Friday, August 1, 2008
French Ancestory In Ohio
When you think of New Orleans you think of the French culture there. Same thing goes for Montreal, Canada. But did you know that there is a long and vibrant French culture in western Ohio? The following four communities in western Ohio have many folks with French heritage: Versailles, Frenchtown, Newport and Russia. And let's all learn to pronounce Russia the way the locals do: Rue She or Roo She. Now, let's consider these town names. Versailles makes sense and so does Frenchtown and Newport but how on earth did Russia get in the picture? Because many of the first immigrants that settled here were French soldiers that had fought in the Napoleonic Wars and had marched to the Ukraine to fight. When they came to western Ohio in the wintertime and snow was on the ground it reminded them of the Ukraine so they named their village Russia.
If you were to visit Paris and the Arc de Triomph you would see inscribed on the monument the name of a French general who fought under Napoleon: General Grilliot. There are many Grilliots in these four communities and they can trace ancestory to General Grilliot. Here are some more common French names in this part of Ohio: Cordonnier, Francis, Guillozet, Goubeaux, Gasson, Magoto, Monnin, Monnier, Pequignot, Pettijean and Reboulet,
Now Joann's maiden name was Gariety. That doesn't sound too French does it? In fact, one of her brothers once remarked that we must be Irish since we have a name that ends in "y" to which her father replied: "Well, how come my parents always spoke French at home and I didn't learn a word of English till I went off to that one room schoolhouse called Turner School near Willowdell, Ohio for first grade in 1909?" So the Garietys didn't know too much about their French ancestory until some of their relatives in later years did research and published family histories.
Joann now has two family history books that she dearly cherishes:
A Book of Genealogy of the Carity and Gariety Families of the United States and the Caritey's of Frahier (Village) in Haute Soane, France From 1721 A.D. This book was a combined effort of Norbert Gariety (my first cousin), John R. Gariety of Casper, Wyoming and Claude and Pierre Caritey of Frahier, France.
Dapore: The Descendants of Joseph Athenuse Despoire in America, 1846-1987. This book was the combined effort of Marsha Sorrell and Juanita Gerling.
When you were reading these two book titles you may have picked up on a very common problem when shaking your family tree for names. Names were frequently, for no rhyme or reason, changed by the immigration authorities in New York City. For instance, Caritey became Carity and Gariety; and Despore became Dapore.
From these two family histories we learned what we suspected but couldn't prove before: that both sides of the family came from France but not from the Alsace-Lorraine Department but the Frenche-Comte Department which is just twenty miles east of Swizerland. But what was really surprising was the knowledge that both sides of the family came from the same village in France: Frahier in Haute Soane. There is even evidence that a certain Caritey in Frahier married a certain Despore!