Catholic Records

Missionaries of Pontiac, 1836-1858

Who baptized/married/buried your ancestors? If your RC ancestors settled in the Ottawa Valley area, the early church records can be a bit confusing: because the acts were recorded by a number of different priests covering an often vast territory, the relevant baptismal/marriage/burial records may be found in the register for a parish (originally a mission) many miles away from your ancestors’ residence.

Here’s a partial list of the missionary priests who served the Pontiac Co. area in the mid-nineteenth century.

Missionaries of LaPasse, Coulonge, Calumet, Allumettes, 1836-1858:

Information extracted from “Notes pourvant servir à la recherche d’extraits aux Régistres,” by Rev. G.A. Picotte, curé au Calumet, circa 1893; and from notes made by T. Nap. LeMoyne, Gower Point, 30 June 1900.1

Dates Priests
1836-1838 Rev Pascal Brunet, curé Montebello
Wm Cannon, vicaire à Bytown
1836-1838 F.L. de Bellefeuille, S.S. Montréal
J.B. Dupuis, Evêché Montréal
1838-1845 John Brady, curé Montebello
1839-1845 Hyp. Moreau, Evêché Montreal
C.C. Vôire, curé St. Joseph [Leves?]2
1839- A. Morin
1839- J.B. Bourassa, curé Montebello
1840-1848 J.J. Desantels, curé Aylmer
1840- A.F. Truteau, Evêché Montreal
N.L. Amyot, St. Cyprien
1841- S.E. Payment, missionaire St. Maurice
1844- Flavien Durocher, OMI, Montreal
1844-1846 Jas. C. Lynch, curé Allumettes
1845- A.A. Brunet, OMI
Medard Bourassa, Montebello
Eusèbe Durocher, Bytown
1845- Jean N. Laverlochère, OMI
1846- H. Ths. Clement, OMI
1846-1847 A.F. Grouse, curé Calumet
1847-1849 J.S. St Aubin, Calumet
1849-1851 Jos. Bouvier, Calumet
Frs. Perret, vicaire Calumet
1847- J.H. McDonagh, Almonte
1842- McNulty, Mount St Patrick
1855- Rev. Michael Lynch, vic. aux Allumettes
1851-1858 L.C. A. Ouellet, Miss. à LaPasse
1858 ____ A. P. de Saunhae, Ier curé à LaPasse
OMI = Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate/Oblates Missionaires de Marie Immaculée

A Few Ecclesiastical Terms (French-English):

curé = parish priest
évêché = bishopric
évêque = bishop
missionaire = missionary
paroisse = parish
presbytère = rectory, parsonage
prêtre = priest
prêtre soussigné = undersigned priest
vicaire = curate; assistant priest
Vicariat Apostolique = Vicariat Apostolic. A Catholic ecclesiastical jurisdiction established in an area that has not yet been organized into a diocese.

1Ile du Grand Calumet (Paroisse Ste. Anne, Co. Pontiac, PQ), Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1881-1893, database at Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 8 August 2011), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection),  1621-967.

2Possibly St. Joseph de la Pointe de Lévy?

Catholic Marriage Dispensations

If you come across a marriage record which notes the granting of a dispensation of consanguinity, you should definitely sit up and take note: you are looking at evidence of a common ancestor (or a pair of common ancestors) shared by both bride and groom. However, as Dan MacDonald points out in his Marriage Dispensations in Roman Catholic Marriage Records, the presence of a dispensation does not necessarily imply that a couple were related. It depends on the type of dispensation.

In addition to dispensations of consanguinity and affinity (which indicate a blood or marital relation, respectively, and which are pretty much always of interest to the genealogical researcher), the Church also granted dispensations from certain established rules and procedures surrounding the marriage ceremony.

For example, when John Killeen married Margaret Fahey on 20 December 1852, the priest (Rev. M. Molloy) noted that he had obtained a dispensation from the Bishop of Bytown to perform the marriage ceremony at “a fordidden time.” The “forbidden time” in this case was that of Advent (from the start of Advent to the Feast of the Epiphany); another “forbidden time” would be that of Lent (from Ash Wednesday to Low Sunday, or the first Sunday after Easter).

