How many times do we say “let’s get together!” or “can I see what you have?” to a cousin or other relative? Well, I’ve done it and then not followed up. But this time I DID!
AND what a find!! Thanks to two of my nearest first cousins, Gary and Karen, with time to catch up and share memories, we dug through a box of old photo albums, lose pictures, carefully wrapped snippets of hair, and incredible old and valuable Bible (with items tucked inside!), and more. The enjoyment began with Cousin Karen picking me up from my home and our hour-long drive to Cousin Gary’s – her older brother. Gary is older than me, Karen is much younger and my now-done brother Mark was between me and Karen in age. The four of us spent SO much time together as children, as our mothers – sisters Catherine and Delores – were the tightest of sisters. So I knew that what Gary inherited when his parents passed would be important to me.
Unfortunately, Gary related that there was much that had been thrown out. Aunt Catherine had died first and she was/is the beloved auntie who got this family historian started at the age of 12 with her stories, notes, pictures and more. When Uncle Eddie died years later, he had thrown out things that Aunt Catherine had kept but he had to clean out a home that he needed to move from. Gary was with him in the cleaning but it was a hard effort to get Uncle Eddie to keep some of what Gary could tell was valuable.
So when the boxes and bin of photos and albums was put on the kitchen table and we dug through, my heart was pounding. Gary and Karen had some idea that there would be items of value but they weren’t sure who the people were and we worked to identify them. Karen had spent a lot of time with her mom and dad and the relatives in these pictures, so she was the best at identifying people. I was good at identifying the homes and couches, and sometimes the beautiful doilies (Grandma and Aunt Catherine had made beautiful doilies as they did tatting; Karen and I both have some).
The picture about contains the gems that we found! A picture I had NEVER seen of my great-grandmother Louise Villeneuve Elliott from when she was older. I have a group family photo from around the 1914 timeframe with 13 of the 16 kids, showing Louise in a younger time. The photo above, in the collection, of the older woman in the chair with a patterned dress is her at an older age – she was a widow by 1919 with all of these kids (the older girls were key in this huge family!). She later suffered from a stroke that left her dependent on those daughters. She apparently lived with her daughters in sort of a rotational way – 6 months perhaps with each one, as they helped her to cope with her failing health and frailties. She died at the age of 60 so this picture may have been not too long from that time.
The other marvelous pictures found were one of my grandmother Elsie Elliott Sutinen (later Niemi), the largest colorized image seen above. She was Louise’s fourth daughter and the picture represents a timeframe for which I had no images. I have a very much younger image of her perhaps in her 20s, one from her 60s, so this one is perhaps in her 40s – an active mother with five children, my mother being the youngest daughter.
The baby picture at the top is me … awww . The “little rascals” in the middle between Grandma and Great-Grandma are Aunt Catherine and her brother Doug – and I’m wondering what they were up to when the picture was snapped (they look like they are planning some mischief). My Uncle Jerry is stretched out on the picnic table bench as a young man that is in the young adulthood of his life and feels joyful to me. He was my mom’s youngest brother. The handsome man in the black and white photo below great-grandma is my step-grandfather, William “Bill” Niemi – the grandfather I so loved and grew up knowing. A quiet Finn man, this is a picture of him probably around the time that he married my Grandma Elsie as her husband Warner (Waino) had died from tuberculosis and Grandpa Bill became a loving presence in our lives.
The piece of paper here, full of notations familiar to all family historians, were dates of faily and extended family connections and births. BUT at the top right – some rather fun notations! “Aunt Eugenie – old maid – never had a hair on head ever” and “Mary Laura died of Black Diptheria hair was so long had to pull it out of …”. And interesting family fact – most of the women in this family had dark brown or black hair, never turning gray, until they died. Karen, of my matrilineal line, has undyed brown hair in contrast to my white hair. Her mother died with nearly black hair and my grandmother also died with dark hair. My mom and I clearly have some different genetics in our hair going on as we’ve both had gray for … well, let’s just say a while. :::::::::::grin:::::::::::::
For those who are genealogists, family historians, finds like these mean more than money, fame and more. They put my family into my mind in new ways, in new timeframes that inform what I know about them and they give me a fuller sense of who they were. The conversation with Gary and Karen about them was so fun and interesting. They knew things that I didn’t know and vice versa. And our shared time of family memories will be cherished.
