadly, legibility wasn't a hallmark of these hand-written records.

Nor apparently was completeness.   The translated text reads (as best as I can make out):
The sixth of July, 1863, after the publication of the three banns of marriage, ... enters Alexandre Guimond, adult son of Narcisse Guimond and (of) Celeste Lemay dit Lefleur of this parish, firstly, and Marie Célina, adult daughter also of this parish, on the other hand, ... (the rest is basically boilerplate language about the diocese)...
The problem is that typically, following "fille majure", it SHOULD say "of (father's name) and (mother's name)", but for some unknown reason it's missing.   At first I wondered if there were some unknown ecclesiastical "drama" involved; that Célina "had a past" as it were and for whatever reason didn't want to be associated with her family (or vice versa).   1860's "Reality Marriage Record" aside, I now believe that whoever copied this just made a boneheaded clerical error.

This error — 150 years later —  has confounded everyone on who has her in their family tree.  Basically, the trail ends here.   Note that her family name isn't even mentioned!  It's not in the text, nor in the margin!   (Some have mistakenly listed her as "Marie Célina" thinking that Célina is a family name.  

That particular mystery isn't hard to solve.   Alexandre and Célina have several children, and their own records clear up that particular matter.   Sort of.   Now we get back into the trials and tribulations associated with those pesky "dit" names, and for (another) unknown reason, Célina can't make up her mind as to what her last name should be on official paperwork.  For each of her nine children, here are the names she gives on their baptismal or marriage records:
  1. Alphonse Joseph (1864–1940):   Célina Baudry[2] (baptismal);
  2. Edouard (1866–): Célina Boulé (baptismal);
  3. Marie-Célina (1869–): Célina Boulé (baptismal);
  4. Joseph Elusippe[3] (1871–1926): Célina Boulay (baptismal);
  5. Honorine (1873–?): Célina Boulé (marriage);
  6. Albert (1877–?): Célina Boulay (baptismal), his (second) marriage record doesn't list the parents, just that he's a widower;
  7. Daniel (1879–?): Célina Boulet;
  8. Aurèle (1879–?): no record
  9. Alvine (1881–?): Célina LaLiberté
Discounting Baudry (because it only appears in this one record) and taking LaLiberté as a "dit" name it appears certain that Célina is a Boulé.   But Boulé isn't an uncommon name (and as you can see it can be spelled in several different ways).   It would be great if we could find her baptismal record, but wading through turns up several Célina Boulé's but none born in 1840, and several potential leads show different husbands than Alexandre Guimond.

So — another dead end?   Not quite.

Looking back through all of those records, two names pop up:  Moïse Boulé (1814–1898) and Anastasie Boulé, and now that we know that Célina is a Boulé, perhaps they'll lead to a better understanding.[4]

Moïse Boulé is a witness to Célina's marriage in 1863, and is a godparent to Edouard in 1866.   Anastasie is a godmother to Daniel (1879).   The Canadian Census does show a Moïse Boulé living with an Anastasie Boulé (1835–?) over several years.   They're listed as uncle/niece, with Anastasie apparently an unmarried spinster.

Moïse is the son of Pierre Boulé (1776–1842) and Marie-Reine Blanchet (1780–1852).   He has four brothers (but Luc only lives one year) and five sisters.   Since Célina is a Boulé, none of the sisters can be a parent[5], that leaves:
  1. Pierre (1804 – 1860) has three children, so Célina could be a daughter.  In fact one daughter, born in 1836 is named Marie-Celanire, but I find it odd that Célina's name is constant in all the Drouin records, and while other people in the tree have the name Celanire, Célina is fairly rare: it just seems weird that they'd all get it wrong.
  2. Magloire (1809 – 1874) has eight children, including Anastasie (the eldest), but no census records ever list Célina;
  3. Moïse (1811 – 1898) has no children listed in records, and has not yet appeared in any census records;
  4. Joseph (1820 – 1842) who has no marriage records nor anything else to suggest he fathered a daughter just before he died.

But each of them COULD be the father (cue Jerry Springer!)...

In the end (for now), I picked Moïse as the most-likely candidate, owing to his showing up on the marriage and baptismal records, and his domestic association with Anastasie[6].   Of course he could be an uncle and Pierre could be the father (being dead at the time of Célina's marriage).  

Either way, I'm almost certain that her grandfather is Pierre Boulé.


[1] — there are two other great-great grandmothers I don't have conclusive identified:
  1. Mortimer Donahue's (c. 1848?) wife.   According to my uncle's records, this should be Ellen Murphy, and for a while I thought I had found her, but according to another user, the Ellen Murphy I had identified was a different person entirely.   So, I had to "prune" that part of the tree, and I haven't had any leads since;
  2. Joseph(?) Bradish (c. 1836) whose son John Patrick was an English soldier stationed in India, might have been married to an Emily Creighton, but I'm still not sure.  
[2] — This is the ONLY time this surname EVER shows up.  Given that it's the year after the marriage, and in the same parish, I have to wonder about the priest doing the recording.   Alzheimers plus hard-of-hearing?   

[3] — Great grandfather.

[4] — OK it IS technically possible, but very unlikely that Moïse and Anastasie are Boulés that just happen to be witnesses and godparents, but completely unrelated (or very distantly related) to Célina, but given the time period and that these people stay near the same location for decades, I'm betting that they are close relations. 

[5] — ... unless one of them married someone whose family name is also Boulé, but that didn't happen.

[6] — Another thing that strikes me odd is that she's living with them in 1871, but her father is still alive.  He appears to be living with his grandmother's relatives (her maiden name is Blais) (or vice versa) and there is a Célina Blais in that family who would be born in 1847 which is probably too young to be our Célina.

