By Lynn Monty, Editor in Chief
Coming in cold and having to create a cohesive team, as well as establish a productive rhythm and flow of a newsroom, has been a challenge this past year, but I must say we are finally on a roll. Things are actually calm enough now to tackle updating our beloved archives. Watching the genealogy-tracking television program “Who Do You Think You Are” brought to light just how important newspapers are to researching family lineage. Witnessing the rich and famous piece together their ancestral story got me thinking about my own.
After some urging from Charlotte’s resident historian, Dan Cole, and about nine hours of research on Ancestry I found that famous singer Madonna and I share the same set of 9th great-grandparents in Jean Besset De Brisetout and Anne Le Seigneur, who was a “King’s Daughter” or “Fille du Roi.” Anne married Jean who was a soldier and settler in 1668 to help colonize Canada for the king. Their son, also named Jean, is my 8th great-grandfather who was scalped by the Iroquois and lived to tell the tale.
In Canada it’s a great source of pride to be able to pinpoint a Fille du Roi in your family line, much like when Americans discover a relative who came over on the Mayflower. From what I have read, there were about 700 King’s Daughters who came to New France (Canada) between 1663 and 1673, under the sponsorship of King Louis XIV of France. Most French-Canadians are descendants of one or more of these courageous women of the 17th century.
We celebrated Charlotte’s French-Canadian heritage this week by joining the Charlotte Historical Society as they presented Va-et-Vient, a trio of Vermont women who performed traditional French-Canadian music at the Charlotte Grange Hall on Spear Street. Be sure to read Dan Cole’s story connecting the dots on Charlotte’s rich French-Canadian history.
Most of my Bessette ancestors lived in Chambly, Quebec, until 1839 or a little before when my 4th great-grandfather Jean Baptiste Ambroise Bessette moved to Chautaugay, New York. It was my great-grandfather Theodore Bessette (or his mom and dad) who moved to Vermont, including my favorite Bessette of all, my gram Katherine. She married my grampy, Jerome Lawrence, also a French-Canadian, in Burlington.
Many women far back in my family tree had the name Marie, which warms my heart because my first name is actually Lynn-Marie. Their maiden names are Hains, Paquet and more! I have so many cousins, including Andre Bessette who was canonized Saint André of Montreal in 2010. Jean Besset De Brisetout and Anne Le Seigneur are also his something-times great-grandparents.
So to recap, I descended from the same Filles du Roi as Madonna and a saint. Not quite sure what to do with that information. But I have to admit I am walking a little taller than before. Anne Le Seigneur lived to be 85 years old. Back then, that was no small feat. I like to think her longevity is a testament to how much she was loved and cared for by her family.
Digging into our lineage means being elbows deep in old newspaper text at times. Now it’s all online. Or at least it was for me. One day far in future (or tomorrow) someone might be looking to piece their own family story together and will stumble upon The Charlotte News’s extensive 60-year archives, where we have documented the lives of those who have lived and died here. We are honored to provide that service. Visit The Charlotte News website and start searching today.
Care to share what you have found about your ancestry? Please email me. I would love to hear from you.