Thursday, June 23, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt's Diary, section cinq


Jean La Forêt's diary holds yet more treasures to explore.  When last we left Jean, he had arrived in Valparaiso, Chile while serving with the U.S. Marines.





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Febr. 11 – 02 – Callao again

Feb. 26 – 02 – Acapulco

Mrch 5 – 02 – Pichili[n]gue Bay and La Paz –

Mrch 12 – 02 – Madalena Bay

Mrch 26 – 02 – San Diego

April 5 – 02 – San Francisco

April 7 – 02 – Mare Island à l'hopital.

Juillet 8, 02 – Quitte l'hopital

Novembre 15 – 02, A Yerba Buena ——

Nove Oct. 20, 1903  Quartermaster Sgt.

February 1 – 1905  Left Yerba Buena for Philipine Islands –

Manila – March 2 – 1905

Cavite — same day —

Olongapo — March 6 – 05

Leave Olongapo May 19 – 1906

Arrive at Cavite May 19 – 1906

Quitte Cavite Oct. 7 – 1906 – 4 ½ P.M.

Quitte Manila Oct. 9, 1906 – 2 P.M.

Quitte Mariveles Oct. 10 – 1906, 4 P.M.

Arrive à Nagasaki, Japan, lundi, Oct. 15 3. P.M.

Quitte Nagasaki, Japan Oct. 17 – 6 AM.

Arrive à Honolulu, Hawaii on Monday Oct. 30 – 9 AM.

Quitte Honolulu Samedi Nov. 3 – 5 P.M.

Arrive à San Francisco dimanche Nov. 11 –

Arrive à Mare Island Nov. 12 –

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February 11, 1902 – Callao [Peru] again

February 26, 1902 – Acapulco

March 5, 1902 – Pichilingue Bay and La Paz

March 12, 1902 – Magdalena Bay

March 26, 1902 – San Diego

April 5, 1902 – San Francisco

April 7, 1902 – Mare Island in the hospital.

Juillet 8, 1902 – Left the hospital

November 15, 1902 – At Yerba Buena

Nove October 20, 1903  Quartermaster Sergeant

February 1, 1905 – Left Yerba Buena for Philippine Islands

March 2, 1905 – Manila

same day – Cavite

March 6, 1905 – Olongapo

May 19, 1906  Leave Olongapo

May 19, 1906  Arrive at Cavite

October 7, 1906  Leave Cavite 4:30 p.m.

October 9, 1906  Leave Manila 2:00 p.m.

October 10, 1906  Leave Mariveles 4:00 p.m.

October 15  Arrive in Nagasaki, Japan, Monday, 3:00 p.m.

October 17  Leave Nagasaki, Japan 6:00 p.m.

October 30  Arrive in Honolulu, Hawaii, Monday, 9:00 a.m.

November 3  Leave Honolulu Saturday 5:00 p.m.

November 11  Arrive in San Francisco Sunday

November 12  Arrive at Mare Island

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Nothing in these pages was difficult to translate, not only because a lot was written in English.  These entries are almost entirely a list of locations and when Jean arrived and left.  He appears to have become fluent in "franglais", that mish-mash of French and English.  He goes back and forth between the two languages and sometimes uses both in the same entry.  I took a small amount of liberty with the translations by making the format consistent for each entry:  date, then location, then day and/or time if included.

In this part of Jean's travelogue, I think the item that caught my attention the most was his three-month stay in the hospital at Mare Island, from April 7–July 8, 1902.  After all of his travels up and down the Pacific coast, he comes back to California and goes into the hospital.  Maybe it was a bug he picked up on the trip.  Obviously, another item that I hope shows up in his service file.

I'm guessing that the entry for October 20, 1903 — "Quartermaster Sgt" — means he was working in that position.  He tends to write little about his accomplishments.  I am pretty sure that Yerba Buena refers to the island in the middle of San Francisco Bay, which currently is a U.S. Coast Guard installation.  The Wikipedia page about Yerba Buena does mention that a U.S. Navy training station was established there before the turn of the 20th century.

