Marie LaFaille or Mary LaFay (1767-1836): The Battle for Mary’s Soul – 52 Ancestors #396

The difference in the name of Marie Lafaille and Mary Lafay, the same person, is emblematic of her life – a clash of cultures. Tug of war. Catholic versus Protestant – and no – this isn’t Northern Ireland’s Troubles. It’s Canada.

This conflict raged all of her life, beginning before Marie was born to Francois Lafaiille or Lafay as he signed his name, and Marguerite LaForest, Forest or LaForet, until the day Mary, as she was called then, died – and even beyond.

Except Marie/Mary became emblematic of the battle, ensnared in the crosshairs.

Both sides used Marie or Mary as a shining example of what one should aspire to, or, as a shamed example of what one should never do. In the process, or perhaps I should say, during that war, her family was torn apart, never to reconcile.

Ironically, it’s a result of that clash and the role Marie, or Mary, played that we know much about her life. Granted, the information we have is, to some extent, somewhat biased, but at least we have SOMETHING!

I worked on Marie’s history about 15 years ago with now-deceased Paul LeBlanc and others. It’s truly complex. But it’s time to commit to paper what I know, with the hope that others may be able to contribute additional information.

One day, in 2008 or 2009, a tidbit was dropped by a cousin on the now-defunct Acadian RootsWeb message board. He mentioned Marie and “the missionaries”.

The Missionaries?


What missionaries?

Probably Catholic missionaries, given that Marie was Acadian, but I needed to know more. Any tidbit is a reg flag to genealogists.

Further digging slowly revealed scraps of information like layers of earth being excavated from an artifact. This prized artifact is Marie or Mary’s life.

First, Marie had become protestant. Protestant? An Acadian?


Second, I discovered the name of a book, thankfully in English, that told bits of this story. Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission was written to honor the Baptist missionaries, so readers need to interpret the contents in that context.

We had always thought that Marie had been born in Connecticut based on the fact that her aunts and uncles, at least some of them, were deported to Connecticut. Her father, Jacque Fourest is listed there with 10 persons in 1763.

We know that Marie’s mother, Marguerite DeForest, was married about 1765 someplace in New England to Francoise LaFaille, reportedly a French sailor. For the ten years before her marriage, she would have been living with her parents and siblings.

Nothing is known about either Francoise or the LaFaille family.

However, if the missionaries’ records are accurate, they reveal that Marie, who was born in 1767, was born in Boston. Her two directly younger sisters, born in 1769 and 1773, were born in New England too.

I have found no record of Francois Lafaille or Lafay, as Francois always signed his name, and Marguerite deForest, Forest or deForet in Massachusetts, but no record elsewhere in the colonies either.

Francois Lafaille and his wife, Marguerite De Forest (Forest, Foret and derivatives) first appeared in L’Acadie, in lower Canada, in 1788 with 9 of their 10 children. The youngest was born in January of 1789. Marie’s mother was probably pregnant as the family made their way to Canada.

The area broadly known as L’acadie, outlined in red, isn’t far from the St. Lawrence River and Montreal. It’s even closer to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on the Richelieu River.

The Lafay family lived someplace in the L’Acadie farming community, close to Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie Catholic church, at the red arrow. Family members are buried in the cemetery there.

Marie’s parents had their three oldest daughters baptized at Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie in 1789, and their own marriage renewed in 1792. They had been married in the colonies in front of a clerk without benefit of a priest after the 1755 Acadian deportation from Nova Scotia.

On August 10th, 1789, Marie Lafay married Honore Lore, of the Acadian Lore family..

From Paul:

I found the marriage of your ancestor Marie Lafay and Honoré Lord. From what I can read from the original records they were married on August 10, 1789 in L’Acadie, QC parish of Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie. Honoré lord is said to be the son of Honoré Lord and deceased Apolline Garceau. Marie Lafay is said to be the daughter of François Lafay and Marguerite Foret. The following witnesses have signed: Honoré Lord father, Charles Lanoue friend of the spouse, Marie Lafay, Francois Lafay, Françoise Lafay, Marguerite et Suzanne Lafay.

Paul states that the text is handwritten and in French so somewhat difficult to read, and that caution should be used with his interpretation.

Not only is this an incredible record, it gives us the signatures of Marie herself, her new husband, Honore Lore, her father, Francois Lafay in a beautiful script, and two of her sisters. I’m presuming here, that the Marguerite that signed was her sister and not her mother, who would have signed as Marguerite DeForest.

Now that we know where Marie is in 1789, the year she was baptized for the second time and then married, how did she get there?

Marie LaFaille Lore

I discovered additional information in the book, Canadian Baptist Women, edited by Sharon M. Bowler.

“Madame Mary Lore,” in fact, receives her own chapter entitled A Lower Canada Baptist Beginning.

Now, if you’re thinking to yourself, “Weren’t the Acadians Catholic?”, you’d be absolutely right. In fact, Acadians identify themselves by their very Catholicness.

The Acadians had suffered greatly for roughly a century and a half by the time they were horrifically removed from their land in Nova Scotia in 1755. They continued to suffer, many perishing during their exile as impoverished refugees in New England and elsewhere. They had endured extreme deprivations for their Catholic faith, and it sustained them. To turn one’s back on Catholicism was just about the worst act of betrayal one could commit or even conceive of in an Acadian family.

Let me put this in perspective. Marie’s mother, Marguerite DeForest, is the only known child of her parents. Marguerite was born about 1747 or 1748. Her parents were married in 1734 in Port Royal, so they should have had 10 or 12 children, maybe more, before the deportation in 1755. Yet the only child whose birth record we find is Marguerite’s. Did they live elsewhere, outside Port Royal, meaning their children’s baptism records have not survived? Birth control not only didn’t exist, but this family was Catholic. The family was deported because they were Catholic. They lost everything. They suffered. If all of Marguerite’s siblings perished during the deportation, she would have witnessed it all. If they did not perish, where are their records as adults?

Therefore, Marie’s own parents and grandparents had suffered through genocide in order to remain Catholic. Everyone suffered indescribably, many were forever separated, with no idea what happened to their family members, and countless numbers died in the process. No family escaped.

For Marie to leave the fold, the family who experienced and remembered suffering firsthand, to become Baptist was incomprehensible. It’s not a matter of changing churches and attending services at the one down the street.

New believers in any religion are referred to as converts. Converts are often considered betrayers and heretics from the perspective of their former religion, especially if their conversion was by choice, not force.

The author of Canadian Baptist Women explains that conversion from Catholicism to the Baptist faith is more than just occupying a different pew in a church. (Footnotes are mine, not in the original text.)

Baptists differ from Catholics in their use of and belief in the Bible, in their manner of interpreting the way of salvation, justification, the freeness of salvation, grace in regeneration, repentance and sanctification, church and church government, and in the concepts surrounding the understanding of death. A person moving from a Roman Catholic to a Baptist faith foundation took, in many ways, an opposite faith direction, which posed risks to their social, economic, and physical safety.

After reading that, I remind myself how many wars have been fought and sacrileges have been committed over and in the name of religion.

Consequences included shunning, expulsion, ostracization, exclusion from family, business, and social life, exclusion from Catholic burial, and condemnation to Hell.

A Lower Canada Baptist Beginning draws the curtains back on Marie’s story by referring to her as Mary and her married name, Lore. French women were generally referred to, even after marriage, by their birth surname.

Mary Lore’s family was part of the 1755 Acadian expulsion from Nova Scotia to Massachusetts called Le Grand Derangement that drove an entire culture into political, economic and social crisis. The Acadians were not a free people in their new American land and experienced much uncertainty and danger.

Mary was born Marie Lafaille in Boston, Massachusetts to an Acadian mother and French father. Her 1767 Boston birth occurred at a time when many Massachusetts Acadians travelled to Boston to petition for transport to return to Canada.[1] [2]

Some, however, were considering staying, taking into account:

…the dangers of sea travel, which included storms, sinking, contagions and even piracy, recently illustrated by the fate of 80 young Acadians taken and pressed into the service of privateers. They knew that they retained no place or residual rights in Nova Scotia. Moreover, old age, the very ache of their 50-year-old bones, reminded them how difficult it would be to scratch out a new place on leftover and, thus difficult, lands. Just perhaps, they still resisted taking an oath to the throne…Just possibly they and their children began to envision rural Massachusetts as home…children had no doubt learned English and accustomed themselves to the ways of these strangers. Time had not resulted in their isolation, and familiarity with Protestants and colonial law had not bred contempt.[3]

Perhaps the Lafaille family had settled in and become somewhat established over the 11 years since the expulsion from Nova Scotia began. Children had been born and others were nearly raised. Mary was educated in a Protestant school and learned to read the Bible there.

Someplace along the line, Marie Lafaille became Mary LaFay, spelled the way it sounded in English. Her father signed his surname the same way.

In 1766, a year before Marie’s birth, a Massachusetts delegation visited Quebec and obtained permission for Acadians to return.

Yet, Marie’s family did not move to Quebec at that time. They didn’t join other Acadian families until sometime about 1788, more than two decades later.

We know that the family was in L’Acadie on the Richelieu River in Quebec by January 6, 1789, when Marie and two of her sisters, Marguerite and Susanne, were baptized in the Catholic Church.

On January sixth Seventeen Hundred Eighty Nine, I, priest undersigned, baptized conditionally Marie, age twenty-one, Marguerite, age nineteen, and Suzanne, age sixteen and ten months, daughters of François La Faye and of Marguerite Foret. The godfather and godmother of Marie were Laurent Roy and Isabelle Bro, his wife, undersigned. The godfather and godmother of Marguerite were Pierre Lavoie and Marie Anne Melanson, his wife. The godfather and godmother of Suzanne were Pierre Trahant and Euphrosine Leroux. [These last] godfathers and godmothers declared that they were unable to sign. The baptized girls signed with us.

/s Lamité, priest,  Laurent Roy, Isabelle bro, Marie Lafay, Margit Lafay, Suzanne Lafay, Françoise Lafay.

If Marie was 21 on January 6th, she very likely was still to experience her 1789 birthday, in which she would turn 22, placing her birth in 1767.

Just five days later, their youngest sister, Francoise, was born and baptized the same day.

Marie was her sponsor, signed her name, and stood up at her sister’s baptism, swearing before God, the church, and the parishioners that she would raise her sister in the church should something happen to her parents.

A Clue

One clue about where they might have lived is that sometime before the family left Massachusetts, Mary said that she received a Bible from Pliny Moore, an American military Lieutenant, a Baptist, and then a Congregational Church leader. Pliny was born into a wealthy Sheffield, Massachusetts family in 1759.

Pliny’s family was in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, by 1764 and in Spencertown, NY, by 1770, where his parents remained.

Many Acadians were, in essence, “adopted” or sponsored by wealthy Massachusetts families. Pliny served in the American Revolution in New York, then settled in Champlain shortly thereafter.

Mary reportedly cherished that Bible from Pliny for the rest of her life. I can’t help but wonder if it survives now.

From the book, Canadian Baptist Women:

Roman Catholic church histories have focused on the power and authority of Catholic leadership over the souls of the congregation. Baptists, however, unlike Roman Catholics of the 20th century, emphasized their personal relationship with God.

Years later, Mary said she enjoyed reading the Bible as a child, but she was no longer allowed to read the Bible after her Catholic baptism in 1789.

Mary was the first Baptist convert in Quebec. She eventually became one of the earliest founders of the Grande Ligne Baptist Mission in Quebec, on the Richelieu River. But how did she get there, and why?

The L’Acadie Area

In 1784, the area near Champlain, New York, on the border of New York and Canada, was settled by Scotch and French-Canadian refugees on lands granted by the State of NY to those who fought against the British during the Revolutionary War.

In 1787, Pliny Moore, a veteran, obtained land where Champlain, New York, would eventually be located. In 1788, Pliny surveyed the land and in 1789, he moved his family. Champlain is just downriver from l’Acadie, so perhaps these families planned their move together, and maybe even joined each other on the journey. Somehow Marie and Pliny knew each other, and their lives intersected many more times.

According to what Mary told the Baptist missionaries, her elderly grandmother, who would have been Marie Josèphe Le Prince, became upset in 1787 that her children were losing their religion and culture and made the decision to send the family back to Canada.

Mary also revealed that she had encouraged her father to make the 1788 trip to Canada after something she recalled as “a fearful disappointment.” I wonder if her disappointment was personal in nature, perhaps a suitor, or something more widespread. It is interesting to note that Pliny Moore was married in January of 1787 in Vermont. It may or may not be relevant, but it is a possibility.

We don’t know what Mary’s disappointment was, but according to historian Joseph Amato’s research into one Acadian family, Marie’s family’s experience may have been similar.

The Revolutionary War magnified federal and state debts, leaving the majority with useless currency and no means to repay debts, turning newly ordained national citizens into ordinary migrants and squatters. The battle raged between creditors and debtors. Between the financial and mercantile coast against the farmers of the inland countryside. Shay’s Rebellion, an intense revolt of the indebted in Massachusetts resulted in a terrible shock to the new nation. It ended in 1787 having accomplished little. Many migrated back to the larger coastal cities where there was a chance to find work and make money, or initiating the great trek inward toward the frontiers.

And so, the great trek it was.

Mary’s grandmother was probably ecstatic, but ultimately, Mary was not. After arriving in l’Acadie, Mary later said that she was forced to stop reading her Bible when she was baptized in January 1789 “under condition,” along with her sisters, into the Catholic Church.

Under condition in the Catholic church means that there is some doubt as to whether a person was ever baptized, or if so, whether the former Catholic baptism is valid.

Mary could not have married a Catholic man were she not baptized into the church. The only men in Quebec were Catholic.


Did Mary not want to marry Honore Lore? Was this an arranged marriage, if not in the traditional sense, then in the functional? She was baptized on January 6th and married on August 10, 1789.

It might be relevant that her first child, Joseph, was born on March 8th, 1790, so Mary and Honore clearly had a close relationship by June. Young people fall in love quickly. The marriage does not appear to have been arranged, although it may have been somewhat unplanned. I feel much better knowing there was an attraction between them, and that Mary appears to have had a choice.

Mary and Honore had at least 15 children, and man oh man, have they been difficult to track. I’m still not positive I have everyone accounted for.

I’ve used various pieces of information to weave the family together. Baptism, marriage and death records, the 1851, 1861 and 1871 Canadian census, and estate records. I’ve not been able to locate the baptism record, or death record, for every child. “Confirmed” in the table below means that I have some confirmation. Unfortunately, due to same-name and other issues, there’s a lot of incorrect information about this family online.

Fortunately, French Catholic priests’ records tend to be very good about recording the names of the parents in the various documents, plus the mother’s birth surname. Thank goodness! Reading them both from a script and image quality perspective is quite another matter.

Bolded names signed their father’s estate inventory in 1834.

Child Birth or Baptism Death or Burial Spouse Religion
Joseph Lore March 8, 1790 confirmed May 30, 1835, confirmed he was married to Celeste Celeste Coulombe confirmed married in 1815 Catholic buried St. Jean l’Evangeliste in St. John sur Richelieu
Samuel Lore August 31, 1791 confirmed Jan 23, 1821 confirmed Archange Hubert (Hebert) confirmed Nov. 7, 1814 Catholic, died before Marie’s conversion
Marie Elizabeth Lore – listed as Baptist in 1851 census, but stricken through May 1, 1793 confirmed February 20, 1857 buried Grande Ligne confirmed Jean-Baptiste Leveque (Elizabelle in 1819 marriage record) Baptized and buried Feb. 20 at Baptist church, Grande Ligne
Marie (Josephte) Lore December 19, 1794 confirmed After 1871 Single in 1861 & 1871 census, “deaf and dumb” The birth is shown as 1797 or 1798 in all three censuses. No burial found
Marie (Victoire) Lore (twin) July 17, 1796 confirmed June 30, 1831 buried St, Jean sur Richelieu – her husband was listed as Catholic in 1851 as were the children. Albert Patenaude. She is listed as Marie Victoire Laure in her 1819 marriage) He signs estate. Also remarried in Nov. of 1831. Catholic, died before Marie’s conversion
Hyppolite Lore (twin) July 17, 1796 confirmed July 18, 1796 confirmed, buried l’Acadie The baptism says Marie and Hippolite.and is signed by father. Catholic, died as child
Alexis Lore (twin) March 24, 1798 confirmed July 28, 1874 or 1875 buried l’Acadie – Grande Ligne Baptist, confirmed Never married, single on all census Baptist, 1861 census shows him as a Baptist farmer age 60
Pierre Lore (twin) March 24, 1798 confirmed July 1, 1799 buried l’Acadie confirmed Catholic, died as child
Benoni Lore February 6, 1800 confirmed (father signed) Sept 15, 1888 buried Grande Ligne, confirmed Francoise Therrien, married 1823 confirmed Listed as Baptist in 1851 census, but stricken through
Honore Lore March 21, 1802 (confirmed) February 23, 1882, confirmed Henriette Molleur confirmed 1828

Louise Piedalue

Baptist in 1851 census, buried Grande Ligne
Rene Zephyrin Lore August 26, 1803 confirmed signed by Honore November 5, 1877 Marie-Rose Lecuyer confirmed 1833 Baptist in 1861 census, buried Grand Ligne
Antoine “Anthony” Lore March 24, 1805 confirmed 1862/1868 Warren Co., PA Rachel Hill confirmed 1831 Unknown, not Catholic
Celeste Lore September 13, 1806 – cannot find baptism January 13, 1860, Hebron, NY confirmed Jean-Baptiste Labossiere – marriage record in St. Luc says child of Hilaire Laure de St Jean and Francoise LaFaris or Lafave Baptist, child married at Grande Ligne in 1847
Pierre Lore March 17, 1808 – confirmed September 3, 1814 buried l’Acadie confirmed Catholic
Marguerite Lore April 24, 1810 confirmed March 11, 1855, confirmed Laurent Labossiere Catholic buried l’Acadie

It’s interesting that Marie had two sets of twins.

Of these children, nine, in bold, signed Honore’s estate inventory record after his death in April 1834. I’ll be telling that story separately, as a kind soul has offered to translate the documents for me as she can.

Their three living, married, daughters signed with their husbands on Honore’s estate inventory which helped confirm Marie’s children, but I still can’t sort them out entirely.

Marie had two children who never married – Alexis and a female recorded as Marie, Marie J. and Josephte Lore/Lord in various censuses. I finally found her birth record, but never found a burial record. She’s recorded as Baptist, so clearly buried at Grande Ligne.

Josephte Lord, a 63-year-old single Baptist woman, is noted as “deaf and dumb,” meaning she could not hear, so she consequently could no speak. Dumb did not mean unable to learn, although without being able to communicate, learning was impossible.

In the 1851 census, Rene, Alexis (age 51) and a female named Marie J. Lord, age 54, are all recorded in the same positions, as they are for the 1861 and 1871 census too. This suggests, strongly, that all of these people are living in Rene Lord’s household.

In the 1861 and 1871 censuses, she is listed adjacent, then with, Rene Lord’s family, and also beside Alexis Lord, also single. We know that the census has recorded Rene’s and Alexis’s ages incorrectly, so Josephte’s may be wrong too.

Mary must have worried incredibly about this daughter who clearly could neither make her own way in the world, nor protect herself from becoming vulnerable and being taken advantage of. Today, she could have learned to speak and communicate, enlarging her world beyond silence. It’s also worth noting that she did not sign her father’s estate inventory, probably because they could not communicate with her at that level.

Her family took care of her all of her life.

Marie/Mary Lafaille/Lafay Lore died in August of 1836, which means that she buried six of her children, three as adults – one just a year before her death.

  • Marie Hippolyte, one of a set of twins, died the day after her birth in 1796.
  • Marie had a set of twin boys born in 1798. One, Pierre, died at 16 months of age in the summer of 1799.
  • They apparently tried naming a child Pierre again, but the second Pierre died in 1814 when he was six.
  • Samuel, her second oldest child died at age 30 in 1821.
  • Her daughter Marie died at 34 years of age in 1831.
  • Son Joseph died at 45 in May of 1835.

Mary helped care for and nurture several orphaned grandchildren in addition to a daughter who could not hear or speak, and a male child who never married.

These children who preceded Mary in death would have been buried in the Catholic cemetery at Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie. If they ever had stones, they don’t today.

1808 – Fork in the Road

Something happened in Mary’s life in 1808. Somehow, Mary retrieved her Bible that had been given to her by Pliny Moore. Mary was 41 years old and explained to the Baptist missionaries that she realized, with her reading of the scriptures, that she could no longer follow the Roman Catholic Church, although the rest of her family remained committed to that faith. According to Canadian Baptist Women, “She found that it was a struggle to keep her growing family (she eventually had 8 children), her husband and parents respectful of her Bible as she shared it with them.”

It appears that, in some way, Mary maintained contact with Pliny Moore, who lived just downstream in Champlain until his death in 1822. Moore was involved in the fur trade business in lower Canada. He had connections, owned property and businesses in Montreal. In other words, he would have gone back and forth, either by water or horseback.

The path from Champlain to Montreal was up Lake Champlain, the Richelieu River, and right past L’Acadie where Mary lived. If Pliny took the road, he would have literally gone right past Mary’s home, probably regularly stopping to visit.

In 1814, Moore was able to obtain a French Bible for Mary. She stated that it enabled her to “better understand her growing walk with the Lord.”

It seems that about this time, Mary reached a turning point in her religious life. She went for confession in the Catholic church, and according to her report, “unexpectedly and suddenly realized during this confession that the priest had no right to intervene on her behalf in her personal relationship with the Lord.”

In Champlain, Pliny Moore was becoming increasingly more evangelical and influential. In 1816, Mary obtained from Pliny a copy of the Bible for each of her children. Ironically, it was eventually through her adult children that she learned of the Baptist missionary work that was undertaken.

We know nothing more of Mary’s religious leanings between 1816 and 1835 when Mary Lore is reported as being the first French Canadian Baptist convert, but we do know more about her family.

Family Challenges

Like all families of that time, Marie, or Mary would have faced her share of grief and joy. A woman’s family was more than a full-time responsibility and Mary had a very large family.

In July of 1794, daughter Marie Josephte was born, probably without hearing. Since she never spoke, it’s unlikely that she had ever been able to hear. It would have been some time before the family realized that Marie could not hear, and they would have developed some form of communication with her.

In July of 1796, a twin daughter, Marie Hippolyte, was born and died the following day.

In 1798, her next pregnancy was also twins – both boys. One, Pierre, died 16 months later.

The 1808 event that may have precipitated Mary’s religious crisis, of sorts, could have been related to the birth of a second child named Pierre.

Mary’s last child was born in 1810 when she was 43 years old. That child, along with the rest were baptized Catholic.

In September of 1814, her son Pierre died, a little boy of six and a half. We don’t know if Pierre had some sort of life-altering issue from birth, or if he simply fell victim to the many childhood ills that claimed so many.

That happens to be the same year that Mary obtained the French Bible from Moore, so she may have been seeking comfort.

Three months later, son Samuel married, but he too would die in 1821.

Mary’s mother, Marguerite DeForest died in 1819. It’s never easy when parents die, but at least her parents lived long lives, in spite of their years in exile.

Elizabeth married in 1819, followed by Benoni in 1823.

Mary’s father, Francois Lafay died in 1824.

Son Antoine, by then using the name Anthony, married in Starksboro, Vermont in 1831, so he had clearly left home before that time.

Rene married about the same time, as did daughter, Celeste.

Then, Mary’s eldest son Joseph died on May 30, 1831, just 41 years old.

Mary must have been crushed every time a child died. Deaths as babies are bad enough, but adult children who died have been loved by their mother for decades, not days or months. Furthermore, she also would have had to watch her grandchildren’s mourning and grief, too.

Grandchildren are every grandmother’s soft spot.

Mary’s husband, Honore Lore died on March 5, 1834. But she wasn’t done yet,

Mary’s son, Joseph died on May 30, 1835 at 45 years of age.

Mary’s children were all married, except Alexis and Marie Josephte who never married.

The Missionaries Arrive

It just so happens that this cascade of grief occurred about the time that the Baptist missionaries were increasing their presence, amidst almost universal resistance, in lower Quebec. Mary’s daughter had died in 1831, followed three years later by Honore’s death. Then, only 13 months later, her adult son perished too.

Mary was at her lowest point of grief, having lost her husband and adult children in a short time. She would have been emotionally quite vulnerable, seeking comfort that she was no longer finding in the Catholic church.

Mary’s life was about to change. In many ways, it seems that she became one of the spoils of war, with both sides fighting over her. She served as a symbol of something much larger.

From Canadian Baptist Women:

Swiss missionary Louis Roussy arrived in Grande Ligne to take charge of a Roman Catholic school. His Protestant evangelism there found him without a position within only two months of his arrival, when “the parish priest having heard of ‘his evangelizing’ had the school closed by his sole authority.”

Madame Feller, another Swiss missionary encountered similar issues in Montreal, and sought refuge in Grande Ligne in 1836. When Mary eventually met these missionaries, they were both failing in their ministry. It took Mary’s intervention in their ministry to begin the work at the Grand Ligne Mission.

The Roussy family led the Baptist charge, as told in Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

On Jan. 29, 1836, Henrietta Feller was not yet in L’Acadie as shown by her letter. She notes that M. Roussy obtained a school in L’Acadie.

“Meanwhile M. Roussy had obtained a school at L’Acadie. He held it for two months only. His evangelical leanings could not be endured by the priest of the district; for he preached from house to house. Dismissed from the school, he resolved to engage in Gospel work as an evangelist, and soon had cause to thank God for the enforced change. Several instances of conversion occurred, and there were promising appearances of a spiritual harvest.” (Cramp)

April 22, 1836 – another letter.

The opposition of Romanists to Protestants, existing for ages, was active at the time under review, and it was not strange that after six months of Christian activity in Montreal, the hotbed of Romanism in the Canadas, it should become unendurable. The priests and the nuns succeeded in closing all doors against Madame Feller. But she had become acquainted with the people, their character, ways and religious ideas, and thus prepared herself for the larger work which Providence had in reserve for her. Montreal, closed now to the Gospel for the French, was to be opened at a later day and a good degree of success achieved.

“Mr. Roussy remained but ten days in Montreal and then left for Grande Ligne to take charge of a primary school entirely Roman Catholic. After his school hours he would devote his time to making the Gospel known around him. The parish priest having heard of this had the school closed by his sole authority, none of the parties interested having the courage to make any opposition, to retain a school teacher superior to any one they had known before.”

Madame Feller, thus compelled to leave Montreal, retreated to St. Johns, where she first landed.

She engaged rooms there for herself and a school, she entered the place on May 20th. Mr. Roussy united with her in effort in that place, hoping to establish a preaching station. But it also seemed to be a barren field.

“Priestly opposition could not be overcome. He had obtained the use of the Methodist chapel and sought to gain an introduction for the Gospel by colportage. All his endeavors were useless. Not only did the inhabitants of St. Johns, generally, refuse to listen to him, but some of them employed force. The French-Canadian women set themselves against the truth, and so maltreated Mr. Roussy that he was compelled to desist from his labors.”

Madame Feller’s account of the situation is thus given: “We came to St. Johns, feeling our way, and considering it as a place of observation, in which we might ascertain whether we should pitch our tent there or in any other spot. We had not long to wait before we saw that this village shut all its doors against us. Brother R. began to preach. At first he had a few hearers, but after a little while no one attended. He tried to publish the Gospel from house to house, but with two or three exceptions he was ill treated and driven away. At one place he was beaten by a crowd of women who fell upon him, armed with sticks. This was noised abroad. ‘The minister who was beaten ‘ was the subject of common talk, and hatred became more violent.” Contempt easily grew into hatred.

