Finding My Ledé Family

by Tammy Ozier Dec 2021

I have been tracing my family, at least officially, since 2000.  It started with me just jotting down family information in a small 3×5 notepad that I carried around with me everywhere.  Since then, I’ve graduated to using online trees at and PC-based applications such as Family Tree Maker. 

During one fateful visit with my father’s eldest brother, Felton, I received pertinent information that helped push me forward in my research on my father’s side of the family.  It was then that I learned that my father’s maternal grandmother was Victoria LEDAY (LEDÉ).  Before this, I had heard that I was related to the Leday family, but it wasn’t until that moment I understood the specific connection.  Following that day, I started building my pedigree on my father’s family.  I pulled census records, read stories, and gathered documents, all in an effort to capture my great-grandmother’s family.    

The first census I found with Victoria was the 1930 US Census.  In this record, Victoria is listed as the head of a household that included my maternal grandmother’s sister, Georgianna.  Also in the household were my Uncle Felton and my father, Welton. However, they were listed with the Ledet surname.

Source: Year: 1930; Census Place: Ville Platte, Evangeline, Louisiana; Page: 11A; Victoria Ledet, Enumeration District: 0001; FHL microfilm: 2340528 taken April 10, 1930

The birth dates are off by a year or so from confirmed information for my uncle and father.  Uncle Felton would have been about four years old and my father would have been almost two.  Notably missing from this census record is my grandmother, Joanna. 

I desperately wanted to get further back on the family tree, beyond Victoria.  Who were Victoria’s parents?  Who were her grandparents? Did she have any siblings?  Where is my maternal grandmother during the 1930 census?  Where is Joanna’s other sister Edolia nee Frank?

I referred to the notes I had taken from my conversation with Uncle Felton, who’d told me that Victoria had two brothers that he could recall: Uncle Pete and Uncle Bud.  He didn’t know Uncle Bud’s real name, but he remembered that Uncle Pete’s real name was David.  One tidbit that my mother shared about Uncle Pete was that he was a basket weaver and Uncle Pete had once gifted my mother with laundry basket made by his own hands.  My uncle also reminded me about my grandmother’s (Joanna’s) two sisters. The eldest sister was Edolia Frank and Georgiana Whatley, was the youngest.  Edolia we called her Aunt “Dō-yah” and Georgiana we called her Aunt Georgia.

I found on FamilySearch the marriage license of Mark Frank and Victoria Ledea (Ledé)


“Louisiana Parish Marriages, 1837-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 October 2015), > image 1 of 1; parish courthouses, Louisiana.

Also, found Victoria Ledé on the 1900 census, which is listed below:

Source: 1900 United States Federal Census. Year: 1900; Census Place: Police Jury Ward 7, Saint Landry, Louisiana; Page: 5; Enumeration District: 0065

Next step was to find Victoria on a census or some other record that identified her parents.  Census records from 1890 aren’t available for Louisiana, and the 1900 census shows that Victoria was born about 1885, which may mean it is unlikely that she is on the 1880 census.  I next leveraged the Southwest Louisiana Records by Donald J. Hebert CD (also called SWLA Records) and following reference of Victoria’s birth:

LEDE, Marie Victoria (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 20 April 1882 (VP Ch.: v. 3, p. 205)

Southwest Louisiana Records (1750-1900), CD-ROM by Donald J. Hebert

This record identifies Victoria’s parents as Prosper Ledé and Georgiana Johnson.  It also shows that Victoria’s full name was Marie Victoria Ledé and reveals that Victoria named one of her daughters, the one we called Aunt Georgia, most likely after her mother, Georgiana.    

I continued my search of the SWLA  Records and found information of the marriage of Georgiana and Prosper:

JOHNSON, Georgiana  M. 14 April 1873 Prosper LEDE (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #7394).   Below is the marriage license pulled from FamilySearch database:

“Louisiana Parish Marriages, 1837-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 15 October 2015), > image 1 of 1; parish courthouses, Louisiana.