The First French-Canadian Settlers I: Louis Gaston Hébert

The city of Québec was founded in 1608, the second permanent French settlement in Canada.  It took several years for these colonies to take hold; in fact, for the first few years, the majority of the population died each winter.   Despite a continual trickle of immigrants, the population was extremely low until the mid-17th century (for example, even as late as 1667, Québec’s entire population was only in the 3,000’s), compared to the English colonies which — although they started later (1620 in Plymouth) — had spread to all over New England by the 1640s.  While (so far) there's absolutely NO representation in my family tree on the English colony side, in Québec, there are several ancestors who actually were among the first colonists!

For this, one needs to start with 10th great-grandfather Louis Gaston Hébert (1572/5 – 1627).  He was born in Paris (near the Louvre), and arugably the first "true" settler of Québec.   I say that because he actually lived off of the land by creating a small farm for sustenance, and traded with the indigenous population, whereas other "colonists" relied entirely on trade ships from France for supplies.  Not "going entirely native" was actually encouraged by the French government through the sponsors of the fur and cod trade in Canada.

Rue Saint Honore in Paris where Louis Hébert had an
apothecary shop.

He wasn't a farmer by trade — he was actually an apothecary (which was the family business[1,2]) — who first came to the Arcadian settlement in Port Royal (the first French settlement established in 1604 until 1607) in the summer of 1606 traveling along the coast as south as what's now Gloucester, MA, with Champlain scouting for potential future settlement locations.    He returned in 1610, again in the role of healer to both the French and the Indians, including the Mi'kmaq leader Membertou (who is also a 13th great-grandfather), and attempts to start a settlement on Mt. Desert Island in 1613, but is captured by the British who proceed to destroy Port Royal in November of that year.

Louis Hébert, gathering plants
The third time is the charm.   In 1616-1617 Champlain is once again in Paris, advocating creating a permanent settlement in Québec and obtains the promise of a fairly lucrative contract with the "Compagnie de Canada" (200 crowns per year plus support for he and his family in return for his apothecary services).   Perhaps too optimistically, he sells his house and garden in Paris and gets ready to leave with his wife Marie-Anne (Rolet/Rollet, 1580-1649) and their three children[3].   Arriving at Honfleur (where the ship will leave for Canada) he learns that the company in fact has no intention to honor this contract; the new "offer" is far less favorable, and basically puts his entire family at the mercy of the company.   Having no choice now that he's liquidated his assets for the trip, they agree to the new terms, and leave France on March 11, 1617, arriving in Tadoussac (a trading post) four months later on July 15, 1617, and from there on to Québec.[4]

His presence (and his small 10-acre farm) were instrumental to the nascent Québec colony.  Because of his background in (17h century) medicine, one of the primary roles of the farm was to grow medicinal herbs and plants as well as a variety of vegetables.   This is despite interference from the the controlling company, first in requiring as much of their time as possible, but also in their trying to maintain control of all economic activity (requiring colonists to rely completely on the company for all supplies);  in fact, it wasn't until 1627 that Québec received a ox-driven plow!

Champlain went back and forth from Canada to Québec, trying to promote colonization.  In 1620 he was given full control of the Québec colony, and placed Hébert as the prosecutor of justice for the colony (whose population was only 60, of which only six were women, including Louis' wife and daughter!).   He finally received a plot of land of his own in 1623; his house and that of his son-in-law, Guillaume Couillard, are the first two private homes in Québec (and remain so until 1634).[5]  Everyone else lived in "L'Habitation".

He had realized his fondest dream, but it wasn't to last: after a fall on the ice at the very end of 1626, he died on January 23, 1627.

Monument in Québec honoring Louis Hébert
and Guillaume Couillard.

[1] His father, Nicolas Hébert (1539–1600) was also an apothecary, serving in the court of Queen Marie de Medici (1573-1642) who herself is the wife of King Henry IV of France (1553–1610, and who is also a 5th cousin 15x removed).

[2] Nicolas Hébert is an 11th great-grandfather.  Louis' younger brother Jacques (1576-1662) is also a 10th great-grandfather.  He settled in Port Royal several years after Louis had settled in Québec (apparently in the 1640s).

[3] Anne (1603–1619) died shortly being married (at age 15!) to Joseph-Marie-Etienne Jonquest — this was the first marriage performed in New France;  Guillaume (1604–1639) is a 9th great-grandfather, the husband of Hélène Desportes (1620–1675) the first French child born in Québec;  Joseph (1605–1608) died before the family left France; and Marie-Guillemette (1606–1684) marries Sieur Guillaume Couillard (dit de Lespinay), a carpenter and one of the original colonists to Québec (arriving in 1613, even before the Hébert family) who takes over most of the Hébert land after Louis' death.   He's also the first Canadian to be knighted in 1654 by Louis XIV.

[4] Today one can't really imagine what this "voyage" must have been like.   These were not "cruise liners" — there were no "passenger" accommodations; those traveling were essentially treated like cargo, crammed into makeshift dark areas below decks, surviving off of what provisions they had (that hadn't spoiled or were eaten by rats, etc.).   The semi-rotten food, combined with the rolling of the ship tortured the passengers with sea sickness.  

[5] It's things like this that fascinate me, especially when comparing the Québec colony to the Plymouth colony.   The first Hébert house was nothing more than a shack; it was soon replaced with a one-story stone house, 38'x19' (722 sq. ft.).

Sunday, October 5, 2014

So My Nephew Asked Me...

... about the family tree.

Specifically, he's covering immigration in school (4th grade) and his teacher wanted the kids to sort out who the first immigrant in the family was, and when.

That's sort of an interesting challenge for this family tree!

So - where do we even start?   Or end for that matter?

(For the purposes of privacy, we'll call the nephew "B".)

In the simplest case, we're looking at the migration to (roughly) Lawrence MA from Ireland (on his grandfather's side) or Québec (on his grandmother's side), and back between 3 and 5 generations (for him).

