Episode #9 – Family Tree

Family!  How far can you go back in the generations of  your family?  We shouldn’t miss the opportunity to go back as far as we can to tell the story of our family history.  We are the keepers of their memory, their accomplishments, personalities, strength, integrity, ethics, etc.  Our family members who helped shaped their generation and the generations to come and who will never be known unless we write about their lives.

I am fortunate to have a book “La Pointe de L’English” the 100thyear history of Church Point.  The last living member of my mother’s family Anita Guidry who is now ninety-nine years old wrote it in 1972.

How wonderful it is to have this written history, an account of our family that went back to 1800 when Etienne d’Aigle III came to the area then known as Plaquemine Bruleé.  This was a vast area in St. Landry Parish that stretched from the Atchafalaya River on the east to the Sabine on the west. In 1866, Acadia Parish was carved out of St Landry Parish.

The name d’Aigle, which translates “of the eagle,” was anglicized to Daigle sometimes after the 1820s. The first d’Angle to come to North America came to Quebec, Canada about 1674 from France. Anita has the extensive genealogy of our family written down in “La Pointe de L’English so I will fast forward to 1823 and 1824 when two sons Joseph and Theodule Daigle were born.  In1843 they become the founders of Church Point, Louisiana.

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Church Point was carved out where gullies developed from rain water running down to some stream, the name “couleé” was given: high land was called “coteau” and an open tract of land was a “prairie.” Where Oak trees grew in clusters this was a “chênière.” Where a clearing was made by burning away underbrush and prairie grass to develop farm- land, this was called a “bruleé. When a bayou or stream made a sharp point this was a “pointe” To these descriptive words were added specific names, such as in the case of Plaquemine Bruleé.  The settlement was located in a burned-over area where Bayou Plaquemine came to a point, hence Plaquemine Bruleé or later named Church Point.

  • One of Church Points claim to fame in 1927 is that it was known as the “Buggy Capital of the World.”

Both Joseph and Theodule were reported to be hard working, ambitious, and generous with their time and money. They raised cattle, corn, and cotton, and until the Civil War owned slaves.  Joseph died at the age of 31; Theodule died November 26, 1907.

Ernest Daigle was one of Joseph’s sons and he married Maria Breaux a descendant of the founder of Breaux Bridge and was known as “Vieux Mom.”  Meaning “Old Mom”

Shortly after the Daigle brothers came in 1843 other families moved into the area. One of those early settlers was Pierre Louis Guidry affectionately known as “M’sieu Guild.” He was Church Point’s first merchant and for many years his store was the only place where merchandise could be bought in the tiny settlement. The store was a gathering place for the early settlers, who came to buy and stayed to talk about crops and share news of neighbors and friends.

“M’sieu Guild married Elodie Daigle, Theodule’s daughter.  Like the Daigle’s, “M’sieu Guild and the other early settlers were stout-hearted and courageous pioneers; isolated, for all practical purposes, from the few centers of culture and learning then in existence.

This is where the Daigle and Guidry families merge in marriage.  Fast forward to my mother’s parents Pierre Guidry and Ernestine Daigle.

In 1908 they ran the Guidry Hotel on Main Street.  Ernestine was the daughter of Ernest Daigle and Pierre was a nephew of “M’sieu Guild.” Many of the early School Teachers lived in the Guidry Hotel.

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Pierre and Ernestine Guidry

Leon Baquet, Sr. was originally a merchant from Scott, Louisiana. Mr. Baquet saw Emalina in church one Sunday and said I’m going to marry that girl and so he did. He married Emalina Castille and opened a general store that sold everything from feed to caskets.  Emalina was a milliner and sold her beautiful women’s hats in the store, like the one she is wearing in the photograph.  Years later, after the stock market crash in 1929, they moved to Church Point and constructed a new bakery on Main street around 1930 that stayed open until 1948 serving the Church point community as well as neighboring towns. The Baquets were my father’s parents.

My father met and married my mother Myrtle Guidry, one of Pierre and Ernestine Guidry’s daughters on February 1, 1936.

DSCN0080.jpgLeon Baquet and Emelina Castille

mother.jpgMy mother   “Myrtle (T-Myrt) Guidry

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My father  Leon (Nick) Baquet

My father, his brother Lloyd and their cousin Emery Breaux graduated from Saint Stanislaus in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After graduation they all moved to Los Angeles, California where they all got jobs with the Bank of America. After staying there for a few years and learning the banking business Lloyd and my father came back to Louisiana.  My father attended college at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana.

My Mother graduated Valedictorian from “SLI,” the (Southwestern Louisiana Institute of Liberal and Technical Learning) in Lafayette, Louisiana.  My father arrived back in Church Point a handsome and charismatic young man. Mother was beautiful and smart. They rediscovered each other one summer, love bloomed and they married in 1936

Mother was in the banking business with my father when they were first married, he was the President of a bank in Iota, Louisiana, and mother was the Vice President. They were also the only two employees of the bank.  We lived above the bank for a few years before they built their first home in Iota.  Iota was a very small Louisiana town which we all loved I am told.

Later we moved to Sulphur, Louisiana where mother had an accredited kindergarten and was thought of as a wonderful and talented teacher of young minds. My father was the president of the Calcasieu Marine National Bank in Sulphur.  He was everyone’s favorite banker and friend. He knew all about the lives of everyone who banked with him.  Banking in those years was very personal and so many wonderful friends were made.

This is a brief history of my family the Daigles, Guidrys, Baquets, and Castilles.  My ancestors were 99% from Europe.  We are 26% from Ireland, 25% from Great Britain, 19% from the Iberian Peninsula, 18% West European, 9% from Italy/Greece, and 1% from West Asia. My Genetic Community is Acadians in Louisiana Cajun Country.

We need to have pride in our history and the people who have come before us because they shape who we are. Their DNA is part of our DNA. They should be remembered so we need to record their lives. I only wish I had started writing about members of my family years ago when many of them were still alive to tell me their stories.

In this Blog I suggest that we go back as far as we can and record for our children and grandchildren memories of those who helped shape our lives.

I would love to hear from you and some of your family stories that I could share.

2 thoughts on “Episode #9 – Family Tree

  1. How inspiring to know so much about your family! I am still in the learning phase with my biological family, but Juju and Betty told me so much about the Paxton’s and Linda has a few insights into the Dongieux’s. The Norris family has been traced back to the 1600’s. I have not found much about the Chapman’s but how lucky to have both adopted and biological family histories!

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