An article on the front page of the Feb. 6 Bangor Daily News, written by Sun Journal reporter Lindsay Tice of Lewiston, showed all too clearly that genealogy isn’t just for fun.
Tice profiled Carl Ouellette, who at 34 had a heart attack followed by coronary bypass surgery, and was found to have a cholesterol level of 425, more than double the score of 200 patients often are urged to keep their level within. Tests showed that his cholesterol was actually “familial hypercholesterolemia.”
Carl Ouellette, his father, his sister and two nieces all have FH. One of his nieces has been taking cholesterol medication since age 10.
“FH is found most often in people of Native American or French-Canadian descent,” wrote Tice, who interviewed one of the cardiologists with Central Maine Heart Associates.
Lewiston-Auburn was one of the areas where patients were used for testing of statin drugs, such as Lipitor and Crestor, some years ago, and now it will be included in testing for a cholesterol vaccine.
Maine, as we know, is home to four Native American nations — Penobscot in Old Town, Passamaquoddy in Washington County, and Micmac and Maliseet in Aroostook County.
The state also has several areas with significant numbers of French-Canadian descendants, not only Lewiston-Auburn, but Saco-Biddeford, Waterville-Augusta, Old Town and the St. John Valley, from Fort Kent to Van Buren.
Just as numerous French-Canadians came from Quebec to work in the mills in Lewiston, many other family members moved up the St. Lawrence River every couple of generations until they got to the St. John Valley, where the boundary between Maine and New Brunswick was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.
Ouellettes have always been numerous in the Valley. Immigrant ancestor Rene Ouellette married Anne Rivet, mother of his first three children, in 1666 in Quebec City; and Therese Migneault, mother of his next eight children, in 1678.
My husband has at least three lines back to Rene Ouellette, two on his mother’s side and one on his father’s. The closest connection was his maternal great-grandmother, Nathalie (Ouellette) Chamberland of St. Agatha, daughter of Benoni Ouellette and Marie Bourguoin, who were married in 1817 in St. Andre, Kamouraska, Quebec.
Some of his ancestors married only other Franco-Americans for up to 300 years, which is an efficient method of transmitting traits over the generations.
Benoni’s line was Julien Ouellette and Catherine Asselin, Etienne Ouellette and Angelique Sirois, Joseph Ouellette and Madeleine Michaud, Mathieu Rene Ouellette and Angelique Lebel, Rene Ouellette and Anne Rivet, and Francois Ouellette and Elizabeth Barre in Paris.
“Centenaire de St. Agatha, Maine 1899-1999” lists several Ouellette families in the 1900 Census: Joseph and Euphemie Ouellett, Denis and Modeste Ouellette, Benjamin and Elise Ouellette, widow Catherine Ouellette, Henrie and Mary Ouellette, Hilaire and Flavie Ouellette, Lindore and Clarice Ouellette, Pierre and Anna Ouellette, Alphonse and Mary Ouellette, Gilbert and Edithe Ouellette, and Olphy and Josephine Ouellette.
It does not appear that my husband, whose ancestry is 100 percent Franco-American, has FH. He has his cholesterol checked regularly and it is well-controlled with diet, exercise and medication. But I certainly will send copies of Lindsay Tice’s article to our children and other relatives.
A recent BDN article by Julia Bayly told the story of the Fort Kent Historical Society’s purchase of the Leon Guimond Collection of Franco-American genealogy materials, which have been placed in the Acadian Archives at the University of Maine at Fort Kent.
Bravo to the Fort Kent Historical Society for preserving this important resource and working with the Acadian Archives to make it available to researchers. To learn more about the Acadian Archives, visit umfk.edu/archives.
“Searching Your Family Tree, Near and Far” will be the program when I speak at the meeting of the Penobscot County Genealogical Society at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, in the Lecture Hall on the third floor at Bangor Public Library, 145 Harlow St.
The program is free, and all are welcome to attend. The elevator is inside the entrance to the children’s department on the right-hand side of the building.
For information on researching family history in Maine, see Genealogy Resources under Family Ties at bangordailynews.com/browse/family-ties. Send genealogy queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.