ancestor story, dna

John Baptiste Jerrain – Part Five, The Wall FULLY Tumbles

grandma deane, 5.10.2017 fanchart, crop copy


I had this wonderful cluster of a potential family for John.  But I had one big concern to resolve – if he really belonged to the Joseph & Anne Gerain/Gerin/Jerrain family, why was he listed as Joseph on the travel record from France to the US?

If I could resolve that concern, my next problem was that I didn’t know how to get myself into France.

I had one travel record from the entering the US side of the immigration story.  Could I find a record from the leaving France side of the story and possibly pick up the name of their city/town/village in France?

Well, no.  I could not.  Because there are not records for that side of the story.  The only immigration records for France have to do with the ships themselves but not the passengers.  I didn’t know that at that the time I was searching, but I do now.  No wonder I couldn’t find the helpful twin record of their immigration story.

Moving on to the task of trying to get this family into France, in an act of brave hopefulness, I attended several classes about French research at RootsTech last year.  They were all taught by Pierre Le Clercq.  This actually happened smack dab in the middle of the research I wrote about in my last post.  I tweeted this while I waited for the first class to start.  {And notice, that I simplified my position on my discoveries to a recently busted brick wall…}


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The very wonderful Marie Cappart tweeted right back:


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Such a kind offer!  I definitely needed help, but I was still in the middle of the sorting and deciding and hopefully finding a location in France to research in part of my journey.

The RootsTech classes were probably really great – but here was the big problem for this girl right here – Pierre covered an enormous amount of free resources and search strategies that all relied on the researcher knowing one very important fact – WHERE they were researching in France.

I did not know that very important fact.

So I kept on digging and digging hoping that I would find a place.

I did not find a place.

Over the many months between that tweet and one month ago, I would occasionally remember Marie’s kind offer to help.  Several times I even pep-talked myself a bit with things like, “Ask for help.  She offered.  You help every person that comes your way – this is genealogy karma.  DO IT!”

But guess, what?

I’m terrible at asking for help.

Then there was this one day – one month and two days ago – where I was walking around my house getting stuff done.  I was thinking about John Baptiste Jerrain and how Grandma had really tried to find his story and how I had felt good enough about my discoveries that I told her about these possible parents for John before she died.  Then I thought about how I hadn’t let Marie help me.

At this point, something happened.  The best way to describe it is the words of the text I sent to my sister a few days later:


That – energy? – I felt coming at me full force finally pushed me to send Marie a message asking for help.

And then I went about my day knowing that she was in Europe and it was the middle of the night.

The next morning, I awoke to a response saying that yes! she would love to help, email the details.  I was supposed to be headed somewhere with my 20-year-old but he was still asleep so I took advantage of his sleeping in and emailed Marie what I knew, what I thought, and the links to the most pivotal records – the travel record and the 1860 census.

After hitting send, I got my kiddo going and the day went forward.  At about 5:30pm that night, the emails started rolling in from Marie.  And fast and furious they sped between me here in Utah, and Marie over in Europe.

She had found a family that matched my Joseph & Anne, Hortence, Sylvie, and Joseph/John Baptiste!


An entire family in the same place with a whole set of records that made sense and didn’t require a whole bunch of leaps – they didn’t even require a single leap!  Every event was in the same very tiny parish for this entire family.

{Insert overflowing joy, the singing of angels, happy dancing, happy tears, and on, and on…}

A few emails in, the curious part of my brain said to Marie, “I need a lesson, where are you searching, what websites are you using, and how can I do this myself?”

She very kindly pointed me to the websites Filae and the Haute-Saône Archives.

Her internet connection was too slow to send any images so she was telling me information that was found in the records she identified.  Things like, “Silvie’s age was off by a bit, her birth was actually in 1847”.

Armed with her tid-bits, a curious and hungry mind, and the websites she suggested, I paid the VERY REASONABLE price for one month’s unlimited use on Filae, and began searching.  Marie had pointed out that Filae has the indexes linked to the images and that sounded like a great place to start.

For the curious – I would explain this website as a somewhat close equivalent to ScotlandsPeople with a dash of mixed in.  It has wonderful coverage for France, the indexed records are linked to images, you can create a user tree, and there are some other record types that I don’t totally understand yet.  The major difference with SP, however, is that Filae is a flat subscription plan while SP is a pay-per-view website.

I took the facts she shared with me and learned how to use the website by finding the exact records she had described.  There was a definite learning curve.  First of all, I was used to researching in French in records from Québec.  Technically they are in French but they aren’t a straight across comparison to the French found in French records from France.  I had to learn a lot more French.  But the wonderful reason for that was that the records were so much more detailed!

