June 8, 2002, MEETING OF THE IMPERIAL ST. LANDRY GENEALOGICAL AND HISTORICAL SOCIETY, held at 10:00 AM, in the third floor auditorium of Opelousas General Hospital.
Estelle Perrault, President, is recuperating from knee
surgery, and was unable to attend the meeting.
Etha Amling, Vice-President, presided.
Mrs. Amling, Social Activities Director of Prompt Succor Nursing Home, told us about a project in which she and the residents are compiling a picture map of Opelousas. It features businesses and points of interest, which are no longer in existence. She asked society members for old pictures which could be scanned for inclusion in the map of Opelousas “as it was”. She also stated that she owns an antiques and collectibles appraisal guide, and she offered to provide an appraisal at a future meeting, if members are interested.
A “show and tell” session followed. Vergie Traylor showed a beautiful collection of old buttons, collected by her late mother-in-law, who was a seamstress. She also displayed an antique rotary pinking device, which was once used in the sewing classes at Port Barre High School.
David Lanclos showed an extensive collection of antique sausage and boudin stuffers, which were made of cow horns. He told us that when neighborhood “boucheries” were held, each housewife attached a unique identification mark on her stuffer, so there was no “mix-up” at the end of the day. This mark was the same “brand” which she used to identify her chickens, a method which seems to have been somewhat like using cattle brands to identify herds.
James St. Cyr stated that, when pottery cups broke, the farmer pounded the cups into fine pieces, which were then fed to the chickens. This helped the chickens’ gizzards to “grind” or digest the corn which they ate. Mr. St. Cyr also showed his impressive family history book, which, he said, was printed from the family data that he has entered in “Family Tree Maker” on his computer.
Rosalyn L. Soileau showed a beautiful antique platter, which she inherited from her mother. The printed advertisement on the back of the platter states that it came from “Dardeau and Fields Store in Opelousas”. An invoice from Hopkins Brothers of Sunset, Louisiana, dated 1920, lists building materials for a two story house, totaling $2,984.00. The house, built for Mrs. Soileau’s grandfather, Mr. J. B. Sibille, is still standing.
James Douget displayed several interesting antique books. There was a geography book from the 1880’s, and a family Bible from the 1840’s, which Mr. Douget purchased at a garage sale in New York. Another book was an American History from the 1840’s. He told us that he and his late wife bought a beautiful picture frame at an antique shop. When they showed a friend the picture of a priest, which happened to be in the frame, they were informed that the priest was responsible for bringing New York orphans to the Opelousas area in the early 1900’s. As a result of that discovery, the Orphan Train Society now has a copy of Father Engelbrink’s picture.
Erin Douget displayed a cameo brooch, which had been worn by her mother as a bride. Her grandfather’s Masonic Bible, dated May 11, 1948, and beautifully preserved, was proudly shown.
Dorothy Siegel showed her grandmother’s prayer book, printed in 1895, and prayer cards, dated 1817, and printed in French.
JoAnn Duncan told us that her two aunts and an uncle are in one of her pictures of the Opelousas High School class of 1928 and 1929. She then showed us an unusual “saccharometer”, which, according to the unabridged Webster’s Dictionary, asserted the amount of saccharin (sugar) in distilling beer. Her copy of the 1955 edition of the Opelousas telephone directory created a lot of interest. Many of us remembered the four digit telephone numbers.
Etha Amling asked for help in identifying a long, needle-like item. Several suggestions were offered, with most of the members agreeing that it looks like a sewing needle of some kind. She talked about her great-grandparents, who were pictured in photographs. They are the subjects of her search in solving some of the “mysteries” in her family tree. She has discovered that, in the early 1900’s, some Opelousas residents, who were of mixed blood, went to live in Vera Cruz, Mexico.
Juergen Amling displayed his extensive collection of cameras, which represent the progress in photography. He also showed pictures of his German grandparents.
Dot Siegel asked if anyone heard about the health warning issued with regard to “Mamou tea”, which was once a widely used home remedy. David Lanclos stated that it is an anti-coagulant, a “blood thinner”, and should not be used by heart patients who are on medication.
There was a discussion about other home remedies, and Mrs. Amling spoke about a tea, which is helpful in treating sinus related problems. She called it “mongrié tea”.
Mr. Charles Guilbeau told the members that the volunteers of the St. Pierre Genealogical Society have computerized the Carencro St. Peter’s Church records, through 1913. He offered a copy of the resulting CD to our society.
He reported that the Acadian/Cajun CD project is
Mrs. Amling stressed the importance of recording old family stories. She asked the members to consider a membership drive in the fall.
The next meeting will be held at the Mormon Center in Opelousas, on Saturday, July 13th. Members will be allowed to use the facilities for personal research. (Click here for a map to the Center)
Meeting adjourned at 11:45.
Sylvia David Morel