Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Studies in the History of Kano

Studies in the History of Kano is a noble endeavor. Bringing together a variety of specialists on the history of Kano from the precolonial era to the present, the various essays cover a plethora of important topics. Modern urban laborers and the transition to semi-industrial capitalism in colonial and postcolonial Kano, for instance, receives a chapter. Much of the book, of course, focuses on precolonial Kano with some suggestive theories and interpretations of the Kano Chronicle and the pre-jihad polity. We are not yet sure what to make of some of their theories, but it undoubtedly revealed the problem of relying too heavily on the Chronicle as the main source for reconstituting early Kano or Hausa history. 

Despite the problems of authorship, chronology, and omissions in the Chronicle, it remains indispensable and one of the most important sources for Kano and Hausa history today. Smith and Last offer their own differing analyses of the Chronicle and Last's overview of Kano from ca.1450-1800 is a useful attempt at reconstructing the successive "dynasties" that ruled the city and the political factions which shaped the polity. However, perhaps some of their notions of "Berber" or Arab origins for certain rulers of Kano and Katsina are remnants of outdated thinking. 

Other essays focus on markets, trade, production, and how exactly Kano became the "emporium" of the Sudan in the 19th century. Shea's contribution particularly stands out as it raises more questions about the nature of production, crafts, and innovation. One cannot help but feel that archaeologists and historians have a lot more work to do to in this region. Like the case of Barkindo's essay on Kano's gates or Zahradeen's chapter on mosques, much remains unknown and will require new textual sources and archaeological excavation to gain new insights or data. It might also have been useful to include a chapter on Kano's relationship with Borno, outlining the relationship more clearly with analysis of the role of migration, military ventures, Islamic scholarship, and trade that brought Kanawa Hausa into close contact with the Kanuri to the east.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Alexandre of the Valley

 Another problem for our interests in Bainet genealogical research is the rather large Alexandre family. Our great-great-great-grandmother, Cherilise Alexandre, probably born in the late 1820s or early 1830s, was a native of Bainet's valley section. Since the Bainet 19th century civil records are missing several years, we could not find any record of her birth. However, we know that in 1825, a Desiré Alexandre was the godfather to a son of Jean Charles Cangé. Cherilise Alexandre had at least 2 or 3 children with a Jean Michel Cangé, so we wondered if Jean Michel was a son of Jean Charles Cangé and perhaps Desiré was the father of Cherilise? 

Unfortunately, we could not find any more information on this Desiré Alexandre. There was one person with that name who lived in nearby Jacmel, where the birth of his son was recorded in 1849 (record accessible thanks to Family Search). Described as living by the Grande Riviere of Jacmel, rather far from the valley of Bainet, we find it unlikely he was the same person we are looking for in 1820s Bainet. However, he was around the right age to have been the father of Cherilise: born in or around 1791. Moreover, he produced a Francois Pierre as a witness, albeit one too young to have been our Francois Pierre, only 29 years old.

Since the years covering Cherilise's birth appear to be lost, we did check for other Alexandres in Bainet. In fact, one of them registered the birth of his son in the 1850s, and a Cherilis Alexandre appears in the document as a witness. We assume this Cherilis Alexandre was somehow related to ours. And the father of the child, Saint Firmin Alexandre was perhaps also related to our Cherilise. Sadly, we lack adequate documents to confirm. However, it might be safe to many or most assume the Alexandre in the valley were related, perhaps descendants of Desiré. We also found a number of Alexandre related to us or other Bainet families related to us. 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Our Louis?

We are still trying to uncover the origins of Louis Gory of Bainet, the first Gory. We think his sons were born in the late 1710s or early 1720s, so it is possible that this Louis above, a quarteron libre born in 1699, could have been their father. Our evidence is slim, but it is interesting to note that the godmother of this Leogane-born Louis was a Montard. The Montard, spelled as Montar, were also in Bainet by the 1720s and 1730s. Indeed, in Bainet was a Louis Montar living in Baynet in the 1720s who fathered children with a free black woman. Perhaps this Louis, whose father was not named, was the same Louis Gory or Gorry (also spelled Gaury) who was identified in the Bainet parish registries in the 1720s-1740s? He was a "quarteron" instead of a "mulatto" but we have already seen how flexible those terms were. Unfortunately, if his son Jean Baptiste really was born in or around 1711, this Louis would have been too young to have been his father. Of course, by 1791 there were few people around who would have known Jean Baptiste's actual age when he died. It is more likely that he was born in the late 1710s or early 1720s, around the same time as his brother, Francois. Perhaps a young Louis and Marie sired them when they were in their late teens or early 20s. Either way, we need more proof and identifying this Louis's godfather might point us in the right direction. Who was Guy L'Eroudelle?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Another Victoire

