Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cowboy Legacy -- French connection


The French Canadian Heritage of Lucy Pinsonneault


Lucy Pinsonneault, my 2nd great grandmother, also known as (aka) Lucy Passino, was born June 17, 1836, in Rutland, New York to Gabriel Pinsonneault (aka Gilbert Passino) and Maria Emelie Meunier Lagace (aka Mary Passino).

For more than 15 years I have been researching the French Canadian ancestry of Lucy Pinsonneault.  The difficultly of learning about her family began with the fact that her father and mother, both born in Canada, were illiterate and probably spoke little or no English when they first emigrated to the United States about 1830.

We know Gabriel and Maria were still in Canada in 1827 when a son Francis was born there, but they had emigrated to the United States and were living in Vermont by 1832 when their daughter Justine was born.

Lucy married John Galloway Brown January 23, 1861, in Philadelphia, New York.  She died February 2, 1917, in Creston, Montana.


The photo above was taken about 1910 at the Creston, Montana homestead of John and Lucy Brown.

Preliminary notes for Lucy Passino

Lucy's son Abraham Lincoln Brown listed his mother's maiden name as Passneau.

Lucy Passino Brown's death certificate listed her father as Cassino, born in France.  

The death certificate of George Pierce, Lucy's younger brother, listed his father as Gilbert Pierce, born Canada, and his mother as Mary Laggesie, born France.  

Here's good place to comment on evidence given for a death certificate.  The person the information pertains to is dead, so the supplied data comes from the often dim memory of a child or spouse.  Worse yet, someone else is writing what they think they are hearing, and of course nobody is checking the spelling at the time of writing.

In her family history notes, Lydia (Brown) Bailey, Lucy's grand daughter, listed Lucy Passino Brown as the daughter of  Gilbert Passino, born in France about 1815, and Mary Armstrong, born about 1817 in Canada.

Early public records for Gilbert, Lucy's father, had many different surnames

1850 US Federal Census, Rutland, Jefferson Co., New York:
Givarow Passinault, age 47 (1803), born Canada
Mary Passinault, age 40 (1810), born Canada

1850 New York Agriculture Census, Rutland, Jefferson Co., New York:
Givarow Passano

1860 US Federal Census, Wilna, Jefferson Co., New York:
Gilbert Passino, age 57 (1803), born Canada
Mary Passino, age 55 (1805), born Canada

1864 Wilna, Jefferson Co., New York Land Owner Map:
G. Pasino

1870 US Federal Census, Wilna, Jefferson Co., New York:
Gilbert  Pasnan, age 68 (1802), born Canada
Mary  Pasnan, age 62 (1808), born Canada

1870 New York Agriculture Census, Wilna, Jefferson Co., New York:
Givarow Pasnan

1877 Obituary published in the Carthage Republican (New York):
Gilbert Passino

1877 Headstone in Pierce Cemetery, Wilna (Fort Drum), Jefferson Co., New York:
Gilbert Passino

Pinsonneau became Passino -- Getting on the right track

Published in the Press Republican (Plattsburgh, New York) November 24, 2002,  a newspaper article written by Robin Caudell titled "French connection--From street signs to surnames: French-Canadian influence manifests itself in many distinct ways."   He describes:  "Remnants of a vibrant French Canadian past permeate the North Country.  Franco culture echoes in family surnames, names of geographical places and streets.  It is preserved in the architectural detail of private residences, commercial buildings and churches, and it’s savored in traditional recipes such as tourtiere and sliders.  'You have a sense that the culture as been fully assimilated, and there are relatively little current indications French Canadian culture existed here,' said Dr. Sylvie Beaudreau, a professor of history at Plattsburgh State."

[excerpt from a surname list published in the article] Current Name: Passino -- Original Name: Pinsonneau  

Quoted source: "Volume  III, Headstone Inscriptions, Clinton County, New York" by Clyde Rabideau Sr.

Breakthrough -- The death of ‘Mary’ Émélie Meunier dite Lagacé
Melanie Pierce, a distant cousin, wrote to me that she learned Mary Passino was, in fact, Marie Laggesie, and she sent me a copy of Marie's death certificate, which had been hand-written in French.  To be honest I was doubtful, but I sent a copy of the certificate to a genealogist and Lagacé family researcher in Canada.  The genealogist interpreted the document and advised me the certificate clearly states that Marie Émélie Meunier dite Lagacé was the wife of Gilbert Pinsonnault, of ( États-Unis) United States.  She also confirmed that Pinsonneau was very likely changed to Passino.