OK - here are my nephew's great-great grandparents on his maternal father's line:

1, 2) Jeffrey Donahue (1875-1967) who arrived from Limerick, Ireland somewhere between 1896-1898.   Ellen Fitzgerald (1879-1974) who arrived from Limerick, Ireland in 1899.  They married in Lawrence in 1902.

3, 4) Herbert L. Hall (1877-1929) was born in Lawrence, so the immigrant is his 3rd great-grandparents, Edwin Hall born in England, and Bridget McLaughlin, but I don't have any other information about them (dates, or when they arrived).    Herbert's wife, Rebecca Lewington also was born in Lawrence, so the immigrants are her parents (B's 3rd great-grandparents) Thomas Lewington (1838-?) born in England, and arriving here in 1870.   His wife, Anne Scanlon (1838-?) was born in Ireland, and (presumably) came here with her husband in 1870 because by then they have at least two children.

Things get VERY interesting on B's mother's maternal line!

5, 6) B's great-great grandfather John Patrick Bradish (1868-1942) arrived in the US in 1878.   But he was actually born in India!  His father - Joseph Bradish (1836-) was a serviceman from England stationed there with his family when he was born.   They settled near Buffalo, NY.   His wife, Florence Murphy (1860-1941) grew up on a farm in NY, but wanted to live in the city.  Her parents, (B's 3rd great-grandparents)  James Elias Murphy (1822-1896) and Bridget Burke (1822-1898) both grew up in Ireland, and moved to the US in 1849.

7, 8) Finally, the last set of great-great grandparents came from Québec.   Elusippe Guimond (1871-1926) moved to Lawrence from Lotbinière, Québec around 1905 (there's other information to suggest that he might have actually first come down here on his own in 1884 at the age of 13, but I'm not sure about that) with his wife, Ernestine Vandreuil (1875-1916) and family.

What did these people do?    Jeffrey Donahue owned a tavern in South Lawrence.   Elusippe Guimond worked in the textile mills.   John Patrick Bradish was (for some time) a stage actor.   James Elias Murphy was a farmer.

But what about earlier immigration?   In the case of the Québec ancestry it's not a simple question because there were definitely border crossings into the "US" sometimes before it was part of the US.  There are several branches of the Guimond family that lived in the Détroit encampment which was originally part of New France until the Louisiana Purchase.   Likewise, our ancestors also lived in the "French" towns of Saint Louis (now Missouri) and New Orleans.   Peter Guimond dit Demo lived in Vermont just over the border (after spending almost 30 years with the Native Americans) in the 1820s.

Of course in terms of "stories about immigration" one need only look 4-5 generations FURTHER back, not in the US but in Québec.    B's ancestors include ALL of the major families that first settled Québec:  the Desportes, Martin, Langlois, Hébert, Morin and other families coming from France in the first years of the 1600s (before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth).

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm My Own Grandfather II: Guillaume Langlois (1566-1634)

I found another case of multiple lines splitting apart and re-connecting several generations later.

In this case, we actually have THREE siblings who are all great-grandparents.   But depending on which line you travel, two are 10th great grandparents, and the other is a 12th great-grandparent.   They also reconnect at three different points:

Click for a larger view.
We start with three of Guillaume Langlois and Jeanne Millet's children (out of eight that I'm aware of):

  1. Marguerite (born: about 1595), the eldest;
  2. Françoise (born 1599), middle child (4th of 8);
  3. Noël (born 1606), the youngest.
There's only about 10 years between them but in order to reach my 3rd-great grandparents, they take very different routes!
  1. Marguerite marries into the Martin family: her husband is Abraham Martin dit l'Écossais (for whom the Plains of Abraham in Québec are named), one of the original settlers.  From there we immediately meet up with another fundamental family - the Cloutiers - and through the Fortins get to the Guimonds (François-Joseph is the grandson of Louis Guimond, the founder of the cult of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré).  Four generations of Guimonds later, we have Narcisse Guimond (1810-1884) who marries Marie-Céleste Sévigny (1809-1870).
  2. Middle sister Françoise also marries into a famous Québec family, the Desportes and is the mother of the first French child born in Québec, Hélène Desportes.    Here the family tree takes the a more circuitous route, needing two extra generations to get to Marie-Céleste Sévigny.
  3. Finally, youngest brother Noël's line reconnects a generation sooner: his 4th great-grandaughter is Marie-Céleste's mother, Marie.
Where this becomes confusing for me is how to label the relationships:   Are the other Langlois siblings 10th great grand aunts/uncles or 12th?   I suppose 10th because that's the "closer" relationship, but what about Françoise's family?   It's weird to have a 11th great grandfather whose daughter is a 12th great grandmother (and also a 10th great-grand aunt).

It gets even weirder further down the tree, because if you take the "grand aunt route" over the "grandmother" route, then when you get down 12 generations, you have 12th cousins who are also 12th cousins 2x removed.  

I've been trying to label all the blood relatives in the tree (to make it easier to identify possible duplicates as well as to make it clear who is an in-law).   So far I've found a few instances where a "7,2" (first cousin 5x removed) marries a "8,3" (2nd cousin 5x removed), but as you go further back - given the intermarrying of the Québec population, the "entanglements" become a little more interesting.   So, I have to sort out the relationships.   I THINK the right answer is "go with the fewest hops" and in case of a tie, the closest to the root...   We'll see.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

French "dit" Names

When you're looking at French-Canadian family trees, it doesn't take long before you run into people with names like "Jacques Choret dit LaFleur".

What's the whole 'dit' thing?

Basically, it comes down to a way of distinguishing different branches of families with the same surname.   So, if you've got two clans of Chorets living in the same locality, one group might adopt a 'dit' name to make it clear which group they belong to.  (Note that these clans needn't be related to each other at all.)  'Dit,' of course is from the French verb 'dire' (to say), so the obvious translation for "Choret dit LaFleur" is "Choret (that is to say) LaFleur" and generally that's the name you'd use when referring to someone conversationally: "Hey, did you hear what happened to Jacques LeFleur the other day?" - that sort of thing.