Several of the locations Jean mentions I had not heard of previously.  I now know, however, that Pichilingue Bay (with some spelling variation) is in Baja California, as is Magdalena Bay. I guessed correctly that Cavite, Olongapo, and Mariveles are in the Philippines because of their apparent proximity to Manila based on Jean's notes.

There are additional significant gaps in time in these pages.  Between November 1902 and February 1905, Jean made only one entry, the one that says "Quartermaster Sgt."  And it seems that Jean had nothing to write about during his stay in Olongapo.  He arrived on March 6, 1905, and the next entry records his departure on May 19, 1906.  I wonder if that means he had a quiet tour there.

From May 19, 1906 through the last page shown here, the entries were written first in pencil and later copied over in ink.  I wonder if Jean was the person who wrote over the entries to make them darker, or if that was the work of Emma.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Three Stories for Father's Day

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun challenge from Randy Seaver was not only timely but incredibly helpful, as I had not yet decided what I wanted to write about for Father's Day.

Your mission, should you decide to accept it (cue the Mission Impossible! music) is:

1)  Sunday, 19 June, is Father's Day.  Let's celebrate by writing a blog post about your father, or another significant male ancestor (e.g., a grandfather).

2)  What are three things about your father (or significant male ancestor) that you vividly remember about him?

3)  Tell us all about it in your own blog post, in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook status or Google+ stream post.


Father's Day 2013
My father is Bertram Lynn Sellers, Jr., born in 1935 in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey to Bertram Lynn Sellers, Sr. and Anna Gauntt.  He married my mother, Myra Roslyn Meckler, in 1961 in Miami, Florida and they then moved to Southern California, where I and my brother and sister were born.

(1) My father loves cars.  He raced cars, worked on cars, worked in garages.  I remember him racing when I was growing up in the Los Angeles area and going to racetracks to watch races.  He raced while we lived in Australia, in Florida when we returned to the U.S., and in Texas when he moved there.  He has a large collection of trophies and memorabilia from his racing days (or better still have them, because I told him that if storage was an issue, I would take care of them).  He told me one story about having broken an arm while racing when he was a teenager, and he tried to hide it from his mother (my grandmother).  Several years later, he discovered she knew about it all along.  Even now, when I go into a garage and smell the grease, it brings back happy memories.  If I ever have a question about car models, I know he'll be able to answer it.  He identified all the cars in the photos I took while I was in Cuba (well, except for the Russian "Moskva", which he had never seen before).

(2) My father was a great musician.  I grew up listening to my father play guitar and sing.  I learned the words to many songs, including "Sixteen Tons" and "Mairzy Doats", from listening to him when I was little.  Later, when my siblings and I were a little older, he would try to skip a verse and I would usually be the one who pointed it out to him, which would earn me a comment about being a "smartass kid."  He also used to play piano.  He performed swing music with a band called the Court Jesters that competed on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour, coming in second to Gladys Knight.  I say my dad was a great musician because he can't really play anymore due to arthritis.

(3) My father looks a lot like his father.  This is kind of ironic, because the two did not often get along well.  Whether that was because of the ways they were the same or the ways they differed, I don't know.  But I have noticed each year how much he looks more and more like my grandfather.

Archives in Africa, a Cultural Heritage of Humanity

This article about the situation with archives in Africa was published online by Le Monde on March 20, 2015.  I thought the information might be useful and of interest to other researchers, so I've translated the article from French to English.

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At the National Archives of Senegal, Dakar.  Credit:  AFP.

At the Foccart symposium taking place on 26 and 27 March [2015] in Paris, Le Monde Afrique will publish a brief on the famous consultant and on archives in Africa.  Report of the former director of the Senegal archives, Saliou Mbaye.


Archives allow one to glimpse the past and to write the future.  They delve into the history of societies, peoples, and states.  Archives in Africa are currently a key issue of good governance, democracy, and development.  An archive is, among other things, knowledge of the state about the state, namely the peoples themselves.  Our societies and our African states therefore cannot develop without full knowledge of their own history.

Archival heritage, in West Africa for example, is not confined to yellowed papers from colonial administrations.  It’s about a heritage produced and admittedly received by colonial administrations and those of independence, but to it must be added all private archives, copies of archives of former colonial powers, collected and stored oral archives, objects and materials produced by West African societies, and finally manuscripts in Arabic or ajami (Arabic characters used to transcribe African languages:  Pulaar, Soninke, Hausa, etc.).  Oral sources and the extraordinary vitality of our societies based on oral tradition, as well as new information and communications technologies, are also part of this cultural and archival heritage that Africa has shared with mankind.

Dakar, the “Holy Mecca” of Archives in West Africa

In the early 2000’s, Africans decided to take charge.  Africa relied on itself.  She established the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD; http://www.nepad.org/), which intended to use private funds to implement development programs.  Among NEPAD’s priorities were indeed mastery of the new information and communications technologies and the development of records management capabilities.  What about today?  Efforts were certainly made.  But the great majority of countries are still deficient in rational management of their archives.

At the National Archives of Senegal, Dakar, in February 2013.  Credit: Nicolas Courtin.
The archives in Dakar, the "Holy Mecca" of archives in West Africa, as my late colleague J. Enwere from Nigeria said, "are recorded in the Memory of the World Register [since 2000] and were classified as World Heritage documentary" by Unesco.  The archives of French West Africa, held in Dakar, are also an exception, that we in Senegal today like to rank among the "Senegalese exceptions."

On the other hand, while the archives of Indochina, Madagascar, Equatorial Africa, and Algeria, based on the principle of sovereignty, are now found in the National Overseas Archives (ANOM) in Aix-en-Provence, France, the French West Africa (AOF) archives remain in Dakar.  This collection is undeniably a "common heritage."  This means that "the collection is kept physically intact in one of the relevant countries, where it is integrated into the national archival heritage, with all the responsibilities for security and processing that implies the State as acting owner of this heritage."

The archives have been microfilmed since 1961, but a good portion of these microfilms have deteriorated, and microfilming operations have been reduced for about a decade, which it is hoped will be of short duration.  In the 2000’s, several countries have made efforts to microfilm all or part of the archives relating to the histories of their countries preserved in the AOF collection.  These are Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger.

But in fact, to do it well, the entire collection should have been scanned, so each party could freely access it and in its own territory.  Total digitization would protect and save this "shared memory" between France and Africa.  Reducing the technology gap also begins with scanning everything.

The AOF Archives, Sources for African History

Although they originate from colonial institutions, the AOF archives unquestionably constitute sources for the history of Africa.  Of course, they have been grouped to illustrate colonial actions.  But they serve Africans and specialists in the history of Africa, who analyze them as bona fide sources of African history.  So, based on territorial principles (they were mainly produced in Africa) and relevance (the majority are focused on Africans), they belong to the heritage of Africa and Africans consider them as such.  They are correct.

These two sculptures stand guard at the bottom of a staircase at the National Archives of Senegal.  Marianne's feet are surrounded by mango trees, each representing a new colony.  Credit: Nicolas Courtin.
At independence, governments made efforts to provide archival services.  The challenge is how developed the nation is and that archives are viewed and maintained as a tool for development.  Moreover, most archives are under the authority of either the president of the country (e.g., Burkina Faso), the prime minister (e.g., Senegal, Madagascar), or the Ministry of the Interior (e.g., Ivory Coast).  In doing this, the administrations want, in effect, to present archives as an interdepartmental service that can provide historical information needed by any active bureaucracy.

Although repositories have been built here and there to house the archives, the oil crisis of the 1970's and the emergence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank in the economy of our country, with their structural adjustment programs, have dampened the enthusiasm of the 1960's.  It was not until the years 1990–2000 that a building construction policy resumed.  This is the case in Benin, Mali, Niger, and Ghana, where buildings were constructed for archives.  Guinea and Cape Verde have renovated old buildings.

But curiously, Senegal, which has had a construction plan since 1972, remains stuck at the starting line.  The project was started, but political changes that occurred 19 March 2000 terminated it.  However, since 2012 (after a second round of political changes), there are rumors that generate a lot of hope in the national community of archivists.

