Cemeteries, Guilbeau

People like Poley make our names seem boring

What’s in a name? This road sign near the family farm in Jefferson Davis Parish speaks to the union of my husband’s great grandparents. A LeBleu married a Langley. Don’t let the stop sign fool you. This is a road sign for dirt roads that plunge past rice fields.

I have a confession. Most people think my name is Ava because I started this blog using a junk email address that bore my cat’s name. My name is actually Michelle. Nice to meet you!

Why Michelle, you ask? There was a popular Beatles song with the name Michelle in it many years before I was born. It was so popular that here I am along with thousands of other Michelles.

I often wish I had a more unusual name. But I also often wish I didn’t have freckles, which do make me unusual. There’s no pleasing me.

My family tree is riddled with names no longer in fashion: Anaise, Florentin, Cordelier. Well, I could go on and on.

Why Baker? We haven’t a clue, but a son and a grandson now also have the name.

It’s interesting how names are decided. My great grandfather was named for a rich, childless uncle. It didn’t work. The money became an educational trust. My aunt was named for a pretty girl who worked the drugstore counter. For years, we’ve debated why my father-in-law was named Baker. We can’t come up with an explanation. Maybe his mother – who died young – read it in a book.

I encountered an entirely new name this past weekend when we visited my in laws’ graves in Jefferson Davis Parish (yes, we’re aware that name should be changed).

My in laws are buried on part of the family farm near Kinder. Buried near them is Poley Hebert. When was the last time you met a Poley? A Pokey, sure. But Poley? Was his name Napoleon?

I don’t know much about Poley other than that he was a tall farmer of medium build. One of his sisters was named Ariese.

Makes our names seem rather boring, doesn’t it?


Splane House and the days of steamboat captains

Beautifully restored Splane House in Washington, Louisiana

Confession time: My only experience with the town of Washington, Louisiana, is the speeding ticket I got for going one mile over the limit. Yes, you read that correctly.

So I’ve never seen this house in person even though it’s related to my husband’s family in a rather iffy way (his grandfather’s third marriage produced Aunt Sallie – my father-in-law’s half sister – who married into the Splane family).

Louisiana is known for a lot of things. Two of them are speed traps and beautiful old homes.

The Splane House in the 1930s.

But I’m being unkind to the town of Washington. It’s the third-oldest settlement in Louisiana, and it was once a flourishing steamboat port. Sadly, the steamboats have been gone since 1900, but the beautiful homes built through that trade remain. In fact, 80% of Washington is historical homes.

The Splane family lived in the home above for nearly a century – from 1870 (possibly earlier) to 1965 – but they didn’t build it. The original owner was Amos Webb, who built the house in 1829. During his day, it was called Arlington. Webb is buried not far from the homestead.

I found this information on findagrave:

“Moundville was a laid off town before Washington was formed because it was a better steamboat landing. It had a school, church and plots of land exceeding 100 in number. A bridge allowed Bayou Boeuf people to reach the cemetery.

Once upon a time, the Splane house was located in what was known as Moundville. The “Mound” in Moundville came from the Indian mounds in the area. You’ll find Indian mounds all over Louisiana. We’ve never agreed whether they were burial mounds or just decorative.

The Splanes of Splane house were Capt. Rush Splane and his Virginia-born wife, Martha Belle Dunbar Splane. At one time, even after it changed hands, the house still held the trunk that Martha Belle took with her from Virginia to Louisiana. Or perhaps it was Capt. Splane who brought the trunk from Virginia. One newspaper article says Martha was from Virginia; another says she was from New Orleans.

The Splanes reared 11 children in that house – 9 of their own and two orphans they took in. The attic served as a schoolroom.

In 1936, a newspaper reporter visited the old home and interviewed a spinster daughter who was born in the house and would later die there. Here’s what she said:

Guilbeau, The other side of the family

Emelie Elia Guilbeau who married twice

Screen Shot 2019-09-23 at 9.49.31 PM.png
These were my father-in-law’s grandparents: Emelie Elia Guilbeau and Alcee Broussard. Alcee was Emelie’s second husband.


My father-in-law lost his mother at a young age, but she left behind a family photo album. Few of them are labeled, which is a shame because there are fabulous photos in there from the 1800s.

Some, though, have identifications scrawled below them. They’re not especially helpful identifications. For example, there’s a picture of Uncle Alfred’s children. I know who Uncle Alfred was; I have no idea which of his children are pictured since I don’t know what year the photo was taken.

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Emelie and her first husband, Willy Guilbeau. The quality is poor, but I’m thrilled to have this photo. Willy didn’t live long, but at least his face is somewhat preserved for the ages. 

Then I came across a photo simply identified as “Mama and her first husband.”

After realizing that my father-in-law’s mother put together the album, I realized that this was her mother: Emelie Elia Guilbeau. I didn’t know about a first husband.

Sleuthing led me to a sad story. Emelie married at age 16 and was a widow by age 18. Her daughter Marie was born just a month before her first husband, Willy Guilbeau, died. Little Marie died at less than a year old.

Emelie remarried and had five more children.

Here’s the oldest of the Broussard children: Edmee and Willie. Edmee was my father-in-law’s mother. Wasn’t she beautiful?

A few years ago, I saw this photo for the first time and did a spit take. Our niece is the mirror image of her great-grandmother. We couldn’t believe it. That makes us so happy. Edmee had such a short life that even her own children didn’t really remember her. But she definitely lives on.



Here’s George, who grew up to work for the railroad.


Here’s George and Tilden, or Til. George looked like he had better things to do, but baby Til seems pretty happy!


Finally, there’s Henrick, who was actually christened Henri, but the family seems to have called him Henrick.


Genealogy tools, Guilbeau

Free Stuff Friday: Encore Ensemble

Screen Shot 2019-09-18 at 9.35.28 PM.pngApparently my husband’s ancestor Jean Guilbeau was a bit of a neighborhood gossip. He was sued in 1780 for spreading false rumors about the character of Marthe Castille.

I know this because of Encore Ensemble, a project of the Acadian Memorial in St. Martinville, La.

Encore Ensemble contains biographical information on the Acadians who settled in Louisiana. You’ll find birthdates, parents, children, census information and facts extracted from court records. It’s a great resource!

And it’s all free!

Thanks to Encore Ensemble, I’ll be digging up that court record to find out exactly what Jean Guilbeau said about Marthe Castille.






Sunset High School in the 1930s

My father-in-law with his graduating class at Sunset High School.  Baker Guilbeau is on the far left. I think this is the class of 1934-35, but it might be the class of 1935-36. 

It’s hard to believe that my father-in-law went to high school in the 1930s. My grandparents were born during that decade.

My father-in-law, Baker Joseph Guilbeau (Wilson for the president also was in there although we were never sure whether it was his second or third name), graduated from Sunset High School, where he played ball and tied for best groomed boy. He was a regular in the society news columns of the day, whether it was for motoring to a nearby town for the picture show or for coming home from the military to visit his stepmother. He served his country, earned a teaching degree, married relatively late in life and switched careers to become a safety engineer.


Here are some snapshots from his high school days:

Unidentified, but my father-in-law is second from right (the one who looks EXACTLY like my husband). 

From left to right: Baker, Eric, Raymond, Llewllyn and Clyde (no last names provided). This was the team of 1934-35 coached by E. R. Sellers.

Apparently they always posed the same way because the lineup looks the same as the one above. Actually my husband tells me Baker is on the far right in this photo. 


Brother Ephrem and his pet tiger

fiu9xflmsaab18by6c8qwg.jpgMy mother-in-law passed away a few years ago, leaving a vast collection of family photos. The other day, my sister-in-law asked if I would mind sorting them. I love to organize so I agreed. Then she pulled up in the driveway and unloaded a dolly. Seven boxes filled with photos now sit in my guest room. Since company is coming in a week, I’ve been tearing through them and wallowing in Christmases past.

w9BVPYq8TviD+2lrkOzF7wTucked in one box I found an envelope with “Ephrem in Nicaragua 1950” scrawled on it. Tumbling out the black-and-white photos, I found images of a Catholic priest parading a baby tiger on a leash.

fofgfplqsuqwdci7bdttxa.jpgBrother Ephrem actually was a Christian Brother. I never met him but my mother-in-law talked about him a lot. To be honest, I’m fuzzy on how he was connected to her family. I just remember vaguely that he was a cousin of some sorts.

bkav1knrgkmayc1d8p4nw.jpgAccording to his obit, he was born Edwin Edgar Hebert in 1920 to Edwin and Lazida Hebert. I would imagine he was related to my mother-in-law through her mother, Lillian Hebert.

y9wvcydrwgpaopajiyicw.jpgBrother Ephrem led quite a life. He was just 13 when he entered the Junior Novitiate of the Christian Brothers in Lafayette. He was a teacher and a school administrator for 31 years. He met Charlton Heston when he filmed a movie at his school.

29q6x3pfsjohzg9wz7c1aa.jpgFor four years, Brother Ephrem worked as a missionary in Nicaragua, where he helped dedicate a new church, taught carpentry, somehow installed a 500-pound statue of St. La Salle and adopted a tiger cub he later sold to an American in Miami. I’m more than a little bit distressed about the poor tiger cub.

Anyway, the pictures are of Brother Ephrem in Nicaragua.