I hope to share research, information, tips, and a little of my family history with others following the path to greater genealogical awareness. Let the search for enlightenment continue...
Showing posts with label Chenette. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chenette. Show all posts

Friday, September 21, 2012

Sightseeing Around Civil War Richmond, Virginia

Lincoln Statue at the
Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center 

(Digital Images; Photographs and Text, Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette)

Last year and earlier this year my husband spent some time working in Richmond, Virginia. My son and I took several trips to Richmond while my husband was there.  We all loved Richmond!  There was lots to see and do! While my son loved the Science Museum of Virginia I was interested in the area because of my Civil War ancestors.

My great-grandfather, Francois Chenette (1813-1886), was a Civil War soldier.  He and his son, also named Francois (1845-1864) both enlisted in the Union Army in Woodstock, Vermont on 10 Dec 1963 and mustered in on 16 Dec 1863.  Francois Sr. was 50 years old at the time and his son Francois was 18.  I found it interesting that Francois Sr. gave his age as 44 at the time of enlistment!  Both father and son served in the 11th Vermont Infantry, Company K.  Francois Sr. was wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor.  Sadly young Francois died of disease in Strasburg, Virginia on 03 Nov 1864 and was buried at Bragg's Farm.  Francois Jr.'s body was later moved to the Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia where my family and I visited his grave several years ago on our drive home from Charleston, South Carolina.  Francois Sr. transferred to Company A on 24 Jun 1865, and he mustered out on 29 Jun 1865.

American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar

Not surprisingly one of the items on my agenda was to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield. While my husband was at work my son and I stopped at the American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar and the visitor center for the Richmond National Battlefield Park at the Tredegar Iron Works which was only a short distance from our hotel in downtown Richmond.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The iron works was quiet on the day we visited.  If you look at the sky in my photos you can see the storm clouds in the background that preceded Hurricane Irene which hit Virginia while we were in Richmond.  My then eight-year-old son was initially less than excited about the iron works, but one of the park rangers did an amazing job at keeping him entertained with a scavenger hunt activity while I looked around the visitor center.  We also discovered the gift shop sold a set of Civil War silly bandz (Remember those?) which included a silly band of Abraham Lincoln's profile, so thankfully the day wasn't a total write off at least as far as my son was concerned.

Richmond National Battlefield Park Visitor Center

The Tredegar Iron Works was the largest iron works in the south during the Civil War and survived the burning of Richmond relatively unscathed.  You can see a great vintage photo here.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

I'd wanted to visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield for quite some time. Unfortunately when we did finally visit the battlefield was closed due to damage from the hurricane which knocked trees down all around the area. While we were not able to drive through on the driving tour because of downed trees, we did take some time to walk around on the grounds near the small visitor's center.  I was a bit disappointed (My son was not...) that we were not able to do the driving tour.  It was interesting none-the-less to see the area where my great-grandfather fought and was wounded on 01 Jun 1864.

Cold Harbor Battlefield

The fields were lovely and serene the day we visited with a bright blue sky, the literal calm after the storm, and while the visit to Cold Harbor probably wasn't high on my son's "things to do list" he does know that his ancestors fought in the war.  It really is amazing to think that he is only four generations removed from a Civil War ancestor!  The battlefield visit might not have been the most exciting way for him to spend a day in Richmond, but I sure bet he'll have something to talk about when his class finally does get around to learning about the Civil War in school!

Cold Harbor Battlefield

Other Posts You Might Like:

Books of Interest: The Life of Billy Yank
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)
The Shenette Family - Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Flash Back! The Life and Times of Francois Chenet (Greatly Abridged)

(Copyright (c) 2012 Cynthia Shenette) Well, it's Carnival of Genealogy time again, and our assignment for this month is to create a "flash" family history of one of our ancestors in 300 words or less.  I decided to write about my great-grandfather Francois Chenet.  To use Francois as the subject for my flash family history is absurd to say the least, given the...um...details of Francois' life, but the concept was both fun and challenging.  Let's just say I tried my best to capture the highlights (cough) of Francois relatively long life.  While my flash family history is short, I think I've done a reasonable job in capturing the essence of the man.  What do you think?

Francois Chenet (18 Apr 1813- 22 Mar 1886)

My great-grandfather Francois Chenet was born in St-Denis-sur-Richelieu, Quebec in 1813.  He married Marie-Marguerite Charron in 1836.  Their first child Marguerite was born in 1837.  Their second child Justine was born in 1839. Their third child Jean-Baptiste was born in 1840.  Their fourth child Julienne was born 1841.  Their fifth child Celina was born in 1842.  Their sixth child Philomene was born in 1844.  Their seventh child Francois was born 1845. Their eighth child Marie-Reine was born in 1847. Their ninth child Marie-Vitaline was born in 1848.  Their tenth child Joseph was born in 1849. In 1850 Marie-Marguerite died.

