I am fascinated by the genealogies of others and I spend a fair amount of time trying to see where our lineages might connect. By 1666, there were about 8,000 persons living in New France, and most of us with French Canadian ancestors are descended from someone within that small group (often multiple folks in that population).
When I first began studying my family’s history, I was reading about the “Plains of Abraham” in Quebec City. Many of you may know this battle during the French and Indian War was actually part of the Seven Years War between France and England. This conflict in 1759 between General Wolfe of the English forces and the Marquis de Montcalm who commanded the French, led to the English rule of these territories a year later. The battlefield was most likely named after Abraham Martin, a fisherman and river pilot, who arrived in Quebec about 1635, with his wife Marguerite Langlois (or Langlais). He is my 8X great-grandfather. Anne Martin, who came to New France as a Fille A Marier, and married Jean Cote in 1635 in Quebec may be his sister and she is also one of my 8X great-grandmothers. (I think that makes me doubly descended from their parents, Jean and Isabelle.)
When family names pop up in my genealogy, I always see if i can connect to a famous person with that name. As I found Dionne ancestors, I immediately wondered whether I was related to Celine Dionne. I am (6th cousin)! Later discoveries included links to Robert Goulet, Angelina Jolie, and Hilary Clinton, among others. In a recent episode of “Who Do You Think You Are” I discovered that Tom Bergeron and I share the Huguenot ancestors that are mentioned in his story.
When the Lamoureux sisters first appeared on the U.S. Women’s Hockey team in the 2014 Olympics, I figured they must be related. After some research I discovered a link with my 6X great-grandfather, making them my 7th cousins. I was so excited to see them again in the 2018 season, and was proud of their role in helping their team bring the Gold Medal home from South Korea.
I imagine inviting my famous cousins to a family Thanksgiving dinner – who might show up? How would I set up the seating? Would Tom sit next to Celine? Would Jocelyne and Monique sit next to Hilary? Would my grand-daughters sit next to Angelina? Although unlikely, as a friend often comments “it could happen!”
Although I find it fun to make these famous connections, my main genealogical focus is telling the stories of ancestors who left France and England to come to a New World. They left cousins and community, often with no real sense of the road ahead, to create a new life. Their spirit lives on through their descendants, famous or not, who journey forth one day at a time making new families and building new communities.
Happy cousin hunting!