In 19th-century Ottawa Valley area RC parish registers (and no doubt in the RC registers of many other places too), the most common dispensation was that of a dispensation of one or two (and sometimes, although less frequently, of all three) of the required banns.

Wilfrid Dontigny and Anna Matilda Derouin

A couple of months ago, I published an entry on tuberculosis in Ontario, along with a photo that was taken “at the sanatorium.” The photo shows a patient, whose name was unknown to me at the time, along with his wife, my great-aunt Anna Matilda Derouin, and my grandparents Delia Lucie Derouin and John (“Jack”) Eugene McGlade. Click thumbnail preview to see larger image:

mcglade_derouin_anne_firsthusband_sanatorium.jpg
Left to right: Delia Lucie Derouin; John (“Jack”) Eugene McGlade; Wilfrid Thomas Charles Dontigny; and Anna Matilda Derouin.
I now know the name of the patient in the above photograph: Wilfrid Thomas Charles Dontigny. He was born at Arnprior on 4 June 1911, the son of Joseph Philip Dontigny and Agnes Simpson; and he died (presumably of tuberculosis) on 4 September 1938, at the age of 27, and was buried at Arnprior on 7 September 1938.
On 20 November 1930, Wilfrid Dontigny married Anna Matilda Derouin at Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa. He married as a fils mineur (minor son: so, not yet 21 [not yet 18 for a fille mineure, or minor daughter, btw]); and both bride and groom were identified in the register as members of the parish of St. John Chrysostom in Arnprior. The witnesses were Earl Steen and my grandmother Delia Derouin (who was not yet married to Jack McGlade).

A few forenames in translation (Latin/French/English)

When Bridget O’Hanlon married Thomas McTeague (15 November 1841, Notre Dame de Bons Secours, Montebello, Co. Papineau, Québec), the priest identified her as “Brigitte O’honlon, domiciliée en Grenville, fille majeure de Pierre O’honlon et de Marie Thoõner, domiciliés en Irlande,” which, in English, would read: “Bridget O’Hanlon, domiciled at Grenville, daughter of age of Peter O’Hanlon and of Mary Toner, domiciled in Ireland.” 

If your Irish Catholic ancestor was baptized, married or buried by a French Canadian priest, you may find his/her forename (but not surname) given in French in the parish register. Moreover, some of the early records for several Ottawa Valley RC missions and parishes (e.g., Our Lady of Holy Angels, Brudenell, Renfrew Co., Ontario) were written in Latin, with forenames (but not surnames) given in Latin.  
Here are a few forenames in translation. I’ll add more names as they occur to me, or as I come across them in the parish registers.
Latin French English
Aloysius Louis Lewis
Anastasia Anne Ann, Anne, Nancy
Andreas André Andrew
Antonius Antoine Anthony
Augustinus Augustin, Augustine Austin
Bartholomeus Barthélémy Bartholomew, Bartley
Brigida, Brigitta Bridgitte, Brigitte Bridget
Carolus Charles Charles
Francisca Françoise Frances
Franciscus François Francis, Frank
Georgius Georges George
Helena Hélène Ellen, Helen, Eileen
Henricum, Henricus Henri Henry
Hermani Armand Herman
Ioannes, Johannes Jean John
Jacobus Jacques James
Johanna Jeanne Joan, Jane
Margareta Marguerite Margaret
Maria Marie Mary
Matthias, Mattheus Mathieu Matthew
Michaelem Michel Michael
Patricius, Patritius Patrice Patrick
Petrus Pierre Peter
Willelmus, Guillelmus Guillaume William
Stephanus Stéphane, Étienne Stephen

George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon

in Canada by 1832

This is not the first time that I’ve found an early recordin the register for Notre Dame Basilica, Montreal for a family who emigrated from Ireland and settled in the Ottawa Valley.

