I met a man through a cousin who met him on GeneaNet. He is our distant cousin. He actively researches our family tree and is an excellent ally for all things genealogy in France. This weekend he informed me that France has put up a new military database, Registres de Recrutement Militaire.
The records give the name of man, his birth information, parentage, and residency. Then, there are sections for various details about his military service.
I put in some surnames and found a couple of relatives. I was intrigued by two who were in the US at the time that their records were written. This intrigued me. As family lore goes, my grandfather left France in 1907 so as to avoid military conscription. Could there be a record for him in this database?
It’s a little tricky searching. You have a field for name which is entered last name first without a comma. Then you can put in a year of conscription or service. I first entered Lassalle Jean and received way too many entries. I didn’t know what year my grandfather might have been conscripted. I started with 1907 as that was the year he left France. I didn’t find a match. I tried 1908 and then 1909. Bingo! I found him.
I wasn’t sure how to interpret the information in the service section. The word “Insoumis” means absent or rebellious. I asked my French cousin about this. He believes that it means absent from service, but not always as part of a rebelli0n or for political reasons. In essence, my grandfather was a draft dodger.
Ironic, isn’t it? He left France to avoid military service then 10 years later the United States got him anyway.
According to my cousin, the French military would continue to try to contact him. They would stop if he became a US Citizen. If he went back to France before he gained that citizenship, he could have been imprisoned.
This record has important information for my research. Note that it gives his address in America. Was he obligated to be on record or did his parents provide the address? As to my research, my grandpa arrived in 1907 and then we lose him until he is drafted for World War I. Though the information was on his immigration record, I could not make out the address or the name of the cousin he was going to stay with. Now I have something to work with. In fact, I did a little work in Oakland, California City Directories and came up with this. I am not surprised to find that my grandfather was working and living at a French laundry. There were many relatives from Ogeu les bains, France, his home village, who opened laundries in the San Francisco Bay Area.
M.A. Leclerque is the cousin listed on his immigration papers. This surname has not come up in conjunction with the Lassalle family tree. I now have another mystery to solve.
I’m grateful for this record. It proves Grandpa’s own story that he left to avoid military service. It also gives me a new avenue to research as I try to piece together the story of his early years in America.
Genealogist and writer. Creator of the Portuguese Hawaiian Genealogy and Heritage website, yourislandroutes.com