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 folks.living.
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.