All things history and genealogy.

All things history and genealogy.

Tag: Melanson

Our Melanson Family: A haunting history?

Since we’re coming up onto Halloween, I decided to repost this story about our own Melanson family’s haunting history.


I posted in the past about the ancestry of my mother’s Fougère and Melanson families. The Fougères and Melansons were original Acadian settlers in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, having traveled from France in the late 17th century.

My mother was the only daughter of three children born to Jude Edmond Melanson and Stella Irene Fougère. The first born son was about twelve years older than her next oldest brother, Paul, who in turn was only about two years older than her.

In an email he wrote to my mother after the rest of their family had long since passed on, Uncle Paul stated categorically that he did not believe in ghosts. This being said, however, he has never found an explanation for the strange occurrences he described that happened while he lived at and remodeled my Grandmére’s house after he moved into it upon her death in 1961. As he put it in a recent email to me, “We never (saw) things like ghosts, shadows etc, but whenever I made changes to her house strange things would happen to let me know (she) wasn’t very happy with what I was doing to her house”.

Once he started experienHalloween housecing these unexplained events, Paul’s curiosity got the better of him and he did a great deal of research into ghosts or spirits remaining in the house or other buildings after they died. He learned that it is believed that a person who was strong willed or had a very strong personality could remain within a building or home they lived in and/or loved during their lifetime. A traumatic death was also known to contribute to a spirit remaining after death.

Uncle Paul deduced that the unexplained events had something to do with the renovations since they didn’t happen during the long periods of inactivity between projects. The severity of the events seemed to depend on the extent of the renovations being done.

Uncle Paul and his wife had two children, a girl born in 1961, and a boy in 1963. They also adopted a 1 1/2 year old girl named Samantha in 1969.

After Paul’s marriage in May 1960, it became apparent that my grandmother was troubled. Although the reasons were never clear, Grandmére committed suicide and was found by Grandpére about noon on Saturday, July 9, 1960 – just under one year after she had flown to Germany to visit with me as a newborn and my Mom and Dad, as they had been posted there by the Canadian Forces before my birth.

Grandmére’s autopsy revealed she had taken a great deal of valium. She had also made prior arrangements for her hair to be done and the clothing she wished to be buried in was laid out on a chair. No suicide note was found.

Uncle Paul went against her wishes and moved in with Grandpére. Soon after, Grandpére’s wholesale business went under and he lost everything, leaving Uncle Paul in a position where he would have had no choice but to look after Grandpére anyway.

Although the house was based on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) house plan 215, Grandmére modified it extensively. First she flipped it, reversing the complete house layout with the living room on the right and the bedrooms on the left. She had the house length and width increased by 2 feet, final dimensions being 42′ X 26′ or 1092 square feet, as well as several other changes. She was the prime contractor and the carpenter, electrician and other trades people answered to her. Upon Paul’s suggestion, Grandmére made one final change and had the roof style changed to a hip roof.

Paul didn’t make any major renovations after he had full ownership of the house in 1967. He began making extensive changes soon after, most of which Grandmére would not have approved of.

The following list of renovations is not in any particular order, but it will paint a picture of the work done over time.

1.     A wall between the living room and hall was removed.

2.     The kitchen renovations included:

⦁ changing the heavy porcelain kitchen sinks to aluminum;
⦁ transferring the floor tiles from the family’s older home for use in the newer one;
⦁ replacing these same tiles again later with carpet; and
⦁ refinished the cabinets and replaced the counter tops.
⦁ installed new appliances

3.     Paul’s changes in the bathroom involved:

⦁ replacing Grandmére’s beloved pink wall tiles with beige ones;
⦁ installing ceramic tile flooring;
⦁ installing shower doors;
⦁ adding a new sink and fixtures; and
⦁ painting the tub brown to match the new decor.

5.     The house interior and exterior were completely repainted several times, including the woodwork trim that Grandmére had painted a rather ‘ghastly’ (Paul’s word) color she mixed and called “Coral Rose”.

6.     Insulated the house with urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI).

7.     Changed the exterior shingles to vinyl siding.

8.     Replaced the living room picture window.

9.     Put in a 20′ x 40′ swimming pool in the back yard.

With the exception of the vinyl siding, insulation and the new living room window, Uncle Paul always did the work himself. While undergoing the renovations, and usually in the evenings, strange things would happen. Most of the time these took place while everyone was in a different room.

It became so commonplace that Paul’s kids would say, “There’s Mamére again.” Nothing ever happened in the basement and there were never any apparitions, ghosts or anything else visible at any time.

Some of the more common events were:

  • Dishes falling out of the kitchen cupboards.
  • Cupboard doors opening and closing by themselves.
  • Pictures falling off the wall in the hall and living room. The nail remained in the wall and the hanging wire on the picture did not break. The pictures just seemed to ‘jump’ off their hook and land on the floor.

Being a natural skeptic, Paul tried to rationalize these occurrences as having been caused naturally, such as by earthquakes, volcanoes, tornadoes, etc. In most instances, he could come up with a plausible explanation until he started major projects.

While doing the kitchen and bathroom renovations in particular the events escalated dramatically. In addition to the common occurrences described above, platters that were standing behind a stack of plates would come out of closed cupboards and land on the kitchen floor, unbroken. Strange noises were frequently heard.

One of the more frightening and dramatic events occurred when Paul removed the pink tiles from the bathroom wall. Before Paul cleaned the grouting from the wall, his son was cleaning up in the bathroom and Paul stood at the open door talking to him, when the old grout remaining on the walls began shooting around the bathroom. It didn’t fall to the floor with gravity as would normally be expected, but was ‘bouncing’ from one wall to the opposite wall, making a sharp snapping sound as it flew off the wall. This activity continued for about five minutes, while Paul and his son stood rooted to the spot and could only watch in disbelief. The general consensus amongst the family was that Grandmére was ‘pissed off’ at Paul for removing the pink tiles.

Upon deciding to replace the bathtub, it was discovered that it could not be removed and therefore Paul decided to paint it a chocolate brown. The paint was a two-part epoxy paint and took several steps and days to apply. The first step was to sand the tub, then the first coat was applied and left to dry for three days. Paul admits that upon finishing the first coat, he was dismayed at how bad it looked, with white streaks, uneven coloring etc. It was a mess.

