Episode 219

Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 219

In this episode, Lisa shares the stories of Julianne Mangin, who has explored the tragic and twisted stories of her ancestors, Graziella and Philippe Metthe.

These stories caught Lisa’s eye: “The tragic tale with its surprises along the way was tantalizing enough, but the real intrigue for me was from a genealogical point of view ? the confusing records and the fascinating news accounts that help shed light on them.”

Julianne Mangin is a retired librarian and web developer who took up genealogy in 2012, hoping to make sense of her mother’s brief and disconnected family stories. After five years of dogged research, she has written down her family story in the form of a memoir in which she pieces together the family saga and writes about how the experience changed her. She hopes that she can find a publisher for her completed manuscript. She maintains a website at juliannemangin.com where she posts articles about her genealogical discoveries and insights.

Family Stories? We all have them. Passed around the dinner table, over the phone, and in hushed voices around the corner of a doorway. When we are children they come from the mouths of our elders, which cements them firmly as told. No deviations, because after all, they were told by grownups.

And some of those stories aren’t really stories at all. Just fragments really. Juicy pieces of gossip or bottom lines that are meant to explain away the past, and firmly place a period at the end. No more discussion.

Julianne Mangin had heard stories like these all of her life, mostly from her mom. The stories of how her grandmother and grandfather married in 1922, and then 2 months later Grandma left Grandpa. And then Grandma’s 10 years committed to a mental institution. Yes, they were fragments really more than complete stories.

GGP 219 Julianne Mangin julieMomGenGem_0670

Julianne Mangin with her mother. Image courtesy of Julianne Mangin.

Julianne’s mother was the family historian and when pressed for details, it was a bit like pulling teeth.

Oh, and yes, there was the story about Julianne’s great grandfather abandoning her great grandmother, and then she was committed to a mental institution, and then they pulled out all her teeth!

Julianne’s mom was the genealogist of the family and by all appearances had all those census records, birth certificates and other dry documents firmly in hand. (And as for asking for more details on those unusual and mysterious stories, that was a bit like pulling teeth, too.)

Julianne’s family history was an entangled web of lies, pain, loss and madness. On her website JulianneMangin.com, she describes it “a Dickensian tale of immigration, poverty, mental illness, family betrayal and ultimately redemption.”

In this episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, we’re going to unravel the story of how madness in a family nearly buried the truth of the family’s history. And how bringing that truth out into the light brought with it healing and created a passionate, new genealogist. Along the way, you’ll hear some of the strategies that Julianne used find that truth; methods that just may help you to flesh out the true details of one of your family’s stories.

Quote-worthy statements from Julianne:
“I had been a reluctant genealogist most of my life until I realized genealogy’s power to unlock family secrets and make sense of the stories Mom told me about her family.”

“My grandfather left my grandmother and so she became insane, and then some doctor thought it was a good idea to pull out all her teeth. End of story! And that was it.”

“It’s just psychologically better to really know where you’re really from and what really happened before you.”

How Family History Helps Create Happy Families: Genealogy Gems with Bruce Feiler

“That takes me to another one of my mother’s cryptic stories which was that she said that as a child her mother grew up in a shed.”

Julianne used Sanborn fire insurance maps to find the shed, and visited it personally.

Keep your family history research, photos, tree software files, videos and all other computer files safely backed up with Backblaze, the official cloud-based computer backup system for Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Learn more at https://www.backblaze.com/Lisa

MyHeritage.com is the place to make connections with relatives overseas, particularly with those who may still live in your ancestral homeland. Click here to see what MyHeritage can do for you: it’s free to get started.

Lisa Louise Cooke uses and recommends RootsMagic family history software. From within RootsMagic, you can search historical records on FamilySearch.org, Findmypast.com and MyHeritage.com.

GGP 219 Julianne Mangin BonneauAzilda_ca1911BW

Azilda Bonneau, ca 1911. Image courtesy of Julianne Mangin.

The Metthe family cast of characters:

BEATRICE METTHE (1901-1966) was Julianne’s grandmother. She had four siblings: Leonard, Dinorah, Joseph, and Pauline. Her parents were:

PHILIPPE METTHE (1877-1937) and GRAZIELLA BONNEAU (1878-1910). Both of them were born in Quebec. They married in 1899 in Danielson, Connecticut.

Philippe’s parents were DAVID METTHE (1851-1912) and ROSALIE LAPOINTE (Abt. 1852-1923). David was born in Quebec (Julianne’s not sure where Rosalie was born or if Lapointe is her real name). They married in Danielson in 1873. David and Rosalie had 11 children. Philippe was the second oldest.

