What’s in a Name?

Many Americans will never find their French Canadian roots because of their surname.

If your ancestors’ surname is Burgess it could be in fact Bourgeois just like Pam who wrote me a message on Ancestry a few months ago about Bella Bourgeois.

I always take the time to answer back because you nevah, nevah know…

Same with Susan who also wrote. Both are somewhat addicted to genealogy so I didn’t have to lend a helping hand that much although I was happy to translate some French documents for them.

Getting back to Steve and genealogy, Arthur Joseph Myers was in fact Arthur Joseph Lemaire.

His real name could also be Arthur Joseph Bretmeyer if some research done on the Lemaires are true.

What about all this Bretmeyer – Lemaire lineage?

These are a few notes I found on the Internet back in 2011 when I was searching for Myers and Lemaires in my family tree.

This is an exchange of messages between John Merz and Paul Lamoureux on a genealogy forum.

Very interesting…

very interestingHere I found the BRETMEYER File which did confirm that Christian was a soldier of the British 53rd regiment.

Chrétien LemaireThis is from document 24226 and 24227 of microfilm C-2511 (RG1 L3L) including the discharge from the 53rd, dated Montreal, 24. Dec.1783.

Btw. it gave his place of birth as the parish of Swannabach, which I identified as 39397 Schwanebeck, State of Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany.

Hope this helps.
John Merz


Dear Paul,

I am forwarding this to my two mail lists which are the one’s with the experts on Hessians and in the same time the experts in Quebec genealogy.

This is a very interesting case we have here, and you raise some interesting questions.

Christian or Christoph LEMAIRE/LAMERE/LEMERE that’s how he is listed in HETRINA VI (Hanau troops).

He was born 1736/37 in Moempelgard Montbéliard?), France and joined the 2.Comp. of the Hanau Chasseur Corps in Feb. 1777, meaning, he was with them from the beginning when the Corps was established in Hanau.

He did have some career, and I wish I knew more about it, but that what the Hetrina entries indicate. He was first a private, and was promoted to Corporal in Dec. 1777. It is possible that as a member of the 2. Comp. under Captain Castendyck, he participated in the siege of Stanwix and the battle of Oriskany in August 1777.

Somehow in September 1780 he is listed as a deserter, but he did return in May of 1782 and was demoted to a private. In July 1783 he did receive his honourable discharge from the Corps and remained in Quebec. This is what the military records provide.

As to your other question about French names in Hessian towns, my hometown Hanau is full of French names. Huguenots, Wallones, who build a new city – Neuhanau outside the old-Althanau in the 17th century, when they were prosecuted and driven out of France.

Many of the descendants served in Hanau troops one time or another, and particularly during the American Revolution. This is what makes it so hard for me to trace them in Quebec. Their names disappeared in the records, while German names stuck out like sore thumps.

Now I have given you what I have, but I know there will be some readers of this with much more information, and I wish they would post their answers to this list, because you are not the only one who is interested.

Good luck and happy hunting.
John Merz

From: “Paul Paula Lamoureux” <>
> Sent: Sunday, May 19, 2002 1:10 PM
> Subject: Hesse-Hanau
After reading many of the queries, I was hoping that you may be of assistance in giving me a clue with solving a problem I am having regarding one of my ancestors. The surname in question is ” Lemaire” He married Catherine Lentendre 1789 in Sorel, Quebec.

According to a book (which I haven’t seen) called Debor Herbert Wilhem. “German Soldiers of the American War of Independence as Settlers in Canada”, there are supposed to be two Lemaires listed as arriving in 1776-77. A Chrétien Lemaire, (Brunswick soldier discharged in North America in 1783 from the Hesse-Hanau Rangers)? Lemaire, which I am hoping may be my ancestor.

Source Wilhelmy, Jean-Pierre. German Mercenaries in Canada, Beloeil, Quebec, arriving in 1776…….
The question I have: most of the soldiers in the Hessian Army, came from Germany. I haven’t seen any French names listed, or the place of origin from France. Is there a possibility that the name may have been changed from? to Lemaire when they stayed in Canada. I am aware of one name that was changed to Lebleu but that is all.


Paul Lamoureux

A little piece of American Revolution history:
French-Canadian girls marrying Hessian soldiers between 1783-1800:
I’ll quote first from my book “He was a Hessian” (out of print);

“The rulers of six principalities had signed contracts with the British to supply up to 30,000 troops for the fight against the American rebels. Most of those troops were regular army units, the soldiers were regular drafted men. also by no means were they Volunteers or what is still claimed today, that they were “Mercenaries”.

They most certainly were not!

However, smaller units were put together by some princes which were known as the Chasseur Corps. Those men were the true mercenaries, they were volunteers, mostly hunters, experienced men of the forest, sharp shooters, these men were right at home in the Canadian and American wilderness. Those chasseurs were engaged in most battles and skirmishes of the revolution, wherever there was some action, there were Chasseurs involved. They were also much better paid than regular soldiers.

