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THE AMLAW FAMILY     |   Home  Links  Contents
My Speculations and Questions: Pt 1


Mostly what I have ARE speculations and Questions! I need more proof that Louis J. Amlaw of Westfield Mass., who was born in Champlain in about 1840. really was the son of Louis Amlaw and Julia. The only Census entries I have found for him says his parents were born in NY. This is the 1910 Census of Westfield Mass.  and the 1880 in Vermont. He died in 1915, aged 75, but where was he in 1860 (age21), 1870 (age31)  and 1900 (age 61)? Did the boy Louis Jr. I found in the 1850 census die before 1860? am I just barking up the wrong tree altogether? I can find no other Louis Amlaw even remotely the same age anywhere, much less in Clinton Co., and no record of the death of the child of Louis and Julia Amlaw in Clinton Co. But as you must know by now, the records for this period in Clinton Co. are not good. Just because I haven't yet found it, or never do, doesn't mean it didn't happen. Of course it may be a moot point if Bertram Amlaw isn't Louis J. Amlaw's son after all. I am always ready to drop this whole line and pick up a new one, done it before, that's part of this genealogy hobby of ours. I've had some good luck on other lines so I could live with one BIG screwup. I'll tell ya, I get back to the Norman Conquest in 6 months on one line, and after all this time I still can't really prove which Amlaws I come from.
I've given up on it more than a few times but I keep wondering, so.......

As I said before, I finally decided that my best (only) chance of sorting it out was to try and collect as much as I could on the old folks back there in Clinton Co. Hoping that eventually the pieces would all fall in place, that some small clue would lead to the answer. Well, the first thing I found was that there would never be very many clues! Beyond the Census data I accumulated, the parish register entries I've located so far, and the land deeds I got from the County Courthouse, along with a few scattered references in a couple local historys I haven't ever found much else. And these sources often seem to confuse rather than clarify the situation. I eventually determined that there were 3 different families with the name Amlaw that originate in Clinton Co. NY. Since I could see no connection between them, and since I seem to be related to the oldest one, I have limited my efforts on those "other" Amlaws. I put together a family tree for them as far as I could from the Census data, in order to be able to determine if an Amlaw that I had come across was a part of one of those groups or not. If these are your people you may want to check with a guy named Joe Hamelin who has done alot of work with them. I will be glad to post any material I come across on these folks, and any that I'm sent, might as well go all the way and try and make the site as complete as possible, so don't hesitate to send in anything you have.

As for the Amlaws  I BELIEVE myself related to, I proceed on the assumption that Louis( father of Louis J.) is my great great great grandfather. So lets examine the "problem of "who's the son of whom?" in the early part of the 19th century in Clinton Co.

I am going to limit this to the family of Charles Amlaw/Hamelin and his wife Agathe Bureau.

First check out the family group sheet for Charles and Agathe and follow all the reference links so you can keep up here. (now! go! do it!)
(remember the red letters are links)

OK, we'll begin by tackling the "big" question of the   parentage of Charles Amlaw.
We know that he served in the American Revolution and later settled in Clinton Co. NY. among the French Canadian Refugee population there. According to the information he gave when he applied for a veteran's pension he was born in about 1753. We know that he married Agathe Bureau in Chambly on Aug.11, 1788.
on a Monday. The previous Thursday (Aug. 7, 1788) they had a child baptised in the same church. I realize that the sequence of events seems a bit "off" here (ahem) but this was quite common in the area at that time. There was no Catholic Church in Clinton Co. as yet and many couples had children born "ahead of the parson". The priests would just confirm and legitimize everything at the first convenient opportunity. A local historian once told me that these "refugees" would paddle their canoes up Lake Champlain in the summers to visit family and take care of these "official" type church things.

On the marriage record the parents of Charles Amelin (Amlaw) are given as Jean Baptiste Amelin and Marie Francoise Sulliere, and this is where the confusion sets in. There was indeed a Marie Francoise Sulliere, she married a man named Jean Baptiste Pierre LeBoeuf in 1757, that was about 4 years after Charles Amlaw said he was born (in his pension app). There seems to be no record of her having been previously married and there is no mention of a previous marriage in the record of her marriage to Messr. LeBoef.

The only birth record that looks likely to be that of Charles is one for a Baptist Charles Amelin, the son of a Jacques Amelin and Marie BARBE Sulliere, born in 1750 in La'assomption. There was indeed a Marie Barbe Sulliere, she was the sister of Marie Francoise Sulliere.

There are a couple of possible "explanations" for this.

Why would Charles have given his aunt's name as his mother on his marriage record?
Possibly because the men who "went with the rebels" had all been excommunicated by the Bishop of Montreal. It was only by finding a sympathetic priest that these men could recieve the sacrements of the church. The priest at Chambly was a Pere' Menard and according to a reliable source he was known to be sympathetic to the rebels. (the source is Virginia Demarc, who has researched and written extensively on the Canadian participants in the revolution). It may have been that even though they had a priest willing to perform the ceremony, it was still neccesary to falsify the exact identity of the veteran on the paperwork. there were lists in existence of the names of many of these men and the priest could have found himself in alot of hot water with the Bishop if any of these men turned up in his parish register. Since falsifying his own name would have defeated the purpose of getting a marriage, I suppose that switching his mother's name for an aunt would have been the best option.

