Saturday, May 19, 2012

La Portes in New York and Vermont

Frequently, I see my "North Country" La Porte relatives drifting over to Vermont and then returning.  Sometimes, they meander further east to New Hampshire.  Without an appreciation for that part of the country's geography, its easy to miss the challenge of getting from New York to Vermont.

These days, you just take the ferry from Port Kent to Burlington, Plattsburgh to Grand Isle, or Essex to Charlotte.

We would do this with some frequency when we visited my La Porte grandparents (Lloyd and Jennie (Rock)) in Plattsburgh.  Load up Grandpa's car as well as our own and away we'd go.  No one really did it cooler than my big brother Dave.

But I cannot help but wonder what the crossing was like in the middle or later part of the 19th century when, among others, my 2nd Great Grandfather Moses made the trek well beyond Vermont and New Hampshire to work in a Lumber Camp near Ludlow, Massachusetts.

I don't imagine that anyone logged into "" and booked a trip. Then again, the presence of water could have made at least that leg of the journey that much smoother than a completely overland trek. I just don't know. It could not have been easy nor could they have been near as happy as I seem to be here, making that crossing:

Of course, a good deal of that happiness could be due to the amazing (in-all-likelihood-homemade-by-my-mom) Planet of the Apes, iron-on t-shirt!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Meek Looking Grandpa Was Driving a Muscle Car?

So, I've always had an image of my Grandpa (Lloyd) La Porte as a soft-spoken and pretty meek guy.  I don't think that's an inaccurate assessment and I don't think that the recent discovery of mine changes things, it just makes the discovery a bit unexpected.

I've been scanning some old Kodakchrome slides of my parent's and posting digital images and came across this one of my grandpa washing his car.

I was curious about the car and I read that to say "Coronet 440" on the side.  This piqued my curiousity. Although I'm by no means a gearhead, I did know that a 440 cubic inch engine wasn't tiny by any stretch.  My old Chevy Malibu was a 305 and was the weaker version of the 350 that Chevy made that was much faster.  So, by comparison, I already knew that the 440 had some kick.

I Googled it and among the first several hits was from the site "Muscle Car Club." From the "history section" and the date of the photo, it looks like gramps was rocking a '67 Coronet, which could fly!!
Almost all Hemi Coronets were R/T models, but a few Hemi powered Coronet 440 two door hardtops snuck out of the factory. These were built to meet National Hot Rod Association Super Stock B rules and the WO23 cars, as they were known, were the latest in a line of special lightweight models for drag racing. A Street Hemi Coronet 440 tipped the scales at 3,686 lbs, resulting in a power to weight ratio of 8.67 lb/bhp. The body had standard sheet metal with a big fresh air scoop. Sound deadening and body sealer was deleted and the battery was mounted in the trunk. The usual sway bar in front was also deleted, as these models didn't really need to turn that much. There were two versions. The first came with a TorqueFlite modified with a 2,300-2,500 stall speed torque converter and 4.86:1 Sure-Grip Chrysler built 8 3/4 inch differential. The second had the four speed manual transmission with Hurst linkage, reinforced gearing and clutch, and explosion-proof clutch housing. A 4.88 Sure-Grip differential was also included. The SS/B cars did not come with a factory warranty. Fifty examples needed to built and when 55 were built, Dodge pulled the plug. Plymouth also built 55 similar Plymouth Belvedere II two door hardtops (RO23).
These were the ultimate Coronets.
 Production: R/T: 10,181. Hemi: 238 SS/B: 55.
Engines: 426 V8 Hemi 425bhp@5000rpm, 490lb-ft@4000rpm. 440 V8 375bhp@4600rpm, 480lb-ft@3200rpm.
Performance: R/T 440/375: 0-60 in 7 seconds, 1/4 mile in 15.4 seconds. 426/425: 0-60 in 6.1 seconds, 1/4 mile in 14.5 seconds.

I dug deeper, though, not believing this to be the case and found this:
The Coronet showed up again in 1965, in a much different Dodge; gone was the tradition of “one basic car per brand.” The Coronet was now above the Valiant-based Darts, and below the Polara, Custom 880, and Monaco. Coronet was sold in a base model, 440, and 500 series; the base engine was the slant six, with the 273 V8 optional (it was standard on the 440 and 500, and in wagons). Though Chrysler would make a 440 engine, it did not make one in 1965, so the Coronet 440 name was perhaps misleading but not yet as confusing as it could be.
So, not a 440 cubic inch engine that flew down the streets of Plattsburgh, but a Dodge-Dart upgrade with a wimpy 273 cubic inch 6-cylinder engine that was just named a 440. Quite economical, though, Gramps.  Consistent with the prior "ride to work" efficiency post.


My dad chimed in and confirmed:  "I remember the car, but it was not a souped up version. No muscle car for your Grandfather!"

