Jay Z Ties to SW Louisiana By: Alex D. Lee, Sr.

Descendants of the PIERRE-AUGUSTE and MARTINEAU Families

For the last few days on social media, I’ve been hearing and seeing posts about Jay Z. Jay Z? Why is everybody talking about Jay Z? Well, obviously, with all the hype of Jay Z not wanting to participate in the highly popularized versus battles against Wayne, it reminded me of something I recently discovered about his ancestral ties to SW Louisiana! Yes! Just as his lovely wife Queen B, Beyonce does, Mr. Jigga man himself also has ties to SW Louisiana! While extensively researching the families in St. Landry Parish, I was able to trace his St. Landry ancestors to an early African couple who both were born in between 1730-1739, that were slaves in Pointe Coupee Parish. Despite finding his ancestors enslaved, I thought it was amazing to discovery anyone Black American ancestry this far considering the fact of the average Black American not being able to trace back their ancestry beyond the 1870 census due to slavery.

Here is how I did it. According to several blogs and interviews Jay Z has done over the years, it is public knowledge that his father was Adnis REEVES, Jr. Jay himself always spoke of his grandfather being a preacher, in fact, in one of his songs titled Legacy the lyrics says, “You see, my father, son of a preacher man whose daughter couldn’t escape the reach of the preacher’s hand.” Very powerful lyrics. He touched on the topic of legacy. Despite the alleged actions of his grandfather, he descends from a prominent Louisiana family of free people of color.

How was I able to connect Jay-Z’s father to the REEVES of SW Louisiana?

While researching the family of Joachim MARTINEAU, a free man of color born circa1810 in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana, I learned he had a daughter named Rosalie MARTINEAU born circa 1843 in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. Rosalie was married on 27 May 1867 to Robert REEVES, a former slave, in Opelousas, Louisiana. I located them in the 1870 census living in 4th ward St. Landry Parish. Robert was listed as a mulatto born circa 1830 in Louisiana. Rosalie was listed as Black born circa 1843 in Louisiana. They had two children living with them, William REEVES, a Mulatto born circa 1868 and Virginia REEVES, a Mulatto born circa 1870, also both born in St. Landry Parish. Although Rosalie was listed as Black, I have documents that could verify her being of Native American and French descent as well. By the 1900 census, Rosalie was listed as a widow living in Hickory Flat, Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish. Robert and Rosalie were part of the early migration of Black families from St. Landry Parish that moved towards the Hickory Flat area to communities such as Fenton, Kinder, and Oberlin, Louisiana.

As I searched for living descendants of William, Rosalie’s son, his son Adnis REEVES name stood out. I never heard that name. Considering that Rosalie’s family was of French descent, Adnis was not a Creole name or any I ever heard of. From information he gave on his WWII draft card, he was born in Molidon [MOELING], Louisiana but was living in Beaumont, Texas temporarily while serving as a preacher. He died in California but was buried in New York. I didn’t think much of it considering him being a preacher. It wasn’t until I searched his name on google to find anything significant as I do most names that I research, that I learned Adnis REEVES, Jr., was the father of Jay Z!! I thought there was no way! I then listened to interviews and read articles about Jay Z which confirmed that his grandfather Adnis REEVES, Sr., was indeed a preacher!! Now I thought no way this could be the same person! Although I had this information for a few months, I did not post or share it with anyone due to it being too good to be true. It was not until Kevin ARDOIN of Zydeco Farms, a very close relative of the REEVE’s sharing information about Jay Z’s grandfather being from Louisiana that I knew this had to be true.

After further corresponding with Kevin, we discovered we were relatives as well. Kevin told me that his brother, Calvin ARDOIN was the one who had done the family genealogy. Through Calvin’s research he made the same connection that I made between Jay-Z’s paternal grandfather and his family. Jay’s grandfather Adnis was the first cousin of Calvin and Kevin’s grandmother Lillian MOREAUX. At this point I was given enough confidence to accept the discoveries and now share it with you all. I will have more facts and details about Jay Z ancestors from a video I will soon be uploading on my YouTube channel so subscribe and stay tuned! https://youtube.com/channel/UCgU_0e-nS8rRNQ4Lz2O_mjQ

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Story of Stephen B. CUNEY

“A Negro who could not love”

Stephen D. CUNY was born about 1867 in Opelousas, Louisiana. He died on 1 Nov 1912 in Cuidad, Mexico. On 21Oct 1891 of Stephen, then living in Galveston, Texas, sold his mother’s property to his Uncle Emile DONATO. Stephen’s close paternal relatives lived in Galveston, Texas, one being his 2nd Cousin Norris CUNEY, an American politician, businessman, union leader, and African American activist in Texas. Besides the land transactions between him and his uncle, most of Stephen’s life was unknown until I discovered a Catholic baptismal entry of his daughter Felicia Virginia CUNEY, born in Mexico. From this record, I learned that Stephen was going by Esteban Benjamin CUNEY, the Spanish interpretation of his name. To confirm that this was the right family, Felicia’s baptismal entry included her paternal grandparents as Don Louis Benjamin CUNEY and Felicia DONATO.

Catholic Baptismal of Felicia Virginia CUNEY

I could not believe I finally discovered more details about Stephen’s whereabouts. After learning he went by Esteban CUNEY, I discovered more than I bargained for. In the late 1800s, Cuney was publicly outed in several major newspapers across the country for fooling the lady he married about his background. When news got around about his engagement to Minnie WHITNEY, a lady by the name of Jennie De RUELLE, an accomplished opera singer, outed details about Cuney’s past of him formerly introducing himself as Negro to her. She gave the papers details about Stephen’s life, even sharing a document that he was a graduate of Leland Institute in New Orleans, a school for people of color. Stephen infatuated with the love for his fiancé, all but denied any accusations of him being related to any people of color or having any Negro Blood in his veins. Reluctant to prove to his love, he said that he would go to Havana, Cuba to obtain records of him birth record. It is unclear what documentation he used but it was enough proof for him to eventually marry Minnie.

I located Stephen and his family in the 1900 census living in Manhattan, New York. According to that census, he was listed as White salesman from Havana. He also indicated that both of his parents were also from Havana as well. In contrary to details he had given the enumerator, it was obvious that Stephen, well Esteban was keeping details about his identity due to him being publicly humiliated. Despite the details he had given the papers and the census enumerator; he was a man of color.

