Cemeteries, Templet family

The disappearance of the Schmitt grave

The list proves the Schmitts once had a grave marker. Today, there’s no trace of it.

My grandmother devoted decades to genealogy research – mostly concentrating on Texas, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia and Missouri. However, since she moved to Louisiana in her late 20s and became friendly with other genealogy buffs in Terrebonne Parish, her files include stray Louisiana genealogy notes. I’ve been looking through her files to preserve them, and I keep finding Easter eggs.

Today, for example, I found a typed list of some of the graves in the “Catholic Graveyard – Gibson, Louisiana.” The list is typed on the kind of transparent paper I used in high school to write to my overseas pen pal in Sweden because it was light and cheap to mail. Now, I should caution that this list comes with a lot of unknowns. I don’t know who typed it. I don’t know who sharpened a pencil and made notes in the margins. I don’t know what the source was. What I do know is the list contains graves that aren’t in evidence today.

The Catholic Graveyard – Gibson, Louisiana is St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery along the bayou in the Terrebonne Parish village of Gibson. My grandparents from the other side of the family are buried there so I visit periodically to put plastic flowers on their graves.

Visiting the cemetery was one of the highlights of childhood visits to Gibson because we had to cross the bridge to reach it. The single-car bridge had a pedestrian bridge that hovered right above the water. It was metal, which rang like rain on a tin roof when you ran across it. Very satisfying to tiny feet – and we always walked to the cemetery. Gibson was fun in those days: a country store with gingerbread planks, a post office with a rows of gleaming postal boxes, a circular library and the cemetery.

I know just about every grave in that cemetery because I spent a lot of time studying them while Granny whitewashed my grandfather’s grave. I’ve never seen the Schmitt plot.

Joseph Schmitt married Lizzie Templet, who was the baby sister of my great-great grandmother. Joseph worked at the lumber mill in Gibson. Lizzie busied herself having six children. Lizzie’s life wasn’t a long one. She died age 42 in Gibson. Her youngest would have been 12. Joseph died a few years later.

Like I said, there is no Schmitt plot in the Gibson cemetery. Except – according to the notes in my grandmother’s files – there once was an enclosed plot for them. I’m not certain what’s meant by an enclosed plot. But apparently, Joe, Lizzie, sons Ed and Louis and daughter Julia and her husband are all buried in it.

Here’s the thing: Markers aren’t permanent. They have to be maintained. It’s possible I’ve walked past the Schmitt graves without realizing it because the markers are unreadable or the caretaker knocked a mower into them.

Never rely just on markers when doing genealogy research. Look at burial records if they exist. Study old genealogy magazines for grave lists. Sometimes, families couldn’t afford a marker. Other times, markers disappear.

Certainly, the next time I’m in Gibson, I’ll look for an “enclosed plot” with unreadable or missing markers. I’d like to leave some flowers for my vanished relatives.

Early Louisiana, Genealogy tools

Free Stuff Friday: Parish Boundaries Through the Decades

The Atlas of Historical County Boundaries may not sound like the coolest website in the world, but it’s actually pretty nifty.

Current county boundaries – in Louisiana we call them parishes because we’re tres French once you’re a few miles south of Alexandria – evolved over the years. You may think your ancestor always lived in a particular county or parish. But their county/parish probably was carved out of another county/parish.

Louisiana, for example, didn’t always have 64 parishes. After the Louisiana Purchase and statehood, we slowly started divvying up our boot. Before that, parts of Louisiana were known as the German Coast and Attakapas – terms that have largely been lost to time.

You can see Louisiana’s boundaries through the years by visiting the atlas: https://publications.newberry.org/ahcbp/map/map.html#LA


Newspaper articles

In 1919, my great-great grandmother had visitors

Back in the day, you didn’t have to be a debutante or a lady who lunches to make the newspaper society column. Something as ordinary as having company qualified for a mention.

My great-great grandmother was Mrs. Augustin Giroir (nee Elizabeth Montet). In 1919, relatives came to call from Lafourche Parish. I don’t know who the Mrs. Montet and sons were. It may have been her cousin Desire’s wife and sons.

Plug your ancestor’s name into a newspaper engine and see who came to call on them!

Assumption Parish Genealogy, Newspaper articles

A “bitter and aggressive” Irish newspaperman in 1840s Napoleonville

I tumbled down a rabbit hole today in search of a Louisiana newspaper that existed for just a few years in the 1840s. What I found was a “vituperative” Irish newspaperman in 1840s Napoleonville.

Word of the day: Vituperative means bitter and aggressive. More on that in a minute.

“The Star of Assumption” – such an ambitious name for such a short-lived publication – was published by John Keays. Keays lived in Louisiana for nearly 30 years after immigrating from Ireland. He edited several newspapers before publishing “The Star.” He died of a fever in 1844.

As far as I know, no issues of “The Star of Assumption” survive. They were swept into the dustbin of history.

Other newspapers, however, dutifully read the competition and reported on the contents to their own readers.

In April 1843, “the Times-Picayune” reported the launch of the “Star of Assumption” with a writeup by Keays on the state of things in Napoleonville. Apparently, the town boasted a modest number of dwelling houses, a courthouse, a jail, a fire proof brick office, a store, two coffee houses, one billiard table and a religious meeting house. There was no doctor or resident lawyer, but fresh oysters were in abundant supply on a daily basis.

Soon, the newspaper was immersing itself in local politics and sparring with rival publications. Apparently, there was quite a dustup later that year over the removal of a land office from Donaldsonville. “The Baton-Rouge Gazette” sniffed that “the Star of Assumption’s” take on the matter was spirited because of its length – not its import on the matter.

A dispute between “The Baton-Rouge Gazette” and “the Star of Assumption” apparently went beyond reporting on a land office. Also in 1843, the Baton Rouge newspaper took John Keays to task for his “vituperative language against the late editor of this paper.” I don’t know what that language was, but the “Gazette” told Keays “you may foam and rant, friend, but your end will never be like his.”

“The Gazette” was kind in reporting on the “Star’s” demise less than a year later.

What did the “Star” in was a new state law involving the advertisement of sheriff’s sales. I don’t know what the law was – only that it killed rural papers.

Keays removed himself to Texas only to die the same year his newspaper met its demise. Let’s hope he got a glorious end despite the ill wishes of “The Baton-Rouge Gazette.”

Genealogy tools

Free Stuff Friday: Maude Reid’s Scrapbooks

I love the tags for this photo: portraits, mustaches, bus drivers and French Americans. Those sum up this picture of Joseph Cazeaux.

Joseph’s photograph is included in the Historic Photos of Southwest Louisiana in Louisiana Digital Library. The caption says he was a “peppery little driver of the bus from the depot to the town’s hostelries.”

The collection totals 5,000 photographs and documents McNeese State University, Lake Charles and Calcasieu (Lake Charles’ parish). It includes photos collected by public health nurse Maude Reid. In her spare time, Maude gathered photographs, newspaper clippings and other historical records. She pasted them into scrapbooks. Among her photographs was the picture of Joseph.

Thank goodness for amateur historians like Maude, who preserved slice-of-life moments in everyday America.

Here’s another picture captured by Maude. I assume this is a mother with her children. Because they didn’t speak English (probably spoke French), Maude couldn’t find out.

You can tell this photograph was pasted into a scrapbook.

Maude also took pictures of homes, like this one that once stood at 527 Pujo Street in Lake Charles. She snapped this shortly before the house was demolished. It belonged to Mr. and Mrs. S. Arthur Knapp. I looked on Google maps. The lot is vacant with a single surviving tree.

Here’s a baptism in the Calcasieu River. Notice the women’s white dresses.

I love this image of children saying grace at the First Ward School (principal was Mary Belle Williamson), probably because one little girl appears to be peeking at what the other children are doing instead of concentrating on her prayers. I tend to be a little over curious myself.

Here’s Sonya Davidson playing ball.

Finally, here’s Maude at age 3.

In addition to being quite the amateur photographer and scrapbooker, Maude was Calcasieu Parish’s first public health nurse. She established clinics that served the parish’s poor, allowing her to come across the scenes she photographed.

To visit her collection, go to https://louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/mcneese-psl%3Acollection and type her name in the search engine. Enjoy!

Fun facts about Louisiana

Sawmill towns

In the saw mill town of Alco, the mill stopped running in 1945. Saw mill families moved to other saw mill towns. Soon, the only commercial building still in operation was the post office, which hung on until the 1960s.

Ghost towns fascinate me.

I’m not talking about the ghost towns of the Old West with wooden buildings battered by the wind and tumbleweeds blowing across layers of sun-baked dirt. I’m not even sure those towns exist outside “The Brady Bunch.”

