Tag Archives: genealogy

Greenwood: Gannonchiase and Gonnentenre

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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.

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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.

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The Truth of Nanny’s Stories in Memory and Fact

From my Nanny's family history book (handwritten by my Pop-Pop). I don’t know why there are so many commas, perhaps it was meant to be a poem.

My Nanny’s family history as hand-written by my Pop-pop.  I don’t know why there are so many commas, perhaps it was meant to be a poem.

This is the paragraph that begins my Nanny’s family history.  It is not the story of her father’s (Dobbins) line, it is the story that looms largest in her imaginings, it is her story of the Greenwood/Boisvert.  It is all untrue, except for the fact that her grandfather was born in 1814.

Let’s walk through it, line by line.

My great, great Grandfather, was born in France, the year is unknown.

Nanny’s great, great grandfather was born in Ste. Croix, a small farming village outside of Quebec, in Canada on November 6th, 1779.

Nanny’s great, great grandfather’s great, great grandfather was born in France in 1627.

Nanny’s great grandmother, Euphemie Leborgne, was born on a tiny French island off the coast of Newfoundland (France’s last North American holding.) Maybe her birth in 1820 led to the confusion.

He was a ward of Napoleon Bonaparte, who had him, sent to Canada for his safety.

He was not a ward of Napoleon. He was not sent to Canada for his safety.  His family had been nestled into Set. Croix for five generations after an initial 30 years outside Quebec at Sillery.

The closest his family comes to touching history was when his great, great grandmother arrived in New France during the 1660s as a fille du roi, or a single woman who sailed to a new life across the Atlantic ocean with a promise of a small dowry to be provided by King Louis XIV if she married there, which she did, to Pierre Pichet dit (or called) Lamusette, who turned out to be a bigamist, one of two bigamists in my Nanny’s great, great grandfather’s great, great grandmother’s family tree.

His name was Boisvere, he married and, had two sons.

His name was Antoine Boisvert. He had eight sons and a daughter. The first five boys were Joseph, Jean Baptiste Benoni, Godfroi, Louis Hubert, and Julian. Then Antoine and his wife started repeating names. The next two were Joseph and Jean Baptiste. Then, Augustin.  And finally a girl, Marie Adelaide.

One son, married a Indian Squaw and, moved to somewhere in the area that is now, the State of Michigan.

I have not yet been able to find the family member who makes this true.

But another story sets the family in motion. Cholera came to Canada for the first time in 1832. Antoine (53) and two of his sons (Julian and the younger Joseph, age 12 and 11,) caught it and died in 1834.

The other son… my great Grandfather, was born in 1814.

Nanny’s great grandfather, Louis Hubert, was born in 1814. Like many of his brother’s he left Ste. Croix to make his way in life.

He stayed in Canada, married, had three children, Edward, born 1830, another son, Fred, and a daughter, Angel.

Louis Hubert stayed in Canada, made a living in St. Felix de Kingsey as a blacksmith, married Euphemie Leborgne, and had six children: Eduoard, Alfred, Francois, Angelle, Antoine, and Marie. Eduoard was born in 1848.

Their parents died, when the children, were still very young, and the children were brought up, by their Grandparents, in Canada.

I don’t know who they, of “their parents”, are. Louis Hubert Boisvert died in 1866. His kids ranged in age from ten to eighteen. His wife, Euphemie Leborgne, moved with the kids to Adams, MA. Eduoard and Alfred got married there, to different women, on the same day in 1871. I am not sure who the noble grandparents could possibly be.

***

I found these truths through records made available by Ancestry, BaNQ, and the PRDH.  They are a story that is verifiable, documentable — but it doesn’t mean that I have stopped loving my Nanny’s memories.  For me, my Nanny’s stories live on besides our family’s new facts.

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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 familysearch.org record

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

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

Babe Nepveu’s 1653 baptism at Notre Dame de Quebec. Screenshot of familysearch.org 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!

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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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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.

 

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