Our detective friend has taken up a new case, in fact two cases.
Dit names are so confusing mes amis…
Someone has asked me about dit names. Dit names are so confusing especially when French Canadians changed their names when they emigrated to the United States in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Maxime Neveu and Scholastique Lauzon
with their daughter Léocadie and her husband Joseph Girard
with their children
This was the case of some of Mathieu Hubou’s descendants who moved in the 1870s from St-Paul-l’Ermite in Quebec to Michigan. Most of them had not the faintest idea that their ancestor’s name was in fact Hubou and not Deslongchamps.
Our detective friend remembers very well the Robert Miller’s dossier on which he spent more than five years to solve.
Ah oui! The Robert Miller dossier… How could I forget this dossier!
Robert Miller was the son of Joseph M Lagasse and Edwina Newcity. First I only had a name and a headstone to work it.
Who could this Edwina Newcity be?
My little brain cells began acting up. Could Newcity be the americanized name for Villeneuve?
Of course it was!
And the rest became crystal clear.
Joseph M Lagasse stood for Joseph Miller Lagasse. Miller was the americanized name for Meunier.
Lagasses or their real name Lagassés or Lagacés were all descendants of André Mignier dit l’Agacé a soldier in the Carignan Salières Regiment sent to New France to defend the colony against the Iroquois.
The name Mignier dit l’Agacé became Lagacé dit Mignier or Mignier dit Lagacé or Lagacé dit Meunier or Meunier dit Lagacé. Also to confuse even more, Mignier was sometimes written Minier…
Still confused mes amis? This is only an easy example.
So what about the names Hubou dit Delongchamp and Neveu also written Nepveu and Nevue or Neveau, etc…?
Stay tuned mes amis because this could take more than five years to solve and find out who really was Robert Miller…
More on the dit names on this Website…
A dit name is essentially an alias, or alternate name, tacked on to a family name or surname. Dit (pronounced “dee”) is a French form of the word dire, which means “to say,” and in the case of dit names is translated loosely as “that is to say,” or “called.” Therefore, the first name is the family’s original surname, passed down to them by an ancestor, while the “dit” name is the name the person/family is actually “called” or known as.
Dit names are found primarily in New France (French-Canada, Louisiana, etc.), France, and sometimes Scotland. They are used by families, not specific individuals, and are usually passed down to future generations, either in place of the original surname, or in addition to it. After several generations, many families eventually settled on one surname or the other, although it isn’t uncommon to see some siblings within the same family using the original surname, while others carried on the dit name. The use of dit names slowed dramatically during the mid- to late-1800s, although they could still be found used by some families into the early twentieth century.