On official records though (baptismal, marriage, death, etc.) the actual family surname is used, though in many cases the 'dit' name often appears.   Sometimes it's hyphenated, e.g,  Choret-LaFleur.

What I've found is that they exist for a few generations and then get dropped.   Occasionally, the reverse happens: the 'dit' name endures and the family name disappears.  This has led to some degree of head-scratching on a few dead-ends (see the previous post on Ferdinand (né Tousignant) Vandreuil my great-great-grandfather).  

Where do they come from?   Interestingly, many seem to have been chosen from someone's military service: where the 'dit' name is the name of the company they served under, or sometimes their commander, the nom de guerre.  Sometimes it's a placename, or related to a trade (both of which are common origins for family names as a whole).    You'd think that this would make things a little easier, but consider that if everyone in a military company is using the same 'dit' name, then you end up with more confusion: for example, there are over 200 family names using the 'dit' name LaFleur!

About the only American equivalent I've seen to this would be the phrasing you hear among the upper classes, e.g., "the 'Greenwich' Barclays" (as opposed some other set of Barclays that don't live in Greenwich), but of course even in this case no Barclay would ever refer to themselves as 'Greenwich'.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Consanguinuity in the Second Degree - or - Why My Eyes Hurt

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been using Drouin to fill in some of the gaps in the 19th century ancestors on my mother's side.

One of the dead-ends is my 2nd great-grandfather, Ferdinand Vaudreuil (c1839-1916).   Turns out I had his marriage record from 1869 on-hand, but never examined it.   What an eye-opening experience!  It took me quite a while to decipher the handwriting (and translation from French to English), but one thing stood out immediately:  "2ème au 2ème consanguinity".    Second-degree consanguinity means "first cousins" and that's a particularly interesting situation for Catholic marriages of the period because marriage between cousins required dispensation from the church in order to proceed.   So I can only imagine what kind of examination would be involved there.

His bride-to-be, Marie-Clarisse Bélanger (1844-1917) was well-documented (the Bélangers are one of the larger Québec families going back (in my tree) to the 16th century (Nicolas Bélanger, 11ggp, born 1558).  But in terms of suggested hints that offers, the Vaudreuils end at Ferdinand (and Ferdinand isn't a common name, nor Vaudreuil).   The marriage record - which typically lists both sets of parents - didn't have any of that information for Ferdinand.

But - since they were first cousins, they shared a set of grandparents, and I had already identified both sets for Marie-Clarisse:

  1. Pierre Bélanger I (1783-1861) and Marie-Victoire Hébert (1783-1877); and,
  2. Jean-Baptiste Maillot (1784-) and Marie-Madeleine Pérusse (1882-1879).
So, it came down to one of their kids marrying into the family whose children included Ferdinand.    Since we had to end up with a Vaudreuil, that meant one of Marie-Clarisse's aunts, i.e., sisters of her parents: Pierre Bélanger II (1814-1892) and Thérèse Maillot (1814-1892).

Pierre had seven sisters:
  1. Marie-Victoire (1809-1890)
  2. Marie-Rosalie (1810-1811) 
  3. Marie-Geneviève (1811-)
  4. Victoire (1815-1815)
  5. Marie-Martine (1817-1817)
  6. Marie-Sophie (1826-1916)
  7. Marie-Louise (1830-1830)
and of these, only Marie-Victiore and possibly Marie-Geneviève were contenders, the rest either being too young to give birth in 1839 or dying in infancy.

Thérèse had eight sisters:
  1. Marie-Sophie (1808-1855)
  2. Marie-Magdelaine (prob. Madeleine, 1811-)
  3. Marguerite (1813-)
  4. Marie-Angélique (1813-)
  5. Marie-Suzanne (1814-1888)
  6. Emilie (1819-)
  7. Marie-Anne (1820-)
  8. Esther (1824-1848)
and all except (probably) for Esther could be Ferdinand's mother.

So, looking into their pasts, I searched for marriage records, but came up empty-handed.  No Vaudreuils!   It wasn't a complete accounting: I couldn't find husbands for Geneviève, Angélique, or Suzanne.   Victoire married a Lemay, Sophie married an Auger, Marguerite married a Tousignant, and Emilie married a Hamel.


Back to the marriage record.   It did almost mention something about a Victoire Lemay - but the relationship wasn't easy to discern at first.   I thought it said nephew (neveu) but actually it was "veuf" = "widower"!   So Clarisse was actually Ferdinand's second wife.   Searching for her, I found a Victoire Lemay that died in 1838, and her burial record listed her spouse as Ferdinand Vaudreuil.[1]  From there, I just needed to find THEIR marriage record and hope that I would get luckier in terms of parental identification.   (By now my eyes were in pain from all the squinting trying to read messy 19th century handwriting - in French, guessing at half of the scribbled words.)

But it paid off:  Ferdinand's father is Basile Tousignant, Clarisse's uncle by way of Marguerite Bélanger.

One more mystery solved!

So WHY "Vandreuil"?

Ferdinand's surname was "Tousingant dit Vaudreuil" - at least earlier in his life.  At some point, he dropped the Tousignant, and just went under Vaudreuil.   (More on 'dit' names in an upcoming post.)
For the MOST part, people with 'dit' names used the whole thing (sometimes you'd see them hyphenated).   Typically after a generation or two they'd fade away, but sometimes the part that would get dropped would be the original family name.

I have to wonder what the circumstances were for this marriage.   Getting re-married after you spouse dies is very common, but usually in the case where there's a lot of children in the house who need a step-parent.   As far as I can tell, Marie-Victoire was the first child (and I'm not sure she survived infancy).  It doesn't appear that this was a "shotgun wedding" - their first child wasn't born until 1871.  Nor is it a case of "Québec needs women" where there simply aren't enough potential brides to go around.  It would be interesting to learn what the process was for the Church to grant dispensation for first-cousin marriages.

