Category Archives: In the Woods

Dead or Alive: Madeleine Charlot


The beach of Plage Jacques Cartier and the cliffs of Cap-Rouge. By Cephas (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons

I imagined this blog post would be a whole different story. I thought it would be about lightning striking twice.

But it turns out that records are contradicting themselves and I don’t know what is going on.

What I thought I found out:

I thought I discovered that almost 7 years to the day that Pierre Gareman dit Le Picard and his son Charles were captured by the Iroquois, so was Pierre’s wife, Madeleine Charlot.

On the same day [that Father Mercier returned to the Beaupre mission], the fifth [of June 1660], a Canoe of 8 iroquois, or rather yroquoised Hurons, carried off picar’s wife, with 3 Children, at the petit Cap. They were discovered on the same Day, at 10 o’clock at night, while they were passing point de Levi, by about 20 Montagnais or Algonquains, accompanied by 8 frenchmen. The woman was dangerously wounded. Of the 8 iroquois, 3 were drowned and 5 brought in alive; of these, 3 were burned here, one was given to 3 rivers, and the other was spared his life. ~ Jesuit Relations, volume 45, page 155, 157

It makes sense to assume “picar’s wife” is Madeleine Charlot.* There were no other known Picars in Cap Rouge or Sillery (I checked the 1666 census.) Plus Pierre and Madeleine’s three adult Gareman daughters lived in Cap Rouge or Sillery – so it would be likely that their mother remained near. And while it was rare to hear a woman called by her husband’s name at the time, Pierre was rather famous for his capture and there was the continued effort for the return of their son Charles – so it could make sense in this instance that naming conventions were defied.

This find felt like a win. A new twist in an old story.

And then I ran into Pierre and Madeleine’s youngest daughter’s marriage record. Many believe that this record indicates that Madeleine Charlot was already dead by January 29, 1652 when Mathurin Trut and Marguerite Gareman married.

Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 2.45.48 PM.png

The marriage record of Mathurin Trut and Marguerite Gareman, January 29, 1652, Notre-Dame-de-Quebec. Drouin Collection.

It all hinges on whether you see the words “et de” (and of) or “et feu” (and the late) before Madeleine’s name.**


Screen Shot 2017-11-03 at 2.13.18 PM

A close-up of the relevant end of the fourth line.

Honestly, it looks like “et feu” to me.

But still I am holding out hope – not that Madeleine suffered grave injuries at the hands of the Iroquois, but for what promises to be a more complicated story.


UPDATE: Reader Jhoguecorrigan pointed out in the comments that there there was another family of Picards near Beauport that claims the 1660 capture story. There are links here, here, and here.


*Source Note: I am reading the English translation of Jesuit Relations edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites in the 19th century online through the Internet Archive. The index assumes that picar’s wife and Madeleine Charlot are the same woman too.

**Thank you! To FM, and especially, SG on the Facebook Genealogical Translations page. Thanks for helping me make sense of this scrawl!

Tagged , , , , , ,

Was Suzanne Nepveu a Meti child?

PH raised this question a while back. I still don’t have the definitive answer but think that Suzanne probably wasn’t the daughter of an European-native union because of the conventions I see used in the documents surrounding her birth.

During the 1650s when Suzanne was born, the Jesuits operated a native reserve at Sillery.  The reserve bordered the St. Lawrence River and consisted of a stone fort that surrounded the Jesuit residences, their oven, their brewery, and their chapel — and the Terres des Sauvages where Christian Indians lived.  Behind the native lands, the Ursaline nuns ran a school and medical clinic.  In the 1650s, Europeans were given permission to settle to the west of the mission as a buffer against Iroquois attack. Suzanne’s father, Jean Nepveu acquired his land there in November 1652.

Map of Sillery, 1663 from Marcel Trudel's Le Terrier Du Saint-Laurent En 1663.

Map of Sillery, 1663 from Marcel Trudel’s Le Terrier Du Saint-Laurent En 1663.

Sillery was definitely a crossroads of European and native life in the 1650s.  Father Bailloquet, of the thickly-inked, tight scrawl below, baptized many natives at Sillery.  At least 8 baptisms are captured in the screen shot below.