Within a few hours I had found all of the records Marie referenced and several more besides.  I sent her a “help me make sure I’m understanding the translation differences” email to which she responded with very helpful information that really got me going.

Once I had read through the records for Joseph, Anne, Hortence, Sylvie, and John, it all made sense.  Every last concern was resolved and I am so proud to be able to tell you that…


My John Baptiste Jerrain was born 25 July 1851 in Vernois-sur-Mance.  He was given the name of Jean Baptiste Joseph Jerrain at the time of his birth.


And there it was – he was both John Baptiste, and he was Joseph, because his name was Jean Baptiste Joseph Jerrain.

And Anne?

She was named Anne-Claude Gardey at birth.  That feeling in my gut that I’d found her maiden name on that baptism record with the Godmother named Anne Gardé appears to have been right.

And Joseph’s parents?

Jean-Baptiste Jerrain and Jeanne-Claude Philippe.  A completely understandable match to the Americanized “John B Jerrain and Annie O Phillip”.

Hortence was Marie-Hortense at birth.  Sylvie was Silvie at birth.

There were two older brothers who died as infants.

And wonderfully, this entire family completely disappeared from French records after my family arrived in the US.

It ALL worked.  The pieces were finally connected and just like Tom Jones teaches – they only fit one way.  Any new pieces I find will just add to the story.

In the exactly one month and two days since I first messaged Marie, I have added 44 direct line ancestors to my tree.  FORTY-FOUR!!!

Can you believe that number?!

That is not a very loud typo.  That empty yellow spot is now positively bursting with ancestors!  So overflowing with people to whom I owe my very existence that they require their own chart in order to see them all.

I have learned so much this past month.  I’ve learned more French than I ever thought I would.  (And quickly!)  I’ve learned how to navigate the free Haute-Saône Archives but still use Filae as well.  Using both has allowed me to find records that are indexed incorrectly and not pulling up in an easily recognizable way on Filae.

I’ve been doing my best to update FamilySearch as well.  I have a long ways to go, but cousins, you can see much of my work by clicking here.  I’m slowly adding sources with links to the records in the Haute-Saône Archives.  I don’t have all of the people in FamilySearch yet, but I’m working on that too.

And friends, here is my brand new fan chart for John Baptiste Jerrain based on what I have entered into FamilySearch so far:

John Baptiste Jerrain fanchart, 19 November 2018


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the US and this Thanksgiving I am so grateful to so many people and tools who were part of my John Baptiste Jerrain journey.  Thank you hardly begins to describe my feelings.

I’m thankful for the wonder that is AncestryDNA.  I’m even more thankful that my Grandma tested and that her “Cousin Peg” and Ziggy and Penny tested as well.  I’m thankful for the leaders in the genetic genealogy field from whom I have learned so much – Diahan Southard, Blaine Bettinger, Roberta Estes, Jonny Perl, and Leah Larkin.  I’m thankful for DNA Painter and the Shared cM tool.  I’m thankful for the FamilySearch catalog and its massive collection.

But of all the people I am thankful for, Marie Cappart definitely tops the list – well, she ties with Grandma for her willingness to DNA test.  😉   Marie helped me with something I could not do myself.  I didn’t have the tools.  Marie will have my eternal gratitude and undying devotion – forever.  And yes, I know that is redundant, but seriously, like forever is not long enough to measure the depth of my gratitude.  If you need help with areas that she is an expert in, I highly recommend that you hire her!  Find her on Twitter here and on her blog here.



Grandma, we did it!  Thank you for yelling at me loud enough that I felt the nudge and took the very best next step.  I love you!  I have felt you with me almost constantly this last month.  ❤️



ps – I recently found one more record for the US side of the story.  I found it in an unexpected place.  I was preparing a presentation and was looking through old paper files for a very specific family document.  I found this:


This is an 1880 US Census for Joseph Jerrain and wife “Vallarie” in Papineau.  This Joseph was born in France.  It’s totally my Joseph.  I don’t yet know who Vallarie is – maybe another name that Julia used…?  No matter who Vallarie is, this record has given me a tighter window to look for a probate record for Joseph.  The note on the left of this image is my Grandma’s handwriting.  She had found Joseph in the census the hard way, many years ago.  She just didn’t know yet who he was for sure.  For some reason, I couldn’t get this record to pull up on Ancestry or FamilySearch.  I finally paged through again and there it was.  Joseph Jerrain was indexed as Joseph Jerraier.  ❤️


pps – never give up!



