Sunday, October 9, 2016

Milestone Reached:  Person #40,000

Charles Prévost (1705-1743), a first cousin 10x removed {C:12,2}.

So it's taking about 1 year to get each 10,000 people.   Most of the ones added in the last year aren't actually blood relatives: they're ancestors of in-laws of relatives that I have to look up to determine whether or not someone along the way is a distant cousin.

But I trudge on, still working out all of the 1st cousins N times removed.  I'm about 1/3 of the way through that project.   Currently I'm on great-grandparent set #79 our of ~205.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


There are some odd things, etc. that I have run across in Tanguay, Drouin, and the PRDH.

  1. Sometimes, there are footnotes in Tanguay in death or burial entries "dans l'église".   I can't figure out the context of this:  does it mean they literally died in the church, or that they were buried within the church, or something else?   The burial records frequently say "buried in the cemetery of this parish" which stands to reason, but since Tanguay seemed to go out of his way to note this, it probably isn't something that should otherwise be obvious.
  2. Drouin records usually mentions consanguineous relationships, and sometimes there's an insert with the record of an actual document of dispensation (I suppose that's when one of the spouses is from a different parish than where the marriage is taking place) that are in Latin.

    However, I've run across situations where there is most-certainly a close relation between the husband and wife (e.g., second or third cousins) but there is NO mention of their relationship in the marriage record.  

    Was this just negligence on the part of either the church to do due diligence, or of the families to not inform the church of the relationship (and I suppose in some cases they didn't know, I suppose)? 

    I've also found dispensation documents that do NOT appear to bring up consanguinity, but my Latin is poor enough that I can't coax out what the underlying issue might've been.
  3. Drouin records will note the residence of parties, but not consistently.   I frequently find that while MOST of the children in a family are born in a single place (or there's an obvious relocation at some point), there's one or two children baptized in another place.   I know that sometimes this is because the local priest was not available immediately after the birth, and that families would go to a nearby church to have the child baptized.   But sometimes the location is NOT just "the next town over".   It seems weird to think there would be much traveling going on in the 1700's (or earlier) of women in late-term pregnancies, but I suppose it could be the case.
  4. What's the deal with Drouin records getting ages at death SO wrong SO often?   I've found situations where the baptism record is available (and sometimes in the same parish) but the age at death is 5 or more years off.   Strangely, marriage records tend to be closer to the mark - 1 or 2 years off at worst.
  5. Why do some people have a shift in given name?   I've seen several cases where someone named - say - "Marie-Marguerite" on their baptism record and marriage record(s) is listed as "Marie-Louise" on the burial record, even though it's clear from the record that I have the right person.
At some point I should try to sort these out.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

OK - Strap Yourself In - This Gets Complicated

So:  once upon a time there were two people in love:  Michel Lebeuf (c1710-c1764) and my 7th great-grand aunt Madeleine Tessier (1720-1798).   They married in Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pérade in 1739 and had 12 children.  Three died at birth, and 8 of the remaining 9 children married.

The youngest six of them have the most complicated inter-married relationships I have discovered thus far.

(Click to enlarge.)

Madeleine's father, Pierre Tessier (7th great-grandfather, 1698-1727) was a third-generation Québecois.  Three of Madeleine's cousins (of uncle René) among them had 4 children (all second cousins to each other) who each married one of Madeleine's children.

First, Angélique marries second cousin Jean-Baptiste Morand (son of Madeleine's cousin Marie) in 1777.   Just over a year later, younger sister Marie-Joseph marries Pierre Tessier, son of Madeleine's cousin Pierre-René (who is cousin Marie-Joseph's older brother).  Next Alexis marries Madeleine Vallée whose mother is Madeleine's cousin Marguerite, younger sister of Pierre-René and twin sister to Marie-Joseph!  (I find myself VERY curious if they were fraternal or identical twins...).  Finally, youngest daughter Madeleine (1757-1846) marries Basile (son of Pierre-René) in 1782.

So all of them have the common ancestor Édouard Tessier (1677-1750, 8th great-grandfather) in common.

But it gets even more complicated when you add Édouard's father Mathurin Tessier (1630-1703) into the mix.

Édouard has a sister Marie-Jeanne (b. 1685) who is an 9th great-grand aunt.   She marries Jean-Baptiste Gervais in 1700 (at age 14!) and has a son Pierre in 1701 (who is a 1st cousin 9x removed).   He marries Elisabeth Vallée (b. 1703) and through two of their children: Françoise — born 1737 — and Louis-Joachim we reach the two other children of Madeleine Tessier, but in slightly different ways.   Joachim marries Geneviève Lebeuf in 1771, which makes them 2nd cousins 1x removed.  Joachim's sister Françoise marries Louis Maillot (1739-) and it's their daughter Françoise (1762-) who marries Pierre(her 3rd cousin) in 1780.

