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The Lazaret 1 cemetery, a research space to clear :

The case of Lieutenant Paul Guéry


                                    _cc781905-5cde-3194 -bb3b-136bad5cf58d_ The Lazaret cemetery 1 : Between place of memory(s) and symbolic space


At the beginning of the 1970s, academic research questioned the field of Indenture migrations. We then rediscover Les Lazarets de la Grande Chaloupe, a common link to these migratory currents and to travelers coming from the Indian Ocean space. The cemetery of Lazaret 1 is then a vacant lot where the identity of the cemetery is readable only by a few traces and where the last burial took place in 1935[1]. Thus at the end of the 1970s, it remained difficult to recognize or read the cemetery.


The associative sector will begin acts of memory to pay tribute to migrant ancestors who passed through the Lazarets. A series of tombs has been set up in the south-east quarter of the cemetery to make this space reaffirm its primary function. These tombs form a symbolic place offering a (material) space necessary to honor the (immaterial) memory. The Lazaret 1 cemetery, " patrimonialised " by the population of Reunion thus becomes the place of memory which allows the material and immaterial connection with the memory of the migrant ancestor .


In 1997, in the course of what is called the " renouveau tamoul ", a term which qualifies the process of questioning their history by the Reunionese d of Indian origin, a cultural association Tamij Sangam poses a stele. It commemorates, on the day of Dipavali, the memory of the first Indian recruits who arrived on this site. In October 1998, the decree for the registration of the station and the Lazarets in the additional inventory of Historic Monuments[2] allows the official heritage status of the site by the State and its protection as Historic Monuments.


In November 2004, the General Council[3] launched the restoration project of Lazaret 1. The cemetery is the heart of the first phase of the project. The work will allow between 2004 and 2005[4] to rebuild the surrounding walls of the cemetery, and to restore the site's integrity. From 2008, the permanent exhibition, installed in the infirmary, gives the place the function of a space of interpretation where one can connect to the story of these origins and relate to the physical place where this story takes place. is written.


In 2008, the Confrérie des Gens de la Mer highlighted the presence of at least two sailors who died at the Lazaret: Paul Guéry and Hector Dubet. Association of Reunionese underwater archeology, since 1996 it has been interested in underwater heritage (wrecks, landing stages) and sailors in particular. The adventure begins with a tombstone. Eric Venner de Bernardy de Sigoyer, President of the Confrérie des Gens de la Mer, discovers the existence of a stone in poor condition with barely legible inscriptions. Appears  then the name of Paul Guéry, an uncommon French name in this cemetery. Then a rank : Vessel Lieutenant ; the date of death, September 4, 1867 and finally a title : Chief of the General Staff of the Naval Division of the Eastern Coasts of Africa. It is his story that we tell you in the following lines.


In August 2014 [5], the volunteers of the Confrérie des Gens de la Mer, after having obtained the necessary authorizations, carried out a rehabilitation of the tomb of Paul Guéry taking into account the precepts of the Buildings of France. A dozen volunteers take turns for a fortnight to reconstruct the vault under the aegis of the Historian Laurent Hoareau.




An Incredible Genealogical Investigation


The brotherhood of the People of the Sea decided to manage the project under two axes. First a rehabilitation, as close as possible to the techniques of the time and on the other hand a tribute to this sailor, who died young, at the age of 37, and far from home. To die in the Lazaretto indicates that this Naval Officer was ill. Which disease ? What living conditions for his last days ? Did he come from a family of sailors ? And why this grave more than another ? We had to find the answers by going further into the identity of the deceased. The first research tells us that Paul Guéry arrived in Réunion by the Frigate La Minerve. We discover that he did not have the command, he was the Chief of Staff.


Genealogical research is launched with as a basis elements on Paul Guéry, his wife Laure Virginie Lacroix (1837 -1901), his three children and the identity of his parents : Pierre Guéry, lawyer, ( 1792-1870) and Caroline Deshayes (1797-1882). Everything seems to be happening around Fontenay-le-Comte (85). His four siblings are identified. Paul Guéry is the 3rd of his siblings. Caroline the eldest did not live, Charles (1829-1862),  Elise, Religious (1832 – 1900) and Victor (1834-1900)

As often in genealogy, it is easier to find ascendants than descendants. Grandfather Pierre Joseph Guéry was a goldsmith in Fontenay-le-Comte, married to Elisabeth Claveau (1764-1838).



Who is Paul Guéry ?


Paul  Guéry was born in Fontenay-le-Comte (85) on April 11, 1830.  At the age of 16, on October 9, 1846, he entered at the Naval School of Brest.  The class of 1846 is under the command of Captain de Vaisseau de KERSAUSON de PENNENDREFF. A press clipping (*) dated December 26, 1846, tells us that serious disorders took place on the Borda (school ship). "as having formed and maintained the spirit of revolt ".  It took the intervention of the Major General of the Navy in vain, then the intervention of the Prefect Maritime to get to the end of it. And for Paul Guéry, what about ? Was he part of the rebellious band ? 

Be that as it may, he was appointed Midshipman 2nd class on August 1, 1848, then Midshipman 1st class on September 1, 1950 and Ensign on June 11, 1953.


With the help of the French Navy, we found several on-board assignments including three during the Crimean War from 1853 to 1856 on the Prometheus, the Heron and the Solon which made up a fleet of 35 warships and 49 merchant ships; all carrying the expeditionary force of 28,000 men.


1861 was apparently a good year for Paul Guéry. He became Lieutenant de Vaisseau on March 4, Knight of the Legion of Honor on August 10 and married on September 4 with Laure Virginie Lacroix in the Church of the Madeleine in Paris.


June 1, 1862  Paul Guéry became a father for the first time with the birth of Paul Joseph Stéphane Léandre Guillaume in Honfleur at 2am. Paul Guéry is declared on the birth certificate of Vaisseau sur le Bisson. We know that Paul (son) became secretary of the Elysée under Félix Faure and found his tomb, classified abandoned in Nice.


On December 27, 1863, he was the father of a second child, his first daughter Elisabeth Marie Marguerite Laure in Honfleur at 5:30 am. Paul Guéry is declared on the birth certificate Chief of Staff of the Naval Division of the North coast of France.


On August 29, 1866, birth of his 3rd child Laure Blanche Jeanne Marie-Thérèse in Paris.  Or Paul Guéry embarked on August 6, 1866 on the Minerve for the China Campaign which would last until March 1870. He probably never saw his daughter. First of all, his absence is mentioned on the birth certificate, then his wife Laure gave birth in Paris, his hometown. Probably she wanted to get closer to her family for this moment of life. Moreover, if the ship had remained at the quay, the transport at the time did not allow to make the journey in a few days.



the children Paul and Laure GUERY


On September 4, 1867, Paul Guéry died at the age of 37, at the Lazaret in great suffering according to the logbook of Dr Pierre Bouvet, doctor at the Lazaret. Note, for lovers of psycho-genealogy, that he died on the anniversary of his marriage.

La Minerve continued on its way without Paul Guéry. We find the ship on December 29, 1867 in Pondicherry. He had stopped at Pointe-de-Galles (Ceylon), Trincomalé and Karikal under the command of Captain Hugueteau de Chalié.


His career records indicate that he served on more than 15 ships and that in 20 years of career, he remained only 4 years in total on assignment ashore. Our team specialists believe that if he had been able to live longer, he would have had a great career just like Captain de Vaisseau Hugueteau de Chalié or other members of his class of 1848 had.


His wife, Laure Guéry née Lacroix was born from the union of Jean Baptiste Lacroix, chief surgeon of the armed forces and de  Laure Martineau des Chenez  noble and wealthy family. On the death of her husband, she lived in the prestigious address of 8 places de la Concorde in Paris. She will die in Milan in a convent on November 13, 1901. We find no other children or marriages. His young sister-in-law, Elise Guery was a nun. We are continuing our research to identify if there is a link between Elise,    and Laura in the convent in Milan. It is possible that Laure wanted to take refuge with her family to end her days. A supposition that remains to be verified.


The official tribute to Paul Guéry


The brotherhood throughout its investigations had a dream : to pay an official tribute to Paul Guéry in the presence of the Navy and if possible a descendant. On September 20, 2014, during the European Heritage Days, the dream became reality. Indeed, after ardent genealogical research, it was possible to find a living descendant, Eudoxie Caillaud, great-great granddaughter of Paul Guéry from the branch of Elisabeth, 2nd child of Paul Guéry. For her part, she was doing the same research, thinking that her ancestor was buried in St Denis in the Paris region. The official ceremony, under the aegis of the General Council, was marked by the handing over to Reunionese heritage of the telescope that belonged to Paul Guéry, which the family treasured from generation to generation.

The Navy represented by the Captain of the Commander, commander of the naval base of Port des Galets as well as the Central Association of Petty Officers and Reserve Sailors responded present. The dead ringer will leave a strong emotion to the many people present.

At the entrance to the cemetery, you will find an orientation table which will guide you in your visit. In 2017, the Brotherhood would like to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of Paul Guéry, an officer with such a special destiny.

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