Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Saturday, November 09, 2013

Nicolas Petit's Military Document: A Translation Project

I've been working on the Milice Nationale document I wrote about earlier this week. Depending upon Google Translate for a line-by-line translation, I think I may have been slightly off in my earlier assessment. I now have the impression that Nicolas Petit actually was in the Militia at the time this document was created, and that this may be a discharge rather than an exemption. The last line, which includes handwriting that I can't decipher, is probably the most important in figuring this out. Maybe someday a French-speaking person will happen along and be able to translate it with ease, so I am reposting it here with the translation so far in green and the questions and problems I need help with in red.

In the physical description list, I am still mystified by the word below Visage, which I'm having trouble figuring out due to the typeface. It looks like F-r-o-n-something, but Google Translate was not leaping to any useful conclusions for me. This morning, however, with my thinking cap all freshly pressed and a dose of caffeine where it does the most good, I came at it from the opposite direction. Looking at the translated list, it seems like the logical missing part might be "forehead" so I typed that into Google and asked it to translate that into French. It gave me front. So... that's a t... seriously?

The caffeine having kicked me into high gear, I've just been inspired to investigate the question of Nicolas' height with my partner in crime, Google. I've now learned this about the ligne from Wikipedia:

     There are 12 lignes to one French inch (pouce). The standardized conversion for a ligne is 2.2558291 mm (1 mm = 0.443296 ligne), and it is abbreviated with the letter L or represented by the triple prime, ‴.
     This is comparable in size to the British measurement called "line" (one-twelfth of an English inch), used prior to 1824.

Because I am all about doing the heavy lifting here, but not the heavy math, I've stepped up and found a conversion tool online. If the number on the form is actually 558 lignes, then our Nicolas was 49.55719046460907 inches tall. That's slightly under 4'2"... seriously? My only other guess on those numbers would be 958, which would make him 7' tall, and I'm pretty sure we're not going there, no matter how much caffeine I ingest.

It's interesting to me that in the days before photography, something as important as one's identification on military papers was dependent upon something so tenuous as a mere ten descriptors, or just nine if one had no distinctive marks... especially when you consider that the people serving were probably a pretty homogenous lot, ethnically speaking.

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Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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