52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 6: Nicolas Langlois

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Nicolas Langlois was born around 1640 in the canton of Yvetot, Rouen, Seine-Maritime, France. His parents were Charles Langlois and Marie Cordier. Nicolas was from the parish of St-Pierre in Yvetot, and not a lot is known about his life prior to immigrating to Canada. He travelled to Canada as a weaver, indentured to Sieur Louis Rouer de Villeray – an important figure in Quebec at the time, playing key administrative roles under people you probably learned about in history class, such as Jean Talon and Jean and Charles de Lauson. “Indentured” means that he signed a contract stipulating that his passage to the New World would be paid for by Villeray, in return for his labour for a set number of years. Conditions in France at the time were such that signing years of his life away for a chance to make a better life for his descendants in a strange and dangerous new world was an attractive option for Nicolas, and some of the other lower class members of French society, and many others had they passage to New France paid the same way.

On October 26, 1671 at Notre-Dame-de-Quebec parish, in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada he married Marie Elisabeth Cretel, a fille du roi (a group of poor, single women of a marriageable age who’s passage to Canada and a dowry was paid for by the King in an effort to help colonize and populate Quebec) who was also from Rouen. Nicolas and Elisabeth had 5 sons and 5 daughters, of which only half survived to adulthood (2 sons and 3 daughters). Their son Etienne is my 8th great grandfather. (Nicolas – Etienne – Nicolas – Nicolas – Alexis – Antoine – Antoine – Edmond, my great great grandfather). Nicolas died October 13, 1721 at Pointe-aux-Trembles, and that is where he was buried.

There were several other unrelated settlers with the surname of Langlois to settle in Quebec – an even earlier Langlois to Quebec was Noel, with many descendants. The name itself means quite literally “L’Anglais” – “the English”, but it is unknown if this hints at the ancestor’s ethnicity.

And with that, we’ve covered my most direct immigrant ancestors, and two of the French Canadian settlers who lend their surnames to my two French great grandmothers. From people uprooted from their lives, forced away from a country they could never return to during WWII, to those seeking to better their economic situation in a rapidly industrial Canada at the turn of the century, to 17th century pioneers to a wild and perilous unknown new world. Next topic of exploration: Bits and pieces of other ethnicities, ancestors that were not my typical French, Italian, Ukrainians or Latvians.

Harry and Mary Koszlak

When I first asked a relative about my Ukrainian family tree, she told me my great great grandfather Danylo had a sister, Mary, and a brother named Harry who had children Fred, Catherine, Peter, Ann and Nancy.

It looks like Hawrylo Koszlak departed from Hamburg, Germany on the SS Kaiserin Victoria May 10, 1911, bound for New York. He was 25 years old and single. His closest relative from the country he came from was his father Prokop Koszlak in Novosilka. Hawrylo’s final destination: Minneapolis, Minnesota where he was going to meet his uncle Pawlo Riluch at 222 7th Ave. (The same address possible relation Jakob Koszlak was going to, one year later!). He was 5’6, with brown hair and grey eyes. His place of birth was listed as Novosilka. Upon his arrival, he was detained, for reasons still unknown to me. I have 3 records of this SS Kaiserin Victoria trip – the Hamburg passenger manifest, New York passenger manifest, and his Detainee record.

“Harry Kosslak” as he soon preferred to be called married Mary (Maria) Lewko in Hennepin County, Minneapolis on January 25, 1913.

Harry seems to have been drafted in 1917 for World War 1. His Draft Registration card is available on Ancestry.com. It states that he is Harry Koszlak, living at 46 Knox ave, Minneapolis, Minnesota. His date of birth is October 28, 1888 in Austrian Galicia. He was a declared citizen of the USA, but still legally a citizen of Austria. He was a labourer, employed by the city of Minneapolis. He was married with 3 children. He had served in the military in Austria for 3 years. He declared exemption from the draft due to his dependants.

The next record of Hawrylo is his appearance on the 1930 US Census. At this time, Harry and Mary had children Fred, Katherine, Peter, Annie and (Nancy) Stella. The 1930 Census of the US was conducted on April 6th of 1930 in Minneapolis – and at this time they appear living in the 129th block of the tenth ward of the city. Harry was employed as a labourer at “Gas Lite Mfg” and Fred was an assembler at “electrical appliance mfg”. The family was Ukrainian (rather than “Ruthenian” as seen on earlier documents) and both Harry and Mary immigrated to the USA in 1911.

