Saturday, July 1, 2017

Cousins in the Age of Genealogy

As we mature, the past may seem to hold a promise of insight, perhaps even offering some template of wisdom. Ancestors occasionally even reward us for tending their bones by making us seem young again, at least, by comparison. At best, our forebears remind us that we live out the history of tomorrow today — being each the very stuff of life, just as they once were.

Cousin Codex
1660s Nicolas Denys envisioned in St. Peter's, Acadia
Artist: Lewis Parker  (Image courtesy Warren Gordon.)

History travels with all of us, in the genes that we carry along, like a matched set of luggage, maybe a little bulkier than we can manage, at times; yet, each case may be necessary to our comfort, being packed with our valuables — even keeping safe our family treasures. Anyone who has lost their travel luggage may appreciate, as well, the loss of genetic baggage, and its potential to dislodge entire generations, especially common during embattled times.

A chronicler's craft, too, may run deep in the blood. Les Notaires, whose explorer tracks are retraced, both humble and encourage the scribbling of scribes.

Mundus Novus

Great-Unclex9 Nicolas Denys arrived, in 1632, to the eastern edge of the great Turtle Island, when it was still known to its native people as Taqamkuk.

Commemorative plaque
Place René Descartes
Close contemporaries of the philosopher René Descartes, Great-Uncle Nic and his brother, Simon Denys de La Trinité (who would become my ancestor), accompanied 7th cousinx6 Isaac de Razilly, helping to usher colonialism into the New World. Another eventual 7th cousinx9, the notorious Cardinal Richelieu, had directed Razilly to Acadia, where Nicolas Denys would later succeed him as Governor, 1657-1670.

Great-Uncle Scribe
Gov. Nicolas Denys
c. 1850
Known to his native friends and associates as "Great Beard," Denys was burned out of Acadia by Charles Baye de La Giraudière in 1668, after having been legally ousted by Denys for his attempt to establish an inshore fishery at Chedabouctou during the previous year. Trapped in a harsh winter, Nicolas Denys, Marguerite Lafitte, and their children, subsisted on the wheat left in a barn, the single structure not burnt of his home and business.

In dire financial straits, the 70-year-old Acadian settler and explorer then penned the seminal geographic guide to North America, returning to his native France for publication in two volumes, thus demonstrating for future generations that it's never too late to write a bestseller.

Ganong Brothers 1895
Walter and Edwin (standing)
William and Arthur (seated)
A very distant 18th cousinx6, historian and cartographer William Francis Ganong, too, bears inclusion, since it was this highly-regarded professor of Botany at Smith College, Massachusetts, who later undertook translation of the narratives of Great-Uncle Nicolas Denys. The deep sense of culture and place that they shared united the two historically, more so than any distant blood tie. In the course of his work, Ganong gained knowledge of several languages, including Maliseet and Mi'kmaq, while widening our understanding of his native New Brunswick.

David Ganong #Canada150 Ambassador / Twitter Canada Day 2017

The eldest of seven children, William's father, James H. Ganong and his uncle, Gilbert W. Ganong, had, in 1873, founded Ganong Brothers, where they perfected chocolate confections, created the country's first lollipops and lozenges, and introduced the now-classic heart-shaped box to help fulfill the aims of Cupid and commerce. The chocolatier is now touted as "Canada’s oldest independently family owned and operated chocolate company."

Genealogists Among Us

Cousin Codex
Cyprien Tanguay
The genealogical writings of 5th  cousinx5 Cyprien Tanguay remain a source of reference to millions. His vast work did omit a thing or two, however, including a little-known family event. Tanguay's second cousin, Louise Guyon D'Amours, widow of my first cousinx10, Mathieu D'Amours, had, in 1703, co-authored scandal for both families when she birthed a baby boy fathered by my very married great-unclex7 and Acting Governor of Acadia, Simon-Pierre Denys de Bonnaventure — providing yet another source of intrigue for a later date.

Joseph Drouin
Picking up where Tanguay left off was 6th cousinx3Joseph Drouin, founder of what would become the Drouin Genealogical Institute. His son, Gabriel, followed in his footsteps, first, as an attorney, then, later, by carrying on the work of cataloging our shared ancestry. While they haven't revealed themselves to be related as yet, Drouin's Great-Great-Great-Aunt Marie Drouin was wed to Tanguay's Great-Great-Great-Uncle Pierre Creste, connecting my 6th cousins as 5th cousins-in-law.

René Jetté

Renowned Quebec historian and genealogist René Jetté, was a 7th cousinx2  whose pioneering ancestor, Urbain Jetté, had arrived to the New World with my 5th cousinx11, Paul de Chomeday de La Maisonneuve, the colonial founder of Montréal, and its first Governor.

