Week 2 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge


In 2011, I enrolled in SLIG’s (Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy) French and French Canadian Genealogy program. It was my first Institute.  I was interested in discovering the origins of my French ancestor who landed on Cape Cod and married a Mayflower descendant.  A side project was to get started on my husband’s lines; six of his g-grandparents were French Canadian.

It was an amazing week! I am reminiscing because the 2014 Institute is being held this week.

In summary:

I learned little to aid with the mystery of my French ancestor, Charles V. Lansil/Lanselle.  He didn’t follow the typical migration paths – no one was sure why a Frenchman might settle on the Cape.

There were lectures on the PRDH & BMS2000, dit names, notarial records, French civil law, Huguenots, departments/arrondissements to name a few….

David Ouimette, one of our instructors, helped me trace one of my husband’s maternal ancestors back to Mathurin Chaulifour born about 1593 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, Poitou-Charentes, France.  My husband’s response was a disbelieving, “You mean I am French?!?!?”  Really dude?  Where did you think French Canadians came from? The North Pole?

I got stuck in a Radisson elevator with another participant (who’s name I don’t recall).  We were on our way to Tom Jones’s evening presentation (likely one of the best that week) and the elevator stopped between floors.  I freaked and reached for the panic button.  My elevator mate stopped me, calmly took out her cell phone and called the front desk.  The “elevator repair guy” lived 45 minutes away. We waited.  I called my husband.  Two hour time difference.  His sleepy response to my waking him; “Okay honey, good luck, I am in bed, let me know tomorrow what happens”. Really?!?!? call him tomorrow?  I could plunge to my death at any moment!  Wouldn’t that make a good obituary – “Family Genealogist dies at Genealogy Event! We survived.  As compensation, we got free breakfast and credit for one night stay.  I would rather have attended Tom’s lecture.

I attended a live performance of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir – AMAZING!

I explored the Family History Library for the first time – AMAZING! If you haven’t visited, you need to add this to your “bucket list”.

But most AMAZING was instructor Claire Bettag. She taught us about Acadians.  I had never heard of an Acadian.  I was a math scholar; history was not my forte. My mom is 50% French Canadian and 50% Lithuanian.  I had been obsessed with my Lithuanian ancestors. When I enrolled in the course I hadn’t considered researching that side of my family.  Turns out – mom is 50% Acadian!  Her grandparents were Roy/King’s and Melanson/Melançon’s – Acadian’s who married Acadian’s (and at least one native Indian) back to the 1500’s. So interesting.  Besides my new-found cousin Claire, other heroes (and cousins) include, Stephen White of the Centre d’études acadiennes at Moncton University and Lucie LeBlanc Consentino (http://www.acadian-home.org/).  They have contributed immensely to my learning of everything Acadian.

So….in week #2 of the challenge, I have chosen to write of an Acadian, Magloire Melanson, my mother’s g-grandfather.

My initial research uncovered  Michael B. Melanson of Dracut, MA and his book – Melanson ~ Melançon: The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family. This hardcover has 1,040 pages, a 20,000+ person index, complete footnotes and a full bibliography. It covers the Melanson and Melançon descendants of Pierre and Charles Mellanson, (who arrived in Acadia in 1657) to the early twentieth century.  Yes,  add Michael to my list of heroes, his book is AMAZING! If you are a Melanson, it is a “must” for your collection.

On pages 305, 565-566 Magloire’s line which begins after me, my mom and my grandmother, starts with his daughter Laura, then our subject Magloire, and continues with Laurent, Firmin, David, Pierre dit Parrotte, Charles, Charles Mellanson dit La Ramee, back to Pierre Laverdure.

Magloire was born  in Scoudouc, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada on 18 February 1862 (my parents were married exactly 100 years later) to Laurent Melanson and Pélagie Leger. He was baptized 5 days later at Église de Saint-Jacques (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLR3-RF2).

birth Maglorie

ScoudoucGooglemaps

According to Wikipedia (French to English translation): Scoudouc was founded in 1809 by 11 families from Minoudie and Memramcook , it was a farming community.  On 6 May 1815, 6000 acres of land were officially granted to the owners, now numbering 15, David Melanson, Mathurin Comeau, Pierre Melanson senior Dominique Melanson, Fabien Melanson, Laurent Bourque, Maximin Leblanc, Laurent Melanson, François Comeau, Jean Leblanc, François Lightweight, John Melanson, Pierre Babin, Romain Pierre Melanson and Bourque . Scoudouc would not become a parish until 1907. It was therefore administered by priests from Memramcook, Saint-Anselme, or Shediac.

Pélagie gave birth to at least 13 children. Magloire was the seventh known child and second of that name.  The first Magloire was born 28 Oct 1860 and died 24 April 1861 (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FLGF-BV2). In that time period, a common naming custom involved parents giving a subsequent child the same name as their deceased offspring.