“I had made the acquaintance of a considerable number of women, to whom I read and explained the word of God. They listened for a time, and some of them seemed to be seeking the truth; but it was not even ‘the morning dew.’ I soon saw that they were influenced by self-interest; they would have willingly left off going to mass if I had paid them well. As there is no free school here, I offered to instruct their children. My offer was joyfully accepted, and I began a school; but the priest forbade them to allow their children to come to me, and the project fell to the ground.” The expenses of living, including the cost of keeping a horse, so necessary to Mr. Roussy, were so heavy as to justify their removal.

During their short stay in St. Johns, they had a token from the Lord which sustained their belief that He was pleased with their offering of themselves on His altar. It was the example of one who had forsaken popery and had the privilege of protesting against its tyranny in a public way. One of the converts in I’Acadie had died, witnessing to the saving power of Christ to the very last, in the face of contempt from Romanists, even of her own domestic circle. It was Madame Lore, who figures strongly in the starting of the Grande Ligne Mission.

She was the daughter of a French sailor, who lived near to Boston and where she passed her childhood years. She then enjoyed the privilege of hearing and reading the word of God. But her father was married to a Catholic and removed to Canada, and there she also married a Catholic, embraced his religion and practiced it for twenty years.

It is very interesting in that Mary’s father is identified as a French sailor. Elsewhere her birth location is given as Boston.


From Canadian Baptist Women:

Mary met the missionaries through her son Alexis, and when Missionary Roussy was driven from his school by the priest, Mary invited him to hold his first church services in 1835 with her son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Leveque and her daughter Elizabeth in their home in Grande Ligne. The story describes a young girl who was in fact Mary’s granddaughter, and who was also Madame Feller’s pupil. This story documents some of the difficulties faced by the missionaries and places Mary’s family at the center:

The general belief they entertained concerning the two first missionaries was that they were witches. Madame Feller was, in their estimation, the greater one, for she had taught a young girl to read fluently in two weeks, while in other schools this was not accomplished in less than two years.

This was for awhile so firmly established among Canadians that some did not even dare to touch her garments, much less to allow her to come into their houses. A short time after that, when the mission house was almost finished, the priests thought it expedient to invent some new tale, relative to the missionaries, that would keep their parishioners from being led astray by the Protestants. From the pulpit resounded declarations which struck the people with terror.

It was stated by the priests that Satan had made a sort of bargain with M. Roussy to this effect: “This heretic,” to use their expression, was engaged to delude a certain number of souls for a certain sum of money, and according to their opinion, he was building, with that money, a magnificent dwelling house for the purpose of alluring the souls of men with greater facility.

Of course, it was the Mission that was believed to be the Devil’s House, and the article goes on to explain that the neighbors reported all types of horrible sounds resulting from demonic battles emanating from Roussy’s home.

Mary’s Conversion

A Baptist minister recorded the circumstances of Mary’s conversion stating that she was a Catholic for about 20 years after her marriage, “though not without much uneasiness of mind.”

He went on to say that after Pliny Moore, then referred to as Judge Moore, had given Marie the French Bible, she had been “reminded of the days of her youth and resisted her convictions and extinguished the light which once gleamed over her mind. The last 20 years of her life had been spent in folly.”

Given Mary’s baptism in 1789, this puts her realization about 1809.

Mary reportedly decided to go for confession but could not utter a word. The priest, disgusted, reportedly absolved her of her sins and told her to go away. Mary reportedly said, “Can this be the right way. He has absolved my sins, yet he does not know what they are. This cannot be the right way,” resolving never to go to confession again.

Apparently, Mary still attended church from time to time, until the Priest was warning against reading the Bible and said, “The reading of the Scriptures by the common people is like mixing poison with good bread. The person eats the bread without suspecting poison is in it, and only learn the evil by the consequences which ensue.”

After that, Mary never returned to the Catholic church, although I do wonder if she attended her grandchildren’s baptisms and her children’s funerals. I have not reconstructed her children’s families, but I imagine she had several grandchildren that died as well.

Mary’s foiled confession may have occurred sometime between 1814 and 1818, because her next recorded act was obtaining Bibles for her children.

She reportedly anguished greatly during this time period because of the manner in which she had raised her children, meaning in the Catholic church. No one said this, but I also wonder if she blamed their disabilities and deaths on herself and questioned whether or not their souls were in Heaven or Hell. Of course, this questioning would also have extended to any grandchildren who perished during this time too.

Poor Mary.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Recalling her early habits of reading the Bible, she again turned to it and continued to peruse it to the end of her life; was enlightened and renounced Romanism. It was not until her sixty-eighth year, however, that she met the needed help to becoming a Christian; not until Mr. Roussy went to L’Acadie to labor. He was the means of securing to her the joys of pardon. After making her acquaintance he went to visit one of her married daughters, residing at Grande Ligne, and gladly was admitted to her home, with the privilege of preaching there. Great blessings followed the conversion of souls and the full, successful introduction of evangelical religion among the French Romanists of Canada.

I’d wager that Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth Leveque, was her best friend. Probably her only friend. At least Mary had one accepting family.

Mary was clearly estranged, if not immediately, then shortly, from the rest of her children. I wonder about Marie Josephte, who clearly would not have understood, and Alexis. Did Alexis live with Mary? I would wager that he did.  

Canadian Baptist Women:

The Baptists believed that “Brother Roussy has removed the darkness from her mind and introduced her to the marvelous light of the gospel…she was filled with joy and peace. From this time to the day of her death, she walked with God. Her spiritual journey in this world was short and her end was peace – she fell asleep in Jesus.”

This was written within a year of her death because the preacher says “she went to slumber there sometime in August last.”

Another minister, Rev. Lafleur added about Mary:

She was married to Mr. Lore, a good Catholic, and for 20 years she lived without the gospel, without being allowed to read it, and also without confidence in the religious practices she had to perform. It was a most miserable life to her, so much so that those who knew her well would say that the tears she had shed would be sufficient to turn a mill.

After 20 years of such a life, and after the death of her old parents [1819 and 1824], Mrs. Lore returned to her previous book again, and when she met our missionaries, she had been reading it for 28 years [1807 or 1808], in the midst of a continual spiritual struggle. She saw the truth but dimly and surrounded as she was, she found no one to whom she could open her mind and who could understand her. She was often heard to say to her children: “I shall have a most fearful death, for I know that I have been induced to practice what is not the truth: the truth is here, pointing to her Bible, and I have not followed it.” She had such a high regard for the Bible that going one to Champlain Village, procured from Judge Moore a copy of the Holy Scriptures for every one of her children.

When she heard of this strange school teacher, who read the Holy Scriptures to the children in the school at Grande Ligne, and in houses around, she hastened to see him. After a few moments of conversation, she exclaimed: “The Lord has heard my prayers. He has not despised my tears. This is God’s servant. I know it. This is the man of God whom I had asked of Him these many years.” She very soon found sweet peace in believing – a peace that never was disturbed during the eight months that she lived in this world after her conversion.

We learn several things from this entry, although I have to wonder if some of this information was exaggerated.

If Mary was truly that chronically miserable, did she suffer from a mental health condition, perhaps clinical depression? Her euphoric death might suggest drastic mood swings that might be classified today as bi-polar disease.

Part of what makes me wonder is what I know of her descendant generations. Her son, Anthony Lore, disappeared. He may have drowned or been murdered – at least that’s the story. At least one of Anthony’s children suffered from mental health issues that would probably be quite treatable today. His son spent time institutionalized, as did two of Anthony’s granddaughters who were sisters.

I truly hope Mary was not as miserable as described for what seems to encompass her entire adult life. I hope the missionaries were speaking in hyperbole in order to convert and convince others.

Mary referenced a great disappointment before they moved back to Canada, then seemed unhappy from the time they arrived until 8 months before her death 47 years later. That sounds absolutely horrible.

I wonder who prevented Mary from reading the Bible, if she was actually “prevented” from reading the Bible. Was it hidden someplace? I wonder at this, given that she was eventually given a French Bible that no one prevented her from reading. Was the real issue that her English had been forgotten over time?

Was this incident exaggerated by the missionaries? The story about Mary being forbidden and prevented from reading her Bible would have engendered outrage and sympathy.

In a different excerpt, I was given to understand that her son Alexis was in the missionary school class, but given that Alexis was born in 1798, unless adults were being taught, which is entirely possible, Alexis was about 37 or 38 tears old when this occurred. It’s also very possible that Alexis was learning-impaired.

We have Mary’s death date in August of 1836, so we know that her “conversion,” such as it is, occurred about December of 1835.

Christmas that year, her last one on earth, must have been very interesting – and probably very strained.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Mrs. Lore became a great help to Mr. Roussy. Her heart and house were open at all times. She gave him the use of her horse and cariole for his missionary tours, and sent her son to conduct him over roads with which he was not acquainted; always waiting and watching for their arrival at whatever hour of the night.

Was this son, Alexis who probably lived with Mary?

The next quotes are from Missionary Roussy in Canadian Baptist Women:

The baptism of our first four Canadians, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the following day made a deep impression upon the rest of our Canadians. Mary Leveque and one of her aunts, the wife of Honore Lore were baptized which was made a great blessing to them.

Religion is the great concern, from the youngest to the oldest. These things have produced very contrary effects; some seek for and read the word of truth, whilst others insult and threaten us, and do us every kind of injury to an extent never before attempted.

Rev. Lafleur continues:

“She was seen to come on foot to the meetings held at Grande Ligne to hear the preaching of the Holy Word. At the time of her departure drew near, her Roman Catholic neighbors, accustomed to see infidels repent and return at the last hour in submission to the Church, they expected that she would also at last submit and accept the offices of the Priest. In a glowing heart she bore her affectionate testimony of the Savior as the All Sufficient One at the hour of death. The whole family, composed of eight children and many grandchildren, after her example, left the Church of Rome to embrace the Gospel.

This excerpt is interesting because it says she had eight children, but that’s incorrect. This clearly refers to the eight children they knew of at the time of her death. She had nine living children when she died, and had born fifteen in total – that we know of. Furthermore, they did not all leave the Catholic church, or if they did, one returned.

Mary had several more children who had died, including one recently, in 1835, but the point of this commentary was to emphasize the conversions.

I determined Mary’s children’s religion based on several pieces of evidence. The 1851, 1861 and 1871 census, plus the burial locations of her children who died after her death.

Six of Mary’s children were buried in the Baptist Grande Ligne cemetery or otherwise had interactions with the church there:

  • Elizabeth
  • Alexis
  • Benoni
  • Honore
  • Rene
  • Celeste

Marie Josephte was probably also buried there given that she lived with Rene and Alexis.

Two of Mary’s adult children were buried in Catholic cemeteries, which generally means they were Catholics in good standing at the time of their death:

  • Joseph
  • Marguerite

Of course, all of Mary’s children who died before her death were buried in the Catholic cemetery.

Two children moved away:

  • Anthony Lore – not Catholic, burial, if any, unknown, reportedly drowned in a river·
  • Celeste – Moved to and died in Hebron, New York, probably not Catholic given that her child was married at the church in Grande Ligne

Mary’s Final Illnesss

Roussy reports that in her final illness, a great number of people visited Mary. I get the distinct impression that most of them had an agenda. And the Baptists, not wanting to miss an opportunity, even if it was at the side of a dying woman’s bed, utilized the opportunity to evangelize to all her visitors.

Shortly, we will see that perhaps Mary’s family wasn’t as quick to leave the Catholic church as Roussy stated, or maybe there was something else afoot.

Something was very definitely wrong. Information seems to contradict each other.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

On being fatally ill, Madame Feller and Mr. Roussy attended her constantly, and were made glad by the continual testimony she bore to the saving grace of Christ, and her unswerving opposition to Romanism and to the offices of the priests when urged upon her by a neighbor.

As her sufferings became excessive her anxiety to depart and be with Christ increased, and often she asked that her pulse might be examined and she informed if the moment of release were not near. At length her suffering abated; the end was at hand, and her countenance was radiant with peace and joy.

A great number visited her during her sickness, and the missionaries were by no means neglectful of the opportunity for talking Christ to them.

She desired to see all of her relatives before her death, but many of them refused to visit her, claiming that she had dishonored her family by changing her religion, and accusing her of having brought on her death by fatiguing journeys to Grande Ligne to attend meetings there. Her home was about two leagues [six miles] from the place of meeting, and when the horses were needed for something else she walked, never failing to go. In reply to expression of surprise that one of her age should be able to walk so far, especially as she had not shown the ability previously, she said, “I serve so good a Master this year; He increases my strength.”

So, a great many people visited her, but her relatives did not? This is contradicted in further writings stating that her children were at her bedside. However, the missionaries also claim that the reason that Henrietta Fuller and Roussey were attending Mary, is because her family would or could not.

Canadian Baptist Women:

Roussy wrote about Mary’s deathbed testimony in a letter for the Christian Watchman and was unusually detailed, perhaps because Mary was an “ordinary woman” in extraordinary circumstances – just when the Baptists needed an example in Canada.

It was on the night between the 5th and 6th instant that our sister Lore was seized with a violent inflammation of the intestines. We were apprised of it early in the morning and immediately Mrs. Feller and myself proceeded to her house, when she received us with joy. From this moment, Mrs. Feller did not leave her night or day, for none of her own family was able to give her the numerous attentions requisite during her severe illness.

She was so thankful to God and blessed him that he had sent Mrs. Feller such a distance to do her so much kindness; she was so humble that she thought herself unworthy of all the tender cares with which she was surrounded, and the love of God and the brethren which she experienced.

From the beginning of her sickness our blessed sister manifested the most true and solid piety which the heart could display. She foresaw that she would not get better, and therefore was occupied only with her latter end. All the things of earth were viewed as nothing with her; her treasure and her heart were on high. She showed no impatience in her pains, though they were extremely sharp, but blessed the Lord that he spared her from more excessive pains. “It is on account of my sins – it is on account of my sins,” she said, “that I am suffering so much. I deserved to suffer a great deal more, even everlasting condemnation, but Jesus has delivered me from it. He has pardoned all my sins, although they are very numerous.”

The night of Monday which was the last of her life, her children, Mrs. Feller and I were all together, near her, in prayer and conversation about our heavenly citizenship.

Note here that he states that her children are present.

Just then, at 2 o’clock in the morning, came in one of her neighbors, a zealous Catholic, who, after some compliments, asked her if she would not call the Priest, adding that he was ready and he would go and bring him.

Our sister said “No!” that she did not want him.

He asked, “Will you not die in the Roman Catholic and Apostolic church?”

“No,” said she, “because I belong to the church of Jesus Christ.”

He asked if the Romish church was not the church of Christ.

“O no,” she answered, “because in everything – everything – it is contrary to the gospel.”

“But,” answered her neighbor, “you know that the Catholic is the oldest religion.”

“Yes,” she answered, “it is an old religion; it is that which the Pharisees possessed at the time of Jesus Christ was on this earth.”

“But,” he said, “you were always of the Roman Catholic religion; will you leave it now?”

She said, “I have left it this long time, ever since I have read the gospel. I cannot follow it. It is not the religion of Jesus Christ.”

It would be too long to inform you of all the conversation of this man, which was full of impiety. He tried all possible means to draw from our dear dying sister the permission to go and fetch a priest. But all his efforts were of no avail. She continually answered in the negative, with most remarkable firmness, calmness and wisdom. At length, finding he was only fatiguing her, and being myself likewise fatigued with the ungodly language and the torrent of words of this Papist, I said to him that since he had delivered his message, and now knew the sentiments of Mrs. Lore, I must beg of him not to trouble her any further. He then answered me in a very passionate manner, and a young man, a nephew of Mrs. Lore who was a witness of what passed encouraged by the example given by this church-warden, likewise flew into a passion against me and went off, calling false prophet etc.

It’s interesting to note that in one place, he mentions that her family could not minister to her needs, yet in his description, they were present. Furthermore, it appears that both her newly-converted Baptist family members, and Catholic ones were both present, given the final comment about her nephew.

Perhaps the fact that the Baptist missionaries took advantage of a captive audience and continued their attempts to recruit converts among her family members at the side of her literal deathbed had something to do with why some of her family members might not have been present.

I can certainly see that there would definitely have been two sides to this story, two perspectives, but we only have a direct record of one.

Back to Roussy’s letter:

Alexis Lore and his brother-in-law Leveque put an end to the Roman Catholic’s mission by speaking to him very faithfully of the truth which is in Christ. He, as he hated it, did not receive it, but went away quite in a state of irritation, on account of the bad success of his attempt.

We were all made glad by the good testimony our sister had just given to the truth. Her children were all strengthened, and we gave thanks to the Lord that he had given her strength sufficient; to go through such a scene. She was extremely weak and suffered excessively. Her desire to depart increased, not so much that she might be delivered from her pains, as that she might be present with the Lord, whom she unceasingly called upon.

She often requested Mrs. Feller or myself to feel her pulse, that we might tell her if the moment of her departure was at hand. She had hoped not to begin another day upon earth; and when she saw the sun appear, she said “O! How long I am in departing.”

A few hours before her death, her sufferings abated sensibly. She scarcely spoke to us, but was continually in prayer and was often heard to repeat, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit, receive me into thy glory.” The expression of her countenance became completely changed, and quiet radiant; serenity, peace, joy and something heavenly were visible on it.

We have the pleasant hope that this sickness, this death, has not been unto death, but for the glory of God. During her sickness, our sister was visited by a great number of persons to whom this solemn moment gave us an opportunity of declaring with all seriousness the whole counsel of God. Perhaps this incorruptible seed will one day bring forth fruit in the salvation of many.

Our dear sister had desired to see all her relations before her death, but only a few visited her. Others refused to come because she would not send for a priest. They all said she had dishonored her family by changing her religion and they overwhelmed her with reproaches and contempt.

They accused her of having killed herself by her frequent journeys to the Grand Ligne, and could not forgive her with the zeal with which she followed the meeting, for she never missed a single one notwithstanding the distance of two leagues that there was between her own house and that of Leveque, she sometimes traveled it on foot, when her horses were needed for something else. When surprise was expressed that at her age, she could support so long a journey, which she had not been able to do previously, she answered, “I serve so good a Master this year, he increases my strength.”

Mary’s Funeral

Canadian Baptist Women:

On Thursday, the 11th instant, the mortal remains of our sister Lore were brought to the English burial ground at St. John’s. None of her relations, and no Canadian whatever, would accompany her to her last dwelling; to such a length did the spirit of ill-will go. She was, however, honorably interred. Several persons among the most esteemed in the neighborhood and friends of the gospel assisted, and as we passed the house of an old Canadian, who I had several times visited, we had the joy to see him join the procession.

A gentleman who had gone on before us on horseback, unknown to me, had the bell tolled as is usual for a funeral.

A pretty considerable number of persons were in the churchyard, among whom were several Canadians. I prayed, read a portion of the Bible, and addressed a few remarks to those who were present. The greatest tranquility prevailed, which we had not dared to hope for – as the Catholic population informed of the event were in a rage and passion, that made us fear there would be an uproar.

Our sister Lore had often been told that since she had abandoned her religion, she should be deprived of the honor of internment and buried in the fields, which is in the opinion of the Canadians a great disgrace and ignominy – for in general they are at more trouble to procure, through the favor of the priest, a place for their body in consecrated ground, than to obtain a part in the only good place that can receive their immortal soul.

So, they hoped their threats would be fulfilled and that the young Lores would be compelled to bury the remains of their glorified mother in some corner of her farm. But those who, with impatient delight, were looking forward to this kind of triumph, were as surprised as chagrined when they saw a burial ground opened for her whom they despised only on account of her religion, for in general she was beloved and respected by all that knew her, who, with one voice, gave testimony that she had been the nurse of the sick, the comforter of the afflicted and the friend of the poor, with whom she always shared what God had given her; and that she had been a counselor and mother to all. With one thing only was she reproached – that she had left her religion.

Marie died on August 9th, 1836 and was buried on the 11th. It feels odd to see English in her death record, but she had converted to the Baptist faith, and those records were indeed in English.

On this eleventh day of August Eighteen hundred and thirty-six the body of Marie Lore, widow, of l’Acadie, a converted Catholic, who died on the preceding ninth was interred in presence of the subscribing witnesses by me, Louis Roussy, M. James Beddy, James Harrison

While this doesn’t tell us Mary’s cause of death, Roussy’s description suggests that it was probably either Dysentery or Typhoid Fever.

That poor woman.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

Her body was borne to St. Johns and admitted to honorable sepulture in the English burial ground. None of her relatives and no Canadian in her neighborhood would accompany it.

However, several respectable people in St. Johns assisted; an old Canadian on the way joined the procession, and a gentleman rode in advance and caused the bell to be tolled, which was very unusual for a funeral.

Order prevailed during the ceremonies, though, in view of the rage among the Catholics, a disturbance was feared. The deceased had been told that if she forsook the faith, Romanism, she would be refused honorable interment and would be buried in disgrace, in the field. But the enemies were utterly confounded by the outcome. Her respectable burial, as also her triumphant death and eminently good life bore strongly against Romanism and were influential for the almost friendless cause of Protestantism.

Mrs. Lore had been a nurse to the sick, a comforter of the afflicted, a friend to the poor, a counsellor and mother to all. Above all, she maintained her faith in the Book; she read it, and it elevated her life and strengthened her to abandon popery and to secure deliverance from its power for her children, her son-in-law and her daughters-in-law, who joined her in receiving the word of God.

Hers was the first death that occurred in the little company of disciples, “scattered and peeled” and without a certain dwelling-place. It was one of those peculiar “providences” that contribute to the furtherance of the Gospel. The community were awakened, and reasonable views developed in the minds of some who without this occurrence would have remained dormant if not on the wrong side. Then there was the victory of one soul over spiritual despotism and over the grave the gaining, likewise, of honorable sepulture.

I’m still dumbstruck that NONE of her children attended her burial. I wish I knew the rest of this story, because you know there’s more. We know positively that some members of her family were already Baptists, according to this account.

Mary’s Grave

In 2009, cousin Paul Drainville wrote:

The graves I believe are lost…as I emailed a few years back an individual familiar with the Feller Museum…He told me the locations of the graves are lost and the home has fallen into disrepair and might be torn down…He sent a photo of the home, which if I figure out how to attach I will.

At this time, we thought that Marie was buried at the Grande Ligne Mission, but she wasn’t.

This map shows four locations of interest.

  • At the bottom is the mission at Grande Ligne. This is where Mary’s daughter Elizabeth, and son-in-law Jean-Baptiste Leveque lived who opened their home to the missionaries for a school. They had clearly converted before Mary died.
  • At top left, the Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie Catholic church and cemetery where all of Marie’s children were baptized, and where her husband and children who died before her death are buried.
  • At right, Vieux cimetiere St. James is the English graveyard where Mary was taken by the missionaries to be buried.
  • About halfway between the English cemetery, and Ste. Marguerite, we find L’Acadie. It’s believed that this area is where Mary’s farm was located. It may well have been close to or on the Grand Ligne road. I’m hopeful to learn more from the translation of Honore’s inventory documents. I wonder if there were estate documents after Mary died.

If we are to presume that Mary’s body was prepared for burial at home and the procession moved from someplace in L’Acadie to the church in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the path with the horseman and the bell-ringer would have looked something like this. Of course, they wouldn’t have needed to be concerned about one-way streets and traffic back then. They were, however, worreid about being attacked given the brewing Rebellion combined with the very angry Catholic community.

The church, within sight of the river, was constructed in 1816, so the churchyard would have had some burials, but probably not many.

The cemetery today seems almost empty, but that’s probably because so many graves are unmarked. There are a few earlier burials recorded and even fewer have stones. While the missionaries were concerned about Mary’s burial, specifically that she not be buried in a Catholic cemetery, or on her farm, no one seemed concerned about either recording or marking her grave for posterity. It seems like they were more concerned about the spectacle and statement of her funeral procession and burial, as a “win.”

The St.-John-sur-Richelieu website at one time provided information, translated from French, about the St James church and cemetery behind the church.

St James Church built in 1816 along the garrison graveyard of Fort St. John which extends behind the church.

This cemetery is of special interest for French Protestants. It is here that Mary Lafaille, better known as Mrs. Lore (the Lord family of Quebec), was buried. Mary was the daughter of François Lafaille and Marguerite. The family lived in the Boston area where they had several children who were probably raised in the Protestant religion.

The family emigrated in the l’Acadie area a little before the Mary married Honoré Lord on 10 August 1789; she was twenty-one years old at the time. Three other of her sisters also married to Catholics. The couple Lafaille-Lord had six children. It is only at the end of her life that Mrs. Lord (Lore) met the evangelist Louis Roussy who made her regain the Bible of her youth and reconverted her in 1836.

She invited the missionary to get in touch with her daughter Elizabeth, married to Jean-Baptiste Lévêque, living in Grande-Ligne who made his home available to the evangelists for prayer and preaching meetings. Sometime after, other members of the Lord family converted to Protestantism.

Mrs. Lore was a key player in the early conversions. At her death in 1841, she fell asleep in the Lord strong of her faith despite the last-minute attempts of a neighbor to bring her in “the right path.” There was no question to bury her in a Catholic cemetery and the St James Anglican community welcomed her along; a large crowd gathered for this first burial a French Protestant. Unfortunately for us, the headstones suffered the ravages of time and vandals, and it has not been possible to trace the exact place of her burial because there is no historical record of the burials.

This confirms that the is no cemetery map. Their death date for Mary is five years late and so is the count of her children, but at least we know she’s there, someplace. It does sadden me that she is buried alone, without family nearby.

Birth of the Grande Ligne Mission and Mary’s Family

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

After Mary’s death, the missionaries were still unsettled. Their experience in this respect was like that of pioneers in the missionary cause generally. The country was before them, but with opposition to the work they proposed to do for the souls of the inhabitants. Fixing a location was but to invite persecution. A permanent home was hardly to be hoped for, but there was permanent work for their hands, and with renewed resolution they looked for another center of operations. Mr. Roussy, undaunted by his dismissal from the school at L’Acadie, had preached the Gospel throughout the adjacent regions. An indication of providential favor was found in the opening of a private house for meeting, as stated: the home of Mr. Leveque, son-in-law of Madame Lore, whose abandonment of Romanism has been noted.

This house was situated on what came to be known as The Grande Ligne. A grande ligne is simply a division line between districts, or concessions of government land, usually a straight line, extending several miles. It becomes a road, along which homes are established; and the one mentioned became so prominent as a mission center that the place assumed the name given. Thither the thoughts of the missionaries turned.

It was felt by them that it would be necessary to stand away from the cities and begin the mission among a more quiet population. And such an opportunity was presented and embraced; the friendships of some of the Canadians there giving assurance that peace might prevail and the missionaries not be molested.

Scarcely four months had been spent in St. Johns, and less than one year in Canada, and in this brief time they had been persecuted and compelled to flee from two cities and seek a home in the open country. The assailants, not satisfied with abusing human beings, vented their wickedness upon Mr. Roussy’s horse, and tried to kill him; but the blows which at first seemed fatal proved to be only deep flesh wounds that after some weeks, it was hoped, would be healed.