Armed with that information I quickly found birth and marriage records for Gabriel and Marie Pinsonneau online at ancestry.com.

Pursuing Pinsonneau -- Church records for Gilbert aka Gabriel Pinsonneau

Birth:  from Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 
Gabriel Pinsonneau
Event Year: 1801-1805
Event: Naissance (Birth)
Religion: Catholique
Place of Worship: La Prairie (Notre-Dame-de-LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine)
Province: Québec

Marriage: from Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
Gabriel Pinsonault
Spouse: Marie Emilie Lagasse
Event Year: 1824
Event: Mariage (Marriage)
Religion: Catholique
Place of Worship: Châteauguay St-Joachim
Province: Québec

During the past two years I have traced the Pinsonneau and Lagacé families to the very beginning of Canada's history.  I found over 200 French-Canadian relatives.  Some of them were farmers and tradesmen; more than a dozen had been involved in the fur trade as either couriers de bois or voyageurs.  


Maybe that explains my love of canoeing, and the silent places that can only be reached by paddle and portage.  Photo from a 1987 rendezvous reenactment.

Update September 23, 2013:

Gabriel Pinsonneau found on the 1830 United States Federal Census about Gabriel Painsam

Name: Gabriel Painsam; [Gabriel Painsoun]; [Gabriel Pinsawe] 
Home in 1830 Vineyard, Grand Isle, Vermont
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5: 2 [Nelson Francis b. 1826 and Moses David b. 1827]
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29: 1 [Gabriel b. 1803]
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29: 1 [Maria b. 1808]
White Persons - Aliens - Foreigners not Naturalized: 4
Free White Persons - Under 20: 2
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49: 2
Total Free White Persons: 4

Total - All Persons (Free White, Slaves, Free Colored): 4

Update October 10, 2013:

More information for Gabriel Pinsonneau aka Gilbert Passino...

1825 Lower Canada Census -- Gabriel Pinsonault found living in Chateauguay, Huntingdon, Lower Canada

Update May 14, 2015:

If there was ever a doubt about my Pinsonneau/Pinsonneault family heritage it has been dispelled by my ancestry.com DNA tests which have yielded dozens of links to early French-Canadian ancestors including shared ancestors.


7 comments:

  1. Hello Cousin Jerry

    My name is Leslie Douglas Parsneau. Son of Douglas Maurice Parsneau, Grandson of George Maurice Parsneau, Great Grandson of Moses D. Parsneau and Great Great Grandson of Gilbert Parsneau.

    Thanks for all of your work! My brother Glen and I have been working on the history on and off for 10-12 years but you have made a great breakthrough.

    Please feel free to contact me if you wish at lpars111 at gmail.com

    Thanks again
    Les Parsneau

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  2. Hello:
    https://www.facebook.com/bonker.farms

    It appears that we are relatives in a fashion as we share common ancestry.

    My Name is Gene B. Rook 1963, my mother April C. Pierce 1945, her father Russel Charles Pierce 1909, his father Charles f Pierce 1885, his father George Pierce 1855, and his father Gilbert G. Pierce/Passino/Passin/Parsneau

    It appears that few spelled very well and as English/French/and American spellings differed a number of versions appeared on documents.
    It also appears that after the "Declaration of Independents" families that had holdings or relatives on either side of the line "Americanized their names" so as not to loose their holdings or properties. As the English and English loyal subjects were considered "threats" past the 1812 burning of the "White House" it is obvious that diverse and wide spread families altered or manipulated the spellings of their names to reflect loyalties....President Pierce's father's family leads directly to Canada as does ours both having English and French ancestries...

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  3. Gilbert G Pierce/Passino/Passin/Parsneau 1815 born in Canada

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  4. Little is known about Pierce's early life or background. He was born in York County, Virginia in 1753. He served in the Continental Army through most of the War of Independence. He was commissioned a captain in the 1st Continental Artillery Regiment on November 30, 1776. Due to failing health, he left the artillery to serve as an aide-de-camp to General John Sullivan during Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois in 1779.

    He returned to Virginia and attended the College of William and Mary, but in December 1780 he became an aide-de-camp to General Nathanael Greene. He served with Greene throughout the tumultuous southern campaign, and was recognized by Congress for his bravery at the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. He received brevet promotion to major at the end of the war.

    After his military service, Pierce sought to establish himself as a merchant in the Caribbean. He eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, and partnered with fellow officers Richard Call and Anthony Walton White. In 1783, he married Charlotte Fenwick, the daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter, with whom he had a son, noted author William Leigh Pierce.

