Category Archives: French Canadians

My Paternal DNA

The results of my father’s DNA test are in! They were earlier than expected too (Thanks, FamilyTreeDNA!)

The good and bad news is – they’re exactly what I expected! Heaps upon heaps of French Canadian matches, most of whom are related through multiple channels (related seven ways to Sunday, if you will). I am going to comb through his matches and try to pick out Eastern European or Italian ones, since those are the two lines I am most interested in because I know the least about.

His ethnic admixture can be summed up in one phrase – “Pan-European”. North, Central, Eastern, Western, Southern European, with a pinch of Ashkenazi to round it out. What can I glean from this? Well, likely his biological parents; who are half French Canadian, half Ukrainian and half French Canadian, half Italian respectively; are definitely confirmed to be his biological parents – the matches and admixture certainly fit the bill. For someone who can be said to be 50% French, 25% Italian and 25% Ukrainian, you can see that deeper than that, his French people likely descend from Celtic tribes – you see this in the British Isles-y, Iberian Peninsula-y bit. His Venetian Italians account for the southern European/Mediterranean/possibly some of central European. And his Ukrainians were likely a mix of ethnic Ruthenians(surnames Koszlak and Rozdobudko), some Ashkenazi Jews(possibly the surname Fink) and a more Baltic, northern Polish link (Bruchanski?).

All in all, despite no hidden surprises, at least his DNA is a hint that I am on the right track with my paper trail, and no major non-paternal events (read: illegitimate kids) seem to be popping up.

Without further ado, here’s some admixture interpretations, courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA, GEDMatch, and DNA.Land:

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My DNA Results

Well, I’m finally posting after receiving my DNA test results. The results are in…. and no big surprises. So far as ethnicity and admixture predictions, it seems safe to use the term “Pan-European”. I’m a mix of Baltic (mostly from my entirely Baltic mother), Mediterranean, Central European, East European and West European. As broad as that is, it seems to fit in with my known ancestry – 8 great grandparents with 4 being Latvian, 2 being French Canadian, 1 Italian and 1 Ukrainian.

My problem with this result is that it doesn’t really help define anything, which I was afraid of! It’s been suggested to me that some clues to be gleaned from this could be that my Ukrainians possibly had Polish and German backgrounds, as my Baltic and West European results were comparatively high compared to Eastern European.

Another fear of mine was that due to the endogamy in the French Canadian population (Endogamy is the fancy word for cousin marriage), that any DNA matches of French background would be related to me through so many different lines that even close matches would actually be much further back than they appeared. Well, I was right. Most of my matches appear to be French, and indeed related many ways. I received disappointingly few Italian sounding matches – I was hoping that with foundling orphan Arnaldo Morianti, DNA might give me some clues as to his biological parenthood.

Still, there were a few interesting hints hidden in my DNA. Trace amounts of Sub-Saharan African show up using certain admixture tools – this can happen amongst Italians – along with just enough, a tiny sliver of Native American identified DNA – believable, when you know French Canadian history.

I ended up asking my father to test, to get more information. Who knows what could be hidden in the 50% of his DNA that I did NOT receive from him! More ethnicity detail and Italian cousins, I’m hoping! His results are due soon.

In the meantime… here’s some interpretations of my admixture!Screenshot_2016-02-12-11-43-18

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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!

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
Madonna
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!

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 13: Henri Antoine Meloche

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Henri Antoine Meloche was born October 10, 1862 to parents Etienne Meloche and Soulange Dufour in Amherstberg, Essex County, Ontario. He was baptized October 13th at St. Jean Baptiste Roman Catholic church and his godparents were his father’s brother Antoine Meloche and his mother’s sister Rosalie Dufour.

He lived on his parent’s farm at either Lot 5, Anderdon Township, South Essex OR Lot 41, 18th Concession, Anderdon Township, South Essex. They grew crops and also raised muskrats – yes, muskrats. Muskrats were primarily raised for their fur – similar to that of a beaver’s – but also for their meat, which is supposed to taste a lot like a mix between duck and rabbit. This could be a profitable venture, since muskrats needed very little to thrive, aside from marshy wet lands. All you had to do was trap them. Sometimes farmers would allow outside trappers to do so on their land, for the payment of a portion of the profits, furs or meats. At the time of the census of 1881, Henri was 18 years old and was his occupation was “hunter” – one could assume of muskrats.

