Back in 2011, I was the lead coordinator for the Jason Family reunion in Ville Platte. On July 9th, 250 people from around the country converged in that small, southwestern Louisiana town. This event provided a unique opportunity; my family had lived in the area for at least 200 years.
The Jason clan’s patriarch and matriarch are Godfrey Jason (who was born in South Carolina around 1797) and his wife Laura, (who was born in Louisiana circa 1810). The Jasons made their home in the Bayou Chicot area of Saint Landry Parish.
Godfrey and Laura were legally married December 31, 1869, though Laura died of dropsy (edema) a short time later, in April 1870. It’s unfortunate that she did not live to be counted on the 1870 census. That year is monumental for those of us that conduct African American genealogical research because the 1870 U.S. census is the first on which formerly enslaved persons would have been mentioned by name.
Although, Laura wasn’t on this census, we’re able to glean a little information about her from the Federal Mortality schedule. At the time of her death, Laura was sixty years old.
I often wondered how Godfrey made his way from South Carolina to Louisiana. I’m sure it was an advent of slavery, but did he get sold with his parents? How old was he when he left? Did he leave any of his close relatives tolling in South Carolina? Or, was he sold as a slave alone, without any family? At least I know, after his wife’s death, Godfrey, a Southern farmer, wasn’t living alone. According to the 1870 census, eight other people are living in the household from 31-year old Phebe Jason to one-year old Robert Jason. All members of the household have the surname Jason, but the 1870 census doesn’t clarify any relationships.
What we do know is that Godfrey had at least four children: Winifred (1827), Moses (1830), Hannah (1832), and Temperance (1839). Laura isn’t definitively the mother of all, if any, of the children, but it’s feasible.
I’m a descendant of Moses Jason. My first cousin’s research had substantiated our connection to Moses and we kept busy finding our fellow Moses’ descendants. With information from my first cousin’s research, he had traced our family to our two times great-grandfather, Moses Jason (abt. 1830). However, in 2009, I started collaborating with descendants of Hannah and I learned she was the Moses’ sister and I was told that Godfrey more than likely was the father of both Moses and Hannah. Making this connection was my first breakthrough for tracing family to the 1700s.
I want to continue in the next few posts talking about the Jasons and some of the genealogical finds.