Guest Posts

Guest Post - Au revoir Monsieur! - Part 4

Annecy

Episode 4: Who is Claude Marie?

You can imagine my excitement when, surfing on the website of Désarmement Havrais, my laptop screen revealed Claude Marie’s name - spelled a bit differently though. Moreover the fellow was from Annecy-le-Vieux, where Antoine D, the father of the 14 children, was born in 1821, on the hills above Annecy. For the first time, I held a tiny clue that someone from the D family had been to America and that the family story might be true. In the transcribed report I found much interesting information collected by the website’s owner from the Inscription Maritime of the port of Le Havre :

  • Name: Claude Marie D.
  • Age: 28 years old
  • From: Annecy-le-Vieux, Haute-Savoie Department, France
  • No job nor address mentioned
  • Embarkation: 1 February 1850 in Le Havre on the Robert Surcouf
  • Destination: San Francisco where he disembarked on 14 August 1850

SAN FRANCISCO in 1850: the Gold Rush. Would it be possible that Claude Marie had run to California just as many Europeans in the middle of the 19th century to look for gold?Could he be the famous and wealthy uncle of our childhood legend?! What an awesome discovery! Stay realistic and focus is my motto: many serious and dedicated researchers offer tons of indexed data on their websites but using primary information items is a basic standard in genealogy. (I am a good student!). First, I had to get confirmation of the data through original records (1) from the Inscription Maritime of port of Le Havre and (2) from the vital records in Haute-Savoie.

(1) As the name was not exactly spelled the same way, I wanted to have a look at the writing in the volume of the Archives and check the correctness of the information. I easily found the Robert Surcouf vessel file in the Inscription Maritime of Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime as the classification code was provided on the Désarment Havrais website. It was amazing to read the armement of the Robert Surcouf, that is to say, the fitting out of the ship and the list of crew (with function and salary) and passengers. Claude Marie was among the 88 passengers, with his name correctly spelled and I had no doubt now that he was from the D family. He was the only one not to have presented a passport but a visa issued by the Prefet de Police on 26 January 1850, probably because he was coming from Duchy of Savoie which was not yet part of France. I would have to find where he got it. Passengers had begun boarding on February 1 and the ship sailed off on the 17th. I was really thrilled to find the log book at the end of the file disclosing the stopovers: on March 18th Claude Marie probably set foot on land and discovered Praia in the Cape Verde archipelago (just like Darwin on his way to America in 1832!)

Archipelago archipelago

Praia

Praia roadstead in Capo Verde

Five days later, the ship headed directly to Valparaiso (Chile), one of the most important seaports in the South Pacific Ocean, and arrived on June 5th where she stayed six days.

Valparaiso

Museo Municipal de Bellas Artes de Valparaiso, Chile

Customs clearance in the center of Valparaiso

The final destination was San Francisco where Claude Marie disembarked on 14 August 1850 just a week after the arrival of the first French consul in the Californian city. He was among the first Argonauts, adventurers in the quest for gold!

Californie

Source Gallica.bnf.fr/ Bibliothèque Nationale de France

My first intention was to follow Claude Marie once he set foot in California. But I needed to validate his identity.

Yerba BuenaCalifornia Historical Society

(2) In my mind I was bathing in the beautiful cold bay of Yerba Buena – the original name for San Francisco – and feeling the Californian summer sun on my face, but I obliged myself to fly back to Europe to the tiny village of Annecy-le-Vieux and chased our gold hunter in the birth registers. According to the information given in the file of the ship, he was 28 in 1850 so born approximately in 1822. On the website of the association of Marmottes de Savoie, I spotted the births of Claude D. in 1811 and Claude-Marie D. in 1846. They could not be our golden boy but possibly from the same family as parents in the past would preferably go for a traditional first name already used in the family.

Surfing on the online archives and playing with the decennial tables and the birth, marriage, death registers, scratching tirelessly in my notebook to get a proper ascending tree, the French Revolutionary calendar making me tear my hair out, I discovered a completely new family, not a different one but one of the older generations. Claude Marie was born in 1818 and was actually 32 when he left for America. His father Claude was born in 1761 and died in 1845. From a first marriage with Marie T, Claude had one daughter Josephte born on 8 Fructidor year 3 (25 August 1795) and my ancestor Antoine born on 22 Pluviose year 6 (10 February 1798) who would become the paternal grandfather of the 14 little souls. You follow me? Claude had Antoine who had Antoine who had Hubert Michel who had Fernande, my G-grandmother…...You will not believe me if I tell you that Claude’s father was also called Antoine…
But who was Claude Marie? I finally got the clue: he was actually the half brother of my ancestor Antoine and thus the half granduncle of Hubert-Michel. Born in 1818 the last child of the second marriage of Claude who married Françoise B in 1808, he had a sister Benoîte, born in 1809, and a brother Claude who died at the age of 6 in 1817. His father had died five years before he decided to leave to San Francisco.

Naissance

Did Claude Marie make fortune in San Francisco? Did he stay there or move to another country as many poor miners did? Was he joined by one of Hubert Michel’s siblings? Did he have a family in North or South America? Claude Marie could not be the dead uncle of 1830-ish from my grandmother’s childhood. Actually I found out that most of the last born ones died at an early age. Among the boys, one remains a mystery to me, Antoine, who was born in 1847. This is another story that I will be happy to share with you in the future!

Many thanks for your interest in my Au Revoir Monsieur installments... et à bientôt!

 

We are extremely grateful to Madame S for this delightful series about her research and hope that you, Dear Readers, have found it to be both entertaining and inspiring.

©2020 Madame S

French Genealogy




Guest Post - Au revoir Monsieur! - Part 3

Annecy

"Absolutely intriguing! Am loving these installments!!" 

"It is always interesting to see how someone else pursues research."

"I see a book developing in your interesting story!"

 

Above, are some of the kind comments received about the current series of blog posts, written by Madame S. She is most gratified by your support and gives you the third installment (with some of her characteristic and delightful humour):

 

Episode 3: A typical large and deprived family of Savoie

Before internet time, a genealogical hunt would require spending most of your days in the Departmental Archives where are filed all kinds of documentation under the 1841 classification system called cadre de classement. As our dear Anne taught me, the Archives départementales were created by the law of 5 brumaire an V ( 26 October 1796), modified by many other laws and can be found nowadays in each department’s main city, all governed by the Archives de France. They all have the same indexing system for the same kinds of documentation with the same administrative structure. Any member of the public has access to any Departmental Archives in France, can register and drown for ever in the A to Z series covering the Ancien Régime, revolutionary and modern times: jurisdictions, hospitals public education, clergy, finance, notarial, military or prisons… you can dig up so much from the past…Stay realistic and focus is my moto: the basic step is to start with Series E for it contains the parish and civil registers. Happily, most of the them have been filmed and are now online along with Napoleonic maps (cadastres napoléoniens), census returns, military conscription lists and notarial records. Fantastic! I could work from home at any time of the day…and night! Get set, go!