1900 Census Household of Esteban B. CUNEY

According to the 1870 census, Stephen, then listed as a Mulatto was living with parents, both natives of Louisiana, including himself. It is no secret that many people of color in the U.S. had to hide their African and seeing how Stephen, well Esteban was publicly humiliated, I now completely understand why so many people of color who could hide their African ancestry did. Even as an accomplished and wealthy merchant, having “Negro Blood” as some called it, did not make him even worthy enough to marrying a hotel cashier.

1870 Census Household of Louis Benjamin CUNEY

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Cousin Andris and Sherry THOMAS ties to the CHRETIEN’s


Mary Louise Thomas(Ethel Joubert Tate)

For the longest, all I knew about the woman pictured about was her name Louisa was and that she was married to Henry THOMAS who both lived in Plaisance, Louisiana. Besides that, I knew nothing more behind that beautiful portrait, not even having any knowledge of her last name. This would all change after exploring why Cousin Andris was matching with Demetrius. Based on the knowledge of Demetrius, he was a direct descendant of the CHRETIEN family of St. Martin Parish, Louisiana through Prosper CHRETIEN, a free man of color both to Francois Dezincourt CHRETIEN, a prosperous planter, and FANNY, Francois’s enslaved Negresse.

After viewing the matches shared between Sherry THOMAS and her Uncle Andris THOMAS, I noticed that he was matching Demetrius TAURIAC awfully high. By knowing both of their trees in great detail going back to the 1700s, I couldn’t understand how they were matching at 28 cms. I understand DNA is random, however, they didn’t have any close ties to match those centimorgans.  It then dawned on me that I once believed that Andris ancestor Louisa could’ve possibly been the Liza CHRETIEN who was married to Henry THOMAS as shown in this Catholic marriage entry: CHRETIEN, Elisa (Joseph & Magdeleine RAYMOND)  m. 5 Jan. 1870 Henry THOMAS (Opel. Ch.: v. E, #91). The only discrepancy was Liza was used instead of Louisa but of course, with my knowledge on nicknames given by women during this time period, I knew that Women with the name Louise or Louise commonly went by LISA for short. Lisa was also sometimes short for Elizabeth. With now building the confidence in believing this information as possibly being accurate, I searched the Catholic records for more information on Magdeleine RAYMOND. From the Catholic record, I learned that she had another child named Estelle CHENIER with Andre CHENIER who was married on 20 Jan 1885 to Aurelien NED: NED, Aurelien (Daniel & Melisaire MICHEL) m. 20 Jan. 1885 Estelle CHENIER (Andre & Madeleine RAYMOND) (SM Ch.: v. 11, p. 33). After retrieving that information, I then searched for any information on her and Andre CHENIER and located their marriage entry: RAYMOND, Fanhonnette (Francois & Maria)  m. 25 Oct. 1866 Andre CHENIER (Opel.  Ch.: v.  2, p. 352). As shown in the Catholic marriage entry, Magdeleine was now going by Fanhonnette RAYMOND.

Louisa listed with her mother Magdeleine Francois D. CHRETIEN Estate

Slave Sale of Fanchon with Louisa Chretien to Zelina and Oscar Halphen

When I typed in the CHRETIEN surname in cousin Andris DNA matches, boom! He had a whole page filled with DNA matches shared with descendants of Prosper CHRETIEN as well as other legitimate White descendants of Francois Dezinacourt CHRETIEN. This would definitely confirm kinship among ANDRIS and the known descendants of the CHRETIEN family. It was highly likely that it was indeed a definite common CHRETIEN ancestor Andris and Demetrius shared. I then turned to the records and located the estate inventory of Francois Dasincourt CHRETIEN, who had a very large plantation.  To my surprise, in that inventory I located this; Estate Inventory of Francois D. CHRETIEN, FANCHON (Mulatto) 23 (1836) with her two children LOUISON 4 (1855) and ZENON 3 (1856). They were sold to Zelina and Oscar HALPHEN for $3300.

Andris highest CHRETIEN DNA match was with user CHRETIEN61, according to his tree, he is a descendant of an Antoine CHRETIEN. I then searched for more information on Antoine. I located him as early as the 1870 census listed as a Mulatto aged about 11 years living in the household of Paul fils and Pelagie who I was able to identify as Paul LACOUR and Pelagie RAYMOND, hence RAYMOND surname [same as Louisa’s mother]. I also search the Catholic marriages for an Antoine CHRETIEN and found this one: CHRETIEN, Antoine (Antoinette)  m. 21 Jan. 1880 Marie JEAN BAPTISTE (SM Ch.: v. 10, p. 390). I also located Antoine and his mother in the same estate sale of Louisa and her mother listed as 108. TOINETTE (Negresse) 19 (1840) with her son 4 months at $100 her son then identified as ANTOINE sold to Augustin RICHARD for $2025. After locating Antoine on the same estate, it is also highly likely that he’s the son of Joseph F. CHRETIEN as well.

Andris THOMAS DNA matches with CHRETIEN’s

Andris Thomas DNA matches

1870 census Household of Paul LACOUR and Pelagie RAYMOND

1870 census of Antoine Chretien

After obtaining all this information with the help of DNA, courthouse, and Catholic Church documentation, there is much more known about the beautiful lady in the old photo I’ve had for years.

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Discovering Alexandre LEJEUNE

It isn’t easy to identify a slave due to many only being listed with a first, however due to having access to SW Louisiana Catholic records, I have been successful at identifying thousands of enslaved people of color throughout SW Louisiana, one being Mr. Alexandre LEJEUNE who went from being an enslaved man to a well decorated man of color.

Alexandre LEJEUNE was born circa 1838 in Opelousas, Louisiana to Louis LEJEUNE, a White Butcher, and Henriette CUNNINGHAM, formerly enslaved to Michel PRUDHOMME. On 28 May 1840, at the age of 2, listed as a Quadroon, his father purchased him from Michel PRUDHOMME for $250. It was under the condition that Louis Lejeune, his father, was to liberate him when the State permits. It was also understood that he was to never serve as a slave.



Michel Prudhomme to Louis Lejeaune (Sale of Alexandre) (1)


Michel Prudhomme to Louis Lejeaune (Sale of Alexandre) (2)

Just as his father, Alexandre also became a butcher who was involved into Politics. He was one of the leading members of the St. Landry Republican party, along with his brother-in-law John SIMMS.

He was married on 10 Dec 1869 to Louisiana SMITH. It was his Catholic marriage to Louisiana that showed why Louis purchased him, obviously securing his son’s freedom: LEJEUNE, Alexandre (Louis & Henriette CUNNINGHAM) m. 10 Dec. 1869 Louisiana SMITH(John & Judith JOHNSON)(Opel. Ch.: v. E, # 86).

In the 1870 census, his estate was valued at $1600 and his personal property was valued at $250, a very large sum for any person in general.

1870 Census Household of Alexandre LEJEUNE

1870 census household of Alexandre Lejeune

In the same census, I discovered his parent’s living together. Not to romanticize a relationship, it was obvious that Henriette was more than is child’s mother or in today’s terminology baby momma, who knows?

1870 Census Househol of Louis LEJEUNE

1870 census household of Louis Lejeune

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Discovering the identities of Dr. A. O. GUIDRY’s enslaved people of color

Succession of Julie POTIER(Wife of Dr GUIDRY)(Opelousas Patriot)8 May 1858


Estate Sale of Julie POTIER (wife of Dr. O.A. GUIDRY)

Source: POTIER, Julie  m. Onezime GUIDRY   Succ. dated 21 April 1858 (Opel. Ct. Hse. Succ. #2148)

Plantation Location: Grand Coteau, Louisiana


SANDY (Negro) 48 (1810) at $700.

Notes: It is a possibility that Sandy is Sandy REUBEN. I say this because Becca’s children, a slave that’s listed on this plantation intermarried into the RUBIT family. I found a death certificate of a man named Sandy REUBEN who died in Carencro, the same area that Onesime GUIDRY’s plantation was located. Sandy died on 1868 according to his succession: REUBIN, Sandy  fd m.  Succ. dated 9 Nov. 1868 (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Succ. #3219). Based around the time of his passing, he may was killed during the Opelousas Massacre, a tragic event that killed many newly freed slaves who attempted to vote for the first time as U.S. citizens.

DICK (Negro) 42 (1816) at $1200.

GABRIEL (Griffe) 32 (1826) at $1400.

BILL or WILLIAM (Negro) 35 (1823) at $1200.

ALBERT (Negro) 17 (1841) at $1000.

FRANK (Negro) 13 (1845) at $750.

Notes: I have identified Frank as Frank REUBIN. I was able to identify him from his Catholic marriage to Louise GUIDRY: REUBIN, FRANK (Sam REUBIN & Henriette) m. 17 Feb. 1870 Louse GUIDRY (Virginie) (GC Ch.:v.4,p.88)

BECKY (Negro) 32 (1826) with her 5 (1853) children SAM 9 (1847) ALCIDE 7(1851) ARTHUR 5 (1853) and ALFRED 3 (1855) and EDGAR at 1 (1857) appraised at $3500.

Notes: I have identified this family as Becca GRANDBERRY and her children she had for Jean FOCRET of France who lived next door to Dr. O.A. GUIDRY. In May of 2015, my wife and I met with Kerri JEAN and her family, descendants of Alfred JEAN, who lived in the old Pair Orchid community of Beaumont, Texas, a place where many fleeing Louisiana Creoles migrated during the early 1920s. Kerri and I had been Facebook friends for a while before we would actually run into each other in person and decided to set up a family meeting to share and exchange information.

Me meeting with the JEAN’s

Me meeting with Kerri Jean Citizen and family (5)

Through her maternal side, we discovered that we were related through the STEVENS, JOUBERTS, LAVIGNES and FONTENOTs. On her paternal side, I traced their ancestry back to Alfred JEAN, a relative their family didn’t know much about. That would change after a courthouse trip to Opelousas on 7 Jul 2016. There I was searching for slaves who belonged to Dr. O.A. GUIDRY and wives and located Becca and her children. Based on the names and ages, I knew they were the ones who I located in the 1880 census living in the same households or as neighbors not far from Dr. GUIDRY’s estate.  I later discovered the death certificate of Alfred JEAN that listed his parents as Contha JEAN and Rebecka JEAN which further confirmed my claim.  I then began to locate the Catholic Church and courthouse marriages of Alfred JEAN’s siblings to see who they listed as their parents or to see who were witnesses. When his sister Modeste was married to Hypolite ROBIT at the Opelousas courthouse, Arthur JEAN, her brother, was one of the witnesses: ROBIT, Polite m. 9 Feb. 1886 Modeste JEANS (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. # 13926). Modeste’s Catholic marriage entry to Hypolite listed her parents as Bertrand JEAN and Rebecca GRANDBURRY: Modeste (Bertrand & Rebecca GRANDBURY) m. 17 May 1898 Hypolite  ROUBIT (GC Ch.: Blk. Reg.: v.4, p.364). Here is BECKY’s daughter Clementine Church and courthouse marriage entry: GUILBEAUX, Auguste  m. 13 Jan. 1876 Clementine JONES (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #8521) JEAN, Clementine (Jean & Rebecca) m. 27. Jan 1876 Auguste GUILBEAUX (GC Ch.:v.4,p.2940) This time the father was listed as JEAN. Was the father of her children JEAN JEAN? A slave? But if so why they were listed as Mulattoes in a few census records? From Modeste’s Catholic marriage, I now have gained a surname for BECKY. Since I never ran across the surname GRANDBURRY, I searched the census and Catholic records and found a John GRANBERRY who was a Doctor from Pennsylvania. It is a possibility that BECKY was somehow connected to this gentleman, perhaps being formerly enslaved on his plantation. A.O. GUIDRY was also a medical doctor so it would make since if they’ve done business as well.

Since records confirmed BECKY as the mother of JEAN’s, I still had to figure out the father of her children. I once suspected that they were connected to the JEAN family who lived in Lawtell, Louisiana, an area where many of the GUIDRY’s lived, however in the 1900 census, a few of BECKY’s children indicated that their father was born in France. I then ruled this theory our because the JEAN’s were descendants of freed West Africans.

