23andMe and GlaxoSmithKline Partnership Ends, Sparking Additional Layoffs

23andMe has been slimming down. In April, they announced they were cutting about 75 jobs in their therapeutics division, equating to about 9% of their workforce, and now they have cut another 71 employees in response to the end of the five-year GSK partnership.

GenomeWeb reported the earlier and most recent 23andMe layoffs, along with a 6% revenue dip, here. 23andMe is a publicly held company and reported a net loss of $104.6 million.

In 2018, 23andMe partnered with GSK, GlaxoSmithKline, a British drug company, to jointly develop drugs based on the genomic profiles of their customers who choose to participate in this type of research. You may have noticed that 23andMe asks a wide variety of questions that genealogy testing companies typically don’t, and they also report on health and traits.

At the onset of the partnership, GSK made a $300 million equity investment in 23andMe. If you need to cure insomnia, you can read the SEC filing, here.

The original partnership was to last four years and could be extended for an additional 5th year, which it was, landing another 50 million dollars in the 23andMe coffers.

According to the press release by 23andMe and this 2020 blog article, the partnership has been successful, adding more than 40 genetically validated drug discovery programs to the GSK portfolio, making me wonder why the partnership was not extended.


The 23andMe page for medical professionals states that they have more than 12 million customers worldwide.

23and Me has stated several times that about 80% of their customers opt-in to research, which means that their de-identified DNA sequences are made available to both 23andMe and their selected partners for research purposes.

Accordingly, about 8 million people have opted-in to research.

If you’re doing the math, that means that:

  • 23andMe received $29.17 for each of their 12 million customers

Viewed another way:

  • 23andMe received $43.75 for each of their 8 million customers who are opted-in for research

Attempting to Increase Revenues

In the past several months, 23andMe has attempted to staunch the corporate blood flow by:

Neither of these moves have been well-received by genealogists.

Purchase Price

23andMe sells two types of tests. One is for both health and ancestry, and the second is for ancestry, aka genealogy, only.

  • The 23andMe Health and Ancestry test is currently priced at $229. The yearly membership costs an additional $69, for a total of $298, but the membership is currently free during the first year. That’s a lot for an autosomal test that only buys you up to 5000 matches.
  • The 23andMe ancestry-only test is $119, but comes with restrictions, including the 1500 match limit.

For comparison purposes, this article shows how many matches I have at each vendor.

If you want more than 1500 matches, you MUST PURCHASE the Health and Ancestry test, not the lower-cost genealogy-only test, plus the additional membership.

This is a very difficult pill to swallow (pardon the pun.) None of the other DNA testing companies limit your matches or charge for matching, and their prices right now for their autosomal tests are as follows:

Subscription aka Membership

In order to entice customers into purchasing subscriptions, called memberships, 23andMe allows up to 5000 matches instead of 1500. 23andMe has also limited additional features, taking them away from their original customers and putting them behind the subscription paywall.

In October 2020, when they implemented subscriptions, called memberships, along with these changes, they reduced their customers’ original match limit from 2000 to 1500. Of course, to receive more matches, you could purchase a new test and subscribe. No thank you.

In another attempt to throttle services to earlier customers, there were initially no ethnicity updates for people in October of 2020 who had tested on V2, V3 or V4 chips, although following public outcry, they reversed that position for at least the V3 and V4 customers. No other DNA testing company excludes customers from ethnicity updates. 

One cannot perform other functions, such as sort or filter by haplogroup on their site, unless you purchase the Health and Ancestry test, plus a membership. You can, however, download your matches and sort/filter that way..

What’s Next for 23andMe?

23andMe says they are now actively pursuing new big pharma partners.

I hope they can find their way forward. While I don’t often find relevant matches at 23andMe anymore, and I have an issue with their subscription policy, especially removing features from existing customers, they do have a pool of 12 million-ish people. These matches certainly help many people, especially because their health customers probably won’t have tested elsewhere.

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder how many of those 12 million are the same person multiple times because they’ve had to purchase multiple tests. I’ve purchased three for myself over the years, and I’m not purchasing a fourth – but I digress.

  • 23andMe is still a good site for matching, especially for adoptees or people seeking unknown family members. You can also see how your matches match each other. You just never know where that critical match is going to pop up.
  • 23andMe provides painted ethnicity chromosome segments, along with FamilyTreeDNA. In my opinion, they are the top two vendors for ethnicity accuracy.
  • 23andMe and FamilyTreeDNA both report X-DNA matching, which can be very useful.
  • 23andMe is still the only vendor to construct a genetic tree – and yes – I know it’s not always completely accurate. Still, their tree creation is innovative and automated – based on how you match people and how they match each other. For adoptees and people seeking parents or grandparents, it’s essential because they start with nothing.
  • 23andMe doesn’t allow customers to upload or create a family tree, so you can’t view the family tree of your matches to find a common ancestor. You can include a link to your online family tree in your Enhanced Profile under Settings, but many people never see this, or aren’t genealogists.

Unfortunately, 23andMe is not focused on genealogy – at all. Their focus has always been medicine and health. From their perspective, genealogists are candidates to opt-in for genetic research, but that doesn’t mean genealogists can’t still benefit – even if we don’t opt-in, don’t purchase the more expensive $229 Health and Ancestry test, and don’t purchase their membership.

If you’re interested in more recent relatives, 23andMe is great because the 1500 match limit won’t impact you at all. Closer relatives will cluster at the top of your match list.

If you’re looking for matches that descend from more distant ancestors, you may find it worthwhile to purchase the more expensive test and the membership, at least for one year.

Filtering/Sorting Restriction Workaround 

While there’s no way around the 1500 or 5000 match limit, except that 23andMe won’t roll someone off of your match list if you’ve communicated with them, or tried to, there is a workaround for the restrictive filtering.

I check my matches periodically, sorting by the newest matched relatives. I also download my match list occasionally. I find it easier to review the information in spreadsheet format because I can search for surnames, locations, haplogroups and other information much more easily than online, especially given the restrictive filters.

However, when you download your match list, that information is downloaded as well.

Be sure to record notes on each match at 23andMe when you discover relevant information by clicking on the match and scrolling to the very bottom of the page. Your notes at 23andMe are downloaded onto the spreadsheet along with the rest of their information.

The instructions for downloading your match list, which is NOT the same as downloading your DNA file, are contained in this article. Give it a try!


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Haplogroups: DNA SNPs Are Breadcrumbs – Follow Their Path

Recently a reader asked some great questions.

If Y-DNA is unchanged, then why isn’t the Y-DNA of every man the same today? And if it’s not the same, then how do we know that all men descend from Y-Adam? Are the scientists just guessing?

The scientists aren’t guessing, and the recent scientific innovations behind how this works is pretty amazing, so let’s unravel these questions one at a time.

The first thing we need to understand is how Y-DNA is inherited differently from autosomal DNA, and how it mutates.

First, a reminder that:

  • Y-DNA tests the Y chromosome passed from father to son in every generation, unmixed with any DNA of the mother. This article focuses on Y-DNA.
  • Mitochondrial DNA tests the mitochondria passed from mothers to all of their children, but is only passed on by the females, unmixed with the DNA of the father. This article also pertains to mitochondrial SNPS, but we will cover that more specifically later in another article.
  • Autosomal DNA is passed from both parents to their children. Each child inherits half of each parent’s autosomal DNA.

Let’s look at how this works.

Autosomal vs Y-DNA Inheritance

Click on image to enlarge

Autosomal DNA, shown here with the green (male) and pink (female) images, divides in each generation as it’s passed from the parent to their child. Each child inherits half of each parent’s autosomal DNA, meaning chromosomes 1-22. For this discussion, each descendant shown above is a male and has a Y chromosome.

This means that in the first generation, which would be the great-grandfather, about 700,000 locations of his green autosomal DNA are tested for genealogy purposes.

His female partner (pink) also has about 700,000 locations. During recombination, they each contribute about 350,000 SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) of autosomal DNA to their child. Their offspring then has a total of 700,000 SNPs, 350,000 green and 350,000 pink contributed by each parent.

This process is repeated for each child, whether male or female (with the exception of the X chromosome, which is beyond the scope of this article), but each child does not receive exactly the same half of their parents’ autosomal DNA. Recombination is random.

In the four generations shown above, the green autosomal DNA of generation one, the great-grandfather, has been divided and recombined three times. The original 700,000 locations of great-grandfather’s green DNA has now been whittled down to about 87,500 locations of his green DNA.

Y-DNA in the Same Generation

Looking now at the blue Y-DNA at left, the Y-DNA remains the same in each generation with the exception of one mutation approximately every two or three generations.

As you can see in the chart, in the exact same number of generations, the Y-DNA of each male, which he inherited from his father:

  • Never recombines with any DNA from the mother
  • Never divides and gets smaller in subsequent generations
  • Remains essentially unchanged in each generation

The key word here is “essentially.”


The Y chromosome consists of about 59 million locations or SNPs of DNA. STR tests, Short Tandem Repeats, which are essentially insertions and deletions, test limited numbers of carefully curated markers selected for the fact that they mutate in a genealogically relevant timeframe. These markers are combined in panels of either 67 or 111 marker tests available for purchase at FamilyTreeDNA today, or historically 12, 25, 37, 67, and 111 marker panels. The STR test was the original Y-DNA test for genealogy and is still used as an introductory test or to see if a male matches a specific line, or not.

From the STR tests, in addition to matching, FamilyTreeDNA can reliably predict a relatively high-level haplogroup, or genetic clan, based on the frequency of the combinations of those marker values in specific STR locations.

SNPs are much more reliable than STRs, which tend to be comparatively unstable, mutating at an unreliable rate, and back mutating, which can be very disconcerting for genealogy. We need reliable consistency to be able to assign a male tester to a specific lineage with confidence. We can, however, find genealogically relevant matches that may be quite important, so I never disregard STR tests or testers. STR tests aren’t relevant for deeper history, nor can they reliably discern a specific lineage within a surname. SNP tests can and do.

The Big Y-700 SNP test gives us that and more, along with the earlier Big Y-500 test which scanned about 30 million locations. The Big Y-700 is a significant improvement; men can upgrade from the Big Y-500 or STR tests.

The Big Y-700 test scans about 50 million Y-DNA locations, known as the gold standard region, for all mutations. It reports 700 or more STR markers for matching, but more importantly, it scans for all SNP mutations in those 50 million locations.

All mutations are confirmed by at least five positive repeat scans and are then assigned a haplogroup name if found in two or more men.

Y-DNA Testing

If Y-DNA remained exactly the same, then the Y-DNA of men today would be entirely indistinguishable from each other – essentially all matching humankind’s first common ancestor. With no changes, Y-DNA would not be useful for genealogy. We need inherited mutations to be able to compare men and determine their level of relatedness to each other.

Fortunately, Y-DNA SNPs do mutate. Y-DNA is never divided or combined, so it stays essentially the same except for occasional mutations which are inherited by the following generations.

Using SNP markers scanned in the Big Y test, one new mutation happens on the average of every two or three generations. Of course, that means that sometimes there are no mutations for a few generations, and sometimes there are two mutations between father and son.

What this does, though, very effectively, is provide a trail of SNP mutations – breadcrumbs essentially – that we can use for matching, AND for tracking our mutations, which equate to ancestors, back in time.

Estes Male Breadcrumb Trail

I’ve tested several Estes men of known lineage, so I’m going to use this line as an example of how mutations act as breadcrumbs, allowing us to track our ancestors back in time and across the globe.

Multiple cousins in my Estes line have taken the Big Y-700 test.

My closest male cousin matches two other men on a unique mutation. That SNP has been named haplogroup R-ZS3700.

We know, based on our genealogy, that this mutation occurred in Virginia and is found in the sons of Moses Estes born in 1711.

How do we know that?

We know that because three of Moses’s descendants have tested and all three of those men have the same mutation, R-ZS3700, and none of the sons of Moses’s brothers have that mutation.

I’ve created a chart to illustrate the Estes pedigree chart, and the haplogroups assigned to those men. So, it’s a DNA pedigree chart too. This is exactly what the Big-Y DNA test does for us.

In the red-bordered block of testers, you can see the three men that all have R-ZS3700 (in red), and all are sons of Moses born in 1711. I have not typed the names of all the men in each generation because, for purposes of this illustration, names aren’t important. However, the concept and the fact that we have been able to connect them genealogically, either before or because of Y-DNA testing, is crucial.

Directly above Moses born in 1711, you can see his father Abraham born in 1647, along with Moses’ brothers at right and left; John, Richard, Sylvester, and Elisha whose descendants have taken the Big Y-700 test. Moses’s brothers’ descendants all have haplogroup R-BY490 (in blue), but NOT R-ZS3700. That tells us that the mutation responsible for R-ZS3700 happened between Abraham born in 1647, and Moses born in 1711. Otherwise, Moses’s brothers would have the mutation if his father had the mutation.

Moses’s descendants also have R-BY490, but it’s NOT the last SNP or haplogroup in their lineage. For Moses’s descendants, R-ZS3700 occurred after R-BY490.

You can see haplogroup R-BY490 boxed in blue.

We know that Moses and his father, Abraham, both have haplogroup R-BY490 because all of Abraham’s sons have this haplogroup. Additionally, we know that Abraham’s father, Silvester also had haplogroup R-BY490.

How do we know that?

Abraham’s brother, Richard’s descendant, tested and he has haplogroup R-BY490.

However, Silvester’s father, Robert born in 1555 did NOT have R-BY490, so it formed between him and his son, Silvester.

How do we know that?

Robert’s other son, Robert born in 1603 has a descendant who tested and has haplogroup R-BY482, but does NOT have R-BY490 or R-ZS3700.

All of the other Eates testers also have R-BY482, blocked in green, in addition to R-BY490, so we know that the mutation of R-BY490 developed between Robert born in 1555 and his son, Silvester born in 1600, because his other son’s descendant does not have it.

Looking at only the descent of the haplogroups, in order, we have

  • R-BY482 (green) found in Robert born in 1555 and all of his descendants.
  • R-BY490 (blue) found in Silvester born in 1600 and all of his descendants, but not his brother
  • R-ZS3700 (red) found in Moses born in 1711 and all of his descendants, but not his brothers

If we had Estes men who descend from the two additional documented generations upstream of Robert born in 1555, we might discover when R-BY482 occurred, but to date, we don’t have any additional testers from those lines.

Now that we understand the genesis of these three haplogroups in the Estes lineage, what else can we discover through our haplogroup breadcrumbs?

The Discover Reports

By entering the haplogroup in the Discover tool, either on the public page, here, or clicking on Discover on your personal page at FamilyTreeDNA if you’ve taken the Big-Y test, you will see several reports for your haplogroup.

I strongly suggest reviewing each category, because they cumulatively act as chapters to the book of your haplogroup story, but we’re going to skip directly to the breadcrumbs, which is called the Ancestral Path.

The Ancestral Path begins with your haplogroup in Line 1 then lists the first upstream or parent haplogroup in Line 2. In this case, the haplogroup I entered is R-ZS3700.

You can see the estimated age of the haplogroup, meaning when it formed, at about 1700 CE. Moses Estes who was born in 1711 is the first Estes man to carry haplogroup R-ZS3700, so that’s extremely close.

Line 2, R-BY490 occurred or was born about 1650, and we know that it actually occurred between Robert and Silvester born in 1600, so that’s close too.

Scanning down to Line 3, R-BY482 is estimated to have occurred about 1500 CE, and we know for sure it had occurred by 1555 when Robert was born.

We see the parent haplogroup of R-BY487 on Line 4, dating from about 750 CE. Of course, if more men test, it’s possible that more haplogroups will emerge between BY482 and BY487, forming a new branch. Given the time involved, those men wouldn’t be expected to carry the Estes surname, as surnames hadn’t yet been adopted in that timeframe.

Moving down to Line 9, we see R-ZP18 from 2250 BCE, or about 4250 years ago. Looking at the right column, there’s one ancient sample with that haplogroup. The location of ancient samples anchors haplogroups definitively in a particular location at a specific time.

Haplogroup by haplogroup, step by step, we can follow the breadcrumbs back in time to Y-Adam, the first homo sapiens male known to have descendants today, meaning he’s the MRCA, or most recent common ancestor for all men.

Neanderthals and Denisovans follow, but their Y-DNA is only available through ancient samples. They have no known direct male survivors, but someday, maybe someone will test and their Y-DNA will be found to descend from Neanderthals or Denisovans.

Now that we know when those haplogroups occurred, how did our ancestors get from Africa 232,000 years ago to Kent, England, in the 1400s? What path did they take?

The new Globetrekker tool answers that question.

The Breadcrumb Trail

In Globetrekker, each haplogroup’s location is placed by a combination of testers’ results, their identified earliest known ancestor (EKA) country and location, combined with ancient samples, climatic factors like glaciers and sea levels, and geographic features. You can read about Globetrekker here and here.

To view the Globetrekker tool, you must sign it to an account that has taken the Big Y test. It’s a tool exclusively provided for Big-Y testers.

You can click at the bottom of your Globetrekker map to play the animated video.

Beginning in Africa, our ancestors began their journey with Y-Adam, then migrated through the Near East, South Asia, East Asia, then west through central Asia into Europe. The Estes ancestors crossed the English Channel and migrated around what is now England before settling in Deal, on the east coast.

Clicking on any haplogroup provides a description of that haplogroup and how it was placed in that location.

Enabling the option for ancient DNA shows those locations as well, near the haplogroups they represent when the animation is playing.

Clicking on the shovel icon explains about that particular ancient DNA sample, what is known, and how it relates to the haplogroup it’s connected to by a dotted line on the map.

Pretty cool, huh!!

End to End

As you can see from this example, Big Y results are an end-to-end tool.

We can use the Big Y-700 haplogroups very successfully for recent genealogy – assigning testers to specific lines in a genealogy timeframe. Some haplogroups are so specific that, without additional information, we can place a man in his exact generation, or within a generation or two.

Not shown in my Estes pedigree chart is an adoptee with a different surname, of course. We know that he descends from Moses’s line because he carries haplogroup R-ZS3700, but we are still working on the more recent generations using autosomal DNA to connect him accurately.  If more of Moses’s descendants tested, we could probably place him very specifically. Without the Big Y-700 test, he wouldn’t know his biological surname or that he descends from Moses. That’s a HUGE breakthrough for him.

There’s more about the Estes line to learn, however.

If our Estes cousins tested their brothers, uncles or other Estes males in their line, they would likely receive a more refined haplogroup that’s relevant only to that line.

Using Big-Y test results, we can place men within a couple of generations and identify a common ancestor, even when all men within a haplogroup don’t know their genealogical lineage. Using those same test results, we can follow the breadcrumbs all 50 steps back in time more than 230,000 years to Y-Adam.

End to end, the Big-Y test coupled with breadcrumbs in Discover, Globetrekker, and other amazing tools is absolutely the most informative and powerful test available to male testers for their paternal line genealogy.

These amazing innovations tracking more than 50,000 haplogroups across the globe answer the original questions about how we know.

The more people who take or upgrade to the Big Y-700 test, the more haplogroup branches will be added, and the more refined the breadcrumbs, ages, and maps will become. In other words, there’s still more to learn.

Test if you haven’t, and check back often for new matches and breadcrumbs, aka updates.


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Silver Lake: Cherishing the Final Visit & Remembering Her Finest – 52 Ancestors #406

The beastly heat radiated off of the pavement in waves as we drove the back roads of Indiana in the last week of July. Summer heat is always brutal, but the blazing sun in the summer of 2023 ratcheted the intensity up several notches.

The sun resembled ripe peaches from time to time as the smoke in the upper atmosphere from Canadian wildfires painted the sun orange, but it didn’t lessen the torrid heat any.

Tall corn, taller than me, lined the road on both sides, making it feel like driving through a vibrant green tunnel. I’m still very leery of crossroads, considering what happened back in ‘74 when someone ran a stop sign directly in front of me. I had no idea – couldn’t see them coming because of the corn. I lived, and so did she, but not everyone is so lucky.

White crosses in the grass alongside the roads mark the locations of the unlucky ones – the earthbound legacy of fatal accidents. Technically, I don’t think they’re allowed, but nobody is coldhearted enough to remove them, and they remain, well, until they don’t.  Everyone local knows who each marker is for – each life cut short.

On country roads, it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is. You pass pickup trucks and an occasional tractor regardless of whether it’s Saturday, Sunday, or a weekday. And, of course, the chronic plague of orange barrels signals construction.

My mind drifted back to the years I lived in Hoosier farm country in the heartland of Indiana.

We got up before sunup to weed the garden behind the house in the morning dew, at the crack of dawn, before it got hot. We picked beans and ate fresh-picked tomatoes. Sometimes lunch was sliced still-warm tomatoes, salt, pepper, and mayonnaise slathered on white bread with sun-steeped tea or lemonade. Plus, sweet corn drenched in butter. Mmmmm – can’t get that anyplace except at home.

We sat out back, snapping green beans for supper.

Those were the days.

Life was a lot slower back then, and summer seemed like forever.

But it wasn’t.

The next day, Sunday, was the big day – cousin Cheryl Ferverda’s Celebration of Life in Fort Wayne. The purpose of my return.

I spent days preparing Cheryl’s eulogy, searching for photos, and perusing the old newspapers for tidbits about her life. It had to be just right. The perfect combination of respect, reverence, humor, and unadulterated joy. All things Cheryl.

Woven into all of that was Cheryl’s perseverance, her tenacity, and her willingness to simply step right out on the edge, without regard to the consequences, if that’s what was necessary. Cheryl was unafraid. In a time when women were supposed to be conservative, and dare I say it – obedient – she was anything but.

Cheryl left an incredible legacy, and I wanted her eulogy to reflect her spirit. The Cheryl we knew and loved. Sometimes, in spite of her stubborn self. I can hardly complain about that. We share that same Ferverda trait😊

Cheryl was my sister-cousin. We shared secrets, tears, a proclivity for NOT being well-behaved, irrepressible laughter, and much love.

And then, of course, there was that one Easter Sunday in Belgium eating chocolate…but I digress.

And that other time in the Netherlands where we went all out orange to celebrate our Dutch heritage, right along with the locals. On Sunday, I would wear an orange streak in my hair in honor of that day.

It wasn’t Belgium or the Netherlands I was thinking about that Saturday afternoon.

Nope, it was Silver Lake.

Silver Lake

Silver Lake, a tiny farm town of less than 1000 residents and about 200 families is nestled in Kosciusko County in northern Indiana.

Cheryl and I have deep roots there.

Probably half of the residents have either Amish, Mennonite, or Brethren heritage. You can still see horses and buggies regularly at the lonely 4-way stop in the center of town.

The town’s layout remains the same, but most of the old buildings are gone today, and more disappear every year.

The first fire, in 1883, burned an entire block of buildings, comprising one-fourth of the Silver Lake business district, which was much more vibrant then than now. Silver Lake grew up around the lake and, at one time, included (gasp) a dance hall and opera house.

Of course, the Ferverda family would have heard about those fires, even up in Leesburg where they lived. Everyone for miles around would have known about the fires.

Two Ferverda boys wouldn’t live in Silver Lake for another generation.

My grandfather John Ferverda was a year old, and Roscoe, his brother, Cheryl’s father, wouldn’t be born for another decade.

John and Roscoe both settled in Silver Lake in the nineteen-teens.

Back in the late 1800s, a hotel thrived in Silver Lake, although I’m entirely baffled as to why. It burned in 1899 and was never rebuilt. That entire block stood vacant for a decade and Kerlin Tractor Sales built on part of that land in 1909.

Of course, most of the buildings that replaced the buildings consumed in the fires have now met their maker, too.

Many activities took place in what was known as the public square, even though there was no square, so to speak, just a crossroads. Weekly band concerts and Fourth of July festivities such as pie-eating contests and climbing greased poles entertained the townfolk.

The picture above was probably nearly all of the residents, not just a few. Everyone turned out for community events.

A bandstand, the round structure shown above, balanced on a single massive cedar pillar, was built at the crossroads, the intersection of what is now 14 (Main) and 15 (Jefferson.) For many years, it served as a landmark, and people gave directions based on the bandstand. “Go to Silver Lake; turn right at the bandstand.”  Residents were quite unhappy, and people passing through were confused when it was torn down about 1915 when the “highway” (14) was built. However, the main roads, including 14 and 15, weren’t “blacktopped” until 1930, and an amazing number of roads are still gravel today.