Yielding to the impression that Grande Ligne was the place God had purposed for her, Madame Feller removed thither in September 1836. Some of the inhabitants had desired her to settle among them, feeling the need of instruction; parents as well as children. But there was no school-house, nor a lot on which one might be built at that time. Meetings had been held in Mr. Leveque’s house, a poor cabin. Two small rooms in the garret, though unfinished, were available for her use; and when ready she entered them, with joy and thanksgiving, feeling that her way and her task were alike ordered of the Lord, and that expected trials would be for her good and His glory.

The beginning was small. The rooms were about twelve feet square, each. One of them was her chamber, the other answered the purposes of parlor, kitchen and schoolroom. In such narrow circumstances was commenced the conquest of the land to a pure Christianity – the attic of a log house for a fort and an unformed company of children of which to make an army, and with the ignorant and hostile Canaanite in the land.

With a steady purpose and a firm resolve she entered upon a life campaign. “From nine in the morning till noon, and from two till five in the afternoon she instructed children, upwards of twenty being generally present. At six in the evening there was a meeting for adults, which partook of the character of a school and a Bible class. At that meeting, after the elementary part of the business had been dispatched, she read and explained portions of the Scripture and answered innumerable questions respecting the truths of the Gospel. So deeply interested were those who attended that the exercises were not infrequently prolonged until midnight.”

An increase of knowledge so greatly desirable was not the only consideration with either teacher or pupil. Enlightenment was not the end, but the means; and great was the gratification attending the soul’s submission to Jesus Christ, the highest aim in all efforts. “The work prospers at Grande Ligne,” wrote Madame Feller; “we have there about twenty Protestants, who have entirely abandoned Popery, and we are happy to inform you that six of them give satisfactory proof that they are Christians.”

There seems to have been an unspoken longing in the minds of some for such a blessing as the Gospel brings. The Canadians were not an entire exception in the human family, to which “The Desire of all Nations ” was to be a welcome guest. One of the very first converts said to Madame Feller: “Before I saw you, I had asked God to send some one to instruct us and our children. I did not mention it to anybody, because I did not see how it could be done. But I continued to pray, and now you have come.”

Mr. Leveque, whose house was being used, could not read, though forty-two years of age. He also cherished a longing for Scripture truth, saying, “I take the Bible I hold it in my hand. I look at it, I open it would that I could read it! I cannot tell you my distress; I am heartbroken. I would ask the Lord to work a miracle for me, so that I might be able to read; but He will do it in giving me understanding. Oh, if I could once read it to those who are ignorant! It is not for myself only; I would go and read the word of God to those who know it not.”

Another man, about sixty years of age, of dreadful temper and an enemy of the Leveques and of the Gospel, was found to be in a subdued state of mind, and willing to permit his large number of children to learn to read. Considering himself too old to learn, he would frequently attend the school and listen to the readings of the Bible. Midnight often surprised the school while engaged in reading, explanation, and prayer. The wife of this man reported that he was sometimes so excited after the evening conferences that he could not sleep, but talked all night about the things he had heard.

Such were the indications of the divine pleasure. On the other hand there were displays of the adversary’s displeasure. Children were withdrawn from the school; priests visited homes that had received little or no attention previously, threatened and tried to turn away those favorably disposed to the Mission. And yet there was a change to a favorable attitude toward the Bible on the part of one of the opposing priests, showing the divine hand, and he gave permission to the family last named to have the children educated.

That husband and father, regardless of ridicule, took the Bible under his arm, and going from house to house, sought out persons to read to him its precious contents. He in turn told them what he had learned from the holy book. And joy, such as angels experience, filled the souls of the workers on the conversion of Benoni Lore, who gradually had passed through a stage of distressful conviction and then fully and joyfully entered the new life. He then became one of the most eager learners in the school.

Mr. Roussy had quarters in a house belonging to the Lore family, in L’Acadie, and itinerated in the surrounding district. Grande Ligne was the most important of the seven or eight preaching stations he occupied, and the mutual counsel and sympathy enjoyed were doubtless much needed.

It’s unclear when these conversions occurred but given that only Elizabeth Lore and Jean-Baptiste Leveque along with Alexis Lore were the only family members reported as Baptist at Mary’s death, I’d presume the rest of these were later.

After Mary’s Death

After Mary Lore’s death, the political situation worsened, as did the Catholic/Baptist schism, if that can be imagined.  

Canadian Baptist Women:

Roussy reports that the Lore family and missionaries:

Now have neither relations nor friends and are forsaken by all those who formerly loved them. They bear it joyfully, esteeming themselves happy to be hated of all for the name of Christ.

It’s noted that the missionaries felt that, through Mary, God had given them an answer to their own prayers. Roussy writes of her, “This pious woman was a great help to me, not only her heart but also her house was open.” He refers to her as “our esteemed Sister Lore.” He refers to her elsewhere as “the first good seed of the Grande Ligne Mission.”

They viewed her as “the victory of one soul over spiritual despotism and over the grave” although Roussy also said, “We have been deeply affected by the death of this our dear sister whom we had so much reason to love.”

The missionaries subsequently used Mary’s story both to evangelize and to solicit and obtain funding. She was their shining example of how they had touched Catholic lives and been successful in their conversion efforts.

The heart-wrenching division this caused within the Lore family was still felt and reflected generations later.

Roussy discusses the problem of finding a location to teach a school, but states that Leveque has made them two little rooms in the garret of the house he lives in.

Upon quitting St. John’s I intend going to live in the house of our deceases sister where two of her sons will continue to dwell.

Obviously that’s Mary Lore, but which of her two sons are residing there? Clearly Alexis is one, but who is the other son? Did Rene or Benoni inherit the family home? The only other possibility is Mary’s son, Honore.

The Beginnings of the Grande Ligne Mission

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:


A small school-house was built, the first structure to indicate progress; the friends at Montreal also showing a lively, practical interest in its erection.

The Leveque family, which had kindly granted the garret of the cabin for Madame Feller’s use, now yielded to her the entire dwelling, and temporarily domiciled in the new school-house.

Accommodations thus were greatly enlarged. Besides the two upper rooms, each twelve feet square, she could command also the entire lower part, twelve by twenty-four, for school, meetings, and household purposes. Behold the mansion!

It was reported that by the time the 1837 rebellion occurred, the mission had amassed 16 converts.

In February 1837, the Bishop of Montreal received an even more alarming report from the Parish Priest – 11 households had been converted for a total of 53 people. Apparently, the seed had sprouted.

In an 1893 Sketch of the Grande Ligne Mission by it’s president, he tells us that:

Henrietta Feller found her way to a little country place called Grande Ligne, where in a log house she commenced her word. In an upper room, partitioned with rough boards, she lived and toiled. She soon succeeded in gathering around her a few children to whom she taught reading and writing, at the same time carefully instructing them in the blessed truths of the gospel.

After school hours, she spent her time visiting the houses of these children and any house to which she could find access in Grande Ligne to tell the story of the cross and give general instructions to the poor Canadian women, who were, like their husbands in a deplorable state of ignorance and superstition. Hardly one person in 10 could read or write. No wonder this province is called Darkest Canada.

In 1837, after two months exile, owing to the Canadian Rebellion, the first French Protestant Church ever founded in Canada was organized at Grande Ligne with 7 members to whom 9 others were added a few months later.

I sure wish we had the names of those seven people. I’d wager that at least some of them were her family members, if not all.

Ironically, not one word in this 1893 book is about Mary or any member of the Lore or Leveque families, without whom, the mission would not have existed. The person who owned that founding “log house” was indeed none other than Mary Lore’s daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law, Jean-Baptiste Leveque.

The Rebellion

In 1837, the political situation became ever more volatile, fueled by politics and the divisive rhetoric pitting Catholics and Protestants against one another, both in the government and the churches.

The first battle of the Patriot Rebellion took place at St. Eustace, near Montreal on December 14, 1837.

The churches were involved with the French patriots taking refuge in the Catholic churches. St. Eustace and Saint-Benoit were burned that December, along with the houses of the opposing rebellion’s leaders in four additional villages. English “rebels” attempted to make it to the Canada/US border, but many were taken prisoner.

The countryside was terrified, angry, and in an uproar.

Eustace was only about 50 miles away from L’Acadie.

The closest escape route to the border would take the rebels directly down the Richelieu River, terrifying the population and inflaming the anti-Baptist sentiment.

All clergy, be they Protestant or Catholic, probably used this opportunity to proselytize and encourage their congregations to assure their piety and salvation…just in case.

Catholic families would have been very angry at the English, meaning the missionaries, for bringing this battle and from their perspective, needless upheaval upon them.

Mary had been the Catholic icon for the Baptists, and now the Baptists were iconic representatives of the English.

Given the history within the L’Acadie community surrounding Mary’s conversion and death, all things considered, it’s no surprise that the reaction was so volatile and heated.

Henrietta Feller and the Grande Ligne Mission:

A letter from Henriette Fuller (above):

The missionaries left Grande Ligne for NY it became so dangerous in November 1837.

The movements of the rebels always took place in the night. They met in companies of one hundred, two hundred, and sometimes more. They were all masked and furnished with instruments of every kind imaginable to get up a charivari. They went from house to house, mingling with their infernal music shouts and imprecations still more infernal. Those who did not come out immediately and join them were pelted with stones and threatened with fire. Some houses were entirely destroyed with their contents. Almost all of the inhabitants of Grande Ligne being patriots (as the rebels called themselves), they became so violent that there were no bounds to their disorderliness. Some friends came to warn us that we were in danger, and that we ought to remove as quickly as possible, and absent ourselves for some time.

On Monday morning brother Roussy set off for Champlain, to ascertain whether accommodations could be obtained there, should God show us that it was our duty to leave. He had not been gone an hour when I learned that the patriots were determined to kill him; they spoke of it quite openly and expressed themselves in the most violent manner. I passed a sad day. It appeared very evident that it was our duty to go away; but to give up my Canadians was to give up my life. I was warned that the patriots were preparing to come to my house that night, and that their intentions were of the worst kind. How I blessed God that brother Roussy was absent! I spent the evening in reading and prayer, with some of my dear Canadians, encouraging myself in God and expecting that He would guide me, for I knew not what I ought to do. Oh, how true it is that we must look to Jesus if we would not lose courage! I had full experience of it that night, for when the mob came to the house, I felt no fear. Brave brother Leveque went out of his house to ask them what they wanted. They told him, and in an imperious manner, that he must immediately discontinue the scandal of the new religion which he had permitted in his house, adding that they would compel us to quit the country.

Mr. Leveque asked them who gave them the power to act in that way. They replied that they assumed the power, and that they would show us that they were masters. I was obliged to go and speak to them at the door and was able to do it calmly. They commanded brother Roussy and me to go away, and said that if we did not go quickly, they would return and force us; that we had come to trouble the country with a new religion, and that they would not suffer any persons to live in that place who did not profess their own excellent religion and were not good patriots like themselves.

They uttered many blasphemies and threats and left me to carry on their outrages at the houses of the members of our little church. They introduced themselves by the charivari and throwing stones at the windows. They ordered all who had renounced popery to abandon their new religion, and return to the mass, and told them that if they would not do it they must quit the country, or expect to be burned out. See how clearly the path was marked for us; for all determined rather to give up everything than to go back. Then we prepared for our departure, trusting that the merciful God would find a refuge for His poor, persecuted church.

As early as 1838 she [Fuller] seems to have gained a correct view of their general condition and wrote: “The Canadians are devoted to unchanged routine. They have no idea of doing anything differently from their grandfathers. They cultivate and crop only one half of their farms every year, leaving the other half to their cattle; and the consequence is that, though a man may possess a hundred arpents (an arpent being three-fourths of an English acre), he is very probably without bread for one half of the year. We have persuaded our people this year to plough and sow all their land, the meadows only excepted, which produce abundant crops of hay. This is an innovation and is regarded as a remarkable event.”

It’s worth noting here that “fire” is one of the oral stories passed down in the Antoine Lore family who carried the anti-Catholic stories, but where the fire occurred, or under what circumstances, was not specified.


Returning to Henrietta Feller’s letter:

Glancing at authentic documents for a brief survey of this grand enterprise, it is learned that for the first year (1835-6) the main result of their flight from one hostile locality to another was the finding, finally, a place to rest the foot. A convert had been gained, raised up for their relief in pointing them to an “upper room ” (the log hut), and then taken to her mansion in the skies before the year closed. It was her reward here that she, Mrs. Lore, had a proper Christian burial, and by the loving hands of the missionaries.

The second year (1836-7) was signaled by two great events. One, the organization of a church of seven members, increased to sixteen before the year closed, which, by the grace of God, continues to this day; the second, the persecution and exile already described. Thus, through joy and sorrow in immediate succession, were they tempered for their life further on missionaries and converts together.

From Canadian Baptist Women:

After Mary’s death in 1836, the Grande Ligne Mission continued to share important ties to both the Champlain area and Mary’s family. The Grande Ligne Mission and Mary’s family became targets for the 1837 lootings, fires and charivaris during the Rebellion. The missionaries and mission families, including Mary’s, abandoned their homes and fled for refuge to the safety of Champlain. Additionally, it was reported that the Grande Ligne Mission received yearly financial support from the associations in Champlain that had been founded by Pliny Moore.

Grande Ligne Mission

Where is the Grande Ligne Mission today?

Fortunately, the little cabin owned by Elizabeth Lore and Jean-Baptiste Levique was not torn down and has been restored as a historic site.

Mary was assuredly here many times, both to visit her daughter, then to visit the mission. Her spirit probably still visits faithfully. Eventually, this humble cabin site was the foundation of Feller College, but that was still decades in the future.

Cousin Ed tells us that the conversion experiences, difficulties with the Catholic population at the time, etc., had been a vague bit of family lore within the Lore family for many years. “It intrigued me enough to spend a significant amount of time and effort researching. It was back in 1992 that I finally made the information break-through and was able to visit Jean-Baptiste Leveque’s cabin in Canada where Madame Feller started her work, now the Henriette Feller Museum.”

Fortunately, today the little cabin has been preserved and restored, complete with signage. I hope to one day tour this cabin, sit on those benches, and ponder the lives of Mary and her family.

In the 1851 census, Mary’s daughter, Elizabeth Lord, was living in a large household, probably the Grande Ligne mission, with Madam Feller, age 52, and her religion is listed as Baptist, but then Baptist is marked through as with many of Elizabeth’s siblings.

Perhaps wishful thinking on the part of the census taker, or maybe for their safety?

Part of the Roussy memorial today, the first church was the mission, but this church was built in 1880. The original steps probably remain. Although Mary clearly would not have visited this church, Alexis, Benoni, and Honore did not die until in the 1880s. I hope they remembered the sacrifices of their mother here.

This postcard shows the church sometime between 1898 and 1917.

Many of Mary’s grandchildren and descendants would have worshipped here, and some may still.

The cemetery, located to the rear of the properties is part of the “complex” that at one time included the college, boarding school, church, original mission, presbytery, and other buildings.

Five of Mary’s children, plus probably Marie Josephte, are buried here:

  • Elizabeth
  • Alexis
  • Benoni
  • Honore
  • Rene

Ironic that there was concern about Mary being buried in some field in the corner of her farm. Although not her farm, I’d bet she’s love to be buried here where her children toiled and tilled the soil. Indeed, in the corner of her daughter and son-in-law’s farm field, with them and her family. Many Lore/Lord family members were still being buried here into the 1990s.

Mary’s DNA waters the soil of Grande Ligne through her children and descendants.

You can read more about the Mission, here and here.

What About Mary, the Person?

I come away from all of this saddened. I feel like Mary, at a time when she was aging and vulnerable, became somewhat of a pawn, revered more for what she represented to both the Catholics and Baptists than for Mary herself. I feel like she was viewed as a prize, and whatever happened to her and her family relationships was either ignored as irrelevant or collateral damage. I hope she didn’t blame herself for what happened to her family as a result of “her sins.” Of course, according to both religious philosophies – there would have been no “damage” if people had simply corrected their way of thinking.

Only a few words are spent on the kind of person Mary was. Everything else was focused on using Mary to recruit others.

“She had been the nurse of the sick, the comforter of the afflicted and the friend of the poor, which whom she always shared what God had given her; and that she had been a counselor and mother to all.”

That’s it. Everything else is about Mary’s religious agonies or, in the end, ecstasies as death approached. They never even bothered to acknowledge her lifelong role as mother and grandmother by naming her children. Furthermore, the missionaries didn’t even record the number of her children accurately. I feel like they were primarily interested in what Mary could do for them, not what happened to Mary or her family. Even during her death watch – they used her as an opportunity to evangelize.

I’m trying very hard to not view the records and acts of yesteryear from a contemporary perspective, but I’m struggling. My heart aches for Mary being without her family in the last days and hours of her life.

My heart aches for her family members, being deprived of being with their mother in her last hours, and at her funeral.

From the vantage of time and distance, I find it very difficult to be happy about the situation, with Mary seemingly exploited by both sides, to the point where her family was driven away. I’m assuming the reports were correct that none of her children or family members walked with her funeral procession and attended her burial.

I could understand, perhaps, why her Catholic family did not attend, but not even her Baptist family members? Where were Elizabeth and Jean-Baptiste Leveque, and family? What about Alexis? And maybe even some of her family members who had not converted yet but had softened somewhat? There’s mention of another daughter-in-law being converted. She had adult grandchildren who surely loved her. Where were they?

And poor confused Marie Josephte. OMG my heart aches for her.

Where were all the people Mary had loved unconditionally for her and their entire lives?

There seems to be an untold story here. More than meets the eye.

Everyone had somehow been alienated by this battle, it appears, except for the Baptist missionaries themselves. Were they sentries instead of guardians? I guess they “won” “their” battle and Mary’s body and funeral procession through the community were their trophy.

Perhaps Mary’s family members were all just disgusted to death with the behavior of all external parties and wanted nothing more to do with any of it. It seems they had been robbed of their mother and grandmother – first by a lifelong battle with Mary’s own grief and agony surrounding religion, then a battle between religions with Mary as the symbolic trophy, and then by death itself. Who wouldn’t be utterly exhausted?

They had also experienced the same grief experiences that Mary had – their siblings died, their grandparents died and their father died just before the missionaries arrived on the scene.

Within various lines of the family, vague references to terrible times remained well into the 1900s.

Mary was my mother’s grandfather’s grandmother. My great-aunt Eloise lived into the 1990s and told about riding in the buggy with her father, Curtis Lore, in the early 1900s when she was a child. Mary was his grandmother, and he never, not once breathed a word about any of this. He assuredly knew.

Curtis never met Mary, of course, as he was born 20 years after her death. Curtis had, however, disassociated himself from strong ties to any religion. That’s not to infer that he was an evil person. His wife was raised Lutheran, then was Presbyterian as an adult, and he perfunctorily attended services with her as required. His daughters attended church and Sunday School regularly. He didn’t interfere, but he certainly wasn’t more than lukewarm towards organized religion. Religious bickerings and outright war within the family had a horrible impact on his grandmother and his father, with aunts and uncles remaining estranged until their deaths.

Estrangement is living grief. Every. Single. Day. Trust me on this one.

Curtis’s father, Anthony Lore, born Antoine in 1805 to Marie/Mary and Honore Lore was in Vermont by about 1830. In 1831, he married outside the Catholic faith, so he was probably already an outcast. Maybe his mother’s obsession with religion was part of why he left, although she had not been “reconverted” yet at that time.

Anthony’s side of the family, meaning his grandchildren, carried mostly vague stories and references about how horrible Catholics were, and how dangerous. “They” were certainly not to be trusted.

I found the word “dangerous” in this context remarkable when I first heard it.

I first encountered those rumblings before I knew who Anthony’s parents were. I discounted them, or figured they were based on some sort of misinformation.  After I discovered that Anthony’s ancestors were Acadians, I found this “Catholics are evil” story rather incredulous, especially given that Acadians fought so hard and so long, undergoing such deprivation to remain Catholic. They literally sacrificed everything. Their religion was extremely important to them, and a Catholic Acadian family would never have these kinds of stories, hinted at or otherwise.

From the Acadian perspective, the English and protestants were very clearly evil for what they had done. There was truly no doubt about that.

Surely, these family stories were confused or came from a different line. Maybe from one of the non-Catholic lines – right???

Nope. As it turns out, they were based on actual facts, even though the specifics had been obscured or forgotten. This situation became even worse after Mary’s death. The Baptist Lore family who lived in Mary’s home was reportedly burned out in 1837, probably during the Rebellion when the French and English were firmly pitted against each other and the area was rocked by revolutionary upheaval.

I wonder if Antoine, then Anthony, saw his mother after she converted and before she died? He’s never mentioned anyplace in these records, but we know he was present in 1834 when Honore’s estate was divided.

These family members remained in touch, somehow, at least during the first generation and before Mary’s conversion, or Anthony would not have known to be present when his father’s estate was divided. We know Anthony was there, because he signed his name.

The situation surrounding Mary’s death and subsequent political/religious terrors endured by the family were treated pretty much as a closely guarded family secret – something that was occasionally whispered about or inferred, but the actual story was never told. There was head-shaking, tongue-clucking and long sad grimacing glances at the floor that clearly conveyed the sentiment, and that there was some horrible secret that could not be discussed – never to be revealed. And yes, people took those secrets to their graves.

I’ve tried to dig them up.

It’s possible that the family, in some way, still feared retaliation, or the division cleaved by the Catholic/Baptist feud over Mary’s body and soul was too deep and painful to navigate.

Estrangement is the willful severance of your relationship with your family. The person on the receiving end couldn’t interpret the intended message more clearly. “You’re dead to me. You don’t exist. I’ve killed you in my heart.” And this was caused by religion.

Where is God’s love in all of this?

If the Baptist letters are to be believed, Mary died in a euphoric state, but I still feel incredibly sorry for what she had to endure, and for the horribly painfully divided family she left behind. Those scars have been passed from generation to generation, while her actual legacy as a wonderful, giving, human being, regardless of her religion, has been entirely erased and forgotten.

Not anymore, Mary.

Not anymore.

I can’t do much, but I can honor Mary’s life with a virtual headstone, even if it is 187 years late, and create a memorial, here.


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[3] Jacob’s Well: A Case for Rethinking Family History by Joseph Amato

What Is a Sibling Anyway? Full, Half, Three-Quarters, Step, Adopted, Donor-Conceived & Twins

I’ve seen the term sibling used many different ways, sometimes incorrectly.

When referring to their own siblings, people usually use the term brother or sister, regardless of whether they are talking about a full, half or step-sibling. It’s a term of heart or description. It’s often genealogists who are focused on which type of sibling. As far as I’m concerned, my brother is my brother, regardless of which type of brother. But in terms of genetics, and genealogy, there’s a huge difference. How we feel about our sibling(s) and how we are biologically related are two different things.

Let’s cover the various types of siblingship and how to determine which type is which.

  • Full Siblings – Share both parents
  • Half-Siblings – Share only one parent
  • Three-Quarter Siblings – It’s complicated
  • Adopted Siblings
  • Donor-Conceived
  • Step-Siblings – Share no biological parent
  • Twins – Fraternal and Identical

Full Siblings

Full siblings share both parents and share approximately 50% of their DNA with each other.

You can tell if you are full siblings with a match in various ways.

  1. You share the same fairly close matches on both parents’ sides. For example, aunts or uncles or their descendants.

Why do I say close matches? You could share one parent and another more distant relative on the other parent’s side. Matching with close relatives like aunts, uncles or first cousins at the appropriate level is an excellent indicator unless your parents or grandparents are available for testing. If you are comparing to grandparents, be sure to confirm matches to BOTH grandparents on each side.

  1. Full siblings will share in the ballpark of 2600 cM, according to DNAPainter’s Shared cM Tool.

Keep in mind that you can share more or less DNA, hence the range. It’s also worth noting that some people who reported themselves as full siblings in the Shared cM project were probably half siblings and didn’t realize it.

  1. Full siblings will share a significant amount of fully identical regions (FIR) of DNA with each other, meaning they share DNA at the same DNA address from both parents, as illustrated above. Shared DNA with each other inherited from Mom and Dad are blocked in green. The fully identical regions, shared with both parents, are bracketed in purple. You can’t make this determination at FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage or Ancestry, but you can at both 23andMe and GEDmatch.

At GEDmatch, the large fully green areas in the chromosome browser “graphics and positions” display indicates full siblings, where DNA is shared from both parents at that location.

I wrote about the details of how to view fully identical regions (FIR) versus half identical regions (HIR) in the article, DNA: In Search of…Full and Half-Siblings.

  1. If your parents/grandparents have tested, you and your full sibling will both match both parents/grandparents. Yes, I know this sounds intuitive, but sometimes it’s easy to miss the obvious.

At FamilyTreeDNA, you can use the matrix tool to see who matches each other in a group of people that you can select. In this case, both siblings are compared to the father, but if the father isn’t available, a close paternal relative could substitute. Remember that all people who are 2nd cousins or closer will match.

  1. At Ancestry, full siblings will be identified as either “brother” or “sister,” while half-siblings do not indicate siblingship. Half-siblings are called “close family” and a range of possible relationships is given. Yes, Ancestry, is looking under the hood at FIR/HIR regions. I have never seen a full sibling misidentified as anything else at Ancestry. Unfortunately, Ancestry does not give customers access to their matching chromosome segment location data.
  2. Y-DNA of males who are full siblings will match but may have some slight differences. Y-DNA alone cannot prove a specific relationship, with very rare exceptions, but can easily disprove a relationship if two males do not match. Y-DNA should be used in conjunction with autosomal DNA for specific relationship prediction when Y-DNA matches.
  3. Y-DNA testing is available only through FamilyTreeDNA, but high-level haplogroup-only estimates are available through 23andMe. Widely divergent haplogroups, such as E versus R, can be considered a confirmed non-match. Different haplogroups within the same base haplogroup, such as R, but obtained from different vendors or different testing levels may still be a match if they test at the Big Y-700 level at FamilyTreeDNA.
  4. Mitochondrial DNA, inherited matrilineally from the mother, will match for full siblings (barring unusual mutations such as heteroplasmies) but cannot be used in relationship verification other than to confirm nonmatches. For both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA, it’s possible to have a lineage match that is not the result of a direct parental relationship.
  5. Mitochondrial DNA testing is available only through FamilyTreeDNA, but haplogroup-only estimates are included at 23andMe. Different base haplogroups such as H and J can be considered a non-match.
  6. A difference in ethnicity is NOT a reliable indicator of half versus full siblings.


Half-siblings share only one parent, but not both, and usually share about 25% of their DNA with each other.

You will share as much DNA with a half-sibling as you do some other close matches, so it’s not always possible for DNA testing companies to determine the exact relationship.

Referencing the MyHeritage cM Explainer tool, you can see that people who share 1700 cM of DNA could be related in several ways. I wrote about using the cM Explainer tool here.

Hints that you are only half-siblings include:

  1. At testing vendors, including Ancestry, a half-sibling will not be identified as a sibling but as another type of close match.
  2. If your parents or grandparents have tested, you will only match one parent or one set of grandparents or their descendants.
  3. You will not have shared matches on one parent’s side. If you know that specific, close relatives have tested on one parent’s side, and you don’t match them, but your other family members do, that’s a very big hint. Please note that you need more than one reference point, because it’s always possible that the other person has an unknown parentage situation.
  4. At 23andMe, you will not show fully identical regions (FIR).
  5. At GEDmatch, you will show only very minimal FIR.

Scattered, very small green FIR locations are normal based on random recombination. Long runs of green indicate that significant amounts of DNA was inherited from both parents. The example above is from half-siblings.