Paul came home from work around 6:30 the day after and was standing in the bathroom door looking at the tub, completely disgusted with the results, when, “CRASH!!!!!” A loud noise was heard from within Grandpere’s bedroom directly across the hall from the bathroom. It was dark and the lights were off. Everyone else having been in the living room at the time, they all came running.

Paul turned the lights on in Grandpére’s room to see a set of TV tables scattered all over the room – on the bed, on the floor, etc., looking as though someone had kicked them. They were not broken but they were in complete disarray, with the legs disconnected from the table tops.

After all of this, Paul was beginning to take this possibility of a ghost a bit more seriously.

Paul was working at an airport at the time as Manager, making and operating target airplanes for the military. I told some of his colleagues about the situation at home with the TV tables. One of the girls got together with a friend over the following weekend and over a bottle of wine decided to play with a Ouija board.

After the next weekend, she phoned Paul to report what had happened. She said that as a lark they asked the Ouija board who had scattered the TV tables. In response, she got got ‘Sim’. She could make nothing of this at the time and thought the board was referring to the name ‘Sam’ in reference to Paul’s youngest adopted daughter. As soon as he heard the story, Paul told her that ‘SIM’ was most likely Grandmére’s initials – Stella Irene Melanson. Paul had never mentioned his mother’s name at work, always referring to her as ‘Mom’.

He had, however, mentioned Sam’s name at work. With this in mind, Paul’s friend decided that she would try again the following weekend – just in case she had heard Grandmére’s name at some time. She asked Paul for a question that only his mother would know the answer to. Grandmére had left Paul her car, which was a gray and  white Ford, and he had sold it soon after her death in 1960. He did not work at the airport until 1978, so there was no way they could have know the answer to the question he gave, “What color and make of car did his Mom have?”

When she called him again the following Monday, she asked if his Mom had owned a green and white Ford. Paul told her the answer was wrong and that the “stupid board was nothing but a toy”. This colleague then explained that the board spelled out GR + WH and when asked what type of car the board spelled FD. She just assumed it was referring to a green and white ford. This was most likely misinterpreted, the GR actually standing for gray, WH for white and FD for Ford, which she did own.

Grandpére died in July of 1982 and about three months later, Paul decided to remove the UFFI foam from the house, replace the living room window and to have the outside of the house redone with vinyl siding. To do this he had to remove the mirror from over the fireplace so it would not get broken if the walls bulged with the new insulation. This had been Grandmére’s flawless mirror that she had paid the princely sum of $135 for – in 1960!!

Paul was sure that this would be the ultimate provocation of her wrath, for this mirror had been her pride and joy.

Surprisingly, nothing further happened – ever.


Would you like to read more about the Melansons and Fougères?

Historic Graveyard Tour at Fort Anne.

One of the best things we did on a trip we took to Nova Scotia a few years ago was to see the Graveyard Tour at Fort Anne.


Historic Graveyard Tour at Fort Anne.
Historic Graveyard Tour at Fort Anne (Click on the image to see it in full size.) The top image at right is of our son and daughter listening to the fascinating tales associated with the burials. The lower image (although difficult to make out in the dusk) is of our family gathered with the tour guide at Fort Anne prior to the tour.

This was during our long awaited driving tour of Acadian heritage sites in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada.

The first stop we made in Nova Scotia was at a campground near Annapolis Royal and I spotted a ‘newspaper’ on the counter at check-in. It caught my eye because the top of the page showed a picture of a man with his name written underneath – ‘Alan Melanson’. This peaked my interest as Melanson is my mother’s maiden name and the Melansons are one of the pioneer families to settle in Acadia.

It seemed that Alan Melanson was the tour guide for the Graveyard Tour at Fort Anne, prompting Mark, the kids and I to check it out the next day. Once Alan arrived we got into a conversation about my Melanson family and how we are related to him.

In the image above, the tour guide holding the lantern at the gravestone is Alan Melanson, a distant cousin as we both descend from Charles ‘dit La Ramée’ Mellanson, one of the two sons of the founding couple of the Melanson family in Acadia.

The photos on this website were taken by a photographer snapping shots the evening we toured the old graveyard. He had asked permission to take pictures with the kids in them and we agreed in return for copies.

Later on, we found that Erin and Stu’s photos were on the Fort Anne Graveyard Tour’s website!

I took this image directly from the Fort Anne Graveyard Tour website, except that I captured the picture of the crowd in front of the fort building as it includes myself, my husband Mark and our two teenagers, Erin and Stuart. One of the images in the clip features Erin and Stuart under lamplight at the gravestone.

I would highly recommend this tour to anyone. Alan Melanson is an engaging and entertaining host, injecting humor and insight into his tour.

It’s not hard to imagine some of the colorful characters buried in this centuries old graveyard.

Researching paternal or maternal lines: Is one better than the other?

When researching paternal or maternal lines, the tendency seems to be to place more value – and therefore time and effort – into the paternal lines. Is it true that following paternal lines is better than following maternal lines?


In my mind, no.

Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.
Turmaine and Emery maternal ancestors.

The other side of this question is: “Should genealogy research concentrate more on one to the exclusion of the other?

Again, I say “no”.

When I first started researching my family’s genealogy almost fifteen years ago, it was easier to concentrate on the paternal lines, and I did so based on my limited knowledge of genealogy, in which the paternal lines seemed to be valued more.

This may be a carryover from history where women were rarely recorded as anything other than their husband’s wives and/or father’s daughters. Unless they were particularly noteworthy, details of their own personal lives were unimportant.

This may also be a result of the difficulties that can arise when researching maternal lines. Because most research works back in time, we usually first encounter a female ancestor as a wife who has taken on her husband’s name. Since a great deal of the records don’t go into any detail about the women, it’s difficult to find even clues with which to research further to find out a woman’s maiden name and parentage.

It does change for the better in more modern records such as censuses, marriage records, etc., where more detailed information about a woman’s place of origin, and her parents and their places of origin can be found.

