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.
IT’S LIVE – IT’S FREE and it’s going to be awesome!!! There are over 500,000 (YES, you read that right!) from all over the world – 226 countries and counting! There are well over 11 languages for presentations but there are people representing WAY more languages in the world that are participating.
This is EPIC!! While RootsTech has been the largest genealogical conference in the world when we could meet in person at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, going virtual and FREE means that anyone/everyone, in whatever timezone or location – as long as they can register (FREE – here) and have internet access – can listen to classes, Keynote speakers, find cousins and so much more.
Here are some recommendations:
First – check out the Home page (https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/rtc2021) where there is a video presentation to help you figure out what to do at RootsTech Connect – where classes are, the schedule of Keynote Speakers, how to find relatives and more.
Second – Look at the course offerings and save them in your own list, called “My Playlist” – and …. wait for it …. the HUNDREDS of pre-recorded sessions are available now … FOR A YEAR!!!! Yes! Fill your Playlist with everything that you want to learn and take you time looking at them. However, for those of us who are speakers, if you want to use the Chat feature to reach out to us, you MUST do that during the event – today through Saturday! Then that feature closes. However, all of us (at least as far as I know) have attached PDF handouts to our talks and those have our website and email information. Please reach out as we are happy to help!
Third – Look for cousins! I have over 5,000 cousins and growing, now that it’s open and live! It’s called “Relatives at RootsTech” – and you MUST have a FamilySearch tree to participate. But look at all of the cousins who are registered that you can connect with! Save a copy of how they connect to you to use perhaps to break through that brick wall you’ve been working on. You can “friend” them and then maybe meet up during RootsTech to talk about family, records and more!
Fourth – Have fun! The Expo Hall is FULL of vendors wanting to connect with you, join Chat rooms to learn more or connect with speakers, ask questions. When you are on the RootsTech site there are people there to help you too! In the lower right corner of your screen is a button CONNECT (white with red) that will get you to someone live who can help you if you get lost.
Wow – take advantage of the whole thing!!! There is much to do, many to connect with, lots to learn and it’s just day one!!! Have fun!
LOOK at some of the Keynote Speakers coming to RootsTech Connect 2021! There will be these “live” segments and then HUNDREDS of classes, workshop series and more! An Expo Hall with vendors that you can connect with and the always wonderful Relative Connections that happen when you link your FamilySearch tree with your registration. There are well over 100,000 people registered from all over the world at this point and with FREE registration, there will be more. You could find a breakthrough in your genealogy because there’s a cousin out there in Poland or Brazil or Australia or Sierra Leone who knows something you don’t!
Can you tell that I’m excited? Gads, am I! And please find your way to my presentations – three of them. The virtual setting of this year’s event made us think about what is reasonable for people sitting in on virtual technology – so sessions are about 20 minutes long. So my sessions – The Big Five: Researching the Largest Tribes – is broken into three parts: Part 1 is an overview of Native research generally, and how to think about your families and where the hints may lie. Part 2 is about the Cherokee and Choctaw. Part 3 is about the Chippewa, Sioux and Navaho. Watch one, watch all! And there’s a PDF handout there to give you some resources. And please feel welcome to use the Chat feature that will be with each of these, to connect, ask questions or just meet other family historians who are doing similar work.
Click on the pictures above to register and join the fun! Or click here to register – it’s FREE!
THE BIGGEST genealogy event in the WORLD! Yeah, really!! AND in 2021 it is FREE!!! Yes!!! Is that amazing or what???
You can get registration information here: www.rootstech.org. There are hundreds of classes, a VIRTUAL exhibit hall, talk with professional genealogists, get tips and techniques to help you, contests, games, activities for families and SO much more! Can you tell that I’m excited?!
YES, I get to be an Ambassador again – my FOURTH year, and this year is the 11th Anniversary of RootsTech, so you can bet that there will be lots of special announcements, people and things going on. So you will want to be there.
2020 is the 10th anniversary of RootsTech and promises to be another amazing experience! Here are some of the things I learned in 2019 that may help you in preparing for the RootsTech 2020 ….
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 please read the descriptions and don’t mark a speaker down just because you misunderstood what they were going to be sharing. 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. This is hard for all speakers but we put in hours of unpaid time to customize content for our lectures – please don’t photograph or record them. 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! 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 ….. FREE pass for registration will be offered next month … watch for it!
There is SO much to do at RootsTech, I thought I’d give you some ideas from my perspective of attending for the last two years! So here we go!
First, if you are “into” DNA, there is no other place to be than RootsTech! Why? Because all of the vendors of the kits will be there AND they give really awesome discounts for buying at the conference. Yes, really great discounts! AND there are free, exhibit hall “classes” that are offered by all of the vendors – in their booths, with experts and company leaders, who give you the latest and greatest of what they have developed and new tools for your to use to find that elusive ancestor.
Second, cousins! Yes, you can find many of your cousins from among the THOUSANDS (yes, you read that – there are more than 15,000 that attend this conference!) of people attending. The key is that you need to post your family tree on FamilySearch …. and the mobile app at RootsTech that you can use to track what classes you want to take, etc. ALSO can help you to find those who connect with your tree! YES! It’s so cool – that each day, as everyone is attending classes, walking around the exhibit hall, eating lunch, whatever … the app (you have to set it up, allow it to show you and your tree) will scan those thousands of people and let you know who is there. Then you can send them a message and meet. I’ve done it and met gobs of cousins (I descend from lots of French Canadian and Acadian people so most of my connections are with them!).