Somehow we neglected to mention the existence of another Victoire related to the Gory of 18th century Bainet. A quick persual of ANOM's Baynet parish registries clarified the matter, somewhat. In addition to Victoire Suzanne Monteise and her godmother, Marie Victoire Gory, there was a Marie Victoire Pitiot (incorrectly written as Pichot by the parish priest). Baptized in 1765, this Marie Victoire could also have been the mother of Anne Marie Joseph Gaury. Again, like Victoire Suzanne, there is a problem of why her name was recorded as Gory by the parish priest but that could have been an error on his part, just like the parish priest who wrote Pichot instead of Pitiot. We know Marie Victoire Gory was married to Michel Pitiot and thus the mother of Marie Victoire Pitiot. Marie Victoire was also the aunt of Victoire Suzanne Monteise. In other words, the mother of the Anne Marie Joseph baptized in 1793 was likely one of these three women. 

It seems that Anne Marie Joseph's parents were still alive when she passed away in 1859, so it was probably one of the younger women (the daughter or the niece of Marie Victoire Gory). Marie Victoire Gory was still married to Michel Pitiot in the 1780s and we were unable to find any mention of his death before 1793. Moreover, we know that Victoire Suzanne Monteise's first name was obviously Victoire, strengthening the case for identifying her as the mother. We could only find one instance in which Marie Victoire Gory's name appeared as just Victoire Gory, and that was when her sister's illegitimate child, Marie Louise, was baptized in 1769. Marillac, who married a sister of Victoire Suzanne Monteise, was also the godfather to the son of Marie Victoire Gory born in 1781. He must have known all three of these women but all the evidence remains slightly in greater favor for Victoire Suzanne. 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Origins of Celin dit Cangé

Due to our obsession with their dit name that has survived among many Haitians, we have completely overlooked the original family name of a large family of free people of color: Celin. The founders of the lineage in Haiti were actually a white man from Galice (Galicia) named Pierre Sellin (Celin, or perhaps a Gallicized Salinas?) and a woman of color named Marie Therese Damillide or Damilide. The latter may have been from Veracruz, taken in a French raid on that part of Mexico. It is difficult to read the surname of Marie Therese's mother (Orada? Orara? Arara?) and the place of origin seems to be Vella or Novella Cruz isle espagnolle, but Veracruz the ville might have been the intended place of origin. Regardless of her exact origins, Pierre Sellin appears to have married a woman of color since their children were identified as such in later records. Their daughter, for instance, married a Jean Baptiste Souché who was a "mulatto" and habitant of Jacmel.  

The two were married in Leogane parish in 1695 and produced at least 3 or 4 children. It looks like their household was enumerated in the Jacmel Quarter and its dependencies in the 1703 Census. We assume Jean Salin or Jean Celin born in Leogane parish was the one who married Marguerite Butet and produced numerous children, beginning with Jean Baptiste in Baynet. 

In addition to Jean, his sister Elizabeth or Isabelle also married a Souché and his brother Pierre Celin probably also had children. Perhaps Pierre the father or Pierre the brother also acted as the godfather to Jean's children born in the 1720s before they moved to Petit-Harpon. Intriguingly, one of the Pierre Celins (perhaps Jean's father, or more likely his brother?) married the widow of Francois Saugrain, Marguerite Francq. 

Trying to make sense of the numerous Cangé in 18th century Jacmel, Bainet, and Leogane is difficult with only digitized ANOM parish registers. The repetition of Jean and Pierre as names sometimes leads to confusion, although we now understand why Pierre was so commonly used as a first name (after the founder of the lineage and the brother of Jean). We assume the Jean Sellin born in the 1690s was the only one who had children with a woman named Marguerite Butet, perhaps a sister of Jeanne Butet (illegitimate daughter of Rene Butet of Le Mans). However, the Jean Baptiste baptized in Baynet in the 1710s had a mother with a different surname, something like Courville? We are also unsure about deaths of Jean Celin's parents or if most if not all people bearing the Celin dit Cangé name were actually descendants of Jean.

