Grab a cigar—it’s a genetic match!

Back in February, my dad submitted a cheek swab to FamilyTreeDNA for a Y-chromosome test. The results are in, and the first fact was not a surprise: he’s French! Both of his parents were French-Canadian, and he knew (though hadn’t documented) that most branches of his ancestry could be traced back to France via immigration to New France in the 17th or 18th century.*

The second surprise is related… literally. Dad discovered that he had a near-perfect genetic match with another man who had done the same test.

He even shared our last name (as one would expect, since it’s a Y-chromosome test) which is something I’m not accustomed to sharing. Dad is the “last male on his twig of the family tree,” as he put it. He’s the last surviving male descendant of his father’s father, and since my sister and I only have X-chromosomes, that’s pretty much it. I guess it’s the way things go. But it turns out that we can verify, both genetically and through family trees, that the Beaudoin Y-chromosome will continue to be passed on through a different branch!

The cool thing about FamilyTreeDNA is that it’s designed to help you get in touch with genetically matched strangers to help you verify relation and fill in your family trees. “Cousin Ralph” emailed us and we compared trees to find our common ancestor. It actually might have been tricky to line things up if I hadn’t found certain records on to help me trace back another generation.

Our common ancestor is Jacques-Thomas Beaudoin, (1729-1776), and his second wife Genevieve Vermette (1737-1812). I am descended from their first son, Jacques (1760-1844) and Ralph is descended from their seventh of ten children, Louis Joseph (1770-1852). Ralph is my fourth cousin, twice removed. He’s been a pretty cool pen pal so far.

I’m also blown away by the work he has done in compiling genealogical records that will directly affect my own research. His Beaudoin Genealogy website is both intimidating and awe-inspiring to me. And I am still getting used to seeing the Beaudoin name being used by someone other than my direct family or total strangers! What’s wacky is that his mother’s name was also Yvette (though Beaudoin was not her maiden name).

The coolest thing is that he has traced my paternal ancestry to Jacques Baudouin (born ca. 1600) who lived in Île de Ré, France, which is an island on the Atlantic coast with La Rochelle as the nearest city. This emigration story about his grandson (also named Jacques) is based on fact, yet still paints a vivid image in my mind:

The Beaudoins descend from Jacques Baudouin who immigrated to New France aboard the ship, Le Noir. A fishing vessel, it sailed from LaRochelle, France and arrived at Quebec City on May 25, 1664. He married Francoise Durand at Quebec on March 24, 1671. She was a “Daughter of the King” having been sent by the crown along with other women who had no dowry and therefore, no prospect of marriage in France. The crown provided a small dowry for each woman as part of the incentive to relocate to New France. Jacques and his bride eventually settled in the Northeast tip of the Island of Orleans and raised several children there. Jacques was an islander by birth having originally come from St. Martin on the Island of Ré, a small island off the coast of France near LaRochelle. He was at home living on an Island and earned his living as a fisherman. He fished near his home and then, rode the incoming tide to Quebec to sell his day’s catch. The outgoing tide provided his transportation back home. His first son, Jacques, was the next in line in this family tree.

Thanks, Cousin Ralph! I look forward to getting to know you and our ancestors better.

*I don’t know if knowing and sharing every single detail about French-Canadian history is a specific genetic trait, but if it is, Dad has it. If you haven’t hung out with my dad recently, you can just read about New France on Wikipedia. That’s what I do to verify his stories pick up additional details.

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