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 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.