One of my favorite ways to explore the past is through fire insurance maps. I’ve talked about Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps before, but I always discover something new when I revisit them.
The maps were launched in 1867 to help insurance agents determine the risk of insuring properties. They offer a bird’s eye view of every building on a plot of land and detail how many stories, doors and windows a dwelling had.
The first thing to do when looking at the maps is to find the key. This will explain all the notations on your ancestor’s home. Usually, it’s on the first page of a map series.
I decided to revisit the maps after driving past the home of silent film star Mary Miles Minter’s cousin in Alexandria. I’d visited the home in real estate listings and wondered why in the world it was selling for such a bargain basement price. Well, a drive past the day after Christmas ended that wonder. The neighborhood’s definitely seen better times. We didn’t even get out of the car. I wanted to see what the neighborhood looked like in 1914 so I turned to Sanborn.
Introducing the Branch Mansion, circa 1914:
With a little imagination, the neighborhood quickly comes into focus even though more than a century’s passed. 103 Bolton Avenue was the lone house on the block. A servant’s dwelling was located behind the beautiful mansion. Today, the servant’s quarters are gone as are most of the neighboring houses on 16th. The steps to one house still are there.
It happens. Houses burn down. Other times, they’re abandoned and quickly crumble.
Turning to the key, I learn more about the Bolton Mansion. It’s two stories. Oh, that building at the far right was a stable (now gone). All the houses in the neighborhood were frame. Fascinating!
These maps tend to focus on cities rather than rural areas. Enjoy!
Not long ago, a home in my neighborhood was reduced to rubble because of chronic flooding. This is a common teardown in south Louisiana, where the water table can make home construction tricky, but it always makes me sad. To me, houses have as much personality as people. They witness so much life: new babies being brought home, holiday gatherings and deaths.
That brings me to the Hicks Mansion, which once proudly stood in downtown Shreveport. I spotted a glimpse of the mansion’s rooftop in a book about historic Shreveport, and I was intrigued. I had no idea that an antebellum mansion once called 416 Travis St. home. Downtowns used to be much more residential than they are today.
Recently, I stumbled across a treasure trove of photos that offer a much better view of the mansion, which was torn down in the 1950s to make way for a high rise building.
Some of these photos are from the Jack Barham Collection at LSU-Shreveport. Barham was a Shreveport photographer who died in 2018 at age 92. He was a combat photographer during World War II. From taking battlefield photos, he transitioned into a newspaper photographer, which was still exciting work. A young musician named Elvis Presley was getting his start at the Louisiana Hayride at the same time Barham was snapping pictures for the Shreveport Journal. The two became friends.
Twin Blend Photography posted these on Facebook. Twin Blend apparently specializes in blending then and now pictures. It’s an interesting concept.
Diving into the newspaper archives, I discovered that the Hicks Mansion was built by the Howell family. R.H. Howell and Francis Marion Hicks once were in the grocery supply business together. The partnership ended in 1888. Hicks got sole ownership of the company, and eventually, the downtown mansion. Francis’ son, Samuel Bailey, succeeded his father and moved his own family into the mansion. It was Samuel’s son who decided to tear down the mansion in the 1950s to make way for a business venture in which he had a stake.
The demolition didn’t happen without somewhat of a fight. After all, this was a landmark.
By the time the mansion was torn down in 1958, it had been standing for so long that its history was a bit murky although someone recalled that the third floor was added much later in its life.
Old-timers remembered the mansion belonging to a Miss Mamie Hicks. This was Sam Sr.’s wife, who died just a few months before the mansion tumbled to the ground. She was the last person to live there. Her husband died in 1925, leaving her to live in the mansion for decades.
In her obit, she was remembered as one of the last old ladies to occupy a downtown Shreveport mansion. She apparently clung to the home through the years as skyscrapers were erected around it. I wonder if she literally rolled over in her grave the day a wrecking ball swung through it.
This house has absolutely nothing to do with Louisiana genealogy. I just liked the listing.
“The house, now 117 years old, has stood the test of time. She stood when the Titanic sank in 1912. She was here during the Great Depression of 1929. She stood during WWI and WWII. She stands today in the 21st Century as a reminder of days gone by when Edwardian families strolled down the streets and visited with friends on those warm Mississippi evenings.”
Someone buy this for me already! And tell me where Aberdeen, Mississippi, is. Does it have a library? And a Target?
This beauty was built in 1902 by Walter S. Carlton and his wife, Claudia, who left their name in the cement of the front steps. It’s got six fireplaces, high ceilings, three gables, pocket doors, gold coffered ceilings, something called a grand room and a veranda. Basically, it’s the house of my Anne of Green Gables-girlhood reading dreams.
From death and mayhem, I thought I’d visit some of Shreveport’s lovely old homes. Most of them are gone now, but I enjoy looking at pictures of the grand old ladies that once were found in and near downtown. The landscape changes so quickly.
Houses burn down. They’re torn down. They simply disappear until ghosts get lost trying to revisit home.
On a bluff overlooking the Red River, the S. J. Zeigler house once stood. How beautiful is it? I can imagine standing on the widow’s walk and taking in the river views.
The Zeiglers apparently bought the house in 1881 from W. P. Ford. Ford had purchased the property from the Leonards. It seems likely that the Leonards built the house.