When the Northern army under the command of General Burgoyne in the summer of 1777 marched down along Lake Champlain towards Albany, and had to surrender at Saratoga in October of 1777, because they were surrounded and cut off from Canada by a superior number of rebels, Canada itself was in great danger of being attacked again by the Americans. At that time the Chasseurs, or how they were called, the “Green Yeagers”, were assembled in Germany and hastily brought over to form a first line of defense, together with some provincial fighting units like the Butler’s Rangers in Niagara.

These Chasseurs from Hesse-Hanau and from Brunswick were stationed in the Quebec area along the St.Lawrence River, and at places like Carleton Island near Kingston, and also at the Ile-aux-Naux in the Richelieu River. One Hanau Chasseur unit even took part in the expedition against Fort Stanwix in 1777 and the Battle of Oriskany which resulted in the defeat of a strong rebel force and the death of their leader General Nicholas Herkimer. However, they did not succeed in taking Fort Stanwix and had to return home to Quebec. The Americans, being well aware of the presence of those tough fighting units, did not attempt any more attacks against Canada itself for the rest of the war. This is in my humble opinion one of the reasons why we still have an independent Canada today. At the peace in 1783, when all regular German troops were shipped back to Germany, quite a few of the regulars asked to be permitted to stay in Canada, some of them when permission was not granted, deserted from their units and took shelter within the Canadian population.

The chasseurs wanting to stay in Canada did not have those problems, most of them did get a discharge in Canada and settled down. They were volunteers, they would have been discharged in Germany anyway, and with giving them the discharge already here in Canada, saved the transportation back to the old country. One has to realize the true proportions of this influx of new German blood into the French-Canadian population. In the year 1783 there were appr. 60-70 000 Canadians of French origins living in the Province of Quebec. After the peace, of the roughly 2,500 Hessians who remainded in Canada, close to 2,000 of them stayed in Quebec, scattered all over the country side along both shores of the St.Lawrence River.

They married French-Canadian girls, raised big families, worked as farmers, bakers, shoemakers, blacksmiths, doctors, tavernkeepers, served in the local militia’s, became lawyers, musicians, physicians, and surveyors, in other words, these former soldiers contributed very much to the well being of the Quebecers and to their culture. However, sad to say, one thing they did not do, they did not teach their children to speak German. In most cases their German names were changed to sound French, Johann became Jean, Jacob became Jacques, but it was even more drastic with last names. A Beyer became Payeur, a Pfeiffer became Fiffre, or a Teffner ended up as Theveneur, a Schlossmacher as Shlousmakre, a Schultz as Choults, and so on. In one case Ebacher became Baker, in another they eliminated the last name of Adam Raubenheimer, a Hesse-Hanau Chasseur, completely, and the family is known today as “Les Adams”. Fact is, within a short period of time, perhaps within 30 years hardly a trace of this German invasion could be detected, these men were absorbed by the French-Canadian culture, sucked up like spilled milk by a giant sponge.

Only in the old church records of the Quebec parishes does one find the names, and as one searches through these records, one can find the signatures of those men in German handwriting sticking out like a giant (sore) thump, here signed: Johann Daniel Doerge”, or Fritz Gerner”. (Both these men had served with the Brunswick troops and were properly discharged in 1783) Both of them married and settled in Sorel.

End of this short story

After you read this, one realizes the difficulties encountered in tracking elusive ancestors.

John Merz

Fascinating stuff isn’t?

very interesting

I sent it to Steve last week so he can look at it and reflect on his Myers lineage.


4 thoughts on “What’s in a Name?

  1. May I suggest an interesting web site http://www.many-roads.com where Mark Rabideau discusses and has links to other sites discuss Anglo-French names as well as the ever-popular “dit” names. Also, speaking of Anglicized names, I’m a mostly of Scotch-Irish descendant, but grew up in a French-Canadian community. One of our neighbors was a family named “Lagasse” whose name may be derived from your own!

    • I will take a look at that website.

      About your neighbor, he was probably a distant cousin of mine.

      Thanks for dropping in.


  2. Very interesting indeed Pierre! i mentioned this to my father over the weekend. He stated that my grandfather always said the family was descended from a German ‘fighter’, but didn’t know the details.
    I also shared the photos you sent. He’s looking them over. Hopefully he will recognize someone…

    • This is just the beginning.
      I will look for more clues with the descendants of Christian or Chrétien Lemaire.
      Not easy to validate this.

      There is one son Jean-Baptiste Lemaire who I found records of.
      He married Marie Paquet dit Larivière.

      They had four children that I could find marriage acts:

      Julien Lemaire who married Léocadie David
      Onésime (woman) who married Napoléon Breault
      Médard who married Émilie Therrien
      Jean-Baptiste who married Clarisse Masson

      Your branch is Médard Lemaire and Émilie Therrien.

      Everything is on my Ancestry family tree.

      I just have to find if the dates found in the research of Bretmeyer are plausible.

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