1900 census households of Alcide, Alfred and Edgar JEAN

Jean brothers in the 1900 census

I then began to search the census and located Dr. Guidry in the 1870 census living in the Grand Coteau, Louisiana. His estate was valued at $3000 and his personal assets was valued at $1000, a large sum of money during this time. Statistics of my research shows that people who had this much value during the 1870 census most likely owned slaves during the antebellum period. There was a man named Jean FOCARE of France aged about 63 (1807) who was living in Dr. GUIDRY’s household. Without doubt I knew this had to be the father of BECKY’s children. This would ultimately explain why BECKY’s sons Alcide JEAN, Alfred JEAN and Edgar JEAN all listed their father being born in France in the 1900 census. Instead of taking their father’s legitimate surname, they took his forename but of course I didn’t have full proof so I continued searching for answers, or at least validation.

1870 census household of Dr. A.O. GUIDRY1870 census of Dr A O Guidry

It was sheer luck that I would locate the Catholic marriage entry of BECKY’s son Alcide in the supplemental volume of Father HEBERT’s Catholic records that listed him as a FORCRET: FOCRET, Alcide J. (Rebecca) m. 20 Feb. 1871 Divine MAFFY (GC Ch.:v.4,p.97). I’m not sure when Jean FOCRET came over to Louisiana but based on the age of BECKY’s oldest child, meant he had to have been in Louisiana before the 1850s. As I searched the census, in the 1850 census he was living next door to Dr. GUIDRY’s plantation. This now explains how he was able to have relations with Dr. GUIDRY’s slave BECKY. Considering he was the only FOCRET of France in the area who lived next door to Dr. GUIDRY in the 1860 census, in Maury’s voice “Mr. FOCRET, you are the Father”.

1860 Census household of Dr. A.O GUIDRY and Jean FOCRET

1850 census Jean Foucret(Guidry

With the records confirming Jean FOCRET as the father of BECKY’s sons shows how some families are going by surnames that aren’t very telling of their ancestral ties. All of Jean FOCRET’s children went by JEAN’s. Had it not been for his son Alcide to be listed as a FOCRET in his Catholic marriage the I probably would have only been drifting off a theory. This only expresses the difficulty in connecting people of color to their ancestors. I’m not sure when Jean arrived in Louisiana but according to a land purchase dated 11 Jul 1839, between him and others buying land in Grand Coteau meant he was here prior. His name surname spelled FOCRET on that land sale is spelled same way the priest listed his natural son Alcide as.

Raphael J. SMITH to Jean FOCRET and others

11 Jul 1839


Clementine JEAN

Clementine Jean(Kimalee72 ancestry.com)

JEAN’s photo collection

Me meeting with Kerri Jean Citizen and family (2)

Posted in Creole, Education, genealogy, history, Knowledge, Learning, Louisiana, Slavery, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“Reconnecting the famille of FRANCOISE” Taking a look back into our country’s early history in separating enslaved families

When I think of the transatlantic slave trade, I think of all the millions of families being separated from their families, traditions and cultures, all to adapt to being someone’s chattel property, to do whatever they command and working from dusk to dawn for the rest of their lives. It’s no secret of the ugly horrors slavery has plagued in many black families for generations. Who knows, the stranger you meet in somewhere could probably be a descendant of one of your ancestors siblings.  In my personal slave research of SW Louisiana, primarily St. Landry Parish,  I have discovered several families who were separated during slavery, whether it was mothers from their children, fathers from their wives, siblings or extended family members being sold to another plantation. This short but formative write-up is going to show you first hand of how an enslaved Negro woman was separated from the children she carried and how her family have been disconnected ever since. Hopefully this piece could reunite many of them.

Last Monday during a random courthouse research, as I browsed through the old 1860 entries, I came across this entry of Jean Baptiste Paul FONTENOT, Hypolite Paul FONTENOT, Samuel REED, fils, partitioning slaves. As I explored the French record, the sequence of the names ALPHONSE, ALPHONSINE and CLEMENCE stood out to me  which led me to believe that they were the enslaved children of Michel POULARD. I knew they were the children of Michel, however I didn’t know who was their mother was, in fact, I once believed they were the children of Clarice FUSELIER, the woman who was identified as Michel POULARD’s younger children Onesime and Belisaire. Although I was excited in having substantial proof as to who their mother was, I waited to get the record fully translated to make sure I was comprehending the French language well.  Special thanks to my Canadian friend history, Mona A. RAINVILLE, Lawyer, who read through what was going on. Later that day,  I received  the full translation from Clint BRUCE.

Samuel Reed fils and Fontenot Partition of Slaves(Poullard family) (1)

Samuel Reed fils and Fontenot Partition of Slaves(Poullard family) (4)Samuel Reed fils and Fontenot Partition of Slaves(Poullard family) (2)


Translation done by Clint BRUCE: Canada Research Chair in Acadian and Transnational Studies (CRÉAcT, French acronym) at Université Sainte-Anne in Nova Scotia

The year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty, and the seventh of April,

Before me, Yves D’avy, Recorder, duly commissioned and sworn in for St. Landry Parish, residing there in Opelousas, undersigned, and in the presence of the witnesses named hereafter and also undersigned

Appeared in person, viz.

  1. Jean Baptiste Paul Fontenot, Chataigner
  2. Hypolite Paul Fontenot, Chataignier
  3. Samuel Reed, the son, Chataignier

All residing in the said parish of St. Landry, in the districts mentioned above, Who have declared and hereby do declare that at the auction conducted on April 20, eighteen fifty-two, of the succession property of the late Paul Fontenot, they made themselves joint adjudicators of the slaves whose names and ages follow, to wit: Françoise, négresse of approximately twenty-(six?) years of age, and her three children, Alphonse, nine years of age; Alphonsine, six years of age; and Clemence, four years of age; of ages being the same as those given in the auction report under number 73, to which reference is made; That at that time they agreed verbally up the joint possession, but none authentic [or: but unofficially] given the age of the children, and that since then have been born of the said nègre Françoise, two children, one named Celestine, today four years of age, and the other named Marie, two years of age; besides which there was forgotten in the auction report a négresse named Meline, also a daughter of Françoise, then three years of age.

Today the parties appearing wishing to cease the joint possession that exists between them and each definitely make known his property, have agreed to divide the said slaves as follows, to wit: The said Jean Baptiste Paul Fontenot takes for his share of the said slaves Françoise, currently around thirty-four years of age; Meline, eleven years of age; Celestine, four years of age; and Marie, two years. And the said Hypolite Paul Fontenot and Samuel Reed, [? of the division/splitting up], do surrender and transfer to him all rights, title, and claims that they had concerning the said slaves.

The said Hypolite Paul Fontenot, for his share of the said slaves, takes Alphonsine, currently four years of age, and Clementine, currently twelve years of age; and the said Jean Bte Paul Fontenot and Samuel Reed do surrender and transfer, as part of the partition, to the said [Hte?] Paul Fontenot all their rights of ownership to said slaves.

The said Samuel Reed, for his share of the said slaves, takes Alphonsine, currently around sixteen years of age, and the said Hypolite Paul and Jean Baptiste Fontenot do surrender and transfer to him all their rights to the ownership of the said slaves, and this as part of the partition.

They [?] mutually in all their rights of guarantee against all preceding sellers, the value at the time of the verbal partition being for the share of Jean Bte Fontenot seven hundred and fifty dollars; for that of Hypolite Paul Fontenot six hundred and fifty dollars; and Samuel Reed, his share at four hundred and fifty dollars. They have settled amongst themselves the difference in value as they do declare and do mutually give each other release (of responsibility).

The co-sharers declare that they dispense the Recorder of the production of certificates of mortgage, as required by article 3325 of the Civil Code of Louisiana or any other law regarding this matter, releasing the said Recorder from all responsibility.

Those appearing declaring moreover that the present deed is a definitive partition among them, without legal recourse against each other.

Prior to me obtaining this record, as I aforementioned I believe this was the children of Michel POULARD. With the above record stating  they were purchased from Paul FONTENOT I then searched for succession within that family and found Francoise listed in the 1844 succession of Rosalie McCAULEY, the wife of Paul FONTENOT. To my surprise I actually located the suspected Michel listed in that inventory who was actually purchased by Paul FONTENOT as well, confirming my claim.

Discovering the record of Francoise enslaved was exciting but the reality of her being separated from her children wasn’t so exciting.


With the help of the Catholic Church and Courthouse records, I have identified Francoise as Francoise Antoine MARTIN. Prior to this record she was already in my genealogy database having children with a slave named TOM and Bazil ROUGEAU. As I looked at the 1860 census household of Jean Baptiste Paul FONTENOT, Bazil’s father Alexandre lived next door. I located Francoise in the 1870 census living with Richard VIDRINE. I believed this was her considering the ages and names of her children Antoine and Artemon who are obviously Artemon ROUGEAU and Antoine THOMAS.

1870 census household of Richard VIDRINE and Francoise Antoine MARTIN

1870 census of Francoise Martin

I was able to establish a relationship between Antoine and Artemon after Artemon appeared as one of the witnesses to the marriage  of Antoine THOMAS to Victoria FONTENOT: THOMAS, Antoine m. 11 Oct. 1881 Victoria FONTENOT (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #11977)THOMAS, Antoine (Thomas & Francoise) m. 1 Nov. 1881 Victoria FONTENOT (Eunice Ch.: v. 1, p. 132). When Artemon was baptized in the 50’s, his mother was listed as Frances ANTOINE: ROUGEAU, Artimen (Basile & Frances ANTOINE) b. 12 March 1866; bt. 27 March 1952 (Elton Ch.: St. Joseph Ch.: v.1, p.4)

After finding the record of Francoise enslaved,  I have successfully identified the right enslaved family. In the 1870 census household of Hypolite Paul FONTENOT, there was a Negro woman named Clemence aged about 21 (1849) with her child Elvina aged about 5 (1865). This is obviously the same Clemence who Hypolite was given in the partition of the slaves. The Catholic marriage of Elvina could substantiate my claim: FONTENOT, Elvina (Clementine POULARD) m. 9 Jan. 1879 Emile Jean NOEL (Eunice Ch.: v. 1, p. 90)

I might have made this quite easy but this was no easy task. Most of the early records of the POULARD’s gave their surname as MICHEL, obviously taking their father’s forename as a surname. At the end of slavery, several former slaves used their father’s forename as a surname. Here is Alphonse’s son Theophile POULARD’s Catholic baptism entry with him being listed as a MICHEL:  MICHEL, Teophile (Alphonse & Charlotte BOUTTE) b. 8 July 1877 (Eunice Ch.: v. 1, p. 19-x).  He then went by POULARD, the name he died with.

Theophile POULARD
Theophile Poullard

After discovering the death certificates of Francoise’s POULARD children Alphonse and Clemence

nce, any of them listed their parents, something that the informant for the death certificate didn’t know, especially since they both lived long lives.

Death Certificate of Clemence POULARD

Death certificate of Clementine Poulard

Death Certificate of Alphonse POULARD

Death certificate of Alphonse Poulard


Faces of Francoise’s descendants

Robyne DAMOND is the gg-granddaughter of Antoine THOMAS, Francoise’s son


Shawntee SCOTT is the gg-granddaughter of Antoine THOMAS, Francoise’s son


Daniel OZANE is the ggg-grandson of Alphonse POULARD, Francoise’s son

Daniel Ozane

Nicole PITRE is the gg-granddaughter of Artemon ROUGEAU, son of Francoise


Jamie PAGE is the ggg-granddaughter of Alphonse POULARD, son of Francoise



Bithomas CEASAR Jr., is the ggg-grandson of Alphonse POULARD, son of Francoise


Vorice STEPHEN is the ggg-grandson of Clemence POULARD, daughter of Francoise


Janie STEPHEN-LAFLEUR, deceased, was the gg-granddaughter of Clemence POULARD, daughter of FRANCOISE

Janie Stephens at age 16

Artemon ROUGEAU, son of FRANCOISE,  with wife Marie Amaya HARDY

Marriage of Arthemon Rougeau and Amaya Hardy


Posted in Creole, genealogy, history, Knowledge, Learning, Louisiana, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Descendants of Martin DONATO’s last will and testament