I was on the track of an uncle – potentially a few others, even aunts - from my grandmother’s maternal side and he was supposed to have emigrated to the Americas. I had to find him - or them - by establishing the ascending tree of my grandmother. I knew the birth date and place details of her mother, my G-grandmother Fernande D. whom I had well known (my sisters and I loved her slender hand knitted dolls): 9 February 1896 in Annecy (Haute-Savoie). I remembered how as a child I was impressed that she was born in another century! It was easy to find her birth record as I had her full name, date and town of birth. In her record, I found much interesting information:

Fernande Françoise D. born on 9 February 1896 in Annecy (Haute-Savoie)

  • Father: Hubert Michel D, Court clerck, born on 30 January 1866 in Annecy
  • Mother: Franceline G. born on 8 April 1868 in Annecy
  • Address: Faubourg Ste Claire 13 in Annecy, Maison Decoux
  • Grandparent’s names: the late Antoine D. and Jeanne C.; François-Marie G and Jeanne Augustine D.

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The striking fact that my grandmother’s maternal grandfather Hubert Michel was the last child of a family of 16 children has always been pointed out in our family but actually it was a really common situation in Savoie and other regions in the middle of 19th century as I will find out later in other family searches or reading local history books such as La fabuleuse odyssée des savoyards en Argentine by Claude Chatelain. (The fabulous odyssey of the Savoyards in Argentina)1. Strong women would give birth to countless number of babies...and most of them would die or emigrate due to lack of bread! Sad story!


I continued my search to find his elder siblings among whom was supposedly my fellow! I got ahold of my G-G-grandfather Hubert Michel’s birth record as I knew his date of birth. I knew also from Fernande’s birth record that his father was Antoine who had died before 1896 as he is declared dead on Fernande’s birth record. It will be helpful to find his death record. But for now, I had to gather new information to build the tree:

Hubert Michel D. born on 30 January 1866 in Annecy ( Haute-Savoie)

  • Father: Antoine D, cotton spinner, born on 1st December 1821 in Annecy-le-Vieux ( Haute-savoie)
  • Mother: Jeanne C. born on 17 May 1825 in Annecy
  • Address: Faubourg Ste Claire 19 in Annecy, Maison Fontaine
  • Grandparent’s names: late Antoine D. and late Marie B. C.- late François-Marie G and late Jeanne Augustine D.

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There appeared the dates and places of birth of the parents of the 16 children, provided these little souls have really existed. Where did Antoine and Jeanne get married? While Jeanne was born in Annecy, Antoine was coming from Annecy-le-Vieux, a farming village that lay on the hills gently rolling down to Annecy where stood the cotton manufacturing company (La manufacture de coton d’Annecy), a regional major employer in the 19th century where Antoine was working in 1866 as a spinner. I bet on Annecy as marriages usually took place in the bride’s village or town. There was a good chance that the couple would have also lived there after their union and thus I could spot their children in the birth decennial tables.

I estimated that they had married around 1845 (Jeanne would be 20 years old) and only one volume proved to be helpful for this period: the decennial table from 1838 to 1862 indexing by year birth, marriage and death. Click on, click on, click on….you remember? I had to go through the birth folios 1838 –1850 before getting to the marriage ones. When I arrived at D names in the birth columns, I had a look, just in case, and well… here they were! François in 1844, Marie in 1846, Antoine in 1847, Louise in 1850, Françoise in 1849, Jeanne in 1850. The name was not always spelled in the same way so I will need to get the confirmation with the full birth records that they were children of the same couple but I was pretty sure it was the case. I rounded the first birth table off and found easily the date of marriage of Antoine and Jeanne: 17 May 1843. In the following birth tables, I picked Claudine in 1852, Rose in 1853 ( my god! Poor mother Jeanne!!!) Louis Antoine in 1854, François Léon in 1854 (but from December and April so I had no doubt we had two mothers there!) Pierre in 1855, Jacques in 1856, Jean in 1857.

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I carefully noted each name and birth date and looked for each record into the corresponding birth year register. At first I was unlucky and found nothing but then I realized that there were two parishes in Annecy, Notre Dame and Saint Maurice. And my little souls belonged to the second one. This was a souvenir of the Sardinian period in Savoie (1815-1860) when parish priests were in charge of the vital records. Some children were from other couples indeed but I was really gratified to draw up a list of 14 children, 8 girls and 6 boys born between 1844 and 1866. A really good job, Jeannette!

Screen Shot 2020-11-17 at 6.39.35 PM

I downloaded, filed and captioned all the birth records before wondering, Damn! How will I now find out which one(s) could have emigrated? But you are never left alone in the genealogical world: hundreds of websites give you tremendous tips but my favorite one is definitely… the FGB! It took me through the census that took place in France every five years from 1861 to 1936, which gives you by street the full name, age and sometimes job of the persons living in the same home on the year of the census. And...they are online in Series 6M of the Departmental Archives. Better than a chocolate cookie for your dopamine level!!!

Now here is the story of the D. Family based on the census records. One warning: do not mistake streets or avenues as I did. In my case there were a Faubourg Sainte Claire and a Rue Sainte Claire and I started by the wrong one. In 1861, the happy family lived on 17/19 Faubourg Sainte Claire in Annecy: there were Antoine, the cotton spinner father, Jeannette the mother and their children François (17), Marie (15), Louise (14), Franchette (12), and François Marie (3).

 

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The four elder children worked also at the cotton factory located quai des Cordeliers. It was not very far from home, just across the Thiou river, a couple of streets away. Some were weavers, others “rattacheurs”: as they were small and agile, they had to go under the looms to reattach the various ends of broken threads and clean the clogged coils. Their maternal widowed grandmother Jacqueline was helping to take care of the young François.

In the 1866 census, François the eldest one was now 21 and he has left home… or has he emigrated? Who knows? The other four children have stayed home and Jeannette has given birth once more to a now 4 month old baby Albert, my ancestor. His official name was Hubert Michel but nobody called him this way.

In the 1872 census, it was a bit gloomy at 19 Faubourg Sainte Claire. Grandmother has passed away and the girls have left home. Little Albert, now 7, was playing with his elder brother François Marie after work. Food was surely more abundant.

In the 1876 census, a sensible improvement and what I considered as great news, Albert was going to school. While his brother François Marie was a tinsmith, making and selling sheet metal objects, François the elder son was back as a cowherd and he has married Marie Louise C. They were living 8 rue Sainte Claire not very far from Antoine et Jeannette, who could easily visit her 3 year old granddaughter Louise Marie, born in Paris. Had François traveled to Paris and maybe made it a bit further?

In the 1881 census, the family has moved to 15 Faubourg Sainte Claire and Albert, now 16, was a lawyer’s clerk. How proud were his parents!

In the 1886 census, the couple had only one son home, Albert, but two little school girls had joined the family: it will never end had probably thought Jeannette! She was in charge of her two grand daughters Louise Marie now 13 and Eugénie, 8 born in Annecy. Their parents may have gone back to Paris or elsewhere to make a fortune.

