Surname Saturday- Who's the Boss?

In the mid 1800's, Joseph Bourgeois came to the United States from Quebec, and settled in Swanton, Vermont. He married a woman name Elizabeth Coulumbe, and then went on to have a very large family. However, for some reason, Joseph decided to Americanize his name, and changed it to Boss, except when it came to the French Church. All family records in the church were recorded as Bourgeois, and all census records were recorded as Boss.

Joseph had a grandson named George Abraham Bourgeois (Boss). George used both names interchangeably. Massachusetts phone listings show him as Bourgeois, but census records show him as Boss. Which name did he feel was really his? I don't know.


George had two sons, Henry and Walter. While living with George, they were listed in the same manner as he, even as adults. However, after George died, one son used Boss exclusively, while the other chose to embrace his French heritage and reverted solely back to Bourgeois. And thus my family went forward with both names.





George and Ella Boss with son Henry. 1907 Easthampton, Massachusetts.
  According to Merriam-Webster online, the name Bourgeois means "townsman" from the middle and old French "burgies". It further states that its first known use was recorded circa 1565.

Some other lines, I've been told, hailing from Bourgeois in the Vermont area used the name Foreman; after all, a foreman on the job is in essence the boss. So if you have a Boss or Foreman in your family, keep in mind that they may actually be French descendants of Bourgeois!

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