My Family History

Marian Bulford wrote this article about her connections over the years to the Mormons, starting with  her grandfather’s letters,  her ‘pioneer’ ancestors crossing the plains, plural marriages and her most recent visit to Salt Lake City. 

 

Handcart Pioneers Postcard pg. 1 - 1939_thumb[1]

Handcart Pioneers Postcard pg. 2 - 1939_thumb[2]

by Marian Bulford

My family history includes, like most peoples’ history, twists and turns and coincidences that sometimes defy belief. In the 1970’s, my family and I were living in Geneva, Switzerland, when we had a visit from the ‘Mormons’ doing their proselytizing door to door. Because we were in a non-English speaking environment and they were from the USA, we invited them in. Over the course of a few months, we became great friends and we decided to explore the church’s history with them.

 

One day, whilst talking to them, they mentioned Salt Lake City as the ‘Zion’ of the church, and how the early Pioneers who had left their homes and families to trek across the US to get to Salt Lake City, Utah. That name Salt Lake City, brought back a memory. When I was 11 years old, I lived with my Grandparents for a few years and my Grandfather used to ask me to go to the post office to post his letter to a Salt Lake City address. I remember it so well, because in the 1950’s Air Mail letters were treated differently from normal mail, and I had to have this important missive weighed and stamped before it could be posted, so it made quite an impression. I remember thinking ‘where was Salt Lake City, and why and who was my Grandfather writing too? Of course by the time I arrived home again, the questions were forgotten.

Now, years later in the 1970’s the question arose again, so I called my Grandfather and asked him about the letters and to whom he had been writing. He replied that ‘Well, you know the Americans, they are always doing their genealogy and one day, I received this letter from a lady, telling me I was related to her, I was a distant third cousin’ I questioned him further and he said they had corresponded for a number of years, and at one point, she had sent him a ‘family Tree’ all handwritten of course and started in 1717 to my grandfather’s day. I was very excited by this and asked him, if, when we next came home could I see the ‘family Tree and read the letters. He replied that I could have the letters and the Family Tree, he had no further use for them, and he would post them to me.

 Starting Family Genealogy

I think that started my interest in genealogy and research. The next time I went ‘home’ I questioned my grandparents and family at length, recorded their voices and wrote out names and birth dates of the family. My Grandparents – who threw nothing out – gave me some marvelous 1800’s photos of family members. On the back I wrote who these people were, most important, because shortly after that, we moved to Canada, and genealogy was put on the back burner in a box, for a number of years. 

32 years later a renewed interest came, when we met some UK friends again, and members of the Church of Latter- Day-Saint or Mormons. We talked about genealogy, but with young families and busy lives, that was all we did, talked about it, but ,never really did any more research.  About 8 years ago, we decided the time had come, and we met and researched together. Our friends invited us to their church’s’ “Centre of Family History” to do some real research with them.

Finding Family Skeletons

I found the Family History Centre a wonderful place. Free to anyone at certain times it has most of the current genealogy web sites online open for free. Books, micro fiche and copies of records can be researched, with help from church members if needed. It was a quiet peaceful place and we got to spend some time with friends, have lunch and do some family history together. Our friends were a great help, as the Church recommends that its members do family history so they are very experienced. I recalled all the information I had amassed in the 1970’s and had no idea how to put it all together. Now I had a chance to do that. I was pleased at how I had named all the photos as it was a wonderful tool to enable me to search online for family members.

I decided to start with the mysterious ‘Family Tree’ from the USA. It was so exciting to be able to put in full names, birth dates and areas to search. I was grateful to the previous Missionaries that advised us to label and date all information as we received it. A really great tip!

 My Grandfather was born in Pembroke Dock, Wales and his Great-Grandfather had, as was usual, a large family. Two of those sons, my Grandfathers’ Uncles, Thomas and Samuel became Mormons and left Wales for ‘Zion’ Salt Lake City in 1854. That was a surprise for me, considering the friends and interest I have had in the church over the years, a case of my Great Uncles having “been there, done that’ so I was able to trace their long and arduous journey across the plains to Utah through Mormon church records.  Our friends were very excited for us, as this was a great honour in the history of the church, to have family that had made the arduous and terrible trip to reach their ‘Zion’.

