Thursday, January 27, 2011

William G. Mossey, My Maternal Grandfather

1942--William G. MOSSEY-B&W, touched upGrampa Mossey was known as William G. by my mom and others who knew him but I find it interesting that he was actually baptized as George William (Georgius Gillelumus) in St. Peter’s Catholic Church on 31 January 1878. I often wonder why someone would give their child one name, but call them by another. I understand nicknames and childhood names, but giving him two names then reversing them makes me curious. His godfather was named George LaFossé, hence the given name George as this is often the practice in the Catholic Church. The child receives the given name of the sponsor. So maybe it was out of respect and love for the godfather who was named George. At any rate, he was known as William G. as far as my mom ever knew. I do not know what he was called by his friends and family (aside from Dad and Grampa), but in the 1880 US Census in Plattsburgh, he is enumerated as Willie, a 2-year-old.

Although my grandfather was born in the 19th century, most of his adult life was spent in the 20th century. And, although I did meet him, I, sadly, know little about him.

I do know that my mother adored him. I think I asked her once what made him so special, but her comments were pretty non-descript—he was nice, she loved him, he was her father…  Pretty much what many of us would say about our dads.

Grampa’s heritage was French Canadian even though he and his father were both born in Plattsburgh, New York. Mom told me that he spoke fluent French and would greet people in French as they walked down the streets of Springfield [Massachusetts] together.

Several things I know about him, thanks to my mom, I have been unable to prove as yet. First, she told me he worked as a cook on a boat [presumably on the St. Lawrence River as Plattsburgh is located on that river]. Secondly, he worked for the WPA during the Depression. Both of these facts are verifiable, just have to find the records to do it.

Mom said they would walk to mass on Sunday and when they returned home, Grampa would have a delicious breakfast waiting for them including Boston Baked Beans. I have the recipe here:


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Discovery Isn’t Always Joyful

Continuing with my French-Canadian research has not only led to fun discoveries such as being able to apply for a lineage society and to know that our ancestors can be traced to the 7th century, but also has allowed discovery of some seemingly serious health issues.

I know that Kris is interested in this because of some health concerns he has and, up to now, this has not been as interesting to me.  But, the other night a real revelation occurred.

I am not sure what I googled, but I noticed an article linking French Canadian descendants with high cholesterol. Since both my mom and I have high cholesterol but not the lifestyle that is often associated with high cholesterol (active, not overweight, non-smoke and drink), my doctor and I have often wondered why I have high cholesterol. Now I have some clues.

My interest was piqued a while ago while looking at the syllabus for the NEGHS Regional Conference taking place in Springfield, MA (my birthplace) in April. I noticed a presentation by Muriel Normand on “From Quebec to New England: They Brought Along Their Genes.” Naturally, I was curious so did some Googling. I didn’t find much the first night I tried except to learn that French Canadians and their descendants have a form of Tay Sachs disease which is also found in Askenazi Jews.

Then, the other night I found the article on high cholesterol. The first one I read was so filled with technical jargon, I understood nothing other than this is a phenomena found in the descendants. Heart attacks in early life are also common. I did understand that the gene that causes this high cholesterol has been identified.

Obviously, this subject needs more study. Oh, how I would love to attend the conference in Springfield…

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Reaching Back into History

Now that I know we can trace our lines back to the Filles du Roi and Carignan Soldiers, I continued my research this time realizing an even bigger surprise.

My next discovery was that one of our Fille du Roi actually can be traced to Charlemagne, King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. Tracing a family back that far can only be accomplished if your family lines tie into royalty because the commoners were barely able to keep up with their day-to-day lives let alone keep track of who their ancestors were.

In fact, just the other day, Dick Eastman in his blog, talked about our ancestors of the 1600s and how rudimentary their lives were living day to day, barely surviving the daily chore of existing understanding very little about hygiene and health, possessing little to no knowledge, and other features of life that make ours so interesting and easy.

Catherine de Baillon was a Fille du Roi sent by the king of France to marry and populate in New France. We are linked to Catherine through our Forget line:

1-Catherine DE BAILLON-3363 (about 1645-27 January 1688)
. . 2-Jean MIVILLE-3345 (5 September 1672-30 December 1711
. . . 3-Guillaume Gabriel MAINVILLE/MIVILLE-3243 (7 March 1704-10 February 1799)
. . . . 4-Catherine Miville MAINVILLE-1336 (28 October 1747-)
. . . . . 5-Marie HUPE-LAGROIX-912 (9 June 1775-2 August 1855)
. . . . . . 6-Pierre LATOUR DIT FORGET-683 (13 July 1794-27 August 1878)
. . . . . . . 7-Gilbert LATOUR DIT FORGET-674 (15 May 1825-12 July 1854)
. . . . . . . . 8-Desiré "Jerry/Jeremiah" LATOUR DIT FORGET-383 (9 Nov 1844-28 Dec 1916)
. . . . . . . . . 9-Gilbert M. FORGEA-305 (about January 1865-6 July 1925)
. . . . . . . . . . 10-Katherine Winifred "Nin" FORGEA-303 (9 March 1898-3 October 1962)
. . . . . . . . . . . 11-Irene Emma MOSSEY (22 November 1922-12 September 2007)
. . . . . . . . . . . . 12-Marjorie Anne
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13-Kristofer Earl
. . . . . . . . . . . . . 13-Michelle Alicia
. . . . . . . . . . .  11-Anna Winifred MOSSEY (18 December 1918-1 November 2002)
. . . . . . . . . . . .  12-Carol

According to Raymond Deschenes, Miville Genealogy/Deschenes Genealogy (

Catherine de Baillon, wife of Jacques Miville dit Descheses…came with a 1000 livres dowry and was considered to be born from an upper class family. Her ancestry can now be traced back to Charlemagne and the 7th century.

True to form, in an effort to become more knowledgeable of this period and these young women, I have inter-library-loaned two books to read on the subject. I am hoping to find out more specifically about the women in my family a well as the women and men, in general, who accepted this seemingly daunting path to follow. Was it forced on them? Did they consider it an adventure? Did they realize how difficult life would be when they arrived in the new world? Will we ever know?…