Saturday, March 31, 2012

More Mapping the Route: Québec to Cohoes, Waterford

I am fascinated when I think about how French speaking Quebecers made their way to the Cohoes area in the 19th century. Essentially all the ancestors on this blog: Mylott, Allard, Glode, Rivet, Beauvais, Bissonnette, Guertin (Yetto), Hamel, Lord, LaCasse, Kagle, Guay and St. Hilaire made their way from somewhere in Quebec to the Cohoes - Waterford - Troy area. The powerful waters of the Mohawk River falling over the Cohoes Cataract and the thoroughfare the Hudson River provided made Cohoes and Troy an industrial hub where textiles, iron axes, and brick masonry were manufactured and iron foundries flourished.  Cohoes offered employment - steady employment to French Quebecers whose large families exhausted land resources.  During the 19th century these families poured into mill towns of New England and upstate New York.

Many of the ancestors families of this blog came in similar fashion and similar times and others came in somewhat unique circumstances.  Let's take a look at some of the families, the ancestors and the routes they may have traveled to upstate New York.

TRAIN: Solyme Beauvais and Adele Guay left St Cesaire, Rouville,Quebec and arrived in Cohoes between 1862-1870.

TRAIN: Moise Bissonnette and Julia Kagle came from St Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec and arrived in Cohoes between 1844-1849.

TRAIN: Maxim Rivet and Marie Lord left St Jacques L'Achigan, Quebec and arrived in Cohoes about 1895.

TRAIN: Dedace LaCasse and Marie Louise Amireault came from Joliette, Quebec and arrived in Waterford  about 1898.

TRAIN: Jean Baptiste Guertin, later John B Yetto, baptized in St Hyacinth, Quebec in 1828 was living in Troy by 1860.

TRAIN: Louis St. Hilaire and Elisa Paré from St Patrice de Sherrington/Napierville, Quebec went to Cohoes about 1892.

TRAIN: The parents of Malvina Hamel, the stepmother who raised Claire, Al and Ray Rivet, were Joseph Hamel and Charlotte Josephine Lambert who came from St Cesaire, Rouville, Quebec to Cohoes between 1867-1868.




and the English speaking ancestor....
TRAIN: After emigrating form Cornwall, John Albert Berryman Wills and his wife, Anne Reed, made their way from the area of the Huntington Copper Mine in Bolton, near Lake Memphremagog, Quebec to Port Henry on Lake Champlain between 1868-1870.  It is likely the first part our their journey was on the Canada Pacific Railroad from Newport, Vermont to St Albans, then continuing on the Rutland & Burlington to some port on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, Vergennes, where they ferried to Westport and Port Henry in Essex County.





Depending on the time period, the trip on trains could be grueling or very grueling!  Quebec families who flooded New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Maine, often traveled the Grand Trunk Railway.  Those who came to Cohoes and upstate New York in the 1850s and 1860s need to negotiate a different route, one that was indirect and perhaps more arduous due to possible transfers in Burlington Vermont, again in Rutland Vermont, Whitehall NY, and Schenectady or Saratoga NY depending on the time period.

Online maps are available that can clarify passenger train routes which disappeared long ago or were taken over by D&H.  Below are just a few from 1849  demonstrating the lines between Rutland, Whitehall and Saratoga.  From Rutland it was possible to make a connection to the Saratoga & Washington Line running to Whitehall, Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa and eventually Cohoes OR the Troy-Rensselaer & Rutland Line that ran from Castleton, Vermont through Rupert, Cambridge, White Creek, Eagle Bridge, Hoosick to Lansingburg.

 1849 railroad map


Below is another map published in a book describing the proposed Lebanon Springs Railroad 1866



Describes railroad routes to Montreal


The Whitehall Train Station




The Whitehall Train station many years after our ancestors passed through







AND THEN THERE WERE THE CANALERS....





CANAL BOAT: Ancestors of Alex Glode and Angeline Allard, including Paquet, Allard, Duvernay, Beaudry, and Lalonde moved across the northern border to Champlain NY in the first half of the 19th century probably to farm the level lands there. Eventually, they became canalers along the Champlain Canal from Chazy to Whitehall and to Waterford, NY where they ultimately settled between 1890 and 1900.