Mom would have been 7 or 8 and would have remembered the road paving.

The local kids probably ran down to see what was going on. Both John and Roscoe’s homes faced Main Street and would have been MUCH less dusty afterward, although generally, oil was applied to the gravel roads in town “to keep the dust down.”

Today, the Lake City Bank is located on the southeast corner of the crossroads, behind where the old bandstand once stood on the corner.

Silver Lake, founded in 1859, was named after Silver Lake, the lake, located half a mile from the crossroads on the northwest corner of town. Even then, Silver Lake was a recreation area.

When Mother and Cheryl were growing up, the homes along the lake were summer cottages. No one stayed at the lake in the winter, so heat wasn’t needed, and the only AC anyplace was opening the windows.

Back in the 1940s, there were less than half as many residents as today. People lived in homes clustered around the crossroads – Jefferson, the north/south street, and Main, east and west.

This 1940 map shows that Silver Lake was just a block or so north and extended about three blocks south and east of the crossroads. The railroad was another three blocks east, and farms were located right behind the houses.

Mom’s father, John Ferverda, and Cheryl’s father, Roscoe Ferverda, were brothers, and both served as Station Agents at the train depot just east of town. John was the agent back in the nineteen-teens, leaving the railroad in 1916 to become a partner in the local hardware store.

That local hardware store building still stands today and was reportedly built around 1850, although that date might be a little early.

I think John Ferverda’s store was the middle “3” arches, or the leftmost segment of the red brick building, but I’m not positive, and anyone who might know is gone.

These buildings may not last much longer. The yellow building is abandoned, and there’s a top-to-bottom crack, roof to ground, on the far side of the red brick portion.

The west side isn’t in much better condition.

I remember the painted sign from decades ago.

This photo from an old 2010 real estate listing gives us a glimpse of the original brickwork. Of course, when John Ferverda’s business was located in these buildings, there would have been no running water, and they would have used outhouses.

In this early photo, about 1920, looking south on what is now Indiana 15, at the crossroads, you can see the building at left on the corner that was the side of the building where my grandfather’s hardware store was located. All of the buildings on the right side, across the street, are gone now but weren’t when I was a child. The store on the corner, under the awning, was an antique shop when I was young. The owner knew my grandparents and remembered them far better than I did.

My grandmother, Edith Lore Ferverda, died when I was 4, and my grandfather, John Ferverda, when I was 6.

Today, the corner where the antique shop was located hosts the local Subway, with the new Igloo Ice Cream shop within view on West on 15. Not to be confused with the old Igloo, owned by the Heckaman family, a few miles further north past the lake, when I was a kid.

On hot summer days, we swam in the lake, rolled all the windows down in the car, blowing our hair dry, and went for ice cream cones which were either a nickel or dime – when we could afford it.

The Silver Lake Centennial book published in 1959 included this donated photo of the hardware store building from 1910, a few years before my grandfather opened his business, and a dozen years before Mother came along.

Cheryl, shown here, cute as a button, in second grade, was born in 1946, 24 years after Mother, but the building outlasted both of them.

Few downtown businesses remain today, except for the obligatory post office, a bank branch, a new Subway, the requisite liquor store, and a tavern called the Silver Inn. Wages are low, and many people commute at least 45 minutes to someplace else, down those same steaming asphalt roads that beckon those who were born there, away.

The only other buildings remaining that the Ferverda brothers or their children would recognize are found on the west side of what is now Indiana 15, just south of the four-way stop.

The little house peeking through at the far left of this photo is the house where Mother was born, at least according to Mom.

I remember years ago, when Mom bought a brick in the neighboring Memory Park, she told me she was born here.

The quandary is whether or not I’ve misremembered and she was actually born where the Memory Park is located, or if this was the doctor’s office or his home at the time.

That seems somewhat unlikely since I know that Dr. Leckrone was a fairly wealthy man, and this home looks small.

And why wouldn’t he have delivered mother at my grandparents’ home?

Checking Mom’s birth certificate reveals that indeed, Dr. Ira Leckrone delivered her – but Mom told me that her mother wouldn’t even take her clothes off in front of the male doctor. Mom thought, as did I, that a midwife welcomed Mom into the world.

You can see my grandfather’s store from the sidewalk in front of the little grey house.

Silver Lake was a very small place.

This old photo is taken from almost the same perspective as standing in front of the little grey house today. The red building in the top photo that I took a few days ago is the same as the first building, at left, above. My grandfather’s hardware store building is visible, but the grandstand had not yet been built on the southeast corner, near the wagon at right.

Silver Lake probably looked a lot like this years later too, then, gradually, the first automobiles arrived.

Directly across 15 from the grey house is this home built around 1900 with rather unique stonework. I remember more of these from my childhood. Today, when driving through the older parts of Silver Lake, in the couple blocks north of the public square, I noticed several porches and chimneys on houses built between 1888 and 1934 that were clearly created by the same artistic stonemason with his signature style.

This sounds like many buildings and businesses, but the blocks were small. Today, the entire southwest corner is pictured above, beginning at the center of town and ending with the Memory Park.

So many memories.

The Memory Park

The Memory Park was created in 2002 on the corner beside the little grey house. At Cheryl’s Celebration of Life, I asked the defacto Silver Lake historian about what was located on this corner before the park. He said it was a gas station, but then that could have been built after a house was here, so I still don’t know if this might have been where Mom was born.

I thought I remembered Mom saying that she purchased a brick for her family when bricks were being sold to raise funds for the construction of the park. I had no idea where our brick was, but I managed to walk right up to the Ferverda family brick. I had to smile. Mom would have been very pleased.

I don’t think Mom ever got to see her brick in place.

I know she never saw the park completed.

The park is beautiful today, but it didn’t look like this initially.

Mom would love the way the park turned out and that it honors veterans in addition to local families.


Kitty corner across the street from the Memory Park is an old filling station that I remember from when I was a child.

Mom and Cheryl both would have purchased gas here. Today, caffeine and candy fuel the residents, when it’s actually open.

Gone today, but to the right of the gas station a few buildings was the old Kerlin Ford dealership.

This wasn’t the original Kerlin dealership though. Nope. The first one included tractor sales, chain saws, and other implements and was located downtown. Keep in mind that “downtown” only extended for a block in three directions. The fourth direction was already “out of town.”

Located at 109 East Main Street, today’s Indiana 14, just to the east of the hardware store, my grandfather sold tractors and then cars and trucks at Kerlin’s Tractor Sales. Kerlin’s was built where the old hotel had been and burned in 1899.

The building still stands today.

Mother used to walk the three blocks from home to the dealership, such as it was, and asked her father for a nickel for a Hershey’s chocolate bar on the way to school. On days when she was successful and he actually had a nickel to spare, she happily skipped the few steps to the drug store in the buildings where her Dad’s hardware store had been, made her purchase, and then hurried off to school with her prize.

Knowing how much she loved Hershey bars, it’s doubtful that any smidgen of chocolate ever made as far as the schoolhouse steps.

It’s not surprising that Mom had a special affinity for her father, and for Hershey bars too, for the rest of her life. This picture was taken on her last Christmas with us. I’m sure Mom and Cheryl are sharing chocolate right now and catching up!

I suspect Mom still loves chocolate in the afterlife, too. Two days later, on what is almost assuredly my last trip to visit her grave, once again, I took a chocolate gift to her.


Schools, of course, are the backbone of any community.

In Silver Lake, all children attended the same school and were taught by the same teacher. Mom (red arrow) is easy to recognize.

Mom started school in this building, long gone, located on Main Street, very close to where her Dad worked.

When Mom was in about second grade, the new school opened, just a block or two away.

The “new” school opened in 1930.

Mom graduated from this building in 1940, as did Cheryl and her husband-to-be in 1965.

Three years later, Cheryl would literally marry the boy next door, someone she had known her entire life.

The “new” school fell into disrepair after it was abandoned in 2006 and was demolished last year.

All that’s left of the school now are pieces of brick that I found in the dirt beside a newly paved parking lot in front of a playground that doesn’t even mention the old school where the lives of every Silver Lake child for more than 75 years were formed.

Every single one of them was educated here.

I hope someone erects a historical marker in Rambler Park to commemorate the old school.

The Silver Lake Alumni still meets yearly, although clearly not here.

Mom, second from right with the white collar, above, in 1995, attended the alumni events as long as she could, Cheryl and her brother Don attended, as did my brother and his wife.

Don was a member of the last graduating class, in 1966. After that, the building was used for younger students until 2006.

Each year, fewer alumni are left. Cheryl somehow managed to retrieve a brick from the old school for both of her sons. By 2022, when the school was demolished, Don had passed away, and Cheryl’s health was deteriorating, but in line with what I would expect from Cheryl, she denied it until she simply could not anymore.

I took a piece of brick from the parking lot where the school previously stood and decorated Mom’s grave two days later.

In Silver Lake, anyone wanting additional education had to travel.

Mom’s parents drove her to Fort Wayne for dance lessons to strengthen her heart for years after she had Rheumatic Fever.

Cheryl drove 10 or 11 miles to Manchester College, founded by the Brethren in 1860. I’m guessing it probably wouldn’t have been her first pick, but I suspect it was either Manchester or nothing. Back then, no one “wasted” money sending “girls” to college. My mother wanted to go, but couldn’t. A generation later, I had to fight for the opportunity.

Something very unexpected happened at Manchester College that literally changed Cheryl’s life – one of those synchronistic fork-in-the-road trajectory-altering life experiences.

Cheryl heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak, in person, about systemic discrimination and his dream. I don’t know what else he said, but it was powerful.

I Have a Dream

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.“

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

Cheryl’s life changed in an extraordinarily meaningful way.

She adopted his vision, especially after his untimely death, as her own. She added women to his dream of all men being created equal, and as she matured, she added all groups of people, including those with disabilities, the vulnerable, LGBTQ+, and animals.

If you were a jerk or an abuser of either humans or furry souls, you absolutely did not get a pass and were held to account.

Cheryl strengthened my resolve the longer I knew her.

She was an incredibly brave woman who did not escape without scars.

But change the world she did, via her actions and steadfast example.

In 1968, Cheryl began balancing college and marriage.

She graduated as Valedictorian of the class of 1970 with her degree in elementary education.

Not only was Cheryl beautiful, she was hands-down brilliant and loved science. Born two decades later, she would have been a scientist.

Cheryl went on to Indiana University in Fort Wayne where she earned a master’s degree as well. Cheryl just might have been the first woman from Silver Lake to graduate from college.

She was being prepared for the challenges to come.

The North Side

After spending some time confirming that indeed, I was in the right location and the high school had been demolished, we drove north to Silver Lake, the lake itself, and the cemetery.

I had been back to Lakeview Cemetery many times. My grandparents are buried there, as is Cheryl’s father, Roscoe, and her brother, Don.

No one in Silver Lake ever calls it by name. It’s just “the cemetery,” and it’s pretty much where everyone is buried and has been since at least 1860.

The road to the cemetery holds landmarks that mean nothing to anyone but me and Cheryl.

This house in the second block north of the crossroads used to be the little local library.

There was no public library, so a lovely woman named Neva took it upon herself to create a library, stocked it with books for all ages, welcomed anyone, and loaned her books. All out of her own pocket and the goodness of her heart. I never knew her last name, but I think she was Neva Franks.

To enter the beautiful library in the room with the three-sided window was like entering a mystical portal to other worlds. It was slightly dark and cool, but not frightening. A notebook resided on the front porch where you recorded the books you were taking home. When you came back, you crossed those books off the list and either left them on the porch if Neva wasn’t home, or gave them to Neva. She had read every single book and loved to discuss each one, asking what you thought about them.

She was always encouraging.

Neva had a way with children, and so did Cheryl.

As a child, I was allowed to walk to Neva’s house and check out library books while we were visiting my grandparents in Silver Lake.

So did Cheryl.

It’s not lost upon me that Cheryl’s career was spent at the Allen County Public Library. Neva would be so pleased.

Silver Lake, the town, extends only about 6 blocks north of the crossroads.

Silver Lake’s small Town Office has recently been built across from a home built in 1885.

Next door, the old root beer stand from the 1950s has been rebirthed as a B&K, but the B&K has since closed too.

My grandfather loved root beer.

