Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Her name was Anty, Anty Boudreau (52 Ancestors - #25)

This family blog would be incomplete if we didn't tell you about Frances Anty Boudreau (1874-1968).  Although I never met Anty I always heard stories of her from the time I was young.  Knowing that my cousin Pat (Sweeney) Cloutier did know her I asked her to write a story for our blog (well she actually offered).  This is Pat's second story in my blog and again she outdid herself and this is what will make this blog a treasure to our future generations.  Thank you so much Pat and here is the story of Anty as told by my cousin:
I begin the tale of my grandmother's sister, Anty, I need to begin with the previous generation. And by the way, Anty is truly her given name, not a play on auntie!

Anty's father was a ship captain, Charles O. Boudreau who resided in Tusket Wedge, Nova Scotia, Canada. He was born in 1843. Sadly, he led a very short life. He died of a brain tumor while he was a patient at a Halifax Hospital in 1886, only 42 and a half years old.

Anty's mother, Johanna, Johanna's brother Robert, and Johanna's father were all emigrating from Ireland when Johanna was only a baby, a matter of months old in about 1857/1858. We do not have  accurate numbers because records were not very specific and nobody was ever very sure about Johanna's age. Johanna's mother died on the way from Ireland to Canada.

This is where Johanna's story gets cloudy. However, since the story was told by Johanna to Anty, Johanna's oldest child, we assume it is fairly accurate. Johanna's father and brother disappeared from the picture. There is conjecture that her brother, Robert, was adopted by a Massachusetts family but we know nothing of the father.  Even a membership to Ancestry.com was unable to find any trace of him.

Since Johanna was just a baby she was placed in the care of nuns at an orphanage. When she turned 16 the custom dictated that she should find work and be able to support herself. She was sent to keep house for the priests in Tusket Wedge.  (Years later the name of the village was changed to Wedgeport.) That is where she met her future husband who was fourteen years older than she.  Together they raised seven children. Besides Anty, there were Mary Alice who became my grandmother and mother of eleven children. There was Jeanne born in 1877 about whom we have no information. It's quite possible that she died in infancy. Next was Henry who died at age 24 while fishing off the coast of Maine. Anty's other sister Emma (Ursula Aimée)  died during the flu epidemic in Virginia where she was a nurse. There were two younger brothers, Robert who lived his entire life in Wedgeport and had nine children, and the baby, Terrence who was born and lived in Wedgeport for many years but eventually moved to Meteghan River, several miles up the coast, to be close to his sister, Anty, and his son, Delisle.

Johanna Sheehan and Charles O. Boudreau were married in January of 1873. St Michael's Church, Wedgeport, NS.  Church records show that she was the daughter of Maurice Sheehan and Mary O'Dea. Charles' middle name was Onesippe which was the name he was known by. (“Onesippe” is pronounced own-a-sip, not one-sippy as it looks!)  Sometimes it was written Onesiphore.

Anty, their first born, had a long, interesting and at times difficult life. Her first marriage was to Capt. (Narcisse) Jeremy Pothier. I'd like to inject here that everyone seems to have used their middle names instead of their first name!  They were married May 26, 1897. He was known as Jeremy. He was the thirty-two year old captain of the brig St. Michel and he and all hands were lost in April 1898 (see Narcisse Jeremy Pothier blog from week #22). They were bringing a cargo of salt from the Islands to Argyle (I take “the islands” to mean the Caribbean). Anty was left with an infant son who was only about 3 months old when he died.

Her second husband was Edward Comeau. They were married August 4, 1902. 

Her third husband was Amedee (nicknamed Eddie), brother of Edward. They were married January 29, 1912. He fought in WW1, was wounded and sent to recuperate at an English estate that became a rehabilitation hospital for the  recovery of the needy soldiers (Does that sound familiar to Downton Abbey fans!?).
Amedee and Anty's Marriage Certificate of 1912
She was very well known in the County of Clare, NS. She was the Innkeeper of the old Riverside Inn in Meteghan River for many years. She did all the cooking and “ran a tight ship.” In the summer she took in some of her sister Alice's children. She was responsible for her niece, Grace, attending College in Halifax.

One of the most interesting stories about Anty was the fact that she became friendly with many of the “rum runners” that stayed with her at the Inn. In Prohibition times, the rum runners were the folks who kept busy illegally transporting liquor, mostly from the French-owned islands of St Pierre and Miquelon off the coast of Newfoundland to the Atlantic coast. The same thing was happening from the islands in the rum trade. The illegal liquor trade began after WW1 in the twenties and continued until 1939, just before the beginning of WW2. They had lots of money to spend and Anty had no compunction about hostessing them! “Rum Runners”, that is another story about Nova Scotia in earlier times. I'll save that for another blog story.

In the late forties and early fifties, I remember Anty coming to the Boston area and NH to visit her nieces and their families. She wanted us to save our mending for her when we knew she was coming. She would contentedly sit and sew, humming as she rocked. She did all of us in my generation a huge favor. We got to know a wonderful ambassador of her generation. She regaled us with tales of the “old days”. In fact, she supplied me with extensive information on past generations. I can still see the two of us, sitting at my kitchen table, while she talked late into the night. I not only listened but questioned and scribbled everything for 5 or 6 generations. Thanks to her our family now “knows”relationships and humorous yarns! 

