My Immigrant Ancestors: History and Genealogy

Last Sunday I posted the last of my Immigrant Ancestors. Every individual who left their home country to live in the United States has been documented (to the best of my knowledge).

While researching the finer details and filling in gaps of information (to the best of my ability) through Ancestry.com I noticed an interesting trend – my French Canadian/Creole ancestors all left Canada in the late 1800s. Some left with children and babies, which was no small matter during that time. Many settled down in French Canadian/Creole communities with similarly recent French Canadian immigrants, some of whom where blood relation. This made me wonder what, exactly, was happening in Canada during the following years: 1864, 1865, 1869, 1871, 1873. Why were so many people risking everything and moving their entire families into the United States?

A bit of online research led me to resources that clearly differentiate this period from the Great Expulsion that occurred between 1700-1750.

I am a product of the American public school system, which is not known for it’s lessons in either geography or history (or any other number of topics, depending on where in the USA one might be living). Therefore, I was very surprised to learn that the Great Expulsion occurred at all!

Here are a few details from the history books…

Great Expulsion (1700-1750)

The British wanted to control Canada and the United States. (In the United States this same period of time is known as the French and English war, the Seven Year War, and/or the French and Indian War.) When they managed to secure control of the eastern edge of Canada they proceeded to forcibly remove all French, French-speaking and Acadian people. This mass forced migration adversely affected large numbers of European, Native Canadian (first nations) and Metis/Creole (mixed) people. The following TheCanadianEncyclopedia.ca quote sums up this terrible event:

“Of some 3,100 Acadians deported after the fall of Louisbourg in 1758, an estimated 1,649 died by drowning or disease, a fatality rate of 53 per cent.

Between 1755 and 1763, approximately 10,000 Acadians were deported. They were shipped to many points around the Atlantic. Large numbers were landed in the English colonies, others in France or the Caribbean. Thousands died of disease or starvation in the squalid conditions on board ship. To make matters worse, the inhabitants of the English colonies, who had not been informed of the imminent arrival of disease-ridden refugees, were furious. Many Acadians were forced, like the legendary Evangeline of Longfellow’s poem, to wander interminably in search of loved ones or a home.”

As I read about the Great Expulsion, I couldn’t help but compare it to the forced removal of Native Americans from the southern United States. The following History.com quote about the Trail of Tears makes for a sadly (disturbingly) similar story:

“At the beginning of the 1830s, nearly 125,000 Native Americans lived on millions of acres of land in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina and Florida–land their ancestors had occupied and cultivated for generations. By the end of the decade, very few natives remained anywhere in the southeastern United States. Working on behalf of white settlers who wanted to grow cotton on the Indians’ land, the federal government forced them to leave their homelands and walk thousands of miles to a specially designated “Indian territory” across the Mississippi River. This difficult and sometimes deadly journey is known as the Trail of Tears.”

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Economics, Community and Religion (1850-1900)

As for the late 1800s, the reasons for migration were more complicated. The Metis/Creole,  French speaking and Catholic communities were not treated well under the British government. The opportunities for securing land, running a farm or business and/or getting a job were limited at best. People left Canada looking for better wages in the United States and settled in this country with full-intention of returning to Canada. Many sent money back to families while living here. Most chose to remain after spending a few years in (comparative) financial security.

In other words, they were financial refugees – not unlike the current financial refugees entering the United States from South American countries (and other places around the globe).

Politics of Settlement

Another key historic event is the removal of Native Americans from the Midwest (during the mid 1800s, this was considered ‘the west’). The US government was aggressively recruiting European people to move into the frontier regions, with the full intention of keeping…and continuing to take…lands from their former inhabitants. Light-skinned French speaking Canadians were considered to be white European, which meant the opportunities for economic security were greater in the USA than in Canada.

Conclusion?

Personally, I have taken two key lessons from all of this:

  1. Genealogy makes for an excellent history lesson. Being able to connect historic events to the experiences of your ancestors has a way of turning boring and seemingly irrelevant facts into something very personal and (therefore) interesting.
  2. The more things change, the more they stay the same – and/or those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.

My Immigrant Ancestors: Albert and Emma Anderson

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

Genealogy is a weird hobby. Information that I thought would be easy to locate and identify is not available through online resources or very difficult to track down; and details that I had not expected to find (ever…at all) randomly turn up.

This couple is an example of people who I expected to find without difficulty. Thus far, they have proven to be strangely absent from all of the usual paperwork (e.g.: census roles, immigration documentation, city directories, etc.).

However, they are the last immigrants within my reasonably immediate family line (e.g.: between me and my great-great-great grandparents). As noted earlier, there are significantly more among those who spent many generations living on the Canadian side of the border, but they require far more research and will have to wait for another time.