The 1880 census that shows Prosper and Georgiana living with several children:

I was able to cross reference the SWLA Records database which listed the other children of Prosper and Georgia:

LEDE, Marie Scolastique (Prosper & Janne JOHNSON) b. 30 Jan. 1874 (VP Ch.: v. 2, p. 173)

LEDE, David (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 1 March 1876 (Wash. Ch.: v. 1, p. 130)

LEDE, Prosper Edward (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 18 Feb. 1878 (Wash. Ch.: v. 1, p. 157)

LEDE, Victor (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 13 Feb. 1880 (Wash. Ch.: v. 1, p. 188)

LEDE, Louisa Maraya (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 1 March 1884 (VP Ch.: v. 3, p. 296)

LEDE, Karison (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 4 April 1886 (VP Ch.: v. 3, p. 379)

LEDE, Vitaline (Prosper & Georgina JOHNSON) b. 25 April 1888 (VP Ch.: v. 4, p. 129)

Southwest Louisiana Records (1750-1900), CD-ROM by Donald J. Hebert

To find the parents of Prosper Ledé, I pulled the 1870 and 1860 censuses and I found Prosper living with his parents Zenon Ledé and Marie.  See those entries below:

Source: Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 3, St Landry, Louisiana; Roll: M593_530; Page: 165B

Source:  Year: 1860; Census Place: Opelousas, St. Landry, Louisiana; Roll: M653_424; Page: 919; Family History Library Film: 803424

Prosper and his parents being named on the 1860 census was a key finding.  This census shows their color as “M” for Mulatto. Being named on this census indicates that Prosper, his family – my family- were free people of color, as only free people were enumerated on the 1860 census.

I continued using the SWLA Records to pull the parents of Zenon and found that Zenon was a fils also known as a junior, being named after his father, Zenon Senior:

LEDE, Zenon (Zenon & Marie TISONS)  m. 19 Aug. 1850 Marie LAVIGNE (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #796)

LAVIGNE, Marie (Narcisse & Merante LAFLEUR)  m. 19 Aug. 1850 Zenon LEDE (Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #796)

Southwest Louisiana Records (1750-1900), CD-ROM by Donald J. Hebert

One item to note here is that Marie’s surname TISONS has many variaions.  Hereis a list of a few of the variations: Tesanier, Tessonier, Tezeno, Thisauneon, Thiseneau, Thisoneau, Tisenot, Tisonneau, Tisson, Tissond, Tissoneau, Tissonneau, Tissonneaux, Tissonno, Tissono.

Next steps were to try to find the parents of Zenon Lede Senior.  This is where it gets interesting.  How would I find Zenon Senior’s parents?  So, at this point I looked at censuses to try to get other family members. 

Besides, Zenon, the 1840 census had three men of color in the St Landry Parish, Victorin, Antoine Valentin, and Onesime.  Other researchers had put together that Zenon Ledé, Victorin Ledé, Antoine Ledé, and Onesime Ledé were all brothers.  Their white father was assumed to be Paul Lede, determined by an apprenticeship agreement that was signed by Paul Lede authorizing his son Victorin to be in the apprentice.    No direct proof has been found naming Paul as the father of Zenon Ledé.

The mother of the Ledé brothers come from the succession for Marianne Nannette Laviolet.  In that succession she named her children.  All of the Ledé brothers were named in that document, with the exception of Zenon Ledé. Why wasn’t Zenon in the document?  Was it an oversight?  I just kept my records in sync with how other researchers assigned  Marianne as Zenon’s mother.  It was always unverified in my tree, just left as a holding space.

However, one cousin and fellow researcher got me on the right track – Alex Lee.  Alex helped me conclude definitively that Zenon was missing from Marianne’s succession because Marianne is not Zenon’s mother.

So if Marianne was not the mother of Zenon Lede Senior, who was his mother? Here, Alex  was able to point me to Zenon’s mother.

Two years before, Zenon Ledé fils married Marie Lavigne, we see that another Zenon, a Zenon Babet married a Marie Sittige.  This Zenon Babet [fils]  also has a Marie Thisauneon, which we have identified as one of the many variation for the Tisseneau surname.   I only found one Marie Tisseneau that was married to a Zenon in the area, leading me to surmise that Zenon Babet and Zenon Ledé are the same person. Examined the 1840 and 1850 census in St. Landry Parish, Lousiana and found no Zenon Babet listed in the census.

