Happy birthday to my 2nd Great-Grandfather, Norbert Albert Villeneuve

Here’s Norbert Albert Villeneuve and wife Adele Paquet and their family probably around 1902 in Ishpeming, Michigan (colorized thanks to MyHeritage!).

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!

350 South 1st Street, Ishpeming – the Albert and Adele Villeneuve home in 1910.

Happy Birthday, Grandma! Because she was, I am ….

Mary Elsie Cecelia Elliot Sutinen – My grandmother: Because she was, I am.

Remembering my grandma on her birthday….

Today is Grandma’s birthday – Mary Elsie Cecelia Elliot Sutinen – she was of French-Canadian, Acadian, Scottish and First Nations descent. Born in Ishpeming, Michigan to immigrant parents who came from Maskinonge, Quebec. She had five children – my mother was the youngest girl and the fourth child. Her life was not easy … hard work, poverty, difficult circumstances and more. But my memories of her are of a loving, doting, beloved woman who gave us kids sugar-free (she was diabetic) Jello with whipped cream, the BEST snuggles, learning from her about tatting, needlework, hearing occasional Quebecois words from her, her sisters, and the wonderful smells of a grandma’s home. A devout Catholic, she endured a lot and relied on her faith to get her through – AND was happy, smiling, welcoming, gentle and very obviously loving me and my brother, my cousins. Missing her now when I would like to ask SO many questions. Bonne Fete with our ancestors, Grandma!!

And thank you! You birthed my mother, who birthed me … and you loved and cared for all of us in your family, and the HUGE family of your birth (she was one of 16; 14 lived to adulthood). She connects me to my matrilineal ancestors, my distant past, going all the way back to Benouville, Rouen, Normandie, France where my 10th great-grandmother Guillemette Rolleville was born in 1625 and any paper trail further seems to end (for now … ). From Guillemette to her daughter Marie-Catherine and on and on, for generations, it comes to me and my only female first cousin in this line, Karen … Neither Karen or I had children, so this part of the lineage ends with us. Feels sad … but there are others who descend from her in the mitochondrial lines so the DNA continues. Merci, Grand-mere …. je me souviens!

DNA Weekly – An Interview About Lineage Journeys!

The heading on my interview at DNA Weekly – Hope you will check it out!

There are some moments that remind you of why you do your work, why it is more fun to do what you love. I had that moment with Ditsa Keren from DNA Weekly, who had contacted me for an interview about my genealogy work.

It had been some time since I had thought about why I started Lineage Journeys and my motivations for continuing to work in this field. I truly love searching for my family and I love helping others get excited about their family history too. So the combination of the two had been great for me, but reflecting on it to answer Ditsa’s questions was particularly enjoyable. In our interview on Zoom, she had a thoughtful way, was fun and asked good questions. And I was grateful for the opportunity to share about what I do and how much I enjoy working with clients – I LIVE for those wonderful “ah ha” moments that all family historians or genealogists have when they learn something new about an ancestor or where they lived, what they did for an occupation.

While I can’t quite place my hands on the article that I read that shared the importance of sharing family stories, I remember that the psychology of it was that it builds resilience in children to hear about the trials and troubles that their ancestors got through. And for the children to hear those stories from their grandparents (or great-grandparents, as so many are living longer, thank God!), has a direct and deep impact on their own ability to manage in tough times.

Thank you to Ditsa Keren and DNA Weekly for the opportunity to do some reflection. Hope you all will think about checking DNA Weekly out – http://www.DNAWeekly.com

Lineage Journeys – Summary of RootsTech 2019!

Goodbye to Salt Lake City for now!

Well, RootsTech 2019 is in the books … and thousands of us enjoyed a great experience! New this coming year is RootsTech London and of course 2020 is the 10th anniversary of RootsTech and promises to be another amazing experience!

Learned a lot this year! Returning for RootsTech for a second year gave the advantage that I knew more of what to expect, knew my way around the building and locations where I could prepare as a speaker and take time to blog, but also to network, meet other professionals and hook up with cousins. SOOOOO fun!

