I have spent most of the last decade researching the Meloche name, gathering data on Meloche family events and documenting historical information so that we can better understand the times in which our ancestors lived. Here is one example of how I have conducted this research:
Background On How This Research Trip Came To Be:
I have been working seriously on the Meloche Family History for about seven years. In the course of this work, I have met many distant relatives by mail and by phone. Some day, of course, I would like to meet each one face-to-face.
A unique opportunity to do just that presented itself recently, when I learned of the impending visit of Jean-Claude Méloche from St-Nazaire, France. Jean-Claude is a decendant of Louis Meloche, resident of Epannes, France about the time of our earliest known ancestor, Michel Meloche, around 1600 A.D. As of this writing, there is no link between Jean-Claude's line and that of all the North America Meloches. I have been corresponding with Jean-Claude since January of 1994, but, of course, we had never met. When I learned that he and his wife Alice were planning to tour Quebec and spend a day with Claude and Francine Massy, I immediately made plans to go to Montréal to meet them. At the same time, I made arrangements to meet with a select few other Meloches who had been especially helpful to me in my research.
For the benefit of all those I visited, and that of those who contributed remembrances for Jean-Claude and his wife, I thought I would summarize here whom I met and what I learned in this most important week.
Day 1, Monday August 21, 1995
Drove from Clarkston, Michigan to Milton, Ontario
I visited the graves of Sarah Melosh, wife of Lewis Melosh (Louis Meloche), and their daughter Sarah. Both mother and daughter died in the cholera epidemic of 1860. These are ancestors of Roy Melosh (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) and Frank Meloshe (Owen Sound, Ontario), and we have been unable to link this family to the rest of the Meloches. I visited the land offices for Halton County, only to learn that Lewis was not a landholder, and probably leased his land from Kings College (now the University of Toronto). Milton Public Library, which has a local history collection, was closed. Our next step will be to look for a marriage or death record for Lewis in the OntarioArchives and Vital Records.
Day 2, Tuesday August 22
I visited with Wilfrid E. E. Meloche, who is a specialist in the Meloches of early Montreal. I have been corresponding with Wilfrid since early 1992, and was always impressed by his thoroughness and attention to detail. This trip, he gave me copies of more early documents relating to Francois. Wilfrid showed be a manuscript of his own Meloche book, due to be published later this year. I'm sure that it will be of the highest quality, like everything Wilfrid does.
On the way back to my motel on the Metropolitan, I was startled by a multi-story building with the name "Meloche" in large illuminated letters. I made a mental note to call in the morning.
Day 3, Wednesday August 23
Mid-morning, I called the offices of Meloche-Monnex, insurance firm and signature tenant of the building I had seen the night before. I was connected with Micheline St-Denis, secretary to Jean Meloche, who promised to send me a photo of the building for our newsletter.
Nearing noon, I crossed the St. Lawrence to join Claude Massy, his wife Francine Barbeau Massy, and their guests Jean-Claude Méloche and his wife Alice Bernard Méloche for lunch. Claude is the son of Oléna Meloche, and we have known each other by mail and phone since only September of last year. However, in that short time, we have exchanged a great deal of information, mostly about 17th century Meloches of France. Claude has visited our ancestral regions of France, and invited Mr. & Mrs. Méloche to spend a day meeting other Meloches at his home on their visit to Canada. After lunch,
Fleurette Meloche Maheux and her family joined us for more family discussions. Claude Massy and I have been sharing information about the Meloche family, and during the visit he gave me a copy of a letter from Pierre of Detroit to his mother, Marie Mouflet.
At dinner time, we enjoyed dinner with at least a dozen more Meloches at the "Chez Mémé", a 19th century inn formerly owned by Joseph Meloche, after whom the village of "Melocheville" was named.
Day 4, Thursday August 24
I have been exchanging information with Elodia Meloche Deguire since mid-1992. Her uncles left French Canada to seek their fortunes, so she has relatives all over Ontario, Quebec and the U.S. We had a wonderful time sharing valuable family information, and her daughter Claire joined us for dinner that evening.
I attempted to reach Madeleine Meloche of Ottawa to schedule a visit the next day. In an earlier letter, she had advised me that she was on vacation in the countryside, and hoped to return in time to meet me. Madeleine's family is of special interest to us because it descends from Pierre of Detroit. After four generations in the Detroit/Essex County area, her great-grandfather moved the family back eastward to the Ottawa area.
Day 5, Friday August 25
Ottawa & Rockland, Ontario
As I was unable to reach Madeleine by phone, I drove to Ottawa, planning to call again from there. Again there was no answer, so I walked to the Parliament buildings to view the changing of the guard, then returned to Rockland.
In the early afternoon I had a visit from Roger Meloche of Hull. Roger is the person who has been kind enough to translate our MelocheQuest newsletters into french. We have been corresponding since June of 1992, and Roger has graciously offered to translate the entire Meloche family book for us. What I like about his work is that he translates ideas, not just words. He is also a very meticulous person, with an admirable penchant for accuracy. I truly enjoy reading what he writes in french. Roger and I spent our first hour discussing Meloche family issues on the balcony outside my rooms, looking out on the beautiful Ottawa River, the river of our voyageur ancestors.
After Roger's departure, I again visited with Elodia, this time to sort through old family photos spanning four generations.
Day 6, Saturday August 26
Return to Clarkston, Michigan
Back Home Again...
It has taken me a while to get caught up again, both at home and at work.And I've also had a big job of organizing the information I collected on the trip and filing it where it belongs. But I'm back to work on the family book.
In Conclusion...This was the trip of a lifetime. I met eveyone I set out to meet except Madeleine, and I'll visit her on my next trip.
I hope to visit France and Jean-Claude Méloche soon. And I also hope I'll see everyone I met on this trip again, maybe at the family reunion in the year 2000.
Because the visit of Mr. & Mrs. Méloche was very brief, we wanted them to return to France with souvenirs demonstrating the creativity and imagination of the North American Meloches. Notable Meloches who contributed something special to commemorate the visit of Mr. & Mrs. Jean-Claude Méloche:
Marcel Meloche is a trapper and wildlife carver of exceptional talent living in River Canard, Ontario. He contributed an exquisitely-detailed pike decoy of a yellow perch.
Heather Meloche is a talented artist who lives and works in Seattle, Washington. She sent two examples of her computer artwork, one of which has appeared on the home page of the Anne Rice Chronicles on the Internet.
Marcel Beneteau, although not himself a Meloche, sent his tape of "Old French Songs of the Detrot River Region". He is a gifted musician, and produced this tape after interviewing local residents, including at least four Meloches.
Chris Meloche is a creative composer, musician and music journalist who lives in London, Ontario. His specialty is ambient music, and he contributed a tape of his recent CD "Wireless", produced in Germany.