Sunday, October 9, 2016

Graciana, vous êtes ici


I started with the oldest reliable information I had from about 100 years ago: according to our family's oral tradition her daughter Eugenia Ortalli was born in Saladillo, an agricultural city in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she spent her whole life.
Eugenia Ortalli (1906-1993), Saladillo, Argentina.
The records of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, the only catholic church of the city at the time are partially available on line for free in FamilySearch although not necessarily indexed (and even when indexed they have spelling mistakes that don't resemble at all to the original). However, in some churches, the priest would add an index, that looks a lot like a black-book, and where we can search baptism acts by the father's name.

According to Eugenia's baptism act in 1906, her mother Graciana Chanquet, 26 years old was born in Marcos Paz, also in the province of Buenos Aires, but closer to the Capital.
The church San Marcos Evangelista was not yet build so she was baptised at Nuestra Señora de la Merced that belongs to Merlo and had also a handwriten index. I browsed for her father's name and found a match for the estimated birthdate in 1880. According to this act, Graciana's mother was 26 year old Marguerite Lerdou and Juan Chanquet, both from France.

However, there was a homonym ten years younger so it was wise to confirm the identity of her parents with another source, ideally her wedding with Eugenia's father, Juan Ortalli.

Traditionally, the wedding took place in the church of district where the bride lived but back in the day, people moved a lot as new colonies were established in the Pampas. Unsurprisingly, Graciana didn't marry in Marcos Paz or Merlo. Her family had already moved away so I took a shot to the second most likely place: where her children were born. Back in the index of Saladillo, listed under her husband's name there was her wedding record in 1902. This document confirmed the names of her parents Marguerite Lerdou and Juan Chanquet from France.

Just out of curiosity and because the source is also available, I looked for the Chanquet family in the second National Census of 1895. What I love about a census is that it is like a massive poster of family portraits all stitched togheter. Sometimes we are lucky but sometimes the records are only partially indexed so I dedicated an entire Sunday to browse the differents districts of Saladillo with my good eye while I watched a Kitchen Nightmare's marathon with the bad one. And there, in the middle of a bucket of spoiled chicken and coleslaw, I found the page where an Argentinean teenager named Graciana Chanquet (14) lived whith Margarita L. de Chanquet (13) and Juan Chanquet (12) from France.
It is widely known that you cannot just get a ticket to France, if I wanted to continue through my journey I needed a more specific destination.
To be continued...

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