Lizzie wasn’t a common Cajun name a century ago. Think about it. You’ve heard of Lizzie Borden. How often have you heard of Lizzie Boudreaux?
So I was puzzled when I came across a Lizzie Tompley living with Etienne Carville LeBlanc and Josephine Emiline Templet in 1870. Not only is the name unusual, but I don’t know which branch in the Templet family tree produced Lizzie.
Now I know who Etienne and Josephine were. I just have no idea who Lizzie was although I have a suspicion.
Josephine Emiline Templet – known as Evaline – was the sister of my g-g-grandmother Anaise. They endured what must have been a sad childhood. Their mother, Louisa Josephine, died in 1858, leaving behind a number of young children: Emiline/Evaline, 12, Anaise, 10, Charles, 9, Philomene, 6, and Uranie/Irene, 4
Presumably, their father, Charles Valsin Templet, was still alive but it wouldn’t have mattered. Back then, children were divvied up when a mother died young. The same thing would happen to Anaise’s children when her husband died early in the life. The cycle would be repeated with the children of Anaise’s granddaughter (my g-grandmother).
But back to Louisa. I don’t know what happened to Evaline after her mother died, but census records tell us that Anaise and Charles went to live with their Aunt Marcelite. Philomene ended up with Uncle Basile from her grandfather’s first marriage. Little Irene was taken in by Aunt Adeline. These were all Louisa’s relations. Apparently their father’s relatives, the Templets, had no room at the inn. Or so I thought.
Trying to figure out who the heck Lizzie was, I searched for her in the 1860 census.
There she is in St. Mary Parish with Jean and Zeolide Templet. Jean was Charles Valsin Templet’s brother. Are you still with me?
Some Ancestry trees list Elizabeth as the daughter of Jean and Zeolide Templet. I don’t think that’s correct. She’s listed below the other children, as she would be if she were an orphan or adopted daughter.
My suspicion – and I could be completely wrong – is that Lizzie was the youngest child of Charles Valsin and Louisa. I think – and again, I could be totally wrong – that Louisa died bringing her into the world. A succession record, which would list the surviving children, was filed when Louisa died. That succession record is missing from the courthouse. No doubt it was checked out and never returned. So that’s a dead end.
Plus, if she was Jean and Zeolide’s child, why was she living with the LeBlancs later on? It seems more likely that she went to live with Uncle Jean and Aunt Zeolide as an infant when her own sisters were too young to care for her. After big sister Evalina married, it makes sense that she sent for Lizzie and took her into her household.
My grandmother’s mother died at age 22, leaving three very young children. Granny went to live with her godparents. Her father later remarried and sent for Granny. The godparents, who only had one child of their own, refused to relinquish her. I can’t say that I blame them. They’d raised her since she was 4, and she arrived malnourished because of her family’s poverty. Jean and Zeolide had tons of children. One less mouth to feed might have been a blessing.
I know what happened to Lizzie later in life. She grew up and married Joseph Schmidt in 1879. In yet another dead end, they didn’t bother to tell the clerk of court or the priest their parents’ names when they married.
Their children included:
Mary Elizabeth, born Aug. 10, 1870
Josephine, born June 3, 1885
Edwin, born Dec. 14, 1886
Louis Joseph, born Aug. 28, 1887
In 1900, Lizzie died, leaving behind a husband and several children. Here’s the obit:
This was recorded under Gibson, Louisiana. So I called the diocese, which has a very helpful archivist. He searched and came up empty on a burial record that would list the names of Lizzie’s parents.
She remains a mystery.
But I keep coming back to the spelling of Templet on the 1870 census. It’s not Templet. It’s Tompley.
Louisa’s son, Charles, went through life as Tomplait. That’s the name on his headstone in Texas. The name on Irene’s grave is Tamplet. They didn’t embrace Templet. For them, it was Tomplait or Tamplet. Or maybe Tompley?