genealogy, louisiana, penisson, Hebert family

Loose ends

tombstoneI’m one of those people who likes to tie up every loose end. Genealogy is very frustrating for people like me.

If you research your family tree, just embrace the fact that you’re not going to be able to solve every riddle. Courthouses burn down. Ministers forget to write down information. Bibles get lost.

My great-great grandparents Jean Severin Hebert (better known as John S. Hebert) and Rosalie Penisson had 12 children. I have no idea what happened to two of those children: Malvina and Mary Josephine.

Let me point out that I have tracked down every other child. For the most part, I know their stories. I know that one son killed himself in the bayou behind my grandparents’ house when he ran out of coffee rations. I know that two sons were lifelong bachelors who lived together in a shack. I know that one of the twins had her own twin daughters.

Yet I know next to nothing about Malvina and Mary Josephine.

Malvina appeared on the 1880 census as a 5-year-old and then vanished. I’m sure that she didn’t go all Gone Girl. She probably died young although she could have married and had 12 children of her own. I just don’t know. Not having the 1890 census complicates my research.

Mary Josephine never made it to the census record at all so she likely died young as well. However, I really don’t know because she would have been 18 on the only census that possibly could have captured her still living with her parents (she was born after the 1880 census and before the 1890 census that burned). I say “possibly could have captured her” because at 18 she likely would have been married by that point. Girls married young.

What’s frustrating is the Heberts were Catholic, and Catholics are very good at recording baptisms, marriages and deaths. If Malvina and Mary Josephine died young, there should be some record of it. There isn’t. If they married and had a million children, there should be some record of it. There isn’t. They’re simply lost to time.

I’m working to embrace it.



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