Exploring Your Family Tree

Archival records from French Quarter, 1859.

Researching your family tree can be a very rewarding experience. Many of us want to learn more about where we came from and who our ancestors were. This project can also be a chance to connect with relatives and learn new stories.

Most people know their closest family members: parents, sisters and brothers, children. Most people can start to map out their family tree with the names and dates they already know. Even basic information like the date and location of births, marriages and deaths can start to give form to a family history.

Stretching back through time, grandparents, great aunts and uncles, and great grandparents can show the roots of your personal heritage. For St. Martiners, this might mean seeing connections between different families or roots on nearby islands.

It can be more challenging to develop a family tree that goes beyond the details you can get from family members. Most genealogy databases are light on information from the Caribbean, especially St. Martin. But there are some tools you can use.

FamilySearch.org is a free family tree research site. Although it doesn’t include records from St. Martin, it is possible to follow St. Martiners as they moved to other places. FamilySearch includes immigration data from the Dominican Republic. You can see dozens of St. Martiners moving there in the first half of the 20th century: Charles Blake Lake, Muriel Coralita Richardson, Edward Carty the list is long. Most were born between 1870 and 1925 and arrived in the Dominican Republic by the early 1950s.

There are also French colonial records available online at the national archives of the overseas territories. They include birth, death, marriage and other records from the 1770s until the beginning of the 20th century. They aren’t searchable by text, but you can view images of the records themselves.

An entry like the birth record of Anne Marie Hodge in 1859 contains quite a bit of information. She was born to Catherine Hodge, a 28 year-old clothing maker living at Union plantation. Her father was unknown, at least on the birth record. Later, a note was added to the page recording Anne Marie’s marriage to Jean Joseph Rohan when she was 21.

Anne Marie Hodge’s birth record from 1859.

From close family to the distant past, exploring family trees is a process of exploring personal heritage that connects each of us to a larger story. Yet that larger story is always grounded in the lives and loves of individuals. Connecting multiple family trees has the potential to reveal an even bigger picture and transform our knowledge about St. Martin history.

Have you researched your family tree? Would you be interested in sharing your family tree or helping others discover their past? Let us know by writing to info@lesfruitsdemer.com or The Daily Herald.

2 comments

  1. Janice Hodge says:

    Saw that you offer help with building a family tree. My grandfather was born the 1st of October 1861 on St. Bartholomeus and I would like to get proof of that in the form of a birth certificate. Wasn’t successful as yet.

  2. Aishel A. Marchena says:

    Hello,,

    I kende mijn familie van mijn vaders kant niet omdat mijn vader en moeder uitelkaar gingen toen ik 3 was.

    Daarom heb ik besloten om naar Sint Maarten te komen om mijn roots te leren kennen.

    Van horen zeggen was mijn opa Kapitein van de Lyon, meneer Williams.

    Ik zou graag fotos willen van mijn opa en oma die hebben we niet maar misschien hebben de familie aan de Franse kant dit wel.

    We weten ook niet waar hun laatste rustplaats is, dit vind ik heel erg.

    Mijn opa was getrouwd met Leonie Richardson.

    Hebben jullie tips voor mij om b.v. de begraafplaats te vinden van mijn grootouders.

    Alvast bedankt.

    Mijn vader was Humberto Williams.

    Vriendelijke groet,

    Aishel

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