June 15. 2009 - Great-Grandmother Marie and Aunt Cotoche? - Part 4

15 June 2009


But again, why did she up and go to San Diego?

Continuing from Part 3, in the 1920 letter great-grandmother Marie writes that "I dont go out much except to go to Aunt Cotoche." And who is/was Aunt Cotoche?

The Wikepedia reference to the name Cotoche I found was Cabo Catoche. It is/was a place in the Yucatan Peninsula, not necessarily a nickname... and I won't even attempt to speculate here.

Throughout the small collection of letters there appears to be numerous references to persons by nicknames, and I suppose that this is common... I've always been known by the family as Jimmy. Every Census I've ever filed or responded to I use my birth name James... but Cotoche. Different time. Different place. Different language.

And I'm thinking that in not too many cases a 59-year old widow with a single daughter who had lived, and "in-tune" with her surroundings in another part of the world, would venture out alone in 1919 to a strange country, not saying that California is strange, but you know what I mean, I thought that there must have been some relative, friend or acquaintance that they were going to visit. Why not? On that note I began looking through the 1920 US Census pages before and after the enumeration of great-grandmother Marie and her daughter, grandaunt Cécile. I was looking for someone maybe with some French roots, that is, either they or a parent born in France. Made sense. Great-grandmother Marie was listed that she had been born in France.

I was using Ancestry.com and knew that there were only 15 pages allocated to the same Enumeration District, No 296, as that of great-grandmother. I scanned each page image... approximately 451 people. I focused on those people who had any reference to France in their individual information. On the same page, just below the entry for great-grandmother Marie, I noticed a listing on Line 93 for a Celestine St. Philippe, a widow and age 48 years, and Line 94, her daughter Muriel, age 16 years. I could not make out completely the entry for Celestine St. Philippe's place of birth, but her daughter Muriel's parents' location of birth was entered as French Guiana. Close! Very close... but not France. And Cayenne, French Guiana (now Guyanne) is close, as the crow flies by 416 miles or 670 kilometers, to Georgetown, British Guiana (now Guyana). And even today French Guiana is a part of France.

And who is Celestine St. Philippe? The widow Celestine, according to the 1920 USA Census taken in San Diego, lived around the corner from great-grandmother Marie, only two minutes away? Is Mrs. St. Philippe related to great-grandmother? Is she a younger sister? Is she Aunt Cotoche?

To be continued...




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