The development of democracy, the issue of good governance, and the requirements of new citizenship demand more transparency in government actions and greater access to administrative information.  The governments of African countries must give their citizens free access to administrative information and create privacy legislation.  Another obstacle is that only a few countries, such as Senegal, have adequate legislation, characterized by a number of laws, notably on archives (2006) and the protection of personal data (2008).  It is hoped that such laws will be adopted in the near future in all of Africa, giving the countries of the continent the opportunity to be included among the countries of the world where archives count.

Saliou Mbaye is a palaeographer and archivist.  Former director of Senegal's archives, he is a university professor.

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I've tried for the past year to obtain official permission to publish this translation, but Le Monde says it isn't their intellectual property but the author's, and they won't help me contact the author.  I found an e-mail address for the author online, but no one responded to my message.  If anyone can help put me in touch with Saliou Mbaye, I would appreciate it.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: Jean La Forêt's Diary, fourth section


This Thursday we continue on with Jean La Forêt's diary.  Since only a small portion of the next page was needed to finish the last entry translated, I'm counting this week's first page (above) as a complete one.  Remember, as of last week's episode, Jean is no longer in the U.S. Army but has joined the Marines.


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Janvier 15 – 92

Changeons de quartier – Caserne nouvelle bâtie trés confortablement.

Avril 5 – 1897

Pars de Sitka et d'Alaska avec "Topeka" – Arrive a Victoria Avril 11 – 97  Seattle – Avril 11 – 12 – 13/97  Retourne a Victoria 13/97  Arrive à San Francisco Avril 18 – 97 – a Vallejo même jour

A Mare Island Avril 20 – 97 – 3h. P. M.

A l'"Independence" Mai 24 – 1897 ——

May 25 – 99 – Quitte Independence and report for duty at Mare Island.

Juillet 1 – 99 – Prend charge de l'office de Quartier Maître.

Août 31 – Prend in[s]cription pour Gunner – Passe examen Sept. 1 – 99;

Sept. 1st 1900 – Décharge

Oct. 3 – " – Prend saloon à San Francisco.

Nov. 19 – " – revends

Nov. 30 – " – Rentre dans Marine Corps.  Congé 6 semains.

Jan. 15 – 01  Report for duty at Mare Island, Cal.

Febr. 4 – 01  U.S.S. "Wisconsin" put in commission – Reported aboard as 1st sergt of Marine Guard — In commission at 2 P.M.

March 9 – 01  Left at noon for Magdalena Bay (Mexico)

March 15 – 01  Passed "Philadelphia" off Guadaloupe Island

March 17 – 01  Arrived in Magdalena Bay

March 28 – 01  Arrival of "Mohican"

April 11 – 01  Left about 4 P.M. for San Francisco

April 15 – 01  Arrived in San Francisco Bay 1 P.M.

May 28 – 01  Left San Francisco Bay for Puget Sound, Wash.

June 1 – 01 – Bremerton at 5 AM.

June 12 – 1901 – San Francisco.

June 29 – Port Angeles, Wash.

July 2 – 01 – New – Whatcom –

July 23 – 01 – Bremerton

Oct. 23 – 01 – Honolulu

Nov. 1 – 01 – Passe l'équateur.

Nov. 5 – 01 – Tutuila Island

Nov. 20 – 01 – Pago-Pago – Apia – Samoa

Dec. 1 – 01 – Honolulu

Dec. 25 – 01 – Noel – Acapulco Mexico —

Jan. 3 – 02 – Passed under Equator again

Jan – 7 – 02 – Callao, Peru

Jan. 9 – 02 – A Lima

Jan. 20 – 02 – Valparaiso Chile

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January 15, 1892

We change quarters – new barracks built very comfortably.

April 5, 1897

Leave Sitka and Alaska with the Topeka – Arrive in Victoria April 11, 1897  Seattle April 11-12-13, 1897  Return to Victoria [April] 13, 1897  Arrive in San Francisco April 18, 1897 – in Vallejo the same day

In Mare Island April 20, 1897  3:00 p.m.

