Breaux Bridge (pg.2 of 5): My grandmother’s Cajun ancestors

… (cont’d from pg.1 of 5)

Ada Babin [born August 6, 1846] in 1864, age 18

Cajun ancestors: Tisolay’s Grandparents 

The matriarch of my grandmother’s family, Amorilda(Ada) Babin, was born in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana on the Bayou Teche, just west of the primeval cypress swamps of the Atchafalaya Basin, the youngest of 22 children born to Alexandre Pierre Babin and the intrepid Marie Thersile Thibodeaux.  Good practicing French Catholics.

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Ada Babin, 1869, at the time of her marriage

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She was born on Thibodeaux family sugarcane farmlands that extended in long skinny strips from both sides of the Bayou Teche, which flowed lazily through the middle of them, its western boundary line sinking into a cypress wetland that opened back out again as a small lake, Lac LaPointe.  These lands were situated  just above a pointed curve in the bayou from which the area took its name: La Pointe de Bon Repose, so named because drovers could drive their cattle into the crook of the bayou, surrounded on three sides by water, and rest without fear of them wandering off.   Three miles to the north was Breaux Bridge, a Cajun community that sprouted from an early Acadian land grant in the late 1700s, and three miles to the south just below the pointe was where the village of Parks would be settled shortly after 1900.  The very old French Creole town of St. Martinville, the seat of the Catholic parish of St. Martin, lay 6 miles further south.  This land had been in her mother’s family since her great-grandfather Armand Thibodeaux and his 1st cousin Paul Thibodeaux, the oldest of my Cajun ancestors, had come to Louisiana from Nova Scotia, and in 1771, been given adjoining land grants by Louisiana’s new Spanish government.

Detail of Gertrude Taylor's "Land Grants along the Teche"  (Lafayette, La.: Attakapas Historical Association/ Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1979).

1771 Spanish Land Grants, Breaux Bridge to Parks, Bayou Teche, cousins Armand(Aman) and Paul Thibodeaux right next to each other

Just south of Marie Thersile, on those broad expanses of Thibodeaux lands swishing thick and green with sugarcane, was her older sister Marie Amelie.  The year that Marie Thersile, who married a Babin, gave birth to the first of her 22 children, her older sister Marie Amelie was having her third, Marie Phelonise.  And by the time Thersile had her 22nd and last child Ada, a mind-boggling 29 years later, her little niece Marie Phelonise had grown up, married an Hebert, and presented her mother Marie Amelie with her first grandchild the year before, a little son named Adeo.  Ada and Adeo, 1st cousins once removed, would marry and become my Tisolay’s grandparents.

Adeo

Adeo Hebert, born Oct.22, 1845,

Adeo Hebert was born in autumn of 1845, 10 months before Ada, to Henri Hebert & Marie Phelonise Thibodeaux, exactly 9 months after his parents’ marriage (January 30, 1845).   Almost three years to the day afterwards (October 24, 1848), his mother gave birth to his baby sister Felonise, a birth which killed her 12 days later.  When the 1850 census came out 2 years later, the children’s father Henri was nowhere to be found, and Adeo and little Felonise are living in their maternal grandparents’ home on the right(east) side of the bayou.   Their grandparents Amelie and Elizée both dead, the children are raised by their mother’s unmarried siblings; older brother Zenon, 35, recorded by the census taker as the head of the household, younger brothers Onesime(27) and Louis Belizaire(24), and younger sisters Azelie(27) and Uranie(16). Adjacent to the north is the teaming household of the children’s great aunt Marie Thersile “the intrepid” and Pierre Alexandre Babin (the beleaguered;-), the youngest of which, Ada, is 4.  This would have been part of Armand’s original land grant.