Having made a commitment to be more active here in my blog, and being really behind on SO many things, I decided that I would work at putting up family information more regularly. As I’ve written about RootsTech and other conferences, I’ve decided also to include content about our families – mine and Den’s – and information about my work in genealogy, I made the commitment.
So I truly KNOW and believe that our ancestors want us to find them (their information, records, photos, etc.) and know them – from what they did, what the records say, how their lives progressed and more …. it came as no surprise to me that, having made this commitment to myself and these ancestors, my return home from the National Genealogical Society’s 2022 Family History Conference included a discussion with my husband about my “take aways”.
The “take aways” is understandable for most folks … “what did you take away from that experience?”. Den and I, when completing a trip (the plane ride home or the final part of a drive home), will often have a conversation …. like “what were the top 3 things you will remember?” or “what are the top 3 images that will stick in your mind?” – that sort of thing.
Well, on this particular Sunday afternoon of Memorial Weekend, with the washing machine running after my unpacking the suitcase, Den and I were taking a moment for me to process the NGS conference and my experiences there. And our talk then moved further into “do we want to go to Ludwig’s grave tomorrow to honor him?” He’s Den’s Civil War ancestor who is buried in the Elmwood Cemetery here in Detroit. While we decided not to go, it began a conversation about ancestors in his family.
It evolved into this discussion about his grandfather Elmer and uncle Wilson/Bill. As the obituary pictured here states, they died the same day. I didn’t remember it that way …. and that’s a story!
You see, I met Denny in college, Michigan State University. It was in our sophomore year, and his Grandfather Elmer had died two years before, as had Wilson or Bill, Den’s uncle. As I got to know him and his family, I heard the story of Elmer’s death because Den and his parents and two brothers all lived on the same family farm in Alma, Michigan. When Elmer died, he had a heart attack in his home right next door to Den’s family’s home. Den actually heard his Grandmother Vera scream when Elmer dropped in the house and Den ran over to see what was wrong. He performed CPR on his grandfather but Den knew that Grandpa was gone.
The way I REMEMBERED the story was very different, although with parts of it factual and the same. BUT – and this is the key – even when someone tells us the story from their actual presence and knowledge, we can remember it wrong!
The thing about my memory was that there were parts that I remember coming from other people. So Den’s older brother Van and possibly Den’s mom, Melba, had told me their memories of what happened. Now, Van was not in the home or on the farm when Bill and Elmer died, so perhaps that is where my memory got jarred in the wrong direction. What I remember, was “someone” told me that Bill committed suicide and that, after his funeral, Elmer had come home, took a walk around the farm and then had his heart attack.
Well …. parts of that are true. Elmer DID take the walk around the farm just before the heart attack. Den knew that and had actually see Elmer walking around. Den remembered thinking that his grandfather perhaps was thinking through, reflecting on the fact that his eldest son had just passed away and what was the future of the farm? While the family had sold their dairy cows back in the mid-1960s, the farm was still operating but, since 1969, was leased to another farmer to plant, harvest while the family retained ownership and received annual checks from the crops sold. ANYWAY, I digress …
So what was TRUE was that Elmer died after taking that walk around the farm. What was NOT true – Bill died from lung cancer and Elmer died the same day, as you can see in the obituary. Where had I gone SO wrong on these memories? Did Van or Melba tell me elements that I confused? Apparently!
My point in offering this is that we can’t and shouldn’t fully trust our memories! Documentation of the elements of stories really helps and it provides some interesting lessons. In my case, I never documented the stories that I was told (by Van or Melba or whomever!) AND I clearly messed up parts of it. Suicide is awful and so is cancer but they carry a much different trajectory both physically and emotionally in a family! AND the fact that they died on the same day was totally missed by me until I found this obituary. While I have Elmer’s death certificate from our family, I didn’t have Bill’s (and yes, I could connect with his family). That said, I learned a lot on Sunday!
A genealogists, family historians or even just members of an extended family that tells stories and “embellishes” perhaps as the story evolves, please DO keep in mind that finding the key facts, documents and information is important in documenting our families’ lives and stories. I’m so glad that I dug into this more after that conversation with my husband as he was amazed by how much I had wrong. Good to be stopped before I’d shared it SOOO far off from the facts! Keep digging!
RootsTech 2022 is now officially over … well, not really!
It is still possible to watch classes, review what happened on the Main Stage, you can still visit vendors tomorrow, and there are Relative Connections to make (you have to register for a free account at FamilySearch – but it is SO worth it!), and so much more.
I think I spent about 9 to 10 hours online today – live presentations, recorded classes, practicing where to look in the various DNA sites (how many tabs can you have open on your computer!!!), and listening along as I tried out some of the sites and offerings that were shared.
While ALL of the classes, vendor presentations and Main Stage offerings were great, I have to give a shout out to Roberta Estes at DNAeXplained who gave a series of presentations on finding out if you have Native American DNA and from whom, a sequence of DNA presentations that showed how to use the various companies’ (Ancestry, MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, FamilySearch, etc.) DNA and family tree tools to help you with your research. She had a great presentation style and offered a lot of information – and I’m STILL working through all those open tabs on my computer!
And, while I’m exhausted and my brain is about to explode, I am SO happy that I dedicated myself to this time for the last three days. While I miss everyone in person in Salt Lake, the learning and comfort of doing this from home was not something that I would have passed up. SUCH a great gift for ME! I figure that I’ll be learning for a while, doing more with the tips, tricks and resources that were shared, and I’m really happy with the time spent.
Yes, your story and that of your family matters – please take the time to share it! Make a video, a book of ancestry, or share pictures from an ancestral location. I have such a deep appreciation for what I learned …. and I hope that if you are reading this, you will make every effort to research and share your family’s history.
After a bit of rest and processing, watch for more as I grow in understanding what I learned … I have TONS of ideas and websites to go through and analyze on my family. Wish me luck!
What a day! The Friday of Roots Tech is always a busy one for me – I’ve been to RootsTech three times in person and as a presenter. The last two years of course have been virtual which certainly saves on costs but the learning is still a bit overwhelming! There are SO many courses – over 1,000 in English alone! And I know there were hundreds in other languages – French, German, Spanish, Polish … I don’t know all of them, but truly a bit overwhelming.
So today I watched the live Main Stage sessions and learned about peoples’ journeys in their own families; I learned about the upcoming additions to some of the popular websites to help us with our DNA, building our family trees, learning about how to find the origins of our families, and SO much more. My brain is about to explode!!
I’ve taken notes, printed out items offered by vendors, tried my hand at some of the DNA tools that I heard about from classes, took time (while I listened) to add to my own family tree and figure out some next steps. And I spent ‘way too much time sitting in this chair at the computer when there was actually sunshine outside – but I couldn’t help myself. THIS. IS. WHAT. I. LOVE. Gads, I can’t get enough.
OK, so it’s time to get to bed and get ready for tomorrow – the “last” day of the event. That’s for the “live” content – as the class recordings are available to us for a while and I plan to take advantage! So … bedtime……
Some easy explanations on Miles’ page that will help. AND be sure to go through each days’ offerings and create your own list of presentations to watch, Keynotes, Main Stage and the Expo Hall. In the Expo Hall there is an opportunity to not only learn so much, but also an opportunity to win! Yes! If you visit 20 booths and do a variety of activities (chat, watch a video, explore their presentations), you can be entered to win a prize. It’s fun AND an opportunity to get more.
As an Influencer (that’s the title for those of us who are writing and sharing about our experiences at Roots Tech), you will see posts from me every day with my thoughts about what I’m hearing and seeing. My first experience was to check out the Expo Hall and the sponsor booths. Did you know about all the cool stuff at the Family Search site? Yes, the site – the one that you can access from home, put your family tree on, find documents and SO MUCH MORE!!!
Exploring around this site, you can watch a bunch of great videos, learn about new features on the FamilySearch website (amazing stuff … I hadn’t been on it in a while and WOW!) and find out about your family in new ways. I checked out “Where am I from?” and “Famous Relatives” (yes, I’m related to royalty!! ) and there is also the really fun Roots Tech tool “Relatives at RootsTech” which helps you to meet your relatives who are signed into the RootsTech event – showing your relationship to them (check it out here) – I have 9,045 relatives today and I know from previous RT experience that it will grow! SOOO Cool!!!
