Zerbine Was a Feisty Woman

Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy Landry Comeaux in 1864 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She lived in Brusly at the time.

I know it was just a few weeks ago that I posted this main photo, but I discovered a truly remarkable story about my great great great grandmother as a result of it.  When I post photos and stories on my blog, I am always hopeful that it will stir some memory that someone will share.  I don’t know everything about any of my ancestors – not by a long shot.  So I always welcome comments and reminiscing about the posts that I share.  That’s why I was so excited when the photo and story about Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy Landry unearthed a great treasure.

The family of  one of Zerbine’s brothers passed down a story about her during the Civil War.  But let’s look a little further back.  When Zerbine was born in 1807, there was still a lot of Spanish influence in the area.  The Dupuis family came to Louisiana as a result of Spanish rule inviting the Acadians to this area while providing land to live on.  So when Jeanne Zerbine was named, her name was recorded as Juana Serbine.  Even though I didn’t mention this in the first post about Zerbine, a distant relative found that document and made the connection with a story he had known since childhood.

Zerbine had an older brother by the name of Magloire – he was named after their father.  The sibling born after her was a brother named Edouard.  Zerbine and Edouard both married a Landry with common Hebert ancestors.  Both couples had at least four children, but Zerbine was the only one that survived to the 1860s.  Since the story I discovered was set around 1865, I decided to look to the Censuses to verify that she was indeed alive at the time and living in the same area.

Like I said in the first post, after Elie Onezime died, Zerbine married Valsin Comeaux.  He also did not survive to the 1860s.  But he left his name for Zerbine.  In the 1850 Census she was listed as Z. Comeaux in the household of V. Comeaux in West Baton Rouge Parish.  Also listed are her children Zulma and Pamelia – daughters by Elie Onezime Landry.  There were no Comeaux children listed.  Even though the last name was originally transcribed as Comeana, I found them when I looked up Zulma’s future husband Sosthene Aillet.  They were listed directly under him. 

My great great great grandmother is the first person listed on this page of the 1860 Census.  Listed below her is the household of her niece.

It was equally difficult to find Zerbine in the 1860 Census.  I searched Zerbine Comeaux, Juana Comeaux, and Jeanne Comeaux with no luck.  I went through the West Baton Rouge pages one by one until I found what I was looking for.  After reading through what seemed like a thousand pages, I found the listing for Wdw. Val Comeau.  I know she was the widow of Valsin Comeaux, but couldn’t they put her name for once?  Or at least spell her last name the traditional way?

At least I was able to verify that Zerbine Dupuy AKA Wdw. Val Comeau was alive and well in Brusly, Louisiana, in the 1860s.  Everybody knows that the middle of the 1860s was defined by the Civil War.  I’ve talked about her husband Onezime Landry’s nephews Trasimond and Alcide who fought for the Confederacy during that time.  Brusly was in a state of unrest because the ports of New Orleans and Baton Rouge were controlled by the Union.  During and after the war, Yankees were known to confiscate crops that had been harvested and animals for use as food or service.

Well one day a Yankee man showed up at the home of one Zerbine Comeaux.  That’s right!  Someone was visiting great great great grandma Juana, and it wasn’t a social call.  He intended to make off with a horse from her property.  Well Maman Juana was not going to put up with any more of these Yankee scoundrels running off with her hard-earned belongings.  A horse made a big difference to the lives of people back then!  So she put herself and her shotgun between that Yankee man and her horse.  And I’m sure she had some choice words to say to him.  Not that he would have understood what she was saying.  She was probably speaking French or English with a strong French accent.  But that didn’t keep him from understanding what she was trying to communicate to him.  I suppose her firearm helped out with that!  The Yankee left her property.  The horse didn’t!

So that was the story passed down in the family of Juana/Zerbine’s brother Edouard.  My fourth cousin once removed Edward says that when his sister would let her temper get the best of her, their mother would call her Juana.  If I would have heard that when I was growing up, I would think they were talking about Aunt Wana.  But that wouldn’t make sense because she did not have a temper.  Though the sound of the name is the same, the spelling is different.  Since Edward didn’t have an Aunt Wana, he wanted to know who this Juana was.  Legend has it that the woman that looks so frail and sweet in that old 1864 photo was far from it.  She was a rough lady who didn’t let anyone take advantage of her.  That doesn’t sound like a bad thing at all.  She got to keep her horse.  Unless she got into legal trouble because of it.  But we didn’t hear anything like that passed down.  Yet it was passed down as a type of warning.

Warning or not, I like the story.  Which is why I’m sharing it  today.  If anyone else has any old stories to share, just let me know.  I’m all ears.

Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy Landry Revealed

Photo taken from the Pierre Ferdinand Patureau Collection (AC-824) at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas.

I’ve had a hard time getting this post started.  I keep second guessing myself about declaring the identity of the woman in the photo I’m posting.  I’m pretty sure she is my great great great grandmother Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy Landry.  That’s pretty exciting to me, because I haven’t had any other photos of any of my 3X great grandparents.  This is a photo that I copied from the Pierre Ferdinand Patureau Collection at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas. (Collection AC-824)  It was in one of the family photo albums in the collection in a prominent place.  Zerbine (pronounced  Zir’bean) Landry was the mother-in-law of Ferdinand Patureau, the patriarch of the Patureau family in southern Louisiana.  But before that, she was Zerbine Dupuy.

Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy was born June 23, 1807, to Magloire Dupuy and Henriette Serrette.  Magloire was the first generation born in America with all Acadian ancestry, while Henriette was first generation born in America with all French ancestry.  By some definitions, they would be considered Creole.  The next generation was a mix of French and Acadian.  I’m not sure how they identified themselves, but they spoke French and were associated and married mostly with people I consider Cajun.

Zerbine was the fourth of eight children.  What’s really interesting is that her grandmother Anne Marie Hebert was alive until the time that Zerbine was almost 18 years old.  Anne Marie was born in Acadie.  She lived with her family there until 1755, when her family and all of the other Acadians were Exiled during the Grand Derangement.  Anne Marie was with her family during twelve years of Exile in Georgetown, Maryland.  The family made their way to Louisiana in 1767.  So when Zerbine was growing up in Brusly, she most likely visited her grandmother in St. Gabriel and heard a few interesting stories from her past.  If only those talking photos really told us things we didn’t already know!!

Zerbine’s grandmother almost lived long enough to make it to her wedding.  Zerbine got married to Elie Onezime Landry on Feb. 7, 1825, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Her grandmother Anne Marie died two days earlier.  Onezime is one of the three sons of Joseph Ignatius Landry that I descend from.  His brother Narcisse Landry was married to Marie Carmelite Hebert.  Marie Carmelite and Zerbine were related, because Carmelite’s grandfather Pierre Paul Hebert was the brother of Zerbine’s grandmother Anne Marie.  But even more interesting, Onezime’s brother Manuel was married to Celeste Bruneteau who was the half-sister of Zerbine’s father.  Celeste was a daughter of Anne Marie.  How did I not realize how closely related these wives were to each other?  These Landry and Hebert families were very enmeshed.

This death notice of Marie Pamelia Landry is part of the Pierre Ferdinand Patureau Collection (AC-824) at the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont, Texas.

Zerbine and Onezime had six children together, including my great great grandmother Marie Emma Landry Patureau.  They only had a dozen years together, because Onezime died in April 1837.  Their sixth child Marie Pamelia actually was born three months after his death.  What a bittersweet occasion that must have been.  A year later Zerbine married Louis Valsin Comeaux.  I don’t know much about him, so I don’t know if there is a Landry or Hebert connection.  Zerbine and Valsin had three children together.  They only had seventeen years together.  In an odd coincidence, Valsin died in June of 1854 a few days after the death of Marie Pamelia.  So Marie Pamelia’s birth and death are close to the deaths of both of Zerbine’s husbands.

By this time Marie Emma had been married to Ferdinand Patureau for seven years and they had four children.  Their fourth child Marie Valentine was only a year old when she died on August 4, 1854.  It was a rough time for this family, but they carried on.  Marie and Ferdinand had a few more children and in 1864 the family went to New Orleans to have a photograph of the family made.  I know this because I have a copy of that photo and I’ve shared it with everyone.

But I also think that they brought Emma’s mother Zerbine with them and had a portrait made of her as well.  The main photo of this post was taken at the same photo studio around the same time as the 1864 photo.  The name of the studio and the print on the back of the two photos are identical.  A friend of mine who loves the study of Civil War era history and fashions assures me that the photo was taken in the Civil War era.  This is based on the hairstyle and the dress she is wearing.  And as I said earlier, the photo was in a Patureau family photo album in a prominent position.  Who else would it be?  Ferdinand’s mother died in 1842.  Zerbine lived until 1886.  Plus the woman in the photo looks like she could be Emma’s mother.  These were people who saved death notices of their beloved family members, and of course they would want to have a portrait made of their mother.