On November 9, 1888, he married Cecile Olivia Meloche, daughter of his godfather Antoine Meloche and Marie Martin – she was his first cousin. They acknowledged their consanguinity in their marriage record at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic church in Riviere-aux-Canards. They moved to a farm not far from Henri’s parents at Lots 38-39 in Anderdon, and Henri is noted as a “game keeper” on the 1901 census, so likely he went into the muskrat business like his father. Henri and Cecile went on to have 12 children – Alice, Raymond, Ernest, Leo, Rose, Lea, Charles, Moise, Stella, Bella, Eugene and Bertha.

Henri died in May 1918 of “carcinoma of liver and lungs”. He was only 56. His wife died not long after him – she passed away on January 20, 1920 of pneumonia.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 12: Edmond Langlois

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

My last two ancestor’s, Emilija and Ieva’s lives spanned through a very exciting time in history – the turn of the century and ensuing industrialization. My Ukrainian and Italian ancestors were immigrants during this time period, so I’ve already covered their stories, so next  I thought I’d explore what my French Canadian families were up to at this point in history.

Edmond Langlois was born on the eighteenth of September, 1882 on a farm in Sandwich West, Essex North, Ontario to parents Antoine Langlois and Salome Mailloux. He was baptized that very day as “Joseph Elie Edmond Langlois” at L’Assomption de Sandwich Catholic church, his godparents were his uncle Louis Mailloux and Julienne Gignac. He had one brother named Denis.

Edmond lived with his parents, brother, aunt, uncle and two domestics on their farm where he also worked until his marriage. He married Marie Helene Belleperche (who went by Helen, Ellen and Lillie in her time) on October 13, 1903 at Assumption church. Edmond and Lillie were 2nd cousins – Edmond’s grandmother was a Belleperche, sister of Lillie’s grandfather – and also 3rd cousins from another line, the Ouellettes (both had paternal grandmothers who’s surnames were Ouellette, their grandmothers were 1st cousins). This may sound shocking but it was a LOT more common than most people realize, being that all people living today with French Canadian ancestry can trace their roots back to the first few thousand French settlers.

Edmond and Lillie lived on a farm on Lot 71, 2nd concession with Edmond’s unemployed brother Denis. On the 1911 census, Edmond is listed as a “Farmer – ret.” Being that he was only 29, he was not truly retired but perhaps done with being a farmer, and by the time of the 1921 census he had left his rural life altogether. He moved his family first to 15 Elm Ave by 1912, and next to 31 Elm Ave by 1921 in Windsor, where Edmond earned his living as a motorman for the electric street car system. Introduced in 1886, Windsor’s was the first electric street car system in Canada. However, being next door neighbour to “Motor City” Detroit and home to some automotive assembly plants as well, the rise of the automobile in the 1930’s along with it’s increasing popularity and affordability soon made the street car obsolete – quite costly for the city to maintain and with a decreased ridership. The last street car ran in Windsor in 1939, when a cheaper city bus system was put in place. Edmond was 57 at the time.

Edmond and Lillie had seven children. They welcomed their first, a daughter named Florence in 1905, then Virginia in 1907 and Beatrice in the summer of 1911. Beatrice, however died as an infant in 1912 due to “chronic nephritis” – problems with the kidneys. Less than a year later in 1913, a fourth daughter named Marie was born, but only lived 5 hours before passing away of “asphyxia pallida”. In 1915, the couple welcomed their first son, named Jerome, but again, tragedy struck when he died of malnutrition and inanition at 11 months of age – quite likely there was an underlying cause. Bernice was born in 1918 and Leo in in 1920.

Edmond died December 7, 1952 in Windsor, at age 70.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 9: Marie Sylvestre Olivier

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Marie Olivier Sylvestre was born in 1632 near the French settlement of Montreal. She was baptized sometime before she was 12 years old. She was named “Marie” for the Virgin Mary, “Olivier” in honor of her Godfather, Olivier Le Tardif, a friend of her father’s and French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s personal interpreter, and “Sylvestre”, a French name meaning “from the forest”. She received an education – something incredibly rare at the time – at a girl’s school run by Ursuline nuns and in the home of French settlers Marie Rollet and Guillaume Hubou. On November 3, 1644 at age 12, she was married to 33-year-old Martin Prevost in Quebec. This union is historically significant in that it is the first (recorded) of it’s kind – a French man marrying someone like Marie in a Catholic church.

