Gateway Ancestors Leading to Royal and Noble Lines

Many people descend from either royalty or nobility. Of course, figuring out if you’re one of those people, and how you connect, is the challenge. Ancestors who have been proven to connect to royalty or nobility, often across the pond, are known as gateway ancestors.

Back in 2013, geneticists Peter Ralph and Graham Coop, in a paper in Nature, showed that almost all Europeans are descended from the same ancestors. In essence, everyone who lived in the ninth century and left any descendants is the ancestor of almost every living person with European heritage today. That includes Charlemagne and many noble or royal families who collectively have millions of descendants.

Before we talk more about how to find and identify gateway ancestors, let me tell you about the Vernoe/de Vernon family who lived in Vernon, France in the 1000s and 1100s. If you recall, in 1066, William the Conqueror of Normandy became the English King following the Battle of Hastings. Many of the French nobles, especially from Normandy, subsequently became the new noble class of England. England and France are inextricably connected.

William de Vernon, or, “of Vernon,” (born circa 1021 – died before 1089,) lived in Vernon and had his children baptized in the local Catholic Church, the Collégiale Notre-Dame de Vernon, dedicated in 1072 to “the Holy Mother of God.” William’s sons fought with William the Conqueror, and I descend from two of his children, Adela and Richard.

I recently returned from a trip to France where I was fortunate enough to visit the churches where some of my noble families were baptized, worshipped, or were buried.

I was very excited to visit Vernon, a beautiful, quaint village in Normandy on the Seine River which was the main “road” of western France. Come along with me!

Historic Vernon

We’re visiting the medieval church in Vernon, but many of the churches in the villages scattered throughout Europe hail from this period and have many of the same characteristics.

This glorious Gothic church stands sentry just up the street a block or so from the banks of the Seine.

Being able to literally walk in my ancestor’s footsteps was incredibly moving, as was sitting in the church where they sat, or stood, depending on their status.

The incredibly beautiful Gothic church beckons parishioners and visitors alike.

If you’re fortunate and time your arrival correctly, you may hear the church bells summoning worshipers, just like they did all those generations ago. I was extremely lucky.

Close your eyes, and you can hear the local peasants and nobility alike, hurrying along the cobblestone streets to services.

The church may be open, or a service may be getting ready to commence, and you can join in, just as your ancestors did.

These historic structures have withstood the ravages of time, and the passageways remind us of those who walked these steps hundreds of years ago. Their descendants still climb them today.

Much of the stained glass is original, at least for the churches that escaped both fire and the bombings of WWII.

While most of the churches remain Catholic, everyone is welcome to light a candle for goodwill and say a prayer, if you’re so inclined. I like to participate in the customs that my ancestors did. It connects me to them in a spiritual way. Often the side chapels have candles burning on altars, with the flames flickering beautifully, harkening back to distant times.

The small donation for the candle contributes to the maintenance of the church.

Fonts, holding holy water, and piscinas are in evidence throughout the church, especially in the little side chapels and near the doors.

Piscinas are usually shallow basins or decorative divots in the wall used for washing communion vessels or disposing of holy water or consecrated sacramental wine. There is a hole in the bottom allowing the liquid to drain into the earth inside the sheltering walls of the church, so that the sacred liquids remain in consecrated ground.

The church was always located in the center of the town, as it was the center of the life of the residents. Baptisms, marriages, communion, confessions, and funerals all took place there, as did regular sermons, given in Latin by the priest, encouraging their flock to remain true to the tenets of the Catholic faith.

Small streets, sometimes only a few feet wide, separated the neighboring houses from the church.

Many of the beautiful Medieval half-timbered buildings still stand, especially in the small villages like Vernon. The street in front of the church leads uphill to the remains of the castle, including the keep.

If your ancestor lived here, they walked these uneven cobblestone streets and were very likely in these very buildings, although some structures, like the castle, are in ruins today.

This is known as Philippe Auguste’s Keep. He was the King of France from 1180-1223. The French Kings prior to Philippe were known as the kings of the Franks.

We could see the castle and walls from a distance, but we had difficulty finding it among the maze of ancient streets, some of which are closed to through traffic today because they aren’t wide enough for vehicles or because modern buildings have been built across some ancient pathways.

The land along the old city wall has been reclaimed for vineyards, along with their ever-present roses that alert vinedressers to the presence of pests. Much like the canary in the coal mine.

I’m sure that at the time my ancestors lived there, all homes were within the protective city walls, and the hillsides were lush with vineyards. Wine was much safer to drink than water which could easily be contaminated by either animals or humans, delivering dysentery and cholera.

Many times, you’ll find portions of the old city wall built into or closely adjacent current structures. In some locations, the old walls are incorporated into the interior of contemporary buildings. This practice isn’t unusual, but normal in Roman-age Medieval towns and cities.

The walls were defensive, of course. Notice how thick the walls were, some as much as 10 feet thick.

Portions of old city walls or remains of historically significant buildings may simply be free-standing, part of the everyday life of the current residents, many of whom are probably related to the people who lived here hundreds of years ago.

History is in evidence everywhere!

By Philippe Alès – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Today, pillars of the old medieval bridge crossing the Seine remain. Historically, bridges were difficult to build across large expanses of water, so Vernon was strategically important, in part because it had a bridge.

The old mill remains perched upon the first piling that connects the bridge to the land across the river from Vernon, very close to Monet’s famous gardens. A newer castle is mostly hidden behind the trees, with the white limestone cliffs soaring above the Seine.

Vernon today, viewed from the Seine waterway at the approximate location of the old medieval bridge near the old mill. The church can be seen at left, and the castle keep, at right, with the flags flying on top.

Controlling passage across the river and defending the village from invaders arriving on the river were priorities.

Whoever controlled the rivers controlled access to everything, ruled the people, and controlled the economy.

Finding a Gateway Ancestor

How do you find a noble or royal link, and how do you know that your connection is accurate?

Great questions.

In my case, my Muncy (Munsy, Munsey) line out of Lee County, Virginia, and Claiborne County, Tennessee, works its way back in time to Sarah Ludlow.

Sarah Ludlow’s father is a gateway ancestor – meaning the first ancestor to immigrate whose lineage is documented to descend from royal or noble lines.

As you can see, Sarah’s line quickly connects with Edith de Windsor, of the House of Windsor. Yes, this is the lineage of Queen Elizabeth II as well as the current King Charles III. The good news is that once you’ve connected, there are many well-documented resources for noble lines.

In this case, I’m using WikiTree to view the direct relationship between Edith (de) Windsor and William (de) Vernon.

Due to their age, some ancestors’ profiles are managed by the Magna Carta Project or the Medieval Project with specific training and documentation requirements.


You, of course, are responsible for doing the research to connect back to the gateway ancestor(s) whom others have connected back further in line.

In order to connect with a peerage line of some sort, you generally need to work your proven genealogy back several generations. In the US, this normally means into the 1600s or early 1700s.

I caution skepticism about personal online trees. You might want to use those as hints, but copy/paste is far too easy, so don’t. You never really know what the other person did, unless you know them and they are an expert. The good news is that genealogists have several good resources available.

I would suggest beginning by comparing your end-of-line ancestors to the gateway ancestors listed on these sites, then check out the books from both and American Ancestors.

Noble Lineage Resources

There are several resources available to identify or connect with gateway ancestors and noble lineages.

It’s always wonderful when you find a noble or notable connection because it often means the work has been done for you – although – as always, verify.

Research and Reference Books

If you think you might be or wonder if you are descended from Charlemagne, wrote a wonderful blog article that includes several of their books:

Check out’s books here.

American Ancestors has a nice selection too, including these collections:

View their books, here.


Of course, I had to check to see if the Y-DNA of the Vernon family line is represented, and lucky for me, it is.

The Varner DNA Project includes the surname Vernon, and the volunteer administrators have created a James Vernon (born circa 1616 in England) subgroup.

Using that information, plus the other earliest known ancestors, we can determine that this lineage represents the de Vernon family of Vernon, France with haplogroup J-FT118973. Thanks to Y-DNA matching, men today can figure out how they fit into this family.

These very refined haplogroups and high-resolution matching are only available through the Big Y-700 DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA.

Using the FamilyTreeDNA Discover tool, we learn that this haplogroup was formed about the year 1569, so well after the lineage was established in England.

The Ancient Connections tell us that other men whose haplogroups are related to the Vernon haplogroup are found in:

  • Albania and Serbia, and share a common ancestor about 1350 BCE (or about 3350 years ago) in the Bronze Age
  • Montenegro, Yorkshire (England,) and Hungary about 1500 BCE
  • Rome, Montenegro, Croatia, and Lower Saxony (Germany,) twice, about 1950 BCE.

Looking at these locations on a map, it appears that the Vernon haplogroup, which of course wouldn’t adopt the Vernon surname for another two thousand years, appear to have migrated along the Mediterranean coastline, then perhaps either worked their way into Germany and England, or followed the coastline all the way around Spain. The new Globetrekker tool which will be released from FamilyTreeDNA soon (you didn’t hear that from me), will provide a LOT more specific information.

Of course, we’ll never be able to follow the paper trail or even historical genealogy much beyond William de Vernon who would have been called by the place name where he lived, which morphed into his surname. However, using his descendants’ Y-DNA haplogroup, available as a result of the Big Y-700 test, we can reach MUCH further back in time, unveiling the distant past of the Vernon male ancestors.

Your Turn

Who are your gateway, noble, and royal ancestors? What can you discover?


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Marguerite de Forest (1748-1819), Refugee Acadian Grandmother of 99 – 52 Ancestors #405

Marguerite Forest, Foret, Deforest, Deforet, de Foret/Forest or La Foret/Forest was born on January 16, 1748 in Port Royal, Acadia, the 7th of 9 children, to Jacques Forest and Marie Josephe LePrince.

She was baptized the same day at St. John Baptiste Catholic Church in Port Royal which is now Annapolis Royal in Nova Scotia. Sponsors were Gregoire, with no surname listed, and Marguerite Forest, neither of whom were able to sign their names. I’m presuming here that Gregoire’s surname was also Forest, and they were somehow related to her father, Jacques.

Marguerite was probably born someplace in or near the Rene Forest village, off of present-day Brickyard Road in Nova Scotia. Rene Forest was her grandfather.

We know nothing about Marguerite’s family between the time of her birth and the beginning of the 1755 deportation except that two siblings were added to the family. Marguerite became a “big sister” on February 14, 1750 and again on June 9, 1753.

Le Grand Dérangement

For decades, tensions flared between the Acadians, who had clearly established their neutrality and were known as the French Neutrals, and the British. The Acadians did not want to become involved in the war between two superpowers. Accordingly, they repeatedly declined the request to sign an oath of allegiance to the British crown who held Acadia. The British required such, and when the Acadians continued to refuse, the British took sweeping action.

On August 11, 1755, the British Lieutenant Governor signed the order to remove more than 6000 Acadians, descendants of the original French settlers, taking possession of their land and other property. Some managed to hide with the Mi’kmaq or made their way to other parts of Canada, but most did not. The Acadians had thwarted attempts to displace them before, so if they were even aware of the order, they may have felt that once again, they would survive this attempt. Unfortunately, they were wrong.

Le Grand Dérangement, known in English as the Great Upheaval, Great Expulsion, Great Deportation, or Acadian Removal are all terms for the same horrific event.

In the fall and early winter of 1755, Marguerite was 7, almost 8 years old. She was probably looking forward to Christmas, with its joyful hymns and pageantry. Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve was a big event for Acadian families. Various foods were, and still are, associated with Christmas. Naulet was a large cookie, shaped like a gingerbread man, given to children by their godparents and may have been their only gift. Christmas was a much simpler time. You can see an example here and read a description written by an Acadian historian.

That isn’t at all what happened in December of 1755. Instead, British soldiers arrived and herded the men together while the women and children were told to gather their things and prepare to leave their homes.

Marguerite’s oldest brother, Victor, was 20, and Joseph was 18, so they were probably held with the men. They were certainly old enough to know how to handle a gun and had assuredly been hunting for years.

Marguerite’s four other older siblings probably helped their mother and packed essentials as best they could, not really understanding what was about to happen. We don’t really know what instructions they were given, if any.

Marguerite’s younger siblings, Charles, who would have been five, and Michel, just two, would probably have been under the watchful eye of the older children while their mother, Marie Josephe, frantically scurried around.

No one had many clothes back then – maybe a change if they were lucky, but they probably tried to pack some kitchen items into a trunk. Maybe a Bible, too, and certainly their rosaries.

It’s certainly possible that Marguerite’s mother, just 40 years old, was pregnant again, and due for the next baby. If indeed she was, we have no idea what happened to that child.

Having said that, we don’t actually know what happened to any of Marguerite’s siblings, although we know at least “some” survived for at least a few years.

We know that Marguerite, along with her family, were deported –  because all Acadians who didn’t escape into the woods on the mainland were forcibly loaded onto ships and sent someplace else. The British wanted their land and farms, and simply took them.

Families were rounded up, livestock killed, and farms burned. A brutal message to the Acadians as they sailed away that there was nothing to return to, so don’t try.

The “lucky” families were deported together on the same ship – not separated. Some people never found their family members again. Ships sailed to various British colonies, as well as to the West Indies, England, and France. Some ships sank, some were turned away from their destination ports, and many passengers, living in squalid conditions below deck, died of disease onboard.

The Forest family wound up in Connecticut. As horrible as their fate was, Connecticut was as good as it got.

Researcher Tim Hebert wrote that a total of 731 Acadians were supposed to have been deported to Connecticut, but it’s unclear that all of them made it.

  • One ship with 280 people wound up in Massachusetts.
  • On December 8th, the ship Elizabeth sailed for New London and arrived on January 21, 1756 with 277 people aboard. Three had died on the way.
  • The next day, another 173 people arrived on another ship from Pisiquid, Grand Pre, and Mines. There’s no reason to believe the Forest family was on this ship, given that we know due to baptismal records that they were living in close proximity to Port Royal.
  • The Connecticut Gazette mentioned another ship that left Minas on November 30 and arrived in January with another 173 people.
  • On December 18, 1755, the Dove set sail with 114 Acadians who arrived on January 30, 1756.
  • Yet another group of 278 from Port Royal arrived in May. This group fared horribly, having encountered a violent storm that blew the ship off course, to Antiqua. Many died of smallpox, but the ship Edward eventually arrived in Connecticut on May 22nd with only 180 Acadians. After arrival, their meager belongings were burned so that smallpox wouldn’t spread. It’s doubtful that the Forest family was on this schooner, because in 1763, in the census of families in Connecticut wishing transportation to France, the Jacques Forest family is listed with ten people, which would mean Jacques Forest and Marie Joseph LePrince, plus eight children. We know that at least one of Marguerite’s older siblings is listed separately. If roughly half the people on that ill-fated ship died, and they had been on that ship, it’s unlikely that Marguerite’s family would still have that many members.

Connecticut was at least slightly prepared for the beleaguered refugees and treated the Acadians with respect, not the revulsion that greeted others elsewhere. Connecticut notified their citizens of the impending arrival of the “French People from Nova Scotia” and the legislature provided that the Acadians were “to be taken care of and supported” as though they were residing citizens.

Connecticut towns were designated to receive about 14 people per town and a reception committee was created. A list of towns receiving refugees can be seen here. One of these was assuredly the home of our Forest family.

Unfortunately, we don’t know where Marguerite’s family spent those years, but they were probably as comfortable as unexpectedly destitute refugees could be, given the circumstances.

The End of the War

In August 1763, after the Treaty of Paris was signed granting Great Britain possession of North America, 666 Connecticut Acadians petitioned to be sent to France. Their petition was denied, but some either migrated willingly or otherwise to Saint Domingue, where they were subjected to hard labor. Many died, but some of those settlers eventually made it to Louisiana, founding the Cajun families there. Several Foret/Forest family members are recorded in Acadians in Grey, here, although none appear to be Jacques’ children or descendants.

