ancestor story, dna

John Baptiste Jerrain – Part Three, Brick Wall Weakening with DNA – AND – Records

grandma deane, 5.10.2017 fanchart, crop copy

If I was going to fill in those empty yellow spaces with the parents of John Baptiste Jerrain, it seemed like DNA might be the only thing that could lead me there.

Following a tip from Diahan Southard, and then a gut feeling that the surname Goyette was going to help in some way, I wanted to connect the Goyettes I found in two different trees for two of Grandma’s DNA matches.


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These trees had almost no data.  But almost no data is waaaay better than no data.  So who was I looking for?  I was looking for a person who WAS NOT yet in these trees.  Someone who would connect their Goyettes to my John Baptiste Jerrain.  How would I make that connection?  Regular old genealogy research.

First, I was looking for a connection between James Goyette, son of Ruth to Antonine Goyette who was married to Josephine Sheff and was the father of Edward R Goyette.

The Goyettes in Ziggy’s tree seemed like a good place to start because I have more names in a cluster to work with.  Because of what I know about John Baptiste Jerrain’s life, I am most interested in people who lived in or near St. Anne, Kankakee, Illinois.  A general search on Ancestry seemed like a great way to get started but let’s just do one more thing first.  Ziggy’s tree is larger than what I showed up there.  Let’s grab a fuller picture from his tree.


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That’s better.  Now let’s do a general search on Ancestry for a man named Edward R Goyette with a spouse named Bessie Mae Knee and parents named Antonine Goyette and Josephine Sheff.  You can view my results list here.

My first result was this death record:


view full record here


Okay, an Edward Ralph Gayette (alias Goyette) with parents named Antoine Gayette and Josephine Sheff who were both born in Kankakee, Illinois.  This record certainly could be about the Edward R Goyette in Ziggy’s tree.  Let’s look at a few more records.

The third result was a marriage record for Thelma Goyette, child of Edward Goyette and Bessie Mae Knee:


view full record here


This was definitely looking good when compared with Ziggy’s tree.  Thelma even has the right spouse on this marriage record!  What else…

The fourth and fifth records were indexes of birth records for Thelma Mae Goyette, daughter of Edward Ralf Goyette and Bessie May Knee:


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view record here


Another good match.  Okay, so if the Edward Ralph Gayette/Goyette in the first record is also the father of this Thelma, the dates are definitely working.  So let’s go with the possibility that all of these records are about the same man and add the birth year of 1888 as found on that death record and see what it does to our search results.  You can view my results list here.

The second result is a delayed birth registration for an Eddie Ralph Goyette:


view record here


I was liking this.  This record seems to jive with everything else.  The whole Eddie instead of Edward thing seems like the kind of thing a 75-year-old Dad might do when filling out a delayed birth registration.  The dates and information match the death record of Edward Ralph Gayette/Goyette.

The third record on our new search results list was the 1910 Census for the Antoine & Josephine Goyette family in Clay County Iowa:


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view full record here


Eddie R is a great match for Edward R Goyette in Ziggy’s tree.  This is all looking pretty good.  At this point, I did a bunch more building on this tree and found all the census and a bunch of birth, marriage, and death records for the siblings of Edward.  But now I need to see if there is a connection between Edward R Goyette from Ziggy’s tree and the James Goyette son of Ruth from Penny’s tree.

I went to Ancestry and did a general search for James Goyette with a mother named Ruth.  You can view my results list here.  The first result was an index for a record from the US Social Security Application and Claims collection:


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view record here


Okay, maybe.  There really isn’t a lot to go on in Penny’s tree.  I wondered if there were any public member trees with this James Orval Goyette in them.  There were.  I looked at one that had a father named Donald Ormeal Goyette and a mother named Ruth Violet Leksell for James Orval Goyette:


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view full tree here


What do you know?  This person believes that the grandparents of James Orval Goyette are Antoine Goyette and Josephine Cheffer!  At this point, I did more research and updated the descendancy of Antoine and Josephine even more.  Based on Penny’s very bare bones tree that literally only had the names you can see in that screenshot, I couldn’t know for sure that I had the right connection between Ziggy and Penny, but it was definitely a possibility.

Assuming my possible connection was accurate, I needed to connect Antoine and Josephine to John Baptiste Jerrain somehow.  It was time to work backward from Antoine and Josephine.  Again I did a basic search on Ancestry for an Antoine Goyette who was married to Josephine Sheff.  You can view my results list here.  I did a quick skim of the first page.  I saw a few records that I had already looked at.  The sixth item down caught my eye right away:


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view record here


Antoine Goyette marrying a Josephine Cheffer in 1887 in Kankakee County, Illinois!  This was a match to the 1910 census but it was also an event in the right place to somehow tie to my John.  !

