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September 30, 2004

Alexandre turns 3 years old

My son, Alexandre SEPULVEDA de DIETRICH turned 3 years old yesterday. We had - of course - chocolate cake, and Champomy (apple juice that tastes like champagne for kids).
And as a freshly graduated young boy (and not baby anymore), he got a new bed like his parents. Great party with only his parents last night. Party with his buddies is planned for the weekend.

September 30, 2004 at 12:25 AM in France | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 19, 2004

How to research your genealogy using the Mormon resources - part c.

Read Part a.: checking whether the Mormons have microfilmed a town
Read Part b.: how to obtain microfilms from the Mormons.

Image1Back to our genealogical research on the couple Guillermo SEPULVEDA CASTILLO and Maria Praxedes JARA FUICA, my great-grand-parents.

Ideally there would be 4 sorts of documents we could use here:

- Death certificates: Bernardita (mentionned before) found me Guillermo's death certificate. Unfortunately, it doesn't mention the name of his parents, nor where he was born (update on 9/2/05: His baptism certificate - when he was only 11 months - is from Parroquia San Miguel, in Los Angeles, Chile. Chances that he was born there are therefore high. We will look there, however it is unlikely we'll find an official document - see next §).

Family members told me Maria Praxedes died in 1954 in Concepcion, Chile. I will have to track that document down. (update on 9/2/05: her baptism certificate says she was 3 years old on the event on 24/12/1876. Funnily enough, the document is from the same Parroquia San Miguel de Los Angeles, were her future husband was baptized). Hence best chances is that she bas born around 1873 in Los Angeles, Chile).

- Birth certificates: I got the birth date of Guillermo on his death certificate, but I don't know where. He died in Chillan Viejo, Chile: my current hypothesis is that he was born in Los Angeles, Chile (see above) he went back to his birth place, although it is just a supposition. Chillan Viejo is also a place where there is one of the largest concentration of SEPULVEDAs in Chile. It is both good news (lots of chances of finding something), and bad news: I'll have to go through many documents. Nevertheless, now that I have the birth date, 23 june 1870, it might be easier. However there was no civil registration in 1870, hence I will have to contact each parish, or check each parish record on micro-film. The baptism certificate we have from Parroquia San Miguel in Los Angeles, is probably the best we'll get.

- birth certificates of the couple's children: very often, if we search through a number of years, we can find some of the couple's children. Sometimes they give the age of the father and/or the mother and/or residency and/or profession. In addition, sometimes the signature of the father or the mother might help validate that the person is the right one (when comparing with other documents); signature also means that the person knew how to write, hence had basic eduction or not.

- Marriage certificate: usually, this is a very good candidate for information, as very often, the age of the couple is mentioned, and the names of their respective parents. The location of the wedding is also a great indication, as it was usually the birthplace of one of the newly-wed, very often the bride.

And hurray! after some 20 minutes searching thru the records (some records have an index which helps a lot), I found the marriage certificate of Guillermo and Maria Praxedes!


What do we learn from it ? (had I not had known some of the information beforehand):
- that the couple got married in Los Sauces, Chile (obviously, since I am looking at the civil records for that town) on 13 december 1895.
- Guillermo is a widower and this is a 2nd marriage: this is news! This also means I will have to research his first marriage. He was 26 years old (actually slight inconsistency with his birth date from his death certificate, he should have been only 25 years old). His parents were Eduvije SEPULVEDA and Etelvina CASTILLO. I knew his father was José Eduvije SEPULVEDA: this tells us that his usual first name was Eduvije only. Update on 9/2/2005: hsi baptism certificate mentions he was a natural son, hence that his parents were not married then: no need to search for a marriage certificate before that date. Too bad we are looking some information there.

(update on 3/6/2007: when have found on familysearch that they married 3 years later in 1874)

- Maria Praxedes was 20 years old, hence born around 1875. My previous information was that she died in 1956 at age 84, which meant born around 1872. (Update on 9/2/2005: her baptism certificate mentions she was 3 in 1876, hence born c. 1873. This means that one of the dates is wrong, and that my research will have to span several years around 1871-1876. Her parents were Estanislado JARA and Catalina FUICA. Update: her parents were married, as the baptism certificate mentions 'hija legitima'.)

