Andrew Phalen: Pushing Into Another Generation

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?

28 Sep 1809 • St. George’s, Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada
Andrew Phalen, 28 Sept 1809, aged 6 mos; parents: Patrick & Marg

There were several Phalen DNA matches in my 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 (“Long”) dated 5 December 1798, in the same church at which Andrew was baptized. Although “Patrick” is not specifically named, his surname is provided; his first name is given in a land petition in which he provided the name of his father-in-law. Nevertheless, _____ (Patrick) Phalen was a soldier in the Royal Nova Scotia Regiment of the British Army. It is believed among other researchers that 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, also of Ireland, 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.

marriage record - Patrick Phelan to Margaret Leongo
5 Dec 1798 • St. George’s, Sydney, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada – This day in the Church joined in the Banns of holy Wedlock ___ Phalin Soldier in the R. N. S. Regm’t and Margaret Leongo (L’Angot). “Nova Scotia Marriages, 1711-1909,” database, FamilySearch ( : 10 February 2018), Phelin and Margaret Leongo, 05 Dec 1798; citing Saint George,Sydney,Cape Breton,Nova Scotia; FHL microfilm 814,172.

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.” Please know that Nova Scotia means New Scotland so perhaps that was his reason.

Further Reading:

KEN MACDONALD: ‘Cow Bay’ remains a mystery