What a shame since one’s knowledge of one’s own ancestry increases exponentially when venturing into maternal lines.

Several of the individuals I have posted about on this blog were discovered by following maternal lines of both my husband and myself.

As a matter of fact, when going through posts to identify maternal lines for this article, it was apparent that those involving the paternal lines were a definite minority. This matters because I have consistently chosen those I find most interesting to write about.

The fact that there seems to be more from the maternal lines is perfectly understandable when the odds are considered. When restricting one’s research to only paternal lines, there is no branching off through the female spouses, therefore restricting the course back in family history through one straight line from father to father to father (and so on). Although some prefer to research in this way, I’m positive they are missing out as a result.

For the purposes of this post, I am using my parents: Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine and Patricia Gail Melanson; and Mark’s parents: Marshall Matthews Blythe and Beverley Gummeson as the root persons.

In all of the cases below, we would never have known our connection to these ancestors had I not explored the maternal lines.Bourg Ancestral Line

Antoine Bourg

The ancestral line to this 7th great grandfather of my mother follows her paternal line through six generations to Pierre Melanson and his wife Marie Josèphe Granger, then follows Marie Josèphe’s line the rest of the way back.

Antoine Bourg is one of the original Acadian pioneers to come over from France in the 17th century. Although Antoine Bourg is not the Acadian ancestor from our paternal line that we most associate with, we are related to him through three branching maternal lines leading to three of his sons.

Bevan Ancestral Line

John ap Evan (John Bevan) of Wales

John ap Evan (John Bevan) was 10th great grandfather to my husband’s father, Marshall Matthews Blythe. An early Welsh immigrant and pioneer of Pennsylvania, he was a Minister with the Friends’ Meeting, land trustee for several settlers, and later became a Justice and member of the Colonial Assembly.

Emily S. Shelby is a common maternal link in this ancestry, plus those of Robert William, the Stehle family, and of course the illustrious Shelbys (see below for all).

Shelby Ancestral LineEvan (Dhu) Isaac Shelby of Tregaron, Wales

Evan (Dhu) Shelby, 6th great grandfather to my father-in-law, Marshall Matthews Blythe, was the pioneer immigrant of the Shelby family to Pennsylvania from Wales. He, along with those already mentioned were persecuted for their Quaker religion and suffered terribly at the hands of their persecutors.

The Shelby family were among the few with six family members who participated in the Revolutionary War. Of these were Brigadier General Evan Shelby, John Shelby and Moses Shelby (sons to our Evan); Governor Isaac Shelby of Kentucky and Evan Shelby III, sons to Brigadier General Shelby; and another David Shelby, son of John Shelby above.

Stehle Ancestral LineUlrich Stehle (Steely)

This Ulrich Stehle was 5th great grandfather to my father-in-law and was the son of another Ulrich, an immigrant to Pennsylvania from Europe (possibly Germany) in 1732.

Ulrich Jr. is documented as the immigrant ancestor of President Barack Obama through his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

Emery Ancestral LinePte. Joseph Philias Albert Emery

Joseph Philias Albert Emery was my father’s uncle (brother to my grandmother).

Compared to some of the other ancestors above, he is fairly recent, but his life was remarkable in that he died so young in horribly tragic circumstances.

He was one of many soldiers involved in the preparations for the battle at Vimy Ridge. On March 1, 1917, the troops were misguidedly given the order to let off gas charges. This was a tragic decision because the winds were blowing the wrong way, causing the lethal gases to be blown back onto our Canadian troops.

As a result of the chaos, Pte. Emery was never found, was reported as missing in action and was later declared to have died in action.

There are a few more who occur further back in history, but I wanted to concentrate on those for whom I had the best documentary support.

I’m related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna?

What a shock to find out that I and the rest of my family are related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna!

I was reviewing old genealogy articles to find story and post ideas and hit the jackpot with this one. In an article by CanWest News Service’s Randy Boswell from March of 2010, he recounts the relationship between Madonna and Ellen Degeneres.

View of the entrance to La Rochelle harbour in 1628.
La Rochelle harbour circa 1628.

Mr. Boswell states that they are eleventh cousins, descending from the same 10th great-grandfather, Martin Aucoin, from La Rochelle, France. It is unclear whether he ever immigrated to Acadia, but his two daughters Michelle and Jeanne were both living in Port Royal after 1641.

Relationship Chart - Christine Blythe to Martin Aucoin
I find out that I and the rest of my family are related to Ellen Degeneres and Madonna!

As you can see in the relationship chart below showing my descent from the same original ancestor, my branch descends through his daughter Michelle, who married Michel Boudrot in Port Royal in 1641.

In a later generation, my 6th great-grandfather, Charles Mellanson married Anne Bourg in 1701. Anne being the great-granddaughter of the original Martin Aucoin, all subsequent descendants of Charles Mellanson were also direct descendants of Martin Aucoin.

Finding family connections with noted people from history is one thing, but nothing beats the fun of finding connections to living celebrities, personalities, politicians, royalty, etc. Another connection I recently wrote about was that of my husband to Barack Obama, both being directly descended from Ulrich Stehle, who was 6th great-grandfather to Mark and 7th great-grandfather to Barack Obama.

Biography of Martin Aucoin and his daughters Michelle and Jeanne.

Martin Aucoin was born before 1619 in La Rochelle, France and married firstly, Barbe Minguet and secondly, Marie Salle (daughter of Denys Salle and Françoise Arnaud) after 1630. Martin and Barbe Minguet had the following children:

Michelle “Michele” Aucoin was born about 1621 in France and married Michel Boudrot (born about 1600 in France) in 1641 at Port Royal. Michel had immigrated to Acadia from France before 1639. The 1671 Acadian census is listed as a farmer in Port Royal, owning 20 cattle, 12 sheep, 8 arpents of land. In 1678, again at Port Royal, he owned 12 acres, 10 cattle, 3 guns. In 1686, Michel was a Lt. General of the Jurisdiction of Port Royal  and is shown in the census of that year owning 3 guns, 20 arpents, 16 cattle, 17 sheep, 6 hogs. According to the 1693 Acadian census, she was a widow living in Port Royal and owned 20 cattle, 18 sheep, 12 hogs, 25 arpents, and 1 gun. She died on December 17, 1706 at the age of 85 and was buried on 18 Dec 1706 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal. Michelle Aucoin and Michel Boudrot had the following children:

