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!


  1. Aren't those actes d'individualité a gold mine?! The connections between the Martinique records you found and your Puerto Rican ancestors do suggest that there is much more than coincidence going on!

    Have to say I'm a little jealous you were able to get an African-born Martinican in the mix for your family tree! I was hoping one of my ancestors I found actes for would've been born in Africa, but looks like I've got to keep digging for that connection. I think one or two more generations back and I'll be there.

    1. They really are worth gold! I hope also that the connection is real and sound, seems that way doesn't it! Plus David and I have been searching for a Julienne Lautin's death in surrounding towns but nothing so far, which is good for proving my case. I think on the contrary, it's nice to see an African born ancestor but at least you can squeeze another few generations out before eventually hitting Africa. Also, David Quénéhervé said that when Pauline was born slave trade was already illegal, for French if I'm correct, so her purchase would have been illegal/under the table. Interesting yet sad stuff.