New Method

After trying it out with my mother’s side of the family and becoming totally hooked (mentioned on my maternal family genealogy blog), I decided to finally order a DNA test from Family Tree DNA for myself. While I’d like to eventually order a test for my father as well (testing him would give me insight into another generation further back), I am testing myself this time, both to give me a little insight into both my mother’s and father’s sides, and also because after spending a year reading about DNA and understanding my mother’s, I’ve become very curious about my own DNA.

Theoretically, any ethnic admixture or match mentioned in my results that are NOT in my mother’s, definitely came from my father. I hadn’t tested this side of the family yet, or been very interested in doing so, because I thought to myself: any French Canadian matches of mine will be super easy to find links to (because of such readily available documentation). Almost too easy, and I expect a huge pile of French matches to sift through, due to the endogamy within the French Canadian population (my 2x great grandfather is the product of two first cousins, there are Meloches and Belleperches on several family lines). This will cause many of my French matches to share more total DNA with me, effectively making them appear to be a closer relation than they really are.

The Italians… well they’re a bit of a lost cause because records just simply don’t exist for the area I’m researching past about 1860. Also I have the unfortunate brick wall of having a foundling orphan in that family line. And the Ukrainians I am being a big baby about researching, due to so many different languages and ruling powers, so I have been stuck for a number of years.

Based on all that, I am excited to see my admixture breakdown more than anything. The Venetian foundling orphan could have been from anywhere, really. As for the Ukrainians, well Ukraine is a relatively new country and in the past, their hometown was part of lands owned by various other empires and kingdoms, so ethnically they could also hold a surprise (I’m expecting Carpatho-Rusyn, but you never really know). At one point both my Italians in Veneto and my Ukrainians in Galicia were both ruled by the Austro-Hungarian empire. The French likely hold less surprises ethnically, but maybe a small amount of Native American admixture will show up? Or Puritan!  It will be interesting to note the surnames of Italian matches too – they could hold the secret of Arnaldo Morianti’s parentage. That would be the third parental mystery DNA solves for me this past year. I’m under the assumption that Morianti is a made-up name given to Arnaldo and his brother Vittorio by the orphanage that took them in, as was often the case. So if I notice a recurring surname amongst my Italian matches that is not DeGrandis or Ambrosi I suppose I have a candidate for parentage.

Needless to say, I’m anxiously awaiting my results!

Minnesota Death Certificates: Harry Kosslak and Mary Faduck

A very good source of information about an ancestor can be the civil record certificates that they leave behind – birth, marriage or death (BMD) certificates. These can be obtained by contacting the government office for wherever said person was born/married/died, either in person or by mail, electronically, by phone, etc.

The state of Minnesota is lucky to have the Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS), who offer a range of services for a very reasonable fee. I used‘s Social Security Death Index (SSDI) to find out that there were two Koszlaks who died in Minnesota, then used the MNHS’s online form to order (Uncertified) death certificates for both Harry (Hawrylo) Kosslak and Mary (Maria) Faduck, my great-great grandfather Daniel (Danylo)’s siblings($9.00 USD a piece).

Though I always love to add visuals to my blog posts, I won’t post the actual certificates due to their detailed, personal nature, but I will write about the highlights of their information from a genealogical standpoint.

Harry Kosslak, husband of Maria Lewko died April 16, 1954 in Minneapolis at age 68. His death certificate is fairly vague in the areas I had hoped to find more information – his birthplace is listed as unknown, his mother unknown, his father listed only by his surname: Kosslak. He is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Minneapolis, one of the city’s oldest cemeteries. He lived at 4644 Knox Ave. N in Minneapolis at the time of his death.

Mary Faduck (nee Koshlak), widow of George Faduck died more recently than her brother Harry on October 9, 1981. Her certificate is clearer and more concise – Her birthplace is listed as “Galecia”, her country of origin “Austria Hungary”. She was also buried in St. Mary’s cemetery, and lived at 4648 Knox Ave N (possibly even the house right beside her brother’s, depending on how the numbering goes on that street!). But most importantly, Mary’s parent’s names are recorded: Prokov Koshlak and Christine Finko.

In Harry’s passenger manifest from the SS Kaiserin Victoria, he lists his father as “Prokop Koszlak” from Novosilka, strengthening my belief that Prokop is my great-great-great grandfather’s name. Christine Finko, however, likely spelled her name “Krystina Fink”.