Marguerite’s Forest family also was not among the 240 people who chartered a boat in 1767 and sailed to the St. John River, nor did Marguerite remain permanently in Connecticut. Other family members may have.

I would wager a guess that the families who settled inland were less likely to have sailed for either St. Johns or Dominique.

Many kind-hearted Connecticut families financed the return journey of the Acadians to Quebec when that became an option after 1766. For example, the Hebert family who lived in Guilford, CT departed for Laprairie in 1771, funded by Guilford residents. The Acadian-Home website has a postcard showing the Acadian home in Guilford.

However, Marguerite and her family didn’t leave then. They remained wherever they were for another 15+ years.

Where did they go?

Quebec, Eventually

We know that on November 10, 1767, Marguerite married French sailor Francois Lafay in the colonies before a justice of the peace due to the lack of a priest. Francois was reported to have left his ship in Boston, but we actually don’t know where they were married, other than in the colonies. I strongly suspect they were in Connecticut based on the 1763 list of families requesting transport to France.

You can see that the route from Connecticut to L’Acadie was almost due north. From Albany, one could follow the rivers through Lake Champlain and then on up the Richelieu River.

The family arrived in L’Acadie, Quebec between 1786 when their last child was born in the colonies and July 1788 when their first children were baptized in L’Acadie.

They rented a farm that September.

Their marriage was rehabilitated in the same church, Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie on June 23, 1792.

Translation from Father John:

Marriage of François Lafay and Marguerite Foret , Ste Marguerite de Blairfindie, L’Acadie, St-Jean, Quebec

On the twenty-third of June, Seventeen Hundred Ninety Two, I, undersigned, received the mutual consent of François Lafay and of Marguerite Foret, who pledged their troth (promis ensemble) before a justice of the peace in the Colonies, for lack of a priest, on the year Seventeen Hundred Sixty Seven*, this in the presence and in the form prescribed by Our Holy Mother the Church of Rome.  The groom signed along with me; the bride declared that she was unable to sign.  /s/ N. J. Lancto, priest   /s/ François Lafay

*On the tenth of November of the said year.

Marguerite and Francois had most of their children in the colonies. Not only that, but they survived the Revolutionary War wherever they lived. Did they support the war in one way or another, harboring deep resentment towards the British and what they did to their family?

Is that why they stayed after 1775?

Why did they leave, probably in early 1788?

One hint was reported by Marguerite’s daughter, Marie Lafay or Lafaille.

Marie told Baptist Missionaries that her elderly grandmother, Marie Josèphe Le Prince, became upset in 1787 that her children were losing their Catholic religion and culture and made the decision to send the family back to Canada. This makes sense, given that her daughter, Marie, had been educated in Protestant schools and clearly was leaning towards the Protestant religion.

Catholicism could not be practiced in the colonies.

Assuming this information is accurate, this tells us that Marie Josèphe Le Prince was still alive in 1787. She would have been 77 years old. Why didn’t she accompany her daughter to Quebec? Did she die before she could?

The 1790 census might hold a few clues.

There are no Foret nor Forest, but there are some de Forest families in Connecticut, specifically in Huntington.

However, none of these names are represented in the Jacques Forest family, and the Dutch De Forest family of New England is well known. These De Forest men don’t appear to be remnants of the Acadian family, but part of the Dutch De Forest branch. Having said that, both lines originated with the same French Huguenot refugee family in the Netherlands. I have to wonder if they knew about each other. They would have been roughly second cousins. Would the Connecticut branch have helped their Acadian cousins?

What happened to Marguerite’s family, and where were they?

I wish we knew.

Life in Quebec

When Marguerite arrived in Quebec, she and Francois had been married for 21 years and she had birthed at least 10 children. Her last child would be born on January 11th, 1789 and baptized in L’Acadie.

Her oldest daughter, Marie Lafay, married Honore Lore on August 10, 1789. Marguerite attended that wedding carrying her youngest child, a babe in arms who was just 7 months old. Her first grandchild was born in March of 1790, just 14 months younger than her youngest child. Those two children, aunt and nephew, probably grew up close – closer than siblings perhaps.

When Francois rented the farm in 1788, he claimed that he was a farmer, so it’s likely they had been farming someplace in New England.

Marguerite’s entire life had consisted of going from one crisis to another. First the Expulsion when she was 7. Living in exile for the next decade. Her father petitioned for transport to France in 1763 when she was 15, which was denied. She married in 1767 when she was 19, then the Revolutionary War erupted when she was about 27 years old. Following the war, the economy collapsed in New England. Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?

By the time the family made their way to Quebec a decade later, they were probably hoping for a peaceful life among their Acadian kin, in a culturally French community, along with the ability to practice their Catholic religion.

After all, Catholicism had been a big part of what they had fought for, why they resisted the British so steadfastly, and their faith had sustained them during the darkest hours. Even after three decades in exile, they were still unquestionably Catholic.

Unfortunately, a few years later, the War of 1812 would intrude into that hoped-for peaceful existence. In fact, the troops marched right up the Richelieu River, through L’Acadie, on their way from Lake Champlain to Montreal.

Marguerite’s son, Francois Lafay, born in 1776 in the midst of the Revolutionary War, served as a Lieutenant in the War of 1812.

Conflict seemed never far away, and this family had seen far more than their fair share.


Marguerite and Francois had at least 11 children and possibly more. The only children we know about are those who were either baptized in L’Acadie some years after their birth, whose marriage or death records we have or, in one case, who witnessed a marriage for their sibling. If children were born and died in Connecticut or wherever the family lived for 30+ years, we have no record other than a hint represented by a suspiciously long stretch between the births of known children. It would be very unusual for a couple not to lose a few children in that time and place.

  • Marie (Mary) Lafay was born in 1767 in New England, married Honore Lore (born 1768) on August 10, 1789, died August 9, 1836, and had 15 children, three of whom died before their grandmother, Marguerite.
  • Marguerite Lafay was born in 1769 in New England, married Joseph Duphaut, died May 10, 1824, and had 12 children, at least one of whom died before her grandmother.
  • Suzanne Lafay was born March 6, 1772 in New England, married Honore Lore (born 1742), died August 7, 1803, and had 7 children, two of whom died before their grandmother. The youngest child died a month after her birth and just a couple weeks before her mother, Suzanne.
  • Julie Lafay was born in 1774 in New England, married Ignace LaPorte Denis on February 9, 1801, died after 1813, and had 8 children, including twins on August 26, 1813, both of whom died before their grandmother. We don’t have Julie’s death record, but I’d wager that she died not long after the birth of her twins.
  • Francois Lafay was born on September 5, 1776 in New England, married Marie Mercier on February 10, 1800, died on September 5, 1849, and had 11 children, at least one of whom died before her grandmother.
  • Bridget Lafay was born in 1778 in New England, married Pierre Gamache on February 5, 1798, died after 1861, and had 12 children.
  • Angelique Lafay was born about 1780 in New England and signed her sister’s marriage record in 1798. We lose track of her after that.
  • Marie Anne Lafay was born about 1782 in New England, married Francois Lore on June 9, 1806, died on June 4, 1849, and had 7 children, two of whom died before their grandmother.
  • Antoine Hylaire Lafay was born about 1784 in New England, married on February 18, 1811 to Francoise Archange Moleur, and had 4 children, one of whom died before his grandmother.
  • Pierre Clement Lafay was born in 1786 in New England, was married on November 19, 1810 to Archange Tremblai, and had 13 children.
  • Francoise Lafay was born on January 11, 1789, married on October 25, 1813 to Pierre Granger, died December 15, 1829, and had 10 children, two of whom died before their grandmother.

Marguerite had a total of 99 grandchildren, 78 of whom were born before she passed away. I can’t help but wonder how she kept them all straight.

Total children Children born before 1819 Died before 1819 Unknown death date before 1819
Marie 15 15 2 1
Marguerite 12 12 1 6
Suzanne 7 7 2 0
Julie 8 8 2 0
Francois 11 6 1 1
Bridget 12 11 0 10
Angelique ?
Marie Ann 7 6 2 1
Antoine 4 3 1 0
Pierre Clement 13 7 0 3
Francoise 10 3 2 1
Totals 99 78 13 23

Marguerite stood at the side of small graves with their tiny wooden caskets and buried at least 13 grandbabies. I don’t have death dates for 23 grandchildren who were born before 1819, so I suspect that some of those also died before Marguerite.

