Category Archives: Greenwood

Greenwood: Gannonchiase and Gonnentenre


An imagining (@1931) of the early (@1640) Ursuline nuns with their Indian students. MIKAN 2895625

I found a squaw in the family. My Nanny always said that her great uncle married one, but the one I found was in the seventeenth, not the nineteenth century.

Her name is Marie Gonnetenre and she was Oneida.

I love that I can say her name and not just refer to her anonymously as a slur.

I am aware of few documents that can tell me anything about her life. I know her husband was born French but lived Oneida. This began on 10 June 1653, when it is noted in the Jesuit Relations (volume 38) that:

The Iroquois having appeared at Cap Rouge, kill Francois Boule, having pierced him with three gunshots, — in the stomach, in the groin, and in the thigh, — and having removed half of his scalp…. Besides, the lead away alive Pierre Garman, called “Le Picard,” and his son, Charles, 8-years-old; also a young man, Hugues Le Cousturier, of 23 years. They crossed the river again in five canoes.

Charles Gareman’s baptism is recorded at Trois Rivieres on March 27, 1643. He had three older sisters . The two born in France both named a son Charles after his disappearance. Florence (Boucher) in 1658 and Nicole (Mezere) in 1672. The youngest, Marguerite (Trut), only bore girls. I assume this means he was missed and not forgotten.

But Charles didn’t come back until 1677 when he and Marie Gonnetenre baptized their daughter, Louise on June 14th. This is the record that provides so much for the imagination.

But before I get to that, there is one more record, and one last known fact: Louise was buried on September 7, 1683 as a ward of the Ursalines in Quebec.

It is this latter record that suggests that Charles and Marie and left her behind with the Ursalines for raising. But why?

All sorts of things are possible: Charles and Marie had died, Charles and Marie were about to die, or Charles and Marie went on to live long lives in Pays-d’en-haut (the upper country where the French traded but rarely lived.)

When I first saw Louise’s baptism, I thought Charles wanted a Christian upbringing for his child, that maybe he had come home for a family reunion. But now I think it is more likely that he wasn’t interested in returning as much as the French were interested in his return. After all, it took him 24 years to show up.

And I think he did show up, even though there is no wording to say that he was present at his daughter’s baptism. I believe this mostly because in the baptismal record he is recorded as Charles Gareman dit Gannonchiase. Gannonchiase, his Oneida name, is not listed on the burial record. Therefore I imagine he was present for the first event and had a chance to represent himself.

And then my heart breaks. I can’t imagine bringing a child to Quebec and leaving her behind. But I imagine the French were thrilled to have her. They were always on the lookout for conversion successes — and what better candidate than a boy who did not come back’s daughter.

Screen Shot 2017-10-09 at 9.59.33 AM.png

Drouin Institute records. Notre Dame de Quebec, 14 June 1677.

And then I wonder about coercion. I wonder if the donation of this child was the price Gannonchiase and Gonnetenre had to pay for his continued freedom to live in Oneida country. I am not sure that the couple valued Christianity because Marie is referred to as a sauvagesse not indienne — and this might indicate that she is not Christian like the name Marie (the most generic of all Christian women’s names, literally most women had this as a first name) suggests.


I also wonder if sacrificing their daughter was the cost of their freedom because Louise’s godfather is none other than the governor of New France (1672-1682, and again 1689-1698), Louis de Buade de Frontenac.

Now maybe my imagination has run away with me, maybe sauvagesse and indienne are synonyms, and maybe the governor was the symbolic godfather to all native daughters entering the Ursaline’s care. I haven’t seen enough  similar but unrelated documents to judge the pattern yet.

But on this Columbus Day my mind is wandering with Gannonchiase and Gonnetenre.

Tagged , , , , ,

Greenwood: Gilles Pinel

When I first ran into Gilles Pinel in the family tree, I didn’t trust him.  I don’t share blood with him.  He was Anne Leodet’s second (and enduring) husband and Barbe Nepveu’s step-father.  Gilles and Anne’s first-born daughter, Catherine, married the boy next door, Denis Masse – even though Denis had been of marriageable age for years.  I thought maybe Gilles tried to save the “best” for his own blood, that maybe he didn’t accept my kin into his heart.

But it turns out that Denis Masse was not such a great catch.  He was dead within a few years of marriage to Catherine. Besides, Gilles did not abandon Barbe in her adult life.  Instead, he served as a godfather for her first child (1669) and he asked her husband, Nicolas Sylvestre, to serve as godfather to his son (1673.)  He couldn’t have been that bad of a guy.

So I came to wonder: how did Gilles come to Sillery where he met and married Anne Leodet?  Well, the answer is simple: he followed his father, Nicolas Pinel.

Nicolas Pinel was born around 1605 in Champagnoles, Normandy, France.  He married Madeleine Marault at Ste. Marguerite chapel, in La Rochelle, France on 29 September 1630.  Together they had five sons: Antoine (b. 1631), Gilles and Pierre (b. 1635, only Gilles survived), Pierre (b. 1636), and later, Isaac (b. 1645).**  In 1645, Nicolas signed a three-year contract to work at Port Royal in Acadia.  It is believed that Madeleine remained in France to raise their boys.  After Nicolas’ contract was completed, he settled outside Quebec.  On 16 September 1650 he acquired land and a home near the Cap Rouge River, next door to Sillery.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 2.32.50 PM

Nicolas Pinel’s original concession at Cap-Rouge (Gaudarville) of 3 arpents (acres) frontage was split into two plots by his widow in 1662.  The original concession included all of plot #11 and half of plot #10.  The map is from Marcel Trudel’s Le Terrier Du Saint-Laurent En 1663.

It is believed that Nicolas Pinel had his sons Gilles and Pierre join him and that they worked the land there together.

It is hard to figure out exactly how Gilles first met Anne Leodet, but it is easy to imagine that they would have come to know each other quickly in small neighboring communities.  Gilles was definitely in the community by 1651, Jean acquired his Sillery land in November 1652, Anne Leodet arrived in Quebec in December 1652, and Jean and Anne married in January of 1653.

I don’t know whether Gilles knew Jean well before he knew Anne (Jean was 10 years his senior) — but Gilles must have been, or become, close to the couple somehow.  On October 11th, 1655 Jean and Anne had Gilles stand as their second daughter Suzanne’s godfather.  But whether it was friendship — or a neighborly show of support for a man who had just lost his father– it is impossible to uncover. Gilles’ father, Nicolas, had died a few weeks earlier on September 18, 1655.

A couple of years later, everything would be different.  Jean would be exiled on bigamy charges and Gilles would marry Anne.***  Together Gilles and Anne raised a family that included Anne’s two children with Jean Nepveu and nine children of their own.  Anne and Gilles would remain in Sillery on Jean Nepveu’s land until about 1680, and then see the remainder of their days in nearby Neuville.  Anne and Gilles died within a year of each other: he passed in January, and she died in December, of 1700.


* Catherine Pinel went on to an enduring second marriage with Jean Prou after her first husband, Denis Masse, died.

** Disclaimer – this information on Nicolas Pinel is culled from the internet, and not fact-checked with primary sources – though I have sought multiple references and weighed credibility.

*** This timeline shows how much happened in two and a half short years.

  • September 18, 1655 — Gilles’ father, Nicolas Pinel, dies
  • October 11, 1655 — Gilles stands as godfather for Jean Nepveu and Anne Leodet’s daughter, Suzanne
  • November 1656 — Gilles buys land in Sillery, two plots away from Jean and Anne from Nicolas Patenostre for 80 pounds
  • July 28, 1657 — Gilles sells Sillery land for 120 pounds to Guillaume Routhier
  • September 2, 1657 — Gilles marries Anne Leodet
  • April 7, 1658 — Gilles and Anne’s first child, Catherine, is baptized.
Tagged , , , , , , ,

Good V. Bad Bigamy

Bigamy is always bad when found on Facebook.  But what about when you discover it on Ancestry?

There are two bigamists in my family tree.  The easily discovered, Pierre Pichet, and the shadowy, Jean Nepveu.

Poor Catherine descended from two bigamists: her paternal grandfather, Pierre Pichet, and her maternal great grandfather, Jean Nepveu.  Photo credit: screen shot of my family tree.

Poor Catherine Pichet descended from two bigamists: her paternal grandfather, Pierre Pichet, and her maternal, maternal great grandfather, Jean Nepveu. Photo credit: my family tree screen shot.

Pierre Pichet came to Canada in 1662 with the intention to settle in and send for Marie LaFebvre, the wife he left behind.  All was going according to plan until his brother Louis sent him a letter and revealed that his wife had died.  Thinking his first life over, Pierre moved to build a second one.  He arranged a marriage with fille du roi Catherine Durand in 1665.  Six years and three kids later, a newly arrived countryman insisted that Marie was not dead.

Pierre has a reputation as a “good bigamist” – and I believe that is because of what happened next.  He ran off to the local bishop to ask for advice.  The bishop said he was going to France soon and would check the story out for him.  In time, when Pierre learned that his first wife was indeed alive, he abandoned his second family, sailed for France, and brought Lefebvre back with him.

Less is known about Jean Nepveu.  The gist of his story goes like this:  In 1645, Jean arranged to go to Canada.  In 1653, he arranged to marry fille du marier, Anne Ledet.  They had two daughters before he was returned to France in 1656 or 1657. Jean’s crime is revealed by the fact that Anne was allowed to remarry after he left.  In a seventeenth century Catholic country, “until death do we part” was taken seriously.  There was no other way out of a legitimate marriage contract.  Jean was not dead, so the marriage contract must have been invalidated.

When I think of bigamy, I think of tv dramas and the betrayal of someone living multiple lives – perhaps a traveling salesman with families in two or three of the cities he frequents.   But in looking for bigamy on Facebook and Ancestry, the crime appears much more mundane.  In fact, bigamy seems like an act of hope for a better future committed by people who don’t end their previous relationships officially because they are either too broke or lazy (Facebook) or have no legitimate path to take (Ancestry.)

Except in the case of Pierre Pichet where misinformation set him up for a major oopsie-daisie.


  • Rene Jette, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec, des origines à 1730. Montréal, Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983.
  • Peter J. Gagne, King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: the Filles du Roi, 1663-1673, Quinton Publications, 2001.
  • Peter J. Gagne, Before the King’s Daughters: The Filles a Marrier, 1634-1662, Quinton Publications, 2002.
  • Time spent on Ancestry looking at other people’s family trees.
Tagged , , , , , ,

Our colonial ancestors are French Canadians

This post is for my family who is learning of their deep Canadian ancestry — but before I get started I want to give a great big shout-out of gratitude to the amazing researchers and storytellers who have gone before me.  This post is a lot more interesting for your efforts!


So I didn’t do this the right way.  I didn’t take my time and slowly build a tree one record at a time. Instead, I quickly grabbed every ancestor I could find on the public Ancestry trees — and then set out to see if what I found was right.  I believe in it enough now to share with you.  However, the tree  that I am showing you is still full of errors.  It is full of errors because this is my test tree.  I still haven’t moved most of what I discovered over to my “real” tree where I only keep what I know I got right.  Unfortunately if I showed you my “real” tree right now, it would end at Edward Greenwood’s father.  So let’s work with what we have….

Edward’s father was (Louis) Hubert Boisvert.  Look here for details on how I came to believe that this is true.  His death in 1866 (thanks Yvonne!) was probably what inspired his widow and 5 kids to move to Adams, MA.

This shows our family tree from Nanny’s mom up to the branches that will get us to our earliest ancestors in the Americas. Source: Screenshot of my family tree.

This shows our family tree from Nanny’s mom up to the branches that will get us to our earliest ancestors in the Americas. Source: Screenshot of my family tree.