Mappe Monde

Some related chroniclers have opted for illustrating our world with images, like the columns flanking this blog, borrowed from a 1782 Mappe Monde drawn by mysterious cousin Louis Denis, engraver, and, later, geography tutor, then cartographer, to (9th cousin x7King Louis XVI.

Cousin Codex

Black Sheep Charade

Many more family historians than space allows have grown out our branch's leaves, yet must be shelved, for now, until time permits them to the party. Yet, a list of familial scribes would be quite lacking without the most dubious among us, would-be cousin Frédéric Gregory Forsyth, the self-styled Viscount de Fronsac.

Forsyth's highly disputed genealogy manages to pale in comparison to the infamy well-earned by his founding of the ignoble Aryan Order of America and the College of Arms of Canada, which operated from 1880 to 1937, when Adolph Hitler's growing power belied monstrous genocide.

None have described the travesty of this sordid individual quite so accurately as has the leading scholar of Denys Family research, Yves Drolet:
"From 1878 until his death in 1925, he published more than 30 books and articles in which he speaks at length about the Aryan Order and the College of Arms. Unfortunately, Forsyth was above all a literary man for whom the romanticism of the story took precedence over the truth of facts... a true mythomaniac who constantly reinvented his biography and the history of his movement. Therefore, it becomes imperative to check all his statements against independent sources, consisting mainly of newspaper articles... not easily accessible to researchers as they were not indexed or available through the Internet. In 2014, an article described how Forsyth falsified the genealogy of two families in order to claim a noble ancestry. These studies reveal that Forsyth de Fronsac advocated a monarchist, anti-democratic and racist-tinged ideology." (-Yves Drolet)
Drolet's work is among the most thorough research ever conducted into the family Denys (aka Denis*), providing a key source of information to all Denys researchers. 

Mundus Antiquus

In the family tradition, a new old generation, in turn, undertakes chronicling La Famille  lest the progenitors of our ancestry lose anchor to us, as they have for many, for centuries, becoming lost to our personal histories. As family closets opens, tall tales told true may come to light– each carefully preserved by the work of the many illustrators, cartographers, genealogists, historians and biographers who've come before us. To them, we owe true history.

x3  =  three generations removed
x6  =  six generations removed
x7  =  seven generations removed
 x9  =  nine generations removed
x10  =  ten generations removed
x11  =  eleven generations removed

* Denys aka Denis; Denys de La Ronde aka Denis de La Ronde aka La Ronde aka Laronde aka Delaronde.


  • Description géographique et historique des côtes de l'Amérique septentrionale, avec l'histoire naturelle de ce pays, tome I, Nicolas Denys; chez Claude Barbin, Paris; 1672.
  • The description and natural history of the coasts of North America (Acadia), William Francis Ganong (English version editor); The Champlain Society; Toronto; 1908.
  • The Chocolate Ganongs of St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Ganong Brothers 1895 image, David Folster; St. Stephen, NB; Ganongs, 1999, c1990. p 218 (12) p. of plates: ill; P. 92 © Public Domain. Ganong (TM). nlc-10063. Library and Archives Canada.
  • Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu'à nos jours; by Cyprien Tanguay; Montréal; E. Sénécal; 1871.
  • Dictionnaire genealogique des familles du Quebec; by René Jetté; Presses de l'Universite de Montréal; 1983.
  • Mappe Monde; L. Denis, Illustrator/Publisher; Chez Basset; Paris, 1782.
  • Memorial of the family of Forsyth, by Frederic Gregory Forsyth, Boston, S.J. Parkhill & Company; 1903 
  • From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755', by N.E.S. Griffiths; McGill-Queen's Press; Montreal, Canada, 2005, p.87.
  • The Aryan Order of America and the College of Arms of Canada 1880-1937, by Yves Drolet; Montreal; 2015, p. 6.

Acadia, ancestry, cartography, Cousin-Codex, Delaronde, Denis, Denis-de-La-Ronde, Denys, Ganong, genealogy, Jette, Louis-Denis-cartographer, Laronde, New Brunswick, Nicolas-Denys, Sunny-Clark, Tanguay, Forsyth-Fronsac, Viscount-de-Fronsac, Yves-Drolet, Drouin, Rene-Jette, Les-Notaires, Simon-Denys-de-La-Trinité, Rene-Descartes, Cardinal-Richilieu, Isaac-de-Razilly, Paul-de-Chomeday, Charles-Baye-de-La-Giraudière, Ganong, Drouin-Institute, Urbain-Jetté, Louis-XVI, L-Denis, Chedabouctou, New-Brunswick-history, Simon-Denys-de-Bonnaventure, Mathieu-D'Amours, Louise-Guyon, Pierre-Creste, Marie-Drouin, Aryan-Order-of-America, College-of-Arms-of-Canada, mythomania, Denis-genealogy, Denys-genealogy, Quebec-genealogy, Maritime-genealogy

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