Additionally, Marguerite lived to know 18 of her great-grandchildren as well, although I don’t have death dates for those children either.

If you total the births and deaths beginning with the first grandchild’s birth, Marguerite was in church for a baptism or a funeral of her adult child, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren about once every 7 weeks. That doesn’t include regular church services, marriages or similar events for friends or other family members. It would be safe to say that Marguerite probably attended church for one reason or another every day or two.

Marguerite’s Death

Marguerite died at 71 years of age on February 16, 1819 in L’Acadie and was buried two days later.

Translation by Father John:

Burial of Marguerite Laforet

On the eighteenth of February Eighteen Hundred Nineteen, I, priest undersigned, buried in the cemetery of this parish the body of Marguerite Laforet, who died two days ago (avant hier) at the age of seventy one years, having received the sacraments of the Church. Spouse of François Lafaille, Present were Eliz Caisse and Michel Tremblay, who declared they were unable to sign, upon inquiry.  /s/ B. Paquin, priest

Marguerite was interred in the cemetery beside the church she attended for 31 years. The church where she would have oh-so-gratefully fallen to her knees in 1788, thankful to be able to worship freely and receive the sacraments once again. She saw her children and grandchildren baptized and married there, and wept at many funerals.

Eventually, the funerals of her children and grandchildren were held inside the familiar sanctuary, and they would be buried in the churchyard, someplace near Marguerite.


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FamilyTreeDNA’s New Big-Y Group on Facebook

FamilyTreeDNA recently created a private Big Y Facebook group.

This group is different than others because it’s focused solely on the Big Y product and how to use it for genealogy, and it’s run by FamilyTreeDNA. Additionally, several knowledgeable community members are administrators and moderators. (Full disclosure – I’m a moderator.)

The new group has been around for only a few days, and already there are some very interesting postings.

For example, I asked earlier in the day how people go about recruiting men, especially from other countries, to take a Big Y test. Everyone who lives in a diaspora region wants to know where their ancestors are from. We want to connect with our homeland, find their communities, and, if we are lucky, walk in their footsteps.

In the past four hours, there have been 13 very well-thought-out responses that include several ideas and examples. I encourage you to join and participate. Here’s the link to the Big Y group, and here’s the link to that posting. Perhaps you have an idea to add, you need ideas, or both.

You don’t have to be a male or to have taken a Big Y test to join, but you do have to answer questions. Please don’t invite your friends to join because people must request to join themselves to be able to answer the mandatory questions.

Anyone who does not answer all of the questions will not be approved. We are trying to restrict admission to non-trolls and people who are actually interested in the topic at hand to assure a good experience for everyone.

I’m very excited about this new educational opportunity. It’s unusual for a vendor to create a resource where you are interacting with their staff, so take a Big Y test, or purchase one for your toughest lineage, and join the Big Y Group. Please either use this direct link to join, or be sure you are joining the group with the image, above, because there are a couple with similar names.

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New Information About Philip Jacob Miller (c1726-1799) and Magdalena Possibly Rochette (c1730-1800/1808) – 52 Ancestors #404

I’ve written about Philip Jacob Miller and his wife, Magdalena, whose birth surname has been reported forever as Rochette.

One of the reasons I publish such extensive articles, including literally everything I know or can find about each ancestor, is to cast a trail of breadcrumbs. There’s always a chance that a future researcher will come across something new. I may or may not be here, but I really do want accurate information to outlive me.

Recently, that’s exactly what happened. Christine Berwanger, Ph. D., a descendant of Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena through daughters Christena who married Henry Snell, and Hannah who married Arnold Snider, contacted me with information I did not previously have. I’m very grateful to both Christine and Doris Sullivan Bache, who Christine credits with doing a great deal of the original research back in the 1980s.

Doris, an avid researcher and descendant of Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena through the Snider line passed away in 2009 and is memorialized here.

Thankfully, Doris shared with Christine, who shared with me and has graciously granted me permission to share with you.

Let’s start with Philip Jacob Miller’s estate packet.

Philip Jacob Miller’s Estate Packet

Christine said that Doris ordered Philip Jacob’s entire estate packet and sent her copies of receipts along with a letter in 1989.

From Christine’s May 2023 email to me:

An ancestor’s estate file provides perhaps the most complete picture we will have of his life. Hence, I include the transcribed inventory and settlement of Philip Jacob Miller’s worldly possessions, in addition to his generous bequeaths of land to his children and their families. Note the Bible. Also of interest, the descriptions of the animals, the smoothbore gun, and the coffee mill.

Note the large sum due from Col. Thomas Hart to the estate. Thomas Hart was a prominent merchant in Hagerstown, Maryland, and an associate of Daniel Boone, who removed to Lexington, Kentucky in 1794. He was the father-in-law of Henry Clay. Henry Snell purchased his Fleming County land from Hart[i] There was clearly a relationship with this prominent person and the Miller/Snell family.

Receipt No. 54, 22 Nov 1795[ii], includes payment for a trip to Annapolis, and a payment of 9.15.1 to Nathaniel Rochester – who was a close associate and partner of Col. Hart, Hagerstown Postmaster 1793-1803, Washington County Maryland Sheriff 1804-1806, the first president of the Hagerstown Bank founded in 1807, and founder of Rochester, New York.[iii]

Other prominent persons are named in the estate. Martin Baum, born in Hagerstown in 1765 and later mayor of Cincinnati, was a witness to:

Receipt No. 33, 20 Sep 1808[iv]

Received at Cincinnati Septr 20th 1808 of Abraham Miller one of the Administrators of Philip Jacob Millers Estate Twenty Dollars being part of my legacy of the said Estate In witness whereof I hereunto set my hand


Martin Baum            Arnold      x    Snider


The estate was a complex one: the inventory was conducted in Sep 1799, but the settlement was not completed until Sep 1808. Abraham, as Administrator, documented thirty-nine days travel back to Hagerstown, Maryland, three trips to Lexington, Kentucky, four days travel to Chillicothe, Ohio (state Capitol and location of a land office), four days to the Court in Newport, Kentucky, and four days showing the land to appraisers. He charged the estate $88.50 for travel and expenses. David Miller, as Administrator, spent eighteen days travelling to Lexington, eight days to Fleming County, fifteen days going to Court, two days to the Sheriff of Campbell County, recording a deed in Williamsburg, four days to Chillicothe, for expenses of $58.18 ¾. He also credited himself with $8 paid to his mother.[v] Abraham and David had families and farms and were active in their Brethren Church. These duties must have been onerous, yet they persisted.

Collecting debts owed to the estate involved several transactions. The estate paid Nicholas Rochester 5.7.6 for collecting $699 2/100. (The image clearly reads Nicholas; I have been unable to match a Nicholas Rochester. Nathaniel did not have a son or a brother by that name. If Nathaniel was meant, this is a different transaction than the one in 1795.) Surveyor General of the Virginia Military District and prominent landowner William Lytle signed a receipt pertaining to the debt owed the estate by Col Thomas Hart. Witness James Taylor was a prominent resident of Newport, Kentucky.

Receipt No. 55, 14 Apr 1800[vi]

Received of Daniel Miller by the hands of David Miller an order for Two hundred dollars on Colo Thomas Hart of Lexington Kentucky, which if accepted, is to be in full for the one hundred acres of land on which the said Daniel now lives as witness my hand this 14th of April 1800

Teste James Taylor                   Wm. Lytle

Summary, Life and Estate of Philip Jacob Miller:

Philip Jacob Miller was devoted to his family, his religion, his land, his community, and his country. He, in accordance with the principles of the German Baptist Brethren and other sects such as the Amish and Mennonites, chose to live a simple life. His estate inventory attests to that. Yet, he accrued wealth. He loaned money rather than spent it. He accrued enough to bequest each of his ten children 200 acres and further distributions from his estate.

