Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sorting, Waiting and Hoping

With my sudden potential discover of a definite Martinique connection, my brain has been yelling "Full Steam Ahead!!!!" I've been searching the internet for Martinique books, websites and even videos to find an insight to what my ancestors would have gone through. David Quénéhervé recommended to me  a book titled "Black Shack Alley" written by Joseph Zobel which he says gives a good look into the life of Martinique (the book is set in the 1930s). I've found some other books which sound pretty interesting such as: "Sugar and Slavery, Race and Family", "The Diligent", and "Sweet Liberty". I'm pretty sure I'm going to buy at least 2 or maybe 3 of them to do some more in-depth reading of Martinique. I even looked into Martinican Creole or Créole Martiniquais which was really cool to look at and listen to.

With this new intense focus on my Martinique connection, I've been trying to figure out how I could learn more about Jean Charles Gustave through records. I searched in the Record of Foreign Residents, 1815-1845 but figured that the years were too far back for him to have arrived in Puerto Rico. I searched for Charles, Gustave(o), Pedro, Lotten/Lautin but found none, which I expected. In the Catalog of Foreign Residents from Puerto Rico which Estela Cifre de Loubriel wrote she mentions that Juan Carlos Gustavo was living in Fajardo in 1874, so I knew there had to be some other record available with more recent years. After typing many things into Google and trying to figure out if another register existed I was finally able to find the one I was looking for. It is known as the Register of Foreigners, 1870-1875 and is located in the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. under Puerto Rico Miscellany. I knew that the other registry was housed there but had no idea that another set existed. I don't know if this an extension to the Cedula de Gracias or just a foreigner log but I'm excited to see it! I'm going to have to travel to Washington D.C. to see these records and I'm willing to sit the ride out to see them, I just have to figure out when to go! My hope is that there is a lot more information included in these records such as place of origin in Martinique, the wife's name (which hopefully will be written the French way), maybe some parent names, along with his signature to confirm whether or not I have the right person. Unfortunately the records are not microfilmed by LDS or NARA so I have to travel there to see the documents. 

I sit here hoping the documents will provide me new information, waiting to figure out how to plan this little excursion and sorting through all the information I have and don't have on this family. I'm excited, nervous and ready for this flood of information!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sparks, Sparks, Sparks A-Flyin'!!

All you need is a spark to ignite something, right? Well yesterday I received one of my many sparks, which lead me down a new road. I was conversing with fellow genealogist David Quénéhervé who has experience using Martinique records and we began to talk about my 4th great grandparents who immigrated from Martinique to Puerto Rico. You know the ones that I keep mentioning here and there and all the jumbled information I've gotten about them. Well, a link from this member may have helped me to unlock and straighten a lot of the information about at least one side of that family. The family I'll talk about is the Lotten family which is my 4th great grandmother's last name. (Remember there were some variations to the surname). He passed along a link which I'll put HERE for anyone else looking for ancestors from Martinique.

So, the website is called the Portail de la Banque Numérique des Patrimoines Martiniquias, or BNPM for short. This website has what are known as "Actes d'individualité". Simply put, they are acts of registrations which occurred after the emancipation of slaves on the island. The emancipated slaves would go into the local place to register themselves. Here a surname was either chosen or given to the person registering. David Quénéhervé told me that Pedro was a surname given to former slaves during the registration. I got nosy, however, and starting poking around typing in different names after not finding a Pedro Pedro. I tried a few names and one was the name Eglantin (both as Eglantin and Eglantine). Eglantin was supposedly my 5th great grandmother's last name in the Santa Isabel record. I came across a record of a Eglantine being registered with two other people with a common last name. So when I thought before that Eglantin was the elongated version of Lotten I was most likely incorrect and Eglantine would be the first name rather than last name of my 5th great grandmother. And here the spark would begin!

What's In A Name

The name which they were all three given was: LAUTIN! And where have we seen such a similar name? YES! Back in Puerto Rico where my 4th great grandmother used Lotten! Granted the spelling of course is different but we all know that immigration was and is never kind to foreign names. Registered were two girls: one named Pauline (hmmm... sound familiar?), and the other gave me some chills: Julienne Malvina Lotten. I internally almost shouted when I saw this! My 4th great grandmother was recorded as anything from Juliana, Julia, Balbina and I think once even as Barbara. These coincidences were overlapping too much! Julienne Malvina was born circa 1844 according to her Acte D'individualité which is possible seeing as how her daughter, (my 3rd great grandmother) was born around the 1860-1870s. What caught my eye as well was the 17 month old baby Pauline. Interestingly, my 3rd great grandmother would more times than few in records go by the name of Paulina, other times she used Octavia! Thanks to a simple search for a Pedro we've gotten some interesting stuff. [Warning: (For both myself and the reader), this could all just be simple coincidences. However, I'm choosing to believe for now that the evidence is pretty strong for there to be a connection. Things may change later on but only time will tell, for now this is just my theory.] UPDATE: I have solidified this line and these are truly my ancestors!!


