Tag Archives: etienne denevers

Lorie’s Greenwood Family

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie's Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis.  Source: Lorie's family pictures

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie’s Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis. Source: Lorie’s family pictures

My grandfather talked about being a Boisvert.

Today I want to share a bit about Cousin Lorie’s family history.  Lorie and I met through the internet and we are both Greenwood descendants of Etienne Denevers dit Boisvert.  Etienne was born @1661 at Sillery and raised his family in nearby Ste. Croix.  He had five sons and two daughters.  I descend from his son Louis (1693) and she descends from Joseph (1697.)  I believe these brothers married Picher sisters — and then later their grandsons married Houde sisters.  So our trees are distantly, but intricately, tied up together.

Her family left Ste. Croix two generations before mine did (in my line Louis Hubert born 1816 left, in hers Louis born 1735), but both lines headed for the United States within a few years of each other. Our 2G and 3G grandfathers (Eduoard and Antoine Delphis) were the ones to make the move and to Anglicize the Boisvert name to Greenwood.  Eduoard moved to the city (Pittsfield, MA) as a blacksmith and Antoine Delphis acquired a series of farms in New Hampshire where he pursued logs and logging.  There is no reason to believe that they knew each other — it is just a fascinating example of the tides of history at work. Individual lives and choices adding up to a historical trend.  In this case, both lines of the family were part of the wave of French Canadian migrants to New England that left when it became difficult to continue farming in Canada.

The chart below shows Lorie (right) and my (left) Boisvert lineage down to the generation that was born Greenwood (my great grandmother, her great, great grandfather.)

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When I meet new cousins, I always ask: when did you learn about your Boisvert ancestry? Did you always know? What stories did your family share? Where did your line go? Do you know why they moved? Were there any stories of native ancestry?

The Greenwood farm in Bath, New Hampshire.  Source: Lorie's family photos

The Greenwood farm in Bath, New Hampshire. Source: Lorie’s family photos

Like many of us, Lorie’s stories go back to the things she heard from her grandparents.  This is what she heard about her ancestor who came to the United States.

The story I heard from my grandparents is that Antoine Delphis (aka Adolphus, born 1849) came down to the U.S. in 1867 to either NH or VT thus meeting his future wife, Sophie Newell. I’m assuming he came down to the States to work. The family story goes that Adolphus and Sophie met at a logging camp where Sophie was the camp cook. He changed his name to Adolphus Greenwood upon moving to NH. He had a farm in Monroe, NH and then Bath, NH, and also lived in Haverhill, NH. My great, great, great grandfather not only owned a farm but he also worked for the railroad. He died instantly in a railroad accident in 1911.

Lorie’s great, great, great grandfather’s fourth child, Adolphus C., was a larger than life character in the family stories.

When my Gramp was a kid he would spend the summers with his grandfather on their farm in Bath. His grandfather was Adolphus C, the son of the Adolphus who came down from Canada in the 1860’s.  Adolphus grew up, worked the farm and married a girl of French Canadian descent, Mary Jenny Paradis. My Grandpa told us stories about how his Gramp was really strong and could turn the handle of the ice cream maker crank when all the farm boys (sons -they had fifteen kids) had quit because it got too thick. He was tall and could also throw a 50 pound bag of grain clear into the back of the barn from the doorway. The boys would haul the bag back out when he went up to the house and take turns throwing it to see who could do it like he did.

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie's Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis as young parents.  Source: Lorie's family pictures

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie’s Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis as young parents. Source: Lorie’s family pictures

His wife, Mary Paradis, is famous for bad toast.

My Gram says Adolphus’s wife would burn the toast because she had to make it on a wood stove. But on the other hand, she had 15 kids (15!!!) not all lived, but maybe running a house, being pregnant all the time and having numerous kids had something to do with the sub-optimal toast.

Lorie doesn’t know what was behind the moves her Boisvert line made, though they settled in the Becancour area after leaving Ste. Croix.  She learned this with the help of the Boisvert Family Association.  Like me, she assumes all the moves had some sort of economic or family reason. And like my line, her grandparents had some sort of vague knowledge of family ties to native Americans.

My dad says my Gramp also told him we were part Native American and that Gramp took us up to St. Francis. I remember being in Canada on one trip with a lot of Native American boys around us when I was a kid, but I didn’t see that trip as seeing “family”. As a genealogist I’ve looked further into St Francis, but researching Native Americans is not easy and I haven’t found any records. Looking back, I know historically the French were much more willing to marry into the Native population than the English were, so there is a possibility we are part Native American, but I was never told any names of specific Native American women that married into the Boisverts.

Thanks Lorie for sharing your stories!

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie's Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis in their later years.  Source: Lorie's family pictures

Adolphus Charles Greenwood (the first of Lorie’s Boisvert line to be born a Greenwood) and his wife Mary Paradis in their later years. Source: Lorie’s family pictures

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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 familysearch.org record

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

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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 familysearch.org record

1650 native baptism at Trois Rivieres. Screenshot of familysearch.org 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 familysearch.org record

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

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Translation Challenge: What does this say?

This 1663 Jesuit baptismal record shows Europeans acting as godparents to native children at the reserve at Sillery.  It is an unusual record in that most Jesuit baptismal records don’t record multiple baptisms in one entry.  I am having difficulty with it because of the thick ink, the old Latin, and the obscurity of the native names.  Anyone see this as a challenge and want to take a peek?

April 20th, 1663 baptism record at Sillery.  Source: familysearch.org

1663 baptism records at Sillery. Source: familysearch.org

I am primarily interested in the April 20 entry at the bottom, but have included three others for context and handwriting clues.  The first, second, and final (April 20) record are all in Father Bailloquet’s writing.  Entry 3 is in the very neat hand of Henri Nouvel.

If you don’t know Latin, googletranslate helps a lot!

April 20, 1663 baptism at Sillery.  Source: familysearch.org

April 20, 1663 baptism at Sillery. Source: familysearch.org

Line by line, this is what I think I see.  (Underlines mean word left out.  Parentheses mean my best guess at a native name.)

  1. I Father Bailloquet Society of Jesuits ______ baptize
  2. _____  ______  Sillery ______  ______ infant _____  ______  ______
  3. first child of mother Nicola (Nosnisaksa) and _____  of father (Piksachins)
  4. _____  ______  _____  (Nosnisaksa) born Gropius (Srxchelin)
  5. 3rd ______  born of mother Martina (Nigoty) and father ______ (Nikazhkasnt)
  6. ______  ______  Abenaki.  Stephen Brantigni ______ ______  ______  Stephen
  7. Godmother Trud 2nd & 3rd.  ______ Nicolas.

I believe that this is the baptismal record of three natives at Sillery.  Some believe it might be the baptism record of the founding Boisvert ancestor for whom no baptismal record has ever been found.  (Etienne Boisvert went by a dit name rather than his father’s name, not unusual in the era.)  In this understanding, the child in this record is later orphaned and raised by his godfather Etienne Denevers (called Brantigni here) as his own son.

What do you think?

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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!

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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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com family tree.

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

Etienne Denevers and Anne Hayot (by 1650): This post at the collaborative genealogy site Geni.com 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 www.translate.google.com (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 Ancestry.com family tree.

Edward Greenwood’s great grandmother’s family tree. Source: screenshot of my Ancestry.com 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 …. 😉

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