Genealogy’s Brick Walls

In the epilogue of my memoir, Along Came a Spider, I illustrated some of the difficulties I encountered as I attempted to identify the names of my ancestors, especially those of Métis and Mi’kmaw, or Wabanaki, background in Nova Scotia.

In June of 2005, my sister received an email in response to her request for information about our Surette ancestors.  In an answer back, she was referred to a book, Genealogy Saint Michael’s Parish-Wedgeport 1767 – 1925. On page 421 were these words:

Cyrille Surette…married Marguerite Babin, daughter of Charles Amand Babin and Anne Marguerite Belliveau on 25 October, 1815.  Marguerite, b. cir 1797 in Belleville, NS and d. in Wedgeport.  Marguerite may have been the natural daughter of Charles Amand Mius and an aboriginal mother from Penobscot, Maine.

From this passage, there seems to be the possibility that my biological third great-grandmother–Marguerite Babin Surette–was born Métis and that my fourth great-grandmother might be Penobscot.  Also, it is a well-known fact that the Mius family has deep Mi’kmaw roots in Nova Scotia, all the way back to Philippe Mius II d’Anzy (born 1660), who had two Mi’kmaw wives.  Ever since I was made aware of the possibility of my third great-grandmother being Métis, I have vigorously sought to know the name or circumstances of her Native mother.

Adoption was not a word used in the old Acadian communities of Nova Scotia.  There are records of Marguerite’s birth at St. Anne du Ruisseau indicating that she was born a twin to Madeleine Babin, born August 20, 1796.  It seems logical to me that a new mother would be able to more easily take in a newborn than a woman whose children were past the nursing stage.

Recently, I was able to secure the names of the committee members responsible for writing Genealogy St. Michael’s Paris-Wedgeport 1767 – 1925, published in 2004.  There were fourteen men and women in that group.  The man responsible overall for the book did not recall why the note about the aboriginal mother and Charles Amand Mius was inserted except to say “…there was obviously a valid reason at the time” and “…was not inserted without just cause.”  I was also informed that the most knowledgeable person was suffering a diminishment of mental capacities and therefore not able to answer my request for sources.  Another member had also died since the 2004 publication–a man I knew with a keen historical understanding of Native/French intermarriages.  His name was never mentioned to me by the committee head.  I expressed my disappointment to the committee members, writing that I regarded their excuses for not being able to cite sources as weak and unacceptable.  Shortly thereafter, the Acadian Museum and Archives in Pubnico, Nova Scotia, where one of the committee members worked, refused to have anything more to say about the matter.

I know of one other genealogist whose records link Charles Amand Mius and an aboriginal mother from Penobscot, Maine to my third great-grandmother, Marguerite Babin.  Again, he has not offered me any of his sources and simply wondered what the Wedgeport genealogical committee was hiding.  I don’t know–but I am learning to be patient.


My Latest Book

[quote ]I have read this manuscript and it is great. I like the way Alice Azure frames her life experiences and her family, how she looks to the Mi’kmaq and Acadian collaborations in the past and how her life is entwined in this. Her reconnection to the Métis of Nova Scotia is well written. I was touched by her story. [/quote]

—Stephen J. Augustine, Hereditary Chief, Mi’kmaq Grand Council Curator of Ethnology, Eastern Maritimes, Canadian Museum of Civilization
[quote]Along Came a Spider is an account of a search for self-knowledge that evolves into a search for community. Her guide, Grandmother Spider, has the first word in every chapter, goading Alice to write her story. Her journey in time and place is spiritual as much geographic, and her spirituality spans Native American tradition to C.S. Lewis. The book is meticulous and learned but never pretentious.[/quote]
—Mary Ruth Donnelly, author of Weaving the Light and Tomb Figure
President, St. Louis Poetry Center
[quote]This is a vital contribution to contemporary Native American literature. Already highly regarded for her poetry, Alice Azure proves to be a captivating storyteller, weaving together personal narrative, her own voracious reading and research, and vivid re-imaginings of the people—and spirits–who led her back to her Mi’kmaq heritage.[/quote]
—Siobhan Senier, Associate Professor, English 
University of New Hampshire
[quote]Azure carries the reader right along on her Grandmother Spider’s back, during this journey to find her Native place within the cloaked web of Canadian genealogy and indigenous heritage. The spider, who serves as her reader’s guide, adds the most brilliant filaments to this truthful tale of love, loss, mistakes, and miracles, leading to wholeness and understanding. [/quote]

—Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, Mohegan Medicine Woman, author of the novels, Fire Hollow and Oracles


Available at the Cahokia Mounds giftshop,  www.Native Authors,  (for author, type in “Alice Azure”) or by calling 618-344-9221.