He moved in the circles of the merchants and landowners of his time as well as the circles of his neighbors and co-religionists. His simple lifestyle did not mean he did not participate in the life of the broader community. Records attest that he did. We use our understanding of history to understand the context of the lives our ancestors lived; yet our ancestor’s lives influenced that history.

Mary Christine Berwanger

[1] Editor James F. Hopkins and Associate Editor Mary W. M. Hargreaves, editor, The Papers of Henry Clay. 2, The Rising statesman, 1815-1820 (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1961).

2 Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller, Campbell County KY Estate Administration, Settlement Drawer 1817-1836, envelope 1828 (should be 1808), Alexandria, Kentucky. 22 Feb 1989, Doris S. Bache mailed to me a transcript of receipts No. 27 through No. 66, typed pages 7 through 13, mostly distributions from the estate to family beneficiaries. Pages 1 through 6 were not included, presumably because they did not pertain to family members. This was in the day of taking handwritten notes, typing them up, and going to the library to make copies to mail to other researchers.

3 Biography at Sheriff Nathaniel Rochester’s Records, Washington County, 1804-1806

4 Receipt No. 33, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.

5 Receipt No. 66, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.

6 Receipt No. 55, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.

[i] Editor James F. Hopkins and Associate Editor Mary W. M. Hargreaves, editor, The Papers of Henry Clay. 2, The Rising statesman, 1815-1820 (Lexington, Kentucky: University Press of Kentucky, 1961).

[ii] Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller, Campbell County KY Estate Administration, Settlement Drawer 1817-1836, envelope 1828 (should be 1808), Alexandria, Kentucky. 22 Feb 1989, Doris S. Bache mailed to me a transcript of receipts No. 27 through No. 66, typed pages 7 through 13, mostly distributions from the estate to family beneficiaries. Pages 1 through 6 were not included, presumably because they did not pertain to family members. This was in the day of taking handwritten notes, typing them up, and going to the library to make copies to mail to other researchers.

[iii] Biography at Sheriff Nathaniel Rochester’s Records, Washington County, 1804-1806

[iv] Receipt No. 33, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.

[v] Receipt No. 66, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.

[vi] Receipt No. 55, Receipts, Estate of Philip Jacob Miller.


The source of Magdalena’s oft-reported surname as Rochette has baffled me and many other researchers for decades.

Christine, thanks to Doris, has been able to provide what is probably the original source for that surname. I’m saying it now, and I’ll say it again – this by no means proves that Magdalena’s surname was Rochette. It does, however, provide one more piece of evidence and an answer to the question of where that name came from.

From Christine:

Rochette – from a “loose paper in a family bible”

Click on the image to enlarge

This may be a copy of the “loose paper in a family bible.”

Doris S. Bache mentioned in her letter of 22 Feb 1989: “When I heard from Sharon Biggs in reference to the maiden name of Magdalena Miller, the name “Rochette” had come from a loose paper in a family bible. Author unknown, also. I am accepting the maiden name, but as you will note, most of the earlier information is incorrect, with the alternating of Phillip and Jacob in the generations before 1729. Of course, the name Morgan has been proven to be Maugens.” Doris is referring to the two pages above, taped together, which was included with her letter. She received this from Sharon Biggs.

Philip Jacob Miller married Magdalena Rochette, born in Sedan, France. Their children are listed (pencil checkmarks) with Abraham underlined. Both the name Rochette and the place Sedan, France are specific. If this is a copy of the loose paper from the bible, the (presumably) descendent who wrote it, knew the names of Philip and Magdalen’s children, so might indeed have known Magdalena’s surname and place of birth.

Sedan, France was a source of Huguenot refugees following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.

French Huguenots relocated throughout Europe and to the Americas. It is possible that Magdalen’s family fled to Germany or America.

Philip Jacob Miller and Magdalena Rochette are apparently the Miller ancestors of the author. Listed below their names are the Maugans / Morgan ancestors: Conrad Morgan, said to be born in Virginia, and wife. Listed are some of their known children, with Katherine underlined. The wife named, “Margaret Mynne or Marie” does not match other sources, who give his wife as Anna Rebecca Hoffman (1739–1810).

Next, Abraham Miller, son of Philip Jacob and Magdalena, married Katherine Morgan, daughter of Conrad and wife. Their son Matthias Miller is underlined. He married Elizabeth Gorman. Their daughter Emma Miller (1849-1925) is underlined. She married Elihu T. Hedrick.

The paper comprises a direct line Ahnentafel from Emma Miller to her great-grandparents. The author of the paper is likely Emma herself or one of her children. It is certainly possible for a person to know from family history the names and origins of his or her great-grandparents. It is also possible for confusion on the part of the person writing down notes from memory.

Abraham Miller’s entry gives his birthdate and place as 28 Apr 1764 in Frederick County, Maryland, which agrees with the entry in Philip Jacob Miller’s Bible: “My son Abraham was born April 28, 1764.” Katherine Morgan his wife, was born 16 Jul 1767 in Frederick County. The note further states, “Their children were born in Clermont Co. Ohio, on bounty land given to Abraham Miller’s father by King George 2.” This statement is a confusion of time and place, but as with most oral history, there is some truth in it.

Abraham’s father, Philip Jacob Miller, intended each of his children to have a 200-acre parcel. Sons Abraham and David, as administrators of his estate, purchased 2000 acres, most in Virginia Military Survey 3790. The Virginia Military District was established as bounty land for Virginia Revolutionary soldiers. Often, they did not occupy the land but sold it to someone else. “Survey 3790, for Taylor, James et. al for Jacob Miller, C. C. [chain carrier], Jacob Snyder, C. C. [chain carrier], and Abraham Miller, M [marker]. With William Lytle, D. S. [Deputy Surveyor], and dates February 20, 1880 and June 9, 1802. These survey crews were comprised of: The D. S. Deputy Surveyor, C. C. chain carriers, and M. marker. The crews were often early settlers in the area.”  Hence Survey of 3790, from which Philip Jacob’s estate subsequently purchased 2000 acres of William Lytle, was in the Virginia Military District, hence bounty land. Abraham sold his 200-acre lot from his father’s estate to William Spence for $400, 22 Apr 1805. He instead resided in Clermont County, but I have not tracked his deeds.

In 1808, Abraham and David surveyed part of the Virginia Military District in Goshen Township, Clermont County, Survey 5959. “Abraham Miller was marker, David Miller was Chain Carrier.”

Perhaps land that Philip Jacob Miller’s father Michael Miller bought in Pennsylvania was originally granted by George the Second. I have not seen his Chester County deeds. Stinchcomb’s deed was in 1725, sold to Michael Miller et al in 1744. George II reigned from 1727-1760.

Summary, Questions, and Coincidences: This document records family history, and most of the information is verified by other sources.

The name Rochette and origin in Sedan, France is too specific to disregard out of hand, especially since this document existed prior to the Internet, when one could search a name and connect it to a person with no other evidence than the surname.


There was a French Huguenot Rochet family from Sedan, France, and daughter Suzanne was smuggled out, married, and settled in Virginia.

“The most interesting story relating to the Huguenots of Manakin Town [Virginia] is that of Suzanne Rochet. After Revocation of Edict of Nantes in 1658, the refugee daughters of Moses Rochet wrote from Amsterdam to their father in France to send them their youngest sister, Suzanne. Since the French government was keeping strict watch to prevent the escape of Huguenots from the country, the Rochets always referred to Suzanne as “the Little Nightcap.” After several unsuccessful attempts to send his daughter past the Guards, Rochet finally smuggled her out of the country to Holland with the aid of a friendly ship-captain. In the French Church Amsterdam, Suzanne married July 1692 Abraham Michaux, a Huguenot refugee from Sedan. By 1705 they and their children had joined the colony at Manakin Town” [Virginia].

Source: “The Little Nightcap” by the Rev. W. Twyman Williams recorded here.

