My family's history in Macomb County goes back to the late 18th century, and for the most part my discoveries have been pretty tame - Joseph Allard bought a farm and raised a family, Joseph Whitmore bought a farm and raised a family, you get the picture. But when we get to my gg-grandfather John Betwee, oh boy he is a story unto himself. But before we get to John, a little background.
The Bethui/Bethuy/Betwee family first arrived in America around 1840 when Antoine Bethui brought his wife and children to Michigan to escape the political turmoil of his native Paris (by the way, all Betwees in America are descended from this family.) Within a few years of arriving, all of his children were married to locals, and in 1842 his son Alexander chose Perpetua LaLonde of St. Clair county as his bride. In 1845 Perpetua gave Alexander their second son, John, and this is where our story begins.
Not much is known about his early life, the first public record of him is an enlistment in the 22nd Michigan volunteers during the Civil War. Well, actually the end of the war. He went in in April of 1865 and was out in September. Much of his time was spent guarding train depots in Tennessee from what was left of the Confederate army. Not much of a war record, but it did begin his paper trail and played a major part in the final installment of his life. The next time we find John, he is joining into Holy matrimony with Teresa Tibo (or Thibault, you pick) daughter of Louis Tibo of L'anse Creuse in 1870. This did not last long as Teresa died in 1871 or '72, presumably in childbirth.
About this same time, John took to a different trade and went sailing on the Great Lakes, working on many of the steam ships that traveled those waters. Sometime in late 1876 or early 1877 he was back in L'anse Creuse, possibly visiting his former father-in-law, Louis. Louis had been widowed and was now remarried to Caroline Teresa Whitmore (nee Allard), the widow of Joseph Whitmore, and was raising a yours, mine and ours family. I guess 'ole John took a liking to one of Louis' new daughters as he married one of them, Catherine Whitmore - the step sister of his first wife - in May of 1877. good timing, too, as their daughter Ida was born in September. Now things really start to get interesting.
Not long after I pieced together the previous information, I found the 1880 census which seemed to verify the family story that John had died, allowing Catherine to marry her second husband, August Ferrand, in the Catholic church. The census taker wrote that Catherine was living alone with her daughter, Ida, and luckily, he made the following cryptic note on the page: "Husband gone sailing. Not return 2 years." Did John go down with the ship? Was he Shanghi'd to China? Did space aliens take him for medical experiments? Nope. After all, he was just a man, given to all the weaknesses inherent to our kind. I soon found that he simply sailed into the sunset - to Muskegon.
A prominent Macomb County researcher (don't worry, Ann, I won't tell who) told me that if John was in the Civil War, there might be a pension record for him in Washington. Well, I sent for it with little hope of finding anything new, but when the envelope with 45 pages of information showed up, I got a bit more than I expected. It seems John did apply for a pension in the early 1890's, claiming a heart condition and a running sore on his leg (nasty!) kept him from being gainfully employed. After he died in 1898, his widow also applied for survivor's benefits. Did Catherine find that her beau hadn't died? Did she collect a pension from the father of her daughter, Ida, who was now married to my great grandfather, Willie Allor? Nope, it was his third wife Jenny Hahn who made the application. It seems that after he abandoned Catherine and Ida, he had a common law 'marriage' with Jenny in Muskegon from 1884 to 1892. In that year they moved to Chicago to be near Jenny's sister, who was married to the chief-of-police of Chicago, and there they were married legally. When Jenny applied for the widow's pension, she only mentioned that John had been married to Teresa in 1870. No mention of Catherine or Ida was made.
Well, that is the story of the many loves of John Betwee, my gg-grandaddy. Personally, I think the most amusing part of this story is that if I changed the dates to the 20th century, I could sell it as a script to a soap opera! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed doing the research.
This information was provided to the Macomb Genealogy page by Joe Paonessa. I would like to thank him for his contributions.
If you have any questions about Macomb Genealogy and would like to post your Macomb family information please contact me, Margaret Fallone