Thursday, April 23, 2020

There Once was a Girl

I made up a song for my grand daughter when she was born, its not great but it put her to sleep and as I sang it to her I realized I was doing the same thing my ancestors once did. Passing down history through song. I tell her its the story of her. I thought about it last night as I was singing it to her, what if I wrote it down and illustrated it for her. She could have her own little book forever.

So, Stella Lucille, here is the story of you.

There once was a girl in a land far away, far across the sea, an ocean away. This little girl had dreams so big. Her name was Catra as Catherine was too big. Catra grew up in old Germany, there she met a boy, Jacob  was he. They got married and began a family. One day Jacob says he, Catra lets go across the sea to a land of opportunity.

So, they got on a ship and sailed across the sea to the land of opportunity. New York was where they first came ashore, but that was long before. From New York they bought a thing called a Prairie Schooner, it would sail upon the land so sooner they would be in that place they dreamed to be.

Hardship, she doth prevail, wilderness and vast empty land, and only time would tell when where and how they would dwell.

Life continued for many months when Catra tells Jacob we must soon stop for a baby was coming and they must prepare. Soon they came to a place called Ohio, Jacob stops there it reminds him of home in Gros. So, there a babe was born and was named Margaret called Maggie.

Years go by in contentment. But one day Jacob hears of a new settlement of Germans just like them in a place called Mount Pleasant. They loaded up their schooner yet once again and traveled the land to the Missouri.

While in Missouri Jacob heard tales of a land where it was always warm and Oranges did grow. Jacob told Catra, here we must go.

They took that prairie schooner yet again and sailed it down a mighty river called the Mississippi.
Oh the sights they did see, Indians, animals, and things yet unseen.

One day as it was retold to me, Catra and Jacob came to a place of a great orange grove at the mouth of the river. Jacob did look around and say, here it is the place I've dreamed to be.

Here we will stay forever. And forever it be.

This my dear is the story of you, from Catra came Maggie, then James and Lucille, then Gaynelle, and Michelle, on to Alyssa and finally you. Stella Lucille, this is the story of you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

It's a Pandemic, Our Ancestor's Would Say, Been There Done That

I previously wrote a blog post about my family and the 1905 yellow fever outbreak Louise and The Last Yellow Fever Outbreak, New Orleans 1905. I can remember my grandmother talking about the 1918 pandemic, she was only 4 but it made a lasting impression on her life. She grew up in New Orleans and in September the headlines read “No Danger of Spanish Influenza Epidemic Here.” They were soon to see how wrong this was. It kind of reminds me of today and the COVID-19 outbreak.
The very day the news printed those ill fated headlines a ship docked in the port carrying with it at least a dozen sick including the ships doctor. The illness quickly spread, churches, theaters and schools were closed. Large gatherings were banned, weddings put on hold. All this seems eerily familiar today. They waited too late to close restaurants, bars and to limit the numbers on streetcars. One news article asks people to cough or sneeze into a handkerchief, cautioning that everyone had to be vigilant to contain the spread. A list of Don't was posted:
  • If You Don't Want It? 
  • Don't Crowd
  • Don't Put Unclean Things In Your Mouth
  • Don't Eat or Drink in Dirty Places 
  • Don't Eat Without Washing the Hands
  • Don't Get Cold or Wet
  • Don't Over Exert
  • Don't Go Out if You Feel Ill
It was also stated that to wear a gas mask as such that the Red Cross was providing would be the worst thing a young woman of fashion could do. "And for men it would be hard to attract a girl while wearing one. Even a plain girl". Oh my word! The hospitals were overwhelmed and many died at home without medical attention.  By October the Headlines were reading "Not the ordinary flu" They were right this flu was not a human influenza virus but more closely resembled an avian flu. They began warning people if they had a three day fever they had the Spanish Flu.
My grandmother's family still relied on a cistern and she recalled how they worried their water would get tainted. She remembered the masks people wore and the quiet of the times. Her mother became pregnant with her last child during this time. I imagine she had quite a bit of fears for herself and her unborn child.
A year later when all was said and done New Orleans had more deaths per capita than other cities in the U.S. due to the Spanish Flu. They waited too long to implement social distancing. These were the people who had to live with the yellow fever each year prior to 1905, they should have known to take cover? Right?  What changed between 1905 and 1918?
So when you are complaining today about being stuck indoors during quarintine, remember lessons from the past. Louisiana closed their schools right away, set up social distancing rules, they  do not want a repear of 1918.

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!