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January 17, 2009

The Name Game Part 2

Continuing from The Name Game

But as we delved further back we found that during the Napoleonic years (early 1800s) the church records were now written in French. Still okay though as I took 5 years of French in High School and remember enough to read basic French text.

What I wasn't counting on was a brand new calendar! I had never seen this calendar before, it used different names in place of the months as we know them, and did not even encompass the same days in each month as we know them. So for example "pluviose" might be used in the date. I now know that "pluviose" covered 20 January to 18 February but I had no idea what it meant when we first found it used in a record we needed.

I've learned now that this callendar was started by the French in 1792 with Year 1 and it ended in 1805 with year XIV. It is called the French Republican Calendar Once we got back to those years in the Belgium records we were lost. We had to find a resource in the library that explained this French Republican Calendar, then try to read it in super-fast speed, understand it and then convert all the records we found to a date that we understood.

Okay that problem was solved and we continued searching backward. Suddenly we were looking at church records written in Latin! Luckily for us, I'm a bit of a geek and actually took Latin for 6 years. Unluckily for us, it was many many years ago and I really don't remember much except "nulli secundus" (second to none) and "veni, vidi, vici" (I came, I saw, I conquered).

I didn't figure that would do us much good in trying to read the church records. To my relief the Latin records were very brief and had words that one could easily recognize and convert to English. The names were "Latinized" with "us" added to the end of many of them, but still it was possible with some scrutiny to pick out the important bits.

We did find a great deal on Archie DeMeuleneare's ancestry. It wasn't easy. Reading the early handwriting was difficult. Translating clumsily from French to English, or Flemish to English or Latin to English was severe brain-strain and gave me a major headache. But we made Grandma very happy when we returned from Salt Lake City and created a book complete with graphics of the original church records on her Belgium heritage.

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