  1. At FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe, most men who share a mother will also share an X chromosome match since men only inherit their X chromosome from their mother. However, it is possible for the mother to give one son her entire X chromosome from her father, and give the other son her entire X chromosome from her mother. Therefore, two men who do share a mother but don’t have an X chromosome match could still be siblings. The X is not an entirely reliable relationship predictor. However, if two men share an entire X chromosome match, it’s very likely that they are siblings on their mother’s side, or that their mothers are very close relatives.

Three-Quarter Siblings

This gets a little more complicated.

Three-quarter siblings occur when one parent is the same, and the other parents are siblings to each other.

Let’s use a real-life example.

A couple marries and has children. The mother dies, and the father marries the mother’s sister and has additional children. Those children are actually less than full siblings, but more than half-siblings.

Conversely, a woman has children by two brothers and those children are three-quarter siblings.

These were common situations in earlier times when a man needed a female companion to raise children and women needed a male companion to work on the farm. Neither one could perform both childcare and the chores necessary to earn a living in an agricultural society, and your deceased spouse’s family members were already people you knew. They already loved your children too.

Neither of these situations is historically unusual, but both are very difficult to determine using genetics alone, even in the current generation.

Neither X-DNA nor mitochondrial DNA will be helpful, and Y-DNA will generally not be either.

Unfortunately, three-quarter siblings’ autosomal DNA will fall in the range of both half and full siblings, although not at the bottom of the half-sibling range, nor at the top of the full sibling range – but that leaves a lot of middle ground.

I’ve found it almost impossible to prove this scenario without prior knowledge, and equally as impossible to determine which of multiple brothers is the father unless there is a very strong half-sibling match in addition.

The DNA-Sci blog discusses this phenomenon, but I can’t utilize comparison screenshots according to their terms of service.

Clearly, what we need are more known three-quarter siblings to submit data to be studied in order to (possibly) facilitate easier determination, probably based on the percentage frequency distribution of FIR/HIR segments. Regardless, it’s never going to be 100% without secondary genealogical information.

Three-quarter siblings aren’t very common today, but they do exist. If you suspect something of this nature, really need the answer, and have exhausted all other possibilities, I recommend engaging a very experienced genetic genealogist with experience in this type of situation. However, given the random nature of recombination in humans, we may never be able to confirm using any methodology, with one possible exception.

There’s one possibility using Y-DNA if the parents in question are two brothers. If one brother has a Y-DNA SNP mutation that the other does not have, and this can be verified by testing either the brothers who are father candidates or their other known sons via the Big Y-700 test – the father of the siblings could then be identified by this SNP mutation as well. Yes, it’s a long shot.

Three-quarter sibling situations are very challenging.

Step-siblings, on the other hand, are easy.


Step-siblings don’t share either parent, so their DNA will not match to each other unless their parents are somehow related to each other. Please note that this means either of their parents, not just the parents who marry each other.

One child’s parent marries the other child’s parent, resulting in a blended family. The children then become step-siblings to each other.

The terms step-sibling and half-sibling are often used interchangeably, and they are definitely NOT the same.

Adopted Siblings

Adopted siblings may not know they are adopted and believe, until DNA testing, that they are biological siblings.

Sometimes adopted siblings are either half-siblings or are otherwise related to each other but may not be related to either of their adoptive parents. Conversely, adopted siblings, one or both, may be related to one of their adoptive parents.

The same full and half-sibling relationship genetic clues apply to adopted siblings, as well as the tools and techniques in the In Search of Unknown Family series of articles.

Donor-Conceived Siblings

Donor-conceived siblings could be:

  • Half-siblings if the donor is the same father but a different mother.
  • Half-siblings if they share an egg donor but not a father.
  • Full siblings if they are full biological siblings to each other, meaning both donors are the same but not related to the woman into whom the fertilized egg was implanted, nor to her partner, their legal parents.
  • Not biologically related to each other or either legal parent.
  • Biologically related to one or both legal parents when a family member is either an egg or sperm donor.

Did I cover all of the possible scenarios? The essence is that we literally know nothing and should assume nothing.

I have known of situations where the brother (or brothers) of the father was the sperm donor, so the resulting child or children appear to be full or three-quarters siblings to each other. They are related to their legal father who is the mother’s partner. In other words, in this situation, the mother’s husband was infertile, and his brother(s) donated sperm resulting in multiple births. The children from this family who were conceived through different brothers and had very close (half-sibling) matches to their “uncles'” children were very confused until they spoke with their parents about their DNA results.

The same techniques to ascertain relationships would be used with donor-conceived situations. Additionally, if it appears that a biological relationship exists, but it’s not a full or half-sibling relationship, I recommend utilizing other techniques described in the In Search of Unknown Family series.

Twins or Multiple Birth Siblings

Two types of twin or multiple birth scenarios exist outside of assisted fertilization.

Fraternal twins – With fraternal or dizygotic twins, two eggs are fertilized independently by separate sperm. Just view this as one pregnancy with two siblings occupying the same space for the same 9 months of gestation. Fraternal twins can be male, female or one of each sex.

Fraternal twins are simply siblings that happen to gestate together and will match in the same way that full siblings match.

Please note that it’s possible for two of a woman’s eggs to be fertilized at different times during the same ovulation cycle, potentially by different men, resulting in twins who are actually half-siblings.

A difference in ethnicity is NOT a reliable indicator of fraternal or identical twins. Submitting your own DNA twice often results in slightly different ethnicity results.

Identical twins – Identical or monozygotic twins occur when one egg is fertilized by one sperm and then divides into multiple embryos that develop into different children. Those children are genetically identical since they were both developed from the same egg and sperm.

Two of the most famous identical twins are astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly.

Identical twins are the same sex and will look the same because they have the same DNA, except for epigenetic changes, but of course external factors such as haircuts, clothes and weight can make identical twins physically distinguishable from each other.

DNA testing companies will either identify identical twins as “self,” “identical twin” or “parent/child” due to the highest possible shared cM count plus fully matching FIR regions.

For identical twins, checking the FIR versus HIR is a positive identification as indicated above at GEDmatch with completely solid green FIR regions. Do not assume twins that look alike are identical twins.


Whoever thought there would be so many kinds of siblings!

If you observe the need to educate about either sibling terminology or DNA identification methodologies, feel free to share this article. When identifying relationships, never assume anything, and verify everything through multiple avenues.


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Acadian 1695 Loyalty Oath Signatures – 52 Ancestors #395

I discovered my Acadian family line nearly 20 years ago with the revelation of one single word – Blairfindie. Sometimes all you really need is one word. The right word, followed by a LOT of digging.

I’ve chased so many wild hares as a genealogist that I’m now surprised when one actually does pan out.

The Loyalty Petition

In 2008, somehow, I heard a rumor that there was a 1695 loyalty petition of the Acadians that was archived in Massachusetts. Massachusetts? How would it have gotten there? Retained by someone after they were deported, perhaps?

I doubted the petition actually existed, but I wrote to find out anyway.


Does the fact that this document was carefully guarded and included with someone’s meager possessions when they had literally no room on the 1755 deportation ships represent hope that the loyalty petition might yet save them? Would it say to their deporters, “See, we were always loyal? Our ancestors swore allegiance 65 years ago. Let us go home.”

I wish I knew. It was clearly viewed as important. Based on who signed, it probably came from Port Royal, having been renamed Annapolis Royal after being British captured by the British in 1710.


One of my goals is always to find the signatures of my ancestors. The Acadians are particularly difficult because many of the church and other records no longer exist, so any signature is quite rare indeed.

Even if they don’t sign with an actual signature, instead making their mark, you know that “mark” is their signature and they physically made it, then and there. It may be the only tangible thing left of them, except perhaps for fragments of their DNA carried by their descendants.

Consequently, you know whether they did or did not know how to read and write.

You can speculate about how they learned to read and write, perhaps through their church, or why they didn’t.

You know who they stood with when signing this pledge that was given with the fervent hope of avoiding issues and remaining neutral in conflicts between the British Empire and France. Canada and the maritime territories were prize possessions in the wars, but to the Acadians, it was simply home. They didn’t want trouble, simply to co-exist peacefully.

The Acadians wanted nothing more than to be left alone with their families, diked fields, livestock, and Catholic churches.

Rest assured that the topic of signing this pledge was hotly debated, probably ad nauseum. No one knew what the future held nor the best course of action. I’m sure there were as many differing opinions as there were people.

The English were opportunists, neighbors to the south with whom the Acadians traded, legally or otherwise, and Protestant. Yes, that relationship was complex.

The Catholics wanted absolutely nothing LESS than to be forced to become Protestant, as had occurred in England beginning with the reign of Henry VIII and becoming worse during Queen Elizabeth’s reign in the second half of the1500s. They were afraid if they pledged loyalty to England that they would be forced to adopt the Protestant religion and be conscripted into the English war machine to fight their French brethren in Canada.

The European wars were reflected in battles, skirmishes, and raids in Acadia, colonies on the other side of the Atlantic. The Acadian answer was to attempt to remain neutral by not fighting FOR anyone.

The Acadians were continuously embroiled in some sort of conflict, most of it not of their own making and almost all of it out of their control or even sphere of influence.

In 1690, the English once again plundered Acadia, killing people and livestock and burning farms.

The Acadians agreed to sign a loyalty oath in order to diffuse the situation and not be viewed as “the enemy.” Not everyone signed, especially not men and families in the more remote areas and outposts. Omission doesn’t necessarily mean noncompliance or opposition. It may simply imply distance. Furthermore, not every signature is legible.

I wrote to the Massachusetts State Archives requesting a copy of this document in 2008. I shared it with other researchers at the time, but now I’m sharing it with all Acadian researchers.

The outside of the petition bears the date of August 1695.

The signatures are contained on one page.

Wee do swear and sincerely promise that wee will be faithfull and bear true allegiance to his Majesty King William King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland.

So helpe us God.

Written in both English and French, courtesy of Christophe.

Nous jurons et sinserment (= sincèrement) promettons
que nous serons fidelle (=fidèle) et porterons vraye (=vraie)
alégeance (=allégeance) à sa maiesté (=majesté) le Roy Guillaume
Roy Dangleterre Décosse (d’Angleterre, d’Ecosse) France et
Ainsy Dieu nous aide.

Note, “marque de” translates to “mark of,” meaning they could not sign their name and instead made their mark.

I had difficulty reading some of these names, so if you can decipher something I did not, or transcribed incorrectly, or know your ancestor to be on this list, please comment on the blog by column and number, and I’ll update the entry.


  • Additional information, not contained on the original list, which is provided here, is contained in parenthesis following the person’s name. Please see the comments for more details.
  • Courtesy of Karen Theroit Reader, I’m adding the birth and death dates in parenthesis. These dates are clearly NOT in the original document. You can view Karen’s extensive and documented Acadian tree here. Please also see her comments.
  • Also, please view the comments by Mark Deutsch for essential context, including that these oaths were not voluntary and were taken in 1690, not 1695. There is additional discussion about this topic and circumstances that are critical to Acadian history.
  • Thank you to Christophe from France for assistance with both language and script translation and interpretation.
  • Lucie LeBlanc Consentino added some comments on the DNAexplain Facebook page, so I’ll incorporate some of those here as well. Her list appears to have come from here and does add some valuable information, such as dit names, but contains omissions has some challenges as well. Since it’s in alpha order, we sometimes can’t correlate to the signatures.
  • It’s also interesting to note that while the names morphed over time and have been standardized to some extent today, the people who signed their own names clearly spelled it “correctly” for themselves at that time. When there is a question about what they actually signed, I’ve included possibilities suggested by experts.
  • Thank you to everyone who has contributed. There is such power in collaboration. Please see the comments for additional valuable genealogy information.
  • Always remember to research carefully and check original documents when possible. We are all human and make mistakes:)

Column 1

  1. Allexandre Richard (1668-1709)
  2. John Bostorash? (x) La Marque (now Bastarache) (1658-1733, Karen Theroit reports that Stephen A. White (SAW from here forward) has standardized the name to Bastarache)

Column 2

  1. Louis Petit, missionnaire faisant les fonctions curiales au Port Royal (the missionary acting as parish priest at Port Royal – see comments)
  2. Etmanuel Le Bourgnes (possibly Borgnes) (Emmanuel Le Borgue 1676-before 1717, Karen things the other “things” are flourishes to his signature) (Lucie – Le Borgne de Bélisle – the recently deceased seigneur’s son)
  3. Charles Mellanson (Milanson?)
  4. Mathieu Martin (1636-bef 1725)
  5. Margue de (mark) Claude Terriot (1637-1725)
  6. Marque de (mark) Daniel Le Blanc
  7. Marque de (mark) Etienne Pellerin
  8. Pierre Lanoue
  9. Pierre Commeaux +(mark) (Per Karen, SAW uses Comeau) (Pierre le Jeune Comeau per Lucie ) le jeune translates to “the young”
  10. Jean Labat (Lucie – dit Le Marquis) – this one is very difficult as it’s under the fold line
  11. Marque de (+) Germain Savoye (Savoye 1654-after 1729) (Lucie – Savoie)
  12. Marque de (+) Jacob Girouer (possibly meant to be Girouard) (1621-1693 – SAW uses Girouard) (from Christophe – prononcer Girouère=Giroir=Girouard)
  13. Bonaventure (+) Terriot (1641-1731)
  14. Marque de (mark) Pierre le Celier (1647-1710 – SAW uses Cellier)
  15. Marque de (+) Pierre Godet
  16. Marque de (P) Guillaume Blanchard
  17. Marque de (t) Jean Belliveau (1652-1734) (from Christophe – à cette époque les U et les V s’écrivaient de la même manière)
  18. Illegible between above and below names but does not look to be a name. Karen indicates that she does not feel this is a name given the tight spacing above and below. I’m leaving this number because I feel it’s relevant to future researchers who may question this.
  19. Marque de Pierre Tibaudeau (1631-1704 – SAW uses Thibodeau)
  20. Martin (+) Blanchard (1647-after1718)
  21. Marque de (+) Charles Robichaux (Lucie – dit Cadet”
  22. Marque de (+) Bernard Bourg (1648-?)
  23. Jean (+) Corporon
  24. Alexandre (+) Girouer (1761-1744) (Christophe Griouer = Girouard)
  25. Marque de (mark) du Puelt (du Puit – 1637-after 1700 – SAW uses DuPuis) (du Puest per Christophe)
  26. Pierre Guillebaud (Guillebau – 1639-1703 – SAW uses Guilbeau)
  27. Marque de (+) Pierre Sibilau (1675-before 1703)
  28. Claude Gaidry (1648-after 1723 – SAW uses Guedry) (Christophe – possibly Guidry)
  29. Giraud (+) Guerin (Jerome Guerin – about 1665-after 1751)
  30. Jullién Lor

Column 3

  1. Marque de (mark) Pierre Commeaux
  2. Marque de (mark) Emanuel Hebert
  3. Marque de (mark) Jean Commeaux
  4. Marque de (o) Etienne Commeaux
  5. Marque de (+) Martin Bourg
  6. Marque de (LA) de Louis Alin (1654-1737 SAW uses Allain)
  7. Abraham Bourg
  8. Marque de (+) Jean Babinot (Babineau per Lucie, here at Babinot)
  9. Marque (+) de Jacques Leger (1663-1751) (Lucie – dit La Rosette)
  10. Marque de (mark) Francois Broussard (1653-1716) (Christophe – Preullard?)
  11. (partly illegible) Marque de (+) Pierre Martin
  12. Alexandre Bourg (1671-1760) (Lucie – dit Bellehumeur, nephew of Abraham Bourg)
  13. Marque (P) de Jacques Triel (1646-before 1700) (Lucie – dit Laperrière)
  14. Pierre (+) Landry
  15. Claude (C mark) Landry
  16. Jacques (+) Michel
  17. Martin (O) Richard
  18. Francois (J or F) Robin (1643-1706 – Karen thinks his mark is an F instead of a J, Christoph interprets as J)
  19. Claude (+) Dugats
  20. Pierre (+) Doucet sa marque
  21. René de Forest (1670-1751 – SAW uses “(de) FOREST”)
  22. Claude Petitpas
  23. Denis Petitot (dit Saint-Seine, born about 1662)
  24. Prudent Robichaux (1669-1756)
  25. Lourans Grangé (mark) sa marque (1643-about 1701)
  26. Laurens Doucet
  27. Bernard Godet
  28. John Faudel (mark) (his) marque (Fardel/Fredelle, 1643-after 1700) (Christophe – possibly Paucett?) (Lucie – an Englishman whose wife was a Gaudet)

In total, 61 men who were heads of households representing families signed the loyalty oath.

Here’s a second, lighter copy that may help with some signatures. Please feel free to download both.

My Ancestors

Four of my ancestors signed this oath, two with their mark and two signed.

Guillaume Blanchard and Pierre Doucet signed with their marks

René de Forest signed his name, although I couldn’t decipher his signature. (Thanks Karen.) I love this man’s R. I should practice and adopt it!

Jullién Lor signed his name, but it’s more than just a name…

Jullién Lor

Jullién Lor signed his name at the bottom of the second column, giving us a huge clue as to his heritage. In fact, I’d say he secretly gave us the answer.

Can you spot the clue?

First, although there was no standardized spelling at the time, we know he spelled his surname Lor, not Lord as was later recorded, nor Lore, Laur, or any other derivative. Jullien was the original immigrant who was born in the old country. But where was that?

There has always been some question about Jullién’s heritage, especially with a surname like Lord. Lord is not a French word. It’s English.

English soldiers were stationed at Fort Royal at various times, and the English did interact with the Acadians often and in many ways, at least when they weren’t warring.

So, was Jullién Lor English or French? We can pretty much rule out any other nationalities at this point, based on the history of the region at the time he appeared on the scene. He was not in the 1671 or 1678 census, at least not under his own name, but we know he was in the region before 1675 or 1676 when his first child was born.

Do you see that little accent over the e? It looks like this – é. It’s not a stray mark. It’s called l’accent aigu and is unquestionably French. It changes the pronunciation of the e to something sounding like “eh.”

In essence, Jullién just winked and whispered across 328 years that he’s French. Je suis français, mon petit-fils.

Thank you, Jullién, my wonderful six-times great-grandfather! I’m all ears if there’s anything else you’d like to say.

It’s a good thing we have this document, because it’s absolutely the ONLY record of Jullién’s signature that I’ve been able to find. And while we do have a few other hints, nothing is as conclusive as a message from Jullién himself!

I hope you find your ancestors too.


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So, You Want to Become a Professional Genetic Genealogist

I get asked quite often about what is required to become a professional genetic genealogist.

That’s actually two separate questions.

  • What is required to become a professional genealogist?
  • Then, what is required to specialize as a genetic genealogist?

What It’s Not

Before we have this discussion, I need to make sure that you understand that I’m NOT talking about forensics, meaning IGG, or investigative genetic genealogy in this article.

  • This is NOT forensics (IGG)
  • This is also not a specialty in finding missing parents for adoptees and others searching for unknown parents.

Both IGG and adoption searches utilize the same methodology, a subset of genetic genealogy. I wrote about that in Identifying Unknown Parents and Individuals Using DNA Matching.

The difference between genetic genealogy more broadly and IGG is:

  • What you’re searching for
  • The perspective
  • The methods utilized.

Essentially, the functional difference is that genealogists know who they are and have some information about their ancestors. For example, they know who their parents are and probably at least their grandparents. Genealogists are using both DNA testing and traditional genealogical paper trail research methods to focus and make discoveries going backwards in time.

Both IGG and unknown parent research uses DNA and (sometimes some) paper trail genealogy to find ways to connect the closest matches to the DNA tester (or DNA sample) together to each other to identify either living or recently living people. For example, two people who are are first cousins to the tester should both have the same grandparents if they are related to the tester through the same parent.

If two people who are related to the tester as first cousins do not share the same grandparent(s), then they are related to the tester through different parents of the tester.

The commonality is that DNA testing and some types of records are used for:

  • IGG where you’re searching for the identity of the tester or DNA sample
  • Unknown parent(s) searches where you are searching for the identity of the parent(s)
  • Genetic genealogy

However, the search methodology is different for IGG and unknown parents than for genealogy.

With IGG and unknown parent searches, you’re looking for your closest matches, then attempting to connect them together to identify either currently living or recently living people.

This article focuses specifically on genealogy and genetic genealogy, meaning looking backwards in time to identify ancestors.

I wrote about the techniques used for both IGG and parental searching in the article, Identifying Unknown Parents and Individuals Using DNA Matching.

What Do Genealogists Do?

Genealogy is the study of family history and the descent of a person or a family. Genealogists use a variety of sources and methods to discover and show the ancestry of their subjects and in doing so, create the family trees that are familiar to all of us.

Genealogists use different sources and methods to find and show the descent and kinship of their subjects.

Traditional sources include but are not limited to the following record types:

  • Vital records (birth, marriage, and death certificates)
  • Census
  • Military
  • Immigration
  • Land and tax records
  • Wills and probate
  • Church records
  • Newspapers
  • Obituaries
  • Published and online books
  • Oral histories
  • Genealogy databases
  • And more

Of course, today the four types of DNA can be added to that list.

A professional genealogist needs to know how and where to find these types of records in the target area, any unique cultural or regional factors affecting those records, and how to interpret them both individually and together.

For example, in a deed record in colonial Virginia, why would, or wouldn’t a female release her dower right? What is dower right, and why is it important? How might that record, or lack thereof, affect future probate for that woman/couple? In what type of historical or court record book might one look for these types of records?

Genealogists also need to know how to weigh different types of information in terms of potential accuracy and how to interpret primary and secondary sources.

Primary sources are those that were created at or near the time of an event by someone who was present at the event or who had first-hand knowledge of it. Examples of primary sources include birth certificates, marriage licenses, and census records, although census records are far more likely to be inaccurate or incomplete than a birth certificate or marriage record. Genealogists need to understand why, and where to look for corroboration. Primary sources are considered to be most accurate.

Secondary sources are those that were created later by someone who did not have first-hand knowledge of the event. Examples of secondary sources include family histories and genealogies, published biographies, and sometimes, newspaper articles.

The genealogists “go to” source for understanding and interpreting evidence is Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills, available here.

Of course, DNA understanding and analysis needs to be added to this list and has become an important resource in genealogy. Additionally, genetic genealogy has become a specialty within the broader field of genealogy, as has IGG.

Put another way, a genealogist should have expertise and a specialty in some area. Maybe Italian records, or Native American genealogy, or New England records, in addition to the basic skills. At one time, a genealogist didn’t necessarily HAVE TO have expertise in genetic genealogy as well, but that has changed in the past few years. A professional genealogist should MINIMALLY understand the basics of genetic genealogy and when/how it can be useful. They may or may not have ready access to a genetic genealogist within the company where they work.

Being an independent genealogist, unless you specialize only in a specific area, like Dutch genealogy, is much more challenging because you’ll need to be proficient in BOTH Dutch genealogy AND genetic genealogy. It’s tough keeping up with one specialty, let alone two, although in this case, Yvette does an amazing job. However, her primary specialty is Dutch genealogy, and genetic genealogy is the booster rocket when appropriate. Genetic genealogy is not always needed for traditional genealogy, which is why genetic genealogy is a specialty skill.

In addition to all that, you also need to be proficient and comfortable with technology and a good communicator. Walking on water is also helpful:)

Job Description

So, what does the job description for a genealogist look like?

I reached out to Legacy Tree Genealogists because they are one of the largest, if not the largest genealogy research company, and they partner with 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and MyHeritage. Legacy Tree has specialists in many regions and languages, in addition to six genetic genealogists on staff.

Fortunately, they have a job listing posted right now, here, with an excellent description of what is expected.

If you’re interested or wish to sign up for notifications, click here.

Understanding that this job description won’t be posted forever, I reached out to the owner, Jessica Dalley Taylor, and asked if she would send me a sample description to include in this article.

Here you go, courtesy of Jessica:

About You

It’s not easy to make each client’s experience the very best it can possibly be, and it means we can only hire an exceptional genealogist for this position. You will be a great fit if:

    • You are fluent in English and can explain your genealogy discoveries in a way that clients connect with and understand
    • You have taken at least one genetic genealogy test or administered the test of a relative
    • You have introductory genetic genealogy abilities
    • You have at least intermediate traditional genealogical research experience in any geographic locality
    • You are familiar with the repositories of the areas for which you claim expertise and have worked with them to obtain documents
    • You are passionate about genealogy and are a creative problem solver
    • You are great at working independently and hitting deadlines (please don’t overlook this line about deadlines)
    • You are comfortable with Microsoft Office suite
    • You’re familiar with genealogical technology such as pedigree software
    • You have a quiet place to work without distractions, a computer, and great internet
    • You have a strong desire to work as a professional genetic genealogist

Even better if:

    • You have a basic understanding of genetic inheritance and its application to genealogy
    • You have beginning experience with interpretation and use of genetic genealogy test results
    • You have intermediate-level genetic genealogy abilities

What you’ll be doing at Legacy Tree:

    • You’ll be learning how to use genetic testing in identifying family
    • You’ll be learning how to create high-quality research reports
    • You’ll be reading and formatting reports by professional researchers
    • You’ll be assisting with researching and writing genealogy reports
    • You’ll be performing genetic genealogy analysis under the direction of professional mentors
    • You’ll be developing advanced-level genetic genealogy skills and abilities
    • With your input, you’ll do other things as opportunities and needs arise

Please note that Legacy Tree offers both traditional genealogy services, combined with genetic genealogy, along with adoption and unknown parent searches.

As a measure of fundamental basic genetic genealogy skills, you should be able to create and teach a class like First Steps When Your DNA Results Are Ready – Sticking Your Toe in the Genealogy Water.

You should also be able to read and fully comprehend the articles on this blog, as well as explain the content to others. A very wise person once told me that if you can’t explain or teach a topic, you don’t understand it.

As luck would have it, Ancestry also posted a job opening for a genealogist as I was finishing this article. Here’s part of the job requirements.

Contractor or Employee

Please note that many companies have shifted their primary hiring strategy to utilizing contractors for not more than half time, especially now that working remotely has become the norm.

This may or may not be good news for you.

It allows the company to avoid paying benefits like insurance, vacation, leave, and retirement programs which reduces their costs. You may not need these benefits, and it may represent an opportunity for you. For others who need those benefits, it’s a deal-breaker.

Contracting may provide the ability to work part-time, but contracting probably means you need to have business management skills not required when you work for someone else. Let’s just say that I make quarterly estimated tax payments and my annual CPA bill is in the $2,000 range.


Pay, either as an employee or contractor for a company, is a sticky wicket in this field.

First, there’s a consumer mindset, although not universal, that genealogy “should be” free. In part, this is due to search angels and a history of well-intentioned people making things free. I’m one of them – guilty as charged – this blog is free. My hourly work, however, when I accepted clients (which I DO NOT now,) was not free.

However, that “should be free” mindset makes it difficult to shift to a “pay to play” mentality when people can go on social media and get what they want for free.

Professional services are not and should not be free.

Professionals should be able to earn a respectable living. The full-time Ancestry job, posted above, with those credentials, nets out to $21.63 per hour for a 40-hour week, with a graduate degree preferred. For comparison, google other jobs and professions.

If you doubt for one second whether professional services should or should not be free, especially ones that require a bachelor’s degree or master’s, just think about what your CPA would do if you asked them to do your taxes because they have the ability, for free. Same for a doctor, lawyer, or any other professional.

People are often shocked at the rates paid to employees versus the rates charged to prospective customers. This discussion has recently gotten spicy on social media, so I’m not going to comment other than to say that when I did take private clients, which I DO NOT ANYMORE, I found it much more beneficial to operate independently than to work for a company.