On September 2, 1847, approximately 166 years ago, Martin DONATO, a free man of color and prominent planter in the town of Opelousas, Louisiana, left behind the wishes of his last will testament which left behind a puzzling mystery as to why he wanted to give liberty to 12 slaves upon his death which happened on 2 Jan 1848. In the wishes of his last will and testament, it was stated that immediately after his death, he wanted to give freedom to the following slaves who were Julie, age about 32 years, and her seven children to-wit, EUGENIE aged about 14 years, EMILE aged about 12 years, URANIE aged about 11 years,FELICIANNE and FELICIE twin sisters aged about 8 years, PHILOMENE aged about 4 years, DIDIER aged about 1 year three months, and to MEURICE& OLYMPIE, twins sisters, age about twenty years and to MARIE JEANNE, daughter of OLYMPIE age about 2 years more or less. In Consideration of the recommendation that was made to Martin by his late deceased son Edmond DONATO, Martin also gave freedom to his Mulatto slave named Leon age about 19 years (Son of Rosine).

Martin also mentioned the free status that was given to Sabin DONATO (son of his Negresse Celeste) who was given his freedom at birth by Martin and his deceased wife. Martin DONATO also firmly declared that if any of his heirs would contest to his wishes, they would be disinherited from his will.

Although Martin made it clear that he wanted these certain slaves freed, he never specified the reason he wanted to liberate these slaves or the relationship he had with the which could only make one assume if Martin DONATO the father? grandfather? or their Uncle? Not only did Martin requested for them to be freed, he also ensured that Julie’s seven children was to be given the security of a great future by making sure that the executor of his estate, his son Auguste DONATO, funded their education by giving them money for his estate.

Throughout the years of researching along with the help of relatives, Catholic and Church records, I was able to find answers as to why Martin freed those 12 slaves. I was able to confirm that all those slaves were all blood related to him. Julie as I thought, became Martin’s concubine upon his wife’s death. Catholic marriages of her children has proven Martin as the father: DONATO, Marie Philomene (Martin & Julie RAPHAEL) m. 8 Feb. 1872 Alexandre OLIVIER(Honore & Francoise FRILOT); CUNY, Louis B. (Cesar & Celeste THIERRY) m. 25 July 1861 Felice DONATO(Martin & Julie DONATO) (Opel. Ch.: v. 2, p. 322).

As for my ancestor Olympe DONATO, and her twin sister Meurice, their family relationship to Martin was confirmed in the succession of Sabin DONATO, where Martin’s former physician, Frederick ACHER of France petitioned against Sabin’s wife to give his natural (illegitimate) daughters, Anaise, Valentine and Marie ACHER, children of the late Meurice DONATO, to inherit an equal share of their late Uncle Sabin’s estate. Dr. ACHER called for a family meeting of his children’s nearest relatives which consisted of Martin DONATO’s son, Francois Auguste DONATO, pere [Sr.] his sons, Francois Auguste DONATO, fils, [Jr.] and Gustave DONATO, Martin’s grandsons Martin LEMELLE, Joseph Delmont DONATO and Conrnelius DONATO. The men who came to the family meeting for the security of Meurice DONATO’s children has definitely substantiated there was a family connection between Olympe and Meurice DONATO. I would later find another documentation to prove who the father of the twins, however you have to purchase the book for more 🙂


Illustration done by Shoshwoenikkwa THOMAS with Bellas Art




In addition to connecting the families, I have discovered that two of my Cousin’s Paul GEORGE, NBA all-star and Olympic gold medalists, and Joe YOUNG are descendants of Olympe DONATO and Meurice DONATO.



Paul GEORGE with his young Cousin Joe YOUNG


Photo collection of Clovis OLIVIER, son of Philomene DONATO, Martins daughter


Me and my daughter Aviynna with our Cousin Neddie GEORGE, great-great-great granddaughter of Meurice DONATO


Me with my young Cousin Joe YOUNG in 2016 after the Pacers vs. Rockets in Houston, Texas


Me with my Cousins Rodney SAM, great-great-great grandson of Olympe DONATO with Nell PAINTER, scholar and author, great-great granddaughter of Emile DONATO, son of Martin DONATO and Julie.


Me with my Cousin Allison ARCENEAUX, great-great-great granddaughter of Meurice DONATO


Me with descendants of Meurice DONATO going over family photos


Posted in Creole, Education, genealogy, Genealogy Discoveries, history, indiana pacer, Louisiana, Opelousas, paul george | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Discovering Ignatius GOUGH


Last week I got a chance to enjoy some of my much needed vacation time in the wonderful and historical City of Opelousas, Louisiana. After having some delicious boudin and crackling for breakfast, by 10, there I was on the second floor browsing through the old original records of the lives that were lived before us be it slave sales, emancipation’s, mortgages and land purchases. As I was trying to locate some of the FONTENOT slave sales of 1839, I came across a slave sale of a Robert E. SMITH acting for Stephen GOUGH of St. Mary’s County, Maryland, selling unto Reverend A. P. LADAVERE, president of Grand Coteau College, a Negro man named Ignatius aged about 21 years for $1000. Considering there was only one Black family in the Grand Coteau area, without doubt I knew this was Ignatius GOUGH. It was a bit interesting to see how the President of a Jesuits school purchasing a slave. This obviously shows that even the holiest of them all still managed to capitalize or benefit from the free labor of slaves.

Stephen GOUGH to Rev. A. P. LADAVIERE

13 Feb 1839


To validate that I have identified this Ignatius as Ignatius GOUGH, I searched through the Catholic records for any information on the GOUGH and located these entries: GOUGH, Elisabeth (Nace GOUGH & Sally-from Mautre) m. 29 Feb. 1876 Henry HARDY (GC Ch.:v.4,p.295) and GOUGH, Adeline (Nace & Sally) m. 18 Jan. 1877 Charles GARDINER (GC Ch.: v.4, p. 303). Both listed their father as Nace which was short for Ignatius. I also found this marriage of an Ignatius was marrying on 2 Jun 1839 to Sally who I believe in Ignatius GOUGH and wife SALLY: Ignatius m. 2 June 1839 Salle with consent of the masters. (GC Ch.: v. 1, p.101).

