Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beyonce is my Cousin!

I didn't start doing genealogy because I wanted to find "famous" relatives, but that's what I found last night, several years into this project.

I'd been filling in some very early lines on my father's side -- places where I'd still not traced ancestors all the way back to France.  [As background, the homogeneity of the people in Quebec combined with the meticulous record keeping by the Catholic priests there make tracing Quebec roots deep into the 17th century very doable].  One ancestor -- an 11th Great Grandfather -- Zacherie Cloutier, is a common ancestor to a lot of people, many of them famous.

This is a picture of "Grandpa Zach" that I pulled from the web:

Going back that far, you will frequently find historical references to the person. After all, these were folks who took a pioneering voyage across the Atlantic to settle the "New World" and tame it of its "savage" influences.  Life wasn't exactly easy in Quebec in the 1660s.

There are several genealogical / historical organizations in Quebec that have worked with the meticulously-recorded baptisms, marriages, and burials of the various citizens. The original, handwritten, records have been transcribed and indexed in numerous fashions by many historians. In more recent times, these sources have made their way online and the online versions often contain searchable databases.

While more historically-minded organizations like the Drouin Institute and the PRDH at the University of Montreal and the Drouin Institute are focused purely on genealogy and history, more "mainstream" sources like ancestry.com have at least as much of a financial motive, which leads them to issue press releases with sensational headlines like:

Madonna, Camilla and Celine Dion are Cousins!

While sensational, its also true. And, what they don't mention there, is that those folks are my cousins too! (we are talking 9th and 10th cousins, often a generation or two "removed" but cousins nonetheless).

Which brings me to the wrap up - Beyonce's pedigree, which you can see here, among many other places, indicates that she is the 9th Great Granddaughter of Zacharie Cloutier, making us 10th Cousins 2x removed.

The family resemblance is uncanny, no?

The full Beyonce - Me cousin connection:

Beyonce Giselle Knowles (1982 - )
is your 10th cousin 2x removed
Mother of Beyonce Giselle
Father of Celeste Anne
Father of Lumis Albert
Mother of Alexandre
Mother of Solange
Mother of Solange
Father of Solange
Father of Aubin
Mother of Pierre
Father of Elisabeth Ursule
Zacherie Cloutier (1589 - 1677)
Father of Charles
Son of Sainte
Daughter of Zacharie Pierre
Son of Genevieve
Son of Joseph
Daughter of Joseph
Son of Marie Madeleine
Daughter of Nicolas
Son of Magdelene
Daughter of Toussaint
Son of Mary
Son of Henri Andrew
Son of Lloyd Vincent

(FN) - An aside for the math challenged -- this isn't really all that remarkable.  For every "great" you count in terms of grandparents, you can figure out how many of them there by taking that number, adding 2, and figuring out 2 to that power.  In math terms:

Number of Xth Great Grandparents = 2^(X+2).

Zacherie Cloutier is my 11th Great Grandfather.

2^(11+2) = 2^13 = 8192.

So, each of us have 8192 11th great grandparents.  Cloutier lived about four hundred years ago.  Since then, he personally, probably has descendants numbering in at least 7 and possibly 8 figures.  Doing VERY rough math and making some implausible assumptions -- like NO intermarriage, similarly prolific descendants for all 4000 couples, etc. -- yields at 5 million or more descendants of just MY 11th Great Grandparents.  With any sort of similar geographic similarities, it may be more probable than not that there is some blood relationship.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanks Giving

I'm thankful to and for all of my living relatives, especially those closest in my life.  Contrary to my wife's frequently-expressed opinion, I care FAR more about those alive than those dead (although it might not always seem that way).

Also, I'm thankful to my the "newest" cousin that I've connected with, Katheryn (LaPorte) Marchacos. We've exchanged some research and some photos (looking forward to seeing more!!!).  I've given her a bunch of info from the distant past and she's provided me with an amazingly comprehensive amount of information filling in a plethora of gaps in my "descendant's report" for my Great Grand Uncle (her grandfather) Orlando LaPorte (b. 1894 d. 1948).

So many projects still to complete -- thankfully, I had a guy on ancestry.com forums agree to look into some of my "dead ends" for me.  Hopefully, some progress there.

As I've put my paid ancestry.com membership on hold for now, I'm going to focus on cleaning up my databases, looking over "research" that has not been organized in my files, and trying to reach out to living LaPorte descendants to try to learn more from firsts hand accounts about the people that are in my tree in hopes of putting some context beyond just vital facts.

