Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Tuesday’s Tip: Measuring Up


A couple of days ago, I came across a new-to-me blog: Moments in Time, A Genealogy Blog. It had an interesting article from July 2012 titled How Tall Were Your Ancestors?

The blog’s author Diana gave examples of resources that mention our ancestors’ physical characteristics, including height: draft registration cards, passport applications and passenger records.

I know how tall some of my ancestors were; for example, my paternal grandfather Fred Belair was 5’6”, while my maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers was 6’7”. My maternal grandmother Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers was only 5’2”, and I think (I don’t know if anybody ever told me) that my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair was about 5’4”. (She was a bit shorter than Pépère Fred, based on photographic evidence.)

It occurred to me that one day my descendants might want to know how tall my family members were, so I decided to be ready for them. Three years ago, when most of my family was gathered for Thanksgiving in October 2010, my husband Michael and I measured us. I recorded the information and later made a print-out, which I store in my genealogy files.

Here’s how we ‘measured up’.

Rank
Name
Height
1
Jason
5’ 11½”
2 (tie)
Michael
5’ 11”
2 (tie)
Raymond
5’ 11”
3
Angela
5’ 10”
4
Nicholas
5’ 8⅞”
5
Jacqueline
5’ 8”
6
Marianne
5’ 6”
7
Yvonne
5’ 4”
8
Nenita
4’ 9”
9
Jonathan
4’ 0”

So, when you’re at your next family gathering, be sure to have a measuring tape with you and record your family’s heights and preserve those details for future generations!

(Image source: "Matrioshka" from Openclipart at http://openclipart.org/)

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Lives Well Lived: My Longest-Lived Ancestors

Every now and then, I like to look at my family tree and see what kind of information I can extract from it. I’m thinking “bigger picture” here, not just what I can learn from one or two individuals. One day, I wondered how old my ancestors lived to and thought this question would make a great little project for me in which to see the bigger picture.

And so, I looked over my database, going as far back as six generations to my great-great-great-grandparents. I deliberately stopped at the sixth generation because I wanted this activity to be manageable and not take too much time.

When I was done, I had a list of fourteen ancestors who were 80 years or older when they died. Here are my results in table format. Note that women are shown with their maiden names.

Yvonne's Longest-Lived Ancestors

No.
Ancestor
Age at Death
Year of Death
Generation
1
Fred Belair1
101 years, 2 months
1991
3rd
2
Clémentine Léveillé2
90 years, 11 months
1969
4th
3
Thérèse Durgey
90 years, 2 months
1900
6th
4
Angélique Caillé
89 years, 7 months
1905
6th
5
Pierre Belair
89 years, 5 months
1941
4th
6
Marcelline Gagnon
87 years, 0 months
1918
6th
7
Adélaïde Larose
85 years, 2 months
1881
6th
8
Josephte Messier3
85 years, 2 months
1893
6th
9
Elisabeth Vanasse4
85 years, 0 months
1947
4th
10
Joseph Léveillé
83 years, 2 months
1922
5th
11
Olivier Vanasse
82 years, 9 months
1914
5th
12
Olivier Vanasse
81 years, 10 months
1944
4th
13
Angélique Lalonde5
81 years, 11 months
1900
5th
14
Paul Belair
80 years, 2 months
1902
5th


1. Fred Belair (no. 1) is the son of Pierre Belair (no. 5), who is the son of Paul Belair (no. 14).
2. Clémentine Léveillé (no. 2) is the daughter of Joseph Léveillé (no. 10).
3. Josephte Messier (no. 8) is the mother of Olivier Vanasse (no. 11), who is the father of Olivier Vanasse (no. 12).
4. Elisabeth Vanasse (no. 9) is the wife of Olivier Vanasse (no. 12). (They were first cousins.)
5. Angélique Lalonde (no. 13) is the wife of Paul Belair (no. 14).

Some Observations:

• I calculated the ages at death of my first 62 ancestors, representing five generations – from my parents to my great-great-great-grandparents.

• Fourteen (22%) of these 62 ancestors lived to an age greater than 80 years.

• Twelve of these fourteen ancestors were born in the province of Quebec (no. 2, Clémentine Léveillé, was born in the province of Ontario, while no. 3, Thérèse Durgey, was born in either the province of Ontario or the province of Quebec).

• Of these fourteen ancestors, eight are women, six are men. As a group, the women lived to an average age of 86.8 years, while the men lived to an average age of 86.5 years.

• Of these fourteen ancestors, nine belong to my paternal ancestral lines, while five belong to my maternal ancestral line.

