The patient researcher

I haven’t posted for quite awhile, but it’s not because I haven’t been researching.  I have been working on my husband’s family and this research has made me meditate on the value of patience to the genealogist.

Sometimes, on public trees, we find that the researcher has mistakenly latched on to a presumed ancestor simply because they have the right name.  However it’s often the case that two men with the same name are approximately the same age, live in the same town, and are both married to women named Ethel! Hard to separate the right ancestor from the wrong one.

Then there’s the case where someone is baptized as John Frederick, but shows up in the census and other records sometimes as John, sometimes as Fred, and sometimes as Fred J.  It takes careful research to confirm they are one and the same.

What’s the magic ingredient to finding the right ancestor?  PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE!

The patience to research the siblings of the “same-named” people in order to differentiate by finding records that show parentage.

The patience to not rely on indexed records, knowing that indexed mistakes are made, and the original document may say something completely different.  I’ve found many an ancestor simply because I was willing to browse image by image through digitized records, be they a census, a church record, a death registration.

The patience to browse digitized city directories that are often very poorly indexed, especially if the the index is a result of OCR (optical character recognition) software rather than human transcription.  Scrolling through the images can confirm that the person you seek is living with a relative. It can also locate ancestors in the non-census years.   One of the unusual things about many old city directories is that they would continue to list names such as:

“Smith, Mary (widow of Simon)  123 Main St.”  FOR 10 YEARS AFTER THE HUSBAND DIED!

Strange, but does help confirm whether or not we have the right person.

The patience to spend hours searching through digitized newspapers.  What a treasure trove!  Obituaries are of course wonderful items to find, and if a search doesn’t bring  up the name, then, of course, we patiently scroll through the digital pages where we expect the notice to be.  The “social” notices seem so dated and comical to us, but what a thrill when you find that Mrs. Green’s niece, Margaret Black, is visiting from Chicago, and that leads you to discover what happened to a missing family member!

As tempting, and easy, as it is to research from the comfort of your home, we know that not all the records we seek are digitized and online.  Visits to archives and libraries can yield reams of important records. Sometimes the final “proof” we need to establish a relationship can only be found in a document that we  order from a government source, library, archive or genealogical society, and wait, patiently, for its delivery by old-fashioned snail mail.

Patience is not  rewarded 100% of the time.  We will always have unknowns and brick walls.  But oh, the happy dance we do when it pays off!

 

 

 

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Oops…July 18th

I should never prepare a post first thing in the morning and post it right away.  Sigh.

Last Sunday, July 16th, I posted about how it was my brother’s birthday AND the anniversary of my Dad’s death.

I was wrong.  I realized it mere minutes after I clicked on Publish.  However, email followers received the message right away, before I recognized the error and deleted the post.

Mea culpa.  Here’s the correct post.

If my brother Don was still alive, he would be celebrating his 80th birthday today, July 18th.  Sadly he died in January.

Last Sunday, July 16th,  marked the 45th anniversary of my father’s death.

Here’s a picture of Don, Mom, and Dad at Niagara Falls.  I’m pretty sure this was the summer of 1970.

Niagara Falls

Don, Madeleine, Tom

Happy times.  Miss you all.

Canada 150

Red on White

Today Canada is celebrating 150 years of Confederation. Confederation was the political union of the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. However, my ancestors have been in this land much longer than 150 years.

In Winnipeg, where I live, archeological digs at the Forks of the Red and Assiniboine rivers confirm that it has been a meeting place for aboriginal peoples for 6,000 years (you can read about that here).   I have three Metis ancestors, Jane Taylor, Josephte Belisle, and Genevieve Beignet.  Lack of documentation means I can’t trace these aboriginal roots any further back than the late 1700s.

As I have written before, I have many ancestors who were involved in the fur trade, which was a major economic driver in the settlement of the country.

My ancestors are mostly French-Canadian and go back to the early 1600s and the settlement of New France. I’ve blogged extensively about their lives.  Like all countries ours is a country with a colonial history. One can find many instances of racism, wars, and injustices, especially dealing with the treaty promises that were not honoured.

We are an imperfect country, and we shouldn’t gloss over our failings. But today let’s look around the world, and realize how lucky we are to live in a wealthy, democratic country, with freedom of speech and a belief in human rights.

Happy Canada Day, eh?

A trial in Red River

Recently the Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre presented the play Sarah Ballenden by local playwright Maureen Hunter.  The play is rooted in the historical trial of Foss vs. Pelly that took place in July 1850 in the Red River Settlement.

Sarah Mcleod Ballenden was a Metis woman married to a Hudson Bay Company Chief Factor, John Ballenden. Rumors were circulating that she was having an inappropriate relationship with a soldier, Captain Christopher Foss. In order to clear her name, Foss brought charges of defamation against four members of the community who were the source of the allegations: A.E. Pelly, accountant for HBC; his wife Anne Pelly; John Davidson, the mess cook; his English wife, a servant.

