Sunday, 19 July 2009

History Gets Personal

Not only have I been looking into the general history of the island, I have also been able to look into one of my hoped for projects this year, drawing up a family tree. I have spent various occasions asking Mamie and Papy about this and that person - Mamie thinks I'm strange and can't think why on earth I want this information, whilst Papy loses track of people and then shrugs and says with such a large brood, he had no time to keep up with all the other relatives! Neither of them know that much of their ancestry so plenty to be done!

Two Thursdays back, we organised ourself to spend a day at the Archives de Guadeloupe with a friend also interested in the subject. This is based in Gourbeyre and we presumed not a child friendly place so the girls went to our JEM friends and JoJo was confided into his Tatie's hands (my first proper separation from him and I must admit to being quite moved at his going!). They all got on fine.

We arrived at the archives and were told it was full and to come much earlier. Happily they saw the disappointment on our faces and found us a place to look at micro film. There was a very helpful man, passionate about his subject, who went through all the complicated procedure for us and then left us to it.

We started with Mamie's father, whose birth certificate we had, but could not find his parents for love or money. The same with her maternal grandmother. All these people come from Grand Bourg in Marie Galante and we had a rough idea of dates so it really was frustrating.

Before leaving, Mamie had given me a marriage certificate for her paternal grandfather and between micro films I struggled through it. It turned out to be a goldmine! We had the exact birthdate for him, but still he wasn't coming up on the records! The helpful man, recognising the novices that we so clearly were and taking pity on us half an hour before closing, came and found him, just like that! Success! It was so sweet! So we presume that the others were all there, we just missed them! This great grandfather was born in 1862 so his parents were born in slavery, not that many generations ago.

Time was up and off we went. We can carry research on by post with a place in France and all details should also be available in the local mairie so we will try our luck there. Unfortunatey, there is very little online that I can find.

I can quite see the attraction (and frustration!) of this detective like work now that we are into it and look forward to continuing it as and when we can.


APE said...

It could have been a frustrating day but in the end it turned out to be interesting as far as memory is concerned. To think that not so long ago, one of my close ancestors was actually living in slavery on one of the many "habitations" in Marie-Ganlante is just!

evie winter said...

It is a shame that the online info is so limited, is quite nice to be able to research from the luxery of your armchair.
I guess you have managed to get a laptop for the weekend? It has been nice to see your blogs - I am looking forward to seeing you soon in person, did you get my email?
Oh and will your research be able to tell you whereabouts exactly the slave ancestors were brought from originally?

Hevs said...

No such precise information I should imagine - that would require a DNA test.
Looking forward to seeing you too! Will email shortly...