For many years, I was just certain that my great grandfather Seymour Peppan was from the planet Mars. Old Seymour was a space alien, he came from planet Mars . . .

Even though Daddy had said that he was French-Canadian, it was the only thing that made any sense at the time.

It turns out that my last name -- PEPPAN -- is an American-mangle-ization of the French/French-Canadian PEPIN, and folks who had been doing French-Canadian genealogy for many many moons tried to tell me that no self-respecting Roman Catholic French-Canadian family would name a son "Seymour", but, like some brand new genealogists, I was hard-headed about it.  After all, he was listed in the 1900 Federal Census as Seymour Peppan, so that's the way PEPPAN has always been spelled . . . right?

That the family stories say his full name was Louis Seymour Peppan still made those learned genealogists say, "Well . . . yeah, but Seymour just isn't a good French-Canadian name."  They were persistent enough that I finally came to wonder if Seymour was born someone else and just thought that 'Louis Seymour Peppan' had a nice ring to it?  The implications of this thought made me shudder -- mostly because I knew of not one single living soul who could answer that question.

The census said he was naturalized: he was, as Seymour Pepin.  I haven't seen the actual record but I know it's at the State Archives in Bellingham, Washington (E-12-8, E-12-9) (Thank you, Phil Kohl.)

I've seen his 1895 tax record (Asses. Roll Personal Property, San Juan, account #70-8-658), recorded under the name/spelling Seymour Peppan, which puts Seymour and family on San Juan Island in 1895.

A couple years back the San Juan Island Historical Society had no information what so ever, and after making a thorough pest of myself in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, I found out that as far as the Official Entities were concerned at the time:

  • no one named PEPPAN had ever lived on San Juan Island

  • no one lived on Cattle Point until 1927

I thought this was kinda odd not only because of the tax record but because family stories say Seymour and Emma homesteaded Cattle Point after they immigrated from Canada (1879) and before they moved to Seattle (1896).

The story says that Seymour was offered a house and lot -- with indoor plumbing -- in Ballard, Washington, in trade for his homestead because Emma's baked goods sales were interfering with Hudson Bay's baked goods sales.  I was curious, so I contacted the Hudson Bay Company employee records, and, though they said Seymour was too young to have been one of their employees, they did supply employee records of two men who worked "out on the Coast" that they thought Seymour might be connected with (Thank you, Anne Morton!).

In February of 1998, I found out why I was having such a hard time finding any information about him before he came to the US:  Neither his name in Canada, nor the name with which he was baptized was Seymour Peppan.

The guesses about the below picture are that it was taken on Washington state's San Juan Island, probably at Cattle Point in about 1880, and that the man with the mug and plate combo in his right hand is my great grandfather Seymour Peppan.

What I don't have to guess at is the identity of the woman standing so close by his side.  She's my great grandmother, Emma Sarah Houston.  I have other pictures of Emma, but this is the youngest looking one I have of her.

Seymour's other names are Simeon Peppin, Simon Pepin, and Simon Magice.  He is the son of Etienne Pepin aka Etienne Magice aka Michel-Etienne May and Isabelle Kwantlen of Fort Langley, British Columbia, Canada.  Playing fast and loose with surnames was obviously a hobby of their's, but as Etienne came out of an old Québec Pépin line, it's probably just some fine old Québec tradition.  For the sake of clarity, from here on out I will be referring to Seymour as Simon

Simon and Emma, possibly at Cattle Point, circa 1880

Due to the cast of the genetic dice, I have the same kind of a hands as the man in the picture, and his facial structure has popped up in more than a few members of the immediate family, which is why I'm inclined to believe that this is Simon.  And it's the only picture I have of Simon.  If you recognize him -- or better yet, have a better copy of this picture -- drop me some email, I'd love to hear from you.

To the left of Simon, you can see who may be Emma's little brother William.

If you look closer, someone else's arms are stretched out in front of William, or perhaps holding his hand; don't know who that is, either.  Could it be William's wife, Rosalie Bartleman?

And on the far left edge of the photo is an arm, shoulder, and leg; don't know who that is, either.  A guess would be Emma and William's brother, Fred, who was never far from William becuase of a promise Fred made to their mother Sophie to "look after Willy."

