Genealogy tools


Our ancestors died of all sorts of nasty things. My ancestors were prone to apoplexy. I found this useful glossary of the most common diseases on the Orleans Parish’s Genweb site:

Apoplexy – Paralysis due to stroke

Brain Fever – Meningitis

Bright’s Disease – Chronic inflammatory disease of kidneys

Child bed fever – Infection following birth of a child

Cholera – Acute severe contagious diarrhea with intestinal lining sloughing

Cholera morbus – Characterized by nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, elevated temperature, etc. Could be appendicitis.

Congestive chills/ fever – Malaria

Consumption – Tuberculosis

Decrepitude – Feebleness due to old age

Dropsy – Edema (swelling), often caused by kidney or heart disease

Dropsy of the Brain – Encephalitis

Dysentery – Inflammation of colon with frequent passage of mucous and blood

Encephalitis – Swelling of brain; aka sleeping sickness

Falling sickness – Epilepsy

Flux – An excessive flow or discharge of fluid like hemorrhage or diarrhea

Grippe/grip – Influenza like symptoms

Jaundice – Condition caused by blockage of intestines

Lagrippe – Influenza

Lockjaw – Tetanus or infectious disease affecting the muscles of the neck and jaw. Untreated, it is fatal in 8 days

Lung fever – Pneumonia

Lung sickness – Tuberculosis

Meningitis – Inflation of brain or spinal cord

Nephrosis – Kidney degeneration

Nepritis – Inflammation of kidneys

Quinsy – Abscess behind tonsils

Small pox – Contagious disease with fever and blisters

Summer complaint – Diarrhea, usually in infants caused by spoiled milk

Tetanus – Infectious fever characterized by high fever, headache and dizziness

Trench mouth – apathos ulcers or a virus disease

Thrush – Childhood disease characterized by spots on mouth, lips and throat

Tuberculosis – Bacterial infection that primarily attacks the lungs, but which may also affect the kidneys, bones, lymph nodes, and brain. Symptoms of TB include coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, chills, and fatigue.

Typhus – Infectious fever characterized by high fever, headache, and dizziness

Winter fever – Pneumonia

Assumption Parish Genealogy

Frioux/Friou/Fryou for Friday

If your last name is Fryou, then it probably was once Frioux or Frio or Ferio. But it was never Frillot. Make sense?

One of the maddening things about genealogy is the spellings of names change. There’s a good reason for that. Literacy was once a privilege of the upper class. Chances are, your Cajun ancestor didn’t read or write. He had no clue how to spell his last name.

Take the Frioux family. The line started in Louisiana with Francois Frioux, who arrived in Louisiana in 1785 with his son Francois. Francois Sr.’s wife, Susanne, must have died in France before the journey across the ocean. The Spaniards – who were in charge of the colony at the time – gave Francois Sr. an axe, a hatchet, a shovel a meat cleaver and two hoes to help with his new life along Bayou Lafourche.

Onboard the same ship as the Frioux father and son was Isabelle Bourg, who would soon become Francois Sr.’s second wife. They would have two sons: Francois Filbert (called Filbert to make things less confusing) and Joseph Elie.

The three boys had lots of children. Over the years, the name Frioux evolved – probably because no one was quite sure how to spell it. Fryou, Frioux, Frio, Ferio all were used. There were also a lot of Frillots over in Acadiana, but they don’t appear to be related to the Fryou/Frioux/Frio family.

I’m including the succession index from the Assumption Parish courthouse just to show how the name evolved in a single parish.

Happy Friday!

Newspaper articles

Baking cakes in the 1880s

I have a jar of mincemeat that’s been sitting in my fridge since Christmas. Wondering what to do with it, I searched a newspaper database and found this cake recipe from the 1880s. I thought I’d share.

This is called a Swiss cake – and I love the pointers: Cream the butter and sugar with your hand for that body temperature touch, put in a quite hot oven (how did people cook before temperature dials) and test with a broom splint (the days before toothpicks). I can also flavor with any preferred flavoring – no measurements given on, say, adding cocoa powder. And I can add mincemeat!

Should I give it a whirl? What could possibly go wrong?

Thank you to the “Tensas Gazette” for this gem.

Assumption Parish Genealogy, Cemeteries, Uncategorized

Christ Episcopal Church in Napoleonville

I’ve driven past this church for years. It’s off a state highway that runs through Napoleonville. That little archway has always beckoned me. This weekend I finally pulled over and explored the world behind it.

Long weekends are made for rambles. This is Christ Episcopal, which was designed by an NYC architect. For some reason, he wanted it to have the feel of an English country church even though it’s in a Louisiana country town. This church was an English-speaking oasis in French-speaking Napoleonville.

A cemetery is at the back of the church. This lovely statue holds watch over the graves, all of them magnificent even though some are crumbling.

The church dates to 1853 and was built at a cost of $9,500. Time hasn’t always been kind to it. During the Civil War, Union soldiers used it as a barracks and later a stable. The stained glass became a target for shooting practice.

The creation of the church was a true collaboration by the Episcopal members of a largely Catholic community. Napoleonville was very Cajun in the 1850s, but a few residents weren’t Catholic and they wanted their own church. New Hampshire native Ebeneezer Eaton Kittredge donated a corner of his plantation for the church and cemetery. Col. William Whitmell Pugh supplied the cypress and bricks. George Ament oversaw the construction and is buried in the church cemetery.

The original congregation numbered just 21 members. Not all were Episcopalian. Some were Catholics who wanted to participate in “so great a good.” Let’s face it: They were probably curious.

After the war, the congregation pulled together once again. They held church services in the courthouse down the road while rebuilding their ruin of a church.

The church would later be struck by lightning and ravaged by other acts of nature. Still, it endured.

At times, the church has been a bit of a hotbed for controversy. One clergyman, Quincy Ewing, embraced women’s suffrage and the equality of black people during the early 1900s. Enraged by a sermon on women’s suffrage, U.S. Sen. Walter Guion stormed out and quit the church. Ewing survived the controversy, largely because his family donated the land for the church.

Today, Christ Episcopal is one of the oldest Episcopal churches west of the Mississippi River. The grounds were quiet when we visited. We ignored the “private property” sign, kept to the pathways and respected the serene beauty. Hopefully, we didn’t offend.

Templet family, terrebonne parish

Lizzie Templet Schmitt

100 years after she died, there’s still a marker for Lizzie.

I went to Gibson today to spruce up my grandparents’ graves. While there, I walked the small cemetery to see if I could find Lizzie Schmitt/Schmidt’s grave.

Lizzie was the baby sister of my granny’s great grandmother, Anaise Templet Giroir. After her mother died when she was just a baby, she rotated among the relatives before marrying and settling in Gibson. It took me a bit to prove she was Anaise’s sister. My guess is their mother died in childbirth having Lizzie and the family didn’t get around to baptizing Lizzie.

I’d never seen her grave in the Gibson cemetery, but an old catalog of the graves showed markers for her, her husband and at least some of their children.

The Schmitt family plot

Using the mention of the graves being in their own enclosure as a guide, I studied the cemetery and soon came across a row of graves squared off by a low border of bricks. None of the graves were readable, which would be why I didn’t remember coming across Lizzie.

I went down the little line of markers and noticed one had a nameplate. It read Mrs. Jos. Schmitt. That would be Lizzie. I’d probably seen it before I knew her married name and it hadn’t registered.

I stuck some white flowers in the ground next to her marker. It’s sad when markers get neglected and forgotten.

Am I the only one who carries extra flowers to the cemetery?

terrebonne parish

Are you Cajun?

I’ve always loved this chart showing Cajun roots in Terrebonne Parish. Alas, none are mine since my ancestors didn’t stray far from other Cajun parishes.

This is a huge version of the chart that hangs in the Houma library. Apologies for the reflection.

I’ve always thought it was cool that they used a giant oak tree to make this chart of names in the 1830 Terrebonne Parish census.



Creekmore family photos

Before she married, my grandmother was a Creekmore.

Her Creekmores lived in East Texas. As a child, I went to several family reunions and funerals for the Creekmores. I fondly remember rambles down country roads, walks through the woods, visits to log cabins and picnics at state parks that always accompanied a Creekmore family visit.

This is most certainly my great grandparents – perhaps with one of their daughters?

My grandmother dearly loved her many uncles and few aunts. Unfortunately, I didn’t see everyone enough to keep the names straight so I need help with family photos.

My grandmother with her sisters. The man must be an uncle.

Plot directory for St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Baton Rouge

A tiny portion of the huge plot directory that can be found on the cemetery’s website.

Not far from downtown Baton Rouge is what’s locally called the old Catholic cemetery. The official name is St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery.

The oldest markers date to 1827. However, it probably contains the remains of people who died as early as the 1790s. The cemetery used to be located in downtown Baton Rouge until the stench prompted its move. The reburials were placed in the new cemetery’s Section 1.

There’s a lovely photo gallery online. Credit goes to photographer Sara Kelley.

The cemetery has a website and a fascinating plot map. There’s even a newsletter and a Facebook page. The dedication to preserving the final resting place of so many of Baton Rouge’s early settlers is touching.

Visit the website:

terrebonne parish

The Fandal family of Gibson

Frederick “Fritz” Fandal immigrated from Germany and become a major landowner in the Gibson area.Though he eventually moved to New Orleans, he’s buried in Gibson.

When I think about the founding families of Gibson in Terrebonne Parish (yes, I’ve been on quite the Gibson tear lately), a few names come to mind: Sick, Walther and Fandal. They were the major landowners in the days after the Civil War. In fact, a lot of the homes that stand today in Gibson are on parcels of land cut from those families’ original holdings.

The Fandals started with Frederick “Fritz” Fandal, who immigrated from Germany and somehow found his way to a tiny swamp town in Louisiana. Supposedly, he invested the profits from hunting alligators into buying property. Eventually, he started a lumber mill and fathered a dozen children. Today, there’s still a street named for him in Gibson although it’s misspelled as Fandall.

Half a century after his death, Fandal’s story was retold in a local newspaper article about his great-great grandson’s tragic death. You can read it below.

This appeared in the Morgan City newspaper in 1969.