Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Genealogy Do-Over Update: My Paternal Grandparents

I have been participating in Thomas MacEntee's Genealogy Do-Over since early February. I have been lagging behind, not making it much farther than Month 2, even though we are technically on Month 5. But I am okay with that because I have been making great strides with the research and organization I have done thus far.

I have gotten all of the documents for my myself, my parents, and my siblings all organized into OneNote notebooks with source citations, document transcriptions, and analysis. I've also entered the documents into Evidentia and produced source analysis reports from there that I've copied and pasted into OneNote. The documents were already cited in my RootsMagic program, as part of a previous do-over of my own initiative, so I did not change too much there. I also created timelines, record search checklists, and source logs for my parents.

After I finished with my parents, I moved on to my paternal grandparents, Benford Maurice TRAHAN and Merlene Golda MERTENA. I thought I had done pretty well researching them as part of my previous do-over, but this time around, I have slowed down considerably (which is why I have not made it to Month 5 yet). I am noticing holes in my previous research. This time around, I am taking more time to research events and places to better understand their lives. Some of the things I've noticed this time around or that I've expanded with further research are the following:
  1. I took the time to mine the online catalog at Calcasieu Parish Public Library to find local history resources. My grandparents spent all of their married life in Calcasieu Parish. I found that there were several books at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library about various topics of interest, including:
    1. the history of the Lake Charles Diocese of the Catholic Church
    2. the history of Citgo Refinery (where my dad and great-uncle worked for many years) 
    3. the history of education in Calcasieu Parish
    4. the history of Maplewood (the town where they spent the first few years of their married life together)
    5. several books published on the Trahan family
    6. Yearbooks from Vinton High and Sulphur High, where both of my grandparents attended high school
  2.  I also did research on the naval ships and units that my grandfather served on from 1954-1957. From his military personnel file, I know that he served on the USS Plymouth Rock, USS Washtenaw County, and the Beach Jumper Unit 2 at Norfolk, Virginia. I had no idea that beach jumper units were an intelligence unit of the U.S. Navy. I found out that he was on the first crew to ever be aboard the USS Plymouth Rock. I even reached out to someone who had posted on a USS Plymouth Rock reunion message board to see if her husband knew my grandfather. They were both in the Navigational division, which was a pretty small division of only about 6 men. Sadly, her husband had passed away and she did not know my grandfather.
  3. According to my Grandma, she met my Grandpa at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where they both attended school. She needed help with a word for the French Club float for the Homecoming parade, and someone directed her to my grandpa because he spoke Cajun French. I looked up the website of the McNeese State University Archives and found it to be a valuable resource. I plan to call them to see if they have issues of the Contraband newspaper from 1954-55, when my grandmother was editor. I also ordered a pictorial book on McNeese State University from
  4. I finally started doing research on my dad's godparents. They were listed as James Edward Guidry and Kathryn Coleman on his baptismal record from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vinton, Louisiana. My dad did not know much about them, except that James had some kind of Navy connection to my grandpa. I have not quite identified James yet, but I did find from newspapers and city directories that Kathryn Coleman was also on the Contraband newspaper staff with my grandmother and lived a few houses down from her in Maplewood. Kathryn lived a very interesting life, and her obituary can be found on her Find A Grave memorial.
As you can see, I've added a lot more depth to my previous research and opened up new avenues to research. I plan to visit the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library soon. Before I run off to visit, I have plans to search the yearbooks for Vinton High and Sulphur High online at the library's website. How cool is that? There are even yearbooks for the time that my dad and his brothers attended school in the 1970s at Vinton High.

Some of the other items added to my to-do list are as follows:
  • Search for birth announcements in the local newspapers for me, my siblings, and my first cousins, as well as my dad and his brothers. This can be done here in Baton Rouge at the LSU Main Library and Hill Memorial Library (LSU's archives), as they have several newspapers from Lake Charles, Sulphur, and Vinton, Louisiana.
  • Search for my parents and grandparents in the city directories for Calcasieu Parish at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library. Some of them are online at, but they cut off at 1960. I want to find out when my grandparents moved from Maplewood to Vinton, and where my parents lived when they first moved to Vinton from Port Huron, Michigan.
  • Search for the publication date and page of my grandfather's obituary. I just have a copy that came from the funeral home, but I know it was published in the Vinton News and the American Press in Lake Charles. I can do this here in Baton Rouge as well.
  • Check to see if I have a copy of my grandfather's SS-5 form. I thought I had one, but I need to check my paper To Be Entered files.
  • Search Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia, city directories to find where my grandparents lived while my grandfather was stationed there in the U.S. Navy. I found that they are located at the public library in Norfolk and at the Library of Virginia.
  • Search the Lake Charles American Press at for any articles about my grandparents.
  • Search for a marriage announcement for my grandparents in the Vinton and Sulphur newspapers. I can do this here in Baton Rouge.
  • Search for baptismal records for my dad's brothers at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Vinton.
Anyhow, I just wanted to some up some of the new findings for my paternal grandparents and motivate myself to get started on my to-do list. Off to search those online yearbooks...

