By Juliana L’Heureux
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A politically correct genealogy might actually help Franco-Americans in Maine to win future Congressional elections.
Certainly, Franco-American genealogies are impressive for the numbers of generations included therein. Meticulous marriage and birth records can track as many as 11 generations of ancestors with precision and accuracy. Maybe it's the amazing capacity to trace ancestry or the generational attachment to family, but genealogy is part of the Franco-American culture. In fact, three basic questions Franco-American ask each other are, "Who's your mother, are you Catholic and can you make creton?"
A well-researched Franco-American genealogy possibly helped Second District Congressman Michael Michaud of East Millinocott to gain unified support from Franco constituents, who voted for him in overwhelming numbers last November. Michaud is Maine's first Franco-American to win a national political office. "Being the first Franco-American to win a Congressional seat never occurred to me until after I was in the race," said Michaud in a recent interview with him in Augusta. "I'm the first Franco to run from Aroostook County since Elmer Violette. For whatever reason, my voters carried every ward in Lewiston and the Aroostook County towns as well", he says. Violette, a Democratic State Senator from Van Buren, ran against Bill Cohen in 1972 but lost, some say, because Quebecois Franco-Americans in Lewiston did not vote to support him. This rivalry between Quebecois and Acadians may have started as a result of Aroostook's Acadians being US citizens well before the Quebecois arrived from Canada. Despite the Acadians' longevity, it was the Quebecois who were recruited from Canada to work in factories.
Michaud's political campaign successfully unified the previously fragmented Franco-American voters in Lewiston and Aroostook County. In the past, the cultural divide interfered with their ability to support a single Franco-American candidate. Unifying the political power of the two groups helped Michaud's chances for an election victory among the Franco-Americans, says Maine political pundit Christian Potholm. Probably, Michaud's genealogy helped bridge this split voting history.
Although most of Michaud's ancestors were Quebecois, his great- grandmother on his mother's side was named Ouelette, from New Brunswick, Canada. She was Acadian. Therefore, Michaud claims both Quebecois and Acadian heritage.
Michaud traces his mother's direct genealogy through the Moreau family tree. The Moreau genealogy begins eleven generations back in France. In 1656 in St. Laurent-de-Partenay, Diocese de Poitiers, in Poitou, France, Jean Moreau and Catherine Leroux began the family tree with their son Jean Baptiste Moreau. It is their son who subsequently becomes the first generation Quebecois in Michaud's mother's line. The Moreau line continues in Quebec for three generations until August 2, 1825 when Joseph Moreau, son of Germain Moreau and Madeleine Pelletier marries Felicite Ouelette at St. Basile, in New Brunswick. Two more generations of the Moreau family tree are documented in New Brunswick until the first generation US ancestor shows up in Maine's Aroostook County. On January 7, 1927, Michaud's grandmother, Annie M. Moreau, married Jim Morrow (probably an anglicized name from either Moran or Morin), in Ashland, Maine. Their daughter, Geneva Morrow, is Congressman Michaud's mother. She married Jim Michaud, Sr.
Michaud's Quebecois family is connected to Acadians in 1825, when the 6th generation Moreau moves to New Brunswick.
"Le sort fait les parents", (Fate chooses our parents) is a common French phrase. Put another way, New England writer John P. Marquand (1893-1960) writes, "It's worthwhile for anyone to have behind him a few generations of honest, hard-working ancestors." Apparently, this statement is especially true for Franco-American politicians.
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Copyright 2003, Juliana L'Heureux