Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mystery Update - Lingua Latina

I want to report an update to the mystery of how Pierre Frazier relates to our family (see previous post), but first I need to comment on an additional "complication" which I had known about from my previous research in old German records but had since forgotten about. And that is this: some old church records, especially the farther you go back in time, and especially if they were Catholic, WERE WRITTEN IN LATIN! So just when you can deal with:
  1. another language using words and/or abbreviations that may or may not exist any more, and
  2. old script handwriting which can be incredibly difficult to read because
    • some/most letters of the alphabet were not written then as they might be today
    • the writer was simply messy with a quill pen
    • the photographer either didn't focus or overexposed the microfilm
    • the paper these records were written on is simply disintegrating after 300+ years of elemental exposure, never mind a long and violent history of wars on the European continent.
So why should I complain when the old European records I'm researching suddenly start showing up in a dead language? Researching in this day and age is a miracle any way, so no complaints!

Even with the adjustments for reading difficulties, I was still coming up empty when I again decided to hunt around the French google results and found this website. This site does apparently charge money to view specific results, but when searching the surname DELLE, the limited search results listed a year of birth, marriage, or death, which is at least something to go on! So I started looking for DELLE male names who were born close to the time of Jeanne D'Elle who married Pierre Frazier. Given that Jeanne was born around 1662, there were three possibilities:
  • Pierre D'Elle, born 1663, but he was born to Jean D'Elle and Catharine Blonde (LaBlonde). According to the index, this couple married in 1660.
  • Nicolas D'Elle, born 1655.
  • Jean D'Elle, born 1659. 
Once I finally realized that the names being recorded in the records were ALSO Latinized, and thanks to this website which helped me realize that I was looking for the Latin names of "Nicolai" for Nicolas and "Joannis" for Jean, I started searching the church records of Saâcy-sur-Marne, and finally came upon the baptism records for both Nicolas and Jean, both children of Nicolas D'Elle and Nicole Candas, who are magically also the parents of Jeanne D'Elle who married Pierre Frazier. So now we have found not one, but two brothers of Jeanne D'Elle, one of whom could be the father of our Jeanne who married Jean Coquigne.

The problem is that we don't know if there were other sons in the Nicolas/Nicole D'Elle family, which there likely could have been. Of the two sons we now know about, they both would have been very young to have been the father of our Jeanne D'Elle who was born around 1675, which is itself still an open issue since I have yet to locate Jeanne's actual birth or marriage record.  Research goes on!

So I post here the clues found to date. As always, please feel free to contact me with any feedback.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mystery Cousin: Pierre Frazier

Ok ok, in the last week, we have managed to not only establish the exact time and place in France where our Coquigne immigrants came from, but we have taken the whole family tree back an additional FOUR generations with our earliest known relation being born about 1670. This should be called a job well done, and let's call it done, and Amen. But aren't there always just a few niggling details that remain unanswered? And aren't those just the things that entice me to keep looking just a little bit more.

The current mystery has to do with our earliest relations, namely Jean Coquigne (1670-1744) and Jeanne D'Elle (1675-1737). First we must note a correction in the maiden name of our 7th g-grandmother. Her son Pierre's marriage record indicates her maiden name was DAIX, but all the other baptism and marriage records of her children, as well as her own death record indicate a maiden name of D'ELLE (sometimes DELLE).

Second, I couldn't help noticing that the godfather of Jean & Jeanne's son Pierre was somebody named Pierre Frazier. This Pierre Frazier was noted as a witness on the death record of Pierre Coquigne, as well as on the death records of the parents Jean & Jeanne. What's curious is that on the death record of the parents, Pierre Frazier is noted as a cousin. To BOTH Jean Coquigne and Jeanne D'Elle? hmmmmm.

Well, let's just say that I've now burned quite a few midnight hours staring at the old French parish records. The first known child of Jean & Jeanne was born in 1697, so I thought if I worked backward from there I would find Jean & Jeanne's marriage record, but so far not yet. Also the death records of both Jean & Jeanne indicate their approximate age at death, so I searched through the derived years when they might have been born, and still nada. Maybe it's time to post this mystery as unsolved and hope that somebody else out there might have a clue.

But then I remembered the magic of Google is country-specific, which is to say that when we search Google in America, we are getting, for most part, American results. If you access the French version of Google, you will get entirely different results. Cool. So a search of French Google for "généalogie" and "Coqugine" brought me to a website that publishes French family trees, and lets them be viewed FOR FREE! Merci! A search of FRAZIER didn't present any obvious connections, but I noticed that some people of this name could be found in Saâcy-sur-Marne, Reuil-en-Brie, and Chamigny. I resisted this information for awhile, mostly because I just got my brain used to searching in Jouarre, but now I'm supposed to expand my searching to all these other locations? Maybe I'll try just one....