 Further Research

 Through the Welsh Mormon History page, I found that Thomas, was born in Wales in 1824 and he joined the Mormon church when he was 13 years old. Eight years later, he began to preach the gospel in England then Italy, France and Germany. Later, he went to Norway and Denmark. In Malta, he raised up a church branch. In 1854 Thomas emigrated to the US. The ship stopped in New Brunswick, Canada and picked up another family. Thomas joined that family and met Louisa. They continued the journey on their way to St. Louis Missouri to pick up supplies, wagons, food, and animals for the three month journey across the plains of the United States.

In June at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Thomas and Louisa were married. During that journey, with her brother Albert and her sister Martha, Louisa died of cholera, and was buried en route to Salt Lake City on the plains, in an unmarked grave, a bride of three weeks. Thomas continued on with the family, and arrived in Salt Lake City September 1854.

 A Few Surprises

In October 1854, Thomas married Louisa’s sister, Martha. Five children were born to Thomas and Martha. In 1857 Thomas married Carolyn and had 9 children with her. In 1864 Thomas married Ruth and they had 14 children together.The women and children, according to Censuses of the time, lived together in separate houses, and were called ‘Housekeepers” Thomas lived with Martha and their children. Altogether Thomas had 28 children and yes, my Great Grand Uncle had ‘plural marriages’! At that time, it was a tenet of the Church. Martha died in 1887 and a year after her death Thomas was sentenced to the Utah penitentiary for 11 months for ‘Unlawful cohabitation. He was sentenced a second time a year later, and served from April to August, 1890.

 Following a revelation to the church Prophet, the practice of plural marriage was instituted among Church members in the early 1840s however; from the 1860s to the 1880s, the United States government passed laws to make this religious practice illegal. These laws were eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. At that time, the President of the church, Wilford Woodruff issued a Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church.

 Decedents Of The Family

My Great Grand Uncle was asked by the church to explore further land outside of Salt Lake City and to build other settlements, and so he moved his families to ‘Cache’ (secret) County and founded a small place called “Paradise’ just outside of Salt Lake City. Thomas homesteaded the site where the church farm is now located. Last year, I visited this small town. It was full of my ancestors. Even the local cafe knew the name of my Grandfather and his Uncles. The Paradise Cemetery was a beautiful place, calm and serene and I found my Uncles and their families. It may sound strange, but I ‘introduced’ myself to them, and told them of their ancestor who wrote to my Grandfather, all those years ago, and how I now ended up here, in Paradise. I hope to go back again one day.

 The cemetery contained all of the family who were ‘Pioneers’ and had crossed the plains to get to ‘Zion’ It was very moving to see my two Grand Uncles with special plates affixed to their memorial stones to indicate that they were original Pioneers. Great Grand Uncle Thomas died in Paradise, Utah on 21st October, 1899.

Meanwhile, I continue my researching and find surprises every day. How ever did we manage without the internet?

 

FamilySearch indexing – How you can become involved

The following article was written for Genealogy Ensemble by Marian Bulford, a genealogist from the West Island of Montreal who has been indexing for many years. She gives us valuable insight about indexing and how we all benefit from the contributions of those who index the records we use in our genealogical pursuits.

Indexing is the data entry of human records worldwide in any language you choose. If you can type, then you can index, so why not get started today?!

Keyboard01_MicrosoftThe FamilySearch website has provided a way for anyone with an internet connection to assist in the monumental task of indexing world genealogical records. It is run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly known as The Mormons.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in the process of digitizing the bulk of their genealogical records, as well as partnering with genealogical societies and other groups to digitize other records of genealogical value. Most of the websites today have obtained their records from this church.

As indexing is entered, the records are checked and arbitrated a few times. Then these digitized records are uploaded to the online FamilySearch Indexing project site for anyone, including you, to view free of charge.

Easy to download software and index
The indexing software is free and easy to download, and the online tutorials should get you started quickly. There is also an online help desk if you have questions.

You do not have to be a church member to index or search this free website. To start, simply go to the website link here. It takes only a few minutes to download your selected batch of records — in any language and in any part of the world you choose — and transcribe the entries using the provided software you will find on the web page.

Alternatively, if you just want to research a wonderful database for free with no obligation or fees, go to https://familysearch.org.

If you volunteer to index for FamilySearch, just remember, you are helping to add millions of data for us genealogists to find plus, as a side benefit, indexing can help you become a better researcher as you become more familiar with the wide variety of historical documents available to you and the type of information each contains. You can choose a beginner, intermediate, or advanced batch to index.

Where to start?
Indexing consists of births, deaths, marriages, banns, obituaries, christenings, or baptisms. In addition, there are historical records consisting of many other interesting items worldwide. For instance, how about indexing the following databases?