See the entries taken from SWLA.  Two years before, Zenon Lede married Marie Lavigne. He married under the name Zenon Babet fils (junior). See the relevant entries from the SWLA Records, below:

BABET, Zenon a negro (Zenon & Marie THISAUNEON)   m. 1 Feb.  1848 Marie Doralise SITTIGE (Opel. Ch.: v.2, p.271)

BABET, Zenon fils   m. 22 Jan. 1848 MARIE DORALISE (Opel. Ct.  Hse.: Mar. #505)

SITTIG, Marie Doralise (Marie Doralise)  m. 1 Feb. 1848 Zenon BABET (Opel. Ch.: v. 2, p. 271)

Southwest Louisiana Records (1750-1900), CD-ROM by Donald J. Hebert

On August 17, 2021, I also received the Lafayette Archives Genealogical a digital copy of the original catholic marriage record referenced in SWLA Records:

This entry, then indicates that Babet was an alias name used by Zenon Ledé.  A second document found by Alex Lee, pinpointed exactly the mother of Zenon. This document copy taken from the Archives in St. Landry Parish, notarial documents procured by Alex Lee and provided to me as a courtesy.

In St Landry Parish, on 10 September 1836 the heirs of Babet Lamirande are selling land to Jean Louis Guillory:

 Héritiers Babet Lamirande à Jean Louis Guillory Vente de Terre  le 10 Septembre 1836

Translation: Heirs Babet Lamirande to Jean Louis Guillory Sale of land on September 10, 1836

Within the documents, the heirs of Marie Babet Lamirande are identified as Emelite Duralde, Lize Babet, Judith Prevost (with husband Baptist Prevost), Dondiego Babet, and Zenon Babet.  Each of them sign with the mark of “X”, indicating they were illiterate.  All the heirs but Emelite and Judith, who was married female, used the surname of Babet in this document.

By associating that Zenon Babet fils was the same as Zenon Ledé fils because of the same mother of Marie Tisseneau. The land sale of the heirs of Babet Lamirande name Zenon Babet as one of her heirs, allows us to conclude that Zenon Babet and Zenon Lede are the same person.  The mother of Zenon Lede is Marie Babet Lamirande.

This is only scratching the service.  There is additional information on Babet Lamirande that I want to share.  Stay tuned.

Happy Researching!

Finding Kin in the Civil War – Henry KING aka Henry Tatman (part 1)

Unidentified Civil war soldier3
Unidentified African American Union soldier in sergeant uniform holding a rifle

Early August 2017, I received a shaky leaf hint on, alerting me to a military record.  Note: The shaky leaf is an indicator that lets the user know that there is a possible record that may be a match to a person in your tree that is displaying the leaf.  This leaf led me to a U.S. Civil War Pension index record for a Henry King.

Henry was a known relative on whom I had completed some research and included in my family tree.  The US 1870 census indicates that 30-year old Henry King lived in Opelousas, Louisiana with his wife, 25-year old Isabella and several others who I know are his sisters.  Living next door are Henry’s parents, Warren King and his mother, Temperance (Tempy).   Tempy is the sister of my 3rd great-grandfather, Moses Jason, and the daughter of my 4th great-grandfather, Godfrey Jason.

Continue reading “Finding Kin in the Civil War – Henry KING aka Henry Tatman (part 1)”

Memorial Day Salute to My Grandfather!

In my last post[“Mama, it was true! Your Daddy was in World War I!” ], I discovered that my Grandfather, Alsen Jason I had been in World World I.  This was a significant finding in my genealogical research, as it had been one of my mother’s questions for me when I started tracing my ancestry.  On this Memorial Day, I thought it would be good to share some newly found details.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I submitted a request for my grandfather’s military records.  Years ago, I had submitted a request, but the results of the search showed that he was not in the War.   Now, after I actually found the correct Louisiana World War I Services listing, I was able to provide the alternative spelling of my grandfather’s name, which was used during his service.

Continue reading “Memorial Day Salute to My Grandfather!”

“Mama, it was true! Your Daddy was in World War I!”

Last night, I found some information that I wasn’t exactly looking for at the time.  Let me “go back a spell,” as the old folks used to say, and start this story from the beginning.

Growing up, my Mother would always state proudly that her father, Alsen Jason I, was in WWI; her brother, Alsen Jason II, was in WWII; her other brother, Clifton Jason, was in the Korean War; and her nephew, Alsen Jason III, was in the Vietnam War.  She would continue with stories of her other uncles, nephews, and relatives that had also fought in wars.  “They were very brave”, she would say, sometimes followed with a sly “I don’t know anybody on your Daddy’s side that fought in the war.”

Now, Mama, don’t go talking about my Daddy and his family, I would think this but, of course, I would never say out loud.

In 2010, my brother-in-law, John, who worked at The National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, announced that he would be retiring soon.  I used this as an opportunity to finally get documentation on my grandfather’s WWI services so I could present this information to my mother.