Thanks to David (literally, infinite thanks to him)! Even though at the end if I find that these aren't my family members then I'll have had a good ride and learned so much about records in Martinique that I really can't complain!

So the first three are the Actes D'individualité:

Eglantine Lautin- Acte d'individualité
Julienne Malvina Lautin- Acte d'individualité
Pauline Lautin- Acte d'individualité
For the non-French speakers/readers out there basically these documents are just stating that these three women were coming forth to register themselves, rather Eglantine was registering herself and her daughters. Eglantine Lautin is the mother of Julienne Malvina and Pauline, she is from Africa and was born circa 1820s. Her daughters Julienne and Pauline were both born in Trois Bourgs, section of Rivière Salée in Martinique. Unfortunately, all three were slaves and thus no further records before this date of 21 December 1848 would exist for them. Yet knowing Eglantine is from Africa gives so much power to who this woman was and the life she would have lived.

Pauline would later pass away in 1855 at the age of about 8 years old. This for me also proves why Julienne's first daughter would be named Paulina, a memory of her young sister who sadly passed away at a young age. Julienne would be about 11 when she lost her sister and most likely shaken by having lost her only sister and closest sibling at the time. Eglantine, by 1851 had a son named Jean who would be have been about 4 by the time of his sister Pauline's died, and Eglantine would go on to have another daughter named Rose in 1858. Jean and Rose would be born free since they were born after 1848.

Interestingly enough, Pauline and her family were living in "L'habitation de monsieur Leclerc de Vièvres" in 1855. David enlightened me with the fact that in the West Indies, "habitation" was another way of saying plantation. Which would mean that Eglantine was most likely working on this plantation trying to make a living for her daughters. Earlier in 1851, they would living in "L'habitation du sieur Laroche Garnier and a few years later when Rose was born they were in living in "L'habitation de Saint Catherine Dubocage"in 1858. David tells me that since there was economic hardship throughout this time it was fairly common to jump around from place to place looking for work.

Eglantine would pass away at her home in Petit Paradis in the year 1889. Unfortunately Eglantine was written down as "célibataire" and so there is no hint to a father for any of the Lautin children. This would make sense as to why Julienne would stay with the surname Lautin from when her, her sister and her mother were registered. What I found interesting that connected was that when Martina Isabel was born in Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico in 1886, it was mentioned that Eleuteria Eglantine was still alive [...y Eleuteria Eglantin, de la misma naturaleza y domicilio, mayor de edad, vuida, y lavandera.]

Eglantine Lautin- Décès 1889

Are these the records of my 4th and 5th great grandmothers? Truly who knows. Until I find a record in Puerto Rico that will solidly point to Rivière Salée, Martinique or whether other town the "Lotten" family came from I'll never know for sure. Funny that this Lautin family lived in Rivière Salée and would later settle in Salinas, Puerto Rico both dealing with "sal" or salt. I hope and pray that these are them. The last name doesn't match 100% due to spelling changes but they are similar in pronunciation and I can't just whisk away the fact that my 4th great grandmother was Juliana Lotten and one of the actes d'individualité is for a Julienne Lautin. I won't know for sure right away but I'm excited about the prospect of discovering more and if these are them, then hopefully one day going to Rivière Salée to find out more about the Lautin family. [UPDATE]: These are my ancestors and I am happy that I have able to piece this all together with the help of others!

Friday, November 2, 2012

When You Least Expect It...

I took a little hiatus from searching for my ancestors after I started working and since I was stuck at home due to Hurricane Sandy I decided to give it go again. (I can't stay away from my tree for that long anyways!) I decided to glimpse through my line of potential Martinique ancestors. There's one document which I've always found extremely helpful and this time it helped me out once again. The document is the birth certificate of my 2nd great aunt, Luisa Correa Gustave (Gustavo). She was born in Salinas, Puerto Rico on the 2nd of June 1885. She is the first child born to Manuel Correa and Paulina/Octavia Gustavo at the start of the civil registry and I'm pretty sure the only child to be registered as Gustave rather than Gustavo. I've posted about the surname here and the changes it has gone through throughout the years.

Luisa Gustave being registered in Salinas, PR
I've always looked at this document because it states that her grandfather, Juan Carlos Gustavo was still alive, was from Guadeloupe and was a carpenter (I believe that he was from Martinique from all the other evidence I have). He was also listed as one of the 'testigos' or witnesses to her birth. But it wasn't until yesterday that it clicked! Most of the witnesses sign their names at the end of the certificate. Could Juan Carlos Gustavo, my 4th great grandfather been able to write and sign his name as a witness? Lo and behold, his signature was there to my surprise!! Also he signed his name the way it was before the Spanish-fication of it. Therefore he signed his name as Jean Charles Gustave.

1885 Salinas, PR- Juan Carlos' signature
Now I had a new piece of evidence that I could use. Sadly, in 1887 when his 2nd grandchild Cruz Correa Gustavo was born he was not present and neither was he for any other's birth. From the certificates, we know that Jean Charles died some where between 1885-1890 but we don't know where. I've checked Salinas where his daughter lived, my 3rd great grandmother, and he was not there. Jean Charles' wife is said to have lived in Ponce, but I haven't found her death certificate and Jean Charles also was not there.

Yesterday I decided, for whatever reason, to check the town of Santa Isabel. I decided to check the index for births from 1885-1931. There I checked for any possible Gustavo/Charles families. There I came across a birth registered as "Martina Isabel Gustavo Pedro" in 1886 and decided to check it out. Despite the fact that I wasn't aware of any "Pedro" surnames in my family I suspected that this could be a possible connection.

Martina Isabel registered along with others in 1886- Santa Isabel,  PR
When I found her birth certificate I was very surprised! The father who appeared to make the declaration of her birth was named JUAN CARLOS GUSTAVO! From Martinique and a carpenter! I was so excited to find this! But I had to keep in mind that this could be someone else, especially since it was Gustavo Pedro, rather than Gustavo Lotten (and all its variants). I kept looking at the document and found more interesting things. The wife was Juliana Pedro, also from Martinique. It also matched! Juan Carlos' wife has gone by many names and Julia/Juliana is one of them along with Balbina and Barbara. This was the first document to mention parents for Juan Carlos and Julianna, which was interesting to see.

Juan Carlos' parents according to the document were Juan Carlos Gustavo and Maria Lucia both from Martinique and had passed at the time of Martina's birth. Juliana's parents were Pedro Pedro and Eleuteria Eglantin, both from Martinique. He had passed and the mother was alive, a widow, a washerwoman, who was still alive [from what it seems she lived in Martinique still. At first I thought it said in Santa Isabel but it says in Spanish "de la misma naturaleza y domicilio", which would mean from the same origin/nature and address.] This was one of the most interesting parts of the document. Pedro Pedro most likely doubled his name or took his dad's first name (Pedro) as a surname. Eleuteria Eglantin is probably most of the interesting pieces to this puzzle. Her last name when pronounced sounds VERY similar to the name Lotten which was what passed to my 3rd great grandmother. This,  probably real last name brought over from Martinique (probably somewhat distorted from its original spelling) and worked better than Pedro. The 'Eg' part could have been dropped and when pronounced was written simply as Lotten. Feel free to write "Lantin" into French>English Google Translate to see what I mean. [I would later learn that 'Eglantin' was her first name.] Interestingly enough, I can't find Martina Isabel in the 1910 Census as well so she might have died as a child.

The Maternal Grandparents of Martina Isabel
Lastly, I decided to check for a signature! This could be the confirmation that I needed to prove whether or not they were related to my Charles/Gustave(o) line. Here are both signatures. I believe that they are the same man. Despite the small differences such as neatness and depth of the ink, etc. I believe that this is the same man's signature.

Salinas, Puerto Rico 1885
Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico 1885
Both for some reason it seems are spelled "Jeain" with the "J" having the bottom looped hook. Both Charles have the "Ch" connected then "ar" and then "les" connected. Then "Gustavo" has the same bottom looped hook in the "G" and then "gus" in connected and then "tavo" with the "o" connecting to the line beneath it. Also, notice that all three are lower case while I've seen other people capitalize their first and last name. I do believe that both of these are the same people. Also, Santa Isabel and Salinas are actually both southern towns and here you can see that they're both neighbors to one another.

Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico
Salinas, Puerto Rico
Hopefully I'll find out more about this family and keep extending this line. I would love the opportunity to be able to find where in Martinique they would have been from and actually visit the town they lived in and figure out the historic background to their lives. Of course, it might not be possible if they didn't mention where they were from in Martinique but with the records from that island I hope that hopefully it'll be possible!