“At the same time, her sisters in Holland became very much concerned about her. They had found refuge in Amsterdam and wished to have her in safety there with them. So they wrote to their father, but for fear that the letter might be read by spies and informers, they did not refer to Suzanne. Instead, they asked their father to make every effort to send them “the little nightcap” they had left behind when they made their escape. But how? At last, Jean Rochet hit upon a plan. He found a ship’s captain.” “This man, though not a Huguenot, was kindly enough disposed to help. So Jean Rochet had his daughter set into a hogshead marked “merchandise,” fastened down the head of the large barrel, and hauled it to the ship. The captain had it taken aboard and stowed away. The ship was searched, but the hidden girl was not discovered. As soon as the danger of further search was over, the captain let her out of her uncomfortable hiding place and got her safely to Holland.”

This paper says Conrad Maugans / Morgan was born in Virginia. Some ancestry trees claim Magdalena Rochette was his sister. Is there any evidence that the Maugans were Huguenot? Or that they were in Virginia?

The name Rochette is sometimes given as LaRoche, which broadens the search possibilities.

French Huguenots went to Germany, and went to Pennsylvania, where they married into German families. It is possible that Philip Jacob Miller married a French woman, known to the family in Germany or met in Pennsylvania. “The French Element among the Pennsylvania Germans” should be understood before concluding that Philip Jacob Miller did not marry a French woman.

There is a German site dedicated to Huguenot genealogy, which contains the name Rochette.


Alma A. Smith, The Virginia Military Surveys of Clermont and Hamilton Counties, Ohio 1787-1849 (Cincinnati, Ohio: A.A. Smith, 1985), p. 141, 20 Feb 1800.

 Alma A. Smith, The Virginia Military Surveys of Clermont and Hamilton Counties, Ohio 1787-1849, p. 174, 19 May 1808.

Excellent description of the connections and intermarriages of the French and Germans. George G. Struble, “The French Element among the Pennsylvania Germans” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, Vol 22 (July 1955)pp, 267–76,

Deutsche Hugenotten-Gesellschaft e.V.,

Click to access 2018-08-namensliste-pro-gen.pdf

My Analysis

I’m incredibly grateful to Christine, Doris, and Sharon Biggs. I’m especially impressed that Christine can actually find a letter from 1989!

Let’s take a look at this information.

The analysis of Philip Jacob Miller’s estate packet brings his life into perspective in a new and different light. The information I had previously was a list of inventory items and a list of bills. Doris clearly possessed the entire packet that included receipts with additional information, not to mention the additional research into the identities of the various people mentioned in the estate settlement.

It appears that Philip Jacob was quite well-off later in his life. I can’t help but wonder if the fact that he reluctantly served in the Revolutionary War may have opened doors that allowed him to purchase the 2000 acres, providing a 200-acre farm to each of his children.

Let’s look at the information in that unsourced but clearly authentic Bible record.

Philip Jacob’s birth location is likely incorrect. Philip Jacob Miller’s parents were living in Krotelbach, Germany, when they were married in 1714, with their first child baptized the following year. In April of 1719, another son was baptized in Kallstadt. A third son was born on the farm by the name of Weilach near Bad Durkheim in April of 1721. There is absolutely nothing to indicate that the family settled in the Netherlands before immigrating to the US. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely that Philip Jacob was born in the Netherlands between 1723 and 1727.

The second questionable item from that Bible record involves Conrad Maugans, sometimes referred to as Morgan. This man was born around 1735 and was clearly German. It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that he was born in Virginia. It’s also very unlikely that Magdalena was his sister. Three of her children married Conrad’s children. David Miller married Conrad’s daughter Magdalene Maugans.  Additionally, her son Abraham Miller married Catherine Maugans. A third child, Esther Miller, married Gabriel Maugans. First-cousin marriages did occur in Brethren families so that alone does not rule out Magdalena and Conrad being siblings. However, it is interesting that she has no child named Conrad, nor do her children who did not marry his children.

I have found no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Philip Jacob’s wife, Magdalena, was a Maugans. I’ve seen that rumor for years as well.

I strongly suspect the confusion arose because Conrad’s daughter, Magdalene married a Miller and was therefore Magdalene Miller. Conrad’s will was written in German, but has been translated by an anonymous researcher.

Next, let’s do some math. We know that Magdalena Miller was born sometime around 1730, and that she and Philip Jacob Miller likely married in York County, PA, around 1750 but no later than July of 1751 based on the birth date of their first child. It’s also possible that they married in Lancaster Co., PA or Frederick Co., MD. Unfortunately, Brethren did not register their marriages.

Philip Jacob was Brethren, so she would have to have been Brethren too, or converted, in order for them to be married and remain within the church. What I do know, absolutely, positively, is that there is no Rochette surname of any family in any of these three counties in a relevant timeframe. Women in that time and place did NOT travel around without their family. If Magdalena was a Rochette, then where was her father or other family members?

Furthermore, if Magdalena was indeed the Suzanne Rochet, Huguenot from Sedan, she was born sometime around 1658 and married Abraham Michaux in 1692, so she clearly is not the Magdalena born around 1730. The “little nightcap” story, however, is lovely and excellent history all by itself.

There is some discussion that the Magdalena in question is Suzanne’s daughter, but then her surname would be Michaux, not Rochette.

I’m highly skeptical based on that, in addition to the fact that the Magdalena who married Philip Jacob had to have been Brethren, either before or certainly at the time of their marriage.

I’d feel a lot better about the Rochette surname and the Sedan location if the rest of that Bible information was accurate. Doris mentioned that she had found additional discrepancies.

Having said that, the information is very specific, including the Sedan location. Perhaps this information is not entirely wrong, just a generation or two offset?

If Magdalena’s surname was Rochette or something similar, I would expect to have at least a few DNA matches. I have MANY Miller matches from Philip Jacob’s father, Michael Miller, through is other children.

However, I don’t have matches to someone with the surname of Rochette, or similar, with two exceptions.

Unfortunately, at Ancestry, I can’t search by ancestor, so while I do have matches to people with Rochette in their trees, the ones I reviewed are Magdalena listed as Rochette. What I really need to do is be able to filter by Rochette matches not=Magdalena Rochette who is married to Philip Jacob Miller.

I did find a Rochette match at MyHeritage, but the match to this person could be through a different line. Another French match that could be helpful has a private tree, so no cigar there, either.

At FamilyTreeDNA, my mother’s matches to Rochette are only trees reflecting Magdalena as a Rochette.

I checked Filae and found nothing for a Magdalena Rochette of the right age, but Christine jumped right into serious research.

Christine’s French Huguenot Research

From Christine:

Note: Madeleine or Magdeleine are French versions of Magdalena.

The Huguenots were Calvinist Protestants, and their Reformed Churches recorded sacramental records.

“On October 18, 1685, the Edict of Nantes was revoked and French Huguenots could either convert to Catholicism, face life in a prison or convent, or flee the country. At this time, there were about 800,000 Huguenots in France, and nearly one-fourth of them left the country.”

French Reformed sacramental records are available from Sedan, Ardennes, France, from the 1500s and 1600s, indexed on FamilySearch (link here) but not (on FamilySearch) after the Edict of Nantes when the French Reformed Churches were suppressed. The baptism records which documented “the Little Nightcap” family are amazingly easy to read.

From these records and online ancestry or FamilySearch trees, this Sedan Rochette family included men who did not marry or die in Sedan (from these records) who might have moved elsewhere to become the grand-father, father, uncle of Magdalena / Madeleine. [Chart below is incomplete, not verified with original sources.]

Little Night Cap had a daughter Anne Madeleine. [I did not record all her children. Daughter Olive Judith married an Anthony Morgan, who does not seem to be related to the Maugans/ Morgans of the Miller lines.]

Little Night Cap is not the only Rochette woman to come to the New World [see Susanna daughter of Isaac] and it is likely some of the Rochette men came also. Having their baptismal dates and relationships from the Sedan records makes it more likely to match them to other men of the same name and age.

Did Magdalena/Madeleine’s family also leave before 1685? Did the Huguenots who remained in France continue to record their sacramental records? If so, where might those be?

They migrated to Protestant Countries, so in those places their later sacraments would have been recorded, such as in the Netherlands (cited in Little Night Cap’s family), parts of Germany, etc., and their churches in the New World. They did end up assimilating.