Harry died April 16, 1954 in Hennepin County.

(click to enlarge) Harry Koszlak’s WWI Draft Registration Card

52 Ancestors, Week 4: Danylo Koszlak

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

My great, great grandfather Danylo was born November 22, 1890 to Prokop Koszlak and Krystyna Fink. Prokop and Krystyna lived in the small village of Novosilka (Nowosiolka), located in Pidhaitsi (Podhajce) raion, Ternopil (Tarnopol) oblast – modern-day Ukraine. They had at least 2 more children besides Danylo, named Hawrylo and Mary who also eventually immigrated to North America ( to Minneapolis, Minnesota). At the time of Danylo’s birth, the region was known as Austrian Galicia and it was a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. People from the region identified themselves as either Austrian Galicians or Ruthenians, and the language they spoke is known as Ruthenian (though they were probably familiar with Polish as well). As the area was often ruled by different kingdoms and empires, the place names often have several versions depending on language and period in history.

Galicia was one of the poorest places in all Europe in the late 1800’s, and from about 1885 until World War One broke out in 1914, it experienced a mass emigration of its people to other countries in search of jobs and a better life. In 1910 at the age of 19, Danylo followed suit. He chose to go to Canada aboard the SS Cassandra, a steamship with the Donaldson Line that sailed from Glasgow to Quebec. His outward passenger manifest from the UK tells us that he was travelling with a large group of Eastern European/Russian immigrants on their way to Canada, and that they had come to England via the port of Leith travelling with the Gibson Line which ran services from Belgium and Holland to Leith. These immigrants probably made their way through Europe travelling by train to one of the western ports. The Cassandra sailed for almost a week, departing Glasgow, Scotland on June 4th and arriving at the port of Quebec, Canada on June 12, 1910. His passenger manifest upon arrival to Quebec states that he was on his way to Minneapolis, Minnesota to visit his brother Jakiv at 419½ Aldrich Ave, however this is the one and only record of any Jakiv that I have found, so I am hesitant to add him as a sibling. Danylo’s passenger manifest tells us another interesting fact – it states that he had black hair and grey eyes.

Danylo did not stay in Minneapolis long. Shortly after his arrival in North America he went north to Canada, and the next record I’ve found of him is his marriage to Anna Bruchanski, a fellow Ruthenian immigrant, on February 10, 1914. The marriage took place in the Regional Municipality of Brokenhead, Manitoba, at a Greek Catholic church (likely Holy Trinity). Anna had come to Canada in 1911 on the SS Montreal, Antwerp-Quebec as a domestic (live-in maid). I am quite sure (but yet without documentation) that Anna already had family in Brokenhead – at least one married sister (Pelagia “Polly” Benzik) and her family, and likely more, since there is another Bruchanski family from Pidhaitsi living there at the time. Brokenhead had a large Ukrainian immigrant farming population, many land grants were given by the Canadian government to new immigrants in an effort to help populate the area. The marriage document details that Danylo was a farmer, his father was a farmer, and Anna was a farmer’s daughter.

At the time of the 1916 Canadian Census taken of the western prairie provinces, Danylo, Anna and their first two children were living in rural Brokenhead while Danylo worked as a farmer, but soon after, the family moved to the town of Beausejour where Danylo was employed as a carpenter at the time of the 1921 census. The couple had 3 children – Michael, Patrick and Marie (Mihail, Pietro and Maria in Ukrainian). Beausejour is a small town completely surrounded by the Regional Municipality of Brokenhead, but is technically separate. One of the first big business established in Beausejour in the early 1900’s was Manitoba Glassworks, who made primarily glass beverage bottles. Co-founded by German immigrant Joseph Keilback – who’s granddaughter would eventually marry Danylo’s second son Patrick – the original factory is a protected provincial heritage site.

Danylo became a naturalized Canadian citizen on October 16, 1932. He passed away February 11, 1967 in Beausejour, Manitoba, apparently in an accident falling down a church stairwell. His funeral was held at St. Vladimir church in Beausejour, and he is buried in St. Vladimir’s Greek Catholic Cemetery. His headstone can be viewed HERE and his obituary HERE.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 3: Francois Meloche

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Francois Meloche was born October 11, 1676 in Frontenay l’Abbatu, in Saintonge, France (Today known as Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan in Deux-Sevres, France). His parents were Francois Meloche, a fish merchant and Therese Hernu (OR Marie Pelloquin/Bloquin). In France, he worked as a “laboureur” quite likely on a farm, driving a plough. He travelled to New France (Canada) from the western French port of La Rochelle – which was at the time a three month trip across the Atlantic – sometime around the year 1696.