  • France, Diocèse de Coutances et Avranches – Registres Paroissiau from 1796 to 1880
  • UK Sussex Church of England Parish Records from 1538 to 1910
  • US Louisiana WW2 Draft Registration cards from 1940 to 1945
  • South African Free State, Estate Files from 1951 to 1980
  • Polska, Radom Roman Catholic Church Books from 1733 to 1868
  • Brazil, Pernambuco Recife Registro Civil from 1900 to 1920

All of the above databases, and many more, now await us to index them and provide a name or a lead for someone who is searching for their ancestors.

To help you through the indexing process, there are Help fields on the right of every batch you download. You never know, you may even come across some of your family names whilst indexing.

Once records have been indexed through FamilySearch Indexing, the new indices (and sometimes the document images) are posted online for free access at FamilySearch.

How I started
Because I am originally from the UK, I usually go to the UK batches for my indexing as I love history and I find so much of interest there, but I also like to mix it up and, as long as it is in English, I will index it.

Last year, I helped index the US 1940 Census. (As you well know, the census is usually the first place we go to find an ancestor’s name.) That monumental task was also completed well within the time range expected and up and running far sooner than anticipated.

Tremendous response to call for volunteers last month
Last month the FamilySearch website asked for volunteers for two days of indexing by asking everyone you know to join in. This, in part, is their response after that weekend. “We hoped to have an unprecedented 50,000 contributors in a 24-hour period. FamilySearch volunteers excelled, surpassing that goal by 16,511! That’s right—66,511 participants in one day! Incredible! We are grateful for the patience and persistence of many volunteers who faced technical difficulties due to an overwhelming response.” To read more, visit the blog post, FamilySearch Volunteers Set Historic Record.

According to some sources, volunteers participating in online indexing projects are adding over a million names a day in total.

Once records have been indexed through FamilySearch Indexing, the new indices (and sometimes the document images) are posted online for free access at FamilySearch Record Search.

So, log on and go see what you get back for a few hours, or even minutes, of indexing. Why not try a test drive on the above links and be part of the many people proud to add to the billions of records that amateur and professional genealogists like us search for daily.

Our own domain name!

Genealogy Ensemble now has its own domain. Please update your browsers to select http://www.genealogyensemble.com from now on. (The new address is easier to remember, but if you forget, we still can be seen from the old one too.)

We’ve also upgrade our blog to get rid of those pesky ads.

Hope you like our new functioning.

 

French Canadian Research tips

To look up French-Canadian Catholics:
1. Plug in the name of your ancestor in to the BAnQ archives directly (refer to our link for the right address): no need to know the church or village name.
2. Remember that in Quebec, women are listed under their birth family name in records, from birth to death, regardless of whether they married or not. There may ‘’wife of’’ or ‘’widow of’’ also included.
3. To make it even easier, parents are listed on marriage records.
You can use the Drouin collection of books, one for men and one for women, with marriages 1760-1935, or online Drouin or Ancestry or Family Search at home or at the Quebec family History Society or at numerous other sources.

The French Canadians in the U.S.A 1840-1930

French Canadian Emigration to the U.S. 1840-1930

compiled by Jacques Gagné

“The Archives nationales du Québec in Montréal on Viger Avenue are the repository of a wonderful and unique collection of books of marriages, baptisms, deaths of French Canadian families who left the Province of Québec between 1840 to 1930 for destinations south of the border. For it is estimated that during that 90 year period, 900,000 French Canadians left the regions along the shores of the  St. Lawrence River, the Richelieu River, the Chaudière River for the U.S. “

As part of this research guide, Jacques Gagné has also included the exodus of Acadians to the same New England States, New York State and other points within the United States of America including the Acadian families who were deported to Louisiana.

 

Click here to open the pdf file : French Canadians in the U.S.A. 2014

Acadian research guide contains hundreds of resource links

On this 259th anniversary of the Acadian deportation, those researching their Acadian heritage might find the research guide, Acadians of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, by Jacques Gagné of interest. It consists of Acadian Parish Registers under the French and British regimes in addition to the modern-day period under Confederation.

Click on this link, Acadians of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland, to see a 162-page downloadable document that will help you find your family’s name in community parish records, etc.

2014 Acadian Congress
The Acadian Congress takes place August 8 to 24, 2014. The map below indicates the areas where many of the Congress activities will take place.

