Antoine Roy dit Desjardins was the first of my direct paternal line to come to the New France, in 1665, as a member of the Carignan-Salières. After immigrating from Joigny, France to Canada, he married Marie Major Roy, a Filles du Roi, three years later. Antoine had an affair with his neighbor’s wife and was murdered by her husband as a result. My direct paternal lineage traces back to Jean Roy (Antoine’s grandfather) born c. 1575 in France. My FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA results show a connection to others who also descend from Antoine’s father, Olivier Roy. My mtDNA side (mother’s mother’s mother, etc) traces back to Mary Weyman/Weimer Bussinger of Lancaster, Pennsylvania in the early 1800s. The Weimers of Lancaster originated in Alsace-Lorraine on the France/Germany border and I have a pretty clear DNA connection to them through my grandmother who also has been tested on Ancestry.com.
Joris Rapelje and his wife Catalyntje Trico Rapelje were part of the Dutch settlement at New Amsterdam and they are responsible for many descendants in New York today. My tree also contains many Loyalist ancestors who were refugees after the American Revolution. They escaped to St John, New Brunswick in 1783 and unfortunately their paper trails are tough to follow to pre-revolution. Many were likely from Connecticut and New York. A generation later, William McDougald, served in the 104th Regiment of Foot in New Brunswick and took part in a well-documented march from Fredericton, New Brunswick to Quebec City in -25° temperatures in mid-winter. Charles Walton, my 5th great grandfather, was a member of the Royal West India Rangers.
There are many French Canadian Catholics in my tree and they are some of my best-documented ancestors I have. Four years of high school French were invaluable to me in researching their parish church baptism, marriage & death records that survive to this day. The first of my ancestors to arrive in the New World was Louis Hebert, regarded by many historians as the first European farmer and apothecary in New France. He traveled with Samuel de Champlain to Nova Scotia in 1606 and settled his family in Quebec in 1617, three years before the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Pierre Boucher was a soldier, officer, naturalist, author & governor and Boucherville, Quebec is named for him.
At least four of my great-grandfathers served in the American Civil War for the Union. One of them, Francis Wells, fought at Gettysburg in the 99th PA Infantry. He was shot during the siege of St Petersburg, at Boynton Plank Road (depicted above from Frank Leslie’s Scenes and Portraits of the Civil War in 1894), resulting in the loss of his leg. Another interesting character, George B. Brown, was orphaned very young in Ireland and joined the British Army then fought in India before coming to Canada where he deserted and eluded capture by hiding his uniform in some bushes and sneaking across the border to the United States. He fought in the Civil War for the 30th Maine Infantry 30 years later as a substitute for someone who paid him to serve in their place. J. Gottlieb Nagele of Wurttemburg, Germany, immigrated to Philadelphia in 1853 and served in the 75th Pennsylvania Volunteers during the War. William Bubar served in the 1st Maine Volunteer Infantry in and around Washington, DC. Both Gottlieb Nagele’s and Francis Wells’ regiments were at the Battle of Chancellorsville.
The last of my ancestors to come to the United States were Patrick Fallon and Julia Lally Fallon, my 2nd great-grandparents. They were poor Irish immigrants who arrived in Boston in 1897 and for reasons unknown to me, they eventually returned to County Galway.
Many of my ancestors were small business owners, as am I. My grandparents ran a restaurant for a couple decades in Maine. Richard Coffey owned a roofing and supply business in Philadelphia for a couple decades. John Nagle owned and ran a coal delivery company during the day and then worked a night job in order to help his family through the Great Depression. Jerry St Onge owned National Granite in Montpelier, Vermont which had to be a really tough job in his day. Many of the men who did that kind of work didn’t live to be very old. Haze McDougal Sr ran a small firearms dealership from his home probably to support his own gun collecting habit. Harriet Nagle Coffey made and sold doll clothing at a shop located in the hotel where my great-grandfather John Coffey worked at, in West Palm Beach during the winter. Just a generation beyond my great-grandparents though, most of my ancestors were farmers that owned and operated their own small, self-sufficient farms.
I have many ancestors from these places
- Aroostook County, Maine
- Cheshire & Hillsborough, NH
- Philadelphia, Bucks & Lancaster, PA
- Barre, Montpelier & Bloomfield, VT
- New Brunswick, Canada
- Quebec, Canada
- Stuttgart, Württemberg, Germany
- County Galway, Cork & Tyrone, Ireland
- New Brunswick & Salem, New Jersey
- Joigny, Paris & Normandy, France
- Baselland, Switzerland
- Goderich & Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada
- Nova Scotia, Canada
- Nottinghamshire & Surrey, England
- Licking County, Ohio