  1. Françoise Boudrot, born about 1642 in Port Royal, married Etienne Robichaud about 1663 and died in 1714 at the age of 72.
  2. Jeanne Boudrot was born about 1650 in Port Royal and married Bonaventure “Venture” Terriau (son of Jean Terriau and Perrine Rau) about 1666. She died on May 8, 1710 at the age of 60 in Port Royal and was buried the next day in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal.
  3. Charles Boudrot was born about 1649 in Port Royal and married Renée Bourg (daughter of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry) about 1672. He later married Marie Corporon about 1686. Charles died after 1714 at the age of 65 in Pisiquit.
  4. Marguerite Boudrot is my 7th great-grandmother and was born about 1648 in Port Royal. She married firstly, Jean Babineau, who was born about 1652 in Acadia. Secondly, she married François Bourg (my 7th great-grandfather)  about 1665. Marguerite died in 1718 as records show her burial on November 9, 1718 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal.
  5. Marie Boudrot was born about 1650 in Port Royal and lived in Beaubassin, Acadia between 1693 and 1700. Marie married Michel Poirier (son of Jean Poirier and Jeanne Chebrat) about 1673 in Port Royal.
  6. Jean “Jehan” Boudrot was born about 1655 in Port Royal and married Marguerite Bourgeois (daughter of Jacques Bourgeois and Jeanne Trahan) about 1676. He died on November 30, 1679 at the age of 24 in Port Royal.
  7. Abraham Boudrot was born about 1656 in Port Royal. In about 1685 in Port Royal, he married Cécile (Anne) Melanson (daughter of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas). He died in 1700 or 1701 at the age of 44 in Port Royal.
  8. Michel Boudrot was born about 1659 in Port Royal. He married Marie-Madeleine Cormier (daughter of Thomas Cormier and Marie-Madeleine Girouard) about 1690 and he died on February 13, 1714 at the age of 55, also in Port Royal.
  9. Olivier Boudrot was born about 1661 in Port Royal. About 1686, he married Isabelle Petitpas.
  10. Claude Boudrot was born about 1663 in Port Royal. He married Anne-Marie Thibodeau (daughter of Pierre Thibodeau and Jeanne Terriau) about 1682 in Port Royal and died on March 7, 1740 at the age of 77 in Grand Pré.

Jeanne Aucoin was born November 23, 1630 in La Rochelle, Charente-Maritime, France and was baptized on November 26, 1630 in Ste-Marguerite Parish, La Rochelle, France. She married François “la varanne, le pere” Girouard about 1616 in France and immigrated with him to Acadian sometime before 1671. She appears first in the census of 1671 with her husband, who is shown to be a farmer in Port Royal, owning 16 cattle, 6 sheep and 8 arpents of land; in 1678 he owned 16 acres and 18 cattle; and in 1686 he owned 1 gun, 5 arpents of land, 13 cattle, 16 sheep and 8 hogs. In the 1693 census, Jeanne was a widow living in Port Royal and she owned 20 cattle, 40 sheep, 10 hogs, 20 arpents of land and 2 guns. The 1700 Acadian census shows Jeanne owning 15 cattle, 34 sheep, 20 arpents of land and 2 guns She died April 16,  1718 at the age of 87 and was buried April 18, 1718 in St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal. Jeanne Aucoin and François Girouard had six children:

  1. Marie Girouard, born about 1651 in Port Royal.
  2. Marie-Madeleine Girouard was born about 1653 in Port Royal and married Thomas François Cormier, son of Robert Cormier and Marie Peraud.
  3. Germain Girouard was born about 1656 in Port Royal. He married Marie Bourgeois (daughter of Jacques Bourgeois and Jeanne Trahan) on June 9, 1680 in Beaubassin and he died March 7, 1741 at the age of 90 in Beaubassin.
  4. Jacques Girouard was born about 1658 in Port Royal.
  5. Charlotte “Anne” Girouard, born about 1660 in Port Royal, married Julien “dit La Montagne” Lord sometime before 1678. She died before 1712 at the age of 52.
  6. Anne Girouard was born about 1671 in Port Royal.


  1. 1671 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  2. 1678 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  3. 1686 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  4. 1693 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  5. 1698 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  6. 1700 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  7. 1701 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  8. 1752 Acadian Census, (N.p.: n.p., n.d.). Annotation.
  9. Michael B. Melanson, “Melanson – Melancon: Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family”, (Dracut, Massachusetts: Lanesville Publishing, 2004).
  10. “Origins of the Pioneers of Acadia”, Stephen A. White online (
  11. H. George Friedman Jr., “Aucoin Genealogy,” database, H. George Friedman, Jr., Aucoin Genealogy ( .
  12. Stephen A. White, ( (Université de Moncton: Centre d’Études Acadiennes, 1999).
  13. Donald J. Hébert, “Southwest Louisiana Records” (N.p.: Hébert Publications, n.d.).
  14. Donald J. Hébert, “Acadian Families in Exile – 1785” (N.p.: Hébert Publications, n.d.).
  15. “Baptiste Was Said to Have a Wife in Every Port”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  16. “Marriage Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  17. “Baptism Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  18. “Burial Records of St-Jean-Baptiste, Port Royal, Acadia,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (
  19. “Dictionary of Canadian Biography,” database, (
  20. “The Seizure of ‘The Pembroke’ by the Acadians”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  21. “She Presided Over Councils of War Against her Kindred”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (
  22. “Baptiste, The Rascal”, Clarence-J. d’Entremont online (


Dad is the link to our French Canadian and military heritage.

Although both sides of my family are ‘French Canadian,’ my mother’s ancestors are Acadians who settled in the maritime provinces and the eastern seaboard of the United States. Dad, however, is the link to our Québecois French Canadian and military heritage.
Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine
Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine at 3 circa 1938.

In earlier posts about our family’s WWI war casualties, I discussed our family’s attachment to the Canadian military. My own father, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine, was an Instrument Electrical Technician in the Canadian Armed Forces for almost thirty years.