Ready to Connect? RootsTech 2022 Registration Is Now Open!
SALT LAKE CITY, UT–FamilySearch opened registration today for RootsTech 2022, the largest family history event in the world held online March 3–5, 2022. It offers a forum where people of all ages across the globe are inspired to discover and share their memories and make meaningful connections. Register for free at RootsTech.org today. RootsTech 2022 will be a virtual-only experience, with some enhancements and improvements.
A new set of educational classes will be featured during 2022, along with new technologies to explore in the virtual expo hall, and inspiring stories shared by a fascinating line-up of keynote speakers.
“RootsTech 2022 is sure to be an incredible experience once again” said Jen Allen, event director for RootsTech. “Earlier this year, we organized our first-ever virtual event amid a pandemic—something we never thought would happen. But as we watched the participants come together to provide joyful learning experiences in many different languages, we knew something special was taking shape.”
Classes for the event will have a mix of on-demand, livestream, and interactive sessions that will allow attendees to learn, grow and connect to people all over the globe. Participants will also be able to connect with fellow attendees, speakers, experts, and enthusiasts. In 2022, the planners of RootsTech are looking to take that experience to the next level.
RootsTech is a place of connection. “We witnessed incredible connections [in 2021] between participants all over the world,” said Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch. “As they connected to their homelands and ultimately to their families, they then connected to each other. At FamilySearch, we choose connection, and we witness every day the ways family history transcends all walls of separation and unites us as the true story of humanity unfolds.”
While there will always be some differences between the in-person and online experiences, RootsTech will continue to expand its online experience while working towards a time when the hybrid model of both can once again be offered.
“We are busy creating innovative ways to capture and share messages of culture, unity and connection that push the boundaries of what a virtual conference can be. We can’t wait to share what we’ve got in store,” added Allen.
The event will take place March 3–5, 2022, and you can register for RootsTech right now by visitingwww.rootstech.org. The conference is free and open to anyone. For updates, be sure to follow RootsTech on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Early history of the region now known as Wayne County, Michigan reflected the changing of hands between the French, British and American – this fact being represented in the City of Detroit’s flag.
The area of Michigan that became Detroit and SE Michigan, was the home of thousands of Indigenous peoples – the Anishinabewek (Chippewa/Ojibwe), Wyandot, Sauk and Fox, Miami and more (note – these names are those of the European settlers, not those that the Indigenous people used for themselves). While the area now known as Detroit, in Wayne County, Michigan was originally settled by the French in 1701 (founded by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac at Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit on the north side of the Detroit River), the area was under French control until 1763. In 1763, New France was defeated in the French and Indian War and the boundaries of the United States were expanded to include the region of Michigan within the “Old Northwest”. From the French in 1701, transitioning after the French and Indian War to the British until the American Revolution when this region became part of the early formation of the United States of America, the area of Wayne County even reverted back to Britain briefly during the War of 1812. From 1787 to 1800, Michigan was part of the Northwest Territory and Wayne County was created in 1796 as part of the Northwest Territory but it encompassed most of the what became the State of Michigan (a far longer history of the Michigan Territory can be found in Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michigan_Territory).
From 1800 to 1805, the region that was to become Wayne County and Michigan was attached to the Territory of Indiana. Further changes occurred after the War of 1812, when the Michigan Territory came temporarily under British rule after the defeat of the Americans, but the area was later organized in 1815 as a county in the Michigan territory. When Michigan became a state in 1837, Wayne County’s boundaries were again changed to reflect the more current configuration.
When the early territory of what was to become Michigan was laid out, Wayne County encompassed a larger area as the sixth county of the Northwest Territory, including the lower peninsula of Michigan, much of the upper peninsula and portions of what became Indiana, Ohio and Illinois.
Wayne County is bordered by Macomb and Oakland Counties to the north, Washtenaw County to the west, Monroe County to the south and west, with Essex, Ontario, Canada bordering the county to the east/northeast (portions of Ontario are actually south of part of Wayne County). The county encompasses 673 square miles and, according to 2014 population data, has over 1.7 million residents.