[1]  Sadly, the very NEXT record on the page was for a Marie-Victoire Vaudreuil, born on the same day.  Apparently Victoire died in childbirth.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Jacques Gaudry I (1594-1637): I'm my own grandfather (sort of)!

I managed to sort out Thérèse Maillot (3ggp; 1815-1892) and getting her connected to her ancestors through Drouin (see previous post).

Lately, that means turning distant cousins into great-grandparents because with 22,000+ people on the tree, I'm running into the same people through different branches.     This results in people being related in a few strange ways (and the expression "strange bedfellows" sometimes takes on a new meaning), one of which is that someone can end up being a great-grandparent multiple times.

Even stranger - and it happens more and more the further back you go - is that the same person can be a great-grandparent multiple times but in different generations.   This sets up the weirdness where someone - for example Jacques Gaudry I (1594-1637) is a 9th great-grandfather through one set of people, and an 11th great-grandfather through another!

How this happens is basically a circumstance of one set of people tending to marry earlier than another set, or where by luck one branch tends to have people who were all the oldest kids in the family, while the other has lots of youngest kids.

So in Jacques case - here's tree one though his son Nicolas:
  1. 11ggp: Jacques Gaudry I (1594-1637);
  2. 10ggp: Nicolas Gaudry dit Bourbonnaire (1621-1669);
  3.   9ggp: Marie-Charlotte (Christine) Gaudry (1660-1729);
  4.   8ggp: Charles Hamel (1679-1755)
  5.   7ggp: Marie-Angélique Hamel (1703-1753)
  6.   6ggp: Marie-Angélique Grenier (1729-1767)
  7.   5ggp: Marie-Geneviève Choret (1756-1824);
  8.   4ggp: Pierre Sévigny II dit Lafleur (1779-1865);
  9.   3ggp: Marie-Céleste Sévigny (1809-1870);
  10.   2ggp: Alexandre Guimond (1842-1930);
  11.   1ggp: Elusippe Guimond (1871-1926);
  12.       gp: Anne Guimond (1895-1954) 
Then, through Nicolas' younger brother Jacques Jr.:
  1.  9ggp: Jacques Gaudry I (1594-1637);
  2.  8ggp: Jacques Gaudry II dit Bourbonnaire (1637-1691);
  3.  7ggp: Marie-Angélique Gaudry (1685-1726);
  4.  6ggp: Marie-Angélique Tessier (1722-1768);
  5.  5ggp: Michel Maillot II dit Laviolette (1742-1816);
  6.  4ggp: Jean Maillot (1784-);
  7.  3ggp: Thérèse Maillot (1815-1892);
  8.  2ggp: Marie-Clarisse Bélanger (1844-1917);
  9.  1ggp: Ernestine Vaudreuil (1875-1916);
  10.      gp: Anne Guimond (1895-1954).
For the first branch, the average age of the parent at the birth of the child is 27.4, and 33.4 years for the other, which creates quite the gap over ~10 generations!

Note that Ernestine Vaudreuil is the 7th cousin once removed from her husband, Elusippe Guimond.

So - is Jacques Gaudry an 11th great-grandfather, or a 9th?   And is his father (René, c. 1570-1619) a 10th or a 12th?

Here's a chart:

Click for larger image.

I'm getting better at this!

I've been making inroads in some of the "dead ends" of great-grandparents.

For most of them, they were born or were married in the late-18th/early-19th century, right when Tanguay ends, so there's no easy documentation to peruse.   Instead one has to start relying on Drouin, which is actually quite good, EXCEPT the records are all hand-written and (of course) in French, so you have to deal with crazy penmanship and translation issues.

Furthermore, all of the entries are long-winded repeat information that could EASILY have been compressed into a line on a spreadsheet :-):  "On the eighteenth of November in the year of Our Lord, seventeen hundred and ninety-two, after the required three banns were read at the parish in the church on the previous three sundays, we record the marriage contract of Jean-Louis Somelastname dit Someothername son of father Louis-Jean and mother Marie-Ernestine-Desanges Hermaidenname dit Herfathersditname; the parents residents of this parish, etc., etc.,"   So it can be rather difficult to untangle, especially if the recording priest wasn't exactly a model calligrapher.

So, last weekend I worked out the Daigle branch of the family, starting with Marie Daigle (3ggp) back several generations through Tanguay   It hasn't been without some frustration.   The first French-Canadian Daigle (D'Aigle) was actually Austrian (as in from Vienna), and like immigrants from all over the ages, had some trouble working out what his name was supposed to be in his new country of residence.

Before "Daigle" became his family name, he went by D'Eyme.   This caused me an entire morning of frustration because Tanguay recorded two different marriages, both to someone named Marie-Anne.
One Marie-Anne - Croteau, and the other Marie-Anne Proteau.   If you look at the Drouin record, it's hard to tell in the priestly scribbling whether the necessary-to-be-established first letter is a C or a P.

Of course - at first - I wasn't aware of the Daigle-D'Emye alias, and this caused problems because the marriage record (Marie-Anne Croteau) has a date of 1685 (which isn't listed in Tanguay - I suspect he omitted it on purpose because HE was also confused).   This is a problem because Marie-Anne's father's marriage was in 1686, and while there's no baptism date for Marie-Anne, she'd be no older than 9.   The marriage record DOES say she's 19, though, so there's a mistake somewhere.

OK - so Tanguay goofed - or so I thought, and I went through and annotated everything (myself making a mistake because I didn't read the entire date in the marriage record, putting down 1680 - "seize cent quarte vignts" missing the "cinq" that followed), backed out of Marie-Anne's father's record (which got complicated because HIS father IS a great-grandparent on another line), etc., etc., etc.

