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In 2007, I joined Ancestry.com. It never occurred to me that online, unsourced trees were inaccurate. I essentially “copied” my entire Acadian family from potentially erroneous public trees and never looked back. Although my newer entries are sourced, a visit to Stephen A. White, at Moncton University’s Centre d’Études Acadiennes [Center for Acadian Studies] in 2014, revealed a number of errors. I am determined to start from scratch, and verify that I have all available records beginning with the 30 direct ancestors, connected to my maternal grandmother. This includes her parents, grandparents, g-grandparents and g-g-grandparents.
To keep the project manageable, I will write of one ancestor each week.
Prior Weeks (click on a name to read the sketch)
Week #1 – Yvonne Marie (Roy) Billings
Week #2 – Pius/Paul Dost Roy
Week #3 – Marie Laura “Laura” Melanson
Week #4 – Docité OR Dosithée Roy
Week #5 – Victoire LeBlanc
Week #6 – Magloire Melanson
Week #7 – Ausithe/Osite Dupuis
Week #8 – Joseph Roy/Roi (King)
Week #9 – (Judith) Angélique Belliveau
Week #10 – Georges LeBlanc
Week #11 – Madeleine LeBlanc
12. Although there are a few inconsistencies, it is likely that Laurent Melanson, was the son of Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard, and was baptized on 18 Jul 1819 at Memramcook, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada, aged about one and a half months. His godparents were Romain Melanson and Apolline LeBlanc.
The 1851 census of Shediac Parish does include a son, “Lorong”, residing with Firmin Melanson, however his age of seventeen, is not in line with the recorded baptism of the Laurent born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard on 18 Jul 1819 at Memramcook (he would be 32 in 1851). The 1861, 1871 census and his 1881 death record for Laurent in this same parish do not concur either; only the 1881 census lists an age appropriate to be the child recorded in the baptism. His marriage does not record the names of his parents. I initially surmised that the Laurent baptized at Memramcook died, and a second son, for whom a baptismal record does not survive, was given the same name (a common practice). However, we do not know to whom the census taker spoke; perhaps a step-mother who did not know the ages of the children, I believe it is a possibility that the census information is inaccurate, especially since the ages of Laurent’s siblings also seem to be misreported in 1851.
Rosalie Melanson’s (likely Laurent’s sister) 1859 death is recorded in Scoudouc. She is named as the 30 year old daughter of Firmin (record here).
This lines up pretty closely with the Rosalie born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard in Memramcook in 1827, 32-years earlier (record here)
Using Michael Melanson’s book as a basis, it seems that the name Firmin Melanson was unusual. Thus, if the Rosalie born to Firmin Melanson and Barbe Richard in Memramcook, died unmarried in Scoudouc, then it is likely that the entire family relocated to Scoudouc and my Laurent of Scoudouc was the same Laurent born to this couple in Memramcook.
A land transaction occurred between the years 1848 and 1858 (book MM page 397), where a “Ferman” and “Lorang” Melanson sold land in Shediac to the Roman Catholic Congregation. Thus, further proving a connection in Westmorland of the two Melanson men with names similiar to Firmin and Laurent. Although FamilySearch.org has the land deed indexes online for Westmoreland County back to 1785, the images of the deeds date only from 1870 forward. Between 1830 and 1883 there are many transactions for Lorang, Lorang F., Laurent, Laurent F. and Laurent R. Melanson in Shediac, Scoudouc and Dorchester. There is also one transaction in Aboujagane. Although it is unlikely that these deeds would name a parent, they would reveal more of Laurant’s life and his relationships (and whether there were multiple men of that name in the area), I would like to examine these land deeds; they are likely available on Microfilm at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. I plan to visit myself next year and/or hire a local researcher.
Microfilms related to Westmorland land deeds held at the FHL in Salt Lake City “Index to folders 58-60, 1764-1848; Deeds, folder 58” film #862073 and Deeds, folders 59-60 film # 862074 may hold additional information. Some probate records for Westmorland County are also held at the FHL (here); since Firmin and Laurant likely left estates, there are perhaps probate documents. I am visiting Salt Lake City in January 2016 and will examine those records.
I contacted Michael Melanson, genealogist and author of: Melanson-Melancon: The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family, to ask for help. Michael’s book, documents the lives of nineteen Laurent Melanson’s, seven of whom were born between 1807 and 1829. Just one appears in Scoudouc. Additionally, he names only one Firmin Melanson born in the time frame to be the father of Laurant named in the baptismal record. He died in Scoudouc, 30 August 1858.
Michael’s response to my query follows (published with his permission):
Unfortunately, all my notes on the Melansons are “archived” in the basement
– lots and lots of boxes and I don’t recall the exact method I used to
determine Laurent’s father was Firmin Melanson. However, I can tell you how
I would begin to do so.
When doing a surname genealogy, it’s done geographically. As a researcher,
you get to know the community quite well, which helps to weed out and see
beyond erroneous information.
Firmin Melanson received a land grant of 180 acres at Scoudouc in 1838,
where he moved his family and started a farm. Earlier, his father, David,
and three of his brothers had received land grants at Scoudouc, as well. By
1861, Firmin was deceased and his farm had been divided among his sons.