Lessons learned – participants sometimes don’t fully read the descriptions for presentations, so announcing at the beginning of my presentations who the audience is that I’m directing my information to; participants want to take pictures or record our presentations to share with others, and there’s an internal struggle to be honest about how we are working hard to make a living while also being transparent with how that works/doesn’t work when others share our content. And finally, by far the biggest learning is that there are thousands of truly dedicated family historians that want to get it right – to document their families through records, stories, photos and more so that present and future generations can appreciate the blessing of lives well-lived. And some great stories along the way – even with their own research journeys! I learned A LOT from the cousins I met, other attendees that offered me their perspectives.

So, if you haven’t attended RootsTech, DO!! Stay tuned – if I’m selected again to be a speaker or ambassador, I may have tickets to offer for a lucky family historian to get free registration to the conference!!

The Sandhills Are Alive With Music!

“The hills are alive with the sound” of Sandhill cranes!!  It’s obviously fall … and I did the best that I could on the pictures as I had to grab my cell phone FAST to rush outside.  Wow … the sound was deafening and there were HUNDREDS of Sandhill cranes, all squawking at once, getting into formation.  There were multiple “V” patterns, and birds flying to catch up.  As I stood on the porch snapping what I could, I could hear more coming and more in a farm field nearby …. VERY loud but eerie, surreal, primordial …. special.

When I hear, see such wonderful creatures, I think about the migratory journey they have ahead as they eat up what corn, grains they can from the surrounding farm fields.  I’ve always loved these beautiful and large birds and wanted to study them when we realized that they were so numerous here in our new home.

Wondering what to write about today, as I wanted to keep Lineage Journeys readers up on more than just the upcoming conferences and events that I’m doing, the sandhills provided a great way to break from writing, researching and keeping up with the business end of the work.  I wanted therefore to share a great book I found that has tremendously beautiful photographs AND tells the story of the struggles that sandhill cranes have with habitat encroachment, pesticides, and more.  On Ancient Wings:  The Sandhill Cranes of North America by Michael Forsberg is the book that gave me a perspective that increased my joy of them all the more, as I’d like to see what I can do locally to help them.   The book is linked here and in the title above as I found the book on Amazon (there are other great field guide-type of books too!)  if you might be interested in learning.

The reason that I am thinking about this, writing about this?  Maybe because I’m a genealogist or because I’m such a nature-lover, these birds are a fascination to me.  As a genealogist, I wonder whether my ancestors had the opportunity to witness such a spectacle, if their farms had these graceful birds feeding there before setting off for the south.  My Québec ancestors were farmers almost entirely (some were woodworkers) so I think about what I just saw and how ancient these birds are (I think I read somewhere they they are millions of years old, from fossil evidence!), wondering if they were part of the lives of my people in Québec.  With the St. Lawrence and other waterways in the region that my families’ farms were located (most recently, my ancestors are from Maskinongé, Québec and around both Québec City, Montréal and back into Acadia), it is certainly likely.  What did they think?  Did they stop from their farming just as I stopped from my work to look UP?

As I think about and work to write the stories of my ancestors, I want to include content about their day-to-day lives like the sounds of the sandhill cranes or the weather patterns (like the very severe rains that we’ve been having this year!) that impacted their survival.  It’s not about the dates for me – births, marriages, deaths – but it’s about what they DID, who they were friends with, the music and foods that were important, and the struggles and joys they experienced.

I hope they experienced the sound I heard this morning – the sandhills’ music of life.

Watershed Moments

A “watershed moment” is a point in time in which you feel that something changed, that you changed, that life changed.

I had a moment/day like that recently. Actually it is more of a series of things that have happened. As a genealogist, there are moments in time that I recognize that I’m noting a date and it was a big deal for my ancestors. Someone died, someone was born, two people were married. There are so many of those moments as a genealogist that I honestly can say that they are dates in a computer sometimes to me … until my own “moment”.

You see … someone died. Actually there have been a series of deaths in the recent past (since my brother died in July 2013 actually) and this most recent death of a beloved “sister” has caused a shift. I put “sister” in quotation marks because, while she wasn’t a genetic sister, she was a sister of my heart … a teacher, friend, beloved leader and spiritual Elder. To me and many. And it was at her funeral and the four days of the wake and then burial ceremony, that I’ve been thinking about A LOT! Without going into all of that here, it DID make me think, as a genealogist of those “watershed moments” of my ancestors.