Harry is the oldest Koszlak child that I know of and can prove, born in 1888 and Mary is the youngest, born in 1895. This suggests that Prokop and Krystina were probably married somewhere between 1873 and 1887 (my guess is closer to the 1887 range) and were likely born between 1855 and 1870. You can guess that based around the fact that Krystina probably did not give birth to children younger than 18 years of age, or older than 40, and that given that they were devout Greek Catholics, they were married at least 9 months before any children were born.

So, for $18.00 USD, I discovered that my great-great-great grandparents were Prokop Koszlak and Krystina Fink, both born between 1855 and 1870 and married between 1873 and 1887 in Novosilka, Pidhaitsi, Ternopil’, Ukraine.

P.S. In Danylo’s passenger manifest when he first came to North America, he states that he is going to visit his brother Jakiv Koszlak in Minneapolis. Sometimes in those days people fudged some details of family relations and whatnot in order to gain access to North America, so I keep that in mind. Not only that, but Ukrainians are known for referring to their first cousins as brothers and sisters. Jakiv was born in 1876. Neither Harry/Hawrylo or Jakiv/Jakob are mentioned in Daniel/Danylo’s obituary (perhaps because they were both already passed away?), and I have not been able to find any further information about Jakiv. Maybe he returned to Ukraine. As of now, the only solid, 100%-for-sure sibling of Danylo’s I can link to with actual records is Mary. I’ll include Harry as well, seeing as his father is also listed as Prokop from Novosilka in his passenger manifest and numerous other hints and clues, but for now I will exclude Jakiv until can find more proof that he is indeed related.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 22: Zacharie Cloutier

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Zacharie Cloutier has been well researched and documented, he’s got his own Wikipedia article (and a cheese named after him, mmm). He was a master carpenter from Mortagne-au-Perche in Normandy, France. Born in December of 1590 and baptized in the parish of St-Jean-Baptiste in Mortagne-au-Perche, he was one of nine children born to Denis Cloutier and Renee Briere. Aged 25, Zacharie married young widow Xainte or Sainte Dupont in July of 1616 at St-Jean-Baptiste. In 1619 Zacharie and his father Denis were part of a group that travelled to New France with Samuel de Champlain as labourers charged with clearing land, building structures, and cultivating crops, but this group was always meant to return to France, which they did when their work was complete. Several years later though, he returned with his wife and family, settling down in the colony of Beauport near Quebec city, having been recruited as a settler by Robert Giffard. In 1652 he received a land grant from Sieur Jean de Lauzon in Chateau Richer and transplanted his family to that settlement. Zacharie died September 17, 1677 and is buried together with his wife in the parish cemetery of Notre-Dame-de-Chateau-Richer. He lived to be a righteous 87 years old – good for today’s standards, let alone the 17th century.

Zacharie and Xainte had 6 children, and only 5 of them survived to adulthood. Despite this smaller family size, Zacharie is touted as being the number one French settler with the most descendants – he reportedly had 10,850 by the year 1800. I am descended from Zacharie from more than one of his children.

Among his other descendants are:
All Cloutiers in North America
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
Celine Dion
Marcheline Bertrand and Angelina Jolie
Jack Kerouac
Beyonce and Solange Knowles
Avril Lavigne
Alanis Morissette
Canadian Prime Minister Louis St.Laurent
Shania Twain

…many more…

And possibly YOU if you’re of any French North American heritage! The relation is distant – most of these people are my 8th cousins at best, but the simple fact is, without Zacharie, none of us would be here!

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 21: Clement Bessette

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Clement Bessette was born February 28, 1728 at Fort Chambly in Quebec, one of nine children born to Francois Bessette and Marie-Claude Dubois. He was baptized at the parish of St-Louis-de-Fort-Chambly and he was named for his godfather, Clement Sabrevois, Sieur of Bleury, a merchant and seigneur, essentially a feudal lord of an area of land. His godmother was Genevieve Mirambeau.

At 25 years old he married 18-year-old Charlotte Lamoureux on June 18, 1753 at St-Louis-de-Fort-Chambly, and these two did not waste any time starting a family. They had 16 children in total – large families were the norm amongst the French, and despite missing the Duggar mark, 16 children was still on the large side. Clement lived to be 61 years old, he died August 22, 1789 and is buried at the cemetery is St. Matthias-sur-Richelieu at Pointe Olivier in Quebec. He had lived a fairly normal life for the time – a family man.

