Is Davy Crockett’s wife buried in the oldest cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase?

We took a little trip to Shreveport this weekend for my youngest godchild’s first birthday. As always, we packed a lot in.

We toured Bossier City in search of my teenage haunts (movie theater is deserted; mall isn’t far behind). We ate in an acclaimed Chinese restaurant that bizarrely is in a seedy motel (rooms may very well be rented by the hour). We introduced my dad to “King of Queens” and snuggled with his new puppy. We showered my 1-year-old godchild with love and gifts. He returned the favor by puckering up his face and screaming whenever he felt in danger of being picked up and cuddled by anyone but his mom (although he did seem delighted with the bicycle we brought him). Eventually, we wound up his sister and brother into a kolache-fueled frenzy of high pitched giggles and took our departure.

There are three major cities between Shreveport and Baton Rouge: Natchitoches, Alexandria and Lafayette. We got off the interstate in Natchitoches, ate lunch alongside the river and did some quick exploring, which brought us to the American Cemetery.

According to the city of Natchitoches, the American Cemetery is the oldest graveyard in the Louisiana Purchase and contains the remains of “war heroes and villains, doctors, politicians, educators, a former mayor who was murdered and a plantation owner who had numerous children with a slave whom he set free by the time of his death.”

It sits not far from the Cane River in a neighborhood of graceful homes, inns and fraternity houses. At first glance, I was a bit disappointed. I only saw fairly new graves. Then I peeked through the trees and saw the fenced enclosures of older family plots.

First, a few fun facts.

  • If you’re a fan of the movie “Steel Magnolias,” Shelby’s funeral was filmed at the American Cemetery. Sally Fields’ hair never looked better.
  • The cemetery is near Fort St. Jean Baptiste, the French outpost that began as two huts alongside an Indian village and grew into a major trade center that formed the foundation for the town of Natchitoches.
  • Supposedly, Davy Crockett’s wife is buried in the cemetery.

That brings me to the Crockett family. I took the long route, didn’t I?

As anyone with a drop of Texas blood knows, Davy Crockett was a frontiersman who died at the Alamo in 1836. More than a century later, he vaulted from folk hero to pop star when Disney put a raccoon on his head and built a TV series about him. Kids preparing to go back to school in the 1950s could buy lots of Davy Crockett merchandise, including rings and balloons. Membership in the Davy Crockett Club was complimentary.

What I didn’t know was much about his family other than vaguely remembering he came from Tennessee pioneer stock.

Crockett married Polly Finley in 1803. They had three children before she died in 1815. His next wife was a widow named Elizabeth Patton. They formed a blended family of his three kids, her two kids and their own three kids.

As far as I knew, Crockett left the wives and children behind in Tennessee when he went on his fame-making adventures: fighting the Creek Indians in Alabama, serving alongside Andrew Jackson in Florida and making his last standoff in Texas. When did he find time to collect a wife from Tennessee and settle with her long enough in Louisiana for her to die and be buried? Although, if he managed to kill himself a bear when he was only 3 …

According to Find A Grave, Polly died in Tennessee, where she’s buried in a cemetery that carries her name. Elizabeth is supposedly buried in Acton, Texas, with several of her children.

What’s clear is that Crockett did spend time in Natchitoches. “The Shreveport Journal” – a now defunct newspaper – recounted his visit in 1955 (spending a great deal of time on the question of whether a trip to Natchitoches would have taken him through Shreveport). Once that TV show hit the air in the 1950s, everyone wanted a piece of Davy Crockett.

In 1836, Crockett – who zigzagged between adventures and politics – was smarting from losing an election when he set out from Tennessee intent on redeeming himself in Texas. It was winter and so cold that the thermometer stood somewhat below the freezing point. His journal details what he had with him: a clean hunting shirt, a fox skin cap with the tail hanging behind and his rifle Betsy. He clearly states that he left his wife and children in Tennessee.

Here’s the supposed travel route: Crockett left Tennessee and headed to Little Rock for some speechmaking. After renting a horse, he rode to Fulton, where he boarded a steamer. If he stayed in Shreveport at all, it was likely aboard the steamer or at the city’s only hotel. From there, he arrived in Natchitoches, where he stayed for two days before continuing on to Texas.

Crockett wrote about Natchitoches, which he reckoned boasted 800 residents. He took note of the houses, which all seemed to be on one street parallel to the river. He wrote about securing a horse for the journey into Texas. At no time did he mention burying a wife. And, if you’ll remember, he was on the way to his own death.

I’ve tried to figure out where the legend started. Was it a granddaughter who’s buried in the cemetery? I had no luck in finding the answer.

As consolation, I’ll leave you with the scene from a Davy Crockett-themed birthday party in 1955. My favorite part is the coon skin cap birthday cake, complete with a long tail. This party took place in Cloutierville, which is just down the road from Natchitoches.


Here comes the bride …

If you’ve lived in Louisiana most of your life (like I have), you’ve probably heard of Fonville Winans. He took gorgeous black-and-white photographs of Louisiana’s swamps and people while working construction.

What I didn’t know is that he took bridal portraits from the 1940s to the 1980s. The Louisiana State Museum has the collection, and they’ve been posting these beautiful photos online in hopes of identifying the brides (always label your photos). A number of them have been identified (it’s a small state), but three still don’t have names. Anyone recognize these beautiful brides?

Newspaper articles, Riddles, St. Mary Parish Genealogy

The exasperating, frustrating and altogether annoying LeBlancs

Because I like a challenge, I’ve been trying to sort out the LeBlanc family. It’s like tumbling down a rabbit hole after a white rabbit. It just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Josephine Emiline Templet married Etienne Carville LeBlanc. in 1867. Josephine was the sister of my g-g-g-grandmother Anaise Templet. Anaise – I think – was actually christened Marie Heloise. Maybe it was supposed to be Marie Anaise, and the priest wrote it down wrong. I have no idea. All I know is we’re about to get into a trend.

Josephine didn’t go by Josephine. She didn’t go by Emiline. She was Eveline or Evalina.

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Pete’s war registration record, where he decided to go by his actual name.

Her husband, Etienne Carville, didn’t go by Etienne Carville. He was Pete, except on his Civil War draft registration, when he put down his middle name of Carville. Pete worked on the railroad and then became a ferryman in Morgan City.

Pete and Eveline had a lot of kids. I think I’ve blogged before about the confusion involving their names, but I’ll revisit since I’ve learned more. Basically,  baptism records record their kids’ names as one thing. Census records completely disagree for the most part. I’ll list the baptismal name first and put the census name in parenthesis.

Onezime Eugenie, 1867 (Olivia in 1880)

Almina Marie, 1869 (Elvena in 1880)

Odille Carmelite, 1870 (Odelia in 1880 – yeah!!)

Clarity Ozemee, 1872 (Clovis in 1880)

Oscar Francois, 1875 (not listed in 1880)

Mary Seraphine, 1877 (Josephine in 1880)

Joseph Arthur, 1879 (Joseph in 1880 and Arthur in 1900)

Peter Clarfey, 1881 (Clifford in 1900)

Eugenie Philomene, 1883 (Jennie in 1900)

So … I know that Jennie – the baby – married Aubin Picou and had children before dying in the 1950s. The rest of the kids were a mystery until I finally traced Peter Clarfey/Clifford only to find that he didn’t go by any of those names later in life.

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Clifford/William LeBlanc in 1910 before his wife died. 

Clifford – as he was known in a mangled fashion on the 1910 census – married May Bell Bigler and had five children.

May Bell died young. The kids went to live with her relations. Clifford then pops up in New Orleans – as William or Willie – and marries a Catherine Fallosio. They have five children.

In 1929, Clifford/William dies, leaving behind a pregnant widow. The kids – sadly – are sent to.an orphanage.

Even Clifford/William’s kids’ names are confusing. He and Catherine seemed to have had two Williams and two Clifftons as sons.

But Catherine’s story also is a name game puzzle.

Her father was James Fallosio, who served as a deputy in Orleans Parish and seemed to be quick to pull the trigger on his gun. Newspaper reports on those shootings casually mention that James Fallosio sometimes was known as James Sebastian. What the heck?

It turns out that James’ full name was James Sebastian Fallosio, but he sometimes just dropped the surname. Even his kids sometimes listed their last name as Sebastian.

And this is why genealogy is a twisting, winding road of frustration.

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James was no stranger to an alcohol-infused brawl. 

James, by the way, died in 1903 during a barroom shooting. Apparently a dispute erupted over some dope that James tried to pass to a prisoner in exchange for money.

I have no idea what name he was buried under. Probably LeBlanc. Just kidding.


Riddles, St. Mary Parish Genealogy, Succession Records

The problem of Apolinaire Frioux

I pity any one with the main line of Frioux to trace. It could be Frioux, Fryou, Frillot, Frero or goodness knows what else.

I first came upon the name after discovering that my grandmother’s godfather, Oleus Oscar Montet, had been married before he married my Aunt Louise.

I always felt a little sorry for Oleus. He was always described to me as a very nice man who would give my mother and her sister fruit (a precious thing for a poor family). And he was married to Aunt Louise, who was never described in kind terms. Oleus and Louise had but one child, Paul, who died in his teens.

Ten years before he married Louise, Oleus married Josephine Frioux. She died a little more than a year after the wedding. My guess is that she died in childbirth, but I’m guessing because no one ever told me about Josephine. I stumbled across her in the Catholic record books.

Josephine’s father was Apolinaire Frioux. Her mother was Philomene Gautreaux. Josephine was the only daughter in a family of four children. When she was 14, her father died. Her mother died five years later. Josephine herself was only 20 when she died. I don’t know much about Josephine’s little family. One brother died young. The two other brothers moved to Texas.  Frioux/Fryou/Frillot has been a tough name to trace.

The name Apolinaire was interesting to me, though, because Oleus’ mother had a sister who married an Apolinaire Frioux. I wondered if it could be the same man and if he had two families. It turns out he had three families (but all in a respectable way).

I hadn’t been able to make the link until I found a succession record for Celestine Aucoin, Oleus’ aunt and Apolinaire’s second wife. I knew Celestine died in the yellow fever epidemic. I didn’t realize that she had enough property for a succession to be filed.

In 1880, Apolinaire went to the Franklin courthouse to report that Celestine had died on September 24, 1879, leaving behind one (surviving) child, Florestine. Apolinaire wanted to get married again (only a year after burying poor Celestine) and needed to separate out Celestine’s property for their daughter.

Here’s the inventory:

  1. A tract of land lying and being in the parish of St. Mary having two acres front on Bayou Boeuf and containing about 44 superficial acres more of less with adjoining tract to the rear line appraised and valued at $350.
  2. Nine heads of horned cattle.
  3. One small Creole mars (I have no idea what this means).
  4. One plow.

Total=$452, half of which went to Florestine.

If you read successions, you read a lot about family meetings. I doubt they were as formal as the legal papers make them sound. Regardless, in one description of a family meeting, it was revealed that Apolinaire wanted to marry a Philomene Gautreaux and that it would be his third marriage.

So now I know that Apolinaire was Oleus’ father-in-law and uncle.

Riddles, Templet family

The Anaise riddle

I’ve been fairly successful in sorting out much of my family tree, and new information is always coming along to surprise me. The past tends to do that. Just when you think you’ve discovered everything, a new bit of information surfaces.

The one person who is a mystery is my great-great-great grandmother, Anaise Templet Giroir Larose.

I’ve never heard the name Anaise before or since. My grandmother always pronounced it ‘Naise.’  Believe it or not, there were two Anaise Templets born about the same year in Assumption Parish. Who would have thought it?

My Anaise was born to Charles Valsin Templet and Louise Josephine Boudreaux. The 1850 census for Louisiana shows Valsin with his wife, daughters Marie and Anais and baby Charles.

Here’s the little family:


That would mean Valsin and Louise had Marie in 1846, Anais in 1848 and Charles in 1849. Except the baptism records show they had Josephine Emeline in 1846, Marie Heloise in 1848, Charles in 1849, Philomene Victorine in 1852 and Marie Uranie in 1854. No mention of an Anais.

So I suppose that Marie in the census is really Emeline and that Marie Heloise in the baptism records possibly was meant to be Marie Anaise (which means she may have later had a child out-of-wedlock).

I’ll just go to the 1860 census and figure it out, right? Well, there’s a problem with that. Louise seems to have died about 1858. Unfortunately, her succession is listed in the index book at the Assumption Parish Courthouse, but the record itself is missing. The nice clerks at the courthouse shrugged and said an attorney probably took it home and forgot to return it back in the 1800s. Sigh.

After their mother’s death, the children were divvied up among the relatives.

Charles and Anaise went to live with the Besses. Charles Besse was a Canadian schoolteacher who married Louise’s sister Marcelite. The Besses had nine children so maybe they didn’t even notice the two extra ones.

1860 Assumption Parish census

So what happened to Emeline, Philomene and Irene (Uranie)? Well, Louise came from a big family.


Sister Adeline took in Uranie. Half-brother Basile took in Philomene.  There were 15 people in Basile’s household so what was one more? Emeline – or Evaline as she later called herself – found shelter somewhere because she soon married.

There’s no clue on what happened to Valsin. I can only assume he gave all his children away, changed his name to Lincoln and bought a really tall hat. Or maybe he died. Yeah, he probably died.

But back to Anaise.

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Anaise’s great-granddaughter: My granny with her daughter Olive.

Anaise married (I assume) a man with a rather fabulously alliterate name: Eulice Edmond Giroir. There’s no marriage record that I’ve been able to find, but as they baptized their children, I assume the priest would have insisted on them being married.

They had five children in five years: Augustin, Augustine, Alice, Marie and Valcin. Then Eulice died. My grandmother said Eulice died when the youngest child was just a baby.

Anaise farmed out the children but kept Valcin according to census records.  Augustin – my great-great grandfather – either visited her or ended up back with her because he told stories about her going off to work the fields every day while he stayed back at the house with his baby brother. Poor Anaise. She had a very hard life.

Then, in 1895, Anaise remarried. She married a man named Felix Leonide Larose. She would have been close to 50 at the time.

Anaise and Felix are on the 1900 census in Assumption Parish. After that, they disappear. I’ve traced what happened to all of her children (except Valcin; he married, had a few children and vanished), but I don’t know when Anaise died or where she’s buried.

It’s funny isn’t it? I can’t really tell you when Anaise’s parents died, when her first husband died or when she died. I can’t really tell you when Anaise was born or when she married her first husband. Did she only show up to be recorded for the census taker?

Loose ends like that drive me crazy. I so badly want to know the rest of Anaise’s story. Maybe, one day, I’ll stumble across more details.