In the 1891 census, the daughter Françoise ( Franchette), a domestic, has come back at her parents’ but Albert has left, Antoine was still a cotton spinner at 70 year old

In the 1896 census, the patriarch Antoine had passed away and Jeannette, his wife, now the family head, has moved to 13 Faubourg Sainte Claire with her son François Marie the tinsmith and Albert’s family. He has married Françoise G. and their daughter, my G-grandmother Fernande was 43 days old.

In the 1901 census, Albert was now the chef de famille (head of household) and he and his brother François Marie were grieving for their wonderful mother Jeanne. Albert and his wife has expanded the family with a baby boy, François, now 3 and were happy to find some help from Eugénie, a cook, their 23 year old niece.

In the 1906 census, hard times came back on 13 Faubourg Sainte Claire as Franceline, not even 38, died and  left behind her three children: Fernande Françoise, 10 years old, François Auguste, 8 years old, and a baby. Thankfully the maternal grandparents moved in and Albert would continue to work at the court as clerk.

 

Analyzing the census documentation would give me plenty of new directions to investigate.

  • Why has the elder son gone to Paris?
  • Where were the two elder daughters Louise Marie and Jeanne?
  • Where were the missing children never mentioned?

 

While following the tracks, I was reading books and articles about the emigration of Savoyards, transport, daily life in the Alps, etc.. I checked passenger lists to the Americas. I visited the Diplomatic Archives of Nantes where you can find records of French people living abroad, hoping I would find the D. name in a French consulate in Argentina, Columbia or Uruguay. I watched webinars from genealogical associations and one day, I found out the fantastic website of the Désarmement Havrais which indexed lists of sailers, boats and passengers all related to Le Havre port. I entered the first letters of my D. fellow's surname and just by chance a  Claude Marie D., born in Annecy-le-Vieux came up. But who was Claude Marie?

  1. La fabuleuse odyssée des savoyards en Argentine by Claude Chatelain. - Edition La Fontaine de Siloe

©2020 Madame S.

French Genealoggy


Guest Post - Au Revoir Monsieur! Part 2

Annecy

We are most gratified by the positive response and messages from you, Dear Readers about the first installment in this series of guest posts by the talented and experienced researcher and genealogist, Madame S.  We are confident that you will find this second installment to be equally interesting and intriguing, and that, as you follow her research story, you will discover hints and detailed knowledge that will inform your own genealogical research.

 

Episode 2: On the traces of Felix the confectioner

Genealogy search is a long-term process and as you may know very time consuming. Specially if you decide to chase a fellow who was born in a remote hamlet on the hills of the French Alps and who supposedly ended up to be a sweet tooth artist in Egyptian palaces. A new clue disperses the frustrating feelings of lengthy sessions in front of your computer screen consulting mechanically the online records to eventually find the evidence - click on, click on, click on - or waiting for answers from specialists, archivists or kin. When my grandmother suggested that Félix the confectioner had gone to Geneva for training, it was as an illumination to me, a big step forward. We kissed each other good bye, both of us pleased but for different reasons...she would not miss a Scrabble meeting!

On my way home, I planned to go the Archives d’État de Genève (Archives of State of Geneva) as soon as possible. The following day, I was climbing up the streets of the old town of Geneva towards the old Arsenal building - and its famous five canons - where the Archives were located. I entered an impressive room with high-beamed ceiling and shelves full of dated volumes. I had no idea of where to start and exposed my doubt to the pleasant archivist in charge that day: “You are looking for a foreigner so the first thing to do is to check the Permis de séjour (resident permits) records which are chronologically filed,”she explained to me. I did not know Felix’s year of arrival in Geneva but luckily she handed me an old carton box with alphabetical index cards.

 

Index card box Marie Félix

 

I was thrilled...there lay a chance to continue the search or...to hit a wall! I started to look for Felix’s name in the B cards. Fantastic! Here was his name B. so I kept going with excitement: B. Antoine, B. Claude, B. Elise Marie, B. Joseph….oh! no! I went over the F letter for Felix…. What a disappointment! It was not possible! He had to be there and suddenly it struck me that his full first names was Marie Félix. In the past the last of a person's first names was the one used and funny enough for us nowadays his first one was Marie (Mary). I got my breath back and resumed my search. Eureka! I had found him! B. Marie-Félix born in 1843, from Rumilly (Savoie).

 

Index card B. Marie-Félix

 

He had arrived in 1861 and had been registered in the Dh15 record. It was then easy to find the entrance and I delightedly discovered the following information:

 

  • N° resident permit 36247
  • Date of permission: 20 February 1861
  • Renewal of permit: 3 months by 3 months during 4 years
  • Cost: 75
  • Age : 6 9bre 1843 (I first read 9bre as September but (I had no doubt: it was him! )
  • Origin: Rumilly (Savoie)
  • Profession: pâtissier (baker)
  • Adress: Rive 201 chez Duburger
  • Departure: destination Paris on 30 March 1865

 

Etrangers Dh15 Marie Félix

 

This chart shows the old abbreviations for months:Abréviations mois

 

I had made tremendous progress: I knew now that Félix had moved to Geneva during the 1861 winter and that he had been living there four years. He was listed as a pâtissier, a baker or pastry chef. I was wondering whether the address Rive 201 would be his training place. Following the extra advice of the archivist, I checked the Annuaire général du commerce suisse et des pays étrangers, Almanach des adresses volume 1860 - a Swiss trade directory with addresses and, in the confection-er/baker section, I found Leclerc Fils, rue de Rive 201.

 

Almanach des Adresses 1860 - confiseur pâtissier - AEG

 

What a coincidence! Félix may have been working for Leclerc. I had a good feeling and I enjoyed tracking the address but there was no rue de Rive 201 in modern Geneva. Well! Nothing could stop me now and I found in “the Index of Dénominations and Changes of street names from 1814 to 1926” that the state council has ordered a change to rue de Rive on 28 December 1860 and it concerned the numbering. On an old map of Geneva published by Briquet between 1854 and 1862, I spotted rue de Rive 201 right at the corner of the old trajectory of rue de la Fontaine. And what I discovered struck me: at this exact location, rue de Rive 4 was a chocolate factory which might have been a long time ago the Leclerc fils confectionery but, moreover, it was Auer Chocolaterie, our chocolate-addict address where I frequently bought the most delicious chocolate-powdered almonds. My ancestor Félix might have worked there more than 150 years ago!!!! A damn wink from the past!

Auer

It was time to leave the AEG archives as it was closing for the day. I had now many leads to follow and the most important one was that Félix left Geneva in March 1865 to go to Paris. What did he exactly do in Geneva? How did he find a new job in Paris? How long did he stay before leaving for Egypt? Did he go with his family? I was wondering how to handle the case the most efficiently. Next time I visited my grandmother, I told her of my new findings and my doubts, She tackled my self-questioning with her usual alertness : «You’d better take care of my great-uncle who emigrated to Americas»


During our conversations my grandmother often mentioned one of her mother’s uncles who emigrated in the Americas as she used to say. As he belonged to a poor and large family of 16 children, he supposedly left Annecy and went most probably to Argentina but she was not sure. She even thought that maybe more than one of the children among the eldest had taken the same way. How many? Together? When and where exactly? So many questions she could not answer. But when she was a little girl she remembered her father coming back home with a letter from the Court and announcing to her mother: “ You know, you have an uncle who died in America” and that’s all, he had gone to America: AU RE-VOIR MONSIEUR, that’s all! To my sister she gave another version: one uncle had actually sailed back to France and died on board the ship after being robbed. I imagine her adding with her little mischievous smile: “maybe he was rich and we are related to a wealthy family in America!”


