Friday, June 28, 2013

Getting To Know Me

I have always been interested in my ancestry.....where did my ancestors come from?

So, about 10 years ago I set out to find out who they were.

I gathered as much information from family members as possible 
and put that into a good software program that would sort it all
into 'branches'.

I spent one summer going to local graveyards looking for
deceased family to get proper dates of birth/death.

I went on line and looked into local archives and records of deaths
of people with familiar surnames as mine.

During this process I came across 'bulletin boards' online
where people are also looking for family heritage and ancestry.

This proved to be invaluable to me as I contacted a few people 
who were directly related to my family through my great great grandfather
on my father's side, and one that was my maternal grandfather's first cousin.

This latter one lives in New York state and had volumes of information
he sent to me about my mother's father's branch of my family tree.

In the information, I found that my mother's surname, MacIsaac,
was originally Isaac a few hundred years earlier.
It was said that three brothers arrived in what is now Ireland
from the Middle East and spoke Hebrew. Their name was Isaac.

They married into that culture of the time and eventually (in a few generations)
were given the 'Mac' to add to their name Isaac
to become MacIsaac.

This designation was given to them by the MacDonald clan in Scotland
for the help they gave them in fighting the Campbells.
To this day MacIsaac's do not have their own tartan....they use the MacDonald one.

The former 'bulletin board' contact was a woman in Florida
who is a direct descendant of my great great grandfather's sister,
her name was Catherine. His was Theodore Cuvelier.

She had been looking for his grave site and I have been ever since.
He lived most of his life in Halifax and died here.
But his grave cannot be found.....yet.

I know where his wife, Sophia (yes, Sophie's namesake!), is buried
but he is not recorded as being there with her.
So the search continues for Theodore.

He was a character from what information I have gathered:

Left Paris, France in 1850 on a ship heading for New York City.
He worked his way across as a purser. 
He was 25 years old when he arrived in NYC.

From there he joined the U.S. Army and was immediately
sent to fight in the U.S./Mexican War for a year.

Then he deserted the army and headed for Canada.

A year later or so he arrived in Nova Scotia,
met and married a woman of German descent named 
Sophia Knickle.

They had about 14 children and raised them in Halifax.
He was a shoe-maker as were a couple of his sons.
About half of his children moved to the 'States'
and settled there. I have been in touch with one
'Cuvelier' family in Indiana.

So as you can see from my experience digging into
family history, you never know what you will find.

I found out that I have multiple ties and links to a number
of cultures and backgrounds,
French and Scottish being the prime ones.
I also learned of a link to French Acadians
and a Mi'kmaq (native to Atlantic Canada) link as well,
on my maternal grandmother's side.

I was and am fascinated by my discoveries and am still searching for
the 'guy' who deserted the army.
I'd love to sit down with him to 'pick his brain'.


  1. Interesting journey!!
    So, if you were going back to your roots,
    that might land you in Jerusalem!?!
    Who knew????
    The past is certainly intriguing.

    1. You would be correct Bruno! People always mistake me for their 'long-lost' Greek cousin......close I guess.
      I would imagine all our 'journeys' are interesting.

    2. Funny thing would be if some of ancestors had crossed path...
      Stranger things have happened!!

  2. That is very fascinating, Jim! It is so much fun to learn about your roots. My brother is doing the exact same thing starting with my father's side. He is building a family tree and trying to locate descendants. So far, he's managed to discover relatives (albeit very distant!) in different areas of the world...Europe, U.S, Australia, Panama, and so on. It is quite exciting. He also did a DNA test to determine our ancestry. It's all amazing!

    1. It can be a daunting task, Martha. Good for your brother to tackle this. He got a DNA test? I heard about this and am very interested.

  3. I did some digging myself a few years back. My father left home at 18 and never went back. No contact at all with 10 brothers and sister, grandparents and parents. He never even told us their names. After his death I had access to his records and started my search. Finding a Smith in Nottingham was not easy. I did find some links, but it was a time consuming search since records were not all on the internet. After 8 years I found a little missing persons ad and thought it may be the link I needed. And 60 years after he left we found his family. We have met many, had them to stay, and my cousin and I are so alike it's like we were twins.

    It is important to know and preserve your past.

    1. What an amazing story Chania! It is exciting how we can find lost relatives after doing some research. And to find a cousin that is similar to that is magic! How nice for you both.
      I is important to know and keep your past recorded.

  4. very interesting journey-my brother did this on my fathers side and traced us back to England was even a Bolin castle, my mom had researched out her side-which is mostly german she was living on our heritage farm of 175 years or so-was sad to need to sell the home and barns which is the main heritage. we still have the farm land. interesting to learn of our ancestors-I always feel connected to mine

    1. Your own castle! Now that is a find, Kathy! Or should I say Lady Kathy!!
      It must have been difficult to give up parts of your mother's heritage farm house. At least the land is still in the family.

  5. I love hearing family histories! The story about how the MacIsaacs got their name is fascinating! I hope someday you can locate Theodore Cuvelier's grave.

    1. Me too Debra. You know, I grew up with a family across the way and their name was MacIsaac. Their story was when the grandfather arrived in Canada from Lebanon, to be more accepted by society they added Mac to their Isaac surname.
      Oh that Theodore is just being difficult....which I suspect he may have been.

  6. Very interesting and fun! I've always wanted to do that, but I am limited you know. I hope you find Theodore too! I am curious if the rumors of my ancestors are true or which ones are. Heard we come from royal stock... or a horse thief.

    1. Maybe there is more 'out there' than you imagine, Sharon. Never know. Or another family member has done some work already.
      I may never find where Theodore is buried...he was a secretive fellow it seems.
      Well your Majesty I will take my leave....

  7. I think genealogy is fascinating and enjoyable! I am working on my own family tree but have been having some difficulties in some areas. Still, I am grateful for the stuff and people that I have found out about as far as my ancestry goes, and the majority I have discovered on the internet.

  8. Yours is a fascinating story, Jim!

    1. Think so, Lisa?! Thanks. I am sure everybody has a good story to tell about their family ancestry.

  9. Hi Y'all,

    Oh such fun. My Human has part of her family tree, done by an Aunt. She is Scottish. My Human Papa has most all of his relatives for eons laying in local cemeteries. A friend looked up his tree and found the ones who had moved away. My Human Papa is also Scottish. Funny how the two of Scottish ancestry found each other isn't it? Even more strange, perhaps, is that my Human Mama's ancestry is from the coast of the same state my Papa grew up in and Papa from the mountains. They met in another state entirely. Believe in Fate anyone?

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    1. Oh you Scottish like to stick together!! lol Sounds like fate to me!

  10. Genealogy is one of my interests too. I just love history and finding out about the ancestors who lived during certain eras is so fascinating to me.

    1. History has always been my favourite subject/pastime too, Pat.

  11. Best of luck in your search. Jim. I have used It's free, and I found what I was looking for.

    1. Will do, Terry! I'll check that site out and see if Theodore pops up! Figuratively speaking of course!! lol

  12. That's all so interesting. The Hurricane looked up some cool genealogical information a couple of years ago. I learned that my dad's paternal grandparents were first cousins, and I have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War (for the Union, thank goodness).


    1. American history can be so interesting Janie especially with the Civil War right in the middle!

  13. What an interesting family history! It's very much like being a detective isn't it? All the little and big jewels of family information that can be discovered with the click of the mouse are amazing!

    Did Theo die at sea? Just wondering if that's why his body isn't in a traditional cemetery?

    And Jim, I just know somewhere back there we have a drop of common French Acadian blood!

    1. I am sure we are Jen! PEI is a small place location and when you get those Scots and Acadians together!! You know what could happen!! lol

      Theo was a real scoundrel I think (II can't base that on anything but got a hunch) so he was probably 'incognito' till the end and didn't want to leave any traces for those Americans to find him!! lol


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