And so knowing that Mystery Pierre Frazier was last seen alive at the death of Jean Coquigne in 1744, and figuring that if Pierre was a cousin, he must be roughly the same age, I started searching forward from 1744 in Saâcy-sur-Marne for a death of anybody named Pierre. When I got to 1750, I said "this is the last year I'm going to check" and then of course, there he was. You can view the death record here.

The death record said that Pierre was "about" 70 years old, and so cross-referencing with other French family trees, I was able to find Pierre's birth as 10 Jul 1683 in Reuil-en-Brie. His parents were Nicolas Frazier and Jeanne D'Elle! So Pierre's mother must have had a brother who had a daughter named Jeanne D'Elle who married our Jean Coquigne. And for Pierre Frazier to be a cousin to both Jeanne D'Elle and Jean Coquigne, then Pierre's so-far-unnamed uncle D'Elle must have married a Coquigne!

Ok ok, way too complicated? Maybe. It's probably a good thing that I like both puzzles and challenges! In any case, I've searched up and down for our Jeanne D'Elle's parents and suffice it to say, the search goes on. Stay tuned for any updates.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Kissin' Cousins

Am I allowed to say OMG in a blog post?

Well, here's what comes from staying up way too late into the night trying to make sure that maternal relations are just as accounted-for as the paternals. Everything I am about to write is still mostly speculation, which is to say there is some suggestive evidence to support my hypothesis, but not nearly as much as I'd like to have. So let me say right up front that research, as always, is ongoing.

Now you can sound the trumpet, but just moderately please. It would appear that my ggg-grandparents, Pierre F. Coquigne and Cecile Huvier, were fourth cousins! To be fourth cousins, two people must have the same ggg-grandparents in common. The following table shows Pierre F. and Cecile in the last row. The blue column shows Pierre's lineage, and the pink column shows Cecile's lineage. Each row moving up from the bottom shows the previous generation and the name of the relation that we are tracing, be it the father or mother, who makes the next level of cousin connection. Looking at Cecile, for example, her mother was Marie Ann Bouquet, whose father was Pierre Bouquet, and his mother was Jeanne Coquigne, and her father was Christophe who was a brother of Jean Coquigne. See?

Unknown Coquigne + ???
gg-grandparent Jean Coquigne Christophe Coquigne
g-grandparent Pierre Coquigne Jeanne Coquigne
grandparent Jean Pierre Coquigne Pierre Bouquet
parent Francois Coquigne Marie Anne Bouquet
husband and wife Pierre Francois Coquigne Cecile Huvier

And what's even crazier is that we can say all this without having any idea who the ggg-grandparents were!

How do we know that Jean and Christophe were brothers?  Well, that's the million-dollar question.  We have the death records for both men - Jean died in 1744 at the age of 74, making his birth about 1670, and Christophe died in 1733 at the age of 65, making his birth about 1668, making the two men close enough in age to be brothers. But now we are really stretching the availability of either marriage records or baptism records that go back so early. I'm still digging, but suffice it to say there are entire stretches of time where the earliest parish registers have torn or damaged pages, making the information either lost or unreadable. I still have some hope of finding these records, but the hope is slim given that my eyesight seems to be suffering from so much strain lately.

However, there are a couple of clues which might allow us to lean in the direction that Jean and Christophe could have been brothers.
  • On Jean's death record, Charles Mauville was listed as a nephew. Christophe Coquigne had a daughter, Marie Francoise, who married a Charles Mauville, and yes, they had a son named Charles.
  • Just for fun, I decided to check the marriage record of Marie Francoise Coquigne and Charles Mauville. Not only was Christophe Coquigne listed as her father, but Jean Coquigne was also listed as her uncle.  Ta da.
So that's my quasi-discovery. Even without the baptism or marriage records of Jean and Christophe Coquigne to explicitly confirm their parentage, it would appear Jean and Christophe were brothers, thus making my ggg-grandparents fourth cousins. And just in case we have any judgments about whether that marriage should be "acceptable", here is a story that suggests cousin marriages might not be such a bad thing.

And if there's still room for poo-poo-ing, let's not forget that FDR and Eleanor Roosevelt were fifth cousins!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Mexico, New York!

The information passed down to us says the Coquigne family came to America around 1832, first settling in New York state.  But the question has always been Where in New York?  The obituary of Louisa C. Coquigne Larobardiere says that the family settled near Syracuse, New York.  This would make sense to me because Syracuse was actually a stop along the Erie Canal, which opened in 1825. This would also agree with the family story which says that John B. Coquigne rode a horse along the old Erie Canal when he was a boy.