Maps of the progression of the development of the Michigan counties, including Wayne County, can be found at Maps of the US, providing an interactive way to visualize the changes over the centuries.
Additional researchers’ note, per the Wayne County’s website: The Satellite Offices only have same day certificate service for a Marriage that took place from 1996 to the present. An order for a Marriage that took place before 1996 at our Westland Satellite Office can be picked up the following business day after 1:00pm or mailed. An order for a Marriage that took place before 1997 at our Northville Twp Satellite Office can either be picked up the following Thursday or mailed. Our main office in Downtown Detroit, located on 2 Woodward Ave, has same day certificate service for all years of Marriage Licenses issued by Wayne County.
One certified copy of a marriage license is $24.00 and $7.00 for each additional copy purchased at the same time. A Marriage License search for an uncertified copy is $11.50 for years 1937 to present, whether found or not, and $11.50 for before 1937 and for each 3 year interval, whether found or not. Personal checks are not accepted. Please click here for the Marriage Certificate Order Form.
Detroit Public Library, Burton Historical Collection
Begun as a collection of the late Clarence Monroe Burton, this collection holds documents of the history of Michigan and Detroit, including Wayne County, including photographs, original manuscripts, city directories, history books, pamphlets, newspapers, atlases, personal papers, archival materials, collections from other historians or archivists, business records and extensive map collections. Genealogical materials include microfilms of federal censuses, church records of baptisms, marriages and deaths, family histories and scrapbooks, military records, immigration and land records, Sanborn fire insurance maps and much more. Over the years, special collections documenting ethnic groups such as French-Canadian, Polish, Jewish and other populations have been acquired.
Wayne County Courthouse(all departments listed below are located here unless otherwise noted)
Address: 201 City-County Building, Detroit, MI 48226
Quarterly publication includes transcriptions of documents, stories of the region and local cities ; annual indexes available for purchase or available on members-only portion of website. Extensive list of publications for purchase includes Mt. Elliott Cemetery Burial Records, 1845-1861; Elmwood Cemetery Register 1862-1874; Wayne County Newspaper Marriage and Death Notices, 1809-1868, 1998; Passage to America 1851-1869: The Records of Richard Elliott, Passenger Agent, Detroit, MI; Cadillac’s Village or Detroit Under Cadillac, 1701-1710 (reprint of 1896 edition); Marriage Records of Ste. Anne Church Detroit 1701-1850; microfilmed Catholic church records from 1701, Protestant records from the 1820s (also at Ann Arbor’s Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan).
Founded in 1921, the Museum was opened in 1928 with holdings including the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. Thousands of artifacts, exhibits and documentation of the history of the region and events are exhibited and rotated through the two facilities. Educational programs.
The first genealogical society in the State of Michigan dedicated to the research and preservation of African-American history. Newsletters, educational programs, publications and SIG (special interest groups) are part of this active society.
This society was founded to promote awareness, research, educational and social connections for those of French-Canadian descent. The Society’s website includes extensive resources, original research, historical information and photographs and detailed information about Acadians, French-Canadians, Native/First Nations, Fille du Roi and Carignan Regiment surnames and stories, and more. Extensive research focused on historical Detroit, and nearby communities. Monthly educational programs, books and more.
Assistance, educational information and resources supporting Irish genealogical research.
Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan
The Gayle Sweetwine Saini Memorial Library of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Michigan is located inside the library of the Holocaust Memorial Center. The materials are non-circulating and a catalog is available for download from the website (below).
Holocaust Memorial Center 2nd Floor 28123 Orchard Lake Road Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3738 (248) 553-2400 ext. 16
1870 Michigan Census Index and Images, Michigan Cemetery Sources, Michigan Naturalization Records, Vital Records, State and Local, Public Land Grants and Private Claims, Circuit Court Records, Michigan Local Histories and Biographies, and more.
Hosts history conferences and education events; tours; support to county/regional historical societies.
Record Losses/Extant Records:
There are no known record losses in Wayne County.
