I will be presenting a tutorial on conducting Quebec- Francophone Genealogy Research, September 10, 2011 at the:
Parker Colorado Genealogical Society
Stroh Ranch Fire Station
19310 Stroh Ranch Road
10 September 2011
Business Meeting: 1:30pm – 2pm
Speaker: 2pm – 3:30pm
I have created the following materials for use in the session for both:
advance preparation (awareness) –as well as–
for the session itself.
The materials will form the basis of our discussion and an advanced reading will ensure that we can have a more in-depth set of discussions and mentoring activities. I know that it is unusual to assign homework for a session but hopefully folks will find a small amount of advance reading makes the session more productive.
I have encountered yet another Quebec genealogy mystery. As you might expect, this “new” mystery also involves the Deyo line. Nothing new there, I guess!
Here’s where things stand currently. The family in question are the Francois Lafaye/ Marguerite Foret family- my gggg-grandparents down my grandmother’s maternal line (mid 1700s).
Marguerite Foret/Forest appears ‘likely’ to have been the daughter of Bonaventure Foret/Forest and Marie-Claire Rivet. She as well as her entire Forest/Foret family were deported by the British ultimately landing in Louisiana as part of le Grand Dérangement; deportation records (on Ancestry.com) support that assertion as does a database on the Acadian-Cajun website. Additionally I have found the following history on the Acadiansingray website (for the complete history and sources click this link):
All of the Acadian Rivets who found refuge in Louisiana came from Maryland in the late 1760s:
Claire Rivet of Pigiguit age 42, wife of Bonaventure Forest, age 44, reached Louisiana in July 1767 with the second contingent of Acadians from Maryland. With them were four daughters, ages 18 to 12. They settled with the rest of the 1767 arrivals at St.-Gabriel d’Iberville south of Baton Rouge. Claire remarried to Abraham dit Petit Abram, son of fellow Acadian Abraham Landry and widower of Élisabeth LeBlanc and Marguerite Flan, probably at nearby Ascension in the 1770s. Claire died at Ascension in March 1780; the priest who recorded her burial said that she was 62 years old when she died, but she was closer to 57.
However there are other opinions on this including the following very nicely articulated by Paul Drainville of Springfield, Ma.
English: A painting of the portation in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia. Français : Scène de la déportation des Acadiens en 1755. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
[...] I was able to read of the hardships “Marie Lore” went through in her conversion (to the religion of her youth) and in the help that she provided to Madame Feller in her establishment of [her] mission.
It was interesting to read that Madame Feller referred to Francois Lafay as having been a French sailor who left his ship in the area of Boston…
I also was directed by M. Doray to the marriage record for Marie Anne Lafay who married Francois Lord, June 6, 1806 St. Marguerite de Blairfindie. In this record Francois Lafay is listed as an officer. I then found through a google book search a book that listed Francois Lafay as being an officer who served in the Canadian militia (at L’Acadie) for Britain in the war of 1812 (he would have been in his early 70′s). So two differnet sources refer to him being an officer…
This likely confirmed for me what Prof. Stephen White had written to me that Francois Lafay was most likely educated as Francois signed his name “Francois Lafay” as someone educated in English would have signed. If Francois was an officer he most likely would have then been educated.
[...] Quebec records indicate a Boston connection (area of Boston could mean the whole of New England). Prof. White suspects a Connecticut connection, as that was the location Marguerite and her family had been exiled in the deportation.[...]
The curious counter-point I would mention is to be found on the marriage record of my ggg-grandparents- Ignace Denis dit LaPorte and Julie Lafaye. On their marriage document dated 1801, it is noted that Francois Lafaye is a Laboreur. As in the example above his signature remains the same. So was he a military man or was he a common man? If you are fluent in French, I’d appreciate comments on the marriage text below.
Map of Louisiana highlighting Iberville Parish (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So what can I say? Marguerite’s husband, Francois, is a perplexing ‘mystery’. How and when Francois Lafaye arrived in the Southern colonies (today the US) is not certain. His position in life, uncertain. More frustratingly, Francois Lafaye is also extremely difficult to connect firmly to a set of parents- for now I have him linked with Francois Faille and Marie Anne Brosseau, because they had a son of the correct age and name (this is a commonly accepted, albeit, unreliable connection). The truth is, we don’t know who his parents were. The best I can do right now is guess.
To be genealogically more accurate and for me to be personally more comfortable, I really need some definitive information explaining how Francois came to the American colonies (Louisiana?). Finding that information, it then becomes more likely that we will be able to clearly identify his parents. But, to date I have not been able to find that information and those linkages. Perhaps some one out there has?! Ah well, such is the uncertainty of genealogy.
There seems to be a lot of confusion on the web regarding the ancestors and history of Marguerite Forest/Foret . But I, at least, am pretty happy saying she is the daughter of Bonaventure Foret and Claire Rivet. By that I mean I have found an adequate and cohesive amount of readily available circumstantial evidence. As was mentioned earlier, it seems probable that Marguerite and her family were deported to Maryland ending up in Louisiana in the south as part of the British deportation (ethnic cleansing) of Acadia; and, she resided in that area and perhaps the American Colonies during the 10 to 15 years after 1767 (this comment is based on the terminology used in her and Francois rehabilitation marriage record, above). As with most ‘removed’ Acadians, we tend to loose track of them once they departed Canada (such is largely the case with Marguerite). And as was explained above, there are other opinions, some seem very probable. But, each of the options seem to be missing hard evidence.
St. Gabriel (1761 – 1763) Church of the Iberville Coast [was] built by Acadian exiles in 1769. It was located in 1773 on Spanish Manchac on a grant given by that Government. [...] Believed to be the oldest Catholic church structure in Louisiana, St. Gabriel Church has been lovingly restored and maintained by the church congregation. It was built in 1769 and has been moved several times. [...]This area is in a part of Acadiana, which was founded by the Acadians, after their expulsion from Nova Scotia in the mid 1700s. St. Gabriel Roman Catholic Church is perhaps one of the oldest churches in the Louisiana Purchase Territory. [...]Tradition sets the date of the formation of the parish in 1761. According to the 1972 National Register nomination form, the Capuchin Vicar General, Father Dagobert, directed that a church be established in 1769, and tradition has it that the church building was completed in that same year. [...]The first baptism record available for the St. Gabriel Church is dated April 22, 1773, and the first marriage record is from January 1, 1773.
All of the above information certainly goes a long way towards explaining why the marriage of Francois Lafaye and Marguerite Foret required rehabilitation, it was never officially registered. or recognized by the Catholic Church. It may in fact have not even been conducted in a Church setting. hmmm.
Given the data I have discovered to-date, Francois Lafaye (Lafaille) & Marguerite Forest/Foret were most likely married in a non-Church setting (or minimally their wedding was unregistered) in Louisiana in 1767. This date is supported by PRDH & Drouin films, the location is up to the facts you choose to believe. I personally like the facts associated with the Rivet-Foret relocation through Maryland to St. Gabriel, Louisiana. The actual month and day, given on their rehabilitation record, seems to read 4 June 1767; other readers have translated the date differently. Most certainly, their marriage was rehabilitated 23 June 1792 in L’Acadie, St-Jean, Quebec. The rehabilitated marriage is signed by “Francois Lafay” not “Lafaille” or “Faille”.
We also, know that the couple had several children while living in the southern colonies who were re-baptized in that same church in L’Acadie, St-Jean, Quebec in the 1790′s (see image below). Julie Lafaye (my ggg-grandmother) was one of those children as her re-baptismal record attests. She (age 7) and her sister Brigitte (age 13) were re-baptized on the same day, 21 Sept. 1791; their brother Francois was also re-baptised that same year.
As Mr. Drainville’s note suggests, collateral searches are in order; without additional evidence this genealogy is at a brickwall. And so the search goes on!
To conclude our tale, Marguerite died 18 Feb 1819 in L’Acadie, Quebec. Francois Lafaye remarried Magdeleine Lepine 22 in Nov 1819 in L’Acadie, Quebec, Canada.
Francois Lafaye died June 1824 in L’Acadie, Quebec.
If you know of additional source information regarding this couple that you are willing to share, please let me know. Any/ all help are most welcome.
Canada has some of the world’s best documented family history information. This is especially true for Roman Catholic French Canadians. They were wonderful record keepers and the materials have been excellently preserved.
Over the years I have had the great good fortune of finding a number of small publishers/ booksellers who have, in their own ways, been most helpful. I hope you find some of these links and pointers useful in your New York and Quebec research.
Quintin Publications- Quintin Publications provides a wide array of professional genealogical research texts and document collections. Most of their texts focus on French Canada although they also publish materials from the British Isles and North America.