1655 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of record

1655 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of record

In the Sillery records, the native and the European births were usually kept separate.  However, Suzanne Nepveu’s baptism record defies expectations because it is in an unusual mixed list.  Still, the way her baptism was handled makes it likely that she was European in origin.

Suzanne Nepveu and others' baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of record

Suzanne Nepveu and others’ baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of record

In the list above, both European and native baptisms are present — but the European baptisms (Suzanne Neveu, Hyancith Charland, Margarita Guillebout, and Ignace Denis) all have their names listed in the margins.  The native child is not extended that courtesy — just as in the native-only baptism list above.

Suzanne’s older sister, Barbe, was baptized at Notre Dame de Quebec a couple of years prior.

Babe Nepveu's 1653 baptism at Notre Dame de Quebec. Screenshot of record

Babe Nepveu’s 1653 baptism at Notre Dame de Quebec. Screenshot of record

She was also granted margin recognition for her record.

Understanding these documents isn’t easy.  The handwriting is often poor, the documents are often in Latin, and the information is utilitarian.  For now, I am confidant in my hunch about margin recognition as a signal of pure European heritage.  However if I had a Meti (mixed race) baptism record (or few) for comparison, I might be inspired to change my mind.  If you have one from the 1650s, please share!

Tagged , , , , ,

Why did Etienne Denevers godparent native Americans in the 1600s?

Etienne could have been a godparent for historical reasons. He certainly lived in a place and time when Europeans and natives intermixed.  This moment wouldn’t last long near Quebec. His children moved away from Sillery in the late 1670s. The last natives left the Jesuit reserve by the end of the 1680s.

Still some ancestors, such as the Leodet/Nepveu/Pinel line did not appear in native baptisms even though they lived at the same place during the same time.  So Etienne could have been a godparent because of temperament.  Maybe he was outgoing.

If so, other ancestors were too.  The Hayot family that Etienne Denevers married into served as godparents to native Americans also.  In the following 1654 record, both Etienne’s father-in-law, Thomas Hayot, and Etienne’s wife, Anne Hayot, served as godparents to native children.

1654 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of record

1654 native baptisms at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of record

Thomas’ children/Anne’s siblings, Genevieve and Jean, also served as godparents to native Americans at Sillery in the 1650s.

Did they all have bubbly personalities? My guess is no; that temperament is only part of the answer.  Instead, I think ambition united them. The Leodet/Nepveu/Pinel line was wracked with challenges (a marriage dissolved by bigamy, a brother convicted of rape).  I think they had their hands full getting by.  On the other hand, Thomas Hayot was a community representative (Cap-Rouge’s delegate to the People’s Assembly.)  Etienne Denevers held three concessions at Sillery when most only held one.  I am thinking that these ties through god parenting — to natives and to the Jesuits — might have been useful networking to people working to get ahead.

Tagged , , , ,

Follow the Godparents: Mixed Race Relations

My ancestors lived next door to the native reserve at Sillery during the mid-seventeenth century.  I have been wondering about how tight their relationships to native Americans might have been.  It looks like the answer might be found by following the godparents!

A while back I posted about using godparents as a way to put skin on the bones of distant ancestors’ lives.  In the Nepveu and Silvestre families, community ties were made and reinforced through god-family. Now I also have evidence of interracial relations as well.

Etienne Denevers dit Brantigni (the original Boisvert from France) was godfather to at least two namesake native godsons.  The first was the son of Kaouboukouchich and Kouekassouekoue, born 1650.

1650 baptism at Trois Rivieres. Screenshot of record

1650 native baptism at Trois Rivieres. Screenshot of record

The second was the son of Nicole Nemiouekoue and Pikouetching, born 1663.  I believe this Etienne’s mother was a Christian Indian (hence the mixed name) but that his father was not.

1663 native baptism at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery.  Screenshot of record

1663 native baptism at Mission St. Joseph de Sillery. Screenshot of record

Edward Roby, who provided a vital translation in the comments of this post, believes that Etienne Denevers later adopted this godson and raised him (Etienne Denevers dit Boisvert, @1661) as his own.

Tagged , , , , ,

Are there any Leborgnes left in Miquelon?

Modern Miquelon from above.  Source: Wikipedia

Modern Miquelon from above. Source: Wikipedia

I am fascinated by the tenacity of my ancestors’ connections to Miquelon during the eighteenth century when the conditions were rough and European politics forced many migrations to and from the island.  But what happened after 1816 when families were able to stay for as long as they liked?

I know my direct ancestors left the island sometime between 1828 and 1844 — but did anyone in the family remain?  Is anyone still there today?

If there are any modern Leborgnes at Miquelon, they are not direct relations of my 4G grandmother Euphemie, or her father, Francois.  Instead, they are descendants of Francois’ uncle, Nicolas Leborgne, and his aunt, Marie Elisabeth Beaudry.

Nicolas and Marie Elisabeth’s son, Louis, married Nicolas’ sister Marguerite’s daughter, Marie Eugenie Poirier.  They were first cousins.  Louis and Eugenie had nine children between 1832 and 1856.  Two sons stayed on the islands: Alexis Louis and Emile Gratien.

Alexis Louis married Josephine Marie Elisa Le Roux.  They moved from Miquelon to the neighboring island of St. Pierre in 1872.  Their son, Joseph (born 1863), stayed and married Julie Quirk.  Joseph, Julie, and their two sons — Louis and Henry — were still on St. Pierre as late as 1902.

Emile Gratien married his first cousin, Marie Louise Poirier, (daughter of his mother Eugenie’s brother, Alexis.)  They had seven children.  Emile, Louise, and their son Emile Alfred were still at Miquelon in 1907. Emile Alfred was living with his wife, Josephine Arantzabe, and their two-year-old daughter, Berthe Marie Eugenie.  Perhaps they eventually had a son.

That is not to say that there isn’t a lot of Leborgne blood left on the islands.  There were many Leborgne women who married and stayed upon the islands.  There might be Leborgne blood in the Poirier, Gaspard, Cormier, Orsiny, and others, if they are still there today.


Tagged , , , , ,

Were they alone?

When six Leborgnes and sixteen Girardins returned to Miquelon in the spring and summer of 1816, they were part of a historical moment — a long anticipated repatriation.  My (then unmarried) 4G grandparents, Francois Leborgne and Polonie Angele Girardin, were among them.  Did they make their voyages alone?  Or were these ancestors family with the other Leborgnes and Girardins upon the ships?

Miquelon shore -- shared on Wikipedia

Miquelon shore — shared on Wikipedia

The answer is easy to find in Polonie Angele’s case. The list of Miquelon returnees shows that she sailed aboard La Salamandre with her entire family.  Her father, Jean-Baptiste Girardin, was 48.  Her mother, Polonie Rose Gaudet, was 49.  They traveled with eight children.

  • Genevieve, 27 years, born in Miquelon — soon to marry Joseph Vigneau, the father
  • Polonie Angele, 23 years — soon to marry Francois Leborgne
  • Hypolite, 16 years (son)
  • Jean, 13 years
  • Elise, 11 years, born in La Rochelle
  • Emilie Malvina, 9 years, born in La Rochelle
  • Severe Celinia, 7 years, born in La Rochelle
  • Gratien, 3 years (son), born in La Rochelle

But they weren’t the only Girardins on the list.  There were four other Girardin family groups on La Salamandre:

  • Francois Girardin (43) and Anne Bertaud (35), their one-year-old son, Joseph, and his three children from a previous marriage — Benjamin (18), Theodore (16), and Hypolite Eduoard (10).
  • Joseph Girardin (38), Jeanne Pautrot (39), their daughter Sophie (13), and their son Pierre Hermine, born on the way to Miquelon.
  • Joseph Briant (48) and Genevieve Girardin (46), and their children — Marie Anne (20), Louis (18), Julie (16), Pierre (14), Francois (12),  Prosper (10, son), Benjamin (8), and Emilie (6).*

Who are these Girardin?  They are Polonie Angele’s aunts and uncles.  They are found together as siblings with their parents (Pierre Girardin dit Manceau and Catherine Leger) in a variety of censuses taken in Miquelon and St. Servan (France.) Tracing out Francois Leborgne’s traveling companions is harder.  The only other Leborgne who traveled on his ship, La Revanche, is a 17 year-old named Laurent.  It is possible, but unclear, whether they were brothers. Other Leborgnes made the journey though — just on different ships.

