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Article Published January 18, 1999



MY GREATEST GENEALOGICAL MISTAKE - Part I
By: Xenia Stanford Biography & Archived Articles


At the December meeting of the Alberta Family Histories Society in Calgary, I was one of four asked to speak about our greatest genealogical mistakes. The program coordinator thought it would be comforting to those less experienced to know that even seasoned veterans could err. It may be worthwhile to tell you my mistakes to show the resources and processes that might be used to prove or disprove your ancestors in Quebec records.

I was the second speaker, preceded by a woman who disclosed how she discovered the illegitimacy of one of her ancestors. She concluded that at least she knows she is not illegitimate because she has her parents' marriage certificate and an older brother to prove it. I began my speech by saying "Well Clare, I hate to discomfort you but even the marriage record of the parents and baptism record of the first four children of Joseph Stanford and Adelaide Marticotte was no guarantee of the legitimacy of the fifth child in their household.

I started my search for my children's paternal ancestors by finding their great grandfather's biography in the 1919 edition of Who's Who and Why and the 1923-24 edition which by then was entitled Who's Who in Canada. His parents in both were listed as Joseph Stanford and Rosa Boudreau.

I checked the Loiselle Card Index to Quebec Marriages (covering many parishes between 1640-1959) or the Loiselle Marriage Collection Supplement (which covered additional parishes or years not covered for parishes included in the main card index) both of which are available on microfilm through the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (aka Mormon Church) in Salt Lake City. Even if your local branch of this library, called a Family History Center or Centre, does not have these sets of films, they can be rented by them at your request from the Salt Lake library.

On one of these films I found the entry for Joseph Stanford and M. (for Marie) Rose Boudreau. From this listing, I found that this elder Joseph's parents were Joseph Stanford and Adelaide Marticotte.

Again from one of the Loiselle films, I found the marriage entry for Joseph and Marie Adelaide which showed me the parish name and the date of the marriage. This made it easy for me to order in the microfilm for Notre Dame Parish in Montreal for the year 1835 to view the full marriage entry as recorded at the time. Here there are always additional details, such as (translated into English from the French) the groom was Joseph Stanford, carpenter, living in this parish, adult son of Robert William Stanford and Lydia Wallace of London, England, and the bride was Adelaide Aÿiette dite Marticot, living in this parish, the minor daughter of the deceased Etienne Aÿiette dit Marticot, voyageur, and of Lucie Talon dite Lesperance living in the parish of Quebec (city) who gave her consent for this marriage.

Adelaide's surname was most often found later in baptism and marriage records for her children as Marticotte and her first name sometimes as Adele. Joseph's occupation was given as one of the following on various records: overseer, joiner, carpenter, draughtsman (sic), ship's carpenter and ship's architect.

Once I find the parish of the marriage of a couple, I start looking through the same register for the following years. In the next calendar year, I found Joseph was a godfather for a child baptized in the same Catholic Church and the father of Adelaide, named after her mother. However, the following years in this parish did not seem to produce any further baptism records for children of this couple.

Checking the street directories for the province, which I found on microfilm at our local university library, I found entries for Joseph Stanford, overseer, in Montreal for 1842 through to 1845 and then no entries until the 1876-7 version when a Joseph Stanford, who by his different trade was likely the son of the carpenter, appeared in 1878.

These street and trade directories compiled by various people or companies, such as Lovell in Montreal and Cherrier and Mackay in Quebec City, luckily had one in 1851 that included the entire or most of Lower Canada or Canada East. (Although the name was Lower Canada from 1791 to 1842 and Canada East from 1842 until Confederation in 1867 when it became Quebec, the name Lower Canada often continued to be used beyond 1842.) In this street directory, I found Joseph Stanford, ship's carpenter, living in Quebec City. Also Loiselle's indexes showed daughters of Joseph and Adelaide marrying in St. Roch Catholic Church, Quebec City between 1858 and 1875.

