My Genealogy

Monday, August 10, 2009

Before Bone, Algeria

Earlier this year, specifically in my post entitled Tragedy and Happiness in Bona, Algeria I explained how the Barbara line had emigrated to Bone, and come back fatherless but with two more sons.

Now the quest was on to find out which town Giuseppe Barbara and Rosa nee` Vella came from. Since their son Antonio, on his return to Malta, married in Zurrieq, it was of course the first place to search - but alas with no result.

Actually there was a surprising result which felt like a slap in the face accompanied with dark laughter: I found there a copy of Antonio's baptism record from Bone, Algeria. And I had gone all that way to look for it when it was always there waiting for me!

Some careful thoughts ensued: where would a widow return to, with her two young sons? Would she return to her husband's home town, or to her own family? The latter being the most probable answer would mean that the wife Rosa was from Zurrieq but her husband no. As I was unable to find a marriage record of such a couple, I made an educated guess that Rosa was from Zurrieq, and the husband was from some other, hopefully neighbouring, town - and that they had married there. I could try to find a baptism record for Rosa Vella, but without knowing her parents (usually acquired from the marriage record) it would have been a wildly assuming and presumptious guess.

Where should I look for information as to where they are from?

In the meantime I was intrigued by the fact of being born in one country and getting married in another. I wanted to search for documentation of the journey and one interesting source of information came to mind: the naval records at the National Archives hosted at Santu Spirtu in Rabat, Malta. I had 23 years to search: Antonio was born in 1838 in Bone, Algeria and married in 1861 in Zurrieq, Malta. When I reached the Archives and told the clerk there of my intention, she remarked that I'd spend the whole summer there. I soon learnt why. She came back with three tomes (some 4 feet by 2 when closed) on a trolley - and they only covered the large part of a year. Each page contains details about the ship, its incoming crew, passengers, and cargo, as well as the outgoing crew, passengers and cargo. After looking through these three tomes I gave up... but it was not for nothing.

I realised that, on some occasions, next to the outgoing passengers was written the name of their hometown. What if I could find the record of Giuseppe and Rosa's OUTGOING journey to Bone, Algeria - and there find the name of their hometown?

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