04 June 2011

Stalking Dead People

I was wrong. I don't often admit my mistakes – I'm kind of bad that way – but I was wrong, and Uncle Al was right. My attempt in an earlier post to assign a different gender to my Aunt Ginny was pretty much a total failure. My cousin said Aunt Virginia, who is his godmother and whom he has known well all his life, is definitely the third urchin from the right in the photograph, and definitely a girl.

My cousin sent along another photo, which was obviously taken the same time, at the same place, of the same kids.

In this one, the child in question is standing up. She's still wearing shorts and my cousin admits she still looks like a boy, but he says he's seen many pictures of Virginia as a youngster, and that's definitely her. Hard to say. Kids that age are kind of androgynous-looking. But I'll take his word for it.

A picture of some of the same kids, cleaned up and dressed up, taken a couple of days later, is a little more convincing, although I can't help but wonder how long it took to get them cleaned up and how long they stayed that way.

This one, just so you know, is my mom, Aunt Virginia, and Aunt Alma. Uncle Chuck, the oldest of the kids, is sitting in a chair on the porch.

It turns out Uncle Al had an advantage when it came to dating the photographs; my cousin said the date was on the back. Duh.

I've been kind of obsessed with old family stuff lately. It started as a half-assed interest in constructing a family tree. When I knew I was going to have to retire from my day job, I started putting together a list of things I could do to keep busy if I got bored. Really, it was no stupider than a lot of other things on that list. Then, because I'm lazy and it was easy, I followed my mother's family back to 17th-century Québec. And got stuck there. Not so much who is related to who, but what was life like in New France in 1650? What did they do? Where did they live? What did they eat? What did they wear? Why would anybody in old France want to go there?

Tuffy calls it Stalking Dead People.

For example, the Louis Badaillac dit Laplante mentioned on this marker is our seventh great grand uncle. He must've been quite a character. In February 1701 he was banned from Montréal for six months and had to pay 200 livres fine for selling liquor to the Iroquois. In 1703, he and his brother (Gilles, our seventh great-grandfather) were in court again for the same thing.

I know. I really need to get out more.


  1. Stalking Dead People -- great phrase. One of my grad school pals became a geneology librarian (at SPL). There is a ton of resources out there if you're serious about becoming a hardcore stalker.

    About the cleaned up kids. I've often wondered about what all went into cleaning up the gang back then for the photographer. My great-grandmother had thirteen children and each older one was assigned to a younger one. When I see the few photos of them all cleaned up and together, I think about what an event that was.

  2. Stalking the dead works - now if you see dead people LOL! Now days we just take family photos for granted - but back then it was quite the affair - never thought about the cleaning up aspect though.

    My Grandfather had 10 brothers sisters. I worked from his research and managed to get back further but am hung up and can not find anything earlier than arrival into this country. My other Grandfathers side lineage is traced back to 1624 by my great aunt the DAR woman! Woo hoo.

    It is addicting.

  3. I find this title very interesting!! It really is nice to find our history...

  4. DON'T SAY THAT! I LOVE this stuff. Love old pics and finding criminals--hahaha. It is a great life!