Wordless Wednesday: Benford and Merlene c. 1980

Since I am focusing on my paternal grandparents (Benford Maurice Trahan and Merlene Golda Mertena) right now in my Genealogy Do-Over, here are pictures of them around 1980. I found these attached to my grandmother's memorial at Hixson Funeral Home's website. By this time, they had been married about 25 years and had raised four sons to young adulthood. I sure do miss them these days!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

SNGF: The Homes I've Lived In

Randy's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun mission is to blog about the homes we've lived in. I thought that might be a fun little trip down memory lane.

My first home was a trailer located in Bahnsen Trailer Park at 2000 Center St. in Vinton, Louisiana. I know I have a picture of it somewhere, but it's not scanned. I can remember a pic of me as a toddler sitting on the steps outside on an old rotary dial phone (it might have been one of those play phones that all kids from the 1980s had). Here is a pic of my parents in September 1985 in the living room with the kitchen in the background.

In May 1987, just after I finished kindergarten, we moved to the house where my parents still live. It is also in Vinton.

During my senior year of college in 2002, I moved into my first apartment at the Park Villa Apartments after living in the dorms at Centenary College for three years. I shared it with my friend, Emily. We had a 2 bedroom apartment on the second floor. The apartments are located at 1215 Captain Shreve Dr. in Shreveport, Louisiana, and still look the same today. I was so excited to have my first apartment.

Source: Google Maps
After I graduated, I moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to be closer to my family. I moved into a three bedroom apartment in Chateau Lafitte Apartments at 4202 Lake Street with my sister and a college friend of her's from McNeese State University. It was very spacious and was located along the Contraband Bayou. We even had a balcony overlooking the bayou. I paid more rent since I was working full-time, and I got the very spacious master bedroom with its own master bath. I remember our apartment manager being very "hot."

Source: Google Maps

For some reason, we only lived here for 6 months. I think it was because our roommate wanted to move out, and we never could find a good third roommate for the third bedroom. We moved to downtown Lake Charles into a 2-bedroom four-plex located at 731 Kirby Lane. It was in a really cute older neighborhood. The owner was crazy. He lived in the apartment next to our's. We were in the far left apartment on the first floor.

Source: Google Maps

We only lasted here 6 months as well. We got tired of living downtown because it was so far away from everything in south Lake Charles. And the owner was kind of crazy. So we moved to a 2-bedroom townhouse at 912 Shady Lane, which was also located on Contraband Bayou. Our townhouse was the one of the far left. My bedroom was where that big window is on the second floor.

Source: Google Maps
I only stayed here about another 6 months because I decided to go off to graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin. Lucky I did because this apartment was completely flooded during Hurricane Rita. My sister and a roommate lived in it at the time. In Austin, I moved to The Breakers on the Lake Apartments. They were located at 1500 E. Riverside, just a few miles from campus. I initially had a studio, and then after Hurricane Rita, my boyfriend (now husband) moved in, and we got a 2-bedroom in the same complex.They were nice apartments located on Town Lake with a pool that overlooked the lake. The bad thing was that we had mice in our 2-bedroom apartment.

Source: Google Maps
After graduate school, I got a big girl accounting job in Houston. I was so excited because my apartment was brand new. It was called Ravello at Tuscan Lakes and was located at 1750 E. League City Pkwy. in League City (about 20 minutes outside Houston). It was very fancy and had a resort style pool. We even got engaged at this apartment, so I always think very fondly of it.

Source: Google Maps
The only problem with Ravello and Houston was that my fiance (now husband) was going to graduate school 4 hours away in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Again, I only lasted about 6 months because I missed him so much. I ended up moving to Baton Rouge and living with him at the Embassy Apartments at 3928 Gourrier Ave. across from LSU. They were far from my fancy apartment in Houston, but I did not care because I was now reunited with my fiance.