In 1901, Louie Ogden and her cousin Helen Kendall were driving in a trap with a couple of gentleman when the rear seat collapsed just outside the Zeigler home. Poor Helen was knocked unconscious. Fortunately, she recovered. She and Louie were guests of Mrs. W. C. Vance on Fannin street.
Interestingly, the 1900 census lists the Zeiglers as boarders. They also liked going by initials. They’re listed as S.J. and H.M. with sons Sam and Howell and someone named Vinnie.
In reality, S.J. was Samuel Jacob. He and his wife, Sarah, had five children. Only two lived to maturity.
Their daughter Sadie died age 9 at the Zeigler house in 1891. Another daughter, Susie, died aged two years, one month and 23 days in 1917. The family later made its way back to South Carolina.
If you visit the house site today, you’ll find the Chateau Hotel.
If you go to 1608 Fairfield Ave. today, you’ll find a rundown office building. A century ago, you would have found this fabulous mansion. I would have wanted a room in the tower.
John and Toinette Scott lived here. John was listed as a planter in the 1917 Shreveport telephone directory. Census records show them living in that giant house without any live-in servants or children. John’s sister married into the Youree family and lived nearby so they wouldn’t have been too lonely.
The home was demolished in 1947 after becoming a funeral home. An advertisement was placed in the newspaper for anyone interested in beautiful woodwork, mantels, bevel plate, glass doors, stained glass windows, oak, wainscoating or inlaid flooring.
One of the saddest houses to stand in Shreveport was a shell of a building that was never completed. Walter Page started to build an enormous house on Jefferson-Paige Road. He stopped work on it when his son John died. A storm hit the property in 1917 and the shell later was razed.
The house was known as Page’s Castle. The Shreveport Journal described it as “two stories with a four story octagonal rotunda, surmounted by a dome and observation deck. From the hilltop house spread a sweeping lawn with thousands of rose bushes.”
Page came from a wealthy family that moved from Tennessee to Louisiana and bought tremendous acreage for cotton. Supposedly, in an attempt to lure his son from the drinking and fast cars of Nashville, Page began work on Page’s Castle. He envisioned a resort similar to Delmonico’s with ducks, roses, a fish pond and race horses. A storm heavily damaged the dream project in 1917. Then news of John Page’s death quickly followed, and the dream died entirely.
More likely, the storm created problems with the construction, and the rest of the story is just romantic nonsense. It appears that John Page died long before construction on Page’s Castle even began.
The Howell house stood at 819 Spring St. It was built by John Howell and evolved from mansion to apartment building before a fire destroyed it in the 1930s.
My personal obsession is the Hicks home that stood at 416 Travis St. This antebellum mansion endured for years as modern structures rose around it.
It was built at the conclusion of the Civil War with logs shipped from St. Louis. The original owner was Daniel Smith, but the deed soon passed to Col. F. M. Hicks. Hicks lived there until moving to Texas for his health. His son Samuel B. Hicks then moved into the home with his bride Mamie.
The home came down in the 1950s to pave the way for a skyscraper.
Thibodaux was in a state of repressed excitement yesterday over the dastardly murder of Mr. Julien Vergnole, an event unprecedented in the history of that section of Lafourche and one which has stirred up the wrath of its citizens to such a pitch that summary vengeance is threatened the perpetrators in the event of their being apprehended. The account of the murder was published in The Times-Democrat of yesterday, and was a correct statement of the principal facts in the case.
Claudet plantation is situated three-fourths of a mile above the town of Thibodaux and was purchased a little over two years since by Mr. Vergnole, he removing at once to his purchase and making his home at the plantation. During the two years Mr. Vergnole resided on the Lafourche his genial manner and kindly disposition made him a host of friends. The business training he had acquired as a merchant of this city stood him in good stead in his new vocation as a sugar planter, and while he was very firm in his dealings with his employees, he was also generous and just. Some time after taking possession of Claudet he discharged the overseer and replaced him with the present manager, Mr. Thompson Barillieux. The new overseer, ascertaining that a number of the resident hands were indolent, and as he terms it, “spoilt,” he immediately proceeded to order them from the plantation. This action on the part of Mr. Barilleaux (sic) caused considerable feeling among the employees, they attributing it altogether to the new owner, and their dismissal was in all probability the cause which led to the killing of Mr. Vergnole.
The morning following the murder found numerous parties of men scouring the neighborhood of the plantation in a search for the assassins. A number of footprints were discovered in the rear yard and were followed for a short distance, when all trace of them was lost. Deputy Sheriff Rich Frost made accurate measurements of the footmarks, which from their size and shape led a number of searchers to believe they belonged to white men. This theory was soon abandoned by the majority, although this idea is still held to by a few.
SUSPECTED PEOPLE ARRESTED
Deputy Sheriff Frost, a few hours after daybreak Sunday morning, arrested and jailed three negroes named Jos King, Jos Crossing and Cornelius Crawford, the latter being the old man who put in an appearance in answer to the agonized screams of Mrs. Vergnole a few minutes after the shooting, and the others were arrested on suspicion, they being two of the former laborers on the plantation discharged by the overseer.