What fascinates me are the places that once thrived only to slowly fade away. Places that once had stores selling RC cola and pink frosted gingerbread planks. Places where old people sat on their front porches and watched a very small world pass by. Places where people sang hymns on Sunday mornings and took naps on hot summer days.

The cemetery in Neame has seen better days. It’s hard to believe the town once was home to 500 people. Now all that’s left is an abandoned cemetery.

A lot of ghost towns in Louisiana involve a saw mill.

Lumber companies would build saw mills and construct an entire village around them. My grandmother’s grandparents lived in a Texas saw mill town. Everything was owned by the saw mill, including the workers’ homes. When her grandfather died of a heart attack during his lunch break, the company kindly allowed his widow to live in their humble home until her own death.

Some saw mill towns even had their own schools and cemeteries. The communities tended to be short-lived. Once the mill closed, the town died. People drifted away in search of work.

Saw mill town in Louisiana include: Alco, Ashmore, Barham, Blanche, Carson, Chasmore, Fisher, Holdup, Hutton, Kurthwood, Lecompte, Longleaf, Longville, McNary, Meridian, Neame, Peason, Seiper, Victoria and Ward.

Not all of these are ghost towns. Lecompte is still around and serving fabulous pies at Lea’s.

terrebonne parish

The water-soaked courtship of Emma Mille and Alfred Duperier

This seems awfully grand for a barrier island in the Gulf of Mexico, but this is what a New Orleans newspaper claimed Last Island’s big hotel looked like.

In the summer of 1856, Zoe Emma Mille vacationed on Last Island at the tip of Louisiana with her parents, brothers, sister-in-law and a niece/nephew (the gender’s been lost to history). She was the only member of her party to survive the hurricane that struck the island.

Emma is remembered as the last living survivor of the Last Island hurricane (which hit in the days before hurricanes were named) – and that may be true. She was 97 when she died in 1936.

A year before her death, she shared her story with a New Orleans newspaper.

If you’ve been to Louisiana in July or August, then you can understand the appeal of an island awash in the breeze from the Gulf of Mexico. Located off the coast of Terrebonne Parish, Last Island had a big hotel and privately owned cottages. Emma’s father owned one of those cottages. It was their first time vacationing in it.

They boarded the ferry at Plaquemine and arrived to an island packed with vacationing families. Every cottage seemed to be occupied.

Emma at age 96.

Quickly, though, the Milles started to worry. The waves were too high for wading. The wind was blowing hard. The temperature soared, a light rain began to fall and the wind picked up even more power.

It soon became clear this wasn’t a summer storm. A hurricane was hitting and would rip the island into pieces.

Other cottage occupants fled to the big hotel. The Milles stayed put because the baby was sick. That afternoon, crowded together in one room, they felt the house shake. Then the waves crashed in.

Emma saw her sister-in-law sweep past her. She was clutching her baby. They – along with Emma’s parents and brothers – drowned. Only Emma survived. She was one of the few who drifted back ashore after being washed out to the Gulf.

Another vacationer – Dr. Alfred Duperier – fled the hotel when the hurricane hit and dashed into a cottage, where he tied himself to an armoire. The next morning, he found himself on the beach looking at the ruins of the hotel.

Now an orphan, Emma left the island on the same boat as Dr. Duperier. He carried her in a chair off the ship because she was too weak to walk. Emma stayed with Dr. Duperier’s mother until her brother-in-law could collect her.

Before she left, Dr. Duperier gave Emma a book of religious poems. Inside was a note: “As Divine Providence saved us miraculously, it must be that we were destined for each other.”

He proposed two weeks later.

Newspaper articles

Historical newspapers are a great resource – and you can read some for free.

Reading historic newspapers in Louisiana often requires a command of French. In the mid-1800s, most south Louisiana newspapers were completely in French. Later, newspapers alternated between French and English on the same page to accommodate more readers.

Years ago, Ancestry had a wonderful newspaper database that was included in your subscription price. Then some bean counter told Ancestry to spin that database into a separate subscription service because people would pay extra for it. The bean counter was right.

I subscribe to Genealogy Bank and Newspapers.com. I’m not thrilled about the monthly cost, but I do use them. However, I would much rather donate money to a university digital project that makes historic newspapers free to all.

With that in mind, I came across a fantastic list of which historic newspapers in Louisiana are available for free. Enjoy: https://www.theancestorhunt.com/blog/louisiana-online-historical-newspapers-summary#.YEj-t7CSmUk

Genealogy tools

The most fabulous name in your family tree

There are a lot of unusual names in my family tree, but the winner for the most ridiculous name is probably America Ann Cone Long. Can you imagine going through life with a name like that? You’re Miss America without the swimsuit competition.

Imagine my shock when I discovered my America Ann wasn’t the only America Ann born about that time in Georgia. She wasn’t even the only America Ann Cone born about that time in Georgia. The name must have been trending at the time.

Technically, by the way, if you’re named America then you’re named for Amerigo Vespucci. He’s the guy for whom America is named. Today, America is the 777th most popular girl’s name in the U.S.

It got me to thinking … What’s the most unusual name in your family tree?

Early Louisiana

Free Stuff Friday: Acadians in New Orleans

This was the predecessor to the grand cathedral that now stands in New Orleans’ Jackson Square.

In 1785, seven ships arrived in New Orleans carrying Acadians from France to Louisiana. Not every Acadian arrived in Louisiana via these seven ships, but a lot of them did. Not surprisingly, after a long sea voyage, there were babies to baptize and couples to marry.

The records of those baptisms and marriages can be found in the records for St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. Best of all, they’re available online! Here’s the handy dandy link: https://nolacatholic.org/publication

A word of advice: The spellings are inaccurate. Louisiana was under Spanish control at the time, which meant the priests were Spanish. They didn’t make much of an attempt to use the French spelling of names. As you’ll see below, Marie became Maria even though it was most decidedly Marie. The Acadians didn’t step off the boats and start eating tapas. So, please correct the names to the French version.

The Acadians found in the cathedral’s records include:

Maria Josefa (Josef, Acadian, and Maria Helena JAMETON, native of England), b. Feb. 10, 1790, bn. Dec. 30, 1789, s. Bartholome JAMETON and Sister Maria Josefa, O.S.U., ~bsent, p. Maria Theresa JAMETON (SLC, Bll, 92)


Juana (Luis and Maria, native of St. Malo) married Martin Pitre, Jan. 21, 1786 (SLC, M5, 45)

Eulalia Martina (Abrosio and Maria PITRE), b. Aug. 3, 1785, bn. Jun. 3, 1785, s. Martin NAVARRO, intendant of this province, and Eulalia LIVOAUDAYS VILLARS (SLC, B9, 382)

Joseph (Joseph and Anastasia ANRRY), native of St. Malo in France, m. Isavel LANDRY, Oct. 23,
1785, w. Josef MARTINEZ, Vicente LLORCA (SLC, M5, 41)


Maria (Josef and Margarita RlCHAR), native of St. Malo, m. Juan Pedro CULER, Oct. 23, 1785 (SLC,
M5, 41)

Sofia (Josef and Maria BENOl), native of St. Malo, m. Maturino COMO, Oct. 23, 1785 (SLC, M5,


Servana Juliana (Victor and Juliana RUSURU), native of San Servando, Diocese of St. Malo in
France, m. Jacobo VI LGEMENOL , May 24, 1787 (SLC, M5, 53)


Josef Benoit (Charles and Magdalena MELANZON), native of Be1is1e-en-Mar in France, m. Francisca MONTE, May 3, 1789, w. Charles GAUTRO [@GODREAU], [the groom’s father], A[ntonio]
[XIMENEZ], Josef Benoit GODREAU (SLC, M5, 63)

Juan (A1exandro and Margarita HEBERT), native of St. Malo in France, m. Magdalena PITRE, Jan.
21, 1786, w. Vicente LLORCA, Josef MARTINEZ (SLC, M5, 45)


Mariana (Pedro and Ana Dumond), native of St. Malo, married Luis Antonio Charrier, Dec. 1, 1785 (SLC, M5, 42)


[0 – masc.], tender age, i. Mar. 1, 1787 (SLC, F2, 9)

Cecilia (Estevan and Maria LAVERGNE), native of Normandy in France, m. Vicente NEVEAU, Dec. 2,
1 7 8 5 ( SLC, M5, 4 2 )

Francisco (Pedro and Susana PITRE), native of Pruva1e, Diocese of St. Malo in France, m.
Angela ENRRIQUE, Jan. 3, 1786, w. Vicente LLORCA, Josef MARTINEZ (SLC, M5, 44)

Maria (Pedro and Susana PITRE), native of St. Malo in France, m. Pedro OCUIAN, Jan. 14, 1786
( SLC, M5, 4 5 )

Martin ([], of Malaga and Ana DUGAS), b. Oct. [2?] 5, [1785], s. Gilberto LEONARD and []
(SLC, B9, 3 9 0 )


Jean Baptiste (Maturino and Juana [Rosalia?] DUPONT), native of St. Malo in the province of
Brittany in France, m. [* – Marie?] LEONARD, Oct. 7, 1787, w. Francisco BROUTIN, Gilberto LEONARD, Andres [*] ARMESTO (SLC, M5, 54)


Bonne Maria Adelaide (Germano and Cecilia LAGARELLE), native of Normandy in France, m. Josef LEGEUNE, Nov. 24, 1785 (SLC, M5, 43)

Felipe Ursino (Josef and Ana BUSE), b. Dec. 13, 1789, bn. May 25, 1788, s. Felipe LARRO and Arrieta ROCHE (SLC, Bll, 87)

Isavel (Juan Bautista and Isavel DUGAT), native of St. Malo, m. Joseph DUGAT, Oct. 23, 1785
(SLC, M5, 41)

Maria Magdalena (Renato and Margarita BABIN), native of Sudanton in England, m. Juan RAFFREY,
Dec. 22, 1785 (SLC, M5, 44)

Maturin (Estevan and Brigida TRAJAN), 7 yr., i. Nov. 14, 1790 (SBSB, Fl, 9)

Margarita (Carlos and Magdalena GOD[*]), native of St. Malo, m. Agustin DUN, Dec. 4, 1785 (SLC, M5, 42)

Maria Angela (Josef and Julia TRAHANT), bcs. Nov. 5, 1790, b. previously, bn. Jan. 30, 1790, s.
Simon DOURAICHER and Maria Francisca ROBERT (SLC, B11, Ill)


Maria (Juan and Maria Francisca BOURQUE), native of St. Malo in France, m. Pedro HENRRY, Jan. 12, 1786 (SLC, M5, 44)


Maria (Francisco and Ana DAIGLE), native of St. Malo, m. Jacobo DUBOIS, Nov. 24, 1785 (SLC, M5,
43 )


Pedro (Carlos and Ma[*] TRAHANT), native of Acadia, ffi. Maria HEVERT [@HEBERT], Jan. 14, 1786,
w. Vicente LLORCA, Josef MARTINEZ (SLC, M5, 45)

Alexos (? and Maria HIBERT), native of St. Malo, ffi. Francisca ENRRIQUE[?], Jan. 3, 1786,
w. Vicente LLORCA, Josef MARTINEZ (SLC, M5, 44)


[], m. [] BOUDREAU, [Oct.] 7, 1787 (SLC, M5, 54)

Magdalena (Bachemein and Margarita BUDROT), native of St. Malo, m. Juan GODREAU, Jan. 21,
1786 (SLC, M5, 45)

Maria Francisca (Anselmo and Isavel DUGA) , native of St. []0 in France, m. [ – Carlos?] GODRO,
Jun. 5, 1789 (SLC, M5, 64)

Maria (Claudio and Maria RICH[]), native of Pledian in France, m. Josef BOUDREAU, Jan. 28, 1786 (SLC, M5, 45) Martin (Pablo and []), native of St. Malo, m. Juana DANTEIN, Jan. 21, 1786, w. Vicente

Martina (Tranquilo and Ysavel [*]), b. Aug. 29, 1785, bn. May 31, 1785, s. Josef ~ntonio DE
HOA, first official of the treasury ot the army in this province, and Margarita BROUTIN (SLC,
B9, 382)


Maria (Josef and Margarita RICHARD), native of St. Malo, m. Juan COSET, [* – cir. Dec.] 28,
178 5 (SLC, M5, 4 4)


Martina (Olivero and Maria Aucoin), b. Sep. 27, 1785, s. Martin NAVARRO, intendant of this provice, and Maria LEONARD (SLC, B9, 386) (marginal note: this family belongs to the Acadian families who came here this very year).

Rosa (Carlos and Maria Budrot), native of St. Malo in France, married Juan Mallet, Apr. 29, 1786 (SLC, M5, 47)