Thursday 26 May 2011

Update - The Families Catudal is now in the editing phase

I have begun the last phase of writing my book The Families Catudal, the editing. I hope to have the book ready for proofing by mid-July. That part of the process will take several weeks and then it can be printed and bound - another 4 to 6 weeks. I actually don’t really like giving any time-lines or dates because life has a way of getting in the way every time I do, so please don’t hold me to these dates - they are only a best case scenario.

I will post a synopsis of the book closer to the finalization of the project. I will then ask those who have an interest in obtaining a copy to let me know. If you have an interest in all things Catudal you may be interested in this particular book.

I am not selling my book for profit! My first book, The Extended Catudal Family History, ended up costing me well over $200.00 for each book to have them printed, bound and published. The reasons it cost so much was that I publish only a small number of copies and that I went all out on quality. I printed the book in colour; a very expensive choice. The binding was done by a firm who specialized in binding high quality art books. I had it bound in leather as well. There were 972 pages and it weighed over 9 lbs.. The size of the book was A4, which is 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches and I included a DVD with each book, which contained copies of all vital records: baptisms, marriages, burials, censuses, newspaper accounts and so on. The DVD also contained Volume 2 of the book which was essentially group sheets for each individual in my database -group sheets looks like this: (Click to Enlarge)

I will be printing my next book The Families Catudal in the same manner. The only difference is that the next book will have approximately 735 pages. That will help lower the costs a bit but if the cost is over $200.00 per book again, I will still not charge more, if it is less I will charge less. I have saved and saved since the last book so that I can afford to do this - it is really a labour of love.

Here is a picture of my first book so that you can see approx what the next one will look like - I am thinking of having the new book bound in green, my favourite colour, with either silver or gold writing. I haven't made up my mind yet. (Click to Enlarge)

Here are a couple excerpts from my first book - the next book will be similar in style: (Click to Enlarge)

I will not be publishing any identifying information on people living or thought to be living and as such no birth dates or birth places will be given for those living or thought to be living. However, if you purchase a book and I know you to be from the Catudal family then I will include a pdf file on CD with a complete family history report for your particular family with birth dates and places so that you can have all of your own family’s information. If you want identifying information about another line of Catudals then I will put you in contact with someone from that line in order that you can get permission from them. If they give you permission then I will produce the document and send it to you. I have never heard of someone’s identity having been stolen from someone who looked through a genealogical study, but still, I think it is better to err on the side of caution.

Saturday 14 May 2011

Dit (dite) Names

Did you know that 'dit' is used for masculine names, 'dite' for feminine. The word dit is used to reference non-gender specific dit names. The word dite is only used with-in the proper name of a female.

What are dit names?

The French word dit translates in English to the word 'said'. What does this mean?, well, different things to different researchers. The term dit to some researchers is translated to a.k.a., also known as; to some it translates as 'nickname'; some translate it as 'alias'; while others translates it as 'distinguisher'.

The most popular explanation is that the French in New France took or were given a dit name as a way to distinguish themselves from one another.

Dit names where an additional name given or taken by someone by which they were or could be also known as. This practise was historically used by the French and the Scots.


As in most things dealing with history, the question as to why the French followed the practise of using a dit name is controversial. The reason it is controversial is that there does not appear to be any hard and fast rules as to when and why people followed this practise. Here are some of the common reasons dit names where given or used:

To distinguish one person or family from another
To demonstrate the point - in a small town there are two John Smiths who happen to be cousins therefore, they come from the same immediate family. Both are tailors, which is the family business. To distinguish one from the other, one of them added to his name John Smith dit Taylor meaning John Smith the tailor. The other changed his name to John Smith dit Tremblay because he lived near a grove of Aspens. Aspen wood in French is Tremblay. Distinguishing between the two would have no longer posed a problem.

Soldiers - Decreed by law
It is often said that dit names were given to soldiers in New France to distinguish one from another with-in the same troupe. Soldiers under one commander might have been given dit names which all began with a particular letter of the alphabet, such as in the Dugre Company - the soldiers were given dit names that all began with the letter D; another troupe might have all had names of parts of the body. Between 1764 and 1768 the soldiers from the Casaux company where all given dit names of vegetables, such as Lalétue, Lachicorée, and Lecerfeuil and so on.

The dit name was an identifier. One would know immediately which troupe someone belonged to because of the types of dit names given.

In 1716 it became a requirement that all soldiers be given a dit name. What is most interesting is that in New France a dit name could be passed down from father to son and often was. On the other hand, this was not done in France. A soldier's dit name in France was a personal thing. The son would not have taken his father's dit name.

To pay respect
Some people took the family name of the person who raised them. There were a fair number of casual adoptions in the 1600 to 1800 hundreds often due to the mother dying during the birth of one of her children. It wouldn't have been uncommon for a woman to have taken-in the child or children of her dead sister for instance. The child would, according to French law, have kept their family name but often would tack on their adoptive father's last name as a dit name.

To show where one came from
The standard prefix in a French name showing origin or referring to a place is 'de' as in Jacques de St. Dennis which means Jack from St. Dennis. However, some people in New France would add a dit name and not a de name of a place or location such as Henry Beauclerc dit Normandie who was the son of William the Conqueror.

Paying religious homage
The population in New France was Catholic. Non-catholics were not allowed into the colony. The first and only - attested to – Jewish person to set foot in New France was 20-year-old Esther Brandeau; she actually entered the colony disguised as a boy named Jacques La Fague. It was not long before she was found out. She was given every opportunity to convert which she refused, so she was sent back to France. There was a Jewish person who was hired by the Hudson Bay Company, Ferdinande Jacobs, and came to Canada in 1732. However, Hudson Bay was under England’s rule and not a part of New France; therefore, in this case, Ferdinande was allowed to stay.

In 1627 the Catholic missionaries in New France were concerned that some Huguenots were making their way into Acadia and convinced Cardinal Richelieu to add a clause to the charter of the Company of New France which said that the only people who could settle in New France were "natural-born French Catholics".

Some people took dit names as a way to pay homage to their favourite saint such as François St-Jean or Michel St-Pierre and the like.

Dropping the family name in favour of the dit name
Anglicization of a last name often meant dropping the family name in favour of the dit name as often happened with our Catudal name when a Catudal family moved to the States. The name Catudal is and was a difficult name for English speakers to pronounce and spell. Many of our Catudal relatives who immigrated to the States dropped the name Catudal and went by St-Jean or anglicized the name further to St. John. NOTE: I use a hyphen for St-Jean but a period for St. John simply because the French usually use a hyphen for St-Jean and that St. John is an Anglicization and spelled by Americans with a period.

There are a myriad of reasons one may have taken or been given a dit name. The reasons mentioned above are only some of the more popular reasons I have come across but by no means the only reasons.


As I said above, the most popular explanation is that the French in New France took or were given a dit name as a way to distinguish themselves from one another. My question is, why would someone with an extremely rare name of Catudal be given, by his commander, one of the most common dit names in New France, St-Jean, if the whole idea was to distinguish himself from others? There are 172 family names besides Catudal who also carry the dit name of St-Jean; the most common of which are Coitou, Langlois, Laperche, Martin and Serre.

One reason that our Catudal was given one of the most common dit names in New France could be argued that it didn't matter because he would always be able to be distinguished in his troupe because of the unusual combination Catudal dit St-Jean. However, when some of our relatives started to drop the Catudal name in favour of St-Jean they no longer where using St-Jean as a distinguisher because they now shared that name with 3,688 other people pre-1800. 

The number of times a last name appears in the historical records of New France pre 1800 has been ranked by the PRDH Le Programme de recherche en démographie historique (The Research Program in Historical Demography) from the University of Montréal.

