Genealogy Gems Podcast Episode 219

Genealogy Gems Podcast 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 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, 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 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, and



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 (search for free: subscription required to view search results)

Newspaper collections at (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.”






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!


Download this episode
Download the show notes


Best Census Entry Ever?

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!


Mayflower Ancestors Tops US Genealogy Records now Online

Mayflower Ancestors Tops US Genealogy Records now Online

A new Mayflower ancestors database can help connect you with your Pilgrim roots. Also, amateur US newspapers: Hill Air Force Base newspaper, Norwegian and African American Mormons, PERSI updates and collections for Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Ohio, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Featured: Mayflower ancestors database

An estimated 10 million living Americans and as many 35 million people worldwide have Pilgrim ancestors. So a new database of Mayflower passengers and their descendants at may prove helpful to a very large group of people! In fact, the new database was so newsworthy, USA Today even reported on it.

“The database contains authenticated information on more than 59,450 people in the fifth generation of the Mayflower passengers known to have descendants,” states the article. “That ‘fifth generation’ of descendants lived in the 1700s and 1800s, so the name you type in to search the database would have to be one of your ancestors who lived during that time.”

According to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, which runs subscription site, “The Mayflower Families Fifth Generation Descendants, 1700-1880 database features more than half a million searchable names….This exclusive database offers meticulous documentation for the fifth generation of Mayflower families who arrived in 1620 and left descendants….All information in the database is derived from the original printed books published by the General Society of Mayflower Descendants. These volumes are often referred to as the ‘Silver Books’ for their distinctive covers.”

This “largest online database of authenticated Mayflower passenger genealogies” is only available to full members of You can try a 3-month all-access membership plan for $34.95.

More US genealogy records now online

Amateur newspapers from the 1800s

A new digital archive of 19th-century amateur newspapers is now available to patrons of subscribing libraries. According to a press release, these youth newspapers are “considered the social media of the 19th century and gives students and researchers a unique inside look at how teens and young adults of the period expressed themselves and their opinions to the world.” Ask a reference librarian at your favorite library or archive if they have access to this collection. Even if you can’t access it, if you like old newspapers, it’s worth reading this blog post with lots of great discoveries from the collection.

Latter-day Saint (Mormon)

Two new databases may help you discover more about your ancestors who united with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

  • African Americans comprised a tiny minority of members of this faith before 1930. According to this article in the Salt Lake Tribune, a new database seeks to recover and compile information about them. Search it at its free website, A Century of Black Mormons.
  • has published a new collection, Norway: Mormon Missionaries and Emigrants to America (1886-1900). According to the site, it “provides a listing of approximately 650 Mormon emigrants, who boarded ships in Christiania from 1886 to 1897, and journeyed to the British Isles and then to America. This resource gives names, gender, ages, marital status, occupations, place of residence, destinations of specific ships, European departure dates, and arrivals at U.S. ports. The work also presents biographical sketches of approximately 160 Latter-day Saints who served as missionaries in Scandinavia and some who served as leaders aboard the ships carrying Norwegian emigrants.”

Military: Hill Air Force Base

A new addition to the free website Utah Digital Newspapers is a complete run (1943-2006) of the Hill Air Force Base’s Hilltop Times newspaper. According to this Deseret News article, “The installation, which was founded shortly before the U.S. entry into World War II, went on to serve a critical maintenance and supply role during the war. The bombers that defeated the Axis powers in World War II — the B-29, B-25, B-24 and B-17 — were repaired, modified or maintained in some way at Hill Air Force Base.” The collection includes more than 61,000 digitized newspaper pages.

Periodical Source Index updates

Genealogy Giant subscription website continues to update the Periodical Source Index (PERSI). This comprehensive subject index to thousands of historical and genealogical magazines, journal articles, and periodicals is strongest for U.S. sources and can help you discover mentions of your relatives (and places or organizations associated with them) in sources you may otherwise never learn about. Findmypast is the exclusive online home of PERSI and has been adding digitized article images to the indexed entries. They’ve recently added over 13,000 more article images from:

  • “Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine / American Spirit – volumes 43 to 53, 56 to 57 – this magazine offers articles on American history and historical subjects pertaining to Colonial America, as well as sections on genealogy
  • Fitchburg Historical Society Proceedings – volumes 1 to 5 – including papers relating to the history of the town of Fitchburg, Massachusetts
  • Genealogical Advertiser – volumes 1 to 4 – a quarterly magazine of family history, which includes marriage and probate records
  • Genealogical Magazine – volumes 1 to 4 – this periodical is a journal of family history, heraldry, and pedigrees
  • Genealogical Quarterly Magazine – volumes 1 to 5 – this periodical is devoted to ‘genealogy, history, heraldry, revolutionary and colonial records’. From its pages, you can discover marriage notices, cemetery inscriptions, inhabitant lists, and church records for various places in New England.”

Statewide genealogy collections: From Alabama to West Virginia

Alabama. New at Genealogy Giant subscription website is the collection, Alabama, Surname Files Expanded, 1702–1981. According to the site, “This database contains various records providing biographical information on individuals who lived in Alabama….Staff members at the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH) started compiling these records on Alabamians in 1901. They include a variety of items and record types arranged by surname: newspaper clippings, obituaries, local and family histories, donated family research and records, extracts from censuses, research requests made to the archives, and other items. While ADAH staff began collecting and assembling these records in 1901, names of people included can predate this year.”

Georgia. We’ve reported in the past on individual updates to the Digital Library of Georgia. Now the entire website has been redesigned and relaunched. According to a press release, “The site connects users to a half a million digital objects in more than 700 collections from over 130 institutions and 100 government agencies.” Site visitors will now be more easily able to navigate the site, perform full-text searches, browse collections in different ways (including map browsing) and access virtual collections from several organizations. Click here to visit the new site.

Indiana. Most issues of The Southeastern Student, an early newspaper at Indiana University, are now available in digitized format online on the Indiana University Southeast Library Student Newspapers home page. The paper and its successors appear in a collection spanning 1947 to 2007.

Massachusetts. has added new browsable Catholic church record collections for the following parishes in the Archdiocese of Boston Records: Most Holy Redeemer (East Boston) (7 volumes), Sacred Heart (Malden) (3 volumes), St. James (Haverhill) (7 volumes), St. Mary (Lawrence) (12 volumes), and St. Peter (Lowell) (9 volumes).

Ohio. One of the oldest Catholic diocesan publications in the United States, The Catholic Telegraph (Cincinnati, OH), is being digitized and placed online. Issues dating 1831-1885 are already online and eventually all through 1922 will be placed online. Read these issues here for free—along with several other digitized Catholic newspapers from around the United States.

Vermont. Millions of Vermont newspaper pages dating from the 1700s up to 1922 are now available online, thanks to a collaboration between the Vermont Secretary of State’s office and Access is free to Vermont residents and available to subscribers of Click here to learn more about accessing these newspapers.

Washington. New at is Washington, Episcopal Diocese of Spokane Church Records, 1870-1947. According to the site, “This collection includes baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death records from the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane between the years of 1870 and 1947. Established in the mid-1860s, the Episcopal Diocese of Spokane is comprised of 38 congregations and covers all of Washington State east of the Cascade Range, as well as the northern Idaho panhandle.”

West Virginia. Another of the Genealogy Giants, subscription site, has published West Virginia Death Index & Certificates, 1853-1964 with more than 5 million records. According to the site, “West Virginia death records between 1853 and 1964 include name, gender, date of death, age of death, and often other important information such as marital status, birth date, burial date, cemetery where interred, and details about the decedent’s occupation, spouse, father, and mother. The associated images in this collection, including copies of state-issued death certificates, should be examined to discover other information not present in the index. This index and images are provided by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.”

Note: Many West Virginia vital records are free to explore here and are an incredibly rich resource, but the search interface is very limited AND it doesn’t include all data for all counties. According to the site, “Death records in West Virginia are withheld from the public for 50 years from the date of issuance but all extant state death certificates for individuals from all 55 counties dating from 1917 through 1964 are available. Additional records extending the collection from 1964 will be added as they become available.”

Even more US genealogy gems

If you’re a Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning member, you can listen to Lisa Louise Cooke’s new interview with Genealogy Giants guru Sunny Morton on an unexpected source for US newspaper content. This conversation is in Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode #160. Learn about millions of newspaper pages you may already have access to–and get step-by-step instructions for how to access it. Think you’d like to join our Premium eLearning community? Click here for more info.

About the Author: Sunny Morton

About the Author: Sunny Morton

Sunny is a Contributing Editor at Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems; her voice is often heard on the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Premium Podcasts. She’s  known for her expertise on the world’s biggest family history websites (she’s the author of Genealogy Giants: Comparing the 4 Major Websites); writing personal and family histories (she also wrote Story of My Life: A Workbook for Preserving Your Legacy); and sharing her favorite reads for the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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