Tuesday, April 8, 2014

52 Ancestors – #14 Julienne Malvina Lautin (1844-1897)

I know I have talked plenty about this ancestress but I love talking about her and she definitely deserves a spot in my 52 Ancestors Challenge! This ancestor is my 4th great grandmother, Julienne Malvina Lautin- a woman who was born a slave, later freed, and immigrated to another country with another culture and language. Even though we are separated by many years and generations, she is one ancestor I would have loved to get to know, if given the chance!

Rivière Salée, Martinique [Wikipedia]

Discovering Julienne Malvina Lautin definitely took a while! I've posted about her many a times before, pre- and post-discovery when all of the clues were beginning to unravel. Julienne Malvina Lautin was born on the 6th of February 1844 in Rivière Salée, section of Trois Bourgs in Martinique. Julienne was born a slave on a sugar plantation owned by a family named "Lapierre". She lived there for a good portion of her childhood, even after her emancipation. Julienne was labeled "negrésse" on her birth record which means that both of her parents were slaves, her father we have no idea who he is yet and her mother was Eglantine, a native of Africa.

Julienne Malvina Lautin, Birth Record, 1844 [ANOM]

Julienne was the oldest child of Eglantine and one of four. Her siblings were Pauline, Jean, Rose and Marie. Her sister Pauline passed away at the age of 8 which I imagine was hard for Julienne since they were so close in age. My 3rd great grandmother would receive the name María Paulina and I'm pretty sure it was in honor of her Pauline. I'm not sure if any of Julienne's sisters or brothers traveled outside of Martinique as well, but it is very possible. When Julienne left Martinique her mother was still alive as well as 3 out of her 4 siblings, I imagine it must have been very difficult leaving her family behind!

In 1848, when Julienne was 4 years old she and mother along with Pauline attained their freedom from slavery. This is when they received the last name "Lautin", which was not their slave owner's surname. I've talked about before how surnames were given to slaves after their emancipation, and mostly these names were given at random.

I ask myself a lot of questions about Julienne's life. Did she speak French to her children in Puerto Rico? Did she ever learn Spanish while living in Puerto Rico? How did she pay for her voyage to Puerto Rico from Martinique? Where did she meet her husband? Did she find the transition from French-cultured Martinique to Spanish-cultured Puerto Rico difficult?

As you can see, this is why I would have loved to meet Julienne. I would ask her all these questions and more, we would sit and chat about life, its subtle differences in various cultures and about her thoughts. From the research I've conducted so far, it seems that Julienne's health and sanity began to deteriorate not much after the birth of her first grandchild. Julienne seems to have moved from Salinas to Ponce and if my research is correct she passed away in Ponce in an insane asylum recorded as "Julia Juliana, Ynglesa (English)".

I plan to one day visit Martinique and walk around Rivière Salée and sit down and really think about Julienne's sacrifices and how generations and years later because of her voyage (as well as Gustave Jean-Charles), I am able to learn about their/our past and my history.

Merci Julienne, pour toutes les choses que tu as fait dans ta vie. 
Gracias Julienne, pour todas las cosas que has hecho en tu vida. 
Thank you Julienne, for all the things you have done in your life. 

Mwen ka rimèsié'w anlo.


  1. What an incredible story. You didn't mention why she moved to Puerto Rico. Just wondering if you had an idea why.

    1. Thank you Diana for your kind words. Yet another question to add to the list!!