It is tempting to say that the sisters’ homes being side by side, they both would have been on their grandfather Armand’s land grant.  But nothing is ever that easy when it comes to charting Cajun ancestors or successions.  Because Marie Amelie Thibodeaux married her 2nd cousin once removed, Elizée Paul Thibodeaux, and went to live with him on his father Paul’s land grant just south of Armand’s. I can’t imagine that Adeo and Ada didn’t grow up knowing each other on this 1½ mile stretch of bayou where cousin landowners intermarried their children to keep from splitting up their land holdings.  Acadian extended families raised each other’s children and took in each other’s orphans.  They planted and harvested their sugar cane fields together, helped build each other’s houses together, and hunted the Atchafalaya wildlife together.  On Saturday nights, they played music and danced together at fais-do-dos, and on Sundays after church they sat down to eat together at long communal tables set outside under the trees.

[“Thank God a Spaniard got in under the gate”, I used to say to Tisolay, whose marriage to my grandfather did much to buffer me from the inbreeding of our Cajun ancestors that I loved to tease her about.  She would curl her lip up like a hayseed with buck teeth and a straw sticking out of his mouth, hook her thumbs around imaginary suspenders, cross her eyes and say, “Yup, my parents were first cousins, but it don’t worry me none”. ]

Kissing cousins: 

You have to understand that when it comes to charting Cajun ancestors, ¾ of all today’s Cajuns in Louisiana descend from 35 families, the first French Acadians, that were on the first ship of settlers to arrive at Port Royal, Acadia in the 1600s, which is today’s Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia.  The Acadian family tree isn’t a tree, with branches that go out and out and out; it’s a diamond, with branches that go out, then converge back in again.  I can laugh about this now, I suppose, because the turn-of-the-century oil industry, and the railroad that penetrated Cajun country and opened the area up  to the outside world, also injected the bloodlines with lots of healthy ‘hybrid vigor’.

But a few hours ago (today’s June 8, 2014), with the amusement of Tisolay’s caricature still fresh in my head, I decided to take a second look at the family tree, which has been significantly augmented in the past few months thanks to Ancestry.com.  And the inter-relatedness of Ada and Adeo has me rolling on the floor; I’m loving this! (Remember, I’m from New Orleans; a life without scandals, pirates and skeletons in the closet isn’t worth living;-). Let’s see if I can get this right.  Adeo and Ada were BABIN cousins (2nd cous. 1x removed through their fathers), GUILBEAU cousins twice (1st cous. 1x rem via Adeo’s maternal grandmother & 3rd cous. via Adeo’s maternal grandfather), and compoundedly, since those grandparents were themselves GUILBEAU cousins (1st cous. 1x rem),  THIBODEAU cousins twice (1st cous 1x rem via Adeo’s maternal grandmother & 4th cous via his maternal grandfather), compoundedly again since those grandparents were also THIBODEAU cousins (2nd cous. 1x rem).   And through the THERIOT line, their relatedness is compounded in ways I don’t know how to calculate … Theriot cousins married; their child married another Theriot cousin, and their child (Adeo) married another Theriot cousin (Ada) … though, granted, they were not immediate cousins.

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The Thibodeaux Estate:

Marie Phelonise’s share of the Thibodeaux estate went in equal thirds to her two children, Adeo and Felonise, and her spinster sister Azélie, by way of older brother Zenon’s succession 20 years after their mother’s death… a delay I don’t quite understand but am still looking into.  The children’s aunt being unmarried at 27 and still in the family home, it’s possible that Phelonise asked Azélie to raise the children after she died.  I can’t find the children or Azélie in the 1860 census to see if they are still together, though, or for that matter, with their remarried father Henry and his second family.  And by 1870, Adeo is grown and married, with Felonise not far behind, and Azélie has moved downriver toward St Martinville to live with her newly-widowed younger sister Uranie to help raise her children, their father being their mother’s first cousin Omer Babin, one of the older of ‘the Intrepid Thersile’s 22’.