Fortunately the eldest two sons, Michel and Joseph didn't marry into this web (that I can tell), and daughter Marie-Joseph (#1, for some reason they named two of their daughters Marie-Joseph) either died young (before Marie-Joseph #2 was born; the recycling of names is common, and to me a very strange custom), or was an old maid.

Nonetheless, if you happen to see this and lean that Madeleine is a direct ancestor of yours, you just might want to do some DNA screening...  Just sayin'.    I have no idea what inter-marrying happens in the NEXT generation (I probably won't get to the second-cousins N times removed until late 2017 at the earliest), but I think I'd be a little "concerned" if history repeats itself.

Friday, March 4, 2016

More marriage weirdness - Noël Barabé (c1669-1747)

As I'm going through the family tree, I'm frequently surprised by the intricate circumstances of marital relationships I encounter.   We're continually fed this idea that live was MUCH simpler in days gone by, and that the norm was that one man married one woman for life, in comparison to the norms of today where people marry, divorce, raise families outside of marriage, etc.

But while cultural norms change over time, the idea that we've moved from some simplistic "ideal" to a more-complicated set of domestic arrangements is somewhat misleading.   In reality - as I continue to discover - sometimes circumstances could be just as abnormal then as now.   I suppose it's yet another example of the conditions in early Québec - the comparative isolation of communities, combined with what probably was a pragmatic response to circumstances of availability, e.g., the programs set up by France to increase the population of women in Québec in the mid-1600s: the "Filles à Marier" and the "Filles du Roi". 

The harsh conditions of life and care meant that many people died young: men in the course of work, women from complications of child birth, not to mention disease, and also through violence from attacks by the native population (as well as battles with the British).   Providing continued care for families - many with young children meant re-marriages were extremely common;  it was an early-on revelation to me that the time frame from the death of a spouse to a re-marriage seemed EXTREMELY short - frequently only a few months.   But while all of this happened, some of the specific re-organizing of families (and their respective family trees) can sometimes appear to be rather "un-conventional".

The most well-known trope is cousin marriages, and consanguinity does appear all over the population, mostly among second cousins (or more distant relations), though first-cousin marriage definitely take place (though it's not quite AS frequent as I expected).   What's more common than I had expected are situations where siblings marry people who are also siblings (i.e., all the in-laws are shared).   Where it gets strange (at least to me) is where there are marriages involving someone with an in-law of one of their children: for example, a daughter (say Marie) in family X marrying a son (say François) in family Y.  Marie's mother dies (or has died) and her father re-marries a woman who is either the François' mother  (making Marie and François step-siblings à la Greg and Marsha Brady), or even weirder/creepier François' sister (making Jan both Greg's sister-in-law AND step-mother)!

Today I came across another strange situation, that of 7th great-grandfather Noël Barabé and his relations with the Tousignant family (Pierre Tousignant dit LaPointe and Marie-Madeleine Philippe[1]). 

He first marries eldest daughter Marie-Marguerite in 1687.   They have a son Jean-Baptiste in c. 1689.   They might also have a daughter, Marie-Renée out of wedlock (we know that Noël is her father, but her mother is not mentioned).   There's no other mention of other children, but Marguerite dies before 1697 because Noël marries Marguerite's sister Michelle (who is my 7th great grandmother) around 1697.

I enjoy trying to sort out what to call the familial relationships:  Noël and Michelle have 10 children who are Jean-Baptiste's first cousins AND step-siblings.   He grows up with "aunt Michelle" who becomes "step mom Michelle".  I have to wonder how families adjusted when the labels of relationships change - did the adopt the new nomenclature, or stay with the old?

(I'm also curious as to what Marie-Renée's life was like - there's no information about her life other than her birth date.   Illegitimacy was more commonplace than the record (or the church) would suggest: genome analysis of the Québec population reveals that the church records on parentage could be off as much as 10%!)

[1] Marie-Madeleine Philippe was a Fille du Roi.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Why doesn't Ancestry do better quality control (or let us do it)?

One thing that disturbs me is that I keep finding errors in the great-grandparents in terms of who their parents are.   Specifically, Isaac Tousignant (a 4th great-grandfather) had the wrong parents, which meant that designations up the tree (and then down again) were all wrong.

That took some time to clear up.

Apparently in my early over-eager efforts, I made some huge mistakes.   I'm not surprised, and this leads to a complaint I have about  there's NOTHING in the service that allows anyone to tag people or data with any type of "quality" flag.   Why? 

What I'd like to see, however, is a flag placed on specific people: a "completely verified" badge that would let people know that when they encounter a person on someone else's tree, that blindly including that person in your tree is "safe" (and helpful).   I've been burned by bad data (as mentioned above), and I think that one of the nastier problems with the service is that newbies can - in their over-eager quest for checking out "leaves" start compiling (and thereby propagating) bad data.

Wouldn't it be better to offer something that gives confidence in tree building?  Not only that, but it would allow aggregation of different sources of data that could be mapped into an "official" tree.