It can be fun to turn up a distant connection to a celebrity, whether president or king, rock star or noted author. But how many genealogists actually wonder whether they share forebears with international teen star Justin Bieber?
Not you? Well, I’m interested, because the 18-year-old singer from Canada might be just what it takes to kindle interest in genealogy among youngsters such as my grandchildren.
My older grandchildren, 9-year-old Lexi and 6-year-old Andrew, are quite patient as Memere talks about Penobscot Indian Frank Loring, known as Chief Big Thunder; about having Franco-American heritage; and about possible links to Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower.
As Lexi told her friend Maddox one day, “When Memere tells you something, there’s usually a lot of facts.”
Indeed, I have to be careful that I don’t try to impart 35 years of genealogical research in 15 minutes to the nearest family member, friend or new acquaintance.
I don’t know about musical genes, but according to ancestry.com, Justin Bieber has something I know can be found in my children and all five grandchildren — Quebecois roots.
According to a recent article in The Montreal Gazette, staffers at ancestry.com have discovered that Justin Bieber and singer Celine Dion are 10th cousins three times removed through descent from Jacques Vezina and wife Marie Boisdon.
I’m presuming that Justine is the 13th generation from Vezina and Boisdon, who married about 1641 in Aunis, France. The couple both died in 1687, probably in L’Ange Gardien, Quebec.
Three of my grandchildren, Aidan, Dylan and Emilee Saucier are also 13 generations from Jacques Vezina and Marie Boisdon. Here is their line back:
Tony and Scott Saucier are the sons of Gaelen and Roxanne Saucier. Gaelen’s ancestry is: Willard and Rose Anna (Chamberland) Saucier; John and Marie (Theriault) Saucier; Charles and Delema (Bosse) Theriault; Olivier and Hermine (Mailloux) Bosse; Louis and Anastasie (Dionne) Bosse; Francois and Francoise (Berube) Bosse; Jean Baptiste and Francoise (Dube) Berube; Andre and Marie Josette (Vizine) Berube; Pierre and Jeanne (Letarte) Vizine; Francois and Jeanne (Lemarier) Vizine; Jacques and Marie (Boisdon) Vezina.
My Saucier grandchildren certainly seem to be cousins of Justin Bieber then, and also of Celine Dion, possibly through the Dionne connection noted in the previous paragraph.
My older grandchildren, Lexi and Andrew Perry, have Quebecois ancestors through their mom, Amanda, who has a Levesque line. But I haven’t traced a lot of her Franco-American ancestry yet, so I have more to learn about those genes.
Ancestry.com also found common ancestry for Justin Bieber, actor Ryan Gosling and singer Avril Lavigne in early ancestors Mathurin Roy and Marguerite Bier. Bieber and Lavigne are listed as 12th cousins.
So how many Mainers can claim a cousinship to Justin Bieber? Given that his French-Canadian ancestors were so early in Quebec, they are probably common forebears to many Mainers of Franco-American descent. Certainly tens of thousands of Mainers, or as my dad used to put it, “a little million.”
There are all kinds of ways to get youngsters curious about genealogy.
The Wassebec Genealogy Chapter will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, in the conference room downstairs at Mayo Regional Hospital on Main Street in Dover-Foxcroft. After a brief business meeting, guest speaker Jack Battick will speak on “The light bulb came on! Adventures two generations back.” He is a retired professor of history from the University of Maine and certainly one of the top genealogy speakers I have ever heard. For information, contact the Bennetts at 876-3073.
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.