Characters in A Ghost of Saint Pierre
All of the characters in this book are fictionalized, although most of them were real people, and we have tried to keep true to the facts as far as they are known. Of course the story itself is totally fictional and is not meant to be a biography.
Family in Martinique
Paul: Joseph Paul Poncy was the youngest son of the Poncy family, and the grandfather of author, Duane Poncy. He is the main character in A Ghost of Saint Pierre.
Mannie: Joseph Emmanuel Poncy was one year older than Paul, and like most of the young men in the family, started out in the working world as an office assistant of one sort or another. He died in the eruption of Pélée in May 1902.
Joseph: Paul’s oldest living brother died in the eruption of Pélée in May 1902.
Eustase: Paul’s eldest brother, who died in a hunting accident at the age of twenty. Paul and Emmanuel were probably not actually present at his death, as we have depicted in the book. He may have been accompanied by Samuel and Raphael Dupouy, who reported the death to the authorities.
Léonie & Alix: Léonie and Alix Biliotti were the daughters of Edith Dupouy and her deceased (at the time of the book) husband, Paul Biliotti de Gage. They died in the eruption.
Anatole & Clémence: Paul’s father and mother. Clémence is said to have died in Oklahoma in 1910, but we have found no evidence for the veracity of this claim. It may have been part of Joseph Paul’s dissembling.
Granmé Jeanine: Rose Marie “Jeanine” Petit was the mother of Paul’s mother Clemence. She was married to Étienne Clement Fauvé-Sablon, a small planter from Ajoupa Bouillon. L’habitation Sablon was on the Montauban River, which can no longer be found on the maps of Martinique. She may have died in the August eruption, which destroyed Morne Rouge and Ajoupa Bouillon.
Jean Joseph: Jean Joseph Poncy appears briefly as a ghost, along with his sordid story.
Tata Elmire: Elmire Poncy was the nearest sibling to Anatole, and her children were all close family. She died in 1892, when the Saint Pierre portion of the book begins.
Edith Dupouy: The oldest of the Dupouy children, Edith was married to Paul Biliotti de Gage, who died in 1884. Ferdinand, Alix, Léonie and Valentine were her children. Died in the eruption along with all of her children.
Samuel Dupouy & Adèle Blondel de Rougery: In the civil records Samuel Dupouy is listed as a stockbroker. He likely had many business interests, including the family Dupouy rhumerie. Samuel appears on just about all of the civic records having to do with the Poncys. Both died in the eruption along with all of their children.
Therese “Té” Dupouy & Gustav Caminade: Although much of Gustav’s business was in Saint Pierre, the family lived elsewhere on the island. This family survived the eruption. Some of the children married in metropolitan France.
Raphael Dupouy: The family rum business was likely managed by Raphael Dupouy. The Dupouy Rhumerie was located at the south end of Saint Pierre, not too far from the mouillage. He died in the eruption.
Stéphanie and the children: Stéphanie Grainau was the daughter of a policeman who died in the line of duty in Fort-de-France when she was a child. Both her father, Antoine Charles Grainau, and her mother Marie Augusta Bouché are recorded in the records as being “Mulatre.” Her grandfather Eugene Faravoce Grainau was a successful businessman in Saint Pierre. Her first two children, Alice Germaine and George Adrien have an unknown father or fathers. Paul Poncy is the recorded father of the other two, André Paul and Virginie Yvonne Poncy. All died in the eruption.
Madame Marlet: Stéphanie’s aunt, Rosa Bouché was the widow of Henry Ange Marlet, an heir to a wealthy sugar estate. His father, a mulatto, was a well-known writer and politician in le Robert. Henry Ange was also a writer and worked for the Ministry of the Marine. Likely died in the eruption.
Family in America
Theresa Marguerite: Joseph Paul’s daughter, who is eleven years old when the story begins. She had two daughters, Bettie Lou and Dixie Lee, who make cameo appearances at the end of the novel.
Clara: Clara Mandeville, wife of Paul Poncy, was born in Outremont, Canada, a suburb of Montreal. Her family lived alternately between Montreal and Labelle Canada.
Arthur Mandeville: Arthur Mandeville was a photographer in Montreal. His wife, Clarinda Charlebois was from Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, which is
Therese Boulet & François Mandeville: Arthur Mandeville’s mother lived in the Joly district of Labelle along with his father, François Mandeville. François was the Notary for Mont Laurel, Quebec.