Francois married Theotiste Tetreault (1852).  Their first child Francois-Xavier was born in 1852.  Their second child Louis was born in 1854. Their third child Louis-Napoleon was born 1856.  Their fourth child Toussaint was born in 1858.  In 1859 Theotiste died.

Francois married Marie-Louise Dubreuil (1859).  Their first child Marie-Louise-Delima was born in 1860.  Francois enlisted in the Union army (1863).  Their second child Marie was born in 1864.  Francois was wounded at Cold Harbor (1864). The Civil War ended (1865).  In 1866 Marie-Louise died.

Francois married my great-grandmother Lucie Touchette (1867).  Their first child Victorine-Lucy was born in 1868.  Their second child Francois-Adei was born in 1871.  Their third child Joseph-Theodore-Hormidas (my grandfather, who became Frank.  Go figure...) was born in 1873.  Their fourth child Joseph was born in 1874.  Their fifth child Marie-Josephine was born in 1876.  Their sixth child Flavi-Joseph was born in 1878.  Their seventh child Francois-Elzear was born in 1879.  Their eighth child Marie-Delina-Vedora was born in 1882.  Francois died in 1886.

And the women of Quebec breathed a collective sigh of relief...

Submitted for the 115th edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Photo Story: Dad and a Mystery Solved
Fascinating Ladies
More Than Meets the Eye (Again): A Tuesday's Tip Follow Up!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Photo Story: Passages

My Grandparents, Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko and Adolf Szerejko
(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) The 1950s was a decade of joy and sorrow in the extreme for my family.  My mother and her siblings were married and my grandparents were enjoying their new role as grandparents.  My grandfather was soon due to retire at 65.  He and my grandmother had purchase a property in 1940 with three acres of land in a still rural part of Worcester.  Their intention was to start a plant and flower business for their retirement years.  Gardening was one of their joys in life. You can see one of my favorite photos of my grandparents and their flowers here.

Their plans were disrupted and their joy turned to grief with the sudden, tragic death of one of my mother's siblings in 1955.  I truly believe it was a loss neither my grandmother nor my mother for that matter, recovered from.  Grief also took it's toll on my grandfather.  My mother said she always believed the stress of that loss contributed to my grandfather's death at the age of 64 in 1959 just before his retirement.  In addition to the losses on my mother's side of the family, my Dad's mother, Marie (Comeau) Shenette LeMay also died in 1959.

Other Posts You Might Like:

The Stories My Grandmother Told Me
My Grandmother - Wordless Wednesday
Girls Just Wanna Have Fun...
Wordless Wednesday: June is Wedding Month at Heritage Zen

Monday, November 28, 2011

Photo Story: Mom and Dad Get Married

Left to Right: Antonina (Bulak) Szerejko, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Henry Shenette, Marie (Comeau) Shenette
(Original Images and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)  My parents met through mutual friends while my mom was working for the United States Department of Agriculture in Worcester.  The other secretary in the USDA office, Shirley Johnson, was a good friend of my mother, and her husband Wallace was a childhood friend of my dad.

Left to Right: Unidentified, Margaret Chenette, Unidentified, Rosalie (Wagner) Massey, Edward Chenette, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Henry Shenette, Wallace Johnson?
Mom and Dad were married on June 13, 1953 at Our Lady of Czestochowa in Worcester, MA.  A reception followed at the Sterling Inn in Sterling, MA. There was some question as to whether the reception would go on as scheduled, because a massive tornado blew through town four days before my parents wedding, devastating the northern end of the city.  Guests managed to find a route around the destruction, and the reception went on as scheduled.  After the wedding my parents took a honeymoon to Montreal and visited relatives on their trip home.

Left to Right: Unidentified, Helen Bulak, Christine (Szerejko) Shenette, Henry Shenette
My mom moved from Worcester to Newport where Dad was stationed with the Navy.  Mom said they were lucky, because they didn't have to move every two years like most Navy families.  Dad was an instructor at the Naval School in Newport, so they stayed in Newport until he retired from the Navy in 1957.

Other Posts You Might Like:

The Worcester Tornado, June 9, 1953 - Those Places Thursday
Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! - Wordless Wednesday
U.S. Naval School, Newport RI - Military Monday
Wordless Wednesday: A June Wedding

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Photo Story: Dad and A Mystery Solved

(Original Image and Text, Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) My mom grew up in the Vernon Hill section of Worcester.  My dad also grew up in Worcester.  

