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   Welcome to the Frampton Irish Blog. I will try to provide a blog edition each month. Each edition will have a theme. I will try to include such items as updated information on my research activities, new things I am learning, interesting tidbits on Frampton Irish persons and families, and occasionally some research tips. If I present questions and issues to you, and you have answers or comments, I invite your feedback either on the guest book or if you prefer by email to me at

Cemeteries Apr 24, 2010

The theme of this blog is cemeteries. It is certainly an appropriate theme following last month’s on names. After all, a cemetery is a large collection of markers with names on them. Then if you are lucky there is sufficient genealogical information on them to identify the person buried there. This theme came to mine because of the recent posting of gravestone and cemetery photos on the web. We all owe a great debt for the work of Cindy Donahue and her granddaughter Jessica for taking the photos, organizing them and placing them on a website.

Before I ever visited Frampton for the first time, I must admit that I dreamed of finding missing information about my ancestors in the local cemeteries. At that time, obtaining any books that inventoried the cemeteries in the area were extremely rare. Most were extracted from the burial records contained in the church registers. The exception for Frampton was Springbrook (Christ Church). That church had a booklet published that included an inventory of the gravestones in the cemetery. So when I visited Frampton, I made a point to visit the cemeteries at the Old Chapel of St. Edouard site, the current St. Edouard’s, the St. Malachie cemetery, the St. Leon cemetery, the Cranbourne cemetery, and the Ste. Marguerite cemetery. I discovered that out of my numerous Frampton Irish ancestors, I found only one gravestone of an ancestor and that was for Bridget O’Farrell Murphy in the current St. Edouard’s cemetery. I had several ancestors whose names appear in the burial records, but no gravestone can be found. For example, my ancestor James McLean is buried at Ste. Marguerite, but not only is his "marker" missing, but I found there only about three markers with Irish names even though many Irish are recorded as buried there.

While the current St. Edouard’s parish community has done an admirable job in keeping up the site of the Old Chapel of St. Edouard, identities of those buried there is provided only on small plaques with names derived from the burial records. (caution: there are quite a few mis-spellings on the transcribed burial lists, see last months blog on names!) I can’t help but wonder, whatever happened to all the stones. This old cemetery was inactivated in 1863 when the current church location was established. About 500 burials had been made there from about 1828 to 1863. There must have been more gravestones then the two that are displayed at the site. Further, very few "re-burials" are found in the parish register in which bodies were moved to the new cemetery. So for the most part, the bodies of Frampton’s first generations are still buried there. But where did the stones go? Were they collected by family members? Were they discarded? Were many made of wood and simply deteriorated? It seems they are lost to time. I cannot help but be somewhat disappointed in that a marker for my ancestor Andrew Murphy is not present even though he was Frampton’s first settler and a significant leader in the community. But, nevertheless, the bodies of my ancestors are there! In both of my visits to Frampton, I went to that site and spent about an hour of my time sitting on the bench and soaking up the experience of being in their "presence."

I often tell those that contact me and say they want to visit the graves of their ancestors in Frampton to not get their hopes up. The chances of actually finding a gravestone for an ancestor is not that great. But now that Cindy and Jessica have placed photos on the web, a person can now at least confirm whether a "stone" still exists or not. The information contained on the stones that they have photographed was very valuable to me. Most noteworthy were those for St. Paul’s cemetery in St. Malachie. During my last visit to the area in conjunction with the St. Malachie anniversary celebration, I visited the St. Paul’s cemetery and was amazed by the number and quality of the stones. Also, that some of the dates would indicate that the cemetery was still active. As I was busy at the anniversary celebration, I told myself that if I ever returned, I would like to inventory that cemetery. Now, thanks to Cindy and Jessica I was able to prepare a written inventory using their photographs. What makes such an inventory significant is that the information on the stones serve to fill in some major gaps in the existing records. The records for the St. Paul’s church were kept in the Springbrook (Christ Church) register. I have completely extracted all the events in that register from both the Drouin collection and the available microfilm. Unfortunately these available records are missing a few years. For example, the year 1855 and the years 1866 to 1873 are completely missing. So I found that an inventory of the St. Paul’s cemetery filled in some of these gaps much as the cemetery records for Springbrook do. I then was able to determine the identities of some of the married couples mentioned on the "stones" and then used the Drouin collection to confirm the marriage dates. This allowed me to add significantly to my database of the Frampton Irish. My database can then show the relationships between the various families that used St. Paul’s cemetery as their final resting place.

But in my inventory and database work, I discovered some conflicts between what was contained on the stones and what is provided in the church register. This is always the case and a word of caution about data contained on gravestones. It is usually the next of kin that provides instructions to the stone cutter. The information provided was that which was known to be true at the time. Unfortunately this results in some information being in error. I always give the example that the birthday my grandfather Miles McLane always celebrated was a least 18 months off from his actual birth date in the Ste. Marguerite register. But the erroneous year of birth is on his bronze grave marker in Los Angeles, CA. While stone provides a much more permanent method then all others for memorializing the dead, the errors will forever remain "carved in stone!"