• The maternal side of my family lived to a greater average age (88.13 years) than the paternal side of my family (85.9 years).

• My paternal grandfather, Fred Belair, is the longest-lived ancestor in this list.
Clockwise from top: Fred Belair (almost 100 years old), Joseph Léveillé (possibly 70s), Pierre Belair (about 69), Clémentine Léveillé (about 77), Elisabeth Vanasse and her husband Olivier Vanasse (both about 78 years).

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Workday Wednesday: Fred Belair, Michigan Bound

As an unmarried young man in his 20s, my grandfather Fred Belair worked in the USA. I found three records at Ancestry.ca that place him in Michigan during the second decade of the 20th century.

Many years ago, my grandfather told me that he worked in the shipyards of Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 1910s or 1920s, or even possibly during World War I (I’ve forgotten that detail). So far, I haven’t found any border crossing manifests or other documents that confirm his recollections.

Record No. 1

red Belair's record of arrival in Sault Ste Marie in 1910
Fred Belair's record of arrival in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, USA, 1910

On 27 October 1910, Fred arrived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. He was 19 years old (he was actually 20, and about to turn 21 within two months) and a laborer. His last residence was “Cash Bay [Cache Bay], Ontario”, he had never previously been in the USA, and he planned to “Seek work” in the Soo [Sault Sainte Marie], Michigan. He paid his own passage. Personal characteristics include height (5’6”), complexion (fair), hair (red) and eyes (grey).1

I remember my Pépère Fred telling me that he had worked in the US, but I don’t recall him ever telling me that he worked in Michigan. I also didn’t know that he had been in Cache Bay, near North Bay, Ontario. If he was a laborer here, he might have worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway, or perhaps in the lumber and pulp and paper industries.

Record No. 2

Fred Belair's record of arrival in Sault Ste Marie in 1912
Fred Belair's record of arrival in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, USA, 1912

On 17 June 1912, Fred arrived in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. He declared he was 22 years old, a laborer, and that his last residence was Ruel, Ontario. He was previously in the USA from 1911 to February 1912 in “Soo [Sault Ste Marie], Michigan”. His destination was the American Hotel in Sault Sainte Marie, and he was there “To visit; may remain & look for work”. Again, he paid his own passage. Personal characteristics include height (5’6”), complexion (fair), hair (brown) and eyes (blue).2

Curious about this “American Hotel”, I turned to the 1911-1912 Sault Sainte Marie city directory at Ancestry.ca.3 I found that the hotel is located at 306 Magazine Street and the proprietor was a certain Achille Corriveau. At this point, I wondered if my grandfather chose this particular hotel because he knew it was run by someone with a French name, and/or if someone back home (maybe a work buddy) told him that the American was a good place for French-speaking workers from Canada to get a room.

I knew that my grandfather worked on the railroad in Ontario (possibly in Ramore, east of Timmins) in the 1920s, but it’s looking like he worked for the railroad even earlier than that, from details found in the records no. 1 and 2. For example, Fred declared that his last place of residence was “Ruel, Ont.” Even though I’m originally from Ontario, I’ve never heard of Ruel. After a bit of checking around on the Internet, I found that Ruel is located more or less in the forest east of Highway 144 about half way between Sudbury and Timmins. Ruel has been around since at least 1911 when it was a subdivision and a siding with the Canadian Northern Ontario Railway.4 I suppose that since Fred was in Ruel, he presumably worked for the CNOR.

Record No. 3

The third record is a manifest for the Port of Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. It’s dated 24 June 1912, but states the same information found in the previous record.5

What have I learned from these records?

I knew some things about my grandfather, like his name, his age, his place of birth, his personal characteristics (he was always red-haired, never brown), and his father’s name.

I also learned new facts, like:

- Prior to 27 October 1910, he resided in Cache Bay, Ontario.
- Prior to this date, he had never been in the U.S.
- On this date, he was able to pay his own passage, and had $20.00 to his name.
- On this date, he was a laborer, heading to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to “seek work”.

- Prior to 17 June 1912, he resided in Ruel, Ontario.
- Prior to this date, he had previously been in the U.S. from 1911 to February 1912.
- On this date, he was able to pay his own passage, and had $22.00 to his name.
- On this date, he was a laborer, heading once again to Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan to “visit; may remain & look for work”. While there, he planned on staying at the American Hotel.

Sources:

1. “Michigan Passenger and Crew Lists, 1903-1965”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 5 March 2012), entry for Menosipe Bellair [sic], age 19, arrived Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 1910; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.: Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Algonac, Marine City, Roberts Landing, Saint Clair, and Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 1903-1955; Record Group: 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Microfilm Serial: A3429; Microfilm Roll: 2.

