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.