Much has been written about the trial and the issues of class and racism in the settlement.  It is not my intent to analyze this historical event. Readers who wish to know more can read Sylvia Van Kirk’s article “The Reputation of a Lady”: Sarah Ballenden and the Foss-Pelly Scandal at http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/mb_history/11/fosspellyscandal.shtml#24

Dale Gibson’s has an account of the trial in his book Law, Life, and Government at Red River: General Quarterly Court of Assiniboia, Annotated Records, 1844-1872, excerpts of which you can read on Google Books.

What piqued my interest was the fact that I have Hogue, McMillan and Dease ancestors living in Red River during this time frame. During the play there were references to Governor Simpson having abandoned his country wife years earlier.  Of course, the country wife was Margaret Taylor, my great-great grandmother, whom I’ve written about here.

I wondered if any of my ancestors were on the jury. Thanks to the digitization of records on the Archives of Manitoba website, I was able to see the list of jurors.

Jury

District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court District of Assiniboia General Quarterly Court, 1844-1851, Digital Image Number: PR16-002638.jpg Location Code: P7538/1

 

At first glance I thought, no ancestors there.  Then a couple of days later I took a second look.  One name stood out…Thomas Logan. Checking back through my files there he was… the brother-in-law of my great-great grandmother, Margaret Dease.  Thomas Logan was married to Margaret’s sister, Mary Anne.

Naturally I wondered what his opinions on the trial would have been, given that he was married to a Metis woman.  As I delved further into his background I discovered he was the son of Robert Logan and Mary, a Saulteaux Indian, so he was also Metis.

Thomas Logan scrip

Scrip affidavit for Logan, Thomas, from Library and Archives Canada, MIKAN NO. 1502263

Further research revealed that after Thomas’s mother died,  his father, Robert Logan, married Sarah Ingham, a white European widow, who was a schoolteacher.  Sylvia Van Kirk in her book Many Tender Ties, states that:

“The family of retired Chief Factor Robert Logan had particularly opposed their father’s marriage to Mrs. Ingham”.

Reading the transcript of the trial, Mrs. Logan’s name comes up several times.

Mrs. John Black (Margaret Christie, a Metis woman married to a HBC officer) said:

“I have heard Mrs. Logan state that Mrs. Ballenden was a woman that must always have a sweetheart as well as a husband.” and

“Mrs. Logan told me they were very intimate.”

Mrs. Cockran (wife of the Anglican Rev. William Cockran) testified:

‘I have heard reports, and questions has [sic] been put to me.  Mrs. Logan told me, & informed me that she had spoken to Mrs. Ballenden about it.”

The testimony of most of the witnesses for the defendants was hearsay.  There was a definite undertone of “white” superiority and racism.  So what would it have been like for Thomas Logan, a Metis, with a Metis mother and wife to hear his stepmother’s opinions? We can only guess.

I also noticed that one of the witnesses for the plaintiff was a Mr. Nathaniel Logan, a clerk for Mr. John Ballenden. Thomas had a brother Nathaniel who worked for HBC, and this could have been him.

In the end Foss won his case and damages were assessed against the defendants. However the rumors did not go away and Sarah Ballenden found herself shunned by many of the elites of the community.  She died three years later at the age of thirty-five.

So, what is the point of this post?  Obviously none of my direct ancestors were involved.  However, five of my direct ancestors (Margaret Taylor, Amable Hogue, William McMillan, Margaret Dease, and Genevieve Beignet) were adults living in the Red River Settlement at this time.  All of them, except for Amable, who was French-Canadian, were Metis. This is the social climate they lived in. These are the prejudices they experienced.

The pursuit of genealogy research for me is not just finding the names and dates for my ancestors, but placing them in the historical, social milieu in which they lived. And THAT is the reason for today’s post.

 

 

For all the Fathers and Grandfathers

I had many lovely comments on my Mother’s Day post of pictures, so I thought I would do the same thing for Father’s Day.

My maternal grandfather was George Vaillancourt.  He was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec. He was married twice. His first wife died leaving him with a one-year old son.  He then married my grandmother, Marie Anne Girard.  They lived in Trois-Rivières, in Trochu, Alberta, and in Regina, Saskatchewan, before settling in Manitoba. He died long before my brothers and I were born, at the age of 65, and is supposedly buried in St. Anne’s, Manitoba, although I haven’t yet found a grave.

Vailancourt George

George Vaillancourt 1869-1935

 

On my paternal side, the oldest picture I have is of Allan “Glenpean” McMillan, my fourth great grandfather.  Born in Scotland, he was instrumental in bringing settlers to Ontario, in what was know as the Lochaber Emigration. I wrote about him here.  He died at the age of  71 and is buried in St. Andrews United Church Cemetery in Williamstown, Ontario.

