Sunday, April 22, 2012

"Jambalaya on the Bayou"

It was the year of 1952 when Hank Williams released this song, "Jambalaya on the Bayou".  It would become one of his most popular songs and remained number one on the country charts for 14 non-consecutive weeks that year.  Since then, the song has been played by many more musicians, including Jerry Lee Lewis, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Brenda Lee, George Jones and Creedence Clearwater Revival among others.  

While listening to this song I imagine ordinary country folks gathered together in the late evening of a summer day.  They are laughing, dancing, telling jokes and stories, and dining on traditional cajun dishes like crawfish, seafood gumbo and etouffe.  *Wish I were there!*

Lyrics from the song:

Jambalaya On the Bayou.

Goodbye Joe me gotta go me oh my oh
Me gotta go pole the pirogue down the bayou
My Yvonne the sweetest one me oh my oh
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and file gumbo
Cause tonight I'm gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
[ fiddle ]
Thibodaux, Fontaineaux, the place is buzzin'
Kinfolk come to see Yvonne by the dozen
Dress in style and go hog wild me oh my oh
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
Settle down far from town get me a pirogue
And I'll catch all the fish in the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie...
[ fiddle ]
Later on, swap my mon, get me a pirogue
and I'll catch all the fish on the bayou
Swap my mon, to buy Yvonne what she need-oh
Son of a gun we'll have big fun on the bayou
Jambalaya and a crawfish pie...

Friday, April 20, 2012

Jules Francois Bourgoyne & Cecile Adelaide Tullier

Jules Francois Bourgoyne, my husband's third great-grandfather, was born c. 1798 in Rouen, Seine-Maritime, Haute-Normandie, France, the son of Francois Bourgoyne and Julie Lefevre.  He married Cecile Adelaide Tullier, the daughter of Jean Charles Tullier and Rose Adelaide Daigle, on 07 August 1824 in Point Coupee Parish, Louisiana.  Cecile was born 23 June 1803 in Louisiana.  

When did Jules Francois Bourgoyne arrive in America?  Obviously it was before his wedding date in 1824.  Did he travel from France alone, as an adult, or was he with his parents?  The passenger ship list would provide me with possible answers, if I could locate it.  

Jules Francois and his wife eventually settled in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  They had five known children:  Sons- Jules Adolphe (my husband's great-great grandfather), Theophile and Marcel Forestin; Daughters- Juliene Pourpore and Marie Celestine.  

Jules Francois was about 40 years old at the time of his death on 14 April 1838.  What was the nature of his death at such a young age?  Was it an accidental death, or did illness claim his life?  Regardless of the circumstances, his wife Cecile was left alone with five children to raise on her own.  Unfortunately, a year later, on 22 April 1839, Cecile died.  She was only 36 years old.  At that time, their oldest child, Juliene Pourpore, was 14 years old and their youngest, Marcel Forestin, was only 5 years old.  According to family history, the young orphaned children were taken in by Joseph (Josime) Tullier and his wife.  Probate record #298 filed in West Baton Rouge Parish shows that Joseph Tullier was appointed legal guardian of the children.  When the 1850 census of West Baton Rouge Parish was taken, Theophile and Forestin were still residing with Josime Tullier, and they were listed as "planters" or laborers in his household.  Jules Adolphe, who was by then a grown young man, was living with his sister, Juliene, who was married to Faustin LeBlanc. I suspect that Marie Celestine Bourgoyne was also married by 1850, as she would have been about 19 years old by then.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne

Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne was my husband's great-great grandfather.  Born 30 June 1826 in Louisiana, he was the son of Jules Francois Bourgoyne and Cecile Adelaide Tullier.  

The first, and only, actual record that I have of him at present is the 1850 census:

1850 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana

In 1850, Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne was living with his sister, Julienne Pourpore Bourgoyne and her husband, Faustin LeBlanc.  They are shown on the previous page of the census record, in the household of "Faustin LiBlanc". 

According to family records, Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne married Marie Victorine Fryoux on  26 May 1851 in West Baton Rouge Parish.  I have been unable to locate them on the 1860 census.

I have no further records of Jules Adolphe at this point.  He is not shown on any further census records to my knowledge.  His wife, Victorine, is listed as head of household on the 1870 census, then as widowed on the 1880 census.  While some researchers have his death year listed as 1884, I have come to the conclusion that Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne died before the 1870 census was taken.  

If anyone has more information on this family, contact me by email:  Thanks!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marie Victorine Fryoux

Marie Victorine Fryoux, also spelled Fryou, Friou, Frioux, my husband's great-great grandmother, was born c. 1833 in Louisiana.  Family researchers have listed her parents as Jean Baptiste Fryoux and Marceline Madeleine Prosper from Assumption Parish, Louisiana but I have not confirmed that information as of yet.

Victorine married Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne, the son of Jules Francois Bourgoyne and Cecile Adelaide Tullier, on 26 May 1851 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  I have been unable to locate the couple on the 1860 census.  

By 1870, Victorine was shown as head of household, living in West Baton Rouge Parish with her children:

1870 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, page 6

This census record shows Victorine Bourgogne, age 33 with children Theodore, Anatol, Onesime, Daniel, Mames, and on the next page of the census another child, Maxmillian.   Her husband, Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne, has not been found on the census.  Was he deceased at that time?

1880 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, ED 59, page 6

Ten years later, in 1880, Victorine Bourgoyne, age 46, is found again as head of her household on the census.  This record reflects that she was widowed, living with children Theo, Anatole, Danl, Jos, Mark and daughter-in-law, Virginia.  Some records of family researchers indicate that Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne died in 1884, but it appears though he was deceased by 1870.  This census record also brings another question to mind- Maxmillian Bourgoyne was listed as a 2 year old child with Victorine on the 1860 census, yet he is not shown on the 1870 census.  Is "Mark Bourgoyne", the 11 year old on the 1870 census the same person as Maxmillian?  Some family researchers have both Maxmillian and Mark listed, but I have been unable to find any further information on "Maxmillian Bourgoyne".  

According to family records, Victorine passed away on 17 August 1895 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  

In conclusion, the children of Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne and Marie Victorine Fryoux were:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marguerite Odelia Tullier

Marguerite Odelia Tullier was my husband's great-grandmother.  She married Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne, the son of Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne and Victorine Frioux.  The date of their marriage remains uncertain, like many other facts from their past.  

Family tradition states that Marguerite was the daughter of Laurence Cleophus Tullier and Bazaline Tullier.  At this point, I'm uncertain who her true parents were.  From the 1860 census of West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, I find "Odile Thulier", age 6, living in the household of Jasin Thulier, age 63, and Marguerite Thulier, age 55.  Also living in the household were Lawrence Thulier, age 22, and Severine Thulier, age 20, along with Roseline Thulier, age 20, and Victorin Thulier, age 12.  Ten years later, the 1870 census shows "Odile Tullier", age 15, still residing in the household of Josine and Margarite Tullier, but Laurence and Bazaline are not residing in the same house.  "Bazeline Tullier", along with four of her other children, were living in the household of Joseph and Adeline Tullier, who were reportedly her parents.  Apparently, Laurence was deceased by 1870, because Bazaline is listed as a widow.  Did Marguerite decide to remain with her paternal grandparents, Josine and Marguerite Tullier, while her mother and siblings resided elsewhere?  

Furthermore, I find on the 1860 census another family of Tullier's living nearby- Adolphe Thulier, age 39 and Euphemie Thulier, age 28, along with "Marguerite Thulier", age 4.  The same family is shown on the 1870 census, and Marguerite is again listed, at age 14.  Could this be the same Marguerite Tullier who married Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne?  Who were Marguerite's true parents?  

I have tried to gather more information from my husband's family about Marguerite's parents, but no one has been able to prove a connection between Marguerite Odelia Tullier and the couple they have listed as her parents, Laurence Cleophus and Bazaline Tullier.  

According to family records, Marguerite Tullier died 20 November 1919 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  At present, it is unclear where she is buried.  

If anyone has information on Marguerite's family, please contact me by email: 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne

Marguerite, Lionel A. and Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne

Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne, the son of Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne and Victorine Fryoux, was born 19 March 1859 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  He was my husband's great-grandfather.  

He married Marguerite Tullier in 1880, West Baton Rouge Parish.  The family resided in Sardine Point settlement, see land tract #5 and #7 on residential illustration here.  They had five sons- Allen Peter, Henry Joseph, Edward Joseph, Lionel Arthur and Victor Joseph.

Joseph Anatole died 23 September 1945 in West Baton Rouge Parish.  His wife, Marguerite, preceded him in death on 20 November 1919.  At present, it is unclear where they are buried.

I have been able to trace Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne through several census records:

1870 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana federal census, page 6

In 1870, the census reflects that Anatole was 12 years old, living at home with Victorine Bourgoyne (his mother).  He was the second son born to his parents.  Maxmillian, another brother, is shown on the next page of the census.  

1880 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, 1st Ward, page 5

The 1880 census record indicates that Anatole was still at home with his mother, Victorine.  He was an adult by then, old enough to labor on the home farm.  He may have also been employed by the plantation owners in Sardine Point, working in the rice and sugar cane fields, or the dairy.  

1900 West Baton Rouge Parish, District 101, page 8
Since the 1890 census is unavailable, we have to fast forward twenty years, to 1900.  Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne was married by then, heading his own household with wife Marguerite.  The census reflects that Anatole and his wife had been married for 20 years and that Marguerite was the mother of seven children, five of whom were still living.  It also listed the month and year for each person's date of birth, a valuable piece of information (when correct).  Like most adult men in that era, Anatole was a planter, or farmer.  

1910 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Police Jury Ward 1, ED 135, page 11A
By 1910, only two of Anatole and Marguerite's sons remained at home- Lionel and Victor.  The record shows that Anatole was retired by then- at age 52, really?  Since families depended on their farms for food, I'm sure he still did some farming on their own land.  I also take note that this record reveals that Marguerite was the mother of 5 children, all living (not 7 children as listed on the previous census).  Another difference is the number of years the couple had been married- this records states 28 years, but it should have been 30 years, if they actually married in 1880.  

1920 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Police Jury Ward I, Enumeration District 149, page 6
By 1920, the census record shows that Anatole was widowed.  His son, Victor, and a granddaughter, Pansy, resided with him.  This record also listed Anatole's occupation as "on the river".  Victor worked on a "dredgeboat"- did Anatole work with him? 

1930 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Ward 1, ED 61-2, page 2B
In 1930, Anatole was about 72 years old (the census shows his age as 73).  His son, Victor, remained in the household with him, but was married by then.  Victor's wife and son was shown in the household with Anatole.  

1940 West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, Ward 1, Cut Off, ED 61-2, page 2B
After browsing through numerous online census records, I finally located the census for the Cut Off area.  The 1940 federal census is not yet indexed, which means I couldn't search the records based on a name.   On this record, Victor Bourgoyne, Anatole's son, was listed as head of household, even though they resided in the same house which had been headed by Anatole for numerous years.  Anatole was 81 years old then, and the record reflects that he had worked 40 hours as a farmer the previous week before the census was taken.  It also shows that Anatole had worked 52 weeks in 1939, probably on the home farm.  I assume from this information that Anatole remained active in his senior years.  

Since Anatole died in 1945, he won't be found on the 1950 census when it becomes available.  It has been interesting "following" him through the census records.  Anatole lived to the ripe old age of 86 years, and it appears though he remained active most of those years.  I would like to know where Anatole and his wife are buried.  Perhaps future research will provide an answer for me.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Place in History: Plaquemine Locks

I wrote a post about the historical Plaquemine Locks in my other blog, The Family Snoop, but I thought it was important to post it here because of its significance to the history of Iberville Parish.  

Plaquemine Locks, early 1900's

In 1895, construction of the Plaquemine Locks began after many delays.  Several years later they finally finished the project, in 1909.  The Plaquemine Locks were designed by Colonel George W. Goethals, who eventually became the Chief Engineer and Chairman of the Isthmian Canal Commission.  He also designed and constructed the Panama Canal.

Plaquemine Locks were needed to join Bayou Plaquemine with the Mississippi River, thus creating an "avenue" for local industry and trade to deliver their "goods" on a major waterway- the Mississippi River.  The majority of all water traffic made its way through the Plaquemine Locks to access major ports along the Mississippi River during the early 1900's.  The locks had the highest fresh-water life of any lock in the world at the time it was completed.  It was modernized to keep up with the heavy demand of traffic in the late 1940's by installing hydraulic pumps.  

So how do the pumps work exactly?  To give you a visual image of the Locks, imagine a large, tall concrete wall worn from the river's swift movements with the huge iron gates.  The Locks controlled the water levels but a boat could not enter until the level of water in the chamber was the same level as the Mississippi River.  At this time, the gates would open up and the boat would be able to enter Plaquemine Locks.  After the gates closed, the valves in the bayou side of the gates would open.  Water could then flow from the locking chamber into Bayou Plaquemine.  The water flowed by the force of gravity alone.  It never needed pumping out.  When the water in the lock chamber reached the level of Bayou Plaquemine, the emptying valves would close and the gates would again open on the bayou side.  The boat could then leave the Locks and continue on its journey.

The Plaquemine Locks were shut down permanently in 1961 soon after the opening of a more modern set of locks in Port Allen, Louisiana.  The original locks were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.  The present levee, built in 1974 by the Army Corps of Engineers, stretches across the mouth of Bayou Plaquemine at the Mississippi River.  This closed off access to the Mississippi River through Bayou Plaquemine, but also provided greater flood protection and stability for the historic structure.  Ownership of the Locks was transferred to the State of Louisiana in 1978 by the U.S. Army of Engineers.

Present day view of the Plaquemine Locks

The site is located off La. 1 in downtown Plaquemine in Iberville Parish, 13 miles south of Baton Rouge and 8 miles north of Nottoway Plantation in White Castle. The site is on historic Main Street directly across from Iberville Parish Museum and historic St. John's Church.

As a young boy, my husband and his friends spent a lot of time along the levees near the Plaquemine Locks.  He walked the grounds surrounding the locks often and has many memories connected with the historic place.  At one time, his family resided just around the corner from the Plaquemine Locks, therefore, he holds this place in close reverence to his boyhood memories.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Genevieve Lillie Smith

Genevieve Lillie Smith, my husband's paternal grandmother, was the daughter of Samuel M. Smith and Julia Ferbos.  She was born 09 February 1890 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana and was called "Lillie" by her family.  She married Henry Joseph Bourgoyne, son of Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne and Marguerite Tullier, on 19 June 1912 in Port Allen, Louisiana.  

Lillie and Henry resided in the Cut Off settlement and had 9 children:  Anatole Joseph, John Sullivan, Verlee Marie, Rosa Mae, Joseph Norris, John Claude, Nora Mae, Margaret Ruth and Joseph Henry.  Family history states that Lillie died 04 January 1932, at the age of 41, leaving behind several young children.  Joseph Henry, the youngest child, was only two weeks old when his mother passed away.  Did complications from child birth lead to her death?  

There are several questions presently unanswered about this family.  I hope to find some answers in future research.  I will post updates as information becomes available.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Henry Joseph Bourgoyne

My husband's paternal grandfather, Henry Joseph Bourgoyne, was born 09 June 1887 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, the son of Joseph Anatole Bourgoyne and Marguerite Tullier.  

He is listed with his parents on the 1900 federal census in West Baton Rouge Parish. The family resided on Sardine Point, see land tracts #5 and #7 on residential illustrations here.  I have been unable to locate him on the 1910 census.  He was not listed in the household of his parents that year.  Where was he?  It is quite possible that his name was misspelled on census records and that may be the reason I've been unable to locate him.  

The next bit of information I have on Henry is the marriage date of him and Genevieve Lillie Smith, the daughter of Samuel M. Smith and Julia Ferbos, on 19 June 1912 in Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish.  Again, I have not located Henry Bourgoyne on the 1920 census.  I did have better luck with the 1930 census, which listed Henry and "Lilly" Bourgoyne along with 8 of their 9 children (their last child was born in 1931).

1930, District 7, Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana:

This census record shows: 
Henry Bourgoyne, age 43; was 25 years old at first marriage, he and his parents were born in Louisiana; his occupation was a boat engineer.  His wife, Lilly, age 40; was 22 years old at first marriage, she and her parents were born in Louisiana.  Children listed- son Anatole, age 17, employed as a messenger boy at the Post Office; son Sullivan, age 15, employed as an operator at Western Union;  daughter Virgilie (Verlee),  age 12; daughter Rosa M, age 9; son Norris, age 7; son Claud (Claude), age 6; daughter Nora M, age 4; and daughter Ruse (Ruth), age 1year 2 mos.  (Another son, Joseph Henry, was born in 1931)

Henry and his family resided in the Cut Off settlement, near his parents.  See the residential illustration here, house #22.  

Lillie died  at the age of 41 years, on 04 January 1932.  Henry died 16 June 1957.  At present, I have no knowledge of where they are buried.  I have done an online search for their grave sites using various name spellings with no results.  The birth, marriage and death dates for Henry and Lillie remain unconfirmed at present.  

Henry Joseph Bourgoyne with daughters, 
Nora Mae and Margaret Ruth, c. 1933-34

Children of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Margueritte Tullier:
i.    Anatole Joseph Bourgoyne, 1913-1970, married Edine Marie Bueche
ii.   John Sullivan Bourgoyne, 1915-1973, married Louella Tullier
iii.  Verlee Marie Bourgoyne, 1917-1982, married Richard Joseph LeMay
iv.  Rosa Mae Bourgoyne, 1920-1969, married Leslie Mathias Comeaux
v.   Joseph Norris Bourgoyne, 1922-1990, married Georgia Mae Sanchez
vi.  John Claude Bourgoyne, 1924-1987, married Lena Mary Rockforte
vii. Nora Mae Bourgoyne, 1926-1994, married Alfred Dennis "Buddy" Songy
viii. Margaret Ruth Bourgoyne, 1929-    , married Abby Donald Morales
ix.  Joseph Henry "J.H." Bourgoyne, 1931-    , married (1) Barbara Murry (2) Marilyn Shavers

I would love to know more about this family.  My plan is to:
* Search the 1910, 1920 and 1940 census records for more information
* Order death certificates for Henry and his wife Lillie
* Attempt to locate the place where they are buried.  I hope to make a visit to the area soon.  Perhaps the library will have books on cemetery inscriptions and I might luck up and find them there.  If I'm successful with obtaining death certificates, maybe the burial information will be included on them.
* Obtain a copy of their application for marriage license.  I can do this at the courthouse in Port Allen when I make a visit there.  
* Attempt to find their obituaries- check old newspapers at the library there

Wish me luck!  I will post updates here as I find them.  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Lena Mary Rockforte

Lena Mary Rockforte, the daughter of Giovanni "John" Roccaforte and Mary Francesca Roccaforte, grew up in West Baton Rouge parish, Louisiana.  Much of her family history remains unknown at present.  At some point, her family was in Baton Rouge.  I make that assumption due to the fact that Lena was baptized at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Baton Rouge.  Lena is shown along with her family on the 1930 West Baton Rouge parish federal census.  Her father was 14 years old when he immigrated, along with his mother and sister, from the Palermo region of Italy to New Orleans.  The family joined others who had already made the journey to Louisiana.  The family, including Lena and her siblings, labored in the sugar cane fields on plantations in the area. Lena Mary Rockforte married John Claude Bourgoyne, the son of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Genevieve Lillie Smith, on 23 May 1949 in Port Allen, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  They had three children together- John Claude Jr, Charles Raymond and Nannette Marie.  Lena and Claude resided in Iberville parish most of their married life.  The marriage dissolved in 1977.  Afterwards, Lena moved to Carlsbad, New Mexico where she resided for several years.  In 1998, she moved to Columbia, Mississippi where Charlie and I reside.  Lena lived in Columbia until about 2006 then moved back to Plaquemine, Louisiana where she currently resides.

Photo Gallery:  Lena Mary Rockforte Bourgoyne
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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Relevance of Easter in the Roman Catholic Church

Since I'm researching Catholic traditions along with my husband's ancestry, I decided to learn about Catholic customs surrounding Easter.  I recall that when Charlie and I visited his parents in the early years of our marriage, during the period preceding Easter, his parents would abstain from meat on Fridays.  They strictly adhered to this and told me it was part of their religious custom.  I didn't ask them to explain then, but now I'm curious.  What is the relevance of abstaining from meat?  What does "Lent" mean?  By browsing some Catholic web sites, I found information regarding Catholic traditions surrounding Easter.  If any of this information is in error, please correct me.  I am in the learning process and I realize that often traditions are variable in different regions of the world. 

From the information I read, Lent is a 40-day preparation for Easter Sunday.  It is one of the major seasons of the Catholic church and is marked by prayer, fasting, abstinence and almsgiving.  Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which always falls 46 days before Easter (Sundays are not included in the count from Ash Wednesday until the end of Lent, thus explaining the discrepancy between the 40 and 46 day count).  While Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, Roman Catholics are encouraged to attend Mass on that day to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.  During Mass, the ashes which give Ash Wednesday its name are distributed. The ashes are made by burning the blessed palms that were distributed the previous year on Palm Sunday; many churches ask their parishioners to return any palms that they took home so that they can be burned.  After the priest blesses the ashes and sprinkles them with holy water, the faithful come forward to receive them. The priest dips his right thumb in the ashes and, making the Sign of the Cross on each person's forehead, says, "Remember, man, that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return" (or a variation on those words).  The distribution of ashes reminds the parishioners of their own mortality and calls them to repentance. In the early Church, Ash Wednesday was the day on which those who had sinned, and who wished to be readmitted to the Church, would begin their public penance. The ashes that they receive are a reminder of our their sinfulness, and many Catholics leave them on their foreheads all day as a sign of humility.

I also read that before Vatican II, Catholics were required to abstain from meat every Friday, as a form of penance in honor of the death of Jesus Christ on the Cross on Good Friday.  Since Catholics are normally allowed to eat meat, this prohibition is very different from the dietary laws of the Old Testament or of other religions today.  In the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 10: 9-16), St. Peter has a vision in which God reveals that Christians can eat any food.  So, when church parishioners abstain, it's not because the food is impure; they're  voluntarily giving up something good for their spiritual benefit.  

In general, Lent ends on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter Sunday, which is the 46th day since Ash Wednesday, but the 40th day of the Lenten fast.

I now have a clearer understanding of the relevance of Ash Wednesday and Easter in the Catholic Church.  The knowledge of Catholic traditions and customs is not only for my own benefit, but for my future generations who may one day decide to read about their French and Italian ancestors.  The customs of our ancestors are part of who they were, as people.  Their culture was widely based on their religious beliefs and practices and often played a role in their decisions and lifestyle.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Happy Easter" in Vintage French

"Joyeuses Piques"

May everyone have a blessed and joyous Easter!
~ Susan and Charlie ~

John Claude Bourgoyne Jr

John Claude Bourgoyne Jr, the son of John Claude Bourgoyne Sr and Lena Mary Rockforte, was born 18 December 1950 in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana. He was called "Jr" by his parents and immediate family, but was given the nickname "Squeaky" later in life.  He grew up in Plaquemine and attended the public school system there. He graduated from Plaquemine High School on 29 May 1968. He attended the Baton Rouge Vocational-Technical School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he received his certificate in Radio-Television Repair on 25 October 1971. By 1973, he was living in Harvey, Louisiana, located on the west bank of New Orleans. The decision for him to make the move to Harvey remains unknown. While there, he began dating a young woman, Rose Marie Frazella. Shortly thereafter, he married her. Rose was the daughter of Salvadore Frazella and Helen LeCompte. The couple resided in Harvey and had two sons- John Claude Bourgoyne III and Patrick Wayne Bourgoyne.   The marriage of John Jr and Rose was brief.  John Jr moved to Lafayette, Louisiana where he worked and resided with friends.  On 04 March 1977, his family received the tragic news of his sudden, accidental death.  The story is that John Jr was preparing his bath water when he experienced an epileptic seizure, causing him to fall and hit his head, rendering him unconscious.  He drowned in the bath water.  That eventful day remains in my subconscious memories.  Charlie and I, as well as the rest of the family, were deeply saddened by the passing of our loved one.  Coincidentally, we were expecting John Jr to visit us that weekend and were looking forward to seeing him.  John Jr was 26 years old at the time of his death, much too young.  His memories remain with those of us who survive him.

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John Claude Bourgoyne Jr was baptized on 07 January 1951 in the St. John the Evangelist Church in Plaquemine, Louisiana.  Godparents were Joseph Rockforte, the brother of his mother, and Mrs. Hadley Renard.  Baptismal rites were performed by the Rev. Leonard Robin.  

Missing someone gets easier every day because even though it's one day  further from the last time you saw each other, it's one day closer to the next time you will.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Charles Raymond Bourgoyne

My husband, Charles Raymond Bourgoyne, the son of John Claude Bourgoyne Sr and Lena Mary Rockforte, is a native of Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  Born and raised there, he has many memories of Plaquemine and its surrounding areas.  He and his school friends spent their afternoons and summer days "just being boys" along the levee banks of Bayou Plaquemine.  They often fished off the banks under the railroad bridge.  Among his favorite memories are the moments that he and his dad, Mr. Claude, rode the bicycle to town.  Charlie sat atop the handlebars as he and his dad rode along the bayou bridge and across the street to either the City Cafe or Bon's Bakery, where they would enjoy a biscuit or honey bun and milk.

To the right is a photo of Kurzweg Street in Plaquemine.  Charlie's family lived in the green painted duplex house.  The family resided there for several years before moving closer to town.  Unfortunately, Charlie will only disclose bits and pieces of his childhood memories.  I would do him an injustice by trying to "paint a pretty picture of happy childhood memories" when they did not exist.  The family struggled in their personal relationships and financially.

By the time Charlie attended Plaqemine High School, the family had moved to a house on Thesis Street (photo on left), now considered a historical area.  He remembers spending a lot of time walking along the levee surrounding the Plaquemine Lock, which was right around the bend from their house.  He walked to Railroad Avenue often to visit with his Aunt Louella and cousins, Donna and Pam.  As a teen, Charlie spent a few hours on Friday or Saturday nights enjoying the social gatherings at the Plaquemine Youth Center, where other teens gathered for music and dancing.  When he was old enough to drive, his dad had made a promise to help him out with a car.  Mr. Claude held to his promise and bought Charlie a yellow mustang with proceeds from a bingo win.  He was thrilled to have his own ride for a change.  Some of the "buddies" he hung out with were Gary Clouatre (their friendship lasted into their adult years, until Gary's death in the early 1990's), Leroy Brown and his cousin "Whoopie" Bourgoyne.

In 1975, at the age of 20, Charlie decided to leave his hometown and move to the west bank of New Orleans.  His best friend, Gary Clouatre, decided to pack up his few belongings and travel with Charlie.  At that time, Charlie's brother, Claude Jr, was already married and was living in Harvey, Louisiana which was across the river from New Orleans.  To this day, Charlie still proclaims that he moved to the west bank just to be closer to me *smile*.  We had met at Shakey's Pizza, a teen hang-out, in April 1975.  After talking on the phone every day for two or three weeks, Charlie said he was convinced that he wanted to see more of me.  He and Gary stayed a few weeks with Claude Jr, until they secured jobs then they moved into a rental house with another friend.  On weekends, a crowd of us hung out at the drive-in movies, bowling centers and game rooms in Gretna and Harvey.  We had great fun together.  The photo on left was taken in 1976, at my Senior Prom which was held in New Orleans.  It's quite obvious the photo was from the 1970's- just look at those bright colors!

Charlie and I dated for well over a year before we married on 19 December 1976.  We had a small wedding which was held in the home of my parents in Columbia, Mississippi.  After the wedding, we resided in Gretna, Louisiana for a year then moved to Columbia, Mississippi, and that is where we have been the majority of our married life.  Like any other married couple, we have had our fair share of ups and downs and everything in-between.  We were so young when we married- he was 21 and I was 17, so we basically "grew up" together.

For the first several years of our marriage, Charlie was away from home often because he was employed in the oilfield industry.  He has held positions as a roustabout, roughneck and motorman and has worked on both gulf rigs and land platforms. After recuperation from a back injury which prevented him from returning to work in the oilfield industry, Charlie secured employment in the sales industry.  He has mainly worked in lawn equipment and auto parts sales.  Charlie has a strong work ethic and works more hours than I would like for him to.

There is more information about Charlie and I on the About Us page here.  Also, in the future there will be more about us on my other family page, The Family Snoop, in the Sharing Memories section.  Click here to access those pages or go to

Thursday, April 5, 2012

John Claude Bourgoyne Sr

My husband's father, John Claude Bourgoyne Sr, was born 16 September 1924 in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana, the son of Henry Joseph Bourgoyne and Genevieve Lillie Smith.  He died 24 February 1987 in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  He married Lena Mary Rockforte, daughter of Giovanni "John" Roccaforte and Mary Francesca Roccaforte, on 21 May 1949 in Port Allen, West Baton Rouge, Louisiana. From their union, three children were born- John Claude Jr, Charles Raymond and Nannette Marie.  

John Claude Bourgoyne Sr was known as "Claude" to family and friends.  When he passed away, my husband and I inherited his personal documents.  I was really surprised that Mr. Claude still had the documents, considering that most of the family photos didn't survive through the years.  Some of his documents date back to the 1920's and they are so fragile that I'm afraid of even touching them.  I have been saying that I am going to have the documents laminated for safekeeping, but it's one of those tasks I've saved for my "One Day" bin.  We were surprised to learn that his full name at birth was John Claude Fryoux Bourgogne- he had never informed us of that information.  "Fryoux" was the maiden name of his great-great grandmother, Victorine Frioux (also spelled Fryoux), who married Jules Adolphe Bourgoyne.  The surname Bourgogne was used interchangeably at times with Bourgoyne, also Burgoyne, Burgoine, Burgoin.  

Mr. Claude was baptized on 27 September 1924 at St. John the Baptist R.C. Church in Brusly, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  His baptismal certificate shows his godparents were Samuel Thompson and Octavia Hebert.   I am curious about his relationship with his godparents- did they share a close bond?  Were they related, or friends of the family?  Did his godparents live near him?  Hopefully I will learn more as my future research unfolds.  

Mr. Claude grew up in the rural Cut Off settlement in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  The small settlement was established after his parents' families were forced to leave their native Sardine Point community.  I don't recall Mr. Claude talking much about his childhood on the settlement.  If he were still living, I would have so many questions for him!  What was his childhood like?  What did he enjoy doing while growing up?  What were his parents like?  I now understand the importance of obtaining information from our ancestors while they are still living because, once they are gone, their oral history is lost forever.

John Claude Bourgoyne and his brother Norris are shown in this historical photo of the 7th grade graduating class of Levert-Addis school in Addis, Louisiana.  His classmates were Lois Tullier, Mary Drago, Leonard Strehle, Jimmie McDermatt, Iris Bergeron, Ethel Mae Johnson, Farrell Marioneaux, Lorraine Rivet, Helen Lucas, E.J. Wroten, Marion Cazes, Gertrude Smith, Mary Ann Bezet and Faye Tullier.  The principal was C.J. Lousteau.  Did Mr. Claude have any cousins among this group of students?  Were any of them his close friends or playmates?  

This certificate certifies that Claude Bourgoyne has completed the Elementary course of Study of the Public School System of Louisiana as prescribed by the Department of Education, and is, therefore, eligible to promotion to the high-school grades of State-approved high schools, and is awarded this certificate as evidence of graduation from the elementary grades of the Levert-Addis School of West Baton Rouge Parish. Given this 30th day of May, 1940.

This is the only photo of Mr. Claude as a young person in my possession.  Unfortunately, most of his family photos were lost throughout the years.  I'm amazed that he still had ownership of most of his important documents at the time of his death.  He was a handsome young man, wasn't he?  I treasure this photo of him.  It was taken 1940-1941.  Mr. Claude had piercing blue eyes- I remember them well because they were a beautiful, bright blue.  His grandson, John Claude Bourgoyne III, has those same beautiful blue eyes and facial characteristics which remind me much of Mr. Claude.  

Mr. Claude attended Brusly High School in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana from September 1940 until May 1942.  Rather than return to school the next term, he enlisted in the United States Navy on 25 August 1942 and served his country during World War II. 

Mr. Claude enlisted in the United States Navy on August 25, 1942.  He was a handsome young man, then only 18 years old.  Before entering the service, his desire was to attend technical college and obtain certification as an automobile mechanic.  That dream would have to wait.  A world war was in progress and his country was in need of strong young men to help serve their cause.  On the same day that John Claude enlisted for the service, two of his friends from their small community enlisted as well.  I have no knowledge of what military unit his friends served in, but I know they did not serve together.  Did they communicate with each other while in service?  Did they reunite after their return home to the states? 

Navy Training Course Certificate
J.C. Bourgoyne
having completed the Navy Training Course
Seaman, First Class
with a mark of 3.3, is awarded this certificate this 19th day of June 1943.

The USS Takanis Bay was a United States Navy Casablanca-class escort aircraft carrier, named after Takanis Bay on the west side of Yakobi Island in Alaska.  She was laid down under Maritime Commission contract on December 16, 1943 at Vancouver, Washington and launched on March 10, 1944.  She was commissioned on April 15, 1944 with Captain A.R. Brady in command. Takanis Bay operated out of San Diego with Fleet Air, West Coast, through the end of hostilities with Japan in mid-August 1945.  She tested pilots for carrier operations, and between May 24, 1944- August 28, 1945 she qualified 2,509 pilots.  She also returned 1,300 servicemen in two trips from Hawaii to San Diego.

John Claude Bourgoyne Sr served aboard the USS Takanis Bay as a Seaman First Class.  The specific dates of his service aboard the aircraft carrier are unknown, but we know, from the history of the carrier,  it was between 1944-45.   This photo was included in his personal files:

USS Takanis Bay, 3rd Division

Closer view of John Claude Bourgoyne Sr, USS Takanis Bay, 3rd Division

List of Service Men, USS Takanis Bay, 3rd Division

Each of the service men in the photo signed the back of it.  They were: Row 1:  Howard S. Bradley, Cecil R. Tracy (or Fracy), Tracy W. Young, Benny Nowosielaki, Clarence T. Schmitt, Robert Willingham, Bill L. Shaw, C.F. Eaton, S.W. Griffin; Row 2:  S.G.Dour, K.W. Johnson, R.J. Peterson, A.W. Hammond, G.R. Satalino, A.F. Leonard, Harry J. Livingston, E.C. Peterson, Paul V. Adams, Henry J. Teichman, Earl R. Berrie; Row 3:  William G. Putt?, O.B. Cannon, A.W. Amstretz, J.V. McRoberts, J. Reul, A.D.S. DeMuro, M.L. Atkins, Del Duell, J.W. Davenport, Harold L. Sloat, Theodore H. Yng (or Zing), Elmer Durant; Row 4:  M.F. Edmonds, T.F. Jackson, J.L. Blank, H.C. Rambo, W.M. Seboeneck, E.B. Gilslrap?, Bill Skay, J.C. Bourgoyne, Charles S. Thomas, Harold L. Jacob

Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy-
This is to certify that John Claude Bourgoyne, a Seaman First Class is Honorably Discharge from the United States Naval Personnel Separation Center of
New Orleans, Louisiana and from the Naval Service of the United States this 27th day of December 1945.

Mr. Claude was 21 years old when he was discharged from the Navy.  I am curious as to what he was thinking upon discharge.  I'm sure he was happy to return to his native home and anxious to return to his family.  Or was he?  Did he ever regret his decision to return home rather than continue his naval training?  

This Notice of Separation document shows the date of birth for Mr. Claude, as well as other information- he completed 7 years of grammar school and 2 years of high school.  He was a high school student at the time he enlisted in the Navy on 25 August 1942.  He served 3 years, 4 months and 3 days in the Navy.  During his time abroad, he served on the USS Minneapolis, USS Heywood, USS Takanis Bay and at the receiving station in Bremerton, Washington.  Mr. Claude received the Good Conduct Medal, as well as recognition for duty in Asiatic Pacific and American Theater.  His plans after discharge from the Navy was to receive his apprenticeship in automobile mechanics.

At the bottom of the document is Mr. Claude's thumbprint and his personal signature.  To a family historian, these bits of personalized items are a treasure- reminders that give "life" to our past loved ones, indicators that they were "real" and "alive".  

The Notice of Separation from U.S. Naval Service record for John Claude Bourgoyne, dated 27 December 1945, indicated that his job preference was an Automobile Mechanic Apprentice.  Apparently Mr. Claude decided to pursue that goal and entered the Baton Rouge Trade School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana upon discharge from the Navy.  He received his official certificate, granted after completion of  1247 hours of instruction in Machine Shop, on 31 March 1947.

