Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Looking Across the Pond

Finding my Ancestors from County Down Ireland

This is a follow up to Chapter 17 (Looking across the Pond, Nolan(d) and Magennis (var.) families of County Down) written by me in the 2014 published  book (ISBN 9780993918803) Irish Roots in County Down, Stories of Family & Place, edited by Stanley R. Megraw. In that book I write about my struggle    doing research on my father’s mother’s side of the family. My grandmother,  Sarah J Steele (Sadie Vaundell) was born on 6 April 1893 in Clinton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts , to Alexander Steele, born in Scotland, and Sarah Noland, born in Ireland, both residing in Worcester.[1]
Later when I found the Massachusetts marriage record for my great grandparents, [2] I was surprised to find that Sarah (Sadie’s) mother was born in Ireland. See growing up I only remember hearing about the Scottish roots, but nothing about the Irish and do not remember them celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. After doing more research especially when I went to the Family History Library in 2013 I understand why. I was able to confirm Sarah Noland and her family were from County Down, Northern Ireland. While at the library doing research on my ancestors I was talking to someone and stating how I had just confirmed that I had Irish ancestors and when I told him they were from County Down he said in  a voice which was very condemning “THAT IS NORTHERN IRELAND.” To me it was a good thing to be Irish and he was making me feel like it was a bad thing.
At the end of Chapter 17, I presented some questions to further my research on this side of the family, one of the assumptions I had made is that Sarah Noland had come to America without any of her family leaving them all behind in Ireland and Scotland.   My thinking was that since Sarah (Nolan) Steele[3] had died young when my grandmother Sarah (Sadie) Steele was only fourteen years old and if my grandmother was only surrounded by the her father’s family (the Steele’s)  which I knew had immigrated and settled in North Grafton where I grew up, she would most likely only heard stories about life in Scotland.  I couldn’t have been further from the truth and so close at the same time, but more on that in my next post.

[1] NEGHS, “Massachusetts Vital records, 1842-1910,” Worcester Births, 1893.
[2] Town Clerk’s Office, Grafton, MA; Marriage Records, Book 15,  p.174, item 50.
[3] Town Clerk’s Office, Grafton, Ma; Death Records, Book19, p. 240, item 76

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rose Eliza (Peloquin) Vaundell Obituary

Rose Eliza (Peloquin) Vaundell Obituary-Friday December 8, 1933

Photo taken by Genevieve De Haan-Pine Grove Cemetery, No. Grafton, Massachusetts

As I looked for my Great Grandmother’s obituary never in my wildest dreams did I realize the journey it would lead me on. Mrs. Rose E.’s Peloquin  obituary[1] states that beside her husband Nelson Vaundell, she leaves two grandchildren (Nelson H. & Evelyn Vaundell ), three brothers (Louis of Worcester, Fred of Brockton, and January Peloquin of Whitman), and a sister Mrs. Fred Coots of Whitman. This would prove to give me the biggest clue in the Peloquin family history. I thought to myself finally an unusual name. How many parents name their son January.  Thus I started looking for a January Peloquin in the 1930 Census.
In the 1930 U.S. census[2] at I found a January Peloquin living with his brother-in-law Frederick J. Coots, his wife Josephine M. and their son Frederick J. Jr. in Whitman, Plymouth Co.,  Massachusetts. Bingo!!!
In the 1920 U.S. Census[3]  at  there is a January J. Peloquin, age 60, born in Massachusetts living in Brockton ward 2, Plymouth Co. with his mother Almena Peloquin, age 79, born in Vermont.
In 1930 U.S. Census[4] at there is a Frederick Pelequin, age 50, living in Brockton, Plymouth Co., with his wife Margaret, age 49, both born in Massachusetts.
I then tried to find Louis Peloquin, or any variation of the name (Pellican, Pelican, Pelequin, Pellaquin, etc.) but could not find anything at on Sarah’s fourth sibling. Oh well three out of four; I felt really blessed.

[1] Worcester Daily Telegram, Worcester Public Library, roll 0458 “obituary”, Friday Dec 8, 1933 Co. l1, p. 12.
[2]United States Census 1930,” index and images, FamilySearch (
[3] "United States Census, 1920," index and images, FamilySearch (
[4] "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch (

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Peloquin-Parental Great Granparetns

Background information-

When I was a young child living in North Grafton, Worcester County, Massachusetts I had a friend Annie (not her real name) Peloquin, whom my paternal grandmother stated that I was related to, maybe a “distant cousin.” So when I started researching my paternal family history and found the death certificate of my great grandmother Rose Eliza (Peloquin) Vaundell[1], married to my great grandfather Nelson Vaundell, I thought I had hit the jackpot. It stated that she died December 7, 1933, at the age of 59 years, 5 months, 9 days (calculated to a birth date of June 28, 1874) and her parents were Paul Peloquin, born in Canada, and Armine Beaulac, born in Montpelier, Vermont. It also stated that she had been born in Hudson, Massachusetts. As I searched the birth records of Hudson, the only one that came close was a Rosa Pellican born June 29, 1874 to parents Paul Pellican and Lizzie Sake (sic) Lake.[2] This brought a little frustration into my search but I decided to look for their marriage record and found that on August 5, 1889 Nelson Vaundell, age 19, a shoemaker and Rosa Peloquin, age 17, a mill worker who was born in Hudson were married in North Grafton.[3] It was the first marriage for both.  Her parents were Paul & Lizzie Peloquin. His parents are Nelson Vaundell and Nancy Clappron (sic).

Thus this is where I started on the wrong path. I honed in on the “Peloquin” surname and tried to find Rose (Rosa) parents’ marriage or the family on the US census or any of records. I spent a lot of time and efforts looking up what I thought were different spellings of the “Peloquin” surname, completely ignoring the biggest clue that I had-which was the “pelican” surname on most likely her birth record from Hudson, Massachusetts. I was HITTING a huge “brick wall’ so I decided to lay aside my family search of this particular branch-Rose Peloquin and start researching other family members.

[1] Death Certificate 129, Town Clerk’s office,  Grafton, 1933, Vol. 13, pg. 61.
[2] Massachusetts Vital Records 1841-1910. NEHGS, on line database.
[3] Ibid.