Monday, August 30, 2010

Viewing Party At Parent's Home in New Orleans- Galvez Paper on PBS History Detectives

    Tonight members of my immediate family and a couple of cousins gathered at my parents home in New Orleans for the viewing of a segment on the PBS program, the History Detectives. We've waited nearly 4 months since I came down to New Orleans and participated in the filming of my ancestor's segment titled "The Galvez Papers."  A story about my 4th Generation Great Grandparents,  Agnes Mathieu and Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo.

        I must say, both my mom and I were pleased with the outcome, since we were there during the filming, to see the final cut.  The History Detectives star of my segment, Ms. Elyse Luray, her producer, film crew and support personnel did an outstanding job piecing together the information we were able to uncover about Agnes Mathieu's quest for freedom.  The story was beautifully told and has now given my family an interesting look into a relationship born out struggle, freedom and independence,  a beautiful legacy to be proud of. 

     Here are a few photos taken of whose who stopped by.  Maw- Maw prepared that traditional monday dish here in New Orleans, red bean and rice, fried chicken, salad and Ice Tea- yummy.  We had a grand ole traditional family gathering, dinner and with a little family history as a side dish. 

      Once again, thanks to all who took time out to view an interesting part of my Colonial Louisiana Creole family story.

Gathered here are Cousins (L to R)
 Janice, Gaynell, Paw-PAW and my sister
Jacqueline from Los Angeles 
Favorite Past time whenever 
the family gather, Red Beans and Rice
Fried Chicken, Yummy Dinner after Program
Maw maw,her two Neices, Gaynell, Me 
 Janice, and Cousin Herbert
Maw-Maw, My Sister Jackie two cousin, 
Gaynell, Janice,and Cousin Herbert

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Galvez Papers on PBS program The History Detectives

African Proverb 
Gnatola ma no kpon sia, eyenabe adelan to kpo mi sena. (Ewe-mina

A moins ce que le lion ait son propre narrateur, le chasseur aura toujours la belle part de l'histoire. (French)

Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story. (English)

Thanks to all of you who are awaiting the airing of the segment about my ancestor, Agnes MATHIEU, on the PBS program, “History Detectives.” I have noticed many of my Facebook friends have already made postings to their Facebook pages and the word is getting out.  Again, thanks.

It is my hope that the show will be inspiring as well as educational as it examines how one slave woman gained her freedom during a most interesting time period in Colonial Louisiana’s history. 

Yes, the history behind my ancestral mystery will be revealed in less than 24 hours. 

Michael and Dr. Emily Clark

I have just checked the PBS History Detectives Facebook page and noticed another article which was posted yesterday by the Tulane New Wave featuring  Dr. Emily Clark, who was interviewed in the “History Detectives” segmentI had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Clark just days after our individual segments were filmed in New Orleans this past April. She provided some additional insight  into the relationships of persons, such as my 4th generation great grandparents, Agnes Mathieu and her French consort Mathieu DEVAUX. 
Dr. Clark is currently working on a research project about the lives and relationships of free women of color and their liaisons with white European men of means during the Colonial period in Louisiana. From our conversation, I gathered that her research will add to the study of the interesting lives of these women and the relationships that were the basis of many family lines in my Louisiana Creole background. 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Little History Behind My Ancestral Mystery Revealed on PBS History Detectives.

Michael with Ma-Ma and Anita
along with the History Detectives

 film Crew in New Orleans

      In a few days, the PBS program - History Detectives will air a segment titled "The Galvez Papers" August 30-31, 2010. The mystery and history behind my Louisiana Creole slave ancestor and 4th generation Great Grandmother named Agnes MATHIEU will be revealed.
      Since discovering Agnes nearly eight years ago much has been found out about her life. However, a rather interesting aspect discovered concerning her manumission (freedom papers) captured the attention of the show's producers.
     This past April I visited New Orleans to participate in the filming of the segment.  The portion that I will be featured in took about 5 hours to film.  I hope this story will inspire others as they seek answers to their ancestral mysteries. Here are a few links about what has happened recently with my research.   Enjoy  
  New waves: April 21
  Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter:
Michael Nolden Henderson  
Lieutenant Commander, USN Retired

Article of recent induction into the National Society Sons of the American Revolution
 Jun 29, 2010.
Michael being Sworn
into The
National Society Sons of the American Revolution
Michael with Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue
 Member of the Button Gwinett Chapter, SAR     