One more thing, about the same time, she and Uncle Eddie spent their winters in Florida. You would wonder if I was dreaming if you knew how frugal she was. They actually traveled there for many winters but always were employed while there. Anty worked as a seamstress in the famous Burdine's Department store. I have no recall about what Uncle Eddie did.
Anty last visited in Mass and NH when she was about 90 years old. She came by bus! She died in her beloved Meteghan River at the age of 94 and was buried in the next town of Saulnierville in the area of Nova Scotia known as the French Shore.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Casimir Bruyneel vs. THE Sam Gompers (52 Ancestors - #24)

Bud had a great grandfather, Casimir Bruyneel, who we feel was a fascinating family member.  He was married to his paternal great grandmother, Emily VanCauwenberg.  
Casimir Bruyneel was born on December 26, 1882, in Belgium.  We are not sure if he was the only child of his parents Alois and Rosalie. It is not quite clear as to when he immigrated from Belgium to the United States.  

One of the first things of interest about Casimir is his last name.  It is unclear if he was born with the name Bruynell or Bruyneel.  My father-in-law, Ken Bruynell, says the last name was Bruynell when he arrived here from Belgium, but due to Casimir's inability to speak clear English whomever the customs officer was either spelled his name incorrectly or one of the "L"s in Bruynell was written small and it was interpreted as a small "e" and therefore the name became Bruyneel.

Shortly after his arrival here is the U.S., he had to marry and underaged Emelie A. VanCouwenberghe and they had one child, Oscar Bruyneel, together in 1905. Like many Belgian men of that error, he was a cigar maker.  We are not sure what transpired, however before Oscar turned 5 years old Casimir had moved on.

In looking at border crossing records it seemed that Casimir made many trips to Canada.  He then married Theresa Mary Batsleer and they had one child together in 1912.
In the process of Casimir building his home, apparently he was unaware he was supposed to use union workers because he worked for the cigar union at the time prior to becoming a poultry farmer. Well, apparently Sam Gompers did not take too kindly to this action and fined him $50. This was a lot of money back in 1915!

Information about Bruyneel, Casimir 1915 Source: Google Story about Casimir vs Sam Gompers

He died on December 30, 1947, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, at the age of 65.

Note:  If I could have just one conversation with Casimir, I would ask about his family, did he have siblings?  Would he tell me why he decided to leave his first family?  Did he arrive in New York or in Boston when he first came from Belgium?  What was going on in Toronto?  Do we have unknown family up there? 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Baby Audrey Nickerson (52 Ancestors - #23)

Many times when we hear various family stories it is all about people who have had long, interesting, robust lives.  Those who briefly brushed our lives deserve mention as they shape some of our family tree.  Growing up my dad often mentioned his sister Audrey.  We heard various stories as to her fate...she was three and died, she fell and died.  He just loved to mention that he had an older sister.  Last Saturday evening we were all out celebrating my milestone birthday and he actually toasted to his sister Audrey who he had never met.

My dad must have heard about his sister from his mom.  When my family tree was first being built Audrey was one of the first ancestors I decided to research because I had heard stories about her.  To my surprise everything I heard was just lore other than the fact that she had died as a young child.

Audrey was born in Boston, MA on February 11, 1933 and didn't even make it to the first flower blooming in spring as she died a little more than a month later of pneumonia.  Her parents were most likely grief stricken at the loss of their only little girl.  No one ever forgot her!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Sea Knows No Mercy: Narcisse Jeremy Pothier (52 Ancestors - #22)

Many of my ancestors were from Nova Scotia, both on my mom and dad's side of our family.  Nova Scotia makes much of its living from fishing and shipping goods.  My vision of fishing is casting a line into a small pond and maybe catching a 5 inch sunfish during the warmest days of summer while dangling my feet off a little red boat pier.  Fishermen from Nova Scotia have a much more realistic vision of fishing which can be during the darkest and coldest days of November and December.  It is not a picnic and it is very life threatening.  Multiply these dangers two-fold before the times of our modern navigating instruments and state of the art life boats and life vests.  This is what many of my male ancestors faced and I've learned that many uncles and cousins lives were claimed by the unmerciful ocean.  One of these people was my great grand uncle (by marriage) Narcisse Jeremy Pothier.

When Narcisse Jeremy Pothier was born on February 19, 1866, in Wedgeport, Canada, his father, Jeremie, was 24 and his mother, Eulalie (LeBlanc), was 25. He had five sisters.  He married Frances Anty Boudreau (my maternal grandfather's maternal aunt) at St. Michael's Parish in Wedgeport, NS on May 26, 1897. Their wedded bliss ended less than a year later when Narcisse died on February 4, 1898, at sea on the Brig St. Michel, at the age of 31.

Below was an article from "The Argus, vol. 9, no. 1, p. 36" that someone passed on to me and it was a poem of commemoration, that writes about Narcisse dying at sea and the pain of his young bride at losing him.