Then looking at the other family trees available (and finding my 1680/1685 error) realized that Daigle was D'Eyme in the original record, and came to the (still incorrect) conclusion that someone had attached the record in Drouin to the wrong person.  ARGH!   Undid EVERYTHING, deleted the notes, and started over looking for the REAL Daigle marriage record.

One problem is that I've become less interested in all the things that other people attach to their ancestor records because there's a LOT of "cutesy crap" that really has nothing whatsoever to do with the person but is more some weird faux-fantasy application to what the contributor things the person was like (I get the impression they see these people as inhabiting Harlequin romance novel covers more than being people tied to their surroundings out of day-to-day desperation.)...   But, sometimes there are very useful gems in there, and I should be more diligent about weeding through it.   Turns out someone HAD made a notation with the VERY critical information that Joseph Daigle - when he arrived in Canada - had used the name Joseph D'Emye.   Looking THAT name up in Tanguay found the Proteau marriage (aha!) and the correct link was made.

(So Tanguay DID make a mistake:  Marie-Anne Crouteau did NOT marry Joseph Daigle and they did not have a son André.   André's mom is Marie-Anne Proteau.)

I find it weird that more people haven't delved into Drouin, including   Most of the time the "automatic" metadata is next to useless:   Jean Smith, born 1750-1850, married 1750-1850, so you tend to hit "Ignore" for those references because they're just too vague.   In reality the actual dates ARE there - they're just in the handwritten text, and you have to work it out.    I suppose it's still too much to hope that optical character recognition has improved to the point where it can handle handwritten long-form prose in French, but it would be a start!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

One year in! 20,000 people!

This weekend is the end of the first year I've gotten into genealogy.

Coincidentally, I added my 20,000th person to the tree yesterday.  (I suspect that there are duplicates, and a lot are "in law" relations, so its not 20,000 actual relatives - probably more like 12,000 of them.

Things I've learned:

  1. Québec history - especially the 17th century - is far more interesting than what I learned about the Pilgrims!   I still maintain that one could create a RIVETING HBO/Showtime drama series in this time period.
  2. I now know more about Québec names ("dit names", hyphenated names, sets of children with re-used names, etc.) than I thought ever possible!
  3. I appear to be related to the entire "who's who" of French Canadian colonists - especially in Québec.   I have a FEW Arcadian ancestors, and ought to follow up on those lines when possible.
  4. On the other side of the tree, I've found it VERY difficult to make inroads on the Irish side of the family.   It appears that the best way to rectify that would be to make a trip to Ireland.   But - since I've never been there, it probably means multiple trips since it would be hard to go there and NOT try to be a tourist!  (Of course the same is true for Québec - I went there on a school trip when I was 17, and it's ironic that so many of the places we visited have ties to my ancestors (not knowing it at the time).  
  5. It's frustrating that even local records are hard to obtain.   For example, my hometown newspaper STILL uses microfiche and have digitized ANYTHING, even birth/marriage/death notices.  The local churches require you go into Boston to see their records (by appointment only).
  6. It's easier to get information on people who lived 150 years ago than people who are alive today.   The U.S. Census is embargoed for 72 years, so it won't be until ~2022 before we can peek at the 1950 Census data!   
  7. is - despite the heavy funding from the LDS - not a particularly good service.   The web design is very "2008" the database structure and portal is abysmal, and to do any actual statistical research you have to export your tree and write an entire platform to re-ingest the data in a way that's unseful.   THAT is a project for the next year.
  8. My long-atrophied French skills are getting a work out!
Things I want to do:

  1. Write a GEDCOM ingestor to MySQL.
  2. Find a way to have data visualization for large sets of family tree relationships.
  3. Find a way to have geographic mapping of that data.   FTM3 does have this, but you can't filter by time.   It would be great to get a sense of who is where for a particular when.
  5. Get to the Massachusetts archive to fill in some of the holes.
  6. Make better inroads into my dad's side of the tree.
  7. Start contacting my living relatives to collect stories, etc.
  8. Get access to the church records for Lawrence parishes in the 1880-1960 time period.
  9. Get access to the Eagle Tribune's archive even if I have to go through the microfiche one day at a time! 
  10. Reach 40,000 people by this date in 2015?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Update: What I've been up to...

I made myself the silly challenge to have 20,000 people on my family tree by the 1-year anniversary of starting it on

I've been doing it by concentrating on the fundamental Québecois family lines and following them through Tanguay - particularly Volume I (marriages between 1608 and 1700).  That's been good because I've been finding errors in the tree, and many situations where there are duplicates - fixing them has really stitched the relationships between these families together.  

As of today I'm up to 19,277 people with 14 days to go.

I'm now very curious to know an estimate for what percentage of the Québec population is on the tree as a function of time;  that and how many of the first-generationers (people who came over in the 1608-1650 time frame) are on the tree.   Hopefully I'll get to some of those projects within the second year of undertaking this!

Coming up:  why I wish I were adopted, and why Louis Guimond must be spinning in his grave, and the single factoid responsible for both!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Quick Fact: something I just discovered/realized

Jean-Baptiste Durand (1739-), the son of Jean-Baptiste Durand (1694-1755) and Marguerite Cloutier (1715-) married Marie-Joseph Marcheteau in 1768.

What's interesting about that is that they got married in St. Louis (Missouri).

Wait!  How is that possible 8 years before the American Revolution?

Well, the French colonies spread all the way from Québec to Louisiana (which I knew), and the "Ville-de-Saint-Louis" was established in 1764 by Pierre Laclède and Auguste Chouteau who named it after Louis IX.

