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US Immigration forms in the 1920’s: “Are you an anarchist?”

5 Sep

After all the research I’ve completed on my ancestors who went to the USA during the 1850’s, I decided to go back to my close ancestors on dad’s side in the Levis region, south of Quebec city.

Now, in my family tree, there are a lot of Belanger surnames, in fact most marriages between Goulet and Belanger have always been tinted with a touch of consanguinity. People use to marry their first or second cousin all the time! But let’s get back to Quebec where I’ve been extracting information on records on the Belanger family of Levis, St-Jean Chrysostome and Breakeyville region. My 2nd great-granfather Jean-Philippe Belanger (1856-1909) had a son Napoleon Belanger (1881-1937) born in Levis. Napoleon married Anna Blanchet (1882-ca1925) on 25 Aug 1904 in Quebec city.

Amongst their children, Aime Belanger was born in August 1907: according to family he left with his younger brother Alexis J (1910-1951) to Berlin, NH and never came back to Quebec. Now, I was back in familiar territory, I’m quite used to finding french-canadian cousins emigrating to the US (always remember wildcards using databases and search engines!): I found a record for Aime Belanger crossing the border at Beecher Falls, VT on 23 Nov 1923, going to North Stratford, NH. All the information from the record seemed to fit the info I had on Aime.

Aime Belanger in Nov 1923, Vermont Source: Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

Aime Belanger in Nov 1923, Vermont
Source: Ancestry.com. Border Crossings: From Canada to U.S., 1895-1956

Now a closer look at the image left me a bit shocked, on the lower right of the form, the immigration officer had to tick whether the alien was… an anarchist? It left me baffled the same way when I heard stories of people traveling to the USA post-9/11 and having to fill out forms where you were asked if you were a terrorist, etc. I know for a fact that the great depression, prohibition laws and the fear of communists drove to silly behaviors US officials but I can’t quite place the relevancy of this question in the 1920’s: “Are you an anarchist?”. A Catholic French-Canadian. Come on.

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Eusebe Bedard – A trove of descendants

1 Aug

Well, it’s been a long while since I have posted on this blog, for the past year I have been incredibly busy at work, I also moved from Switzerland to the beautiful Savoie region of France. Since this time, I have conducted a lot of  genealogical research for friends and family but I have yet to put down in words everything about my family!

So to get back on track, I’ve decided to use a little story I found doing some research in digitised newspapers on genealogybank.com

I was actually researching information about Peter Elwell Cook, a son of Jerry Cook, a sailor in Gloucester, Essex, Massachusetts. Now, the reason I was interested in this individual is because he was married to Sarah Marguerite Mcgurk, in Gloucester around 1925, herself a grand-daughter of Paul Genereux, my second, great-granduncle, a line I’m actively researching in Boston. So, I know from sources that Peter Elwell Cook died on May 1st 1940 in Gloucester… but I have yet to find his obituary! So this morning I decided to track down issues of the Boston Herald for the beginning of the month of May 1940 in the hopes of finding his obituary. I have scoured each obituary page of the Boston Herald (the database maintained by genealogybank could really use a browsing tool… but that’s another story) and I have NOT found his obituary. He is one of my main “brickwalls”, trying to track down the descendants of Paul Genereux. However I have found this story :

“Mr. Eusebe Bedard, retired carpenter […] leaves 124 descendants”

Eusebe Bedard and descendants

Source: Boston Herald, May 3 1940, p. 1939

Now that’s a lot of family! I wonder how many of his 124 descendants now actively research this prolific individual, forty-five great grandchildren today would mean more than double their descendants! So if you’re interested in the Bedard family in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, go ahead, give it a try!

Now back to my research and back to drafting several posts, Mr. Genereux, the saloon owner in Boston is coming up!

 

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