CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 1, Number 27
By Damon Veach
HISTORIC HOME: As most of my readers know, I am in the process of donating my entire genealogical collection to the DeSoto Parish Historical Society in Mansfield, Louisiana. In fact, the collection is now a part of the historic Mansfield Female College, the oldest college for women west of the Mississippi River. The complex was donated to the State of Louisiana, and a few months ago, this museum complex along with the Veach-Foshee Memorial Library Collection was dedicated in a special ceremony by Secretary of State Jay Dardenne. There are still many more books being documented, and at this time, I have another dozen boxes to take up for inclusion in the collection. While going through the books to be donated, I pulled out several that will be added later on but I wanted to take another look at them. They are just special ones that I thought I would like to read and study again. The one that caught my eye as I started writing this column was Mariettaís House, A Grandmotherís Cottage, written by a friend of mine who is a retired Times-Picayune employee. It was in the bookshelf by my desk.
Iíve known J.E. Bourgoyne for a number of years. He owns a beautiful guest house in the 800 block of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and it is one of the most elegant you will find there. Even with all the noise from the street, I found it rather quiet and have enjoyed my times there. With wonderful antiques and a beautiful patio garden, it holds fond memories for me on some of my overnight trips to the Crescent City.
Now Bourgoyne is promoting another home, and this story is told in his book about his grandmotherís home in old Turnerville, a part of Plaquemine in Iberville Parish. The story is told by someone who loved the pioneer woman who created this home and nurtured her family for three generations. Visiting the home in person or viewing it through the lens of photographer J.G. Tyburski, you literally step back in time. Even though this is a story about childhood memories in Louisiana, it has appeal for anyone, anywhere. Bourgoyne has dedicated this loving tribute of the past to Julie Marietta Gelpi Loupe (1894-1982) and Adam Oniel Loupe (1890-1944). He has included many pictures of his ancestors including Mariettaís father, Arthur Gelpi, a member of a Spanish family that made a fortune in sugarcane.
The Gelpi family had homes in Barcelona, New Orleans, and Havana. Onielís grandfather was Balmio Dugas, a sugar planter near the community of Smoke Bend on Bayou Lafourche. He was bitten by a mad dog and developed rabies which led to his death. Emily Balmio was Onielís mother. Joseph Loupe, Onielís father, served in the Confederate army. In their old age, Joseph and Emily lived with Oniel and Marietta.
Mariettaís house is on the west bank of the Mississippi River, located just 20 miles south of Baton Rouge and 100 miles above New Orleans. In the hands of a talented writer like Bourgoyne, the story of a home comes alive once more. In fact, his first story was published when he was only twelve years old, but what most people donít realize is that this is a man who at one time was a trapeze artist. From daredevil heights to becoming an award-winning writer and newspaperman, Bourgoyne is at the top of his form in this impressive look at his grandmotherís home. All of this is visually stunning through Tyburskiís photography. He is a native New Yorker who is now the official photographer of the Historic Bourbon Street Foundation.
Surviving levee breaks, hurricanes, and floods, Mariettaís home is alive once more thanks to the magnificent words of a beloved grandson. This wonderful book is available for $22.50 through major bookstores or can be ordered directly from www.margaretmedia.com. Step back in time once more, and enjoy this journey with Marietta. The home is open for viewing by appointment only.
EXCELLENT BOOK: Another book that I am checking out again before donating it to the collection in DeSoto Parish is Colonial Natchitoches, A Creole Community on the Louisiana-Texas Frontier. This book is by H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith. Being from this part of Louisiana, I am always captivated by writings on the parishes in the northwestern part of the state.
Strategically located at the western edge of the Atlantic world, the French post of Natchitoches thrived during the eighteenth century as a trade hub between the well-supplied settlers and the isolated Spaniards and Indians of Texas. Its critical economic and diplomatic role made it the most important community on the Louisiana-Texas frontier during the colonial era and one of a triad of key towns in the colonials Southwest (along with San Antonio and Santa Fe.)
Despite the communityís critical role under French and then Spanish rule, this book on colonial Natchitoches is the first thorough study of its society and economy. Founded in 1714, four years before New Orleans, Natchitoches developed a Creole (American-born of French descent) society that dominated the Louisiana-Texas frontier in spite of the proximity of large numbers of Spaniards and Indians. The authors of this book carefully demonstrate not only the persistence of this Creole dominance but also how it was maintained. They examine, as well, the other ethnic cultures present in the town and relations with Indians in the surrounding area.
Through Statistical analyses of birth and baptismal records, census figures, and appropriate French and Spanish archives, they reach surprising conclusions about the nature of society and commerce in colonial Natchitoches. This is one book that should be in all major library collections. It was published by Texas A&M University Press in College Station, Texas, and you can order from them or get it through a major bookstore. The price is $39.95.
GENEALOGICAL GEM: The third book that has been one of my favorites over the years is No Manís Land, A History of El Camino Real by Louis R. Nardini. I grew up in this part of the state, and my genealogical searches and discoveries are often tied to this territory. This is a publication from Pelican Press in Gretna, Louisiana.
It is one of those books that hold your interest, and you can hardy wait to turn the page and learn more about this period. Nardini has also included so many names of people that lived in this area of Louisiana, and a portion of the book gives some brief biographical sketches. Also included is the family tree of Louis Juchereau De St. Denis, baptismal records, names of farmers, merchants, and traders, soldiers, and even illustrations and pictures from this early period of Louisiana history.
To me, this is a collectible, and if you collect Louisiana books, then this is one you canít be without.
FREE QUERIES: Queries are always welcomed and published in this column format free of charge. They can be any length but should have a Louisiana connection by heritage or by residence of the researcher working on lines in other states or countries. They can be any length. Send to Damon Veach, Louisiana Ancestors, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337 - or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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