23 October 2004

Finally got some good news in my hunt for my grandfather, Ferdinand (Fred) Rogers. Due to a messy divorce, I never knew very much about him. He and Grammie were divorced in 1946, and when I asked her about him she just laughed and said "Oh, Fred . . ." I knew from my dad's birth certificate he was born in Newburyport in 1902. Various scraps of information from relatives inform me that he had done two tours of duty in the Army, probably in the 1920's, and that he had been a sergeant. He married my grandmother, Bernice Dow, about 1939 and was a truck driver during the WWII period. After the divorce he disappears, and no one seemed very concerned about keeping in touch with him, or he with them. I think he was pretty much out of the picture before the divorce, as my uncle recalled driving Bernice to the hospital for the birth of my dad's little brother. The impression I get is that he was irresponsible and/or unpleasant.

Bernice's sister was into family history, and she had traced their family pretty extensively. I have been refining her research and have been able to trace most of those lines back to the 1630's and 1640's. My grandfather has been a brickwall, however, and it annoyed me to see our chart 25% blank, especially the part with my own name. I finally obtained an index of Massachusetts birth records and was able to order Fred's. In genealogy, every problem solved only leads to two more problems, and this is certainly the case. His parents were Ferdinand Sr and Eve Dionne, both born in Canada. I had hoped that he came from a local Rogers family and I could trace the whole line back in one afternoon, but Canada put a whole new twist on things.

Next I tried to find and Ferdinand and Eve's marriage record, hoping that would provide more precise information. The index only showed Ferdinand Rayer and Emma Dionne, which I felt was close enough, especially if the handwriting was misinterpreted. Unfortunately, they sent me a transcript, not a copy of the original, so the handwriting question is still up in the air. The record itself is not conclusive, but Emma's father was Eli Dionne, and Eli happens to be my father's middle name. I am therefore cautiously optimistic that I am on the right track. The next task is to try to find their naturalization records.

Currently, this information mixed with the Census records can be summarized as:

Bartholemew Rogers, born in Canada and married Malvina (?); cannot find them in Census records.

Ferdinand Rogers, born in Canada about 1875, and emigrated to the US in 1885 or '86. Too young to be on his own, so I assume his parents were the actual emigrants. He was a shoemaker in Amesbury and married Eve Dionne, who worked in a spinning mill, on 15 December 1897 in Newburyport.

Eve Dionne is presumed to be the daughter of Eli Dionne and Celina Gauouette, born in Canada about 1879. If I have the right Census entry, Eli was born in Canada in Aug. 1831 and emigrated to the US in 1883, settling in Newburyport. Celina died sometime before 1892, when Eli married Marie (?), and had five children, three of who were living in 1900 (David, Oscar, and Josephine). Eli had at least one other daughter from his first marriage, Louise (born about 1882). If nothing else, this proves the Eli Dionne in 1900 had children from a previous marriage. Have not found the Dionne's in the 1910 and 1920 Census', but a David Dionne appears with the Rogers family in the 1920 entry, another bit of circumstantial evidence.

Ferdinand and Eve Rogers have not been located in the 1900 Census, but they appear in the 1910 Census for Newburyport as Frederick and Eva Rogers, leading me to assume Ferdinand Sr. also went by Fred. If this is our man, the Census taker must have misinterpreted the names. Otherwise, everything else fits. They are the only Rogers couple with a son named Fred of the right age. Fred Sr. was working out as a farm laborer, and he and Eva have had 8 children, but only six lived to 1910, Beatrice, Lorranna?, Frederick Jr., Eva, Rose, and Wilfred.

The 1920 Census finds them in Haverhill, Mass., with Fred working as a coal teamster, and his brother-in-law, David Dionne, working in a shoe factory. Fred and Eva have 9 children still living at home, Fred Jr., Rose (both working in a shoe factory), Willard, Victorine?, James D., Olive, Paul A. and Edmond or Edward.

So, although there are a few glitches, I am fairly confident I have enough information to start a serious search. Working forward may be harder, and I am tentatively pricing a trip to Newburyport sometime next year. Working back is easier to do from Florida, but I know nothing about Canadian genealogy and need to find a more precise origin for the Rogers and Dionne families. The Rogers are wide open, they could have come to Canada from France (if the name was modified), or more likely from England, Ireland, or even America. The Dionne's I am pretty sure were French-Catholic, and I am wondering if the rest of Bernice's family were offended that she had married someone from a Catholic family. A lot of speculation, but I do enjoy the detective work.

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