Friday, December 14, 2012

Exploring my Slave Roots in Martinique, Part I

Map of Martinique
Part I

So a lot has happened in these last couple of days! Hopefully this post isn't too longwinded but I want to make sure I have everything written down! So it started on Tuesday, when I figured out that the LDS center I go to, to view microfilm records from Puerto Rico, has records available from Fajardo's church. I headed downtown to see those records because I couldn't wait, there could potentially be someone from my Gustave/Lautin line being baptized in Fajardo. So when I got there I asked for two microfilms, one containing an index of baptisms around the late 1800s and another covering baptisms from the years 1860-1884. The indexes didn't yield any Gustave or Lautin children and I was a bit discouraged, but I decided anyways to check to the baptisms from 1860-1884. Luckily most of the years themselves had indexes so I checked without hesitation. The roll was running out and I was becoming discouraged. The last year indexed was 1881 and it was all or nothing. I looked under "C" for Charles just in case-- nothing. Then I looked at "G" for Gustave/Gustavo-- my heart jumped!! There was a Dionisio Gustavo Gustavo being baptized that year. It had to be my family!! I jotted down the number and head backwards to the folio (page), and there he was! Luckily he matched!

"...nombre de Dionicio a un niño que nació el día nueve de Octubre del año pasado hijo legitimo de Carlos Gustavo y Balvina Gustavo. Abuelos Paternos Carlos y Maria Merianga (Morianga) y los abuelos maternos Pedro Gustavo y Eleantina Loque..." [sic]

So here we got to see the parents which matched and got some grandparents and a new surname! So Carlos Gustavo's parents according to this were Carlos Gustavo (which another document mentioned was him as well, there is some consistency there) and his mother was María Merianga or Morianga. I'm betting the name was warped into something Spanish sounding and that isn't the original spelling as we say with Lotten<Lautin. In the Portail I found some people with the surname Mérange, so it could be something along those lines. Then for the maternal grandparents it mentions Pedro (again) except this time with the surname Gustavo and "Eleantina Loque" which looks super similar to Eglantine Lotten (Lautin). This looks like a mixed formed of Eleuteria and Eglantine which was what another document used. So to me, this is stronger evidence that it wasn't just an error! I was pretty happy with that find, bringing up the number of children from Jean Charles Gustave and Julienne Malvina Lautin to 6! Weirdly a couple of the children don't appear on the 1910 census. (Paulina, Tomás, Alberto and Valentina do appear). What happened to Martina Isabel, Dionisio and Alejandrina (she most likely died in Ponce between 1897-1910).

Unofficial "snake flag" of Martinique
Part II

Yesterday, I was looking around the website which I mentioned before called the Portail de la Banque Numérique. There, I found Julienne Malvina's, Pauline's and Eglantine Lautin's actes d'individualités. When you first open the website there is a map of Martinique with a bunch of little dots on different sections of the map. I decided to zoom in on Rivière Salée and see just what these dots meant. Some held pictures of streets, buildings, and other things in the area but the one that caught my attention said "Esclaves Commune" which held records of slaves from 1830-1841. I was excited at first to search for Julienne and Pauline and potentially find their birth certificates seeing as other slaves were being recorded. I was then saddened to see it only covered from 1830-1841 and another section called "Esclavage Greffes" from 1840-1843, I still looked around and read some of the birth certificates. Then it hit me! In the actes d'individualités, it mentions that they were living in Trois Bourgs, section of Rivière Salée. I decided to type Trois Bourgs into the little search engine in the left corner and got hits stating "Commune de Trois-Bourgs (Rivière Salée/ Trois-Ilets)- populations esclave: naissances, mariages, décès. Copie réglementaire du précédent registre¨. I was ecstatic!! The years 1844 and 1847 were there! I crossed my fingers and first searched in 1844, if I found Julienne and not Pauline I could live- Julienne was my direct line and adding another document to her would be exciting (sounds selfish, but at this point I was desperate for something)! I jumped to the back and found an index. Okay, now let's look under J. Jean Baptiste? No. Julie? Maybe? OMG! Julienne dite Malvina!!!! That's her! (That's what ran through my mind when I found her name in the index). I was so happy to have found her record. Here is her record for those francophones, or even non-francophones,who want to check it out:

Julienne dite Malvina- Naissance
I was also able to find Pauline's birth record in 1847! I was happy to see the years were so exact that I was able to find them easily, whereas in Puerto Rico there were many estimated years and dates of births, deaths and marriages-- even for whites. What's interesting is that Julienne is noted as "négresse" which David Quénéhervé (who helped me spark all this) told me that is an indicator for her dad most likely being a black man himself. So this probably means, that a man on the plantation she was born in, was her father. Probably named Pedro seeing as how that's what is being put on records in Puerto Rico. What's interesting that the person who came forward to declare her birth was "...par la Dame Lapierre, née Forget âgée de soixante quatre ans, sans profession, propriétaire de Sucrerie." So we see that the woman was married to a Lapierre and was born with the surname Forget, she was about 64 years old (born circa 1780) and was a owner of a sugar factory. Then in 1847, in Pauline's birth record we see, "...par la dame Laroche née Lapierre, âgée de quarante sept ans, sans profession, propriétaire, domiciliée dans cette commune Rivière Salée...". Hmm, so this woman was BORN a Lapierre circa 1800s  and married a Laroche. Who could these women be? Have I unlocked the family who owned my Lautin ancestors? More in another post...!

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