Friday, October 25, 2013

Jules “Pop Jules” Keller

Jules “Pop Jules” Keller

The patriarch of the Keller Klan is “Pop Jules” Keller born around 1858. According to family legend, he was of Oglala descent. During this time, The Great Sioux War drove many Oglala from the North part of the territory down into the southern regions of Louisiana. The identities of his parents are unknown.

He was known for his non-conformism to American ideas. He wore a long, black braid down his back, traditional Native American clothing and chose a bicycle as his primary form of transportation. He also loved to smoke his pipe.

Jules married Pauline Pryor or Prayer on February 11, 1882 in St. John the Baptist Church. Pauline was the daughter of Sam Pryor and Pauline Tony, both of Louisiana.

Together Pauline and Jules produced the first generation of the Keller Klan which included Noel, Bartholomaus, Noelie, Pierre, Julien, Juliene aka Julia, Marie, Noemie and Morris Sr.

Jules lived a long, full life. He passed away due to pneumonia on February 2, 1952. He is buried in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery with his beloved wife.

Morris Keller, Sr.

Morris Keller, Sr.

Morris Sr. was a product of the union between Jules Keller and Pauline Pryor (Prayer). He was one of several children. The Keller Klan included: Noel, Bartholomaus, Noelie, Pierre, Julien, Juliene aka Julia, Marie, Noemie and Morris Sr.

Morris was the baby of the family, born on September 8, 1901. He married Catherine Morris and built a fine family his own. They filled their home with nine children: Larry, Willie Mae, Charles, Clarence, Susie, Dorothy, Morris Jr., Shirley, and Margaret. He lived most of his life between Vacherie. He was of mixed heritage: African and Native American descent.

Morris worked hard as a laborer on the local sugar cane fields. Morris Sr. passed away at the age of ninety-three on December 8, 1994.

Catherine “Mom Love” Morris

Catherine “Mom Love” Morris

 “Mom Love” was born March 10, 1908 in Geisner. Catherine was the daughter of Charles Morris and Sarah Henderson. She was a native to Ascension Parish, Louisiana. She was known for her loving spirit, thus her nickname.

Catherine was able to receive a third grade education. She became a dutiful home-maker and a loving mother to nine children. They were named: Larry, Willie Mae, Charles, Clarence, Susie, Dorothy, Morris Jr., Shirley and Margaret Keller.

Mom Love passed away in August of 1989 in Vacherie, St. James Parish, Louisiana at the age of eighty-one. She is buried with her beloved husband, Morris Keller, Sr., in Our Lady of Peace Cemetery and Mausoleum.

Charles “Charlie” Morris

Charles “Charlie” Morris

Charles “Charlie” Morris was the son of the late, great Honorable Milton Morris and his first wife, Lucy Ann Richard. Like his father, he was born during slavery around October 1857 in Missouri. He worked as a laborer on a Louisiana sugar plantation for most his adult life.

He grew-up in Donaldsonville, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. His wife was Sarah Henderson, also of Missouri. He had five children with his wife. His children were Archille, Hannah, Cornelius, Catherine, and Vinna Morris.

Even though he was born into an atrocious institution of bondage and worked as a farm laborer, he was able to read and write. This is evidence that education was of high value within the family.

Joseph Albert Boudoin

Joseph Albert Boudoin

Joseph Albert Boudoin was born on September 25, 1875 to Alice Celestine Tastet and Sylvestre Baudoin. He was one of several children. His full-blooded siblings were: Elicia, Celcilia, and Charles Boudoin. His father remarried, fathering several more children. He grew up on a rice plantation in Lafourche parish.

What is most interesting about Joseph is that as a child he was listed as white. However, after he married a mulatto woman, he changed his race and chose to identify as a mulatto himself. Perhaps this was more acceptable than admitting to being in an interracial marriage. Maybe his family disowned him after marrying a woman of color. We can only speculate. But, DNA evidence confirms a direct connection to this side of the Boudoin family.

Joseph and Olympia “Olympe” Borne married in St. John the Baptist Church on January 25, 1894. They built a life together in Lucy, close to Olympe’s family. Joseph worked as a sugar farm laborer, while Olympe became a domestic servant for a private family, just like her mother. Joseph and Olympia may have been an unlikely pair. Not only were they of different races they also spoke different native tongues. Joseph was a fluent French-speaker, Olympe an English-speaker.

Olympe was the daughter of Felicity Pierre and Honoré Borne. Both were Louisiana natives and both were described as mulattoes on the US Censuses. Olympia was one of ten children. She became the mother of her own tribe of children.