However, I also had a readily recognizable specialty and an avenue to reach potential clients.

I also already had a business structure set up, and a CPA, and perhaps more important than either of those – I had medical insurance already in place.

The need for benefits is what drives many people to work for companies, which I fully understand. It’s also a big factor in why there are more female genealogists than male genealogists. Married women in the US are eligible to be covered by their spouse’s insurance, assuming the spouse has insurance through their employer.

My very strong recommendation to you is to weigh all of the factors and NEVER to find yourself without medical insurance or coverage.

If you’re going to be “self-employed,” set up a company. If you’re going to set up a company, do it properly, understand the tax ramifications of the various types of corporations and engage a competent CPA to shepherd you through the process from day 1 through taxes. They are worth every penny.

Look at various jobs in the market, review at the associated pay, get a quote for genealogy services of the type you would be providing from the various companies – and decide if this profession is really for you.

I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, just a realist.

Training and Certification

Now for the good news and the bad news.

  • There is professional training for genealogy
  • There are certifications for genealogy
  • There is no “one place” for either
  • There is no certification for genetic genealogy
  • There’s a LOT of misunderstanding and misinformation about genetic genealogy
  • Genetic genealogy changes often

You need to view your education for genealogy/genetic genealogy in the same way you’d view obtaining a college degree – plus continuing education to maintain your education and skills at a current and functional level.

And yes, all of that costs money. If you decide to work for a company, be sure to ask if continuing ed is on their dime and time, or yours.

Genealogy Training

The Board for Certification of Genealogists, BCG, allows graduates to append CG, for Certified Genealogist after their name. BCG is focused on certification of skills and is not a training platform, although they do provide some webinars, etc. It’s not a college curriculum though. Certification is the “end game” for many. Candidates must submit a portfolio for evaluation, complete in a specific timeframe, and must reapply every five years to maintain their certification.

Not all genealogists are certified by BCG, and BCG only lists references of BCG members.

In the field of Genetic Genealogy, that can be problematic because many competent and well-known people are not BCG certified. BCG does not have a genetic genealogy certification.

Lack of BCG certification does not mean that someone is not qualified, and BCG certification certainly does NOT mean or imply that the individual is competent in genetic genealogy, which has more and more become a part of almost every genealogical puzzle. If not for initial discovery, for confirmation.

There are many avenues for genealogical training, including, but not limited to:

  • Brigham Young University Family History Degree
  • NGS Home Study Course
  • Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)
  • Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
  • Boston University Certificate program
  • Genealogical Institute on Federal Records (Gen-Fed)
  • Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
  • University of Strathclyde
  • University of Dundee
  • Major Conferences, including RootsTech and NGS, among others
  • Specialty conferences such as the International Conference on Jewish Genealogy (IAJGS)
  • Online conferences and conference proceedings such as Rootstech who maintains a free library of their virtual and recorded conference sessions.
  • Legacy Family Tree Webinars
  • Videos produced by major genealogy companies such as MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry, often available through their website, Youtube or both
  • Blogs and learning/help centers of the major genealogy companies

Genetic Genealogy Training

Genetic genealogy training is more challenging because there is no specific program, curriculum, or certification.

Many genetic genealogists obtained their experience as a part of genealogy over 15 or 20 years and have focused on the genetic aspect of genealogy. Several of us had a scientific background that meshed well with this field and is part of why we discovered that our passion is here.

Before I provide this resource list, I need to emphatically state that probably 95% of answers that I see provided on social media platforms in response to questions asked by people are either entirely incorrect, partially incorrect in a way that makes me want to say, “well, not exactly,” or are incomplete in a way that makes a significant difference.

I chose and choose to focus on creating educational tools and making explanations available for everyone, in one place, not one question at a time.

I began publishing my blog in 2012 as an educational tool and I’m dumbstruck by how many people just want a yes or no answer instead of learning. If one doesn’t take the time to learn, they have no idea if the answers they receive are valid, or if there’s more to the story that they are missing.

Social media can mislead you badly if you don’t have the ability to discern between accurate answers, partially accurate answers, and incorrect answers. Furthermore, opinions differ widely on some topics.

Unfortunately, because there is no genetic genealogy credentialling, there is also no “post-nominal letters,” such as CG for certified genealogist. Therefore, a novice has absolutely no idea how to discern between an expert and another overly helpful novice who is unintentionally providing incorrect or partial information.

Many of us who at one time reliably answered questions have simply gotten burned out at the same question being asked over and over, and no longer regularly engage. Burnout is real. Another issue is that askers often don’t provide enough, or accurate, information, so a significant amount of time is spent in clarifying the information around a question. Furthermore, your CPA, lawyer, and physician don’t answer questions online for free, and neither do most people who are busy earning a living in this field.

DNA educational opportunities, some of which are contained within larger conference agendas, include:

There are other blogs, of course, some of which were launched by well-known genetic genealogists but are no longer maintained. Blogging is quite time-consuming.

I’ve covered all kinds of genetic genealogy topics in my blog articles. They are a good source of information, education and hands-on training. I attempt to publish two articles weekly, and there are over 1600 available for your enjoyment.

In addition to the initial learning period, you’ll need to make time to stay engaged and maintain your genealogy and genetic genealogy skills.


In addition to training, I think you’d need at least a year interning or working at a junior learning level, minimum. Think of it as your genealogy residency.

  • You could choose to work for a vendor in their help center.
  • You could choose to work for a genealogy company. I’ve mentioned the largest ones, but there are others as well.
  • You could choose to work on your own case studies and those of your friends and family, but if you do, be aware that you won’t have anyone reviewing your work. If you make a mistake or should have approached something differently, and you’re working alone, there’s no one to tell you.
  • You could work as a search angel for others. I have mixed emotions about this, in part due to the lack of review and oversight. But also, in part because “free search angels” perpetuate the idea that genealogy “should be” free.

If you want to work in IGG, after training, an internship under an established mentor is ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL for a minimum of 100 or so successful closures.

Genealogists and genetic genealogists have the ethical responsibility to NOT MAKE MISTAKES when working on other people’s family. You need to know what you know, what you don’t know, when to get help, from where and with whom.

Networking Opportunity

A Facebook group named “Genealogy Jobs” has been established to discuss opportunities and all of the topics surrounding this subject.

There’s a Genealogy Career Day event on April 22nd where you can interact with professionals including authors, freelance genealogists, certified genealogists, business owners, and an investigative genetic genealogist. Take a look at the topics. If you’re considering whether or not you want to go pro, you’ll be interested. You can sign up here.

The sessions will be uploaded to their YouTube channel, here, after the event.

I hope you’ve found this article useful and helps you decide if this profession is for you. If so, create a plan and execute.

If you decide you do want to go pro, I wish you the best and welcome you to the fast-paced world of professional genealogy or its specialty, genetic genealogy.


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Finding the Old Home Place with Zillow – 52 Ancestors #394

Would you like to visit the home where your parents or grandparents lived? Maybe great-grandparents? Does their home still stand? Did someone within the family inherit it? How about visiting the homes of aunts and uncles that you visited as a child?

What about the home you grew up in?

How would you feel walking through that house again?

I had never really thought about this before, but I got to find out this week.

One of my former classmates tagged me on social media.

I clicked, and there it was.

The house where I was raised.

I drew a sharp breath.

Was I ready for this?

Could I look?

How could I NOT look?

It was posted in a Facebook group called “Cheap Old Houses,” which made me kind of nervous. I was hoping it wasn’t a disaster inside.

Opportunity awaits to restore this charming 3BR/2BA home back to its original charm and character! Located in the Old Silk Stocking district, this all brick, 2 story features original hardwood flooring, crown molding, and two wood-burning fireplaces. With over 1500 sq ft of living space, home also includes an unfinished basement and upper 3rd level to be used as an office, playroom or whatever you choose!

“Opportunity awaits to restore…” I wonder what that means, exactly.

Take a deep breath. Should I or shouldn’t I?

Well, of course I looked. I couldn’t help myself.

I wondered when this house was last sold.

In August of 2001, it sold for $53,600. According to Zillow, it had dropped in value to $38,400 in October of 2016, and reached a high of $125,200 in June of 2021. The estimated payment is $380 per month including insurance. I’ve had larger car payments.

Each of the two floors has 778 square feet, which seems quite small today, but seemed just normal then.

Before and I do a walkthrough, I’ll set the stage a bit.

Let’s just say I went down a rabbit hole. A really, really deep rabbit hole. And wow – the surprises awaiting.

Have you ever done the genealogy of a house?

There’s a first time for everything.


This house was built in 1925 and described as a gable front/Colonial Revival according to the Howard County History site.

“Brand-Way House” c. 1915 Alberta Brand, who was a recent widow, purchased a small strip of land on the west side of the Haskett-Jay house, where she built this small brick house for herself. It is said the sale of this lot caused quite a rift between the Jays and the family of Dr. Lamar Knepple, who lived at 524 West Sycamore Street. Similar to other Colonial Revival style homes in the Old Silk Stocking neighborhood, this home features a massive brick chimney flanked with two quarter-circle openings, six-over-six windows, and flat brick lintels. The front gabled, projected entrance with segmental arch is unique in this neighborhood. Notice the rounded hood over the side entrance. (Colonial Revival: This style became popular in the late nineteenth century. Buildings of this type have strictly symmetrical facades and are usually rectangular in plan with no or minimum projections. Eaves have classical detailing, and windows are usually doublehung sash.)

I had always wondered if this house was the carriage house for the large, opulent home to its right, especially given the shared driveway. It was not.

Someone on the posting said, “I thought it was a church.” Now that made me laugh right out loud.

I don’t know when the photo above was taken, but those trellises were present when we lived there in the 1960s and early 1970s. The bush in the front corner of the house beside the driveway is a pink peony bush that I planted for Mom, possibly for Mother’s Day. Its matching companion bush is at the rear corner beside the driveway. When we lived there, I had given her rose bushes that bloomed beautifully along the side of the house, between the peony bushes and the side door and the driveway.

Also filling in that space were Lily’s of the Valley.

Blue Morning Glories climbed the two front trellises.

Before I move on to the history of 530 and 530 1/2 W. Sycamore, I’d like to add some additional photos with a bit of context.

This photo was taken with a traditional camera and was scanned into my system in 2008. I don’t know exactly when it was taken. The old maple tree in the front yard was still there at the time. And so was a second large tree whose shadow you can see near the front of the driveway. That occurred sometime after Mom sold it in 1972 and may have been in the early 2000s.

Gone was “my” tree stump in front of the house, just about where that small bush like thing is to the left of the driveway. I loved that tree stump. It was maybe 2 feet wide and was growing “shooters” from the roots. They were large though, 3 or 4 inches through. One side of the stump had no shooters and was open. That meant that I could sit on the stump and had a built-in back rest of leafy shooters. I sat for hours in my little playhouse in the front yard and read books, wonderful library books. Books were my first passport to the wider world. Sometimes I took my stuffed animals outside with me and read to them, but it took me longer to read out loud, so often they just got to sit with me.

I remember the summer when I was 10 years old looking across the street and realizing I couldn’t read the street sign very well. I got glasses before school started in the fall.

My corner of the world, meaning my bedroom, was the front corner of the upper level that’s most visible. I had two windows, one on the front and one on the side. Inside, there was a dividing wall between that front window and the fireplace which was in our living room. More about that in a minute.

The balcony railing in front of the middle side window was a “faux railing” meaning it was not accessible and you couldn’t get out there. I know because I tried. That small window was in my closet, which was also the access to the attic.

Looking at the house from across the street, one can understand why that family in the beautiful mansion next door was upset when Alberta Brand built this house.

Not only did she build a small house, but it’s right up against the property line on the right side. When we owned this property, the driveway was shared. I truly don’t know who actually owned it and suspect the property line may have been right down the middle.

Why didn’t the owners of the large house purchase at least this lot before Alberta built her house that is still standing a century later?

Neighborhood History

Kokomo wasn’t an old town. In fact, you could say it was a boomtown – and the boom was natural gas discovered in 1886.

In 1868, literally nothing was yet in place in the neighborhood that’s only two blocks from downtown. Both our house and the beautiful house next door would one day be built in that vacant lot with the red arrow. Most of Sycamore was still field and vacant land. The courthouse had been constructed and Railroad Street, now Buckeye, had probably one of few if not the only bridge crossing the Wildcat.

In the mid-1870s, Robert Haskett built that stunning home with a third-floor ballroom next door at 524 W. Sycamore. His land went all the way from Sycamore to Walnut and was truly an estate.

I don’t know for sure, but based on that 1877 map, I’d guess that the original 524 W. Sycamore property was about this size, with 524 just about in the middle, to the right of the red pin marking our house.

After Haskett’s death, the property passed out of the family and the outlots were sold off. At that time, orchards covered most of the land to the west and between Sycamore and Walnut. So our property was in orchards.

530 W. Sycamore was the first house built when the property was subdivided.

I understand why Dr. Lamar Knepple was upset with the sale of the property, but what I don’t understand is why he didn’t purchase the surrounding land, at least part of it.

The history site mentions this canopy over the side door. It was very unusual and I’ve never seen another. What surprises me is that the old trellises remain, and that the actual door seems to be the same too. I recognize the handle and lock. I bet my old key would still work.

There used to be an address and mailbox to the left of the door, for 530 ½ but this home was restored to one residence sometime after 1990 when it was still two apartments. According to the newspaper, in 1996 there was a whole-house sale and in 1997 it was rented as one unit with 4 bedrooms.

Throughout this process, I used, NewspaperArchive, and the newspapers at MyHeritage.

Alberta Brand

In the 1920 census, Millard Brand and his wife, Alberta, were living on Conradt Avenue. He was a real estate agent. They had married in 1890.

In 1921, he died. The newspaper printed the notice of administration for the estate of Millard F. Brand dated Oct 27, 1921. Alberta was the administrator.

She built the home at 530 W. Sycamore sometime in 1922 or 1923, because she was once again in the newspaper in January of 1924, and not in a good way.

Aberta died, suddenly, on January 15, 1924 in the house she was sharing with her daughter. Her death notice says she had built that house.

The Reverend and Mrs. Gerrard had come to visit Alberta that afternoon. They said they hadn’t been there long, and although Alberta’s health had been deteriorating since her husband’s death, as she had taken it very hard, she did not complain of feeling ill.

Suddenly, she slumped onto the shoulder of the minister’s wife, who was sitting beside Alberta. The minister thought she had fainted, so wiped her face with water. When she failed to revive, he went next door to tell the neighbor, who just happened to be the doctor. Apparently, since the article said he informed the doctor’s wife, the doctor wasn’t home at the time.

Alberta hadn’t fainted, she had died, instantly. I’d wager they were sitting in the living room.

The newspaper article goes on to say that she and Millard had lived on Conradt Avenue but at the time of her death she was living with her daughter in a smaller home she had built on West Sycamore Street. Her daughter is listed as Shirley Brand and her son as Gladstone Brand.

Alberta Brand’s funeral was held at her home at 2 PM on Wednesday, January 16, 1924.

So not only had 530 W. Sycamore seen a death, it had also hosted a funeral and it was only a year or two old.

A Mystery to Unravel

Now we have a mystery to unravel. What happened to Alberta’s house?

Fast forward 18 months.

On May 17, 1925, Fred E. Way and wife, Shirley, are listed as arriving passengers in New York (from Havana, Cuba). Their birth dates and years are given, and there is no question that this is the same person as Shirley Brand. They live in Kokomo, but no specific address is provided.

FindaGrave for Shirley shows her birth date as November 18, 1894 which correlated with the passenger list.

In the 1930 census, Fred’s wife is listed as Shirley E, age 34, married at age 29, so apparently about 1925. They are renting on Mulberry Street, directly across the street from the home I would own four decades later. He’s noted as a salesman. In 1920, he was living with his parents in Jackson, Michigan, listed as a traveling salesman. His draft registration says he is their sole support.

Now things get a bit confusing.

I found the house on Sycamore in the 1930 census by locating the neighbor. However, the house numbers are “off.” Dr. Knepple who we know absolutely is the neighbor in the large home to the right is listed at 534, but the address is 524. A different person is noted at 524 and 530 is shown on the “wrong” side of Knepple. It looks for all the world that the census taker wrote the addresses down, but mixed the residents up. Is this even possible? That seems like a really large error.

I float this as a possibility, in part, because on that same block, we find L. Eugene Smith, wife Glea, and 4-year-old son who are renting for $40 per month. He’s an engineer for Kokomo Glass and Fuel. You’ll meet him in a minute.

Ok, let’s check 1920.

Given that the 1920 census shows LaMar Knepple at 534 West Sycamore as well, I now suspect these houses were renumbered at some point after 1930.

The 1932 City Directory lists L. E. Smith, wife Mary G, an engineer for Northern Indiana Power Co at 550 W. Sycamore. 550? Is that a typo?

The 1933 newspaper for 530 W. Sycamore shows an ad for a lost dog Ph 6923

A 1934 newspaper ad – Boys bike for sale L. E. Smith Ph 6923

1937 – Board of works resolves to pay Shirley E. Way and Gladtone Brand, Heirs of Mrs. Alberta Brand $16,000 for “the property.” This had to do with land south of the city. We have a second confirmation that Shirley Way is Shirley Brand.

In the 1940 census, Fred Way and wife Shirley were renting on Mulberry Street. This is very strange, especially since we know she owned the house on Sycamore.

In 1940, Leander E. Smith (38) and his wife, Glea M, and son, Leander Jr. (14) were living at 530 W. Sycamore and had been living there in 1935. He is shown as a renter. By 1950, he is the chief engineer at the steel mill and living elsewhere.

Ok, this seems bizarre.

July 1941 – The 1966 newspaper in the 25 years ago column – 9 boys from Kokomo among the enrollees at Culver Military Academy. L. E. Smith 530 W. Sycamore. That would be July 1941.

Fred Way’s 1942 draft registration card shows that he and Shirley Way live at the Courtland Hotel and he is a salesman. In its day, the Courtland, a swanky, posh hotel, was THE PLACE to go in Kokomo.

In a 1949 newspaper ad – Mrs. C. F. Smith at 530 W. Sycamore – hems and alterations Ph 6923.

Now, here’s the curve ball.

On April 22, 1950, the Kokomo Tribute reports, “The marriage of Miss Shirley Brand of this city and Fred Way of Jacksonville [Jackson], Michigan took place April 20 at the home of the bride, the Rev. M. H. Garrard officiating.”

Wait? What? But Shirley Brand and Fred had been living as husband and wife for a quarter century, since 1925. During that timeframe, living together unmarried for 25 years was literally unheard of.

Are we POSITIVE these are the same people?

In the 1950 census, Fred Way and his wife, Shirley, are living at 530 W. Sycamore. Yep, positively the same people.

I found their marriage license in Howard County, Indiana and they were married on April 20, 1925 by the Reverend Garrard. Maybe they had divorced at some time? Looking at those dates, sure enough, that original trip was their honeymoon, but why were they remarried under her birth surname?

I strongly suspect that we have a mis-indexing issue, or that this news item was actually in the “25 years ago” column.

February 1952 newspaper article – Mr. and Mrs Fred Way returned from a month-long vacation. They flew and cruised and such. He noted that a lot had changed since they were there 25 years earlier.

January 1952 – Fred Way’s Lincoln automobile was stolen, stripped and burned.

December 31, 1953 newspaper ad – Looking for middle aged lady to stay nights. Mrs. Fred Way at 530 W. Sycamore

This is an unusual ad. Makes me wonder why.

October 14, 1954 – Fred Way was selected as a juror

January 20, 1956 – Fred Way retired from W. F. Whitney Company after 25 years as a sales rep for a furniture maker.

Fred’s wife, Shirley Eudora Brand Way, born in 1894, died on June 21, 1959 in the same house where her mother had died. According to her death certificate, she had liver cancer for three months and died of a hemorrhage.

June 18, 1961 – Fred E. Way hospital dismissal – 530 W. Sycamore

FindaGrave says Fred died in February, 1962 in Florida, age 74, of a heart attack. The Indianapolis news says he was a cattle breeder and spent 25 years as a salesman for the W. F. Whitney furniture manufacturer.

I didn’t realize that the home we bought never left the family who built it. I also had no idea of the age of the house. I did know she bought it from the Way family, and the owners had died.

Mom Buys 530 W. Sycamore

Mom bought the property from the Way estate with her inheritance money.

But it wasn’t quite that straightforward. As an adult, I fully understand what was going on, but as a child I was completely oblivious.

My grandmother had died in 1960 and my grandfather died in June of 1962. Following that, the estate was sold and the proceeds divided.

Mom was divorced and my father was not only absent from our life, he contributed either little or nothing financially, and certainly not on any type of reliable schedule. He fought his own demons which would claim his life less than a year later, in the summer of 1963.

Mom had been dating a well-to-do business owner whose name I refuse to utter. He took advantage of mother, and I’m not referring to the “typical” way, but probably that too. He owned the company she worked for, and he paid her $1.13 per hour, slightly above the $1.00 per hour minimum wage as the bookkeeper and office manager. That equates to about $8.20 today. He assuredly could have made other arrangements. HE certainly made substantially more, drove nice cars, and had nice clothes. We didn’t, yet Mom paid half of the bills, cooked and cleaned for no compensation at all.

Mom wanted to marry and have a normal family life. That had pretty much been her lifelong dream, and so far, it had entirely eluded her.

He-whose-name-shall-not-be-uttered, was recently divorced, knew she had an inheritance and apparently talked Mom into purchasing this property and renovating it into two apartments so that he could live downstairs and Mom and I could live upstairs. That way, should they ever decide to marry, the carrot he dangled, it was just a matter of opening the doors at the bottom of the stairs and voila – easy-peasy – one house again.

Of course, he had no intention of every marrying mother. His intention was to keep her beholden and dependent. It was a great deal for him. He knew she would never be able to afford that house without his financial contribution. He also knew she wanted to marry, and given the circumstances, she would never leave that job. She was now alone and trapped, although she had no idea at the time.

So, he paid her poorly to control her. He also knew that the living and financial arrangement would deter any other man that might be even remotely interested.

Mom bought the house. I think he co-signed the mortgage. I don’t believe he had any financial skin in that game.

His entry into the house was through the front or back door into his kitchen. No one ever used the front door.

Of course, his “nice” car got to be parked in the garage. We, on the other hand, got to dig our vehicle out from under snow, hope it started, and shovel the driveway because Mom had to be at the office to open it for business. He followed sometime later, arriving on an executive schedule.

That concrete block chimney wasn’t there at the time. The windows to the left of the door were his bedroom, but might have been a sitting room or maybe dining room originally.

The corner upstairs windows were Mom’s bedroom and the window at far right above the back door was our kitchen.

Our entrance was through that cute side door and we lived upstairs. I notice that cracks in the mortar have been repaired. I always thought of that useless decorative balcony as romantic. Maybe a way to elope with one’s lover.

There is no garage today, but there was then, although it wasn’t in great shape. No garage doors, just a three-sided structure with an overhanging roof. I think that this limb fell on the garage at some point, but I don’t recall the specifics.

Here’s the view from the house behind the wall that divided the properties, looking at the rear of 530 W. Sycamore today. The houses on this side of Sycamore sat on a hill and overlooked Foster Park and Wildcat Creek, another block away to the south.

The garage used to stand where the tall white fence stands today. To the right, the concrete area fenced with shorter lattice was where Mom parked.

This stunning pine tree towers over the house today, but it was no taller than the roof when we lived there.

I used to sit on a blanket in the back yard in the sunshine beside the tree. Today, the tree IS the back yard!

That pine is the only original tree remaining. At that time, there were two maples on the left side of the house, in addition to at least two mature trees in the front yard. Part of one of those trees came down on the roof in the devastating 1965 Palm Sunday tornado. We watched that tornado rip across the south part of the city from those windows in the front of the house.

The windows in the upper left corner were our living room.

When mother realized what was happening, she raced through the living room, into my bedroom, grabbed me by the hair and literally dragged me half-stumbling down two flights of stairs into the basement. I’m not sure our feet touched any steps. We flew.

On the way down, we heard that tree come crashing down – except we had no idea if it was a tree – or what. I had no idea that those fascinating green and black “clouds” were a tornado. That was my first.

Originally, the upstairs and downstairs floor patterns were identical. The downstairs had a living room, a kitchen, a bathroom and what became his bedroom, but I really have no idea what that room was originally. In essence, the rooms wrapped around the central staircase going both upstairs to the second floor and attic, and downstairs into the basement.

Looking directly at the front of the house, you can see that there is an archway with two doors to the right and left on the porch.

The doors aren’t in the middle because that’s where the fireplace is located, on both floors.

The original upstairs had one large bedroom with a fireplace, which would have been the master, plus two smaller bedrooms.

Either there was no bathroom upstairs initially, or there was only a toilet. I can’t recall exactly, but I think it might have been a closet. What I do remember is that some of Mom’s money went to add a bathroom with a bathtub directly over the bathroom in the lower level. The bathrooms are located in the area that is bumped out.

I planted gardens surrounding the house. On this side, we planted lettuce, tomatoes and lots of flowers. Some even grew. It seemed that nasturtiums, which don’t need good soil, were better suited. I tearfully buried my pet goldfish, Freckles in the garden, followed by a few other goldfish over the years.

There was originally no kitchen on the second floor, so one of the bedrooms was renovated and became the kitchen for our apartment.

However, that meant there was only one bedroom upstairs for me and Mom, both, so a wood panel wall was installed, essentially breaking the long master bedroom upstairs into a living room, with an off-center fireplace, and my small bedroom. The closet was large though, held a dresser, and was also the access to the attic.

I had never had my own room before, so I was ecstatic. It didn’t seem small. It was HUGE to me.

Mom purchased the property that fall, and we actually moved on December 23rd. I remember that I was very concerned that Santa would not know that we had moved.

The night we moved, I heard “Santa” come and put the Christmas tree up in the living room. The next morning, Mom assured me that Santa knew where we lived and the proof was that tree. What a relief!

Silk Stocking Neighborhood

Today, this home is part of the iconic Old Silk Stocking Neighborhood that was, back in the late 1800s, after the discovery of natural gas, where the mansions were built and the movers and shakers lived. Of course, this house was built in the mid-1920s on a small outlot, and far too close to the neighbors for their comfort.

It may be for sale today on the Cheap Houses website, but I prefer to think of it as vintage and stunningly beautiful – brighter, cheerier and far more inviting today than then.

Some things get better with age.

Someone commenting on the listing said they’d move back for this house. That made me feel good. It was my childhood home for a decade or so, where most of my formative years were spent.

I went back a few years ago when I did a goodbye tour in Kokomo. I mustered all of my courage, walked up the driveway and knocked on the door. That was all for nothing, because no one was home. However, I did get to take some closeup photos.

Let me share some with you as I share the history of the home while viewing the realtor’s photos. I’ll add some personal memories too.

On the lower level, which is not where we lived, the fireplace was in the center of the room. This fireplace appears to have been retrofitted with gas and glass doors, but the fireplaces were woodburning when we lived there. Having said that, I don’t recall ever burning them once.

At least some of the floors had wall-to-wall carpet back then. Carpet was all the rage. Wood was old-fashioned. These floors were obviously underneath and they are beautiful.

This view looks towards the side of the house overlooking the driveway. Outside through the symmetrical front doors, you can see the parking lot across the street.