So yes, I do believe this is a photo of my great great great grandmother Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy Landry.  Try not to be too jealous.


Check out the follow up  to this story:

Zerbine Was a Feisty Woman

 

Maman Emma Was a Beauty

I know I have been posting a lot of things about the Patureau family recently, but sometimes information comes to me from one family group more than from others.  And it seems lately that most of it has been Patureau related.  The main thing was the nice collection of Patureau information that was started by Victorine Patureau Cropper in the late 1800s and was continued by her daughter Kitty Cropper Rush until her death in 1997.  Kitty’s daughter inherited the information and decided to ensure that it was preserved by donating it to the Tyrrell Historical Library.  I called this Patureau cousin last week to thank her for making sure the information was taken care of and available for viewing by all of us cousins.

Marie Emma Landry Patureau circa 1864. I believe this photo was taken in New Orleans, Louisiana, at the photographic studio of A. Constant. The original photo is the Tyrrell Historical Library Pierre Ferdinand Patureau Collection (AC-824) in Beaumont, Texas. The photo edit is by Van Landry.

The photo that I’m sharing this week comes from that collection.  It is a crop of Emma Landry Patureau from a larger Patureau family portrait from around 1864.  The original photo was the photo that I was most excited to see when I went through the THLPFP Collection.  The only copy I had before was a Xerox copy from 20 or 30 years ago.  I didn’t even know if the original photo still existed.  So when I saw the original in the collection, I was elated.  There are actually two copies of the same sitting, though one of them was bigger and better than the other.  That’s what I used for this edit.

My father was Bob Landry.  His mother was Germaine Erie Patureau.  Her parents were Vincent Maximilian Patureau (Grampa Max) and Marie Therese Landry.  Grampa Max was the son of Ferdinand Pierre Patureau and Marie Emma Landry.  So Ferdinand and Emma were my great great grandparents.  I am only one of several hundred people who can make that claim.  There are a lot of Patureau family members out there!

But I’m going to talk about the Landry side of the family since the photo is of Emma.  The photo actually had a Landry reference written on the back of it.  Besides having the information of the photographic studio, it also had the words “Pour Mme. Sosthene” written on it.  They were French after all.  Ferdinand and his parents immigrated from La Roche Chalais, France, which was in the Dordogne department.  Emma was mostly from Acadian ancestors.  They also spoke French, but more likely a Cajun French from the south Louisiana area.  So you end up with “For Mrs. Sosthene” when you translate the writing on the reverse of the photo.

Reverse side of 1864 photo.

That may not tell you that it was a Landry reference, but it was a clue for me.  Emma was the daughter of Elie Onezime Landry and Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy.  They had a son before her, but when she was born in November of 1829, he had recently died or would soon die.  All I know is that little Leon Landry was born in 1826 and he died around 1829.  Onezime and Zerbine had another daughter in 1831 and she was named Henriette Zulma Landry.  She was named after her French grandmother Henriette Serrette Dupuy.  I’ve written about Henriette and her husband Magloire before.

It looks like all of my Landry families moved from St. Gabriel, Louisiana, to Brusly sometime around the 1820s or 30s.  Emma was born in St. Gabriel and her sister Zulma was born in Brusly.  Their Uncle Narcisse (Landry) and Aunt Marie Carmelite were in Brusly in 1820 and that’s where their youngest sons (my ancestors) Trasimond and Alcide were born.  Uncle Manuel (Landry) and Aunt Celeste were also in Brusly in 1820 and their youngest daughters (my ancestors) Anna Adele and Marguerite Basalite were born there.  So Emma, Zulma, and their younger siblings would have grown up around their Landry cousins in Brusly.

Emma got married to Ferdinand on February 10, 1847.  By the time that Zulma got married in 1853, Emma had already given birth to Elizabeth Zulma, Marie Aline, and Louis Leobon.  I’m not exactly sure where those first children were born.  Everything that I’ve read says that they were born in Brusly.  No mention of any other place the family lived until they moved to Plaquemine in the 1850s.  But the US Census shows the Patureau family living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1850.  It looks like other researchers missed this little bit of information.  It is understandable.  They are listed as a F. Paturo who was from France, along with the wife Emma who was born in Louisiana.  Their first two daughters are listed as Elizabeth and Ellen.  I’m sure it is them.

