The Penissons

The Penissons are legendary in my family for two reasons. First, they weren’t Cajuns (they emigrated from France long after the Cajuns arrived). Second, they had a little money.


Jean Baptiste Etienne Penisson

Here’s my great-great-great grandfather, Jean Baptiste Etienne Penisson. He married Henriette Nina Boudreaux and had 11 children. Their daughter, Marie Rosalie, was my great-great grandmother.


Etienne Benjamin Penisson and Rosalie Trahan

This is supposedly a portrait of Jean Baptiste Etienne’s parents, Etienne Benjamin and Rosalie Trahan Penisson. I say supposedly because Etienne Benjamin died in 1856. I am not an expert on the history of photography in America. However, you have to remember that the Penissons lived in Bayou L’Ourse,  a small community between Morgan City and Thibodaux. I’m not certain how they would have gotten their picture taken in the early, early days of photography. It’s possible, though. Maybe they managed to get to New Orleans.

Etienne Benjamin paid cash for 303 acres of land in 1844. The land was in Assumption Parish. At this point, I have to rely on oral history courtesy of my late grandmother. According to her, my great-great grandparents, Jean Severin Hebert and Marie Rosalie Penisson, got a section of this land. They lived in the Big House, which eventually went to my great-grandfather, Jean Jules Hebert. I don’t know if Jean Severin and Marie Rosalie built this house or inherited it. I don’t even know how many rooms it had – although I’m sure it was a standard bayou house, built on pilings with one room flowing directly into the next. Regardless, it burned when my great-grandfather was married and living in it. He moved across the bayou and rented a house. Eventually (after my great-grandmother died), he moved back across the bayou to the family land and lived in what amounted to a shack until he moved into a nursing home.


This couple is described on Ancestry as a young Etienne Benjamin Penisson and Rosalie Trahan. I’m confident this picture was mislabeled. 

The family money had run out, probably after the Civil War. However, the family held onto the land. I don’t know who owns it today. I can tell you where it is because we visited it often when I was a child. At one point, my mother’s childhood home shared the land with her uncle’s house. My mother’s home is long gone, but Uncle Howard’s home was still there last I visited.

The Donaldsonville Chief – Nov. 17, 1906

– The building at Dutchtown occupied by A. J. Landry as a barber-shop was totally destroyed by fire at about 10 o’clock p. m. last Saturday, together with its contents.

– Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Bouchereau are receiving the congratulations of their numerous friends anent the birth of
their first child, a sweet little daughter, who arrived from Storkville Monday afternoon of last week.

– Miss Mabel Barton’s many friends in Ascension and elsewhere will be delighted to learn that she has almost
completely recovered from the severe attack of typhoid fever with which she suffered during the past summer.

– A bouncing boy made his appearance at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bennie Savoy early yesterday morning, and the auspicious event’is eliciting congratulations galore from the many friends of the happy young parents.

– Mr. and Mrs. John Coquille came up from New Orleans last Saturday afternoon on a visit to Mrs. Coquille’s
mother, Mrs. John Bourg. Mr. Coquille returned home Monday afternoon, his attractive wife remaining over until yesterday morning.

– Mr. and Mrs. John Schaff’s baby daughter was christened at the Catholic church at 10 o’ last Saturday (
forenoon, Rev. L. G. Baudin officiating. The pretty name of Anna Lily was bestowed upon the dainty little lady, Miss Anna Ohlmeyer and Richard Ohlmeyer acting as sponsors.

– Attorney R. J. Chauvin left for New Orleans Wednesday morning to be at the bedside of his little son, Rend,
who is seriously ill with pneumonia at the home of Mr. Chauvin’s parents in that city. A message received to
day conveys the gratifying information that the patient is considerably improved.

– A dainty little girl arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Alcee Rodriguez at 8:50 o’clock yesterday morning,,
and the numerous friends of the proud young parents are proffering their congratulations anent the auspicious
event. The Chief takes pleasure in adding a share of felicitations, and trusts that the diminutive damsel will
be blessed with a long and happy life.

– The marriage of Joseph Austin Moore, of Terrebonne parish, to Miss Leah Margaret Knobloch, of West Baton Rouge, was solemnized Wednesday afternoon at St. Joseph’s Catholic church, Thibodaux, in the presence of a large gathering of relatives and friends of the contracting parties. Miss Gertrude Folse attended the bride as maid of honor, and Ernest
Roger, Jr., officiated as best man. After the ceremony the happy young couple drove to Shriever, where they will make their home and share each other’s joys and sorrows for the remainder of their lives. The bride is a niece of Hon. W. C. Ragan, mayor of Thibodaux, and a sister of V. J. Knobloch, a well-known young busiiness man of the same town. She is an extremely pretty and popular young lady, and has a legion of friends and admirers in this community who will rejoice with her in her new-found happiness. Mr. Moore is a son of John T. Moore, a leading sugar planter and prominent citizen of Terrebonne parish, and has before him the promise of a bright and happy future.

– For Sale! The Well-Known LAUDERDALE PLANTATION Situated in St. James parish on the west bank of the Mississippi river. six miles below Donaldsonville, at the head of the Mississippi and Lafonrche Drainage District, containing nearly 1600 acres of land-1000 of which are in high state of cultivation. Balance in woodlands, with
considerable cypress timber. This money-making plantation, with all necessary adjuncts-mules, implements, carts, etc.-will have enough corn and hay for its requirements until the new crop of 1907. half of the cane crop will be D.74.
Texas and Pacific station and Lauderdale postoffice on plantation. A large modern cottage, surrounded by live oaks, magnolias and forty grafted bearing pecan trees, makes a picturesque home. Offered for sale on account of departure of owners. Apply on premises or to E. B. LAPCE

District court report in Donaldsonville Chief on Dec. 30, 1871

Adjourned Session-Hon. Raphael Beauvais, Judge,
We continue the synopsis of business transacted at the District Court
Tuesday of last week:
Lapene & Ferre rs. No. 1311, Alex. 0. Landry, Ursin Babin, inter
venor; Nicholls & Pugh, attorneys for plaintiff, Fred. Duffel, Esq., at
torney for intervenor; on motion of defendant’s attorney, this case was
fixed for trial Friday, the 22nd inst.

Augustin Allenian ves. No. 1779, Joseph Ferrier; Nicholls & Pugh,
attorneys for plaintiff, R. N. Sims, Esq., for defendant; on motion of at
torney for defendant the judgment for default rendered herein was set aside
and answered filed; case fixed for Wednesday.

John M. Lusk, administrator, vs. No. 1786, James D. Henderson et als;
R. N. Sims, Esq., attorney for plaintiff; judgment by default entered against

Victor Maurin ef ale vs. 1778, The Common Council of Donaldsonville;
R. N. Sims, Esq., for plaintiffs, Nicholls & Pugh, for defendants; on motion, leave was granted defendants to file a motion to dissolve the injunction herein, fixed for Thursday.

E. Marqueze & Co. rs. No. 1789, V. Paul Landry and A. T. Gautrcau;
Legendre & Poche for plaintiffs; judgment by default against defendants.

Victor Maurin et als vs. No. 1793; Charles F. Smith, Tax Collector of Ascension parish; R. N. Sims, Esq., attorney for plaintiffs, Fred. Duffel, Esq., for defendant; leave granted defendant to file answer, and case fixed for Friday.

Jean Lapeyrolery vs. No. 1796, Edward Braud, fils; John A. Cheevers,
Esq., attorney for plaintiff; judgment by default entered.

Raphael Mousse vs. No. 1799, The May or and Common Council of Donaldsonville; Nicholls & Pugh, attorneys for defendants; exception filed by defendants, and case fixed for

J. B. Leche vs. No. 1800, J. B. Arthur Claverie; Nicholls & Pugh, attorneys for plaintiff; judgment by default entered against defendant.

Azelie Babin, wife of Phirmin Duplessis, .t ale vs. No. 1801, Widow James Anderson ; Nicholls & Pugh for plaintiffs; judgment by default against defendant entered.

McCall Bros. vs No. 1806, J. B. Wilkinson et als; on motion of R. N.
Sims, Esq., attorney for plaintiffs, this case was fixed instanter and judgment
rendered against defendants asprayed for in plaintiffs’ petition.

The Grand Jury now came into the court and presented the following report of the result of their labors :State of Louisiana vs. John Carr; indictment for horse stealing. A true bill.

State of Louisiana vs. Boston Hewsley; indictment for throwing concentrated lie with malicious intent. A true bill.

State of Louisiana vs. Morgan Mitchell and James Lewis; indictment for an affiay. A true bill.

State of Louisiana rs. John Curtis; indictment for horse stealing. Not a
true bill.

To the Honorable Raphael Beauvais, Judge of the Fourth Judicial District Court, Parish of Ascension. The Grand Jurors of the State of Louisiana in and for the Parish of Ascension respectfully represent, that we have visited the perish prison and
find it in a good and clean condition; the prisoners are well and sufficiently
fed with good, healthy victuals, and expressed themselves satisfied. We
have also examined the Court-house, the Recorder’s office and the Clerk’s(
office. The former is in a good state of repair and only requires caps to be
placed over the chimney. The Recorder’s office and the records therein
are in a tolerable state of preservation, except the index, which is old, worm
eaten and all loose, and which should be made as the law requires. We
would further recommend that an iron safe be purchased for the safe keeping
of valuable papers, notes, etc., which may be deposited with the Recorder,
and which might also be used by the Clerk of the Court as a place of deposit. We would also recommend that iron bars be fixed to the transoms over the doors of the Clerk’s and Sheriff’s office.
Signed: G. GAUTREAU,

It was ordered by-the court that a copy of the above report be served on
the President of the Police Jury of Ascension Parish.
The court now adjourned until Wednesday, the 20th instant, at 10 o’clock A. M.
We defer publishing additional proceedings until next week.

Grand Coteau cemetery

My husband’s family hails from the Grand Coteau area. It’s a beautiful town with an absolutely gorgeous church and homes. We visited the graveyard to see the stones for my husband’s grandfather and assorted relatives. 

Here’s my modest list of just a fraction of the graves:

Adolph Guilbeau, March 8, 1900-Jan. 3, 1984

Laura B. Guilbeau, May 20, 1900-Dec. 11, 1974

Onesiphore Broussard, died Jan. 31, 1881, age 40

Nita Guilbeau Dugas, Jan. 14, 1881-Oct. 14, 1978

Zenon J. Dugas, July 24, 1888-Nov. 17, 1928

Lionel Guilbeau, Aug. 7, 1891-July 1, 1946

Dr. Ben Joseph Guilbeau, Sept. 3, 1860-Aug. 4, 1935

Natolia Castille Guilbeau, April 16, 1891-March 18, 1994

Saul Guilbeau, June 25, 1873-April 13, 1916

Dr. Felix C. Guilbeau, Aug. 29, 1877-July 13, 1931

Edmond C. Guilbeau, died Aug. 14, 1931

Ernest Guilbeaux, June 19, 1860-Feb. 17, 1925

Marie Thelma Durden, 1928-1962

Mrs. Oge Guilbeau, 1898-1996 (mother of Marie Thelma Durden)

Corinne Guilbeau Huter, Feb. 24, 1931-Oct. 24, 1965

Marie Pollingue Guilbeau, July 17, 1868-Feb. 7, 1939

Isabel Guilbeau, Oct. 1, 1898-May 14, 1955

Willie L. Sibille, Dec. 3, 1891-Feb. 17, 1963

Lilburn Guilbeau (wife of Willie Sibille), March 14, 1896-Sept. 28, 1952

Harry Adrian Barrilleaux, April 6, 1897-June 21, 1969

Lorena Blanco Barrilleaux, Dec. 3, 1899-Dec. 11, 1987

Havard Guilbeau, April 20, 1918-May 15, 1996

Mrs. Oscar Guilbeau, July 20, 1885-Dec. 4, 1966

Elie Guilbeau, may 20, 1894-Feb. 12, 1970

Blanche S. Guilbeau, Sept. 28, 1896-1979

Earl J. Savoie, Oct. 30, 1913-May 27, 1976

Wilhelmina G. Savoie, Oct. 31, 1913-Oct. 19, 1988



Woodrow Wilson Hebert?


I volunteer what little spare time I have indexing records for the Church of Latter Day Saints. I’m Catholic, but I have a deep appreciation and gratitude for the Church of Latter Day Saints’ dedication to preserving and distributing genealogical records. Besides, indexing is great fun. I indexed passport records the other day from the 1920s. Imagine my surprise when I cracked open a few and discovered family photos. Not my family photos. We had little reason to get a passport. Everyone immigrated here. Seriously, for the first 12 years of my mother’s life, she lived next door to her grandfather, aunts, uncles, cousins, great-aunts, great-uncles, etc. It was like the Kennedy compound, but a lot less wealthy. 

I always smile when I index a record for someone obviously named for a president. I guess it’s amusing to me because Cajuns didn’t do that. Everyone was Jean Baptiste, Joseph or Marie. The only exceptions in my family tree were Cordilier (a man), Desire (again, a man) and a myriad of Florentins. None of those names is presidential.

Then we celebrated my father-in-law’s 95th birthday. I’ve always known him as Baker Joseph. Come to find out, he has a third name. Wilson. Baker Joseph Wilson. As in Woodrow Wilson. 

Benoits and Bergerons

I don’t know much about the Benoits and Bergerons in my family tree. My g-g-grandmother was a Benoit. Her mother was a Bergeron. G-G-Grandmother Benoit died long before my mother was born. She died of breast cancer, leaving a legacy of that particular form of cancer for her descendants. What’s also interesting about Eugenie Ella Benoit Hebert (don’t you just love that name!) is her Uncle Jean Baptiste Homere Bergeron. Homere – as no doubt he was called since his father was a Jean Baptiste – entered the world in 1844 and left it just 21 years later. He died of smallpox. How do I know that? Homere entered the Union army. He served in the First Calvary. He was known as Omer. He was among 5,000 to 10,000 ( Louisianans who fought on the Union side during the Civil War. Homere may have participated in the siege at Port Hudson. Thousands more from Louisiana joined the confederate side, including two men from the family into which Eugenie Ella married. Exactly what the Bergerons thought of Homere’s choice is unclear. After his death, his mother received a pension from the federal government for her son’s military service.