Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Place in History: Back Brusly Oak

Back Brusly Oak located in Brusly, West Baton Rouge Parish, LA
According to the Town of Brusly website, this old tree is one of the town's historic symbols.  As of 2002, the tree was more than 350 years old and had been enrolled in the Live Oak Society in 1969 through the efforts of Mrs. Ethel Claiborne "Puffy" Dameron.  

According to the Chronicles of West Baton Rouge (Kellough & Mayeux, 1979), "this old oak tree served as a congregating point for persons in the community for many years.  It was the ideal spot for exchanging gossip, business talk, and even meeting lovers.  The oak tree was a favorite spot for political discussions.  Many a campaigning politician would pass the word to meet under the oak tree, and he was assured of having a sizable gathering for his oration".  

In the early 1900's, a dance hall sat next door and several "Mom and Pop" stores were situated within walking distance from the tree.  People would come to town and purchase the things they needed then gather with others for conversation beneath the tree.

A memorial marker was dedicated to the historic place on October 1, 1976, during the 75th anniversary of the Town of Brusly.  Between July 4 and July 8, 2002, the marker was dug up and hauled off. Over $1200 in rewards were offered for its’ safe return. Thanks to the efforts of the news media and the Town officials, the marker was recovered from the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway near Morley Marina. It was cleaned and re-erected to its’ original location beside the Back Brusly oak where it stands today (

Friday, July 20, 2012

Mary Louise Landry Rockforte, In Loving Memory

Mary Louise Landry Rockforte,
My first "genealogy" teacher

Mary Louise Landry Rockforte was married to my husband's "Uncle Peter" Rockforte.  She was also my husband's Godmother.  We simply called her "Aunt Mary".  

My husband and I always enjoyed our trips to see Aunt Mary.  When she found out we were coming, she would usually plan to cook one of her delicious cajun dishes, like Crawfish Stew, Gumbo or a Mirliton Casserole.  Oh my, now that woman could whip up some cajun dishes! We never left her house hungry- maybe "miserably overstuffed", but never hungry!  

We usually spent an entire day with her, sipping on her strong (and I do mean STRONG) coffee and catching up on all the latest "family gossip".  Aunt Mary seemed to know a little bit about everyone.  She probably knew so much because of all the years she was one of the top Avon representatives in the area.  She traveled 5 days each week, going door to door, taking Avon orders and making deliveries, and she did that for many, many years.  I can only imagine how much information she amassed on local families during that time.  

For several years, Aunt Mary spent her spare time doing crafts- she loved working with yarn and fabric and had tons of craft supplies in one of her spare bedrooms.  She would sell her handmade items to individuals and at local craft festivals.  I still have the beautiful personalized Christmas stockings she made for each of our children; they became part of our Christmas decor for many years. 

After she retired from the Avon business, Aunt Mary became heavily involved in researching the family history.  Walking into her kitchen had become like walking into the public library.  Bookcases lined her kitchen walls, from end to end, and the shelves were stacked with notebooks filled with information on the family surnames.  Aunt Mary is the one who ignited my desire to begin my own family research.  She was my very first teacher in genealogy.  She spent hours upon hours thumbing through the diocese records and through books at the library.  Aunt Mary was hopelessly hooked on our family history, much like I am now.

Aunt Mary was a strong, vivacious woman who was also outspoken and opinionated, much like my own mother.  Perhaps that is part of the reason I liked her so much :).  One never had to guess what Aunt Mary was thinking. 

I really miss her.  I miss spending the day with her, talking about our progress on the family research and exchanging information.  I miss her enthusiasm and her warm smile that always greeted us at the back door.  I miss her delicious cajun meals.  However, I can't honestly say that I miss her strong coffee, whew!  Coffee creamer and half-n-half would only disappear when poured in the muddy waters of my cup.  Just imagine, my Mississippi family thinks that I make strong coffee- they know nothing :))

Sometimes when I think of Aunt Mary, I imagine her being in heaven with her notebook and pen handy- scribbling down information on the surnames of the Saints.  I would be willing to bet that she knows all of the latest news up there :)

Christmas stockings hand crafted by Aunt Mary in 1988
hung over our fireplace mantel in 1997.  I still have them.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Place in History: Madonna Chapel

Madonna Chapel- Smallest church in the world!
Annual Mass at one of the smallest churches in the world, the Madonna Chapel, is held on August 15th in celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother.  The church is located in Bayou Goula, Louisiana along River Road.  The original church was built with lumber donated by area residents in rural Bayou Goula.  The land was donated by Anthony Gullo in 1903.  The church was built as a tribute to the Blessed Mother, and is only 8 square feet.

Interior corner of Madonna Chapel
Tradition states that when the eldest son of Anthony Gullo, a poor local Italian sugar farmer, became seriously ill the father pledged a chapel to the Madonna if the boy recovered.  He did recover, and Anthony Gullo kept his promise.

The Madonna Chapel was cared for by Mr. Gullo until he moved away.  Since, the church has been cared for by local patrons.  Previous caretakers of the church were Ms. Ostino Cashio, Mrs. Rita Zito and Mr and Mrs. A.J. Roppolo.

Robert Ripley brought the church additional fame when he featured it in "Ripley's Believe It or Not".

Inside, the chapel has room for only the Priest and two alter boys.  Patrons gather outside the tiny church each year on August 15 for traditional mass.

Madonna Chapel is located just a few miles from Nottoway Plantation and the drive along River Road is beautiful.  It's been several years since I last visited the area but I enjoyed the scenery and tranquility of the area while there.  You don't want to miss this if you're ever in the area :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Joseph Henry Bourgoyne

Joseph Henry "J.H." Bourgoyne

Joseph Henry "J.H." Bourgoyne, the son of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Margueritte Tullier, married first Barbara Murry, the daughter of Edgar Murry and Victoria Bourgeois.  He married second Marilyn Shavers, on 11 May 1966 in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of Willard Shavers and Jessie Rouse.  To our knowledge, both J.H. and Marilyn are still residing in Louisiana.  

Their children:
i.   Joseph Henry "Joey" Bourgoyne Jr, born 03 October 1967 in Iberville Parish, Louisiana and died 07 November 1990 in Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.
ii.   Richard Allen Bourgoyne
iii.  Rebecca Ann Bourgoyne, also called "Lil Becky", born 16 July 1976 in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana and died 20 March 2002 in Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  
iv.  Jesse Bourgoyne
v.   Edward Bourgoyne
vi.  Brenda Bourgoyne
vii. Jody Bourgoyne

Joseph Henry Bourgoyne,
School Days

Margaret Ruth Bourgoyne

Margaret Ruth "Ruthie" Bourgoyne, the daughter of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Margueritte Tullier, married Abby Donald Morales on 14 August 1948 in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  He was born 02 January 1929 in Ponchatoula, Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana and died 22 October 1998 in Lafayette, Louisiana.  He was the son of Andrew J. Morales and Delphine Alford. 

Their children:
i.    Toni Ann Morales
ii.    Karen Marie Morales
iii.   Mary Susan Morales
iv.   Abbie Lynn Morales
v.    Peggy Ann Morales
vi.   Julie Ruth Morales
vii.   Donald Joseph Morales
viii.  Lisa Marie Morales

The only photos that I have of Ruthie Bourgoyne are those taken when she was a child.  I would love to have some updated photos!  

Ruthie, the youngest in the photo, along with
her sister, Nora Mae and her father, Henry Joseph
Margaret Ruth "Ruthie" Bourgoyne

Nora Mae Bourgoyne

Nora Mae Bourgoyne
Nora Mae Bourgoyne, the daughter of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Margueritte Tullier, was born 13 April 1926 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. She is listed with her parents on the 1930 census of Iberville Parish, Louisiana. In 1940, Nora Mae, then age 13, resided with her sister, Verlee Marie who had married Richard Joseph LeMay. 

Nora Mae married Alfred Dennis "Buddy" Songy on 08 January 1944.  He was born 29 July 1926, the son of Dennis Songy and Marie Gascon.  

Nora Mae died 17 July 1994 in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana and was buried in Grace Memorial Park, Plaquemine.  Her husband, Buddy, is also deceased but the date of his death is presently unknown.  

Their children:
i.    Glenda Ann Songy
ii.   Alfred Dennis Songy, Jr
iii.  Robert Joseph "Bobby Joe" Songy, born 30 July 1955 and died 08 July 2005 in Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  

Joseph Norris Bourgoyne

Joseph Norris Bourgoyne

Joseph Norris Bourgoyne was born 15 September 1922 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, the son of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Margueritte Tullier.  He is listed on the 1930 census of Iberville Parish, Louisiana with his parents.  

Norris and his brothers served our country during World War II.  He was a PFC, US Army.

Norris married Georgia Mae Sanchez, the daughter of George Sanchez and Cordelia Daigle, on 16 March 1949 in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish.  The couple resided together in Plaquemine until Norris's death on 18 February 1990.  Georgia Mae still resides in Plaquemine.  

They had two children:
i.   Linda Bourgoyne
ii.  Joseph Norris Bourgoyne Jr, born and died 08 November 1960