Letter from Zulma to her sister Emma

I haven’t found Zulma Landry in the 1850 Census.  I need to find that to clarify some confusion about the family.  It doesn’t help that Elie Onezime Landry had an older brother named Elie. I know that Emma’s sister goes by the name Zulma because that’s how she signs a letter that she wrote to Emma in 1851.  She mentions Zulma (Patureau), Aline, and Leobon by name and encourages them to be reasonable or well-behaved and not to give their maman and papa any trouble. She signs off in French with “your sister, Zulma.”   

In a later letter, she signs it with a “Zulma A.” That’s because she was married and her husband’s last name was Aillet.  When Emma had a photo made of herself with Ferdinand and the kids in 1864, of course she wanted to send a copy of it to her sister.   For some reason she didn’t write “Pour ma soeur” or “Pour Zulma A.” or even “Pour Mme. Aillet.”  No, she decided to go with Zulma’s husband’s first name Sosthene.  So there it is!  Her sister Zulma was Mme Sosthene.

Earlier version of the 1864 photo. This is the best edit I could do with that one.

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 9 – Dupuis/Dugas

The Wall of Names of Acadian Exiles in Louisiana in St. Martinville. Joseph Dupuis (2) is my 5X great grandfather. Listed under him are four of his nieces and nephews.

These installments can be pretty tricky to write.  I want to be as accurate as possible, but that is really difficult to do when there is conflicting information out there.  Human memory is very much influenced by belief and the passage of time.  The Grand Derangement happened 265 years ago in another country where a different language was spoken.  A lot of turmoil was going on when it happened.  When the people eventually settled in a place to call home, they just wanted to get their lives together.

What has survived are a few old church documents and some Censuses before and during the Exile.  One of the treasured items from back then are the Declarations of  the Acadians at Belle-Ile-en-Mer in France.  The Acadian Exiles in this area were interviewed and asked to tell about their family histories.  Many of the people were able to give information about their families back to the time of the founders of Acadie in the 1600s.  Of course most of this was based on human memory, so some errors were present in their statements

The Declaration that I was most interested in was that of Marie Josephe Dupuis on February 27, 1767, at the Village of Parlavant.  I don’t descend from her, but I do descend from her younger brother Joseph Dupuis.  He is the main person I’m writing about in this installment.  Marie Josephe was the oldest of eleven children of Antoine Dupuis and Marie Josephe Dugas.  Antoine and Marie Josephe were married around 1719 in Riviere au Canards, Acadie.  Their first child (Marie Josephe) was born in 1721.

Like I said, she was the oldest of eleven children.  They were born over a period of 20-25 years.  That included two sets of twins.  Joseph and his twin brother were one of those sets.  According to their older sister, they were born in 1745.  Their parents Antoine and Marie Josephe died around 1747.  It looks like some of the older children were caring for the younger ones after that time.  Some of them were adults with children of their own.  So when the Grand Derangement happened in 1755, the family was split up even more.

So when Marie Josephe Dupuis (Theriot) made her declaration in 1767, she hadn’t seen some of her siblings for over 20 years.  Sadly, some of them had passed away.  From what I can tell, six of her siblings had died since their Exile from Acadie, yet she was only aware of one of those deaths.  Marie Josephe and a younger sister named Ozite (and their husbands and children) were originally Exiled to Virginia in 1755.  Like other Exiles sent to Virginia, they were deported the following year to Falmouth, England, where they were treated with neglect.  Many Acadian Exiles died in 1756 from the smallpox, including sister Ozite, Marie’s husband Pierre Theriot, and several other Theriot family members. 

Evidently all that Marie Josephe knew about her other siblings is that they had been “transported to New York.”  There was another sibling (Anne Marie – the twin of Ozite) that “passed with their family to the Mississippi” and was never heard from again.  According to other sources, she died before 1767.  So that would mean that eight siblings were “transported to New York.”  Yet all other sources say that Joseph’s twin brother Jean Baptiste was Exiled with Marie Josephe and Ozite and he ended up in France as well.  Yet Marie Josephe clearly states that Joseph and Jean Baptiste were “transported single” to New York.  If he was with her in France, she would surely know about it.  She may have overlooked Jean Baptiste when talking about the twins.