Later in the day, Mr. Frost arrested three white men, tramps, they being seen in the company with the negro, Crossing, near Dr. Meyer’s office when the messenger arrived from the plantation. The man Crossing was also witnessed at 9 o’clock the night of the murder in company with Jos King and the negro Crawford walking through the streets of Thibodaux. These facts, together with Crawford’s opportune appearance so short a time after the shooting, were considered so peculiar that the entire lot were arrested. Dr. Meyers said, however, that Crawford assisted him in his examination of Mr. Vergnole and showed no traces of excitement or fear.
Who was Julien Vergnole?
He married Emma Marie Aimee Riondel in New Orleans on June 27, 1891. He had arrived in New Orleans after sailing from France at age 35 in 1878. He initially settled in New Orleans, where he made his living as a commercial merchant.
Julien and Emma had one child: Jeanne Laurance, born July 28, 1892, in New Orleans. This was the child who was with her mother when Julien was shot. Little Jeanne was not even 2 when her father died.
After her husband’s death, Emma and her daughter Jeanne moved in with Emma’s stepfather and mother at 629 St. Peter St. in New Orleans.
Emma and Jeanne later moved to California but soon returned to Louisiana. It appears that Jeanne never married.
What is probably the correct clew (sic) to the murder, and one which will receive a thorough investigation, is a report of a conversation which took place fully two months ago near the market place in Thibodaux and which was overheard by a resident of that town. The conversation did not appear of much importance to the listener, she thinking it mere idle talk, and consequently thought no more of it until it was vividly brought to her remembrance by the murder of Mr. Vergnole. It appeared that several negro men and women were discussion (sic) that gentleman and evidently becoming excited by the subject of their discourse, spoke very loudly. One of the women, her feelings getting the better of her discretion, cried out: “I don’t care. This man Vernole comes up from the city and wants to play big and smart out here in the country with the people on his plantation. He’s mighty smart, he is, and ought to be killed.” One of the men answered to the woman, saying: “You shut up and never mind about that. We are the ones to attend to that part of the business.” The party then walked away and the rest of the conversation the listener did not catch.
Acting on the information received, Deputy Sheriff Frost arrested three negro women named Eva, Dora and Melinda King, but subsequently released them, they not being identified by the person giving the information. It was also ascertained that a former employee of the plantation by the name of Joe Ellis had been disputing some months ago with Mr. Vergnole about a lot of hogs belonging to the former which were damaging the land and which Mr. Vergnole had ordered off, together with their owner. Ellis is at present, or was, living in a neighboring parish and had been in the neighborhood of Claudet recently.
THE WIFE’S ACCOUNT OF THE TRAGEDY
In company with Mr. Frost, the reporter drove out to the Claudet homestead to view the scene of the assassination and get such additional facts as would throw some light upon the motive for the killing. Many rumors were rife in the town of Thibodaux and the opinions were equally divided, some attributing the crime to a purpose to rob, and others to a fiendish desire for downright and premeditated murder.
Reaching the residence and ascertaining the willingness of the bereaved widow to receive him, the reporter entered the house and was shown the room wherein the killing took place, and the broken blind and window through which the fatal bullet was fired. In the rear of the bedroom is a small gallery, accessible by a series of high steps leading into the yard and separating the main dwelling from the kitchen and cistern. The murderers were evidently acquainted with the location of the rooms and the familiar with the habits of the inmates and entering the yard, secured a bar of iron from a scrap pile near the house, reaching the gallery by the steps described and at once attacking the window blinds made an aperture, breaking the glass and firing the first shot. What followed can best be described by the statement of Mrs. Vergnole, who, with tears streaming down her face, told the horrible story of a loved husband’s assassination and her sudden and terrible widowhood.
“My husband had retired a little earlier than was his usual custom, as he was feeling tired from a day of considerable worry. He was shortly aslepp and tiring of remaining up alone, I took my little girl and also went to bed. This was about 9:30 o’clock. Falling asleep, I was suddenly aroused by a crashing noise and as I opened my eyes and raised up from the bed I saw the flash from the pistol and heard the report and the next instant the glass from the window, shattered by the impact of the bullet entering the sash near the foot of the bed, fell to the floor.
“I at once sprang to the floor, and seizing my child ran into the adjourning room, expecting every moment to be shot. My husband also jumped out of bed, and grasping his pistol, although I tried to keep him away from the window and follow me, approached the window and asked: “Who is there: what do you want?” A man’s voice answered him, saying: “We will show you” and at that very moment the second shot rang out, breaking a second pane of glass and my poor husband crying out: “Wife, I am shot and badly” ran into the next room and sank on the floor.
“I was crazy. I knew not what to do. My husband lay there dying and the men were still hammering at the window blinds. I felt that we were lost and I called out for help as loud as I could, although I knew there was no one in the house but an old colored woman who slept upstairs. My screaming must have frightened the men away, for the noise ceased and I heard their footsteps going off the gallery and into the yard.
“By this time, the old woman up stairs was aroused and came down, and after a little while her husband, Cornelius Crawford, came to the house from the levee. He said he had heard the shots as he was on his way from Thibodaux and also my screams and came to see what was the matter. I sent him to awaken the overseer, Mr. Barilleaux, and when he came, with one or two of his men, I sent him to Dr. Meyer at Thibodaux.