A cursory review of the photographs provided by Cindy and Jessica for Springbrook, St. Paul’s, St. Malachie and the St. Edouard’s Chapel provide a general overview of the family surnames of the Frampton Irish. What is remarkable is the way these names are found in all four cemeteries, and this is indicative that religion and location were not quite the boundaries some historians would have you believe. Marriages between Catholics and Protestants were perhaps more widespread than thought. Further, intermarriage between families that settled in the west part (St. Edouard) of Frampton Township with those on the east part (St. Malachie) was common.

I didn’t have a lot of personal time this month due to the sale and closing on my dad’s house so I wasn’t able to do much research or for that matter think much about my Frampton Irish work. But Cindy and Jessica’s work peaked my interest and took me on a diversion from what I have been involved in. Their work took my mind back to Frampton where I could once again walk in the presence of my ancestors.

What's in a name? Mar 12, 2010

The theme of this blog is "what’s in a name?" I have finally found some time to write and post this blog. I moved my father into an assisted living facility in January and I have spent the last eight weeks going through his things, emptying his house, conducting an estate sale, and making improvements to his house to prepare it to be put up for sale. It has been so time consuming that I have suspended much of my research work. Going through all of his things brought back many memories of his and my families immediate (the past 50 years or so) history. I even found a brass plate with Japanese writing on it, that my dad said he had removed from a Japanese artillery piece that his Army unit in the Philippines had captured. He served as a machine gunner during WW II and was part of the U.S. forces that occupied Japan after the surrender. He is indeed part of America’s "greatest generation." The brass plate that he collected will be a small treasure that will stay in the family.

My dad, James P. McLane is my ancestral connection to the Frampton Irish. When he introduced himself at the assisted living facility, he told the other residents that he was an "Irishman." He said this despite the fact that he was born in North Dakota and his mother had been born in Minnesota to Danish parents. But in my family, it has been the names and the "Irishness" that stuck to the family story without any other genealogical information. My dad, James P. McLane may have been named after his great grandfather who lived in Concession St. Alexander of Ste. Marguerite, just north of the Frampton Township boundary. I have found in a notary record, that his great grandfather signed his name as "James P. McLean." My dad’s father was Miles McLane who was born in Ste. Marguerite in July of 1880, although for most of his life he thought he was born in September of 1881. Miles’ parents were John McLane and Elizabeth Murphy. In their marriage record, they signed their names as "John McLane" and "Elizabeth McLane." It appears that this generation were the ones that altered the spelling of the name from "McLean" to "McLane." This was lesson to me that the spelling of a surname may have some importance, but it should not be assumed to carry through the many generations and a researcher should always check under alternative spellings. (The name McLean has at least 14 different spelling variations)

My family was always intrigued by the given name of "Miles," but other than knowing that it was Irish we didn’t know where it came from. It turns out that my great grandparents, John McLane and Elizabeth Murphy, followed the "Irish naming tradition" in their family very precisely. That pattern goes like this: the first male child is named after the paternal grandfather; the first female child is named after the paternal grandmother; the second male child is named after the maternal grandfather; and the second female child is named after the maternal grandmother. The first child was a daughter and she was named Anastasia McLane after her paternal grandmother, Anastasia O’Connor. This Anastasia would be known as "Stacy" all of her life. The second child was a daughter and she was named Bridget McLane after her maternal grandmother Bridget O’Farrell. Although she would be known as Sarah all her life. For quite some time, I thought that they had a child named Bridget and a child named Sarah. I had found the birth record of a Bridget, but in all the U.S. Census I could only find a Sarah and the birth years didn’t match. It wasn’t until I obtained a death certificate for her where the name was listed as "Bridget Sarah" that I discovered that this was the same person. Apparently she didn’t care for the name "Bridget." The third child was James McLane who was named after his paternal grandfather James P. McLean. The fourth child was my grandfather Miles McLane who was named for his maternal grandfather Miles Murphy. This Miles Murphy was the son of Andrew Murphy, Frampton first settler, and Andrew’s father was Miles Murphy who had been imprisoned for participating in the Rebellion of 1798 and came as one of the early Irish emigrants to Quebec in 1806. So it turns out that the given name of "Miles" is perhaps the greatest piece of heritage to pass down to my family. I knew very little about my grandfather’s heritage before I started my research. He died in Los Angeles, California in 1957 when I only six years old. He had left his family home in the Neillsville, Wisconsin "Frampton Irish colony" in 1901 to homestead in Western North Dakota. Then he moved his family to Los Angeles in 1938. By the time I was born, our family was geographically far removed from our "Frampton Irish" connections. But the names and the Irishness lived on.

Some of you may have only these tenuous connections to the Frampton Irish community. My word of caution is always, don’t be too sensitive about the spelling of your name. Most Irish names are Anglicized versions of ancient Gaelic names. My own surname originates from Scots Gaelic as "Mac Gille Eoin" or in English, "son of the servant of St. John" known as "Gillean of the Battle Axe." The Anglicized version uses only "Mac" (son of) and "Lean" from "Gillean." All of its spelling variations are pronounced as "Mac" "Lane" not "Mac" "Clean." This may be why my great grandparents began to spell it just like it sounds. Unfortunately, I have never found where the descendants of my great grandfather John’s brother James ended up. It leaves me wondering if that family spells the name differently. But as I search for them I remain open to different spelling variations.

Over years of research, I have become quite familiar with the surnames of the Frampton Irish and their various spelling variations. One example I often give is the Irish name of Meagher. This surname can also be frequently found as Magher or Maher. I am told that it is pronounced as "May her." The way Irish surnames are pronounced originates with their Gaelic pronunciations. The Frampton Irish people would most likely be very familiar with how their name was properly pronounced. If they told the priest who was baptizing their child what their name was, they would use the pronunciation they were used to. If the priest was an Irish priest, he most likely was familiar with the pronunciation and its common spelling. But if the priest was French, he might spell the name the way he heard it with the additional interpretation of French vowels and the name was in many cases mis-spelled. The same can occur with a French census taker who had entered my family as "Macklin" in the 1861 census. So when you are using the Drouin collection on-line or on-line census records, etc. you may not immediately find your ancestors under the spelling of the name you are used to. With on-line indexes, you not only have mis-spelled surnames in the original record, but you also have the chance that the index transcriber mis-read the handwriting, etc. I have also found examples where the Drouin collection index does not turn up a record because it was missing from that collection, but the original parish register did have the record. Many of the original parish registers for Quebec can be found on the FamilySearch pilot record search webpage.

Any person researching Irish surname must also know about the prefixes of "Mac" (also found as "Mc" and "M’ " and "O’." Both of these mean "son of." While the "Mac" prefix is seldom omitted from the spelling of the surname, the "O’ " can often be missing or not used. Such is the case with the surname "O’Connor" which can also be found as "Connor, Conner, or Connors."

Then there is the problem of given names and their equivalents. For example, the name Johanna can be found as Johannah, Hannah, Judith, or Julie and Ellen can be found as Helen, Helena, Eleanor, etc. Then nick names come in to play, like Margaret can be "Maggie" or "Peggy." Some persons can be found under the Anglicized "Jeremiah" rather than the Gaelic "Darby." In other examples (just to name a few), "Thaddeaus" can be found as "Thimothy or Thimothy, " "Dennis" can be found as "Denis," and "Matthew" as "Mathias or Mathew." Then there is the problem of French priests using the French version of a given name like: "Jean" for "John," "Pierre" for "Peter," "Jacques" for "James," "Brigette" for "Bridget," "Guillame" for "William," "Marguerite" for "Margaret," "Marie or Maria" for "Mary," "Michel" for "Michael," and "Patrice" for "Patrick." One of the few given names I have not seen a French equivalent for is "Miles." But I have seen it entered in a record in its "Latin" form of "Milesius."

In compiling my databases and publications, my goal is to spell the surname the way that the living descendants spell it today. But for many Frampton Irish families, I have not had contact with living descendants. So in those cases I prefer to use spelling actually found on existing gravestones and absent that I have to adopt the spelling that I find to be most frequent in the records or the common spelling I find in the surname reference books that I own. So when I first make contact with living descendants, I have occasionally been using a spelling that they are not accustomed to.

So if all you have is that you are "Irish" and your surname is spelled a certain way, you might not be very successful in finding your Irish ancestors in Frampton or other parts of Quebec. I have even had some clients that believed that their "Irish" ancestors came from "England." This is because they found a U.S. census record for their ancestral families that listed the birth place or country of origin as "England" or "Great Britain." This mis-interpretation can be often made when it is not realized that "Ireland" really did not become independent from "England or Great Britain" until 1923. So cling to your name and Irishness, but don’t be surprised when the "family story" takes a few unanticipated turns during your research.

I have shared the names of my ancestors. I will now share the name of one of my descendants. My youngest grandson’s given name is "Kyan." This name originates from the Gaelic "Cian" which means ancient. Although, my daughter found this name independently from my research, I like to imagine that his name memorializes that of "Esmond Kyan" a famous leader of the Rebellion of 1798 in County Wexford that my great great great great grandfather Miles Murphy and several other Frampton Irish ancestors participated in.

Here are some of the surname reference books I have in my library that I consult:


The Book of Scots-Irish Family Names, Robert Bell, The Blackstaff Press, Belfast, 1988.

Book of Irish Names, First, Family & Place Names, Ronan Coghlan, Ida Gehan, P.W. Joyce, Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., New York, 1989. This source has a section on Irish given names with their origins and equivalents.

The Dictionary of Irish Family Names, Ida Grehan, Roberts Rinehart Publishers, Boulder, CO, 1997.

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