I’ve done a fair amount of research in Illinois and I know that there are several marriage record collections for Illinois.  So, I scrolled down and looked at the suggested records on the right side of the page to see if I could find any other marriage records for Antoine and Josephine.  Records that might list their parents names.


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Ooooh, see that bottom record?  I clicked on over to check it out and this is what I found:


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view this record here


Seems like a good potential match with some indexing issues.  1887 marriage for Antoinne Goyette and Josephine Cheffea.  But wait just a minute right there.  Antoine’s mother’s name is Hortence Gerin.

Hortence Gerin.

Hortence GERIN?!

Hortence… JERRAIN?

What was I looking at…?

Ummmm… I needed to research this Hortence Gerin married to Antoine Goyette right that second!!  Baaaaa!  My mind was going crazy.  Okay, take a breath.  What search terms were needed?  Okay, Antoine Goyette, born 1865, parents named Antoine Goyette and Hortence Gerin.  Breathe, type, breathe, double check, breathe, hit enter:


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view search results list here


Oh boy!  Everything about this list was beautiful to me.  I wanted to click on ALL THE RECORDS.  But one at a time it had to be.  Top down, let’s go!

First result, 1880 Census for the Antoine and Hortance Goyette family in Papineau, Iroquois County, Illinois:


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view full record here


Okay, first of all, Papineau?  THAT IS EXACTLY WHERE MY JOHN LIVED in 1880 after he married Estelle!

Second of all, Hortance?  DO YOU SEE WHERE SHE WAS BORN?  France.  FRANCE, people!

Third of all, this record totally matches the Antoine Goyette who would go on to marry Josephine Sheff/Cheffre.

Okay, breathe.  And, second record – click!

The second result was the 1870 census for the Antoine & Hortence Goyette family in Saint Anne, Kankakee, Illinois:


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view full record here


Oh boy!  This family matches the family from the 1880 census and they are living in St. Anne!!  Hortence, still born in France!

Okay, this was just too much.  Time to switch to Hortence.

So.  Many.  Thoughts.

All kinds of thoughts swirling in my brain.  Let’s just focus on Hortence.  Search terms – Hortence Gerin, born 1847 in France.  And, GO!

Top two results were blowing my mind!


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view full results list here


On the actual day I was searching, the immigration record came my way first.  So let’s go there.


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view full record here


Okay, we have a father – Joseph Gerain, mother – Anne, young adult Auguste that can’t be Joseph and Anne’s son if everything else is correct.  Children – Hortense who matches the Hortence up there, Sylvie, and Joseph age 11 months.


My fella is John Baptiste.


Maybe more looking?  How about that census?


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view full record here


Okay…  Household of Joseph & “D” Gerin in W[e]ygandt, Iroquois, Illinois in 1860.  Well, Weygandt in 1860 would become Papineau.  That part is good.  Joseph didn’t age enough, neither did “D” if she was Anne.  Hortence and Sylvie looked good.  Then there is “G”.  He aged too much.  And his name is “G” on this census.


Not perfect.

But there is one thing that I know about immigrants in my family.  Their records aren’t always super consistent after they immigrate.  And that family up there were French speakers.  In America.  Was I looking at the same family?

Joseph – Joseph

Anne – “D”

Hortense – Hortence

Sylvie – Sylvie

Joseph – “G”

All from France on both records.  Last name Gerain on the immigration record and Gerin on the census record.  There were definite discrepancies, but this seemed like the same group of people to me.  If Joseph/”G” was my John Baptiste, no wonder we couldn’t ever find him.  But was he…?

How do the relationships line up from the DNA matches to this possible family for John?

Let’s make a chart.  Charts always help.  I love charts.

Let’s consider the possibility that John and Hortence are siblings and that Joseph & Anne are their parents:


Joseph GerainGerin & Anne


Okay, now I can easily see how each of the DNA tested folks are related based on my current hypothesis.

Let’s make another chart.  Love those charts.

We’ll line up each of my family members with both Ziggy and Penny.  We’ll calculate their hypothesized relationship using that handy chart up there.  Then we’ll look up the number of shared cMs for each match on Ancestry.  Then we’ll run those shared cMs through the Shared cM tool on DNA Painter.  Does it all work?  Is my hypothesis possible…?


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Why yes, yes it is!

Oh boy.

What if Joseph/”G” is my John and I am staring at his parents and sisters on that immigration record and that census record?


How on earth could I prove or disprove it?  The whole reason I was in this mess was because NONE of the records from John’s life mention his parents.




…to be continued…




ps – Every record image up there and every DNA match is from  I LOVE and no one is paying me to say that.

pps – I LOVE the Shared cM tool at DNA Painter.  Couldn’t live without it.  Thank you Blaine Bettinger, Jonny Perl, and Leah Larkin.  You are awesome!  And no one is paying me to say that either.  😉