Saturday, October 27, 2018

When an Ancestor Fabricated their Lineage.... A Hundred Years of Lies

I am probably going to receive some negative feed back from those who are hard core believers in what they feel is the true story. But none the less, this issue needs to be discussed. Sometimes our ancestor's lied.

Why did they do it? Many reasons, money, shame, family feuds, murder, or just because there were things they were trying to hide or cover up. In my family's case it had to do with money. Choctaw settlement money to be exact. You can guess just from that pretty much how this story is going to go. Someone wanted to get the money the government was handing out to those with Choctaw blood. So began the tale of fabricated relations to the Choctaw tribe.

My great great grandfather was an upstanding citizen, a Civil War Veteran, a lawyer, a college professor, a newspaper owner as well as an author. He was also a fabricator of a Choctaw heritage that has fooled so many and still does today. People have included his information in books and swear they have seen documented proof that it is true. They indicate that since he started the Mississippi Society of Choctaws he must have been telling the truth. He was questioned by an agent from Washington and he claimed that he was the Captain and the recognized leader of all Choctaw outside of Oklahoma, and that it was his influence on Senator Pat Harrison that had the Choctaw Cases reopened in the State of Mississippi. He himself was a Choctaw claimant as well as being employed by  Crews and Cantwell in writing claims for other Choctaw claimants and receiving payment for. He challenged the legitimacy of blood as a marker of Choctaw identity to discredit the full blood rule. He was ordered to appear in the hearings before the Subcommittee of the Committee on Indian Affairs due to his association with Crew and Cantwell.

But what they fail to see is the many flaws in his story.

1.In the book he wrote, he gave his lineage thoroughly, and not once did he mention a Choctaw line.

2. His family came from North Carolina to Mississippi in the early 1820's. How can they be Choctaw? If they were from North Carolina they would be Cherokee.

 3. Dawes testimonies show there was no lineage as does the Court of Indian Affairs.

No Turner Ward; No Socretia. People today are still just as hungry to claim a descent from the Choctaws, but for different reasons, that they overlook all the evidence that sits plainly before them.
Sometimes our ancestors lied, it is up to a good family detective to discern the truth.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Juan de Cuevas tomb restoration project

We are lucky here on the Gulf Coast to have many historic cemeteries where we can visit the ancestors who built the Coast. From the ancient vaults in New Orleans to the historic cemeteries of Biloxi and Bay St. Louis, there are many very old and decrepit tombs and vaults. New Orleans has a committee called Save Our Cemeteries that helps with the restoration and upkeep of many of the tombs. While we here on the Ms Coast do not have such a committee, a group of concerned descendants of Juan de Cuevas have gotten together to restore his tomb. As a founding father of  one of the leading families in South Ms, he deserves to be remembered and honored as such. Restoring a tomb isn't easy nor is it cheap and these  concerned descendants are asking for help in funding this project. As my husband and children are descended from Juan de Cuevas and his wife Marie Helene Ladner several times over, this is a project near and dear to my own heart. After all if we do not stop and preserve today a historic relic from 1849, how can we expect our future generations to follow our example and continue to hold sacred those who have gone before us. Please consider donating to this fund Restoration of Juan de Cuevas and Marie Ladner Tomb  
Any contribution would be greatly appreciated and I will update the progress of the restoration project as it happens.

Photo Credits to Ravyn Blue

Read more about Juan de Cuevas and Cat Island here Cat Island Remembered
Or buy this awesome book by John Cuevas on Amazon Cat Island the History of a Mississippi Gulf Coast Barrier Island  or Discovering Cat Island: Photographs and History

On a historical note, here is an advertisment for Franklin J.  Cuevas book about Juan de Cuevas.
Sun Herald page 3 November 13. 1986

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Much ado over a pew

 Ancestors and their foibles: Much ado over a pew
I was recently reading through a book Mississippi Provincial Archives, 1701-1729, French Dominion, Dunbar Rowland and Albert Sanders.
In it I came across a funny little story about my husbands ancestor, (well a grand aunt of) one Jeanne Louise Trudeau. One of the Pelican girls who arrived in Biloxi with her parents Etienne Burel and Marie Marguerite Roussel, to marry the settlers. Jeanne married Francois Trudeau.

As it goes in 1723 the Capuchin priests in New Orleans were given a house to use as a church. The parishioners brought their own chairs to hear Mass said or stood. The parishioners petitioned the priest to make pews and to sell them to earn money for improvements on the church. They did this and made an announcement that they would be sold on the 14th of the month. It was said that then Mrs. Trudeau wife of the carpenter and mother in law to the cashier wished to distinguish herself and when she saw the first pews had been taken, asked for a closed one. She was denied. She put up a ruckus, contacting a Mr. Perry saying "it was unheard of that these priests should have done a thing like that without having obtained the written permission of the Council, that it was necessary to have these pews taken out and that it was not right that certain persons should be above others because they had been first at the awarding" Perry agreed with her reasoning and went to the priest about it. The priests in turn upset over the issue went to other officials to complain and were told to continue as they were. Mr. Perry determined to get his way then complained to the priests Superior only to be told that the pews had been paid for and who was going to pay to have them removed? The Superior then said, "but that one saw clearly that a woman here had more influence than an honest man since she made them change their minds, that he had no ground to complain, that the first pew had been reserved for his wife and his family, that indeed since their arrival in this town they had not been seen at mass at all, that he, Perry, had not yet at that very time taken the Sacrament and that he was not surprised if he was not inclined to the welfare of the church."

Madam Trudeau did not get her way apparently.  

Monday, June 25, 2018

Echoes of Time-Treasures from the Past

People don't realize how much time and effort is involved in genealogical research. I have spent so many hours of my life researching the lives of not only my family but those of complete strangers. Every summer I intend to work on my book of Gulf Coast families. But every summer I am distracted by some other project. This time it literally fell in my lap. I was contacted by David Nanney and asked if I would be willing to take on the care of a 112 year old school annual from Saucier High School that was in bad shape. Holy Cow! You know I said yes!  I intend to have it copied and bound and hopefully add the lineages of the students listed.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Strawberry baskets for Easter

Today when you buy strawberries they come in a clear plastic container, but years ago they came in little green square baskets. You knew you were to never throw these baskets away because Maw Maw saved them. On Easter day we would go visit her at her house to see what the Easter Bunny had left for us there. There on the dining room table would be the strawberry baskets, transformed with ribbon woven through them and Easter grass inside with a sugar spy egg and a chicken that would lay jelly bean eggs. Maw Maw would say come look at your little nest the rabbit left you.She always called it a nest never a basket. Apparently that is what they called it as she was a child growing up in New Orleans.  We would Oooh and ahhh over our nest for awhile as the adults drank their coffee and ate homemade lemon pound cake. Then we would head out to find our eggs. I always remember one year that I had a loose tooth that I wouldn't let anyone pull and we were running to get our eggs and I tripped and hit my chin and my tooth fell out and I swallowed it. My grandmother took me inside and gave me a piece of bread to eat, saying this would stick to the tooth so it would come out later.
Happy Easter!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Google Earth fun

Every now and then I go along through the streets where my families have lived and if you are lucky you can find the homes where your loved ones lived. Today I decided to screen shot the homes of my loved ones to save for future generations who would never see these places told about many years later. I go to my grandmother's house and as I am traveling down the familiar street, I come to their house and in the driveway, is my mother's vehicle. I had to laugh. because this had to be on a Tuesday when she comes to get my Aunt to do some shopping or on a Saturday when she comes to get her for church. How funny that I captured one of these precious moments as well.

Maudlin March

The definition of Maudlin for those of you who may not know:
adjective: maudlin
self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental, often through drunkenness.

"the drink made her maudlin"

synonyms:sentimental, over sentimental, emotional, overemotional, tearful, lachrymose
However I am not drunk as I write this, just that March makes me extremely sentimental. My birthday falls in March and no its not about getting older, its that my much beloved grandmother's birthday was exactly five days before mine and we always celebrated together. I guess it also started with my being seven years old and twenty one days before my eighth birthday visiting my paternal grandparent's and my grandfather sitting in his chair teasing me clicking his silver lighter open and making the flame appear just as I would approach and then run giggling away, he would close it and wait for me to approach again and then flick it back to life. I can still see him hunched over lighter in hand spectacles on his nose, cuts on his work worn hands, smile on his face, the next day my mother sent the neighbor to pick me up from school and instead of taking me home she took me to my mother's parents. I knew something was wrong but no one would tell me. I can still remember getting out of the car and my grandmother standing there to greet me and her telling me that my grandfather had died and my parent's were at the hospital with my grandmother still. How, I remember thinking, he was just there yesterday. That was twenty days before my eighth birthday and forty one years later it still sticks with me every March 8th. The things that burn themselves into your memory, certain smells, sounds or actions come back to haunt you years later.
 So, today with my grandmother's birthday fast approaching, I find myself feeling maudlin, and even volunteered to cut the yard to be able to be alone with my thoughts and the smell of fresh cut grass,  while memories flooded through my mind like a film reel, seeing wildflowers popping up all over and the azaleas in bloom with the bridal wreath full of their white blooms. I was suddenly 8 years old all over again and  in my minds eye, picking those blooms for my grandmother whom I called Maw Maw. She would always take them wrap the stems in a moist paper towel and put them in the kitchen window. It wasn't until years later that my Aunt confided in me that I was actually giving them to the wrong person, while my Maw Maw may admire them for their prettiness it was my Paw Paw who truly felt their true beauty. He was a gardener as were most folks of his time, but he also had an affinity for pansies and petunias and planted them all over the yard.
I was listening to music as I cut grass and of course it being March felt the need to play Celtic Women, and they sing the song Ave Maria on their cd and I had forgotten that and suddenly it begins to play and here I am cutting grass with my headphones on and singing to the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face as I am now seeing myself in the church with  my grandparents, I was very small because my grandfather was holding me and I had white sandals on my feet. I was watching the alter boys and the song was being sung. Again I am an adult and sitting behind my grandparents in the pew and hearing Mack singing the song while my child was sitting in Paw Paw's lap. Then again as I stood angry and bitter at death, whilst Mack sang again just for my grandfather, as he had requested, as I cried gasping for breath whilst his coffin lay before us in the church and my husband patted my back worriedly. For although this had not happened in March or no where near that, it always still happens that these memories should come upon me during this time. Which is why I have taken to calling it Maudlin March.
Maw Maw and I were both middle children she would tell me confidentially that we were alike, that we both had the same feelings of never being the good one, always being the one who caused trouble and inadvertently often did. She was always the one who I felt truly understood me. She and I both had to grow up having birthdays that fell during Lent and often times our birthdays fell on a Friday and sometimes on Good Friday. How many times she made me a birthday cake that she herself couldn't eat because she had given sweets up for Lent? I can remember right before she passed away that we had a discussion on whether her birthday had ever fallen on Easter since mine had fallen on Good Friday, and she said the year before she was born in 1913 it would again in 2008, she died that December after in 2002 before that could happen. Mine falls on Easter in the year 2027, I'll be 58.
I am now writing this and of course, I am crying. Memories that I refuse to let go of haunt me today. Why as humans do we do this to ourselves? But in truth it is our memories and our emotions that make us human. So this Friday, I will cry yet again, and think of the woman whom I loved so very much. I will go visit her grave and place there a shiny dime. It was always my childhood gift to her, because in her time a dime was real silver and could buy so much more and she had once told me that as a girl she would be happy to get a dime as a gift, so I began to give her dimes instead of wildflowers and most importantly whilst there I will thank her and my grandfather both for the memories.