CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 2, Number 12
By Damon Veach
POINTE COUPEE: The history of Pointe Coupee is one of the most important in the state, and Brian J. Costello knows how to put all thing historic inTO perspective. A new book from Margaret Media, Inc. proves my point. It is apparent that Costello learned the fine art of documentation when telling his stories of early Pointe Coupee. A History of Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana is an excellent addition to the long list of Louisiana histories that have been published over the years.
Pointe Coupee is one of the oldest settlements in the state and is filled with a rich and vibrant heritage that is still apparent today. Like New Orleans and Natchitoches, it has been a vibrant link to Louisiana’s history, perhaps overshadowed by these two cities but still extremely important. It is rich in a fascinating Creole culture with a touch of class coming from its many nationalities. However, its French and African heritage is prominent when studying the history of the area.
One of the most famous figures to come out of Pointe Coupee is Julien Poydras, a planter, merchant, educator, and philanthropist. It was also the home of Major General John Archer LeJeune of the United States Marine Corps (where Camp LeJeune, North Carolina got its name), of Lindy Boggs (a member of Congress and U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican), of famous author Ernest Gaines, and, of course, Brian J. Costello, avid historian and a well-known writer too. Much has been written about the area. Movies have been filmed here. The landscape still retains so much of its past glory through its old homes, historic buildings and statues, and an attitude of joy that seems to be with residents who have lived here all their lives.
One of the outstanding attributes of this work is not only the documentation and full index but the number of pictures used to illustrate places, things, and documents. Larger illustrations would have been better than the smaller sizes used within the text throughout the book, but this would also have greatly increased the number of pages for the size of the book. I found that after I got accustomed to the picture sizes, it made sense to do the layout this way. Descriptions of each are there, and Costello has also used interviews as a part of the text. This too is an interesting way that he has of telling the history of the parish.
Once you start reading this book, you find that Costello has a way of pulling you into a reading experience that brings complete joy and satisfaction. It is a history that is told in such a way that it reads more like a novel, and you will find it is one of those books that you find difficult to put down. It is definitely a genealogical and historical gem, a collectible that should be in every Louisiana library. Don’t pass this one up. It is well worth the price, and you will come away in awe of this author’s knowledge of his subject matter – and his love of this part of the state.
For more information, you can contact Margaret Media Inc., 618 Mississippi Street, Donaldsonville, LA 70346. The web site is www.margaretmedia.com. The book sells for $25.00 and is in a soft-cover format.
CHURCH RECORDS: In 1847-48 Father Caspar Rehrl, with thirty members, established the parish of St. Louis Catholic Church, in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Most of the early members were French or French-Americans, although Irish and German settlers were also in evidence. By 1854 the membership had mushroomed to 2,000. Over the next century and a half, the parish underwent a number of changes in its composition and location, before finally merging in 2000 with five other Catholic parishes in Fond du Lac to create Holy Family Catholic Church.
The work at hand is a transcription of the earliest vital records of St. Louis Parish. The transcribers relied on both the original parish records books in the Archives of the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee and microfilm copies. Most of the original records were recorded in Latin, with marginal notations, usually in French.
The transcribers have divided the materials into alphabetically arranged sections for birth, marriage, and death. (The marriage record section is further subdivided into separate listings arranged by both bride and groom.) The birth records, by far the longest part of the book, consist of nearly 8,000 entries, each indicating the given name of the newborn, dates of birth and/or baptism, and the names of parents and often the godparents. The marriage records, of which there are about 1,200, state the names of the bride and groom, names of their parents, and date of the marriage. The roughly 1,000 death records furnish the full name of the deceased, date of death and/or burial, age at death, and in many cases, the cemetery, spouse’s name, and names of parents. By any measure this is an important contribution to the genealogical record of early Wisconsin, for which researchers can give thanks to its fastidious compilers.
This soft-cover publication is available for $30.00, postage and handling included. Order directly from the Clearfield Company, 3600 Clipper Mill Road, Suite 260, Baltimore, MD 21211. To place an order, you can call 1-800-296-6687 or e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like to learn more about their other publications, contact them at email@example.com.
INTERNATIONAL BOUNDARY MARKER: The latest issue of “DeSoto Plume” is another interesting look at a historic part of DeSoto Parish. The International Boundary Marker is located at that point on the western boundary of the United States at the eastern boundary of the Republic of Texas. The east side reads US; opposite side, RT.
When you grow up so close to something like this, you don’t realize exactly how important it is. I own a farm within a few miles of this marker, and I’ve seen it many times but never showed and explained to anyone the historical significance until years later. My cousin, country music great Jim Reeves, was born nearby in the Galloway Community on the State Line Road.
Now on the National Register of Historical Places, this distinction was conferred on April 13, 1977 after years of effort by the DeSoto Historical Society of Mansfield. In 1979, the American Society of Civil Engineers also recognized the marker as a historical engineering landmark.
This marker was placed on this site in 1841. It was the first land marker placed by the engineers. The Sabine River is the western boundary of Louisiana, and it veers off into Texas near this point. The river was the boundary between the United States and Spanish Mexico, and the land in earlier days was a part of “no man’s land,” disputed and dangerous territory extending from Natchitoches to Nacogdoches and the surrounding area.
Liz Chrysler explains the history of the marker in the latest edition of “DeSoto Plume,” and the society’s meeting for this quarter was held at the marker. Also in this issue is David Tharp’s informative article on the search for the final resting place of George Allen Tharp. One interesting note submitted by Nathaniel Means concerns an old fashioned southern plantation barbecue on the Means’ place as noted in the Mansfield Enterprise, July 7, 1927.
Membership in the DeSoto Parish Historical Society is only $10 (or $18 foreign). The society meets quarterly on the Sunday nearest the 22nd during the months of February, May, August, and November. Meetings are held at different historic places in the parish. The publication is included in the membership fee. Applications for membership should be directed to the Treasurer, P.O. Box 300, Stonewall, LA 71078.
FREE SERVICE: Correspondence to this column should be directed to Damon Veach, Cajuns, Creoles, Pirates and Planters, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries and book reviews are printed as space permits, and you are encouraged to take advantage of this free service. Claitor’s Publishing can serve as a distributor for self-published genealogy titles. Go to their homepage for details on how you can obtain this excellent service.
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