 In their later years, Joseph and Olympe lived in New Orleans on Columbus Street. Joseph and Olympe Boudoin shared a long life together. Joseph’s exact death date is unknown. However, Olympe passed away at the age of eighty-six in Edgard, Louisiana in 1967. 

Sylvio Boudoin

Sylvio Boudoin

Sylvio Boudoin was born on December 18, 1894 in Edgard, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana to Joseph Albert Boudoin and Olympia Borne. He is one of four known children. Sylvio grew up with two brothers: Louis and Chester and a sister named Noelie. His native tongue was French and grew-up working on a plantation with his father in Lucy, Louisiana.

Sylvio obtained a first grade education, according to the 1940 US Census record. It is known that Adelard Weber was one of his employers when he was twenty-one years old. He worked as a farm laborer for most of his adult life. To make extra money, he also worked as a chauffeur.

The highlight of his life was his family. He married a local girl, Eunice Caire. Together they raised their clan of children happily.  They loved entertaining their grandchildren and just being together.

He passed away in September 1978 after a full life and sixty years of marriage. He is remembered for being a quiet and kind man. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Julie Burcard

Julie Burcard

            The maternal matriarch of the family was Julie Burcard. Julie was born into the American horror story commonly known as slavery. Because of her low social and racial status, her exact birthdate is unknown. From her death certificate, it is estimated around 1836 in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. 

Julie’s owner was also her father. He was a rich slaveholder by the name of Jean Frederick Burcard. He also served as the Sheriff of St. John the Baptist Parish from 1852-1857. He owned property in New Orleans and a sugar plantation in St. John Parish. He was of Swiss descent. The identity of Julie’s mother may forever be a mystery. Family legend tells us that she was a black woman of African descent sold from Virginia to Louisiana.

            Physically, Julie was a handsome woman. She was of short stature, with fair skin and long black hair. Photographs show a profound resemblance to Jean F. Burcard. Though Jean fathered a mulatto child, he did have several legitimate children with his wife. The fact that Jean Frederick fathered a mulatto child was not an uncommon practice. Many questions still remain. Did Jean acknowledge Julie? Did Julie or other family members know of their kinship? How was Julie treated in her father’s household? Was she abused or treated well? Was she close with any of her half-siblings? We may never know.

            Slavery was not abolished until Julie was around 29 years of age. By this time, she was already married, raising her first three children.

Julie married a black man, Pierre Thomas. There are two theories regarding his origins. First, is that he was enslaved and sold from Virginia, like so many others during that time. The 1860 Slave Schedule lists a Pierre Thomas sold from Virginia to Louisiana. Second, is a rumor that the Thomases were from Haiti. Many Haitians, both free and enslaved, fled to Louisiana due to its reputation of being a safe haven for free persons of color.

They had nine children together. The Thomas tribe included: Elmire, Julian, Clara, Camille, Raoul aka Henry, Gustave, Gustavie, Julia and Alfreda.

Julie Burcard Thomas passed away March 10, 1922 in Montz, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana. She was buried in St. John the Baptist Cemetery. 

Representative Milton Morris

Representative Milton Morris

            The greatest contributor to the Morris-Keller Klan is without a doubt the Honorable Milton Morris. Milton Morris was born under the weight of slavery about 1829 in Howard Country, Missouri. It is unknown whether he was set free or ran away like many others after the start of the Civil War in 1861.
            Milton joined the Union Colored Infantry, 80th Regiment in Louisiana. It was known as the Corps de Afrique Infantry. This unit was organized in April 4, 1864, though many served in other units. They serviced in Port Hudson and the District of Bonnet Carre. They also served in New Orleans, Shreveport, Alexandria, and later mustered out to Texas in 1867.

            After actively contributing to the success of the Civil War as a military serviceman, Milton set up residence as a free man in Donaldsonville, Louisiana. Being a brave and ambitious man, he then pursued a career in politics as a Louisiana State Representative. He served as a Republican, fighting against the former Confederates’ racist schemes from 1868-1873. He served with only one other black on The Committee of Banking. He was arrested by a gang of white racists who tried to intimidate him. It did not work. He bravely continued his work fighting for civil rights as a free man.

            Milton was also a family man. His first wife was Lucy Ann Richard, also of Missouri. Together, they had three children: Madeline, Charles, and Susan.

After being pushed out of public service, due to racist push backs and the introduction of Jim Crow laws, Milton worked as a laborer in Donaldsonville.  By this time, Milton was a widower. He soon remarried a younger woman named Faith. They had one child together named Ruth.

