Friday, February 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 Angélina Meunier – My great-grandmother

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 7th week of this challenge, I chose my paternal great-grandmother Angélina Meunier (1855-1896).

I don’t know much about my great-grandmother Angélina. There doesn’t seem to be any photographs of her that, if taken, have survived. She died when my grandfather Fred, her younger son, was only 6 years old. It’s strange, now I think about it, that I don’t ever remember asking my Pépère questions about her. If I had, what kind of memories would he have had of his mother?

Would he be able to tell me what she looked like physically, if she was short or tall, if she was petite, medium or large build, if she had blonde, brown, black or red hair, or if her eyes were blue, brown, green or hazel?

Would he be able to tell me what kind of personality she had, if she was quiet or outgoing, if she was calm and poised, or if she was active and adventurous?

Would he be able to tell me what kind of interests she had, if she like to sew, knit, paint, garden, or if she even had time to enjoy hobbies and activities?

With my grandfather gone 23 years ago, I know only what the records tell me – and what they might suggest – about his mother.

Her baptism record tells me that Angélina was born on 4 August 1855 in the rural community of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Gatineau County, Quebec. The eldest child of farmer Ménésippe Meunier and his wife Louise Drouin, she had seven brothers and three sisters (one of whom died as an infant). According to the 1861 census, the family lived in one-story log house.

Angélina seems to have been close to her family, because she named some of her children after them. For example, my grandfather was named after her father, and four other sons were named after her brothers Jean-Baptiste, Louis, Cyrille and Gédéon. Also, her mother was godmother to an elder son, while three brothers and one sister were godparents to her younger children.

At 24 years old, Angélina was the first of her family to marry. She and Pierre Janvry dit Belair, whom I wrote about last week here, exchanged wedding vows on 9 September 1879 in Masham’s parish church. Their first child, son Pierre, was born the following year. Seven boys and three girls followed with more or less regularity every two years until 1896.

That summer, on 22 July 1896, Angélina gave birth to her 11th child, Joseph. Sadly, he lived only a few hours. Four days later, Angélina died on 26 July. She was 40 years old. Her widower and seven children survived her.

Her funeral was largely attended. Twenty-three women, all dames de la Congrégation de Ste-Anne, signed their names in the sacramental register. I think that action on the part of those women reveal a great deal about Angélina, does it not?

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

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