Until I came across the following record of the burial of daughter Catherine Vallely in 1832, the baptismal record for son John Vallely (born 14 September 1835; baptized 10 December 1835) was the earliest document I had for the presence of George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon in Canada. Click thumbnail preview to see larger image:
vallely_catherine_burial_1832_notredamemontreal.jpg
Montréal (Basilique Notre Dame), Régistre, 1832, p. 253 , S. 2474, Catherine Valely, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 25 July 2011, Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

The record reads (with illegible words in brackets, and with my translation in italics):

Le vingt un Septembre mil huit cents trente deux je prêtre soussigné à inhumé Catherine décédée avant hier âgée de dix huits mois fille de George Valely [tisseur?] et de Ann Hanlan de cette paroisse. Temoins Joseph [Boudre?] et Jean Baptiste [Brean?] qui n’ont pu signer. The twenty first of September one thousand eight hundred and thirty two I the undersigned priest buried Catherine who died the day before yesterday aged eighteenth months daughter of George Valely [weaver?] and of Ann Hanlan of this parish. Witnesses were Joseph [Boudre?] and Jean Baptiste [Brean?] who could not sign.

Was Catherine born in Canada or in Ireland? I have not yet found a baptismal record for her (and if she was born in Ireland in 1831, it’s likely I never will). Nor have I found a marriage record for George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon (who may have been married in Ireland).

In any case, this places George Vallely and Anne O’Hanlon in Canada at least a couple of years earlier than I had previously assumed. By 1835, they can be found in Grenville, Deux Montagnes, Québec, and by 1851 in Bristol township, Pontiac Co., where they farmed at Concession 3, Lot 4.

Three Cahill Children Buried

On the same day.
On 3 November 1866, at Ste. Anne, Calumet Island/L’Île-du-Grand-Calumet, Pontiac Co., Québec:
  • James Cahill, who died at the age of 12.
  • Anne Cahill, who died at the age of 14.
  • Celestine Cahill, who died at the of 8.
The witnesses to all three burials were the same two men: Thomas Campel [Campbell?] and Napoléon Nolin.

cahill_children_burials_calumet.jpg

Ile du Grand Calumet (Paroisse Ste. Anne, Co. Pontiac, PQ), Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1860-1871,  S. 17 (1866), James Cahill; S. 18 (1866), Anne Cahill; and S. 19 (1866), Celestine Cahill, image 104 of 216, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 20 July 2011), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection),  1621-967.

Based on baptismal and census records, I believe that James and Anne were the children of George Cahill and Mary Moran; and strongly suspect that Celestine was the daughter of James Cahill and Isabella Moorhead.
There is no mention in the above records of the cause(s) of death for these three Cahill children. As I’ve probably noted before, the Catholic burial records generally do not mention a cause of death unless it was something especially violent, dramatic, or unusual (e.g., death by drowning, or by fire). And in 1866, childhood death by illness was by no means an unusual occurrence. Which is not to say that people just took it in stride, without feeling the loss too deeply (which I’ve seen suggested in a few places, and which strikes me as quite wrong). These children were no doubt deeply mourned by their parents, siblings, and other relations; and 3 November 1866 must have been an awful, awful day for the Cahills of Calumet Island.

“Anonyme” and “Inconnu/Inconnue”

A little more on translating Roman Catholic parish records from the French:

Anonyme = Nameless, or Unnamed. Generally with reference to the lack of a first or given name, and most frequently found in infant burial records.
Inconnu/Inconnue = Unknown. As in: of unknown parentage, and generally with reference to the lack of a “legitimate” or legally recognized surname. So: de parents inconnus = of unknown parents. Found in both infant baptismal and infant burial records. Note: In many baptismal records for “illegitimate” children, the mother’s name is both known and given, but due to her unmarried status, the child’s surname will still be given as “Inconnu” (or “Inconnue” for a female).
A child could be both, of course, both unnamed (“anonyme”) and of unknown parentage (“inconnu/inconnue”). And if you spend any amount of time perusing the RC parish registers, you will undoubtedly come across a burial record such as the following, from the Mission of Ste. Anne at Calumet Island (L’Île du Grand Calumet), Pontiac Co., Québec:
S. [Sépulture] 26.27 Deux enfants Anonymes
Le douze Septembre mil huit cent quatre ving cinq par nous prêtre soussigné ont été inhumés dans la cemetière de cette paroisse les corps de deux enfants anonymes nés de parents inconnus ondoyés à la maison. Présents Francis Kelly et Arthur Grandpré qui n’on pu signer.
[Burial 26.27. Two Unnamed Infants
The twelfth of September one thousand eight hundred and eighty five, by we the undersigned priest were buried in the cemetery of this parish the bodies of two unnamed infants of unknown parents who were privately baptized. Were present Francis Kelly and Arthur Grandpré, who could not sign.]
Btw, ondoyé (ondoyés in the plural) à la maison is one of those phrases that is a bit difficult to translate literally from the original, owing to the accretion of several centuries of accumulated meaning. Basically, it means baptized privately, or at home, without a priest, in an emergency situation where a child was not expected to live.
Such records are unspeakably poignant; and always make me wonder about the complex human dramas buried beneath the brief and bare-bones recital of the facts of birth and burial.

Esther Lily Crowe: Home Child?

On 28 November 1886, Esther Lily Crowe was baptized a Catholic at St. Isidore, South March. Her sponsors were Noé Pagé and Mary Ann Lahey (daughter of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen). She was 16 years old at the time, and had previously been baptized into the Anglican church as the “lawful child” of William Crowe and Margaret Ann Leith.
.

crowe_esther_abjuration_stisidore.jpg

South March (St. Isidore), Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1861-1968,  B. 18 (1886), Esther Lilley Crowe,  image 63 of 663, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 31 May 2011), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Was she the Esther Crow, age 8, who arrived in Canada on 15 May 1878, as a member of the Quarrier’s Party which left Glasgow on 2 May 1878?

Ann Lahy/Lahey, wife of William Coil/Coyle

On 29 September 1846, William Coil/Coyle, son of Thomas Coil and Ann Wellworth “du comte de Tipperary” (of the county of Tipperary), married Ann Lahy, daughter of John Lahy and Ann Fitzpatrick, also of Tipperary (“du même comte”/of the same county). Witnesses to the marriage were John Doherty (Dogherty/O’Dogherty) and James [Brogan? Bingham?]. Marriage record found in the parish register for Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa:

annlahey_wmcoyle_1846marriage_notredame.jpg

Ottawa; Ottawa (basilique Notre Dame), Register of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1845-1847, M. 81 (1846), Wm Coil and Ann Lahy, image 98 of 181, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca/: accessed 3 April 2011), Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967.

Given the common surname and the common county of origin, along with their shared settlement in the Bytown area, I wonder if this Ann Lahy was related to my Lahy/Lahey ancestors who emigrated to March township (Carleton Co., Ontario) from Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Co. Tipperary?

Patrick Cavanaugh and Bridget Killeen

Another Killeen couple with surprisingly few marriages amongst their offspring:

Bridget Killeen was one of the daughters (possibly the fourth daughter, and fifth child) of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn, and a sister of Hanora (married Michael Donahue), and also of Ellen (married Mathew Daley), of Patrick (married Bridget Galligan), of Margaret Jane (married John Lahey), of John (married Margaret Fahey), and of five other known siblings. She was born at March township about 1827, and died at Maniwaki, Gatineau Co., Québec in 1910.
On 2 May 1854 (Notre Dame, Bytown), Bridget Killeen married Patrick Cavanaugh, son of Christopher Cavanaugh and Jane Malone, and an emigrant from Co. Kildare, Ireland. The couple lived in March township, Carleton Co., Ontario for the next six to eight years, where they had five known children (Mary Jane; Margaret; John Christopher; William; and Anna Esther), before moving to Maniwaki, where they had another three known children (James Patrick; Denis Joseph; and Albert). Patrick Cavanaugh was a blacksmith, as were his sons John, William, and James, according to the 1881 census (Quebec, Ottawa, Egan and Maniwaki, household of Patrick Kavanagh, family no. 15; LAC; click thumbnail to see larger image):
cavanaugh_patrick_killeen_bridget_1881census.jpg