Thursday, May 8, 2008

George Washington's French-Canadian Spy

Henri Gosselin, now retired from being editor of a Catholic newspaper in the East, wrote a book about a hero he learned about in studying his family history. Clement Gosselin was a French-Canadian who served as a spy for General George Washington during the American Revolution. He did this even though his Bishop warned him that he would be excommunicated if he should participate on the side of the Americans.

Eventually, he was wounded in the last battle of the war, at Yorktown, was promoted to Major and retired. Clement Gosselin was a brother to Joseph Marie Gosselin (born 1740) who is in our direct ancestral line. My great grandmother was Marguerite Gosselin, wife of Andre Jerome, and the great granddaughter of Joseph Marie Gosselin.

The book, entitled "George Washington's French Canadian Spy", is now out of print. Because of our relationship, the author has provided me with a copy. It is exciting to read about how a distant cousin helped in the making of the history of our nation. Not only did he serve with the patriots of our country against the British forces, but he actively recruited many other French Canadians to do the same.

An article about the author, Henri Gosselin is at, and an article about the book is at

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Blessed Dina Belanger (1897-1929)

Perhaps a more interesting cousin than Rudy Vallee, descended from our same de Rainville ancestors of Quebec and Normandy, was Dina Belanger. She was also known as Sister Cecilia of Rome. As a nun, she was a music teacher in Quebec who died at the early age of 32. She shunned attention, but wrote the Autobiography of Dina Belanger, published in 1984, at the order of her superiors.
After the archbishop read her book, he began proceedings to publicize her story. She was the first native of Quebec to be Beatified by the Church on 20 March 1993.

More about her is at and many other sites on the internet.

Rudy Vallee, a cousin

For those who are younger, Rudy Vallee (1901-1986) was one of the most popular singers of his day. He is remembered as the first crooner, before Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. A radio star in the 30s, film comedian in the 40s and 50s, Rudy turned to Broadway for success during the 60s.

He was the first radio talk show host. "The Rudy Vallee Show" was one of radio's great sensations, and introduced new talent to its audience. After attending Yale, he put his own band together, the Connecticut Yankees, which featured him on saxophone. One of the band's first gigs was at New York's Heigh-Ho club, where Rudy's trademark salutation, "Heigh-Ho, everybody!" was born.

Patriotism led him to enlist during the First World War, but he was released after just a few months when he was found to be too young to serve in the military. During World War II, he joined the Coast Guard, where he was conductor of their band.

The point of all this introduction was to introduce you to another 'cousin'. Rudy was a direct descendant of Jean de Rainville from St-Thomas De Touques, Diocese Of Lisieux, France. So are we. My grandmother was Eliza Renville (Mom's mother), which is one of the Americanized ways to spell the family name. Rudy's ancestors, the Vallees and the De Rainvilles came from France to Quebec and it was there that a marriage between Michel Vallee and Marie Anne Louise Rainville occurred on October 29, 1731.

Mom probably never knew she was related to Rudy Vallee. If she did, I don't remember her ever mentioning it although she was well aware of what a star he was.

His official website is at: