December 31, 2010

2010 in Review - The Year When Brick Walls Came Tumbling Down

In all of the years I've done research, this was one of the most exciting as far as brick walls go. 

Brick wall #1

On January 20, 2010, I wrote the following blog:

Raquel (Rachel) De Castillo born 1891

Raquel De Castillo was my great aunt through marriage.  She married my grandmother Arthémise Dumais Levesque's brother Napoleon Dumais. What I have been finding is that Napoleon used the surname Dumas rather than Dumais or the census enumerator misspelled the name.

This morning I found them in a 1920 Federal Census living in Lawrence, Massachusetts.  It tells me that they married in Cuba, were in Lawrence for the birth of their first child, returned to Cuba where three more children were born and were back in Lawrence for the birth of their last two children. 

My mother often spoke of "ma tante Rachel" (aunt Rachel) and she loved her dearly.  No one seems to know what became of them and my mother's first cousins (in their high 80s and 90s) believe they returned to Cuba at some point.  It was thanks to them that just a few years ago I learned that Raquel was married to Napoleon.  Until then, I had no idea how my family was related to her.

If anyone has information on this family, I would love to hear from you.

One June afternoon the phone rang and the call was coming in my Florida.  I was very busy and almost did not answer thinking it might be a telemarketer.  After the third ring, I decided to pick up so this "telemarketer" would continue to call - what a great decision!  The person at the other end said "my name is Adriana Blanco - I am a great granddaughter of Raquel Del Castillo.  A brick wall going back many years when my mother used to talk about Raquel had come down. 

Brick wall #2:

Almost since I began my family research I had been digging for the birth/baptismal record for Georges Dumais who was my great grandfather on my mother's side.  By the way, he was the father of Napoleon who had married Raquel Del Castillo.  All of my great grandfather's siblings were baptized in the parish of St-André, Kamouraska, Quebec, Canada so I totally expected to find his baptism there as well.  For years I scoured that parish register and other registers for Kamouraska but could not find this record at all.  

On January 21st, 2010, I was searching on through Family Tree Maker when I saw a baptism for a Georges Dumais in the parish of Saint-Georges-de-Cacouna, Rivière-du-Loup, Quebec, Canada.  I thought I may as well check it out.  This was indeed Georges' baptismal record!  I could not believe it and such an exciting find that I doubted anything could top this.  The only thing I could figure regarding his baptism in Rivière-du-Loup rather than Kamouraska was that perhaps because he was being baptized "Georges" it was decided to go to the church of St-Georges..just a wild guess but who knows. 

Brick wall #3: 

When in my early twenties, my father told me the names of his parents who had died when he was young.  Since then I had searched for birth, marriage and death and burial records.  I had never been able to find my grandfather, Damien LeBlanc's death and burial records.  On October 20th, 2010 I decided to search through but all I could find were census records.  This time it occurred to me how many times I had seen my grandfather's name as Daniel in censuses.  I always made the correction on Ancestry believing that either the enumerators or the transcribers had made an error.  That night when I went to bed a huge light went on and I sat up straight in bed!  I remembered that when I had gone to the City Clerk's office in Lawrence, Massachusetts to search through index cards of deaths that in my notebook I had written the death of Daniel LeBlanc in February 1913.  Well 1913 was the year my grandfather disappeared from Lawrence City Directories so I decided I would take a look at that notebook next morning.  The death date I'd noted was 16 February 1913.  I then went on the Mormon's site which at the time was a "pilot" site.  I typed in the name Daniel LeBlanc and bingo!  Up popped not only the name, date and place of death but there was a digital copy of the actual death record that I was able to download and print.  My grandmother had pre-deceased him so the person giving the information at the time of his death stated the names of his parents so I knew without a doubt this was my grandfather Damien.

Later mentioning this to a well known research in New Brunswick, Canada which is where these grandparents came from, I was told that many Acadian men with the name of Damien change their given name to Daniel - how I wish I'd know that sooner!  Nonetheless, another wall came down.

After finding this record, I decided to look my grandmother's death certificate on the same site.  I knew her date of death but did not yet have her certificate.  Sure enough, a digital copy was on the Mormon site and I now have that one also.  So this was somewhat of a double whammy and I didn't think things could be better.  I was wrong!

Brick wall #4+

I found so many records on the site this month alone that I call of it #4+ of brick walls as it consists of records that I never expected to find and some surprises that I did find.

I had never been able to find the marriage record for my aunt (my father's half sister) Genevieve "Jennie" LeBlanc.  About ten years ago I met a long lost cousin who was the son of another of my father's sisters - he told me that Jennie had married a fellow by the name of Miller.  Again, thanks to the site I now have Jennie's marriage certificate of marriage to John Miller.  My cousin also told me they had three children who died young.  Now have the three birth and death certificates. On this great Mormon site I have also found death certificates for on of my uncles who drowned in the Merrimack River at the age of 9.  My finds just go on an on and I could not be happier.

Some of the surprises:  finding birth and death records for aunts, uncles and cousins I'd never heard of before.  Children who died either at birth or shortly thereafter that no one ever mentioned.  

We always have more brick walls but 2010 was a great year of finds as you can see.  I always tell people to never give up the search no matter what.  The records I have found are proof of that because you never know how, where or when your long search will culminate in success.  I have always believed that our ancestors are waiting to be found. 

I encourage you to try - it is free. Happy hunting! 

N.B.  Now I have another mystery to solve.  On my grandfather Damien/Daniel LeBlanc's death record is the name Mrs. Pierre LeBlanc - she is the one who gave information regarding my grandfather's parents etc.  I've no idea who she was but I will certainly be trying to find information about her.

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Lucie's Legacy
Lucie LeBlanc Consentino


Heather Rojo said...

This was one of my favorite posts last year. I love the photo, too!

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you Heather. That one is certainly high on my "favorites"!

Happy New Year!


Nolichucky Roots said...

Wow! A grand year indeed. I'm going to have to really focus on FamilySearch - once I finish my year of organizing. Something to look forward to. So glad 2010 was so successful for you.

Lucie LeBlanc Consentino said...

Thank you has been a bumper year! is a really terrific site - and it is free.