MY BEGINNINGS
AS THE
HOPKINS-RIVER FAMILY GENEALOGIST




The Hopkins-River website is something I could have started years ago, but I walked on the yellow brick road for several miles before I had the courage to begin. And so for now, you won't see much, but I expect this site to grow every month.

In 1978, my Uncle Louis asked me to type for him what he called a Genealogic Directory of the River, Lambert and some related families. It was conceived to help his children understand the relationships within the River and Lambert families, and to provide answers to some of the questions he and his siblings should have asked their parents, but didn't. Ultimately only two pages were given to the River ancestry and two to Hopkins and Roche, it being mostly a directory of all of the descendants of his own grandfather.

In 1980, I was given another family project. My aunt Marcella had put together a story of her memories as a tribute to her mother. She had sent her manuscript to her siblings and she got back, in her own words, "a 3-page letter from [her sister] just reminiscing freely", a bunch of anecdotes from one brother, and "a 10-page letter of additions" from another. She was by then in frail health, and I was charged with sorting through it all and turning it to a story. All the siblings had different memories and each was adamant about his or her own. An editorial format was chosen that could incorporate everyone's memories of their mother, and leave Aunt Marcella to tell her own story as she saw it. By 1982 I had swallowed the genealogy bait "hook, line, and sinker".

In the contemporary world, Uncle Louis, I think, had done the most work in the genealogy. He had hired people in Quebec to do research and consulted some French Canadian genealogy books. He had sought out some baptismal records of earlier generations in Massachusetts and California. He found a very important book on Hopkins, which gave him the backbone of the Hopkins research as we know it today. I am forever indebted to Uncle Lou for all his work in the genealogy, and for the inspiration to begin my own journey into it. The other siblings and my own father basically told stories that they remembered hearing from Papa or Mama. And yes, they could have asked more, much more. There are bunches of questions I would like them to have asked, but I am truly thankful for what they did record for us.

When he knew I had the "genealogy bug", Uncle Louie gave me the address in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, of his 2nd cousin, another Hopkins descendant. I wrote to her and from then on we were collaborators in the Hopkins research. My own father never met his cousin Mildred, but over the years we formed a very close, fast friendship.

To our knowledge, all descendants from the French Emigrant have retained the original name of Larivière except for descendants of my great-grandfather, who anglicized his name in 1859 to River. Thus I was always told that the only people in the U.S. named "River" (as opposed to the common English name, Rivers) are descendants of my great- grandfather. I still haven't searched it all out, but have been unequivocally told it's untrue. In 1990, the Association of Larivière (Baudon) of America celebrated the 300th anniversary of the marriage of our French Emigrant, Jacques Baudon and Marguerite Veilleux. My uncle's health precluded his attendance at the great gathering, and he and my aunt decided to send me as the representative of our United States, River, branch of the family. Over 550 descendants were there. Most specially for me, two our my cousins and their spouses were also there. Upon my return, I wrote him a complete account of the Reunion, and from that time onward, Uncle Lou considered me to be the Genealogist of the family. Upon his death in 1991, I was given all of his genealogical files.

When I began doing my own research twenty years ago this spring, I went into it full-tilt. Hundreds of letters to Massachusetts, Connecticut, California seeking out documents � birth, marriage, census, death, and cemetery records, land records, newspaper accounts. Where simple document searches ended, we hired professional researchers to dig deeper. They got tired of me at my public Inter-Library Loan. Whenever possible, I visited major genealogy libraries. I got familiar enough with life in the libraries, that I'd always go with my research kit: rolls of dimes and quarters, notebook, magnifying glass, post-it notes, scotch tape, stapler, paper clips, and a candy bar for lunch for non-stop research; my research hours too precious to waste on a lunch break. No notebook computers in those "early" days. Every visit "home" I would dedicate a day or two at Chicago's Newberry Library, and on the way back to Montana, I'd stop in Madison, Wisconsin. Besides a good visit with my brother and his family, I could do a couple of days' research at the State Historical Library. My kids remember spending whole days playing around in the fountain out in front. They'd check in with me every hour--back and forth from the fountain plaza to my perch in the 4th floor stacks. "Mom , are you almost done?" In '94 a visit to DC included some research at the Library of Congress and the Nat'l. Archives. I solicited photographs from people's picture albums--"please may I have a 'copy negative' of that picture?" We hired a professional restorer to do work on several very old photographs. We had over 100 photos "copy-negged" and put into protective sleeves which all are now archived in my home.

We know more about the major paternal families. A female's family is called a lateral line, as opposed to direct, and for some of those families, we will have, say, the emigrant and one more generation, maybe two, and then our research on that family ends. When a woman married into a family, she took her husband's name and genealogically, her family's importance to the ancestry ended there, more or less. She blended, however, into her husband's family, and brought with her the strengths and weaknesses of her own ancestry, and became a part of the foundation for her own descendants.

A research trip could easily yield hundreds of xerox copies and pages of notes. Organizing files became paramount, and what used to be my file system in a cardboard box now grew to a 4-drawer office-quality file cabinet. I was learning so much about our families and had a great desire to share it with others. How to put it all together? Flush with the cammaraderie developed in Quebec at the giant reunion there, I thought it would be a great idea to keep the family in touch with one another, if by no better a method than a newsletter. So, in the Spring of 1991 and the Summer of 1992, two issues of a River Newsletter were produced and mailed to all known River descendants. My goal was to keep the cousin-thing going, with the newsletter being a way for the different family branches to stay in touch. It was an uphill battle to get "news" from anyone, and a lot of work, so the newsletter died a quiet death. Still, at times it's been suggested that I have all this good stuff on the family, but keep a jealous guardianship over it. I really have wanted to share it, but haven't known quite what to do with it all. I have two legal-sized file drawers stuffed full of files, as well as books, and my pictorial collection. With everyone having access to the internet, either directly or through someone they know, and the resources being "out there" for genealogists to "do their thing" on the Net, this seems a perfect medium for me to disseminate the vast amount of what I have compiled, as well as to tell the family's story. And to this end, I commit our family website.

Over the years, my father, my uncle, and cousin Mildred have helped out with $$ for the photo restorer, copies, this and that. When I began the newsletter, several of the cousins, near and distant, helped out with production costs, for which I have kept meticulous account. I still have an envelope with some cash in it intended solely for production of that little newsletter. At this time, all my work in getting our family history compiled and into a form that you can print out and have for your own, is a labor of love from me to you and your descendants, and anyone else who can benefit from knowledge, however little, of our families.







Official Website of the
River-Hopkins and Related Families

This is the "My Beginnings" Page

Joann River
West Jordan, UT
Presentation © 2009 Joann River
Updated - 23 February 2015







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This candle was lit on September 11th, 2001, in memory of
those who perished at the hands of terrorists.
Keep it burning for our children.






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This website was begun on Geocities. This logo was designed
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