CANAL BOAT: Robert Mylott, (Milot) baptized in 1832 in Vercheres, Quebec made his way from the Richelieu Valley, possibly St Jacques-le-Mineur Quebec to Whitehall NY in the 1840s. He was a very young man at the time. How he exactly made this trip we will never know although in an earlier post I made a guess. His grandson, Benjamin Mylott, a canaler eventually came to Waterford where he raised his family.




Friday, March 16, 2012

The Champlain Canal Along Wood Creek



Along Wood Creek in Washington County
Wood Creek is a historic waterway. General John Burgoyne moved his troops from Ticonderoga  to Skenesborough (Whitehall) then south along Wood Creek to Fort Ann and Fort Edward.  Lands along the creek became part of the Champlain Canal.  Forebearers of Arthur Mylott owned land along the Wood Creek that was appropriated for the Champlain Canal








Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Summit Street in Cohoes, NY

In the 1910 US census Paul Emile Rivet and his first wife Ida Mailloux are living in a house in the town of Guilderland. Ida Mailloux died in 1912 and it was probably soon afterwards, around the time of Emile's second marriage, that he bought the house at the top of Summit Street. This was the house Claire, Al and Raymond Rivet were born it and the house their mother, Marie Louise and their stepmother, Malvina Hamel died in.
The house was unremarkable except for its view from the backyard.  From the eastern edge of the yard, one could look over the Hudson and Mohawk Valleys. At the time he bought the house, one would have been able to look over the Erie Canal, the Harmony Mills and its power canals below.   By the 1950s when I spent time there, those days were long gone.  There was just a ditch below. I never saw the canals it the heyday.  By the time I went to high school all the canals were polluted slimy waters filled with old tires and appliances.


The Front of the house....






The Johnson Mansion, 2-3 lots south of Emile Rivet's house.

The Top of Summit Street, looking north. The small pale yellow house,
 left of the brown 2 story, was the house of Emile Rivet.


David Lamarche and yours truly on Summit Street.


The Back of the House....

A very young Al Rivet standing in the backyard of Summit Street.

The backyard was the best part of the property.  This is the yard Claire, Al and Ray Rivet played in as children. The second generation of Rivets and Yettos played there too.  At the far end of the yard, a fence prevented children from falling down the embankment to the canal ditch.  Rhubarb grew in the backyard and my Uncle Al was always sure to gather some for me to dip into a sugar bowl and snack on later! 

View of the Valley from the Backyard on Summit Street 


Another view from the backyard with remains of the Erie Canal in the foreground

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mapping the Route: Québec to Waterford, NY

A Different Route; a Different Livelihood 
While Solyme Beauvais was making his way to the industrial city of Cohoes in the 1860s via the Central Vermont Railroad, the Rutland Railroad, Troy Salem and Rensselaer Rail, the Poissant-Glode Family took a very different route.  This family "eased" across the northern border from Québec into Clinton County, first as farmers and but eventually as Champlain canalers.  For several generations the physical border was as fluid as the waters of the lakes and rivers they navigated.
This was not the typical French Canadian immigrant family who came to work in textile mills of New York or New England.

According to census information, Luc Glode was probably born in Clinton County in 1837.  The earliest census where his father, Jacob-Jacques Glode, appears is in the 1850 census of Champlain.  There, his name is spelled Jocks Glade.  Jacques was the great great grandson of Jacques Poissant dit LaSaline, a Huguenot and Sargent in the Franche Marine company of de Noyan.  John Fisher has detailed the early Poissant family in France and Québec here.

 Descendants of Poissant dit LaSaline's son Claude used "Claude" as a "dit name" eventually dropping the Poissant and keeping the Claude. The Claude name morphed into Glaude, Glade and Glode. 


The 1850 census heading in Champlain, Clinton County, New York:


Jocks and his six children - with very misspelled names!


Jacques Jacob, was a famer and laborer but his son Luc Glode became a canalman and "straddled" the border navigating Lake Champlain and the Richelieu. In the 1860 US census he is living in Champlain, Clinton County, NY. with wife and first child.  HOWEVER,  in the 1901 Canada census he can be found in St. Jean/Iberville, Québec!!  

Luc Glode probably grew up in and around the town of Champlain, NY.