27 thoughts on “John Baptiste Jerrain – Part Five, The Wall FULLY Tumbles”

  1. A great ending to an exciting saga. I’m so happy you have found him. Thank you for the insight, the ideas, and the advice.



  2. Great ending !!!!! An added comment to the three names at birth. My Italian cousins will name a child after an older sibling or two who have died and then add their own name…..

  3. Good job, Amberly! That is a wonderful research story. Sometimes all we have to do is ask! Sometimes others volunteer to help. The genealogy community is wonderful! Marie, and others who offer, are priceless genea-jewels.

    1. Thank you, Randy! ❤️

      Yes, the genealogy community is incredible! A wonderful family to be part of.

    1. Tweet what you are learning/stuck on – maybe your “Marie” will see it and point you in the right direction! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Amy!!

      Hmmm… I wonder…? I just looked at Filae and could see records that were that recent and I could see records in Nice. Maybe what you need would be there. What are you looking for?

      1. I am looking to find a Mrs Hon (or some variation thereof) living at Blvd Auguste Raynaud 55 in Nice in 1937. She was listed as the mother of a passenger on a manifest—the son was a relative whose mother I can’t locate after his birth record.

        1. Ooooh, interesting puzzle. I’m guessing you don’t know anything else about Mrs Hon? What is the name of the passenger?

        2. And… sorry to be so slow. I hurt my back and it’s been a beast to deal with. Disc problems are no joke!! (And now I can’t sit on the floor with my little one anymore – bummer.)

          1. Wow, a slew of responses to my comments from weeks ago, and now I know why! So sorry about your back—what did you do? I hope you feel better soon. And I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

            1. I wish I had a good story to explain it… I sit on the floor too much so I was in trouble eventually, but the actual moment was just twisting a bit wrong to reach something. Darn it! Thank you, I really am feeling so much better the last few days. It feels pretty miraculous. 🙂

              1. I once put my back out by just sneezing. My husband can do it just looking for something in the refrigerator! Glad you’re feeling better!

                1. Ouch! Sneezing can be a problem sometimes – in so many different ways. 😂 Thank you, yes, I’m almost back to normal over here. Hooray!!

  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your quest to find the parents of Jean Baptiste Joseph Jerrain from part one to part five. Your excitement shines. Your research stands out. You are a wonderful teacher – giving your students a chance to see the results and learn how-to find the records. Kudos to Marie for offering her help. Congratulations for jumping over your shadow and asking for help!
    I read the entire series in two sittings as I have been very busy with my own DNA research project. Thank you for showing me how to make it interesting and simple for followers to read and stay interested ’til the end. Maybe, just maybe, I am making mine more complicated than it need be. Thank you, Amberly, for a great series and félicitations for fully tumbling the wall!

    1. Thank you, Cathy!! What a kind comment. I needed to read this today as I’m trying to get caught back up on so many things and feeling distinctly behind. Sorry I’m so slow to respond – I hurt my back and it’s been a beastly recovery.

      Have you written about your DNA project yet? I want to read it. If you have, point me there (I’m still kind of drowning…). xoxo

      1. So sorry to hear you hurt your back. I’ve taken a break from blogging in order to work on the DNA and have not gotten around to writing again so you haven’t missed it. I’m in a funk due to not having any success connecting with DNA matches.
        Take care and get well soon. xoxo

        1. Thank you, Cathy. I am definitely on the mend – finally.

          Darn it! I’m sorry to hear that. DNA matches aren’t great at responding – at least in my experience. I’m sorry it’s put you in a funk. I wish you some encouragement/success very soon!! ❤️❤️❤️

  5. hope this comes through from NEHGS newsletter

    Seeking French Families North American Connections

    A journalist from French television channel TF1 is seeking French families who, as part of their genealogical research, are trying to connect with relatives whose ancestors immigrated to the United States or Canada between the 16th century and the beginning of the 20th century. If you or someone you know has been contacted by anyone in France for information about possible relatives in the U.S. or Canada, or if you know of any French families seeking information about U.S. or Canadian connections, please contact Eugénie Cohen at at

    Return to Table of Contents

    1. Wow, thank you Kathy! I hope I’m not too late. Sorry to be slow to respond. I hurt my back a few days before you commented and I’m just getting back to normal.

    1. Thank you, Su! It has been an awesome experience – that keeps on giving. I can’t believe how much I have found. 🙂

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