From the Editor
Hello, and welcome to the first issue of Collecting Cousins newsletter!
Have you ever noticed that when history is told in story form that it is much more interesting? There is nothing quite like 19th century New Orleans as a backdrop, and I shared part of an ancestor's story I am writing with a friend recently. She later wrote to me and said, "I've been hearing Auguste's story run through my mind with New Orleans in the background, and I like that a lot." There is something about giving people a sense of time and place that gives them an investment in the person. The first segment of Auguste's story is previewed below*.
In this and each newsletter issue you will find a couple of new helpful resources I've found and a list of recent blog posts on the website. I hope you find it useful, and thanks again for subscribing!
CensusTools genealogy spreadsheets were created by Gary Minder as a result of his inability to find a practical solution to keep track of the census data found in his research. CensusTools provides researchers with quality tools to electronically record, preserve and archive family history data. You can download the 1940 census spreadsheets for free at the below link. If you like them, I think you'll find the entire pack of 40 spreadsheets a welcome addition to your genealogy toolbox.
An Immigrant’s Tale
There was no other choice. It would have to be the Orphan Boys’ Home.
The boys’ home, officially known as the Asylum for Destitute Orphan Boys (although often called the simply the Orphan Boys’ Home or the Male Orphan Asylum), was located at Jackson and Josephine at Chippewa not far from the riverfront. The asylum was not particularly close to Bouligny, but the three mile distance was near enough that Auguste could get there on his own with no money and no help.
It may as well have been called the Asylum for Desperate Orphan Boys, for that is what he was. With no parents and now no home, he had nowhere to turn except the place from whence he had come. Anything would be better than staying with the painter.
On that March day almost two years earlier when he had left the asylum to be delivered to Joseph Carron, the painter from Faubourg Bouligny, the morning clouds gave the appearance that it might rain. The river was in danger of overflowing the levees in spots and the state of the levees was a constant concern in this city where the brutal force of water was held back only by the embankments. More rain was the last thing the river needed, since just two days before an inch and a quarter of rain had fallen on the city. It did rain – about a third of an inch – driving more concern about the condition of the levees throughout the city.
As he had made the trip north to the painter’s home in Jefferson City, Auguste’s concern had been not so much about the rain or the levees. He was being sent out “on trial” to learn the painter’s trade, and if Mr. Carron found him satisfactory, Auguste would become his apprentice. The agreement may have been “on trial” for Mr. Carron, but Auguste had been in no position to reject an offer of learning a trade. There had been little choice on his part.
As an orphan whose father he could barely remember...
*A future blog post will explain how I was able to fill in the details to create a historically accurate setting for "An Immigrant's Tale" that will give insight into how anyone can create a narrative to bring their ancestors' stories to life.