Those learned genealogists had been right all along.

This realization came cleverly disguised as a one sentence e-mail message from a fellow on a mailing list I subscribed to.  (Thank you, Gary Wilson!).

 

Simeon Peppin married 1 April 1878, in New Westminster district, Emma Huston.

I was so excited, I shared the news with anyone who would listen -- including all the local stray cats. 

Once I got around to sharing the information with individuals who could truly appreciate it, a cyber-friend up in British Columbia offered to get me a copy of the marriage certificate -- an easy thing to find, once I knew how the Official Entities had spelled the family name.  (Thank you, Marilyn Inglis!)

With the exception of the signature of the By whom married, this is what that copy of the hand-written original had to say:

BRIDEGROOM
His name
Simeon Peppin
Age 24 years
Residence when married New Westminster District
Place of birth Langley, BC
Condition  Bachelor
Rank or Profession  Labourer
Name of parents Etienne Peppin & Elizabeth, A Native Woman
BRIDE
Her name
Emma Huston
Age 15
Residence when married  Burrards Inlet
Place of birth New Westminster
Spinster or widow Spinster
 Name of parents Frederick Huston & Sophia, a Native Woman
 Name of witnesses David Depuis & Emma, a Native Woman
Residence of witnesses New Westminster
Date of marriage  1st of April 1878
Religious denomination of bridegroom Roman Catholic
Religious denomination of bride Roman Catholic
 By whom married    (looks like) Edward M. I. Harris OMI
By license   
By banns By Banns
 Remarks Registered 29th April 1878

Armed with confirmed locations, and new names and dates, I went searching, and found two Etienne Pepins.

One was Etienne Pascal Pepin, born in Yamaska, Quebec, son of Etienne Louis Pepin and either his first wife, Catherine ST GERMAIN, or his second wife, Agathe ROCHE dit LaLancette.  The other was a Hudson's Bay Company employee Etienne Pepin.

Which brings us back round to Simon.

I am amused that Simon and Emma had married on April Fool's Day.  Whether they did it on purpose, or if it just was The Day the preacher was available, I'll never know.  I kinda like to think it's the former and an indicator of the nature of my great grandparents' sense of humor, a sense of humor that may well be as hereditary as the pigheaded stubbornness that had delayed this discovery.  Then again, I have also heard that April 1st is a Roman Catholic Holy Day of sorts, important to the French.

The main branch Seattle Public Library is known for its genealogy section . . . and its helpful staff.  Besides helping me with the census, they directed me to the Polk's 1901 Seattle City Directory I found, on page 928, my great grandfather listed thus:

  • Peppan, Seymour, blcksmith, Heckmann & Hanson res ss Broadway 1 e 6th Ave E. Ross

What this all translates into is that Simon worked as a blacksmith for Heckmann & Hanson, marine architects & builders, in Ballard, Washington, and he lived in a house on the south side of Broadway, 1 block east of the intersection of 6th Avenue and East Ross Street.  Due to the growth of Seattle, and the subsequent creation of the Montlake Cut, the intersection of 6th Avenue and East Ross no longer exists.

The same city directory also yielded the information that two of Simon's sons, Frank and Charles, boarded with their father, both were employed at the Stimpson Mill Company as laborers.

And it was the Polk's Seattle City Directories that helped me narrow down when Simon died.  Family stories say his death in a Puget Sound area sawmill was "no accident".  Unfortunately, no one can say for certain where that saw mill was, but the most commonly mentioned location is Port Ludlow, Washington.  That his death occurred somewhere around 1906 is supported by entries in the Polk's Seattle City Directory between 1905 and 1907.

  • 1905 lists Seymour Peppan

  • 1906 lists Emma Peppan (wid Seymour)

  • 1907 lists Emma Peppan

By 1908, Emma was married to long time friend and neighbor, Frank McFarland, a Spanish-American War veteran.

To try and narrow down Simon's death date, on 16 February 2000, I contacted Polk's customer relations department and talked to Stephanie and Debbie.

I asked if they knew when the 1906 directory went to the presses.  Though neither Stephanie or Debbie could answer that question, they did know that, back then, Polk's went door-to-door, taking anywhere from 1 to 2 months in a given area -- depending upon how large the area was -- compiling data, then it was at least another 6 to 8 weeks before the info was ready for the presses.

Going on this bit of info, my guess is that Seymour died somewhere in the latter half of 1905.  Pre-computer, the Polk's directories were compiled by hand, and then typeset, and then printed, so the info gatherers would have just about had to start gathering the info for the 1906 sometime around June of 1905 to be released in the timely manner that has kept Polk's in business for better than a century.

Thank you, Stephanie.  Thank you, Debbie. (I hope I spelled your names right.)

For so very long, everything that I knew about my great grandparents lay between the years 1895 and 1908, and all was in Washington state.  So when I got Simon and Emma's marriage certificate, and THEN the Fort Langley information, I felt as though I, personally, had just run and won the Triple Crown.

The topper to all of this is the discovery of Simon's baptismal record in the old parish records held at St Andrew's Cathedral in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The entry reads:

Simon Magice

Simon fils naturel de Etienne Magice et d'une femme Quyslen (Papin); parrain P Renaud, cet enfant a été légitimé par le mariage subséquent de parents.

Fort Langley 29 Juin 1856

Lootens, Ptre

If you don't read French, what this says is that Simon was the natural son of Etienne Magice and his Quyslen wife Papin, and was baptised on 29 June 1856 at Fort Langley.  In his parent's marriage record, Simon's date of birth is recorded as 8 May 1855; the marriage record links the name Magice with that of Pepin, showing Etienne Magice as the son of Michel and Marguerite Pepin of St-Michel-de-Yamaska in Quebec, and the Quyslen wife Papin as Isabelle, a Keitosé woman.  Isabelle's name undergoes a metamorphosis and becomes Elizabeth on Simon's certificate of marriage, and Etienne Magice becomes Etienne Peppin.

Just to make things a little more interesting, there may have been another woman in Etienne's life before Isabelle: the mother of Simon's older sister and brother, Marie and François.  In the baptism records for Marie and François, dated 4 September 1841, their parents are recorded as Etienne Maillé and a Uiskwin woman.  On Marie's marriage record, however, her parents are recorded as Etienne Pepin and a woman of the Mascoyennes [Maskagonné].  However, it's also possible that this Uiskwin/Mascoyennes woman was also Isabelle, but the jury's still out on that.

Anyway, all of this confirmed one of my early fears -- that my great grandfather had been named something other than Seymour Peppan at birth -- but it wasn't as bad as I had feared.  I mean, I had found all the paperwork linking his many names together.  It goes something like this:

Simon

  • started life as Simon Magice

  • was married as Simeon Peppin

  • was naturalized as Seymour Pepin

  • is listed in a half dozen Seattle City Directories as Seymour Peppan

  • and, as far as I know right now, died as Seymour Peppan

Simon's death certificate is the final missing puzzle piece.  But now that I have a selection of surnames that I know are connected with Simon's paternal line, it should make the search for this last piece of vital data a little easier.

You see, the family has always been a bit vague about dates, like birth days, anniversaries, and such.  What info had been accumulated over the generations was lost in a house fire in 1957.  The only things salvaged were a box of pictures and a three large oval portraits; that my then-15-year-old cousin had had the presence of mind to save them will always be a wonder to me (Thank you, Bridgie).

The three oval portraits went into the attic at my parent's house and the box of pictures found their way to Daddy's sister, my Aunt Toots.

Years later, after Aunt Toots died, I became the Keeper of the Pictures.  In that small box of pictures, I found another clue: a postcard that my Great Aunt Lizzie sent to her sister Susan:

 

Dear sis,

I will send you one of
my little mans pictures
hope you will like it
I was to see Bessie yesterday
had a nice time
Baby and Tootsie had a big time.
Your loving sis
Lizzie

Mrs. DE Johnson
827 Salmon Street
Portland, Oregon

Lizzie and Susan are daughters of Simon and Emma.  "Tootsie", I figured, could only be my Aunt Toots, and because she was born November 3, 1925, I figure the date the postcard was written and sent was probably between 3 to 8 years after that.