Part of our confusion stems from the 1703 census. According to that source, the Cangé (or Celin) household included 2 males bearing arms and 2 adult women. We are probably safe to assume that by this period Pierre Sellin and Marie Therese were 2 of the adults. Who were the other ones? Was Pierre Celin accompanied by some unknown cousin or brother we are ignorant of? His sons would have been children and too young to be counted as men bearing arms. 

What makes sense to us is that Jean Celin, born in the 1690s, was the "mixed-race" child who started having children with Marguerite in the late 1710s and 1720s. He was probably illiterate and by the late 1730s or 1740s, had established himself at Petit-Harpon. Some of his children stayed or moved back to Jacmel and Bainet, spreading their Celin Cangé name around the area. Some of their descendants ended up in the valley of Bainet, such as Jean Pierre and Jean Louis in the late 1700s. We assume the "Calit Cangé" habitation in the valley of Bainet was named after one of them and that some remained in the area after the Haitian Revolution. 

Since Celin disappeared and Cangé survives in the Bainet and Jacmel area, and the Cangé were a numerous family in the 18th century, we assume that some of us are descendants of them. Our earliest known ancestor with the name was probably born in c.1829 in the valley of Bainet, but we are missing too many years of the 19th century Bainet civil records to positively identify his parents. However, we earlier pointed out a connection between a Jean Charles Cangé and an Alexandre who acted as godfather to his child in the 1820s. There were also other Alexandre-Cangé ties in the valley of Bainet and Jacmel during the early 19th century. In nearby Jacmel, for instance, one Jean Baptiste Alexandre was married to a Cangé and had a child in the 1818. We think the parents of our great-great-grandmother may have been from close Alexandre and Cangé backgrounds, perhaps living in or near Bergin (Begin) but lack the required documents to prove it. Nonetheless, we're willing to bet good money Jean Michel Cangé was somehow related to Jean Charles Celin Cangé or another one of the Cangé living in the valley of Bainet during the 1790s. After all, the valley isn't that large of a place and many people must have remained in the area after independence. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

Alexis Saugrain's Martinique and Saint Christophe Origins

Saugrain and Faste were the parents of Alexis, Charles, and their brother, Francois. ANOM's Leogane records are priceless for trying to track down some of the later Bainet and Jacmel residents.

So it turns out that Alexis Saugrain, born in c.1696, in Saint-Domingue, was actually the son of parents from Martinique and Saint-Christophe. According to the 1694 Leogane parish register, Alexis's parents were married in that year. His father, whose parents were from Caux and Rouen, was probably born in Martinique or perhaps his family moved there relatively soon after his birth. It is interesting to note that the mother of Francois Saugrain was named Marguerite Tremonie in Martinique, but Tresorier in Saint-Domingue. Her name also changed to Magdelaine in Saint-Domingue, perhaps through errors of the parish priests in Leogane and Jacmel? Francois Saugrain was illiterate and couldn't have corrected them. Perhaps Marguerite Tremonie is the most likely candidate for his mother's name.

Thanks to ANOM, we know that a sister of Francois Saugrain died in Case-Pilote in 1727, around 80 years old. If accurate, she was probably born in the late 1740s or early 1750s. Another source, Personnes et familles à la Martinique au XVIIe siècle: d'après recensements et terrier nominatifs includes a roll or census from1680, suggests Jeanne Sogrin (Saugrin) was born in 1655.

From what I could gather from Martinique rolls, censuses and other documents, one of Francois's sisters was born in or around 1655. One document from 1671 also mentions the Saugrin, indicating they were definitely established in the Case-Pilote area of Martinique by 1671. I cannot tell if Francois Saugrain's sisters were born on the island, but I suspect he was. Like the Marin who married the first Marillac in Jacmel, Francois Saugrain appears to have been another example of a Martinique Creole who relocated to Saint Domingue. And like other early French colonists in the Antilles, the Saugrain were from Normandie. We wonder if their descendants in Martinique know that they have black Haitian cousins through Alexis Saugrain and Suzanne?

In 1682, a cousin of Alexis Saugrain was baptized in Martinique.

In addition to Martinique, Alexis Saugrain could also claim origins in Saint-Christophe, the other old French colony in the Caribbean. His mother, Barbe Faste, was a native of that island who, like many others, ended up in Saint Domingue in the late 1600s. I could not find any trace of her mother, Jeanne Gourdel, unfortunately. Her father, Guillaume Faste, may have been the Guillaume Foster listed in a 1671 census shared by the good people of Généalogie et Histoire de la Caraïbe. This is just a theory, but Faste and Foster could sound similar to a Francophone person. Besides, there was no other Guillaume with a surname similar to Faste. Perhaps the Foster surname is an indication of English origin, unsurprising in Saint-Christophe. At least we have a better idea of the origins of Alexis Saugrain in terms of the longer history of French colonialism and slavery in the Antilles. It is a long, sordid history and insidious legacy which still affects Haiti, Martinique, and Saint Kitts.