When my grandfather was able, we all climbed in his car, ate hotdogs and drank icy-cold root beer at the drive-in. What a treat! The carhop, a local gal, brought our food and root beer in frosty mugs, latching a tray to our window. I got to ride in the back seat. Hotdogs and root beer with Pawpaw was heaven.

He fell ill in 1960 or 1961 with Tuberculosis, then liver cancer. He was no longer hungry, but Mom and I would drive to the root beer stand and bring back root beer for him in a megaphone type of rootbeer cone.

It wouldn’t be long before he would be gone too, and Mom and I would drive to the root beer stand one last time. We sat there and cried. Back at the house, which was painfully silent and empty without him, we put the cone in the icebox one last time.

He, too, drove past one final time – on the way to the cemetery. He couldn’t have gotten much closer to his beloved root beer stand.

The root beer stand is marked with the red star at right, my grandparents’ graves at the middle red star, and the public swimming area at Silver Lake, at left.

Mom told me that the kids all used to cut through the cemetery when walking to the lake to swim. Sometimes, they ran through the scarry cemetery – probably if it was getting dark.

I’ve never needed directions to find my grandparent’s graves in the cemetery. I remember visiting with mother as a child, as an adult, and then…without her.

Four years ago, I found the original Ferverda farm belonging to John Ferverda’s grandfather. I was gifted a rock from that farm and found a rock from his parents’ farm as well. I placed both of them on my grandfather’s stone. I was both surprised and pleased to discover those memory stones remain, and I hope they do for a very long time.

Mary took my picture, as this is very likely the last time I’ll be in Indiana.

When visiting Mom’s grave the day after Cheryl’s Celebration of Life, I discovered that both of the Ferverda rocks remain beside her headstone, too.

Silver Lake, The Lake

I have only vague, fuzzy memories of Silver Lake, the lake itself. On the other hand, Mom and Cheryl loved to swim there, and both had wonderful memories.

Leaving the cemetery, we turned left on the tiny street that led past many of the same cottages pictured in this photo from more than half a century ago.

When Mom and Cheryl were growing up, refrigerators were literally ice boxes. Blocks of ice were cut on the lake in the winter, stored in the “ice house,” pictured here, in sawdust, then delivered twice a week to the ice box portion of the refrigerator by the iceman who just came in and placed the ice in the icebox that kept the food cold. No one needed to be home. Doors weren’t locked.

Summer on the lake was quite different of course. Water was the only way to cool off.

The landing or public swimming and boating area has been modernized, but it doesn’t really look a lot different.

Swans lived there, then as now.

I can close my eyes and hear the distant voices of mother and her brother, and Cheryl and her brother too. Children’s laughter and splashing.

They are all together once again.

Cheryl’s ashes will be scattered here soon – near so many of our family members who rest just up the hill in the cemetery.

The Ferverda Families

It was time to visit the last location in Silver Lake that Cheryl and I both held near and dear to our hearts.

Driving back through the center of town and turning left, or east, led to the Ferverda homes.

One block of businesses, then three more. Passing by the church where my grandparents and Mom attended, and so did I when we visited Silver Lake.

The side entrance, which led to the basement, was for the children.

I remember singing, or more like screeching, Jesus Loves Me at the top of our lungs. We were so proud of ourselves.

Of course, the church looks a lot different today.

John and Roscoe purchased homes across the street from each other. Cheryl and my mother were first cousins but were born 23 years and a few months apart. They shared a lot of the same DNA, not to mention mannerisms and characteristics. So did Cheryl and me. We just clicked and were bonded beyond any logical explanation.

John was the station agent at one time, followed a few years later by his brother, Roscoe.

Roscoe served as a telegrapher before his WWI service and became the Silver Lake station agent in 1919 after he got out of the Army. He worked for the railroad for decades and was transferred to Claypool in 1958 when the Silver Lake station closed. Goods were being shipped increasingly by truck, not train, and station agents were no longer needed.

Two catastrophic train wrecks occurred between the 1920s and the 1950s, and the local doctor, Ira Leckrone, who delivered mother was killed at the railroad crossing in 1939. His sons, who were also doctors, tried to save him, but could not.

Neither mother nor Cheryl ever mentioned those wrecks. Cheryl, born in 1946, said that her father rarely mentioned anything about the early railroad days.

Cheryl, shown here in 1961 in 8th grade, grew up where the whistle of the six daily passenger trains and innumerable freight trains reverberated through their home. Truth be told, they probably got so used to it that they didn’t even hear it anymore.

The earliest photo of Roscoe Ferverda’s house was long before he owned it. Taken in 1878, you can see the train in the background.

The train tracks were just a few hundred feet to the east, and Mom said you could set a clock by those trains.

It was here, in this house, that Cheryl developed the foundation of her personality. She found the lost boy, trapped in a doghouse, when she was just 14. And it was here that she developed an inseparable bond with her brother, Don, along with a deep appreciation for community.

Roscoe lived here until his death in 1978 in the midst of a once-in-a-century blizzard. In an incredible twist of fate, his body was taken to his brother John’s former home across the street. Let’s just say he rested in the garage for a few days because no one could get in or out of Silver Lake.

John, on the other hand, died in June of 1962. The house was then sold and became…are you ready for this…a funeral home.

I don’t know if John Ferverda built this house, or not. Zillow says it was built in 1919. He’s noted as renting in the 1920 census, but this is the only home that Mom, born in 1922, ever lived in.

The new owners made several changes to their new funeral home.

Mother was mortified and prayed that she never had to visit. She said she just didn’t know if she could get through the combination of the funeral and it being held in her childhood home.

The screened-in porch was boarded up with plywood and painted white. The original steps were replaced with much more friendly stairs, complete with railings.

Central heat was installed. There was no furnace nor chimney in the original home built in 1919. I suspect the funeral home added air conditioning too, at least eventually. Mom didn’t even want to think about where the bodies were embalmed.

It’s back to being a private residence today.

Looking back over the field, I realized that I was never aware of the field behind the house. It’s just so “Indiana.”

The music room, with the evil cactus that attacked me when I was 3 or 4, was the middle grouping of windows on the first floor. I vaguely remember my grandmother playing the piano. I would sit on the seat beside her.

The kitchen was to the rear, and the back porch where the hand pump was located is enclosed today.

The funeral home installed the handicapped ramp.

The garage is obviously newish and probably housed the hearse.

The rear of the property, back in the day, consisted of a chicken house surrounded by a hedge of impenetrable thorny raspberry bushes. I remember picking berries and eating them as fast as I picked them. My hands bled, but I didn’t care.

John Ferverda raised chickens. Mom’s brother’s job was to catch and decapitate them, and Mom’s job was to pluck and clean them. She earned a nickel for each one and absolutely HATED cleaning chickens. Chickens and vegetables from the garden got this family through the Depression. The only chicken she ever liked was fried, and not often.

Mom was thrilled when my grandfather sold the back half of the property to the Lion’s Club, which is the white building. The wooden fence was the original property line.

The Railroad

The railroad was the transportation hub of Silver Lake. Everything was shipped by train. Chickens, furniture, produce, groceries, manufactured goods, and more. If people were going very far, they too traveled by train. Automobiles were expensive and not terribly reliable.

The horse-drawn drey line transported goods and people to their destination from the train depot.

Train travel was a dress-up affair. In the summer, it was hot, and in the winter, it was cold, but that didn’t matter. Everyone dressed up anyway. This postcard is dated 1908.

As automobiles improved, trucking gradually began to replace trains for shipping goods. Trucks could go where trains didn’t and could deliver directly to warehouses, stores, or purchasers. The dray wagon and horse were becoming obsolete, as were station agents.

The train tracks, then as now, formed the eastern border of Silver Lake, although originally, there was a block or two of space between the last house and the tracks.

When I was young, the tracks were simply marked by crosses on posts. Everyone rolled down the window, stopped, looked, and listened for a train.

The crossings are marked much better today, complete with crossing gates and multiple flashers.

I don’t know if the original depot was on the left or right side of the road.

A curve in the tracks marks the left or north side. There is room by the road for a station.

The right or south side is now the Silver Lake Agri-Center.

Mary and I crossed the tracks once again. Just a couple of hours after we had crossed them the first time, headed into Silver Lake.

In those hours, I had traveled back in time to the beginning of my life. I was born just up the road and came home with my mother to my grandparents’ house.

I drifted further back in time and visited my grandparents, Cheryl’s parents, then Mom and Cheryl’s lives as well.

As we crossed the tracks and drove back down that hilly road, I remembered why I used to get carsick when we drove to Fort Wayne to visit my grandfather in the hospital.

On this final visit to Silver Lake, we passed the church that used to be Brethren, passed by working farms and farms that used to be owned by families I knew. I wonder if they are still in the family. We drove past curves and crossroads that looked familiar but I can’t quite remember why I turned there years ago. Memories fade with time into a lovely blur of color.

Silver Lake doesn’t make me sad like returning to many places of my youth.

Mother was happy here, and so was Cheryl until both of them left the confines of Silver Lake and learned that an entire world was waiting for them elsewhere.

Silver Lake was a good place to be from.

Fort Wayne

Cheryl spent most of her life after Silver Lake in Fort Wayne as the Communications Director for the Allen County Public Library. She sealed both her personal and professional legacy by securing the Lincoln Collection for the library – but more specifically and importantly – she led the charge to preserve Abraham Lincoln’s artifacts for the public and scholars alike.

When the Lincoln Museum closed and the artifacts were scheduled to be auctioned individually, Cheryl resolved, in the face of nearly insurmountable odds, to save the collection as a whole.

She didn’t want it to be piecemealed out and was concerned about what might happen if it fell into the wrong hands.

In true Cheryl fashion, she simply stepped up and figured out how to address this challenge, just like she did back in Silver Lake when she saved that lost child.

Cheryl not only obtained the funding for the Lincoln Collection, but she also established an endowment and coordinated the efforts of multiple stakeholders.

Our motto. As her life’s work, Cheryl both made and preserved history.

Cheryl’s Eulogy

The trip back to Silver Lake drew me closer to Cheryl and helped me prepare, both mentally and emotionally, for Cheryl’s eulogy on Sunday afternoon.

Cheryl and I were close. Very close. More like sisters than cousins.

We traveled back to our roots in the Netherlands together.

We shared many adventures, some of which I wrote about in Cheryl Ferverda (1946-2023), HighwayWoman.

I was honored to be able to provide a loving, yet lighthearted and humorous sendoff for my sister-cousin. It’s exactly what she would have wanted, and providing a loving sendoff for her helped me find at least a modicum of closure.

At her Celebration of Life, we shared chocolate, stories and yes, a few tears.

Cheryl requested that her paperweight collection be given away to her friends, which her sons did at her service. I saw several children selecting paperweights and talking about their memories of Cheryl, which would have pleased her to no end.

She was much loved by so many. She profoundly touched the lives of everyone she encountered. No one was ever ambivalent about Cheryl.

When I saw the paperweights that Phil had placed on the table, I knew immediately which paperweight was meant for me.

A Phoenix from the ashes? A double helix? Both are absolutely perfect descriptions for this beautiful orb.

Another much loved family member sees Cheryl giving me a hug, and someone else suggested that our shared DNA has been woven into a chorus of our combined life songs. I can’t tell you how much I love this.

Yea, I’m still crying.

Our Ferverda DNA continues to reveal a book of stories as yet untold, raising our ancestors from the ashes. It has already provided us with some surprises.

Cheryl’s immortality lives on – from our ancestors – passed to her sons, granddaughter, and future descendants. Our collective family history is not yet written, but Cheryl and Don’s irreplaceable and oh-so-valuable contributions live on in perpetuity. Combined with the genetic record of my mother and other relatives, we continue to raise the veil.

Such sweet tears of joy, boundless love, and equally deep sorrow. I am so incredibly grateful to have had her in my life and so incredibly grief-stricken at her sudden departure.

Her body could no longer serve her, and Cheryl decided it was time to sail away – into the misty distance – the land of the ancestors with windmills on the horizon. She did so on her own terms, just like she lived her life.

I wish her smooth sailing and calm seas – my Dutch version of RIP.

I hope Cheryl has found our stubbornly elusive ancestors and is asking lots of questions. Had I known she was going to depart, I’d have made her a list😊

I’m expecting a dispatch soon, Cheryl…just saying.