Just imagine a genealogy on acid and let it go at that.

land transfers, the farm my great-great-grandfather inherited from his Cajun ancestors

St Martinville Parish land conveyances, possibly written after Tante Sin’s death in 1948.  “In 1868  Azelie Thibodeaux, Felonise Hebert, Adeo Hebert acquired from the Estate of Zenon Elisée Thibodeaux”

Tisolay had a lively old cousin Mildred who sent me all the old family papers, among them being a brittle, yellowed page that looks to have been torn out of a very old ledger, probably from the St. Martinville courthouse office of conveyances, blank until someone tracing the farm’s ownership used it to take notes.  It’s not dated, but I think it dates soon after 1948 when Adeo’s widow, Tante Sin, died.  Adrien, the only one of Adeo’s children to stay on the farm, had died a few years earlier at the age of 72, and it would have been a sensible time for his sisters Alicia(Tisolay’s mother, Tiwazzo) and Mathilde(Mildred’s mother) to have the place appraised before deciding what to do with the property.  It seems like the strong handwriting of Mildred who at 42, single, and the secretary for the Mayor of Lake Charles, was a formidable woman if ever there was one, and it’s entirely possible that Mathilde and Alicia enlisted her aid.  I can see her in there, ancient pages flying out of old ledgers.  Lived to be 107, died only a few months ago.  You go, Millie! .

land transfers, the farm my great-great-grandfather inherited from his Cajun ancestors

notes on Adeo’s inheritance of the farm, St Martinville conveyance archives

  • “1868, Azélie Thibodeaux, Felonise Hebert, Adeo Hebert, acquired from the estate of Zenon Elisée Thibodeaux [Nov.13, 1869?]”

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  • “sale 1/3 by Felonise Hebert  to Adeo Hebert & Azélie Thibodeaux,  1872, Dec. 30
  •  “North – Paul Thibodeaux , South – Onesime Thibodeaux, East – Bayou Teche, West – Fouret” . . [location of land in terms of their adjacent neighbors] 
  • Azélie Thibodeaux to Honoré Babin [Ada’s nephew], Nov 2, 1868, from succession of Zenon E. Thibodeaux with Adeo Hebert and Felonise Hebert”.
  •  “Partage Azélie Thibodeaux & Adeo Hebert, 1875 Sept 4″

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Curious, the sale from Azélie Thibodeaux to Honoré ; Honoré is only 6 in 1868, and his father Homer had died the previous year.  So who was it that bought Azélie’s land? Did Uranie, Honoré’s mother, buy it in her son’s name, as he was the only surviving son in a household of daughters?  Did Uranie buy it as “Widow Homer” and Mildred simply mix up the names Homer and Honoré?  I’ve done that several times the past few weeks. Whether it was right after this bit of note-taking on Mildred’s part, or some time later, the upshot of what to do with the farm was to lease it to our neighbor cousins to the north of us, the cousins who took me around to meet everyone when I first visited the farm.  Every two years, as far back as I can remember, they would send us our share of the pecan crop, paper-shells that were sweet and plump and so easy to shuck, from the tree with Tisolay’s tire swing, next to Adeo’s house. One thing I found curious about these conveyances was why it had to do with Zenon’s succession and not Felonise’s herself, and why Adeo had to wait for his uncle Zenon’s death, 20 years after his mother’s, to get his inheritance.  It’s not like Zenon was the last of the siblings alive, in which case it might have been a reasonable time to partition for the next generation.

I did take notice, though, of something in Zenon’s Ancestry.com record about yellow fever, and it reminded me of something Mildred had put in her letter to me, something her mother Mathilde had told her her mother Ada had told her about the family; it being so large, how her favorite sister was Olympe, and how so many of her sisters died in a yellow fever epidemic.   I looked up the death dates of Ada’s huge family of Babin siblings, and sure enough, during the 10 weeks between Sept 15 and Nov.23, 1869, mother Marie Thersile ‘the intrepid’ [oh, no!], brothers Omer(40) and Michel(38), and sisters Marguerite Leontine(28) and Felicité(23) all were listed as Yellow Fever deaths.   So I went back to Zenon and the Hebert siblings, and just as with Ada’s family, Adeo’s uncles Elizée(52), Zenon(51), Louis Belizaire(41), and Isaac(39) all died within the 6 weeks between Oct.13 and Nov.23.   This still doesn’t tell me why Zenon’s succession included the land Adeo and Felonise got from their mother 2 decades before, but it does set rather a tragic stage for the beginning of Chênes Brȗlée, the name I gave the land Adeo inherited, my Tisolay’s family farm.

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Chênes Brûlée: two squares and a long, long field

The land Adeo inherited was a mile-and-a-half long strip of land fronting on the west bank of the Teche and sinking at the back into Lake Martin, and like his mother’s split lineage between the cousins Armand and Paul Thibodeaux, it sat on the boundary line between the two Spanish land grants, half on either side.

the sugarcane farm of my Cajun ancestors

.   .   .  1 ¼ miles of sugar cane   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   . then the railroad, Adeo’s house, the hwy, Tiwazzo’s house, then Bayou Teche

Nine tenths of the land was planted in sugar cane, Adeo’s livelihood as it had been for his ancestors before him, the Hebert, Thibodeaux, Babin, Bernard and Guilbeaux cousins all around him, and his descendants today; sugar cane for as far as the eye could see.  The remaining portion sat at the east end between the cane fields and the bayou, divided into two squares by the highway.  We visited the square between the cane and the highway in pg.1 of this series.    The front square between the highway and the bayou, about the size of a city block, lower and less leveled-out, was an undulating mix of woods and pasture that sloped down to where 3 magnificent old oak trees lined the bayou from north to south.

The big oak on Bayou Teche

The oak at the south end, from a cousin’s place across the bayou

Remnant of the burnt oak's shell, decades after the fire

Remnant of the burnt oak’s shell, decades after the fire

In 1987-89, when I was spending weeks at a time studying my Cajun ancestors at the Center for Louisiana Studies in the USL library and visiting the farm and family in Breaux Bridge all the time, I was told a story by a cousin from directly across the bayou, how lightning struck one of the big oak trees, the one at the north end, back in the ’50s or ’60s.  He took out his Super 8 and filmed the whole thing as the burning tree eventually took the northern half of the second tree with it.   I had wondered about the segment of burnt-out husk that shot up out of the ground, all jagged and black, and its disjointed companion pieces scattered wide around it like fallen giants slain in battle.  The image of the burning oaks stuck with me, and that’s when I started calling the place Chênes Brȗlée, Burning Oaks. And this was the land where Adeo and Ada began their married life and had three children, and where their daughter Alicia (Tiwazzo) married J.Euclide Champagne and raised 4 of their 5 children. .

1869, marriage of Adeo Hebert & Ada Babin

Marriage document,  Ada Babin m. Adeo Hebert, January 14, 1869

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Marriage – January 14, 1869,  St. Bernard church, Breaux Bridge, St. Martin Parish

  • “… ADEO HEBERT [23], son of Alexandre Henri Hebert and Philomise Thibodeaux,
  • … ADA BABIN [18], daughter of Alexandre Babin and Marie Thersile Thibodeaux, with a dispensation for consanguinity in the 3rd degree
  • … Witnesses:  Aristide Leblanc [don’t know], Daniel Green [Adeo’s brother-in-law, husband of his sister Felonise], Emile Babin [Ada’s brother, 9 years older], Charles Babin, fils [son of Ada’s brother Charles Sydney Babin, 24 years older… her nephew, though only 2 years younger than her]”

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—————— Children of Adeo and Ada Hebert

  • Adrien Hebert, born 13 Nov 1869, Breaux Bridge
  • Alicia Hebert, born 19 May 1872, Breaux Bridge
  • Mathilde Hebert, born 25 Jun 1883, Breaux Bridge.

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Hebert baptism, 1872, St Bernard's church, Breaux Bridge

Baptism, Alicia Hebert, October 1, 1872

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  • “Baptism – October 1, 1872 – St. Bernard Church
  • … Alicia Hebert, born May 19, 1872
  • … Godfather Numa Cormier,[ 21, future brother-in-law to Honoré]
  • … Godmother Elise Babin, [19, Ada’s niece, by her older brother Omer, and Adeo’s cousin by his maternal aunt Uranie. Elise’ brother Honoré(10) later raised his family next door to the north.]”

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Joseph Euclide Champagne, age 26, at the time of his marriage

Joseph Euclide Champagne, age 26, at the time of his marriage – born Oct.27, 1864

Joseph Euclide Champagne was born in the late summer of 1863 to Brigitte Celima Thibodeaux & François Onesime Champagne who were 29 (32) in Thibodeaux,La. on Bayou Lafourche.   His mother Celima was raised by her mother’s parents, Aubin B Thibodeaux and Eugenie R Hebert, after her mother Elmire Brigitte died 6 weeks after giving birth to her.  Elmire Brigitte was 15 when she had her daughter.  There is no record of a marriage or the child’s father, but this has little significance to me as whole swaths of church records were lost to countless fires that swept the wooden churches of that candle-burning era.

  • Francois Onezime Champagne
  • .  .  .   b. October 1, 1831 Thibodeaux, La.,  m. June 3, 1852 in Thibodeaux, La.
  • Brigitte Celima Thibodeaux
  • .  .  .   b. October 2, 1834,  d. bef. 1878, in Thibodeaux, La.
  • Elmire Brigitte Thibodeaux, Celima’s mother
  • .  .  .   b. 20 January 1819,    d. 17 November 1834 at age 15, in Thibodeaux, La.

Around the time J. Euclide was born, his father’s younger brother Leandre/Leon Pierre Champagne crossed the Atchafalaya Basin to Bayou Teche where he married a Breaux Bridge girl and settled down there.  This connection is possibly what inspired J.Euclide to cross the forbidding Atchafalaya to Breaux Bridge to seek his future as well, where he met Adeo Hebert, married his daughter Alicia, and settled into the family business of farming sugarcane on the west bank of the Teche, at La Pointe half way between Breaux Bridge and Parks to the south.

Alicia Hebert, age 18, at the time of her marriage

Alicia Hebert, age 18, at the time of her marriage

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Marriage document - Alicia Hebert m. J Uclide Champagne, May 19, 1890

Marriage document – Alicia Hebert m. J Uclide Champagne, May 19, 1890

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“Marriage – ALICIA HEBERT m. JOSEPH UCLIDE CHAMPAGNE, May 19, 1890 – Breaux Bridge, St. Martin Parish, La.”

  • “… Joseph Uclide Champagne, son of François Onesime Champagne and Brigitte Celima Thibodeaux
  • … Alicia Hebert, daughter of Adeo Hebert and Ada Babin
  • … L.P.Champagne [Leon Pierre Champagne, Uclide’s uncle]
  • … J.T.Bulliard  [Jerome, cousin of Mathilde’s future mother-in-law, Leonie]
  • … Henry Hebert, Jr. [Alicia’s uncle]
  • … Numa Cormier [cousin Honoré Babin’s brother-in-law, also Alicia’s godfather]”

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1890s, Joseph Euclide Champagne with prize trotter at his gate, Adeo's place in the background

1890s, Joseph Euclide Champagne with prize trotter at his gate, Adeo’s place in the background

Four of their five surviving children were born to them during the dozen or so years they lived on the farm.

  • Marie Beulah, 1891
  • Rosa Magda, 1892(died soon after birth)
  • Marie Carmen, 1894
  • Bernard Presley, 1897
  • François Roosevelt, 1899

Whether the house up by the road next to the pecan tree was indeed this young family’s original house, though, turned out to be something of a puzzlement to me when I finally saw photographs of Adeo’s house up by the road.   And as I started exploring the front square and finding things, I started entertaining the idea that Adeo’s house up by the road might not have been the original house.  More on that on pg.3.

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Go on to pg.3 of 5      or     Return to pg.1 of 5

and as usual,

Thanks so much for your interest in my funny Tisolay’s story.

©  All rights reserved – postkatrinastella.com

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Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my little world for a while. As with all of my photos and text, all rights to the material in this post are reserved. © postkatrinastella.com

Comments

  1. Check out this website:
    http://cerebellum1.wordpress.com/2011/02/04/fighting-for-land/

    The above website contains information regarding my 3x great grandfather. Adeo Hebert is mentioned within this document. It might interest you. I like the information you have provided. If you would like to contact me via email, you’re more than welcomed. I might have some information they may help you.

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