2. “Michigan Passenger and Crew Lists, 1903-1965”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 February 2012), entry for Menesippe Belair, age 22, arrived Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 1912; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.: Manifests of Alien Arrivals at Algonac, Marine City, Roberts Landing, Saint Clair, and Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 1903-1955; Record Group: 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Microfilm Serial: A3429; Microfilm Roll: 2.

3. “U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 14 June 2013), R.L. Polk, compiler, 1911-1912 Sault Ste. Marie City Directory (Detroit, Michigan: R.L. Polk & Co., Publishers and Compilers, 1911), X: 49.

4. “C.N.Rys. Ontario Subdivisions”, database, CNR in Ontario (http://cnr-in-ontario.com/Subdivisions/index.html : accessed 14 June 2013), entry for “Ruel”.

5. “Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956”; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 February 2012), entry for Menesippe Belair, age 22, arrived Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan, 1912; citing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), Washington, D.C.: Manifests of Passengers Arriving at St. Albans, VT, District through Canadian Pacific and Atlantic Ports, 1895-1954; Record Group: 85, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; Microfilm Serial: M1464; Microfilm Roll: 184; Line: 12.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Happy Father’s Day, Dad


Maurice Belair with his family
Belair family, 1979

It’s been 17 years since you passed away, Dad. It’s been 17 years since I haven’t been able to wish you a “Happy Father’s Day”.

I miss you as much today as I did when you left us – Mom, Marianne, Raymond, and I – but I have (we all have) found a way of coping with your absence.

I miss you when I visit Raymond, your only son, and see how much he resembles you in his way of laughing and talking.

I miss you when Marianne and I reminiscence about our childhood and the things we did with you, like going for skidoo rides, attending the yearly Sportsman Show at the McIntyre arena, and tagging along with you to Canadian Tire on Saturday mornings.

I miss you when Mom and I are watching television and we see something funny and we say “Dad would have laughed at that”.

I miss you when I see my son Nicholas grow into a fine young man. He was only 3½ years old when you suddenly left his world, but I’ve made sure that he’s never forgotten how much you loved him.

I miss you when I make a discovery in my family tree research and can’t tell you about it, especially when it’s about your side of the family.

Our lives haven’t been the same since that fateful day. You are still in our thoughts, our prayers, our everyday lives, and in our hearts.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Friday Photo: Wedding Guests

On the first two Fridays of each month, I showcase a family photo and answer the “who, what, when, where and why” of that picture. The first week’s Friday photo is taken from my side of the family* and the second week’s Friday photo is chosen from my husband’s side of the family. (I got the idea for this column from Amy Coffin’s ebook The Big Genealogy Blog Book advertised on her The We Tree Genealogy Blog.)

* I didn’t get around to posting a photo of my family last week, but will be back next month.

Ann with her brother Pete and his wife Lucy in 1980
Ann (left) with her brother Pete and his wife Lucy, 1980

Who:
My husband’s mother Ann (Cazakoff) Demoskoff, her elder brother Pete Cazakoff and his wife Lucy (Pereversoff) Cazakoff.

What:
Pete and Lucy pose with his sister Ann in her backyard at home.

When:
June 1980.

Where:
Grand Forks, British Columbia, Canada.

Why:
Pete and Lucy were in town from Saskatchewan for the wedding of their niece Margaret (Maggie), Ann's daughter.

My husband Michael loves this photo, because "Pete and Lucy were a very likeable aunt and uncle". (They didn’t have children of their own and felt close to their nieces and nephews.) They also made great shasliki [var. shaslik; shisliki] (marinated lamb cooked over an open-pit fire). It’s also one of the last photos taken of his mother Ann, who passed away in July 1980.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Demoskoff – Cazakoff


Bill and Ann Demoskoff on their wedding day in June 1952
Bill and Ann Demoskoff Wedding, 1952

Bill and Ann (Cazakoff) Demoskoff, my husband’s parents, married on 1 June 1952 at her father George’s property in the Lily Vale School District, a few miles northwest of Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

The couple had known each other for a few months. They met through Ann’s brother John who told Bill, “I have a sister you may want to meet”. Bill agreed to meet Ann at a restaurant in Kamsack. They got along right away and found they were compatible. Soon, Bill began to drop in on Ann at her parents’ home. After a brief courtship, they decided to marry.

Bill, nearly 38 years old, and Ann, 26, were Doukhobors. They chose to marry in the simple and traditional ceremony of their faith. (Doukhobor marriages were recognized by the province of Saskatchewan since 1909.)

