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 Amazon.com.
  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 Ancestry.com, 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 Newspapers.com 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...

No comments:

Post a Comment