Genevieve Euphemie Leborgne was born in 1820 on Miquelon, 84 square miles of island off the coast of Newfoundland. Miquelon is a French possession. Yes, France still has a North American colony in the twenty-first century. This makes my 3G grandmother the most recent ancestor to arrive from France in my tree – even though it is probable that her ancestors had been in the new world since the 1600s.
I didn’t discover Miquelon through Euphemie’s birth record, which I don’t have, nor through her marriage record, which claims she is of Danneville, Quebec. No, I found the geography of Euphemie’s birth through a random Google search that brought me to a page listing the people who returned to Miquelon in 1816, and those who were born there between 1816 and 1822.
Miquelon has had an unusual history of settlement. When Europeans first arrived in Canadian waters in the 1500s, Miquelon was used as a temporary fishing base by the local natives. The Europeans decided to use it the same way too – and did so until France built a permanent fishing base there in the 1670s.
But Miquelon’s history was destined to be colorful. The island (and its sister island, St. Pierre) gained and lost residents according to the political fortunes of European nations during the 18th century. The British kicked the French out in 1713. The French kicked the British out in 1763. The British kicked the French out in 1793 — but deserted the islands in 1796. No one lived there until France regained control in 1816.
Euphemie’s parents were among the refugees who resettled Miquelon in 1816. Her father, Francois Leborgne, returned on La Revanche. Her mother, Polonie Angele/Angelique/Angelie Girardin, returned on La Salamandre. Euphemie’s sister Pauline Angele arrived three years later, Euphemie herself followed the year after that, then four more siblings (Malvina Emelie, Francois Marcel, Severe Celina, and Esther Gratienne,) each born two years apart, arrived too.
Miquelon did not hold on to Euphemie and her family for long after their repatriation. They are hard to trace but Euphemie and her mother, Polonie Angele, show up in the records of St. Felix de Kingsey, Quebec in the 1840s — and as far as I can tell, none of this branch of the Leborgnes ever went back to the islands.
The timeline of European control of Miquelon can be found here.