If there are any of you folks out there, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cousin Collaboration!

I've found another distant LaPorte cousin -- Katheryn LaPorte, daughter of Robert R LaPorte, who was the son of Orlando LaPorte, who was the son of my 2GRGR, Moses.

Among the many other things that Kat has helped with is identifying definitively that this photo is, in fact, one of Orlando -- the only one that I have from my 2GRGrandma's collection:

Of the seven children of Moses and Mary Goodrow, that leaves just William Moses (the oldest) and Edouard (a complete mystery) for whom I have no photographic record.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gilbert Jesse - Civil War Pension File . . . Not Much

I got the Civil War Widow's Pension file from the National Archives today.   Not much in there.  Nothing new.  I suspect that many others have already seen it as it contains information that many others have included in their genealogies of Gilbert Jesse, including:

  1. First wife named Armenia Raymo (who, I suspect was born Hermine Raymond, or similar) d. 16 Feb 1866;
  2. Second wife (pension claimant) married under the name Catherine Forteau (not clear if this is her second marriage as well);
  3. Service in Co. C of the 91st Regiment of the N.Y. Volunteers;
  4. Honorable discharge on 10 Jun 1865;
  5. Death on 16 Feb 1884;
  6. Children:
    • Joseph (b. 22 Aug 1868)
    • Peter (b. 26 Dec 1869)
    • George (b. 15 Feb 1873)
    • Mary (b. 25 Oct 1874)
    • Delphine (b. 28 (??) Aug 1877) (my 2nd Great Grandmother)
    • Maggie (b. 1 Jun 1879)
She was not able to sign her name, indicating that she was either illiterate or unable to read and write English (or both). Census records indicate that she could neither read nor write English.

While I noted in my order the existence of both a Widow's pension and an invalid pension, it appears that only the Widow's Pension file was searched.  I'll follow up with the National Archives to see if there is anything further.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Francis Nelson La Porte - Mystery Solved . . . I think

I'd been assuming -- for lack of information and based on some decades-old speculation -- that Francis Nelson LaPore was the brother of my 3GRGR, Julien.  Shortly after the "Denis" discovery that was the breakthrough to getting his ancestry, I began to doubt whether Francis Nelson was actually a brother.  There didn't seem to be any record of him as a son born to Charles Denis and Marie Guenet.

Recently, a man contacted me about "Joseph LaPorte" -- another person speculated to be a brother of 3GRGR -- but again another who I'd suspected not to be.  He is the Joseph married to Nancy Beagle.

In poking around recently regarding Joseph, I also started to look at the "La France" collection of records for Jean-Baptiste LaPorte and Marie-Agathe Masse.  They spent a good deal of time in Marieville, Quebec, Canada, and so I started plodding through the index records from there.

What I found is interesting.  There was a "Francoise" born of JB and Marie-Agathe in 1814.  I asterisked this fact in my mind as a possible "Francis Nelson" as Francoise anglicized is Francis.  Mostly, though, I was focused on Joseph and also poking around the family of another Julien -- this one a sibling of this Jean Baptiste that I've been looking at.  Seeing that this Joseph was born in 1816, I thought there was a good chance he could be the Joseph married to Nancy Beagle, who I currently had born in 1813.

About to close the loop and get back to work, I searched "Francis Nelson" in my database to see who I listed as his current father.  What I then noticed was pretty fantastic.  The birthdate listed for Francis Nelson on my ancestry.com database was November 29, 1814.  I'm pulling my hair out now because I don't know where I got this date from!!!!!!

In any case, the La France record also lists the date of birth as 29 Nov 1814.  Either this is an exact match, or I'm fooling myself and its copied from the same source. I'm going to dig a bit deeper for the source of that birthdate but we might have an answer.

Complicating things, though, is that I just reviewed my notes and 3GRGR's last wife said that Julius had a brother named Francis . . . grrrr.

UPDATE:  I've gone back to earlier backups of my FTM 2012 file on my computer and it looks like the birth date for Francis Nelson pre-dates my noticing the date of "Francois"'s birthday.  Still not conclusive proof that they come from independent sources and are therefore corroborating, but at least it eliminates the idea that I personally and directly just copied it from the same source twice.

Erorrs in Notes Regarding Nancy Beagle

I'm entering this for now as a public service rather than as really much to do about my ancestors because, at this time, I'm not sure if these folks are related to me or not.