Perhaps it was in the mid-1860s when my Villeneuve (Amiot dit Villeneuve) ancestral family came from Maskinonge, Quebec to Marquette, Michigan area. My Elliot ancestors came from the same area to Ishpeming, Michigan in the 1880s. Then they all eventually ended up in the Keweenaw Peninsula of Michigan, in Houghton County – around Hancock and Boston Station and the mining communities. They met up there supposedly because they attended the same church. A Villeneuve girl married an Elliot boy, and an Elliot girl married a Villeneuve boy. In June, 1889 when Edward Elliot married Marie Louise Villeneuve in Ishpeming, was that a “watershed moment” for them? Did they recognize the importance of that day and the history that they would create together (they ended up having 18 kids!!!) that resulted in my grandmother? Did the day that great-grandfather Edward died in 1919, crushed by a shifting pile of coal that he was assigned to move, created that incredible “watershed moment” for great-grandmother Louise? She had a pile of children and now no husband. In the 1920 Census, she has eight children living with her. The two oldest sons are working so the family at least had an income but many of the children were very young. My grandmother, Mary Elsie Elliot had married Warner “Waino” Sutinen and was living nearby. Grandpa Warner was also a miner – I wonder if he was present when Edward was crushed … who told Great-Grandma Louise that he was severely injured (he later died of his injuries according to the newspaper account and his death certificate). Certainly, that would have been a “watershed moment” for both families.

Maybe it’s a function of the death of others that gives us “watershed moments” … it has been for me, early in this new year. Does everyone have moments like this?

As this year ends …

WishingYouTheBestHoliday Dec2017

As 2017 draws to a close, and I’m writing with just another day away from Christmas, Hannukah and Winter Solstice are behind us and Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s coming, I’m reflecting on family, research, change and the coming year.

This year was the one with a trip to Australia/New Zealand (part pleasure trip and part research trip), the selling of our home of 18 years and downsizing into a new home, much in the way of our Native ceremonies and family, and new jobs for both my husband and me … well, yes, it has been “interesting”.

But through it all, I am reflecting on the blessings …. getting to know new genealogy clients (through my work at Lineage Journeys) and their families (past and present), learning much new information at the various genealogy conferences I’ve attended (IF you haven’t gone to a conference, even a local one, you are missing out on learning so much, AND making great connections with fellow genealogists!), and building relationships in the genealogy community that I hope will be mutually beneficial.

Speaking engagements have been picking up, and the continuation of my relationship with my local library through monthly presentations, has been a great gift of learning too. Yes, mostly I love to speak because it gives me the chance to learn from others. Yes, I give them information but, more importantly to me, they give me their enthusiasm and excitement for the “hunt” of their family, information about resources that they have found that are helpful, and just the fun of meeting yet another person who is hooked to this hobby that we call genealogy. Searching for our families and where they came from and what they experienced is a unique and growing passion of so many of us – and I so love meeting others that I share this love with!

In this new year, this blog will look different – I’m revising and updating this site and the matching website and pages for my work. With the help of technology, graphic design, wordsmithing, and some great women who are helping me think it through, you will soon see a fresher design and content. I plan to blog more in the new year and share more about resources, sites and helpful information that I find. So please “stay tuned”!!!

Until then, may you experience the peace, joy, hope and festivities of the season with good health and prosperity in the new year!

Changes and Journeys

Genealogy Forms

It wasn’t easy for our ancestors, and it’s not easy for us. Change. It is constant and sometimes we are easily able to adapt and other times, it is just hard as we’ve settled into a way of being or doing that we don’t want to shift from.

In my work at Lineage Journeys, or when I reflect on the journeys that my ancestors have taken – those who came from Europe in less than wonderful conditions on a ship, those who were the Native people of North America and the moves that they had to make to deal with the influx of other tribal people or the Europeans – I realize that I have it SOOOOO much easier!

A friend of ours just left yesterday for medical school in another country. I heard from him today and he’s going through the initial stresses of the move – learning about the currency there, the costs of average supplies and food, and beginning to set up his life there. It’s not easy, of course, AND he’s alone with only our Facebook connection for conversation at this point (yes, we’ll use Skype or something later).

