Saturday, March 26, 2011

Oh My! Family Tree Stuff

Greetings!  It's cold and crappy here today - lake effect snow since I got up which, for the most part is melting, but it's like 20 degrees below normal temperature wise and there's a windchill, although those weather people are NOT talking about it on TV or radio - subversives, the whole lot of 'em!  It's a whopping 28 degrees F out there right now and the wind is blustering off the lake from the northeast, it's COLD. 

Here is is nearly the end of March and I'm back to running around in my Land's End down coat! 

It's not fit to be outdoors so I've been pounding away today on the Family Tree and already have discovered lots of new interesting things.  For one thing, Granddad Frank Newton's sister, Phoebe, had not one illegitimate children - she had two!  Unfortunately, the first one, born when she was about 20 years old, a boy, was stillborn and was named on the birth/death record I found.  How sad. So sad - not even to have a name.  It was about 14 years later that Geneva Newton, another child of Phoebe, was born.  I had imagined some grand romance built around her lover going off to fight in WWI and Phoebe and the unknown young man consummating their love (yes, I am a hopeless romantic) - and then he didn't return ...

Well, maybe that did happen, but that doesn't explain who she was fooling around with when she was 20!  Now I know people don't make a big deal out of this sort of thing today, but back then (the turn of the 20th century) - and she was born into a very strictly observant Roman Catholic Family - it must have been quite a scandal.

I want to know what Phoebe's story is.  What happened, Phoebe?  What was your life?  Who were you, really?  What did you feel?  What did you think?  Were you a rebel - a free spirit who was the first to throw off the corset and bob her hair, or were you simple-minded (as they called it back in those days) and easily led astray? 

I can piece together some facts from birth and census records, but there is so much missing - so much!  And unfortunately, everyone who might have been able to actually give me some facts and fill in some details are all dead.  I can't trace Geneva Newton after the 1930 Census, nor Phoebe either.  They were going under the name of Mineau at that time.  Did Phoebe marry?  I don't know - and Wisconsin records aren't available covering the time period in question.  I've searched and searched using wide parameters and narrow parameters at both and family and can't find anything.  There were some Mineaus living in the same town that Phoebe grew up in, but I can't pin-point which Mineau (if any), she might have married.  What I know for sure is that she was the "informant" on great-grandfather David Antoine Newton (Villeneuve)'s death record in 1925 as "Phoebe Mineau." 

I've written about Phoebe before, and may well do so again.  I see how this hunting down one's ancestry is absolutely addicting.  And with the hit television show "Who Do You Think You Are?" on NBC on Friday nights - this is the second season and it's been fabulous! - I've no doubt that millions more people are now feverishly hunting for their ancestors by taking advantage of the 2-week free sign-up at  That's how I got started (and sucked in...) LOL!

It's now been a year of searching my own family's origins.  In the meantime, I've also done trees for Mr. Don's family, my friend Ann's family, another friend's family, and my friend Isis' family - that's almost ready to go and will be a surprise gift for her when I visit next month - she doesn't read here so I'm safe mentioning it!  See- addicting!  Finally, those skills I learned in law school are being put to good use.  I am a relentless hunter and searcher.  No detail is too small or too obscure, and my memory has gotten much better because I'm remembering stuff that means something to me! 

Just today I learned that I may be shirt-tail related to both Mr. Don's mother's family (the Bouthilliers) and Isis' father's family (the Moshers) - and it's like - my head is spinning around and around!  Now I'm imagining I'm related to Queen Marie Antoinette and Catherine the Great of Russia as well :)  I'm pretty sure I've got some Native American and Jewish genes floating around, too. 

The Mosher connection comes - somehow - through Isaac Michael Belanger (Balanger), born in December, 1861 in Scott, Bay Settlement, Brown County, Wisconsin, to Aurelia Marie Francoise Brunette (10 Oct 1831 - 30 Aug 1907) and Edward Belanger (Balanger).  My line of descent is through Isaac Michael's older brother, Edward Belanger, Jr., born in about 1853.  A photograph of Isaac Michael Belanger was posted at by the owner of the Mosher Family Tree.  When I looked at it earlier today, curious, I lost my breath for a second - it was like looking at my grandmother, Ida Belanger Newton - I believe Isaac Michael Belanger would be her great-grand uncle.  Wow! 

The Boutilier family connection also comes through Isaac Michael Belanger!  I wonder - does it come through Isaac Michael's wife, Melanise (Minnie) Hebert?  Or through a marriage of one of their children to a Boutilier?  I have to explore further, but that will have to be saved for another time. Boutilier is a variant of Bouthillier and just about all of the French Canadian Bouthilliers are related, just as most of the French Canadian Seguins are related, and just as most of the French Canadian Villeneuves are related (on my father's side, I am descended from the original line of French Canadian Seguins through Adele Marie Louise Seguin dite Laderoute, who married Antoine Anthyme Villeneuve, another old French family).

Interestingly, the Canadian Moshers, who trace their roots to the North American Moshers, who all seem to trace through roots through one particular Mosher who came from England, are probably originally French, maybe Norman French - Mosier! 

Here is that photo of Isaac Michael Belanger that so struck me with a family resemblance to my own grandma Newton.  Isaac Michael would have been about 67 years old in this photo. The family resemblance to my grandmother, Ida Belanger, that struck me most was the eyes first of all, then the nose and cheekbones.  This Mr. Belanger/Balenger was certainly a handsome man. According to its provenance, it was taken in June, 1928, at Skelton Road in Gladstone, Michigan.  He is holding two of his grandchildren:  granddaugher Eleanor Balenger (see how the name changed from Belanger to Balanger), daughter of Adelore Balenger (one of Isaac Michael's sons), and grandson Wally Jr., son of Walter Balenger and his wife, Bertha. 

I'm wondering now - what are the odds that I would be related to my spiritual sister (Isis a/k/a Georgia) - who is from the Moshers, and my - er - good friend, Mr. Don, who is from the Bouthilliers.  Rather spooky, actually! 

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