The Log Cabin Chronicles

David Lepitre


You asked us

What do items in old newspapers that say things like, I have given to my son the remainder of his minority, mean?

Years ago when things were rotten, a parent was entitled to all the earnings of his minor child. A minor child was one under the age of twenty one years. If the child should refuse to turn over his earnings to the parent, the employer of the child may be notified and be compelled to pay the parent only. This was called right to earnings. However the parent may make free his child from all obligations to himself and allow the child to collect his own wages and do for himself. When a parent thus makes public such a declaration, he cannot thereafter collect the child's wages. These declarations often appeared in newspapers to make them public.

Children had no right to leave home without the permission of the parent and should a child run away he or she could be brought back by force. It could be very embarrassing on your wedding night, should you not have reached your 21st birthday, to be dragged home by Dad and Mom who needed you to work at home or who missed your wages more than they did you. Also it seems that the child was obliged by law to support parents if it could be proven that they were not able to support and or care for themselves.

Funeral records

Over the years I have been told by family history researchers that older funeral records are next to useless for genealogical research. They feel that recent records seem to be richer in information but those old ones.

Many of the early records are not always as detailed as you would like but they are not devoid of clues for the savvy researcher. Even the entries made in daybook fashion have material of interest. There is always the death date, the name, and a short list of what was purchased. The credit side of the page often gives a major clue to the financial position of the deceased. Some records show that cows and calves and chickens and cars were put up as payment. Entries for travelling expenses, embalming, minister, and flowers all mean something.

What do they mean? The obvious information is the name and date of death of the deceased. If this person was new to the area or visiting when death occurred, a church record may not exist for his or her death. The funeral record then becomes more important. If a trip coming or going is not listed as an expense, the deceased must have lived in easy reach of the Undertaker. They charged for having to travel and still do.

The mention of a trip or travelling expense or express charges means that the remains were brought from or taken to somewhere. If the location of the final resting place is a mystery to the researcher, the "to" destination suggests a place of burial or final deposition. If the place of death is missing from your files and your local Digger O'Dell has recorded a charge for transport or removal from "X" a death record should/may exist in that location.

When the name of a small town or city comes before the person's name the bill for services was probably sent to the town or village mentioned. Often people that could not afford to pay their family's funeral expenses were looked after by the village in which they lived. If this is the situation you have a clue to follow up in the town records.

An entry for "Baby XYZ" and a minimal fee for services and casket, would suggest the death of an infant or very small child or a stillborn. Many Protestant children were not baptized at birth so this death record may also be proof of their existence no matter how brief.

The mention of $5 or $10 being given to the Reverend Mr. X on behalf of the family provides a clue to the church that the late parishioner belonged to.

Its a bummer when married women lose their identity at marriage. They become a compliment to their husband and nearly disappear in the records. The funeral person is not the only culprit in this misrepresentation. Burial monuments, newspaper notices and other records often fail to give the maiden names of wives. But when the "funeral man" recorded a different surname for the cemetery plot or for the person making payment for his services you have another name to work with. Young brides that died early in the marriage, usually after complications from the birth of the first child, often were buried in her family's plot.

Funeral Home records, even the less detailed ones, can be a source of information. If you are lucky and find a "home" where the firm recorded every detail you are in genealogical heaven.

Some helpful information for Genealogical Researchers in Stanstead

Unlike most of North America, registration of births, marriages and deaths were not done by the town clerks in Quebec. (There are a few exceptions) The clergy have been responsible for this work until recently. Church records are available in two places. All branches of les Archives nationales du Québec or ANQ (Quebec National Archives) have a copy on microfilm and the second is the permanent record to be found in each church office. Some churches have turned their older records over to other repositories or special collections. There are some restrictions to your access because of our Privacy Laws but on the whole there is a lot of information to be had. Certified copies for legal purposes must be purchased from Quebec. Proper request forms are available and recommended.

The registration of wills, marriage contracts, land transactions and other notarized documents is done at Quebec's regional registration offices called les Bureau de la publicité des droits.

Other legal documents can be found in the district courthouse.

Cemetery offices, with a few exceptions, are in the homes of whoever is secretary or president.

