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!
Now, as a reminder, Adele was the Martinican-born mother of my maternal grandfather, Hilarion Vallee Cadignan. The clues about her identity started to come together over the last few years. You can see the following blog entries for a quick refresher:
The clues I had gathered up to this point allowed me to guesstimate that she was born around 1891 and it turns out that was pretty close. So how do I know this? The French National Archives has made many vital records from former and present territories available online. Luis looked through birth registers for Martinique and found an Adele – my Adele – that was born in 1893. This register was specifically for the region of Francois, the same part of Martinique all things Cadignan have taken me. Adele Cadignan’s birth record can be found on the French National Archives website here on the top of page 40.The record states that Adele Cadignan’s father was named Joseph, just as Cadignan oral history had reported.
As you’ll notice, the record is written very carefully (and cryptically, as far as I’m concerned) in a lovely 1800s French script. All the zooming and squinting in the world was not enough for me to even begin to figure out what all of this said.
Enter Sylvine, my Parisian ex-roommate who has offered her help whenever I hit my head upon the brick wall that is her native tongue. She transcribed and translated the text, which I have reproduced below.
Transcription (minus accent marks, for now):
France, ile Martinique; est comparu le sieur Cadignan Joseph, age de vingt-neuf ans, cultivateur, domicile en cette commune au quartier dit Morue Acajou; lequel nous a presente un enfant de sexe feminin, ne le quatre avril dernier, a huit heure du matin, de lui comparant, en la demeure susdite, et de dame Lubin-Rose Rose, son epouse, agee de trente-trois ans, cultrivatrice, ayant meme domicile, et auquel il a declare vouloir donner le prenom de Adele; les dites presentation et declaration faites en presence des sieurs Cadignan Augustin surnomme Auguste, age de cinquante quatre ans, cultivateur proprietaire, grand pere de l enfant, et Dimbour Pierre Felix, age de vingt-neuf ans, brigadier de police non parent ni allie de l enfant, tous deux domicilies en cette commune, temons choisis par le comparant, et a le second temoin seul signe avec nous le present acte, le pere de l enfant et le premier temoin ont declares ne savoir le faire, apres lecture.
Translation: France, island of Martinique; Mr. Joseph Cadignan, twenty nine years old, farmer, living in this city in the district known as Morue Acajou, has appeared before us and presented a child of the female sex, born on April 4th of this year to him and his wife Mrs. Rose Lubin-Rose, thirty three years old, farmer, residing at the same house, whom he wishes to name Adele. The presentation and declaration was performed in the presence of witnesses both living in this city selected by the appearing party, Mr. Augustin Cadignan, also called Auguste, fifty four years old, farm owner, grandfather of the child and Pierre Felix Dimbour, twenty nine years old, police officer, no relation to either parent or child; only the second witness has signed the present document after reading the above, the father and first witness not having the capacity to do so.
That’s it. That’s her. That’s our Adele! Thank goodness for strangers on the internet (how often can we say that?!) and old roommates from those grad school years on the east coast.
**Stay tuned for a discussion of what this birth record tells us about Adele, her parents, and grandfather in future posts.**