Research in France - Medis

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Trip by Kathy Bodine to Medis Area in 2009

I have inserted some pictures below and some emails which give details of Kathy Bodine's trip to Medis in 2009. Kathy is the wife of Tom Bodine, the son of George Willis Bodine. I should say that all of this information is based purely on what the locals said there. I think we need to wait for more proof that this street or those fields actually have to do with the John Bodine (Jean Bodin) who fled France and ended up the ancestor to thousands of Bodines in America. The things Kathy found out and saw there are really interesting, but I always like to have actual proof, more than just what locals might say, to back up something so important as this information.

Here are some pictures from Kathy's trip. Kathy may have more to send later. If so, I will add those as I get them.

Here is a sign for the street. This must be up where the street begins. Literally it means "Street of the Field of the Bodins." The sign below it "La Botterie" is something that must be down that street. It's not part of the name of the street.

Rue du Champ des Bodins - Sign

And here is the actual street in the picture below. It leads out into still open fields as can be seen in the bird's eye further below.

Rue du Champ des Bodins - Street View

Below is the bird's eye view of this street. The image comes from National Geographic maps. If you are connected to the Internet, click here to see the actual map. I have circled on the map below where the street is. It seems to end in the those fields. I have also circled in red the name of the town of Medis on the map.

Rue du Champ des Bodins - Overhead View

Here are some emails from Tom and Kathy.

From: Tom Bodine [tebodine at]
Sent: Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Subject: Re: Bodine Street in Medis


My wife talked with the local police chief who seemed to be familiar with the Jean Bodine story.  He even came up with the name of Jean's wife (Hester) before my wife had a chance to mention it.  I'll get more details from my wife about what this guy seemed to know, but one thing he said was after Jean moved out, no more Bodins had lived in the town.  He knew about Jean having been a miller and a farmer and said this reference to the Bodines' field (road name) referred to Jean's land.  My wife also went to visit the town Hester Pridon came from (Port des Barques) and was given a book of records to look at from the 1600's but she couldn't read the old style handwriting and didn't find out anything.  The material is there, however, if someone wants to go give it a try. Attached are the photos of Bodine Street in Medis.  One obviously is of the street sign.  The other is looking down the Rue du Champ des Bodins.  


From: realtat at
Sent: Sunday, November 29, 2009
Subject: FW: Hello from Tom's wife Kathy, who recently visited Medis


I went to Medis only vaguely interested in Bodine history, and left quite fascinated, since I seem to have hit pay dirt in terms of actual evidence. It was such a strange feeling to stand in the field that likely belonged to Jean Bodine. The past seems quite alive there and I only wish I had had more time and skill to decode the surviving book of births and deaths which I found in the mairie of the island of Oleron.  (I don't know how to say mairie in English, but I guess it would be city government records office or something.) No Bodine was from there that I know of but I guessed that perhaps records from the Port des Barques (where Ester, Jean's wife was from) could be there. The island faces the mainland port where this ancestor (Ester) was apparently from, and the island's mairie might possibly have records from the port area, since Port des Barques seems even today to be little more than a port. I simply couldn't find the mairie there at the port, and nobody I talked to at the port seemed to be from there enough to know much about the port's birth records from the 17th century. It's a great oyster and mussel area, so if you like those, maybe you inherited that taste. Let me know if you want more detail from Medis or Port des Barques, but I don't have any names to add, no Bodines in the cemetery or current residents with the name.

Best wishes. Kathy B.

From: realtat at
Sent: Monday, November 30, 2009
Subject: RE: Hello from Tom's wife Kathy, who recently visited Medis

Hi again, I spent three days in the area around Médis (pronounced without the -s) and Port des Barques. Will send photos as soon as I locate my camera cable to connect to computer (lost on the trip). I can only report what people told me. Xavier Reignier, who works in the mairie, seemed quite competent and informed, having researched himself and written a report on the history of the village that contained Jean Bodin's information. Xavier seemed to be a village historian, although he didn't claim that title, just interest. According to what he told me (I speak French.), records of births and deaths were destroyed, some in World War II. The cemetery seemed to contain mostly people from the 20th century and according to Xavier's lists no Bodin or Boudin or any similar name is buried there. According to the police chief, with whom I also talked, there are no Bodins in the area (including similar spellings). He had a complete list of citizens living in the area and the closest name was Botton. Xavier was certain that this family had no connection to the Bodins.  

Xavier told me that Jean Bodin and his second wife Ester Bridon (spelling uncertain) from le Port des Barques left with children from his first marriage and all other family members in the period before the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, when houses were being burned and people killed for holding Protestant services in their homes. He told me that Jean was not one of those who held services, but who left anyway. How Xavier knew this I can't say. His data on Bodin agreed with what came from you (?) except for the date of death. He belived it was in March of 1695. He told me that the Bodins were farmers and had a mill for flour that ran on wind. (moulin à vent) He told me that Jean Bodin was naturalized in London on 14 October 1681. He mentioned a book on this man written in 1904 by Miss Mary Sinnolt or Sennolt. Xavier told me about the street named "Champs des Bodins". Streets were named according to where they led to, or to whose property they led, for the small country lanes. I don't know what proof we have that the field here belonged to this Bodin. I didn't ask Xavier for proof. It appears that Xavier's family name Reigner is on a section not far from the Bodin area.  

Médis is now a town of 2700 people, a suburb of Royan really. When were you there? Did you meet Xavier?  

Incidentally, some of the notes I saw (possibly from you) mentioned the town of Soubise where the Bodins first went after leaving home. It says, "Soubise is so obscure it does not appear on any current atlas available to the author." Soubise is not small or obscure. It is thriving and easy to find, bigger than Médis or Port des Barques.  

Xavier showed me the Catholic church from the 12th century and the Protestant temple from the 18th, which was built long after the conflicts between the French Catholics and the Protestants, and so has no connection to Bodin. He told me that about a third of the town is now Protestant.  

On one set of notes I got from Tom (from you?) it says that Médis is located in the "District of Saintes". Xavier said that this is wrong and never was correct, even in the 17th century.  

Two American women whose fathers' plane crashed near Médis in the Second World War recently visited the village and held a meeting with village officials and flew the American flag at the mairie. Just a note of interest perhaps.  

I enjoyed this visit to Médis, even though I realize that the historical information may be shaky. It seemed credible to me. Something about the survival of tastes, like Tom's Dad's fishing on the sea and liking to stay near it and just details that seemed familiar or reminded me of his family.  

Best wishes, Kathy

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