Gerard Turmaine in full pipe bank regalia playing his snare drum.
Gerard Turmaine in full pipe band regalia playing his snare drum.

Born in 1934 to Henry Joseph Turmaine and Rose Amande Emery of Quebec, he was nephew to both family members we lost in WWI, Joseph Philias Albert Emery (Rose’s brother) and Joseph Turmaine (Henry’s half-brother). (See photo at right of Gerry Turmaine at age 3.) As a new Canadian forces member, he spent some time in New Brunswick visiting the family of another recruit, Paul Melanson and met my mother, Patricia Gail Melanson – Paul’s sister.

Shortly after, he was transferred to Baden Söllingen, Germany and a long distance relationship proceeded for a while until he eventually asked my mother to go over and marry him. She traveled over on ship, they were married, and just over a year later I was born.

A year after my birth, my father was posted to Trenton, Ontario by the Canadian military, where we lived for ten years. During this time, he was a member of the national military pipe band (see photo at left) and frequently played all around the nation – and on one occasion, I can remember him traveling to Washington, DC to play.  During the ten years we lived in Trenton, my parents had three more girls, my sisters Renee, Andrea and Danielle.

We finally left Trenton when my parents’ dream came true and we were transferred to Comox, British Columbia. I can remember my parents talking about how much they’d like to live on the west coast of Canada for years. As a matter of fact, the story told ever after was that my Dad was so happy at the news of our transfer to British Columbia he wore holes in his socks dancing around the coffee table.

Their intention to remain in British Columbia was evident when my Dad told his superiors in Comox that he would rather forego any further promotions in order to remain in British Columbia until he retired. My parents lived in Comox until his death in 2005.

Turmaine Family in the late 1960's.
Turmaine family photo with Gerry in rear on the right; middle: Renee, Christine, Gail and Andrea; front: Danielle.

Twenty years ago I met my husband while he was training in Comox. He was an Aviation Technician with the Canadian Armed Forces and retired in 2006 to take a position with Marshall Aerospace in Abbotsford, British Columbia – where he could continue to work on his favorite aircraft, the CC130 Hercules.

To add to the tradition, my husband’s father, Marsh Blythe, retired in the 1980’s as a Sergeant in the Canadian army and my sister Andrea’s husband Larry Potter also retired several years ago from the Canadian army.

The Fougères: Pioneer Family of Port Toulouse, Île Royale.

The Fougères – Pioneer Family of Port Toulouse, Île Royale.

Cape Breton, or Île Royale as it was known by the French, was the location of a trading fort built by Nicolas Denys in the mid-1600’s. Continuous infighting among the French commercial community resulted in the post and fort being burnt. Construction of a new fort began in 1664, by the orders of Sr. Louis Tuffet, Commandant.

The resident native population, the Mi’kmaq, were never very far away and a relationship was developed between them and the French settlers. Port Toulouse, the eventual home of Jean Fougère and his descendants until the present day, was founded and developed just east of the canal connecting the Bras d’Or Lakes with the Atlantic Ocean.

Port Toulouse (“Potlotek” to the Mi’kmaq) was the main place of safety sought by citizens who feared escalation of the animosity between the British and French. The fort and village were burned about 1645, resulting in the deaths of some inhabitants and imprisonment of women and children. The Mik’maq were also victimized when their cemetery was desecrated, the crosses broken and burned along with bodies they had exhumed.

Port Toulouse Fortifications of 1734 - The Fougères
Port Toulouze – The Fougères

In the spring of 1756, the Port Toulouse residents felt war was a strong possibility and left the town, taking to the woods. By 1758, after the fall of Louisbourg, many of the former Port Toulouse residents were captured and relocated to French ports and/or English prisons. A great number did survive and were able to come out of hiding, return to Cape Breton and once again settle in Port Toulouse with their families.

One of Port Toulouse’s early settlers was Jean Fougère. Born about 1685 in Pourpé-en-Beauce, Orléans, Chateaudun, Eure-et-Loir, France, Jean was the son of Jean Fougère, Sr., born about 1660 and Marie Barrè (1667-1689), both also of Pourpé-en-Beauce, Orléans, Chateaudun, Eure-et-Loir, France.

Prior to his residence in Port Toulouse, Jean had immigrated to Acadia in 1698, settling in Port Royal, and is shown in the 1698 Acadian census at Port Royal. His presence at Port Royal is also noted on February 5, 1709, when Jean signed a church register after attending the wedding of Claude Girouard and Élizabeth Blanchard in Port Royal.

The registers of St-Jean-Baptiste record Jean Jr.’s marriage on November 27, 1713 to Marie Bourg (1690-1727), daughter of Abraham Bourg and Marie “Sébastienne” Brun of Port Royal. Their children included Marguerite (1715-1715), Marie-Josèphe (1715-1715), Marguerite (1716-1752), Jean (1718-1727), Joseph Hylarion (1720-1790), Marie-Josèphe (born in 1723), Jeanne “Anne” (born 1725) and Charles (born 1727). The Acadians were noted for a high incidence of twins and Jean Jr.’s twin daughters Marguerite and Marie-Josèphe both died in infancy. Their next daughter, born in 1716, was named after Marguerite and another daughter born in 1723 was named after the second twin, Marie-Josèphe.

In 1713, after taking control of Acadia, the British demanded that all Acadians sign an oath of allegiance to King George I. Jean Fougère signed the oath in 1715.

In the years following the French worked to quietly induce the Acadians to relocate to Île Royale, and sometime between 1720 and 1722, Jean moved his family to Port Toulouse. The Acadian census of 1722 in Port Toulouse records the presence of Jean and his family and indicates Jean’s occupation to be that of a navigator and fisherman. At the time of their arrival in Port Toulouse, the population consisted of 13 families comprising a total of 76 citizens.

The 1724 census of Port Toulouse shows Jean’s family, and records him as an immigrant from Orléans, France who worked as a navigator. He is shown with his wife, two sons, three daughters, one servant and three “engages” and his personal property of one boat (geolette). “Engages”, also known as “52 months men”, were hired hands for whom the employer paid the passage from France. These men had agreed to work the contracted time in return for board. It is known that these “engages” were not always treated well or fairly.