Third, the classes. Internationally known speakers who have interesting topics, give you the benefit of their many years of study, and are offering you the opportunity to gain insight into how best to find your people. There are hundreds of classes! DNA, migration, ethnic groups, records and how to find them, geographically-focused, lineage societies, techniques, tools, technology and so much more! Yea, your brain is going to explode! Really ….
Fourth, people. Lots of really nice people! You will meet genealogists from all over the world who don’t roll their eyes when you start talking about how your great-great-great grandmother survived a horrible flood and got all of the kids into a boat and …. well, you get the idea! You get to talk about genealogy and your family for DAYS and everyone will get it, and you will have SO much fun!
THE BIGGEST genealogy event in the WORLD! Yeah, really!! Hotels are selling out fast, you can get registration information here: http://www.rootstech.org. There are hundreds of classes, a HUGE exhibit hall where you can buy DNA kits, talk with professional genealogists, get tips and techniques to help you, jewelry and t-shirts with family history themes, book publishers for those of you who have created your family story and need to share it, contests, games, activities for families and SO much more! Can you tell that I’m excited?!
YES, I get to be an Ambassador again – my THIRD year, and this year is the 10th Anniversary of RootsTech, so you can bet that there will be lots of special announcements, people and things going on. So you will want to be there.
Wow, the end of Day 2 of RootsTech and has it been a ride!!! I’m exhausted, happy, excited and needing some rest.
The day started with joining my fellow Ambassadors in the Media Hub and crazy, fun people like Mr. Thomas MacEntee from High Definition Genealogy.
I was able to observe some interviews – Patricia Keaton was one of those I listened in on. She was the Keynote Speaker this morning, sharing her career story and what she knows about her family. Patricia had the benefit of the work of Family Search and AncestryDNA and learned more about her family live on stage – it was very fun, touching.
Lunchtime was VERY special as I had the pleasure to meet Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the host of Finding Your Roots on PBS. We watched a new movie, initially shared at the Sundance Film Festival, entitled Railroad Ties. Following the meeting and interconnections between a group of people whose ancestors knew each other at a key time in American history (I won’t spoil the story line)…..get out your tissues!
And the fun continued as a met up with others at the Family History Library for a follow up conversation about my Wednesday “Mobile Apps for Genealogy” session.
The evening ended with some appetizers and conversation with the Genealogy Business Alliance group at the Marriott. Networking with other business owners, I wanted to learn more about ways to share Lineage Journeys with others.
The countdown is ON! I’m finalizing my presentations, collecting my equipment, reviewing and updating my talks – I’m so pleased that Lineage Journeys/I was selected to speak again. I’m presenting You CAN Take It With You: Mobile Apps for Genealogy and Native, First Nations, Indian: Researching Indigenous People .
There is so much to say about how fun RootsTech is – AND it can be overwhelming! The Expo Hall, Salt Palace is so HUGE so you have to be very disciplined about selecting your classes, planning your days there and probably allowing time to be at the Family History Library (really, it’s a very short walk!).
The Exhibitors area is also HUGE – but so worthwhile! There are always discounts for purchasing items at the event (think “DNA kits”!) , getting your family tree printed out on large paper, exploring jewelry with a family history theme, activities, booth workshops, books, tapes, things to buy, people to meet, freebee stuff to get …. yeah, overwhelming. But here’s what I learned from attending last year – my first year: 1- Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to walk A LOT! 2 – Plan ahead. RootsTech has a mobile app with the classes, exhibitors, special events, everything you’d want to know and you can create a schedule using it. DO IT! 3 – Either pre-print your handouts or plan to use the app – you can take notes on your phone or tablet from the app. Yeah, it’s pretty fun! 4 – Plan ahead for your personal needs. There is plenty of food on site – vendors, sit down places, variety. But maybe bring some snack bars or energy bars. And if you are thinking about saving money, some of the hotels include breakfast in your registration (be sure to check!) but many hotels have refrigerators in the room so bring things for meals. There is a grocery store nearby or you could use one of the many food delivery apps to have food delivered to you (yeah, there is a delivery fee and you have to sign up for most). But I brought breakfast foods so that I didn’t have to go out early – I could relax over breakfast in my room (PB&J is easy to bring, as is tea!).
Don’t take it just from me! Here’s a video from our RootsTech hosts about what to think about: The Road to RootsTech
There is also an option to check out some of the content from home – it’s really better to come there, but if you can’t, explore this option: Virtual Roots Tech! VERY reasonably priced, you get great content and you can learn from home. Saves on travel, hotel costs while also giving you access to experts and subjects that are of interest. There are 18 recorded sessions for only $129! A great value!
Hope to see you there – but if you buy the Virtual Pass, watch in the background! Maybe you’ll see me waving!! And watch here during the event, as I will be posting that week about what I’m hearing, seeing and learning as well is pictures of people I meet and the fun we are all having. If you attend, reach out via cell phone/mobile app – I may be with the GeneaBloggers Tribe, the Archives of Michigan, in the Ambassadors area, or around the exhibit hall – let’s meet up!