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AfriGeneas Caribbean Research Forum

Re: [HAITI] Haitian Immigration

We need to keep our minds open to unexpected surprises that challenge our assumptions about the origins of people in various parts of the Old South.

I elsewhere reported finding a marriage record in 1877; although the handwriting is atrocious, the bride's name appears to be Estelle C. L. Pasque, maiden name St. Ard, daughter of Jean St. Ard and Osi[ae?] St. John, born in "Hayte city of Goinaties[?]" about 1828. (I have not found any Haitian town with a name like Goinaties).

Although such a person would probably not surprise us if we were researching Louisiana or Florida, places with rich French heritage, she was living in Upson County, the middle of Georgia.

K Wyer lane suggests that this Haitian-born woman in the heart of the cotton South might have come via Savannah as part of the Haitian emigration.

She is probably right. I find that Charles Dubignon, son of a wealthy French imigrant who owned a huge plantation on Jekyll Island near Savannah, bought a plantation in western Upson County next to Flint River.

Dubignon's Haitian connection is that his family in Savannah socialized with rich francophone emigrants from Haiti who had brought their slaves with them; it is conceivable that the Dubignon family had obtained Haitian-born slaves from these imigrants.

Charles Dubignon was an absentee landlord, living in Milledgeville, but his Upson land was populated by many slaves who carried the surname Dubignon after Emancipation.

Another fracophone woman was noted by a local newspaper, the Upson Enterprise, June 28, 1879, p. 3, c. 2. Typical of its treatment of notable non-whites, the newspaper did not name the woman or her father, but he was almost certainly the person enumerated in the 1870 census as a 100-year-old man named Charles Dubignon:

An Intelligent Negress.

There is a negro woman in Upson County living on the Dubignon plantation, that speaks French fluently.—She is the daughter of an old negro man who died recently there at the advanced age of one hundred and five years. He lived many years in France and Spain and was possessed of a pretty fair education. He spoke five different languages and taught his daughter two of that number. Recently, Prof. Shuptrine, of this place, and several gentlemen went out to Flint River fishing and while passing the field in which the negro woman was at work, they stopped and Professor Shuptrine asked the woman for a drink of water, in French. She informed him promptly in that language that he could get one if he and his friends would wait a moment. —She then favored them with a bucket of fresh, cool water and conversed at length with Professor Shuptrine in French.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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