But what makes Clement stand out as an ancestor are his other descendants and relatives. I am descended from Clement through his son Antoine-Edouard-Francois Xavier-Joseph-Louis, making him my 8x great grandfather. He is also the direct ancestor of Carolyn Bessette, who most people may remember by her married name – Carolyn Kennedy. This makes Carolyn my 6th cousin, 3 times removed.

Another notable Bessette is Alfred “Brother Andre” who was canonized as a saint by the Catholic church in 2010. He is descended from Clement’s first cousin Jean Bessette, technically rendering him my 6th cousin, 5 times removed. The “removed” part of these relations refers to the number of generations between cousins – Andre is the 6th cousin of the aforementioned Louis Bessette, and Louis is my father’s mother’s mother’s mother’s father… did I lose you? Louis my great great great grandfather, 5 generations separate us, therefore 5x removed to his cousins.

It’s a long shot at fame, I know, but how many famous people can you trace back in your tree? If you have any trace of French Canadian roots at all, chances are the answer to that is more than you think! I’ll speak to this in more depth in next week’s ancestor!

George and Mary Faduck

Recounted to me by a relative, and confirmed in my great great grandfather Danylo’s obituary is the fact that he had a sister named Mary who married George Faduck and lived in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota.

Mary Koszlak was born November 15, 1895 in the Austrian Empire (assuming Novosilka, but not yet proven). I have yet to find a passenger record of her immigration to North America. The earliest record of her that I’ve found is a Minnesota marriage to George Faduck on August 1, 1914 in Hennepin County. Luckily for me, vital records specific to Minnesota are available on (Marriages from 1849-1950 and 1951-2002, Divorces from 1970-1995, Births from 1840-1980 and 1935-2002 and Deaths from 1908-2002). These same vital statistics (As well as the US Social Security Death Index) tell me Mary died October 9, 1981 in Hennepin County.

They appear on the 1930 census of the USA, living in Minneapolis’ tenth ward, 128 block, Knox Ave, house number 4543. George and Mary Faduck, ages 38 and 34 respectively, lived with their children: Annie (15), Lena (14), Stephen(11) and Elisabeth(3). Also living at 4534 Knox Ave was another family – the Abrahams (Michael, May and daughter Phyllis).

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 20: Pierre Robert

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Pierre Robert was born September 21, 1671 and baptized the same day at Ste-Famille-de-Boucherville church in Chambly, Quebec. Pierre had three separate known dit names –Lafontaine, Lapierre and Lapomeraye/Lapomerais. He was the son of Louis Robert dit Lafontaine and Marie Marguerite Bourgery. Pierre married Angelique Ptolomee or Tholme on January 27, either 1697 or 1698.

In the summer of 1706, he accompanied a party to Detroit for the first time, in charge of a canoe of goods. Not long after, he purchased a lot at Fort Detroit from a man named Guillaume Bouet dit Deliard and moved his family there May 19, 1708. His brothers Prudent, Joseph, and Francois came to Detroit as well later on. He and his family lived in a house made of sticks and a thatched roof on lot #62. He and Angelique had six children – the last of whom was born in 1711 – before Pierre died circa the year 1714. Although he barely had a chance to make his mark on the city itself, his descendants carried on in the area and are there to this day.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 19: Jacques Campeau

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

My next two ancestors share a common theme: they helped settle and develop a major city in the USA – Detroit. They were among the very first settlers to the area.

Jacques Campeau was born in May 1677 at Montreal, son of French immigrant and mason Etienne Campeau, Campau or Campo and Catherine Paulo or Polo. He was baptized at the church of Notre Dame de Montreal on May 31, 1677. He married Jeanne Cecile Catin on November 30, 1699 at Montreal, and shortly after in 1703-1704 with the Compagnie de la Colonie he travelled to the area that would become known as Detroit and Fort Pontchartrain.

In 1708 he brought the rest of his family to Detroit on the invitation of Antoine de le Mothe Cadillac, the commandant of Fort Pontchartrain who was looking to settle a colony there. His older brother Michel, who is also my ancestor had also brought his family in 1707. Jacques was a blacksmith and in addition participated in trading, mostly of furs. He and Cecile had 8 children in total.

In 1734 he was granted a piece of land 4 by 40 arpents just east of Fort Pontchartrain and he started a merchant store, buying and selling goods such as furs, corn, wheat, etc. He became ill in 1750 and passed away 8 May 1751. He is buried in Detroit’s Mount Elliott Cemetery.

An interesting point on Jacques, is like many other Detroit area residents of French background, he also began to be known by a more anglicized version of his name – James – as did his wife “Cecilia”.


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