The story of Milton is remarkable and real. Morris displayed guts which led to greatness. He dared not only to run from slavery, but to fight for freedom. He was successful in guaranteeing not only his own freedom, but the freedom of every black American born after him. He was laid to rest not only a free man and a landowner, but as a hero as well. To him we are forever indebted. 

Biography of Eunice Caire (1900-1979)

Eunice was born September 1, 1900 in Edgard, Louisiana. Eunice Caire was the only child of Gustavie Thomas  and Louis "Man" Caire. Eunice was born September 1, 1900 in Edgard, Louisiana.  Her father went on to New Orleans to work as a firefighter on a shipyard. Her mother died during childbirth in 1906. She was raised by her aunts. 

Eunice was a Creole-speaking, devout Catholic. She held weekly family dinners in her home for her children and grandchildren. Her home was in Lucy, St. John Parish, Louisiana. 

Her Decedents: 
Eunice Caire and Sylvio Boudoin married on May 3, 1918 at St. John the Baptiste Church in Edgard, Louisiana. Together they raised several children: Albert, Francis, Gerald, Geraldine, Gustavia, Jesse Mae, Louis, Louise, and Margaret Mae.

Eunice passed away in September 1979 in Vacherie, Louisiana of a broken heart after her beloved Sylvio passed away of throat cancer. 

Curtis Joseph Dumas, Sr. (1908-1983) & Julia Jones (1914-1982)

Curtis Joseph Dumas, Sr. was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 11, 1908. He was the son of Leopold Dumas and Laurence Morris Dumas. He was born into a large family and made a living as a laborer on a sugar cane plantation.

Julia Jones was born in Louisiana on March 15, 1914. She was the daughter of Ignace "Ernest" Jones and Adelaide "Bella" Grant, both of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. She, too, was one of several children. She was the ultimate caregiver: an excellent cook and loving mother. Her faith was the foundation of her family. She was a Bible believing Baptist.

Curtis Sr. and his wife Julia lived a simple life. They served God, their family and the community. They married young and had several children (13 living and at 1 stillborn). Wallace, St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana was home. Pop Curtis spent his free time relaxing on the front porch. Mama Julia split her time between the kitchen and the church.

Their love was legend. After Julia died of a heart attack in September of 1982, in the arms of her youngest son, Curtis would die soon after. Though being in good physical health, he would pass away months later of a broken heart. Oral history states he missed his dear Julia more than anything else on this Earth and chose to be with her in eternity.

They are buried together, side by side, on a family burial plot in Wallace, St. John the Baptist, Louisiana.

Obituary Transcript:

The Times-Picayune, New Orleans, La. 
May 29, 1983

Curtis Joseph (Wallie) Dumas, Sr., at Wallace, La., at Lakeside Hospital Metairie, on Tuesday, May 24, 1983, at 8:31 p.m., son of the late Leopold and Laurence Dumas, beloved husband of late Julia Jones Dumas, father of Curtis, Jr., Larry, Clifford, Ronald, Olga Mae, Patricia, Ernest, Leo, Clarence, Deborah and Alana Dumas and Lillian Myles and the late Dorothy, Jerry and Harold Dumas, father-in-law of Diana, Lucricia, James, Etta, Thyra, Stelphine, Linda, Joy and Jessica Dumas and Walter Miles, brother of Theresa D. Jackson, Laurence D. Harris, Marion D. Williams, of Germany and the late Cornelius and Ernest Dumas and Louisa Jackson, nephew of Carmen Jones, brother-in-law of Alfred Jackson, Willie Taylor, Willie Williams, of Germany, Mr. and Mr. Alvin Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell Johnson, Willie and Philip Rogers, Evelyn Delone, Shirley Ross, Vivian Dumas and Frank Holland; deceased also survived by 14 grandchildren, a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends, a native of Vacherie, La., and a resident of Wallace for many years; age 74 years.

Relatives and friends of the family, also pastor, officers and members of the Morning Star Baptist Church, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Edgard, La., Woodville Baptist Church, St. Rose Baptist Church, First Pentecost Church, New Orleans, Willow Grove Benevolent Society, employees of Colonial Sugars, Gramercy, La., St. John Parish School System, Southern University Commuter Bus Westside and neighboring churches are invited to attend the funeral services from the New Jerusalem Baptist Church, Edgard, La., on Monday May 30, 1983, at 12 o’clock Noon, Rev. F. Johnson officiating. Interment Willow Grove Cemetery, Wallace, La. Wake services Sunday, May 29, 1983, from the above named church at 8:30 p.m. Friends May call after 6 p.m. on Sunday. Earl Baloney & Sons Mortuary in charge of arrangements, Carmen M. Baloney, Director.