Descendancy Narrative of Moses Thiery Rochet

From Christine:

Moses Thiery1 ROCHET was born in 1615. He married Suzanne RONDEAU on 7 Feb 1638 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.1 He died on 31 Dec 1649.

Jean2 ROCHET was born in 1641 at Sedan, Ardennes, France. He married Marie TRUFET on 21 Dec 1664 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.2

Susan3 “Little Night Cap” ROCHET. Her married name was MICHAUX. She was baptized on 13 Apr 1667 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.3 She married Abraham MICHAUX on 13 Jul 1692 at Amsterdam, Netherlands. She immigrated on 8 May 1701 to London, England. She died on 18 Dec 1744 at Virginia at age 77.4

      1. Olive Judi4 MICHAUX married Anthony MORGAN. Her married name was MORGAN. She was born in 1706 at Virginia.5 She died on 27 Oct 1760 at Virginiia.6
      2. Anne Madeline4 MICHAUX was born in 1706 at Virginia. She died in 1796 at Virginia.

Isaac3 ROCHET died in 1672. He was baptized on 30 Aug 1672 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.7

Louis3 ROCHET was baptized on 5 May 1676 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.8 He died on 1 Oct 1726 at age 50.9

Daniel3 ROCHET was baptized on 5 Jan 1679 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.10

Jacques2 ROCHET was born in 1642. He died in 1647.

Isaac2 ROCHET was also known as Isaac DE LA ROQUET. He was born in 1641 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.11 He was baptized on 10 Jan 1644 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.12 He married Jeanne DUFRAY on 16 May 1666 at Reformed Protestant Church, Sedan, Ardennes, France. He married Jeanne DUFRAY on 16 May 1666 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.2 He died in Nov 1695 at age 51.

    1. Susanna3 ROCHET. Her married name was GARRIGUES. She was born in 1686 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.13 She married Matthieu GARRIGUES on 28 May 1702 at Netherlands. She died on 30 Sep 1746 at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.14

Marie2 ROCHET was born on 22 Aug 1645.15 She died in 1763 at Sedan, Ardennes, France.

Vincent2 ROCHET was born on 18 Sep 1646.

Charles2 ROCHET was born on 29 Dec 1647.16 He died on 12 Jul 1670 at Sedan, Ardennes, France, at age 22.17

Printed on: 13 May 2023

Prepared by: Mary Christine Berwanger, Ph.D.


  1. Ardennes: Sedan – Tables alphabétique des mariages, Ms 664/index, 1573-1682 family search.
  2. Ardennes: Sedan – Tables alphabétique des mariages, Ms 664/index, 1573-1682 familysearch.
  3. Name Susane Rochet
    Sex     Female
    Father’s Name     Jean Rochet
    Mother’s Name     Marie Trufet
    Event Baptism, 13 Apr 1667, Sedan, Ardennes, France
    “France, registres protestants, 1536-1897,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 19 February 2021), Susane Rochet, 13 Apr 1667; citing Baptism, Societe de L’histoire du Protestantisme Francais (Society of the History of French Protestantism), Paris.
  4. Suzanne Laroche ROCHETTE (1667–1744)
    Birth 13 APR 1667 • Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France
    Death 18 DEC 1744 • Manakin Sabot, Goochland, Virginia, USA.
  5. Olive Judi Morgan (1706–1760) Birth 1706 • Manakin, Goochland County, Virginia, USA.
  6. Death 27 OCTOBER 1760 • Cumberland County, Virginia, USA.
  7. Name Isaac Rochet
    Sex     Male
    Father’s Name     Jean Rochet
    Mother’s Name     Marie Trufet
    Event    Baptism, 30 Aug 1672, Sedan, Ardennes, France.
  8. Name Louis Rochet
    Sex     Male
    Father’s Name     Jean Rochet
    Mother’s Name     Marie Truffet
    Event  Baptism 05 May 1676, Sedan, Ardennes, France.
  9. 1 October 1726.
  10. Christening • 1 Source 5 January 1679Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France.
  11. Isaac De La Roquet (Rochet) (1641–1695)
    Birth 1641 • Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France
    Death NOV 1695.
  12. 10 January 1644, familysearch.
  13. Birth 1686 • Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France.
  14. Death 30 SEP 1746 • Christ Church, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Colonial America.
  15. Birth 22 August 1645 Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France
    Death 1763 Sedan, France.
  16. 29 December 1647.
  17. 12 July 1670 Sedan, Ardennes, Champagne-Ardenne, France.

Rochette, or Not?

Combining the information provided by Christine and Doris along with additional research provides additional information but no smoking gun. The jury is still out. However, we now have additional information, including the probable source of the surname, Rochette.

At this point, I’m no more convinced that her surname was Rochette than I was before. I am, however, very grateful to have solved the mystery of where the Rochette rumor originated.

I’m hoping that some of the Miller researchers will be able to provide additional information about the source of the Bible or maybe even more about the source of Rochette.

I’m also VERY hopeful that someone will discover information about Magdalena’s origins. Or, perhaps someone has additional Rochette information that might be helpful. I was unable to find Rochette information in the relevant counties, but maybe other researchers have or can.

Just putting this out there and hoping that this update finds its way to the right researcher and that one day, we can actually solve the mystery of Magdalena’s parents.

However, we do have another clue…

Can DNA Help?

We have the mitochondrial DNA of Magdalena. Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother through a direct line of females – so her mother, and her mother, on up the tree.

We know that Magdalena’s mitochondrial DNA is an exact match with a descendant of Mary Myers born February 8, 1775, in Pennsylvania and who died on September 28, 1849, in Montgomery County, Ohio. Unfortunately, we don’t know who Mary Myer’s parents were. Maybe one of you descends from this line or has information about the Myers family. Also spelled Meyers, Moyers.

Of course, mitochondrial DNA can reach far back in time, but the migration path from Pennsylvania to Montgomery County, Ohio, is the path the Brethren took to settle that region, and is where Magdalena’s descendant lives who tested. Montgomery County was the dispersion point for the Brethren North into Indiana and westward as well.

Another mitochondrial match also connects to the Zircle/Meyer family in Rockingham/Augusta County, VA where several Brethren families settled about the time of the Revolutionary War. These families originated in the Lancaster/York County, PA region or the Frederick County, MD region.

Tracking a match back to the earliest ancestor, I found that Peter Zirkle (c1745-c1818)’s wife’s name was “Fanny” and she is reported to be Frene “Fannie” Meyer. I have found several attributions, but no place can I find how the Meyer surname was attributed to her, or who here parents were. Assuming Fanny was born about 1745 as well, Magdalena born about 1730 could have been her sister or maybe a cousin.

Meyer/Moyer is noted as one of the founding Brethren families in York County, PA where Philip Jacob Miller was living when he married. It’s VERY likely that he married within the Brethren families.

The History of York Co, PA, written in 1907 tells us that the first Brethren congregation in York (now Adams) County was the Conewago Church which was established in 1738, “20 miles west from the town of York, on the Little Conewago,” which was in the vicinity of Hanover.

Surnames of the families who were among the early church members were Eldrick, Dierdorff, Bigler, Gripe (Cripe), Studsman (Stutzman) and others.

Prominent members include Jacob Moyer, James Henrick, preachers; Hans Adam Snyder, George Wine, Daniel Woods, Henry Geing, Joseph Moyer, Nicholas Hostetter, Christian Hostetter, Rudy Brown, Dobis Brother, Jacob Miller, Michael Koutz, Stephen Peter, Henry Tanner, Michael Tanner, John Moyer, Jacob Souder, Henry Hoff, John Swartz.  The wives of these persons named were also members of the church.

Unmarried members were Barbara Snyder John Geing, Maud Bowser, George Peter, Hester Wise, Christian Etter, John Peter Weaver, Barbara Bear, Elizabeth Boering, Grace Hymen. Their first preacher was Daniel Leatherman, Sr, followed by Nicholas Martin, Jacob Moyer (Meyers) and James Hendrich (Henry.)