To the left is the entryway where the side door enters to go upstairs. Closing that door, plus the mirror image one on the other side of that foyer, sealed the two apartments from each other. Of course, today, it’s one residence again.

You can tell from this perspective that the room is the full width of the house, but not terribly deep (left to right.) Just about room for a couch and coffee table, and not much more.

This view is from the corner of the downstairs living room beside the fireplace and front door. I had forgotten about that built-in hutch until I saw these photos.

The foyer, again, is painted dark at the far right. The other doorway is the passway to the other side of the house. Opening the door to the right takes you downstairs into the basement where the furnace, water heater and washer were located. We dried our clothes on a drying rack in the bathroom. That stairway divided the house in half, front to back.

Turn left after entering the hallway and you’ll be in the bathroom behind the hutch.

You can see the hallway on the other side of the white molding where there’s wallpaper. That leads to the kitchen and the room that was used as the downstairs bedroom when we lived there.

That hutch looks large, but it isn’t. That bathroom was literally just large enough for a bathtub.

I find this photo just fascinating. The downstairs bathroom is clearly under renovation. This exposes the internal and external walls. No insulation back then of course. The walls were literally lathe and plaster, long before drywall.

There’s room for a toilet and sink on one side, and a tub on the other. That’s it.

Of course, this is the original and the only kitchen today. During the time we lived there, this kitchen was nearly unused. I don’t remember anything about the floor, but I do remember the cabinets were wood and have been replaced.

Outside was a patio where we sometimes grilled.

This kitchen is not a large room. It’s directly under the kitchen of the same size, upstairs. You can see the living room fireplace, looking through the kitchen door.

Turning left from the kitchen takes you into what was the bedroom when we lived there, and what might have been a dining room originally. The doorway to the right exits into the foyer for the side entrance.

Originally, the entire house was heated by hot water, a “boiler” and radiators as you can see in this photo. That radiator, by the front door, was often used to warm coats and sweaters that we would wear outside in the winter. Or, warm something toasty for someone coming inside from the cold. A small table sat on the other side of the door where the radiator sits on this side.

Mom was utterly terrified of that furnace. Boilers were known to blow up, killing or brutally burning people. So if the furnace made a strange noise, she did NOT want to go downstairs to check it out.

I have to laugh. I see the old phone jack on the wall below the electrical outlet. Those were the days of “party lines,” so we had one phone number in the house that was also shared with neighbors. Gladstone 2-7510. Eventually that became 452-7510, then 317-452-7510.

I can manage to remember this number from decades ago, but I can’t remember where I put something 2 minutes ago.

Let’s go upstairs.

Our Apartment

The downstairs looks familiar of course, but I didn’t spend much time there. The upstairs was “home.”

Photos from that timeframe in my family were few and far between. Not only was a camera expensive, but so was film AND developing. Back in the day, you might have the same roll of film in a camera for a year or two. I often had forgotten what I had taken photos of.

Until I purchased a Brownie camera with my babysitting money, the only camera available was either the Polaroid owned by he-whose-name-shall-not-be-spoken or a small camera owned by my brother who brought it along when he came to visit. Let me translate – we only have a very few photos and those are generally only of special occasions like Christmas.

Let’s compare then and now.

How about that wallpaper on the living room ceiling!

Today, this front room has been returned to one room, but when we lived there, it was two. It’s maybe 30-35 feet in length and only about 10 feet deep (left to right.)

My bedroom was at the far end of the room which was divided by placing paneling between the fireplace and the window.

This view shows the two corner windows in what was my bedroom. The light in the center of my room is now the fan and overhead light. My bedroom was wide enough for a single bed, room to walk, and a desk against the outer wall. Maybe 6 feet wide, maximum.  At that time, there was a radiator in the corner between the two windows, against the far wall. I would stare dreamily out the front window, a block away, into Foster Park.

In the poor-quality Polaroid photo below, I’m sitting beside Mom and my sister-in-law at Christmastime 1964.

As a child, that fireplace looked huge and was the central focus of that room. We used to tape Christmas cards to the mantle and sometimes the bricks too, which were painted white then as now.

These photos independently were compelling enough, but combined, more than half a century apart, they literally took my breath away. “Seeing” us “there” again. Well, I just have no words. I did, however, shed lots of tears.

I don’t really know why this is so moving, but it is.

Many of these people are gone now and their memories are dear.

In this view, you can see out my bedroom window, at left. The paneling dividing my bedroom from the living room was placed about where the molding has been pieced, to the left of the fireplace.

The far-right corner of the room is visible in this picture taken at Christmas 1970, when, unfortunately, Mom had the flu. When someone was sick, we always defaulted to the couch for some reason.

I gave those end-tables to my friend, Anne, about a decade ago.

I believe the windows are still original.

Seeing Mom in this room again…I don’t even know what to say. The house she bought against all odds. She was reportedly the first woman in Kokomo to obtain her own mortgage. She never told me, if she even knew. A banker told me years later. I was so very proud of her.

In this photo, I’m ready for the prom and the photo is taken in the living room, with my back to the panel wall that separated the living room from my bedroom.

My brother’s family has that beer stein, brought from Germany by one my maternal great-great-grandparent’s families.

I had purchased that wall painting for Mom at Woolworth’s a few years before. You can see it wrapped in some of the Christmas photos. I thought it was pretty. She kept it until her death. I hope she actually did like it.

You can see where the panel wall joined the outside wall.

My date’s name was Roger. This was the only prom or formal dance I ever attended. I think Mom was at least as excited as I was, if not more. She had high hopes for me and Roger. He was a very nice young man.

You can see through the door into my room. It was barely large enough for the closet door and the door from the living room not to touch.

I believe this is the only photo inside my bedroom. You can see the paneling wall. I had purchased prints overseas in 1970 and Mom had them framed for me for Christmas. In 1970, we begin to have more photos because I bought a camera.

My bed extended in front of the window just slightly. There was room to stand comfortably beside the bed, and the radiator, and not much more.

The leaves on the maple tree, now gone, through the streetlight created graceful dancing patterns on my wall. I found them comforting and almost hypnotic. Today, leaves are often found as themes in my quilts and artwork.

Another photo from around Christmas 1970. We cleared the furniture out of the middle of the room and had a slumber party. Not much sleeping happened, but a lot of laughing and giggling did. Mom and I had tied that comforter that all of us girls used to cover up with on the floor. Mom and I recovered it again with fresh fabric years later, and it eventually warmed my children at my mother’s home.

I think I just used the last scraps from the recovering in a quilt a year or so ago.

I’m not sure if I was sleeping or hiding from the camera.

Mom had to be careful not to step on us when she checked on us. I wonder how many times she had to tell us to go to sleep. Marianne has been gone for decades now, far too soon, her potential unrealized.

In 1970, Mom, holding all 3 of her grandchildren, sitting in the corner with the fireplace (unseen) to the left.

This photo reminds me that those windows would sweat, then freeze, when it got cold outside.

Mom was her happiest when her grandchildren were with her.

We were SOOO excited when we bought that used record player. We played the same records over and over again. I probably just donated the last of those records a couple years ago.

Today, this house is much brighter, lighter, and far more beautiful.

Mom, holding Santa who still lives with me. So does that quilt made by her grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore.

I remember the mug tree I had bought Mom for Christmas that’s visible on the floor. She was drinking 7-Up out of that teal and white cup.

The radiator in this room is gone now.

In a way, placing these photos in the rooms is like resurrecting Christmas past. I can hear Mom singing Christmas Carols.

I can’t see what Mom just opened, but she’s smiling. I miss her smile.

We always hung those candle wreathes in the windows. Those were our only holiday decorations visible from outside.

I can’t help but notice that Christmas ornament in the lower right corner. I still have that too. It was my grandmother’s.

One last much-less-cluttered view of this corner. Our house was jam packed at Christmas, but not so much the rest of the year. With 700 square feet, with part of that used up by a hallway and stairway, there just wasn’t room for much of anything extra.

I’m a teen here and certainly thought I was grown.

I would like to talk to that young woman. I wonder what we would have to say to each other. Would she believe that I’m the future her? Would she change that path? If so, who would I be?

This window used to look out at the large maple tree that fell in the tornado. The far doorway exits to the hallway with the bathroom and that leads to the rest of the house.

The white small door in the corner is the access to the bathtub plumbing.

The doorway to the far right, painted white inside, was my closet. To the right inside, against that small window with the exterior balcony, there was room for a small dresser. Good thing, because there wasn’t any place else. Inside that closet, if you turned left, you opened the door to take the finished stairs to the attic. By finished, I mean there were stairs and it wasn’t open. We will go upstairs later.

You can see how small this corner really is. Mom, at left, me, my mother’s brother, Lore behind her, beside my sister-in-law, Karen, and my brother, John in the red shirt. Plus, he-who-shall-remain-nameless.

You can see the carpeted portion of the floors in this photo. I don’t know if this is original hardwood or has been replaced.

I think that lamp in the corner made it to my daughter’s college apartment.

Glancing back to July of 1965.

Often, our Christmas tree wound up in that corner. I gave many of my ornaments to friends when we relocated a couple years ago, but I couldn’t part with my mother’s and grandmother’s things.

I wonder if any part of the essence of “us” remains there.

This photo from Christmas 1970 slows the light fixture where the fan hangs today. You can barely see it but there’s mistletoe hanging from it. You can see the window, of course, and the plumbing access behind that very old television. We only bought used appliances, and it was old even then. But it worked and that was all that mattered. Mom and I watched Lassie and Bonanza every Sunday evening, and sometimes Tom Jones too.

This photo made me laugh out loud. No, it’s not a mistletoe memory. See that plumbing access door behind the tree? It’s cracked open.

Our cat, Snowball, used to open that door with her paw just because she could. Normally we kept it blocked, but we had to move the furniture to accommodate the tree.

This will be a beautiful master bedroom suite for someone, with a large walk-in closet. There’s even room for a Christmas tree if they want.

Hey, there’s the fluffy culprit, under the Christmas tree.

This photo is interesting, because I just noticed that the carpet was not wall to wall, and some of the beautiful hardwood is showing.

That carpet was hideous. Hideous!!! I think the carpet pad was horsehair and was constantly unraveling. You can see an example. Mom and I both hated that.

Against the long wall, Mom and I had metal bookcases from my grandmother’s house where we displayed family heirlooms and collectibles.

I still have some of those and so does my brother’s family. Other items I’ve gifted to family members. I remember dusting those shelves every Saturday morning. Mom told me that’s how I helped her earn a living.

It seemed like a huge job at the time.

You can see a few sets of salt and pepper shakers. Those swans on the top shelf are in my display case, today.

In Nov of 1966, I displayed those salt and pepper shakers at the local library.

I was very excited about this opportunity.

I had nearly forgotten about this event, were it not for searching for the house address. I remember how delighted I was to have my picture taken by the real newspaper photographer. I also agonized over what to wear.

That long photo hanging on the paneling wall in my prom photo was wrapped in that striped paper. I purchased it in 1970 for Mom.

Ok, anyone recognize that record album cover?

The hallway into the bathroom was gold when we lived there.

Today, the upstairs bathroom is about the same color as the hallway was back then. I remember those knobs on the walls. Seemed like such a strange place. I’m fairly certain that tub is the one Mom had installed. We only ever used about 3 inches of water to keep the water bill to a minimum. To this day I cherish a long, hot bath with a FULL TUB of water.

I don’t remember anything about the original bathroom floor, but this doesn’t look new.

I can tell that this house has been retrofitted with forced air heat, which assuredly includes air conditioning.

This is not the same vanity, but it might be the same mirror. After dinner on the day Mom had it installed, I was brushing my teeth. She was nagging me to hurry up. I did, but begrudgingly.

I walked out of the bathroom and I mean literally, not 2 seconds later, an ear-piercing CRASH right behind me. There was a horrific, horrific, piercing deafening noise. The mirror, which was only glued in place had fallen and shattered across the sink and countertop, with shards scattered EVERYPLACE. I was so close I had little cuts and scratches on the back of my legs.

Mother ran screaming towards me. I froze in place because there was glass flying around me and on the floor and I needed to figure out what had just happened before moving.

Mother realized how close I’d come, and so did I. She grabbed me, hugged me, and just held me for the longest time. She told me later I would have been decapitated had it fallen across the back of my head and neck if I were still brushing my teeth. I’ve always been very leery of large mirrors. I think I used one of my 9-lives that day.

Mom of course used that opportunity to remind me of why I should always mind her.

Notice there are brackets on that mirror today. I always notice brackets on mirrors.

The reason the towel bar is on the back of the door is because there isn’t anyplace else to put one.

Let’s go across the hall.

This was Mom’s bedroom. It looks out over the driveway at the large house next door. I don’t recall it being so close, but it obviously was.

I remember putting our clothes over the radiator to warm them on cold winder days. I also remember “bleeding” the radiators to purge the air bubbles so they didn’t make so doggone much noise. Mom called the man in the furnace “Mr. Clank.”

“Mr. Clank is at it again.”

The small telephone table, which I still have, was positioned beside the radiator. If a boyfriend called me, there was literally no such thing as privacy. Worse yet, Mom screened all my calls😊

Our one radio which doubled as an alarm was in Mom’s bedroom. I wanted to listen to WLS rock and roll in Chicago. That was a flat “no.”

You obviously can’t have a slumber party without doing your hair and makeup as Marianne demonstrates. No, I do not understand this logic, but it clearly made sense then. That’s a hair dryer, for those of you fortunate enough to have escaped those. I think it might have been attached to a vacuum cleaner, but I’m not sure.

That window behind the hideous gold drapes overlooked the driveway. The good news, or bad news, is that no one could come or go up the driveway in either house without everyone in both houses knowing it.

Me getting ready for the prom a year or so later. You can see the drapes in the mirror. I still have many of Mother’s vanity items, along with the vanity. They will be my daughter’s one day and then will hopefully find their way to either a cousin or collector who will appreciate them. They aren’t monetarily valuable, per se, I just couldn’t let them go.

You can’t see much of Mom’s bedroom here, but her vanity was to the left of her closet door. In fact, the door would hit the vanity so we had a trash can sitting there to act as a buffer. I still have her bedroom set, at least part of it, although it’s much the worse for decades of wear.

From the far corner of Mom’s bedroom, you can see into the bathroom across the hall. Mom’s closet was not large, was crammed and in addition to clothes and the vacuum, she hid Christmas gifts in there. She probably figured if she hid them under the vacuum cleaner that there was no chance of anyone ever finding them.

Mom’s bed was along the wall to the right. My grandmother’s wool rug was underneath the bed, but that rug was threadbare and motheaten to death and was disposed of years ago. It might be even beyond shabby chic today.

If you walk into that hallway and turn right, you’ve entered the kitchen.

The kitchen was small, maybe 10 by 10 or 10 by 12. One window, at left, looked to the west towards the white house. A huge maple shaded the kitchen from the afternoon sun and the squirrels used to come and sit on the windowsill. I might or might not have given them treats. Don’t tell Mom!

We had no air conditioning, of course, so we placed a window fan in that window and pointed it OUT, not in. Mom and I disagreed over that, but she wanted the hot air to be ejected. Of course, I argued that it simply sucked hot air in from the attic where it was hotter than outside.

I used to sing out through that fan because it caused interesting, rippled acoustics. Those poor neighbors.

Mom left the house closed up all day and said it kept the cool air in. Couldn’t prove that by me. There was nothing cool about the second floor of a house with no insulation in the dead of summer.

The kitchen table was located in front of the rear window at right. We loved to watch the birds in that pine tree flitting about. I didn’t understand until years later that they were mating.

I can close my eyes and see that Formica table and chairs. The table was pushed up against the window because the room wasn’t big enough for the fourth side of the table to be pulled away from the wall.

I did most of my homework on this table, at Mom’s secretary, or on the couch in the living room. When I had to type a term paper, this is where that happened on the old manual Olivetti typewriter. I actually loved to type and I loved to research. Apparently, I still do.

Every night, the same routine occurred. Mom, came home at 5 PM after working all day. Then she cooked dinner. He-who-shall-remain-nameless took his fine self down to the bar at the Frances Hotel for a drink, or three, or six, then came home in time to sit down to dinner. Often, we got the silent treatment for some imagined slight. However, that was often better than when he said something.

He would finish, put his cloth napkin IN HIS PLATE, then get up and go downstairs to his apartment. He was tired, don’t you know. Mom and I did the dishes and cleaned up, because of course, Mom wasn’t tired.


Mom and I ate out once every year. Just once. As a reward when I passed from one grade to the next, I got to pick where to eat, and it was always the same place. I always ordered spaghetti at the Capri Club, now long gone. The other 364 days, we cooked.

As time went on, he came home drunker and drunker and later and later as we held dinner and tried to pretend all was well.  He became more and more abusive.

Finally, I’d had enough.

I put a thumbtack on his chair, pointy end up.

That man roared like a lion.

Yes, I was in a lot of trouble and paid for it, but it was worth it.

He was not a nice man by any measure. That was someplace near the beginning of the end of that relationship. As far as I was concerned, it could have ended right then and there, but Mom had a lot of factors to consider, and she was still at least somewhat hopeful. “If he would just stop drinking.” How many people have said that!

Mom’s default was always hopeful, happy, trusting, optimistic. She would have liked to have been treated well, not just on display like a trophy from time to time. She was a beautiful woman, full of life and charisma.

She reminded me of Cinderella. She spent most of her life either at work or in the kitchen, with no time, money or energy for much else.

Ok, back to the kitchen.

Out of sight, to the right, on the back wall of the kitchen that was shared with Mom’s bedroom was the fridge.

The stove was located on the wall to the left of the window where the picture is on the floor in the Zillow kitchen photo. Above the stove were cabinets.

I clearly surprised Mom with the camera. How we all hated those rollers. Anyway, you can see the kitchen curtains, which we made, and the cabinets butting up to the window frame at left. The stove took up that space, below, then the corner to the cabinets. We couldn’t open the oven door and the cabinets at the same time.

The sink and the rest of the cabinets were to the left, out of sight in these photos. Remember that this room is small and the entire wall to the left with the sink is only the length of the bathtub. That’s it. That wall is shared with the bathroom wall. We had about 2 feet of counter space, yet Mom made do and never complained.

Obviously all of that cabinetry and plumbing is gone today, and has been now for probably 25-30 years, based on newspaper rental and sale advertisements.

The Attic

Let’s look at the attic, back through the closet in my bedroom. We used to hang the “rag bag” on the outside of the attic door. My closet was always freezing cold in the winter. No heat combined with the attic stairs and door. Brrrr.

The attic was always an alluring, mystical place to me. I just knew secrets were hidden there.

Secrets like those suitcases with stage costumes. Where did they come from? Whose were they? Why did Mom not want me to wear them for Halloween? They would be just perfect.

Nope, Mom really didn’t want me poking around up there at all.

Mom’s old travel suitcase with documents was up there too. I had no IDEA what a treasure-trove was contained there.

By the time Mom gave me her “Suitcase of Life,” she had pared it down substantially. Probably the goodies I’d want to see. I remember some things that are missing.

This attic photo just warms my heart. First, the attic was not drywalled or heated when we lived there. Just open lathe board, dust and a few spiders. It was very drafty in the winter but had an exciting “attic” musty smell that suggested unknown mysteries.

The flooring is original. I remember thinking how beautiful those fireplace bricks were, and how sorry I was that they had been painted in the house.

Notice one of the removed radiators.

Those unique half windows used to remind me of eyes. I never thought they were creepy, but someone commented on the listing that they are the same windows at the Amityville Horrors house. I’m glad I didn’t know that.

The rear attic window looked out back. There was only one light bulb at the time, and the switch was in the stairway near the bottom. It was easy to hear bears, or something, maybe ghosts, in the attic from time to time, and since the door exited into my room….well….you get the drift.

Sometimes I went and crawled in bed with Mom.

The Rest of the Story

Viewing a home you lived in brings back the good memories, and all the rest too.

There’s more to this story.

There wasn’t a good way to weave this into the photos, because the photos aren’t a linear timeline.

We bought the house in December of 1962.

We lived close enough to the YWCA that I could walk the few blocks to and from and began taking swimming lessons on Saturday mornings. That eventually evolved into lifesaving and competitive swimming.

I loved those days because we had so much fun, created crafts and all kinds of things you can’t do as an only child, without others, and without supplies. It was also less structured than school, and school didn’t have fun activities like trampolines, roller skates and a pool. Nosireee.

I came home one Saturday noon and told my Mom that my head ached really, really badly. It got worse and worse and very quickly. Within a couple hours, I couldn’t move. Mom took me to the hospital. I had Meningitis and very nearly died.

I drifted in and out of consciousness. My fever soared. I remember ice baths and excruciating pain. I was so sick, I wanted to die, then I didn’t care.

I remember parts of that experience vividly, and some, not at all.

What I remember most was the out-of-body experience.

Mom sat by my bed, alone, for days. She was always there when I roused enough to open my eyes. Sometimes I just heard her voice which was comforting.

Looking back, she had to have been a hot mess because not only was I very clearly critically ill, with a poor prognosis, but she couldn’t pay the bills if she didn’t work – and there literally was no buffer. Nonetheless, she wasn’t leaving my bedside.

The doctor came into the room and asked to speak to mother – outside. I was in an oxygen tent that was sort of opaque. I could hear fairly well but everything was foggy.

I was too sick to move and there was no way I was getting up.

Mom left the room with him and turned left in the hallway.

I “went along,” sort of floating at shoulder level, or sometimes just above their heads. I wanted to hear what they said.

They went to the seating area at the end of the hallway. There were windows looking out over the parking lot and street.

It was a sunny day. I can still “see” this.

He asked Mom if she needed to call anyone. The staff had obviously noticed that she was alone.

She asked what he meant.

He asked if there was anyone who would like to see me, or I might like to have visit.

She seemed confused and told him that my father and her parents were all deceased.

He told her that it was likely that I would not live.

My mother asked him to explain.

He did, telling her how sick I was and that the extremely high fever was the most worrisome.

She stood up, looked at him dead in the face, stomped her foot and proclaimed,”SHE IS NOT GOING TO DIE,” twice, and walked off, back to my room.

I remember thinking to myself, “Oh, well I guess I’m not going to die then.”

I went back to my room too.

Yes, I realize this all sounds bizarre, but in that time and place, it all seemed very normal.

I later told mother that I had heard that conversation and she told me that wasn’t possible, because they were not in my hospital room. Then she paused and said she had never told anyone about the conversation.

I told her that I “went with them.”

She just looked at me. We stared at each other for a long minute.

Obviously, I didn’t die.

Mrs. Cooksey, my babysitter from when I was younger came to see me in the hospital. But my brother didn’t, although he lived an hour away, and neither did he-who-shall-remain-nameless.

My mother did. Just my mother. It was becoming increasingly obvious that we really only had each other.

According to the newspaper, on May 6, 1966, I was released from the hospital.

Also, in May 1966, this was printed in that same newspaper. I only recall that in Sunday School, we were encouraged to write a prayer. I don’t know if it was before or after I was so gravely ill. Odd that I mentioned “time,” because that was the gift I had been granted.

The Secret

I discovered something rather shocking when using the various newspaper archives to research the address.

On September 28, 1968, I found this:

Marcum Realty, New Listing – 530. W. Sycamore – brick 2-story, 7 room duplex, perfect cond, new wall to wall carpet. Built in oven and range, all draperies, washer, refrig. A 3 room apt down, 4 room apartment up. Private entrance, separate light meters. This is a beautiful home and must be seen to appreciate. $25,000

My first reaction was that the address was wrong in the ad, but the description of the two apartments pretty much cinches that it’s the right property. Plus, this ad was printed several times for at least a couple months. If the address was incorrect, it would have been changed.

I was dumbstruck to see this. I had no idea.

Looking back, I know what was going on, and why, but it just makes me heartsick.

By 1968, mother’s relationship with he-who-shall-remain-nameless had been deteriorating. He was drinking heavily, becoming progressively more abusive, and let’s just say I was getting older. His behavior toward me was becoming increasingly inappropriate, until one day he stepped over the line with his advances. I was 12.

Let’s just say a brawl ensued. Mother heard me screaming. I had grabbed a table fan and was beating him with the fan, attempting to get him to release me.

Mother jumped on his back like a tiger and grabbed him around the neck. Then we were both beating on him, on the floor. He extracted himself and left.

Mother called the police.

I was questioned, she was questioned and eventually, he was questioned.

It was all very disconcerting and frightening. There was discussion about taking me away from mother. That utterly terrified both of us.

No charges were ever filed. I was fortunate that the event was “only attempted.” Having said that, it was an incredible violation of trust and had I not screamed, grabbed that fan which was the only thing within reach, and mother had not come running, it would unquestionably have been far worse. It also confirmed that my instincts in not liking him were 100% correct. From that day forward, my feelings towards him flipped from dislike to much worse. I despised him.

Mother was still working for him, but she was utterly furious in a way and to a depth that I think only a parent whose child has been put in that position can understand. I don’t know how she managed to even look at him. Mostly, we avoided him. No more meals. Nothing. He was gone most of the time and we were grateful.

The problem was that, aside from working for him, I think he co-signed for the house. I’m unclear about the actual title. Given his behavior, at that point, it didn’t matter.

He got told in no uncertain terms to move. No option. I suspect that the fact that charges were not filed had something to do with why he complied, moved, and did not fire mother. Those statements I gave the police were pretty incriminating.

However, mother was utterly and completely miserable, but not because he was gone. More because he had turned out to be what he was and the situation she had to deal with.

Day to day she was not only worried about her job, she was worried about not being able to pay the mortgage and utilities. Plus she was worried about me, and about me being taken away from her. That’s when she took side work doing legal transcriptions and such. I was babysitting regularly. We pooled our money.

At least our grocery bill had shrunk substantially and we were both, separately, and together, much happier.

What I hadn’t known, until now, was that mother actually listed the house for sale.

I recall one time she was sitting on the side of my bed and told me that we might have to sell the house. I asked where we would live. She said she didn’t know. She was a wreck. We both cried.

The assaulter continued his downward spiral too. Drinking ever more and developed issues with the business. Two or three years later, he would sell it to keep it from going bankrupt. Mother was quite relieved when it sold, because even with a new owner, at least the constant baiting, passive aggressive manipulation and drama was finally over.

Mother was constantly, continually dealing with uncertainty and danger. She tried to shield me from as much as possible, which is why I never knew she had actually put the house on the market for sale. There was never a sign in the yard, but maybe that wasn’t a thing yet back then.

Clearly, she didn’t sell the house – at least not yet.

She rented the downstairs apartment to a very nice lady, Maxine, who was either a widow or divorced, with an adult son who was away at college.

I remember her telling us that Snowball, the cat, sounded like an elephant upstairs when she got the zoomies.

Maxine was a lovely lady. Our life settled down and a great deal of the uncertainty and chronic anxiety evaporated. I don’t think we had realized how bad it had gotten until it stopped.

Maxine lived in the downstairs apartment until Mom sold the property. I made clothes for her for a little extra income.

The house was ours. He wasn’t involved anymore, ever.

For the first time in my life, I was actually joyful. Life now looked like a smorgasbord of opportunity, just waiting for me to make selections. It was. I earned a scholarship to study overseas in 1970.

Mom and I were doing any number of fun things together. We visited relatives and parks. She took me to New York to catch the flight for my study abroad. After what she had survived, even NYC traffic didn’t frighten her.

In 1970 or 1971, Mid States Electric was finally sold to Universal Electric and her job was finally not in jeopardy every day. By this time, I think she had been interviewing and had backup plans.