Luc Glode likely spent his years navigating the Chazy River ..


and Lake Champlain.....


 and the Richelieu River....


He knew St Jean sur Richelieu....

 and probably the port of Montréal too.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mapping the Route: Québec to Cohoes

There is a family legend that Solyme Beauvais came from Canada to Cohoes with his wife, Adele Guay, and children in a horse drawn wagon. This story is plausible but not likely. The last source for his presence in Québec is the marriage of his oldest daughter, Mathilde, to Noel Tetro in St Cesaire in Rouville in 1862.  He appears in Cohoes in the 1870 census - so sometime between 1862 and 1870, Solyme made the journey south from Québec to New York State.

Coming of age in upstate New York when Route 9 was a two lane paved highway, the Adirondack Northway was under construction and the D & H railroad ran trains up the west side of Lake Champlain, I took it for granted that my ancestors just drove their wagon straight through the  funnel between the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain!  However, in 1862, there was no highway running directly south from Montreal to Saratoga and Cohoes.  The Champlain Canal existed for 30 years already but it was primarily used for cargo transport and wasn't readily available for passenger travel.


Several local train companies began operating in and among the cities of Cohoes, Waterford, Troy, Saratoga and Ballston - a true patchwork in 1830. The Rensselaer & Saratoga Railroad started in the 1830s running between Troy & Waterford to Ballston & Saratoga.  Later it was possible to start in Cohoes and continue to Rutland, Vermont through a complex network that included the Saratoga & Whitehall Railroad, the Saratoga & Rutland Railroad or the Troy, Salem & Rutland Railroad.  Once in Rutland, passengers took the Central Vermont raiload to Burlington.




We know in December 1859,  trains carried the sad funeral cortege of John Brown from Charlestown, West Virginia to Troy, New York.  From Troy, a train transported John Brown's widow, his bearers and his body to Vergennes, Vermont where they disembarked to ferry across Lake Champlain to North Elba.  After the Brown party disembarked, the train continued to Burlington Vermont.

The route from Rutland to Montreal, the Central Vermont railway,  was a subsidiary of the Grand Trunk Railroad.  From Burlington Vermont, it was a short trip by train to Rouses Point and across the border to St John (St Jean sur Richelieu) and Canadian lines in the Richelieu Valley.

The train lines in the 1860s from and to Montreal and Cohoes were not as direct as the well organized "Grand Trunk Railroad" that funneled thousand of French Canadian laborers into the textile mills of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut.


My hypothesis is this train through Saratoga and Washington Counties to Rutland is the route used by most of the French Canadians who came to Cohoes in the mid 19th century for jobs in the textile industry.

Oh! and Cohoes had more than one railroad station! There was the D& H depot, the New York Central station and station on the Schenectady Railroad!



Please add your comments, arguments for an alternative immigration route and more.


It has been several months since I have been up north near the lake of my ancestors.  Working in New York City this winter has made me a little lonesome for the vast spaces and hills around Lake Champlain.




So I am dreaming of a weekend in spring when I can make a short trip along the west side of the lake - to Clinton and Essex Counties in upstate New York! 



Furs and baseball caps in Cohoes


Monday, March 5, 2012

The Champlain Canal at Mechanicville, NY



Looking at this postcard, it isn't very difficult to imagine my grandparents navigating the Champlain Canal with their family on board. At this spot, heading south,  their trip would almost be over and soon they could rest in Waterford.  Benjamin and Edith Mylott may have been as far north as Montréal or Sorel or perhaps only up to Whitehall.  Whatever the distance, it must have felt good to be back on land and with family in Waterford at the end of the long trip.

Picnic circa 1950

Here's a home movie of a family picnic with many of the same people in "Home Movie circa 1951" posted February 8th, 2012.

In the order they appear in the movie are:
"Little Jackie",
Art Mylott, behind "Little Jackie" dancing on the picnic table and swinging her around,
Dorothy Wills Mylott holding Little Jackie and later playing tennis,
Unidentified older couple, formerly thought to be Yettos
Baby W and his mother Claire holding him with "Little Jackie" on the side
Emile Rivet hugging Malvina Hamel his wife,
Walker Yetto lighting a cigarette,

Then there's a toast to the cameraman and for a brief moment at the very end, Al Rivet appears  wearing blue pants.