Cheryl will always be held close in the hearts of those who love her – never far away. She leaves a sparkling trail of light, joy, and inspiration that will never be forgotten.

Parting and driving away, especially for the last time, is such bittersweet sorrow.

Globetrekker – A New Feature for Big Y Customers From FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA recently released Globetrekker, a great new feature for Big Y customers as part of the Discover tools. You can read about the Discover tools, here.

What Is Globetrekker?

Globetrekker is a new mapping feature that maps your Y-DNA ancestral migration path from Y-Adam in Africa born about 200,000 years ago to where your direct paternal ancestors are found most recently based on:

  • The earliest known ancestor (EKA) locations of you, your matches and other testers
  • Ancient DNA samples
  • Various geographic criteria including elevation, migration corridors, sea levels, and glaciers.

This data-driven model also includes sea levels over time and some climate factors, such as glaciation. Clearly, our ancestors needed access to clean water, food and an environment where they weren’t going to freeze to death. If they had to choose between migrating along a lower level coastal region, or heading straight across the high mountains into the unknown, it’s more likely that they took the lower elevation coastal route with assured food.

Globetrekker displays the “most likely” corridors for you to review.

While you only see your Y-DNA line initially, the map includes 48,000 migration paths for all haplogroups spread across each continent. If you’ve taken the Big Y test, you can view any of the haplogroups in Discover.

And, there’s an integrated tree browser, too.

You can read FamilyTreeDNA’s blog article, written by Goran Runfeldt, head of R&D, here.

Please Note

  • Everyone must sign into their own account to use the new Globetrekker tool. To use the rest of the Discover features, everyone can use the public version of the tool, but Globetrekker is for Big Y customers only, which is why you need to sign in. You’ll also receive more information in other categories, such as Notable and Ancient Connections, if you access Discover through your account. The free public version is limited.
  • If you’re a project administrator and you normally view your project members’ results through your project (with member-granted authorization, of course) you can’t do that yet with Globetrekker.
  • This means that every tester has to sign on using their own kit number and password. FamilyTreeDNA is working on Group Administrator access, so don’t despair if you normally depend on your volunteer administrator to handle things for you and explain. It’s coming.
  • The migration map includes only pre-Columbian migrations. In other words, if your EKA is not Native American and is brick-walled in the US, you won’t see it on the map. You’ll see your closest haplogroup location before about 1500.
  • These routes will change over time with additional testers whose results will shift and refine the paths.

Best Thing You Can Do

The best things you can do, aside from taking (or upgrading to) a Big Y-700 test are:

  • Complete your earliest known ancestor (EKA) information.
  • Be SURE to include a country AND a location of origin because that’s the data Globetrekker draws from.
  • If your cousins test too, you may be assigned a new, more refined haplogroup, so recruit people. If you don’t know anyone specific, looking at your STR matches is a good resource to find candidates.

Adding Your EKA

To add your EKA and their geographic location, sign in to your account and click on your name, which will display a menu.

Select Account Settings.

Select Genealogy, then Earliest Known Ancestors, then complete the information, including Country, which assigns the flag, among other things. Click on update location to complete or change this location.

Search or place the pin in the correct location. Then click Save.

There are three very important pieces of EKA information that need to be completed to reap all the benefits of the Matches Map, Discover, the Time Tree, the Group Time Tree that includes ancestors, and Globetrekker.

  1. EKA Name and birth/death date
  2. Country of Origin field using the dropdown (Please note Native American entries for proven Native ancestors/haplogroups)
  3. Ancestral Location for specific locations for the Matches Map

While you’re here, enter your direct matrilineal ancestor’s information too – that’s your mother’s mother’s mother’s line, which you’ll need for mitochondrial DNA..

Then, click the orange Save button at the bottom of the page.

Your map location will also appear on your STR Matches Map. You may find relevant matches there, even if they haven’t taken the Big Y test.

There’s immense power in collaboration.

I often reach out to STR panel (12-111 markers) matches and men with the same or similar surnames, asking if they will consider upgrading to the Big Y, sometimes providing testing scholarships. The only way to obtain the most refined haplogroup possible and the most accurate migration path is for multiple people in the same lineage to test AND complete the location information.

Now that we’ve completed our housekeeping, let’s look at Globetrekker.

Globetrekker Quick Test Drive

I’ll be writing about Globetrekker results in detail soon, but for right now, let’s just take a quick spin.

Click on any image to enlarge

Sign in to your account and click on the Discover Haplogroup Reports under Y-DNA Results and Tools.

You’ll see your Haplogroup Story, of course, and on the left side, you’ll see the Globetrekker link. Click on Globetrekker.

It Takes Two to Tango

Please note the introduction at the top of the Globetrekker page, and don’t get drawn into the beautiful map without reading this part first, along with the Release Announcement, Caveats, and Survey. Please take the survey after you’ve used Globetrekker.

Click on image to enlarge

  • In order to RECEIVE a detailed haplogroup, it takes at least two people with the variant (mutation) that is then named and becomes the same haplogroup. This is why we recommend that men ask a cousin from the same paternal line to test, or even a father/brother/uncle.
  • To MAP the location of a haplogroup on Globetrekker, it takes at least two people with the same haplogroup who have selected a location. Looking at my cousin’s results, I had already entered his EKA and location, but apparently his Big Y matches have not, so there are not two men with R-ZS3700 who have locations specified. I need to contact his matches.

Be sure to enter all of your EKA info. If your cousins have tested, they need to enter their information as well.

  • Globetrekker cannot use results for the mapping function without locations.
  • Globetrekker cannot use non-Native American haplogroups that are recorded with a location in the Americas. Globetrekker does provide Native American mapping in North and South America when the haplogroup is Native and a location is provided.
  • Globetrekker CAN utilize coordinates in the Americas, but a country of origin in Europe or elsewhere pre-Columbus. Globetrekker defaults to the country of origin. Please make sure this information is accurate and not just a guess or oral history.

Locations or at least countries need to be as accurate as possible. If there are only two men with a specific haplogroup, for example, and one enters England and the other enters France, Globetrekker tries to plot the location of that haplogroup someplace in the middle. In this circumstance, probably neither person is happy – both complaining about inaccuracy. Yet another reason why it’s a good thing to help your fellow genealogists.

Therefore, if you notice that you have a Big Y match on either your Big Y match list, or your STR (12-111 panel) matches, and they don’t have an EKA and country listed, with a location displayed on the matches map, PLEASE email them and ask nicely if they will add that info. You can send them a link to this article to explain why providing that information is critically important for them AND the people they match, just like your information is crucial to them. Without location data, Globetrekker paths can’t be calculated correctly, and sometimes not at all. The more data, the greater the accuracy.

After you enter your EKA information and after Big Y results are back, it will be a week or so before Discover and Globetrekker are up to date. Discover is updated weekly, and if a new haplogroup is added, Globetrekker will be up to date the following week.

Drum Roll Please…..

Here it is. The new highly refined Globetrekker migration map. It’s a beauty!

Your end-of-line haplogroup, or the closest one that can be calculated, will be shown in orange. In this case, it’s R-BY490 (circa 1650 CE) because the location of R-ZS3700 (circa 1700 CE) can’t be calculated.

On the map, you can see the various haplogroups that are upstream of haplogroup R-BY490, meaning parent haplogroups.

The path from Y-Adam in Africa is mapped, with the color changing to represent the birth of each major haplogroup in the migration path.

For example, I clicked on the pin for haplogroup CF, which expanded that haplogroup to CF-P143 and showed information about how the haplogroup pin was located on the map – plus the age and sea level difference at the time.

Scroll down on the map until you see the play button. Clicking on that button animates the migration path, beginning with Y-Adam, then progressing to the most current pre-Columbian migration.

In this case, I paused the video at the formation of haplogroup R1.

Notice the glaciation that both forms and recedes. Clearly, your ancestors weren’t living there during glaciation, but humans moved into those areas after the glaciers thawed and retreated.

You may be surprised at the path your ancient ancestors took, so I encourage you to spend some time with this map, reviewing the approximate path and your parental haplogroups with an open mind.

A legend is located in the far right upper corner to help explain the map details, including Ocean Currents and the various sea level colors.

Notice Doggerland, in dark green, which was a land mass when some haplogroups arrived in what is now the British Isles. Doggerland flooded sometime between 6500 and 6200 BCE, or about 8500 years ago, so it’s sea today. In other coastal locations, some previous land areas are covered by water today. Note the Baltic above, for example. Truthfully, that explains a lot. I knew about Doggerland but not about many of the other coastal regions around the world.

Pay close attention to what’s happening on the map. I noticed that my red pin for the current haplogroup is found in Deal, England, but so is an earlier haplogroup, so the later pin obscures the earlier pin. I enlarged the map and paused the video at 1400 CE so the red pin doesn’t form yet, then clicked on haplogroup R-Z290 that arrived from across the English Channel.

The R-Z290 pin location tells me that my Estes male ancestors arrived from continental Europe around 4650 years ago. My assumption (there’s that word again) had been that the original Estes ancestors arrived, then stayed right in Deal, a coastal village very near Dover, the closest point to the European mainland. According to Globetrekker, that wasn’t at all what happened.

I was initially somewhat skeptical, but then looking at all of the upstream haplogroups, I realized that those 17 haplogroups upstream of R-BY490 had to get into the other parts of the British Isles somehow – and my ancestor clearly descends from those men.

Could my ancestors have crossed back over to the European mainland at some point, then recrossed into Deal? Yes, of course, but without any genetic or other evidence, that’s speculation ONLY, with nothing at all to support it. In other words, that speculation would be based on what I believed all these years and nothing more.

The data-driven genetic scientific evidence tells us that our Estes ancestor arrived in what is today England about 4500 years ago. As you can see, there are a total of 17 points in England that have been reliably placed, not just one or two that might be open to speculation. Additionally, we have ancient DNA evidence.

Notice the functions at the top of the map. Turn on Ancient Connections. You’ll see the little shovels appear when their timeframe and location are relevant to the map migration, then disappear when it isn’t.

Pause the map again, and click on the shovel to display relevant information about the archaeology dig that produced Y-DNA results of sufficient quality to be included. Those ancient samples often anchor haplogroups in a known place at a specific time.

While you’re enjoying different views, try the other options at the top of the Globetrekker map.

Integrated Tree Browser

Scroll down beneath the map to view the integrated tree browser.

This is VERY cool because the tree browser moves in tandem with the map above.

You can see that the migration map shows R-BY487, and on the timeline below, R-BY487 is showing at the top, along with the downstream haplogroups.

R-BY482 (circa 1500 CE), R-BY490 (circa 1650 CE), and R-ZS3700 (circa 1700 CE) are all Estes surname haplogroups. Prior to that, R-BY487 (circa 750 CE) has no associated surname. Surnames hadn’t been adopted yet, but we know approximately where they were living just the same. We can now reference the appropriate historical period in England to determine what was happening when they lived there.

Why the Big Y?

The Big Y test does five things extremely well:

  1. Scans millions of locations on the Y chromosome looking for mutations that, when compared with other Big Y testers, places men conclusively on their branch, and sometimes on their twig and leaf of the Y-DNA haplotree. Men carrying previously undiscovered mutations from the same line establish a newly named haplogroup.
  2. Unambiguously matches testers with men who descend from a common ancestor. SNPs, the mutations measured in the Big Y test are not subject to back-mutations and other occasional instabilities that plague the STR markers in the 12-111 panel tests.
  3. Provides matching to both STR and SNP markers, allowing genealogical connections to men who have taken either type of test. Some people who have taken STR tests have either chosen not to upgrade (yet) or may have passed away. With the Big Y test, those legacy tests, some of which are more than 20 years old, are still useful.
  4. Provides an estimated date of when the common ancestor lived.
  5. Reaches reliably back in time, before the age of surnames, allowing testers to peer into the past based on a combination of genetics and history.

In other words, the Big Y test provides the best of both worlds, genealogy for close surname matches and anthropology for ancient matching and migration.

Lots to Explore

Globetrekker results are available to men who took either the Big Y-500 or the Big Y-700. Those who took the Big Y-500 can upgrade for significantly more refinement and potentially new haplogroups. Men who have not yet tested, or who just ordered one of the STR panels can upgrade to learn about your matches, your haplogroup, and the migration path through history your ancestor trod to arrive where your EKA lived.

I’m looking forward to reviewing all of the kits I manage that have taken the Big Y test. Let me know what you think about your Globetrekker results, and be sure to complete the survey and let FamilyTreeDNA know too.

If you’d like to learn more about your Big Y results, be sure to check out both Discover and Globetrekker. Discover is public, but Big Y testers will receive more information. Globetrekker is for Big Y customers only.

Remember, both will change as more people test and new results come in, so check back often.

The FamilyTreeDNA Big Y Facebook Group

A few weeks ago, FamilyTreeDNA introduced their FamilyTreeDNA Big Y Group on Facebook. As of today, just shy of 8000 people have joined. You do have to agree to follow the rules, but you don’t need to have taken a Big Y test. Lots of people join to learn, including many women who manage Y-DNA tests for family members or people who just want to understand more about one of the three types of tests for genetic genealogy.

You’re welcome to join too, here.

The Summer Sale

Several people have asked when the Big Y or the upgrades would be on sale. The summer sale runs from August 1-31, and all Y-DNA tests and upgrades are included, here.

If you’ve already taken one of the STR panel tests, or the Big Y-500, the Big Y-700 is less expensive when you upgrade. Just sign in to your account and click on the orange Add Ons and Upgrades button at the top right of your page, then on “Upgrades.”

Click here to purchase or upgrade.


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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, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35337173

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 Genealogical.com 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, Genealogical.com wrote a wonderful blog article that includes several of their books:

Check out Genealogical.com’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.

We are already having fun, and collaboration is often the key to success!


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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,  https://journals.psu.edu/phj/article/view/22432/22201.

Deutsche Hugenotten-Gesellschaft e.V., https://www.hugenotten.de/genealogie/arbeitsgemeinschaft-datenbank.php

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 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QVN3-4BVH : 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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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.

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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.

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François Lafaye or Lafaille (1744-1824), Literate French Sailor – 52 Ancestors #403

François Lafay, Lafaye or Lafaille is a mystery man.

Let’s start out with what we absolutely, positively know about his history, which isn’t much.

He was the father of my ancestor, Marie Lafay or Lafaille. Marie’s mother was Acadian, but from everything we find, including records we don’t find, François was not. He nor anyone by that surname, or even a similar surname, was listed on any of the Acadian census rolls or other resources from the time the Acadians spent in either Nova Scotia (Acadia) or in exile.

He did, however, meet Marie’s mother, Marie DeForest (Foret, Forest, LaForet, LaForest), in New England, someplace in the colonies, after the Acadians were abruptly expelled in 1755 from their maritime homes in Nova Scotia.

The Acadians spent about a decade in forced exile, but some remained longer in their new homeland. Of course, the problem is that we don’t know, except in generalities, where that homeland was. Nor did they consider it a homeland. They were a displaced people, forced into poverty and sometimes servitude, deported against their will by the English who forcibly took their lands. They were French, spoke French, and were Catholic. The English who rounded them up and herded them onto ships after burning their farms often irrecoverably split families. The Acadians did not settle in a single group. Different ships carrying heartbroken refugees arrived in different locations along the eastern seaboard and elsewhere. None of those places were welcoming, although some tried their best to accommodate the now-destitute families.

If François was French, and with a name like François, he most certainly was – it would have been natural for him to be drawn to other French-speaking people.

Is there anything else we can discern from his name?


Per FamilySearch, LaFay is a French metonymic occupational name for someone who caught and sold quails, a variant of Caille with a fused feminine definite article la. So, in essence, his patronymic ancestor may have been a man involved with quails.

It can also be a topographic name for a person living on a patch of pebbly or stony soil,; or a habitational name from La Caille, the name of several places in various parts of France.

In the book, Les Canadiens-Français: origine des familles émigrées de France, d’Espagne, de Suisse, etc., pour venir se fixer au Canada, a book about the origins of French-Canadian families by specific names, La Faye is shown as a commune of Charente, arr. by Ruffec. It also states, translated, “Fay, bundled hoops or circles and faye, forest place, forest, ewe.”

Ruffec, Charente is a stopover town on the road from Paris to Spain (Route National 10) between Poitiers and Angouleme.

This was an interesting exercise but not much help.

Who He’s Not

Before going any further, I’d like to eliminate one erroneous identity.

There is one François Faille, born in November 1741, in LaPrairie, Quebec to François Faille and Marie Anne Brosseau. He married Marie Joillet in 1783, in LaPrairie, Quebec. This man and our François Lafay are two different people with similar names.

We know this because the marriage rehabilitation of our François states that he and Marie LeForest married in New England in 1767, and he had children contiguously with Marie before and after his arrival in L’Acadie, in Southern Quebec. He was married to her until her death in 1819, and we know that their children born prior to 1788 were born in the colonies. Therefore, this man born in 1741 in Quebec and who lived and married in 1783 there cannot be our François LaFay/LaFaye.

Another record sometimes confused with our François LaFay or Lafaille is this 1766 notarial record in Quebec.

This is possibly the François Faille who was married to Marie Anne Brosseau, or his son, François Faille who was born in November of 1741.

We know our François was in New England a year later, and he always signed his name LaFaye, never Lafaille, although later records in Quebec sometimes spelled it phonetically. It’s clear though, that this list was not made by the people involved, because the handwriting is all the same. So surnames could have been spelled any which way.

The Notarial Seigneur, Antoine Crispin Sr. served in Chateau-Richer, north of Quebec City.

French Sailor

One piece of information about our François is revealed through his daughter, Marie Lafay who, amid much conflict, converted to Protestantism late in life. Henrietta Feller was one of the missionaries who befriended Marie, also known as Mary.

In Henrietta Feller’s diary, quoted in A Lower Canada Baptist Beginning, she wrote about Marie/Mary Lafay/Lafaille Lord’s conversion to Protestantism saying that Marie’s father, François was a French sailor who settled in Boston.

Mary was reportedly born Marie Lafay to an Acadian mother and French father, although we don’t actually know if she was born in Boston or elsewhere. Her 1767 birth occurred at a time when many Massachusetts Acadians traveled to Boston to petition for transport to return to Canada.

Some Acadians, however, were considering staying in the colonies, 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.

Marie Lafay, according to various reports, had in fact, been exposed to Protestant teaching while in exile.

Perhaps Mary’s mother’s family had settled in and became somewhat established over the 11 years since the expulsion from Nova Scotia began. After their 1767 marriage, maybe there was no driving motivation for Mary’s parents to leave. By the time they did, nearly 20 years later, many children had been born, and others were nearly raised. Mary was educated in a Protestant school and learned to read the Bible there.

Was François Lafay Protestant, at least initially, and not Catholic?

According to what François’s daughter, Mary Lafay Lore, told the Baptist missionaries, her elderly maternal 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.

Mary also revealed that she had encouraged her father, François Lafay, to make the 1788 trip to Canada after something she recalled as “a fearful disappointment.” Clearly, they were close.

I wonder if Mary’s disappointment was personal in nature, perhaps a suitor, or was it something more widespread? It is interesting to note that Pliny Moore, Mary’s close friend, 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 initiated the great trek inward toward the frontiers.

Regardless of what event or combination of events caused the Lafay/Lafaille family to join other Acadian families in Quebec, they made that journey by the summer of 1788.

Where Did François Come From?

What can we discover about François’s early years, if anything?

I found an undated paper written by Bernard H. Doray from Montreal, Canada, who, unfortunately, appears to be deceased. His paper titled “History of François Lafaye and Marguerite Foret” provides sourced information I have not found elsewhere, for which I’m extremely grateful.

Based on Henrietta Feller’s recollection of what Mary Lafay told her about François in Boston, Bernard questioned how a French man would be able to settle in Boston, given that England and France were at war until the Treaty of Paris in 1763, which ended the conflict between France and Great Britain over control of North America. I had wondered the same thing.

Bernard then states that his nephew discovered a muster roll of a warship, the Grand St-Jean-Baptiste, in the French Naval Archives.

The ship sailed on February 2, 1757, from Bordeaux with an apprentice sailor, “mousse” in French, François Lafaye, age 13, from Puy-Paulin, which is the name of both a Castle and Parish in Bordeaux, France.

François is listed at the bottom of the first column, with a reference number which is found on the following pages.

An age of 13 places this François’s birth in 1743 or 1744 which correlates with our François’s birth year based on his death entry in 1824 where he was stated to be 80 years old.

Click to enlarge images

François was paid 10 somethings, probably livres – the currency of the time. He and three other apprentices were the lowest paid on the ship. There is only one younger boy, age 12. All five of the mousses, apprentice sailors, were between the ages of 12 and 15 and paid either 10 or 12 of whatever.

I can’t help but wonder if these youngest boys were orphans. Most parents would be very reluctant to allow a boy of that age to go to sea, possibly never to return.

It’s worth noting that there is another Guillaume La Faye, a 35-year-old cooper, but he is not from the same location, or even close.

Guillaume was older, from Saint-Remy, finished the campaign, and was discharged at Port-Louis on April 29, 1758.

Saint Remy to Puy-Paulin is quite distant. The commonality is that they are both located very near to major coastal cities. Many men on the ship’s roster were from Bordeaux.


Today, it’s difficult to find the Puy-Paulin castle, at least by that name.

Par Jefunky — Travail personnel, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=112192024

That’s because today, the castle has been converted into the Hotel de l’Intendance.

Here’s the fortified Chateau Puy-Paulin in the city of Bordeaux in 1550.

The view across the rooftops of one of three Roman castle towers in 1638.

In 1743, the castle consisted of several buildings from different periods, joined together in 1744 by a large carriage entrance flanked by two pavilions.

This 1755 map shows the concert hall at the top, which burned, the grove, and the French garden in the center, with the inner courtyard and porte-cochere, where coaches deposited their passengers, at the bottom.

In 1755 or 1756, a fire started from the rooftops. Much was destroyed, but the castle was eventually rebuilt.

I’m unclear whether there was one fire or two, with a second following in 1756. In 1755, François would have been 11, and 12 in 1756. A devastating fire would have affected many people, and François would have been a wide-eyed, possibly terrified, witness.

This 1705 map of Bordeaux shows the plan of the castles and suburbs with surrounding areas.

Assuming that this François Lafaye on the ship’s roster is our guy, this would have been his stomping ground, and he would have witnessed that fire. He may also have been orphaned by it.

This might have been why he signed on, or was signed on, to the ship as an apprentice sailor in 1757. Bordeaux’s bustling Port of The Moon was right there, and assuredly ships were always looking for crew.

In the 1700s, Bordeaux’s Port of the Moon was France’s busiest port, importing coffee, cocoa, sugar, cotton, and indigo, and the second busiest port in the world.

The Port of the Moon on the River Garonne in 1899 shows the “Old Town,” at right, along the river.

The Port of the Moon as seen from the top of the spire of the Saint-Michel church.


But that’s not all. Back to Bernard’s article with images I’ve added.

On the same muster roll we read that François escapes from his ship on April 10, 1757, at Cap Français, St-Domingue which is now Cap-Haitien, Haiti.

Cap Francais, at that time a French trading stronghold for both agriculture and slaves, is nestled between the bay and the mountains.

By Andrew Wiseman – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27240803

Remnants of the French colonial architecture can still be seen today. Perhaps François passed by this very building.

The location in Haiti, today.

Bernard continues:

Why does François escape?

He was not alone. About a third of the crew escaped. The role of a young sailor was a dangerous one: they had to run down to the hold of the ship, carry bags of powder up to the cannons and fill them for the gunners to fire them, and to cool the cannons between the firings by the gunners. That was related by the historians at the Museum of Restigouche (a museum to show an excavated war ship sunk in 1760; officially called “Battle of the Restigouche National Historic Site of Canada” at Pointe-à-la-Croix QC). So, they employed young sailors instead of gunners for that dangerous work.

Possibly they sought young sailors with no families to miss them if they didn’t return from that dangerous mission. What happened to those other four young boys on the ship?