The Port Toulouse census in 1726 shows Jean to have a fishing business employing eight engages. The latter three children of Jean and Marie were born after relocating to Port Toulouse. Shortly after, in 1727, Marie and their young son Jean died.

About 1728, Jean remarried to Marie-Madeleine “Madeleine” Belliveau (before 1718-1771), daughter of Jean Belliveau and Cécile Melanson. Their children included Madeleine (1730-1730), Madeleine (1731-1750), Judith (born 1733), Louis “dit Louison” (1734-1753), Marie-Louise “Isabeau” (1735-1765), Barbe (born 1736), Marie (1738-1752), Jean (1742-1813), Michel “Boniface” (born 1743), and Marie-Gervaise (1744-1752).

In 1744, news that France had declared war on England reached Louisbourg before any other North American port. Based on these reports, the Governor of Louisbourg decided to get an advantage and attacked and captured the English port of Canso. He also licensed privateers to capture English and New England ships under his authority. On June 11, 1744, Jean Fougère captured a British schooner near the Canso islands with handwritten permission from the Commandant of Port Toulouse instead of the proper license, resulting in the confiscation of his prize.

It is known that Jean Fougère died before October 3, 1749 in Port Toulouse, as this was the date recorded on a document about the guardianship of his children. He was also named on a list of citizens who had died between 1749 and 1750, and left minor children in Île Royale.

After his death Marie-Madeleine married a second time to Claude Dugas. Claude was the brother of Madeleine Dugas, who later married Marie’s stepson Charles Fougère.

It is believed the Fougères avoided deportation from Cape Breton after the fall of Louisbourg. They are not recorded on any documents concerning refugees of the time and it is likely they hid in the wilderness and were possibly helped by the Mi’kmaq.



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A breakthrough in the mysterious Melanson genealogy?

A while ago, I learned a valuable lesson after reading an email about a breakthrough in the research on the mysterious Melanson genealogy. I should not read emails on my tablet just before turning off the bedroom light. This email contained some exciting information that was essentially a breakthrough in the mysterious Melanson genealogy.


The ruins of Fort Beausejour where numerous Acadians, including our Melansons, were held prisoner by the British prior to the expulsion.
The ruins of Fort Beausejour where numerous Acadians, including our Melansons, were held prisoner by the British prior to the expulsion.

Once I read the following email informing me of a discovery made by Paul Delaney in 2012 of baptismal records for the children of Pierre and Priscilla Melanson, I lost all hope of sleeping. I was just too excited and my mind was racing.

The email reads:


Through some internet research on Melanson name I found your website, more specifically this page:

Just in case you were not aware, you might be interested to know that a few documents were found in London that relates to Pierre Melanson (father) and his family.  Here’s a nice article in English (from the Facebook page of Michael B. Melanson) that talks about what was found.

Through his diligence and dedication, Paul Delaney has made some very exciting and important discoveries – including the baptismal records of brothers Pierre (Peter) and Charles Mellanson, ancestors of the Melanson/Melançon family.

In 2012, he published an article titled “Les Melanson en Angleterre” [“The Melansons in England”] with the results of his research. In the parish register of St. Martin in the Fields Church in London, he found four baptismal records for the children of Pierre and Priscilla:

Petrus [Peter] Meranson baptized August 15, 1637
Petrus [Peter] Meronzo baptized October 29, 1637
Katherina [Catherine] Meranzo baptized April 19, 1640
Caroly [Charles] Meranzon baptized December 14, 1642

These entries were recorded in Latin and did not include dates of birth. As the first two baptisms took place two and a half months apart, the first Peter could not have been an infant. It is possible his parents were new members of the congregation and had him baptized there as a toddler. Their marriage record was not found in the parish registers. As for the second Peter, this may have been John. Occasionally, a recording priest or minster would mistakenly inscribe the father’s name in place of the child’s – a simple clerical error. It’s also possible that the first Peter died shortly after baptism (as a toddler) and the next newborn child was given his name. No burial records for this family were found. However, clergymen tended to be less diligent in recording these events.

As these children were baptized with variations of the “Meranson” surname, it would not have been Priscilla’s maiden name, as once theorized. Also, Laverdure would appear to be an alternate or nickname for Mellanson and not the other way around. When Pierre Mellanson’s daughter Madeleine was baptized at Rivière-aux-Mines, Acadia, June 25, 1684, he was recorded as “Pierre Melanson, Sieur de la Verdure.” Laverdure may have been a title or designation once used in France.

Michael B. Melanson

Source: Paul Delaney, “Les Melanson en Angleterre,” Cahiers de la Société historique acadienne, vol. 43, no. 3 (September 2012), pp. 44-60.

So there is still more to discover about that family…

Best regards,

Martin Roy (descendant of Charles Melanson)

I am prone to anxiety attacks, but this was the first time I ever experienced an anxiety attack brought on by good news, and the only way to deal with it was to get up and try to see if I could find more information for this family using the misspellings in the baptismal records.

I didn’t find anything new, but I did find the transcribed baptism index records on and


Records for Catherine Melanson

(Katherina Meranzo)

Meranzo, Katherina; baptism record; London, England; Ancestry

Meranzo, Katherina; baptism record; London, England; Family Search


Records for Pierre Melanson

(Petrus Meranson)

Meranson, Petrus; Baptism Record; London, England

Meranson, Petrus; bap. 1637; London, England


Records for Pierre Melanson

(Petri Meronzo)

Meronzo, Petri, bap. Oct 1637; England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975

Meronzo, Petri, bap. Oct 1637; England Births and Christenings


Records for Charles Melanson

(Carol Meranzon)

Meranzon, Carol, bap. 1642; England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975; Family Search

Meranzon, Carol, bap. 1642; England Births and Christenings, 1538-1975; Ancestry

I also checked out the Melanson Facebook page and I’ve placed a screenshot below.


