I sent James an e-mail…

I sent James e-mail about what I found on Nicolas Renaud.

He answered back and that was quite an answer…

I asked him permission to share this with you.

Dear Pierre,

You mentioned your good fortune in Quebec “of having good record keeping.”  That is good fortune indeed. I’m guessing this is true for both legal and church/baptismal/marriage records.

Legal record keeping was not that bad here, especially regarding inheritance and other property issues, except for three problems:  (1)  no central indexing system;  (2) everybody was always on the move;  and (3) fire.  Many a county courthouse burned over the years, so even if you’re lucky enough to find the right county, the records may be nonexistent.

I am planning a short trip later this fall with one of my relative, to search through the court records of two counties there.  I am seeking hard proof of the name of one ancestor.  I have strong, indeed very strong, circumstantial evidence, and I am convinced that the information posted on a variety of sites has it wrong.  One of these courthouses has never had a fire, so wish me bon chance.  I would just like to nail it down.

I, too, have learned the advantage of teamwork.  The “circumstantial evidence” to which I referred came about by pooling what I knew with what another researcher had accumulated.  I have previously acknowledged that I am an amateur, but I consider myself a serious amateur.

I have one great regret, genealogically speaking.  I first jotted down some family information in the 1960s, when I was in high school, but did not pursue it.   My father’s family tended to be long-lived, and I can remember uncles and aunts who were born in the late 1880s, who were still living in the 1960s, and who could have provided all kinds of information had I but asked. Alas.  And double-alas (if that is a word), because some of them were real characters and led very colorful lives.  I’m not sure how that translates—sometimes I slip into slang.  What I mean is, their lives were the very opposite of bland, which probably does translate.

I have done quite a bit of oral history research mainly interviewing World War II veterans.  I have interviewed dozens of them, and it has taught me not to rely too much on the popular accounts, from newspapers and movies, or on the official records, or even on the history books.  I sure wish I had done similar interviews with my older relatives back in the 1960s.

I even had a tape recorder!

An American poet wrote:

Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these:  it might have been.


Next time… Who is this Nicolas Renaud anyway…?