Found my Grandfather in French Military Records

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.

militaire lassalle jean crop

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.

oaklandcity dir 1907 leclerque ma grandpa lassalles cousin he stayed with crop

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.


The 1900 Census got the Menaud’s all wrong

I missed this entry in the 1900 Census for several years.  I was looking for Romain and Madeleine Menaud, with daughter. Mary Lacazette (from Madeleine’s first marriage).  But, they were nowhere to be found.  It took learning more about the family to root them out.

The Menaud surname is rare in California in 1900.  Even more so in Fresno where my Menaud’s live.  They are the only ones.

This census snapshot gives an idea of how far off the enumerator was:


The names aren’t even close.  Robrot (or Robert?) should be Romain.  M. unk should be Madeleine.  Mary Lacazype or whatever it is should be Mary Lacazette.  The only one that is correct is Romain’s daughter, Leona Menaud.

If I hadn’t done extensive research on this family to learn that both Romain and Madeleine were divorce and had children from those marriages, I might not have found the census record.  The indexes were of no help until I unearthed Leona Menaud in a newspaper article about Romain’s divorce.  If I didn’t have that bit of information, I would have had to go through the Fresno census page by page.  A task I have done before and don’t relish doing again.

It makes me wonder who gave the information.  It couldn’t have been Romain, Madeleine, Mary, or Leona.  They should have known their own names.  Romain and Madeleine had been married only a couple of months prior to the census.  She was from San Francisco.  It’s possible that she was unknown around town and maybe even to her neighbors.  That would explain her being identified as “M. Unk.”  But what about Romain?  He had lived in Fresno since 1872.  He was one of the early settlers of the city.  He was an investor and in 1900 census is listed as a Capitalist.  He should have been well known anywhere he went in area.  Yet, whoever gave the information seemed to think his name was Robert.  I have no other information showing that he was was called by that name.  Raymond was the only other name he was referred to.

This is another example of how indexes can fail us and why we must collect as many sources as possible about the people we are researching.  Not only do we fill in the family’s story but we learn clues to help us with future searches.


Marthe Magedeleine (Labourdette) Segalas’ Individual Summary

Marthe is my great great grandmother.  She was born in the village of Ogeu les bains in France.

One thing I have found interesting about researching French women is that as early as 1800 they all have occupations listed in official records.  It’s something I am not used to seeing in other localities until 1900.  In this case, Marthe was a cultivatrice, or farmer.  Her husband was as well.

Marthe’s life was a short one.  She died at the age of 29.

Name:    Marthe Magdeleine LABOURDETTE-7880
Sex:    Female
Father:    Michel LABOURDETTE-7904 (1804-    )
Mother:    Jeanne CAPDEVILLE-7905 (    -1855)

Individual Facts
Birth    28 Jul 1830    Buziet, France6
Death    21 Jul 1860 (age 29)    Ogeu les bains, France
Alt. Name        Marthe Magdelaine Capdeville -7880
Occupation    1857-    Cultivatrice (Farmer); Ogeu les bains, France

1. Pierre Charles SEGALAS-7879 (1817-    )
Marriage    1 Aug 1855 (age 25)
Children    Elizabeth SEGALAS-7748 (1857-1938)
Michel SEGALAS-8052 (1860-    )