LDS Family History Centers
The following family history centers in Michigan offer the most comprehensive genealogy resources, including census records, death records, family history records, obituaries, marriage records, vital records, court records, and various other public records.:
Closest to Wayne County, Michigan are:
Ann Arbor Michigan 914 Hill St Ann Arbor, Michigan (734) 995-0211 Bloomfield Hills Michigan 425 Woodward Avenue Bloomfield Hills, Michigan (248) 647-5671
published sources/ Online resources and databases/ digital collections: Ancestry.comwww.ancestry.com Census records for Wayne county, from 1820 as well as regional and state census from 1799 to 1894. 1906 to 1957 immigration arrival records in the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) record group 85. Many other Wayne County records found by typing “Wayne County, Michigan” in Ancestry’s search box. Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Librarywww.detroitpubliclibrary.org/burton/burton_index.htm A special commemorative brochure was compiled in honor of the collection’s 100th anniversary: http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/sites/default/files/Burton_Historical_Collection_100.pdf An extensive digital photo collection can be searched and copies ordered from the website. The Detroit Death Index (1920 to 2009) includes records from the Detroit Health Department but is not entirely searchable online. Cemeteries, Death Records, Obituaries See “Seeking Michigan” for Library of Michigan indexes. Most Detroit and Wayne County churches and cemeteries have compiled their own indexes and burial records. And the following website has links for indexes, cemeteries and obituaries. https://www.deathindexes.com/michigan/wayne.htmlJewish Beth-El Archiveshttp://www.tbeonline.org/cemetery The oldest synagogue in Detroit has shared it’s records online – of those of Blessed memory are recorded with birth date and death date in the synagogue’s cemetery. Newspapers The oldest paper in Wayne county is the Detroit Free Press. Previous newspapers include the Detroit Tribune, Detroit Times, Detroit News, Detroit Journal and there are several historically ethnic newspapers. The Detroit Public Library has clippings on file or microfilm and DPL staff will do look ups for a fee ($15-25; call for information). detroitpubliclibrary.org/services/servicesSeeking Michiganwww.seekingmichigan.org Provides access to nearly a million death records, indexes, military records, Michigan census and maps, cemetery indexes and more. Immigration and naturalization records are now being indexed with the help of thousands of volunteers.
The National Genealogical Society’s Family History Conference is coming! Hope you registered early to get the discount, but register TODAY here: conference.ngsgenealogy.org and join one of the most interesting, educational and important conferences of each year.
This year – new – is the fact that the Federation of Genealogical Societies merged with NGS and there is a “Focus on Societies” section, offering help, resources and information to genealogical societies to help them to thrive, grow and engage with their communities and interested researchers. That’s where my session – Society Management: Volunteer Motivations: Recruiting and Retaining Volunteers – appears. Join me?
When Norbert Albert Villeneuve was born on March 3, 1840, in Quebec, Canada, his father, Joseph, was 31 and his mother, Julie, was 33. He married Adele Adelaide Paquet on November 7, 1865, in Maskinongé, Quebec, Canada. They had 11 children in 21 years. He died on May 13, 1914, in Ishpeming, Michigan, at the age of 74.
That doesn’t say a lot about Albert or Al as he was known. He was likely a farmer in Quebec as many in the community of Maskinongé were but we also know from family stories that he made furniture, very solid, functional furniture that was nice looking too. He became a miner in the iron ore mines in and around Ishpeming area. He was a carpenter and worked in and around the mines constructing joists and structures to hold up the rock for the miners, hoping to keep them safer. According to the 1910 census, he was still working for the mining company even at the age of 71. When he died just 4 years later, his obituary stated that he was one of the “early pioneers” and had cut trees to help construct the main road in Ishpeming. The family must have been a bit musical as family stories that I heard over the years about Albert, Adele and the kids included a great deal of music and dancing. And on his death, the inventory of his belongings included a piano that my Great Grandmother Louise Villeneuve Elliot took for her large family. My Grandmother Elsie Elliot Sutinen told me that this family, back in Quebec, were well known formal dancers – participating in waltz and ballroom dancing competitions, often winning. So maybe the family piano helped in teaching the children?!
A recent trip this summer to Ishpeming included driving around the area where the Villeneuve family lived, even finding their home address using the census records. Such a small home for a family of 11 children and 2 adults!
