Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Family History / "Booger Snots!"

Ottilie Schweigle
Olga Dorothy Eugene deDenonville
Olga Dorothy Lowrie
Will the real one please stand up!

"Listen to my mom. She's talking to herself again."

"Oh, Booger Snots!"

"See?" Chuckle, chuckle. "I told you!" Their friends laugh out loud. "Why does she do that? What does 'Bumber Shoots' mean?" "I don't know. But she says a lot of things I don't understand."

I have a few choice expressions that just flow from my subconscious.I guess they are my version of swearing? My kids wonder where and when I come up with these unique phrases. They are born from extreme frustration, one source being  one Olga Dorothy Eugenie deDenonville, aka Ottilie Scweigle my maternal great grandmother.

She says she was born in Paris, France, 1879, on the 2nd of April.  But I can't document her birth or life before 1901 when she married Frederick Lester Lowrie as Ottilie Schweigl in London.

From then and there she's all over the place. She travels to Canada with three of her children, the oldest went ahead of them and THAT can't be documented. I'm thinking he either swam or went by canoe? Then she heads off to Manhattan, leaving two boys in Canada (I think, no proof), and one dead and buried in France after fighting with his brother for the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force during WWI.

She goes to England and back to Quebec twice (maybe checking up on the boys) and finally dies in Connecticut in the same year and place that my mother was born.

Two of her remaining sons name her on their border crossings' and marriage records as Olga Denonville. I have NO idea where that name came from. The Denonvilles figure prominently in early Canadian and French history. All I want to know is who is she? Where did she really come from? Did she have any parents?

I've always felt so close to my ancestors while researching them. It often feels like they want to be found because I just trip over clues to their stories.These people, Olga and her sons, make me crazy! I honestly think that they are the most sarcastic, tall-tale-tellers I'll ever meet. And by the way, my 14-yr.-old can pull the wool over my eyes like nobody else I know. THAT'S what these nuts passed down through the generations.

I have to say, this is all very fun. Quite amusing to think that they're hiding so well and watching me pull my hair out trying to figure out name changes and whereabouts for the first decade of the 1900's. So few years, yet so many records to locate and peruse.

In the meantime I'm sure they're pointing and giggling, "Listen! She's talking to herself again," and "HAHA!" as another "Booger Snots!!!!" flies out to any and all passersby as I come to another dead end.

When I find Olga, and I will, I think I'm going to feel a bit sad. The game will be over. Maybe I'll just let her sweat it out for a couple of years?

 Want to help? These are the records I've searched for and when found (*) have given me all I know about her:

*1901 marriage certificate / England
*1911 census /England
*1913 "Royal Edward"-England to Quebec w/3 children (can't find the oldest and when he arrived after the war)
*1923 "King Edmund"-Canada to New York w/ daughter
*1927-"Tuscania"- New York to England
*1928- "Aussonia"- England to Qebec
*1930 census- in Manhattan w/ daughter
Death cert/ died 1937 Greenwich, Ct.

I've searched for more census records, called Canadian Archives for apps. for Canadian citizenship, etc. I've searched under all of her alias' in all their variations. She didn't have to apply to become a Canadian Citizen because she was a British citizen. She never applied to become naturalized in the USA, as far as I can tell. I'm sending for a search of her app. for Canadian citizenship anyways, even though I'm pretty sure she never applied. I can't find William Schweigel, her father, on anything but Olga's death cert. which her daughter filled out and may not have been correct. He also went by Odilo Schweigl as a witness of her 1901 marriage in England. He was a colonel. Of what and with whom? I don't know. Can't seem to find him anywhere either.

Got any ideas?


  1. Your Olga (or whatever her name really is) looks too ladylike to want to play hide-and-seek! She is very beautiful. I don't know where all you've searched for her but might she be city directories somewhere? UK 1901-1911 if she married and stayed in the same place till 1911; 1828-1932 in Manhattan; and 1935-1937 in Greenwich, CT? Maybe? Best wishes on finding her!

  2. Thanks Nancy. My real problem is finding her parents. I figured if I could find the documentation where she would have included their names I'd find them. But no luck with that or a registration of birth. I've heard France can be hard to research w/o a specific town.
    Thanks for your encouragement, Nancy! I'll let you know if I do. At least I know where she's buried!

  3. What about church records? Could her children have been baptized/christened in England?

    Perhaps she had been baptized in France? There are church records online at but you'd probably be more successful looking at their online catalog to order microfilms, as I ran the Denonville name thru their online database over there with no success.

    Was she a widow when she arrived in Quebec? Have you checked land records to see if she ever owned any land there or perhaps in England? You'd be looking for some transactions with other Denonville's to maybe establish a relationship of sorts to give you another person to research in hopes they are easier to trace. [Like maybe probate records, if her parents ever made it to England, that is.]

    Also, did she ever live next to or near other Denonville's in all the places you found her living? Again, the idea is to find another one to trace in hopes they are easier to trace and to hopefully reveal a kinship of sorts.

    I noticed some Denonville's in Vermont, and you said the Denonville's were prominent in Quebec. I noticed on that the ones in Quebec had been Catholic. Perhaps she was and remained as well. Also, keep in mind surname variants such as De'Nonville and Denonvilliez. As well as, Dorothée for Dorothy and Eugenée for Eugenie. And Olga boggles my mind because it's not French. It can be of German origin, so, perhaps it was a nickname her husband gave her. I'd be prepared for her first name to be something like Marie, a form of Mary, which would've been her Christian name when she was baptized. Could be something else, but she would've probably have had a Christian name before Dorothée Eugenée when and if she was baptized, in my humble opinion.

    What her children's names? I'd keep those in mind when looking for her parents and other kinfolk. Naming patterns were strong in the French culture (as well as else where).

    That's all I can think of.
    ~Caroline Pointer
    Family Stories

  4. Caroline,

    Thanks for the work you did~! Amazing.
    The Church of England is on some of the kids' christening records. Don't know if she was catholic. I'll search.
    I searched Ancestry for hours yesterday for Denonvilles and found a Eugenie Denonvilliez (you were right). I was thinkng that it's possible that she may have taken her mother's name when moving to Canada as a single mom...I'm so tired of making up stories!!!
    Anyways , I did see a lot of Denonvilles in Maine, and Vermont and decided, as you suggested, to leave a message on message boards and see if I can come in the back door and spook her out!
    Odilo is in one of her children's names (for her father), among a few other names that I've been searching for in my Denonville quest.
    Land records and nextdoor neighbors? That's going to be harder. The 1911 census is all I have and I CAN'T FIND IT! Never done a propert stuff!

    Thanks again Caroline. I just want this done for my mom before she dies!


What do you think? I'd love to know.