Now there are other interesting pieces of information:
- both couple of parents were residents in Los Sauces, which means I will have to search for their death records in Los Sauces, which might indicate their birth dates and birth places. Update: the baptism certificate for Maria Praxedes mentions 'mision del Desague', probably a remote place in the country. I'll have to investigate this further; it must be really remote as she was only baptized when she was three (quite late).
- one of the witnesses is called Leonidas CASTILLO: he might be related to the family, probably a brother or nephew of Etelvina CASTILLO. If I stumble upon this name in future records, I'll look closely for that relationship. Update: family members have always called her father Mariano CASTILLO. I don't have proof. Leonidas could also be her father ?
- Finally, Estanislado JARA didn't know how to write, which meant he was probably of humble origins. Not many chances of finding property documents (land ownership, commercial transactions, etc.) in the city archives, although this is just a theory.

I found many other interesting documents, including the birth certificates of some of the elder children of the couple (including those no one mentionned in the family, because they died young), and children of the second marriage of Estanislado JARA. I have updated the family tree accordingly: I have scanned the screen print-outs and have uploaded them here.


I have also found a small mistery: there is a death certificate of a Etelvina CASTILLO in Los Sauces: the name is rather uncommon, and the probability of having two persons of the same generation living in the same small town at the same time in those years is very unlikely. However she is said to be married to someone else. I suspect therefore my great-great-grand-mother to have remarried after her marriage relationship to Eduvije SEPULVEDA (hinting at the dates when he could have died). It is just weird that no one from her potential SEPULVEDA descendance signed that document (update: no mariage to a SEPULVEDA might explain this).

(update on 3/6/2007: it seems that she has married 3 times, as found on familysearch.org. Jervacio ORTIZ seemed to be her 3rd husband. We'll have to find the orginal certificates).

I hope that this long series of posts explains how genealogical research is done, and that it will be useful to you all for your own research. The key take aways are that is takes a lot of time, and that it is very close to detective work with hypothesis and facts gathering.

Family names researched in this post: CASTILLO, FUICA, JARA, REBOLLEDO, SEPULVEDA

September 19, 2004 at 09:50 PM in Chile | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to research your genealogy using the Mormon resources - part b.

Image086In my previous post, I showed how to research film numbers from the Mormon libraries. Now how do you get access to those micro-films ?

There are three ways:
- as mentionned before, if you are lucky, your local national archives might have a copy; check with them;
- fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and make an appointment with the Mormon centers over there. I am told it is pretty straight-forward, and a couple of days over there might help you leap-frog in your family research;
- go to a local Mormon temple that has a genealogical center and order your microfilms for consultation there.

The list of temples is available online.
There are a number of temples around Paris, but the only one actually offering genealogical research is located near 'Porte des Lilas':

Eglise de Jésus Christ des Saints des Derniers Jours
66 r Romainville 75019 PARIS, phone: +33 (0)1 42 45 29 29.

Give them a call for opening hours, they seem to have changed recently. Keep in mind they are closed on week-ends, making it difficult for you to go there as it has to be on week days.


The center is rather small, and has a very limited number of seats, approximately a dozen. They will allow new memberships (you have to go there to register) only during the first half of the year, as time slots tend to be very crowded. Only a few micro-film readers have a reproduction device attached.

How does it work?

- you go there and order ONE or TWO films with the reference numbers you obtained from their online tool. You will fill in a pink slip, and pay a few euros (about 5€) per film to cover shipping and handling fees from the central Mormon archive in Frankfurt Germany (note that you cannot go to Frankfurt to do your research). You will need to provide a stamped enveloppe.

- It will take 5-6 weeks for the films to come to your local center, at which stage the center will send you an appointment time slot by mail (allow 2-3 weeks extra). You will be given a 3h time slot to research your films. You can always ask for another appointment if that time is not enough. You are allowed exactly 2 months to work on the film, from the moment it leaves Frankfurt, until the day it has to go back.

Image087 Please note, that unlike other archives, it is not possible to take pictures from the screens of the micro-film readers, and that reproduction of a page is rather expensive (about 0,50€/page).

Now what do you get? On-screen copies of the church records or civil records of your ancestors! Isn't it great? I'll post shortly on some results, but keep in mind that this is a long process, and that you need to plan for about 2,5-3 months between each visit, making your research a long and tedious process, even more so if you don't know the exact dates of an event, and when you have to go through all the films of a parish (it is not uncommon to find more than 10 films per church..., to be multiplied by the number of churches in the town...).

