I was thinking how crazy it is that I began my genealogy journey in 2006, that’s 14 years ago, way older than my oldest child. I was barely a child myself, 19 years old and I had no clue what I was doing. I just jumped on Ancestry and started putting in names my parents gave me. I hit huge brick wall because there were so many people with the same name and people frequently used only their middle names or nicknames. I did a google search for my great grandparents names which lead me a thread on Ancestry about family with that name. It looked correct so I put it in my tree. Biggest rookie mistake ever!
Luckily for me it was the correct couple and that lead me to a distant cousin who had all kinds of information on my grandfather’s mother’s family. This was the first time I’d learned that her name wasn’t Josephine but Marie Josephine. The tree of this cousin took me all the way to Joseph Simon Turbé my 5x great grandfather. I assumed he was born in St. Barts as well since everyone else seemed to have been also, another rookie mistake. I did another google search which lead me to Anne Marie Danet’s post on her blog 3 – First French in the Antilles, you can see on line 24 there is a Joseph Turbe who married Anne Rose Greaux and he is the ancestor of all Turbe on the Island. This Joseph is my great grandfather. This suggested that he was from Nantes but he wasn’t born there which was a brickwall I had for a long time.
To break this wall I scoured all over the net, looked at several family trees, and then I found a reference somewhere that said he was born in Couëron, I had never heard of this place before.
Couëron is a commune in the Loire-Atlantique department in western France. It is part of the historic French Brittany. Couëron is one of the 24 communes of the Nantes Métropole.
It makes a bit of sense why he would be considered a Nantes native but it is very unhelpful for a novice. So, I now knew where he was from but I had no idea where to find information about his parents. I asked a question on Wikitree in 2018 asking if anyone could help me find his Acte de naissance or Acte de baptême. A very helpful person pointed me in the right direction and I found not only his Acte de baptême but that he had a brother! I haven’t explored much of his brother’s descendants, maybe I should do that sometime soon.
There’s a really nice blog about my great grandfather that you can read here: Capitaine Simon Joseph Turbé
Now I work on all the families of Saint-Barthélemy, sometimes I find a link to my family and realize this stanger suddenly became a distant family member. I spoke a bit about it in my post Saint-Barthélemy Project last year, I actually have an update on that post that I just never posted about. I now have the ancestry of my 3x great grandparents Anne Louise Chapelain and Pierre LaPlace thanks to the author of The Saint-Barth Islander. He was very helpful and I was able to make connections on those lines in my brother’s Ancestry DNA tree. The Joseph Chaplin that I thought was my grandmother’s brother was in fact her brother and someone made a typo on his age.
For now I’m working on the Governors of the US Virgin Islands/Danish West Indies. It is much more challenging work compared to researching my French ancestry. A lot of them were descendants from slaves and those records are not so easy to go through.
If you’re also looking to do some research in the Dansk Vestindien I suggest this site Caribbean Genealogy Library or CGL for short, I find myself using the records for St. Thomas a lot when working with my French side because many of them left St. Barts and ended up in the Virgin Islands. I’m particularly fond of the:
St. Thomas and St. John Government (archive no. 693), Reports of births, St. Thomas and St. John, 1859-1918 (nos. 30.1.1-6) and St. Thomas and St. John Government (archive no. 693), Reports of marriages, St. Thomas and St. John, 1828-1918 (nos. 30.2.1-7), these two have proven very very helpful.
For census records during Danish time you can find those on Ancestry which of course requires a subscription to use but you can also find the St. Croix census on the Dansk Demografisk Database by Rigsarkivet (Danish National Archives), all you do is enter a name and it will bring you up all instances of that name appearing in the Census records.
Show Household will display everyone that lived in the household.
Show all Fields will show you all the information about the person you were looking for.
It is a pain because you have to search for eveyone one by one but it is free so I can’t really complain. I should note that not eveyone can be found this way, the record you are looking for might not have been transcribed or the name is spelled differently than you are looking for.
For the more recent Census records you can find them on Ancestry or you can look on FamilySearch, FamilySearch is free to use, you just have to sign up for a free account. It is a very useful site because you can also look up their free world tree to see if your relatives are already on there. If they are you will be notified when you search for records about them. You can see it circled in the photo attached.
There are not that many of us doing Caribbean genealogy on Wikitree so if you are interested in helping I’d suggest joining and helping put on Islands on the map.