There’s a spiritual journey in all of this, and there’s the drawing on ancestral wisdom too in all of this. For our friend, his youth and inexperience are playing out while I can reflect on the changes that are happening for me with
work, family and internally. When I get into stress about my own challenges with change, I reflect on “what would my ancestors have done?” or “how mightthis grow me, spiritually?”. Both elements are “in play” and available for me todraw on if I remember not to freak out about what is happening. It’s all an illusion of my mind anyway!

Change is good, change is necessary, and change is hard.

Your Ancestry May Not Be What You Think!

Source: Advice to White Supremacists: You Might Not Want to Test Your DNA

Thank you, Dick Eastman!

I was thinking, praying about these recent events and remembering some key times as a genealogist in California. I volunteered in a Family History Center as I could translate French and German and the Mormon volunteers had asked me to help out once per week.

As my contact with customers, through Lineage Journeys, evolved over the weeks and months of volunteering, we began to have a fairly steady flow of people from a particular area of town. Known to be descendants of those who migrated to California during the Dust Bowl era, they were descended from people primarily from Oklahoma, Missouri and a few from northern Texas. They came in, as one of them told me, “to document our superior family” …. hmmmm, “superior” equated to “white” and their conversation indicated that they were affiliated in some way with white/neo-nazi groups that I knewto be in the area.

It didn’t take long (perhaps three generations of ancestors) to find census records that indicated “mulatto” – the term used for mixed race individuals on the old census records. Explaining that to these research customers became my personal, silent joy as their visions of superiority were revealed for the arrogant falsehood that they were. Many of them stated variations of “the records were manipulated” or “the census taker lied” or any number of other ways to avoid the obvious.

The fact that “race” isn’t a scientific or biological fact anyway would have been lost on these families, and my personal and professional research experiences had long before shown me that our families migrated, lived in many communities, searched for jobs and good work, and married across religious and ethnic lines for centuries. No surprise here that some “white” people had relationships in the past that weren’t with those of European origin.

April 15, 2017

Petoskey Stone

Growing up in Michigan is a unique experience. As a kid, when the snow gets melty, dirty, you just want to be somewhere else. But when you experience the glorious moments when the trillium fill the forests in spring, morel mushrooms are cooked intodelicate culinary treats and the call of the lakes, boats, warm summer days or the swish of snow during a ski run with the smell of hot chocolate or bonfires is in the air …. oh, and those trees in the fall – how DOES a maple tree have so many colors within it!! Well, I went off there a bit … but THAT is the Michigan I know.

My heritage, lineage here in Michigan isn’t that long. My people are, on dad’s side, fairly recent (late 1800s) immigrants from Poland and Germany by way of Massachusetts and then to Detroit where grandpa had a bicycle sales and repair company, and my dad and his brothers worked in the auto industry; on my mom’s side, we are VERY long on the North American continent but not so long in Michigan – my Native ancestors are mostly from the regions now called Canada and the Upper Peninsula in the 1870s, having been longer in the eastern maritimes; and mom’s ancestors who founded “New France” in their moves in the 1600s to Quebec and Montreal from northern regions of France (Normandie mostly), settling in for a long time in the area around Maskinonge, Quebec. The French-Canadians came to Michigan in the 1880s where they met my Native ancestors, ultimately my grandparents moved to Detroit for jobs after mines began closing. Mom’s dad was a Finn, coming as an infant with his parents and a brother. So we haven’t been here all that long.

But we are Michiganders. We GET Petoskey stones, pasties, Yoopers (we descend from them), Trolls (those from under the bridge – lower peninsula residents), the Mighty Mac (the Mackinac Bridge), and more. We rejoice in Morel Festivals, FlannelShirt Days, and the four seasons. Genealogy is important to me and, over the years, it has helped to inform me about who I am in the context of family, culture, spirituality and geography. Increasingly over the years, while Michigan is home, so is South Dakota (where my extended Native family are), and Quebec (where other extended family are) but so too, Eastern Canada and Normandy, France, and Scotland and Germany … well, the world actually.