My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 110 Words: O for Ostiguy

Have you ever heard of Philomène Ostiguy dit Domingue? Born in 1843, in Saint-Mathias, Québec, she was better known as “Captain Phil”—being the first American woman to be licensed as a pilot and master for steamboat navigation in 1877. Her first husband, Louis Daniels, operated the daily ferry The Water Lilly between Vergennes and Westport, NY, while she ran excursion trips on her steamboat The Victor on Lake Champlain, and Otter Creek. She even transported wealthy passengers from Vergennes to New York City for a night at the opera! After her husband’s death, she carried on with the family business, The Daniels Boat Line. She died in 1929.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: N for Naturalization

Did you know that petitions for naturalization filed in Vergennes Court are available on Family Search (1848-1906)? Although the information provided is rather scarce for the earlier years, it gives an indication of how long your ancestor was in Vermont—or in the United States, as the immigrant had to be a resident for five years—one in the state where he petitioned. Once becoming a US citizen, that individual was granted the right to vote, to hold public office, and to buy land from the government—when a man, citizenship was extended to his wife and children too.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: M for Military

If you are looking for a French Canadian ancestor in Vermont, there is one website not to be overlooked especially if he lived during the Civil War era. Tom Ledoux’s Vermont in the Civil War is a real gem. You must check if your ancestor’s name is listed in this database—even if you are convinced it is useless. If you do find him, besides information on his age, military service and pension, you will learn if his name is associated with various Vermont towns (birth, enlistment, death, or burial). Additional information might include a gravestone picture. Definitely a must!


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: L for Lebonte

When looking for French Canadians in Vermont, all sources have to be considered. I am thinking here of town history books from the 19th century—mug books as they’re called. You might think that only Americans would be featured in these. Well, such is not the case. Without the history of Addison County, how would I know that:

“Jo. Lebonte, a noted character in Vergennes, lived opposite the present schoolhouse, southeasterly, had been a servant for Colonel Wells, and was famous for his witticisms and oddities. He had a large family. Mrs. January is the only one remaining in Vergennes.”


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: K for King

Although I am working on French Canadians mainly living in Northern Addison County, I must keep in mind that boundaries between counties were easily crossed by our ancestors. Just north of the town of Ferrisburgh was the village of East Charlotte, in Chittenden County, where there was a Catholic Church—Our Lady of Mount Carmel—as early as 1858. However, that would not stop Oliver King (Roy), wife Eleonora Dufresne, and their children—nor any fellow French Canadians who lived in North Ferrisburgh—to attend this church as they were closer to East Charlotte than to Vergennes St. Peters Church.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: J for January

Mitchell January—Janvier in Québec—was living in Vergennes at least since 1833 when he married Louise Labonté, daughter of Joseph Labonté and Élizabeth Rock. They will have 13 children. He died between 1870 and 1880. But unfortunately for us, unless you were an important figure in town, obituaries were uncommon at that time. Was Madelin January, deceased in Vergennes in 1870, at age 95, his mother? In that case he could be Michel Deschenaux dit Janvier, born in Trois-Rivières in 1808, son of Michel Deschenaux dit Janvier and Madeleine Bodin dit Benoît. Definitely an interesting path to follow.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: I for Imbleau

Jean-Baptiste Imbleau—or John Amblo, as he was known in Vermont—was born in Trois-Rivières, Québec, in 1813. He is one of the earlier French Canadian settlers of Vergennes, where he also married Susan Oak in 1836. She died in 1842 and was buried in the Vergennes Burying Ground. She is one of the few people whose tombstone still stands today. Did John come to Vergennes with his widowed father? At least, we are sure he came with some of his siblings since many of them were sponsors at his children’s baptisms. John died in 1901 in Vergennes.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: H for History

Passion for genealogy often rhymes with history. What I like most about working on my Vermont Project is definitely what I can learn while researching. You may know about American and Quebec history timelines, but the story is quite different when it comes to remote localities. You need to dip into the regional, political, and cultural history. For instance, I was baffled when I read about the Ku Klux Klan targeting French Canadians in New England—including Vermont—in the 1920s because they were Catholics. And who would have thought that so many French Canadians fought in the Civil War?


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: G for Genealogy

Genealogy has many faces. For some, it might simply be to find their paternal ancestor. For others, searching for all their ancestors becomes a never-ending quest. As for me, curiosity and passion led me to investigate. While working on my Hubou line, I located some living in Ferrisburgh and Vergennes, Vermont. While they didn’t stay for long—just a few years—I must say I stuck around, interested in what happened to some of their relatives and neighbours. I am fortunate enough not to live too far from Vermont and thus being able to visit once in a while.


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My 2018 French ChallengeAZ in 100 Words: F for Ferrisburgh

The town of Ferrisburgh—sometimes spelled Ferrisburg—is located in the northwest corner of Addison County. It was founded on June 24, 1762. The 1850 census tells us that if a few French Canadians were iron smiths, shoemakers, farmers, or cabinet makers, most of them were labourers. Starting in 1834, the Catholics were served by priests from the churches of St. Mary’s and St. Joseph’s of Burlington. In the mid-fifties, they had access to St. Peter’s of Vergennes and to Our Lady of Mount Carmel of East Charlotte—neighbouring town in Chittenden County. Others turned to other Christian denominations.


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