Everyone you see on this test tree is ours.  I verified them using one of two methods.  I searched the birth, marriage, and death records of the Drouin collection to trace family up to the 1730s and from there I relied on secondary sources to confirm our line.  Tanguay — which is readily available online via both and the free site open library — was the first genealogical dictionary of Quebecois families and the one I relied on most.

We are really lucky that the Louis Hubert line is from Quebec.  Finding the trail of Nanny’s grandmother, (Genevieve) Euphemie Leborgne, has been nearly impossible to do online — and might be nearly impossible to do period — because they come from Acadia, New Brunswick, and a tiny French hold-out off the coast of Canada, the Island of Miquelon.

I still have a lot of work to do in order to get my own sense of our ancestors.  So today I just want to show you around our family tree and share what other talented researchers have already discovered and shared about our earliest ancestors.

I am going to start at the end of Edward Greenwood’s great grandfather’s paternal family line and work my down (staying mostly in what counts as the 11th generation back from me.)

Edward Greenwood's great grandfather's family tree.  Source: screenshot of my family tree.

Edward Greenwood’s great grandfather’s family tree. Source: screenshot of my family tree.

Etienne Denevers and Anne Hayot (by 1650): This post at the collaborative genealogy site details the story of their lives.  Anne Hayot is our earliest ancestor born in the new world (1640.)

Thomas Hayot and Jeanne Boucher (by 1638): This couple were probably our first ancestors to arrive in Quebec.  Jeanne Boucher was the sister of Marin Boucher, who came to Canada to help settle it with Samuel du Champlain.  A family historian has a write-up of the Hayot’s life here.

Michel Lemay and Michelle Dutost (by 1659): While most of our French Canadian ancestors were Catholic, Michelle is believed to be of Huguenot (Protestant) descent.  Here is a story of their life together.  And here is another one that claims Michelle was a “fille du marier.”  Fille du marier were women who took their chances at an improved life by migrating in search for husbands during the earliest period of French Canadian settlement.

Now let’s go up Edward Greenwood’s great grandfather’s maternal family line.

Pierre Pichet and Catherine Durand (by 1665): These folks have a colorful story.  At one point, their marriage was annulled for bigamy.   Catherine was a “fille du roi” — basically a young women sponsored by Louis XIV (he offered a dowry upon marriage) to settle in the new world.  You can learn more here.  You can also find out a bit about their married life together under the Dupres section of this family history website.

Nicolas Sylvestre  (by 1667): This site has great detail on Nicolas’ life.  There is even a bit on his daughter Anne (she is the fifth scroll in the graphic on the middle of the descendents’ page.)  You can use (cut and paste the text you are curious about), if like me you don’t speak French. He marries the eldest daughter of the couple below.

Jean Nepveu and Anne Ledet (by 1653): This site tells the story of how Jean comes to the new world, fathers two daughters, and was exhiled from Canada for bigamy.  Anne Ledet is our tree’s second “fille du marier.”  She went on to build a life with Gilles Pinel.  You can use the find function to locate her on this site.

Now we will take a look up Edward Greenwood’s great-grandmother’s line.

Edward Greenwood's great grandmother's family tree. Source: screenshot of my family tree.

Edward Greenwood’s great grandmother’s family tree. Source: screenshot of my family tree.

Joseph Biron (by 1723): He is the most recent arrival in this line, and no one has done any deep research on him that I could find.

Mathieu Choret and Sebastienne Veillon (by 1647): Their granddaughter married newbie Joseph Biron.  She is Robert’s daughter from his second marriage.  You can find out about Mathieu, Sebastienne and Robert if you click around on this site.

Jean Lerouge and Jeanne Poitevin (by 1650): Their granddaughter married newbie Joseph Biron. You can find out about Jean here.

That is the end of my family tree tour but if you would like to read up on what life was like for these early settlers, the Virtual Museum of New France is awesome!

Now study up, the test will be held soon …. 😉

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: