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May 6, 2016

Family Roots

Joe Charlebois

Have you been enticed to go on, Family Search or many of the other sites that are storing billions of records including your own family’s? I have, and I must admit that at times it can be very addictive.  Is it worth the time? Yes.


In the mid-80s my aunt received a copy of her ancestors going back several generations into Canada’s Quebec Province. I still have that original paper copy and used it along with a PC program I purchased many years ago to start my little hobby.


The information back then was scant. As time has passed, and the genealogical information industry boomed alongside the exponential growth of the Internet, the ease of gathering clues, hints and facts was made simple.


When I was born my maternal grandmother and my paternal grandparents had already passed away. I knew my mother’s father, but not too well.


My father is a great story teller; and, as the youngest of dozens of cousins, he would always regale us with his life around the extended family. As a student of history and a son of a story teller, I get a thrill anytime that I uncover a detail of a grandfather or great-great grandfather and match it with a time and place that preceded me. With just a little information, the research I do can give me a glimpse into the past.


The thrill of uncovering a new mystery about an ancestor can keep me going to find the next piece to a greater puzzle. I am sure that not all of the facts I have in my tree are accurate, but for the most part I attempt to vet all facts before accepting them into my collection.


The direct male lineage on my father’s side I can trace to the Bordeaux region of France with Francois Bouet. He was born in 1596.


Even though I have a French surname, it turns out that my father’s genetic makeup is approximately 75% Irish, 18% Great Britain with the remaining traces being that of other European ethnicities.


Visiting Quebec this winter I learned a great deal about the area where the first Charlebois stepped onto the soil of New France. I learned that two of my grandmothers where Filles du roy or “King’s Daughters” – young ladies who were sponsored by the King Louis the XIV with transportation to the new world as well as a dowry to marry one of the many single male colonists.


Another of my grandmothers was one of the Filles a Marier or “Marriageable Girls.” Both of these groups of young women came to the new world in what in essence was an arranged marriage. Unlike arranged marriages, however, if the young lady and her soon to be partner didn’t agree to go through with the marriage, they would not have to. There was much more to the contractual details having some women return home or others choosing different mates.


Like Jimmy Buffet, I am the son of a son of a….sailor. The Charlebois men seemed to have been fond of the water as many of them worked the St. Lawrence Seaway. Others farmed or got involved in industry around the turn of last century.


I also found that not all branches of a family tree are sturdy. Some may even reveal a darker side like the murder of my great aunt by her husband and his subsequent suicide in 1921. There is also a dark chapter on my wife’s side of the tree, but she has direct lineage to the second wave of immigrants to arrive at the Plymouth Colony.


My wife is a direct descendant of Kenneth I of Scotland – Kenneth MacAlpin and several other kings. She is not only related to Macbeth and Duncan, but one of her great grandfathers is another character in Shakespeare’s Henry VI – Lord Talbot.


There are many interesting stories and facts waiting to be unearthed if you are interested. But caution: this addiction can have you searching for hours if you aren’t careful.


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