I called John up and gave him my grandfather’s information.  I eagerly awaited a response from John with the good news.  I told my mother that I requested information on her father and, she too, was excited.

A few days later, John had news for me, but it wasn’t good.  He told me that he couldn’t find any service record for my grandfather.  I was devastated. I had to break this bad news to my mother.  She was silent and didn’t say a word.

I know that hurt her.   I chalked it up to maybe a name spelling, or a file that was destroyed in the fire or misplaced.  I had no idea what to think.  I didn’t want to believe the story was untrue.  People generally don’t have stories in their family saying a person served when they didn’t, but I had no recourse to find out any information. Over the years, since then, I would occasionally go to military databases and see if I could find my grandfather.  I would try different spellings of his name, but to no avail.

Last night, I hit pay dirt – and I wasn’t even looking for that record! As a normal practice, I like to conduct a wildcard searches, just in case I find I record that I haven’t seen before. is probably my favorite online site to do these types of searches.  My grandfather’s name, Alsen Jason, is one that have so many variations – I’ve lost count.    Alsen, I’ve seen also written as Alcin, Elcin, and Alsin.  Let’s night I did a random search for “Alsin Jas*” and I was hoping to find something new.  Right across the page, indeed was something I had not seen before.

The third record on the page listed an “Alcin Jasson” Louisiana Service record!  Could it be I had found an entry that proves that my grandfather was indeed in WWI?

familysearch March 2017 Alcin_Jas highlight

I quickly opened the record and saw information I had sought those many years ago.  The record was from the Louisiana World War I Services and it listed that my grandfather, Alcin Jasson [Alsen Jason] was, in fact, enlisted in the Army and served in WWI.  The record indicates that a 26-year old Alsen was inducted into the Army on June 19,1918 and served overseas starting September 18, 1918 through June 19, 1919.  He was honorably discharged July 12, 1919.

Alsen Jason I WWI information

“Louisiana World War I Service Records, 1917-1920”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 February 2017), Alcin Jasson, 1918.

You may notice that the person shown on the page right above Alsen, is also a Jason.  Austen [Austin] Jason is Alsen’s brother!

I was delighted to find this record.  But knowing the hardship that African Americans fared in the services during WWI, I could only imagine the trials he may have encountered.

I contacted, my now retired brother-in-law, John, and gave him the good news.  John told me a website where I could request my grandfather’s records online.  He also gave me pointers on information I should include in the request.  The key, he said, was to make sure that I asked for the complete service and medical records.  I’ve sent the request and I can’t wait to get a response.

I have limited experience with the military records, so I’m going to have to do more research in this area.  That’s it for now.  I will keep all of you updated.

Happy searching!

All FRANKS are Kin! Part Two

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.

Continue reading “All FRANKS are Kin! Part Two”

All FRANKs are Kin! Part One

When I was growing up in Ville Platte, it was common knowledge among my elders that, “all FRANKS are kin.”

This was especially interesting to me because my grandmother, Joanna DENTON, had married three different FRANK men: first, she married my grandfather, Chester FRANK, with whom she had two children—Felton and my father Welton. She then entered a common-law marriage with Orise ARDOIN, (whose mother was a FRANK, making him a part of the FRANK clan); together, my grandmother Joanna and Orise had seven children: Ophelia aka Toot, Preston aka Goo-lie, .Horace aka Poule, twins Mattie and Ethel (aka Toe-Toe), Albert, and Maryann aka Pinky.

Continue reading “All FRANKs are Kin! Part One”

Calling All Loftons (Loftins)! Do you know my Grandmother’s People?

I continue to struggle getting back to posting in my blog.  On February 13th, almost five months after the death of my mother, my eldest sister Irma Marie Frank passed.  Needless to say, her death has also left me devastated.

Irma Frank
Irma Frank

Like my mother, my sister was a big proponent of my genealogical research.  I’m so happy that I followed my gut and had both of them take DNA tests before their passing.  Maybe it will be their DNA that will ultimately lead me to my grandmother’s maternal line.

Since my last post, I have received one additional hint about the identity of my maternal great-grandmother.  For those of you that use for your family research, you may be aware that in 2015, added a searchable database that I found to be extremely useful.  Last year, added an addition to their Social Security Death Index (SSDI): U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index.  This database provides more details about social security applicants, which may include their full name (including applicable maiden name), birth data, and place of birth.  However, the most important information I’ve found in the database are the names of the applicant’s parents.

