So there are two main branches in my forest. Clairmont and Kremzier. Then there are Brieres and Reiffs which I know very little about. The Clairmonts were originally Mongeau dit Clermont, with 'Mongeau' being spelled in whatever way the semi-literate government worker wanted to spell it, since my semi-literate French peasents were too proud to speak anything except civilized French, n'est-ce pas? and then everyone was really tossed for a loop when they dropped 'Mongeau' all-together for Clermont, which didn't last long once they travelled south of the 48th parallel and changed it once more, this time to Clairmont. But then we're a bit of a rowdy bunch, us Quebecois-Americans, and we come by it proudly; after all, Louis Riel was a distant cousin. (Google him).
Then there's that small tribe of Kremziers, who are mostly doing their best to repopulate the tree throughout the New England area. We are the only Kremziers in the US. Very few left in Europe, for that matter. Family history has it that we're German. A little piece of politial fiction told by the great-greats who are probably turning in their graves over the fact that I hate sauerkraut. I'm sure they are rattling their sabers at me because my mother told me Grandpa is making a ruckus about it from the great beyond. Well, great grandma needs to do some 'splaining to moi over the fact that not one piece of paper says anything about Germany. They do, however, say a great deal about Hungary and Slovakia. Really. Google 'Kremsier'. (original spelling with the Eastern European 'S', not 'Z') I did, and I got an eye-full. I'm still howling in laughter about it.
I have very little on the Brieres, only what cousine Johanne tells me. So my name? Yeah... I didn't want my paternal bio-donor's name, and yet I wanted to keep my numerological 11. I also wanted a family name. 'Briere' allowed me to keep my 11. Briere is my great grandmother's maiden name on the maternal side. Then I tried looking for Brieres in Quebec. It was like trying to find one particular John Smith in the US phone books. So how did I find my Briere branches? I was on a Yahoo group for John Barrowman, my favorite bad boy, at the time, and saw someone with my last name. So I PM'd her. We had no idea of anything, at the time, so we adopted each other. I eventually found old newspaper notices about anniveraries and birthdays for my Clairmonts and Kremziers in an online archive. Believe it or not, back in the 40s and 50s and those earlier prehistoric times, newspapers actually printed complete addresses for these parties. While reading through some Clairmont party listings, I saw a few Brieres listed. My list started! Eventually Johanna and I discovered that we DO connect on her tree. About 7 generations down, but we're cousins!
And the Reiffs? Great grandma Suzy-Louise Reif'f and her siblings came from Slovakia. All the papers I have with her name on it says Suzanna, but mom remembers her name as Louise only because when mom was little and playing with a typewriter (a prehistoric keyboard), her 'Oma' typed out her name and then laughed because she spelled 'Louse' instead of 'Louise'. None of the distant Reiff cousins I've since been in contact with know anything about this name. Also, no one knew she had been married previously. It was only about a year, so I'm thinking it was for convience because women didn't travel alone during the late 1800s.
Confused, yet? That's ok, I am, too. But if you see a leaf or two on one of these trees, give me a buzz.
Very little of the information came from my little wayward branch; for some reason information kept getting dropped out of sight. Thanks go to cousins Isabelle Clermont, whose hard work I plucked the vast majority of the Mongeau dit Clermont (in ALL the spelling variations) information from, Bernie C, Carol C, Jeff Messick, Lisa Clairmont Stephenson, Christine Clairmont, Jeff Clairmont,, Big Joe and Little Joe Clairmont, Ron and Marianne for sharing lots and lots of old photos which sent me into delirium, Johanne Briere for almost the entire Briere tree, Chris Kreuter Stanley (a Briere), all the Kremziers for putting up with my nagging questions so I could start filling in missing pieces, Dean Roth for his Reiff information and great old photos, Micki Kremzier Rice for her great stories.
And most of all lots of hugs and kisses to Uncle Lee (Leopaul) Clairmont who started my branch's portion of the tree so long ago, and got me hooked on all this when I was just about 10 years old. Yes, this is all his fault.