Melanson Facebook Page Article

Melanson Baptisms; London, England; Melanson-Melancon- The Genealogy of an Acadian and Cajun Family; Facebook



I was a little perplexed about why the misspellings were so similar throughout the years in London. Then I realized that it was most likely a result of different phonetic sounds for letters in French and English. When you hear ‘Melanson’ with a French accent, it could easily sound phonetically like ‘Meranzo’ to English ears.

I’ve always been in the habit of using soundex searches for unusual names or as a last resort when I’m not finding anything else. This is an example where the differences can be too great to be picked up via soundex.

Based on the information in the baptism records, the variations and misspellings of the surname due to speaking it with a French accent, I have come to new conclusions for the origins of this family.

I still do believe Pierre came from France, but that the Melanson surname belonged to him and not his wife Priscilla, whom he most likely met and married in England sometime prior to 1630. The ‘dit Laverdure’ suffix was probably a title or designation of some sort and I’ve provided a few possibilities in an earlier post.

The four Melanson children were subsequently baptized in London, England at St. Martin in the Fields parish church between 1630 and 1642.

Since there is no record of Catherine in Acadia, she most likely died prior to their immigration.

As surmised by Martin Roy in his email, I do believe the second Pierre baptised was most likely Jean. Although the reasons can vary, it has been quite common in the French culture to reuse the same first name for more than one child and for them to be differentiated by everyday use of their middle name. This is the case in both my mother’s Acadian ancestry and my father’s Quebecois ancestry.

This narrows my search for ever increasing online records in France to Pierre Melanson ‘dit Laverdure,’ increasing the chances of finding him in France (perhaps la Rochelle) sometime in the future.

The Bourgs of Acadia


I and my children are descended from several noteworthy immigrants from France who were original pioneers of Acadia, including the Bourgs of Acadia.


In the past, I have posted about our Melanson ancestors, who we most readily associate ourselves with, since the family name carried down through the generations to my mother, who stopped using the Melanson name upon marrying my father, Gerard Ronald Joseph Turmaine.

Bourgs of Acadia were a founding family in Port Royal
Bourgs of Acadia lived in Port Royal.

In fact, considering sheer numbers, our ties to the Bourg family are the strongest. Antoine Bourg, originally from Martaizé, near Loudon, in France, was the original pioneer of this family and 9th great grandfather to my children, Erin and Stuart. The Bourg and Melanson families intersect with the marriage of Anne (Jeanne) Bourg, daughter of François Bourg and Marguerite Boudrot to Charles Melanson, son of Charles Mellanson and Marie Dugas (and grandson to the original Melanson pioneer couple – Pierre dit Laverdure and Priscilla (Mellanson).


Antoine Bourg


Antoine was born in about 1609 in Martaizé, Loudun, Vienne, France. He immigrated to Port Royal around 1640 and married Antoinette Landry in 1643. Born about 1618 in France, she lived in Bourg Village near Port Royal with her family and shows in the 1693 Acadian census as a widow in the house of her son Abraham and his wife Marie in Port Royal. Therefore, it seems safe to assume Antoine died prior to 1693. According to this same census, her property at the time consisted of 12 cattle, 20 sheep, eight hogs, 26 arpents of land and one gun.

Their children were François (born about 1643); Marie Bourg (1644-1730); Jean Bourg (1645-1703); Bernard Bourg (1649-1725); Martin Bourg; Jeanne Bourg (1650-abt 1700); Renée Bourg (born about 1655); Huguette Bourg (1657); Jeanne Bourg (1658-1724); Abraham Bourg (1660-after 1736); Marguerite Bourg (1667-1727); Alexander Bourg (1667).

In various Acadian censuses, Antoine Bourg is recorded to own land holdings of various sizes; differing quantities of livestock including cattle, sheep and hogs; and a gun.

Sir William Phipps
Sir William Phipps

In 1690, a New England Commander, Sir William Phips, took Port Royal. Governor Meneval of Acadia, after considering the circumstances and the fact that they were greatly outnumbered, opted to surrender. At the time of his surrender, Meneval was assured the church and private property would be left alone, but over twelve days of pillaging, the church and several private buildings were destroyed.

Phips made the Acadians swear allegiance to King William and Queen Mary, in what Phips later falsely described as great rejoicings and acclaim.

After Phips left Acadia, the Acadians lived in a political and patriotic limbo. Authority had not been asserted by either New England or France and the Acadians, preferring to avoid more direct authority and control, insisted the French representative not try to change anything. They feared the English would hear of it and decide to return to punish them. New England made no attempt to assert its authority and the French made no attempt to regain control.

My children and I are directly descended from three of their sons, namely Francois, Bernard and Abraham, who were each an eighth great grandfather to my children.


François Bourg


The oldest child of Antoine and Antoinette was François Bourg born about 1643 in Port Royal. About 1665, he married Marguerite Boudrot (born 1648), daughter of Michel Boudrot and Michelle Aucoin.  Their seven children were Michel “Michaud” Bourg (1663-1712); Marie Bourg (born 1668); Alexandre “dit Belle-humeur” Bourg (1671-1760); Marguerite Bourg (born 1673); Magdeleine Bourg (born 1677); Pierre Bourg (born 1681); Anne “Jeanne” Bourg (1683-1749), married to Charles Melanson (1675-1757) and both being my children`s seventh great grandparents. During the years 1671 to 1678, François is recorded as a farmer who in 1678 owned eight acres of land and 15 cattle. François died sometime around 1686 in Port Royal.


Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat


Of particular interest and notoriety, is the husband of François Bourg`s daughter Magdeleine. Commonly known as `Baptiste`, he was Captain Pierre Baptiste Maisonnat.

Born in 1663, in Bergerac, France, he was notorious and fairly well documented as a pirate and cad. He also would be thought of as a playboy by today`s standards. Taken in May of 1690 as one of the prisoners of Sir William Phips during his seizure of Port Royal, Baptiste sometime afterward managed to gain his freedom. The following year, he dedicated much of his time to sailing the waters of New England in his quest for prizes.

Governor Frontenac of Quebec
Governor Frontenac of Quebec

Although Baptiste was frequently captured, charged, imprisoned and even on one later occasion sentenced to hanging, he either managed to escape on his own or was released after intervention and negotiations on his behalf by Governor Frontenac of Quebec on several occasions or the Governor of Acadia on another occasion by threatening retaliation were Baptiste indeed hanged.