Carte3RegionsPetit

“Then uprose their commander, and  spake from the steps of the altar. Holding aloft in his hands, with its seals, the royal commission. “You are convened this day,” he said, “by his Majesty’s orders… Painful the task is I do, which to you I know must be grievous. Yet must I bow and obey, and deliver the will of our monarch; Namely, that all your lands, and dwellings, and cattle of all kinds, forfeited be to the crown; and that you yourselves from this province be transported to other lands. God grant you may dwell there. Ever as faithful subjects, a happy and peaceable people! “

“Prisoners, now I declare you; for such is his Majesty’s pleasure!”

Silent a moment they stood in speechless wonder, and then arose louder and ever louder a wail of sorrow and anger. “

Source: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Évangéline and other selected poems - Penguin Books, 1988.

QFHS has its Certificate of Continuance

The Quebec Family History Society obtained its Certificate of Continuance from Industry Canada on March 6 of this year, according to Industry Canada’s website, https://www.ic.gc.ca/app/scr/cc/CorporationsCanada/fdrlCrpDtls.html?corpId=2362252&V_TOKEN=1405560793699&crpNm=Quebec%20family%20history%20society&crpNmbr=&bsNmbr.

Meanwhile, QFHS members in good standing (meaning those who have paid their dues) are invited to a special general meeting on September 13. There are two items on the agenda: “approval to obtain our Certificate of Continuance” and “discussion for possible future changes to our Constitution.” The certificate of continuance allows the society to continue to exist as a not for profit corporation under the new federal NFP Act, and the bylaws have to be revised to be in compliance with the new act.

Members did not approve the executive decision to obtain the certificate and were not informed by the executive that the certificate has been issued. It is not clear whether the bylaws have already been revised.

If the bylaws have yet to be revised, the society is now operating under the Default Rules provided by Industry Canada. See http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs04967.html.

In either case, there is still an opportunity for members to respond to the invitation to suggest changes to the bylaws, in writing, by August 13.

To read more about this issue, see Societies – Are they Changing, on genealogycanada.blogspot.com, posted July 20, http://genealogycanada.blogspot.com/2014/07/societies-are-they-changing.html, and the previous article on Genealogy Ensemble, QFHS Invites Members to Submit Recommendations on Bylaw Changes, posted July 8, http://genealogyensemble.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/qfhs-invites-members-to-submit-recommendations-on-bylaw-changes/

 

QFHS invites members to submit recommendations on bylaw changes

If you are a member of the Quebec Family History Society (QFHS), this important article is for you:

The QFHS will hold a special general meeting of its members on September 13, 2014 for approval to obtain a Certificate of Continuance, a document that grants the organization continuance as a federally incorporated not-for-profit society.

Also on the meeting agenda is a discussion of possible future changes to its constitution. Members have been invited to submit written recommendations for changes to the bylaws, which were written in 1992. The deadline for these submissions is August 13.

The meeting is open to all members in good standing. The official notice of the meeting was included in the Summer 2014 issue of Connections and can also be found on the society’s website, www.qfhs.ca. The society’s current bylaws can be found in the members-only section of the website.

The notice that appeared in Connections did not explain the need for this special meeting. The federal government has written a new law, called the NFP Act, governing federally-incorporated not-for-profit corporations such as ours. The society must revise its bylaws to obtain its Certificate of Continuance.

The deadline to obtain a Certificate of Continuance is Oct. 17, 2014. All corporations that don’t meet the deadline will be automatically dissolved.

With its wonderful library and charitable tax status, the QFHS is a valuable part of the English-language community in Quebec. Recently, it has also begun serving people with ancestors from France, northern Europe, Italy and other places. We need to ensure that the society not only survives, but continues to thrive.

Last winter, about a dozen concerned QFHS members, including myself, met monthly to discuss concerns about the society. In January, we sent a petition to the QFHS board, requesting a special general meeting of the membership to discuss changes to the bylaws. The meeting planned for September – almost nine months after the petition was sent — is a response to that request.

The members of our group love the society, but we are concerned about the lack of transparency and would like members to have more say about how the organization is run. This meeting call is a perfect example of our frustrations. Most members don’t know why it is being called or what steps the board has taken to meet the deadline to comply with Canada’s new NFP Act. Many organizations have already completed the transition process and, as far as we know, we have not even begun it.

We are also concerned that members won’t have much time for discussion during this meeting because a special guest speaker that we’d all like to hear will present at the same time.