Marie was a Native Canadian. There are conflicting reports as to exactly which tribe she was from, although her father’s name is derived from an Algonquian word meaning “Great Spirit”, so that is one hint. Her parents were named Manitouabeouich and Outchibahabanoukoueou, and her father had become friends with interpreter Olivier Le Tardif years earlier and acted as his guide, accompanying him on fur trading missions and exploratory voyages. Manitouabeouich is thought to have been an early convert to Christianity, as he was given the name of a French saint – Roch.

Marie and Martin had eight recorded children, five of whom survived to adulthood. In 1661, they lost 3 children in just a few months – a 12 year old, 6 year old and 4 year old. Marie herself died in 1665, at the young age of 37, just a short while after giving birth to her last daughter Therese. The French settlers brought with them European diseases which were devastating to the Native population who had never seen such before. Smallpox was the worst of these, and it’s very possible that’s what killed Marie and her children.

Martin remarried to a fellow widow Marie D’Abancourt mere months after Marie Olivier’s death. While this may sound heartless, the reality is that Martin had five children to care for including one infant, and Marie, as a widow, needed help too.

Marie is my 9x great grandmother. That is, there are 10 generations between us. The lineage connecting us goes through her granddaughter Anne Prevost, who was an early resident of the original Detroit settlement, to Anne’s granddaughter Genevieve Deshetres, the daughter of another Native interpreter for the French, to Genevieve’s great grandson – my great, great grandfather Edmond Langlois.

It is speculated that several other ladies in my French Canadian lineage could have been of Native descent, since there is no record of them arriving on any ships and European women didn’t just pop up out of nowhere to marry French men in Canada. Many people are excited at the prospect of having Native roots and are therefore quick to assume, but most of these ladies’ origins are speculations at best. Marie is set apart from these others in my family tree because she is a well documented Native American woman.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Week 8: Thankful Stebbins

Click HERE for last week’s ancestor.

Thankful Stebbins was born September 5, 1691 at Deerfield, a village in the English colony in modern Massachusetts, USA. Her parents were John Stebbins and Dorothy Alexander. Her great grandfather Rowland Stebbins had been born in Stebbing, Essex, England (likely where his surname originated) and sailed to New England aboard the ship Francis in 1634 with his wife and children – a bold action, considering the puritan colonists in New England faced constant danger of Native American raids and hostility, not to mention the harsh weather and wild landscape. Deerfield was a small village on the frontier, right on the edge of English settlement.

In March of 1704 there was a particularily notable attack on Deerfield, known as the Deerfield Massacre and it was associated with Queen Anne’s War. A force of some 200 French soldiers and about 150 Native warriors under the command of Jean-Baptiste Hertel, Sieur de Rouville from the New France colony attacked the village, razing the buildings to the ground, killing dozens and taking dozens more as captives. 13-year-old Thankful and her family were among those taken captive. The French brought these captives back north to Canada – walking on foot in March, mind you – and along the journey many more died. They were handed over to the French authorities in Canada at Chambly.

Thankful was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith on April 23, 1707 and re-named “Therese Louise Stebenne”. Four years later, on February 4, 1711 in Ste-Famille-de-Boucherville church, she married Adrien Charles LeGrain dit Lavallee, Captain of the militia  at Fort Chambly. The couple had 11 children in total, the last was born in 1729. Thankful passed away one week after the birth of her last child, aged 38 years – likely due to a complicated birth – and was buried at Fort Chambly, rather than in the church graveyard.

Thankful is my 9x great grandmother through her son Charles Legrain dit Lavallee. The surname had transformed into just the dit name of Lavallee by the time it was given to my 4x great grandmother Ozilda Lavallee (who married Joseph Bessette). The line goes Thankful – Charles – Jean Marie – Jean Baptiste – Pierre – Ozilda -Louis Bessette – Corinne, my great, great grandmother.