January 11, 2003 at the auditorium of Opelousas General Hospital
Society President, Estelle Perrault, called the
meeting to order at 10:00 AM. She
announced that the scheduled speaker, Margaret Dunbar Wright, was unable
to come. Mrs. Wright, who
lives in New York, is the granddaughter of Bobby Dunbar, the little boy from
Opelousas, who was kidnapped in the early 1900’s.
The mystery surrounding the return of “Little Bobby” to the Dunbar
family has been the subject of Mrs. Wright’s research, and she has agreed to
allow the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center to display her collection
of artifacts related to the kidnapping.
Her address to the Imperial St. Landry Genealogical
and Historical Society has been re-scheduled for February 8, 2003.
Miss Perrault will try to make arrangements for the Society to meet at
the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center, to allow Society members to view
Mrs. Wright’s extensive collection, after hearing her presentation.
The St. Landry Parish Office of Tourism has received
$7500.00 from the State of Louisiana, to be used in the celebration of the
Louisiana Purchase Bicentennial in 2003.
In conjunction with the promotion of the celebration, The Opelousas
Museum of Art will exhibit “The Audubon Bird Collection”, featuring some
of the work of John J. Audubon. The
Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center will feature photographs by Freddie
Herpin, as part of an exhibit which is devoted to the “forgotten”
cemeteries of St. Landry Parish. Coordinated
by Mr. Herpin and Sue Deville, director of the Interpretive Center, the
exhibit will also feature customs of mourning in 1803.
Several Society members own private collections
of printed funeral announcements, which were widely used in the early to
mid-1900’s. Miss Perrault asked
members to consider allowing the Society to publish those announcements in a
future edition of N’OUBLIEZ PAS.
Continuing with the list of planned “Louisiana
Purchase” activities, Miss Perrault stated that the tourism committee is
planning tours of area cemeteries which were in existence in 1803.
Another presentation will be a series of puppet shows by Nicole
Buller’s Westminster Academy French students.
It was announced that the Washington Garden Club will stage a play,
A “Show and Tell” session followed, in which
Society members spoke briefly about the articles which they had brought to the
meeting. Included were:
old letters written in 1918, with information about prominent local
families; collections of old birth certificates, greeting cards, an old
memorandum book, a prayer book which was published in 1817, crock bowls,
rolling pins, a local newspaper article about four area women who served in
the U. S. Military in World War II, and the certificate of induction into the
WACS. Dot Siegel displayed her
paternal grandfather’s naturalization papers, dated 1886, and she commented
that she was very grateful that her Jewish grandfather had come to America.
Her paternal grandmother’s surname was “Frank”, and Dot wonders
if she might be “connected” to “the” Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl
whose diary told of her final days of life as a victim of the holocaust under
Catherine Goulas stated that the librarian in
Marksville wants to remind genealogists that Roman Catholic priests traveled
from New Orleans to Natchitoches in Louisiana in the early days.
Marriage records were often left in Rapides Parish while those priests
made their way north. In those
cases, marriages which had been performed in the southern portion of the state
might be recorded in Rapides Parish, and not in the parish where the ceremony
Joan Nacoste, who is compiling information on local
musicians who were popular in the early days of the city of Opelousas, asked
for suggestions from members. It
was suggested that she contact someone at Runyon Products, a local company
which produces mouth pieces for musical instruments.
Another society member stated that the Winbush family of Opelousas
might be able to help her. Miss
Perrault stated that, in the early 1900’s, a gazebo on the courthouse square
regularly featured music by a band which was under the direction of a Mr.
Lachapelle, a man of color.
JoAnne Savoie has purchased LOUISIANA TROOPS
1720-1770, by Winston Deville, which she has donated to the Society.
This book also lists officers and some maps.
Miss Perrault showed two books, which she purchased on
the internet. One, published by
the grandson of one of the Perrault brothers who originally settled in
Canada, includes information about Joseph Francois Perrault.
The other book also traces her Perrault family lines.
She showed a beautiful china saucer, another internet purchase, in the
“Darwin” pattern, a tangible “connection” to that ancestral line.
James St. Cyr suggested that Society members
volunteer to assist tourists who might inquire about specific surnames at the
local tourist center. Members who
are willing to share their research then signed the list.
Mr. St. Cyr then presented a video of the talk which was presented by
the late Father Donald Hebert to the St. Pierre Genealogical Society of
Carencro, in 1999.
Society members were reminded that the featured
speaker on February 8th will be Margaret Dunbar Wright.
Mrs. Edwin (Jody) Smith, Jr. of
Baton Rouge will be the speaker on March 8th.
Mrs. Irma Catherine Goulas, of Bunkie, won the
door prize, a heavy “book-carrying bag”.
Meeting adjourned at 11:40 AM.
Submitted by Sylvia David Morel, Recording Secretary