In 1861, as the census taker went house to house in Scoudouc, here’s the
order of Melanson families he visited: house no. 19 Jean Melanson, no. 20
Thaddée Melanson, no. 21 Frank Melanson, no. 22 Raphaël Melanson, no. 23
Laurent Melanson, no. 24 Joseph Melanson. Five of these six men were
Firmin’s sons. Frank was his nephew. Using the Scoudouc parish registers,
subsequent census records, etc., the pieces begin to come together.
As you know, Acadian genealogical research is often not done in the
conventional way 😉
The Life of Laurent Melanson
Known siblings of Laurent included: Joseph (b. 11 Mar 1814), Raphael (b. 3 Mar 1816), Thaddee (16 Sep 1821), Jean (b. 8 Apr 1824), Rosalie (b. abt Mar 1827 at Memramcook and died 13 April 1859 and was buried at Scoudouc) and Apolline (b. abt 1834).
Laurent’s mother died between 1834, the date of her last known child’s birth and 1843 the year he remarried to Marguerite Leger. Marguerite also died, and Firmin married third Marguerite Babineau in 1850 as per “La généalogie des trente-sept familles hôtesses des « Retrouvailles 94 » by Stephen A. White:
9. DAVID MELANSON (à Pierre à Charles à Charles), m (1) MARGUERITE LE BLANC. Enfants :
vii. Firmin, n v 1787; m (1) Grande-Digue 12 oct 1812 Barbe RICHARD (Joseph & Marguerite LeBlanc); m (2) Grande-Digue 1 août 1843 Marguerite LÉGER (Charles & Apolline Bourque); m (3) Memramcook 3 sept 1850 Marguerite BABINEAU (Jean & Françoise LeBlanc); d Scoudouc 30 août 1858.
In 1851, Laurent, age 17 (not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 32) was enumerated with his father, a Farmer, his stepmother Marguerite Babineau and siblings Raphael (20? – he should be 35), Rosalie (15? – she should be 24) and Apollonie (11? – she should be 17), in Shediac parish, likely Dorchester or Dorchester Road.
Laurent married Pélagie Leger on Monday, 18 Jan 1853, at Memramcook; they are recorded as being of Dorchester (Shediac parish), witnesses were Simon Léger & Apollonie Melanson (likely Laurent’s sister born about 1834).
Known children include: Maximin, Nazaire, Rosalie, Olive, Alexandre, Maglorie (1), Maglorie (2), Osite, Pierre, Madeline, Patrice, Marie-Exilda and Zelica. Known lineages of these children are included in Michael Melanson’s book, so I won’t add them here. However if you are a descendant of Firmin and Barbe and would like to share your line, I would love to add you to my database! Please write!
In 1861 Laurent is a Farmer, age 27 [not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 42], residing in an area known as Dorchester Road, in the parish of Shediac, with his wife and four young children Maximin, Alexander [Nazaire ?], Rosalie and Olive.
In 1871, Laurent was enumerated, in the Shediac district (likely Dorchester Road) as a Farmer, age 44 [not accurate if he was born in 1819? – he should be 52], . Neither Laurent or his wife could read or write. Only their son, 17-year-old Nazaire is listed as being in school. Children living with the couple include: Nazaire, Rose, Olive, Alexander, Mack [Maglorie], Osite, Peter [Pierre] and Madeline.
In 1870, 21 residents of the village died, most from consumption (tuberculosis). There were two Melanson’s listed, an infant and a four-year old, likely related; schedule here.
Laurent owned 100 acres of land, 80 of which was improved and included one dwelling house and one barn/stable. He had one plow or cultivator. The family had one horse over three years old, one milk cow and one swine/pig. They produced twenty pounds of butter and twenty yards of homemade cloth/flannel.
They dedicated one acre to producing twenty-five bushels of buckwheat. Another acre produced 150 bushels of potatoes. Six acres were dedicated to producing the hay crop (six tons of 2,000 pound bundles of 16 pounds of hay), one bushel flax-seed and ten pounds of flax or hemp.
Laurent seemed to be involved in the lumber business, the farm produced 1,300 cubic feet square of timber and 100 standard spruce and other logs and ten cords of firewood.
In 1881, Laurent was enumerated, in the Shediac district (likely Dorchester Road) as a Farmer, age 63 [first census with an accurate age?]. Children living with the couple included: Alexander, Maglorie, Olive, Osite, Pierre, Madeline and Zelica.
Children not included in any census were Maglorie (1) born 11 Oct 1860 and baptized in Scoudouc 28 Oct 1860, he died 24 Apr 1861 and is buried at Scoudouc; Patrice, born about 1873, he died 7 May 1875, age two years and was buried at Scoudouc; and Marie-Exilda born 5 Feb 1877 and baptized 3 March 1877 in Scoudouc, she likely died young.
Laurent died on 14 Sep 1881 in Scoudouc, Westmorland, New Brunswick, Canada and was buried there 16 Sept 1881. A stone has not been located in the St Jacques, Scoudouc Cemetery. The record appears to say that he was 64, the baptismal record would make him 62 (thanks to a reader for the translation!).