The next step then was to check the 1851 census for St. Roch ward which was available at our local public library on a National Archives of Canada microfilm. There I found the following details:
    Joseph Stanford, ship's carpenter, born London, England, Protestant (Eng. Church), age 43
    Adelaide, born Montmagny, Catholic, age 34
    Adelaide, born Montreal, Catholic, age 16
    Lydia, born Sorel, Catholic, age 15
    Catherine, born Sorel, Catholic, age 12
    Emilie, born Sorel, Catholic, age 10
    Marie, born Montreal, Protestant, age 8
    Caroline, born Montreal, Catholic, age 7
    Victoria, born Quebec City, Catholic, age 5
    Aimée, born Quebec City, Catholic, age 3
The break in the religion for the fifth child, Marie, was distinctive and, therefore, with little doubt is correct. The father was listed as Protestant with "Eng. Church" written beside it. Then the mother was listed as Catholic and all the children under her as "do" for ditto. Marie was listed as Protestant with Caroline again as Catholic and the remaining children as "do". If the full entry had been written beside each person, I might more easily have accepted that Marie's could be an error. Anything is possible though since so many errors were made on census records, but this one seemed so deliberate that it certainly puzzled me.

I also thought it odd that the father, who would have had to be converted or at least agree to raise all his children Catholic before he could have married in the Catholic Church, was listed as Protestant. It was odder still that he was allowed to be a godparent of a child baptized in the Catholic faith. The main duty ascribed by the Church to godparents is to raise the child in the faith if anything should happen to the parents.

However, the most unusual aspect of the record was that one of his children was listed as Protestant. If he had given his word that he would raise the children of the marriage as Catholics, what could be the possible explanation for this. I thought perhaps he had gone back on his promise and wanted one child to be "like him". So I did not think it odd enough to carefully record another couple listed as "Josh" Stanford and an English woman's name, both shown as Protestant. Thinking he was a possible brother and in a hurry to finish the microfilm before the library closed for the day, I just made a note of the names and page numbers.

If I had been in less of a hurry, I might have noticed that the same abbreviation was used for the Joseph of Joseph and Adelaide. Not only did the census taker write Joseph's name this way but the signature of the person verifying the accuracy of the information was none other than this Josh. Stanford. Checking other records, I found his name and his signature this way on several different occasions though on his marriage record and many other records, he signed as Joseph Stanford. Unfortunately now I realize this "Josh" maintaining a household with an English Protestant woman was probably my Joseph who had both an entry with a wife and family and a separate entry with a "kept woman". Also now that I further understand the potential significance of this record in explaining daughter Marie's ancestry, I can no longer find my hastily scribbled notation.

However, I am getting ahead of myself and teasing you just a bit, so on with the story.

The 1861 census confirmed the ages and names with the exception of Victoria for whom no additional records have been found, thus she probably died during the decade between. The older daughters from Adelaide to Catherine were found on the census living with their husbands. I had obtained the names of the husbands from Loiselle's marriage indexes and watched for the ones who had married before 1861.

On the entry for Joseph and Adelaide, two new children were listed after Aimée who still was unmarried and lived at home. The younger two were Josephine age 9 and Joseph age 5. Joseph Sr. was listed as a shipwright, born in England and religion Protestant, which was crossed out and replaced by Baptist. The mother, Adelaide, was born in L. Canada (for Lower Canada) and listed as Protestant, which was crossed out and replaced by R.C. The first child listed as living at home was Caroline who was given as R.C. The remaining children's religion was shown by ditto marks indicating the same as Caroline's.

Later when I retrieved the baptism records for Josephine and Joseph, I found a still born unnamed male twin to Joseph. So far no record of other children born to this couple have been found. Thus it was Marie who was the only child of the couple listed as Protestant like her father.

Next Issue - PART II - Will Answer The Mystery - Why Was Marie The Only Protestant Child?




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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
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The Merivale Cemeteries
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