It was transferred to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

I've always thought of the westward expansion of the US as being a push through complete frontier - at least as far as the Midwest was concerned.   It didn't occur to me until now that there were significant habitations "out there";   I suppose I knew about New Orleans (obviously), and I knew that Detroit was originally a French colony...   I was unaware of St. Louis, though.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Awesome find! A map of Château-Richer land ownership from 1680

Château-Richer  was the second place inhabited by French settlers in the Côté-de-Beaupré by the French colonists as an agricultural community to provide crops for the Ville de Québec.   (The first was Saint-Joachim.)   Colony-related farming was started there by Champlain as early 1626, but habitation really began in the 1640's under Olivier Letardif (1601-1665).  

Nowadays it's situated between L'Ange-Gardien, and Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré along the St. Lawrence River (2011 population: 3,834). 

I found this map on while filling out the family tree within the founding Canadian families, dating from 1680.   From top to bottom it shows land grants heading down-river.   The land was partitioned in long strips with the narrow side along the river and extending 1.5 leagues (4.5 miles) inland.   The riverside size of each plot is listed on the map measured in arpents (one arpent is approximately 192 feet), ranging from 1.5 for the smallest (about 288 feet or 0.054 miles) to 8.8 for the largest (about 0.32 miles).   In terms of acreage, that would be about 150 to 900 acres.

This section of map has 44 plots of land and their owners.   In it you can see many of the familiar French colonist family names.

When I looked these names up in the family tree, I found that most of them are distant in-law relations (e.g., "Father-in-law to a 1st cousin 9x removed").   That puzzled me for a bit, but I realized that many of them are the actual immigrants: the direct connections to the family tree come from the marriages of their children and grandchildren to other colonists.

Nonetheless, one comes across several names that are direct relations:
  • Fils de Zacharie Cloutier — Zacharie (1590-1677) is a 10th great-grandparent; his three sons are whom I assume to be the inheritors: Zacharie II (1617-1708, 9th great-grand uncle), Jean (1620-1690, a 9th great-grandfather), and Charles (1629-1709, 9th great-grand uncle);
  • Simon Guyon (1612-1682) is the husband of Louise Racine, a 1st cousin 10x removed;
  • Guillaume Boucher (1647-1729) is a 9th great-grand uncle;
  • "Veuve Toussaine Toupin de Sault" — here's an example of how complicated the relationships can get:  Toussaine Toupin (1616-1678)'s widow is his second wife Marie Bourdon, but the connection to the family tree is through his first wife (Marguerite Boucher) and their child Antoine (1655-1711) whose wife is 8th great-grand aunt Louise Cloutier (1658-1733);
  • Antoine is also the owner of another plot of land, seven plots down-river from his step-mother;
  • Jean Cloutier (Antoine's neighbor) is a 9th great-grandfather;
  • Two plots further down-river (with Guillaume Thibault, another distant in-law relative) is Jean's brother Charles, a 9th great-grand uncle;
  • Further down there's a plot marked "Hériters de Jean Doyon."  Assuming that his sons are among them, that would include at least one husband of a 8th great-grand aunt (Antoine Doyon, 1662-1706, marries to Françoise Cloutier);
  • Finally at the bottom there's Robert Drouin (1606-1685), husband of 9th great-grand aunt Anne Cloutier (1626-1648), and mention of Etienne Racine (1607-1689) who is the husband of Marguerite Martin (1624-1679).
Actually, the owner of almost every plot can be reached through the family tree even if you have to cross over into in-laws.   In fact, only 11 of the 44 names above are (as yet) unaccounted for.

The map itself though is extremely enlightening in terms of resetting one's mental image of these early communities.   When I think of a 17th century "town" or habitation, I imagine something like a small central nexus of houses and shops with additional houses and farms out on the periphery: you're typical New England town.    The map shows that this was absolutely not the case for Château-Richer (nor for other establishments along the St. Lawrence River)!   Instead each landowner has a small riverfront with a very long tract of land extending back into the forest.   All of the plots run parallel to each other.

This makes sense for the simple reason that the only mode of transportation at the time was by boat.   The land would be cleared little by little for farmland, sometimes taking years.

So, instead of the small "town" one would see a series of habitations built near to the shore of the river, one after another after another.   There's no civic center per se:  the church for Château-Richer is there in one of the central plots owned by the Church, and would have been the social center for the community.

The other thing to realize is that each of these plots of land were mini-colonies themselves.   Each owner would have his entire extended family there.   Based on the birth and death records for the families involved there were dozens of births, deaths, and marriages in Château-Richer in the late 1600's.   Speaking of marriage, it's interesting to see how the families interacted (clearly the Cloutier girls "got around" socially).   At some point it would be interesting to see what the internal migration happened though marriage.

What's also interesting is how the modern Château-Richer still reflects the original design.   Although there are roads there now, and a real "town", from overhead one can still unmistakably identify the boundaries from the original tracts of land!


The satellite image of the same shows the long strips of land first parceled out
in the mid-1600s.

A close-up showing more detail.  At upper-right, the twisty road goes along the small river
marked "Sault à la Puce" on the 1680 map.

The First Immigrants to New France - Introduction

For the past several weeks, I've been delving into the topic of relationships to the first French settlers.   This is especially FUN because SO much emphasis is placed in America on who can trace their ancestors back to voyagers on the Mayflower.   As it turns out, while the Pilgrims might make an interesting TV Movie, their French cousins (who had already been in the New World for 15 years before the Pilgrims arrived) I think would make for an entire Dramatic Series!   (Anyone know anyone at HBO or Showtime?  Now's your chance!)

While the first excursions to Canada by the French go all the way back to John Cabot, who like Columbus was trying to find passage to the exotic Asian lands in order to set up trade routes that were (hopefully) faster than the ones established (and largely controlled by others: Spain, Venice, etc.).   His initial expedition in 1497 brought him to (probably) Cape Breton in Nova Scotia; from there he sailed down the coast all the way to Chesapeake Bay by 1498.   To this end it's Cabot who REALLY discovered America since Columbus' journeys took him into the Caribbean and not to the North American mainland!

