Friday, February 9, 2024

Bayou Pigeon Heritage - Wallace Gaudet Family of Bayou Pigeon, LA. - Ancestry and History

Places We Remember

By Cliff LeGrange & Diane Solar LeGrange

A Family Without the Knowledge of Their Past History, Origin and Culture is Like A Tree Without Roots.

Family Histories, document and preserve family traditions and memories, the stories are what bring a family tree to life. 

Notable Quotes.

“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 looking at your family tree of your ancestors three generations ago is almost like a ‘Ghost from the Past to You’.

Gaudet Ancestry

Gaudet’s were among the first families of Acadia and among the earliest Acadians to find refuge in Louisiana.  The first of them, four families, came to New Orleans from Halifax via Cap-Français, French St.-Domingue, in 1765.  

They settled at Cabanocé/St.-Jacques on the river, which became known as the Acadian Coast 1765 - 1820.

Two Gaudet families moved from the Mississippi River settlement (First Acadian Coast) to the upper Bayou Lafourche corridor, and which added two small lines to that center of family settlements. 

Most of their Gaudet cousins, however, remained on the river in St. James and Ascension parishes.  

Patriarch of The Gaudet Family … Jean Gaudet, Generation 1.

Jean Gaudet migrated from France to Acadia between 1630 and 1670. 

Fr. Archange Godbout of 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 two sons and two daughters, 22 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Jean Gaudet was born around 1575.

Gaudet’s arrives in Louisiana in 1766

The author starts tracing the Wallace Gaudet family ancestry with Joseph Gaudet (6) born 2 Jun 1738, in Annapolis Royal; son of Claude Gaudet (5) & Catherine Josèphe Foret. 

Explorations and scattered settlements in the 17th and 18th centuries had given France control over the Mississippi river and title to most of the Mississippi valley.

The first serious disruption of French control over Louisiana came after the Seven Years’ War (1756–63), the last major conflict before the French Revolution to involve all the great powers of Europe.

In 1762 France ceded Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain and in 1763 transferred virtually all of its remaining possessions east of the Mississippi River in North America to Great Britian. 

The Acadian Coast was a name which is applied by historians to the section of Louisiana along the Mississippi River that was settled by the exiled Acadians, beginning in 1764 to 1785. 

The First Acadian Coast was 20 leagues up from New Orleans on both sides of the river.

Joseph Gaudet (6)

Joseph Gaudet (6) arrived in New Orleans, Nov. 1766, with wife Marguerite as part of a group of 216 Acadians to arrive in Louisiana from Halifax, Nova Scotia as part of the Grand Derangement. 

They were given cattle, tools, provisions and were located on the banks of the Mississippi river in St James and Ascension Parish.

In the St.-Jacques, LA. (St. James) census of 1777, a Joseph Gaudet was counted as, age 38, lived with his wife Marguerite age 33, sons Jean aged 10, Joseph age 2, daughters Rosalia 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. of Corn. 

French power rebounded under the subsequent military leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte, and on October 1, 1800, Napoleon induced a reluctant King Charles IV of Spain to agree, for a consideration, to cede Louisiana back to France. Confirmed March 21, 1801.

The Acadians who lived there were called ‘les petits habitants” (Small Farmers) by the French and Spanish settlers. Most “les petits habitants” grew crops that satisfied their own household needs for food and clothing rather than grow crops to sell on the market. 

The 'Petits Habitants' migrated to Acadia (New France) to find a better life. Which was disrupted by the English when they took over Novia Scotia and enacted the Grand Derangement.

Grand Derangement 

The Acadians had lived on Nova Scotia’ territory since the founding of Port-Royal in 1604.  Largely ignored by France, the Acadians grew independent minded. After the British gained control of Acadia in 1713, the Acadians refused to sign an unconditional oath of loyalty to become British subject.

Once the Acadians refused to sign an oath of allegiance to Britain, which would make them loyal to the crown, the British Lieutenant Governor, as well as the Nova Scotia Council on July 28, 1755, made the decision to deport all the Acadians.

Eventually 2500 Acadian families made their way to Louisiana 1764 -1785.

The Acadians were agricultural people. They sought solace / contentment in Louisiana after the Grand Derangement.

St. James was settled during the era of Spanish dominance 1762 - 1801. 

The Acadians were attracted to Louisiana because of the French people living there.  

With so many Acadians arriving in Louisiana, Alejandro O’Reilly, Louisiana’s second Spanish governor set forth new rules which applied to land grants and settlements along the Mississippi River north of New Orleans. 

The land had to be surveyed and approved by two local witnesses. 

The applicants had to build levees to protect from floods, dig ditches along the levees to ensure drainage, and layout a public road along the river.

Louisiana Purchase 1803

Napoleon Bonaparte sold Louisiana to the new United States in 1803. 

The new United States ‘English Speakers” wanted to exploit the lands along the banks of the Mississippi River (the Acadian Coasts) i.e. to grow crops to sell to markets. 

The new Americans had the cash to buy the land from the poor Acadians.   

There was not much resistance to sell their lands as the Acadians disliked the English-speaking Americans.  

They did not trust the English-speaking government. After all the British had just kicked them out of “Acadie”, i.e. the Grand Derangement.  

Besides, they struggled to maintain the new requirements which cost money.  Which were required by law, they hated debt and sold their land to get out of it.

Pitot, James (Pacques François), the Spanish Cabildo Ward Commissioner of New Orleans, wrote a critique of Spanish rule of Louisiana colony in 1802-1803. 

He noted “With the growth of Assumption Parish, the les petit habitants withdrew into the interior reaches of the swamps”.

How Did the Wallace Gaudet Descendants   Get to The Pierre Part Belle River Area ?  

Via Joseph Gaudet (6) 

This movement to the interior of the swamp followed two migratory paths.  

From the ‘First Acadian Coast’ to the Upper Bayou Lafourche Valley (red) to the Atchafalaya interior to Pierre Part, Belle River, Lake Verrett via Bayou McCall and Grand Bayou.

From the Lower Bayou Lafourche, (green) via the Plattenville / Paincourtville, Napoleonville area via the Attakapas Canal.   

Note this route was also used by Acadians / Cajuns from the   'Acadian Coast' to   get to the 4 Mile Bayou and Stevensville and Bayou Boeuf, via Lake Palourde to Morgan City.


The Route to Pierre Part

There were some crude trails / paths along natural alluvial bayou ridges and through the higher parts of the Atchafalaya Basin. 

At the Village of Port Barrow on the banks of Bayou Lafourche slightly below Donaldsonville, Bayou McCall leads to Grand Bayou, which led to Lake Verret.

By 1815, a small settlement of families existed on the banks of Lake Verret, near where Bayou Pierre Part flows into the Lake Verret. 

The interior bayous offered the poor man an opportunity to breakout of the social hierarchy of the 'Front' (Bayou Lafourche Corridor) and work for himself. 

Many Acadians disliked the Spanish interference in their daily lives and wanted their progeny to live adjacent to land they owned which had become unattainable on the congested Front of Bayou Lafourche.

Other ethnic groups entered the back swamps and bayous of the Atchafalaya interior as well (e.g. Islenos from the Canary Islands); however, most were eventually subsumed by the dominant French Acadian culture.

During the antebellum period, 1820 – 1860, Joseph Gaudet (6) and his first wife Marguerite Bourgeois moved from St. James Parish on the Mississippi river the Acadian Coast to the Bayou Lafourche area to Napoleonville   / Plattenville, LA.  near the Attakapas canal.

Eventually they somehow made it the Pierre Part / Belle River area. Most probable route to Pierre Part / Belle River was by boat through Lake Verrett. 

Why did they choose Pierre Part / Belle River? 

Essentially there were slivers of land (the natural Alluvial Ridge) of Bayou Pierre Part and Belle River for farming.  

It was the furthest west you could go that was not subject to extreme flooding in the annual flood pulse.   

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

Pierre Gaudet (8) The Son of Jean Gaudet (7) b 1738 

Pierre Gaudet and Delphine Stoute Gaudet are buried in Belle River cemetery.

Francis Numa Gaudet (10) b1862 – d 1937; The Son of Pierre Gaudet (8 th)  b 1738, Father of Wallace Gaudet.

1910 US Census – Finds Numa Gaudet is living in Pierre Part, La.

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 a industrial Cypress Timber Camp.

Numa and his spouse Victoria Vaughn Gaudet and spouse Buried in Belle River, LA. Cemetery.

Victoria Vaughn Gaudet                          Numa Gaudet

Wallace Gaudet (10) b 1889 d 1961; The Son of Numa Gaudet (10th) 


Wallace Gaudet spoke and could read and write in both French and English. He had a basic education. 

There was a 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 Industrial Cypress Timber industry ran out of Cypress to cut. The Timber Camps went away in the late 1920’s.  

Wallace Gaudet opened a retail 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.

Wallace and Celestine Family

Wallace and Celestine on wedding day

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

When the great Depression came in 1929 / 30, most of those small businesses went away, there were no jobs and no money to be made. 

Wallace with 3 other Cajun Families, Joseph Daigle, Cashmere Solar, Durcroseille  Blanchard  moved their families from Pierre Part to 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.  

Sometime in 1936, Wallace moved his family from Catfish Bayou / Grand Lake to the Indigo Bayou hamlet in Bayou Pigeon.  

There were other reasons as well for the move. 

The new Atchafalaya Floodway levees were almost complete. 

With that the Corp of Engineers would be closing off all east access channels from the Atchafalaya River into Grand River flood plain. 

Cutting off boat traffic from to east side off of the basin by closing the channels of Upper Grand River/ Bayou Plaquemine, Bayou Sorrel, Bayou Pigeon, Old River, Bayou Pierre Part, The Godel, Belle River, Lake Verrett, Lake Palourde, and Atchafalaya River at Morgan City.

In 1936 that was mind boggling change for the commercial fishermen / swampers. In 1936 there were no boat trailers and launching ramps. 

Also it meant, Swampers living in the interior of the Natural Atchafalaya Basin would be exposed to extreme floods since the new levees containing the annual flood pulse to inside the levees were 25 ft tall.

Their final reason for abandonment of the center of the swamp was Celestine was about to give birth to Shirley and the family moved for the birth.

In 1933 two shell roads were completed from Donalsonville to Bayou Pierre Part and Bayou Sorrel to the Bayou Pigeon School.  

Which provided road access to hospitals and town. 

Many swamp dwellers did not want to move   from the only living they knew, i.e. 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 out migration followed predictable paths, the French speaking Cajuns migrated to areas where French was dominant culture and the English-speaking Anglos (Americans) to one where Anglo / American culture was dominant. 

After 100 years the Cajuns still not trust English speaking people.  

On the east side of The Atchafalaya Basin, the Cajuns migrated to existing French speaking enclaves, i.e. Pierre Part /Belle River and Bayou Pigeon. 

Wallace loaded all his worldly belongings on a wooden barge, pulled by a putt putt boat owned by Dewey Burns and made the trip to Bayou Pigeon which had small homogeneous population of Cajuns. 

Wallace Gaudet - ‘Gone to Pigeon’ 1933 / 1935. 

There he reassembled his house (not much more than 4 walls) at Indigo Bayou on the west side of the new road built in 1932 / 33. His last two children; Shirley and Hilda were born there.

Bayou Pigeon Community After the East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee (EABPL) Was Completed

When Wallace Gaudet moved to Indigo Bayou, Gipson, Johnson, Raymond, and Ed were still living 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.  

The 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. 

Johnny Settoon, Nolan Settoon and Clement Landry with his back to Camera c 1941 

This picture showing the Dock at Cleveland (Bee) Landry store in the Borrow Canal paralleling Hwy 75 at Bayou Pigeon later purchased by Wallace Gaudet’s General Store.  Is an iconic picture of the folklife and folk boats of Bayou Pigeon.

Johnson Hedges, Evis Hebert, Curtiss Leonard
another iconic picture of Bayou Pigeon folk life c 1940's

The Gaudet’s added a barroom / dancehall to the General Store. Wallace and Gip would travel to the store by boat from Indigo Bayou until they purchased an old truck. 

Gaudet Bar & Dancehall c 1950's

The Gaudet store along the Hwy 75

Irvin Settoon, Lucy Settoon, Mildred Gaudet, Violet Settoon, Irvin was courting his future spose, Mildred, mid 1950’s at the Dancehall.

Gibson Gaudet first son to leave the Nest.

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 Captain. 

After Gip left, Wallace took apart their old house at Indigo Bayou. 

The house was reassembled / added on to it and located on the Eastern side of the Hwy. 75 across from the Gaudet Store.

The store was a typical country general store, they kept many of the supplies needed for bayou 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 putt putt boat.

In the 1950’s Wallace and Ed purchased an old green pickup truck and started a grocery delivery service

The Old Green Pick-Up Truck Hauled Moss, Mr. Ed Gaudet delivered to moss gins.  They Delivered Groceries A 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 and on Sunday afternoons. 

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.

Wallace opened the store every day and waited on customers. The store was open 7 days a week.

The Gaudet store was always looking to make a buck !

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 Brought Major Changes

In 1958 the State of Louisiana paved the clam shell road from Bayou Sorrel to Bayou Pigeon. It so happens that parts of the Gaudet store, Bar and Dancehall were partially in the roadbed and had to be moved.

Gaudet Grocery, Bar & Dance Hall separated and relocated to east side of new black top paved road c 1960’s

Wallace Gaudet passed in 1961.


He 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 Hebert Gaudet, spouse of Edison Gaudet 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.

In retirement Wallace spent most of his time entertaining his many grandchildren.

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

Wallace Gaudet with two of his Granddaughters
  Irene Gaudet and Hazel Gaudet, 
Children of Raymond Gaudet and Alma Aucoin Gaudet
On the porch of his house on east side of HWY. 75

About Wallace, B 1889 – D 1961; pronounced ‘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 Domestic skills for the girls was left to the mother.  

An explanatory 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; shorten Tine.” 

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 would get down on her knees and say her bedtime prayers every night.  

Her Grandson, Chris Settoon related first-hand 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 Hebert Gaudet, “Gram” is buried in Pierre Part, SJPP cemetery next to Wallace her lifelong Spouse.

Gaudet family reunion c 1990's 

Wallace and Celestine are buried in Pierre Part, LA. at SJPP cemetery as well as most of their children. At the time of this writing the only surviving child is Hilda Gaudet Leblanc.

The LeGrange Connection

   1947 and 2017 … Beulah Gaudet Solar mother of Diane Solar LeGrange 2021

Diane Solar LeGrange, spouse of Cliff (Chachie) LeGrange, publisher / author of Bayou Pigeon, La. Spirit of the Atchafalaya and granddaughter of Wallace Gaude.

Diane would make deliveries with her aunt Shirley Gaudet to customers at Indigo Bayou on Saturdays … visit with her cousin Beverly Gaudet and uncle Johnson and Aunt Verner in Morgan City during summer ...memories that will last a lifetime…
Wallace and Celestine with 10 children had plenty of grandchildren and great children. Many Grandchildren and great children are still in the Bayou Pigeon area today. 

Preserving the Heritage, Wallace Gaudet Family

If We Know Where We Came From, We May Better Know Where To Go.

If We Know Who We Came From, We May Better Understand Who We Are.  

With 10 children, 41 grandchildren, 33 great grandchildren at the time of their deaths, Wallace and Celestine left a large legacy.

Every one of us is passed a heritage. We pray that the heritage we pass on to our descendants is the good stuff.

Wallace left the legacy of the Gaudet General Store, Bar and Dance Hall and the many customers they touched.  Buying fish and moss from their customers and providing credit at a time when many of their customers lived day to day.

Celestine left a legacy of how to live a role model life of a Cajun wife and homemaker ie, God & Family first attitude. 

Gaudet Collage

About the author

Cliff & Diane Solar LeGrange, met in 1965 at the ‘LeGrange’s End of the World” Grocery, Bar, and Dance Hall and married in 1968.

LeGrange’s End of The World Grocery Bar and Dance Hall C 1959

LeGrange’s Camp, End of The World, Grocery, Bar Dancehall and Restaurant c 1964


he river communities Along the Eastern Atchafalaya Basin, ie. Ramah, Bayou Plaquemine, Bayou Sorrel, Bayou Pigeon Pierre Part, Belle River, Stevensville are known for Their Folklife and Traditions of The Bayou  Cajuns.

There are fewer young people taking of life of full time swampers / fisherman. Old folklife and traditions are fading fast.  

Be that as it may  the memories that were made are still very precious to the people of the area. Even though they choose live in suburbs closer to their work. 

Today many of those people are buying old homes in the area as Camps to keep a connection to that way life, i.e. the Bayou Cajuns.

The Bayou Pigeon Heritage Association is trying to play a small part in keeping folklife, traditions  alive with our Folklife museum.

Come visit us…

Open by appointment M – F


Or just give us a Holler1

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Wallace Gaudet Family Ancestry and History
Cliff (Chachie)  LeGrange and Diane Solar LeGrange, 
Sept. 2020, Revised 2 7 2024