In 1741, a new church was founded “on the Great Conewago, about 14 miles west from the new town of York.”  Founding members there include John Neagley, Adam Sower, Jacob Sweigard, Peter Neiper and Joseph Latshaw. The first elder was George Adam Martin followed by Daniel Leatherman Jr. and Nicholas Martin. In 1770 members included George Brown, John Heiner, Peter Fox, Anthony Dierdorff, Nicholas Moyer, Manasseh Brough, Michael Bosserman, David Ehrhard, Daniel Baker, Abraham Stauffer, Henry Dierdorff, John Burkholder, Andrew Trimmer, Eastace Rensel, Peter Dierdorff, Barnett Augenbaugh, John Neagley, Michael Brissel, Welty Brissel, Matthias Bouser, Laurence Baker, Philip Snell, Nicholas Baker Jr., Adam Sower, Adam Dick, Henry Brissel, David Brissel, Henry Radibush, George Wagner and George Reeson.  Unmarried members were Peter Wertz, Ann Mummert, Christian Fray, Samuel Arnold, Mary Latshaw, Catharine Studabaker, Nicholas Baker, Marillas Baker, Sarah Brissel, Jacob Miller, Rudolph Brown.

Can anyone tell me what happened to the Moyer men listed above?

  • Jacob Moyer
  • Joseph Moyer
  • John Moyer
  • Nicholas Moyer

Are they related? Who is their father? Who were their wives?  And perhaps more importantly, did they have a sibling or child, Magdalena, born about 1730?

Does anyone know if any of these men wound up in Rockingham County, VA by 1773 or so?

Please reach out if you descend from these families, and especially if you descend from these families through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female. If you do, you carry the mitochondrial DNA of their wife and daughters. Please reach out to me.

Do You Descend from a Brethren Female Line?

Do you descend matrilineally from a Brethren female line, meaning through all females beginning with your mother? If so, your mitochondrial DNA descends from a Brethren family.

If you have already taken the mitochondrial DNA test at FamilyTreeDNA, please join the Miller-Brethren DNA project. If you have not tested, please order a mitochondrial DNA test, here, and join the Miller Brethren DNA Project.

Based on the Brethren cultural handicap of not registering marriages, mitochondrial DNA testing is critically important. It provides the tools to identify and place Brethren females with their families. DNA, in this case, promises to do what traditional genealogy cannot.


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Paint LivingDNA Chromosome Segments to DNAPainter

LivingDNA entered the genetic genealogy landscape as a vendor in September of 2016, A British company, they were and remain focused on British Isles testers and ethnicity based on the POBI, People of the British Isles Study.

Initially, they provided only ethnicity results and high-level haplogroups, but added family matching relatively recently.

If you have not tested or uploaded to LivingDNA, you may want to read about the company and leadership, here, before doing so.

Family Matching

Please note that their family matching is imperfect, so exercise a great deal of caution.

This states that my mother’s kit, which I uploaded and own, has no matches.

My mother reportedly has no matches, including NOT TO ME. If I were to make a family inference from this, I would conclude that my mother is not my mother. That is very clearly not the case. For obvious reasons, it could be even more damaging within a family unit for a DNA company to report no matches between a father and child.

However, a second upload file from the same testing company for my mother at LivingDNA DOES reflect me as a match.

I have about 650 matches at LivingDNA, but I only share 141 matches with my mother. The rest would either be to my father’s side of the family, or identical by chance (IBC.)

Chromosome Browser

LivingDNA has been promising a chromosome browser “soon” for several years now, since at least the fall of 2017 when I spoke to them at Genetic Genealogy Ireland in Dublin. That long-awaited day has arrived. You can view your matches in a chromosome browser and paint your segments with your matches at DNAPainter to obtain additional information.

To briefly review, the purpose of a chromosome browser is to identify specific segments of your DNA that you share in common with your matches. These common segments will be associated with your common ancestors, presuming the match is identical by descent (IBD) and not identical by chance (IBC.) If you’re unfamiliar, you can read about those concepts in the article Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance.

Assigning Common Segments

Of course, assigning common DNA segments with your matches to specific ancestors implies one of three things.


  1. A tree where you can identify a common ancestor or ancestral line with your match
  2. Shared matches with a family member you know
  3. Communications with your match to identify a shared ancestor

LivingDNA does not provide a tree function, so you cannot view other testers’ family trees. Neither do they provide a field for a link to an existing tree someplace else, so users are handicapped.

LivingDNA does provide a message facility, so you can message your matches and ask about their genealogy and where they may have a tree you can view.

Unless you recognize a match or your match provides you with a tree to view, you may only be able to identify common ancestors through previously identified shared matches.

Shared Matches

Your best bet is identifying a cousin or other family member at LivingDNA. I only have one match that I can identify, and that’s my mother.

I can click on our 141 shared matches in common to view that list.

Unfortunately, my closest shared match with my mother is 36 cM. Matches are not listed in segment size order. LivingDNA is not popular outside of the British Isles, but you never know where a useful match will pop up.

My closest match, other than my mother, is Christopher with whom I share 101 cM across five segments.

Christopher does not share a match with my mother, and 101 cM is too large to be IBC, so my conclusion would be that Christopher and I share ancestors on my father’s side.

I viewed the 17 shared matches Christopher and I have in common, but I don’t recognize anyone from the other testing sites.

I could, of course, message Christopher and ask about his genealogy.

However, there’s another option too. Because I’ve been painting my known matches at DNAPainter, I can now paint my match with Christopher, which might identify our common ancestor or at least provide a significant hint.

Chromosome Browser

My personal goal is to identify my DNA segments that descend from each ancestor, and to associate 100% of my DNA with an ancestor. Without knowing who our common ancestor is, painting matching segments is not terribly useful.

However, let’s say that I know who Christopher is, or that I recognize some of our 17 shared matches allowing me to identify our common ancestor(s).

By clicking on the right arrow, you’ll be able to view a selection menu.

By clicking on the blue Shared DNA Beta link, I can view my match with Christopher either on a chromosome browser, or in a table.

My common segments with Christopher are painted on my chromosomes, above.

Click on “table view” at the top to view only the segment data where Christopher matches me on chromosomes 1-22.

Painting at DNAPainter

Click on the “Copy segment data” tab in the upper right-hand corner to copy the segment data to paint at DNAPainter.

I have written several articles about using DNAPainter, which you can reference, here.

Open DNAPainter.

I selected “Paint a New Match” at DNAPainter, then pasted the copied segment information from LivingDNA.

Click on “Save Match Now’ in the lower right-hand corner.

You will need to select either the maternal or paternal side, or unknown.

We know that Christopher matches me on my father’s side because the match is large and we do not share my mother as a match.

Since I haven’t yet identified our common ancestor, I selected teal blue to differentiate the LivingDNA match.

As it turns out, Christopher at LivingDNA matches the same segments as another man named Christopher who tested at 23andMe. It’s the same person.

I identified my common ancestor with Christopher at 23andMe as Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy, my great-grandparents.

At DNAPainter, I’ve assigned segments of other descendants of this couple the color grey. You can easily see that the same segment on chromosome 14 is assigned to several other descendants of Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy.

Therefore, the additional 17 shared matches at LivingDNA with Christopher, assuming they are valid IBD matches, would descend from the same genetic line, if not the same couple. In other words, some of that DNA might have descended to me from Lazarus or Elizabeth, but might have descended to Christopher or others through the parents of either Lazarus or Elizabeth, or another common upstream ancestor.

Every segment has its own unique ancestral history.

Thanks to DNAPainter

LivingDNA has joined the group of vendors who provide a complimentary chromosome browser and segment information for their customers. Other DNA testing vendors who do as well include 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, plus third-party GEDmatch.

A big thank you to DNAPainter for a comprehensive tool to track segments and assign them to ancestors in one easy-to-use all-inclusive tool.


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Share the Love!

You’re always welcome to forward articles or links to friends and share on social media.

If you haven’t already subscribed (it’s free,) you can receive an email whenever I publish by clicking the “follow” button on the main blog page, here.

You Can Help Keep This Blog Free

I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Uploads

Genealogy Products and Services

My Book

Genealogy Books

Genealogy Research