1940 US Census:
U.S. Census records are included in the Bayou Pigeon book, but stop at 1930. That is, because when the Bayou Pigeon book was published the US Census data was only public up to 1930. Census records are created every decade by the federal government in order to determine the number of delegates each state may send to the U S Congress. Due to the sensitive nature of census information, the U.S. adopted a 72-year privacy rule (other countries use a 100-year restriction).
The 1940 U.S. Federal Census was conducted using an official census date of April 1, 1940. Therefore all census data specific to an individual was restricted until April 1, 2012. Once the 72-year privacy restriction is met, population schedules are released to the National Archives and Records Administration.
The 1940 US census has been available for about 2 years now and I have spent some time researching it.
I believe the 1940 census is important to Bayou Pigeon, because in 1940 Pigeon was a pure unadulterated Cajun Fishing community, not influenced by outsiders and modern society. The cultural / folklife traditions that the authors of the Bayou Pigeon Book are trying to document and preserve were at their peak. After WWII the French / Cajun Culture & folklife began to be Americanized
1940 census is also personal to me because my wife’s paternal and maternal side of her family ( the Solar's 1933_ Gaudet's 1936) came to Bayou Pigeon. And this is the first official recording of their move to Pigeon and I wanted to document that..
A word about Cajun names in the Census records;
I had to search awhile to find the Solar’s in the actual census records, because their names were misspelled. I have determined that was quite common at / for the Bayou Pigeon census. Not that the names from Pigeon, should be that hard to spell, but because of our Cajun French language and the way pure Cajuns pronounce names, they were frequently misunderstood and therefore misspelled by the census takers who did not speak French and thus did not understand what the people were saying. For example Solar, you would think that should be easy… but in the old days when my Mother in Law would pronounce it; it sounded like ‘So_laa” , which I suppose would sound like ‘Saurage’ to an Anglo, which was the way it was spelled in the 1940 census record.
Keep in mind,
The census workers worked there way down Hwy 75 from Plaquemine house to house, so the order of the families that were recorded does provide some indication of who lived next to who and where eg., it is easy to determine someone who lived at Indigo Bayou… because well known, several families were known to live there and only there, ie., the Blanchard's, almost the entire family lived within eyesight of each other at Indigo, thus if you lived close to the Blanchard's you must have lived at Indigo at one time..
Example, Diane’s (my wife) maternal side of the family, The Gaudet’s are listed right next to the Blanchard's. Corroborating that the Gaudet’s lived at Indigo at one time. Whereas most people remember them only living above the current Grand River_/ Pigeon bridge, where the Gaudet store was located.
The 1940 US Census recorded approximately 100 Heads of Household and 390 souls at Bayou Pigeon.
I start My Census review On Page 49( below), I find two names, I can recognize, Orillion Berthelot and Alger Simoneaux. I surmise that Mr. Orillion Berthelot (house number 474) and Alger Simoneaux, house number 480, lived somewhere between the Bayou Sorrel Lock and Bayou Choctaw.
Can any one help explain and / or verify where they might have been located by these numbers… they are 6 numbers apart.
On Page 50, I pick up names of Bayou Pigeon I can recognize, Mr. Claiborne Landry, in house # 487. Now assume that Mr. Claiborne was living at his farm at Choctaw and Grand River. That would put Mr. Orillion Berthelot and Alger Simoneaux above that residence, since they were at 374 and 480 .
Page 51On Page 51, all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families, most long time residents can recognize. The order seems to match where people remembering everyone living.
However, there is one family with surname of Case. Is this family related to Case family we know of in Plaquemine?
Note Line 42, the first entry is actually Mr. Clement Landry, the Census taker recorded it Claymore Landry. The Pigeon pronunciation s would have sounded 'Clay_Mon' to an Anglo.The census taker at the time was a Mr Warren Hebert from Plaquemine. It seems to me with a name like Hebert, he would have got ' Clement' right. L.O.L.
On Page 53, all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families. The order seems to match where people remembering everyone living. On the very last entry the census recorder , Mr. Warren Hebert was confused he listed Clement Landry a second time, what / who he really meant was Leo Landry.
On Page 54, all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families. The order seems to match where people remembering everyone living. The Census taker must have left the Pigeon area and went back to Plaquemine or White Castle, the last two names are Black people.
Pages 55 - 58 of the census is of another area, the Census recorder returns to the Bayou Pigeon part of the 1940 census picks back up on page 58. Bayou Pigeon Families start again on line 49.
On Page 59, we are the Indigo Bayou area, eg., the Blanchard's , and the Gaudet's and others. My mother in law, Ms Beulah Gaudet Solar, 92 years young is on line 37.
On Page 60, we are still the Indigo Bayou area, eg., the first name on the list is a carry over from page 59 Ms. Shirley Gaudet, who recently passed this year. She was the pillar of the Gaudet store. This is where the Solar family name is misspelled, line 42. It is Solar, not Saurage, how could the census taker mess up that bad, maybe old Man Casamire and his wife Lucy did not talk any English.
On Page 61, the census taker is still on the west side Grand River going in order toward the current Bayou Pigeon bridge. By recognizing the sequence of recording you can connect the dots on where people lived. Line # 26 is Mr. Felix Berthelot 14 years old.