The name Catudal is ranked at 1,479 meaning that 1,478 names are more common in the New France historical record. The name Langlois is the 15th most common family name and Martin the12th . Therefore, it wasn't a matter of someone having a very rare name and thus was given a popular dit name because it would not have changed the fact that the name was rare.

I think a thorough study of dit names, naming conventions, usage, and practises needs to be done. After 8 years of genealogical research into French family history including but not limited to Catudal family history I can only say that there appears to be a myriad of reasons dit names were used not readily definable because the practise was often times solely subjective and had nothing to do with custom, tradition or law.

The last person who I am aware of to have used the dit name of St-Jean and St. John in favour of dropping their birth name of Catudal was Magloire Catudal (1903-1977) who was baptized under the name Catudal without the dit name of St-Jean and who married under the name Magloire Catudal without the dit name of St-Jean but who, after moving from Québec to Alberta used the dit name of St-Jean and St. John. His decision to use the dit name instead of his birth name may have had something to do with the fact that it is said that he left Québec shortly after marrying so as to avoid the law. Apparently the authorities were closing in on him because of his side business, moon-shining. Anyhow, I am not aware of anyone after the early 1970's who dropped their birth name of Catudal in favour of the dit name of St-Jean or St. John.

A good source for dit name lists is at

Tuesday 3 May 2011

UPDATE! Military Discussion Regarding Donat Catudal

In order to find some closure on the issue of whether the man in the picture below on the left is the same person as the picture on the right I wrote to the Major-général Alain Forand of the Royal 22e Régiment where I am certain that Donat Catudal was a member and asked him if the cap worn by the man on the left was worn by members of the R 22e R.

Caporal Èric Bernier, who is the Dossiers (archives) du Régiment, answered me telling me that "There is no Engeneer in the Royal 22e Régiment, only infantry person, the Engeneer is a other Unit.  That meen that the person in the picture is not a 22, but may have been one earlyer or later and change Unit with the time, This can be possible..."

Mr. Bernier is referring to the Royal Canadian Engineers a unit of the Canadian Army which had no connection to the R 22e R Unit. This means that, for all intents and purposes, the man on the left in the photo below is not Donat Catudal.

A big thank-you to Bettyann for having questioned my assumptions. She saved me from making a big mistake.

On the blog page Bettyann, who is the wife of Real Catudal who is the son of Donat Catudal on whom the blog is about, and I have been having a discussion about the fact that the side-by-side picture I placed on that blog may not be of Donat after all. Here is that picture:

It has been a very interesting back and forth and I wanted to highlight it here for several reasons, the most important being, does anyone have concrete answers to the questions being posed? And does anyone else have the following picture in their photo albums and do they know with absolute certainty who the person standing in the middle is?

Here is the back and forth discussion we've been having - as can also be viewed under the Comments for that blog:

Bettyann said...

Hi Judy I would like to comment on the two pictures of Donat Catudal. The one on the right of the screen is a picture we have of my husband Real's father Donat. After looking at the two pictures posted Real has a question of the picture on the left as to weather it is his father Donat. The reason he is question this picture is the military hat he is wearing, the emblem on the hat should be the same in both pictures as that was the unit he served in while in Germany.
Yours sincerely
Bettyann Catudal, husband is Real Paul Joseph Catudal

Judy said...

Hi Bettyann,
Right now I am on holidays. When I get back I will try to find out more. Thank you very much for bringing this discrepancy up. I very much appreciate your comments. I'll be back in a week.

Judy said...

Hi Bettyann,

I have some follow-up information for you. You brought up a very interesting observation regarding the discrepancy in cap badges worn in the two pictures of Donat and questioned whether this could be the same person because of this discrepancy. I am going to write a blog on this issue but just short here: I believe it is the same person for a few reasons; the discrepancy in the cap badges could be due to the fact that Donat was promoted to Captain status and may have been given a different cap badge to distinguish him above the others.

Second, the two men look very very much alike.

Third, the two other men in the photo which is shown in an earlier blog also are from the same regiment R 22e R and each has a different cap badge.

And, probably most significant, I found the picture in the Catudal family picture albums handed down to me from my grandmother who recently passed away. Donat was my grandfather's 1st cousin. This makes it more likely that it was Donat.

I have spent quite a bit of time trying to find out if the Royal 22e Regiment indeed had a special cap badge for officers just to be sure and have not been able to find anything but will continue to search. I am also going to send the picture to a couple of cousins who come from this side of the family.

What makes me a bit uneasy is that your husband Real is not sure if the picture on the left is of his father. He would be the best person to say if a picture is of his father or not. Is it only the badge that is throwing him off?


Anonymous said...

Wondering if we are talking about the same Donat. Yes Donat served in WW2 but his top rank was Corporal. The reason is he enlisted and his education was maybe Grade 2. It would have been hard for him to make Captain because of that. The picture on the right is a picture we have in our family album, we go and visit his grave site when we are in Granby.
Also the more common name of the regiment he was with was the Vandoo's.

Anonymous said...

Hi Judy would you supply your grandfather's name. I have a genelogy book that someone in Real's family has done and we can check to see if we are talking about the same Donat Catudal. Although the picture on the right is certainly Real's father and so is the picture of his grave site. Bettyann

Anonymous said...

Donat Catudal fils de Pierre Catudal alage de 20 ans dans le Royal 22ieme Regiment de 1939-45.

Donat Catudal[Memuisier] {16-Avril-1919]- m.[24-Aout-1946] Yvette Favreau [31-Aout-1922]- Donat fut enrole dans le 22 ieme Royal Regiment alage de 20 ans, de 192-39 a 1945. Il est lum de nose derniers veterans. Merci Donat
(Real's Father and Mother)

Pierre Catudal nais: Mars-1867, Valcourt, Remarque: Il est decede du coeur, mariage: 03-Aout-1896, a Valcourt, Delia Boisse, nais: Aout-1880, Stukeley. (fille de Jean-Baptists Boisse et Celina Couture) Remarque: 12 enfants, deces 22-mai 1934, Granby a 53 and 9 mois. Pierre deces 19- sept- 1929, Valcourt a 62 ans 6 mois.
(this is Real's grand father)

Judy Schneider said...

Hi Bettyann,

We are talking about the same Donat Catudal - Armand Donat Lucien Catudal (1919-1997).

The reason I said that Donat reached the rank of Captain is because his headstone has the inscription "CAP. DONAT CATUDAL". I didn't take into account that the French word for Corporal is Caporal making the acronym of CAP a likley acronym from the French word of Caporal and not from the English word Captain. Thank you for questioning the rank, otherwise I would have let my English background cloud my interpretation of this acronym, something I fear happened all too often by the English when they were transcribing French data.

Just a very slight correction on the dates you mentioned: You have Donat's wife Yvette as having been born on 31 August 1922. Yvette was born on 30 August 1922 and baptized on 31 August 1922.

My grandfather's name was Adelard Catudal (1900-1983). His name at baptism and on the 1901 Canadian Census was Napoleon but was never called that in day-to-day life. His parent's were Barthelemy Catudal (1864-1937)and Josephine Isola Agnes Boisse (1877-1962).

By-the-way, the Van Doos Royal 22e Régiment have a wonderful Web page at

I too am not sure that the photo on the left is of Donat either and it isn't because of the cap badges being different but rather because of the style of the cap itself. I am still looking into uniform dress and cap differences. I do know that the person on the left hand side picture is wearing the standard uniform that all army personnel wore after 1939 until war's end. I just don't know 100% if the hat was a part of all standard uniforms. I have my doubts.

If you go to the Web page

you will see a picture of Master Corporal Chrisitan Duchesne with the R 22e R company who recently was killed in Afghanistan. You will notice that his cap badge is different than the standard cap badges. I still think that rank had something to do with the badge being different. In fact, although the cap badge in the picture on the left is hard to see, the outline looks very much lik MCpl Chrisitan Duchesne's in the picture from the above Web site.