I hadn’t realized before that Mother had never been truly happy – at least not in the part of her lifetime I could recall. Now she was.

New Chapter

Mom joined Parents Without Partners and became the newsletter editor.

Mom is barely visible to the left of the lady the blue dress at the officer installation dinner in 1971.

According to the August 15th edition of the newspaper, she was also in charge of a VERY important event – the Ice Cream Social.

I remember that ice cream social well.

Ice cream was hand made in a crank-turned barrel, much like this. We all took turns cranking.

That social did not take place at our house. Nope. We didn’t have enough room for either people or parking. It took place at the home of another PWP member who lived on a farm – Dean Long.

I remember Dean well too. He was just the nicest man. Everyone loved Dean.

PWP had far more female members than men. Most of the male members had custody of and were raising at least one child. Dean was a widower and had a son, Gary, just a couple years older than me.

Dean would come to town in the evenings, after his farm work was done, and after dinner, usually bringing some kind of treat. He would visit the various women in PWP, offering to fix whatever needed fixing. The lady would make coffee or tea. He would fix whatever. They would share the cookies or donuts or sweet treat, visit for a bit, talk about whatever needed to be discussed, then off he would go.

He managed to visit everyone about once a month or every 6 weeks.

One day it was our turn. He walked up the driveway with a spring in his step, wearing his blue suit, carrying a box of donuts.

He rang the doorbell. Mom whispered not to answer it. She was tired and didn’t want company.

He rang again. I looked out my window at him. I felt awful. He was so nice and obviously lonely.

He paused for a long time, then rang a third time.

He surely, surely had to know we were home because the garage out back didn’t have a door and our car was there. Maybe he didn’t look. I hope he didn’t look, because he would have known we were home and intentionally not answering the door.

When he walked away, the spring was gone. His shoulders were hunched over. He looked at the ground, and he was dejected as he walked down the driveway, got in his car, and drove away.

I was furious with mother. I told her I would never, ever do that again.

Mother was afraid that he was “courting,” and she did not want to get involved in a relationship again. Plus, he was a farmer and she swore she’d never move back to a farm again. Famous last words.

If the name Dean Long sounds familiar to you, there’s a reason. Mother’s resistance didn’t work at all. I’d like to take a small amount of credit for that. Not only did I answer the door, I was just awful enough that she needed to be comforted from time to time.

The Sale for Real

On August 19, 1972, the newspaper carried a classified ad for the Sycamore property.

Garage sale, Avon bottles, some antiques, misc, Sat 9-2, Sun 11-?

The house sold that August. I believe the neighbor’s son bought it, but I don’t recall for sure.

We had a LOT of sorting and packing to do.

Mom was also in the process of changing jobs again. It was time.

Problem was that the house sold and closed quicker than mother anticipated.

Two or three weeks before the wedding and she was not ABOUT to move in to his house before they were married. Snowball, however, moved and met his dog, Spot.

Dad in the background, my step-brother, Gary and Spot during the moving-in process.

Combining two households was challenging and messy, but we were all very happy to create our blended family.

Dean became Dad, and we, much like the proverbial fairy tale lived happily as a “normal” family for many years.

What About You?

What can a combination of googling an address and using newspaper subscription sites reveal for you? What does Zillow say?

Is the house where you grew up still standing? If not, can you construct its genealogy through your local newspapers, tax and real estate records, and historical sites?

What about your grandparents’ homes?

Let me know what fun things you discover.


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DNA: In Search Of…Your Grandparents

Are you searching for an unknown relative or trying to unravel and understand unexpected results? Maybe you discovered that one or both of your parents is not your biological parent. Maybe one of your siblings might be a half-sibling instead. Or maybe you suddenly have an unexpected match that looks to be an unknown close relative, possibly a half-sibling. Perhaps there’s a close match you can’t place.

Or, are you searching for the identity of your grandparent or grandparents? If you’re searching for your parent or parents, often identifying your grandparents is a necessary step to narrow the parent-candidates.

I’ve written an entire series of “In Search of Unknown Family” articles, permanently listed together, here. They will step you through the search process and help you understand how to unravel your results. If you’re new, reading these, in order, before proceeding, would be a good idea.

Identifying a Grandparent

I saved this “grandparents” article for later in the series because you will need the tools and techniques I’ve introduced in the earlier articles. Identifying grandparents is often the most challenging of any of the relationships we’ve covered so far. In part because each of those four individuals occupies a different place in your tree, meaning their X, Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA is carried by different, and not all, descendants. This means we sometimes have to utilize different tools and techniques.

If you’re trying to identify any of your four grandparents, females are sometimes more challenging than males.


Women don’t have a Y chromosome to test. This can be a double handicap. Female testers can’t test a Y chromosome, and maternal ancestors don’t have a Y chromosome to match.

Of course, every circumstance differs. You may not have a male to test for paternal lines either.

The maternal grandfather can be uniquely challenging, because two types of DNA, Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA matching are immediately eliminated for all testers.

While I’ve focused on the maternal grandfather in this example, these techniques can be utilized for all four grandparents as well as for parents. At the end, I’ll review other grandparent relationships and additional tools you might be able to utilize for each one.

In addition to autosomal DNA, we can also utilize mitochondrial DNA, Y-DNA and sometimes X DNA in certain situations.

Testing, Tests and Vendors

As you recall, only men have a Y chromosome (blue arrow), so only genetic males can take a Y-DNA test. Men pass their Y chromosome from father to son in each generation. Daughters don’t receive a Y chromosome.

Everyone has their mother’s mitochondrial DNA (pink arrow.) Women pass their mitochondrial DNA to both sexes of their children, but only females pass it on. In the current generation, represented by the son and daughter, above, the mother’s yellow heart-shaped mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both sexes of her children. In the current generation, males and females can both test for their mother’s mitochondrial DNA.

Of course, everyone has autosomal DNA, inherited from all of their ancestral lines through at least the 5th or 6th generation, and often further back in time. Autosomal DNA is divided in half in each generation, as children inherit half of each parents’ autosomal DNA (with the exception of the X chromosome, which males only inherit from their mother.)

The four major vendors, Ancestry, 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage sell autosomal DNA tests, but only FamilyTreeDNA sells Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests.

Only 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA report X matching.

All vendors except Ancestry provide segment location information along with a chromosome browser.

You can read about the vendor’s strengths and weaknesses in the third article, here.

Ordering Y and Mitochondrial DNA Tests

If you’re seeking the identities of grandparents, the children and parents, above, can test for the following types of DNA in addition to autosomal:

Person in Pedigree Y-DNA Mitochondrial
Son His father’s blue star His mother’s pink heart
Daughter None Her mother’s pink heart
Father His father’s blue star His mother’s gold heart
Mother None Her mother’s pink heart

Note that none of the people shown above in the direct pedigree line carry the Y-DNA of the green maternal grandfather. However, if the mother has a full sibling, the green “Male Child,” he will carry the Y-DNA of the maternal grandfather. Just be sure the mother and her brother are full siblings, because otherwise, the brother’s Y-DNA may not have been inherited from your mother’s father. I wrote about full vs half sibling determination, here.

Let’s view this from a slightly different perspective. For each grandparent in the tree, which of the two testers, son or daughter, if either, carry that ancestor’s DNA of the types listed in the columns.

Ancestor in Tree Y-DNA Mitochondrial DNA Autosomal DNA X DNA
Paternal Grandfather Son Neither Son, daughter Neither
Paternal Grandmother Has no Y chromosome None (father has it, doesn’t pass it on to son or daughter) Son, daughter Daughter (son does not receive father’s X chromosome)
Maternal Grandfather Neither Neither Son, daughter Son, daughter (potentially)
Maternal Grandmother Has no Y chromosome Son, daughter Son, daughter Son, daughter (potentially)

Obtaining the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA of those grandparents from their descendants will provide hints and may be instrumental in identifying the grandparent.


You’ll need to order Y-DNA (males only) and mitochondrial DNA tests separately from autosomal DNA tests. They are three completely different tests.

At FamilyTreeDNA, the autosomal DNA test is called Family Finder to differentiate it from their Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests.

Their autosomal test is called Family Finder whether you order a test from FamilyTreeDNA, or upload your results to their site from another vendor (instructions here.)

I recommend ordering the Big Y-700 Y-DNA test if possible, and if not, the highest resolution Y-DNA test you can afford. The Big Y-700 is the most refined Y-DNA test available, includes multiple tools and places Big Y-700 testers on the Time Tree through the Discover tool, providing relatively precise estimates of when those men shared a common ancestor. If you’ve already purchased a lower-precision Y-DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, you can easily upgrade.

I wrote about using the Discover tool here. The recently added Group Time Tree draws a genetic Y-DNA tree of Big-Y testers in common projects, showing earliest known ancestors and the date of the most recent common ancestor.

You need to make sure your Family Finder, mitochondrial DNA and Y-DNA (if you’re a male) tests are ordered from the same account at FamilyTreeDNA.

You want all 3 of your tests on the same account (called a kit number) so that you can use the advanced search features that display people who match you on combinations of multiple kinds of tests. For example, if you’re a male, do your Y-DNA matches also match you on the autosomal Family Finder test, and if so, how closely? Advanced matching also provides X matching tools.

X DNA is included in autosomal tests. X DNA has a distinct matching pattern for males and females which makes it uniquely useful for genealogy. I wrote about X DNA matching here.

If you upload your autosomal results to FamilyTreeDNA from another company, you’re only uploading a raw DNA file, not the DNA itself, so FamilyTreeDNA will need to send you a swab kit to test your Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA. If you upload your autosomal DNA, simply sign in to your kit, purchase the Y-DNA and/or mitochondrial DNA tests and they will send you a swab kit.

If you test directly at FamilyTreeDNA, you can add any test easily by simply signing in and placing an order. They will use your archived DNA from your swab sample, as long as there’s enough left and it’s of sufficient quality.

Fish In All Ponds

The first important thing to do in your grandparent search is to be sure you’re fishing in all ponds. In other words, be sure you’ve tested at all 4 vendors, or uploaded files to FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage.

When you upload files to those vendors, be sure to purchase the unlock for their advanced tools, because you’re going to utilize everything possible.

If you have relatively close matches at other vendors, ask if they will upload their files too. The upload is free. Not only will they receive additional matches, and another set of ethnicity results, their results will help you by associating your matches with specific sides of your family.

Why Order Multiple Tests Now Instead of Waiting?

I encourage testers to order their tests at the beginning of their journey, not one at a time. Each new test from a vendor takes about 6-8 weeks from the time you initially order – they send the test, you swab or spit, return it, and they process your DNA. Of course, uploading takes far less time.

If you’re adding elapsed time, two autosomal tests (Ancestry and 23andMe), two uploads (FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage,) a Y-DNA and a mitochondrial DNA test, if all purchased serially, one after the other, means you’ll be waiting about 6-8 months.

Do you want to wait 6-8 months? Can you afford to?

Part of that answer has to do with what, exactly, you’re seeking.

A Name or Information?

Are you seeking the name of a person, or are you seeking information about that person? With grandparents, you may be hoping to meet them, and time may be of the essence. Time delayed may not be able to be recovered or regained.

Most people don’t just want to put a name to the person they are seeking – they want to learn about them. You will have different matches at each company. Even after you identify the person you seek, the people you match at each company may have information about them, their photos, know about their life, family, and their ancestors. They may be able and willing to facilitate an introduction if that’s what you seek.

One cousin that I assisted discovered that his father had died just 6 weeks before he made the connection. He was heartsick.

Having data from all vendors simultaneously will allow you to compile that data and work with it together as well as separately. Using your “best” matches at each company, augmented by both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA can make MUCH shorter work of this search.

Your Y-DNA, if you’re a male will give you insights into your surname line, and the Big-Y test now comes with estimates of how far in the past you share a common ancestor with other men that have taken the Big-Y test. This can be a HUGE boon to a male trying to figure out his surname line.

Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA, respectively, will eliminate many people from being your mother or father, or your direct paternal or direct maternal line ancestor. Both provide insights into which population and where that population originated as well. In other words, it provides you lineage-specific information not available elsewhere.

Your Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA can also provide critically important information about whether that direct line ancestor belonged to an endogamous population, and where they came from.


You may be tempted to think that you only need to test at one vendor, or at the vendor with the largest database, but that’s not necessarily true.

Here’s a table of my closest matches at the 4 vendors.

Vendor Closest Maternal Closest Paternal Comments
Ancestry 1C, 1C1R Half 1C, 2C I recognized both of the maternal and neither of the paternal.
23andMe 2C, 2C 1C1R, half-gr-niece Recognized both maternal, one paternal
MyHeritage Mother uploaded, 1C Half-niece, half 1C Recognized both maternal, one paternal
FamilyTreeDNA Mother tested, 1C1R Parent/child, half-gr-niece Recognized all 4

To be clear, I tested my mother at FamilyTreeDNA before she passed away, but if I was an adoptee searching for my mother, that’s the first database she would be in. As her family, we were able to order the Family Finder test from her archived DNA after she had passed away. I then uploaded her DNA file to MyHeritage, but she’ll never be at either 23andMe or Ancestry because they don’t accept uploads and she clearly can’t test.

Additionally, being able to identify maternal matches by viewing shared matches with my mother separates out close matches from my paternal side.

Let’s put this another way, I stand a MUCH BETTER chance of unraveling this mystery with the combined closest matches of all 4 databases instead of the top ones from just one database.

I’m providing analysis methodologies for working with results from all of the vendors together, in case your answer is not immediately obvious. Taking multiple tests facilitates using all of these tools immediately, not months later. Solving the puzzle sooner means you may not miss valuable connection opportunities.

You may also discover that the door slams shut with some people, but another match may be unbelievably helpful. Don’t unnecessarily limit your possibilities.

Here’s the testing and upload strategy I recommend.

What When Ancestry 23andMe MyHeritage FamilyTreeDNA GEDmatch
Order autosomal test Initially Yes Yes Upload Upload Upload
Order Big-Y DNA test if male Initially Yes
Order mitochondrial DNA test Initially Yes
Upload free autosomal file From Ancestry or 23andMe Yes Yes Yes
Unlock Advanced Tools When upload file $29 $19 $9.95 month
Includes X Matching No Yes No Yes Yes
Chromosome Browser, segment location information No Yes Yes Yes Yes

When you upload a DNA file to a vendor site, only upload one file per site, per tester. Otherwise, multiple tests simply glom up everyone’s match list with multiple matches to the same person and can be very confusing.

  • One person took an autosomal test at a company that accepts uploads, forgot about it, uploaded a file from another vendor later, and immediately thought she had found her parent. She had not. She “found” herself.
  • Another person though she had found two sisters, but one person had uploaded their own file from two different vendors.

Multiple vendor sites reveal multiple close matches to different people which increase your opportunity to discover INFORMATION about your family, not just the identity of the person.

Match Ranges

Given that we are searching for an unknown maternal grandfather, your mother may not have had any (known) full siblings. The “best” match would be to a full or half siblings to your parents, or their descendants, depending on how old your grandparents would be.

Let’s take the “worst case” scenario, meaning there are no full siblings AND there are many possible generations between you and the people you may match.

Now, let’s look at DNAPainter’s Shared cM tool.

You’re going to be looking for someone who is either your mother’s half sibling on her father’s side, or who is a full sibling.

If your mother is adopted, it’s possible that she has or had full siblings. If your mother was born circa 1920, it’s likely that you will be matching the next generation, or two, or three.

However, if your mother was born later, you could be matching her siblings directly.

I’m going to assume half siblings for this example, because they are more difficult than full siblings.

Full sibling relationships for your mother’s siblings are listed at right. Your full aunt or uncle at top, then their descendant generations below.

At left, in red, are the half-sibling relationships and the matching amounts.

You can see that if you’re dealing with half 1C3R (half first cousin three times removed,) you may not match.

Therefore, in order to isolate matches, it’s imperative to test every relevant relative possible.

Who’s Relevant for DNA Testing?

Who is relevant to test If you’re attempting to identify your maternal grandfather?

The goal is to be able to assign matches to the most refined ancestor possible. In other words, if you can assign someone to either your grandmother’s line, or your grandfather’s line, that’s better than assigning the person to your grandparents jointly.

Always utilize the tests of the people furthest up the tree, meaning the oldest generations. Their DNA is less-diluted, meaning it has been divided fewer times. Think about who is living and might be willing to test.

You need to be able to divide your matches between your parents, and then between your grandparents on your mother’s side.

  • Test your parents, of course, and any of their known siblings, half or full.
  • If those siblings have passed away, test as many of their children as you can.
  • If any of your grandparents are living, test them
  • If BOTH of your grandparents on the same side aren’t available to test, test any, preferably all, living aunts or uncles.
  • If your maternal grandmother had siblings, test them or their descendants if they are deceased.
  • If your parents are deceased, test your aunts, uncles, full siblings and half-siblings on your mother’s side. (Personally, I’d test all half-siblings, not just maternal.)
  • Half-siblings are particularly valuable because there is no question which “side” your shared DNA came from. They will match people you don’t because they received part of your parent’s DNA that you did not.

Furthermore, shared matches to half-siblings unquestionably identify which parent those matches are through.

Essentially, you’re trying to account for all matches that can be assigned to your grandparents whose identities you know – leaving only people who descend from your unknown maternal grandfather.

Testing your own descendants will not aid your quest. There is no need to test them for this purpose, given that they received half of your DNA.

I wrote about why testing close relatives is important in the article Superpower: Your Aunts’ and Uncles’ DNA is Your DNA Too – Maximize Those Matches!

Create or Upload a Tree

Three of the four major vendors, plus GEDMatch, support and utilize family trees.

You’ll want to either upload or create a tree at each of the vendor sites.

You can either upload a GEDCOM file from your home computer genealogy software, or you can create a tree at one of the vendors, download it, and upload to the others. I described that process at Ancestry, here.


Your goal is to work with your highest matches first to determine how they are related to you, thereby eliminating matches to known lineages.

Assuming you’re only searching for the identity of one grandparent, it’s beneficial to have done enough of your genealogy on your three known grandparents to be able to assign matches from those lines to those sides.

Step 1 is to check each vendor for close matches that might fall into that category.

The Top 15 at Each Vendor

Your closest several autosomal matches are the most important and insightful. I begin with the top 15 autosomal results at each vendor, initially, which provides me with the best chance of meaningful close relationship discoveries.

Create a Spreadsheet or Chart

I hate to use that S word (spreadsheet), because I don’t want non-technical people to be discouraged. So, I’m going to show you how I set up a spreadsheet and you can simply create a chart or even draw this out on paper if you wish.

I’ve color-coded columns for each of my 4 grandparents. The green column is the target Maternal Grandfather whose identity I’m seeking.

I match our first example; Erik, at 417 cM. Based on various pieces of information, taken together, I’ve determined that I’m Erik’s half 1C1R. His 8 great-grandparent surnames, or the ones he has provided, indicate that I’m related to Eric on my paternal grandfather’s line.

You’ll want to record your closest matches in this fashion.

Let’s look at how to find this information and work with the tools at the individual vendors.


Let’s start at 23andMe, because they create a potential genetic tree for you, which may or may not be accurate.

I have two separate tests at 23andMe. One is a V3 and one is a V4 test. I keep one in its pristine state, and I work with the second one. You’ll see two of “me” in the tree, and that’s why.

23andMe makes it easy to see estimated relationships, although they are not always correct. Generally, they are close, and they can be quite valuable.

Click on any image to enlarge

The maternal and paternal “sides” may not be positioned where genealogists are used to seeing them. Remember, 23andMe has no genealogy trees, so they are attempting to construct a genetic tree based on how people are related to you and to each other, with no prior knowledge. They do sometimes have issues with half-relationships, so I’d encourage you to use this tree to isolate people to the three grandparents you know.

In my case, I was able to determine the maternal and paternal sides easily based on known cousins. This is the perfect example of why it’s important to test known relatives from both sides of your family.

My paternal side, at right, in blue, was easy because I recognized my half-sister’s family, and because of known cousins who I recognized from having tested elsewhere. I’ve worked with them for years. The blue stars show people I could identify, mostly second cousins.

My maternal side is at left, in red. Normally, for genealogists, the maternal side is at right, and the paternal at left, so don’t make assumptions, and don’t let this positioning throw you.

I’m pretending I don’t know who my maternal grandfather is. I was able to identify my maternal grandmother’s side based on a known second cousin.

That leaves my target – my maternal grandfather’s line.

All of the matches to the left of the red circle would, by process of elimination, be on my maternal grandfather’s side.

The next step would be to figure out how the 5 people descending from my maternal grandfather’s line are related to each other – through which of their ancestors.

On the DNA Relatives match list, here’s what needs to be checked:

  • Do your matches share surnames with you or your ancestors?
  • Do they show surnames in common with each other?
  • Is there a common location?
  • Birth year which helps you understand their potential generation.
  • Did they list their grandparents’ birthplaces?
  • Did they provide a family tree link?
  • Do they also match each other using the Relatives in Common feature?
  • Do they triangulate, indicated by “DNA Overlap” in Relatives in Common?
  • Who else is on the Relatives in Common list, and what do they have in common with each other?
  • Looking at your Ancestry Composition compared with theirs, what are your shared populations, and are they relevant? If you are both 100% European, then shared populations aren’t useful, but if both people share the same minority ancestry, especially on the same segments, it may indeed be relevant – especially if it can’t be accounted for on the known sides of the family.

Reach out to these people and see what they know about their genealogy, if they have tested elsewhere, and if they have a genealogy tree someplace that you can view.

If they can tell you their grandparents’ names, birth and death dates and locations, you can check public sources like WikiTree, FamilySearch and Geni, or build trees for them. You can also use Newspaper resources, like, NewspaperArchive and the newspapers at MyHeritage.

I added the top 15 23andMe matches into the spreadsheet I created.

You’ll notice that not many people at 23andMe enter surnames. However, if you can identify individuals from your 3 known lines, you can piggyback the rest by using Relatives in Common in conjunction with the genetic tree placement.

Be sure to check all the people that are connected to the target line in your genetic tree.

You’ll want to harvest your DNA segments to paint at DNAPainter if you don’t solve this mystery with initial reviews at each vendor.


Let’s move to Ancestry next.

At Ancestry, you’ll want to start with your closest matches on your match list.

Ancestry classifies “Close Matches” as anyone 200 cM or greater, which probably won’t reach as far down as the matches we’ll want to include.

Some of the categories in the Shared cM Chart from DNAPainter, above, don’t work based on ages, so I’ve eliminated those. I also know, for example, that someone who could fall in the grandparent/grandchild category (blue star,) in my case, does not, so must be a different relationship.

Second cousins, who share great-grandparents, can be expected to share about 229 cM of DNA on average, or between 41 and 592 cM. First cousins share 866 cM, and half first cousins share 449 cM on average.

I have 13 close matches (over 200 cM), but I’m including my top 15 at each vendor, so I added two more. You can always go back and add more matches if necessary. Just keep in mind that the smaller the match, the greater the probability that it came from increasingly distant generations before your grandparents. Your sweet spot to identify grandparents is between 1C and 2C.

I need to divide my close matches into 4 groups, each one equating to a grandparent. Record this on your spreadsheet.

You can group your matches at Ancestry using colored dots, which means you can sort by those groups.

You can also select a “side” for a match by clicking on “Yes” under the question, “Do you recognize them?”

Initially, you want to determine if this person is related to you on your mother’s or father side, and hopefully, through which grandparent.

Recently, Ancestry added a feature called SideView which allows testers to indicate, based on ethnicity, which side is “parent 1” and which side is “parent 2.” I wrote about that, here.

Make your selection, assuming you can tell which “side” of you descends from which parent based on ethnicity and/or shared matches. How you label “parent 1,” meaning either maternal or paternal, determines how Ancestry assigns your matches, when possible.

Using these tools, which may not be completely accurate, plus shared matches with people you can identify, divide your matches among your three known grandparents, meaning that the people you cannot assign will be placed in the fourth “unknown” column.

On my spreadsheet, I assign all of my closest matches to one of my grandparents. Michael is my first cousin (1C) and we share both maternal grandparents, so he’s not helpful in the division because he can’t be assigned to only one grandparent.

The green maternal grandfather is who I’m attempting to identify.

There are 4 people, highlighted in yellow, who don’t fall into the other three grandparent lines, so they get added to the green column and will be my focus.

I would be inclined to continue adding matches using a process known as the Leeds Method, until I had several people in each category. Looking back at the DNAPainter cM chart, at this point, we don’t have anyone below 200 cM and the matches we need might be below that threshold. The more matches you have to work with, the better.

At Ancestry, you cannot download your matches into a spreadsheet, nor can you work with other clustering tools such as Genetic Affairs, so you’ll have to build out your spreadsheet manually.

Check for the same types of information that I reviewed at 23andMe:

  • Review trees, if your matches have them, minimally recording the surnames of their 8 great-grandparents.
  • Review shared matches, looking for common names in the trees in recent generations.
  • View shared matches with people with whom you have a “Common Ancestor” indication, which means a ThruLine. You won’t have Thrulines with your target grandparent, of course, but Thrulines will allow you to place the match in one of the other columns. I wrote about ThruLines here, here and here.
  • ThruLines sometimes suggests ancestors based on other people’s trees, so be EXCEEDINGLY careful with potential ancestor suggestions. That’s not to say you should discount those suggestions. Just treat them as tree hints that may have been copy/pasted hundreds of times, because that’s what they are.

I make notes on each match so I can easily see the connection by scanning without opening the match.

Now, I have a total of 30 entries on my spreadsheet, 15 from 23and Me and 15 from Ancestry.

Why Not Use Autosclusters?

Even with vendors who allow or provide cluster tools, I don’t use an automated autocluster tool at this point. Autocluster tools often omit your closest matches because your closest matches would be in nearly half of all your clusters, which isn’t exactly informative. However, for this purpose, those are the very matches we need to evaluate.

After identifying groups of people that represent the missing grandparent, using our spreadsheet methodology, autoclusters could be useful to identify common surnames and even to compare the trees of our matches using AutoTree, AutoPedigree and AutoKinship. AutoClusters cannot be utilized at Ancestry, but is available through MyHeritage and at GEDmatch, or through Genetic Affairs for 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA.

Next, let’s move to FamilyTreeDNA.


FamilyTreeDNA is the only vendor that provides Family Matching, also known as “bucketing.” FamilyTreeDNA assigns your matches to either a paternal or maternal bucket, or both, based on triangulated matches with someone you’ve linked to a profile in your tree.

The key to Family Matching is to link known Family Finder matches to their profile cards in your tree.

Clicking on the Family Tree link at the top of your personal page allows you to link your matches to the profile cards of your matches.

FamilyTreeDNA utilizes these linked matches to assign those people, and matches who match you and those people, both, on at least one common segment, to the maternal or paternal tabs on your match list.

Always link as many known people as possible (red stars) which will result in more matches being bucketed and assigned to parents’ sides for you, even if neither parent is available to test.

I wrote about Triangulation in Action at FamilyTreeDNA, here.

You can see at the top of my match list that I have a total of 8000 matches of which 3422 are paternal, 1517 are maternal and 3 match on both sides. Full siblings, their (and my) children and their descendants will always match on both sides. People with endogamy across both parents may have several matches on both sides.

If your relevant parent has tested, always work from their test.

Because we are searching for the maternal grandfather, in this case, we can ignore all tests that are bucketed as paternal matches.

Given that we are searching for my maternal grandfather, I probably have not been able to link as many maternal matches, other than possibly ones from my maternal grandmother. This means that the maternal grandfather’s matches are not bucketed because there are no identified matches to link on that side of my tree.

