To Speak Their Names

When people ask me what I hope to learn from my family history research there are two things I usually say are particularly important to me. First, like most members of the diaspora, I yearn to know where in Africa my ancestors originated.  For at least one ancestor I want to know what tribe they belonged to, the language they spoke, the name they answered to, the exact piece of earth they slept and worked on, and so on. Following from that, I’d also like to know the stories of their descendents that endured slavery. Continue reading

A Closer Look

The discovery of my great-grandmother Adele “Josephine” Cadignan’s birth record is perhaps my most exciting find yet because it contains quite a bit of new information, including some that allows me to fill in a few slots farther back in the family tree than I’ve ever been able to go before.  Let’s review the most important new facts, line by line: Continue reading

Adele Cadignan’s Birth Record

For the 4.5 of you that follow my blog, by now you’ve become familiar with my pattern. I have little bursts of productivity lasting anywhere from a few days to a few months and then things die down, life or fatigue step in, and I disappear from the blogosphere for a while. Various things have roused me out of my previous genealogy hibernations, usually family trips and/or overwhelming, crippling, self-inflicted guilt. This time it’s different.

Another genealogist on the other side of the country came across my blog when he was researching his own ancestral ties to Martinique (you can see the comments from Luis here and here).  Luckily for me, genealogists, like all researchers (and like all humans, really) are curious people. He did a little hunting around to see if he could track down my great-grandmother Adele “Josephine” Cadignan…and he did! Continue reading

Actes d’Individualite, Part Deux

These last several months I’ve gotten distracted with other activities and obligations, which means my genealogy work got moved into the guilt pile of neglected projects I no longer made time for. Well, thank goodness I was invited to present at the Discover Your Roots conference again this year.  Just as it did last year, being forced to immerse myself in the details of my research re-ignited the flame, so I’m back!!!

Up to this point, my most exciting and promising finds have been concerning my maternal grandfather’s Cadignan ancestors from Francois, Martinique. In a previous post I had described the online odyssey that led to the discovery of records listing slaves freed after the emancipation decree of 1848. With just the click of a few buttons 15 Cadignans revealed themselves – and every one of them listed Francois as their birthplace and residence.

It took quite some time, but I deciphered the old French handwriting in the actes to the best of my ability and entered the information into this table.  I was also able to draw up two family trees based on the information in the actes.

Every discovery leads to new knowledge – and more questions. These are the main answers I seek in regard to the actes d’individualite.

  1. Are the Jean Maries of actes 553 and 1487 the same person? (I’m pretty sure they are.)
  2. Are Gertrude and her children related to the other Cadignans, or did the enumerator arbitrarily give two distinct families the surname of Cadignan?
  3. It’s very likely that one of these Cadignans is a direct ancestor of mine.  My great-grandmother Josephine’s estimated year of birth is 1891, which could mean one of these Cadignans was her grandparent (or parent?)…but who?!

Any other big questions I should add to the every-growing list?

No Jumping, Please

Addendum to report #4 on my 2011 genealogy research trip to Panama

I have to say, things have really been moving on the Cadignan end of things. I also have to admit that I may have gotten so excited about the progress I was making I jumped ahead of myself and went running full steam ahead towards a conclusion based on shaky evidence.  I’ll explain. Continue reading