    Pierce represented Chatham County in the Georgia State Legislature, which in 1786 elected him to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention the following year. At the Convention he kept notes on the proceedings and, more importantly, wrote character sketches of his fellow delegates. It is these sketches for which he is remembered. Pierce left the Convention in July to attend business matters and did not sign the Constitution.

    Pierce had business troubles and substantial debts, and sought but did not receive appointment to a position in the federal government. He was unsuccessful in a bid for the United States House of Representatives in 1789. He was an original member and vice president of the Georgia chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati, and served as a trustee of the Chatham County Academy until his death on December 10, 1789.

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  5. William Pierce (c. 1753 – December 10, 1789) was an army officer during the American Revolutionary War and a member of the United States Constitutional Convention of 1787.

    Little is known about Pierce's early life or background. He was bor
    n in York County, Virginia in 1753. He served in the Continental Army through most of the War of Independence. He was commissioned a captain in the 1st Continen
    tal Artillery Regiment on November 30, 1776. Due to failing health, he left the artillery to serve as an aide-de-camp to General John Sullivan during Sullivan's expedition against the Iroquois in 1779.

    He returned to Virginia and attended the College of William and Mary, but in December 1780 he became an aide-de-camp to General Nathanael Greene. He served with Greene throughout the tumultuous southern campaign, and was recognized by Congress for his bravery at the Battle of Eutaw Springs on September 8, 1781. He received brevet promotion to major at the end of the war.

    After his military service, Pierce sought to establish himself as a merchant in the Caribbean. He eventually settled in Savannah, Georgia, and partnered with fellow officers Richard Call and Anthony Walton White. In 1783, he married Charlotte Fenwick, the daughter of a wealthy South Carolina planter, with whom he had a son, noted author William Leigh Pierce.

    Pierce represented Chatham County in the Georgia State Legislature, which in 1786 elected him to the Continental Congress and the Constitutional Convention the following year. At the Convention he kept notes on the proceedings and, more importantly, wrote character sketches of his fellow delegates. It is these sketches for which he is remembered. Pierce left the Convention in July to attend business matters and did not sign the Constitution.

    Pierce had business troubles and substantial debts, and sought but did not receive appointment to a position in the federal government. He was unsuccessful in a bid for the United States House of Representatives in 1789. He was an original member and vice president of the Georgia chapter of the Society of the Cincinnati, and served as a trustee of the Chatham County Academy until his death on December 10, 1789.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Franklin Pierce volunteered to serve in the Army during the Mexican-American War. He was commissioned as a colonel in the Infantry on February 16, 1847. On March 3, 1847 he was promoted to brigadier general and took command of a brigade of
    reinforcements for Winfield Scott's army marching on Mexico City. His brigade was designated the 1st Brigade in the newly created 3rd Division and joined Scott's army in time for the Battle of Contreras. During the battle he was seriously wounded in the leg when he fell from his horse.[13]

    He returned to his command the following day, but during the Battle of Churubusco the pain in his leg became so great that he passed out and had to be carried from the field. His political opponents used this against him, claiming that he left the field because of cowardice instead of injury. In his memoirs, Ulysses S. Grant (not a supporter of Pierce politically), who observed Pierce firsthand during the war, described criticism of Pierce's service as "unfair and unjust," and Pierce as "a gentleman and a man of courage."[14] Pierce returned to command and led his brigade throughout the rest of the campaign, resulting in the capture of Mexico City. He resigned from the Army on March 28, 1848.

    Although he was a political appointee, he proved that he had some skill as a military commander. He returned home and served as president of the New Hampshire state constitutional convention in 1850.[15][16]

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  7. Franklin Pierce was born on November 23, 1804, likely at the Franklin Pierce Homestead, which his father had built that year in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Another possible birthplace was the family's former log cabin, which site is now under Franklin Pierce Lake. He was the fifth of eight children. Their father was Benjamin Pierce, a frontier farmer who had been a Revolutionary War soldier, and a state militia general. He was elected as a two-time Democratic-Republican governor of New Hampshire when Franklin was a young man. Benjamin Pierce was a direct descendant of Thomas Pierce (1618–1683),[4][5] who was born in Norwich, Norfolk, England and immigrated to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Franklin Pierce's mother was Anna B. Kendrick. Former First Lady of the United States Barbara Pierce Bush is a distant cousin.

    Pierce lived at the Homestead from infancy to his marriage in 1834, with the exception of seven years spent at school, college and the study of law. Pierce family descendants owned the house until 1925.[6]

    ReplyDelete