Felix Fortineau L’Oiseau

Felix Fortineau L’Oiseau, aka Forge Bird, was the eldest brother of my maternal grandmother Alice Doris L’Oiseau.

Like many of my L’Oiseau relatives, Fortineau anglicised his name. It was never legally changed, but over the years he adopted the name Bird.

When I started researching my maternal line I compiled a list of all my grandmother’s possible siblings. Many of the names came from stories told by my mother, some came from my memory of people I had met as a child, and others from unproven family trees I had found online.

Over the years my research came together and I managed to untangle the misspelled and miss-pronounced names. I compiled a list of eight siblings and started working on proving their identities and relationships. Eventually, I had information on six of Alice’s siblings, but the eldest and youngest were proving a challenge.

The name Fortineau L’Oiseau was a name that appeared in numerous family trees online, but I couldn’t find any proof that he was a member of Alice’s family. Not a single tree I found had records to back up this assumption. I eventually found a marriage certificate that listed Alice’s parents as his parents, so I knew he was her brother. Unfortunately, that was all I could find at that time so I moved on to other research.

A recent inquiry about the L’Oiseau family from a cousin on my paternal side prompted me to take another look for the missing information. I had never been able to locate a birth or baptism for Fortineau by searching the databases, so I decided to look over the digitised images of baptisms for St Mary’s Cathedral on Family Search. It took a while, but I eventually found his baptism record and discovered that he had been baptised on May 6, 1894. I now had proof that he was Alice’s brother.

The question now was – What happened to him after his marriage? I don’t recall my mum ever mentioning him so I assumed he had left their hometown of Kingston or possibly had died before my mother had been born.

I started searching old newspaper articles using various combinations and spellings of his name. Narrow searches didn’t work so I did a broader search of the name Bird between 1900 and 1966. Eventually, I came across the following clipping:

Finally, the mystery of Fortineau L’Oiseau has been solved, and I now know the names of his five children. Although not my direct ancestors, researching these “collateral relatives” could provide information that may be helpful down the track.

Collateral relatives

When building a family tree many decide to only focus on their immediate ancestors. This approach is fine, but a lot of information on your immediate ancestors can be gained by focusing on “collateral relatives.”

So what is a collateral relative and why are they important?

A collateral relative is anyone you are related to who isn’t your direct ancestor. This could be an aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, etc.

A collateral relative can be an important piece in a puzzle when researching your direct ancestors, possibly holding the key to the identity of that ancestor. If you already know the name of your direct ancestor a collateral relative may provide other details about that ancestor that will help you get an insight into the lives they lived.

In my research collateral relatives have not only provided important information in helping solve some of my brick walls but I’ve also gained information and images of known ancestors that I would never have found if it was not for these distant relatives.

Read more about the importance of collateral relatives here.

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