Andrew Phalen was my mother’s second-great grandfather. With him, our genealogy came to a screeching halt – hit a brick wall actually. After discerning Andrew’s wife’s true surname (Finkemeijer, not Vinkheimer), I began to work a lot harder on figuring out where Andrew came from, a real birthdate, and who in the world were his parents.
The story I’d read in Hardesty’s WV Counties stated that he was a “native of Scotland, born 1809, and came to Sydney, Canada in 1818… son of William and Margaret.” Using that, albeit erroneous, I found a baptismal record for a boy named Andrew, baptized 28 Sept 1809, aged 6 months old, son of Patrick Phalen and “Marg,” in St. George’s Church, in Cape Breton, Sydney, Nova Scotia. Was this “my” Andrew Phalen?
There were several Phalen DNA matches in my Ancestry.com account, one of whom was a descendant of none other than Andrew’s sister, Mary, through her second husband, a MacDonald. Assuredly, due to the DNA match, the Andrew Phalen of Cow Bay (n.k.a. Port Morien), Nova Scotia was indeed “my” Andrew. I plugged the parents’ names of Patrick Phalen and Margaret L’Angot/Leango into my tree, waited impatiently the requisite 24 hours for Ancestry to update my ThruLines et Voila! Connections to more Phalen family members, some who presently hail from Nova Scotia, some scattered throughout the U.S. But most importantly, Paul Piatkowski, who has since shared his lineage with me and added mine to his tree. Not before, however, some triangulation efforts to prove this “5th to 8th Cousin” relationship.
I was able to locate a marriage record for Patrick Phalen and Margaret L’Angot/Leango dated 5 December 1798, in the same church at which Andrew was baptized. Although “Patrick” is not specifically named, his surname is provided (Patrick’s first name is established in a land petition in which he names his father-in-law). Nevertheless, _____ (Patrick) Phalen was a soldier in the Royal Nova Scotia Regiment of the British Army. I don’t know if he was the first Phalen to come to Nova Scotia’s shores (via import of the British Army and Prince Edward himself). But I have learned that a fellow soldier surnamed Benjamin Wadden married Margaret L’Angot’s sister, Mary Ann. The Wadden’s children intermarried with the Phalen children as well as children from the Curry family and others.
I’m learning more about the family through Paul and more about Nova Scotia – particularly Cow Bay, now known as Port Morien – and more ancestors as I go. It has been an exciting week. One in which I’ve barely been able to hold in all of this information. Thank goodness for Facebook and blog posts where I can divulge my findings (brain dump) and hope at least one person will benefit.
What I am unable to ascertain is why and when Andrew Phalen left Nova Scotia nor why he consistently claimed his birthplace as “Scotland.”
KEN MACDONALD: ‘Cow Bay’ remains a mystery
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