The death of seven children in 12 months

The 1800s were a tough time to have children in Louisiana. Many children died during childhood. For the Green family, death came especially frequently.

The New Orleans daily Democrat, October 21, 1878

The following are the names of the persons who have died of yellow fever on the Armant plantation in St. James Parish: John Humble, Germany; Emma L. Green, Geo. G. Green and Johnnie Green, children of J. C. Green, manager of the Armant plantation; Luke W. Conerly Jr. and Emma Eloise Conerly, children of Luke W. Conerly from Pike County, Miss.; and young Mr. Compton, assistant overseer from Rapides parish.

All of Mr. Green’s family have had the fever and all of Mr. Conerly’s family except his wife and child – four months old – in all, 18 cases and seven deaths. Those who died had black vomit.

In addition to the above there have been a large number of cases among the negroes, with some 12 or 15 deaths, principally among the children. There are a few cases yet prevailing on the plantation. The fever is gradually spreading in the parish, particularly on the east side of the river. It has also broken out on the Carroll plantation in St. John parish.
Pioneer of Assumption – Nov. 8, 1879

Our former parishioner and friend J.C. Green, Esq., visited his plantation here on a sad errand.

The object of his visit was to see his promising son committed to the grave in Christ Episcopal Church cemetery. Mavor C. Green died suddenly of heart disease at the early age of 19 years and 7 months, regretted by all who ever knew him.

He is the seventh child lost by Mr. Green within the past twelve months. Only one child is left to the deeply afflicted father. If ever a parent deserved the sympathy of his friends, Mr. Green does and he has it from them all.

A visit to Donaldsonville’s Catholic cemetery in 1885

Newspaper writers of bygone years could be a little flowery – or Victorian – in their writing.  Still, this is an interesting tour of the Ascension of Our Lord cemetery in Donaldsonville from “The Donaldsonville Chief.” I’ve added modern photos.

All Saints’ Day–The Principal Tombs and Decorations in the Catholic cemetery —

“There is no more beautiful custom in the Catholic religion than the observance of All Saints’ Day, which has been set apart by the Church to the memory of the saints
and is a feast of obligation as regards attending divine service and abstaining from
manual labor. The peculiar and touching custom of decorating the last resting places
of loved ones who have fallen under the relentless hand of the great reaper is essentially Southern, and has been of late years observed by nearly all religious denominations.

The old Catholic Cemetery of Donaldsonville, where sleep so many of its founders, contains numerous handsome and costly tombs and monuments, as well as poor and humble ones, but both classes alike bore evidence that those who rest within still live,
hallowed in loving hearts and undying memories. The cemetery is approached by
a long grassy walk, bordered on each side with tall, widespreading willows, and ere
the visitor has reached the gates of the hallowed enclosure, the mellowed light, the
hush and solitude seem to shut him away solemnly from all the outer world.

bringier

The Bringier tomb

Just beyond the entrance, to the right of central avenue down which we look upon
passing through the gates, is the Bringier tomb, a square, granite mausoleum, the
largest in the cemetery, in which lie members of the Bringier, Tureaud, Kenner and
Colomb families. It was simply decorated here and there with natural flowers, and in
one corner of the railed enclosure stood a bundle of sugar cane, bound like a sheaf of
wheat. A compartment in the side of the tomb devoted to the Colomb family had
been but a few days before opened to receive the remains of Marie Louise Colomb,
who had been snatched away from earthly life at the age of 15, before she had tasted
either its joys or sorrows. Immediately opposite the Bringier tomb, on the other side
of the avenue, is the tomb of Mrs. Antoine D. Vega, one of the few in the graveyard
that bears a poetical inscription.

In front of the O’Malley tomb, a little further down the avenue, a broken column
of snowy white told a pathetic tale of a bright young life cut off in all its promise,
and bore the simple inscription, “John O’Malley.”

On the Wilson tomb near by was carved the name of Mary Armide Theresa Wilson,
aged 10 months. Loving hands had tenderly placed sweets flowers here, fragrant as
the fleeting perfume of her life, weaving them about the marble slab which bore up
on its face the indelible letters telling of the time when Christ suffered them to come unto Him.

Further along a black marble headstone told of Doctor A. Maszke, Baron of Elpenbein, a native of Mariampol, Pologne, who died far from home and loved ones, a poltical exile from his native land.

The family tombs of Jean Dominique, Comstock, Simon Braud, Dr. Theo. Webre, Robt. Coquille, Guedry, Matthew Couughlin and Louis Dalmas are among the most conspicuous in this portion of the cemetery, the two last named attracting especial attention by their decorations and the flowers and shrubs growing around them.