My Mother and Father shared in the Celebration
and my induction into the
National Society Sons of the American Revolution

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Wonderful Discovery of 19th Century Photos of Great Grandparents

Georgiana LEGAUX and Charles Gratin MATHIEU
1876  - 1915                      1873 - 1939

       The information cousin Leonor shared with me from her line diagram showed the names of not only my grandmother and father (Nellie MATHIEU and Thomas PHILLIPS)  but my great grandparents- Charles Gratin MATHIEU and Georgiana LEGAUX.  This too was exciting because  Leonor also held in her collection of old photos,  a picture of my Great GrandParents.  Seeing my interes in wanting to learn more about the other generation beyond my Grandparents,  she give me the copy of their picture.  This picture of Charles confirmed another pencil drawing of him that was the only other one that I had in my collection.

      Charles Gratin MATHIEU, was the son of Francois MATHIEU and Rosette Philomene  D'ARENSBOURG born  in the year of 1873.  He was first discovered on the Louisiana Census record in the year of 1880 at the age of  7years, along with his other syblings  Etienne Alcese age 12 (1867- ?), Joseph Victor age 8 (1871-?), Marie Victoria age 8-  (1871-?) (Twins).   The family was located in 1st ward, St john the Baptist Parish of Louisiana.  the entire family were listed as Mulattos.

      In the year of 1895 June 26, we saw where Charles Gratin MATHIEU married Georgiana LEGAUX  in the Parish of St John the Baptist.  This information was listed on their Marriage papers.

      Charles wife Georgiana Legaux died  November 22, 1915 and  Charles Gratin MATHIEU died  May 10, 1939.

      With these pictures, I can now see back to three generations beyond.  Now I wish to know even more about the lives of these ancestors who have given me such a rich Creole heritage.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

They Wouldn't Allow Us To Use Daddy's Last Name.

    After building the family tree and asking questions of my mother about her family, It was necessary to search the various records that could help shade some additional light on the family historical past.  These records would come in various forms ( Birth, Baptism, Marriage, death succession/probate, land, tax, and census)  many would be housed at various locations throughout the city of New Orleans and state of Louisiana where my early ancestors lives.  With access to the internet, I was even able to locate various pieces of information that were indexed and presented as aids in helping me to find original documents.

    The discovery of my parents and their parent were first found on the 1930 Louisiana census record.  The U.S. Census begins in the years 1790, however, in Louisiana there are census records that went as far back as 1708.  I was successful with locating several family members listed as far back as 1810.  My ancestral line of Mathieu,  I found myself tracing up into Canada only to later realize this line of MATHIEUs were not related to me.  There was a reason,  a mystery about the family's surname that I would later discover would open up for me family history that was not well known especially by my mom.
Mom, Me and Leonor Douroux Lombard

    A bit disappointed by the limited amount of information I was finding, I asked my mother if there could be some reason why the MATHIEU name was presenting so many challenges.  She said, she did not know however did know of another family member,  her second cousin, Leonor Douroux Lombard  that could assist with my MATHIEU family research.  She said,  she would take me over to visit her and that we did.

     Leonor Douroux LOMBARD was the niece of my great grandmother's- Georgiana LEGAUX  who sister Gabreille LEGAUX was Lenore DOUROUX Grandmother.  It appeared from what I gathered,  Leonor was the oldest family member who had been also piecing together bits of information about the family, much of what was obtained was from another cousin ( Gregg Osborne) a researcher and archivist at the New Orleans Public Library.   Leonor was also holding on to a piece of oral history that would lead me to some very interesting research along the way.  I told Leonor of the problems I was having locating information about our Mathieu family line.  She then proceeded to show me some of the information she manage to collect over the years.  One of which was a line diagram of the family tree.

Leonor Douroux Lombard Line diagram of the Mathieu Family Tree

My Grandparents were also listed on Leonor's Family tree
      Upon a closer inspection of the names Lenore had listed on her MATHIEU family, I noticed the names of my Grandparents Nellie MATHEIU and Thomas Phillips.  To my surprise, what I was now being exposed to five additional generations on a line diagram.  A priceless piece of family history that would to become part of my road map in discovering,  my Louisiana French Creole Ancestral past.  
Granted it was only names however, this would give me a reference while searching for documents such as birth, baptism, marriage and death records.   Leonor also showed me her notes taken and kept over the years,  that she gladly provided me with a copy of.   It was at that moment,  I knew something very special was being passed on to me.  It was our family's history in Louisiana as best as she knew of it.  And although incomplete,  this knowledge so carefully gathered and shared was to become my foundation for further research into the family's history.