This is the only photo I have of my dad, Henry Albert Shenette (1916-1985), and his siblings as children and young adults.  This photo was taken in 1929 and includes six of my dad's seven siblings.  Sibling number seven hadn't been born yet when the picture was taken.

While I have hundreds of photos of my mom's family I have very few of my dad's family. Why is this?  I believe there are a number of reasons.  Money was tight for Dad's family.  My grandfather Frank Shenette (1873-1945) is listed in the census and the Worcester city directories as a painter or a house painter.  If you compare the economic downturn of today in relation to the Great Depression, painting is something that you can often do without when money is short.  My grandmother, Marie Louise (Comeau) Shenette (1890-1959), was busy with the children, giving birth approximately every two to three years between 1907 and 1929.  The family moved around a great deal, probably due to work and the cost of rent.  From the time my dad was born in 1916, until he left home for the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934, the family lived in eight different places in Worcester. My dad also spent many years traveling in the military.  Finally, there were eight children to divide up the existing photos.

I posted this photo back in February of this year.  At the time I listed the names of all of the siblings, but I didn't know the identity of the older woman in the group.  I remember asking my dad years ago who she was and all he said was that she was an aunt. I speculated that the woman might have been Frank's sister Josephine (1876-1952) who I mention in my post, The Death and Funeral of Charles Senecal - Amanuensis Monday.  The woman resembles members of the Chenette family.  Josephine lived in Worcester, and would have been about the age of the woman in the photo.  I am happy to report  that I have discovered the identity of the woman in the photograph.  The mysterious "aunt" is Lena (Chenette) Potvin (1882-1961) Frank's youngest sister.  I initially discounted Lena as she lived in St. Albans, VT at the time the photo was taken. I had the right side of the family, but the wrong sister.  Special thanks goes to my cousin Roger LaFerriere who found my blog online, took the time to contact me, and solved the mystery!

The siblings in the photo are Leo A. (1907-1973), Edward F. (1911-1991), Margaret M. (1913-2004), Richard R. (1922-1980), Dad, Bertha L. (1910-1991), and Raymond F. (1925-1990) sitting in Lena's lap.  You may notice that throughout this post I use both the Chenette spelling and the Shenette spelling.  The spelling varies between records and even between siblings.

Other Posts You Might Like:

What's In A Name? (An Ongoing Series): Chenette
Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier
Wordless Wednesday: Dad, Somewhere Cold
Postcards From the Edge: Genealogy Road Trippin'

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Shenette Family - Wordless Wednesday

(Original Image and Text Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette) This is the only photo I have of my father as a child and the only one I have of him and his siblings together. My dad, Henry A. Shenette (1916-1985), is the boy with the knickers at the bottom. I think he was about 13 when this photo was taken. Pictured clockwise from the top are Leo, Edward, Margaret, Richard, Henry (dad), and Bertha. Raymond is the little boy in the woman's lap. There was one more sibling, not shown, who was probably not born yet when this photo was taken, for eight in all. I don't know who the older woman in the middle is. I remember years ago I asked my dad if she was his mother, and he said no. He said she was an aunt. No name was mentioned. I don't know for certain, but she might be Josephine, their father Frank Shenette's sister. I mentioned Josephine in my Amanuensis Monday post, The Death and Funeral of Charles Senecal. I know Josephine lived in Worcester at the time this photo was taken, and the woman looks as if she could be the right age. There is also a Shenette family resemblance.

Other Posts You Might Like:

Wish You Were Here?
Where I Grew Up
(Not So) Wordless Wednesday: The Kowalewski Family
(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Alsatian Girls

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Death and Funeral of Charles Senecal - Amanuensis Monday

(Copyright (c) 2011 Cynthia Shenette)

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Thanks to John Newmark at
Transylvanian Dutch for providing the idea for Amanuensis Monday.

I learned of the circumstances of Charles Senecal's death as I was doing some research for a genealogy friend of mine. Charles Senecal was my friend's great-uncle and his wife Josephine was my grandfather Frank Shenette's sister. My friend's understanding was that Charles was a fireman and had died in a fire. Interestingly, both things were true, however he was not a fireman as we might think of a fireman today. He was a fireman who worked with boilers. This discovery was a surprise to both of us, and taught me valuable lesson. Job descriptions have changed over the years. What you think might be someone's occupation according to today's standards might actually be something very different given the standards of the day. A side note, Charles sister, the Mrs. Thomas Shenett mentioned, was my grandfather Frank Shenette's sister-in-law. She was married to Frank's brother Thomas.

