Recap: The earliest information we have about the Chanquet-Lerdou family is that their daughter was born in 1880 in Marcos Paz, Argentina but that both parents have always declared to be French.
Back in the day there was no civil registration in Argentina so most people didn't need to prove their identity or origin if they were white enough, seriously, it is written in some acts. A simple declaration was enough and sometimes the priest would assume the origin depending on the family name or the accent but sometimes, people would simply just lie.
If Marguerite was really French we should be able to find her birth records in France. But where? Were there any other available records that would lead us to her hometown? Sometimes wedding records carry more information. However, although her daughter was born in Marcos Paz, the wedding records do not appear in the same church. It could had been back in France but I took a shot searching in Argentina.
Fortunately, many of the records from the province and the capital are indexed and a quick search in FamilySearch can help a lot, if we know how to properly filter. I was lucky, they married in one of the churches of the capital the year before Graciana was born. The act shows the names of their parents: Pedro Chanquet & Gracia Pelot for Juan; Cayetano Lerdou & Mariana Echegoen for Marguerite Lerdou. Strangely, Cayetano Lerdou and Gracia Pelot are declared as Italians although they carry French names. Marguerite is again declared as French but without specifications.
Despite the scarcity of information in early church records from Argentina, there are other ways to solve this problem and like with many other things in life, I start with a Google search. As powerful as this search engine might be, it is still very useful to keep our brains plugged in and our filters clean so the more specific, the better.
For instance, if I want to narrow my search I should know how popular this name is. Geneanet and Genealogie.com both agreed: Lerdou is not a common last name in France nor elsewhere (peu populaire).
|Screen cap from http://www.geneanet.org/|
|Screen cap from http://www.genealogie.com/|
|Collage of screen caps from http://www.geopatronyme.com/|
The Archives of this department are in Pau and we can find them online.
Un ticket pour Pau, s'il vous plait!
To be continued...