“When I first awoke I distinctly heard the men talking, and I think the voices were those of negroes, and if I could hear them again I believe I would know them. There was a light in the room during the shooting.
“It was horrible. I am sure they tried to kill us while we were asleep, and the one who fired the shot was kneeling on the gallery as the first ball struck the window sash quite high and at an angle from the broken blind. I do not know why anyone should have done this, as to my knowledge my poor husband had not an enemy in the world. The only person with whom he had any altercation that I know of is not in the parish and if he were I would never suggest the idea of his committing the deed.”
Dr. Meyer said to the reporter that he had been called to attend Mr. Vergnole, the summons reaching him several hours after the shots had been fired. He had diagnosed the wound as fatal and endeavored to sustain life as long as he could. The pain from the wound was very intense and he had administered opiates to quiet the patient.
Dr. Stark, the coroner, made an examination and found that the bullet had penetrated the abdomen, severing the intestines and lodging in the spine. At the request of the relatives, Dr. Stark did not make a more extended examination.
From information gathered in Thibodaux there is every indication that a large reward will be offered by the planters of Lafource and also by the police jury, for the apprehension of the murderer. An effort was made by the sheriff to procure a pair of bloodhounds to follow the track of the men, but his efforts to secure the dogs were unavailing.
In connection with the death of Mr. Vergnole it is interesting to note that many of the dwellings in the French quarter of this city are decorated with crepe in respect to his memory.
Mr. Vergnole was a very handsome man and was about fifty years old.
ARRIVAL OF THE BODY
The body of Mr. Julien Vergnole, merchant and planter, who was assassinated at his plantation near Thibodaux in Lafourche Parish reached the city yesterday morning on the California express of the Southern Pacific Railroad. The remains were accompanied by his father-in-law, Mr. Bouchoux; his brother, John M. Vergnole. When the train pulled into the depot, there were a large number of the dead man’s relatives and friends present to take charge of the body. It was removed from the baggage car, placed in an undertaker’s wagon and driven to the residence of his father-in-law, 196 Royal street, from which place his funeral will take place at 10 o’clock this morning.
A reporter visited the house during the day. The body, encased in a handsome metallic casket, was in the front parlor. Around it sat the grief-stricken relatives and numerous friends. The high esteem in which the murdered man was held in New Orleans was demonstrated by the large number of friends who visited the house with expressions of condolence for the family and take a look at the features of their friend who had been so suddenly and brutally robbed of his life by the assassin’s bullet.
Mr. John M. Vergnole, brother of deceased, who left New Orleans and hastened to his brother’s home upon receipt of the telegram notifying him of his critical condition, was interviewed by the reporter. He said that when he reached the bedside of his brother the latter was speechless, consequently all he could learn of the assassination was what his frightened sister-in-law had heard and seen during the few moments that intervened between the time they were awakened by the breaking of the shutter and the shooting of her husband before her eyes. Of course the work of the murderers was so quick and the lady’s excitement so great that she saw or heard but little. When they were awakened by the breaking of the shutter with the piece of iron her husband jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. His advance in that direction brought forth the first shot from the assassin’s pistol. Evidently intending to see if possible who the midnight marauders were, and undaunted by the first shot, he went close up to the window. As he did so he exclaimed: “What do you murderers want; you assassins, what are you trying to do?” A voice from the outside replied, “We will show you what we want when we get to you.” His sister-in-law did not recognize the voice that made these remarks. “The piece of iron,” continued Mr. Vergnole, “which was used in breaking the shutter, and which was left by the assassins in their flight, proved to be a portion of an old pump on the plantation.”
He did not believe that the object for the murder of his brother was robbery. He is
convinced that his life was taken in a spirit of vengeance and by persons well acquainted with the habits of his murdered brother and his wife. They knew that both were in the habit, except in grinding season, of retiring very early. His brother was in the habit of going to bed about 8 o’clock, and his wife would follow him as quickly as she could get her baby to sleep. Both were generally in bed by 9 o’clock. Of this fact, Mr. Vergnole was satisfied the assassins were aware, otherwise they would not have been at their bloody work as early as 10 o’clock, but would have waited for a later hour. After all that medical skill could accomplish was done to save his brother, and leaving his last hours to be watched by other relatives, he started out to do all in his power to learn, if possible, some clew that might run to earth the assassins. The reason for believing that there were three in the murdering party was because of the sound of the different footsteps that Mrs. Vergnole thinks she heard as the parties left the gallery after firing the fatal shot.
“Three negroes,” said Mr. Vergnole, “were arrested because they had been discharged a week ago off the plantation.” He did not think that they were prompted to commit such a crime as they were discharged by the overseer of the place and his brother had nothing to do with the transaction. His next move was to notify the sheriff of the parish of the shooting of his brother. The sheriff did not appear in person, but sent a deputy to his brother’s house to represent him. The deputy upon his arrival looked around the place, examined the footprints on the gallery where the murderers were supposed to have stood when they fired the shots. He then conversed with a number of persons and left, promising to return with blood hounds to see if they could get on the scent of the murderers. Up to the time that he left yesterday morning with his brother’s body for New Orleans neither sheriff nor dogs had put in an appearance.
As he was leaving with his brother’s body for New Orleans yesterday morning he was informed that a white girl had made a statement that some time since, while marketing in the Thibodaux market she saw a negro girl conversing with two negroes. As she approached the trio she heard the girl remark, “Vergnole has got to die.” One of the men answered, “And we are the two that are going to do it.” The white girl said she was not acquainted with either the negro girl or the two negro men, but was satisfied that she would be able to identify all of them if she saw them again. The neighbors, who were doing all in their power to
ferret out the murderers, had heard of this story and were investigating it for what this statement was worth. In conclusion, Mr. Vergnole said that he was convinced that his brother’s murder was the result of a conspiracy and he believed that he knew who was at the bottom of it. He knew the motive, but in the absence of any direct evidence he would not mention names until the proper time in his opinion arrived.
I’ve heard of evacuating to Monroe to escape a hurricane. I’ve never heard of a hurricane making it all the way to Monroe (or of a hurricane hitting in March).
From the March 28, 1882, edition of the Plain Dealer:
Out of curiosity, I went in search of some of these plantations. If you’re picturing Tara when you hear the word “plantation,” you might want to dial back your expectations. My ancestors had plantations. I’m pretty sure they were just farms. No one’s ever made any mention of sweeping staircases, verandas and whiling away afternoons with mint juleps and flirtatious laughter with the Tarleton twins.
But back to the Monroe hurricane.
McGuire place: As it would turn out, West Monroe Mayor Thomas McGuire purchased a plantation in 1879. He renamed it McGuire’s Traveler’s Rest.
Cooper plantation: I’m fairly certain this home burned in the 1960s, and these gateposts are all that remains. Aren’t they rather majestic?
J.W. Scarborough: I’m fairly certain this was a prominent citizen. I know nothing about his house.
Ludeling place: Most likely John Theodore Ludeling, a Louisiana Supreme Court justice. There’s a rather interesting, sad story about the Ludeling place.
Oliver plantation: There is an Oliver farm to this day in Monroe. Whether it’s the same one mentioned in the 1800s newspaper article is anyone’s guess.
Carpenter plantation: I’m pretty sure the land associated with this still exists as the Carpenter Plantation. Whether there’s a historic home still standing, I’m uncertain. The gin house clearly is gone.
Died: at his home at Loreauville on Saturday, April 15th, 1911, Albert Boutte, aged 50 years. The funeral took place from the Catholic Church of Loreauville, sunday, the 16th instant, attended by a large number of family and friends who attended their sympathy to the bereaved family.
Died: At the residence of Mr. Albert Mestayer at Belle Place at 12 o’clock noon Saturday April 15th, 1911, Dr. H.E. Wallet, born August 4th, 1866. The funeral took place from St. Peters Catholic Church, this city, on Sunday, at 5 o’clock P.M. attended by a large number of relatives and friends of the deceased and his bereaved family.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – July 13, 1901
We copy from the Times Democrat on the 9th inst.
On Monday, July 8th 1901 at 11:20 p.m. Marie Heloise Lorio, widow of the late Rosamond Lorio, aged 83 years a native of Louisiana and a resident of Algiers for 65 years.
Deceased was at one time a resident of this community and still has a number of relatives living here.
Mr. James Caillouet, an old and respected citizen of this place, died last Tuesday morning at 12:30 o’clock at the residence of his son Mr. Clay Caillouet on Jackson street. Mr. Caillouet was 70 years of age and had always lived in this Parish. He leaves several sons, brothers and many relatives to whom the Sentinel extends its sympathies.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – Nov. 28, 1891
Died. — On Thursday morning, Nov. 26th, 1891, in the Parish of Lafourche, Mr. Pierre L. Lasseigne, son of Abel Lasseigne, aged 17 years, 8 months and 21 days. The funeral services were celebrated in St. Joseph Catholic Church in Thibodaux on Friday, at 10:30 o’clock a.m. in the presence of a huge concourse of relatives, friends
and acquaintances. We present our most heartfelt sympathies to the bereaved family, and may the soul of the departed one rest forever more in peace.
We chronicle with regret the death of Mrs. H. C. Bernard, nee Aycock, of New Orleans. She was the wife of one our esteemed parishioners, Mr. H. Clay Bernard, grand-son of John Webre, so well known in Lafourche, and also the sister of Mrs. Philippe Dansereau.
The announcement of the death of Mrs. Lavinia Hynes, widow of the Hon. E. J. Gay, which occurred last Sunday evening at 7:15 o’clock, in this city, at the St. Charles Hotel, in the seventieth year of her age, has been received with surprise as great, on account of its suddenness, as with grief profound by her large circle of friends and acquaintances throughout the country.
Mrs. Gay arrived in the city on last Friday accompanied by some members of her family from her St. Louis plantation in Iberville Parish, and as was her wont took up quarters at the St. Charles Hotel. On Saturday while doing some shopping, she was taken suddenly ill and returned to the hotel. Paralysis developed itself which culminated in the death of the venerable lady last Sunday evening. During her last moments, her son, Andrew H. Gay, Esq., of Iberville, and her daughter, Nannie, the
wife of Congressman Andrew Price, were at her bedside. The remains will be conveyed this evening to St. Louis to be interred in the cemetery where her father and her husband are buried.
Mrs. Gay was born in Memphis, Tenn., and was the daughter of Col. Andrew Hynes, a prominent resident of that city and large operator of sugar plantations in Louisiana. She was wooed, and won by Edward J. Gay, then a rising young merchant of St. Louis. Mr. Gay subsequently removed with his family to this State and in course of time became one of its most prosperous merchants and planters.
He also represented tho Third District of this State in the United States Congress, being the predecessor of the present incumbent, his son-in-law, the Hon. Andrew Price.
Since the death of her husband, which occurred a few years ago, Mrs. Gay has made her home on the Iberville plantation.
She leaves to mourn her two daughters, Mrs. Crow, of St. Louis, and Mrs. Andrew Price, of Louisiana, and two sons, Andrew, an extensive planter of Iberville parish, and John, a resident of California, besides a numerous family connection in Louisiana, Missouri and other States. She leaves also an extentive (sic) valuable estate — City Item.
The weekly Iberian – Jan. 23, 1915
Died, at the residence of her mother, Mrs. Gaston Guilbeaux, Upper Hopkins street, on Wednesday morning, Jan. 20th, 1915, at 3:30 o’clock, Henriette Guilbeaux, born March 1st, 1913. The funeral took place from St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Wednesday evening at 5 o’clock.
Died, yesterday, at his residence on West Field street, at 5 o’clock p.m., Mr. Hildebert Theriot Sr., aged 110 years.
Mr. Theriot is survived by 12 children, 84 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.
Died, at his residence, on Royal street, on Friday, Jan. 15th, 1915, Dr. Theophile Gouaux. The next day, the body was brought to this city on the Southern Pacific train and the interment took place in the afternoon beside the body of his wife who preceded him to the grave many years ago, in the Catholic cemetery.
The deceased was born in France 65 years ago and came to Louisiana at an early age. He practiced medicine in this city for quite a number of years.
Dr. Gouaux is survived by three children, Dr. F.F. Gouaux of Lockport, Mrs. Albert Baup and Mrs. A. O. Douglas of Natchez.
On Friday, January 15th, 1915 at 11:45 o’clock p.m., Mrs. Laurent Bazus died at her residence on Main street, near Weeks. She was born in 1834. The funeral took place on Saturday from St. Peter’s Catholic Church at 4 o’clock in the evening.
Mrs. Bazus was a native of France, her place of residence being in Vic en-Bigorre, Hante Pyrenees. She came to this country 50 years ago. She kept in this city the Bazus Hotel for 30 years.
The deceased is survived by two children, Mrs. Louis J. Bazus and Mrs. A. J. Maumus of this city.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – May 11, 1901
The many friends of Mr. and Mrs. E. A. O’Sullivan in this city and neighborhood were shocked to learn of the sad news of the death of their daughter Katherine, which took place last Sunday morning at 9 o’clock at the family residence on St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans. The Sentinel and its many friends extend to the bereaved family their heartfelt sympathies in this their hour of sadness.
Mr. Jules Henriot, after a short illness, died at Cut-Off, April 30th at the residence of Mr. Julien Lefort. Deceased had quite a number of friends hear (sic) who will be sorry to hear of his death. He was a native of France and had lived in this parish for about two years. He at one time lived in Thibodaux and may be remembered by many having given a number of slight of hand exhibitions at fairs and festivals here and throughout the parish. He had lately taken up his abode in Cut-Off where he occupied himself by teaching a private French school.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – March 2, 1901
The many friends of Mr. Auguste Bergeron were pained to learn of his death which occurred at his home near Lafourche Crossing on last Monday at 6 o’clock a.m. He had reached the ripe old age of 83 years and 4 months and leaves several children to mourn his loss. His funeral took place Tuesday morning from St. Joseph’s church amid a large concourse of sorrowing friends. To the bereaved family, the Sentinel extends its sincerest sympathies.
Died at her home on Sunday near Raceland, Mrs. Stanley Waguespack nee Olympe Knobloch, aged 25 years. She was a daughter of Mr. Voltaire Knobloch, a prominent planter of lower Lafourche and had many relatives in Thibodaux. Her husband and three small children survive her. She was buried at St. Mary church Monday.
We clip the following from Sunday’s Times Democrat: Near St. Francisville, La. on Sunday, Feb 17, 1901, Richard Gaillard Ellis, aged 42 years, two months and 17 days.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – Jan. 5, 1901
Mary Louisa Schwartz, aged 18 months, the only daughter of Martin Schwartz and Leoncia Aucoin, died last Thursday, Dec. 27th at 12:30 o’clock. Her death was caused by lockjaw brought on by what at the time seemed to be only a slight injury. Her remains were interred in St. Josephs Catholic Cemetery.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – April 20, 1901
The many friends and the community at large were deeply chagrined to learn of the death of this venerable and highly respected lady which occurred at her home on Canal street last Monday night at the advanced age of 84 years. Deceased was Miss Azalee Bozelesse Richard and married Mr. Maximillien Naquin, now deceased, from which union 11 children were born of whom 4 are now living: Emile, Ozemie, Alfred and Emeline, and who are today worthy citizens of the community in which we live.
She had resided in this town since 1856. Deceased was a devout Catholic and always had a kind and encouraging word to those in distress. Charitable to a fault, she has helped many a poor mortal along the pathway of life.
During her last illness, she was surrounded by her family and many old and sorrowing friends, she received the last rites of the church which she had so faithfully served all her life and died a true Christian death.
Her familiar figure will be missed and her loss to the community is a serious one. The remains were interred in the family tomb in the Catholic cemetery Tuesday evening at 5:30.
The weekly Thibodaux Sentinel – Aug. 23, 1902
Mr. Victorin Keller, one of the oldest inhabitants of this parish, died last Friday week, at is home in the 5th Ward in the 87th year. He was the father of Mr. Sosthene Keller, a well known citizen of the 5th Ward and the grandfather of Messrs Charles B. and Nicholas Lasseigne of this town.
His funeral which was largely attended took place Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
Benjamin A. Breaux departed this life at his home in this town on the 15th, inst., aged 67 years. His funeral took place on Saturday afternoon at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. The deceased was a native of this parish, led a quiet, unassuming life and left a wife and several children. Mr. Eugene Breaux, a merchant of the 7th Ward, is his son by a former wife who died many years ago.
John Donahue, a native of this town, and who for years led a very quiet and retired life at the old family homestead on the Terrebonne road, at a short distance south of this town, died early last Monday morning aged 50 years and 7 days. His funeral took place on the afternoon of the same day, at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church.
I’ve written before about the Bergeron house, which is located at LSU’s Rural Life Museum. I was a little bemused to see it there. My ancestors didn’t live in grand plantation homes. They were a simpler stock. In fact, this simple Bergeron house is where some of my ancestors lived. Apparently it’s considered typical of early Cajun homes, which makes it preservation worthy.
The homes dates to between 1810 and 1815. Jean Charles Germain Bergeron, my ancestor, married Marie Magdeleine Doiron in 1805. By 1810, they had three children so they would have been comfortable in this home. Eventually, they had 11 children. The children were born over a nearly 20-year span much like my granny’s children. By the time the youngest were toddling around, the oldest probably had been married off.
At bottom left is how the house looked when it was first built. It had a big front room and then two bedrooms. The bedroom on the left had no exit to the outdoors and would have been the girls’ room (Elise and Abdeline Hanriete). Elise died young so Abdeline might have had this room to herself (they had no other girls) until she married at 15 to Dozain Gros.
If you visit the house at the Rural Life Museum (and I highly recommend that you do!), then you’ll see it as it looked in 1810. Apparently it grew in 1845. Germain was long dead (dying when his youngest was just a few months old), but Marie Magdeleine was still alive. I can’t imagine, though, that she undertook a house expansion.
A sign at the Rural Life Museum puts into question my populating the bedrooms with Germain and Marie’s children.
So now I’m thoroughly confused. Why is it called the Bergeron House? Did my ancestor ever live there? I’m determined to find out!
This comes from the “Houma Daily Courier” on Oct. 8, 1972. It’s an interesting look at small schools of yesteryear.
I’ll include the article at the very end. It’s long and not terribly interesting. It’s more fun to look at the pictures.
Here’s the article:
“Did you know .. that these pictures are some of the one room schools that dotted our parish landscape on the plantations about 75 to 100 years ago and produced some Terrebonnians to be proud of?
That Henry J. Ellender taught in one of these plantation cabins on Hope Farm Plantation until a larger building was built which served a dual purpose: school room in the day time and a dance hall on the weekends?
The young Henry J. had just finished his course of study at Soule Business College in New Orleans in 1902, when he started teaching at Hope Farm. He taught there 15 years. Then during the depression in the late 1920s, he taught again on lower Terrebonne. Dr. Henry T. Ellender – the dentist, boat builder and great fisherman – and his famous brother, Dr. Rudolphe Ellender – for whom the Eye Clinic was named – are some of this early teacher’s illustrious children of which there were eight or nine.
The late Senator Allen J. Ellender, a cousin to the above mentioned family, and his late brother Claude, the brilliant attorney, went to school to Professor Henry as did Nelo Hebert, who is still hale and hearty and one of Bourg’s most successful businessmen.
Mr. Nelo told of an earlier one room schoolhouse at Canal Belanger, now called Bourg, that was just across the street from where Stanley Boudreaux’s filling station is today. The little house has been remodeled and restored to the extent that one cannot recognize it as the former little schoolhouse. It is occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Collins today.
In those early days some of the teachers were Mrs. Willie Hebert; a Mrs. Hornsby; Mrs. Zie Glyn, who taught Nelo Hebert and others; and Miss Ella Trahan, who had come home to Houma from school in Mississippi after the death of her father in 1890, taught school at Canal Belanger (Bourg), then married Allen A. Sanders, a young sugar planter from Montegut. His father, James Monroe Sanders, had come from Canton, Mississippi, just before the Civil War.
Lotti, Mrs. John Gazzo, and Mae, Mrs. Randolph A. Bazet, were born of this union and raised on the beautiful shores of Bayou Terrebonne at Magenta Plantation.
Pointe-aux-Chien, a winding and small bayou just before one reaches Montegut, had for one of its first teachers another Ellender cousin, Thomas Ellender. Many other teachers followed; eventually so did a larger school.
At this time, Montegut had a three room, public school, private tutors and governesses. Then came John “Bud” Wallis, who taught at the Indian school at Point au-Barre’ from about 1900 to 1915, when a storm practically wiped out the Indian settlement. Mr. Wallis was a cousin of Mr. Claude “Skipper” Wallis, Terrebonne’s oldest living Republican.
We are not at the end of the one room schools on Bayou Terrebonne yet. At Madison Canal on the lower bayou, E. Clarence Wurzlow, father of E. C. Wurzlow Jr., taught school during the 1880s and in addition to becoming Clerk of the District Court was a recognized natural scientist, particularly as relates to botany, ornithology and entomology.
That Mr. and Mrs. Emile J. Naquin had a beautiful young daughter, Leah Naquin, who taught in one of the most famous of these one room schoolhouses (I think it was called Babin School). It was on a dusty road between Ellendale and Bull Run Plantations on Bayou Black. She later married Felix J. Hebert, and they became the parents of none other than our much loved and admired U.S. Congressman F. Edward Hebert.
You know Miss Maude LeBlanc rode up to Bayou Cane with the mailman every morning, then walked home in the afternoon. She also has many school stories to tell of the one room schoolhouses. This year Miss Maude received the most coveted award of “Louisiana’s Teacher of the Year” for she taught for many years all over the parish.
In the following paragraphs are listed a few names I gathered from the Chacahoula area. Miss Marie Daigle and Mrs. Henry Bernard were teachers at the Cedar Grove School.
The name of Miss Kattie Quinian seems linked with the Maduse School where Kader and Ringold Cocke, Emile Daigle and Freddie Louviere went to school. It was in the cane fields, just across the road from the Ringold W. Cocke plantation home.
Mr. Alcide Lasseigne taught at the Daigle school. Miss Mabel Roussell and Miss Sydney Watthus and Mr. O. J. Pellegrin were Forest Grove teachers.
Miss Marie Lajaunie and Miss Marie LeBlanc also were connected with the Daigle School. Miss Aline Lirette and Mrs. Ezelle Wallace Dillard taught either on the railroad or on Schriever Route.
Miss Georgia Connely took the train in Houma every morning from 1908-1920 to Central which was about halfway up the railroad between Houma and Schriever. Later she was transferred to Ashland Plantation’s “one room,” but commuted every day at an easier pace because Mr. Jean Caillouett, the plantation owner, gave her a car for her own transportation.
Did you know? She taught the Buquet boys among many others. The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. A. J. Buquet Jr., has fond memories of Miss Georgia as his teacher.
That Miss Margerite Moody, today known as Mrs. Jules Daigle, taught at Sunrise in 1912. She then went on to Ashland for one year in 1913, when E. T. Brady Sr. attended that school. It is noted that Brady’s favorite pastime was climbing the flag pole. Miss Moody returned then to Chacahoula in 1914, and she then married Jules Daigle.
That Miss Ada Munson started teaching by riding a bicycle to the Residence Plantation, south of Houma every morning. Later she rode the train daily to the Bertilot one roomer near Ardoyne Plantation. It is noted that she changed schools several times: Dug Road, LaCache, where she had to board in, then her last years in Ashland.
Miss Lolita Theriot, a pretty little teacher, came onto the scene at Ashland at this time. She later married Leon Gary and became “Houma’s First Lady” during her husband’s administration of 1948 to 1962.
Way across the cane fields of Ashland, the Rauch Plantation on Little Caillou had a schoolmaster named Mr. Elfert, and the school was named the Elfert School. Boys from miles around rode their ponies to the school. Some names to remember were the Maginess boys, the Connely boys, the Edmund boy who later became a surgeon, the Gaynar boys, and so on and son on.
Way back were the days when Miss Mable Kelly got up early in the mornings and hitched up her buggy to go to the country school near Houma. Her brother, Irvin Kelly, taught at Chacahoula and then at Little Caillou, where boarding in for three weeks at a time was common practice. Miss Lillian Atkins was another teacher of this time.
That Willow Wood School on Upper Coteau had Miss Mildred Pontiff as its teacher for 21 years. For years she rode the New Orleans bus as far as the Coteau Road, and then walked the last mile to the one room schoolhouse. Later the school furnished transportation means of school buses.
When asked who were some of the children she could be most proud of, her answer was Father Jules Robichaux, who was ordained in Houma only a few years ago, Miss Valerie Duplantis, Mrs. Emile Charpentier, Miss Inez Lirette. Mrs. Johnny Stevens also went to the Upper Coteau School.
That another pretty young schoolteacher from Mississippi came to Terrebonne and later became Mrs. Stanwood Duval. She was Mamie Richardson, and she taught at Rebecca. State Senator Claude Duval and Catherine – Mrs. Harold Dean – are her Terrebonne children.
Did you know that Dr. C. F. Breaux, father of Henry Breaux (present superintendent of the Terrebonne Parish School Board), was born on Mandalay Plantation on Bayou Black. In his childhood he attended a one room plantation school known as Bonvillain School on Bonvillain Plantation. His teachers were Miss Cecilia Bonvillain and Miss Emma Bourgeois.
This little school building, which was built before the Civil War, still stands today.