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. 

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