McMillan Allan

Allan “Glenpean” McMillan 1752-1823

 

My third great grandfather was James McMillan, also born in Scotland, who came to Canada with his family. I wrote about him here.  His country wife was Josephte Belisle, my ancestor. He died back in Glasgow, Scotland at the age of 75.  I don’t have a picture of him, but I do have this picture of his statue at Fort Langley, British Columbia, courtesy of Joan Sanderson.

McMillan James b1782

James McMillan 1782-1858

 

My second great grandfather was William McMillan.  He was born near present day Edmonton and  eventually moved to the Red River Settlement where he married Margaret Dease.  He was a  very interesting man whom I wrote about here.  His obituary claimed he was 103, but I’m sure that’s not true.  He is buried in St. Charles Cemetery, Winnipeg.

McMillan William

William McMillan 1806-1903

 

My great grandfather was Thomas Hogue. He was the son of Amable Hogue, whom I wrote about here. (Sadly I don’t have a picture.)  He married Philomene McMillan and lived in St. Charles before moving to La Salle, Manitoba around 1893.  I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 83, and is buried in the St. Hyacinthe Cemetery in La Salle.

Hogue Thomas Sr.

Thomas Hogue Sr. 1840-1924

 

My other great grandfather was Napoleon Girardin. Napoleon was born in Kingsey, Quebec and emigrated to Worcester, Massachusetts, where he married Onesime Allard.  They eventually emigrated to Manitoba, and Napoleon settled in La Salle, after the untimely death of Onesime. At the age of 71 he married again.  I wrote about him here. He died, aged 78 and is buried in an unmarked grave in La Salle.

Girardin Napoleon

Napoleon Girardin 1851-1929

 

My grandfather was Thomas Joseph Hogue. He was born in St. Charles, moved to La Salle with his parents, and was the first constable of the village. He was married to Emma Girardin.  They are, of course, the Pépère and Mémère of my blog posts! I wrote about him here. He died at the age of 75 and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas Jr.

Thomas Joseph Hogue 1879-1955

 

And then my father, Joseph Thomas Hogue. He was born in La Salle, but eventually moved to Winnipeg.  A welder by trade, he died much too soon after retirement. He died just before his 63rd birthday, and is buried in Assumption Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Hogue Thomas b1909

Joseph Thomas Hogue 1909-1972

 

Still miss you Dad!

A tribute to my brother

Six months ago, on January 9, 2017, my brother Donald died.  I am grateful that I was able to be with him in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver at the time.

Donald John Hogue was born July 18, 1937 and spent the first few years of his life in La Salle, Manitoba. He had a few health problems as a child including a bout of polio. Here are some of my favourite photos of him as a child.

Believe it or not, there was a time when a photographer would go door to door with a pony offering to take pictures!  How could a mother say no?

Don on horse

Don on a pony

Here’s a picture with his big brother and Mémère in La Salle.

IMG_0004

In La Salle

This portrait is, I suspect, from his First Communion at St. Ann’s.

Don First Communion

Studio portrait

 

His dapper look in this photo foretold a lifelong habit of stylish dressing.

Don in suit

How dapper!

Don was eleven years older than I was, and he left home, Winnipeg, when he was nineteen.  Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, he was “off to see the world”.

Don waving

Waving goodbye at the train station

He didn’t see that much of the world before being captivated by the beauty of Vancouver.

Don on Cornwall

Happy in Vancouver

I remember many train trips, traveling on Dad’s CN pass, to visit him in that gorgeous city.

Don and Jackie

Don and me in Vancouver

 

Later he moved to Toronto, for business reasons. Any time he came “home” to Winnipeg, we all made a fuss.

3 brothers

Don and his brothers, Christmas 1996

Don always made time to take me aside on these visits,  and really listen to what I had to say about whatever was going on in my life at the time.  When I had children myself he did the same thing, finding time during a visit to really inquire about their interests. Clearing out his apartment after his death, I came across all the photo albums/scrapbooks that he kept, filled with birth/wedding announcements for all of the extended family.  The tears flowed when I saw those reminders that, despite living away, he held us close in his heart.

When circumstances allowed him to move back to the coast, he jumped at the chance. He loved the ocean and the mountains.  If, as I believe, a human’s life is measured by their effect on other people, then Don’s was a great success, for he truly made a difference in so many people’s lives, especially through his involvement in AA.  The many friends I met in Vancouver when he died were testament to that truth.

Two friends in particular were the sole reason Don was able to continue to live his life with dignity and independence in his apartment.  They know who they are, and they also know they have my eternal gratitude.

Don

Donald John Hogue

Rest in peace dear brother.