As always with genealogical research, overly focusing on one question causes you to overlook valuable clues in solving a puzzle. BUT, sometimes you may not have enough documents to prove a connection. History is limited by what human beings left behind.
The past is like a puzzle with incomplete pieces.
I went over the known facts in my line along with reconciling new questions my DNA results raised and immediately flashed by to a particular document I collected a few years ago:
Exhibit A[ The probate file of Silvestre HERNANDEZ, an orphaned boy of color, dated 11 September 1827 at Opelousas, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana]
Silvestre HERNANDEZ was the son of Andres HERNANDEZ, a native of Valladolid, Spain, & his common-law spouse, Victoire MASSE,negresse libre. Both were deceased leaving no property. Silvestre was a minor who required a guardian according to the inheritance laws in Antebellum Louisiana. During the 1820s, family councils composed of the nearest relatives of the minor were requested for the purpose of voting for a legal guardian. I looked at the list of family members and immediately zeroed in on one particular one that I overlooked…
The cousins of Silvestre HERNANDEZ present were all men of color
Esope Sam FUSELIER
Before I get into why I highlighted Silvestre MORALES, Victoire MASSE was one of the three daughters of L’eveille MASSE. The other two women were Francoise MASSE[aka Francoise L’EVEILLE] and Marie MASSE[aka Marie LEVEILLER]. All these women used Leveille and Masse interchangeably as surnames following a Louisiana Creole patronymic naming tradition where a father’s forename becomes the last name of his descendants.
I’ve only seen this naming tradition in Louisiana among slaves, free persons of color and some Native Americans. Knowing this cultural naming system pretty much tells you that their father was a man named “L’eveille MASSE”. Anyway, Francoise LEVEILLE was my 5th great-grandmother.
Earlier in my research, I was so fixated in determining the kinship of the other men of color to Silvestre HERNANDEZ, I scrugged off Silvestre’s MORALES connection because he later married little Silvestre’s sister, Leonore. There are a lot of kissing cousins in Louisiana Creole genealogies. I should have went with his cousin assertion.
Who is Silvestre MORALES? What are his origins?
Silvestre MORALES was born in 1794 to Juan MORALES, a Canary Islander immigrant to Louisiana, and Marianna MASSE, a free woman of color. She was the daughter of Sazeme- an Indian of unknown ethnic origins, and Marguerite MASSE, negresse libre. Marguerite was born to Ingui and Marie, a Senegalese African couple enslaved by the French trader Andre MASSE. Ingui and Marie are notable for being the first entry recorded in the Catholic Abstracts of St. Martin Du Tours Church in 1756. They were married by a traveling priest and my ancestor, L’eveille, witnessed the wedding along with his then wife, Marie-Flore, also free. L’eveille himself is also notable for being the earliest recorded free person of color in Southwest Louisiana.
Silvestre MORALES was the grandson of Ingui and Marie! Because the father of Silvestre HERNANDEZ was a Spaniard, the only way Silvestre MORALES could be kin was through his mother, Victoire L’EVEILLE MASSE! My ancestor’s sibling.
The mystery thickens…
Part 3 coming up!