Regarding that small box of pictures

I've finally gotten all those pictures scanned onto a CD.  An online photo album is now in the works.

Pictures will be divided into three groups: the Identified, the Tentatively Identified, and the Unidentified.  The Identified photos will be presented in family groups, along with the Tentatively Identified; I'm still working on how to present the Unidentified.

In my search for Simon's relatives, at the local LDS Family History Center, I found a Social Security Death Index listing for a William Peppan, born February 29, 1912, died August 1967 in Garden City, Kansas.

"Ah-HAH!"  I thought, "a new lead."

Simon and Emma had a son named William, born in December of 1891.  The William Peppan from the Social Security Death Index, born in 1912, could be the son of my Great Uncle Willie -- the math worked.

Right about this same time, after submitting my family tree research to the World Family Tree Project, I found there was another Peppan researcher out there!  Submitter #3986, on volume 2 of the World Family Tree Project.

There, I found the 1912 William Peppan -- but he was the son of a fellow named Joshua Acon Peppan.  Joshua was born 4 Aug 1862 in Samsul Missouri.  This meant the 1912 William was NOT the son of Great Uncle Willie.  I was bummed out. 

But then I realized something: There was another family out there who spelled their last name like ours -- PEPPAN.

Satch and Bessie, circa 1940

I got even more excited when I found out that the 1912 William Peppan -- aka Satch -- had a sister named Bessie.  That's Satch and Bessie there on the left.

Finally -- after discovering that one must own the very latest version of Family Tree Maker to even exist in the eyes of the Family Tree Maker people -- I got in contact with the compiler of Joshua Peppan's family tree.

Chuck Morley -- grandson of Joshua, nephew of William "Satch" Peppan, and son of Bessie -- was having just as tough a time with his family tree as I was.  Chuck doesn't know who Joshua's parents are, only that they were French-Canadian, nor does he know how many siblings Joshua may have had.

Chuck and I have exchanged pictures of our "alien" ancestors; perhaps it's wishful thinking on my part, but I can see a resemblance between Joshua and Seymour.  In exchanging family trees, I've noticed that the birth and naming patterns in the two families are quite similar.  And, after exchanging only a few emails, there's a similarity in the sense of humor.  If Chuck and I aren't related, we should be.

Personally, I think that perhaps Chuck's grandfather, Joshua Peppan may be a descendant of one of the Pepin men who headed south from Yamaska.  And on March 28, 2002, I found what maybe a census listing for Joshua's parents.

In the 1860 Federal Census, film M653, Roll 630, page 98/917, Livingston County, Missouri, 11 July 1860, Dawn Post Office, lines 16 through 20 read:

Line Number

 

Name

Age

Sex

Occupation

Birth Place

16 696-697 AKen Peppan 44 M Farmer Missouri
17   Delila 42 F   Tennessee
18   Bathinde 12 F   Missouri
19   Elizabeth 6 F   Missouri
20   Rachel 2 F   Missouri

Seeing as how this man's given name and Joshua's middle name are at least phonetically the same, that this is probably Joshua's family and Bathinde, Elizabeth, and Rachel are Joshua's big sisters.

Chuck has a great deal of info on his assorted family lines, most of which center in and around the Missouri/Kansas area.  If you're curious about Chuck's family, check out his page here, and/or drop him a line; his email address is: chuckmorley@msn.com

The following is NOT an endorsement of the World Family Tree Project, it is simply my own personal opinion.

In regards to the World Family Tree Project:

I'm submitter #4416, on Volume Two of WFTP's vast catalog of "reasonably priced" genealogy products, and not long ago, Chuck submitted an updated version of my research to WFT, so my research is on yet another of their "wonderful" CDs.  In both cases the research has changed, as has the contact info for Submitter #4416 -- me -- and once WFTP burns the CD ROM, the info can't be changed -- but a web site can.

And, just between you, me, and the fence post, part of the reason this web site was created is to counter balance all those other web sites that ask for money for information that is publicly available -- or ask genealogists to donate their research and then sell the sum total back to those very same researchers (and I'm not the only person who feels this way; "customer satisfaction" . . . ?  HA!).  I got no gripe with somebody making a living, but there are limits.

 


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This page updated 21 August 2002