Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #3 Maurice BONEAUX

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has challenged the genea-blogging community to blog about one ancestor per week in a series called 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. This week I will blog about my 2x great-grandfather, Maurice BONEAUX. He was the maternal grandfather and namesake of my paternal grandfather, Benford Maurice TRAHAN. He died just six months before Benford was born. Maurice has always intrigued me because of the family stories told about him and the fact that his paternal line was not Cajun French. Three out of the four 2x great-grandparents on my paternal grnadfather's side are Cajun French. Maurice is the only one who isn't.

The family story is that his father came over directly from France as a stowaway on a ship. I have not determined whether the stowaway part is true, but records do support the fact that his father was born in France. Maurice's son-in-law, my great-grandfather, Bienvenue TRAHAN, was very fond of Maurice. According to Bienvenue, Maurice never ceased to amaze him as he went from one business opportunity to another during the Great Depression, always making money. He told stories about Maurice selling gambling machines to various businesses. Bienvenue would be the lookout that stayed in the car to protect the money as Maurice went from business to business collecting his share of the gambling machine profits. He also told stories about Maurice selling cars. He would drive around until he saw a bunch of kids hanging out on the porch and then ask them if they wanted to see his car. Then he would tell the kids that they needed to help him get their dad to buy the car.

Here are the facts I know about Maurice:
  • According to a transcription of baptismal records from St. John's Cathedral in Lafayette, Louisiana, Maurice was born 13 Aug 1883 to Dominique BONEAUX and Marie Alida MOUTON.  He was the third and youngest child born to Dominique and Alida.
  • On 10 Sep 1908, 25-year-old Maurice married 17-year-old Marie Alice SONNIER, daughter of Numa SONNIER and Marie Edmonia DOMINGUE, at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Carencro, Lafayette, Louisiana. 
  • Marie Florine BONEAUX was born 11 months later to Maurice and Marie Alice on 7 Aug 1909 and baptized 2 Sep 1909 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana. 
  • Sadly, Marie Florine died three weeks later and was buried on 19 Sep 1909. She was buried in the same church cemetery where she was baptized. 
  • Maurice and Marie Alice are found living in Police Jury Ward 1 of Lafayette Parish in the 1910 census. Funnily enough, the family stories about Maurice always trying new business opportunities is supported by his occupation on the census. He is listed as a barber, farmer, and salesman. They lived next door to Maurice's parents and his older brother, Joseph.
  • My great-grandmother, Beatrice Marie BONEAUX, was born to Maurice and Marie Alice on 26 Aug 1910. She was baptized on 1 Oct 1910 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church.
  • In Sep 1918, Maurice registered for the WWI draft. He was living in Scott and listed his occupation as a self-employed farmer.
  • In 1920, Maurice, Marie Alice, and Beatrice are found in Police Jury Ward 1 of Lafayette Parish. Maurice's occupation was a self-employed farmer. There was a 15-year-old black male named Joe Green who was also living in the household. His occupation was given as servant for a private family. I presume he must have worked for the family, possibly helping out on the farm. 
  • In 1930, Maurice, Marie Alice, Beatrice, and now Bienvenue TRAHAN were found in Police Jury Ward 1. Beatrice and Bienvenue had married just a year earlier on 14 Sep 1929. Maurice had no occupation listed. Bienvenue was listed as an unemployed laborer of odd jobs. 
  • Maurice died at the age of 51 on 5 Sep 1934 in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana, from tuberculosis. He was buried the following day in the Sts. Peter and Paul church cemetery. Sadly, he never got to meet his only grandchild who would be named for him 6 months later.
  • Maurice's wife, Marie Alice, continued to live on the family land for several more years. The land is still owned by my dad and his brothers today. It's about 40 acres of land just outside Scott. Maurice and Marie Alice's house is still standing (albeit in not so great condition). 
Maurice sounds like such an interesting person from the records and family stories. I would like to find some newspapers from the time period to see if he was ever mentioned. I imagine he would have made some good headlines.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #2 Virginia PREJEAN

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has challenged the genea-blogging community to blog about one ancestor per week in a series called 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.This week I will blog about my great-great-grandmother, Virginia PREJEAN. She was my paternal grandfather's paternal grandmother.

For the first ten years or so of my research, I did not know what happened to Virginia after she and my great-great-grandfather, Oscar TRAHAN, divorced. I found her on the 1920 census living with her parents and she seemed to disappear after that. I had gotten all of my information on her from my paternal grandmother, and I had no death date/place. She said that after the divorce, my great-grandfather was raised in several different homes, including those of his grandparents, so I guess I just assumed that Virginia abandoned the family.

One day while looking through the SSDI for all Virginia's born on her birth date, I found one named Virginia SCHENKEL. Her last benefit address was in the same part of Louisiana as my Virginia. I asked for some help on a local message board for Acadia Parish, and someone transcribed her obit for me. Sure enough, my great-grandfather, Bienvenue TRAHAN, was listed as a surviving son. To my surprise, there were other children listed as well. I even found a former neighbor of her's on the message board who told me some stories about her. She said that she never wore a bra and lived in a little old shack in Crowley. She said that they called her T-Mom and she only spoke Cajun French.

These are the facts that I know about Virginia:
  • According to transcriptions of baptismal records, she was baptized at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Carencro, Lafayette, Louisiana, and she was born 12 Jul 1889 to Lucien (aka Paul Lucius) PREJEAN and Alicia BERNARD. She was the third of twelve known children. I need to order a copy of the actual baptismal record from the Diocesan Archives. 
  • At the age of 18, she married Oscar TRAHAN on 18 Jan 1908 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana. I need to order a copy of the civil marriage record.
  • She gave birth to my great-grandfather 9 months later on 26 Oct 1908.
  • In 1910, she and Oscar and Bienvenue are found on the census in Police Jury Ward 2 of St. Landry Parish. They lived just two doors down from her parents. She was listed as a field hand.
  • According to Oscar's WWI draft registration in 1917, he was supporting a wife and child and lived in Vatican, Lafayette, Louisiana.
  • In 1920, Virginia is found alone with her parents in Police Jury Ward 2 of St. Landry Parish. The family story is that Oscar and Virginia divorced, so I assume they must have divorced between 1917 and 1920. I need to find a copy of their divorce record, if there really was a divorce.
  • According to an online index for marriages in Acadia Parish, Virginia Prejean Trahan married Louis SCHENKEL on 04 Nov 1932. I need to order a copy of the actual record. I have not found Louis or Virginia in the 1930 census. 
  • In 1940, Louis and Virginia are found living in Gray Addition in Crowley, Acadia, Louisiana. Louis was a construction worker. They had three children in the household: daughter, Dorley Schenkel, age 16; son, Claude Schenkel, age 13; and son, Louis Schenkel, age 7. Interestingly, Louis (Sr) was 10 years younger than Virginia.
  • Louis SCHENKEL (Sr.) died in Feb 1973, according to the SSDI. I need to order a copy of his obit.
  • Virginia died 3 Mar 1977 at the age of 87 from a heart attack at her home in Crowley. She was buried in Old Crowley Cemetery.  
The missing piece of the puzzle for me is the period between 1920 and 1932. What was Virginia up to in those years? She obviously was having children. I found out from the former neighbor that her son Claude's name was actually Claude DOMINGUE. According to the SSDI and a WWII draft card, he was born 11 May 1926 in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana, and died 17 Aug 1994. I'm not sure who Claude's father, Mr. Domingue, was. I doubt Virginia was ever married to him because she still had the last name Trahan when she married Louis SCHENKEL.

I also found out that her youngest son, Louis SCHENKEL, had a skin disease and died in Mar 1993. According to the SSDI, he was born 06 Nov 1932, just two days after her marriage to his father.

I found out the daughter's married name and contact info, though I have not tried to contact her recently. My grandmother contacted her once, but she was not feeling well, and I was short on time during a break from college, so I did not get to meet her. I know I should look into contacting her again if she is still living.

And that, folks, is all I know about Virginia. Some other things on my to-do list are to order her succession papers from the Acadia Parish Clerk of Court, search Acadia Parish land records for her and Louis SCHENKEL, and search St. Landry/Lafayette Parish land records for her and Oscar TRAHAN. 


Sunday, January 5, 2014

52 Ancestors: #1 Oscar Trahan

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has challenged the genea-blogging community to blog about one ancestor per week in a series called 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. I am not sure if I will really be able to keep up with this each week due to starting a new job, buying a house, joining a gym, etc. But, hey, I will try to do so every Sunday. Since I am currently working very hard on getting sources documented and more complete research done for my 16 great-great-grandparents, I decided I will start off by blogging about my 2x great-grandfather, Oscar Trahan. He is my father's father's father's father, or my paternal grandfather's paternal grandfather. Sadly, I have no pictures of Oscar. He was in and out of the family's life and the family was very poor. Here is what I know about Oscar:

  • According to his baptismal record from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rayne, Acadia, Louisiana, he was born either 7 Sep 1889 or 17 Oct 1889 to Theoville TRAHAN and Anna WISE. I say either one of two dates because it looks like 7 Sep 1889 was originally written, and then Sep was crossed out and Oct written above it. The 1 in front of the 7 looks like it was added after the fact because it was in a darker ink. His godparents were Theodore ROBER and Dorrna BERTRAND. I'm not sure of their relation to the family just yet.
  • At the age of 18, he married my 2x great-grandmother, Virginia PREJEAN, at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana, on 18 Jan 1908.   
  • Exactly 9 months later, Virginia gave birth to their honeymoon baby, my great-grandfather, Bienvenue TRAHAN on 26 Oct 1908.
  • Oscar and Virginia are found in the 1910 census in the 2nd Police Jury Ward in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Little Bienvenue was in the household as well. Oscar was listed as a farmer. They lived next door to Oscar's parents and 2 doors down from Virginia's parents. 
  • Oscar's WWI draft registration, dated 5 Jun 1917 states that he was born 7 Sep 1889 in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana. He was living in Vatican, Louisiana, and working as a farmer. He listed his dependents as a wife and child.
  • Just three years later in 1920, Virginia is found living with her parents in the 2nd Police Jury Ward in St. Landry Parish. There is no mention of Oscar or Bienvenue in the household. I have not been able to find them in the 1920 census. The family story is that Oscar abandoned her. Supposedly he was working down in Iberia Parish and was taking the train back home to St. Landry Parish when one day, he got drunk playing cards with guys on the train and missed his stop. He rode all the way to Dallas before he got off. When he finally made it back home, Virginia told him to go away, and he did.
  • Oscar moved to Texas and on New Year's Eve in 1921, he married Bertha DUHON in Goose Creek (now Baytown), Harris, Texas. Bertha was another transplanted Louisianian from Acadia Parish living in Texas and was 14 years younger than Oscar.
  • In 1930, Oscar and Bertha are found in Justice Precinct 3 of Harris County. Oscar was working in an oil refinery. They did not have any children.
  • By 1934, Oscar and Bertha had made their way back to Louisiana. They were living at 320 Railroad Ave. in Lake Charles, according to the city directory. No occupation was listed for Oscar.
  • Oscar and Bertha are found in Lake Charles at 723 Railroad Ave. in 1936 and 1212 Gieffers St. in 1937. Again, no occupation was listed.
  • In 1939, Oscar and Bertha purchased a piece of property for $200 from Charles E. and Gertie (Faulk) Williams. The property was located at 1102 N. Blake St. in Lake Charles. According to city directories, WWII draft registration cards, and census records, this is where they remained until their deaths. Oscar never had an occupation listed in any of the remaining city directories, and his WWII draft registration stated that he was under the care of a doctor.
  • In 1952, Oscar and Bertha sold part of their property to Ernestine Myers for $400.
  • Bertha died from acute pulmonary adema at the age of 54 on 28 Apr 1957 at the charity hospital in Lafayette. She was buried in Prien Lake Memorial Park in Lake Charles on 29 Apr 1957. Survivors in her obit were listed as her husband, Oscar, and three sisters. No children were mentioned.
  •  Oscar died from cerebral thrombosis at the age of 72 on 5 Aug 1962 at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital. He was buried 6 Aug 1962 at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery in Scott, Lafayette, Louisiana. 
  • Sadly, no succession papers were filed for Oscar when he died. His property on N. Blake St. was later sold at auction due to unpaid property taxes after his death. 
While it seems I may know a lot about Oscar, the sad truth is that I don't really know a whole lot. What happened to him and Virginia? Is the train story true? Where was he in 1920? Did he and Virginia ever get divorced? How did he pay for a house when he had no job? Did he have some sort of retirement from working in the oil refineries in Baytown? Did he lose all contact with the family when he moved to Texas? If so, when did he reunite with his son, my great-grandfather? What prompted him to move to Lake Charles? Why were no succession papers filed? Did no one care about Oscar's property?

My to-do list for Oscar involves obtaining a copy of the civil marriage record for Oscar and Virginia (I have the church record), searching for a divorce record for them in St. Landry Parish, and searching for Oscar and Virginia in the land records of Lafayette and St. Landry Parishes prior to 1920. I should probably look for him in the land records of Harris County, Texas, as well. Maybe I need to dig around a little more in city/county directories for Harris County and Lake Charles.

Well, that was a fun challenge. Now I have a clearer picture of my research so far on Oscar and where I need to look next. Happy Hunting!