But still, I have not been able to find one piece of documentation that places the Coquigne family in New York. So I started looking for the Larobardiere family because around 1838, the oldest daughter of Pierre F. and Cecile Coquigne, Louisa Constance Coquigne, married Francois Larobardiere. They had three children in New York, namely Mary Louisa, Cecelia, and Joseph. In 1844, both the Coquigne family and the Francis Larobardiere family migrated to Michigan. In fact, the family story is that Louisa had her fourth child, Ora, while on the way there!

So where do the Larobardiere's come from?  It appears they came from Imling, Moselle, Lorraine, France, which is close to Strasbourg and not exactly near where the Coquigne's had lived near Paris, so it doesn't seem likely that the two families knew each other in Europe. Nevertheless, Joseph Louis Larobardiere did make his way to New York, and in 1836 he purchased property in Mexico, Oswego, New York. Mexico is a town about 35 miles north of Syracuse, and just east of Oswego, which is on Lake Ontario. In fact, there was a small branch off the Erie Canal called the Oswego Canal, which you can see in this 1840 map (credit to wikepedia).

In researching the Larobardiere family a little more, I found that later generations who stayed in New York married into the Bequillard family. Thanks to a fabulous biography written by Esther Rancier about Jacques Bequillard, we get a wonderful picture of what it was like for arriving French immigrants to the area:
"When the group reached Syracuse, the canal boats were usually met by a person who spoke French with an Alsace-Lorraine accent. They heard about the wonderful pasturage, the climate much like home and fair leases for the land. Whether they wanted to settle in Oswego County or were just tired of the journey remains unknown, but this Catholic family went to inspect the area.

Whether they arrived before the Catholic Church at Mexico, NY, St. Ann’s was built in 1845 or later, they found a population of fellow Catholics primarily from Alsace-Lorraine. They stayed on content with familiar sights and sounds of home."
So there are several questions to pose here, some of which include:
  • Did the Coquigne's also live in Mexico, or were they living in or closer to Syracuse?
  • Did the families simply meet because the Coquigne's were doing business with other French families along the Oswego Canal?
  • Were the Coquigne's at that point in time practicing Catholics? I believe the Larobardiere's were because Joseph L. Larobardiere who died in 1849 was buried in the St. Anne's Catholic cemetery in Mexico, as are several other Larobardiere's of later generations. But if St. Anne's was not established until 1845 (research on this point is ongoing), where would Francois and Louisa have been married? And were their three children baptized as Catholics somewhere in the area?
The question of religion as relates to the Coquigne family is perhaps the subject of a different post.  Let's just say the Coquigne's were definitely Catholic when living in France, and they were definitely NOT Catholic when they lived in Michigan. My feeling is that the Coquigne family paid taxes to the Catholic Church for generations in France since the Church was the biggest landowner before the French Revolution. And even though the Church lost most of its lands after the Revolution, much of its authority was reinstated after Napoleon.  I am completely speculating here, but perhaps the Coquigne family had had enough of Catholic influence in their lives.  That part is just my wondering at this point.

So the question here remains can we find a marriage record for Francois Larobardiere and Louisa Coquigne, and should we be looking through Catholic records?  It seems like a good place to start. Even though the family story places our Coquigne family in New York in the 1830s, I would very much like to find at least one piece of documentation that provides confirmation.

As always, please feel free to contact me with feedback.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

French Customs - Children with Identical Names?

This Coquigne family is sure presenting me with some challenges.  This time it has to do with one married couple giving two of their children the same name. I have seen this seeming naming anomaly elsewhere in my genealogical research where a child in a family died, usually in early childhood, and the next child born of that gender was given the name of the child who died.

But such is not the case in the family of my 5th g-grandparents Jean Pierre Coquigne and Marie Madeleine Boite.  Their first-born son, born in 1759, was named Jean Pierre Coquigne.  The godfather for this child was named Etienne, so from what I can tell, it was not a custom in this area of France to name children for their godparents.  Then six years later, a second son was born who was also named Jean Pierre.  The first JP married in 1779, and the second married in 1785.  So what's up with that?  Surely I have made some kind of mistake.  But no matter how many times I check both the baptism and marriage records for both boys, the fact remains that both boys seemingly had the same parents.  Why would a family name two sons the same name as their father?

I've looked high and low for an explanation, but so far have not found one. I found only one blog that even talks about the existence of such a custom, so it seems I'm not entirely crazy!  One other message board post I found said that it was the godparents who actually did the naming - is this true?  In this case, two different godfathers might choose the same name?

If you have ideas or information about why some French families, specifically one family in Jouarre in the mid-1700's would name two different children with the same identical name, I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Republican Calendar

One of the things I love about doing family history is how much history I learn in the process!  It's not like I haven't always loved and studied history, but let's face it, history is not nearly as interesting without some context and some imagining of yourself in the big picture. Family history makes history much more relevant and even exciting, at least for me!

The first thing I had to learn about when I started looking at French records pertaining to my Coquigne family was the Republican calendar, and I'm not talking about the elephants in American politics. I'm talking about when the new French Republic came out of its first convention in 1793, one thing that emerged was a new calendar which marked its start date as the day the Republic was proclaimed, the autumn equinox, 22 September, 1792. Seven-day weeks became ten-day cycles, months were given new poetic names pertaining to nature, and every day of the year had its own special name. This new and unique system remained in place for all of 13 years, just long enough probably to make everybody back then a little crazy, never mind those of us in the future.

So if you're now me trying to find the birth record of your gggg-grandfather, Pierre Francois Coquigne, who was supposedly born on 16 Dec 1796, none of the French records show dates that look at all familiar! Even if you know enough French to get by, you might be tempted to say "Never Mind". That thought went through my brain for about 10 seconds, and then I started searching for words I didn't recognize in my limited French vocabulary, starting with Vendémiaire. Once I realized that word represented the beginning month in the Republican calendar, I was on my way. Thanks to this fabulous website, I was able to enter a date of 16 Dec 1796 and convert it to what it would have been in the Republican calendar, the result in this case being 26 Frimaire An V (year 5 of the new Republic). Given that the French records are naturally in date order, I was able to follow these clues right to the baptism record of PF Coquigne. Et voila!

Correcting the Family Tree

As previously mentioned, there aren't a whole lot of American Coquigne families or family history researchers out there. Every family tree I have seen out there (on the internet) with the Coquigne name pertains to my family branch, specifically the descendants of Pierre Francois and Cecile Coquigne who came to America from the Jouarre area of France probably in the early 1830's. They lived in New York - we think Oswego County - for about 10 years before migrating to Michigan.

The information that was passed down to me about the genealogy of these Coquigne's came in the form of a couple of typewritten pages, but who exactly wrote the pages, I can't say. The document is titled "Descendants of Eugene Peter Coquigne and Emma Net Brown" (Eugene being the grandson of the previously mentioned Pierre), and it states that the parents of Pierre Francois Coquigne were Peter Hubier Coquigne, born 15 Jul 1741 in Jouarre, France and wife Marie Ann Coquette born 1749. Based on this source, this information has been reflected in my family tree since I first created it, and nearly every other Coquigne family tree I've seen out there says the same thing.

Thanks to some guidance given me by the experts at the International Desk at the Family History Library, I have recently discovered how to access French genealogy records online. The biggest trick is to know that France has departments, which are numbered, and you must figure out which department applies to your French village or town. In this case, we're talking about Jouarre, which is Department 77, known as Seine-et-Marne. You can access their archives by going here.

Happily, the Coquigne genealogy passed down to me said that Pierre Francois and Cecile were married 6 Jan 1817. So that was the first thing I went to find in the French records, and there it was, a marriage between Pierre Francois and Cecile on precisely that date. But this record as well as other corroborating records I found at the French archives tell us we have some corrections to make:

  • Cecile's maiden name was NOT Bouquet. It's easy to see how this misinformation got passed around because I actually have an old picture of Cecile posted on my tree that was clearly labeled by somebody unknown as Cecile (Bouquet) Coquigne. But the French marriage record indicates that Cecile's maiden name was Huvier, and that her parents were Pierre Huvier and Marie Anne Bouquet. So the Bouquet name does tie into our family, just not in the way that we thought.
  • The same marriage record indicates that the parents of Pierre Francois were Francois Coquigne and Marie Anne Deligny. I have not been able to find ANY baptism/marriage/death record for the date 15 Jul 1741, nor anybody by the names of Peter Hubier Coquigne or Marie Anne Coquette.

Given that the information in the "hand-me-down" genealogy cannot be truly sourced, and the information provided by the French archive records gives us evidence that was created at or very near the time of the actual events, I now believe the "hand-me-down" genealogy to be lacking. So if you are a Coquigne researcher and you have the "hand-me-down" misinformation in your family tree, please consider correcting it. I encourage you to look at the French archive records to make the judgment call for yourself. There might not be that many of us, but we can still strive to get our story right!

A Unique Name

This blog is about my mother's maternal line, namely COQUIGNE, pronounced, at least in our family, as "kuh-Queen". There never were alot of people by this name in America, and if you have or know of somebody with this surname, I would love to hear from you.  As it is, this surname is slowly disappearing in this country, at least within our branch of the family which I can speak about with some certainty.  But the Coquigne name is still being carried along with of its various female members, never mind that Coquigne genes have always been passed along equally regardless of gender or names.

Still there is a proud heritage that goes with this name, which I've been learning more about recently. Our line comes from the area of Jouarre, France which is just northeast of Paris. Many of the families with this name appear to have been winemakers. I'm so curious about the origins of this surname. If you have ideas about the origins of the Coquigne name, I would welcome hearing from you.