At the time, the colonies along the St. Lawrence river had been established for decades already, and the wars between the French and the Iroquois which had previously deterred immigration were beginning to wane. Still though, deciding to leave France behind to carve out a new life in a wild, new, unknown land was not for the faint of heart, and Francois Meloche was of the category of settler who left France entirely of his own accord, not as a soldier or servant. Francois first went to Montreal, where he married a first generation Canadian, Lachine-born Marie Mouflet dit Champagne on October 25, 1700. Marie was the daughter of Jean Mouflet dit Champagne, a soldier with the Regiment Carignan-Salières (French militia sent to the colonies to help defend them) and Anne Dodin, a fille du roi (800-1000 poor or orphaned girls sent by the French king to New France to off-set the high percentage of male habitants… ie become wives and have a large number of children).

They settled down on a tract of land 3 arpents frontage by 25 arpents depth in Lachine, – a settlement a little south of the settlement of Montreal, which had previous suffered many deadly Iroquois raids (during one of which, Marie’s parents were taken prisoner and not seen again) – where they farmed and also participated in the fur trading business. Francois and Marie had ten children, and are the progenitors of all North American Meloches today. Francois is my 9th great-grandfather (Francois – Pierre – Francois – Jacques – Francois Xavier – Etienne – Henri – Moise Joseph Thomas, my great, great grandfather). His son Pierre, my 8th great grandfather was one of the first settlers of Fort Pontchartrain, or Detroit, and my Meloche line remained in the Detroit/Windsor area through all the subsequent generations and is still there today.

52 Ancestors, Week 1: Arnaldo Morianti

Arnaldo was born December 3rd, 1882 in the comune of Castelfranco Veneto, Treviso, Italy, not far from Venice. He had at least one brother, who was named Vittorio “Vito”. Arnaldo and Vittorio are said to have been foundling orphans. This means basically their parents abandoned them – likely either their economic situation was poor and did not allow the parents to care for them properly or they were illegitimate. This was definitely not uncommon in Italy at the time, and usually churches would govern over the care of these children, in orphanages. If the children arrived anonymously at the orphanage, occasionally the orphanage authorities would give them names – “Esposito” is a common one for example, it means “exposed”. I have an inkling that “Morianti” is also a made-up surname, as the only holders of this surname I have found so far either descend from Arnaldo or Vittorio. In any case, Arnaldo grew up and worked as a laborer in Castelfranco Veneto and at age 28 he married Maddalena DeGrandis on February 7th, 1911 in Castelfranco Veneto. Their first son, named Augusto Luigi was born almost exactly 9 months later on October 4, 1911. A strong custom in Italy is to name your first born son after the paternal grandfather. This could hint at Arnaldo’s parentage, if he had known of his parents at all. Unfortunately, I will probably never know if this is the case for sure, given Arnaldo’s foundling history.

On February 25, 1912 Arnaldo set off from the port of Genoa on the SS Ancona, a steamer operated by the Society di Navigazione a Vaporetti Italia, bound for the port of New York. He was leaving his wife and new baby son behind in Italy, as many other young Italian men did at this time in history. The Veneto region of Italy was extremely poor, and many of them were lured to Canada by higher paying jobs working on the railroad, in the mining and forestry industry, or in some of the new factories sprouting up after the industrial era. They would work hard for a few years and then return home, bringing the money home to their families. The ship passed through the port of New York, USA and he signed his name at Ellis Island on March 13th, 1912.

He didn’t stay in Canada long, and returned to Italy in 1914. This is the year World War One broke out, and trans-Atlantic immigration screeched to a halt. Italy joined the side of the United Kingdom and France, effectively ending it’s former alliances with the German and Austrian-Hungarian Empires. Interestingly, the SS Ancona was torpedoed and sunk in 1915 by an Austrian u-boat, causing the loss of 200 lives. Veneto, being in the northern part of Italy, close to the Austrian border was a major battlefront for the duration of the war, and Venetians would have felt the effects of the war quite deeply. Arnaldo and Maddalena had 2 more sons in Castelfranco Veneto at this time, one in 1916 and one in 1919.

At the end of the great war, Maddalena was pregnant with their fourth and final son and Arnaldo left for Canada again, this time aboard the SS Grampian. He landed in Quebec, Canada on November 2nd, 1920 and like his last voyage to Canada, was bound to meet his brother Vittorio in Montreal. Shortly after his arrival, he moved to Windsor, Ontario to work at Chrysler’s assembly plant. Vittorio is said to have gone to Argentina. On June 3rd, 1923 Maddalena and his four sons boarded the SS Conte Rosso and joined him in Canada with the intent to stay. The family became naturalized Canadian citizens exactly 90 years ago today on July 22, 1924. Arnaldo worked as a laborer in Windsor for the remainder of his life, and passed away on his 71st birthday – December 3, 1953. He rests in St. Alphonsus Cemetery in Windsor, Ontario. His headstone can be seen HERE.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

In an effort to learn more of the finer details of my ancestor’s lives, I’ve decided to challenge myself to the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge that many other genealogy bloggers are participating in. I maintain two separate genealogy blogs – one for my paternal side, which is ethnically Ukrainian, Italian and French Canadian, and one for my maternal Latvian side. Why? Simply volume of posts and depth of research. So I will be posting from both of these blogs, depending on where said ancestor is from.

Living in Canada – an incredibly multicultural country where mostly everyone comes from somewhere else – I’ve decided to start with the stories of my Canadian immigrant ancestors. My most recent immigrant ancestors were my Latvian grandparents who came here after WWII, and my most distant are some of Canada’s first pioneers who came here in the 1600’s, so we have about 300 years’ worth of Canadian immigration to cover!

Possible Relation: Jakiw Koszlak?

From his SS Cassandra Passenger Manifest, I know Danylo Koszlak stated that he was going to visit his brother Jakiw at 419 1/2 Aldrich Ave in Minneapolis, Minnesota when he sailed Glasgow-Quebec on the SS Cassandra on June 12, 1910. So, what about this Jakiw?

Jakob Koszlak’s Passenger Manifest for border crossing in February, 1909

The first record I’ve found of “Jakob” Koszlak, is a border crossing from Canada to the USA in February 1909. He is a 32 year old married Ruthenian labourer, living in Beausejour, (very close to Brokenhead) Manitoba. He was planning to go to Deer River, Minnesota to visit his brother-in-law Oleks Szkowik. He was 5’7, brown hair, blue eyes, and born in Novosilka, Galicia. He first landed in Canada at the port of Quebec in May 1907.

Jakob Koszlak’s 1912 passenger manifest crossing from Canada to the USA at Sault Ste. Marie aboard the CPR Railway

Next, a passenger manifest from July 1912, going from Canada to the USA via the Canadian Pacific Railway at Sault Ste. Marie. Jakob was then a 36 year old married labourer who could read and write, from Austria, race recorded as Polish. His last permanent residence was in Montreal, Quebec. His nearest relative in the country he came from is his wife Mary in Novosilka. His final destination this time? Minneapolis, Minnesota, so visit a brother Henry at 222 7th Ave N. He paid for his passage himself and he had $21.00 on him at the time. He had been to the USA before – he was in Minneapolis from February 1909 to April 1911. On June 25, 1912 he had landed in Quebec aboard the SS Pisa.

So, chronologically… Jakob could have been the first Koszlak brother to come to Canada from Novosilka, in 1907. It sounds like he first lived in Beausejour for two years until 1909, then Minneapolis for two years until 1911. Then perhaps he returned home to Novosilka? And came back June 1912 aboard the SS Pisa, landing in Montreal with the intention of settling in Minneapolis permanently. I do have one more passenger manifest for Jakob, from when he landed in Canada on the SS Pisa, but no new information is presented there.

With this information, he should be on the 1910 census of the USA, in Minneapolis. Possibly even the 1920 and 1930 US censuses.There should also be a passenger manifest from May 1907 when he landed in Canada for the first time. The problem probably is, with a name like “Jakiw Koszlak”, spelling and translation errors likely occurred at some point when he was telling foreign officials his information. Jakiw/Jakow/Jacko/Yakov/Jakob Koszlak/Kochlak/Koszelak/Kozlak/Koslack… catch my drift? So to find these other records should be a challenge!

My ancestor's stories, and how I found them!


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