I then search the census and located a Sally GOFF and her daughter’s Adeline and Elizabeth GOFF[GOUGH] in the 1870 census living with Lawyer John F. SMITH as his servant. John Smith is the nephew of Charles SMITH, a wealthy planter. Charles SMITH’s wife is the person who donated the land and money to start a Catholic Church. The area centered around the Catholic Church would later be known as Grand Coteau. By the 1880 census Sally still remained living as a house servant of the SMITH’s. Her daughter Adeline lived next door, possibly on the lands of the SMITH family.

1870 census household of John F. SMITH


Ignatius was the grandfather of Thomas William HARDY who was married to my relative Sadie CUNY.  During my vacation in the Fall of 2013, I was well welcomed in Compton, California by Thomas and Sadie’s great granddaughter Arvis SIMMONS-FORD who allowed me to stay at her lovely home to research and meet my California Cousins. There she and her family showed me a great time. I was introduced to pacific oysters, a new favorite food and road through Hollywood in a nice stretched limo, owned by Arvis sister, all in the same day! Who knew that three years later I would be calling her while in the Opelousas Courthouse explaining how I found documentation on one of ancestors. Amazing how things work. I guess you can say the favor of hospitality was returned.

Thomas HARDY


Here are some of the descendants of Mr. Ignatius GOUGH at their 1999 family reunion. What a lovely group of people.


Elizabeth GOUGH


Posted in Catholic, genealogy, Grand Coteau, Louisiana, Virginia | 1 Comment

Donato BELLO Two Families One Love

Donato BELLO

Two Families One Love

Written by: Alex D. Lee

Edited by: Aggie Donatto-Briscoe

One of my most interesting finds in my 7 year research on my family ancestry has to be my family connection to Donato BELLO. Donato was born about 1740 in Corand, Naples, Italy to Victor BELLO and Marie De La MARO. By the time he was a teenager he was making trips from Italy to North America. It was in New Orleans where he would take interest in a quateronne libre named Marie Jeanne TALLIEFERT and have 3 children with her, to-wit, Martin, Celeste and Catherine. He would later marry Suzanne MOREAU of Alabama on 15 Jan 1765. From this union the following were born: Catherine Josette, Maximillien, Judith, Valerie, Sophia and Don Louis BELLO. Shortly after he was married to Suzanne Donato his family relocated to Opelousas Post under a Spanish land grant. There he became head of the Opelousas Militia. Donato died on 13 Dec 1787 in Opelousas, Louisiana.

Donato’s son with Marie Jeanne, later became the head of the family ensuring that all of his siblings would live a secured and prosperous life. Martin began establishing himself by purchasing slaves and property. It wouldn’t take long for him to be recognized as one of area’s more prominent men of color, even owning more than the average White man, of course with the association of his father’s network. Martin and his siblings of color held close ties with their father’s legitimate heirs. Martin was even close with his father’s wife’s family. On 19 Oct 1797 he purchased property from Suzanne MOREAU’s brother Celestin. After the death of Suzanne MOREAU, Martin acted as curator for his late brother Maximillien’s children. This in itself would show how closely associated the siblings from the different women were.

Martin acting as curator for Maximillien BELLO’s children

Jan 1818martin-donato-bello-representing-for-maximillien

Even after Suzanne’s death the two families remained close. Through Martin’s hard work ethic and social ties, he was able to become one of the wealthier of his siblings, in fact he owned nearly quadrupled the number of slaves and property than all of his father’s legitimate heirs. As a result, his White nephew Carlos worked as manager on his son Francois Auguste DONATO’s plantation.

1860 Census of Francois Auguste DONATO1860-census-of-auguste-donato

In the 1860 census Auguste was living with his wife Denise MEUILLON along with Carlos SOIGNIER [SONNIER], a manger of Auguste’s estate. Denise was the child of Jean Baptiste MEUILLON, a wealthy cotton planter, and Celeste Donato BELLO, Auguste’s paternal Aunt. Carlos SONNIER is the son of Auguste’s first cousin Josephine POIRET.  Josephine POIRET is the daughter of Judith BELLO, the half-sister of Martin Donato BELLO, Auguste’s father. This census not only shows how well-established Auguste was as a planter but it also shows the family relationship between Donato BELLO’s legitimate descendants he had with his wife Suzanne MOREAU and his line of descent with Marie Jeanne TALLIEFERT, femme de couleur libre [free woman of color], both women being natives of New Orleans.

It’s a common belief in this age of society that the White families didn’t associate with the Black families. An example of this was shown in the movie “Feast of all Saints” stemming from Anne Rice’s novel where the main Character Marcel played by Robert Ri’card, was forbidden from going to his father’s plantation by his legitimate family who may have not known of his existence. However, this 1860 census it obviously shows that the families remained close. As a researcher I constantly explain that it’s in everyone’s best interest to not assume that the people of the past lived or thought of race relations of today. This can be seen in the relationships between Donato BELLO’s two families.  An example of this is the fact that after the Civil War, Carlos married Auguste’s slave child Eugenie. They were married on 28 Sep 1886: SONNIER, Charles m. 28 Sept. 1886 Eugenie DONATO (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #14182). Carlos and Eugenie lived and raised their family in Mallet, Louisiana where they intermarried into the extended family of Donato BELLO.

Jean Baptiste GUILLORY and wife Lucia SONNIERjean-baptiste-guillory-and-lucia-sonnier

Lucia is the daughter of Carlos SONNIER and Eugenie DONATO

1860 census of Belizaire MEUILLON1860-census-of-belzaire-meullion

Another example to show the close relationships of Donato BELLO’s two families is this 1860 census of Belizaire MEUILLON with Eloi SONNIER, Carlos’s brother, living as a manager on her plantation. Belizaire was another first cousin of Josephine POIRET. Belizaire is the daughter of Jean Baptiste MEUILLON and Celeste Donato BELLO. While serving as a manager on Belizaire’s plantation, Eloi had a son named Antoine SONNIER with Belizaire’s slave Eulalie who took the surname ALCENDOR after slavery.

