My Genealogy

Friday, April 11, 2008

Bona, Algeria!

Earlier in my blog, specifically here: I had shared with you my desperation in not being able to trace my paternal line. All I knew about my paternal great great great grandpa was that he was born in Bona.

On 23rd May 2006 I came across a post by Mr Jean Bernard Mifsud indicating his Algerian-Maltese ancestry and asking for help. See here:

On seeing a possibly Algerian person with an interest in genealogy I immediately threw in a reply, asking for any leads into seeking my own ancestor's records there.

To my post, another forum member Mr Frederic Messud from Australia(!) gave me a link to CAOM - Centre d'Archives d'Outre-Mere - where the French government was giving an online catalogue of birth, marriage, and death records in its colonies, including Bone, Algeria. He even gave me two possible records for my ancestor's births: one in 1838 in Bone and another in 1894 in Mascara.

I was overjoyed! The one in Bone fit perfectly as he would have been 19 when his son would be born in Malta. The catalogue is very dry in information, giving only what happened, to whom , which year and which commune. The website has strict rules not to communicate via email, and to my request for the birth record, or at least for information as how to get it, I was asked to supply a postal address which I did.

In the meantime I found myself subscribing to the pieds-noir mailing list. These 'black foots' are sons of the European immigrants to Algeria who were forced to leave the country after the Algerian-French conflict. Through this mailing list I received an email from a certain Ms Collonna who told me that she'd been to Aix-en-Provence (the place where these records are located) and seeing my request had brought it for me! I gave her my postal address so she could send it to me.

As luck would have it, Aix-en-Provence sent me a letter describing how they do not do research and that you have to go personally or send someone in your stead, BUT FOR THIS ONCE, THEY SENT ME THE RECORD! A civil record detailing the birth of Antonio Barbara to Barbara Giuseppe and his wife Rosa nee Vella (my gggggrandparents!) who were from Malta.

Against all odds, here was the birth record that I had given up of ever coming across!


A couple of months later I was looking in the parish archives of Zurrieq (where Antonio Barbara whose birth record I received above got married) for records relating to Antonio's wife's ancestors... and I was leafing through the records and noticed a page alien to the book, in that it was pasted onto the book. I had a look at the page and saw an Algeria mark. I remarked how strange it was for it to be in the book and did not give it any second thought.

Until I was packing up to leave and a second thought finally made it to my mind. I checked again the page. It was the parochial record of the baptism of Antonio Barbara in Bone Algeria! My GGGGrandpa! Here in Malta!

Whilst I had given up, came across a link by chance, and got through all the trouble of getting the record from France, it was all the time available in Malta! What a surprise!

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