A couple of months later, we lost our grand-maman. I owed it to her to investigate the uncle and I promised myself that I will! I was facing a new adventure and I will be thrilled to share it with you in the next episode….

 

©2020 Madame S.

French Genealogy


Guest Post - Au revoir Monsieur! Part 1

Annecy

1. A story of love, ties, roots and jam...

Here is a story of love, ties, roots and jam...My grandmother passed away five years ago, one month before her 94th birthday. She was an energetic, blue-eyed, lovely lady full of life, with daughters, sons, grandchildren and G-grandchildren. Had she lived a few more months, she would have met her G-G-granddaughter born in Rio de Janeiro. I am certain that you already can visualize a beautiful descendant tree for her, extending its branches from France to Brazil.

She was an educated woman who worked her whole life as clerc de notaire in her husband’s notarial office but family was her main preoccupation. I spent countless delightful summer afternoons in her company making her famous apricot jam and climbing up and down the ladder of the generations of our family tracing a first cousin once removed who died at the age of five, the G-G-grandfather who emigrated in the Levant to be a confiseur (confectioner) or my latest new born cousin, with whom I share my four grandparents. At an early age I already had in mind my family tree and I believe that this time with my grandmother was my first step towards my interest in genealogy. Many years later our dear friend Anne became my guide.

Born in Annecy, in the French department of Haute-Savoie, close to the Swiss border and the town of Geneva, my grandmother pleasantly claimed herself to be “Savoyarde” more often than French. As a matter of fact, the duchy of Savoy, part of the kingdom of Sardinia was annexed to France in 1860,1 a pretty recent date for a woman born in the beginning of the 20th century. Our story will take us back to the Sardinian time of Annecy where my search begins and where treasure can be found in the Archives Départementales de Haute-Savoie

It is now time to open the case and to follow the fragile hints I gathered to begin my investigations.

During our conversations my grandmother often mentioned various generations not only of her family but of her husband’s as well. She had an acute vision of all members of both ascendant trees: a story was running about my dear grandfather’s family that we, his grandchildren, considered as a pure legend: that our great-grandfather had been a confectioner to Ismael Pasha, viceroy of Egypt ! In a family of notaries, lawyers or pharmacists in the conservative, peaceful, mountainous town of Annecy, this ancestor seemed an alien! While it was well known to our grandparent's generation that many young people had fled from Savoie in the 19th century due to poverty and lack of work,2 for we children, this G-Grandfather was a fanciful figure who faded away to an exotic country. Later, when our dear Anne began to tell me how genealogy searches could take us through delightful and brilliant stories, I remembered Félix the confectioner. I was now living in Switzerland so close to his homeland, I decided to chase him to know more about him and his adventures in the Levant…

What did I know about him? Felix B. was the father of my mother’s grandmother (or, my maternal grandfather's maternal grandfather) who died in La Roche sur Foron, 30 km from Annecy and he had three children. My G-grandmother Louise was the youngest, born in 1891, many years after her two brothers Laurent and Louis (1878-1889): she was a consolation to her mother Annette who lost her second son at the age of ten from rubella, my grandmother always added when talking about the deceased young boy. And it was certainly the case, as she bore the female name of her late brother. The dates I got would match: she was born 2 years after his death. There were inconsistent elements about the date of Felix’s journey to Egypt. Before or after his son’s death? It was important to get a clear idea of the chronology.

I had to dig for Félix’s birth, marriage and death certificates. Thanks to the pictures of La Roche sur Foron cemetery transcriptions that my grand mother had recorded on her birthday notebook, I knew that he was born in 1843 and died in 1914. It was a good lead but it needed to be confirmed. Félix was most probably living in La Roche Sur Foron when he died so I had sufficient elements to begin. As I did not know his exact date of death, I checked the website of the Archives Départementales de Haute-Savoie to find the alphabetical decennial tables in the death register of La Roche sur Foron but none existed for 1914. To avoid to lose too much time, I had to find that date and Geneanet gave me the clue. Searching for Félix’s name, the city and the date of 1914, I got two results and one was an obituary stating that Félix died on Sunday 11 January 1914. It was moving to read these lines and informative. It revealed that he died suddenly at the age of 71 year old - which actually implied the 1843 birth date - and showed that Félix was a public figure of the town of La Roche sur Foron..I noticed that there was an alphabetical table at the end of the 1914 volume which could have given the exact death date...I would remember to check next time. I learned by reading the death certificate that:

• his full name was Marie Félix B.
• his birth date 6 November 1843 ( just like my daughter many years later... !)
• the birth place in Saint Maurice, a village nearby
• his wife’s name was Annette C.

I easily found the birth certificate online in the birth records of Saint Maurice de Rumilly but I now needed to spot his marriage certificate as it would gather a lot of information from his adult life. Nothing was recorded under his name on the website of the local genealogical association that I joined, Les Marmottes de Savoie. But I found there some information about the village and its change of name from Saint Maurice to Saint Maurice de Rumilly to finally be attached to Saint Pierrre en Faucigny in 1965. It will be helpful to surf on the records online for further searches.

I checked the Saint Maurice de Rumilly decennial tables for the marriage period I estimated could be between 1863 (Felix would be 20) and 1878 (birth of the second child). Here they were!, Félix and Annette. Married on the 16 September 1874. It was simple to get the 3 folios record in the 1874 marriage register. Next day I visited my grandmother and discussed with her my findings. Felix was born in the Saint Maurice village in 1843, married Annette at 31 in 1874 and died in La Roche sur Foron, the town nearby in 1914. But how could I trace him as a confectioner in Egypt? I felt lost and a bit disappointed. Suddenly my grandmother added: “ You know, I remember hearing that he went to Geneva to get a training in baking and confectionery” Wouahhh! What a great new thread to follow!!! I had now my investigation agenda for the following days in the right city where I was living….

 

©2020 Madame S.

French Genealogy

1 See our post on when Savoie joined France here.

2Read about the Savoyards who went to Paris, hoping to escape poverty, here.


Guest Post - A Very Challenging Brick Wall

Missing parents

We have been sent a case of missing parents by the eminent genealogy researcher, Monsieur B., whose expertise is in Acadian, Canadian and French research. His brick wall is a true conundrum.

Zacharie Viel, Where Are You?