If you sort by maternal and paternal tabs, you’ll miss people who aren’t bucketed, meaning they have no maternal or paternal icon, so I recommend simply scanning down the list and processing maternal matches and non-bucketed matches.

By being able to confidently ignore paternally bucketed matches and only processing maternal and non-assigned matches, this is equivalent to processing the first 48 total matches. If I were to only look at the first 15 matches, 12 were paternal and only 3 are maternal.

Using bucketing at FamilyTreeDNA is very efficient and saves a lot of work.

Omitting paternal matches also means we are including smaller matches which could potentially be from common ancestors further back in the tree. Or, they could be younger testers. Or simply smaller by the randomness of recombination.

FamilyTreeDNA is a goldmine, with 16 of 20 maternal matches being from the unknown maternal grandfather.

Next, let’s see what’s waiting at MyHeritage.


MyHeritage is particularly useful if your lineage happens to be from Europe. Of course, if you’re searching for an unknown person, you probably have no idea where they or their ancestors are from. Two of my best matches first appeared at MyHeritage.

Of course, your matches with people who descend from your unknown maternal grandfather won’t have any Theories of Family Relativity, as that tool is based on BOTH a DNA match plus a tree or document match. However, Theories is wonderful to group your matches to your other three grandparents.

MyHeritage provides a great deal of information for each match, including common surnames with your tree. If you recognize the surnames (and shared matches) as paternal or maternal, then you can assign the match. However, the matches you’re most interested in are the highest matches without any surnames in common with you – which likely point to the missing maternal grandfather.

However, those people may, and probably do, have surnames in common with each other.

Of the matches who aren’t attributed to the other three grandparents, the name Ferverda arises again and again. So does Miller, which suggests the grandparent or great-grandparent couple may well be Ferverda/Miller.

Let’s continue working through the process with our spreadsheet and see what we can discover about those surnames.

Our 60 Results

Of the 60 total results, 15 from each vendor, a total of 24 cannot be assigned to other columns through bucketing or shared matches, so are associated with the maternal grandfather. Of course, Michael who descends from both of my maternal grandparents won’t be helpful initially.

Cheryl, Donald and Michael are duplicates at different vendors, but the rest are not.

Of the relevant matches, the majority, 12 are from FamilyTreeDNA, four each are from Ancestry and MyHeritage, and three are from 23andMe.

Of the names provided in the surname fields of matches, in matches’ trees in the first few generations, and the testers’ surnames, Ferverda is repeated 12 times, for 50% of the time. Miller is repeated 9 times, so it’s likely that either of those are the missing grandfather’s surname. Of course, if we had Y-DNA, we’d know the answer to that immediately.

Comparing trees of my matches, we find John Ferverda as the common ancestor between two different matches. John is the son of Hiram Ferverda and Eva Miller who are found in several trees.

That’s a great hint. But is this the breakthrough I need?

What’s Next?

The next step is to look for connections between the maternal grandmother, Edith Lore, who is known in our example, and a Ferverda male. He is probably one of the sons of Hiram Ferverda and Eva Miller. Do they lived in the same area? In close proximity? Do they attend the same church or school? Are they neighbors or live close to the family or some of their relatives? Does she have connections with Ferverda family members? We are narrowing in.

Some of Hiram and Eva’s sons might be able to be eliminated based on age or other factors, or at least be less likely candidates. Any of their children who had moved out of state when the child was conceived would be less likely candidates. Age would be a factor, as would opportunity.

Target testing of the Ferverda sons’ children, or the descendants of their children would (probably) be able to pinpoint which of their sons is more closely related to me (or my mother) than the rest.

In our case, indeed, John Ferverda is the son we are searching for and his descendant, Michael is the highest match on the list. Cheryl and Donald descend from John’s brother, which eliminates him as a candidate. Another tester descends from a third Ferverda son, which eliminates that son as well.

Michael, my actual first cousin with a 755 cM match at one vendor, and 822 cM at a second vendor, is shown by the MyHeritage cM Explainer with an 88% probability that he is my first cousin.

However, when I’m trying to identify the maternal grandfather, which is half of that couple, I need to focus one generation further back in time to eliminate other candidates.

The second and third closest matches are both Donald at 395 cM and Cheryl at 467 cM who also share the same Ferverda/Miller lineage and are the children of my maternal grandfather’s brother.

On the spreadsheet, I need to look at the trees of people who have both Ferverda and Miller, which brought me to both Cheryl and Donald, then Michael, which allowed me to identify John Ferverda, unquestionably, as my grandfather based on the cM match amounts.

Cheryl and Donald, who are confirmed full siblings, and my mother either have to be first cousins, or half siblings. Their match with mother is NOT in the half-sibling range for one sibling, and on the lower edge with the other. Mother also matches Michael as a nephew, not more distantly as she would if he were a first cousin once removed (1C1R) instead of a nephew.

Evaluating these matches combined confirms that my maternal grandfather is indeed John Ferverda.

What About X DNA?

The X chromosome has a unique inheritance path which is sometimes helpful in this circumstance, especially to males.

Women inherit an X chromosome from both parents, but males inherit an X chromosome from ONLY their mother. A male inherits a Y chromosome from his father which is what makes him male. Women inherit two X chromosomes, one from each parent, and no Y, which is what makes them female.

Therefore, if you are a male and are struggling with which side of your tree matches are associated with, the X chromosome may be of help.

Your mother passed her X chromosome to you, which could be:

  • Her entire maternal X, meaning your maternal grandmother’s X chromosome
  • Her entire paternal X, meaning your maternal grandfather’s X chromosome (which descends from his mother)
  • Some combination of your maternal grandmother and maternal grandfather’s chromosomes

One thing we know positively is that a male’s X matches are ALWAYS from their maternal side only, so that should help when dividing a male’s matches maternally or paternally. Note – be aware of potential pedigree collapse, endogamy and identical-by-chance matches if it looks like a male has a X match on his father’s side.

Unfortunately, the X chromosome cannot assist females in the same way, because females inherit an X from both parents. Therefore, they can match people in the same was as a male, but also in additional ways.

  • Females will match their paternal grandmother on her entire X chromosome, and will match one or both of their maternal grandparents on the X chromosome.
  • Females will NEVER match their paternal grandfather’s X chromosome because their father did not inherit an X chromosome from his father.
  • Males will match one or both of their maternal grandparents on their X chromosome.
  • Males will NEVER match their paternal grandparents, because males do not receive an X chromosome from their father.

The usefulness of X DNA matching depends on the inheritance path of both the tester AND their match.

When Can Y-DNA or Mitochondrial DNA Help with Grandparent Identification?

If you recall, I selected the maternal grandfather as the person to seek because no tester carries either the Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA of their maternal grandfather. In other words, this was the most difficult identification, meaning that any of the other three grandparents would be, or at least could be, easier with the benefit of Y-DNA and/or mitochondrial DNA testing.

In addition to matching, both Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA will provide testers with location origins, both continental and often much more specific locations based on where other testers and matches are from.

Y-DNA often provides a surname.

Let’s see how these tests, matches and results can assist us.

  • Paternal grandfather – If I was a male descended from John Ferverda paternally, I could have tested both my autosomal DNA PLUS my Y-DNA, which would have immediately revealed the Ferverda surname via Y-DNA. Two Ferverda men are shown in the Ferverda surname DNA project, above.

That revelation would have confirmed the Ferverda surname when combined with the high frequency of Ferverda found among autosomal matches on the spreadsheet.

  • Maternal grandmother – If we were searching for a maternal grandmother, both the male and female sibling testers (as shown in the pedigree chart) would have her mitochondrial DNA which could provide matches to relevant descendants. Mitochondrial DNA at both FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe could also eliminate anyone who does not match on a common haplogroup, when comparing 23andMe results to 23andMe results, and FamilyTreeDNA to FamilyTreeDNA results at the same level.

At 23andMe, only base level haplogroups are provided, but they are enough to rule out a direct matrilineal line ancestor.

At FamilyTreeDNA, the earlier HVR1 and HVR2 tests provide base level haplogroups, while full sequence testing provides granular, specific haplogroups. Full sequence is the recommended testing level.

  • Paternal grandmother – If we were searching for a paternal grandmother, testers would, of course, need either their father to test his mitochondrial DNA, or for one of his siblings to test which could be used in the same way as described for maternal grandmother matching.


Successfully identifying a grandparent is dependent on many factors. Before you make that identification, it’s very difficult to know which are more or less important.

For example, if the grandparent is from a part of the world with few testers, you will have far fewer matches, potentially, than other lines from more highly tested regions. In my case, two of my four grandparents’ families, including Ferverda, immigrated in the 1850s, so they had fewer matches than families that have been producing large families in the US for generations.

Endogamy may be a factor.

Family size in past and current generations may be a factor.

Simple luck may be a factor.

Therefore, it’s always wise to test your DNA, and that of your parents and close relatives if possible, and upload to all of the autosomal databases. Then construct an analysis plan based on:

  • How you descend from the grandparent in question, meaning do you carry their X DNA, Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA.
  • Who else is available to test their autosomal DNA to assist with shared matches and the process of elimination.
  • Who else is available to test for Y-DNA and/or mitochondrial DNA of the ancestor in question.

If you don’t find the answer initially, schedule a revisit of your matches periodically and update your spreadsheet. Sometimes DNA and genealogy is a waiting same.

Just remember, luck always favors the prepared!


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Honorius Lord (1768-1834): Catholic Church Records Illuminate Migration Along the Richelieu River – 52 Ancestors #393

Honoré Lord’s parents were among the Acadian people horrifically displaced from their homes in Acadia, now Nova Scotia, in 1755 amid fire, flame and destruction. That event, known as “Le Grand Dérangement,” is translated to “The Great Upheaval,” and that’s clearly an understatement. The expulsion was essentially a genocidal cleansing event. Thankfully, it wasn’t entirely successful.

These people were treated horribly; deceived, deported, separated from their families and worldly goods, suffering greatly – but somehow, they did not break. Those that survived did the best they could wherever they wound up. What else could they do?

Life Continued, at Least for Some

The location of Honoré Lord’s birth is somewhat uncertain. Brother Bernard, now deceased, a benevolent Catholic priest, assisted with this research for some time. He understood the Church, the history, and could transcribe and translate old French records.

Many of the relevant records were not online, available, or indexed at that time. I was then and remain very grateful for his assistance.

Honoré was reported to have been born March 5, 1766 in Connecticut, but I’ve never seen a source for that date. I suspect it was being copied from tree to tree before his baptism was located, but I’m not sure.

Brother Bernard did not find his baptism record. Then again, with a displaced people, exactly where do you look?

Honoré, also written as the Latin Honorius, was also more generally credited with being born in New England. His baptismal record was discovered in Yamachiche, Canada by cousin Sylvain some years after Brother Bernard had passed away. Honoré was baptized on February 28, 1768. However, his date of birth is not recorded.

Brother Bernard had, at one time, explained the difference between the black robes and the grey robes. According to Brother Bernard, the Catholic priests of that time wore black robes. Episcopalian/Anglican priests wore grey robes. In a pinch, a Catholic couple would have an Episcopal priest baptize their child, one of the grey robes, but as soon as possible, a black robed priest would rebaptize the child. In a real pickle, meaning the child was in danger of dying, anyone, preferably a Catholic, could baptize the child. Many midwives and grandmother’s baptized babies who were sickly or weak.

Same goes for weddings. Better, apparently, to be married by a grey robe than not at all.

Babies born in the Colonies during the time the Acadians were displaced without a Catholic priest to baptize them properly were baptized as soon as the parents could reasonably do so.

Truth be known, Honoré could have been born in New England, then baptized in Yamachiche after his parents arrived in that area.

Yamachiche was small, just 20 families and 100 people in 1723. Yamachiche grew rapidly between 1765 and 1790 with new Acadian settlers.

According to the Acadie website, in July 1767, a schooner arrived at the mouth of the Yamachiche River carrying a large contingent of Acadians who were originally deported to Massachusetts. The Lesieur family, still the owner of the Grosbois-East seigneury, was ready to welcome them on a concession still to be cleared of trees.

Up to 42 Acadian families, or 192 individuals, settled on the Lesieur family’s concession. The French-Canadian villagers of St. Anne of Yamachiche parish, founded in 1722, gave them a warm welcome. Canada was then under British rule, so of course their fellow Frenchmen welcomed these good French-speaking Catholics who were brave and supportive.

The parish priest, Jacques-Maxime Chef from the city of La Garenne hastened to validate the marriages and baptisms of all Acadians whose life-events could not officially take place in Massachusetts or elsewhere in the colonies for lack of Catholic priests.

Honoré was baptized at Saint Anne d’Yamachiche on February 28, 1768.

Given that the Acadians couldn’t be baptized or married in the Catholic church in New England, many were baptized or had their marriages validated after their return to Canada. Life went on in the Colonies, of course, and the messy details were cleaned up later, given that their religious omissions were due to no fault or choice of their own. In fact, had they been willing to convert, they probably would never have been deported in the first place.

Yamachiche is still small today, with the main street, Rue Ste Anne, an eclectic combination of old and new. The original church has been replaced.

Honoré’s parents likely lived in something akin to a resettlement camp and the priest was a missionary. The church was probably makeshift in this frontier river town of Catholic refugees.


Honoré’s parents were Honoré Lord (Sr.) and Apolline Garceau who were both born in 1742 in Port Royal, before the horrific removal which occurred in 1755.

We know they were married before they arrived back in Canada, because their marriage validation provides us with proof positive.

The original church at Becancour was built in 1722 and burned in December of 2000.

Brother Bernard’s translation of the marriage validation of Honorius Lord and Apolline Garceau.

Validation at Becancour, Quebec, Parish of the Nativity, 1767, page 47.

“In the year 1767, on the 29th of September, we, undersigned missionary priest of the Parish of the Nativity of Becancour, validated the marriage between Honoré Lor and Apolline Garsau, both Acadians, who had been married by Francois Landry in England (New England was meant), no impediment having been discovered to said marriage, we gave them the nuptial benediction according to the form prescribed by our Mother the Holy Church, and this in presence of Fracous Lagrave and of Antoine Sabourin, who declared they know not how to sign this register,  (Signed)  F Louis Demers, Recollet Priest”

If Honoré had been born in 1766, you’d think that his parents would have had him baptized at the same time they had their vows valided, but they didn’t.

This suggests strongly that Honoré was actually born a day or so before he was baptized in 1768. His parents certainly would not have waited two years to have his rebaptism performed. We know they were back in Canada, in a Catholic church, in September of 1767. In fact, if Honoré was born in February of 1758, his mother was about 4 months pregnant for him at his parent’s marriage validation. He wasn’t the first child to be present at his parent’s wedding, but this was a bit different.

We don’t know exactly where the Honoré Lord’s parents and grandparents spent the very long years between 1755 and 1766-1768, but we do have some hints.

New York

In 1755, families were not necessarily permitted to depart Acadia together. The expulsion was sprung on the Acadians as a surprise so they had no ability to prepare. The men were essentially captured and held hostage. The women and children joined them on the deportation ships. They were forced to leave everything except their children behind. Their farms were burned and their livestock killed in front of their eyes. Some of their family members were tortured and killed as well.

Beyond that, families were split up however they managed to be herded onto ships with far distant destinations. Some ships sank. Many family members had absolutely no idea where the rest of their family had been taken, or if they were even alive. Mortality was high and starvation was rampant.

Some Lord family members were found in Massachusetts, but they don’t seem to be close family.

However, we do know that Daniel Garceau, Honoré Lore’s grandfather, was living in New York state, and so were Lord, Lort and Comeau families that were heavily intermarried and later found together in l’Acadie in Canada. In fact, two of Honoré’s siblings also married Garceau siblings.

Acadians in New York were distributed in small groups, transported to the counties of Westchester (Bronx), King’s (Brooklyn), Queen’s (Queens), Richmond (Staten Island), Orange and Suffolk.

Approximately 344 Acadians were in New York in August, 1756, and about one third were indentured from 4 to 7 years. You do what you need to do to survive.

Return to Canada

The Acadians were given permission to return to Quebec, Canada in 1766.

The Massachusetts Legislature sent a delegation to Quebec in March 1766. The delegation obtained a permit from the English Governor Murray for the displaced Acadians to immigrate to Quebec Province.

A group of 90 exiles sailed from Massachusetts to Quebec in 1766, joining forces with the Acadians who had fled there from Nova Scotia after 1755. They settled near Quebec City and along the Nicolet and Richelieu Rivers.

Many individuals, including Honoré Lord’s parents, settled along the St. Lawrence River and tributaries between Quebec City and Montreal.

Honoré’s parents had their marriage, which had occurred someplace in New England, validated in Becancour, across the river from Trois Rivieres in September of 1767.

Honoré’s parents seem to have been trying to find a permanent place to settle. After his 1768 baptism in Yamachiche, his siblings were baptized elsewhere.

Life along the Richelieu River

Marie Ann Lord born in 1769 was baptized in Saint-Denis.

Francois born in 1771 was born and baptized the following day in St. Ours on the Richelieu River which flows north from Lake Champlain to the St. Lawrence River. For the most part, rivers were their roads.

Honoré’s little sister, Claire, died at 20 months of age in the middle of January in 1775. His mother gave birth to another baby just 7 weeks later.

While St. Ours was a very early settlement, I’d wager this wasn’t the original church. However, the cemetery was assuredly located nearby, and the family would have stood together as they buried their baby girl on that cold January day, just four months shy of her second birthday.

I do wonder if the ground was frozen. Did they have to wait until springtime?

The old Catholic cemetery closed in 1878 and has no headstone photos which makes me wonder if there are any headstones – now or ever.

The current cemetery is here, a block or so behind the church, but if you turn around, you see the back of the church, and what looks to be a school.

The old Catholic Cemetery at St. Ours is full of Acadians, including uncles, aunts, nieces and nephews of Honoré Lore.

The cemetery GPS coordinates show the address of 2540 Immaculee-Conception which resolves to this location, right beside the church. There is some type of historical marker beneath that tree, but I can’t get close enough with Google maps to see what it says. That house, at left, looks ancient too.

The Richelieu River runs right behind the church, and the coordinates for the old cemetery resolve right next door (red arrow), where the trees and colorful flag are today, between the church and the ancient-looking house. The family would continue to migrate down that river and wind up near St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, which, a few miles later, crosses over the border between the US and Vermont and New York in the form of Lake Champlain, but that’s a story for the next generation.

Following Family

Fortunately most Catholic church records exist in this region during this timeframe. It’s those records that allow us to track the family’s movements.

The next three of Honoré’s siblings were baptized in St. Ours as well.

However, Marie Charlotte born in 1777 and Jean Baptiste born in 1779 were given conditional baptisms in 1787 in L’Acadie, further down the river. Why? Where was the family in 1777 and 1779 that they would not have had their children baptized? I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but I’m not going to spill those beans here. That’s Honoré’s father’s incredible story.

The children born through 1802 were baptized in L’Acadie, and the balance at St. Luc.

Honoré’s grandfather, Jacques Lord died in 1786 in Nicolet, Quebec, across the river from Yamachiche. Honoré’s paternal uncles died in the same region. Charles died in 1797 in Trois Rivieres, maybe 10 miles upriver from Yamachiche, Pierre Benjamin died in 1813 in Nicolet and Jean in 1809 in St. Ours.

Honoré’s maternal grandfather, Daniel Garceau died in 1772 in Yamachiche and his grandmother Anne Doucet, in 1791 in Sorel, at the mouth of the Richlieu River and the St. Lawrence.

Honoré’s mother’s siblings were all buried in the same or nearby locations.

You can see the family working its way down the river, one village, one church at a time. Looking for opportunity and land to farm.

Within the space of a two decades, the DNA of the Lore family, and their extended families, was seemingly scattered in every Catholic Cemetery along the St. Lawrence.

Those families HAD to have been living in close proximity in New York for their son, Honoré Lord to marry Appoline Garceau around 1765. Two of Appoline’s siblings also married Lord brothers.

Those families returned from wherever they were exiled together and remained nearby for the duration of their lives.

I suspect losing most of your family would give you a new level of appreciation for the family you have left.

Dark Days

An interesting meteorological event occurred that would have been fascinating and perhaps frightened families living in this region.

The following is from the Canadian Weather Trivia Calendar by David Phillips – on this day – “October 9 ,1785 – the “dark days” occurred today in Montreal and for a week after. Fog persisted until 10 o’clock, when wind cleared the air.

Within 30 minutes, darkness succeeded but rain dispelled it. Near noon the dark stopped church services until candles were lit. At 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m., perfect darkness held for a short time and candles were lit again. A storm followed each darkness, the rain filled with sulphur.” October 9th was Sunday.

The Newport, Rhode Island newspaper on December 5th reported:

Montreal, October 20. On Sunday the 16th the air was darkened by a thick fog which dissipated about 10 o’clock. The atmosphere was of a luminous, fiery, color. About 2 o’clock in the afternoon, it became dark by degrees, in such a manner, that about half an hour after 2, people could not see one another in the houses. This lasted 20 minutes and was followed by lightning, thunder and rain, which gradually diminished the darkness. It was, however, very difficult to read without candlelight at 3 o’clock.

This period was of short duration, for the darkness came on again at 7 minutes past three and it grew by degrees as dark as before, insomuch that no night ever was more obscure than it was at this time. The black clouds dispersed about 14 minutes past 3, but lightning, thunder and a heavy rain continued till about half after 5.

Doctor Serre who resides in this city says that having perceived the rain water that fell during the shower to be of a black colour, he smelt it and finding it has a sulfurous smell, he placed in the middle of his yard a muslin handkerchief in the form of a funnel, at the bottom of which he found a black sediment. Having rubbed it between his fingers, he found that its smell was owing to no other cause but the sulfur which composed its substance. Hence he is of opinion that the only cause of this phenomenon was the inflammation of some of neighboring mines, whose thick smoke being condensed in the air was driven by the wind over this region.

What would our ancestors in the area have thought? Some must have been quite frightened, especially given that it appeared on Sunday morning. I’m sure the churches were full of fearful folks. Based on similar events, it seems that fires to the north and west might well have caused this phenomenon, although the good doctor suggested mines.

Sulphur typically comes from underground, not from fires. Iceland experienced massive volcanic eruptions between 1783-1785, but the worst occurred in 1783/1784.

At 17 years old, was Honoré excited? How did he feel? Was it interpreted as some type of epiphany or Biblical omen?


Tragedy struck when Honoré’s mother died in May of 1788. He was a young man of only about 22 years old, and he had younger siblings who needed care.

Par François Charette — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 3.0,

HIs mother was buried in the cemetery beside the church at Blairfindie.


Honoré Lord was of age to marry. His marriage with Marie LaFaille, daughter of Francois Lafaille and Marguerite DeForest is recorded in the church records at Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie on August 10, 1789. They obviously attended this same church as did a number of Acadian families.

Place of Worship or Institution: Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie
Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 about Honoré Lord
Name: Honoré Lord
Spouse: Marie Lafay
Event: Mariage (Marriage)
Marriage Year: 1789
Marriage Location: L`Acadie, Québec (Quebec)
Place of Worship or Institution: Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie

Marie had been baptized as an adult on January 6, 1789, in Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie, l’Acadie, St-Jean, Quebec, along with two of her sisters.

Honoré’s Father Remarries 

Here’s where things get a bit, well, strange.

Honoré’s father remarried after waiting a respectable amount of time. That was to be expected, of course. He was only 46 when his wife died, leaving him with several children to raise. A lot of responsibility probably fell to Honore Jr., since he was the eldest. The neighbors would have helped as much as they could, too.

Honoré Jr. was probably quite relieved that his father was remarrying, although given that his new step-mother was about 6 years younger than he was, it might have been a bit…odd.

But that’s not the only thing.

On January 11, 1790, Honoré’s father married Susanne Fafaille, thirty years his junior, born in 1772, the daughter of Francoise Lafaille and Marguerite DeForest.

If you think you recognized those names and just scrolled back to see if you saw them a minute ago – why yes, you did.

Click any image to enlarge

Yes, Honoré Lord Sr. married the younger sister of his son’s wife.

Think about that for a minute. It’s OK. I had to. It’s technically alright, because Honoré Lord Sr. is not related to Susanne LaFaille, his new wife, except by virtue of the fact that his son is married to her sister. So, Honoré Sr. married his daughter-in-law’s sister – except doesn’t daughter-in-law technically mean daughter by law? In the Catholic faith, consanguity is rooted in blood relation, so no consanguity, therefore no dispensation needed.

Still, it’s a bit strange.

I can’t help but hear the refrain from “I Am My Own Grandpa.” In this case, Honoré Lord Jr. became the step-son of his father’s second wife, Susanne Lafaille, and was her brother-in-law as well.

(Scratches head…)

Said the other way, Susanne is Honoré Jr.’s step-mother and his sister-in-law, both.

Their children were Honoré Lord Jr.’s half-siblings and also his nieces and nephews.

Honoré’s father and Susanne had 7 children, two of whom died young, one not long before Susanne’s death in August of 1803. Whatever took their month old baby that July probably took Susanne a month or so later. The grief would have been palpable.

The baptisms of their two youngest children, along with the burials took place at St. Luc’s church and cemetery.

The summer of 1803 must have been just devastating.

The family would have walked outside of the church following the funeral mass into the cemetery, at the rear of the church.

Twice, just a few weeks apart.

It was here that Honoré Lord Sr. would be laid to rest in 1818 as well.

1825 Census

Of course, Honoré Lord and Marie LaFaille began a family right away following their 1789 marriage.

Honoré Laure is listed with 8 inhabitants in the 1825 census of Lower Canada, in Blairfindie, Huntingdon, Quebec, Canada. He would have been 57 years old.

Lord, Honoré 1825

  • 1 family member 14-18
  • 2- single males 18 and not 25
  • 1- married male 18 and not 25 (where is his spouse?)
  • 1- married male 40 and not yet 60 (Honoré himself)
  • 2 – female single 14 and not 45
  • 1 – female married 45 and upwards (Marie)

Honore’s Death

Honoré died at age 66, his birth given as 1768, and was buried on April 5, 1834 at Ste. Marguerite de Blairfindie in L’Acadie.

This pretty much lays to rest the 1766 birth year and confirms that his birth took place shortly before his baptism, given that he was baptized on February 28th. Typically, only a day or two, if that, elapsed. The parents would have wanted that baby baptized as soon as possible – just in case.

Honoré would have been laid to rest near his mother at Blairfindie.

After his mother’s death and his father’s second wife’s death, he and his third wife had continued attending St. Luc where their children were baptized. Honore Jr. stayed in the church where he was raised, where his mother would have been silently at his side. Lord knows, he was going to need her strength soon enough.

St. Luc and Ste Marguerite de Blairfinder weren’t far apart. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the family lived someplace near half-way between.

Perhaps records exist, someplace, that would shed additional light on that question. I’m not a fluent French-speaker, nor do I understand the early land system well in Quebec. I may just have to learn! I would truly like to find his land. and determine where they lived.

I might just feel a trip to Acadia coming on.


Honoré Lord (Laur, Lore, and other spellings) and Marie Lafaille (Lafay) had a record 17 children in roughly 20 years, including at least two sets of twins, but, contrary to how circumstances might appear – their marriage was anything but idyllic.

In fact, those circumstances just might explain why their son, Antoine Lore chose to leave home as soon as he was able, sailed down the Richelieu River, across Lake Champlain, and never looked back.

Stay tuned.


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