Thursday, February 28, 2013

French tables

I am not talking about furniture or a good table in a restaurant, although I would probably adore them. I am looking at the civil indexes of my Fougerons in the Etat Civil of France. These are the civil records for France. The civil records are different from the church records for my villages in the Belfort Territory of France. The ones I am looking at are bounded in books, in volumes, by years, for each village or town. But the thing that is so lovely about them is instead of squinting through each individual entry of marriage, birth or death, I flip over the pages to the end of each year and the registrant hand - drew a table and indexes all the entries within each year.

An example for the registration of Joseph Jules Fougeront, and for a death table for
Jean Joseph Clerc in 1871 (click to enlarge) : JosephJulesFougeron1871

You can read more about the fascinating history of French civil registration at this lovely website ( and Google will ask if you want to read it in English because it will instantly translate it for you ). It's here at : History of Civil Registration in French Government 1.

According to the author of this website , the "Code Louis" (Order of Saint-Germain-en-Laye April 1667) requires the keeping such records in duplicates, one (the "minute") remains in the parish and the other (the "big") is always transmitted to the court nearest you. But it is only from the new code of 9 April 1736  that the parish registers were held routinely in doubles for all the parishes in France. So many European countries are lucky that the law requested duplicate records. I have learned about the beauty of having duplicates sometimes in doing Hungarian records.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Governess from France

Eugenie Fougeron, Governess, 1905

My family of Fougerons immigrated on the 23rd of August in 1829 from France. Dabbling in Ellis Island passenger records one night to see if any of the descendants visited France, I came upon two siblings, respectively called Eugene and Eugenia Fougeron,  both born in France, specifically in Petitmagny in the Territoire de Belfort, France where my Fougerons hailed from 80 years earlier (See Fougeron Immigrants & The French Cousins? )

The Fougeron family that I study is very large and has many descendants that I collected from 1829 to early 1900's in the United States. They were the only Fougeron family in America for almost a century. There were a couple stray Fougerons in early Quebec, and in early Louisiana, but further research did not show them linked to my family.

So that's why I was surprised to spot Eugenia Fougeron, a 24 years old governess working in New York City for the Constantine Aillary  family at 75 McDougall Street in Manhattan and New Bedford, Massachusetts through the 1895 - 1905 time period. It made me wonder if she was connected to my Fougerons. She appeared a couple more times at Ellis Island, probably sojourneying home and back. Also appearing to travel back and fourth was a young, single man (chestnut hair, 5'4 in his physical descriptions) named Eugene Fougeron, from the same region of Petitmagny, Terrotoire de Belfort in France - and going to the same Aillary family of 244 North Fourth Street and later, 195 Collette Street of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Were Eugene and Eugenia brother and sister ?

Looking further at Eugene's passenger record concluded that they were siblings. Twenty four years old Eugene, who was listed as a baker, stated that he was headed to his sister, Eugenia Fougeron, at 224 North Fourth Street, as his American destination with $20 in his pocket.

Eugene and Eugenia Fougeron 16 Nov 1902

In another passenger record, both Eugene and Eugenie reported an address of Collette Street. Seeing a street called COLLETTE made me wonder if there was a French neighborhood in New Bedford which is pretty much, in my mind, a Yankee New England whaling town. A quick glance at Wikipedia stated that "The French (chiefly French-Canadian) also secured a foothold in New Bedford at about the same time, and they built the Church of the Sacred Heart in 1877"(1).

So I hunted for their existence in New Bedford, Massachusetts but ended up in the archives of the Territory of Belfort to get the answer to my question!
(To be continued)