St. Albans Daily Messenger. Tuesday, April 18, 1905, p 7.



Details of Accident Which Resulted in His Death.

The body of Charles Senecal, who died Sunday in the city hospital in Worcester, Mass., arrived in this city on the 4:55 o'clock train this morning and was taken to the residence of his sister, Mrs. Thomas Shenett, of Elm st. The body was accompanied by Mr. Senecal's brother, Michael Senecal of Worcester. Mr. Senecal is survived by his wife, a year-old-son, his mother, Mrs. Lucy Senecal, of this city, and one sister, Mrs. Thomas Shenett, of this city. The f[u]neral will be held at 9 o'clock to-morrow morning at the Holy Angels church. The burial will be in the Mount Calvary cemetery.

Following is an account of the accident to Charles Senecal, of Worcester, Mass., which caused his death. Mr. Senecal as noted in last night's Messenger died Saturday at the City hospital in Worcester, Mass., and the account of the accident is taken from a Worcester paper:

"Charles Senecal, thirty-one years old, engineer at the Baker Lumber Co., 26 North Foster st., was severely burned on both legs and around his waist, while at work cleaning a boiler. He was taken to City hospital in a police ambulance.

"His wife is at the hospital, recovering from an operation which was performed last week. It is thought that she is now out of danger.

"Senecal had taken out the grate and lining of the boiler, and the fire had been dumped, when, according to his story to the police, he ordered his helper to fill the ash pit with water. He donned a pair of old shoes and trousers and went to the boiler to get into the ash pit and clean out the bottom of the boiler.

"He said he thought the pit had been filled with water, and that the ashes were cold. He jumped into the pit into hot water and hot ashes up to his waist. He was hauled out by his helper, suffering severely from burns which covered his waist and legs to his feet.

"A police ambulance was called, and officer Oliver Blake and driver Edward Wilson covered the man's burns with carron oil, which relieved the pain, and hurried him to City hospital.

"Senecal said that not as much water had been turned into the pit as he had thought, and that the ashes were not cooled as much as he believed they would be.

"When he got to the hospital, his first questions were for the condition of his wife, and this appeared to trouble him more than his own injuries. He felt better when he found his wife was in a comfortable condition. They live at 16 Bancroft st.."

Other Posts You Might Like:

Flu 1918 (Part 1 of 3)
Amanuensis Monday: Clairvoyants and Distractions
Amanuensis Monday: Frank L. Naramore Obituary
Madness Monday: The Stuff We Throw Away, and...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday: Francois Chenette, Civil War Soldier

Given that Memorial Day is only a few days away, I thought today would be a good day to write about and remember Francois Chenette, Jr. Francois died of disease at the age of 19 while serving as a private with the Company K, 11th Vermont Volunteers during the Civil War. He is buried at the Winchester National Cemetery in Winchester, Virginia. Two years ago, as my family and I drove back to Massachusetts from a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, we stopped in Winchester to visit Francois' grave. Young Francois was my paternal grandfather's half-brother, the son of my great-grandfather, Francois Chenette (18 Apr 1813-22 Mar 1886) and his first wife Maguerite Charon.

I know little of Francois' life other than he was born on 02 May 1845 in St. Hyacinthe, Quebec. He was baptized the same day at Notre Dame-du-Rosaire. Interestingly, Francois Jr. and Francois Sr. both enlisted on 10 December 1863 in Woodstock, Vermont. Francois Jr. was 18 and Francois Sr. was 50. Father and son mustered in on 16 Dec 1863. The Vermont 11th fought in a number of major battles in the Shenandoah Valley during the Civil War, including the battles of the Wilderness, Spottslyvania, and Cold Harbor.

Sadly, Francois Jr. died of disease on 03 Nov 1864, less than a year after enlisting. According to statistics compiled by the Army Medical Department after the war, four soldiers died of illness and disease for every one soldier killed in battle. A sobering statistic. Francois was originally buried on someplace called Braggs Farm. I have looked for information about Braggs Farm without luck, and would love to hear from anyone with knowledge of it. Francois body was eventually moved to the Winchester National Cemetery, which serves as the final resting place for soldiers who fought and died in the battles of Winchester, New Market, Front Royal, Snickers Gap, Harper's Ferry, Martinsburg, and Romney. Francois' name is listed on the gravestone, and in military records as Francis Chenette.