As you may recall from my last post, I found my grandmother Estella Rubin’s mother’s name on a marriage license, which was listed as Eva Laughtin.  I wasn’t sure if the Laugh had a “Law”sound  such as Lawton or a “Loff” sound like in the name Lofton, but at least I had a name.

I had hoped that I would be able to confirm the name by using the Social Security application database on  Unfortunately, my grandmother’s application was not online.  I followed the instructions provided on the Ancestry site and submitted the request to the Social Administration office to get a copy of my grandmother’s application.  Since I had her social security number, the cost of the copy was $27; the cost is $29 if you do not have the SSIN.  Here’s what I received:


From the application, looks like my grandmother listed her mother as Evil Loffton.  Do you have any other ideas what the mother’s name in the document? Maybe the name is Evie Lofton?  I’m not familiar with any Loftons.  Do you know any Loftons out of Mowata in Saint Landry parish in the great state of Louisiana? Hit me up with any information you can share on this subject.

Happy searching!

Another Brick wall Breakthrough

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.

gabe rubin 1880

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.

eva rubin marriage

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:

eva rubin 1900 census


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)

eva rubin 1900 census original

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:

jane rubin 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:

rosemont public estate sale2

One of these slaves turns out to be Jane along with several of her children, Nerieth, Caroline, John, Julienne, and Elizabeth.

jane rubin and children slave

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:

caroline rubin notes from Alex

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:

julienne rubin

Elizabeth Ruben went on to marry Elie Joseph as noted in the following marriage license:

Elizabeth Rubin marriage

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.

Happy Researching!

The Name of my Great-Grandmother Is Found!

It has been awhile since I’ve posted in my blog.    This year 2015 has been really difficult, filled with a lot of sorrow and loss.  My mother, Ella Mae Jason-Frank, passed away September 29, 2015, after battling declining health over the last few years.

Ella Jason-Frank
Ella Jason-Frank

She was a big supporter of my genealogical pursuits, and, as I’ve written in a previous post, she really wanted me to find out more about her maternal grandmother.

Amazingly, one month after my mother’s death, I found my great-grandmoterh’s name, almost as if my mother’s first task in heaven was to jumpstart my research.  One of my first cousins, a fellow researcher, alerted me that the website had recently added the marriage license of [E]stella Ruben and Rodney Williams.  On the license, my grandmother’s mother is listed as Eva Laughtin:

Stella Ruben marries Rodney Williams
Stella Ruben marries Rodney Williams

Stella Ruben and Rodney marriage license
Stella Ruben and Rodney marriage license

So: Eva Laughtin from Mowata, Louisiana.  Laughtin?  Not a familiar name to me.  I’m sure there are a lot of different spellings for this surname and below are a few variations:  Lotten, McLaughtin, Lawton, and,  Lawtin.  Mowata is a small town outside of Eunice.  Family lore has it that Eva, my great-grandmother was from Mowata.   Do any of you have any Laughtins in your family?  Any connection to Mowata?  I would love to hear from you.


Happy searching!

Where Are You, My Grandmother’s People?

After my last post, I had to take a break from writing.  I was too high from my last find and I didn’t know where to go for my next blog post.  So, over the last month I’ve decided I’m ready to continue the adventure.  Let me start be saying this is a mystery and I need help!

Growing up, I remember my Mother making comments about her mother, Estella Ruben, who we called Momí Stella. Unlike other people who have a hard time getting information for their elder relatives, my mother has never had any problem sharing.  She always was willing to share family lore, often unsolicited.   My mother was known for telling these enthralling stories—well, at least they were enthralling to me.

One story that comes to mind is one my mother told me when I was young.  When my mother was about 5 years old, she went to a local “roots worker” to ask her if she could fix up something to heal her sick mother.   My Mother said Momí Stella had been crying and crying, in obvious pain.  My mother laughed as she continued, “Mama was a drinker back then, and she would cry when she would get drunk.  The roots lady knew my mother wasn’t sick, but had been drinking and she just told me that she would come by later to check on my Mama.”

“Momí Stella used to drink?  I had no idea.  Man, I would have never known that.” My grandmother lived a pretty wholesome life from my point of view – I never saw her drink.

“Yes, Mama kept us spotless, we had food to eat, she made sure we went to school, and she was a very attentive Mama.  But, when she would have bouts of crying spells I thought she was sick.  I didn’t know until later that she cried like that when she had been drinking.”