In 1871, a 9 year old Magloire (indexed on Ancestry.com as Mack Malonson) is living with his parents and eight siblings in Shediac, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada,  a farming community population 500; his dad is a farmer.

In 1881, 18 year old Magloire (indexed on Ancestry.com as Magloir Malonson) is a laborer, still with his parents and 7 siblings in Shediac.

Scoudouc2GooglemapsMain St

On 8 Feb 1891, Magloire, a farmer, married Ansithe/Osite Dupuis, Acadian daughter of Jean-Bénoni DuPuis and Nathalie Boudreau. The marriage record lists his current residence as Scoudouc near Shediac.  Without land records, I can’t be sure, but wonder if in the census years the family was actually in Scoudouc and enumerators sometimes called the area Scoudouc and other times Shediac*.

marriageAncestry.com

Later that year, the couple was enumerated in Shediac Parish*, with Magloire listed as a general laborer and head of household. With them were Magloire’s widowed mom and single siblings Pierre/Peter, Osite, Madeline, Marie-Exilda and Zelica.

They had at least two children. My mother’s grandmother Laura Marie Melanson (b. 1892, Scoudouc) and Marie Melesse Belzemie Melanson (b. 1894, Scoudouc) before Ansithe/Osite died on 25 Aug 1897 in Scoudouc at age 30 after a 2 year illness of “consumption” (likely  tuberculosis) – https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XG4S-SZD.

I have not located Magloire in Canada in 1901, but his mother and children were living in an area known as “Dorchester Road/Malakoff” in Shediac on the family farm run by brother Pierre/Peter.  Shediac was a sub-port of entry and a station on the Intercolonial Railway and had 1 post office, 13 stores, 2 hotels, 1 boot factory, 2 steam sawmills, 1 flour mill, 1 tannery, 3 carriage factories, 5 churches, 1 convent, and a population of 2,000.  His mother’s death certificate lists her place of residence as Malakoff.

map2

On 26 May 1902, Magloire married his second wife, Judith Cormier, Acadian daughter of George Cormier and Madeleine LeBlanc in Scoudouc. They had two children born in Canada; Antoine Melanson (b. 1903, Shediac) who died at 10 months, cause unknown and Marie Alida Melanson (b. 1905, Shediac).

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Magloire, Judith and Alida circa 1912

Around 1907/8 Magloire had relocated to Gardner, Worcester County, Massachusetts.

gardner2Googlemaps

gardnerCentral Street, Gardner circa 1908

In 1932, when his daughter Laura Marie Melanson returned  from a visit to Canada, she stated that she had resided in the US from 1908-1911 and 4/12/1916-11/11/1932. It is likely that she resided with her father and step-mother upon arrival in 1908. She was married in 1910 and returned to Canada where she resided with her in-laws for 5 years.

melanson arrivalAncestry.com

In 1909, Magloire appears in the Gardner, Massachusetts city directories living on 184 Reagan Street and working for Heywood-Wakefield Company a US manufacturer of  wicker and rattan furniture established in Gardner in 1897.

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In 1910, Magloire, Judith, Laura (18), Melesse (15) and Alida (5) resided at 184 Reagan Street, a rented home. Magloire runs a circular saw at a wood chair shop, he can not read or write.  He is an alien.  Judith is a self employed washer woman, Laura and Melesse also work. I am having trouble deciphering their occupations. Laura – a hoodmaker at a go-cart shop? Melesse – a winder at a reed and  rattan shop?

occupationsAncestry.com

The 1912 city directory places Magloire at 27 Reagan in Gardner, still working for H Bros & W Co., in 1914 and 1915 his address is given as 31 Regan.  The 1920 census places him at 137 Connors in Gardner.  He is an alien working as a planer at a chair shop, Judith is not working.  Alida (14) resides at home.  The Landry and LeBlanc families are listed as living at the same address, Magloire and Judith have two lodgers, Albert and Arthus LeBlanc (likely relatives). Daughter Melesse, her husband and 4 boys are nearby (next door?) at 139 Connors. Daughter Laura and her husband are about a half mile away on Parker Street with 5 children and a lodger.

By 1923 Magloire and Judith purchased a home at 88 Nichols, Gardner, which was valued at $7,000 in 1930 (Judith is listed as the widowed owner, it is a multi unit home; her renters were paying $28 monthly in 1930 & 1940). In June 1948 the home caught fire (sadly Alida died at age 43 in the fire while trying to save her youngest son) the photos below depict what the home likely looked like when Magloire resided there.

alida death

house2

photo courtesy http://www.gardnerfirefighters.org/history/

house

Magloire’s known residences, all a block apart were less than a mile from his work location.

mapGooglemaps

His obituary was published in the Fitchburg Sentinel Sept 18, 1926 page 4:

Magloire Melanson, 64, of 88 Nichols street, died in his home yesterday. Born in Scoudouc, NB, son of Laurent and Pelagie (Leger) Melanson he had made his home in this city for the past 17 years. He leaves his wife Judith (Cormier) Melanson; three daughters, Mrs. Paul Roy, Mrs. Thaddee Landry and Alida Melanson, all of Gardner; a brother Pierre of Scoudouc, NB and five sisters, Mrs. Rose Bourgeois, Mrs. Phillip Donnell, Mrs. Zelica Leger, Mrs. Pierre Foster and Mrs. O. Melanson all of Shediac, NB. The funeral will be held tomorrow at 2 in the Holy Rosary Church. Burial will be in the St. John’s cemetery [his death certificate places him at Notre Dame Cemetery].