According to the roster:

  • The youngest, François Tourete, age 12, “passed on le Greenwich July 12, 1757,” which I presume means he died. He apparently chose not to escape in April. Maybe he should have. If he died on the Greenwich Meridian, it would have been on the return trip because the Greenwich Meridian is nowhere near the Caribbean or the Americas.
  • Jean Paillat, age 15, finished the campaign and was released on April 27, 1758, at Port-Louis.
  • Joseph Lierte, age 15, deserted on April 10, 1757, at Cap-Francais, the same day as François Lafaille and much of the rest of the crew.
  • The record for Andre Micouleau, age 15, says that he embarked at Bordeaux, but then that he never embarked.

Maybe that crossing where one of their young mates died, combined with the reality of warfare, made this less of an adventure and very real. Of the five apprentices, apparently one backed out before leaving, and only one completed the voyage.

Back to Bernard:

An unsettled problem: what happened to François after April 1757? Did he stay in Haiti or did he sail to Boston? How did he live? How did he move from Haiti to Boston?

Note that some Acadians, deported in 1755 from Acadia (Nova Scotia) to the British colonies as the Carolinas, were allowed to leave in 1763 and removed to Haiti.

Those Acadians settled at Mole St-Nicolas which is about 178 km by road from Cap-Haitien, or perhaps an easier journey by boat. Did François somehow meet them? Or, did he catch a ride back on the same ship headed back north?

Unfortunately, the Acadian settlement on Mole Saint-Nicholas was highly unsuccessful, and many of those who survived left with Joseph Broussard in January of 1765 when his ship stopped by on the way to Louisiana. IF, and it’s a big IF, François Lafaye who jumped ship in 1757 managed to make his way to Mole Saint-Nicolas, this might explain his arrival in Louisiana, but that’s not where he surfaced. This does nothing to explain his arrival in Boston or any location on the eastern seaboard.

There might be another explanation, however.

In 1763, Acadians began petitioning the Massachusetts General Court for permission to leave the province with the intention of either returning to Nova Scotia, going to France, St. Domingue (now Haiti,) or Quebec, areas with people who shared their language and culture. On November 28, 1764, the governor declined their petition, but it does show us that the people in Massachusetts were keenly aware of French-speaking Haiti.

With Cap-Francais being the center of Caribbean French maritime trade, it’s certainly within the realm of possibility that François signed on again as a crew member from Haiti to Boston, and remained in Boston, perhaps jumping ship again. Sailing was a dangerous profession, and every ship would have been seeking to replace crew who had died or failed to return to the ship during their most recent voyage.

In 1763, Françoise’s soon-to-be-wife’s family was in Connecticut, not Massachusetts.

Of course, just because Françoise arrived in Boston, assuming that is accurate, which it may not be, doesn’t mean he stayed in Boston. Connecticut has a long shoreline too, and by land, is only about 50 miles or so.

By 1763, François would have been 19 and clearly able to fend for himself. By this time, he had been on his own for six long years and was probably very street savvy.

Back to Bordeaux

Bernard was a persistent researcher and continued his story.

With information on the approximate year and place of birth and the wonderful help of Cercle de Genéalogie du Sud-Ouest (Bordeaux, France), I obtained François’ birth and baptism registration.

On this map, you can see the location of the castle, with the red pin, then the Sainte-Eulalie Catholic church, followed by the Pariosse Saint-Nicholas Catholic church at the bottom. Clearly all within walking distance.

François was born on January 7, 1744, and baptized the next day at St-Nicolas church in Bordeaux. It is not far from Puy-Paulin that he gives as his residence when he joined the navy in 1757. His father is Joseph Lafay, coachman .and his mother is Françoise Germon from Ste-Eulalie parish (next parish).

Sylvie Lord translates his baptism as:

On the 7th of June 1744, was born between 9 and 10 AM, a child of Joseph Lafaye, coachman and Françoise Germon, from Ste-Eulalie parish, was baptised on the 8th of the said month, given the name of François…

Note that St. Nicolas is a Catholic church, which tells us that François was indeed Catholic.

Joseph Lafay(e) and Françoise Germon were married at St. Nicolas on February 11, 1738, in Bordeaux, Gironde, France. The two churches are slightly over half a mile (900 meters) apart, but of course the families may have lived closer.

It’s difficult to get a good picture of this church today because the medieval street is quite narrow and the area densely built. This building, constructed between 1821-1823 is apparently not the original church at this location. I wonder if part of the original church remains within the current one.

The church is beautiful, although I wonder where the cemetery was located. It’s clearly gone today.

The cemetery assuredly existed adjacent to the church at some time. Perhaps beneath the school to the right, or within the walls of the Ministere des Armees to the left, above.

The lettering above the entry gate translates to ancient or old hospital of St. Nicolas which was or is a military hospital.

Is this the street where François lived? Education at that time was under the auspices of the church, so this must have been where he learned to read and write, at least well enough to sign his name, assuming he is our François.

La Rue St. Nicolas is quite narrow, testifying to its antiquity.

The François Lafaye onboard the ship was assuredly this boy who would have been baptized and worshipped in an earlier church in this location.

Did he say his last prayer here before climbing aboard the Grand St-Jean-Baptiste to sail away – a boy in a man’s war?

Was this church damaged or destroyed in the fires? Could he even have worshipped here then, if he had wanted? Or did he attend his maternal grandparent’s church, at least from time to time. Were any of his parents or grandparents still living in 1757?

Did he attend his parents’ funerals here before boarding the ship and embarking on the journey of a lifetime?

Is he “our” François Lafaye?

If so, his mother was probably baptized in the Saint-Eulalie Church just a few blocks away.

You can view several photos of St. Eulalie, one of the oldest churches in Bordeaux, both interior and exterior, here.

This church appears to have had several additions, but the original church was here when Francois’s mother lived.

Today, a tree blooms in the beautiful French springtime.

At some point, the cemetery would have been located beside or to the rear of this church, or perhaps both. Today, it’s gone, but perhaps a few graves remain, tucked into the cloistered arches visible from the side streets.

François’s mother’s ancestors are likely buried someplace here in unmarked graves.

Both churches are mapped in Bordeaux with the Puy-Paulin castle slightly to the north – all easily a 20-25 minute walk end to end. Young boys tend to run. One way or another, that young man’s childhood ended in the late winter or early spring of 1757 when he walked up the ramp to that ship with probably nothing more than a change of clothes – if that.

By Jefunky – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=84352874

Today, this entire area is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Where Do We First Find Our Proven François Lafay?

François Lafay witnessed the marriage of Jean Dupuis and Marie Hébert in 1773 in New England and signed the registration, as stated in the validation of that marriage at St-Jacques – L’Achigan Quebec in 1775. This tells us that François lived in New England, probably in Connecticut, at least until 1773. I surely wish the priest had said where in New England.

Who were the parents of Jean Dupuis and Marie Hebert, and where were they living in 1773? I have been unable to find specific location information, so if anyone knows, please let me know. That would tell us where François was in 1773 too.

Jean-Marie Dupuis died on April 30, 1796, in L’Acadie and was buried at Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie. His parents were Germain Dupuis and Marie Angelique Leblanc. Marie Hebert died on March 12, 1798, and was buried two days later in the same place. Her parents were Joseph Hebert and Madeleine Dupuis.

Interestingly, François Lafay must have been close to this couple because they signed in 1788 as godparents for his son Antoine Hilarie Lafay, and in 1790 as witnesses at the marriage of his daughter, Suzanne Lafay and Honore Lord (the elder) in L’Acadie.

Jean-Marie’s father was Germain Dupuis, and the family was deported to Massachusetts. His father, also Germain, was present in the 1758 census in Nantucket, an island off the shore of Massachusetts. By 1776, they were in Quebec, but François Lafay and his family wouldn’t follow for another dozen years.

Marie Hebert’s father, Joseph Hebert, was found in the Connecticut census on August 14, 1763. This family was in Laprairie, Quebec by 1780.

Somehow, the children of these two families, Jean-Marie Dupuis and Marie Hebert were in the same location in order to court and marry by 1773.

Why did the François Lafay family wait another decade or two after many of the other Acadian families returned to Quebec, beginning in 1766 or so? Why did they return when they did? Marie told the missionary, Henrietta Feller, that her grandparents were upset that they were falling away from the Catholic faith.

Clearly, based on this 1773 marriage record, there was a cluster of Acadians living in close proximity someplace in New England, and François Lafay, with his family, was among them.

If we can find one of them, we find all of them.

Arrival in Quebec

François Lafay and Marguerite Forest’s first nine children were born “in the colonies,” as stated in their baptism records when they were baptized many years later at Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie.

Françoise, the youngest, was the only child born in the Province of Québec in 1789, and she was baptized the same day. This suggests that François and Marguerite emigrated to the province of Québec between 1786, the last birth in the colonies, and July 9, 1788, the first baptism in Quebec. I’d say it was probably in early 1788, simply because another child should have been born in early 1788, and there is no record of a baptism. Sadly, this suggests the child was born and died before they arrived in Quebec, with their next child, Françoise, being born on January 11, 1789.

They settled at Sainte-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie, where many Acadians found refuge upon return from exile.

The first actual record of François LaFay in Quebec is the baptism of three of his children on the same day, July 9, 1788 at the Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie church in L’Acadie.

His youngest child was Pierre Clement Lafay, age 2, so born before July 9th in 1786 or after that date in 1785.

He signed all three of his children’s baptisms as François Lafay.

Bernard reveals that the next record of François Lafay is on September 29, 1788 in the presence of Notaire Jean-Baptiste Grisé. François rented a farm in L’Acadie from James Waite and is described as a resident of L’Acadie, Quebec. Clearly they were setting up housekeeping.

I sure wish I knew where that farm was.

In 1789, three more of François’s older children were baptized. I wonder why those three weren’t baptized with the others in 1788. Was there a cost to the family or donation required for these baptisms?

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.

Again, he signs as François Lafay. Based on their signatures, his daughters had been educated too.

On August 10th, 1789, Marie Lafay married Honore Lore, of the Acadian Lore/Lord family. Again, he signed as François Lafay. His son, also named Francois, then 13, signed with them and can be distinguished from his father because the F in François is fancy, and the signature is different. All of his children signed as Lafay.

The next record we have of François Lafay is his own marriage rehabilitation that occurred in Ste.-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie in Quebec in 1792. It’s like the family was catching up on all the loose ends from exile.

This record states that they were married on November 10, 1767 in New England before a justice of the peace because of the lack of availability of a priest.

We know that Marie’s parents were in Connecticut in 1763, and there’s no evidence to suggest they were elsewhere four years later. There’s very little evidence from this time period for the Acadians.

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.

We know that François was educated because he could sign his name and so could at least some of his children. They always signed Lafay. The name Lafaille appears in his 2nd marriage record in 1819, which he did not sign, and in subsequent notarial records, but not earlier records.

I take this as evidence, combined with the French records, assuming they are for him, that his surname really was Lafay, with Lafaille evolving later. I originally presumed that Lafay was anglicized, but I obviously assumed wrong.


François was a farmer, as noted in several records, and a laborer, as noted in his daughter Julie’s 1801 marriage record.

However in his daughter Marie-Anne’s 1806 marriage record he was listed as a “huissier” which Bernard, a native French speaker, translated as a Captain and wonders if he was a Captain in the militia.

We know Françoise lived in L’Acadie along the Richelieu River for three+ decades beginning in 1788, based on what happened in 1819.

But first, he would witness and possibly participate in the War of 1812, at 68 years of age. If he was a captain, the only other option would have been the Revolutionary War, but he was not living in Canada then, and I find no records of any similar name at Fold3 for either war.

War of 1812

Bernard first reported that François Lafay or Lafaille might have been a Captain in the Militia based on his daughter’s 1806 marriage record. He states that conditions were deteriorating between Canada and USA, and the war would start in 1812. At Pierre-Clément’s wedding in 1810, the same priest officiating does not give that title to François. Another translator who was not a native French-speaker questioned whether huissier was actually “bailiff.” Google translate as well as DeepL says the same thing.

I’m not quite sure what a bailiff did in Quebec at that time.

At the outset of the War of 1812, Quebec City was fortified with 2,300 regulars. Engagements occurred elsewhere, much closer to home. In 1812, the war raged along the Niagara frontier, but by 1813, 5,000 men had gathered between Lake Champlain and Montreal, right in the L’Acadie region along the Richelieu River. This would certainly give François ample reason to be concerned and potentially involved.

At this time, remember that Great Britain held Canada and the US was fighting against the British.

A letter from a US Infantry Officer dated November 16, 1813, explains their battle plans:

This is perhaps the last time you will hear from me at this place, if ever. We are preparing for a march, which will take place in a few days. It is intended to make an attack on Lower Canada [Quebec] immediately. We march without baggage or tents, and everything we carry will be on our backs, and the Heavens and a blanket our only covering, till we take winter quarters by force of arms. Our force is very respectable, say 6 or 7 thousand, and all in high spirits. The fatigues we expect to undergo will be equal to those experienced by our revolutionary heroes, till we arrive at Montreal.

Several years ago, cousin Paul posted on RootsWeb about Bernard, as follows:

I was directed by Bernard Doray to the marriage record for Marie Anne Lafay who married François Lord, June 6, 1806, St. Marguerite de Blairfindie. In this record François Lafay is listed as an officer. I then found through a google book search a book that listed François Lafay as being an officer who served in the Canadian militia (at L’Acadie) for Britain in the war of 1812 (he would have been in his early 70’s). So two differnet sources refer to him being an officer.

This likely confirmed for me what Prof. Stephen White had written to me that François Lafay was most likely educated as François signed his name “François Lafay” as someone educated in English would have signed. If François was an officer, he most likely would have then been educated.

I’m still searching for more background on François Lafay. Quebec records indicate a Boston connection (area of Boston could mean the whole of New England). Prof. White suspects a Connecticut connection, as that was the location Marguerite and her family had been exiled in the deportation. I have tried searching various records here in Massachusetts and in Connecticut but have had no success.

If I have missed anything, please let me know,

Paul Drainville

I found the book, Officers of the British Forces in Canada During the War of 1812-1815 where François Lafay is in fact mentioned as a Lieutenant, not a Captain, in the L’Acadie Battalion.

While this certainly could be our François, it’s more likely to be his son, François, born in 1776. The younger man would be 36 years old, not 68, which would make much more sense, but is still inconclusive.

I was unable to find additional information about François Lafay and the War of 1812, but you can read more about what transpired in that area here and here.

Whether he fought or was a militia member, that warfare near his home and potentially on his land would have clearly affected him.

The American forces mustered in Lake Champlain and prepared for the Battle of Chateauguay, shown above. That battle was followed a few days later by the Battle of Crysler’s farm.

The American troops marched up the Richelieu River beginning on September 19th, 1813, right through L’Acadie at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, headed for Montreal.

Soldiers marched by day and passed in boats by night, fully intending to take what they needed from any source they could find – striking terror into the hearts of the residents. François was 69 years old and had spent much of his life surrounded by one conflict or another.

We don’t know what happened to the family during this time, other than they survived. He dodged this bullet, but another one wasn’t too far in the future.

François Loses His Wife

Sadly, François’s wife, Marguerite passed away on February 16, 1819, at 71 years of age. They had been married more than 51 years and brought at least 11 and probably 13 children into the world together.

All of their children who survived to adulthood had married, except one. We don’t know what happened to Angelique who was born about 1789 after she signed as a witness to her sister Brigitte’s marriage in 1798. The other possibility is that Angelique was a middle name of a different child.

Marriage Times Two

Nine months later, on November 22nd, François married Madeleine Lépine, daughter of Adrien Legris Lépine and Marie Thibodeau and widow of Antoine Jacques Paquet. If this was like most farming communities, everyone involved had known each other “forever,” so there wasn’t much getting to know each other that needed to happen.

But this wasn’t destined to be just any plain vanilla wedding – but a very special one.

François’s granddaughter, Marie Elizabeth Lore, through daughter Marie Lafay who married Honore Lore, was married on the same day, in the same church, to Jean-Baptiste Leveque at the Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie church in L’Acadie.

This just couldn’t be any sweeter.

François was 75, and his bride, Madeleine, was 30 years younger.

His granddaughter, Marie Elizabeth Lore was 26 years old – almost half a century difference, yet marrying under the adoring eye of her grandfather, perhaps at the same altar.

Did grandfather and granddaughter have one ceremony, a double wedding, together, or did they have two separate weddings, one after the other?

I can close my eyes and see François walking his beaming granddaughter down the aisle towards the front of the church where they both stood beside their betrothed who would soon become their spouses.

The priest would then begin the Celebration of Matrimony.

Just look at this beautiful church where this family baptized their children, married, worshipped and yes, buried their dearly departed.

Generations of François’s extended family would probably have filled the entire sanctuary that glorious Monday.

November 22 of 1819 was certainly a day of celebration for four generations of the Lafaille family. If everyone was in attendance, François would have had more than 118 descendants wishing him well. Many of his grandchildren would have attended with babes in arms. Just four days later, his next great-grandchild would join the flock. I haven’t been able to trace all of his descendants, especially families who moved, so there could certainly have been even more, and that number of descendants swells significantly in the years to come, and in future generations.

Not bad for a man who arrived on these shores as a functional, if not an actual, orphan sometime in the late 1750s or early 1760s.

François Passes Over

François continued farming until his death on June 16, 1824

Father John’s translation:

Burial #44 François Lafaille

On the sixteenth of June, Eighteen Hundred Twenty Four, I, priest undersigned, buried in the cemetery of this parish the body of François Lafaille, farmer, who died the day before yesterday (avant hier) having received the sacraments of the Church. He was eighty years of age, the husband of Magdeleine Lépine. Present Jean Baptiste Dubé, and three others who declared that they were unable to sign, upon inquiry.

A. Brais, priest

Was Jean-Baptiste Dube perhaps the son of Jean-Baptiste Dupuis, François’s very long-time friend from back in the colonies?

Of course, the priests didn’t give the cause of death then, although how I wish they had. However, I wonder if something was going on in the Acadian community. François’ adult daughter Marguerite had died just a month earlier, on May 10th. Maybe cholera or dysentery, both of which are more pronounced in hot weather. Or perhaps his daughter’s untimely death just pushed him over the edge.


François’s belongings were inventoried the following year, probably after the crops were in. I wonder why that process took so long – 14 months. His last crops would have been harvested in the fall of 1824.

Madeleine didn’t pass away until April 14, 1833. If she had an inventory, would it reflect his things?

This notarial record dated August 3, 1825, in Iberville, Quebec corresponds with the actual inventory, here.

I cannot translate this document, so if anyone else has a translated version, I’d be very grateful if you would post it in the comments or reach out, even if it’s in French. My issue is the script combined with a language I’m unfamiliar with. I can do a typed French to English translation.

Someone on WikiTree posted a brief summary:

On 3 August 1825, an inventory of the deceased’s property was drawn up by notary Laurent Archambault. His modest possessions included tools, books, a cow, and 28 sheep.

I can’t help but wonder which books François owned. Would I possibly be lucky to find an actual list? The fact that he owned books further confirms that he didn’t just learn to write his name, but was literate and read. What we read says so much about us.

The bottom of the third page of the inventory includes signatures.

These were difficult for me to decipher. I find it strange that all of his children and his wife signed with a mark. We know that at least some of them signed their names to earlier documents.

You can tell that the names are spelled phonetically too. Lafaille vs Lafay.

Column 1

  • François Lafaille
  • Antoine Hilaire Lafaille
  • Marie Anne Lafaille (who was married to François Lore who died on December 13, 1824)
  • Dufaula who is probably Joseph Duphaut who married daughter Marguerite Lafay who died May 11, 1824.

Column 2

  • Magdeleine LePine – his widow
  • Honore Lord – married to daughter Marie/Mary Lafay
  • Marie Lafaille – who is married to Honore Lord – but why did they both sign?

This begs the question of the rest of the children.

I’m not familiar with the legal requirements in Quebec at this time, but several questions come to mind.

  • Were all the heirs required to sign?
  • Were only the people inheriting something required to sign?
  • Why did Honore Lore/Lord and his wife, Marie Lafaille both sign when both people of other married couples didn’t sign? Does that tell us something important?
  • What does it tell us about the children or their spouses that didn’t sign?

What About the Others?

Three living children are missing from this document.

  • Bridget married Pierre Gamache, and by mid-1825, the family’s baptisms and marriages were being carried out at St-Cyprien-de-Lery in Napierville, Quebec. They moved sometime after 1822, but why didn’t they come back to sign this document? Is there something in this document, written in French, that addresses this question? Both Bridget and Pierre were both living in 1825.
  • We only find one record of Angelique as a witness on her sister Bridget’s 1798 marriage, so it’s possible that she had passed away or Angelique was actually someone else who used a middle or other name.
  • However, we know that the youngest child, Françoise Lafay married Pierre Granger and died in 1866. Both people were alive in 1825 and their children were being baptized at Ste-Marguerite-de-Blairfindie, so they were clearly still in the area. Why didn’t they sign?

Two other children were missing. One had died, but it’s unknown if the second child was living. But both had living descendants. Would their descendants be entitled to anything and therefore need to sign?

Were the signers simply attesting to the accuracy of the inventory – or are they attesting to an inherited share of those assets?

  • Daughter Suzanne Lafay died in 1803, and her husband died in 1818. Were any of her five living children entitled to or received anything?
  • We don’t know if daughter Julie Lafay who married Ignace Laporte Denis was living or not, nor if he was. We do know that at least two of her daughters were living in 1825, because they married later, and one son was possibly living as well. What about those children?

In Summary

We do have some direct evidence of François’s life.

It appears certain, based on his own signature many times that his surname was originally Lafay or Lafaye, not Lafaille as it was later spelled in Quebec. I had assumed it was Lafaille, but I now believe it was Lafay based on François’s signatures.

He spelled his surname consistently throughout his life. It was only others, meaning various priests and the notarial record that spelled it Lafaille, although some descendants in later generations adopted that spelling.

We know that François married in the colonies in 1767, probably in Connecticut, where his wife’s family lived, and that he died in Quebec in 1824. Thanks to that record that says he was 80 years old, we know he was born in or at least about 1744. Given that he died in the middle of June, he would have been born either after June 14, 1743 or before June 14, 1744. That meshes perfectly with the January 7, 1744 birth in Bordeaux, France, of the child sailor François Lafaye.

We know that our François had arrived in Quebec by the summer of 1788, but probably not much earlier.

Most of his children were born in “New England,” and frustratingly, not one single record anyplace says WHERE in New England.

We have the information from missionary Henrietta Feller, who tells us François was a French sailor who somehow wound up in Boston. That’s a rather unusual story, so I’d tend to believe at least the sailor portion is accurate, and perhaps Boston as well. If he was a sailor, it’s likely he lived in relatively close proximity to the sea in France.

Thanks to Bernard’s work, we know there’s one François Lafay, spelled exactly the way François repeatedly signed his own name, who was born in Bordeaux on January 7, 1744. That young man’s father’s name was Joseph and his mother was Françoise. Our  François did have a daughter named François, but no son named Joseph, although that would have been one of the children that died in New England.

The François in Bordeaux signed onto a French ship as a young apprentice sailor in 1757, apparently only to discover that sailing life wasn’t for him. Of course, being the youngest with the least experience, he had the worst possible job combined with the lowest pay.

He deserted, or probably more aptly, ran away, in a French port in what is now Haiti as soon as the ship reached shore, along with about one-third of the rest of the crew. He very probably saved his own life.

If that young man is our François Lafay and somehow reached Boston, or someplace else along the eastern seaboard to find kinship with the Acadians is still a matter of conjecture.

We simply don’t know.

What we do know is the few facts we have do fit the profile for the young French sailor, but don’t constitute proof. Would there be church or notarial records in France that would shine light on that François Lafay? How would we go about finding those records?

There are other Lafaille or Lafay men in France, but none born in 1743 or 1744, and none in close proximity to a port. Of course, not all records are available online, and many were destroyed due to fires or war.

Clearly, there are blanks in our François’s life begging to be filled in, but we have nothing with which to patch those holes today.

Our best bet would be to have a Y-DNA match to a Lafay man, or even a man of any surname in Bordeaux.

Need Lafay or Lafaille Man for Y-DNA Test

For that to happen, I need a Lafay or Lafaille man who descends from François to take a Y-DNA test. François had three sons, two of whom had male descendants.

If that’s you, or one of your male relatives descends from François through an unbroken line of all males, I have a fully paid Y-DNA testing scholarship for you at FamilyTreeDNA. Please reach out, and maybe we can resolve another piece of François’s ancestry.


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