On a flat, old-fashioned ” table tomb” was traced the name of Eloi Melancon, grass-grown and mossy, as if preparing for a final plunge into oblivion.

evanhall

The family behind this house, Evan Hall, is buried in Donaldsonville.

The beautiful Gothic sepulchre of the Andrews family, the antebellum owners of Evan Hall, is constructed of finest marble and attracts immediate attention.

Near the end of the middle avenue are grouped the tombs of several branches of the Duffel family, all bedecked with natural flowers.

At the termination of the avenue rises the great mission cross so recently erected, and
near its base, surrounded by an ornamental iron railing, repose the remains of the Sisters of Charity who have breathed their last within the peaceful walls of the St. Vincent
Institute. In the centre of the enclosure rests the revered Sister Mary Austin, whose
grave is surmounted by an imposing headstone erected by the ladies of the parish,
many of whom were her pupils in bygone years. Two large urns, bearing the initials
E. J. and M. V. respectively, and filled with blooming chrysanthemums, composed the
offerings to this gentle religieusd, whose good deeds and kindly excellence will never
fade from the memory of those who knew and honored her in life. Within the shadow of the cross she served so faithfully she sleepeth well.

Turning now to the left we pass the tombs of J. LeBlanc, E. Bujol, T. Landry and Hubert Treille, all newly cleaned and decorated. Below these a spacious iron-railed enclosure contains two old tombs said to bear the names of Pedesclaux and Winchester. Weeds and wild flowers hold high carnival here; coarse coxcombs have thrust their gaudy heads through fissures in the brickwork, and from the gnarled branches of a leafless tree, trembling and swaying with every passing breeze, there hang the dismantled remnants of a forsaken nest.

 

landry

The grand Landry sepulchre

Adjacent to this neglected spot is the tall and stately Landry sepulchre, the most conspicuous in the cemetery, wherein lie the remains of members of the old Landry and
Duffel families. A stray shell injured a corner of this structure during the war, and
for many years a great hole in the mason work disfigured it, but the place has been
neatly repaired and no longer serves as a reminder of the time when the passions of
the living marred even the tranquil slumber of the dead. At the entrance of this
mausoleum a headstone marks the resting place of Father Herman Stucke. Father
Tichitoli was also buried here in an upright position; in conformity. with his dying re
quest, the slab above him forming one of the steps of the Landry tomb, but the remains have lately been relocated to the enclosure belonging to the Sisters.

Turning again to the left and coming up the lower avenue, we pass tombs bearing
the familiar names of LeBlanc, Ayraud, David Israel, Mollere and Hatkinson-four
of the latter in a group-Tournillion, Randall, Dugas, Brand, Rlanchard and others
equally well known and prominent in this community.

One simple headboard, graced with a posy of white marguerites, bore the name of
Ada Terrio; not many among us have forgotten the gentle girl who, then buddiing
into beauteous womanhood, faltered and left us by the way.

Near here is the beautiful Bethancourt tomb, recently enlarged and improved. A
shaft of white marble has been erected, and four urns, one at each corner of the
burial plot. At the foot of the stone a tiny cross appears, ” Erected to the memory of
Little Arthur,” a nephew of the gentleman who had these lovely testimonials placed in
position-Mr. L. S. Bethancourt, for many years a resident of Panama, who visited his
native land not long ago.

Many imposing tombs are situated in this vicinity. That of Jean Baptiste Gaudin, a
large granite structure, is very conspicuous, and so are two of similar device bearing the
names of Aristide Landry and D’Ignace Dugas. The tomb of H. S. Boudreaux and
his little daughter Adele was tastefully decorated as also was that of Michael Keating. Both were freshly whitewashed and covered with natural flowers.

Near the upper end of the front cross avenue, to the right of the entrance, are several handsome tombs, notably that of the Seyfried family, in which repose the remains of Gottlieb Seyfried, Mrs. Baptiste Walker and Mrs. Patrick Reddington, the last named of whom but a few short weeks ago crossed the shadowy path which separates time from eternity.

All through the cemetery the eye is met by old tombs fast falling into decay; the.
bricks, green and dank with age, are covered with a tangle of wild verdure, as if nature’s tender hand had sought to hide the touch of time. Some bear, in letters that are fast passing away, inscriptions dated as far back as 1836; others have faded, decaying decorations, dried and withered flowers that crack and crumble at the touch,
but too plainly indicating that the gentle hands which placed them there have long
since fallen to dust. On one such Mecca of earthly hopes appears the legend, ” Une
epouse et une mere inconsolable.”

Almost all the decorations were of natural flowers, though a few clung to the old
style of paper and bead wreaths. Some tiny mounds simply bore branches of evergreen
laid across the top, showing that mothers still lived and cherished the memory of
these “babes that never grow old.”

The quaint, curious custom of burning candles before the graves was observed in many instances, and very gruesome these flickering points of light looked, shining out in the gathering twilight. The huge cross threw heavy shadows, touching with wavering fingers the last homes of those “gathered within the fold;” and the sweet tones of the Angelus bells broke musically upon the evening air, ringing la Toussand of 1885 into the annals of the past.”

Deadly berry picking in 1893 Thibodaux

My mother always warned me against picking berries and eating them. Here’s why:

The Weekly Thibodaux Sentinel
June 3, 1893

A very sad and unfortunate affair that brought mourning and sorrow to the family of Orestile Bergeron, assistant manager on Maj. Lagarde’s Leighton plantation, took place last Saturday evening.

His two daughters aged 6 and 10 years ate some berries gathered from the Jamestown weed, by which they were poisoned. Falling sick after dark, both children being subject to spasms, the parents gave the usual remedies, being ignorant of what the children had eaten.

As the afflicted ones grew worse, Dr. Meyer was called early Sunday morning, who by the use of emetics caused one of the children to vomit the poisonous grains, when the real cause of the illness was made known, but too late to be counteracted by human skill. One died at 10 p.m. and the other at 2:30 a.m., on Sunday, Both were buried in St Joseph’s Cemetery on Monday morning.

I found this article on Chronicling America. This is the Library of Congress’ effort to put old newspapers online. The link is http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/. Best of all, there’s a search engine.

The murder of Alexis Benoit’s son

Sometimes you stumble across something truly surprising while researching your family tree.

I was looking through a newspaper index the other day when I saw an entry in the Thibodaux Sentinel for Alexis Benoit’s son. I figured this referred to one of the children of Alexis Celestin Benoit and Marie Adelaides Clement. I was right.

Looking up an 1868 edition of the Thibodaux Sentinel – a paper I didn’t even know existed – on microfilm in LSU’s special collections, I found a murder in the family tree. Fortunately (I guess), my ancestor’s son was the victim.

Here’s what the newspaper said:

“The village of Houma was the scene of a most unjustifiable murder on last Sunday afternoon about 5 o’clock.

Our informant states that two brothers named Conner who were working on the Opelousas Railroad rode into Houma during the day, one of whom became much intoxicated and whilst passing along the street fired wontonly of some person walking along ahead of him, but missed him. A few minutes after he met a Mr. Benoit and without any words struck at his face, and as Benoit warded off the blow he shot him, killing him instantly. Turning round, he fired at the third party without effect and mounted his horse and rode off.

The unfortunate victim of this tragedy was residing just out of town and had not spoken to his murderer and it is doubtful if the two knew each other at all.

Mr. Benoit was a son of Alexis Benoit of the Chackbay settlement and we hope the murderer may be arrested and suffer the penalty which such an unprovoked crime richly merits.”

The victim was Clairville Silvin Alexis Benoit. He died at age 36 in Terrebonne Parish, and I had just assumed that he died of the usual type of disease that killed people in the 1800s. I had no idea that he was shot dead on a city street by a drunk. Poor Silvin!

More from the New Orleans Commerical Bulletin:

“Mr. Sylvain Benoit was killed last Sunday evening on Main street, in front of Mr. Berger’s stable, by a young man name Cornelius O’Conner. The former was an industrious, hard-working Creole, in the employ of Mr. Pierre Portier and living near Houma, on the Wade plantation. He leaves a wife and four helpless orphans in an almost destitute condition. A subscription has since been gotten up for their benefit, and we are pleased to learn that our citizens have subscribed liberally.

We have also been informed that Mr. Michael O’Conner, an elder brother of Cornelius O’Connor, has contributed liberally to the relief of the family and given them assurance that they shall never want.

It is supposed that young O’Conner was laboring under a temporary fit of insanity. His actions a few minutes before the occurrence had attracted the attention of his friends as being very strange. He met Mr. Benoit for the first time, in the street, jostled him or pulled at him, when a scuffle ensued.

Mr. Benoit then struck him, or struck at him, when O’Conner drew his revolver and shot him. The shot entered in front, near the left side, ranged upwards and lodged near the region of the heart. He died immediately.

Some persons running up to interfere, he fired at John Bacon (clerk in Franis’ store) who made a narrow escape. His brother approached him, when he threatened to shoot him.

Before a writ could be made for his arrest, he made his escape and has not since been heard of.

A profound feeling of regret pervades the community. The brothers O’Conner were well thought of in the community, their deportment being courteous and gentlemanly. The elder brother is a master of a section of the Opelousas Railroad.

Cornelius O’Conner, we learn, was living with his brother and assisting him in his duties.”

 

 

 

War of 1812 Survivor Pension Index, Part 1

If a War of 1812 soldier died before applying for a pension, his widow could apply for survivor benefits. The widow would supply her marriage information, her husband’s death information and, often, information about her husband’s previous wives.

Here’s Part 1 of Louisiana widows who applied for War of 1812 pensions. They are organized by the name of the late husband.

Joshua Albin
Widow: Drusilla Lane Albin
Soldier’s death: Aug. 11, 1873, in Livingston Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Feb. 2, 1880, in Springfield, Louisiana

William C. Anderson
Widow: Elizabeth Anderson
Soldier’s death: Feb. 8, 1877, in Jackson Parish, Louisiana

Raynal Auguste
Widow: Susanne Felicite Hazur
Soldier’s Death: Sept. 25, 1877, in New Orleans, Louisiana

James Mc. Baker
Widow: Ann Eliza Baker
Soldier’s death: April 16, 1861 in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: March 12, 1885, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Jean Baptiste Bandry
Widow: Catharine Ory
Soldier’s death: May 1, 1846, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

Charles Barnes
Widow: Fanny Grisham
Soldier’s death: 1843 in Ouachita Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: February 1883 in Lincoln Parish, Louisiana

Callum Barnes
Widow: Theodosia Stone
Soldier’s death: Jan. 11, 1877, in Keatchie, Louisiana

Antoine Barras
Widow: Rosalie Bourg
Soldier’s death: Sept. 25, 1853, in Assumption Parish, Louisiana

Bonaventure Bayhi
Widow: Arthemise Zeringue
Soldier’s death: Jan. 17, 1871, in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana

Joseph M. Baysset
Widow: Ann Maria Michel
Soldier’s death: March 20, 1866, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Seraphin Beauduit
Widow: Josephine Ducos
First Wife: Philonese Labat
Soldier’s death: Dec. 25, 1862, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: About 1890

Gilbert Bernucho
Widow: Arthemise Rousseau
Soldier’s death: Sept. 15, 1864, in Assumption Parish, Louisiana

Joachim Bermudez
Widow: Alix Montanell
First wife: E Dreux
Second wife: Maria B. E. Troxler
Soldier’s death: Sept. 10, 1866, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: April 2, 1906

Jean Noel Bernondy or Clairville Bernonoy
Widow: Lucia Palao
First wife: Euphroisie Baran
Soldier’s death: Jan. 15, 1882, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Oct. 14, 1901

Jean Louis Berthelotte
Widow: Seraphine Webre
Soldier’s death: June 7, 1833, in New Orleans, Louisiana

William Bickham
Widow: Amelia Roberts
Soldier’s death: Nov. 1, 1847, in Washington Parish, Louisiana

Phineas Bill
Widow: Fanny Gallup
Soldier’s death: Dec. 19, 1839, in Assumption Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Oct. 18, 1878, in Richmond County, New York

Alexander S. Blackburn
Widow: Martha Cole
Soldier’s death: Feb. 2, 1863, in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: About 1889

Nathan Blackwell
Widow: Mary Pecafield
Soldier’s death: March 2, 1870, in Washington Parish, Louisiana

Francisco Arseno Blanc
Widow: Maria Angelica Azurine Laratut
Soldier’s death: Aug. 30, 1841, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Francois C. Bonseigneur
Widow: Marie Malbernaque
Soldier’s death: Sept. 28, 1829, in New Orleans, Louisiana

George Bossier
Widow: Eugenia Haydel
Soldier’s death: Oct. 30, 1841, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

Simon Hyppolite Boudreau
Widow: Henrietta Boudreau
Soldier’s death: Nov. 25, 1854, in St. James Parish, Louisiana

Joseph Boudreaux
Widow: Isemene Labauve
Soldier’s death: April 2, 1834, in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana

Guillaume Boudreaux
Widow: Marguerite Francoise Gauthreau
Soldier’s death: Sept. 14, 1861, in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: July 17, 1884

Barthelemy E. Bouny
Widow: Victorine Therese Nancy Vernies
Soldier’s death: Jan. 31, 1845, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Abraham Bourgeois
Widow: Marie Anne Champagne
Soldier’s death: Feb. 15, 1813, in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Feb. 2, 1877

Jean Baptiste Bourgeois
Widow: Angele Gauthreaux
Soldier’s death: June 14, 1864, in Ascension Parish
Widow’s death: Jan. 18, 1886, in Darrowville, Ascension Parish, Louisiana

Augustin Bourgue
Widow: Susanne Leger
Soldier’s death: June 6, 1844, in Grand Coteau, Louisiana

Charles P. Boutte
Widow: Julia Carmouche
Solider’s death: Jan. 20, 1870, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Aug. 15, 1883, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Ira Bowman
Widow: Mary E. Richardson
First wife: Elizabeth Shackleford nee Du Bose
Second wife: Margaret Risley
Soldier’s death: Nov. 6, 1854, in Tensas Parish, Louisiana

Rosemond Brand
Widow: Emerante Melancon
Soldier’s death: Oct. 25, 1848, in Ascension Parish, Louisiana

John R. Breland
Widow: Mary Lewis
First wife: Lurana Rogges
Soldier’s death: May 14, 1875, in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

Alexander Brignac
Widow: Mary Conrad
Soldier’s death: Oct. 26, 1827, in Livingston Parish, Louisiana

Jean Olidon Broussard
Widow: Victoire Babineau
Soldier’s death: Nov. 22, 1840, in Caraneron, Louisiana

Edward Broussard
Widow: Pelagie Dubois
Soldier’s death: Aug. 14, 1864, in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: March 14, 1881

Jonathan Browne
Widow: Malinda Greenlee
Soldier’s death: Jan. 18, 1872, in Jackson Parish, Louisiana

Joseph Bujol
Widow: Marie Francoise Levegue
Soldier’s death: Oct. 24, 1824, in Assumption Parish, Louisiana

Lester Burbank
Widow: Eliza Simmon
Soldier’s death: Jan. 29, 1854, in New Orleans, Louisiana

John B. Burford
Widow: Edna Jackson
Soldier’s death: March 17, 1871, in Union Parish, Louisiana

Henry Burrough
Widow: Winney Posey
Soldier’s death: June 1873 in DeSoto Parish, Louisiana

James Bussey
Widow: Elizabeth Lake
Soldier’s death: April 8, 1858, in Bastrop, Louisiana

Joseph Byrd
Widow: Martha Bounds
Soldier’s death: October 1865 in New Orleans, Louisiana

Abraham Caldwell
Widow: Jane J. Milon
Soldier’s death: Dec. 4, 1860, in Livingston Parish, Louisiana

John D. Calvert
Widow: Emily Ann
First wife: Mar. Gillespie
Soldier’s death: Sept. 15, 1863, in Trinity, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Sept. 27, 1901

Antoine Cambre
Widow: Marie Madeline Leche
Soldier’s death: Jan. 29, 1817, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

David Carey
Widow: Huldah Brown
Soldier’s death: Jan. 10, 1838, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: June 3, 1890

John G. Carney
Widow: Mary Rainor
Soldier’s death: Dec. 17, 1868, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

John Carroll
Widow: Elizabeth J. Hamilton
First wife: Susannah
Second wife: Jane
Soldier’s death: Nov. 1, 1873, in Jackson Parish, Louisiana

Miller Carter
Widow: Winny Maria Reeves
First wife: Miles
Soldier’s death: Oct. 10, 1869, in Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana

Bernard Castelain
Widow: Arsine Victor or Arsin Victor
Soldier’s death: Oct. 7, 1833, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Eugene Champayne
Widow: Eleanore Waguespack
Soldier’s death: May 16, 1839, in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana

John Chance
Widow: Zilpha Daughty
Soldier’s death: Sept. 15, 1834, in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: July 9, 1875

Baley D. Chaney
Widow: Elizabeth Cook
Soldier’s death: Jan. 21, 1873, in East Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Widow’s death: April 18, 1901

Jacques Charbonnet
Widow: Marie Emilie Frenie
First wife: Aurore F.
Soldier’s death: Feb. 22, 1877, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Jean Louis Chauffee
Widow: Maria Amelia Streck
Soldier’s death: Nov. 30, 1866, in Assumption Parish, Louisiana

Louis Chauveau
Widow: Marianna Massey or Marcey
Soldier’s death: May 27, 1830, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Jacques Cheminard
Widow: Charlotte Bozant
First wife: Mar. Dorsey
Soldier’s death: Aug. 15, 1853, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

Eugene Chenet
Widow: Antoinette Canaby
Soldier’s death: May 18, 1870, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana

Kinchen Chesnut
Widow: Emily Devereaux
Soldier’s death: March 1852 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: 1891

Henry Chevarre
Widow: Felicite Dubourg
Soldier’s death: April 19, 1865, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: 1887

Louis Chiasson
Widow: Cydalise Sonnier
First wife: Doralise Sonnier
Soldier’s death: Jan. 22, 1881, in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: May 16, 1885, in Carencro, Louisiana

James Christian
Widow: Susan Carly
First wife: Sophia Watson
Second wife: Olive
Soldier’s death: Feb. 11, 1869, in Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Sept. 1, 1884, in Mooringsport, Louisiana

Samuel G. Cloud
Widow: Sophia H. Day
Soldier’s death: Dec. 20, 1862, in Oakley, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Dec. 27, 1882

John Collins
Widow: Caroline M. Robinson
Soldier’s death: June 15, 1871, in East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

Pierre Combel
Widow: Marie Louisa Angela Fromenton
Soldier’s death: About July 2, 1859, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Hyppolitte Comeaux
Widow: Eugenie LeBlanc
Soldier’s death: June 6, 1867, in Vermilion Parish, Louisiana

Pierre Conrad
Widow: Virginia Madire
Soldier’s death: Sept. 2, 1871, in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: About 1888

Henry Cooper
Widow: Martha Sticker
Soldier’s death: July 8, 1862, in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

David Copple Jr.
Widow: Polly Staton
Soldier’s death: Feb. 4, 1835, in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Oct. 10, 1884

Isham T. Corley
Widow: Tabitha Whittington
First wife: Rebeccah Leonard
Soldier’s death: Jan. 16, 1877. in Grant Parish, Louisiana
Widow’s death: July 1, 1895, in Taft, Grant Parish, Louisiana

Francois Edouard Correjolles
Widow: Victoire Celanie Pascal
Soldier’s death: July 2, 1864, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Dec. 23, 1895, in New Orleans, Louisiana

James Courtney
Widow: Sarah Furlow
Soldier’s death: May 20 or 29, 1834, in Jackson, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana

Alexander Courtney
Widow: Lucy Naul
First wife: Sarah Morgan
Soldier’s death: Nov. 14, 1880, in East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana

Charles Cousinard
Widow:
Mary Monget
Soldier’s death: March 16, 1828, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Widow’s death: November 14, 1879, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Francois Tervalon Couvreur
Widow: Benedicte Voltaire Bohaim
Soldier’s death: Oct. 4, 1882, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: About 1897

George Crawford
Widow: Samantha Adkenson
First wife: Pamelia Brookham
Soldier’s death: July 4, 1876, in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana

Basil Crocker
Widow: Elodie Robert
First wife: Antoinette Hazeur
Soldier’s death: Jan. 29, 1879, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Oct. 2, 1884

Jean Francois Crusel
Widow: Jeanne Manuella Auzemia Nautre
First wife: Marie Thereza Fernandez
Soldier’s death: April 1843 in Englishtown, Plaquemine Parish, Louisiana

Thomas Curry
Widow: Mary Ann Richardson
Soldier’s death: Nov. 5, 1874, in New Orleans, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Oct. 12, 1885, in New Orleans, Louisiana

Josiah G. Curry
Widow: Susan Conch
First wife: Mary (Polly) A. Connor
Soldier’s death: May 16, 1878, in Columbia, Louisiana
Widow’s death: Prior to Dec. 15, 1889

John Cutright
Widow: Catharine Hough
First wife: Nancy Lemons
Soldier’s death: Dec. 29, 1874, in Sabine Parish, Louisiana

 

War of 1812 Pension Records

If you love family tree research, then you know how exciting it is to find a new resource, especially for long, long, long-dead ancestors. It’s also amazing how many records now are available at the click of a mouse. It makes me worry for the survival of dusty archives, but that’s a topic for another day.

The other day, I checked out http://www.fold3.com. It’s a depository of military records. It’s going to have to pick up more data in order for me to spring for the subscription price. However, I enjoyed my free trial.

I discovered War of 1812 pension records on fold3. All I really knew about the War of 1812 was the Battle of New Orleans. It never occurred to me that some of my ancestors might have actually fought in it. I just assumed they were busy tending to their farming along the bayous in Louisiana.

From reading the pension files, it seems the federal government was a little skeptical that the Cajuns left their farms to fight in the Battle of New Orleans. I saw rejection after rejection of pension applications. However, there’s some really great information in there, and some good gossip about early day slimy lawyers.

Here’s the file card for Joseph Montet.

filecard

Joseph was born Joseph Philippe Montet in 1789. He and his wife, Marie Francoise Giroir, had eight children. I’m descended from Joseph Florentin Montet, their fourth child.

Joseph claimed to have served in Capt. Borel Aycock’s company. He said he signed up at Donaldsonville in 1814 and was discharged on March 1, 1815.  The records confirm this was true – although I read many records where no service could be confirmed.

application

The page above is the 1800s version of a fill-in-the-blank form. You can see where Joseph – or someone filling it out for him – filled in the blanks. Joseph later supplied an “x” for his mark on a signature so it’s doubtful this is his handwriting.

bounty

Joseph also made a claim for a land bounty, and here again, was something I didn’t know. If you served in the war, you could get acreage depending on when you enlisted. However, the land initially was in Arkansas, Illinois or Missouri. Later, though, bounty land warrants were awarded in a broader area.

Swearing that Joseph served in the war were Jean Baptiste Guillot and Simeon Landry.

I don’t know if Joseph Montet got his land. But it was fun to get another glimpse into his life.

Other pension files revealed death dates, marriage records and baptism records. Even better, fold3 is accessible from my laptop through the local library.

 

 

 

Finding Uncle Aaron

EPSON MFP image

Aaron Adam Hebert

I was searching the Internet for information about my Great Uncle Aaron Hebert when I stumbled across a great website. It’s a memorial for fallen soldiers in the Morgan City and Tri-City Area. Here’s the link: http://www.fallenwarriorsmemorialmorgancity.com/

Now I was born in Thibodaux, and I’ve always heard of Morgan City referred to as the Tri-City area, but I had to look up what the three cities are. I’m not positive, but I think it means Morgan City, Berwick and Patterson.

Uncle Aaron didn’t come from any of those cities. He was born and reared in Bayou L’Ourse, which was apparently close enough  for the memorial organizers. At some point, I begged a family member with possession of the old family photos to loan them to me so I could scan them in. The only photo we have of Uncle Aaron was among them. I sent his picture to the memorial. Now there will be a face with the name.

I’m honored that Uncle Aaron was included in the memorial. He died long before I was born, but we were always told about him. He died in France during World War II. The story is that he was a military cook who got tired of cooking and volunteered to become a soldier. He died a week later – or so the family story goes. It’s probably more likely that he was a cook initially and then pressed into battle as the ranks thinned. I decided to go in search of the real story. Excuse me while I put on my Nancy Drew hat – and please excuse how incredibly long this entry is. I want to show just how much genealogy records can tell you about a relative.

aaronhebert

Uncle Aaron’s grave in France

We’re very proud of Uncle Aaron. He died defending his country, and I can only imagine that joining the military was a bit of a culture shock for him.

 

census

The 1940 Census showed Aaron living with my great-grandparents, Jean Jules Hebert and Eugenie Benoit Hebert, in Assumption Parish. Also at home were Uncle Wilfred and Uncle J.T.

Uncle Aaron’s occupation was listed as moss picker. I never quite understood the moss picking industry until recently. What did they do with the moss? Someone explained to me that it used to be mixed with another substance to finish walls. It was the olden day drywall.

As for education, a 23-year-old Uncle Aaron was listed as finishing the 5th grade, which probably was about right. My grandfather, who was his brother, didn’t get any further than that. You went to school until you were old enough to work. My family lived off the land and the bayou.

Uncle Aaron’s native language was listed as French. This is interesting to me. I would imagine this means that he learned French at home first and then English during his few years in school. However, he must have mainly spoken French since he considered this his native language. I wish my granny had spoken to me only in French so I could have learned that Cajun French. Instead, she was quite proud to know English and refused to teach her children or grandchildren Cajun French. That native language made her feel backwards.

cardThe same year the census was taken, Uncle Aaron filled out his draft card. My grandfather filled out one as well, but he had flat feet. 1940 was before the U.S. entered World War II. However, things were tense on the worldwide stage so men 18 to 65 had to fill out draft cards in preparation.

The draft card can tell you interesting factoids about your ancestor. For example, at the Hebert manse, there was no phone in 1940. I also learn that Uncle Aaron was born five days after Christmas in Amelia, which is across the bayou from Bayou L’Ourse. I don’t know if he was actually born in Amelia or if he just listed that since it was the closest town with a post office. I now know he worked for Martial Creador. I assume this was someone at the moss gin listed on the census.

jules

So then I went further afield and found my great-grandfather’s draft card. It shows me that he couldn’t sign his name so he apparently received zero schooling. His name also is listed as Jules Judeon Hebert when in fact it was Jean Jules Hebert. His mother came from a wealthy family so I always assumed that she received an education and would have taught her children to read and write. Apparently I was wrong. It’s also possible that Jules didn’t understand what he was being asked. He only spoke French. I know this because my mother only spoke English and could never really converse with him even though she grew up next door to his house.

But back to Uncle Aaron. Now I want to know when he enlisted. I should probably add that Uncle Aaron, who was all of 28 when he died, never married or had children. There was really no one to carry on his story.

Enlistment records on Ancestry.com (no plug) tell me he enlisted on March 7, 1942, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They put him down as enlistment for the duration of the war or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to the law. In other words, the military owned him. This was just a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

I know that three years later he died on the battlefield. What happened in between? For that, I had to send off for his official military records, which were a pain to get. Only a direct relative can get a person’s military records. Uncle Aaron didn’t have a wife or kids. His parents were dead (his mom died a few months after he did). He had no living siblings. Fortunately, his sister-in-law (my grandmother) was still living so I made the request in her name with her permission, and I may have fudged a little and listed her as his sister.

What we received was something called Individual Deceased Personal File, which really told me nothing about his military record. It did take me to a snowy village in France just after Christmas.

Uncle Aaron’s date of death was an estimated January 5, 1945. He was buried fully clothed in a mattress cover with upper extremities disarticulated. I really didn’t need to know that, but there it was. He was buried in Epinal, France. Uncle Aaron is there to this day, above the Moselle River in the foothills of the Vosges Mountains. My cousin make a trek out to the cemetery while living in Paris, becoming the first member of the family to visit Uncle Aaron’s final resting place.

He was identified by a tag on his belt and trousers. His cause of death was SFW Rt. Groin, which I gather means he was shot straight through his groin. Ouch. Poor Uncle Aaron.

wingen

Soldiers going door to door in Wingen.

His place of death is listed as Vic. Wingen-sur-moder, France, and the report maintains that he actually died on Jan. 7, 1945. What I think is more likely is that his body was found on Jan. 7, and that he did indeed die very early on Jan. 5. However, we’ll probably never know for sure.

Wingen-sur-moder was a small French town that had the misfortune to have a railroad line above it. A railroad line, of course, would be important during wartime. It was snowing and bitterly cold in early January 1945. The snow was waist deep in spots. Germans with experience fighting in Finland attacked.

The U.S. Army’s 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry, was in charge of defending the French town but was caught off guard by the surprise attack. North of the town was the 276th Infantry with Uncle Aaron in its ranks.

The attack hit late on Jan. 3. The Germans took hold of Wingen and basically wiped out the entire 179th 1st Battalion. Those not killed were injured or captured and herded into the town’s Catholic church.

Uncle Aaron wasn’t in the town. He was in Company B, cut off from the rest of the battalion, high above Wingen.

wingen2

The snowy town of Wingen in January 1945.

Uncle Aaron’s company set up camp northeast of Wingen. What the company didn’t know is that they were directly in the SS battalions’ path.

They pitched tents, not wanting the clang of shovels against frozen ground to alert the Germans to their location. In other words, they didn’t dig foxholes. The Germans surprised them as they slept, sneaking up and getting on top of the machine guns.  The Germans taunted, urging Uncle Aaron and the other American soldiers to fire so they could see where they were and shoot them. It was a massacre.

Here’s an account of the aftermath: “At the top of a ridge we unexpectedly came upon the frozen bodies of many men, scattered about, frozen in the snow where they fell. They were almost all in American uniforms. Some were still halfway in their tents and sleeping bags. Some were without boots. Lost buddies…Gear and equipment were strewn about, but weapons, ammunition and rations had been removed. Despite the cold, the scene smelled of death and gunpowder. Trees had been shaved by bullets and in places spent cartridges had melted the snow. We did not count the dead, but the numbers overwhelmed us; there could easily have been 50 to 100, or even more, GIs, and only a few – maybe five or six – Germans. We knew immediately that the American corpses had been in Co. B, which occupied the barracks next to us at Leonard Wood, marched ahead of us in formation and shared the ballroom on the West Point. We did not know what happened, but I realized what ‘wiped out’ meant, and to the extent I could absorb it at the moment, what this war meant. McCord and I were silent for a long time, and I didn’t know which of us emerged first from the shock, but we did not have time; we had to do our work and catch up with the company.”

Uncle Aaron posthumously received the Purple Heart for his service. I hope he’s resting in peace.