Have you ever approached a very large and very old tree? …even one which stands all by itself in the middle of a large meadow. All you see is the tree. You can’t really separate one branch from the other, even if it’s the most beautiful branch in the tree. The tree overwhelms everything in sight.
We encountered the same problem when we took on the challenge of integrating and consolidating the Terriot family tree in 1999. How should we approach this overwhelming task? Do we proceed by area? by lineage? by family? Much of our genealogy exists in the form that is specific to a particular family or a particular area. A best example is Monsieur Fidèle Thériault’s genealogies in his “Les Familles de Caraquet” published in 1985 and “Les Descendants de Joseph Thériault and Marie-Joseph Girouard” in 2009. It makes sense to limit the scope of a work when we organize to research and publish genealogy.
But given the charter of the Terriot Acadian Family organization, there is no such limit. We are in the process of integrating and consolidating the genealogy of all descendants of Jehan and Perrine Terriot, bar none. So, how do we do this? Our choice was to approach it one branch at a time. But what is a branch? Is it a lineage that extends to someone living today? If so, we would have hundreds of thousands of branches to list, document and manage. Ultimately, we chose to define a branch from the viewpoint of our 9th generation. To most of us today, our 9th generation ancestor is our great-grandfather. So, we decided to call our special branch, a Great-Branch. I remember some things about my great-grandfather Joseph and especially my great-grandmother, Théogenie. I had the great fortune of visiting her in Edmundston, NB a few times. And while I never met my great-grandfather Joseph and neither did my father, a few stories were passed down by my grandfather about Joseph. The stories were mostly about his mill, but stories nevertheless.
So, we can still think and talk about the 9th generation with great interest but as we go beyond to the 8th, the 7th, etc., we begin to ‘lose sight of the branch, because of the tree’. Sure, there are many cases of interesting personalities in our family, especially the Terriot family with all of the talent and the characters. And we talk about them as well. But selecting the 9th generation as a basis for organizing our family seemed to be a good way to break-down our family and organize the consolidation and integration of its genealogy.