So that leaves seven siblings that were transported to New York:  Joseph, Magdeliene, Antoine, Simon Pierre, Marguerite, Euphrosine, and Charles.  But they didn’t actually go to New York.  They went to Connecticut.  See how difficult it is to figure out what happened back then?  Even the ones that were living back then didn’t know what was happening.  Of course if those in charge didn’t care if the Acadians lived or died, they certainly weren’t concerned if they knew what was going on with their families.  You can only tell the truth if you know the truth.  So we can forgive Marie Josephe for any errors in her Declaration.  She went through a very traumatic time and she meant well.

So let’s see what happened to Joseph and his siblings (and their families) that were sent to Connecticut.  It looks like at least seven ships left the shore of Acadie with over 1000 individuals who were forcibly removed from their homeland.  They left sometime in late 1755 and arrived during the month of January 1756.  I haven’t seen information about where they stayed or even if they were all in the same place.  What I have found is that his sister Magdeliene died in Connecticut in 1762.  There is no more information on his other older sister Marguerite, so I’m thinking she probably died between 1756 and 1762.  His younger brother Charles survived and somehow he and some of their sisters’ children made it back up north and settled in Quebec.  So that left Joseph with Antoine, Simon Pierre, and Euphrosine.

Toward the end of the Seven Year War (in 1763) French officials were encouraging Exiles to relocate from English colonies to French-owned Sainte Dominque (now Haiti).  There they would be used as laborers on a naval base on the island with the incentive that the Exiles would be given land grants.  Joseph and his other three siblings joined a group of 180 Acadians from New England ports who headed to St. Domingue in August 1764.  It was not the best situation.  The officials sent them to Mirebalais (near Port au Prince) and did not give them the land that was promised.  The Acadians did not fare well and many of them died from malnutrition and tropical diseases.

Joseph had not married yet, nor did he have any children, so we know he survived.  How else would he become my ancestor?  But his siblings were not as fortunate.  Simon Pierre and his two older sons Francois and Firmes died within a month or two of arriving in their tropical environs. (His wife had died in 1760 in Connecticut.)  On January 4, 1765, his younger sister Euphrosine passed away at Mirebalais.  She had become a new, young mother the previous year, but her son had died a month before she did.  Then in August his oldest brother Antoine died as well.  Antoine’s wife and three of his seven children had died in September and October of 1764 in Mirebalais as well.

And then there was Joseph.  When I saw his name on the Wall in St. Martinville where the list of Acadian Exiles in Louisiana is shown, I noticed a few names under his.  I didn’t know who the other people were, but later found out that they were his niece and nephews.  “Hmm,” I thought, “That’s interesting.”  But now that I’ve found out the details of his life in Exile, I have to say that it is more than “interesting.”  It’s very touching.

Joseph was an orphan when the Grand Derangement began, but fortunately he had several older siblings who were willing to help him through those terrible times.  As they went from Acadie, to Connecticut, and then on to Sante Dominge, their numbers were decreasing.  Yet if it weren’t for them, he may not have survived.  So when he found out about a chance for a better life in Louisiana, Joseph Dupuis took action.

There was a ship of Acadian refugees that docked at Cap Francais for over two weeks.  The ship was The Virgin.  It came from  Maryland and it included my Landry ancestors who had spent their exile there.  Joseph made his way across the island to meet up with the ship.  He took along the surviving four children of his brother Antoine.  It’s what family does.

Map of St. Gabriel showing the location of the Acadians who settled there in 1767.

The Virgin arrived in New Orleans on July 23, 1767.  Joseph settled with the other Acadians in St. Gabriel.  At the end of Installment No. 4, I talked about Anne Marie Hebert being at the right age for marrying in 1769.  Her family had settled in St. Gabriel in July 1767 as well.  Her father and her brother owned property next to each other.  And the property next to her brother’s was owned by none other than our Joseph Dupuis.  She evidently came to the conclusion that he was good marriage material, because they were married on March 27, 1769.

In the 1777 St. Gabriel Census, it shows Joseph and his wife Anne Marie with their two young sons.  His nephews Jean Baptiste and Simon lived nearby.


My family tree with path to Joseph Dupuis highlighted.