The discovery of vast tracts of land and resources sparked widespread reconnaissance, not for colonization but for fishing.   It wasn't until the Jacques Cartier, who in 1534 on an official expedition sponsored by the French government, made the initial mapping of Newfoundland, with the subsequent discovery of the St. Lawrence River in 1535.   On that latter voyage, he traveled upriver as far as the location of modern Montréal.  

While there's lots of intervening history of additional discoveries in northern Canada, we can skip to the beginning of the 17th century and Samuel de Champlain (1574-1635) "The Father of New France".   While he's not on the family tree (as least not yet) he is absolutely integral to the lives of several people who are.  It was his settlement established in 1608 where the founding families of Québec lived for several years. 

The Quebec Settlement : A.—The Warehouse. B.—Pigeon-loft. C.—Detached Buildings where we keep our arms and for Lodging our Workmen. D.—Another Detached Building for the Workmen. E.—Sun-dial. F.—Another Detached Building where is the Smithy and where the Workmen are Lodged. G.—Galleries all around the Lodgings. H.—The Sieur de Champlain's Lodgings. I.—The door of the Settlement with a Draw-bridge. L. — Promenade around the Settlement ten feet in width to the edge of the Moat. M.—Moat the whole way around the Settlement. O.—The Sieur de Champlain's Garden. P.—The Kitchen. Q.—Space in front of the Settlement on the Shore of the River. R.—The great River St. Lawrence.

A model of the (second?) Champlain habitation.   The first building was
constructed in1608 and was replaced with a stone building in 1627.

Champlain set up the first habitation for 28 people staying through the winter, but in that first winter 20 of them died.   Actual colonization happened slowly;  most of the people coming to New France were in the fur trapping or cod fishing industries and weren't interested in putting down roots although a few primitive outposts (e.g., Tadoussac) had been established.   Four Recollect missionaries arrived in 1615 with the intent of converting the ingeneous population.   The first woman to come to New France from Europe, Marguerite Vienne, arrived with her husband, Michel Colin in 1616, but they both died within a year.

So, when the apocathery Louis Hébert[1], his wife, and their three children came to live in Québec in 1617 they were something of a novelty.   Unlike everyone else, Louis established a farm and built the first home in Québec outside the settlement.

A few other families soon followed:  Pierre Desportes[2] arrived with his wife in 1619, and Abraham Martin dit L'Ecossais[3] settled with his wife in 1620.   Both Martin and Hébert had been to New France on earlier voyages as a river pilot and apocathery, respectively.  At this time 60 people were living at the colony, but only six women.

The population reached 100 people in 1627 — almost 20 years later — forty-five of which were colonists (including four Jesuits) — including four families (Hébert, Martin, Desportes, and Couillard[4]).

Meager beginnings...

I'll go into detail about each of these people (and their families) in later posts.

  1. 11th great-grandfather and father-in-law of 10th great-grandmother Hélène Desportes - said to be the first child born of French settlers in Québec;
  2. 11th great-grandfather;
  3. 10th great-grandfather;
  4. As near as I can tell, these would be the four families mentioned in the records.  Guillaume Couillard is a husband to my 10th great-grand aunt (Marie-Guillemette Hébert, 1606–1684).

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My favorite Christmas Present in 2013: A Book on Hélène Desportes!

My #1 item on my Christmas Wish List this year was a book on Hélène Desportes, by Susan McNelley:  Hélène's World.

The book doesn't chronicle Hélène's life (since there are very few source of stories about her life), but basically tells the story of the founding of Québec and the overall lives of the original settlers using Hélène as a point of reference wherever possible.   In doing so, one gets an incredibly detailed picture of both life in the early 17th century, and life in a remote frontier land far from home.

Reading this book completely changed my mental image of early Québec.   I knew that the colony was very slow to grow at first, but I now better understand why this was the case; the political and economic influences from Europe, the complete remoteness of the colony and the difficulty of getting supplies from France, piracy, troubles with England, and so on.

One particular aspect of the colony that had a great impact on Hélène and the other families in Québec was its smallness - roughly sixty people lived within the one compound for several years before there was any expansion.   This contrasts greatly with the New England colonies, which spread all over eastern Massachusetts (and beyond) over the same period of time (albeit starting over ten years later).   Ms. McNelley's book does a remarkable job of accomplishing so much.

The book is also heavily sourced and footnoted.   For anyone with an interest in Québec history, or who wants to get a clear perspective of that time period outside of the Pilgrims, etc., this is definitely a resource worth having!

Update: New Filles à Marier and Filles du Roi discoveries

I've been researching the original immigrant families to New Canada (which is why there haven't been any new posts - it's a lot of material to organize!), and discovered another Fille à Marier and a Fille du Roi in the process:

Catherine de Belleau (1639-1706) - arrived in 1667 (age: 28) and married Jean-Baptiste Morin dit Rochebelle (brother of the husband to Marie-Madeleine Normand listed above).     The circumstances were fortunate - for Catherine.   Jean-Baptiste had been under a marriage contract with another Fille du Roi - Marie-Anne Fermin - but she backed out.  It's unlikely that she didn't think that Jean-Baptiste was a good match; he was - after all - one of the premier families in New France at the time.   More likely, she just didn't like Canada - according to a footnote on the contract dated 17 Nov 1667, she's listed as a passenger on the ship Le Prophète Hosée returning to France. 

Catherine's cousin, Marie-Charlotte de Poitiers (1640-1718, wife of 10th great-grand uncle) had arrived in Québec earlier (1659) as a "Fille à Marier".   She married Joseph Hébert in 1660 after arriving in 1659 (age 19).   Her marriage wasn't a happy one;  after giving birth to a son Joseph in 1661, her husband was killed in an Iroquois attack.