Not only is it important to share one’s genealogical success stories, but it is also important to share one’s frustrations and failures, and the latter certainly characterizes my research into the past of Madelinot ancestor Zacharie Viel. Having found the majority of the ancestries of the various men from France who settled at the Islands, despite my search in over 200+ parish and civil registers in the departments of Manche, Calvados and Orne, France, including the Island of Jersey just off the coast, and various seaport parishes in neighboring Ille-et-Vilaine and Côte d’Armor departments, I have yet to find a birth record for Zacharie, his parents’ marriage record, or the births of any of his siblings. It’s like the man came from France, set sail for Canada, married here, and had a handful of children, before his passing into the annals of history at the supposedly advanced age of 94 years old. One will ask what exactly do we know about him? Other than the following facts, not much else.

From his marriage at Havre-Aubert on 16 May 1842, he stated that he was from Coutances, the son of Pierre Viel and Marie Mière (or LeMière), both of these families being found in abundance in that region of Manche. His father’s occupation is given as a mason. Zacharie’s wife was Bathilde Chiasson, the daughter of Jean Chiasson and Esther Hébert, and of their marriage were born four sons and a daughter. Of their sons, only Honoré, a surveyor by trade, lived into his thirties, dying unmarried. Honoré’s sister, Esther, married in 1885 to Léoni Jomphe, by whom she had seven children, assuring a descendance from her father. Esther died in Bassin on 30 Jun 1949, and with her passing came the end of the Viel surname at the Magdalen Islands.


According to his death record dated 19 Apr 1887 at the undoubtedly exaggerated age of 94 years old, Zacharie was born in France, presumably at Coutances as we have noted, between 1793 (based on that age) and 1812 (based on the ages given by him in the various Canadian censuses of 1861, 1871 and 1881). At his marriage in 1842 to Bathilde, among the witnesses to their wedding appears another French compatriot, Joseph (-Guillaume) Châtel, originally from St-Pair-sur-Mer in the same French department of Manche, and who had two years previously also married at Havre-Aubert on 22 June 1840 the widow of Jean Bourgeois: Marie Deveau, the daughter of Jacques Deveau and Théotiste Lapierre. Undoubtedly, the two men became friends, Joseph having arrived before Zacharie, and thus, Zacharie asked him to be a witness to this important event in his life. Both men lived and died at Bassin.


The census records are likewise not that reliable to pin down his year of birth. In 1861, Zacharie’s age is given as 50 years old (thus born about 1810 or 1811). In 1871, he is given as 59 years of age (thus born about 1812). And finally in 1881, his age jumps to an exaggerated 84 year old (thus born in 1797).


Another fact that makes this search so complicated is that the Viel family also went by the surname LeViel, yet despite all these families which I also inspected, nothing has turned up among them either. Even the name of Zacharie is a rare name in that region, and in my research, I have encountered only a handful of records with that first name contained therein. In fact, the only Zacharie born in Coutances during the timeframe indicated above was an orphaned child (un “enfant trouvé”) left on the steps of the city hospice, born in the city on 21 April 1806. Could this have been him, later adopted by a Pierre and Marie Viel? If so, there are no records to support such an adoption or reclamation “reconnaissance” by his parents.


Another curve thrown into the record by the transcriber is the fact that when they reexamined the child, he was found to be of “feminine” gender (sic), about three days old. So was this child a male or female, or was the gender incorrectly recorded? In addition, other close-sounding surnames from this department have also complicated the search results: Néel and Piel, in particular. At his death at Bassin, Zacharie’s surname was recorded as “Miel”, the husband of Mathilde Bourgeois (rather than Bathilde Chiasson), by Father Henri Thériault, pastor of the parish… another clerical error.


When speaking of “Coutances”, does this mean the city, canton or diocese of that name? Each geographic area grows in size as one moves from one distinction to another, and this has been the fundamental guide for the research I have conducted, and why the number of parish and civil registers consulted has grown extensively. I have searched through and written to the Archives of the Marine in Cherbourg, who had no record of him either. All my posts on the various France message boards have gone unanswered as well. Meanwhile, my search throughout all of Normandy continues.


I am becoming convinced that this Viel family did not live in Coutances but actually arrived there from somewhere else. In my estimation, Zacharie was merely “passing through” the city from some other rural location on his way to North America. The sad part is that he is one of only two French ancestors whose roots I have yet to discover, containing both an exciting as well as frustrating search throughout the entire Normand countryside and seacoast. Finding his connections are the ultimate Madelinot brick wall.

Our hope is that some of you may have solved a similar problem or may be an expert on the name Viel or on the deceptive records of Coutances and that you will help to solve this puzzle. If you should be the one to find the answer, you may write to Monsieur B. directly at: "madelinot22 at aol.com". This is a call to arms, Dear Readers!

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy

 

 


Further to Gallipolis and "The French 500" - a Guest Post

Monsieur C. who is very modest, indeed, writes that he followed the suggestions in our previous post on this subject and purchased the book we there recommended,   Gallipolis : Histoire d'un mirage américain au XVIIIe siècle, by Jocelyne Moreau-Zanelli. He then tested the website of the Departmental Archives of Seine-Maritime and has this to contribute:

Let me offer some advice for non-French-speaking researchers attempting to glean the maximum benefits from the suggestions you provided concerning the French sources:

A.  Starting from a higher level view, the online archives for the department of Normandy named Seine-Maritime are found here:

http://www.archivesdepartementales76.net/

B.  At this writing, their main page has a link entitled "Inscription Maritime" which will take you where we want to go.  However, the business of maintaining interesting web pages being what it is, it may be that by the time you want to go there, they will have re-organized the navigation of their web presence and that convenient link may have become obscure.  If you don't see it, try this.

The upper right corner -- across traditions and writing styles of many types worldwide -- usually provides a search facility of some sort.  In this case, the magnifying glass is your language-independent iconic friend.  Enter the phrase [without the quotes] "inscription maritime" and you should find what you are looking for in the list that will be returned.  For lazy folks too used to Google, do not expect google-like interpretation of your desires -- spell each word correctly and you will be happy, otherwise you will remain lost.

On that page, the link reading "click here to access the Inscription Maritime listings" will keep its promise.

C.  Now, at least with today's user experience design interface, you will have two drop-down lists from which to hone your request for relevant information.  The top one [Quartier] will let you select as between the two key ports present in the department.  The first is for the port activities at Le Havre, the second is for the activities at Rouen.

Let me interject that in my hours of browsing, I have looked at activities for both ports.  My simplistic, non-informed conclusion is that you get about what you would expect.  Le Havre is the major port handling sailings around the world.  If you need to make a trans-oceanic sailing, you would like the harbor best suited to ships of that size and the administrative support infrastructure to go with international trade and commerce.  If, on the other hand, you mostly want to move smaller amounts of cargo and passengers from port to port within France, or the ports of its [at that moment in time] friendly neighbors, Rouen might be more convenient.  The bottom line, for our limited purposes, is that the likelihood of stumbling upon persons involved in emigration to the anticipated Northwest Territory paradise, is several orders of magnitude more likely for the Le Havre listings than those for Rouen.

D.  The next drop-down lets you select the type of source material you wish to browse.  Here I would truly love it if our hostess, Ms. Morddel, might find a moment to update and expand upon the information she gave us in July, 2016, when we celebrated the first availability of this online gold mine.  The number of, and the nomenclature for, the different alternatives do not line up simply with what you will find present in the drop down lists at this point in time.  If she does not have the time to do an update, you ought to find that Google Translate is at least 95% reliable, and can perform the task very well, but the problem is that translating something like d’armement et de désarmement to arming and disarming is really sort of an anachronistic thing that we would really need Peter Seller's Inspector Clouseau reincarnated to perform with appropriate charm.

As an ex naval officer, I can handle the military basis of the terminology, but our relatives heading to Gallipolis were not soldiers and sailors and they were not carrying munitions to stave off the nasty Brits they might have met at sea, so I, for one, would appreciate definitions more representative of the arrivals and departures characteristic of immigration travel.  So, until that may be accomplished, here's what I think I have learned:

     a.  The "finding aid" that a répertoire may well represent does not seem to have come into general use until after the period of time in which we are searching.  There is, as far as I can see, no nice, brief list give the names of vessels which entered or left Le Havre in the 1790 time-frame.  The materials elsewhere found under "Matricules" provided some names of some vessels, but my non-French-reading-eye was unable to extract any really useful information from the summary of voyages found therein.

     b.  The following summarizes voyage/passenger factoids that I hope will turn out to be a part of Ms. Moreau-Zanelli's research and analysis.  The two voyages of Le Patriote and La Liberté are clearly the most important, and form the basis, as best I can tell, of the work of the Gallia County Genealogical Society.

      • Quartier du Havre (6P)
      • Roles des batiments de commerce
      • Long cours, cabotage, bornage et grand pêche
      • 1790 (910)
      • désarmement n° 002-201
          • The most interesting passenger lists relate to Martinique. I have seen not a single sailing to New Orleans -- should I be surprised, or should I know the historical situation seemingly preventing them from going there. I found nothing relating to America.
      • 1791 (938)
      • désarmement n° 001-200
        • 156-173 Le Patriote
        • 280-304 La Liberté
        • 507-517  Le Navire Les Citoyens de Paris
          • Seems to have sailed from Bordeaux to La Havre in July, 1791, but this document says nothing about sailing to America.
      • 1792 (894)
      • désarmement n° 001-193
        • 232-235 Le Jeune Cole
          • Just 3 passengers -- with some connection to Britain -- destined for Philadelphie en Virginie.
        • 387-389 La Gracieuse
          • To Richmond en Virginie.  This item has a note from Vice Consul Oster explaining that some returning cargo has been sent via another ship on another route. There is no information concerning passengers.
        • 447-450  La Victoire
          • To Baltimore en Virginie.  Third footprint of Vice Consul Oster, but no useful passenger facts.
        • 505-508 L'amiable Antoinette
          • Outbound there is an American citizen named John Stuart, but embarking in Alexandria for the return to le Havres du Grace are ten passengers presumed to be French.
        • 575-578 Le Prince Royal
          • To Petersburg en Virginie.  Another Oster footprint, again no useful passenger facts.
        • 652-658 L'Alexandrine
          • To Petterbourg en Virginie.  Another Oster footprint, again no useful passenger facts.
        • 688-692 Le Ferier
          • To Norfolk from St. Valery sur Somme, Department De Dunkerque.  No passenger facts.
        • 826-829 La Mouche
          • To Philadelphie en Virginie came Michel Ange Bernard Mangourit to be Consul General at Charleston. He would be crucial to Genet's plans. There are quite a few other legible names on this list of passengers.
      • 1793 (448)
      • désarmement n° 001-163
        • 118-120 L'Aigle
          • To Hampton en Virginie. No passenger facts.
        • 167-170 L'Aimable Antoinette
          • James Cole Mountflorence is aboard the vessel heading for Alexandrie, leading the way for Genet.
        • 204-207 L'Adelaide
          • Two citizens to Newiorck en Virginie.
        • 334-337 La Jeune Alexandrine
          • Sailed from St. Valery sur Somme to Fredericksbourg en Virginie. There is no passenger data.
      • 1794-5 (103)
      • désarmement n° 003-043
          • Almost all voyages internal, few external, none U.S. related.
      • 1795-6 (133)
      • désarmement n° 001-035
          • The nomenclature of the Republique has arrived in force. The sailings take place in the 2nd and 3rd years of the Republique and are to/from the Arrondissement du Havre-Marat; the Department du Normandie is passe and America is off their radar entirely.

NOTA BENE:  The two 3-digit numbers separated by a dash give you the page number of the listing where the voyage of the named ship will be found.  This should save you hours of work in repeating my effort in culling the listings.  Native French readers, and more, those trained to more easily identify the forms of abbreviation and style of composition of that era, ought to be able to quickly navigate directly to the pages noted and could summarize the welter of in-line as well as the marginal notes found there.

Well! Dear Readers, we do hope that you will find the hard work of Monsieur C to be helpful to you in searching through the passenger lists. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Monsieur C for this contribution.

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Guest Post - a Grand Genealogy Fair in the South of France

Mauguio 1

We could not get to the south of France for this wonderful genealogy event, much as we longed to be there, so we are very pleased and grateful to be able to give you a full and complete report on it from Marie-Luce Lauer.

 

 

Mauguio - 23-24. March 2019

Spring seems to be a good season for genealogy events. This weekend the Journées Généalogiques et Historiques de Mauguio took place for the 18th time in the Espace Morastel : not an official building but something very typical of the southern wine-producing Languedoc, the old, converted winegrower’s cooperative. Initiated in 2002 by 2 members of the substantial Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc (CGL - created in 1978 and now with about 1000 members) and a passionate Cultural Attaché of the municipality, this fair cannot be missed by the genealogists and local historians.

 

Mauguio 2

Friday is children's day: the local schools organize with the CGL a reflexion about family and roots and the results can be seen in the very creative family trees on display during the Salon.

 

Mauguio 3


Saturday 9 AM, the exhibitors are almost ready: of course all the southern associations have answered the call, coffee and some cakes are kindly waiting for them at the refreshment bar and local radios or TV channels start interviewing the organizers.

Mauguio 4

Outside, no sign of the crowd as you could see in Paris one week ago… OK, the weather was suddenly summery (20°C at 9 AM) and people hesitated between a day on the beach (6 kilometers from the exhibition) and a picnic in the fragrant pine forests. But on Sunday afternoon a lot of them realized that they no longer had time left and hurried to Mauguio,

Inside, the Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc occupy an important space, divided between their local sections of Montpellier, Haute Garonne, Gard and Paris, their databank, their thematic space and their local history research section.

More than 40 other exhibitors are present. Most of them stand for a well-defined region, and most of them are old acquaintances, sometimes also even old friends, meeting in all genealogical exhibitions and with friendly cooperation in their common passion, genealogy… Really? Yes, would you like an example? Last year, the Cercle Généalogique du Pays Cannois came to us Généalogie Algérie Maroc Tunisie, and explained that it would be possible to select in their data bank all people who were related to those in our data bank and asked if we would be interested; as we left, we had got three files kindly offered by them.

