Not At The Table

Every holiday weekend, means family and dinner.  I battled the crowds to get the customary Easter dinner fixings. I planned baskets for my kids and treats for after dinner. Setting the table I see who is not there, not only those who have passed but those I haven’t found.  I would like nothing better than to fill those empty seats with relatives.

I feel numb drifting through my growing family tree, these people have no meaning to me yet.  They are a mystery to be solved, they lack a tangibility.  So, I need a break.  The one advantage of being adopted and loving genealogy is more families to research.  I turned to my husband’s known parentage and known but not researched tree. He was told a story, but some of the story wasn’t exactly true.  That sounds familiar right? Good to know that adoptees are not the only ones that are fibbed to.

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Myself and my husband Mark in his full MCPherson kit on Lake Chautauqua, New York

I’ve been researching his paternal family tree, because the truth seems to vary by the teller.

His Grandmother’s line is wonderful, there is such diversity and good documentation to follow! She was a McPherson and her mother was a Cooper. Sounds pretty Scottish and Irish right? Mark, my husband wears a McPherson tartan with pride celebrating his Scottish roots, however, with some digging, the immigration of the McPherson clan was an interesting one.  The McPherson branch took a route through Canada, like many loyal to the crown.  Landing on Prince Edward Island they were didn’t stay to find brides like Anne Shirley they forged westward to Montreal, Quebec.

Knowing history as well as genealogy can be beneficial, with a little research I found some facts about early Quebec. Early Quebec was overwhelmingly male inhabited, about 80%, there was a desperate shortage of women to marry.  As a result from 1634-1662 Filles a Marier, young women were sponsored to come over, they signed a marriage contract, however, she had the right to refuse her potential spouse and some did on arrival.  The Filles a Marier brought 262 young women to Quebec to become wives and the foundation of society in the wilderness.

Later the state sponsored the Filles du Roi, King’s Daughters. 774 Filles du Roi were recruited, of which 414 were orphans. Providing these young women with a dowry and transport as well as pick of the eligible bachelors, it was “The Bachelorette” circa 1663, with more aromatics.  These young woman had to brave many hardships as well as ridicule of the established families who started rumors that they were prostitutes or thieves. I imagine there is nothing better to do in a small community than to spread rumors, somethings never change.

Martin McPherson found himself a nice French girl, Marie Billet, who lucky for my husband, was a descendant of one of those brave women who embarked from France as a Filles a Marier.  If it hadn’t been for that first step into the unknown he would have never existed.  We all have our unknowns, for adoptees our unknown biological families hold mystery and fear of what we will find.  I love uncovering family treasures through old records. Taking a break from my own mystery reaffirms why I am searching. I need my own answers, I need my own stories.

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