  • Marguerite Leborgne (27) arrived on La Caravane with her husband, Alexis Poirier (37) and their daughter, Eugenie Marguerite, probably born at sea.  Alexis’ mother, Marguerite Vigneau, and two of his sisters (Louise Genevieve and Marguerite Melanie) were also aboard the ship.
  • Nicolas Leborgne (35) arrived on La Salamandre with his wife, Marie Elisabeth Briant (36), and their son Louis (10).  (Originally I claimed Louis was from an earlier marriage, but the comment below has me thinking that the Miquelon returnee list erred when Louis was listed as his grandmother’s son —  it is much less creepy this way.)
  • Jeanne Leborgne (38) arrived on La Lionne with her husband, Jean Giffard (52) and their children — Rose (7) and Louis (2).  Jean’s daughter from an earlier marriage, Angelique (22), was also aboard the ship.

Who were these people and how did they relate to Francois?  It is hard to tell from the Miquelon censuses.  The Leborgnes only appear once (1776) — and no one’s name and age matches those found in 1816. However, there are genealogies on the web that help piece together the puzzle, if you are willing to play the 6 degrees of separation game.

  1. The Archive of St. Pierre and Miquelon lists Michel Leborgne, Genevieve Sceau, and their children Michel, Francois, and Jean as present in Miquelon in its 1776 census.  The boys are too old to be Euphemie’s father — but could they be her grandfather?
  2. The Louis Girardin descendency page lists Francois Leborgne, husband of Polonie Angelique Girardin, (Euphemie’s parents) as the son of Francois Leborgne and Rosalie Bonnevie — which seems to indicate that it is Euphemie’s grandfather listed in the 1776 Miquelon census.
  3. To tie the knot a bit closer, there were Miquelon Bonnevie.  They were also present for the 1776 census.  Armand and Catherine Godet live there with their children Pierre, Modeste, Marie, Amand, Jean and Rosalie.
  4. But wait, there is more…. Evangeline’s Cousins, an Acadian genealogy website, lists the children of Michel Leborgne and Genevieve Sceau as Michel, Francois, Jean, Marie Anne, Jeanne, Louis Nicolas, Genevieve Francoise, Rosalie Perrine, Marguerite and Anastasia.  The ages of the eldest three children (none of whom returned to Miquelon) are in the right order and are within one year of the kids listed in #1.  The children in italics match the birth order of the returning Leborgne refugees.
  5. Curiously, the 1776 generations of Leborgne and Bonnevie were quite tangled.  The Blou family page at Acadian-Cajun Genealogy shows Francois Leborgne as the spouse of Rosalie Bonnevie.  So does the Caissy family page.  These records also show that two of their siblings also married: Michel Leborgne married Marie-Madeleine Bonnevie.  Amand Bonnevie (junior) married Marie-Anne Leborgne.  In addition, The listings also show that Francois Leborgne (senior) and Rosalie Bonnevie died before Miquelon was repatriated.  She died in 1809, he died in 1810 — which explains why they weren’t on a boat in 1816.
  6. According to the returnees list of the Archive of St. Pierre and Miquelon, Marie Modeste Bonnevie (an elder sister of Rosalie in #3), her husband Joseph Doucet, and two of their adult children sailed  in 1816 to Miquelon on La Revanche, the same ship that Francois sailed on.  This Marie Modeste also appears as Joseph Doucet’s wife in the Blou and Caissy family pages listed in #5.

All of this might be coincidence.  All of this still needs to be verified with primaries.  But I believe this: Polonie Angele Girardin was not the only one to travel with the comfort of family to Miquelon in 1816.  Although his parents died in France, Francois Leborgne came over with family too.  He and his brother Laurent traveled with their maternal aunt and her family — while their paternal aunts, uncles, and cousins (Marguerite, Jeanne, Nicolas, and Louis) returned on other ships.