We intend to prepare our own list of suggested bylaw changes. The QFHS bylaws are neither long nor complicated, and there are just a few key changes we would like to see, such as voting rights for members who do not live in the Montreal area, but who make up almost half the society’s membership. We would also like to see a limit on the number of times a director can be re-elected.

All members should take this opportunity to look at the bylaws in the members-only section of the website and send in their recommendations.

Also, more members should consider stepping up and running for election to the board of directors. For an organization like ours to thrive and improve the society for its members, there should be a rotation of new board members after each term. This rotation will bring in new expertise and ideas.

The special meeting will take place at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, September 13, Briarwood Presbyterian Church Hall, 70 Beaconsfield Blvd., Beaconsfield, QC. Please be there.

Written recommendations for changes to the bylaws should be mailed to: QFHS, P.O. Box 715, 15 Donegani Ave., Pointe Claire, QC, H9R 4S8. Attention: Robert Poole. The deadline is Aug. 13.

 

For more information:

The following link has a summary of the features of the new act and what societies need to do to meet its requirements. http://www.csae.com/Resources/ArticlesTools/View/ArticleId/1771/Navigating-Canada-s-Not-for-Profit-Corporations-Act.

For an introduction to the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act (NFP Act) prepared by Industry Canada, see http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs04958.html

This page explains, “The corporation must replace its letters patent, supplementary letters patent (if any) and by-laws with new charter documents. This means that you need to submit articles of continuance to obtain a Certificate of Continuance as well as create and file new by-laws. The articles and by-laws must comply with the NFP Act.”

It adds, “Corporations that do not make the transition by the deadline will be assumed to be inactive and will be dissolved. For registered charities, dissolution could lead to the revocation of their registration as a charity, which would result in the corporation having to pay revocation tax equal to 100% of the value of their remaining assets.”

Another page describes the transition process: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/h_cs04954.html

And this page is helpful because it explains mandatory and default rules: http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/eng/cs04967.html

Finally, the QFHS is not alone in having governance issues. Here is a link to a series of articles prepared by the Federation of Genealogical Societies in the U.S. to help organizations meet challenges such as developing marketing and communications strategies, managing volunteers, understanding parliamentary procedure and running elections: http://www.fgs.org/cpage.php?pt=55

The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec

St. Brendan Parish in Rosemont

St. Brendan Parish in Rosemont

 

Jacques Gagné has compiled another research guide–this one is a guide to the Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec.

Use this guide to find out where the documents you want to find are located. You can also find photos of the church parishes your ancestors attended.

Download it at: The Irish Catholic Churches of Quebec.

Thanks so much for helping us all find more information about our ancestors, Jacques.

Amarilda Desbiens, Scottish adoptee in Baie-St-Paul? a road-trip up dead ends

 

Amarilda Desbiens

 

Amarilda

It is easy to look up a French-Canadian catholic lady for three main reasons:
1. The documents are centralised in the archives: no need to know the church or village name.
2. Women always use their birth family name in records, from birth to death. There may ‘’wife of’’ or ‘’widow of’’ also included.
3. Parents are listed on the marriage record.
You can use the Drouin collection of books, one for men and one for women, with marriages 1760-1935, or online Drouin or Ancestry or Family Search at home or at the Quebec family History Society.

Beginning of the Journey

When I started my research, I had my mother in law’s parents and their wedding. Her grand-father Benjamin Simard’s wedding I found : to Amarilda Desbiens, August 17th 1887 in Baie-St-Paul .

SimardXDesbiens 1887 StPaul1

SimardXDesbiens 1887 StPaul2

Amarilda was the daughter of Joseph Desbiens and Louise Bouchard, and on I went in an afternoon, all the way up the tree to France.

Then, with different resources I found birth and death certificates, but no birth date for Amarilda. Even in books where they would list her whole family, ancestors and descendants, there was a marriage and a death, but no birth for her.

At the Société d’histoire de Charlevoix, her card was in a collection of funeral cards. I got an approximate date of birth of 1866 from the information: died May 11th 1944, at 77 years and 9 months.

amarilda001

All her sibblings were baptised at Les Eboulements and her father in Ile-aux-Coudres. At the local Quebec Archives Depot of Charlevoix I look at the microfilmed birth registers for 1865, 1866, 1867. No Desbiens birth .

At Baie-St-Paul and Les Eboulement cemeteries: no tombstones for the family.

