While continuing to do research on the Franks of Ville Platte, I found a man named Julienne Frank, who could potentially be a sibling to Ephraim and Jean Baptiste. Julienne was born about 1835 and lived near Ephraim and Jean Baptiste after the civil war. There are two marriage licenses for Julien’s marriage to a Suzette VALMOND SIMON as noted in Father Hebert’s Southwest Louisiana Records (SWLR):
FRANK, Julien m. 30 Aug. 1869 Suzette VALMOND (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. # 5491)
FRANK, Julien m. 25 May 1871 Susette SIMON (VP Ch.: v. 2, p. 67)
Together, Julienne and Suzette had five children: Edmond (b. 1855), Eugene (b. 1862), Emily (b. 1865), Marie (b. 1871), and Adam (b. 1864).
However, for the longest time, I could not make any headway in finding how Julienne Frank connected to the FRANK clan, so for a few years I put this part of my research on the back burner, focusing instead on tracing several of my maternal lines to specific slavery records.
Slavery is a difficult and an emotional subject that I think is hard for slave descendants to research. I often think of how my ancestors were treated: how they toiled in hot fields from sunup to sundown; how they fought to preserve their cultural identity, maintain family ties, and merely survive the harsh reality of enslavement. I, too, feel deep pain, when I read their stories.
However, in looking at history, I can also appreciate how far my family has come. It’s remarkable to think how families like mine have maintained a sense of togetherness and experienced some semblance of success, in spite of the lingering effects of slavery.
Even after slavery, my great-great-grandfather, Ephraim Frank, went on to own land and other assets. On December 7, 1878, Ephraim purchased land (approximately 50 acres) along with the existing improvements from Augustave Soileau.
After Ephraim’s wife, Nancy, passed and before Ephraim remarried, he gifted all of his children with property. In a document dated November 15, 1882, Ephraim acknowledges his children with Nancy, naming each of the children (Francois, Malinda, Susan, Yves, and Sarah). He gave each child interests in his property, which included Creole horses, oxen, a wagon, and cows.
On my paternal side, I descend from several lines of free people of color. However, I also had many ancestors that had been enslaved, and I was eager to understand the plantation or any slave documentation on my family.
My breakthrough in connecting the FRANKS came earlier this summer. Alex Lee, one of my cousins and a fellow Southwest Louisiana researcher, mentioned that he was going to the Opelousas court house and asked if there was anything I needed. I mentioned to him that I was still looking for the plantation where my FRANK family may have been enslaved and asked him if he could try and find me some leads. I shared with him my theory that Ephraim and Jean Baptiste were brothers, but that I had no proof.
He texted me later that day, saying that he thought that he’d found the FRANKs on a plantation, but that he would have to go back the next day to pull the document. I could barely sleep that night.
The next day, he texted me again: he indeed had found Ephraim, Jean Baptiste, and Julien in slave documentation – UNBELIEVABLE.
The key data was found in the Saint Landry Parish probate record dated December 11, 1851 for the estate of Osite LAMIRANDE, who was the widow of Jean Baptiste DELAFOSSE. This entry is also mentioned in the South West Louisiana Records, by Fr. Donald Herbert:
DELAFOSSE, Jean Baptiste m Osite LAMIRANDE In Succ. of Osite LAMIRANDE dated 11 Dec. 1854 (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Succ. #1608). Note : the date in the Herbert states 1854, however actual date is 1851.
In this document, slaves were named, appraised, and sold to other parties. Notable amongst the list of slaves was Ephraim, who I believe is my ancestor. Ephraim was a 17-year boy was sold from the estate to Hildevert DESHOTELS.
This shows that Ephraim would have been born around 1835, which matches the known information of Ephraim.
Later in the document, there is Entry #73, which indicates a 21-year-old Baptiste who had an approximate birth year of 1830. This, again, aligns with the known information we have about Jean Baptiste.
Jean Baptiste was sold to Cyprien Fontenot.
In Entry #75, we find Julien, a nineteen-year-old, who was sold to Alexandre C. Larose Fontenot:
Finding three men who lived on the same plantation and matched known information I had about my Frank ancestors supports my theory that Ephraim, Jean Baptiste, and Julien were brothers.
However, the most compelling evidence that we indeed had made the right connection was that we also found on this plantation a man named FRANK and a woman named Eloise! Below, embedded in the Osite LAMIRANDE document, we find the appraisal of FRANK and Eloise:
So with this document, we not only find the brother Ephraim, Jean Baptiste, and Julien Frank; we also find their presumed parents [William] FRANK and Eloise.
One point to consider is understanding how former slaves (who were unlikely to have a surname during slavery) developed surnames after they were freed. Oftentimes, a former slave’s offspring would take the first name of one of their parents as their surname—so, for example: children of a former slave mother named Nannette may use NANNETTE as their surname. This naming practice was used to connect families and help ensure family members could be identified, even in cases where the families were separated during slavery.
The conclusion is that our Ville Platte FRANK family surname was derived by 46-year old man, Frank, described in this succession document. The document does not state where he was sent as a result of the succession however, his wife, Eloise, at age forty was sold to Cyprien Delafosse:
This document has a lot of information that could find others looking for their relatives in slave documents. Still looking for more information on the Ville Platte FRANKS, but I’m so glad of the revelations we have thus far. Tell me what you think about the FRANKs of Ville Platte.