Who are the Islenos in Louisiana?
by Rebecca Grimes
The Islenos are people who migrated to Louisiana from the Canary Islands. These are a small chain of 7 Islands that are located about 65 miles West of Africa and Southwest of the Spanish Peninsula. They are members of the white race and spoke a native Portuguese dialect. The names of these islands are as follows: Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Gomera, La Palma, Hierro, Fuerteventura, and Lanzarote. The islanders were called Islenos, which means Islander in Spanish. This was used to distinguish the islanders from Spaniards from the mainland. Soon after France ceded much of Louisiana to Spain, local Spanish Governor Bernardo de Galvez encouraged families from the Canary Islands to move to the new territory. This was done in hopes that the added Spanish citizens would stave off the British.
Starting in 1778 and continuing through 1783, an estimated 2000 Islenos migrated to start new lives in South Louisiana. They were settled in 4 locations, strategically placed around New Orleans to guard approaches to the city. Galveztown (first settlement) was situated just below Baton Rouge. Valenzuela was located along Bayou LaFourche. Barataria was located along Bayou des Families in Jefferson Parish, and La Concepcion, later called San Bernardo was located in St. Bernard Parish. Nueva Iberia is also where Islenos settled (New Iberia located in Iberia Parish on Bayou Teche). The ships that the Islenos came to Louisiana on are as follows: SS Sacremento, San Ignacio de Loyola, La Victoria, San Juan Nepomuceno, La Santa Faz, El Sagrada Corazon de Jesus, Fragata Llamada Margarita, SS Trinidad.
The most important settlement of the Islenos was San Bernardo a few miles below New Orleans. This was a fertile and high strip of land lying between the Mississippi River on the West and a bayou to the east. This is where most of the Islenos population settled.
After selling their land grants to wealthy sugar plantation owners, some of the Islenos worked for the plantations. Those who grew tired of plantation life became fishermen since seafood was abundant in the area. They also became trappers, hunters, and did any kind of work to live off the land.
Following WWII many Islenos returned home with a different outlook on life. They began to work in industrial factories. Children were raised outside the Islenos culture and did not learn to speak Spanish. Today the area of St Bernard Parish survives as the as the last of Spanish Colonial Louisiana. Islenos also settled in Texas, and they played a big part in the American Revolution, War of 1812, Civil War, and all wars since.
Books located in Clayton Library about the Islenos:
- The Canary Islanders of Louisiana by Gilbert C. Din
- Forgotten Chapters of the American Revolution: Spain, Galvez and Islenos by Rueben M. Perez; edited and annotated by Bonnie Kuykendall
- Lest We Forget: a Tribute to Those Who Forged the Way by Rueben M. Perez; edited and annotated by Bonnie Kuykendall
- The Canary Islands Migration to Louisiana, 1778-1783; the History and Passenger Lists of the Islenos Volunteer Recruits and Their Families by Sindey Louis Villere
- Los Islenos
- Louisiana's Lost Treasure: The Islenos (video)
- Canary Islanders Heritage Society of Louisiana
- Islenos Society of St. Bernard Parish
- Los Islenos Musuem and Village
HPL Genealogy Digital Resources: Genealogy Connect
by Steven Bychowski
Do you wish you had a “virtual reference desk” of genealogy e-books that you could access anytime from the comfort of your home computer? Do you like the idea of not having to purchase printed copies of so many reference books when you just need them for quick look-ups while working late at night on your genealogical searches? If so, be sure to check out the Houston Public Library (HPL) digital resource Genealogy Connect.
Genealogy Connect offers an abundance of genealogy reference e-books that can be accessed when researching in the library, or even remotely from your home computer. For remote access, you will need your HPL MyLink library card as well as your PIN number. (Inquire at the library if you do not know or remember your library card number or PIN number.)
To access Genealogy Connect:
- Go to the HPL Genealogy Resources page
- Then scroll down to Genealogy Connect
Genealogy Connect has its e-books organized into subject categories, some of which are noted below (the number of available titles for each subject are indicated in parentheses).
U.S. geographic categories primarily include:
- Southern States (13) (VA, TN, NC, SC, LA)
- Atlantic States (10) (NY, MD, PA)
- New England States (4) (NH, RI, ME)
A key resource within the above categories is the indispensable Adventurers of Purse and Person (3 vols.), for those doing early Virginia research. International e-books are mostly focused on Europe (104), with the vast majority of these resources pertaining to Scotland, Ireland, and Germany. Here you will find collections such as Directory of Scottish Settlers in North America (7 vols.) and Irish Emigrants in North America (4 vols.). If you are looking at German-language records, you will also want to have Ernest Thode’s German-English Genealogical Dictionary open on your computer screen for quick look-ups of hard-to-decipher words, phrases, or abbreviations. Genealogy Connect also has e-books pertaining to Emigration/Immigration (74). Notable items include The Complete Book of Emigrants, 1607-1776 (4 vols.) and other passenger record collections, as well as handy reference guides such as the Guide to Naturalization Records of the United States.
Perhaps the greatest value of Genealogy Connect comes from its general reference titles (which can be found under the following subject categories):
- Reference Works (26) – titles include:
- Bibliography of American County Histories
- County Courthouse Book
- Evidence: Citation and Analysis for the Family Historian
- Genealogist’s Address Book
- Hidden Half of the Family (tips for finding women in genealogical records)
- International Vital Records Handbook
- Paper Trees (custom-designed and fillable family tree charts)
- Professional Genealogy (standards and methodology)
- Val Greenwood’s Researchers Guide to American Genealogy
- Roots for Kids
- Unpuzzling Your Past
- You Can Write Your Family History
- Public Records (10) – titles include:
- Compendium of American Genealogy (7 vols.)
- Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920
- State Census Records (info about the non-federal state censuses)
- Family History (11) – titles include:
- Colonial Families of the United States of America (7 vols.)
- Genealogies in the Library of Congress (4 vols.)
- Religions (11) – mostly Huguenot and Quaker resources, including:
- Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy (7 vols.)
- Ethnic Groups (7) – beginner guidebooks and research pamphlets for African American, Hispanic, Jewish, and French-Canadian research
- Personal Names (4) – surname dictionaries for Hispanic, German, Italian, and American surnames
- Genealogical Databases and Libraries (3) – beginner guidebooks for online genealogy and social networking
- U.S. History – Colonial Period (2) - includes the helpful guide Reading Early American Handwriting
In addition to the above e-books, you will also find a selection of handy research pamphlets that are identified as “Genealogy at a Glance” publications, which identify key resources and/or research strategies for particular types of research. Subjects include the American Revolution, Ellis Island/Immigration, African American Research, and Cemetery Research among others. To navigate all of these resources, you can browse a list of all titles alphabetically, or you can use the “Search” function to search for surnames or subject categories. For example, a Basic Search for the surname “Johnson” produces 3,572 results. A Subject Search for the term “censuses” produces 12 results. You can also select a single publication and search it individually for surnames/subjects. If you are only looking for resources that contain images, you can conveniently filter your search results by checking the box “document contains images” within your search results. And, if you find a search result that you want to keep for future reference, you can select “Save to My Folder” to save that citation.
Finally, if you need to take a break from researching and just have a few laughs, check out the titles in the Humor category: Collecting Dead Relatives and Further Undertakings of a Dead Relative Collector. All in all, Genealogy Connect gives you a handy virtual reference desk of e-books to supplement your genealogy research wherever and whenever you choose to do it. Happy Hunting!
Using African American Newspapers for Genealogical Research
by Rodney Sams
On March 16, 1827, John Brown Russwurm and Reverend Samuel Cornish, free black New Yorkers, first published Freedom’s Journal, the first African American newspaper in the United States. Not only did Freedom’s Journal publish information concerning current events pertinent to the lives of African Americans in the early 19th century, it also listed marriages, deaths, and births for hundreds of black New Yorkers along with marine lists of sailors of color arriving in the city. African American newspapers are underutilized genealogical goldmines for genealogists looking to learn more about the lives of their ancestors and overcome brick walls. Many include obituaries of former slaves, marriages, and death announcements that may not be found elsewhere. African American newspapers also published letters written by former slaves looking to reunite with family members separated during slavery. This information gives clues to migrations, names of slaveowners, and previously unknown family members valuable to African American genealogists looking to bridge the gaps between freedom and slavery.
A great example of this comes from my own family history when a genealogy angel found letters written by my ancestors that were published in the Southwestern Christian Advocate looking for lost relatives separated during slavery. The Southwestern Christian Advocate was an African American newspaper targeting members of the Methodist Church in the South from 1877 to 1929 published out of New Orleans. Not only did the letters confirm some of what I knew from years of genealogical research, I also was able to learn how my ancestors arrived in Louisiana during slavery as well as the name of the slaveowner. The genealogy nuggets I received eventually lead to me discovering a digital archive of African American Methodist Episcopal annual conference minutes that included a photograph and obituary of one of my relatives that I haven’t found anywhere else! Your ancestor doesn’t have to be from the same place the newspaper is located either. The Chicago Defender, an African American newspaper founded in 1905 in Chicago, mentions people, places and events relating to African American life from all over the country. When searching for your African American ancestors in print, don’t restrict yourself to regional or local newspapers. You’ll be surprised where your family may be mentioned or where they were. During the mid-20th century, African Americans from the south migrated all over the United States.
The Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research has several reference books relating to locating African American newspapers:
- African American newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography by James P. Danky (Editor) and Maureen E. Hady (Associate Editor)
- One of the most comprehensive guides to searching for historical African American newspapers, this book covers African American periodicals and newspapers published from 1827 to the present from all U.S. states including the Canadian province of Ontario.
- Finding and Using African American Newspapers by Timothy Pinnick
- An excellent introduction on how to go about researching your ancestors in African American newspapers. Besides referencing traditional microfilm and manuscript sources, Pinnick mentions the vast proliferation of online websites making digitized newspapers available for the general population.
On the subject of digitized newspapers, the Houston Public Library offers various newspaper databases to use in your research. Included in these are the historical archives of three African American newspapers; the Atlanta Daily World, the Chicago Defender, as well as the New York Amsterdam News, which is included in a multi-newspaper search called "Historical Newspapers." You can access these and many other newspaper databases via the Houston Public Library website on the Newspapers Resources page with your HPL MYLink library card. Additionally, on this page is a link to Chronicling America, a free website of digitized newspapers offered through the Library of Congress, that has digital copies of historical newspapers from all over the country available for genealogists, including many African American newspapers.
Newspapers can add a lot to your genealogical research. Those written for a specific community or ethnic group can expand your understanding of your family in unforeseen ways.