Your Native American Ancestry

In the space of a few weeks we received four requests for information about the vital records of North American Indians that would have lived in our area. There have been scattered questions about our indigenous peoples mixed in with the queries that we have received in the past, however because of the increased interest in this subject it may be best to answer them in the column.

Most of the questions are similar to these; who were the Native Americans in your area and am I related to them? My great grandmother came from your area. She was supposed to be an Indian. Was she? Can you tell me the names of the Indian churches and cemeteries and any native organizations and their addresses in your area.

The first question makes you wonder what the submitter has in mind. Most Natives not living on a reserve are mixed in with everyone else. With a few exceptions, their names do not identify them as Amerindians. They lived and worked like everyone else. Their contemporaries may have known their origins but unless they drew attention to the fact that they were Indian in response to the census taker or something like that, it will be difficult for a researcher to tell. The best way I can think of to find out if your ancestors were Natives is to complete your genealogical research in the normal way, start with what you know, yourself and work backwards. If you find a record that states your lines are native your question has been answered. If you do not find the proof you desire the next step would be to take your completed genealogy and compare the names you have with the various records at the National Archives of Canada. Quebec has only been involved with Amerindians since the 1960's. (pg. 3, The Amerindians and Inuit in Today's Québec, ISBN 2-550-26535-1 Gouvernment du Québec, 1992). The 1986 federal census indicates some 40,000 people in Québec identify themselves as Native Americans. According to the NAC in their booklet, Tracing Your Ancestors in Canada, Record Group 10 contains documents accumulated by the old British Indian Department, some dating back to the mid-eighteen century and of the various agencies that have been responsible for Indian Affairs since Confederation. Information of genealogical value is relatively uncommon in the early years. Native peoples were generally enumerated in the census returns, particularly in eastern Canada. They go on to say that Record Group 10 and 85 contain information of interest to genealogist but are subject to the Access to Information and Privacy Acts. When this booklet was completed (printed in 1992) the NAC had one professional genealogist on their list that specialized in Indian genealogy. Not finding your ancestor on the government rolls will make your task more difficult.

In areas like ours, where there was not a sizable native population in one spot like a reserve, there would not be one church specifically for them and I am not aware of any one cemetery set a side exclusively for them. In general when the country's original inhabitants seemingly gave up their own religions and took up those of the Europeans they chose the one so fervently offered by their allies. The natives siding with the French became Roman Catholic. These church records do show, contrary to what the present Québec government wishes you to believe, that French settlers and natives married. Native to native marriages are also listed. The marriages of successive generations of these early mixed families do not show a notation about their Indian origins as the first generation did. They became part of the church and the church became part of their culture. The Protestant church records may show native marriages but I have not seen an example from our area.

There are archives on some of the reserves. We are told that they are quite busy and that it takes a very long time to get a response.One native researcher explained that the rush to prove Indian heritage in order to take advantage of specialCanadian tax laws has created this backlog. This may explain why we have received the increase in this type of query.

The best advice that I can offer someone looking up their Indian ancestors is:

1. Complete your genealogy as far as you can on all lines.

2. Check your known ancestors on the appropriate Canadian censuses. Many Indians not on reserves have listed themselves as aboriginal peoples. 3. Check your lines with the reserve archives closest to you or for the nation that you feel you are descended from. For the Abenakis Nation the reserves are at Odanak and W˘linak (Bécancour); Huron-Wendat Nation -- Wendake; and the Mohawk Nation - Akwesasne, Kahnawake and Kanesatake. These are the closest ones to our area. Your ancestor could be a member of any one of the ten Amerindian or the one Inuit nations recognized by the present government.

4. If you still have problems take your genealogy to a native researcher and submit it to his or her trained eye.

5. We assume that family oral tradition has lead you to believe that your bloodline or co-bloodlines are Amerindian. Try to get as much information from older family members as you can. Write down these answers or better yet record the question and answer session on video or audio tape. There may be other clues that can be found in these tapes by a more practised ear. Take any photos you may have of the ancestors in questions to show the native researcher or archivist.

It is possible that some of your native ancestors may have made an effort not to stand out as Indians. They may have actually tried to hide the fact. It could be a difficult ancestry to prove but finding yourself a descendant of the country's first people will be your reward. We would like to hear from anyone who has been successful doing such a search in our area.

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