My fifth great grandmother was born on 24 June 1744. Her name was Marie Joseph BUTEAU. I am stunned to realize how little I know about her. I know her birth date, but I have no idea where she was born. I do know that she was the daughter of Pierre BUTEAU and Magdelene CHAVAUDIER, but that’s all I have on her until she married my fifth great grandfather, Michel CAMPAU. They were married in Detroit in what is now Michigan, USA, on 7 February 1739 or 1740. They had ten children, Jeanne, born in 1741; Michel, born in 1742/43; Marie Joseph, born in 1744/45; Pierre, born in 1746/47; Charles, born in 1749; Antoine Jacques, born in 1752; Therese, born in 1754; Marie Elizabeth, born in 1756; Francois Rene, born in 1761; and Marie Jeanne, born in 1764.
Obviously, I have a lot of work to do on Marie Joseph. The problem is that there is just so little available on line beyond the bare bones I’ve given above. That just means I have to roll up my sleeves and work with collections that others may have access to. I also should be looking outside the usual places to research. French Canada had a good system of law, nearly all activity that might possibly involve the law was documented by notaries. That’s the next place to look. You can learn a lot from the records of the notaries.
You can find marriage contracts for instance. The French were big on those. You can also find inventories of the dispersal of goods when a person dies. In French Canada, a woman was known legally by her maiden name, which is a boon to genealogists. It means that I can look for her in the notary records and likely find some trace of her. I may even learn when she died, if not precisely where.
My family history research is a work in progress. These profiles that I am writing are helping me to learn what I do know about a particular ancestor and what I still have to learn. I have a possible birth place for Marie Joseph. It’s Detroit, which was part of Quebec at the time of her birth. Where the records are depends on the time. I could look for her baptismal record in the records of Ste. Anne du Detroit, the second oldest parish in the United States. I could even find her burial record in the registers for that parish. I know where to locate those records, I just have to find the time to go to the Detroit Public Library (DPL) and search them.
I will have to plan a trip to the DPL. I will have to make a list of the people I want to find in that particular parish record, or in any church records in Detroit that the library holds. I may find some people I’ve been hunting for over a long period of time. Sometimes you just have to start again from scratch.