Family names researched in this post: CASTILLO, FUICA, JARA, REBOLLEDO, SEPULVEDA

September 19, 2004 at 08:51 PM in Chile, France | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How to research your genealogy using the Mormon resources - part a.

I am very often asked how I research my family tree: there are a number of ways, the first - of course - is asking the elder people in your own family about all the information they might remember. Your next job is then to double check that information with official proof for names, dates and places.

One of the most official ways of getting proof is to track down original certificates of birth, marriage and death. Other ways might be to check officially published genealogies, etc. but basically it always comes down to these original documents.

If you leave far from the towns of your ancestors it might be difficult for you to track these documents: sometimes a visit there in the summer will help (I'll post shortly about a VERY successful visit to a very small village's Mairie in Lorraine, France); you might also try the phone or snail mail, but civil servants are not paid to do your original research, hence you might not get very lucky. Finally, a visit to national archives can be very helpful as posted earlier with my trip to the French CAOM archives.

There is of course another way, that can yield very high results: you might try to search the Mormon (the short name for the US religious group called the Church of Jesus-Christ of the Latter-Day-Saints) resources. You can learn more about them here, and the reasons behind their interest in genealogy here. In my experience, you needn't really care about their religion if all you are interested about is genealogy.

The Mormons run a very useful portal and search engine called www.familysearch.org. I will discuss in the future how to use it effectively, but in the meantime you can check their online help system.

That said, let's get started.

I have been stuck for a very long while on my father's family, since my grandparents died a long time ago, and my living abroad hasn't helped much the research on that part. Most of the information I know about that branch comes from discussions I had about 20 (read TWENTY) years ago with a brother of my grandfather's (still alive) and some aunts. I have recently started researching that branch again, after spending lots of time with my wife's branches (for my son to have a complete tree ;), and my mother's side (goes back quickly to Prussia and Denmark).

So, the information I had was that my great-grandfather Guillermo SEPULVEDA CASTILLO [x] married Maria Praxedes JARA FUICA [x], and both lived in the small town of Los Sauces, near Angol, Chile. They had 14 children, of which only 10 survived, and I had names, pictures and some dates for those 10 surviving children only (my grandfather was #6). I don't even have official documents on my grand-father. I recently got the death certificate of Don Guillermo through a great contact in Santiago (thanks Bernardita - by the way you can't get official documents in Chile unless you provide the clerk with the person's official ID, the RUN. How do you get that for dead people you are just researching ???); unfortunately that death certificate did not provide any family information.

So, I decided to see whether the Mormons could help me in this. For your information, the Mormons have been micro-filming most public and religious archives for the past 30-40 years around the world. They do that by signing a contract with the different governments and giving national archives a number of copies of their documents. They also keep a copy. This is very useful as very fragile documents now have a backup copy and can be read around the world. Please note that you do not have to go to a Mormon temple to read these microfilms, local national archives usually have a copy as well, and it might be even quicker to research them like that.

So, did the Mormons ever go to this small village of Los Sauces in the middle of nowhere in Chile? Let's check, by going to www.familysearch.org.


You then have to go into Library, and click again on 'Family History Library Catalog'.


Then click on 'Place Search', en enter the location you are looking for.


If you do get an answer, then it means there are some archives on microfilm. You might get several answers, just make sure you are selecting the right location.


Click on the location, and you should get a list of sources that were put on microfilm. Usually you get here the list of churches in the location, of city-hall documents, of military records, etc. In this particular case, we only get civil registry records and no church records.


If you click on one of the sources, you will get the proper years that are references in the source.


Finally, by clicking on 'Film Notes', you will get the reference codes for the microfilms in the Mormon film library (called the Vault). These are the film references you will need to order at a Mormon temple near your home town. I'll post about my experience with the Paris Temple shortly.

Familysearch07 Familysearch08

PS: you might get errors when clicking on names on this post. This is due to the fact that accessing most of the tree will require a password, and that I reserve them for family members. Should you believe you are entitled to one, please drop me an email. I have added an [x] next to some of the names, so that visitors get access to some public information. If you see Xs in the tree, it means you need a password to get that information.

Family names researched in this post: CASTILLO, FUICA, JARA, REBOLLEDO, SEPULVEDA

September 19, 2004 at 04:03 PM in Chile | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack