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!

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