On the Independence May 24, 1897 ——

May 25, 1899 – Leave the Independence and report for duty at Mare Island.

July 1, 1899 – Take charge of the Quartermaster's office.

August 31 – Apply for Gunner – Pass exam September 1, 1899;

September 1, 1900 – Discharged

October 3 " – Buy a saloon in San Francisco.

November 19 " – Resell it

November 30 " – Return to the Marine Corp.  Six weeks leave.

January 15, 1901  Report for duty at Mare Island.

February 4, 1901  U.S.S. Wisconsin put in commission – Reported aboard as 1st Sergeant of Marine Guard – in commission at 2:00 p.m.

March 9, 1901  Left at noon for Magdalena Bay (Mexico)

March 15, 1901  Passed Philadelphia off Guadaloupe Island

March 17, 1901  Arrived in Magdalena Bay

March 28, 1901  Arrival of Mohican

April 11, 1901  Left about 4:00 p.m. for San Francisco

April 15, 1901  Arrived in San Francisco Bay 1:00 p.m.

May 28, 1901  Left San Francisco Bay for Puget Sound, Washington

June 1, 1901 – Bremerton at 5:00 a.m.

June 12, 1901 – San Francisco.

June 29 – Port Angeles, Washington

July 2, 1901 – New Whatcom –

July 23, 1901 – Bremerton

October 23, 1901 – Honolulu

November 1, 1901 – Pass the Equator.

November 5, 1901 – Tutuila Island

November 20, 1901 – Pago-Pago – Apia – Samoa

December 1, 1901 – Honolulu

December 25, 1901 – Christmas – Acapulco Mexico —

January 3, 1902 – Passed under Equator again

January 7, 1902 – Callao, Peru

January 9, 1902 – To Lima

January 20, 1902 – Valparaiso, Chile

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This man surprised me again.  He enlisted in the Marines on August 26, 1890.  He was discharged on September 1, 1900, one year after he passed the Gunnery Sergeant exam and with a little more than ten years service.  He didn't stay out even three months before he re-upped (but at least he had six weeks leave before reporting again).  I'm sorry, but I just don't understand.  He had the saloon in San Francisco for only a month and a half before selling it.  Maybe he just had a love-hate relationship with the military and couldn't stay out.

He seemed to be pretty successful in the Marines.  He was in charge of the Quartermaster's office; he passed the Gunnery Sergeant exam.

Jean apparently became more comfortable with English during this period, because about half the entries are in that language.  He still goes back and forth, though.

He definitely saw a lot of the world while he was in the Marines.  Up and down the Pacific coast, around the Pacific Ocean — that's a nice travelogue.

I was very disappointed to see the gaps in dates in these pages.  Whatever the reason, Jean did not write between November 1890 (from last week's installment) and January 1892, January 1892 and April 1897, and May 1897 and May 1899.  That's eight years we don't know what he was doing, the bulk of this tour in the Marines.  Who knows where else he went during that time?  Maybe he was on classified missions and couldn't write.  I hope those periods are documented in his service file.

Thinking again about Emma La Forêt's 1917 emergency passport application, where she said that Jean had lived uninterruptedly in San Francisco from 1884 to 1909, we now have more data.  Based on these diary entries, Jean appears to have been in Sitka from 1890–1897.  He wasn't in San Francisco an entire day before he went to Vallejo.  The longest he might have been in San Francisco was while he owned the saloon, not even a month and a half.  Emma was certainly stretching things when she filled out that application.  Or maybe she really meant "the San Francisco Bay area."

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Loving Day 2016

It is Loving Day, and therefore time to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1967 that struck down antimiscegeneation laws in those states that still stood firmly by them.  Those sixteen states, all in the South, did not permit someone classified as "black" (the "one-drop rule" prevailing) and someone classified as "white" to be married, some of the states even disallowing marriages performed in states that permitted the unions.  If not for the Loving v. Virginia decision, my brother might not have been able to marry Sandra, and my family would not have had the pleasure of welcoming her and her family into our lives.  This year will be their 5th anniversary.