Sunday, September 4, 2016

174 Years After Emancipation

Broken Chains - Free at last! [Google Images]
The 26th of August marked 174 years of freedom for my 5th great grandfather, Chaleau Jean Charles. He was lucky to receive emancipation 6 years prior to all French slaves being freed on the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. There is still much to learn about this family, especially since DNA results show that Chaleau Jean Charles carried an European Y-DNA haplogroup meaning that his paternal side was either White or a Freed Mulatto. So I want to dedicate this post to trying to understand more the situation surrounding his freedom.

First we start with the actual record which mentions his freedom. It states:

L'an mil huit cent quarante deux et le lundi cinquième jour du mois de septembre, à huit heures du matin, par devant nous Vincent Lasserre, maire officier de l'état civil de la Commune des Saintes, dépendances de la Guadeloupe, est comparu le sieur Chaleau Jean Charles, âgé de cinquante six ans, charpentier, né est domicilié en cette île, le quel assisté des sieurs Jean Baptiste Caille, âgé de quarante six ans, et Paul Désiré Petit, âgé de trente ans, tous deux propriétaires et domiciliés en cette commune, nous à présenté l'extrait de l'arrêté de Monsieur gouverneur, en date de vingt six du mois d'août dernier, de cette année, qui déclare libre le dit comparant, et il nous à requis de faire sur nos registres l'inscription présente pour l'article V de L'ordonnance de Rois du douze juillet mil huit cent trente deux. A cet effet, nous avons arrêté, et avons signé avec les témoins après lecture. Le requérant a déclaré ne le savoir, de ce requis. 

1842, Terre de Bas, Guadeloupe - Affranchissement [ANOM]

1842, Terre de Bas, Guadeloupe - Affranchissement [ANOM]

So my 5th great grandfather was a native of Terre de Bas, a island part of the chain of islands of Guadeloupe known as "Les Saintes". There he was born circa 1786 (no parents listed), and his profession is listed as a carpenter. David, my genealogist helper, says that possibly his parents were still slaves and therefore could not come forward in certain records since slaves had no say. Two men though appeared for his "affranchissment" or emancipation, their names being Jean Baptiste Caille, born about 1796 and Paul Désiré Petit born about 1812. Since both of these men were born after Chaleau Jean Charles, we know that none are eligible to be his father. But who were these men and why did they appear to help attest to the freedom of 5th great grandfather? Could their families have owned him? And was there any significance for his freedom in 1842?

I'm currently trying to decipher the information I have found on these men, for example: Paul Désiré Petit seems to be native to France where his parents still live, so we know that Paul Désiré's parents couldn't have been Jean Charles' slave owners since they were abroad in France. Jean Baptiste Caille's family could have been the slave owners or even Paul Désiré himself having purchased Jean Charles from another family once he established himself on Terre-de-Bas. I'll have to update this post with more information once I have found some to make a better theory surrounding my 5th great grandfather's freedom. Currently, I'm documenting all of the births, deaths, and marriages on Terre-de-Bas onto an Excel sheet since many weren't occurring every year since the island is tiny enough. Hopefully this will allow me to see some patterns and learn more!

Stay tuned! 


  1. There's gonna be a good story behind this. I can feel it.

    Good Morning,
    This was a lecture given at the St Thomas Caribbean Genealogy Library. The topic is vieques. I thought it might be useful to your research on your lineage from the French Antilles