After receiving her father’s blessing, the newlyweds and their guests travelled a short distance (about 20 miles) to where the second part of the festivities took place. Here, Bill’s mother Luchenia and his married sister Mable, who were waiting for them with other guests, had prepared a meal – borscht, vegetables, and roasted meat.

Bill and Ann were blessed with two children, son Michael and daughter Margaret. (Maggie would later wear her mother’s off-white satin dress at her own wedding 28 years later.)

Ann passed away in 1980, but Bill is still with us. He will be 99 years old tomorrow. Michael and Margaret are giving him a small, family luncheon this Sunday.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for June 2013

From October to December last year, I posted articles about some of my ancestors’ life events that marked an anniversary in 2012. I’m continuing this series by presenting a selection of ancestral events for 2013.

4 June 1793:
Marriage of Etienne Bouvret (Beauvais) and Marie Desanges Guyon (Dion) in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Terrebonne County, Quebec. Etienne, a farmer, and Marie Desanges were blessed with eleven children, born in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines between 1794 and 1818. Their youngest surviving son, Charles, is my maternal ancestor.

6 June 1713:
Birth of Thérèse Boutillet in L’Ange-Gardien, Montmorency County, Quebec. Her father Jacques Boutillet was originally from Bordeaux, France, while her Marguerite Verreau was born in Château-Richer. Thérèse married Louis Huot in 1778 in Terrebonne, Terrebonne County, Quebec. They are my maternal ancestors.

10 June 1653:
Capture of Pierre Gareman dit Le Picard (along with his son Charles) by the Iroquois Oneiouts at Cap-Rouge, near Quebec City. Pierre’s date and place of death are unknown, but his son Charles, who married an Iroquois, was still alive in 1677. Pierre was originally from Bagneux, Picardie, France, where he married Madeleine Charlot about 1628. They are my paternal and maternal ancestors. (I have two lines of descent from them.)

14 June 1653:
Baptism of Jean Quenneville (Quesneville) in Rouen, Normandie, France. He was a son of Pierre Quenneville and Jeanne Sacquespée, who did not come to Canada. Jean married in Montreal in 1674 Denise Marié, a fille du Roi, who arrived in 1673. Jean, who was enumerated in 1681 in Montreal, was a master tailor. He and Denise had eleven children; they are my paternal ancestors.

24 June 1703:
Death of Paul Vachon in Beauport, near Quebec City. He was buried there the next day. Paul was originally from the province of Poitou in France. By trade, he was a mason, but he is probably better known as a notary, who worked in various seigneuries, like Beauport and Ile d’Orléans, from about 1658 until he retired in 1693. Paul and his wife Marguerite Langlois, whom he married in 1653 in Quebec City, are my paternal and maternal ancestors. (Like Pierre Gareman dit Le Picard and Madeleine Charlot, above, I have two lines of descent from this set of ancestors.)

29 June 1713:
Birth of Jean-Baptiste Cassé (Lacasse) in Beaumont, Bellechasse County, Quebec. A son of Charles Cassé (Lacasse) and Françoise Paquet, he was baptized in Beaumont the following day. Jean-Baptiste married Barbe Labelle in 1739 St-François-de-Sales, Laval County. They are my maternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Aunt Simone

Two deaths in less than one month.

On May 5th, my mother’s younger sister Normande passed away.

This past week, on May 29th, Mom’s elder sister Simone passed away in Sarnia, Ontario, after battling emphysema and cancer for a number of years.

Mom spoke with Simone about two weeks ago. She could tell how ill Simone was, so didn’t keep her long on the telephone. It was the last time the two sisters spoke.

Simone was born in 1930 in Hearst, a small northern Ontario town. She was the fourth child and third daughter of Eugène and Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers. She, my Mom and their father shared the same birthdate: 30 August.

Simone Desgroseilliers on the right with her sister Mariette
Simone (right) with her eldest sister Mariette, about 1936

In the spring of 1949, Simone married Bob Burdan. They were the parents of five children: Chuck, Janet, David, Nancy and Bobby. My cousin Bobby died in an accident in 1982 and Uncle Bob passed away in 1998.

In the mid-1980s, Aunt Simone visited my family not long after we moved to British Columbia from our home province of Ontario. Mom and Simone were getting ready to go out one afternoon. Aunt Simone was just about finished when she suddenly asked if I would like any of her jewellery. She told me to take whatever I liked – earrings, necklaces or rings. I chose a pair of blue drop earrings. I was deeply touched by her generosity and have never forgotten that moment.

Rest in peace, Aunt Simone.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.