I felt a great sense of sadness while visiting the cemetery, looking at the graves of all the men who died. Francois Jr. died young and hundreds of miles from home. I've often hoped that his father was with him at the end. My guess is family circumstances were probably such that, financially and/or logistically, it was impossible to have Francois' body returned to be buried at home. I did feel a little sense of happiness that we were able to visit Francois's grave, and occasionally wonder if anyone else has visited his grave in the last hundred and fifty years.

Memorial Day is a time to reflect and remember the fallen, those who gave their lives for us so that we may be free. It's a day to remember the soldiers--to remember the thousands of men like Francois--who died fighting a war far from home.


  • Wiley, Bell Irvin. The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union. Baton Rouge: Louisana State University Press, 1978.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Postcards from the Edge: Genealogy Road Trippin'

You've done it. Come on, admit you've done it. It's okay, really. You've talked some poor unsuspecting non-genealogist--husband, wife, significant other, sibling, friend--into taking a research side trip somewhere. Your can hear yourself already, "It's right on the way. We're driving right past it." In my case, the vacation to the Poconos in Pennsylvania has been planned for some time now. Last week I had the happy fortune to discovered that an ancestor lived for a while in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, only an hour away from where we are staying. Imagine my excitement. Imagine my husbands excitement, or not.

Two years ago on on our way home from a vacation/business trip to Charleston, South Carolina I asked my husband if we could stop in Winchester, Virginia. I found my grandfather Frank Chenette's half-brother Francois Chenette, a Civil War soldier, was buried in the Winchester National Cemetery. Winchester wasn't that far out of our way, after all we were heading north. I asked my husband if we could stop and check out the cemetery. He said sure. We found the cemetery without too much trouble. I found Francois' grave without too much trouble, using the information from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs Nationwide Gravesite Locator. After we left the cemetery we decided to find a hotel room for the night. Not being locals, we didn't realise the Shenandoah Valley Apple Blossom Festival was going on in Winchester. Every hotel room in the city and the surrounding area was taken. A very kind hotel clerk at one of the hotels took pity on us and called around to the other hotels. He said he literally found the last room available. We took it.

I'm looking forward to the visit next week to Shenandoah, PA. A coal mining town, I plan to look around town, check out the library, and maybe visit a cemetery or two. Now that's what I call a great vacation. I'm already thinking ahead to our vacation in Virginia in August. I've already told my husband I want to check out the battlefield route--the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor--around Richmond. I can't wait. Maybe we'll stop in Winchester again. After all, it is on the way home heading north...

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's In A Name? (An Ongoing Series): Chenette

No offence to William Shakespeare, but a name means plenty if you are a genealogist. I like to say I come from a long line of misspellers. My last name, Shenette, should be spelled Chenette. I've corrected people trying to spell my name the "correct" way dozens, if not a hundred times over the years.

My father had five brothers and two sisters, eight in all including my dad. Some of the siblings spelled their last name beginning with C and some with an S. How did this particular spelling debacle come about? I was told a couple of different stories. One was that my grandparents were illiterate when they first came to Vermont and then Massachusetts from Quebec. They were dependant on the clerk at Worcester City Hall to fill out the information on the birth certificate. The other was that the name was misspelled when some of the "boys" joined the military during World War II.

At any rate, misspelled surnames seem to to proliferate in my family. In various records--including census information, city directories, birth and death records, and cemetery records--I've found a long list of misspellings. I've found Shenette, Chenette, Chenet, Sinnett, Shinett. My paternal grandfather, Frank A. Shenette, started out life as Francois Hormidas Chenette. In the 1881 Canadian Census he is listed as Hormidas Chenette. Over the years I've found him as Francis, Hormidas, and Frank. He eventually seemed to settle on the name Frank Amidos Shenette. I've always wondered where the middle initial A came from on his death certificate and what the A stood for. The mystery was solved when I reviewed his World War I draft record. There he was, listed as Frank Amidos, with what I'm guessing to be a phonetic misspelling of Hormidas.

To add to the confusion my great-grandfather's name was also Francois. He was the father of 25 children (Yes you read that correctly. I'll deal with that issue in a separate post.). Apparently great-grandfather Francois really liked the name Francois. No less that three of his sons were also named Francois. I always joke that it reminds me of the characters on the old Bob Newhart show, "Newhart"--Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl (My great-grandfather Francois, his son Francois, and his other son Francois...). Sometimes the Francois went by their middle name, sometimes by Francois, sometimes Francis, or in my grandfather's case Frank.

What's a poor genealogist to do?

Surname variations for Chenette in my records: Chenet, Chenett, Chenette, Chuette, Schennette, Shenett, Shenette, Shinett, Shinnette, Sinnett.