The Life story of Norbert Albert Amiot dit Villeneuve or Albert Villeneuve
Why would a person, born with one name, change that name or use another? Certainly, there are people who are hiding from the law and change their name. There are people who change their name because their birth name is mispronounced. A person may also change their name to avoid discrimination because their surname represents a hated minority group, like our immigrant Polish and German ancestors did in the period of the two world wars.
The Amiot dit Villeneuve family however may have changed their name for entirely other reasons. The parents and seven known children are followed to determine the correct name for one member of the family – Norbert Albert Amiot dit Villeneuve or Albert Villeneuve.
In the French-Canadian communities of North America, particularly in the province of Quebec, from the 1700s into the late 1800s, the naming practice called dit names was utilized. The word dit has come to mean alias or “so called” and is believed to derive from the French verb dire, meaning “to speak, say”. In this narrative’s example, the surname from France was Amyot. At some undetermined point, the family in question attached the “dit” name Villeneuve, so that the surname appears in records in New France or Quebec as “Amiot dit Villeneuve”. Sometimes these additional names represent a move to new land, a colonial leadership title, or a physical characteristic that distinguishes one man from another within a soldier group.
The research into the seven known children of Joseph Amiot dit Villeneuve and Julie Gregoire may help to determine whether Norbert Albert Amiot dit Villeneuve born I 1840 in Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada is the same man as Albert Villeneuve of Ishpeming, Marquette, Michigan buried in 1914.
Norbert Amiot dit Villeneuve was born on 3 March and baptized on 4 March 1840 in Maskinonge, Quebec to Joseph Amiot dit Villeneuve and Julie Gregoire. He was the fourth of seven children. His siblings were Antoine, Joseph, Adeline, Olivier, Pierre and Peter. Each were identified with variants of the Amiot dit Villeneuve name on baptismal, marriage and burial records:
Name at death
Amiot dit Villeneuve
Amiot dit Villeneuve
Amiot dit Villeneuve
Antoine and Adeline were noted in baptismal records with their father’s surname as “Amiot dit Villeneuve” while Joseph is listed with his father Joseph’s surname as “Amiot”, and all other siblings’ baptismal records noted the father’s name as “Villeneuve”. The earliest census record found with some of these siblings was the 1851 Canadian census and all are listed as “Villeneuve”. All children born to this marriage after 1851 show the name “Villeneuve” uniformly.
By contrast, Norbert Albert’s aunts and uncles, just one generation earlier, consistently included the “dit” name although with the expected spelling variations. For example, his sister Adeline’s baptism record notes her father’s name as Joseph Amiot dit Villeneuve (like Joseph’s) but Joseph’s brother Amable’s surname was given as Amiot dit Vilneuve and sister Marie Domitilde’s was noted as Amiot dit Vilnoeuve.
Norbert Villeneuve married Adele Paquette on 7 November 1865 in St. Justin de Maskinonge, Quebec, Albert Villeneuve died on 13 May 1914, listing his father as Joseph Villeneuve and mother as Sophie Carpentiere and the informant being Joseph Villeneuve, his son. While an obituary in Marquette County has not yet been found, a notice appeared in The Calumet News, noting “Mrs. Ed. Elliott of Laurium yesterday received word of the death of her father, Albert Villeneuve …”.
The census information for the 1880 and 1881 censuses have both men with a wife Adele/Adel, and children Florence/Flore, Louise/Louisa and Noah/Noe and many of the ages aren’t consistent. These two censuses are during the time that the family is known to be moving back and forth between Michigan and Canada (according to family stories), but the 1910 U.S. census indicates that Albert reported immigrating in 1878. From family stories, the family coped with the moving and a large family (there were a total of 11 children in all) by splitting up for times with the mother with some of the children and father with others.
The obituary in Marquette County for Albert Villeneuve names children Joseph, Florence (Mrs. Adelord Morin), Louise (Mrs. Ed Elliot), Clara (Mrs. Alphonse Lesage), Rose (a widow of Mr. Clement), Alphosine and Adel (Mrs. Will Kaiser), confirming those listed with him in census records. Will/Probate records name children Eva, Alphonsine, Flora, Clara, Louise, Rosana, Joseph, Noe (with the daughters named with both their maiden and married names), again confirming census records.
