Saturday, June 19, 2010

Our New "Family Mystery"

I've made a hobby of researching my family history, as most of you know. Its such an interesting and fun pasttime for me. Not only do I get to learn the history of people and places, but I'm allowed to research and put together the puzzle pieces that are in fact related to me somehow. Its like being in a history class (which I loved immensely) but to an amplified degree. Its history that I can connect personally to.

I've been taking each "branch" of the tree as far back as I could go  - with the startling revelation on one of the lines I've first followed that I am indeed a direct decendant of King William I of England. That was fascinating to discover, and I have yet to really look into that line  other than tracing out the names themselves.

Instead I have moved on to another mystery. I was curious to find out about my paternal lineage - my Mom holds stories of my grandfather that I wasn't aware of until he passed. I would definitely like to get these stories on paper. I was also able to trace our line to my great great great grandfather, Michael Sinnett, through It was interesting to note that that particular branch of the family lived in the same small community for about 100 years.

After much scrounging on the internet, I met a man who was had been researching that branch of the family as well and had found Michael's father - Francis Sinnett. And unfortunately, collectively our trail runs cold.

I know that in the 1871 Census it states that he was married to a "Hannah". Also in that census their name is listed as "Sennet" which is, of course, one of the many variations of my surname on the census forms. His birthplace on that census is merely listed as "Canada" and his religion "Church of England". The part that sticks out to both our minds is that this family professed that they were "French" in origin, where most "Sinnett"s or various in the area indicate an Irish origin.

My cohort and I have chatted once or twice, and sent emails back and forth about the mystery of Francis and we've tossed around a few ideas. One being that "Francis" actually is "Francois Zenet" of Quebec. If this is true, he was christined in 1801 in Saint Hyacinthe Quebec and was also married once before his wife Hannah in Clarendon (who I have yet to uncover successfully). I believe, if memory serves, that his previous wife was named "Marie" or "Sarah" (Completely from memory... so that could be wrong).

Another idea that we have is that Francis was an Acadian who hid during "Le Grande Derrangement". It started out as a plausible argument for me because of the location of the family (Basically the Saint John River Valley and viscinity) and that we can find virtually no record of Francis Sennet before he shows up at the age of 70 in Clarendon.

However, one part that makes me think he is, in fact, Mr Zenet from Quebec,is this; as it was emparted to me, there is a gravestone with Mr Zenet's name on it in Millville, NB and spelled as such. Although he is not buried there, his name is listed on his daughter's family stone. The other part is that I can not find any record of an Acadian family with the name Sinnett, Sennet, Zenet or any variation of those names. Acadians love to keep track of their history and what family names arrived in Acadia - but these names were not on any lists that I could see (not even anything close unfortunately). I'm fairly certain I've exhausted this particular line of thinking. Which really is good, it gives me a narrower search in my quest for information.

The whole mystery of Francis and his wife, or wives is completely fascinating to me and I have been looking for any scrap of viable information on the family before they arrived to New Brunswick. However, as I'm quickly entering the era before Canada was a country and the constant strife of that era, the documents and information available to correctly "match" any information I currently have is sorely lacking.  What happened to them? How did they get here? Why did they come? Why did they change their name? What happened to his first wife? Did they hide or did they move after the explusion? Are his children from his first or second marriage? Who were his wives? Who was his parents? Why are we French and not Irish?

Unfortunately, we may have hit a knot in this branch of the family tree, but its interesting that our family appears to be different in the rest of the Sinnett's as claiming to be French and not Irish. I hope my detective skills improve enough to unravel this mystery to my satisfaction.

As a side note, I completely enjoy looking up information and piecing together results for family information, so if you have something that you're curious about and would like assistance, (or even just to let me look something up for you), just ask! I'd be happy to!! (and that's a huge understatement!)

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