Alas, this makes more sense.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

National Bike Month!! / Bike to Work Day

In honor of National Bike Month and the upcoming Bike to Work Day, here is my Grandfather Lloyd La Porte (b. 1913 d. 1992 in Plattsburgh, Clinton, NY, USA) sometime in the 1950s, ready to hit the streets of Plattsburgh on his way to his gig as a toll booth operator . . .

. . . or so I thought.  My dad, Ron La Porte is in town this weekend and informed me that no such thing is actually occurring. He says that Grandpa Lloyd is goofing around with his bike, not setting out for a commute.  Ah, well.

In any case, hit the roads people and save same gas if you can.  Ride to work!!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Ghost of Narcisse "Nelson" La Porte

My brain almost exploded last night as I was trying to figure out some stuff about my first cousin four times removed, Narcisse "Nelson" La Porte (3GRGR's Nephew -- his brother Julien's boy).  I was enjoying the feeling that comes from a pretty decent breakthrough in piecing together that "Narcisse," who appeared in various church records in Mooers, New York was the same guy as a "Nelson" who appeared in the 1870 Census next door to 3GRGR and in the 1880 Census next door to 2GRGR.

I knew that I'd seen the name "Nelson" La Porte before but couldn't find the person who seemed to fit within my tree.  Francis (3GRGR's brother) had a middle name Nelson (which, I've been assuming was Xavier in French) and his son Sidney had a middle name "Nelson."  But searching my Family Tree Maker database didn't show anything close to matching some data that I'd seen.  It took a while to figure out that this guy living next door to my relatives was also my relative.  I thought it too much of a coincidence that Narcisse married a Phoebe and had a son Joseph born the same era that this next door neighbor (who also married a Phebe and had a son Joseph).  While I'm not going to stretch because the name Joseph was not just common, but commonly added as a Christian name to every boy in some households, the addition of Phoebe's and sons born in the same month and year seemed too much of a coincidence.  So, into my tree, Narcisse got an alias -- "also known as 'Nelson.'"

That feeling didn't last long as I tried to research Nelson forward past 1880.  It seemed like they went to New Hampshire (and possibly Vermont).  But the records were odd.  First of all, there was a New Hampshire death record putting his death in 1896.

But then, there was a 1920 Census record putting him alive and well in New Hamsphire with what seemed like his daughter Rose/Rosie/Rosalie LaPorte and grand kids - presumably Rosie's kids, Antoinette and Leo. But this was 25 years after he was supposed to have died!!


Ok, this was making my brain hurt!!  Was it really possible that there were two Nelson LaPortes both married to Phebe Laportes and both with daughters named "Rose"?  Was it also possible that they were both working at at cotton mill (which I discovered in comparing the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census records)?  Maybe there is a cotton mill in Nashua that EVERYONE worked at?  I checked Google Maps and noted that Warren Street is really close to Bridge Street -- these are the two streets on which Phoebe lived (in 1900 on Bridge, in 1910 on Warren) and now Nelson seemed to be have lived (in 1920 on Warren).  This one was a stumper!!

I went back to check birth dates to see if the dependencies were too large.  Nelson's birthdate in 1920 was supposedly 1846, six years after what I had him at -- 1840.  Odd, but not so out of whack given his now advanced age, the likelihood that he spoke French not English and the rampant errors/imprecision that seems to exist on census forms.  I wasn't ready to rule it out on that basis.  But then I looked back to 1900 and 1910 and noticed that Phoebe's marital status was "Wd" or "widowed!!"  Nelson's status in 1920 (above) seemed to suggest "M" for "married."

Now my brain was spinning out whacky theories left and right -- were Nelson and Phoebe so out of sorts as a couple that the kids bounced between households, but that they lied about their marital status?  Was Nelson so love struck that he clung to the notion of still being married to Phoebe?  Was Phoebe so pissed off at something that Nelson had done that she considered him "dead?"

Occam's Razor.
Occam's Razor.
Occam's Razor.
Occam's Razor.

There had to be a simpler explanation.  Then I noticed two things:

1.  In 1920, Nelson was listed as being born in New York.  I had him born in Quebec.  That doesn't seem like something you make a mistake on.  Rose, his daughter, listed the place of birth of her father (Nelson) as "Canada" which jibbed with what I had thought.  Then, I saw it (or, them, more precisely):

Nelson was also listed as "F" for "female."  And, upon checking the header for the 1920 Census, I noted that "W" was the abbreviation for "widowed" instead of "Wd" as had been the case in 1900 and 1910.  Then it clicked.  "Nelson" wasn't "Narcisse" or the Ghost of Nelson.  She was Phoebe!  For whatever reason, the census taker reported Phoebe as "Nelson" instead of "Phoebe."  All of the other "discrepancies" now fell into place:
Phoebe Porrier La Porte was born in New York.
Nelson (Rose's father) was born in Canada.
Pheobe was a widow in 1900, 1910, and in 1920.
Nelson wasn't "M-for-married," Phoebe was "W-for-widowed."