John Claude Bourgoyne and Lena Mary Rockforte made application for license to marry in the clerk's office of West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana on 21 May 1949.  The wedding ceremony was performed on 23 May 1949, officiated by Justice of the Peace, Camile E. LeBlanc and witnessed by Vernon E. Slaven, Joseph J. Rockforte (brother of the bride) and Raymond J. Guacale(?).

Mr. Claude and his wife resided in Plaquemine most of their married life.  They endured tough times throughout their years together.  Since they did not own their own personal automobile, Mr. Claude was alienated from many of his family members who still resided in the Cut Off area.  Transportation, or the lack thereof, limited his social activities to within a small area of the parish.  The marriage of Mr. Claude and his wife dissolved in 1977 and they eventually went their separate ways.

Mr. Claude retired on disability and purchased a small mobile home in Plaquemine where he resided until his health declined to the point that he was unable to keep up with the maintenance of having his own place.  While his health allowed, he enjoyed walking into town and visiting with others in the area.  He was particularly fond of playing Bingo and could often be found at the American Legion in Plaquemine on bingo nights.

John Claude Bourgoyne Sr passed away from this life on 24 February 1987 at 9:45 p.m. in the River West Medical Center, Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana.  He was 62 years old at the time of his death.  He had been diagnosed with heart disease in his late 50's and required a pacemaker.  His heart condition gradually declined, and he began to suffer congestive heart failure.

Obituary for John Claude Bourgoyne Sr:

Died 9:45 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 24, 1987, at River West Medical Center, Plaquemine.  He was 62, a native of West Baton Rouge Parish and a resident of Plaquemine.  He was a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II.  Visiting at Wilbert Funeral Home, 8 a.m. until religious services at 10 a.m. Thursday.  Burial in Grace Memorial Park.  Survived by a daughter, Nannette Marie Peck, Wilson, Kan.; a son, Charles Raymond Bourgoyne, Columbia, Miss.; two sisters, Nora Songy, Plaquemine and Ruth Morales, Lafayette; two brothers, Joseph N. Bourgoyne, Plaquemine, and Joseph H. Bourgoyne, Port Allen; and eight grandchildren. Preceded in death by a son, John Claude Bourgoyne Jr; and parents, Henry and Lillie Smith Bourgoyne

The grandchildren unnamed in his obituary are:  Cristina Fae Bourgoyne, Cheresa Renae Bourgoyne, Charles Ryan Bourgoyne, John Claude Bourgoyne III, Patrick Wayne Bourgoyne, Jason Paul Bourgoyne, Thomas Anthony Peck and Timothy Wayne Peck.

In Loving Memory:  From the first moment that I met Mr. Claude, I felt welcomed into his family.  He offered me kindness always.  I spent a great deal of time with him in the late 1970's, after he and Mrs. Lena divorced.  Charles and I lived in Baker, Louisiana briefly while he was working there on a land rig platform.  We would occasionally drive to Plaquemine to visit family and sometimes we would spend a night or two with Mr. Claude.  In those days, Mr. Claude's health was better so he enjoyed getting out- going to Bingo or to the grocery store and I would taxi him around while there.  I went to Bingo with him a few times and observed how Mr. Claude mingled with others.  He always greeted friends or family with a smile and often a handshake.  He was easy going most of the time. I remember our trips to the grocery store together.  Mr. Claude would read label after label on the can goods, scanning them intently with his eyes.  Aisle after aisle, Mr. Claude was reading labels.  I never asked him what specifics he was looking for on the goods but I often wondered about it.  Mr. Claude didn't cook much for himself so he really enjoyed it when I cooked a meal for us.  His favorite dish that I cooked was the baked pork chops with potatoes and onions.  He would brag on how delicious it was and eat until he was content. Mr. Claude was often too generous with his money, what little bit he had.  One time I was talking to Charlie about purchasing a used sewing machine.  Mr. Claude then insisted that he give me the money to purchase one.  I tried to decline his offer but he wouldn't hear of it.  The next day, I had a good used Singer sewing machine.  That sewing machine stitched a lot of clothes for our daughters when they were very young.  When he had money in his pocket, Mr. Claude had difficulty saying no to those who needed a few dollars. When Charlie and I would get into a little argument around him, Mr. Claude would quickly reprimand Charlie, telling him, "You got a good wife there, you better treat her right".  He was always quick to defend me, even over his own son.  I remember his most common advice was, "Don't worry about something you don't know the outcome of, because then if it turns out differently, you worried for nothing".  Mr. Claude occasionally spent time with Charlie and I here at home in Columbia.  We would make the drive to Plaquemine to pick him up for a week or so then drive him back home.  I enjoyed having him around.  I believe Mr. Claude loved me so much because I treated him with only dignity and respect.  He deserved it.  Mr. Claude had been through a lot of turmoil in his marriage then the death of his son, John Claude Jr.  He needed some kindness returned to him and I obliged.  Mr. Claude's health really began declining in the 1980's.  He reached a point where he could no longer function by himself at home.  He refused to come live with us, or anyone else.  After a while he entered a nursing home in Plaquemine.  He wasn't the same after that.  When we would visit, he seemed somewhat distant and depressed.  I felt so sad for him.  He lived in the nursing home less than a year or so before his death.  I remember Mr. Claude with great fondness.  He was a good man, one who would give the shirt off his back to someone else in need; one who was hard working and serving; one who is sorely missed by those who truly loved him.

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal"
~ From a headstone in Ireland