 

Mauguio 5

It could be the touchstone for the difference between two Salons that are so close in the calendar and so dissimilar in their nature: the commercial aspect here is not so significant. As a proof, the great flagships of the French genealogy world are not to be found here. Of course Archives et Culture are present, with all their new publications: where else could you have the possibility to verify if a new book will help you in your research and to decide to buy it or not? But you can walk along all of the aisles, and you cannot find the commercial genealogy companies of FILAE, Geneanet or even Heredis, the “local hero”;  they are notable by their absence.

This familiar aspect can also be noticed in the apéritif dinatoire that takes place on Saturday evening: the exhibitors don’t escape; they all stay for this convivial moment (admittedly, it’s easier here than in the capital city). After the welcome speeches of the CGL, the Mayor and the cultural attaché reaffirmed their support of the Salon. In this nice atmosphere we all shared the specialities brought by all the members.

Mauguio 6

Another important point to pick up. The Archives Départementales de l’Hérault take a very active part in this Salon. Some five people from the archives attended the Salon the whole weekend, including their Director. If you ask her about their motivation for coming to the Salon for what is now the eighth time, she says "There’s no better occasion for us to meet and know our “clients”". Of the four talks, two were given by the Archives Départementales. One related to their current work, their projects or improvements, and the other one to a specifically genealogical theme: this year “How to find the history of a house through time”.

It’s not impossible that the people at the Salon de la Généalogie Paris 15° who answered you “It’s Paris” would comment about Mauguio that “It’s the provinces” with a slightly disdainful tone, but do they forget that almost all the Parisians were, not so long ago, provincials themselves?

 

Photo credits : * Michel Manilève - Cercle Généalogique de Languedoc

Guest post author: ◊ Marie-Luce Lauer - Généalogie Algérie Maroc Tunisie

 


Guest Post - Preserving and Restoring Your Old Photographs

Photograph restoration

We were contacted by people from a company in Germany called InstaRestoration, asking if they might submit a guest post. Normally, we refuse all such promotional efforts, but this submission does give some useful advice, so we decided to accept it. Please be aware that we do not know any of the company's employees and have never used its services but that we do think that the advice given below might help you, Dear Readers, to preserve your photographs (by not, for example, spilling  pasta sauce all over such treasures, as we once did).

 

I am Peter Rosenkranz from InstaRestoration.com a professional online photo restoration service with instant quotes. We are able to repair all kinds of damages such as watermarks, scratches, cracks or even photos torn into pieces. The image above was sent to us by a French Lady. She found the photo in an old box after her mother had passed away. Although she is not certain who that man is, she strongly believes this could be her father, who she has never met or seen before. We digitally restored the only photograph of her parents to its original state.

About 80% of all our restoration works are old family photos. An estimate of 60% of these photographs have suffered severe damage because of improper storing or displaying. In this tutorial, I would like to explain to you how to properly archive your old photographs and thereby save your family history.

First of all, you have to understand that the process of deterioration is very very slow. Most things that harm your photograph won't become visible today or tomorrow but eventually, they will. Keep in mind that the way you store your prints affects them day by day, year by year.

Here are some simple guidelines you should apply to guarantee proper archiving of your family photos.

1. Use acid free and bleach free materials.
When buying boxes or archiving sleeves to store your prints make sure that they are approved for archiving. Although paper sounds pretty natural it's often produced by using acid and bleach.

2. Temperature and humidity
This one is the most important one. Make sure that your photographs are stored in a dry and cool place. Most people store them either on the attic, which is too hot, or in the basement, which is too humid. High humidity causes mold and fungus and high temperatures bleach your photographs.

3. Photos only!
We literally have seen it hundreds of times. People storing their photos in boxes full of stuff that doesn't belong there. Every time you move the box the objects inside scratch the sensitive surface of the photographs, slowly worsening the damages. Put photographs in a photograph only box. No necklaces, no rings or any keepsakes. If you want to make things as safe as possible put each photograph in a single archive sleeve.

4. Ultraviolet light
The number one reason for faded and bleached out photographs. As much as sunlight hurts our skin it hurts photographs. Always try to hide your family photos form direct sunlight. If you display them in your living room or office make sure to use frames with UV blocking glass. The safest way is to only display a copy of the photo and store the original.

5. Adhesives
Most of us are guilty of this one. They might come in handy and are easy to use but those sticky strips and other adhesives often include chemicals that will slowly deteriorate the quality of your prints. Never use those things on one of your original photos.

6. Air pollutants
This one might sound silly but don't store your photos next to paint thinners or aggressive cleaning agents. What makes you dizzy makes your photographs dizzy as well.

7. Framing
When framing your images make sure to buy good quality frames. Quite often humidity and temperature cause your photograph to stick to the frame's glass. This is pretty much the worst thing to happen. To prevent that from happening buy either frames with a distance between picture and glass or use a special transparent plastic sheet in between glass and print.

8. Create digital copies
Always create digital copies of your images.

Apply these simple steps and you're good to go.
If any of your images are already damaged and you'd love to get them repaired check out our website.

 

 

©2019 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Guest Post - Researching a French Ancestor of Berlin

Sad lady

We have received a wonderful guest post from Loyal FGB Reader, Monsieur C, detailing his research of French ancestors in Berlin and Mainz.

 

My success story for today: I have an ancestor Peter Franz Nicolas Bello (1743-1821), who lived in Berlin, married twice, had eight children, and died, all in Berlin.  But, his origins were not known.  No baptism could be found for him in Berlin.  His marriage records did not mention his parents’ names.   A few of his records, including his burial, used French forms of his names, Pierre or Francois, so I suspected he might have been French. 

Another cousin and I have been working on this problem for nearly 50 years.  We both hired separate researchers in Berlin, but no one could find anything.  Most of the French in Germany at that time seem to be Huguenots, but most of them arrived closer to 1685, so his baptism should be in Germany, right?  What to think or do?

I don’t usually subscribe to ancestry.com at the International level, as for so long they were so limited for the extra money.  But, every few years I get tempted to try again, to see if anything new turns up which is of value in my research.  

Subscribing anew, I saw that Ancestry now has a lot of pertinent Berlin records to this case, so I thought I would try to find them all and look them over for any possible clues which might point to new research.  

After successfully finding the records for his two marriages, baptisms for his eight children and his burial, one thing among them drew my attention: in the 1802 baptism for his eighth child, there was a witness, Catherine Mathee, born Bello.  Aha!  Perhaps an aunt or a sister.  Another witness was Joseph Mathee of Mainz.  Perhaps her husband or son?  Perhaps researching Catherine might reveal new information. 

1802 baptism

Searching ancestry.com for Catherine Mathee in Mainz, I was pleasantly surprised to find an 1806 Mainz death record for Catherine Matheo.  Better, it was linked to the actual record.  Better yet, the record was in French (Napoleon’s France controlled Mainz from 1795-1814, which they called Mayence), so I could mostly read it. 