And, Rosie the spinner/weaver at the cotton mill was the same daughter of Nelson and Phoebe (Porrier) La Porte living in Nashua.

Puzzling these things out is one of the things that I love about genealogical research.  Now, off to find out of this "Leo" Laporte is in any way connected to tech guru Leo LaPorte.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Human Element of Genealogy . .

Genealogical research is not easy stuff.  Its getting more accessible as more and more records come online and as they come online become either indexed or OCR'd.  Numerous sources are available, though, only offline.

I got a few of those sources the other day from the Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society.

They aren't original source documents. Rather, they are compilations. These compilations aren't my favorite as I am inherently somewhat mistrustful of the work of others. But on the other "hand" (pun intended but not obvious until you see below), without the efforts of these people -- often volunteers - a ton of raw information simply wouldn't be accessible.

I dream of a world where all of the source records are imaged, OCR'd, indexed, searchable and wiki'd for discussion as to whether handwriting means "LaPorte" or "LaPoint" because of someone's fancy or sloppy cursive. A super-dream would be to have the information further linked to one or more "universal" trees or "wiki" trees to provide further context for judging whether its LaPorte or LaPoint. I think I may live to see that day, but its not hear yet.

But this is all a very long digression for the actual point of the post -- the "human element" of genealogical research. What prompted this post wasn't my curiousity for the "human element" of the subjects of my research -- my 3GRGR, etc. -- but of the tools to that end.

I came across the image below while searching Google Books. Its a lineage book from the Daughter's of the American Revolution (the DAR and SAR are great sources of research if the ancestors you are looking for were or were descendant from "Patriots" during the Revolutionary War).  The image below struck me and reminded of what I've noted above -- without the tireless work of volunteers* much of the research that I do would be either imposssible or at the very least, much, much, much more difficult.

So, Lady with the huge diamond ring:  "Thanks for scanning this book" and "thanks" for reminding me of the "human element" of genealogical research.

*The size of the Diamond Ring suggests to me that this is not a paid Google employee or Indian outsourced worker.  I'm guessing a DAR volunteer.

Post Script:  sorry for those of you who's ancestor's page references have been obscured here.  Thankfully, Google Books is searchable and the index is redundant.

Monday, May 7, 2012

So I guess Not All French Canadians Were Catholic

I alluded before to an assumption that I had made regarding the percentage of particular heritages that I was and assumed it was about 50-50% French and Irish.  That turned out to be not so much the case.  Also, I had made assumptions based on them being French and Irish that they were almost exclusively Catholic.  That also turns out to not be the case.

I'm discovering that my 3GRGR, Jules La Porte was, perhaps, born Catholic, but seems to have drifted into various protestant sects throughout his lifetime. I have no idea if this was pure expediency due to geography who which of his wives he was with at the time (more on this below), or if it was due to conviction and belief.

Above, I say "perhaps born Catholic" because I believe his father, Charles La Porte, was born in the parish now served by this Church, in French called "Eglise Sainte Marguerite de Blairfindie" located in L'Acadie, Quebec. My 4GRGR Charles was married in this parish, although this building didn't exist c. 1772 when he was born. It wasn't built until just after 1800. But it could have been where they worshiped in 1812 or so, when Jules/Julius was born.

But 25 years later, when Jules married Marguerite Genevieve Garrant / (Mary) Jane Garrow, he seems to have been affiliated (or she was, it isn't clear) with the First Presbyterian Church in Mooers, New York, about 60 kilometers south and slightly west of there.

Jules married wife numbers 2 and 3 in his own home.  Both, it seems, were when he was affiliated with the "ME Church" -- or "Methodist Episcopalian Church" also in Mooers, New York. That Building near the beginning of the 20th Century looked like this:

Its the same building that the United Methodist Church in Mooers, still uses. I've recently contacted "Pastor Al" there, who forwarded my records inquiries to their Historian.  I'm hoping to find out a bit more about possible birth records for Jules' children (including my 2GRGR Moses) that might be part of their archives.

Later, it seems clear that 2GRGR was affiliated with the Catholic Church, including at least Ste. Anne de Centreville in Mooers. Their faith could not have been super strong at least not with the entire family, as my Great Grandfather Henry (according to my dad) was not a "church goer."  Oddly enough, his apparent Catholic affiliation, though, was an issue for my Great Grandmother Bessie Blaney, who, despite her very Irish name, was also apparently not Catholic. My father also told me that it was a bit of an issue when my Grandfather Lloyd (who, apparently, was now affiliated with a protestant church) married my Grandmother Jennie, who was Catholic.

Although they weren't all Catholic, what I can say is "thank God" that they were affiliated, as the Churches were definitely good at one thing: record keeping.  Were it not for these churches (including the LDS currently) genealogy would be next to impossible.