Records still to be found:
Naturalization records – Immigration is noted in the 1910 census as happening in 1878
Potential additional city directories for more years
Land or tax records if they name children
Military service or employment records
As the names of the children consistently match in census records, newspaper articles, as well as the will and probate records, the variations can be explained as the likely variations that are due to the multiple names (baptismal, given names, middle names) that are common in French-Canadian families.
The only time that the name “Norbert” has been used is in the baptismal record and the 1881 Canadian census; it is likely that Norbert may have been a first name with Albert as a middle name and it could have been dropped in favor of Albert especially after moving to the United States. Similarly, the change from Amiot dit Villeneuve to simply “Villeneuve” may reflect a desire for a shorter, simpler name and reflect the move also to the United States. This family still lived within a primarily French-Canadian community for some time, but the ease of pronunciation may have created the adoption of the shorter name. Thus, in the end, the use of Albert Villeneuve for the bulk of this ancestor’s life does not negate the fact that his name was likely Norbert Albert Amiot dit Villeneuve when he was born.
 The most direct explanation of this comes from Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dit_name: viewed July 19, 2018) although the author’s own French language and research knowledge is extensive in this area.
 Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica, “New France: French Colonies North America”, Encyclopedia Britannica, HTML edition (https://www.britannica.com/place/New-France; accessed July 24, 2018). New France was used initially in the 16th century when France was establishing colonies and trade relationships in North America.
 Women in French Canada retain the use of their maiden or nee names throughout their life and are documented with these names in French Catholic church records, marriage contracts and land records.
 For this narrative, the French words that use accent marks when written in French will be omitted as they add nothing to the narrative other than in any official titles (see next note) for records.
 St. Joseph de Maskinonge (Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada), chronological records in Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec 1621 à 1967 (Collection Drouin, Institut Généalogique Drouin, Montreal, Quebec, Canada); Baptismal record, Norbert Amiot dit Villeneuve, 4 March 1840; digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1091/d1p_25590543/12014791?backurl=; accessed on January 20, 2013, reviewed July 21, 2018).
 Sacramental records (baptism, marriage, burial) for St. Joseph de Maskinonge, Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada were researched for seven siblings; with death records also in Kansas for Oliver (Villeneuve) Vinlove, and Norbert and Pierre Villeneuve in Michigan. Citations for all of these records can be provided.
 Baptism for Adeline; St. Joseph de Maskinonge, Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada. Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec (Collection Drouin), 1621 à 1967. Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin, digital image, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1091/d1p_25590436/10354364?backurl=; accessed on July 7, 2018).
 St. Justin de Maskinonge, (Maskinonge, Quebec, Canada); chronological records in Actes d’état civil et registres d’église du Québec 1621 à 1967, (Collection Drouin), May 13,1865, Norbert Villeneuve and Adele Paquette.
 Sophie Carpentiere is actually his mother-in-law, mother of his wife Adele Paquette.
 “Father Dies in Marquette”, The Calumet News (Calumet, Michigan), page 5, 15 May 1914; Mrs. Ed. Elliott is Louise Villeneuve, daughter of Albert, noted in census records cited.
 1880 U.S. census, Marquette, Michigan, population schedule, Ishpeming, p. 349D, dwelling 230, family 283, Albert Villeneuve; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 July 2018), citing Family History Film 1254954.
 1881 Census of Canada, Maskinonge, Quebec, for District Maskinonge, Subdistrict St. Justin, p. 13, family 64, Norbert Villeneuve; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 23 July 2018), citing Library and Archives Canada, Record Group 31 C-1, microfilm C-13162 to C-13286.
 “Death of Albert Villeneuve: Pioneer French Resident Passed Away Yesterday Afternoon”, Daily Mining Journal (Marquette, Michigan), page 6, column 3, 14 May 1914; Marquette County Historical Society, J. M. Longyear Research Library, Marquette, Michigan.
 County of Marquette, Michigan, Last Will & Testament, Albert Villeneuve, will dated 13 May 1911; probate case files beginning 20 May 1914; Probate Court Clerk’s Office, Marquette County, Michigan.