1806 death

It said she was 65 (so born about 1740/41, so probably Pierre’s sister), she was born in Metz, Dept. of Moselle, and that her parents were Francois Bello and Catherine ___. 

Finally, I had a new place to look for Pierre’s baptism, records were available on-line, and possible parents’ names.  OK, maybe they weren’t Huguenots, but they were French.

Metz had 15 parishes, and it took me more than a week of paging through 1740-1743 records, looking for Pierre and Catherine, and I finally found Pierre’s baptism in the 14th parish, Saint Simplice (his mother’s name was not Catherine, though it turns out that was his paternal grandmother’s name).   

It is so pleasing to finally know his name as baptized was Pierre Nicolas François Bello, to know his birthplace of Metz, his birthdate of Dec. 8, 1743, and his parents’ names: Nicolas François Bello and Elisabeth Evrard. 

1743 baptism

After a concerted effort, I also found sister Catherine Bello’s baptism in 1741, born Jan. 7, even though it had eluded me and a later-discovered previously-published work on archive.org because the extracted “margin” name was wrong (Catherine Francois instead of Catherine Bello).  It would have saved me a many hours if I had had this reference before.  I also found via filae.com that there were also two later children not mentioned, Joseph and Pierre, who were baptized some distance from Metz. 

1741 Baptism

This case also included an interesting scenario where Pierre’s father Nicolas Francois also had a 13-years younger brother with the same name, Nicolas Francois. I have found that usually when another child in a family is given a name previously used, it is because the earlier child died. But, this is my second case where an elder child was given the responsibility of being the godparent, so the new infant received the same name.  Luckily, his younger brother had a different profession, and married three times with the record always giving either his age or his previous wife’s name, so I could distinguish them. 

I also found that Pierre’s father, Nicolas Francois Bello the elder, referenced in Catherine Bello’s death record above, also died in Mainz in 1801.  I am still working on what happened to his mother Elisabeth Evrard.  Maybe the entire family left France, perhaps during the French Revolution, I don’t know.

I used both archives.metz.fr and archives57.com, especially the former with mostly original registers and it being a little easier for me to navigate.  Lovely that they have color images of originals, and not scanned poor b/w microfilm images.  Image resolution on archives.metz.fr is limited but quality is still usually OK. 

I have since spent many more hours paging through some of the Metz registers and the 2 Protestant registers, with occasional help from filae.com indexes, I have managed to build his tree back another 4 to 6 generations, with more work that can be done. 

Once again, patience and persistence paid off.  Fifty years of. 

This break-through in this story is another example of why I like to see actual records myself, to see if maybe someone else misread or ignored something which might turn out to be important.

 Other: without any good indexes yet (filae has an extremely limited number for Metz from CG Moselle), the register scanning process (which I have done in about 12 French cities now), usually seems to involve some degree of looking at the same register pages repeatedly as one learns of more family names to keep track of, it becoming necessary to repeat the review process to find the records which were not noted during the first pass.  Many times, I have been tempted to try to make some sort index of all names in order to greatly facilitate locating any of them again, though I haven’t thought of an efficient method which might turn out to be worth the effort.  Thoughts welcome! :-)

I have also thought of trying to organize the various parish registers in a city (and nearby) by years, maybe in a spreadsheet or table, with links, but again, I see no clear elegant path, especially as some registers are B only, some are BM, some are BMS, some are MS, some are S only.  As it is, I gradually compile pages of cheat sheets as to what vue (image) number each year begins for each parish or the rare yearly index, which often turn out to be very handy in saving time later, here and there.

 

Monsieur C has shared with us a good example of cluster research, (what Elizabeth Shown Mills calls the FAN club principle) here and we are most indebted. Read the comments below to see that we are not alone in saying :Merci!

©2018 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy


Guest Post - Success With Signatures

Signatures 1

Over the years, we have had recourse to signatures as supporting evidence for French genealogy proofs rather often. There have been some most interesting cases in which a French immigrant left precious few genealogical details, but he or she may have signed a single document, such as a will or land purchase before leaving this vale of tears. France being a land that treasures documentation, if that immigrant were to have reached adulthood before leaving, he or she may well have signed something in France, such as a civil registration or a notarial act.

We do not use handwriting analysis to compare these signatures, for we are not attempting a charlatan's glimpse into the personality of the signer. Instead, we follow the guidelines on signature comparison of criminologists who specialise in forged signatures. (And anyway, their examples are much more fun to read than those of the handwriting analysts.)

Before we could write a post on this subject, we received a message from Monsieur C. on his research into a related topic. With his kind permission, we give it here, as a guest post.

Recently, I found for the first time the signature of my earliest known ancestor, Pierre Chastain. This was exciting enough, but then I noticed something curious at the end. At first I thought it was just a fancy way to terminate the signature, then I realized it looked rather like the number '98'. 

This signature (above) is for a marriage contract in which Pierre was a witness. It took place in Schwabendorf, Germany in 1695. Being a Huguenot, Pierre had fled to Germany from his hometown of Vesc, France in 1685. 

In trying to discover Pierre's parents and family group back in France, I've been combing through the notarial records for Vesc in the Drôme Departmental Archives. Vesc had quite a few Chastains and Chastans at this time, and I noticed that their signatures all have that same '98' that Pierre uses in his. Here are three Chastain signatures from Vesc circa 1680.

Signatures 2

I noticed that other families also have numbers next to their signatures, though they are occasionally lost in the ornamental nature of the handwriting. 

Signatures 3

They all look like '98' to me. [Monsieur C wondered:] Could this be in reference to 1598 when the Edict of Nantes was signed by King Henry IV giving Huguenots freedom? Perhaps everyone that does this is identifying themselves as a Protestant? 

[Later,] I was able to discover the meaning of the symbol in the signatures. They are not the number 98. They are specimens of a practice known as ruches. These were the most basic form—three interlocking loops—which simply stand for "the undersigned". In English, ruches translates literally to "hives", which isn't that helpful. But the word "ruches" itself, like many French words, made its way into the English language. In the Oxford English Dictionary, ruches is defined as "a frill or pleat of fabric as decoration on a garment or soft furnishing." This makes sense once you see more elaborate examples since they can look quite decorative.

Ruches first appeared in France in the 7th century as the use of signet rings gave way to manual signatures for the authentication of documents. They could be personalized however the signer deemed fit and were also a way of demonstrating skill with a feather pen. This practice, which vanished by the 19th century, would have been most prominent among those whose work required the signing of documents on a regular basis, solicitors and notaries being two obvious examples.

Manuel de Diplomatique by Arthur Giry is the authoritative work on this subject. A digital copy is available at Gallica, the digital library run by the National Library of France

http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k5442588r/f2.image.

Here are some more elaborate examples that go well beyond the basic three interlocking loops that I originally sent you. Let me know if you get the images below. I didn't attach them but embedded them directly in the email. Even these are fairly simple compared to a few others I've seen! Anyway, I was excited to discover the answer and thought I'd share with you.

Signatures 4

 

Signatures 5

 

 

Many thank, Monsieur C, for this fine small study!

©2016 Anne Morddel

French Genealogy