Sunday, November 6, 2011

Yard Work, Genealogy and Apple Pie

Whew!  The front yard is cut, probably for the last time this season unless we get an extended Indian Summer (so far no sign of one this year; sometimes we don't get them at all).  I still need to do the trimming around the edges because things are looking a bit straggly.   And then, the really hard work - the back yard.  It's a mess again with large limbs down and branches all over the place courtesy of the two or three windstorms that have blown through since the LAST clean-up about a month ago!

I am getting exercise, that's for sure.

I am thinking about writing a brief article for the Seguin Family Association about how I tracked down  my Villeneuve and Seguin ancestors, since our family name in Wisconsin has been Newton since great-grandfather David first moved to northern Wisconsin to work in the lumber industry in 1881.  I knew from stories my dad told that his side of the family was French, but Newton - how very English!  He also went to pains over the years to tell us that we had some Irish blood on Grandma Newton's side but NO English blood.  The English were not looked upon kindly in my dad's family.  Once I discovered the French Canadian family roots, I realized why!  There is a lot of bad blood going back at least 400 years between the French Canadians of Quebec and the English who moved in and took over, screwing over everybody including the First Nations people, in the process.

Well, that's neither here nor there, but it does explain a remarkably pure French Canadian and French ancestry on my dad's side of the family tree, all the way back to about 1550 in what I believe was a small village in Brittany.  The French and the English didn't mix much - except for the Kings and Queens of France and England, of course.  William the Conqueror, anyone???  Oh, the irony, the irony :)

So how did I get from Newton to Villeneuve?  By luck, mostly.  I've written about this before here at the blog.  I always figured there was at least some truth in the few family legends I remember dad telling us for years and years, so I thought the French version of our name which, translated into English, means "new town," was something like Neville or Neuville.  So much for four years of high school French (of which I remember little today - although I can still count to ten in French).  Actually, I learned later that there are some branches of the Villeneuve family that carry names similar to Neville or Neuville, as well as some Mexican branches under the name Villeneuevo, but I didn't know that when I first started out!  Soon after I first signed up at, I met Rose, who had a death certificate for my grandfather, Frank Newton. Rose was researching Grandpa Frank's sister, Myrtle.  I hadn't even known what his father's or mother's names were.  That is how I learned about David Newton and Laura Ruth Bailey.  I had spent weeks tracking down information on a Newton family with a David who lived in Vermont or New Hampshire, but it wasn't the right family. 

Rose also had a death certificate for David Newton, and his parents were listed as "Anton Newton" and "Adell Latterault."  It was the reading of a message board about Newtons where I came across the name Villeneuve and my brain went BINGO! That explained why I was having NO LUCK trying to find David Newton's family. When I started looking for a David Villeneuve, I found the family - in Ontario, Canada, where a branch of the family had moved to settle in new territory, away from crowded Montreal and environs!  The parents were Antoine Villeneuve and Mary or Marie Louise Seguin.  It took further detective work, though, to confirm that I had the correct Villeneuve family. 

Anton to Antoine was not a big leap, and Newton to Villeneuve, that too could be rationally explained.  But nowhere could I find an Adell Latterault.  Was she the same person as Mary or Marie Louise Seguin?  Rose and I did further research.  Again, just by accident, I came across an article that discussed the migration of some French Canadian settlers in Oregon, and I came across the name Latterault and - the important clue that was spelled out for me clear as a bell - also known as Laderoute!

I had a new name:  Laderoute!  Rose and I dug further, and found out that Laderoute was a "dit" name for the Seguin family.  So, we were now pretty sure we were looking for an Adell Seguin or Adell Laderoute-Seguin.  We couldn't find her, though.  There were several possible females who might have been her, but none of the details we knew matched exactly.  Only Marie Louise Seguin seemed to be a match, but we couldn't find anything that confirmed that "Adell Latterault" and Mary or Marie Louise Seguin were one and the same woman.  The marriage record, the death record, the birth records of her and Antoine Villeneuve's children - all referred to her as Mary or Marie Louise Seguin.

And then, while searching for records for one of David's brothers, Joseph Villeneuve, I came across Joseph's death certificate and the final clue was presented:

It's a little hard to read, but you can see listed "Name of father: Anthime Villeneuve."  Antoine's full name was Antoine Anthyme Villeneuve.  Also listed is "Maiden name of mother:  Adele Seguin."  The birth places of both of Joseph's parents were listed as "Rigaud, Quebec."  This matched what I knew about Antoine Anthyme Villeneuve and Mary or Marie Louise Seguin. 

At last!  There was written evidence that Mary or Marie Louise Seguin had also been known as Adele Seguin.  Adele Seguin, the mother of David Newton's brother Joseph, was the same person as Adell Latterault on David Newton's death certificate.  "Latterault" was a phonetic spelling of "Laderoute", a Seguin family dit name. 

Along the way to solving this mystery, I learned quite a bit about  French Canadian naming convetions and dit names, which came in handy as I dug deeper into the old French language records to trace back the family lines. 

Now, about that apple pie!  I baked one yesterday, my first, but not my last, of the season.  T'is the season for baking apple pie and making chili.  Yesterday I opted to bake rather than make chili.  The new Pick 'n Save - I have to say it has a splendid selection of apples, many on sale right now, some types I've never heard of before and have no idea what they may taste like.  I am tempted to go back to the store today and buy one of each unknown type just to taste them and see what they're like!  This is peak Wisconsin apple season although I'm sure some of these apples are coming in from other states, too.  Beautiful, gorgeous big apples!  I've never seen such big Cortlands in my life!  I bought five yesterday on sale for $0.98 a pound but with my card I got them for $0.89 a pound, weighed in at 2.68 pounds!  Five apples weighed that much!  I bought the Cortlands because I know they're a good baking apple; they don't get mushy and watery, the death of a good apple pie. 

Here is my pie:

Beautiful, if I do say so myself :)

It has a crumble topping and a store-bought bottom crust that doesn't need to be pre-baked.  The prep time takes the longest; putting the pie together itself is fast once the prep is all done.

Hmmm, it seems I haven't written about my apple pie recipe before.  Amazing!  This is the same recipe I handed out to the CCR (the ladies of the bus) last week and also posted for the family at Facebook last night:

9" pie crust, unbaked - put into pie plate
5 -7 apples
Core and peel, slice into eighths (mine are irregular; these were really big apples and eighths were just too large, so I cut some of them slimmer)
Layer prepared apples on top of crust.  Some people start from the center and work outwards; I learned from Grandma Newton to start on the outside and work toward the center, filling in odd gaps with pieces of apple.
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Mis sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the layered apples.

Crumble Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour or baking mix
(I also add a dash - and I do mean just a dash - of salt, but the original recipe does not add salt)
1/3rd cup cold butter (5 tablespoons)
Mix sugar and flour or baking mix; cut in cold butter until mixture is crumbly.  Don't use room temperature butter, and don't work the mixture too long cutting in the butter, it will turn into pie dough!  I this know from experience... It helps the "cutting" to have a pastry mixer instead of a fork, and to cut the cold butter into little pieces and then add into the dry mix.  The correct texture of this mixture will be dry, with coated lumps of butter dispersed throughout.  Distribute the mixture over the apples, trying to get an even coating.  This forms the "crust" on top of the pie. 

Bake at 400 degrees F for 40 minutes OR until the pie is bubbling and the top is light brown to brown (not burnt!)

Using the Cortlands resulted in a sweet pie that holds together very well and there is no excess juice to make the crust soggy at the bottom of the pie.

I was an absolute Ms. Piggy last night.  I hate a full quarter of the pie and enjoyed a rare evening cup of coffee with it.  It was cool last night so I had a fire going as I enjoyed my coffee and pie.  Heaven, simply Heaven!  The only thing that would make it better is some French Vanilla Ice Cream.  Hmmm....

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