I guess you can say it was definitely a family affair between Donato BELLO’s descendants.



Posted in Creole, genealogy, history, Italy, Louisiana, Opelousas | 12 Comments

Now which DUPRE was the daddy?


In the beginning of my research I had no idea how difficult it would be to find some of my family but I soon learned finding the paternity of my late relatives wasn’t so easy. Having a few relatives who researched our family ancestry has been very beneficial in me discovering the paternity for a few relatives. My grandfather’s 2nd Cousin Eula Jack-Dell was one them. Cousin Eula’s book was a great guide for me that had a lot of sourced information to connect me with the right family. In the 80s she put out a family book that has help me and several others relatives. With the inspiration from Alex Haley’s books Cousin Eula spent years going back and forth to different Courthouses, Churches and the Louisiana State archive to obtain documentation for our family book.  She did all of this during a time when you had to view the census on microfilm long before you could access them on sites such as ancestry.com. It was in Cousin Eula’s book that I discovered that my ancestor Olympe DONATO had a twin sister named Meurice DONATO. Prior to that discovery I always thought Olympe was the mother of Anais, Marie and Valentine ACHER were her children as it was shown in the Catholic marriages of Marie and Valentine:  ACHER, Valentine (Frederie & Olymphe DONATO)  m. 21 Nov. 1867 Louis GUIDRY (Opel. Ch.: v. 2, p. 367); ACHER, Marie (Frederic & Olymphe DONATO)  m. 9 Jan. 1873 Alexis ARCENEAUX (Opel. Ch.: v. 2, p. 428). It was identified that Meurice DONATO was the mother of the three ACHER sisters in the succession (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Succ. #2316)of Sabin DONATO dated 15 Mar 1860. Sabin was the brother of Olympe and Meurice DONATO. Meurice’s daughter Anais didn’t marry so finding the paternity of her children was a little difficult.

Using the Father Hebert Catholic records (which is considered the gold mine for any SW Louisiana researcher with family who were Catholic) I was able to discover the baptismal entries of two of Anais’s daughter’s, Laurence and Marie Betina: ACHER, Marie Betino(Anais) b. 7 June 1884 (Opel. Ch.: v. 7, p. 9);  ACHER, Laurence (Anais) b. 27 May 1886 (Opel. Ch.: v. 7, p. 57).

Catholic baptismal of Betina


Catholic baptismal of Laurance

Baptism of Laurance DupreBoth of their father’s names was omitted on the baptismal record which made it difficult to find who they married since they didn’t use ACHER when they married. In my search I learned that it was common for the father names to be omitted in the Catholic records if their father’s were White or married. As the years went by on one day as I was looking for information on the MARTEL’s family I located a Willie MARTEL marrying a Betina DUPRE who was the daughter of Annoise ACHER: MARTEL, Willie (Theophile EDSTORAGE) m. 22 Dec 1902 Betine DURE (Annoise ACHER) (Opel.Ch.:v.3,p.295). From that Catholic marriage I learned that she was a Dupre however her father’s name was omitted. After finding that Betina was a DUPRE I searched the Catholic records to see if I could find Laurence being listed as a DUPRE and sure enough I was able to locate her marriage to Lester DESMARAIS: DESMARAIS, Lester (Idolia SKINNER) m. 8 Sep 1903 m. Lawrence DUPRE(Annaise ACHER) (Opel.Ch.:v.3,p.314). The father was also omitted on Laurance marriage record. After seeing how the father wasn’t listed on their baptismal and Catholic marriages I then suspected that their father was definitely White and living but who?

After finding the marriages of Anais daughters I traced their families in the census. By the 1920 census Both of their families moved to Houston’s 3rd ward community.Instead of Laurance and her family listed as DESMARAIS they then went by the DEMARIS family.

The Martel and DEMARIS family with their Cousin Ashton SIMON in Houston, Texas

Lucille Ethel Lillian Daniel Demaris with Ashton Simon(AG)

Using the research database on ancestry.com I was able to find both of their death certificates. Guess what? None of the informants who were their children knew the names of their grandparents!!?!?!?!?Dupre girls death certificatesJust when I thought I was going to find out who was their father, yet I hit another brick wall, however I didn’t give up. Maury where are you? Anyways, I then started to find their living descendants, one being Shane MARTELL. Shane was Betina DUPRE’s great grandson. It was my family connection to Shane that led me to getting in touch with his grandfather Pat Martel.

Cousin Shane MARTELL

Shane Martel

Shane’s grandfather Pat told me that his mother’s father was a wealthy White Lawyer, however he didn’t reveal his name.  I then looked back at the census to see if any Dupre’s lived near them and there was Laurent DUPRE who was a White banker who lived only two households down from where Laurance and Betina lived in the 1900 census.

1900 census of Lawyer Laurent DUPRE, Betina and Laurance1900 census of Anais and Laurent DupreWithout doubt I knew this had to be the girl’s father being that Laurance is a feminine name of the masculine name Laurent just as in English with the names Laura and Lawrence. Perhaps she was named after her father? Esquire Laurent DUPRE didn’t die until 1905 which substantiates the information I gave above of priest omitting the fathers of illegitimate children if they were White or living, in this case he was living.

Newspaper notice of Laurent DUPRE’s death 


My conclusion is this. The fact that any of Betina or Laurance DUPRE’s descendants knew anything about their parents shows how important it is for me to connect and share this information with the family. Since I first discovered Betina’s and Laurance’s families I been in touch with them. I was even invited to the double wedding of Cassandra and Cretelia, first Cousins.

Double wedding party of Cassandra and Cretelia

Me with my cousin Cassandria (The bride) and Harris Hopkins

Laurence DUPRE with her sons Pat and Sammy DEMARIS

Laurance (Kidd) Dupre and her sons Samuel and Patrick Demaris(1)

Me meeting with the Desmarais Clan 5 Jun 2012(Rachel FiggsBlog)2Anais ACHER

Anais Acher(AG)Laurance DUPRE-DEMARIS

Laurance Dupre(Edit)(Patricia Demaris)(AG)

Posted in Ancestry.com, Census, Creole, DNA, Education, genealogy, Genealogy Discoveries, Louisiana, Opelousas | Leave a comment