Graziella’s parents were PIERRE BONNEAU (1853-1911) and AZILDA DAVIGNON (1855-1912). They were born in Quebec and married there in 1876. They immigrated to the U.S. in 1885 when Graziella was seven years old. Pierre and Azilda had 10 children. Graziella was the second oldest.

The mysterious 1920 U.S. Federal Census record:

  • Philippe says he is single
  • Marie says she’s the wife of the head of household
  • Family lore was that Philippe went back to Canada, but this entry is in MA

Julianne’s approach:

  • Research all the possible areas and “what ifs”.
  • Look in Quebec church records for a marriage (not found)
  • Look in MA vital records for a marriage (not found)
  • Try to find Marie E and Charles D in some other family group in 1910

She searched for Marie E and Charles D and limited their location to CT, and found them with a George Metthe (Philippes brother!):

Where is George? “This is why I got hooked on genealogy. There are now digitized sources out there that help you answer questions like that!” She found him in the newspapers.

Newspaper Research Resources:

How to use Chronicling America to find your ancestors’ hometown newspapers

How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers by Lisa Louise Cooke

Getting the Scoop from Old Newspapers: Parts 1 and 2 video tutorials (Premium eLearning membership required)

Must-search digitized US historical newspaper collections:

Chronicling America (free)

US Newspaper Archives at Findmypast.com (search for free: subscription required to view search results)

Newspaper collections at MyHeritage.com (search for free: subscription required to view search results)


Julianne is thankful that:

Her mom’s family was from Quebec: their records are so great and detailed.

There were a lot of bad actors in her family so they showed up in the newspapers

More quotes from Julianne:

“My motivation for being a genealogist was to learn more about my mother’s curiously insensitive behavior.  But when I put it all together, one of my reactions was of relief. I was relieved because things made sense. And you know at that point in my life when I started genealogy I was in my mid-fifties and I just wanted a family story that made sense. As sad as it was, things were starting to make sense now.”

“Well one of the things that I say repeatedly is that writing this book and writing this story of my family was a way of showing how family history is empowering and also it’s got the potential to heal old wounds by bringing up the truth.”

“I would just like to say that I hope that my story helps other people, and I hope they get genealogical ideas from the little victories that I’ve had. I hope also that people who come to my blog   can see how I’ve used family history to change myself, into someone who understands more about where I’m from, and being more empathetic to people who are suffering from things like mental illness, or from trauma. I just hope that what I do helps others, even though part of me just wants to tell my story.”


Who: Lisa Louise Cooke, Diahan Southard and Sunny Morton

What: Genealogy Roots Conference at SeniorExpo

Where: South Towne Expo Center, 9081 S. State St., Sandy, Utah (just 30 minutes from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City!)

When: Saturday, October 4-5, 2018, 9:00 am ? 5:00 pm

Click here to learn more!

Check out this new episode!

Lisa Louise Cooke, Host and Producer
Sunny Morton, Editor and Genealogy Gems Book Club Guru
Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide, Content Contributor
Hannah Fullerton, Audio Editor
Lacey Cooke, Service Manager

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, Genealogy Gems earns from qualifying purchases you make when clicking from the links we provide. It doesn’t cost you anything extra but it helps support our free blog and podcast. Thank you!

Best Census Entry Ever?

This census enumerator clearly had an opinion 
about Mr. Coleman’s “real” occupation!
What funny tidbits have you found in genealogy records?
I’ve got my fingers crossed
that you’ll leave your comments below
so other Gems can share the fun.
Have a wonderful week!


Happy Independence Day!

Which of your family do you think of 
when you celebrate your nation’s birthday?
A patriot who fought for freedom?
Immigrant ancestors who came to these shores?
Your current generation, as it seeks its unique American dream?
Or your youngest and the yet-unborn, who will inherit this great land?
Happy Independence Day to you and yours,


About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

DNA and Privacy: No Man is a Genetic Island

The recent identification of the Golden State Killer through a DNA database for genealogy is just one way your DNA may be used in unexpected ways. Lisa Louise Cooke shares 5 key principles to keep in mind when considering your online DNA presence.