Digital Camera

Les Éboulements

First turn up a mountain road

A friend told the family that Amarilda was adopted and from Scotland. She was supposed to be a Donaldson or Danielson, but I found that her sister married one, nothing about Amarilda.
My mother in law said Amarilda was a really cold and distant grand-mother, sitting very upright in her chair, a cameo at her neck and a blanket on her knees. She only had three kids.
When she was young, my mother in law’s sister was so blond with blue eyes, she was told she was Irish by the neighbours.

At BAnQ: census on microfilms:
1871, She is not listed with her family. She probably hasn’t arrived yet:

DesbiensMA-Potvin et DesbiensJ REC 1871

1881, still not there:

DesbiensJf REC 1881 BStPaul

1891, she is married and with her husband:

SimardBf REC 1891 BStPaul

So she must have been adopted when she was older than 15 years old.

I started looking up immigration history books, lists… To no avail.

Even now, when I look up online Ancestry, Drouin or Family Search : marriage records only for dear Amarilda.

Now I knew she was laughing watching me go in circles. Every place I went, every book I got my hands on, I looked her up. Not a word on her birth.

Final sretch

I finally tried at Baie-St-Paul presbytery. In the filing cabinet, the individual’s cards are grouped by family. With husband Benjamin and kids, Amarilda’s card, with three dates: birth, marriage and death! I then looked up her parents, Jospeh Desbiens and Louise Bouchard cards as a group, with their children: there she was, born not in Les Eboulements, but in Baie-St-Paul: MARIE DESBIENS. ONLY Marie! Baptised 9 aout 1866

DesbiensMarieAmarilda B 1866 BaieStPaul

Baie-St-Paul register, 1866

Before she was five, she was adopted by the neighbour Charles Potvin, a baker and merchant, and wife Marie Filion.
She married Benjamin Simard August 17th 1887 in Baie-St-Paul.

Benjamin Simard

Benjamin Simard, merchant

They had 10 children:
7 died young or at birth, Ambroise died at 18, Florence and Charles became adults.

H11 1
Back L. to R.: Daughter Florence, Amarilda, X. Son Ambroise sitting in front

Amarilda’s eldest son, Charles, took his name from his godfather: Amarilda’s adoptive father.

y02

Charles Simard with mother Amarilda

Charles Potvin being a merchant, maybe Benjamin Simard even took over his store.

X, Amarilda, Florence
The store of Benjamin then Charles Simard, across from the church in Baie-St-Paul

Looking in the rearview mirror

All those little clues at first could not be taken for proof, but I did keep them on the back burner.

No Scottish, no Irish, not adopted INTO Desbiens family but adopted OUT to a Potvin family. Still I learned a lot even if side tracked.
I find her birth and death dates in Death Index Quebec 1926-1997 but no place of birth.If I had looked up the 1866 Baie-St-Paul register, page by page, I would have found a baby girl born to those parents in August 1866.

1. Census: 1871 she is not there, not because she has not joined the family, but because she has already left it, for…the neighbour: Charles Potvin and who will not children of their own.
When you look at the ditto signs before her name on the census, there is a very nicely formed beginning of a D for Desbiens ( just like her Desbiens family above), it stops, and dittos are put in, saying she’s a Potvin.

DesbiensMA-Potvin et DesbiensJ REC 1871

2. On the baptism certificate of Marie Aurélie Amarilda AKA Florence, Amarilda Desbiens Potvin is the mother

SimardFlorence B 1894 BStPaul

3. At Amarilda’s wedding, Charles Potvin is her witness.
If you look at the line where he is mentioned, ‘’friend of bride’’ is written over a few words that were already written. Father? Adoptive father?

SimardXDesbiens détail

4. Charles Potvin and Marie Filion are godfather and godmother of Charles Simard, first surviving son of Amarilda and Benjamin.

SimardCharlesB N 1890 StPaul

The road up ahead
Why was she adopted?
The first of Amarilda’s siblings was born in 1850, they were 10 children in total, and twins were born in 1863. Maybe mom was getting tired and needed help. Maybe she was sick. Or the twins were a lot to take care of, and she was pregnant with her last child who was born in 1869. Or they took her in when her mom gave birth to the last one? Charles Potvin, no kids, baker and merchant he was probably better off than his neighbours. In the area, in those days, many well off families would pay for less fortunate children’s education, or adopt them. Charles, once a father, paid for education for quite a few children of Baie-St-Paul also.
Eventually, Zoe Potvin, Charles’ sister, even married Eusebe Desbiens, Amarilda’s brother.

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