By way of background, this post concerns a woman named and known variously as "Elizabeth LaPorte," "Sophrana E. LaPorte," "Eliza LaPorte," "Lillie LaPorte," "Lillian Laporte," "Lillie Niles," and "Lillian Niles."  She was the daughter of Nancy Beagle (b. 1821 d. 1912) and Joseph LaPorte (c. 1813 d. 1863). For ease of reference, though, I'll refer to her as "Elizabeth/Lillie LaPorte."

Elizabeth/Lillie was born in December 1855 and died in 1936.  She married her step-brother, Barnum Niles (b. 1851 d. 1938).  Barnum, sometimes known as "Barney" was the son of the Reverend Nathan Niles and (I think) Jane Kirnan. After Jane died, the Rev. Niles married Nancy Beagle-LaPorte (after her husband, Joseph LaPorte, died).  Sort of a Brady Bunch scenario where Marsha marries Greg.  In fact, it happened twice -- Jane Anne "Jennie" Niles married William Edward LaPorte, also step-siblings.

But I digress.

The purpose of the post is to clarify some errors in "notes" that are circulating on the web, which make two mistakes, which seem to be repeated frequently.  They are that:

1.  The Elizabeth/Lillie LaPorte married a man named Isaac Reckard; and
2.  That Elizabeth LaPorte is distinct from Lillie LaPorte.

Both, for the reasons stated below, are wrong, as explained more fully below (which is from an essay that I wrote on the topic a while back):

The error in the notes regarding “Eliza LaPorte” is that she is the same Eliza/Elizabeth married to “Isaac Reckard (b: 13 Sep 1849, d: 7 Sep 1916 at West Chazy).” I believe that the source of this error is an entry in the Northern New York Tombstone Transcription web site here That entry states: RECKARD(front)Isaac RECKARD / Sept. 13, 1849 - Sept. 7, 1916 / His Wife / Eliza LaPORTE / Nov. 13, 1850 - Sept. 23, 1927 / Their Son / Henry Walter / Apr. 28, 1888 - July 22, 1888 /  The dates from the Chazy Rural cemetery web page match up precisely with the claim made in the “Nancy Beagle Notes.” I believe this is an error for several reasons.
 First, the Elizabeth in these Chazy cemetery records (and the Nancy Beagle Notes) is said to have been born 13 Nov 1850. As a result, we’d expect to see “Elizabeth” at age 10 or so in the 1860 Census with Nancy and Jospeh LaPorte. But what we actually find at or near that age is “Edward” aged 12 and “James D[arius]” aged 7.  Also there is a “Sophrana E” aged 4.  As explained more below, I believe that this Sophrana E is actually “Elizabeth” and “Lillie” LaPorte, who later marries  her step-brother, Barnum Niles, not Isaac Reckard.

 In the 1880 Census, there is an “Elizabeth Laport” living with Nancy and Nancy’s son, Darius.  Nancy is 58, Darius 27, and Elizabeth 25. This Elizabeth is listed as a "daughter" (not "daughter in law") and would have been born about 1855, not 1850 as claimed in the notes and as listed in the Chazy Rural Cemetery.

It is almost certainly not Darius’s wife Henrietta Downs as she was not married to Darius until 1881. And even if they had lived together as common-law husband and wife prior to that, Ms. Downs was born in 1863 and would have only been 17 at the time of the 1880 census, not 25 as indicated in that record even with errors running rampant in the North Country census records, this discrepancy is notable. The “Elizabeth” in this 1880 record would be the same age as the “Sophrana E” from the 1860 census. In 1892 Nancy (Beagle) Niles was living with her step-son Barnum, who married “Lillie,” a diminutive nickname of Elizabeth, who, according to this record, would have been born about Dec 1854.

The “Nancy Beagle Notes” list “Sophrana” as being born about 1856, but give no further details – marriage, residence, death, etc. This seems somewhat suspect, but not by itself a basis for concluding much. A second reason that I think it is an error to conclude that Nancy’s Elizabeth married Isaac Reckard is that Nancy claims to have 8 children around 1865. In Benjamin Franklin La Porte’s Civil War Pension file, Nancy Ann Beagle/LaPorte/Niles is explaining to the pension board that she needs the “Mother’s Pension” because she depended on Benjamin’s labor. And, the death of her husband Joseph left them with no property except the clothes on their backs.  In it, she also states that at death, she was left with “eight” children.