The following details are part of research-in-progress. This is the best data currently available to me.

Emma W. Erickson and Albert A Anderson

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Emma W. Erickson
1885-

  • Birth Location: Sweden
  • Immigration Year: Approx. 1901
  • US Residence: Minneapolis, MN
  • Native Language: Swedish and English
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
  • Number of children: At least 2

 

 

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Albert A Anderson
1883 – 1949

  • Birth Location: Sweden
  • Immigration Year: Approx. 1901
  • US Residence: Minneapolis, MN
  • Native Language: Swedish and English
  • Occupation: Contractor, Construction, Moulder
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
  • Number of children: At least 2

 

My Immigrant Ancestors: Francoise and Jean Venne

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

This couple never entered the United States. The Venne family (on my mother’s side) landed in Canada in 1671 and stayed there until 1864. That’s 193 years and 5 generations of Venne men living in Canada prior to entering the USA.

All other French Canadian/Creole branches (on both my mother’s and father’s sides) extend into the 1700 to 1800s – at least. This is the only couple I was able to trace back to a country other than Canada or the United States. Completing the necessary research on the rest will require significantly more time, so they will not be posted in the near future.

That said, the following data is the best currently available. There are many gaps in the information. It is presented as research in progress.

Francoise Manseau (Manseaux) and Jean Baptiste Davoine Voyne (Venne) (Voine) (Vien)

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Francoise Manseau (Manseaux)

Unknown birth and death dates

  • Birth Location: France
  • Immigration Year: 1671
  • Canada Residence: L’Assomption, Lanaudiere Region, Quebec, Canada
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
  • Number of children: At least 2

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Jean Baptiste Davoine Voyne (Venne) (Voine) (Vien)
1657 – 1736

  • Birth Location: Rennes, Departement d’Ille-et-Vilaine, Bretagne, France
  • Immigration Year: 1671
  • Canada Residence: L’Assomption, Lanaudiere Region, Quebec, Canada
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation: Unknown
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown

More details about the Venne family line in Canada can be found on the Claude Dupras website.

My Immigrant Ancestors: Victoire and Jacques Mayotte

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

This couple stands as an excellent example of the challenges presented by genealogy.

I have many facts and family legends handed down (verbally) through the Venne family line – these are wonderful when trying to decipher which information applies to your own family tree and which does not.

The Myers side is significantly more murky. I have a few bits and pieces to use when evaluating details, but the limited information is exacerbated by the inconsistency in documented details. Most notably, the names are spelled many different ways. Strangely enough, the spelling variations occurred across location, time and family members. Several of the Mayotte children were buried under last names that differ from both their parents and each other. All of the variations I have found documented are included below.

Because this side of the family requires significantly more investigation, I am providing the following information as an example of best-available and in-progress-research.

 

Victoire LaMois Niguette and Jacques Louis Mayotte

Relationship to me: Great Great Grandparents

Victoire (Victoria, Victory) H LaMois Niguette (Neget, Frechette)
1843-1933

  • Birth Location: Quebec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: 1865
  • US Residence: Taftville, New London, Connecticut
  • Native Languages: French. Unable to speak English (per the 1930 census).
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: No schooling. Possibly illiterate.
  • Naturalization Status: Alien. No evidence naturalization was ever achieved.
  • Number of children: 11

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Jacques (James) Louis Mayotte (Mailhot, Myers, Maillotte, Miers, Mayatte)
1832 – 1895

  • Birth Location: Quebec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: 1865
  • US Residence: Taftville, New London, Connecticut
  • Native Languages: French
  • Occupation: Farm hand, Odd Jobs
  • Education: No schooling. Illiterate (per the 1910 census).
  • Naturalization Status: Alien. No evidence naturalization was ever achieved.
  • Number of children: 15 (It appears that he had 4 children when he married Victoire, but no evidence of a previous marriage has been located.)

My Immigrant Ancestors: Hans Christian Hansen

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

Margaret J Anderson and Hans Christian Hansen

Relationship to me: Great Grandparents

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Margaret J Anderson
1890-1959

  • Birth Location: Boston, MA
  • Immigration Year: N/A
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: English (possibly Irish)
  • Occupation: Packer at a chocolate manufacturing company
  • Education: 4th grade. Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Alien – Both parents were Irish immigrants and she was not considered a citizen by birth. No evidence found to suggest citizenship was acquired.
  • Number of children: 7

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Hans Christian Hansen
1882 – 1963

  • Birth Location: Horton, Norway
  • Immigration Year: 1900
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: English and Norwegian
  • Occupation: Iron Worker, Steel Worker
  • Education: 8th grade. Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Alien resident in 1920 (20+ years). Naturalization/citizenship acquired by 1940.
  • Number of children: 7