During his pirating career, Baptiste took François Bourg`s 15 year old daughter Magdeleine as his bride in 1693. Shortly after marrying, Baptiste moved his new wife to Quebec on the pretense that she was in danger in Port Royal. It is far more likely, from what we now know, he wished to hide his marriage from those who were already aware of his other wives in several other localities including France. On November, 1695, Frontenac wrote to the Minister of France, to whom he had once praised Baptiste, informing him that he had heard that Baptiste had several other wives, including in various locations. It is definite that Baptiste had one wife at Bergerac, France, namely Judith Soubiron (born 1660), who gave birth to his daughter Judith-Marie Maisonnat in 1689.

In 1695, once the news of Baptiste`s polygamy broke in Acadia, Magdeleine, recent mother to his daughter Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat Bourg decided to return home to her father and mother.

Baptiste then returned to France to retrieve his lawful wife and daughter. His wife, Judith Soubiron, later bore him two more children, Pierre and Jean, dying in Port Royal on October 19, 1703.

Baptiste remarried on January 12, 1707, to a widow, Marguerite Bourgeois, the daughter of Jacques Bourgeois. She had been married twice previously, first to Jean Boudrot, son of Michel Boudrot; second to Emmanuel Mirande, a Portuguese.

Baptiste`s poor young bride, Magdeleine Bourg, later married Pierre LeBlanc, Jr. in 1697. He was the son of Pierre LeBlanc, Sr. and Marie Terriot. They had seven children.

Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat


Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat, the daughter of Baptiste and Magdeleine Bourg, was a major influence in Annapolis Royal during the late 1600`s. Known to be somewhat domineering and aloof, she fostered enough grudging respect and influence that she could exercise her own authority in the matters of soldiers, whether to be released from custody or other administrative matters without her right to do so being questioned. She presided at councils of war in the fort, appearing to have inherited some of her father`s spirit and drive.

In 1711, at about 16 years of age, she married William Winniett, a French Huguenot who was a leading merchant in Acadia, at some point receiving the title of “Honorable”`, becoming a member of the Governor`s Council. His sympathy for the Acadians was made obvious resulting in his being under suspicion. He drowned in Boston, bequeathing his considerable property and assets “to my beloved wife Magdeleine Winniett,” whom he had appointed sole executrix. William Winniett and Marie-Magdeleine Maisonnat had 13 children born in Annapolis, including seven boys and six girls.

Bernard Bourg


Antoine and Antoinette Bourg’s fourth child, Bernard, was born in 1649 in Port Royal. About 1670, he married Françoise Brun (1652-1725), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie-Renée Brau, both immigrants to Acadia from France.  They had eleven children, including Marguerite “Margueritte” Bourg (1670-1747); Marie-Claire “Claire” Bourg (1670); René Bourg (born 1676); Jeanne Bourg (1677-1725); Anne Bourg (1680-1751); Françoise Bourg (1682-1715); Claire “Clare” Bourg (born 1682); Abraham Bourg (1685-1751); Renée Bourg (1687); Marie Bourg (1690); Claire Bourg (1692). Between 1671 and 1725, Bernard and his family continuously lived in Port Royal, their livestock and personal property steadily increasing in quantity and value over the years. Prior to his death in Port Royal on May 23, 1725, Bernard had amassed an estate consisting of  24 cattle, 18 sheep, 30 arpents of land and one gun.


Abraham Bourg


Born 1662 at Port-Royal, Abraham was the tenth child of Antoine Bourg and Antoinette Landry. In 1683, Abraham married a young widow, Marie- Sébastienne Brun (1658-1736), daughter of Vincent Brun and Marie Brau. Marie`s first husband was François Gautrot, who died young, leaving her alone to care for a young son, also named François. They were recorded in the 1678 census of Port Royal with a young son, two cattle and a gun. Young François was recorded living with his new family 1791 census. Abraham and Marie- Sébastienne had nine children including Jean-Baptiste Bourg (born 1683); Marguerite Bourg (born 1685); Claude Bourg (1687-1751); Pierre Bourg (1689-1735); Marie Bourg (1690-1727); Marguerite Bourg (born 1691); Michel Bourg (1691-1761); Charles Bourg (born 1694); and Joseph Bourg (born 1697).

Abraham is show in the Acadian censuses between 1686 and 1701 accumulating up to 26 arpents of land; livestock including up to 14 head of cattle, 20 sheep and 12 hogs; and dozens of fruit trees.

Abraham appears to be a relatively educated person of standing as his signature is recorded on the 1695 oath and in the Port Royal church register. He also witnessed the marriage of his daughter, Marie and Jean Fougère, as well as his son Michel’s wedding to Anne Boudrot.

Abraham was one of those chosen to sail to Ile Royale to assess the lands there for settling. The land was found to not be good for farming and the majority of Acadians did not wish to leave the fertile lands of the Annapolis Valley. It appears though, that Abraham did settle there as in 1720, the first record appears indicating he was living in Port Toulouse, Ile-Royale.

Abraham Bourg was chosen to be a Deputy chosen representing the Acadian districts in 1720, but was apparently released from his duties in 1726 due to his deteriorating condition and lameness.

On September 16, 1727 he was one of those who refused to take the oath of allegiance to George II. Lieutenant-Governor Lawrence Armstrong claimed that they had assembled the inhabitants a day earlier and “instead of persuading them to their duty by solid arguments of which they were not incapable they [the deputies] frightened them . . . by representing the oath so strong and binding that neither they nor their children should ever shake off the yoke.” Although many had taken the oath in 1695, the Acadians were using the taking of the oath as a bargaining tool in 1727. They claimed and wished to preserve neutrality between the English and the French and Mik’maq. The Acadians also strongly wished to practice their own religion.

The Deputies were sentenced to prison for their actions in opposition to the adopting of the oath. Bourg, “in consideration of his great age” (he was 67) was allowed to leave the territory without his goods. For their alleged opposition they were committed to prison. The others were released in a short time, so Abraham may never have left at all.

Abraham died and was buried at Port Toulouse, but the actual dates are not known.