My first time in Saint-Lô which I found to be a pleasant and interesting place with a walled town that had suffered very badly from allied bombing during the D-Day advancement of Operation Cobra, 80% of the town had been demolished and some had proposed it be left as such as a reminder of war, the Cathedral lost a spire and had been sympathetically restored minus one spire. Now the town is a cluster of interesting shops serving the needs of the surrounding area and traffic to the main has been kept out of the centre although there was a confusing place where you were not sure if it was a pedestrian precint or a road. There was a large main square bordered by the town hall on one side and the usual collection of shops, a supermarket, and fast food outlets. Down below the walled town you have the train station, a hotel, and restaurants, tourism office, obligatory dirty public toilet, the town ring road, and the River Vire which had at times been made navigatable, but it would appear the lock etc were all in a state of disrepair from what I could see in the night time.

I ambled up to the archives which is situated on an exit road at the top of the town so it was not that far a walk for me, I registered at the desk and entered the large research area which has books and magazines on two sides covering most of the subjects a historian or genealogist would need, but few if any birth, deaths, and marriage indexes or records. I tackled the desk with my poor French mixed with English and was given assistance by their best English speaker, through the card index I did find my Great Grandfathers obituary (picture above) of Louis Jouault born in Jersey in 1841 and died in Granville 1900 this was in a booklet “Association anciens eleves Coutances 1902”  This was a wonderful find in that I was unaware he had gone to the college, gone to St Pierre-Miquelon a French territory where people from St Malo and Granville had made their fortune with the cod trade as Jersey people had with Newfoundland, this probably explains why his daughter married the son of Emile Riotteau who was from a Granville family that made their fortune in the area. I knew he had been a flag bearer in the Franco-Prussian war so it was good to have the mention and details of his call up. I still find it slightly bizarre that a Jersey born person was proudly flying the French flag all be it in a disastrous war.  The assistant who had at first thought the obituary would not give a great deal of info was a little interested herself and she spent some time trying to find his service record, she did find some Jouault’s but these were not connected, the records were interesting in that they gave some details of the person, service record, injuries, and details of their appearance. I wish I had actually spent more time and looked for possible other family connections, but this is now something for a return trip.

In the card index I saw mention of a Jeanne Jouault at first I had overlooked it as not being a connection, I decided to give it a look just in case, it was a rather odd record in it was an official record in Tome 67 “Department de la Manche” 1902,  this turned out to be Louis’s sister Jane E M Jouault 1828 – 1901 also Jersey born, last year my cousin showed me a small silver jug that had been presented to her by the “Liberty Club” for her services during the visit of Queen Victoria in 1846. The record noted her testament to give to the church of Notre Dame in Granville the sum of 2000 francs for the building of a stained glass window and for them to use as they wish and  prayers to be said for her family. In accordance with article 3 decret first February 1902.

I also looked through the collection the Granville association publications from the 1900’s and gleaned some family records mostly regarding Riotteau’s. There were several references to Jersey and noted the bits of interest, I also photographed some that were lengthy which were unfortunately on the lost pics card, a lesson learnt. I spent some time looing at some books of interest that I will go into detail in the future.

On my final day I paid a visit to the library which is next to what looked like an interesting gallery with a modern stained glass window that had a light from within that reflected on to the ususal modern monotone flat concrete wall that was adjacent to it. The library was not as good as I had hoped it had a good selection of the standard books, but the local section was I feel somewhat lacking but it is was still worth the browse and I did like the book on old Granville images that I had seen before and I must get a copy of  one day. Both the archive and library made me reflect on how good our services are in Jersey, although I would still like to see better weekend access for the archive here.

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