Compiled genealogies often maintain their focus only on those who carry the surname forward: i.e., sons and their sons and their sons, etc. While this may be a good thing for large families with lots of sons of sons of sons, many families do not face this problem, and it behooves them to include the descendants of daughters. After all, my mother’s ancestry is 50% of my ancestry, right? In addition, many families are daughtering out, with the surnames disappearing.
This situation can happen very quickly. Let me use the example of my great-great grandparents. Abraham Leclerc and Celina Lavallée had thirteen children. But from these 13 children came only 27 grandchildren. Of these children, 9 were sons: Joseph (my great-grandfather), Olivier, Arthur, Majorique, Onile, Antoine, Charles, Abraham, and Henri. But these 9 were responsible for 21 of the grandchildren (one daughter had 4 children, one had 2, and the other two had no children).
Of the 9 sons, Antoine, Charles, and Henri died leaving no children. Onile and Arthur each had one daughter and no sons. This brings us down to 4 sons with grandchildren. Arthur had two children: a son and a daughter. Olivier had two sons and two daughters. Majorique had three sons and five daughters, but one son was killed at the age of nineteen in World War II, leaving only two to reach adulthood. My great-grandfather Joseph had one son (my grandfather) and four daughters.
Within two generations, there were only 6 boys left to carry on the surname. Of Abraham and Celina’s grandchildren, 78% were granddaughters or sons of daughters. My grandfather Alfred had 3 sons and 3 daughters These six children have thirteen children. Five of these are the children of daughters. My father and my Uncle Leo each had two sons and a daughter. My Uncle Roger has one son and one daughter.
This leaves us with five males who carry the name Leclerc: Myself, my brother Dennis, and my cousins Peter, Eric, and Matthew. Neither Eric nor I have any children, and at our age it is unlikely that we would have any. Dennis has two daughters and will have no more children. My cousin Peter has one son and one daughter (and I believe he is done having children as well). My cousin Matthew is in his mid-twenties and single, so he may yet have a son. But as of this moment, Peter’s son Colin is the only one to carry forward the surname of my great-grandfather Joseph.
Joseph’s brother Arthur had one son, but that son had only a daughter. Olivier’s two sons currently have no grandsons to carry forward the name. That leaves Uncle Majorique’s two surviving sons. Between them they had seven sons, six of whom might carry on the surname (one had no sons, the rest I have not yet traced).
- Generation 2: 9 sons (13 children)
- Generation 3: 7 grandsons carrying surname (27 grandchildren)
- Generation 4: 12 great-grandsons carrying surname (25 great-grandchildren)
- Generation 5: 14 great-great-grandsons carrying surname (40 known great-great grandchildren)
- Generation 6: 1 great-great-great-grandson carrying surname
Abraham and Celina’s children were born between 1887 and 1907. It has taken only a little more than a century for the Leclerc surname to be dropped to a handful of individuals who might carry it forward. It does not take much to realize why we should pay attention to all the descendants of our ancestors, not just those males carrying the surname. Only a small percentage do. It is vital to look at all of the family, especially if we want to be certain that their stories are preserved.