Germaine Mandeville: Clara’s younger sister was living with them in Winslow, Arizona when Clara was pregnant with Clair, in 1910.
Francis Paul: Jos. Paul’s oldest son in America died of the Spanish Flu in 1918.
The young Poncy children: Clair, Arthur, Henry, and Raymond were Theresa’s younger siblings at the time of Francis Paul’s death. Lawrence and Francis “Pat” were born later.
Uncle Bill: William Joseph Belair was a close family friend and lived with Clara for many years after Paul’s death. The three of them ran a metal foundry in Los Angeles in the forties. “Uncle Bill” was a jeweler and a metal plater.
Aunt Irene: Irene Leclerc was married to Edgard Mandeville, Clara’s uncle, who was a portrait artist in Los Angeles.
Other real (fictionalized) people
Ludger Sylbaris: the “Miracle of Saint Pierre” was (arguably) the only survivor of the volcanic explosion which destroyed the city of Saint Pierre. It is unlikely that Joseph Paul actually knew him, and he is used here in a symbolic way.
Vachel Lindsay: Paul did not know Vachel Lindsay, as far as we know. He was added for dramatic purposes.
The priests: Fathers Edouard, Napoleon, and Coneally were the actual priests at their respective churches. The fathers at the College-Sèminaire, however, are fictional.
The Tambois family: The Tambois family was real. At the time of the 1900 US Census, Paul was a boarder in their house. Frank and 14-year-old Lea both worked in the textile mills.
Albert and Annie Bouley: The Bouleys were actual neighbors in 1900. Whether Paul knew them is unknown, but Albert Bouley was a 3rd cousin to Clara’s grandmother, Therese Boulet. The Boulets family had (and still have) large reunions like the one in the book, so it is possible that Paul met Clara through this family connection. The Lanois family were boarders in the Bouley house.
Raoul Dufail: The Dufail family and the Poncy family were neighbors in Saint Pierre. Raoul Dufail was one of the witnesses at the birth of André Paul Poncy. He actually married Marguerite Gemeau, the daughter of the cigar maker on Quai Peynier. The Gemeau’s had also migrated to Cayenne. Raoul’s uncle, Paul Dufail, was the head of surgery at the hospital in Saint Pierre and died in the tragedy of Mt. Pélée.
Alcide Dufail family: Alcide Dufail, Raoul’s brother, migrated to Maine in the 1890s, where he married Louise Lamarque. Their son, Raoul, went on to become an accomplished tenor and was one of the first musicians to be broadcast in a radio program in New York.
Paul’s friends from school: Armand, Eugene, and Alexis, and other school friends were all invented for the story.
Sophie and Desirée: Paul’s friends from the study circle are imaginary.
Philippe Guillaume: Stéphanie’s lover and father of her first two children is an invented character.
Amanda Laviolette and friends: Amanda and most of the characters in the Buffalo scenes are fictional characters, except for Albert Bouley and the Mandevilles. And Vachel Lindsay, of course. We have no evidence that Paul was actually in Buffalo for the Pan American Expo.
The Ancestors in Martinique
Relative late comers to Martinique, the first Poncy arrived in Saint Pierre in 1782. The following January, Joseph Toussaint Poncy, a textile merchant from Marseille, married Marguerite Rousseau, the ‘naturelle’ (illegitimate in the eyes of the Church) daughter of a mother of the same name, who was born in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe to Jean Rousseau and Louise Leroy. I have been unable to trace further origins of this Rousseau family of Saint Pierre, but Marguerite, the younger, had a brother and sister, both also “naturelle,” whom married into prominent Saint Pierre families.
Joseph Toussaint Poncy, already 55 years old at the time of marriage, had only one child by this marriage, Jean Joseph Poncy.
In 1803, Jean Joseph married Marie Jeanne Petit. Although her father, Thomas Petit, a government officiary, arrived in Martinique about the same time as the Poncys, her mother’s creole family had ties back the earliest settlers on the island, and many of the island’s planter class. Among those were Pierre Gaffé, who arrived in 1639 and had several daughters who became the progenators of many white Martiniquan creole families. Among other early settlers in the family tree are Jean Veyrier, Yves Ollivier, Adrien Leonard (Belgian), Julien Rousseau, and Pierre Martin, whose daughter, Catherine Martin married Julian Rousseau. Most eventually settled in Macouba and Basse-Pointe.
Due to his connections through his creole wife, Jean Joseph Poncy became a well-known estate agent and house manager for a number of sugar plantations and their associated businesses. As such, he was an essential cog in the slave trade and owned slaves himself. When the Poncy house in Saint Pierre was burned down in the slave rebellion of 1831, Jean Joseph supplied crucial testimony which led to the public hanging of twenty-two rebels in Place Bertin that same year.
Several of his children died at a young age, including three sons who died in a shipwreck off the coast of Cherbourg, France, as they were on their way to attend school in the metropole. They were nine, ten, and eleven years of age. Jean Joseph died in 1858, at the age of 73.
Four of the children of Jean Joseph Poncy and Marie Jeanne Petit went on to have children of their own, Loïsa, Raphaël, Elmire and Anatole.
Marie Louise Poncy , known in the family as Loïsa, married a minor aristocrat and Knight of Saint Louis, Bruno Assier de Pompignan. These are the grandparents of the Plissonneau-Duquènes, founders of the Plissonneau shipping firm. Among the prominent bèké families married into the Plissonneau-Duquènes are the Hayots, MacHughs, and de Reynals. Today, the Hayots are one of the richest families in Martinique.
Joseph Raphaël Poncy traveled to France with his dying mother in 1831, and after she passed away in Paris in 1833, he eventually moved to London where he married Sarah Helen Frisby. He became a successful businessman and stock trader in London. This London line of the family went by the name of Veyrier de Poncy.
Marie Louise Elmire Poncy married Jules Dupouy, a stocktrader and founder of the famous Dupouy rhumerie. His sons took over the family businesses after the death of their father. The youngest daughter, Thérese Dupouy, married Gustave Caminade, a successful businessman and wholesale trader whose store, Caminade’s, was widely known in 1890s Saint Pierre. The Caminades also owned their own shipping line between Saint Pierre and Bordeaux. The Dupouys were very close to my grandfather’s family and show up at nearly every family event. All but the Caminades died in the eruption of 1902.
And, of course, there is my great grandfather, Anatole Poncy. Anatole married Clemence Elisabeth Josephine Fauvé-Sablon, a cousin, and the daughter of a creole planter from Ajoupa Bouillon, a village in the commune of Basse-Pointe. Anatole Poncy was a financial manager for the Soudon Sucrerie (sugar factory) in Lamentin until shortly before his death in 1897.
A Martinique Genealogy
• Rose-Marie “Jeanine” Petit –Madam Fauvé Sablon (1819 — 1902)
• Anatole Poncy (1823 – 1897)
• Clemence Fauvé-Sablon (1840 —)
—- • Eustace Poncy (1869 –1889).
—- • Joseph Poncy (1872 — 1902)
—- • Emmanuel Poncy (1877 — 1902)
—- • Joseph Paul Poncy (1878 — 1951) w.Stéphanie Grainau (1868—1902)
——– • René André Paul Poncy (1897 — 1902)
——– • Louise Virginie Yvonne Poncy (1899 — 1902)
Uncles and Aunts and cousins:
• Louis Fauvé-Sablon, lives in Trinité (1842 —)
• Louis Paul Fauvé-Sablon (1843 —)
• Edgard Fauvé-Sablon (1850 —)
m. Idalie Dupeyrat (le Robert/Fort-de-France) (1862 —)
—- • Bernadette Dupeyrat Fauvé-Sablon (1891 —)
• Isaure Fauvé-Sablon (1847 —)
—- • Nelly Petit (1874 —)
• Elmire Poncy (1824 —1892)
m Jules Dupouy, deceased)
—- • Edith Dupouy (1854-1902) m. Paul Billioti de Gage (deceased, 1848-1884)
——– • Louis Fernand Billioti (1875 — 1902)
——– • Alix Billioti (1878 — 1902)
——– • Léonie Billioti (1879 — 1902)
——– • Valentin Billioti (1882 — 1902)
—- • Samuel Dupouy (1856 — 1902) m, Adèle Blondel la Rougery (1864 — 1902)
——– • Rachel Dupouy (1885 — 1902)
——– • Josephine Dupouy (1887 —1902)
——– • Robert Dupouy (1891 — 1902)
——– • Georges Dupouy (1893 — 1902)
—- • Therese Dupouy (Maman Té) (1859 —) m. Gustave (Papa Tav) Caminade (1855 —)
——– • Gustav Caminade (1884 — 1974)
——– • André Caminade (1885 — 1955)
——– • Maurice Caminade (1887 — 1972)
—–• Raphaël Dupouy (1862 — 1902)
• Loisa Poncy (1810 — 1867) m. Bruno Assier de Pomignan (1802 — 1877)
—- • Emile Assier de Pompignan (1834-1913) m. 1875 Adèle Lagarrigue de Meillac (1848-1926)
——– • Victoire Assier de Pompignan (1879 —)
——– • Emile Assier de Pompignan (1888 —)
——– • Aline Assier de Pompignan (1839-1915)
m. Tiburce Plissonneau Duquène (1827-1889)
——– • Georges Plissonneau Duquène (1857-1915) m. Alice de Reynal de Saint-Michel (1859-1889)
—————- • Constance Plissonneau Duquène
—————- • Georges Plissonneau Duquène (1884-1942)
—————- • Amélie Plissonneau Duquène (1886 —)
—————- • Paul Plissonneau Duquène m. Clémence Souquet- Basiège (1858- )
——– • Berthe Plissonneau Duquène (1859) m. Octave Hayot (1856 —)
—————- • Aline Hayot (1884-1976)
——– • Rose Plissonneau Duquène (1861 — ) m. Edgar de Courmont (1850 — )
—————- • Thérèse de Courmont (1884 — )
——– • Joseph Plissonneau Duquène (1864 —1902) m. Eugénie MacHugh (1870-1938)
(lived on Saint-Lucie) Deceased 16 May 1902 – Castries, île de Sainte-Lucie, from burns suffered as the ship he was fleeing on was hit by the nuée ardente. age at death: 37 years old. Négociant de Saint-Pierre, associé avec son frère Pierre Louis Joseph Georges dans la société de commerce « Plissonneau & Cie
—————- • Louise Plissonneau Duquène (1893 —)
—————- • Marcelle Plissonneau Duquène (1894 —)
—————- • May Plissonneau Duquène (1896 —)
—————- • Robert Plissonneau Duquène (1897 — 1973)
——– • Émile Plissonneau Duquène (1866 —1926) Thérèse Garaud (1868 — 1943)
—————- • Yvonne Plissonneau Duquène
—————- • Berthe Plissonneau Duquène
—————- • Alice Plissonneau Duquène
——– • Loïsa Josephine Plissonneau Duquène (1868 —) m. Gabriel Hayot (1855 —)
—————- • Bertha Hayot (1893 —)
——– • Aline Plissonneau Duquène (1869- ) m. Joseph Ernoult (1861- )
——– • Rachel Plissonneau Duquène (1872-) m. Charles “Charly” MacHugh (1865 — ) (Sainte-Luce)
—————- • Emma MacHugh (1890 — )
—————- • Thérèse MacHugh (1893 —)
—————- • Lucie MacHugh (1894 —)
—————- • Robert MacHugh (1896 — 1959)
——– • Pierre Plissonneau Duquène (1874 —)
——– • Lucie Plissonneau Duquène (1877 — 1952) m. Gabriel Trillard (1864 —1948)
—————- • Gabrielle Trillard (1897 — 1999)
——– • Louis Tiburce Plissonneau Duquène (1881 — 1940)
• Thérèse Assier de Pompignan (1851 — 1883) m. Léon Bally (1840 — 1901)
——– • Josephine Bally (1870 — 1930) m. Simon Hayot (1859 — 1941)
—————- • Octavie Hayot 1897 — 1957
——– • Léon Bally (1878 — 1945)
——– • Marguerite Bally (1882)
Stephanie Grainau Family
Stéphanie Grainau (1868 — 1902)
w. unknown father
——– • Alice Germaine Grainau (1888 — 1902)
——– • Adrien Germain Grainau 1894 — 1902)
w. Paul Poncy
——– • René André Paul Poncy (1897 — 1902)
——– • Louise Virginie Yvonne Poncy (1899 — 1902)
• Louis August Raphaël Grainau (1865 — 1902?)
Aunt and Uncle:
• Rosa Bouché (Madame Marlet) (1840 — 1902?) m. Henry Ange Armand Marlet (1840 — 1889)
——– • Henry Rose Marlet (1871 — 1902?)
• August Bouché (1836 — 1887)
——– • Camille Bouché (1872 — 1902)