For other installments of the “From Acadian to Cajun” series, click on the following links:

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 1 – Landry/Babin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 2 – Breau/Trahan

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 3 – Braud/LeBlanc/Gauterot/Aucoin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 4 – Hebert/Melanson

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 5 – Bourg/Granger

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 6 – Bujol/LeBlanc

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 7 – Foret/Bujol

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 8 – Hernandez/Babin

From Acadian to Cajun: Part 10 – Bourg/Babin/Landry

Magloire et Henriette: After the Happily Ever After

This post is a follow-up to a previous post that I wrote. It was titled “Magloire et Henriette” and it was about a love letter that my great great great great grandfather wrote to his future wife. The letter was written in 1799 and the couple was married June 28, 1801, in St. Gabriel, Louisiana. That would have been the beginning of the happily ever after.

When I wrote that previous post, I intentionally left it in an idealized form. The letter was so formally written in fine French penmanship and he was so sincere in expressing his undying devotion to his lovely wife to be. But when I was looking at documents pertaining to their life, there were things that were definitely not ideal. I decided to leave that out of the first introduction to the couple. The letter was romanticized, but we all know that life isn’t always perfect. Just as I would hope that you don’t demonize the couple for what you find out about them, I wouldn’t want to only present an idealized version of them either.

I was thinking about Magloire and Henriette this week for two reasons. The first reason I was thinking of them is because I ran across some documents about their son Magloire, Jr. this week. Magloire and Henriette had eight children. The first two were daughters that married into the LaBauve family. Then Magloire, Jr. came along. He married a LeBlanc. Their fourth child was my great great great grandmother Jeanne Zerbine, who married Elie Onezime Landry. They were the parents of Emma Landry who married French immigrant Ferdinand Patureau. They are the couple that brought forth all of the Patureau cousins in southern Louisiana. After Jeanne came Edouard Dupuy who also married a Landry, though not a close relation to Elie Onezime. The next son was Alphonse Dupuy. The next daughter was Henriette Coralie, who also married into the same LaBauve family. Their last child was Amelia.

The other reason I was thinking of this couple concerns the ‘definitely not ideal’ part of their life: they were slave owners. I went to a genealogy meeting last weekend that concerned documentation of sales and conveyances in Ascension Parish. The focus was on finding slave records and how that was documented to ensure that family members can find clues about their enslaved ancestors. Since the meeting was in West Baton Rouge, I thought that they might discuss documents from that area pertaining to slavery. But they didn’t.

I was more interested in West Baton Rouge Parish because that is where Magloire and Henriette lived after they were married. Some of their first children were born in St. Gabriel, but at some point they moved to Brusly. Then in 1819, Magloire died at the age of 41, less than a year after their last child was born. That’s the reason we have records of all of their belongings, both fixed and moveable. There was a succession performed at Henriette’s request to determine the value of their possessions and to ensure the protection of her minor children.

The handwritten signature of Henriette Serrette Dupuy can be seen on this 1819 document.

The succession information didn’t seem that striking at first. It just gave a description of the property and it introduced the reasons for the succession. A bit of family history information was shown and in a few places I found the handwritten signature of Henriette. I really liked seeing that.

Then it went on to start listing things and the assessed value. A bedstead here, a closet there, nine chairs, a table, and other assorted things for values of a few dollars to around $30. I was starting to think that they didn’t own much. Then I started seeing the names. I really disliked seeing that.

Excerpt from 1819 succession papers for Magloire Dupuy of West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.

There was “a negroe man named Ben, estimated $800.” Then “a negroe man named Noel, estimated $1500.” The one that was really gut-wrenching was the one that said “a negroe wench named Eulalie with four children estimated $1700.” I can’t imagine being a mother (possibly herself born into slavery) in 1819 trying to explain what life was about to her four children born into slavery. Slavery would continue for another 45 years, but they didn’t know that. There was no promised end in sight.

There was a total of eleven enslaved individuals listed. In addition to the ones already listed, there was Marguerite and her two children and another woman named Agnes. It is difficult to find words to talk about this situation. I knew the history of my family and knew that they were involved in the wretched institution of slavery. But seeing the names of individuals makes it more personal. In an institution all about depersonalization, names bring back the personal.

So when I think back on the names of my ancestors Magloire and Henriette, I will be thinking of other names as well. There will be Ben and Noel, Marguerite and her two kids, and Agnes, but mostly I will remember Eulalie and her four children. People with hopes and fears just like you and me.