An English Guillaume Fostre or Foster appears in the 1671 Census of Saint-Christophe, also available on FamilySearch. This was probably the father of Barbe Faste, although he seems to have been married to a woman named Gidienne, not Jeanne.

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Saugrain Habitation in Bainet (Anse à Canot)

The Saugrain habitation in early 18th century Bainet is actually one of the indigoteries for which we have some data on its enslaved workforce. Much of our interest in the Saugrain comes from Alexis Saugrain, the son of Francois Saugrain and a woman named Barbe. Alexis, Charles, and Francois were the sons of these two and all three appear to have been born in Saint-Domingue (in Grand-Goave). Their father, who remarried a few years before his demise, expired in 1719. Their father was presumably from Normandy, as the Jacmel parish registers indicate in his marriage to a Marguerite Francq. The parents of Alexis and his brothers appear in the 1735 testament of Francois Saugrain, naming Alexis as his heir. Charles Saugrain also gave some of his property (including 3 slaves) to Alexis in that same year...

Alexis Saugrain's brother's testament from 1735 names their parents. Yes, I know...3 different generations of men named Francois Saugrain. Alexis had a brother named Francois, father called Francois, and a grandfather named Francois...

In 1720, the property of the Saugrain habitation was listed and can be found on among the Saint-Domingue Notariat from Jacmel in the 1720s. Luckily, FamilySearch's website included it among their limited Saint-Domingue Notariat records. We have produced a crude table illustrating the enslaved population by its "national" origins. The Creole predominance this early in a Bainet plantation is a little striking.









Minne (Mine)


















From 1703, when the Saugrain household only included 8 slaves in the census, their habitation increased to 40 enslaved laborers by 1720. Half of their human "property" consisted of Creoles, mostly children and born in the colony. Suzanne, the woman we suspect to be the same slave of the Saugrain who gave birth to a daughter who married a Gory in 1738, was the only Creole born outside of Saint-Domingue. The other notable feature of the data is the weak presence of Central Africans. The ubiquitous "Congos" are only represented by 2 Central Africans, 1 Mondongue and 1 person who probably came from or via Loango. The Senegalois presence is also limited, despite the Senegambia region probably providing a more sizable portion of Saint-Domingue's slave population than in later decades.

Thanks to ANOM, we know Francois Saugrain married a Marguerite Francq in 1717, whose father was from Jamaica. Baptisms recorded for other children of Jean Francq refer to him as a slave of Francois Saugrain...

In this sample, clearly the Slave Coast and Gold Coast were the major sources of Africans. The Minne or Mine represented 10 percent of the total. If one combines Arada, Jouda, Nago, and Oueda, then 20 percent came via the Slave Coast. Allada, once the dominant kingdom in today's Benin, claimed suzerainty over Ouidah during the period before 1720 and powerful Oyo to the north also contributed to the provision of captives through its slave trade. Of the African-born population on the plantation, 40 percent appear to have been from the Slave Coast. If the identification of the ambiguous "nations" could be confidently asserted, then the Slave Coast proportion might have been even higher. Unfortunately, we have no idea what to make of the Mamou, Samba (?) and the other unknown nation. Google searching brings up a Mamou in Guinea, which probably isn't what we are looking for. The other 2 are unknown to us and Debien has not provided any clues. It is interesting to note that none of the adult males were Creoles. Supposedly the Saugrain did own an adult Creole a few years before 1720, a native of Jamaica named Jean Francq. But he must have been freed since his children were freed by the Saugrain. 

We cannot decipher the "nation" or ethnic background of Andre.

Naturally, we cannot ascertain how representative the Saugrain habitation was for Bainet or Jacmel in the 1720s. Indigo plantations must have differed from other types, and we know the Compagnie de Saint-Domingue was still the main (legal) source of slaves. Perhaps smuggling (such as a slave from Jamaica and a slave from Curacao) provided much of the laborers? We would have to find inventories, deeds, and testaments for other parts of Bainet or Jacmel for a more representative sample of Bainet's African population in the early 1700s. Yet it is still interesting to know what one early Bainet plantation looked like and the world one of our (probable) enslaved ancestors experienced.