I also looked briefly to see how many of the in-laws traveled in large numbers to Miquelon in 1816.  The families of Bertaud, Pautrot, and Bonnevie only sent one representative each.  The Doucet and Godet/Gaudets sent three representatives.  The Giffards sent six.  The Briand/Briants sent thirty family members back to Miquelon.  And the Vigneaus and Poiriers sent thirty-four representatives each.  Wow.


Do you know more than I do?  Have a different reading of the facts?  Please share!


*There are two intriguing stories suggested in the listing of this family.  First, the Briants’ oldest daughter was also accompanied by her husband Joseph Miniot (38.)  They returned to France in September 1816.  Perhaps he was homesick.  Second, the Briants’ daughter Julie married Pierre Lucas in 1820, but died in 1821.   Perhaps she died in childbirth.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Euphemie Leborgne of Miquelon

Genevieve Euphemie Leborgne's signature from the baptism record of Marie Isabelle Leborgne.  March 7, 1862.  St. Felix de Kingsey, Quebec.

Genevieve Euphemie Leborgne’s signature from the baptism record of Marie Isabelle Leborgne. March 7, 1862. St. Felix de Kingsey, Quebec.  Screen shot from

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.

Tagged , , ,

Why we lost touch 4 generations ago …

Most everything my Nanny knew about her maternal grandfather’s family was fiction.  Her great, great grandfather was not a ward of Napoleon sent to Canada for his safety.  Instead her great, great grandfather died of cholera in 1834 — setting into motion the first migration in his family line since they arrived in Ste. Croix, Quebec, Canada four generations before.

So why was all of Nanny’s accurate Greenwood (previously Boisvert) information limited to the family of her mother’s siblings?

Photo credit: family photo

Nanny’s mother Minnie (Greenwood) Dobbins (right, standing) next to her brother George Greenwood (3) and above her mother Adele (Charbonneau) Greenwood (1), Eugenie (Boisvert) Merlet (4), and Charles Henry Arthur Greenwood (5.)  Minnie’s elder brother Edward is not pictured.  Photo credit: family photo.

I think the answer lies in geography.  Many of Minnie’s siblings and their children stayed on in the Adams/Pittsfield, MA area.  Those who didn’t — like my Nanny — visited often.

Nanny’s grandfather’s siblings arrived in Adams, MA in the late 1860s.  The Greenwoods first showed up in the 1870 census.  They formed a single household headed by their widowed mother.  They didn’t stay together for long.

The Greenwood household that starts on line 7 includes widow Phebe Greenwood (Euphemie Leborgne), Edward, Alfred, Frances, Jennie (Angelle), Anthony. Hubert and Marie are no longer with the family.  Source: 1870 U.S. Census. Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts. Phebe Greenwood household.

The Greenwood household that starts on line 7 includes widow Phebe Greenwood (Euphemie Leborgne), Edward, Alfred, Francis, Jennie (Angelle), Anthony. Source: 1870 U.S. Census. Adams, Berkshire, Massachusetts. Phebe Greenwood household.

In 1880, Edward and Alfred are the only ones still found in Adams.  They both had wives and were raising young families.  Their mother Phebe and brother Francis can’t be found.  Perhaps they had returned to Canada.  Perhaps they were elsewhere in the States.  Perhaps they were dead.  I haven’t found any clues yet to tell me what happened.  Their sister Jennie and brother Anthony were no longer in Adams. but they can be found boarding in Manchester, NH.

In time, Edward died (1888), Alfred and his wife joined their daughter’s family in Schenectady, NY,* and Jennie disappeared like her mother and brother Francis (probably due to a name change at marriage.) Only Anthony persisted in nearby Manchester, NH– but it is easy to imagine that the families didn’t keep in touch.  By time his brother died, Anthony would have been living away for over a decade and raising his own young family.

In the end, the lack of geographic proximity to a dead brother’s family probably had a lot to do with why my Greenwood family’s Canadian history was imagined so much. And it comforts me to think that Edward’s siblings had become far-flung. How painful would it have been if they couldn’t pass on their stories while living in the same small town?!


*Alfred and his wife Eliza (Hill) left Adams and  followed their daughter Louisa to Schenectady, NY where they lived out the rest of their days.  (Alfred’s wife only appears in the George Lawson household in 1910, Alfred persists with his daughter’s family into 1920 and 1930 as well.)

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: