Wednesday, December 2, 2020

A new look at the 1940 U.S. Census of Bayou Pigeon

 Shining a  Light On  and  Saving Bayou  Pigeon Cultural Memory  and History of Our  Community.

The 1940 U.S.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 very cultural / folklife traditions  that the Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association is trying to document and preserve were dominant .  

Back in 1940, Federal census takers were instructed to record information about all those who lived in each household on the census day. A census taker might have visited a house on a later date, but the information he collected was supposed to be about the people who were in the house on the census day. 

Another thing, the census workers worked there way  down Hwy 75  from Plaquemine, so the order of the families  were recorded does provide  some indication of who lived next to who.

Cajun French names in the  census prone to misspellings by English only speakers, ie. The way Cajun people pronounce names, eg.  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 census record. 

Another example, was Mr. Felician Berthelot,  the English version would be Felix. But that is not close to how  the old  folks at Pigeon use to say it,   Felician _ ‘fay le se ain’.  The way old  Cajun people say names is another reason  Bayou Pigeon is so unique and special.

So if you look at the actual census record I have provided, and cannot find a name  look closely  at all names in the listing in with the head of Household.  Then you can usually figure things  out. 

Listed below are the actual data  sheets  from the LA., Iberville Parish , Police Jury Ward 8 outside Plaquemine town, Crescent  Enumeration District…24-21 … 1940 US census.  

Census pages  from #49  - 60 are on the East side of Grand River somewhere  from the Bayou Sorrel locks and the end of Hwy 75., ie. the “End of the World.’ 

Seeing the names of your relatives is satisfying, They are gone, but you  feel like I can still touch them !!!!!

I have tried to provide this data in best resolution as possible, so that if you have  some  computer skills …you can enlarge your screen  and read  the names as they were recorded. 

Why should  you want to take the time to review these 1940 records -

1. It took a long time to put this together, longer than most people have the time  to do..

2. Knowing your community / family history will make  you feel good when you begin to think your community, is going in the right direction, ie, The  Bayou Pigeon  Heritage  Association.

3. You will know you are a part of a  community; 

4. It is proven People like to feel  connected. Just look  at the  success of FACEBOOK!

5. Knowing your history is good for the heart.

6. In 1940 , there  were 100 Heads of Household and 390 souls at Bayou Pigeon. 

This Census overview  starts On Page 49 of the  LA., Iberville Parish , Police Jury Ward 8 outside Plaquemine town, Crescent  Enumeration District…24-21census.

There we find two recognizable names of  Bayou Pigeon Families, Mr. Orillion Berthelot and Alger Simoneaux.  

At that time 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.  (Hwy  404)

If any one help can verify  that, please  contact me.

Moving on to Page 50, I pick up other names of  Bayou Pigeon residents  I can recognize.  Mr. Claiborne Landry, in house # 487.  Now assume  that Mr. Claiborne may be living at his  farm  at Choctaw and Grand River.   That is the  foundation  for the logic, that would put Mr. Orillion Berthelot and Alger Simoneaux  are above / north of   that residence, since they were at 374 and  480 .  

Earnest Hebert at #488.  I am told  That Earnest Hebert  and family lived  just above where the current Bayou Pigeon fire station is located now.

Note  all the people from line 44 to 72, have occupations  other than fishing.  I wonder where this group  was  actually located.  

Anyone got  any clues ? I think they were located between where the current Bayou Sorrel Locks and Choctaw Bayou near Hwy 404.  Which neither was there in 1940.

All interesting questions ?

Moving on to  Page 51, all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families, most natives can recognize.  The order seems to match where Mr. Felix  Berthelot  and J.C. Berthelot remembering  

On this page  we start to see the descendants of  Anatole  Berthelot family 

However, there is one  family with surname of  Case.  Is this  family related to Case  family  we know of in Plaquemine?

On Page 52, all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families

There  was no Bayou  Pigeon names on Page 53.  On page 54 mostly all recognizable Bayou Pigeon Families.  The Census taker must have left the Pigeon area and went back to Plaquemine or White Castle, the last two names are Black people housing order is out of  sync.

The Bayou Pigeon part of the census records starts  again on page 58.

On Page 58, Bayou Pigeon Families start again on line 49. The last line# 80 we go toward Indigo Bayou… because that’s where Mr. Archie Settoon, lived… half way from current Bayou  Pigeon Bridge and Indigo Bayou. You see… you can now begin to connect the dots…it all makes sense.  

You can  also see that groups of  Families that were related lived in  clusters.  


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, who recently passed 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.  The Gaudet's lived  at Indigo Bayou before they moved to the Old Gaudet  store  area.  

This is here my  spouse's family is listed, 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. More than  likely census recorder mistakenly  took the way they would have pronounced the  name in  cajun French,  ‘So – lage’ as  Saurage .

The census taker must have left Indigo Bayou and went to across Grand river at the confluence with little Bayou Pigeon. The last names on the page are Devillier Daigle and Evelyn Vaughn, who were know to live near Ms. Clementine Michel on  Little Bayou  Pigeon.

On Page 61, the census taker is on the west side Grand River going in order from  Little Bayou  Pigeon  toward the current Bayou Pigeon bridge. By recognizing the sequence of recording you can connect the dots on where people lived. 

On Page 62, The Bayou Pigeon Census ends. 

The census taker is still on the west side Grand River and I am not quite sure of the location of the last two folks on the page, Mr. Dewey Vaughn and Mr. Aurlie Berthelot, that would have them be the  last two recorded  folks.

The last name on that page must not be from Pigeon, because the occupation is listed as a farmer. 

1940 was an important year for Bayou Pigeon,  WW II was about to start,  after the war and by the end of the decade, the cultural / folklife traditions  that we are trying to document, preserve and protect started  to disappear with the Americanization of Bayou Pigeon.

The 1940 U.S. Federal Census was conducted using an official  census date of April 1, 1940. 

All census data specific to an individual is restricted by Federal Law there  for 72-years  for privacy reasons.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Gaudet’s of Bayou Pigeon, LA

Bayou  Pigeon Heritage 

All Cajuns  Are Related 

 The Gaudet Families  at  Bayou  Pigeon

What do we / you know of the past?  Our past?

The history of area and  / or family  does not stay alive on its own. Left unattended history fades away from the memory of people. 

At best, some of the infamous stories survive, but continually moves further away from the truth. A family without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.

Family documents and pictures preserve important family stories and memories, the stories that bring a family tree to life. 

“Where did I come from”?

 "You live as long as you are remembered." 

“ You are what survives of  you”  

“ Family pictures are magic mirrors, like a Ghost from The Past  Speaking  To You”.

Origin of  South Louisiana  Names

Many of the common family names of south-central  Louisiana (Acadiana) have their origins  12  and 13 century Europe.  Typically, they were taken /or  given to describe the persons place of residence , occupation, fathers name, or physical characteristics of him. Some of their names  were  corrupted  in their  spelling,  with  some French names being anglicized and  some  English names Gallicized.

Gaudet  name = Gallic , little Gaud (ruler)

Gaudet  Family  in  Louisiana : The Beginning:

Jean Gaudet or Godet  born at Martaizé, south of the Loire valley in France, in c1575.  
Came to Acadie ( Novia Scotia, North  America) aboard the ship St.-Jehan in 1636 with three children from his first marriage.  Françoise, age 13, Denis, age 11, and Marie, age 3. 

In 1652, at age 77, Jean remarried to 45-year-old Nicole Colleson, probably a widow, at Port-Royal.  She gave him another son.  In the first census of the inhabitants of Acadia, that of 1671, the census taker noted that Jean Gaudet was "the oldest inhabitant of Port-Royal ..., the venerable doyen of the colony ... then aged ninety-six years."  

Father Archange Godbout of  Acadia  (Novia  Scotia), described Jean Gaudet as the Abraham of Acadia, because of his numerous descendants." Jean was the ancestor of 10% of the little Acadian settlement, in  Nova  Scotia, with his three  sons and two daughters, 22 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. 

Le Grand Derangement : Exile  to Louisiana  And Other Destinations

Gaudets were some of the earliest Acadians who found refuge in Louisiana.  Four families, a wife, and a widow--13 Gaudets in all--reached New Orleans from Halifax in 1765.  They settled at Cabanocé/St.-Jacques on the river above New Orleans where 20 Acadians from Georgia had settled the year before.

  The area soon became known as the Acadian Coast. 

Gaudet’s of  Bayou  Pigeon - The Patriarch, Joseph  Gaudet Generation 6 

Joseph Gaudet arrived in New Orleans, Dec 1766, with wife Marguerite in his household. 
In the St.-Jacques, LA. (St. James) census of 1777,  on the Mississippi River, Joseph Gaudet age 38, he lived with  his wife Marguerite age 33, sons Jean age 10, Joseph age 2, daughters Rozallie age 13, & Marie age 5; 

Two years  later, in the St.-Jacques census, 1779, Joseph was listed again, along with 7 other unnamed whites, 2 slaves, 6 qts. rice, 10 qts. Corn. 

At age 57, he re-married  (2) Marie-Marguerite, called Marguerite, widow of Germain Bergeron, 21 Nov 1796, she  the daughter of Bénoni Leblanc & Marguerite Hébert.
Sometime after  1779,  Joseph moved south along Bayou Lafourche corridor. He continued  to mover further south to Assumption Parish , Plattenville, LA. Over time, more Cajuns continued  to move east,  closer  and  closer  to the vast  Atchafalaya  Swamp. They recognized the vast natural resources  that existed in the Atchafalaya River Basin were easier to harvest than  eking out a living farming.  

For more information on why /how the Cajuns moved to the  Pierre Part / Belle  River check out the blog  story:

Jean Gaudet (7th) The  Son  Of  Joseph Gaudet (6th)  b 1767

Pierre  Gaudet 8 (The  Son  Of Jean Gaudet (7th)   b 1738  

Great Grandfather of Wallace  Gaudet  and  the Great Great Grandfather Narcisse  Gaudet families of  Bayou Pigeon

Pierre  Gaudet and Delphine Stoute  Gaudet  are buried  in the Cemetery  at  Belle  River,  LA. 

In 1840,  when  Pierre  and  Delphine  were married there were only 10 Gaudet families living in Louisiana. That  was 100% of all the recorded Gaudet's in the USA. By 1920 there were 100 Gaudet families living in Louisiana. This was about 36% of all the recorded Gaudet's in the USA. Louisiana had the highest population of Gaudet families in 1920. 

Today the Gaudet family name is found in the USA, the UK, and Canada.

Diane  Solar  LeGrange at the grave  site of her Maternal
 Great Great Grandfather and Great Great Grandmother

Diane Solar LeGrange  Maternal Pedigree

Francis Numa Gaudet (10th)  b1862 – d 1937;  The  Son Of Pierre Gaudet (8 th)  b 1738

1910 Us  census  

Numa Gaudet occupation  was listed  as a  swamper  and his son Wallace  occupation was  simply listed as  ‘pull boat’, which meant he was  working in industrial  Cypress Timber Camps.

Numa Gaudet and his  spouse  Victoria are  Buried in  Belle  River,  LA

Wallace and Celestine, Gibson, Johnson, Emmeline & Ed  1922

Wallace  Gaudet – Son of  Numa  Gaudet

Wallace Gaudet spoke both French and English. He had a basic education, and he could read and write. He  attended  school at Pierre Part in the very early 1900’s.  Special  Note :  Wallace’s future  wife Celestine went to the same  school. 

Mr. Wildy Templet, renowned historian of Pierre  Part related to me  that after the  Timber Camps  went  away.  

Wallace Gaudet operated a fruit  stand / misc. grocery business along  Pierre Part  Bay. In those days people set up a  booth type store  front on the water and  sold  goods to people traveling  by boat in the waterways. Waterways were the highways in that era.

When the great Depression came in 1929, most of those small businesses went away, there were no jobs  and no money. 

Around 1930, Wallace with 3 other Cajun Families, Joseph Daigle, Cashmere  Solar, Durcroseille  Blanchard  moved their families to  the interior of the  Atchafalaya  Swamp, Catfish Bayou  area on Grand Lake.  In search of less crowded fishing waters.  There they eked out  an existence of living off the land. They literally had to catch, kill, or grow their  next meals. Selling off any surplus of fish and  game and picking moss to earn  whatever money they had.

Wallace  and family remained at Bayou Catfish for approximately 5 - 6 years where sometime in 1936  Wallace moved his family from Catfish Bayou / Grand Lake  to the Indigo Bayou hamlet in Bayou Pigeon.  The final reason  for abandonment  of center of the swamp was Celestine was  about to give birth  to Shirley, her ninth  child  and the family  moved  for the birth.

There were other reasons as  well for  the move, the  new Atchafalaya  Floodway  levees   were  almost complete, and  the Corp of Engineers  would be closing access from Little Bayou  Pigeon into Grand River. Cutting off easy boat traffic  from the interior of the  Swamp to  the inhabited  communities of Bayou Pigeon, Belle River  and  Pierre Part. 
Swampers  were being told if you stayed in the interior to prepare for extreme floods.  
In 1933 a shell road  was  completed from Bayou Sorrel to  the Bayou  Pigeon School.  A modern road from Plaquemine to Bayou  Pigeon. Which provided road access to hospitals  and town. 

Many of the swamp dwellers  did not want to move   from the only living they knew, ie.,  following the resources of the  swamp. In the end, many families did  not move  very far, they moved to communities on the edge of the new  levees.  The  Cajun French  speakers migrated  to Bayou  Pigeon, Belle  River, Pierre Part  and  Stephenville.

Wallace loaded  all his  worldly belongings on a wooden barge and made the  trip to Bayou  Pigeon.  There he reassembled his house (not much more than  4  walls) at Indigo Bayou on the west side of the road, i.e. between the road and the Borrow Canal. His last two children; Shirley and Hilda were born there.

When Wallace Gaudet moved to Indigo Bayou , Gipson, Johnson, Raymond, and Ed were still at home. The Gaudet  boys were expected to work and contribute to household income and the two older girls Emmeline and Beulah were to help their mother with the household chores and two youngest girls, at that time Veri and Mildred went to the Bayou Pigeon School.  

Between 1945 and 1947 Wallace’s, oldest son Gipson, and his third son Ed, bought  the Cleveland (Bee) Landry Grocery Store. The store was about 1.2 miles in distance from Indigo Bayou in Bayou Pigeon. The store was between the road and Borrow Pit Canal. 

Wallace and Gip would travel to the  store by boat until they purchased an old truck. 

Sometime after the Gaudet’s  purchase  the  store, Wallace and  sons took apart their old house at Indigo Bayou. The house was reassembled / added on to and located  on the eastern  side of the hwy. 75  across  from the Gaudet  Store.

Gip  married and moved to Pierre Part and pursued  Timber  and Oil field  work but kept his share  of store ownership. Gip went on to be a prominent resident of Pierre part, becoming the first Volunteer  Fire Chief.

The store was a typical country general store, they kept many of the supplies needed for country living. Large sacks of flour, coffee, coal oil for lamps, feed for animals. The store also bought fish and moss from  people. In the 1940’s most people came to store by boat.

The Gaudet’s added a  barroom / dancehall  to the grocery store.

One-Of-A-Kind Delivery Service

The Gaudet family provided a one-of-a-kind service to their customers. Each morning  Shirley  Gaudet  would take the old green truck and make the round to all the houses on the route and take orders. Return to the store place the goods in bags or boxes and then make the deliveries, every day but Sunday. 

The Gaudet Store customer base was south from the store to Indigo Bayou, on both sides of the road. They did not cross Grand River to deliver groceries. 

At a time when very few people  at Bayou  Pigeon had a automobile, this was a great service to residents of Bayou Pigeon. People purchased  most of their groceries, every day and only bought what they needed for the day, i.e.., no refrigeration! 

Shirley Gaudet was the ‘pillar’ of the Gaudet grocery store doing all the heavy lifting of taking the daily orders, packing the groceries in the bags, and delivering. She was known for carrying 100-pound sacks of animal feed from the truck to the steps of each house.

Shirley and Wallace ran the grocery store and Ed Gaudet ran the Bar and Dancehall, there were live bands on Saturday night. Even then Shirley took care of  many of the customers,  folks  remember Shirley opening the store after the dance to fix lunch meat sandwiches for the customers who needed something to take them home. 

First Reel to Reel  Movies at Bayou Pigeon

In the late 1940’s and early 50’s Mr. Adam Landry and his  cousin Jim  Landry  related that the first movie they ever saw  was at  the  Gaudet dancehall.  Ed rented  a reel to reel movie machine and screen and showed the first movies in Bayou Pigeon. The adults sat on benches and chairs and the kids sat on soda bottle cases or on the floor. They were charged 25 cents to watch a movie.

1958 An Inflection  point in Bayou  Pigeon  Heritage
In  1958 the  state of  Louisiana paved the gravel  road  from  Bayou Sorrel  to Bayou  Pigeon. 

Unintended  Consequences , the road  ushered  in a modern  highway  travel  and  sped  up the end of the  local  grocery  store.  

It so happens that parts of the  Gaudet store, Bar and Dancehall  were partially in the roadbed  and had to be moved.

Plot Layout of the  Gaudet Store, Bar and Dancehall  1958 by LA DOTD

It was moved  directly across the  road  from the old store.

Gaudet  Bar & Dance Hall  and Relocated  Grocery Store c 1960’s

Wallace  Gaudet  passed  in 1961 and never worked in the Grocery  store  when it was on the  east side of  Hwy. 75. The body viewing (wake) was  done at his house and the body was never left  alone until the burial. 

Shirley, Hilda and  Anite  worked in the  grocery  store after Wallace passed and  Ed Gaudet operated the  Bar and Dancehall.  Hilda retired  from  working in store  when she got married in  1962.

The Gaudet Store ,Bar & Dance Hall,  closed permanently in the 1964-65-time frame.

About  Wallace  Gaudet,  b 1889 – d 1961; pronounce ‘Wa_les’ (emphasis  on both  syllables)

Wallace  was the typical Cajun man ,  i.e. children lived at home until they married. Wallace  was living at home at 20 years old working in the Cypress Timber camps  in the  Pierre Part / Belle River area. Wallace must have married shortly  after 1910, after marriage we surmise, he  transformed to a retail merchant, along  Pierre Part Bay which  set the stage  for his eventual entrance into the grocery store business at Bayou  Pigeon. 

Wallace  was the typical Cajun Husband  / father,  i.e. men made all major decisions in their home.  When the Gaudet family pulled up stakes  in Pierre Part  and moved to Catfish Bayou on Grand Lake  we  are sure he made the decision. In those times Cajun men  did not put a lot of emphasis on  formal education.  They emphasized the teaching of swamper  skills  for the boys and participation in the activities of the kinship network. Domestic skills  for the girls was left to the mother.  

A side note it was not until 1916  that school attendance up to age fifteen became compulsory, and then the law was not rigorously enforced until 1944.  While living in the interior of the Atchafalaya Basin, Wallace Gaudet’s older children  did not have  opportunity  for school.

Wallace is buried in Pierre Part, SJPP cemetery.

About Celestine  Hebert  Gaudet  b 1895 – d 1973 ; pronounce ‘Tine” ( shorten)

Cajun  women of  Celestine’s day were to be virgins  when they married.  They were to bring up their female children to respect and follow heritage and traditions. She was to keep the children fed  with delicious meals and  clean clothes.  Her house was to be spotless  with fresh linens.  Cooking utensils  were to be  neatly organized  and in place  when not in use. Children  were not  allowed to sit on beds.
By way of her children  and Grandchildren we can say  with certainty, that Celestine managed to do all those things very  well. She always seemed perfectly content in her role as homemaker. She went about her day in a calm and peaceful manner, never rushed demonstrating patience  and never raising her voice!

I have been told by my spouse  and her other cousins, that Gram, as she  was referred  to, would get down on her knees  and say her bedtime prayers  every night.  Her Grandson Chris  Settoon related  firsthand knowledge that her nightly ritual  was not only her bedtime  prayers, that she  would light a  candle in the window and recite her rosary and then move to her bedtime prayers. The  woman  was  a saint. Celestine is buried in Pierre Part, SJPP cemetery next  Wallace

 Veterans  from Wallace  Gaudet family

Second Gaudet Family Bayou  Pigeon - Mr. Narcisse  Gaudet,  was Son of  Pierre  Gaudet 2, who was son of  Pierre 1

Pierre Gaudet 2  & Christine  Crochet , Parents of  Narcisse  Gaudet

Olivia and Narcisse Gaudet.

Connection  To Wallace  Gaudet Family

Mrs. Olivia Gaudet, wife of Mr. Narcisse Gaudet of Bayou Pigeon, with four of her nine children. They are left to right back row, Levi Gaudet, Mrs. Olivia Gaudet, J.P. Gaudet, Eunice and Aime Gaudet.  The children are:  Alcide Clement, and he is holding Geraldine “Cherry” Clement,  next is Henry “ Tootie” Berthelot and Harold Berthelot.  

Ms. Aime was daughter of  Narcisse Gaudet

Berthelot Bar  and  Grill c 1960 

Mr. Ed_Mon  and Aime, were pillars of the Bayou Pigeon business  community. They started Berthelot’s Bar  and Grill, Aime an excellent cook,  was the manager of the restaurant.  The bar served as a "watering hole" and the tavern and a "bourrée"  & poker hall for local card players.  

It was the center of  Bayou  Pigeon.

Edwin “Ko_ton” Gaudet   ( Ko_ton cajun slang  for Cotten)

Mr.  Ko_ton's Community Taxi  Service

Pictured here in the center with the hip boots on is Mr. Edwin “Ko_ton” Gaudet.  J.P. Gaudet is against the back  tire. The car is parked on Hwy. 75.

Mr. Ko_ton played several important roles  at Bayou  Pigeon.  He was essentially a taxi driver to the people of Bayou Pigeon who did not have cars or transportation.  He would charge $1.00 per person for a round trip ride to Plaquemine.  Many people went to the V.A. Hospital and Charity Hospital in New Orleans.  He would charge $5.00 per person for a trip to New Orleans. 

No matter where he took you, Mr. Ko_ton would wait until your doctor’s appointment or personal business was completed.  He was like taxi driver for  Bayou  Pigeon.  This was a tremendous service to a community when many people did not have road transportation,  C. 1940’s. 

Mr. Ko_ton’s taxi  work included Putt Putt Boat Launching . The  Atchafalaya  Floodway levee was finished in 1936 and  completely  isolated boats  from Grand  River  traveling into interior of the Atchafalaya  Basin in 1945. There  was no ferry  from one  side of Grand  River to the other.

What was a swamper  / commercial  fisherman to do if he needed to move his  gas boat  from  the Grand River  side of the new levee to the  Spillway  side or vice versa. The local fisherman  and Mr. Ko_ton designed  and built a homemade  skid (ie, a boat trailer) made of  cypress logs  and  wedge  shaped to lift the inboard propeller of the putt putt boat high enough to  clear the ground.  Mr. Ko_ton had a WW II Willis  Jeep, 4  wheel drive, which he would use to pull and push  the  skid from one side across the levee  to the other side.

This was a ½ day task. He  would go to Bayou  Sorrel and cross on a private  wood barge ferry, the travel  down the new  flood way levee (no Bayou Sorrel lock then) to Bayou  Pigeon.  Push the skid in the water, drive the Putt Putt boat on it. Pull the  skid  out of the water across the levee, turn around  and push the  skid into the water to launch the boat.  He charged  $2 to do that.  

Ms. Lena and Ko_ton  - At the old Indigo Inn Dance  hall. They loved to dance and could often be seen at area dances. In fact many people referred them as the “life of the party”.

J.P. Gaudet family 

Patrick  (RIP) Ms  Anna (RIP) and Patricia; Last  but not Least,  Darrel (P-Noone)  Gaudet, who  has become  valued  member of the Bayou  Pigeon Heritage  Association,  volunteering to help keep up grounds  and helping the Our Lady  Queen of  Peace  shrine.

Veterans  from Narcisse  Gaudet  Family

Medric Gaudet, J.P. Gaudet, Patrick Gaudet, Allen Gaudet

J.P.'s unit was  selected  to march in Funeral procession of FDR in 1945


All Cajuns  Are Related !

Diane and I grew up  in an era where our grandparents  children gathered  at either  at the grandparents’ house, or  uncles  and  aunt’s houses for every holiday / special occasion.  We knew  all our  cousins very  well.  Many  sleep overs. That season has passed when our cousins lived down the street.

Now days it seems  like kids  don’t even know they’re cousins.  

A pity because cousins  are  each other’s first best friends.  They’re family and family is everything.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Another Look At The Sugar Plantations Of Bayou Pigeon, LA.

Antebellum  Era - Sugar Cane Plantations at  the  confluence of  Little Bayou  Pigeon  and  Grand  River 

In Chapter 5 of the Bayou  Pigeon book you read  that there  were  working Sugar Plantations at Bayou Pigeon prior to the Civil War. Real people lived and worked there.  These folks  relatively speaking were wealthy people for the times, records indicate  they built  Sugar Plantations,  built homes   and owned black slaves.  

The  map  below provides the  Physical property  records  of the sugar-growing plantations in T 11 S, R 11 E near Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

1859 Map of the Parishes of Pointc Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and Iberville, Including Parts of the Parishes of St. Martin and Ascension, Louisiana. Sarony, Major, and Knapp, New York.

There were four working Sugar Plantation’s,  at the  confluence of  Bayou  Pigeon  and  Grand River.

The  Justillien Michel plantation, George Mitchelltree Plantation, Laughlin, Down  Home Plantation, George Bollinger, Plantation 

The  map  provide the property details of the sugar-growing plantations in T11 S, R11 E near Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

Only Known Photographs of the old plantation  homes of  the Antebellum period at Grand River / Little Bayou Pigeon including the Palfrey Plantation Home  below  Pumpkin point  on Grand  River.

The  Riggs  Family of  New  Iberia

The  Riggs Family of  New Iberia was  connected to all the  first Planters at  Bayou  Pigeon  / Grand  River.

Mary Reynolds  Riggs the wife  of  Eli Riggs inherited property he had purchased in Iberville Parish on Little Bayou Pigeon,  when  Eli Passed.

A John Mitcheltree was married to Elizabeth Riggs, daughter of  Eli Riggs and Mary Reynolds Riggs.

John and Elizabeth Riggs Mitchelltree and  Mary  Riggs,  another daughter of  Eli  Riggs and her husband Granville Clifford Laughlin   inherited from  Mary Reynolds  Riggs the wife  of  Eli Riggs his property in Iberville Parish on Little Bayou Pigeon, when she passed.

They split the property, Grandville Clifford Laughlin taking the property on the east side of Grand River at Little Bayou Pigeon confluence and John Mitchelltree to the property on the west side.

John Mitchelltree died in 1850 and his brother George Mitchelltree  and his wife Matilda  bought his property in the succession.

G.C. Laughlin was the tract's sole proprietor of his tract prior to 1858.  After 1858 it was Laughlin  and  Nettleton.  When the Nettleton  came in is not known.  But it is known he was the overseer of Laughlin Tract.

Adjacent to and below George Mitcheltree on Grand River was the plantation of George Bollinger.

 Researching the US census of 1850, we verify that Jasper Gall, George Mitcheltree, and  john  Laughlin lived  at the confluence of Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

George Mitchelltree real estate was valued at $2000.  That was a significant amount of money in 1850.

1850 US Census, La. Iberville Parish Ward 

Justillien  Michel Plantation  -

Justillien Michel purchased his property  from Jasper Gall,  who was married to Frances Riggs, another daughter of  Eli Riggs, c 1858. There is no known Documentation of Justillen   Michel building  a  Plantation  house  on his farm.

The George Mitchelltree Plantation  and  Home

The  Civil war essentially  destroyed the plantations  at Bayou  Pigeon  / Grand River.  Union  soldiers  destroyed the crops , seed and farm equipment.

Mathilda  Mitchelltree  died in 1866 and George Mitchelltree  died in 1868. There adopted children, Henry Dale and  Ann Blockley inherited the property.  The Black slaves  had left the swamp and by 1870  the plantation houses  at Bayou pigeon were basically abandoned.

Court  Document Sheriff's  sale of  Mitchelltree  Property in  1875 

Official transcript  of sheriff’s sale of  the George Mitcheltree Plantation for failure to pay property taxes. This property was inherited by the adopted child  Ann Blockley or Boschle in 1866-1868 and obviously  she was unable to pay the property taxes.

This is the only known record of what building and structures were on the Mitcheltree property during the era of the sugar plantations.

Note the location of the graveyard, main dwelling and the sugar house. The cemetery was probably destroyed in the construction of the modern Atchafalaya Floodway East Protection Levee.

Stan Routh illustration  of the George Mitcheltree 
and Laughlin & Nettleton Plantations in 1859  

The Mitcheltree layout  is based  on written records from 1875 Iberville  Parish Sheriffs sale.  Since the property was  sold for lack of payment of property taxes, all non moveables went  with sale..

In 1895 Nestor Michel bought  parts of the old George Mitchelltree plantation from  F.B. Williams  Cypress. His purchase contained all the buildings and dwellings on the property which included the George Mitcheltree Plantation  house.

Iberville  Parish Court record 1895

The  house became the Nestor & Clementine House which was the most prominent dwelling in Bayou Pigeon at the time.

Nestor lived in this house with second wife Clementine Berthelot, until they divorced in 1924.

Justillen Michel, Nestor's  father lived there  with Nestor and Clementine.

Clementine lived in the home until her death in 1947. The house was demolished sometime after her death in 1947.

The picture above  shows the Mitcheltree / Michel Plantation house in the background.

This is the only known  picture of the house. Ms. Florence Vaughn Dupre in the foreground circa 1940’s.

Ms. Joyce Percle daughter  of Adeia  Michel Percle, youngest daughter of  Nestor and Clementine and Mr. Dealis Vaughn youngest son  of Sidney Vaughn described the interior of the house.  The house  was torn down by Paul  Michel / Sidney Vaughn in 1949 .  The  sketch  below provides the layout  of the house  as they remember it in 1947 / 48  time frame.

Google Earth  Satellite  view of  Modern  day location of Susans  Point

Down Home Plantation  - Laughlin Family

Mary  Riggs and husband Granville Clifford Laughlin   inherited  the plantation  as  described above.

Granville Clifford Laughlin  passed in 1859. The Laughlin's hired Thomas Edmond Grace, a lawyer from Plaquemine to handle the succession.  Elizabeth Laughlin, called Lizze, age 19, caught the eye of the young lawyer. Thomas sought and received permission to court Lizze from her mother. Their courtship was documented in a series of letters chronicled in the Grace Family history, by Joseph McDowell Campbell.  They were married at the  Down Home Plantation… see below.

Mary  Riggs Laughlin was the great grandmother of  Mrs.  Lorraine  Dupont an Grand Dame of Plaquemine.

1860 Census Iberville Parish Ward 8 Bayou Pigeon 

Folks at the  confluence of Grand River and Bayou Pigeon starts at bottom of page with Mary Riggs Laughlin family,  page 60, line 98. George Mitcheltree Family, George Bollinger Family follow.

In the early 1870’s  The Laughlin's had abandoned the  Down Home Plantation William Hedges  bought the property.  William Hedges  lost the property  to debt.

Enter Anatole Berthelot & old  Laughlin Plantation

 Anatole acquired the  old Laughlin plantation in 1913, he purchased existing buildings  including the “Down Home”  Plantation house for $475.

Iberville  Court Document March 27, 1913

Anatole Berthelot house (the Down Home Plantation House) in the background. Circa 1930’s.  

J.C. Berthelot, grandson  of  Anatole Berthelot, J.C. at his Big  Communion, in the foreground.  

Modern  Location of  Down  Home Plantation  House

The George Bollinger Plantation

George Bollinger  established the fourth Sugar Plantation at the Grand River / Bayou Pigeon confluence. Not much is known about  Bollinger except that he did live at Grand River / Bayou Pigeon for at least 10 years (U.S. Census records) and produced  Sugar.

1860 US census  ward 8 Iberville Parish  

The Bollinger Plantation was  sold at  sheriff's sale several times and  was purchased by Nestor Michel  in 1917.  Nestor sold it to Henry Dugas, in 1929.

Leo  Landry of  Bayou Pigeon on porch of his  houseboat,  with His  spouse  and  gentleman  form Louisiana  Baptist mission.  The house in the background is  The  Bollinger Plantation  house.

 Sometime after 1929, Clebert Frioux son in law of  Anatole Berthelot  purchased a part old Bollinger plantation house

Clebert Frioux and Natalie Berthelot Frioux c  1910

The Palfrey Plantation Located  in Iberia  Parish, on  Grand  River

The Palfrey Plantation house was located ¾ miles north of Bayou Postillion on Grand River, approximately 2 miles south of the confluence of  Bayou Pigeon and Grand River,  south of Pumpkin  point.  Alcide  Clement moved his family to the property in the early 1900’s . .There, the family cultivated cotton, corn, raised hogs, chickens, geese ducks and cattle.  His family was self supporting,  they were known for  the beef, salt  pork, boudin, sausage, cracklings,  butter and milk  and periodically sold  and or bartered this with folks at  Little Bayou Pigeon . Even though located  in Iberia parish, it was synonymous with Bayou Pigeon.

Report of  Major Jesse Miller of the Union Army in 1864. 

Objective evidence of the Palfrey Plantation, and  location. The official Report of  Major Jesse Miller of the Union Army in 1864.

Alcide Clement  and Grand Dame Mary Matilda Morales  Clement

Alcide Clement  moves to the Palfrey Plantation

Alcide Clement does not appear in the 1920 US Census record in Bayou Pigeon.   Alcide  moved his family to the property once owned by Mr. Charles Palfrey in  Iberia Parish..  That  was approximately 2 miles south of the confluence of  Bayou Pigeon and Grand River in area known as Chopin Chute close to  Bayou Postillion.

There, the family cultivated cotton, corn, raised hogs, chickens, geese ducks and cattle.  His family was self supporting,  they were known for  the beef, salt  pork, boudin, sausage, cracklings,  butter and milk  and periodically sold  and or bartered this with folks at Bayou Pigeon Proper. 

 At that time the plantation was considered  a hamlet of  Bayou Pigeon.

Cliff  LeGrange  at the  Grand Dame Matilda Oaks July 2020

Grand Dame Matilda  Oaks  at  Palfrey  Plantation 

Grande Dame  Oaks
375 + years old 

Enjoy... The ghost of the past  are  speaking !