Magloire et Henriette

I thought I would add a little French to the title since the subjects of this post spoke and wrote in French.  For those of you that may not know, “et” is the French word for “and.”  I never learned French when I was younger, but I wish I had.  It would have come in handy since I have French ancestors.

It would have really helped with this letter, which was written by one of my ancestors in 1799.  I found out about the letter when I was exploring some family connections on a Facebook group about southern Louisiana ancestry at the beginning of 2018.  Someone posted rough, blurry photos of the letter and the transcription.  Come to find out, it was a love letter from Magloire Dupuy to Henriette Serrette.

To find this couple in my family tree, you have to go through my paternal grandmother Germaine Erie Patureau Landry (Mee Maw) and her father Vincent Maximilian Patureau (Grampa Max).  Grampa Max’s father was Ferdinand Patureau, who is the patriarch of all of the Patureau families in southern Louisiana.  But the matriarch of all of these families was his wife Marie Emma Landry Patureau.  Emma’s parents were Eli Onezime Landry and Jeanne Zerbine Dupuy.  Jeanne Zerbine was one of the eight children of Magloire et Henriette.

So now that you know the results of the letter, I’ll tell you a little more about Magloire and Henriette.  Magloire (I’ve seen it spelled “Magluar” in Spanish documents.  It must have been spelled phonetically.) was born in 1777 in St. Gabriel, Louisiana.  His parents and all of his ancestors were Acadians, so he would be the first generation Cajun.  Henriette was also the first generation born in North America, but her parents and ancestors were born in France.

They lived and met in Louisiana when it was still under Spanish rule, but they both were part of the French-speaking culture.  I don’t know the particulars of how Magloire and Henriette met, but this letter gives a little bit of insight into their relationship.  It’s amazing that it survived through the years.  I don’t know those particulars either.  I just know that at some point it was in an attic and rediscovered. Then at some later point someone posted a blurry copy of it on Facebook.  I decided to search for a better copy.

It didn’t take too long.  I went to some type of Cajun reunion/social gathering in West Baton Rouge Parish and started asking people.  Most people didn’t know what I was talking about, but then I came across Lucy Landry.  She is related to me, but not through the Landry line – that’s her married name.  We are related through Magloire & Henriette and she had a good copy of the letter that she was willing to share.  Woo hoo! Thank you, Lucy!

So I got a copy of the original letter and transcription.  I decided to edit it to try to bring it back to closer to what I thought it might originally look like.  There were age spots from tape that was used to put it back together.  It also had writing on top of it to fill in for parts that had been more damaged.  I got rid of those things and then copied words from other parts of the letter.

I also changed the transcription a little bit.  I took poetic license with the help of Google Translate.  People nowadays are turned off by the phrase “I want to possess you as my dutiful wife.”  The meaning of “have” and “possess” are very close, and the phrase “I want to have you as my faithful wife” sounds a little better.  Things were a bit different back then.

So let me go ahead and give you my version of the transcribed letter.  Imagine yourself sitting in your parlor back in June of 1799.  No air conditioning, so it could have been rather warm in Iberville Parish in southern Louisiana.  Here is the letter:

Iberville June 2, 1799

Mademoiselle

The esteem which everyone has for your virtue and your modesty, and my own familiarity with them which  I have had for a long time, lead me to take the liberty of writing you these lines and telling you simply and genuinely that I should consider myself the happiest man if I could win a small place in your thoughts.  Certainly I may often be found in the presence of a number of young ladies of very great merit, though I must acquiesce that none of them has been capable of significantly touching my heart as you have.  O to Heaven that I might have enough good qualities that you might honor me with some consideration, and that this kindness might surely lead to my goal which would be to have you one day as my very dear and faithful wife.  I should have nothing more to desire on earth, since I would have in you what I esteem more than everything else in the world put together.     I am, Mademoiselle, with the most sincere devotion,

Your humble and very obedient servant,

Magloire Dupuy

That’s it.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I think it is a great treasure to have from an ancestor from so long ago.

One day I would like to see the original.


I thought I’d go ahead and post the original transcript that I got.  It was very useful in working out some of the original words that were so illegible.  As you can see, it is from the Peavy Family Papers.  (Thanks again, Lucy!)


For a follow-up to this post, you can readMagloire et Henriette: After the Happily Ever After.