MSS-010-The French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Episode 010-April 15, 2014

Maple Stars and Stripe’s first Spotlight on a French-Canadian Society begins today with the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan. The FCHSM is a very active society with wonderful resources for researchers around the globe. We’ll explore their offerings in an interview with President Loraine DiCerbo.

FCHSM logo

FCHSM logo

Also, if you are trying to track down an ancestor whose surname begins with either DE or DES, we have some tips for surname variations that might lead to success.

Language Tip #10- Surnames with DE, DES, and D’

In episode 2, we saw that the article la, meaning ‘the,’ is used before a feminine noun, and le is used before a masculine noun. In episode 7, we learned that when the noun is plural, ‘the’ becomes les.

The preposition de means ‘of’ or ‘from.’ In front of a feminine noun, you would say de la fille for ‘of the daughter.’ In front of a masculine noun, the de le becomes du, as in the Archives National du Québec. In front of a plural noun, de les becomes des. ‘Of the dogs’ would be written as des chiens. So:

  • Feminine          de la
  • Masculine        du
  • Plural               des

Some surnames or dit names indicate ‘from where’ a person came or ‘of what region’ he originates, like Decelle meaning ‘from Celle,’ or Denoyon meaning ‘from Noyon.’ We also see Desnoyers for ‘from Les Noyers’ and Dubourg for ‘from Le Bourg.’

So when searching in indexes for ancestors whose surnames begin with DE, DES, or D’, keep the following in mind:

  • The DE may or may not be present in the original record or the index.010-02
  • Delahaye/Lahaye census index entry

    Delahaye/Lahaye census index entry

  • 010-04
  • Demontigny/Montigny census index entry

    Demontigny/Montigny census index entry

    The DES may include the S in some records but not in others.

  • 010-06
  • Desjadon/Dejadon census index entry

    Desjadon/Dejadon census index entry


    Desloge/Deloge census index entry

    Desloge/Deloge census index entry

    Or the DES may be omitted all together.010-10

  • Desmarais/Marais census index entry

    Desmarais/Marais census index entry

    A DE in front of a vowel becomes D’. Surnames beginning with D’ may be found that way in French records, but in English records the apostrophe will most likely be omitted. D’Aragon became Daragon and then Dragon. D’Auberville became Dauberville.

  • 010-12
Daragon/Dragon census index entry

Daragon/Dragon census index entry

Dauberville census index entry

Dauberville census index entry

 The French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

Throughout these podcasts, I would like to occasionally take time to showcase the wonderful French-Canadian societies here in America and elsewhere. Run by volunteers, they do a superb job of supporting us, the researcher with French-Canadian ancestors. We, in turn, need to support them.

Our first Spotlight Society is the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan. I hope you enjoy my interview with its president, Loraine DiCerbo.


The French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan was founded in 1980 with the purpose of educating about and promoting French-Canadian heritage and culture and helping others do family research. They meet monthly from September through May or June at the Mount Clemens Public Library, 150 Cass Ave., Mount Clemens, MI 48043. Meetings are on the second Saturday of the month at 11:00 AM.

They also get together over the course of a weekend in July to celebrate Detroit’s anniversary with a small memorial service at Mount Elliot Cemetery, an evening French novena at Ste. Anne’s Church, and a Storytellers Festival as part of the Detroit Historical Museum’s birthday celebration.

Statue of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac commemorating his landing along the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan. (September 28, 2004) © 2004 Matthew Trump;  Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Statue of Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac commemorating his landing along the Detroit River in Detroit, Michigan. (September 28, 2004)
© 2004 Matthew Trump;
Source: Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Programs include monthly speakers, joint meetings with the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research, cemetery walks, and trips to research facilities.

For upcoming meetings and activities, see FCHSM Meetings or check out and like their Facebook page.

Past projects include a monument placed at Mount Elliot Cemetery in honor of those who had been buried at Ste. Anne’s Church who were relocated because of waterfront development; Detroit’s 300th anniversary celebration; establishing a historical plaque at Hart Plaza in downtown Detroit honoring the convoy that came across with Cadillac to found the city of Detroit.

Upcoming projects include collaborating with the Center for French Colonial Studies for their annual conference in Windsor in 2015; publishing the 1762 census of Detroit in their journal and online; and the Filles du Roi chart program for members.

Their genealogy collection is held at the Michigan Room at Mount Clemens Library with a portion of the collection in the basement, accessed after meetings. Included is information about notarial records.

I encourage everyone to take time to look through their website. There you will find information on the fur trade, the Filles du Roi, the Carignan Regiment, their chart program, the 1762 Detroit census, maps, and  charts. Their quarterly journal for members  is Habitant Heritage, and on the website you will find an index to past articles. If you find information of interest, you can order a copy of the journal from the FCHSM or order just the article through PERSI

Volunteers are needed to help with meetings, to take on the position of publicity chair, to volunteer as librarian so the library collection can be accessible to researchers for more hours, and various other committee members.

In the future, the society would like to continue offering exceptional programs, expand the website, upgrade information, and improve automation of processes through technology. Anyone who is technologically savvy would be quite welcome!

To become a member of FCHSM, see the membership section of the website.

For information, contact the society through the website, their Facebook page, or email Loraine directly at ldicerbofchsm [at] gmail [dot] org.

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2 comments on “MSS-010-The French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan

  1. Suzanne Boivin Sommerville

    Thank you, Sandra Goodwin, for another good lesson in French and for the interview with the president of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, Loraine DiCerbo. The photo illustrated, however, shows an earlier plaque erected on the waterfront of Detroit along with a statue of Antoine Laumet dit de Lamothe Cadillac donated by France for the 300th anniversary of the founding of Detroit in 2001..
    The FCHSM Plaque at Hart Plaza, Detroit, and Memorial at Mt. Elliott Cemetery mentioned by Loraine DiCerbo may be seen at

    Also there are some articles there about both of these accomplishments brought to fruition by the FCHSM.

    1. Sandra Goodwin

      You’re welcome, Suzanne. Loraine did a great job. And thanks for the clarification regarding the plaque.

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