While cooking one day, my mother told me “Momma didn’t know her mother—not even her own mother’s name.”  From my mother I learned that Momí Stella’s mother died shortly after she was born.   My mother Momma said “my grandmother had other children and after she died, my grandfather, Gabe, sent her other children back to Mowata to live with my grandmother’s family”.

Estella Ruben

Estella Ruben

My grandmother died in 1974.  According to my Mother, before Momí Stella’s death, she had attempted to try to find her siblings.  She wasn’t successful and we, at this point, don’t have any leads to finding this part of my family.  My grandmother did not even have a birth certificate. On her death certificate, her mother is listed as unknown.

Once I started being serious about genealogy, I knew this was one of the family mysteries I wanted to solve.  Over the years, my mother would repeat this story from time to time.   She would also ask if I had found any information yet on Momí’s missing siblings.

Bringing back together this long-ago torn family and enabling my mother to connect with aunts, uncles, their children, their children’s children is one of my greatest prayers.  Maybe someone reading this blog post can help me.

So, let me sort out the information I do know about my grandmother’s family.  Born July 9th, 1905 in Elton, Louisiana, Estella Ruben, was the daughter of Gabriel “Gabe” Ruben.  Gabe, per his death certificate, was born in Ville Platte, Louisiana in 1876.  On the 1880 census, I found Gabriel listed as the 4-year son of Lastie and Ellen Ruben.  Also listed are Gabriel’s sisters, 8-year Louisa and 2-year Lovenia.

1880 US Census - Lastie Ruben

1880 US Census – Lastie Ruben

Lastie, appears to have been the son of John and Jane Rubin.  Lastie had a brother named John Ruben files [junior] who married Ernestine Zenon Tomy (Thomas) on February 6, 1869 in Saint Landry Parish, Louisiana. [Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #5224]

As I continued to look at census records, genealogy enthusiasts know that most of the 1890 US census records were by a fire, so the 1900 census are the next set of records available.  Unfortunately, I’ve not yet been able to find Gabriel in the 1900 records.

On the 1910 census, I not only picked up the trail of Gabe, it also is the first census on which I find my grandmother [E]stella.

So at the time the census was taken, April 1910, Estella is noted as being 4 years old, which means she would be 5 on her next birthday of July 9th.  As, mentioned earlier, Momí Stella did not have a birth certificate so 1905 could be accurate, although her obituary listed her birth year as 1906.  The census shows that Gabe and his wife, Eliza, have been married for 5 years and that Eliza had given birth to one child who is alive at the time of the census.

Finding, Gabe, Eliza, and Estella on the 1910 census made me think I had not only found my grandmother, Estella, but I had possibly found her mother, Eliza.  That seemed to be the only conclusion.  Then, what of the story about the death of my great-grandmother and her children being sent to Mowata?  Was that just a myth?

1910 US Census Gabe Ruben

1910 US Census Gabe Ruben

My grandmother had a younger sister named Martha Ruben. On the 1920, Martha, 13, along with my grandmother [E]stella, 14, are both shown with Gabe and Eliza. If Martha is only a year younger than Estella, why isn’t she on the 1910 census in Gabe’s household?

1920 US Census Gabe Ruben
1920 US Census Gabe Ruben

Tragically, Martha dies almost 4 years later of cardiac dropsy, which is edema due to congestive heart failure.     At the time of her death, the death certificate says she was 14, giving her a birth year of around 1910.  Martha’s mother’s name is illegible on the document and I’ve been unsuccessful in making out the full name.  The last name looks to me to be “Antwine”.  What do you think is the name?

Marth Ruben's Death Certificate

Marth Ruben’s Death Certificate

So maybe Eliza is the birth mother of Momí Stella, but I don’t think so.  At the age of 14, my grandmother would have known the person listed as Liza on the 1920 census.  Assuming Liza is the same as the Eliza that is on the 1910 census, it is unlikely my grandmother would have said that she did not know her mother if in fact Liza (and Eliza) was her mother, right?

There’s also a discrepancy with the age of Martha.  The 1920 census, it has that she is 13, which means that she was born around 1907.  However, her death certificate have that she was 14 when she died in 1924, means that her birth date was about 1910.

On a World War I draft registration dated September 12, 1918 I found Gabe’s significant other as Eliza Harrow.

WWi Draft Registration Gabe Ruben
WWi Draft Registration Gabe Ruben

The trail ends and I still have no information on who could be the mother of Momí Stella.  I welcome your ideas on where I should look next to try to solve this mystery.