Clyde M. Rabideau – Heartnut Publishing- Clyde has been researching and writing books on the Robidous for many years and have tracked most of the descendants of Andre Robidou who came to Quebec in the mid 1600s. He also has published several books on the vital statistics for the 3 upstate New York counties of Clinton, Franklin and Essex.
American-French Genealogical Society- A genealogical & historical organization for French-Canadian research. They provide numerous self-published documents in addition to their association membership activities.
FrancoGene- In addition to numerous CDs and texts they claim to be the gateway to Franco-American and French-Canadian Genealogy on the Internet
Finding “French Canadian” North American ‘relatives’ can be quite a challenge. My searches most often lead me to southernmost Quebec (Bas Canada, near La Prairie and Lacolle areas) as well as to Northern New York (specifically Clinton County, NY). It seems that is the general area where most of my French-speaking forebears lived (from 1780- 1925); on occasion they manage to spill into the Quebec or Montreal areas, but that is almost always in the years before 1780. As you might know, the area I search is rather small geographically, as well as from a population perspective. But my observation has been, even though folks did not move around very much, they hid very well.
Over the years, I have learned a few hard fought lessons in doing my Francophone Quebec/ New York genealogy. I hope my series of tips & pointers will save some of you a few steps and maybe even some time in your searches.
Tricks? I use to uncover my French Canadian family data includes…
I almost always start by performing a quick search for folks using Ancestry.com records, especially the Drouin records. You will need Ancestry’s mega world license in order to make this function work well for you. Remember Canada is not part of the US and Ancestry licenses the use of these records with great pride and price. They are included in the WORLD license!
If you are unable to afford the International license fees for Ancestry (and many people are not predisposed to that exorbitant license fee), then the next best thing is FamilySearch.org. FamilySearch has almost all of the Drouin records indexed and, on top of that, they are very easy to read (page by page). Just remember you will want to have a reliable and super fast Internet connection for this ‘reading effort’. Otherwise, the reading will be pure torture, because of its slowness. You will find the FamilySearch Drouin records information filed under: Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900 Obviously, as the title implies, this information has a rather strict time frame limit constraint associated with it. For more detailed searching and reading the following documents plus numerous additional tomes are now online…
“For best results”I recommend always performing steps 1 & 2.
As with any genealogy search, I also rely on Mocavo.com queries. I love to see what others may have found, about those people I search. You never know where good information will appear.
NosOrigines is one of the best online databases for French Canada. The data is almost always accurate and it is closely monitored for quality and accuracy, unlike the junk you find promoted on OneWorld or other Ancestry or FamilySearch supported family trees (all of which are extremely unreliable, in my experience…).
Research Rootsweb looking for clues & hints. I have found some very useful information on family members and their already published trees there! I generally find this to be the second most helpful source of family members right after NosOrigines.
For older materials there are two essential sources of data one is:
Cyprien Tanguay’s Dictionnaire Genealogique des Familles Canadiennes which may be found in two locations:
Once you find useful Census reports. I recommend you take the time to read every page of the relevant Census document – even when they are dozens of pages long. I do this in both US and Canada Census documents in hopes of finding clues beyond those available for my original searched ‘person’. I have had great success using this method to identify/ validate other related families, friends, and family stories.
I recommend you conduct extensive research on siblings to find clues about parents. This is also a useful method for finding name variations, relatives, etc.
Much like with any Census data I find, when I find a grave I searched every online cemetery record in the surrounding area in hopes of finding additional information about family or family members and relationships.
When I find a useful Church record, if I have access to the entire church record, I scan the document for additional siblings, events, etc. If I have ordered and received the Church microfilm for my use in the local LDS Family History Center, I place any productive Church film on permanent hold. I like to keep my folks nearby for when I get another bright search idea.
When I’m on the hunt, I use as many spellings of surnames and given names as I can invent to conduct queries.. never say never! Not only will you discover that Census takers took liberties with names; parish priests, newspapers, gravestone makers, etc. did as well. Additionally, I have noted that there are regional preferences in terms of name use in documents. For example, NY Catholic Church records seem to prefer Latinate variants where Canadian’s seem to stick with native French, but often use short hand.
In both data discovery and refinement phases of your search, I recommend searching/posting messages to seek or share information. The Message Boards I most often use are on Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com.
When looking for burial information on this side of the border (US side), I make extensive use of the Northern New York Tombstone Project. I have found quite a treasure trove of useful information in their online database.
If you have additional ideas you would like me to share, please send them along and I’ll update this page. In another post I will be adding information regarding “where to find” and “how to get” non-online source materials.