In my last two posts, I asked for additional help in locating information about my maternal grandmother’s mother’s family. Though I recently discovered that that family’s last name is Laughtin, I still haven’t found any additional information on my grandmother’s maternal family. However, I did find that the brick wall of slavery has been broken for our Ruben family!
For me, genealogy is like a mystery game or puzzle, and as a genealogist, I spend my spare time trying to connect the puzzle pieces of my family together. If you are researching in Southwest Louisiana and you are familiar with the towns in the area, you typically can locate at least some of your relatives. If you use standard research methods—such as looking for multiple spellings of known surnames, looking in census records for neighbors of known relatives, or doing searches on usual given names—you’re bound to find some family connections.
When I first started researching, I really had no clue what I was doing and I didn’t have any person that was guiding me on this journey. I just knew that I wanted to research my family history and I would do that by any means necessary.
Since the first time I’ve gone to the archives in Opelousas and what I’ve done on every trip, I always look up the marriage records from known surnames of my family. If I recognized a person’s given name, I would make a note and get a copy of the marriage license. At this point, if I were searching a specific family line, I may even get a copy of the marriage license, even if I don’t recognize the given name. Now, I sort of know that to make a family connection you first gather evidence, examine the evidence, and then put together the “story” that one gleans from the collected evidence.
Gabriel “Gabe” Ruben, I knew, was originally from the Ville Platte area, but he had lived most of his adult-life in Elton, LA. Elton is also where my maternal grandmother was raised and where my mother were born. My mother told me that a lot of the Ruben family lived in Washington, Louisiana, which I later corroborated with another Rubin elder cousin.
I first found Gabriel on the 1870 census, living in Saint Landry Parish with his father Lastie, his mother Ellen, and siblings Louisa and Lovenia.
For Southwest Louisiana researchers, there’s a useful reference source called the Southwest Louisiana Records (SWLR) by Father Donald Hebert. SWLR provides some vital records that’s derived from various parish archives and Catholic Church records. Often you can find family connections, such as parentage, date of birth and date of death.
At one point, my late mother and Uncle James Williams told me was that the Rubens were kin to the Skinners and also kin to the Collins. The story is that the Skinners were at one point Rubens, but due to slavery, their names had been changed. So, one motive of my research was to determine if any of this family lore was true.
I found, during one of my research trips, the marriage license of Frank Collins and Eva Reubin. They married on January 26, 1907 and interesting enough, Lastie Reubin provided the security bond for the marriage. The bond issuer would generally be a male relative such as a father, uncle, or an of age brother.
In this case, Lastie was more than likely an uncle of the bride. Eva was the child of John Reubin fils (junior) and Ernestine Thomy (Thomas). John is either incapacitated or deceased at the time of Eva’s wedding. John’s brother, then, would be next in line to represent the family and sign the bond, Lastie did in this instance. So, part of the family lore, is true in that the Rubins are related to the Collins. I’ve not found the connection, yet to the Skinners.
On the 1900 US Census, Eva is living with her parents John and Ernestine:
From the SWLR, I found that John’s mother was Jane and because fils means junior, his father is John Rubin.
REUBIN, John fils (Janes —) m. 6 Feb. 1869 Ernestine Zenon TOMY (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #5224)
On the 1880 census a widowed Jane Ruben is found living in the Latour household as a servant. According to the census Jane was born in Louisiana at about 1815. Below is a snippet from the 1880 census:
So, with these records, I’ve connected Lastie and John fils who we believe are the children of Jane and John Ruben. Finding Jane living in the Latour family household will be a key to breaking through the brick wall of slavery for my Ruben family.
Recently, a fellow Saint Landry Parish researcher and relative, Alex Lee, posted on his Facebook ancestry page information on some slaves that were being sold out of an estate sale for the Rosemont Doucet. What follows is the sale notice from the Opelousas Courier January 14, 1854:
One of these slaves turns out to be Jane along with several of her children, Nerieth, Caroline, John, Julienne, and Elizabeth.
This was an important find in my slavery ancestry. Although, Lastie is not identified in this record, we already concluded that Jane was his mother.
A few months before Alex published this data, we discovered a DNA match to my mother through 23andMe, but we had no idea how we were kin. Turns out she is a descendant of Caroline. Here’s some additional information Alex gives about Caroline:
As for the other children, I found this entry regarding Julienne: REUBEN, Julienne (Marie JANIS) m. 11 Jan. 1877 Simon GUILLORY, Jr. (VP Ch.: v. 2, p. 206)
Below, I found Julienne on the 1880 census along with her husband and children:
Elizabeth Ruben went on to marry Elie Joseph as noted in the following marriage license:
I’m sure there are other points to research with the Rubin family. Do you have any other connections to the Rubens? I look forward to continuing this journey.