The second possibility is that there was a marriage between Marie Francoise Sulliere and a man named Jean Baptiste Amelin and that this record is either lost or yet to be found. If so then it would seem that Jean Baptiste must have died before 1757 when Marie Francoise married Jean Baptiste Pierre LeBoeuf. In this scenario it would seem most likely that this Jean Baptiste Amelin would have been a brother (or close relative) of the Jacques Amelin that married Marie Barbe Sulliere. This scenario was, until recently, the one I vigorously defended as the most likely.

I have had to rethink my position (grudgingly), and let me explain the reasoning.

No other birth record yet found would seem to fit the Charles Amelin that later settled in Clinton Co.

There was another son of Jacques Amelin and Marie Barbe Sulliere named Jean Baptiste Amelin. I have recently found an excellent source that has done much research on the L'assomption Amelins and he informs me that the only known children of this couple that he has been unable to trace are the two sons, Baptiste Charles and Jean Baptiste. They seem to have disappeared from his view. Now bear in mind that another mystery we have in Clinton Co. is the identity of a second man, called either Jean Baptist or Baptist, who is residing in Clinton Co. at the same time as Charles and Agathe. This man is certainly a close relative of Charles (I will deal with this in more detail later, see here) This would seem to account for those two "lost" Amelin boys rather neatly.

The age that Charles Amlaw gives on his pension application can't be given much weight. men where often a few years off on thier ages in the days befare good record keeping. Charles was also known to, shall we say, "elaborate on the truth" a bit. He says in that same pension app that he was most often called Baptist by his friends and family because it was a common custom among the French to refer to the eldest son of a family by "Baptist" and not by his given name. Well, I  accepted this at face value, but I have been told by two seperate sources (both French Canadians) that this was the first they had ever heard of such a custom. It seems that Charles was uncertain of the name he had used to enlist with and wanted to cover all the bases. I guess he figured that the English speaking authorities in Clinton Co. wouldn't be any the wiser. Quite the B.S. Artiste eh?
He had also (in 1816) made what amounts to a fraudulent land deed. He "sold" his family land to a man named Baptist Amlaw (not Charles' son, who is also mentioned in the deed) for a token sum of $10. I have found that this was a very common little scam that alot of revolutionary vets were doing at that time. It was to avoid a proposed law being considered in Congress that would have required veterans to be without any property to be eligible for their promised pensions. It is this land deed that seems to prove that the "other" Baptist was indeed some kind of close relative. Who else could you trust to hold onto your land for you while you collect your pension. The law was never passed and so all that was unnecessary anyway. In 1829 Charles files another deed leaving all this same land to his son baptist. There is no deed (it seems) that transfers the land back to Charles from the "other" Baptiste. It's as if the deed of 1816 was just quietly forgotten and ignored.

So in general it doen't seem that our boy had any compunction about lying when necessary to the authorities.
I have also heard a family story that came down through another branch that would seem to imply that Charles and 2 generations after him were known to have been involved in some kind of smuggling activity on the border, apparantly involving liquor. So I guess we've never been real big on obedience to authority.

I have to admit that the case seems much stronger for Charles Amlaw/Amelin having been the son of Jacques Amelin and Marie Barbe Sulliere, born in 1750.

There now, that crow didn't taste all that bad.


Back to Clinton Co...... Charles and Agathe settle in Clinton Co., after the war(1783) and before 1787. They live first in Point Au Roche,the first permanent settlement was installed north of Pointe-aux-Roches in front of Lamothe Island at the fall 1783.
This was a "temporary settlement" of the soldiers in Hazens regt., "temporary" because they were all hoping to get their land grants. They did, BUT... The lands given to the French Canadian soldiers, unlike those given to the Anglo Saxons, were almost all in land "under dispute" with the English. Meaning there were Redcoats encamped on them! Most of these men gave up and sold of their claims to speculators for almost nothing,( "a plug of tobacco and a bottle of whiskey" according to one historian) chiefly to one Benjamin Mooers, who did alright for himself on the deal. When the Refugees were enumerated in 1787, Charles is listed as having a family of 2 "other persons", since Charles and Agathe don't seem to have had any children yet, this second person may well have been the brother Jean Baptiste Amelin, who seems to have settled in NY with Charles.  He married Agathe in Chambly in 1788, on the marriage entry Charles and Agathe were said to be residing at Point Au Roche. By the 1790 Census Charles and Agathe seem to have had a daughter also, this would be Angelique.


You will  make youself crazy trying to work out the numbers and ages of the children in the federal census' (good luck). Try your hand at it and then read my     Questions and Speculations pt. 2