      Leonor also shared with me a piece of the Family's history that needed not to be written but spoken in such a way that it would cause me to wonder for many years why?  Leonor told a story of one of the seven children, a daughers of my 4th generation great grandparent  Mathieu DEVAUX and Agnes MATHIEU, that said   "They would not allow us to use Daddy Last Name"...........   As I sat still and listen to her tell me this small piece of oral history.  I wondered what this was all about? who were the "THEY" she referred to and what was the daughter's father's last name and why could the children use it.?  I suddenly realize,  I was gaining some valuable insight and a small history lesson about Louisiana that I did not learn while attending school there.  Again, I was up for the challenge..

      A few years later,  Leonor Douroux LOMBARD died but left me with some valuable information about the family so as to  carry on with our family history research.

Looking For Answers About The Past, By Talking With People Living in the Present

     When I begin researching my mother’s side of our French Creole ancestry in Louisiana, I was reminded by several whom I spoke with that finding anything worthwhile or even important about our ancestral past was most likely going to be a challenge.  People tend to become a little nervous and even a little suspicious about individuals delving around in their past. 

     In a way, I believe that was their way of telling me not to go looking for anything that might cause problems for the family. Funny how folks think of the worst when venturing into ancestral history.  For me, that was some 20 plus years ago. Back then, I just wanted to know and understand how my mother’s, mother’s Nellie Mathieu and her surname “Mathieu" (French) for Matthew, came to be. What I would later discover was some very interesting history behind this particular surname and the family’s progenitor from which the name came. 
      One day, I remember a good friend of mine showed me a document that traced his family’s ancestry back several generations and the stories he knew of their lives caused me to wonder why there weren't any stories about my family that were written down and organized the way my friend’s family history was.  So I decided to start what I had hoped would be the beginning of my research, documenting what I knew about my family and the many relatives I came to know growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana.
     At first, I tried to imagine what I wanted to accomplish as I started to record the basic facts about my relatives. As time went on and the further back I went those, relatives became known as ancestors. I began by listing all the names of my siblings, their dates of birth and anything I could remember about their lives. It was pretty easy since I was the eldest of Albert Henderson's and Frances Phillips's eight children.  

My first attempt at building my Ancestral Family Tree
     Next, I listed the names of my parents' brothers and sisters and what I knew of them.  That too was pretty easy. However, I needed my parents' assistance in determining their siblings ages, dates for birth and information of those who had already passed away. It was at that time the reality hit me as each of my aunts and uncles got older and were beginning to die off.  All of what they knew about life and living back then would be forever gone.  A tremendous sense of urgency came upon me as I tried to collect as much information as I could from all that I knew who were still alive. Many would say it appeared as if I was on a mission.  Little did they know, what was happening to me was an appreciation for genealogy and the recording of one's own life stories. 

 I did not realize it at the time, but what I was doing in those initial days was gathering the facts about the different family lines that would later help me to formulate questions that would drive my research towards finding answers to questions that those alive knew little about. I was becoming the family’s historian, of sorts.
      As time when on, I wanted to become more organized with the information I had gathered. I began to read books about the art of genealogy.  I did not know then what impact this research would have on my personal development.  However, what I was learning was history about my own family.  

     History was one of those subjects in school that I paid little to no attention to. As I think back I now believe I know the reason. Like many other students, I felt a disconnect to the past and was not able to relate to the lives of those being studied. The few persons of interest who looked like me or were mentioned were somehow always displayed as being someone of little to no significance. Now that I’ve been  able to trace several generations of family members who lived, worked and died in the state of Louisiana, with it’s rich history, I have a different perspective on history and the value it has played in the lives of my family members.

     As I delved deeper into the understanding of how my Louisiana Creole family developed over the years, there were questions I came up with that neither my mother nor father could answer. Over time, this sense of urgency to know the answers increased. So, I sought answers from other family members. Time was passing, and I wanted to gather any bit of information these family members could share because I knew it would help me as I continued my research.  

       Years later, I met for the first time a distant cousin on my mother's side of the family,  whom I later discovered was doing similar family history research. She provided information about additional generations to my family tree that was beginning to developing rather nicely. She also became that one family member who would share with me for the first time, a bit of oral history that would cause me to continue my research and that would take me all the way back the both the French and Spanish Colonial periods in Louisiana's History.