One of these days, I’ll figure out everything the courthouse offers in the way of genealogy records. I know about successions, coroner’s inquests, conveyances, civil suits, marriage records and criminal cases. Today, I discovered mortgage records.
Tucked into the mortgage records at the Assumption Parish Courthouse in Napoleonville is a will for Henriette Boudreaux Penisson, who died in 1900. I looked for a succession record and couldn’t find one. Why her will would be included in mortgage records is beyond me.
Henriette was my great-great-great grandmother. She brought 10 children into the world.
Here’s page two of her will:
It’s in French so I’ll have to get to work translating it. This will take a bit.
Etienne Penisson left a complicated succession when he died at his home on Bayou Boeuf in 1856. His widow had to detail the heirs.
Son Jean Baptiste
Daughter Marie, who was dead. So her portion went to her children Aimee Bourg Delucky, Pauline Bourg and Rosalie Bourg
Daughter Dometile (wife of Joseph Lacoste)
Daughter Cidalise, who was dead. So her portion went to her children Joseph and Eliza Brogdan
Daughter Amelina (wife of Auguste Lafontaine)
Daughter Celeste (wife of Joseph Font)
Daughter Carmelite (wife of Baptiste Menard)
Son Etienne Jr.
Making matters even more complicated was the fact that the heirs were scattered across Louisiana. Most lived in Assumption Parish, but daughter Marie’s children were in St. Mary Parish as was daughter Carmelite. Amelina was in St. Martin Parish. Celeste was in New Orleans.
All told, Etienne Sr. left an estate worth $105,000. That’s $3 million in today’s dollars. No wonder succession records state that Etienne Sr. Left a valuable sugar estate.
The truly lovely thing about France is that so many original records are online! The truly horrible thing about those records is that the handwriting is so bad. Really, I want to get out a ruler and rap the knuckles of whomever wrote some of them (in theory, of course; I realize the authors are long dead).
While I was searching for the Montets, I took a break to see if I could find a marriage record that I knew existed. One of my distant cousins hired a professional genealogist years ago to track down our Penisson family roots to France. It’s lovely what she found. I have the details of her notes, but I don’t have copies of the source material.
I dug into the records of the Loire-Atlantique archives, found the village of La Plaine and located my ancestors’ marriage record. It’s attached above. The handwriting on this one really isn’t that bad. Now to translate this …
The Penissons are legendary in my family for two reasons. First, they weren’t Cajuns (they emigrated from France long after the Cajuns arrived). Second, they had a little money.
Here’s my great-great-great grandfather, Jean Baptiste Etienne Penisson. He married Henriette Nina Boudreaux and had 11 children. Their daughter, Marie Rosalie, was my great-great grandmother.
This is supposedly a portrait of Jean Baptiste Etienne’s parents, Etienne Benjamin and Rosalie Trahan Penisson. I say supposedly because Etienne Benjamin died in 1856. I am not an expert on the history of photography in America. However, you have to remember that the Penissons lived in Bayou L’Ourse, a small community between Morgan City and Thibodaux. I’m not certain how they would have gotten their picture taken in the early, early days of photography. It’s possible, though. Maybe they managed to get to New Orleans.
Etienne Benjamin paid cash for 303 acres of land in 1844. The land was in Assumption Parish. At this point, I have to rely on oral history courtesy of my late grandmother. According to her, my great-great grandparents, Jean Severin Hebert and Marie Rosalie Penisson, got a section of this land. They lived in the Big House, which eventually went to my great-grandfather, Jean Jules Hebert. I don’t know if Jean Severin and Marie Rosalie built this house or inherited it. I don’t even know how many rooms it had – although I’m sure it was a standard bayou house, built on pilings with one room flowing directly into the next. Regardless, it burned when my great-grandfather was married and living in it. He moved across the bayou and rented a house. Eventually (after my great-grandmother died), he moved back across the bayou to the family land and lived in what amounted to a shack until he moved into a nursing home.
The family money had run out, probably after the Civil War. However, the family held onto the land. I don’t know who owns it today. I can tell you where it is because we visited it often when I was a child. At one point, my mother’s childhood home shared the land with her uncle’s house. My mother’s home is long gone, but Uncle Howard’s home was still there last I visited.
On Saturday, Feb. 10, 1894, A. E. Penisson killed in a wreck on the Texas and Pacific Railrod, aged 56 years.
The funeral will take place this Sunday at Bayou Boeuf.
Bordeaux, France, and San Antonio, Tex., papers please copy.