#BravoGenealogy: How Stassi and Katie are Both Bourgeois (And I Don't Mean Bougie!)
Updated: Dec 23, 2021
Recently, I've returned to deep diving into the family trees of Bravolebs, including the Vanderpump Rules cast. Because Katie Maloney-Schwartz is originally from Utah, I wondered whether she had Mormon roots (like I found with Lala Kent), could be another relative of RHOSLC's Whitney Rose, or have other pioneer ancestry.
Instead, I quickly found an unexpected surname familiar to my other VPR cast research. Katie's great-grandmother was named Evelyn Stent (1890-1977), but born Marie Anelina Bourgeois in Kent County, New Brunswick. (Note: Katie's father commented that his grandmother was always known as "Marie Evangeline." It's possible that what looks like "Anelina" in the record below could also be "Avelina," a more common name and more consistent with the adoption of "Evelyn" for the English.)
Why was this Bourgeois significant? For awhile, I had been working on Stassi Schroeder Clark's family tree, which is quite fascinating in its own right. One branch I was deeply interested in was her Cajun ancestry through her beloved paternal grandmother, Rosemary Bourgeois Schroeder (1924-2019), who is the source of Stassi daughter Hartford's second middle name, Rose.
If you're familiar with Cajun history, you'll know why a Cajun with deep Louisiana roots and an Acadian from New Brunswick sharing the Bourgeois surname isn't just a coincidence. Cajuns are descendants of Roman Catholic French Canadians expelled from Acadia (today's maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island) by the British in the mid-18th century as a consequence of the French-Indian War. Many fled to Louisiana, like Stassi's 6th great-grandparents Jean Baptiste Bourgeois (1733-1816) and Marie Madeline Bourg (1737-1775). Steven Cormier's Acadians in Gray - Book Three - Families, Migration, and the Acadian "Begats", Bourgeois Section, states:
Oldest son Jean-Baptiste, born at Chignecto in c1733, either escaped the British in 1755 and sought refuge on Île St.-Jean or went to the island between 1752 and 1755. He married Marie-Madeleine, called Madeleine, daughter Joseph Bourg and Anne Cormier of Chignecto, at Port-La-Joye on the island in February 1757. They evidently escaped the British roundup on the island in 1758, crossed Mer-Rouge, sought refuge on the Gulf of St. Lawrence shore, fell into British hands a few years later, and were held as prisoners in Nova Scotia until the end of the war with Britain. Jean-Baptiste, Madeleine, and their two sons emigrated to Louisiana from Halifax via Cap-Français, St.-Domingue, in 1765. Madeleine was pregnant on the voyage and gave birth to a third son at New Orleans soon after the family reached the colony. They settled at Cabahannocer/St.-Jacques on the Mississippi above New Orleans. Jean-Baptiste remarried to Osite, daughter of Jean-Baptiste Melançon and Madeleine LeBlanc and widow of Jean-Pierre LeBlanc, at St.-Jacques in February 1776. In his early 70s, Jean-Baptiste remarried again--his third marriage--to Rosalie LeBlanc, widow of cousin Paul Bourgeois, fils, at St.-Jacques in January 1804. Jean-Baptiste died in St. James Parish in March 1816, in his early 80s. Five of his six sons, all by first wife Madeleine, two born in greater Acadia, the others in Louisiana, married into the Sonnier, LeBlanc, Arceneaux, and Godin families and created vigorous lines on the river.
Stassi's first Louisiana-born Bourgeois line was through son Amand Alcide (1772-1805) and his wife Scholastique Arceneaux (1772-1807), her 5th great-grandparents.
It's also important to understand that this isn't a case of someone being named something like Smith, where there's no guarantee they are all related, even if they live in the same geographical area. All Acadians with the Bourgeois surname are descendants of Jacques Bourgeois (c.1619-1701) and Jeanne Trahan (1629-after 1698). French-Canadian (including Acadian) research is among the most well-researched and well-sourced due to excellent records kept by the Catholic church, census records, and the sheer number of descendants researching their common ancestors within an endogamous group (basically the same families marrying each other in a bottleneck population over centuries). An essential site for Bourgeois research, The Bourgeois Story, provides a comprehensive database for thousands of Bourgeois descendants with source citations. Other sites like Wikitree also provide a great platform for crowd sourcing common ancestors, while also pushing for the evidence to back it up.
Because of this, I simply needed to climb up both Stassi's and Katie's tree until I reached their common ancestors, double-checking the sources used to confirm parentage for each Bourgeois (and in my experience, this gets easier the further back you go to the source, since many have located the evidence already).
If I follow Stassi's grandmother's patrilineal line (and I'm stating patrilineal line--father's, father's, father's, etc.-- because there are seemingly other Bourgeois lines in her tree that also would descend from the same ancestral couple), Jacques and Jeanne (Trahan) Bourgeois are Stassi's 10th great-grandparents through their son Charles (1646-1678). If I follow the patrilineal line of Katie's great-grandmother, Jacques and Jeanne are Katie's 8th great-grandparents through their son Germain (1650-1711). That would make Katie and Stassi's grandmother the same generation and (at least) 9th cousins (I include at least, since they very likely share common ancestry along other Acadian lines as well).
Therefore, along this Bourgeois line, Katie and Stassi are 9th cousins twice removed (9c2r) and Katie is 9th cousins three times removed (9c3r) with her goddaughter, Hartford.
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