Cause of death Chronic Interstitial Nephritis, a kidney condition characterized by swelling in between the kidney tubules.

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Judith is remembered by Laura’s daughter, Alida:  Judith did not like Magloire’s daughter Laura and was very mean to her, but seemed to adore her step-daughter Melesse with whom she shared the two family home. When her step-granddaughter Alida and her brother stopped by the house after school to pick up the newspaper, Judith would scream at them in a threatening manner as they approached, making sure they did not make it past the front porch.

Strangely, in later years, she would call Laura’s youngest daughter Alida (who resided with Laura), every Sunday, and insist she be picked up for Sunday dinner.

Judith passed away 18 August 1957.  Her biological grandchildren (daughter Alida’s children) inherited the home and it remained in the family until October 2009.

That’s it – no photos or biographies mentioning Magloire –  Was he a good dad/husband? Who were his friends? Did he belong to any clubs? Was he involved in his church? Why did he relocate to Gardner? How did he get into the chair building profession?

With at least 20 grandchildren, Magloire’s descendants are likely numerous.  His daughter Laura married Pius/Paul Roy and gave birth to 8 known children.  Melesse married Theodore/Thadee Landry and  gave birth to at least 9.  Alida married Maxime Lavoie and had at least 3.  There are 21 public trees on Ancestry.com who include Magloire. My research plan includes some cousin tracking, locating the original land deed and searching for a probate record with hopes to learn more of his life.

Side note: I recently located a 4th cousin, also a descendant of Magloire, through an Ancestry.com DNA match. I sent three e-mails – no response.  Suddenly, my “match” began copying EVERYTHING from my tree – photos, stories, notes…  Still no response to my messages (why do DNA testing if you have no intention of reaching out to your cousins??).  Frustrating!

*Clarification from cousin Michael Melanson 29 Jan 2014: The confusion regarding Scoudouc and Shediac comes about because Scoudouc is an area within Shediac Parish. The nineteenth-century censuses in Westmorland County were done by parish (with the town rarely mentioned) and, sometimes, the word parish was omitted. Since Shediac was both a town and parish, it can lead to a lot of confusion. In 1891, Magloire Melanson and his family were living on his late father’s farm in Scoudouc.

The issue regarding Sackville is something else entirely. There appear to have been some issues with the microfilming (and subsequent digital scanning) of the 1891 census of Westmorland County, NB. I’m not privy to what actually occurred. However, in this case, some of Shediac Parish was tacked onto the end of Sackville Parish. At the top of each census page on the right is a notation as to the “S. Division” (subdivision) which was noted by a letter. Sackville was the letter “E”. Shediac was the letter “G”. The page with Magloire’s family was noted as “G” div. 1, p. 20. [It would have been a lot easier if they had filled in the name of the place ….] If you go back three pages, you’ll find “E” div. 3, p. 70, which was Sackville. Ten pages (with two census sheets on each page) of Shediac were (accidentally) added to the end of Sackville during the microfilming process. This was never corrected, so now digitalized copies (such as on Ancestry.com) have this part of Shediac noted as Sackville in the search engine. I’ve found similar issues in other localities in the 1891 census, which makes the research all more challenging.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. […] – “Week 2 – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge” (Magloire Melanson) by passagetothepast on Passage to the Past’s […]

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  2. Posted by Herve Lavoie on January 21, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    I thank you for this nostalgic trip into the past. These pictures of my old home take my breath away. It was an extremely sad day for us but our father and step mother brought us up to appreciate every day in our lives.

    My father, Maxime Lavoie, worked in a chair factory for 38 years in Gardner. I never inherited any of his tools because they were large power type. A band-saw primarily. I am a lover of woodworking as a hobby for the past 40 years so I can relate with the spokeshave tools in my work. I presently build wooden boats with a master craftsman. The spokeshave and hand plane are a joy to use as they carve great things. I hope your husband takes great care of these tools and makes wonderful artifacts.

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    • Herve,
      Thank you so much for writing. It is great connecting with you and a wonderful gift to hear of your memories and life, even though I know some of it is not easy for you. And yes, my husband cares very much for the spokeshaves, it is a serious hobby that he wishes could be his career, hopefully in retirement he can follow his dream.

      Linda

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  3. Posted by Anna Bergeron on April 5, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    LInda really found this article very interesting.thank you for sharing.

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