My Immigrant Ancestors: Marie and Edmond Richard

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

Marie Azarine Brault and Edmond Richard

Relationship to me: Great Great Grandparents

Marie Azarine Brault
1854-1922

  • Birth Location: Joliette, Quebec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: 1873
  • US Residence: Coleman, WI
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
    • 1910 Census: Not mentioned
    • 1920 Census: Alien
  • Number of children: 9

Edmond Richard
1853 – 1934

  • Birth Location:  Ste. Julienne, Comte de Montcalm, Lanaudiere, Quebec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: 1869
  • US Residence: Coleman, WI
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation:
    • USA: Motor Factory Sweeper, Paper Mill Grader
    • Canada: Mill Worker
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
    • 1910 Census: Naturalized
    • 1920 Census: Naturalization papers submitted
  • Number of children: 9

My Immigrant Ancestors: Ellen Joyce

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

Ellen Joyce and Henry James Myers

Relationship to me: Great Grandparents

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Ellen “Nellie” Joyce
1892-1928

  • Birth Location: Boherbee, Ireland
  • Immigration Year: 1911
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: English
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Listed in 1920 census as having been naturalized.
  • Number of children: 6

 

Henry James Myers (Mayotte) (Maillotte) (Miers) (Mailhot)
1887 – 1957

  • Birth Location: Taftville, CT
  • Immigration Year: N/A
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: English
  • Occupation: Railroad Brakeman
  • Education: Either no education or an 8th-grade education, depending on the census. Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Never mentioned. Parents were born in Canada. Citizenship is assumed.
  • Number of children: 8 (second wife had two children)

My Immigrant Ancestors: Justine and Didace Venne

This example of Immigration in the USA is taken from my own family tree.

Justine Brault and Didace Venne

Relationship to me: Great Great Grandparents

Justine Brault
1852-1895

  • Birth Location: Joliette, Quebec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: Before 1871
  • US Residence: Coleman, WI
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: Unknown
  • Naturalization Status: Unknown
  • Number of children: 16

Didace Venne
1846 – 1936

  • Birth Location: St-Jacques-l’Achigan, Montcalm, Québec, Canada
  • Immigration Year: 1864
  • US Residence: Coleman, WI
  • Native Language: French
  • Occupation: Farming, Saw Mill Laborer, Iron Mine Laborer
  • Education: None, Illiterate
  • Naturalization Status: Naturalized per the 1910 Census. Date of naturalization is unknown.

More details about the Venne family line in Canada can be found on the Claude Dupras website.

My Immigrant Ancestors: Margaret and Joseph Anderson

It’s an election year. Politicians say and do whatever it takes to get votes. Donald Trump has decided to approach this in the same way that (some) TV shows get ratings: offend everybody. After months of silently cringing over Trump’s statements about Muslim Immigrants and Mexican Immigrants, along with everything he’s done to offend every American community he possibly can; I ran across these:

When I first ran across the #IWillProtectYou story, I felt really badly for the little girl and her mother, and was touched by the reaction service members had to her fear (that was a classy act – hats off to all who sent their support to this little girl!).

More recently, I found the Mexican-American video and made a more personal connection. Like most Americans, I come from a very mixed ethnic background which includes a large number of immigrants. I happen to be researching my family lineage and noticed some interesting facts cropping up. If my family is representative, then even the European immigrants were not made ‘instant citizens’ the moment they entered the USA. In fact, many of them remained Aliens for decades and (in my family) a few never attained citizenship. They were also uneducated, poor, spoke languages other than English and had lots and lots of kids.

This isn’t an earth-shaking revelation within the world of genealogy, but I believe it is worth visiting (and revisiting) during the current political climate of anti-immigration (anti-race, anti-religion, anti-women, anti-everything-Trump-can-think-of). Therefore, I will be posting details about immigrants from my own family tree until I run out of individuals and couples to profile. Here is the first entry:

Margaret Ann Wilson and Joseph Anderson

Relationship to me: Great Great Grandparents

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Margaret Ann Wilson
March 1871 – ?

  • Birth Location: Northern Ireland
  • Immigration Year: 1890
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: Irish and English
  • Occupation: Housewife
  • Education: 8th grade. Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Alien for 50+ years (Listed as an Alien without an SSN in the 1940 census). No evidence citizenship was ever attained.
  • Number of children: 9 born, 8 survived

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Joseph Anderson
February 1861 – ?

  • Birth Location: Ireland
  • Immigration Year: 1890
  • US Residence: Boston, MA
  • Native Languages: Irish and English
  • Occupation: Laborer for Gas Company
  • Education: 8th grade. Literate (able to read and write).
  • Naturalization Status: Alien (50+ years)years (Listed as an Alien without an SSN in the 1940 census). No evidence citizenship was ever attained.
  • Number of children: 9 born, 8 survived