Source: Google Maps
We actually stayed here about 1 1/2 years. Then when he graduated, we moved into the Evergreen Apartments (now called Coursey Place) at 13675 Coursey Blvd in Baton Rouge. We were tired of not having a washer and dryer. These came with washers and dryers. We got a 2-bedroom with a screened in porch that overlooked the pond. This is where I found my cat, Boo.

Source: Google Maps
We lived here for two years until I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. The company I worked for was moving their company headquarters and offered me a job there. I moved into the Ashley Park Apartments at Brier Creek. It was just a few miles from my new job, located in the Research Triangle Park. (My apartment was not one of the fancy ones with a garage). It was a very spacious one-bedroom and had a balcony that overlooked a wooded area.

Source: google maps

I lived in North Carolina for about 6 months before we decided to finally get married. The problem was that he was still in Baton Rouge. Another 6 months passed, we got married, and I moved back to Louisiana. In Louisiana, we got a 2-bedroom apartment at the Bristol Apartments located at 5960 Siegen Lane. I would put a picture, but Google Maps does not have a good one, since they are located so far back from the street. They have a long palm-tree lined entrance.

We stayed at the Bristol for 2 years until we finally decided to buy a house. This is a picture of our current house (not far from our old apartment on Coursey Blvd.). We love it here and hope to stay for many more years.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

How Many Trees?

About two weeks ago, Randy Seaver over at GeneaMusings posted a Saturday Night Genealogy Fun post about counting the number of trees in your database. I wanted to participate, but I got busy doing some other things, so I'm finally catching up on it now.

1) How many different "trees" do you have in your genealogy management program (i.e., RootsMagic, Family Tree Maker, reunion, etc.) or online tree (e.g. Ancestry Member Tree, MyHeritage tree)? 

 I use RootsMagic 7. I went to the Tools>Count Trees function and found that I only have 2 trees. I didn't think I would have too many, as I am usually hesitant about adding new branches to my tree unless I know where they belong. 

2)  How many trees do you have, and how big is your biggest tree?  Do you have some smaller "bushes" or "twigs?"

Obviously, my largest tree is my tree, which has all of my maternal and paternal ancestors (at least those entered since my do-over began a few years ago), many descendants of my ancestors, some collateral relatives and their ancestors, and some of my husband's ancestors (still working on that one).

I believe the tree for Eugene TRAHAN exists because I mistook his mother, Ursule TRAHAN, as being the daughter of Don Louis TRAHAN and Julienne MONTET. Don Louis is my 4x great-granduncle. It seems that Eugene's mother had him out of wedlock 1 Dec 1891 in Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana, according to an abstraction of his baptismal record from St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Lafayette. 

Don Louis also had a daughter named Ursule, born 23 Sep 1854 in St. Martinville, St. Martin, Louisiana. But Don Louis's Ursule married Eugene TRAHAN, son of Delphin Stainville TRAHAN and Marie Cidalise TRAHAN, 8 Feb 1875 in Breaux Bridge, St. Martin, Louisiana. I know, this is too many Trahan's marrying Trahan's and too many people named Eugene and Ursule. This Eugene and Ursule were first cousins. Eugene's mother and Ursule's father were siblings. See why I got confused?

I'm still not entirely certain that the two Ursule's are not the same, but until I know for sure, I unlinked that branch of the family for now. Since all Trahan's in North America descend from Guillaume TRAHAN, I hope that one day I will be able to link them back up to my tree.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Benford and Merlene Trahan

I have been focusing on my paternal grandparents, Benford and Merlene (Mertena) Trahan, in my Genealogy Do-Over. When I was adding my source documents to their section in my Trahan OneNote Notebook, I added a link to my grandmother's online obituary at Hixson Funeral Home's website. I realized that there were 34 photos attached to her online memorial. I did not notice this before. I downloaded all of them to my computer.

This is one of my favorites. It is Benford and Merlene with their two oldest children, my dad, Michael David Trahan (on the left), and Dale Christopher Trahan (on the right). In the very back is Benford's mother, Beatrice (Boneaux) Trahan. This was taken around 1957 based on the assumed ages of my dad and uncle in the photo. I'm not sure where it was taken, but it kind of looks like the old railroad house where Beatrice lived in 1957. I imagine this may have been right after they returned from Norfolk, Virginia, where my grandfather was stationed in the U.S. Navy from 1955-1957. Thanks to the Do-Over, I was able to find this wonderful photo that I had overlooked the first time I came across her obituary online.