EThe "eight" to whom she referred were, I believe:
(1) Adelia (b. 1843);(2) William Edward (b. c. 1843);(3) Benjamin Franklin (b. 1845);(4) Edward (b. 1848);(5) James Darius (b. 1853);(6) Sophrana Elizabeth “Lillie” (b. 1855);(7) Henry Jeremiah (b. 1859); and (8) Georgiana (b. 1861).

If “Elizabeth” “Lillie” and “Sophrana” are all different people as the notes claim, then there would be either 9 children, or there were either deaths intervening, or Nancy’s reference to “Eight” excluded some who may have moved away from home.  Absent any records of the childhood deaths of any of the children of Joseph LaPorte and Nancy Beagle, I believe the better view is that the notes are in error and that the eight Nancy refers to are those listed above.
A final reason to believe that the notes are in error is that the portion of the Chazy Rural Cemetery web page that immediately following the entry for Elizabeth LaPorte and Isaac Reckard is this entry on that page:

(back)1844 J.C. Webb 1926 / His Wife / Josie LaPORTE / 1866 - 1931 / Headstone: James / Headstone: Josie /
That both LaPorte women were included on the same stone strongly suggests that the two were related. But “Josie” here is shown to be born in 1866.  By 1866, Joseph La Porte was dead (Joseph is indicated as dying in April 1863 according to Nancy’s statement in the Civil War Pension file of her son Benjamin Franklin LaPorte). It seems unlikely that another daughter born after Joseph died would be called a “La Porte.” Further, a Josephine La Porte appears in Vermont death records married to a “James” Webb giving the same death date (1931) but listing as her father “John La Porte.”  It is possible that this “John” is "Jean-Baptiste" LaPorte, who married Genevieve Dufresne (grandson of Jean Baptiste LaPorte and Marie-Agathe Masse), shown here on a public Mundia.com tree. Based on all of the above, I believe that “Elizabeth” is “Sophrana E," also known as “Lillie” who later marries her step-brother, Barnum Niles.  If all three names are the same person, Nancy’s “eight children” is an accurate statement. The birth dates for Elizabeth, Sophrana and Lillie are all consistently close to late 1855 in the various census records (4 year old Sophrana E in the 1860 census) (25 year old Elizabeth in the 1880 Census) and (37 year old Lillie in the 1892 NY Census).  Each puts a date of birth near 1855, not 1850 as claimed.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My 8th Great Grandmother Was a Murderer

UPDATE:  I am mistaken that this was my 8th Great G-ma.  Actually, she's the daughter of my 8th Great, a sibling of my 7th Great, making her my 7th Great Aunt.

I've just provided another path to Jacques de LaPorte dit St Georges.  The one I didn't discuss at length was Catherine LaPorte, who married Philibert Couillaud.  They were responsible (via some crafty name changes common in "New France") for the "Rock" family in my tree -- most recently, my Grandmother, who's maiden name was Rock.

Well, in all likelihood, she was a murderer.  Here's a snippet:

ommitted with premeditation, a murder of passion is all the more sordid, and all the less excusable. Such was the outrage which occurred at St-Ours at the very outset of the XVIIIth Century.

At that time, a man by the name of LaChaume and his wife, Marie [Catherine LaPorte] Couillaud, lived at St-Ours. Much to their misfortune, Pierre Viau dit Larose, a soldier in the St-Ours Company is lodged with one of their neighbors. As a means of killing time, Larose often goes to his neighbors', the Lachaume, to enjoy some casual talking. A fine talker, the soldier quickly makes the heart of his hostess beat faster. This passion leads him straight to crime. Once she becomes the mistress of Larose, Marie Couillaud decides in good measure to get rid of her husband. And she soon advises her lover of her project. On 28 February 1702, Marie Couillaud and Pierre Viau decide to put an end to LaChaume "during the time he was asleep." That very night, the husband is stabbed three times with his sword by his wife's lover. The result is instant death.

 Marie Couillaud is nowhere to be found, while her presumed accomplice is locked up in Montreal. The disappearance of the LaChaume woman reads like a pulp novel. To protect her from legal prosecution, her uncle, Pierre Laporte dit Saint-Georges, is said to have assumed the responsibility of taking her to New England. On the way he is said to have met natives, to whom he would have entrusted the care of his niece, paying them to conduct her safely to her destination.

More is available here at this link (the link provides both French and English versions of the story).

Another Direct Ancestral Path to Jacques De La Porte dit St Georges

When I began researching my family history, among the first "goals" was to find my connection to Jacques de LaPorte dit St Georges, the first "LaPorte" in North America and the one responsible for the vast majority of people with that name here in this country.

I first successfully identified a path to him as a direct ancestor not through LaPortes, but through my father's maternal grandparent's lines.  Both Rocks were descended from Philibert Couillaud, who married one of Jacques' daughters, Catherine LaPorte.

Since then, I have persuasively established the connection through the LaPortes after a long pause at my 3GRGR because of his use and his parents use of the last name "Denis" for a period of years.

Recently, as I've been filling in ancestral gaps in my French Canadian lines, I just found another line (giving me three total that go back to him).  This latest is through his daughter Suzanne (b. 1676 d. 1743).  Suzanne married a man named Pierre Menard (b. abt 1672 d. 1743) (not this Pierre Menard), son of Pierre Menard St Onge.

Pierre Menard is my 8th Great Grandfather.

Pierre Menard St Onge (1672 - 1746)
is your 8th great grandfather
Son of Pierre
Son of Pierre
Daughter of Theophile
Daughter of Catherine
Daughter of Marie Anne
Daughter of Julia Brière
Son of Hattie
Daughter of (Henry) Clayton
Son of Jennie Delphine
You are the son of Ronald Lloyd -

His wife, Suzanne, is my Seventh Great Grand Aunt.

Suzanne de la Porte dit St Georges (1676 - 1743)
is your 7th great grand aunt
Father of Suzanne
Son of Jacques
Son of Paul
Son of Denis
Son of Pierre
Son of Charles
Son of Julius
Son of Moses Julius
Son of Henri Andrew
Son of Lloyd Vincent
You are the son of Ronald Lloyd.

So, through Pierre Menard and Suzanne LaPorte, Jacques is my 9th Great Grandfather.  Through the LaPorte side, though, he is my 8th Great Grandfather (through Philibert Couillaud and Catherine LaPorte, he is also my 9th Great Grandfather).  I would NOT be surprised if there are other paths to Jacques.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Another 3GRGR Dead End

Since I've linked up my LaPorte 3GRGR (for whom this blog is named), I've begun to focus my research on other parts of the tree.  I've been filling in folks in various "descendant's reports."  I've been climbing up the tree to fill in direct ancestors, which is easier than you'd imagine in Quebec -- many lines being complete back to fifth, sixth, and beyond great grandparents.

In filing in these "holes," I have come across a stopper -- Gilbert Simond Jesse -- another 3rd Great Grandfather, related as follows:

Gilbert Simond Jesse (1822 - 1884)
is your 3rd great grandfather
Daughter of Gilbert Simond
Daughter of Delphine Josephine
Daughter of Isabel
Son of Jennie Delphine
You are the son of Ronald Lloyd

St. Alexander's in Morrisonville, New York has transcribed burial records online here, which show him to have died in 1884. There isn't any direct record for Gilbert Jesse, but there are several references to folks who are related to him - children, spouses, etc.

One first hiccup was his wife. It seemed that her name was Catherine Martin, which would be consistent with some census records, referring to Catherine and Kate.  But there is also reference on that page to some Martin-Fortin's, which might also be her pedigree.

One further confusing thing is that on ancestry.com, there are a number of public trees that list Gilbert Simond Jesse has having a first wife, Armenia Raymond and having several children by her.  Those children all seem to have been born before the start of the US Civil war, in which Gilbert Jesse might have fought (I've ordered a copy of the pension filed for Gilbert Jesse to see if its the right person and also if there is any pertinent information).  The pension claimant is "Kate Jesse" which is consistent with a surviving wife named Catherine Martin.

These trees, however, don't give a date of death for "Armenia," which if Gilbert had two wives, would seem to be sometime before the war. In any case, it seems possible that 3GRGR Gilbert Jesse had two families, one pre-war and one post-war.

I cannot get back into Canada/Quebec with Gilbert, though. This is likely a function of the Anglicizing of whatever his true French last name was.  I've seen online in various discussions that the Jesse name (which appears in at least one census record as "Jessa") has appeared variously as Jesse, Jessey, Jessie, Jersey, Jessa and could derive from Gaisson/Giasson or Chaisson/Chiasson.

This is the new project . . ..