Golden State killer case and others prompts important question

Recently, Paula in Canada emailed me about the Golden State Killer case, which I talked about in a special episode of the Genealogy Gems Podcast earlier this month. For those who haven’t heard, a serial criminal from decades ago, known popularly as the Golden State Killer, was recently identified in part after investigators submitted DNA evidence left at the scene to a genetic genealogy database. Paula asked how that case—and specifically the investigators’ use of a genealogy DNA database for a non-genealogy purpose—affects the genealogy community.

In the face of all the enthusiasm over DNA testing, the downsides of DNA testing for genealogy isn’t a popular topic. However, the lid is off of pandoras box  when it comes to DNA and there’s no putting it back on. Following the success of the Golden State Killer case, DNA evidence from over 100 crime scenes has recently been uploaded to GEDmatch (a website that provides free DNA and genealogical analysis tools for amateur and professional researchers and genealogists.), under the guidance of a new company (Parabon NanoLabs) that helps criminal investigators use genetic genealogy methods to identify genetic samples. Since DNA is here to stay, let’s talk about the varieties of ways that genealogical DNA testing results are being used may affect the genealogy community and the future of genetic genealogy.

DNA privacy for genealogists

In Genealogy Gems podcast episode #217 and here in this companion article, I share my own personal opinions. I invite you to listen to that episode and do your own homework before making your own decisions. Here, I summarize 5 principles to consider when it comes to sharing your DNA online:

1. Your data = dollars.

If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member and you’ve watched the Premium video Take Control of Your Family Tree, then you know your DNA data is already being shared within and beyond the genetic genealogy world. AncestryDNA and 23andMe have both discovered a lucrative market for the DNA data that their customers have paid them to process: the pharmaceutical industry. Read the Wired.com article on one partnership Ancestry has with the Google-owned biotech company called Calico. I’m not saying that this is bad or good. But it is happening. In the end we are each responsible for doing our own homework and making an informed and conscious decision about whether and how to share our DNA.

2. Look in the mirror: How are YOU using DNA databases?

Thousands of genealogists are already using genetic genealogy databases for purposes beyond privately building their family trees. Often, they want to connect with relatives they don’t know or with whom they aren’t in touch, and DNA becomes the “cousin bait.” For example:

  • Adopted children and birth parents trying to find each other
  • Locating estranged family members
  • Orphans trying to find long lost siblings and relatives

Individuals and agencies other than genealogists also use DNA databases to identify unknown human remains, such as John or Jane Doe cases and prisoners of war. All of these uses of DNA may be well within the parameters of how a genealogist would expect to see their samples used. But all of these uses can lead to tremendous consequences in the lives of those whose DNA is involved, not all of those consequences intended or positive.

3. Hang on to your restaurant napkin!

On a daily basis, in public places, we discard items that have our DNA on them. Many folks are concerned that the police may not be the only ones interested in picking them up. That’s very possible. In fact, waiters and waitresses pick up some of the best DNA samples on a daily basis: anything with saliva on it.

Why would anyone want your DNA? Well, we’ve all seen cases of accident victims being under surveillance to determine if they really are injured. DNA could reveal health issues of those seeking large insurance policies. Of course, it takes a bit of doing because the genealogy testing companies want you to submit the sample on the swab of their kit. In the podcast episode, I shared with you from my personal experience that it’s possible to work around that requirement.

We’re in the early wild west days of DNA. Who in the future might be incentivised to obtain your DNA?

4. We’re not the only ones interested in our DNA.

Those who may potentially be interested in your DNA go beyond even genealogists, crime fighters, and those who identify bodies. The list includes insurance companies, employers, governments, educators, and many more. A news article at news.com.au states that “In Australia, life insurers are allowed to ask if an applicant is considering having genetic testing, and can then use the results to determine their coverage — a decision not everybody thinks is fair.” It goes on to say that “in China, by comparison, authorities have reportedly collected DNA samples from millions of residents for the purpose of surveillance.”

5. No one is a genetic island.

Be aware that when you test, you are also making a decision on behalf of your parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, and future descendants. Your DNA (and accompanying tree data) could be used to identify them in the future in ways that help or harm them. Regardless of good intentions or stated ethics codes in the genealogy community, it isn’t possible to write and get the express permission of everyone who could be affected by you having your DNA tested. The water isn’t always crystal clear when it comes to DNA testing.


If you’ve already made the decision and have tested your DNA for genealogy, or you plan to, here are resources to help you navigate the process with greater awareness and success:

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

About the Author: Lisa Louise Cooke

Lisa is the Producer and Host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show and app. She is the author of the books The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and the Google Earth for Genealogy video series, an international keynote speaker, and producer of the Family Tree Magazine Podcast.

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