Friday, January 30, 2015

Curtis Joseph Dumas, Sr. (1908-1983)

This is my 5th week entry for Amy Crow’s 52 Ancestor Challenge 2015. 
This week's theme is Plowing Through
Since this is an agricultural term, I selected my grandfather Curtis Dumas.
I have written about my grandfather in a previous post.


Curtis is the final agricultural worker in a long line of sugar farm laborers. My paternal grandfather is a fifth generation laborer at The Whitney Plantation. I am sure there were more people, but I am unable to identify them by name due to lack of records on enslaved persons. 

In true Biblical fashion: here is my grandfather's line... 
Curtis Dumas, son of 
Leopold (Leo Paul), son of
Pierre, son of 

Curtis Dumas & his wife Julia Jones

Curtis Joseph Dumas, Sr. was born 17 November 1908. He was the eldest child of Leopold (Leo Paul) Dumas and Laurence Morris. There were three Dumas brothers, who are shown in the picture below. 
Curtis is the tall, handsome gentlemen to the right.

Dumas Brothers: Ernest, Cornelius and Curtis (L-R)

The Dumas brothers had three full sisters: Louise, Laurence and Theresa. Their half-sister (from their father's second marriage) is still living. 

As was the local custom, my grandfather had a nickname, which was Wallie. I am unsure how he received his nickname or what it means. So, if anyone knows, feel free to share!

Pop Curtis lived in Wallace, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. This area is known as the German Coast and is known for its sugar plantations. Two of the most popular are the neighboring Whitney Plantation, where my family originates and the Evergreen Plantation, which is often used in antebellum movies like the recent Django film.
I do have a blood connection to the original owners of both plantations through my mother's line. (More on that story later.)

Curtis married the love of his life, Julia Jones, in 1923. Together, they raised a large, loving family and modeled a loving relationship to their family and community. Curtis was a protestant Christian and worshipped at Morning Baptist Church in Wallace. 

He passed on 14 May 1983 of a broken heart, 8 months after his beloved wife suffered a heart attack. He is buried in Willow Grove Cemetery with his family. Pop Curtis is remembered for his kind heart and quiet disposition. He enjoyed quiet evenings on his porch and spending time with his wife and children.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

DNA Discoveries: Mysteries and Surprises

I submitted a DNA test with 
Here were my results:

My Ancestry DNA Breakdown

75% Africa
   26 Congo /Cameron 
   19 Ghana/ Ivory Coast
   11 Benin / Togo
    9 Mali
    5 Senegal
    3 Nigeria 
    1 SE Bantu
    1 North Africa
20% Europe
  6 Ireland 
  6 Scandinavia
  2 Italy/Greece
  2 Iberian 
  1 European Jewish
  1 Western Europe
3% Middle East 
1% Americas 
1% Asia
  1 South Asia

The purpose of the test was two-fold: 

  • to seek an estimated "ethnic" breakdown and 
  • to confirm ancestral connections with blood relatives.

The DNA testing has taught me a few things about my family history. 

1. Pinpointing my African origins
This was by far the best part of the test. I was able to pinpoint several nations of origin through Ancestry. Then, I uploaded my results to which allowed me to run more tests to identify on a kingdom/tribal level were my African ancestors were from. This is important because the African nations that exist today, did not exist before colonization. Also, Africa has the most diverse population in the world because it is the birthplace of humanity. Hopefully more attention will be given to this continent by genetists. 

2. The amount of European DNA I carry
I was surprised by the amount of European DNA I carry. Everyone in my family identifies as black. As far as we knew, there had been no interracial marriages. Sadly, we are aware in the African American community of the rape and sexual coercion which occurred during slavery, but I did not think this would be evident in my DNA. We knew from oral history that there were two European men (one German and one French) in our lineage. Obviously there were more European ancestors than I had anticipated.

3. Where is my Native American DNA?
As many Americans, my family has tales of Native American ancestors. While this is not necessarily inaccurate, my DNA (according to their database) did not match significant about of genetic material. This could be for a number of reasons. #1 - My Indian ancestors were more multiethnic than previously thought. #2 - The databases were unable to compare this dna to living Indians of the same region where my ancestors were from. #3 - Maybe some ancestors lied. One reason would be instead of admitting they were biracial (white-black), it may have been easier to say Indian. The Native American DNA I inherited comes from my father's line and it is more commonly found in Central America. This was a surprise!

4. Asian DNA?
SUPRISE! My mother does not carry any genes from Asia, so this too came from my father. I carry about 1% South Asian dna. I believe this came from some of my African ancestors. Through my research, I learned there were some South Asian (Indian) slaves sold from India to South Africa for many years. I am sure this intermarriage may have attributed to this segment of my ancestry.

5. More Middle East DNA than Native American DNA.
Father Abraham may just be my granddaddy. While I am not surprised at having Middle Eastern ancestry, I was surprised at how much especially relative to the Native American DNA I carry. I have discovered, since starting my research that some African peoples today originated in the Middle East, like the Fulani. I have even been able to pinpoint them by name! 

This test has been a great help in my research and has pushed me to understand history on a global level. 

Hopefully, more of my family members will do the test so that I can have more information regarding our ancestors' origins. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Julia Jones Dumas (1914-1982) #52Ancestors

Julia Jones Dumas (1914-1982) #52Ancestors: Tough Woman/Closest Birthday

This is my entry #3 for Amy Crow’s 52 Ancestor Challenge 2015. I have decided to combine the theme's for weeks 3 and 4. Week 3's challenge is to write about a tough woman. Week 4's challenge is to write about someone who has a birthday closest to my birthday. Luckily, I know just the ancestor who fits both of these descriptions. She is also my namesake. So why make this harder than it needs to be?

Without further ado, here is a short biography of my beautiful grandmother:

Julia Jones Dumas (1914-1982)
Curtis Dumas & Julia Jones

Once Upon a Time 

There lived a woman with a generous heart, a kind spirit and a strong body. She is many things to me including my paternal grandmother and my namesake. She is also a major reason for my interest in family history. See, I never met my grandmother. She passed away before I was born. But, I know her because of the many stories from loved ones, each telling of her kindness, hospitality, spirituality and love.


Julia Jones was born 15 March 1914 in Wallace, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. She was the third of four daughters born to Ignace Ernest Jones and Adelaide Bella Grant. Mama Julia (as she was affectionately called) experienced a lot of loss in her life, which is why she is my "tough woman". In 1922, when she was only 8, her mother died in of pneumonia. Ernest, her father, remarried a widow and mother of seven named Gertrude Duhe Rogers. Julia's father would have two more children with his new wife. They were the original blended family. Who needs the Brady bunch when you have the Joneses? In case you lost count, there were a total of 13 children.

Sadly, the good times grew more grim. At age 16, Julia's father, Ernest, passed away of bronchial pneumonia. She would go on to live with her uncle, Willis (aka Uncle Tot). Two years later, Julia would bury her step-mother, Gertrude. By age 18, my grandmother would have buried all three of her parents. Describing her as strong is an understatement.

A Family of Her Own

Julia's loss did not prevent her from keeping an open heart. She was a vessel of love. She loved family and wanted to created one of her own. So, she married a handsome, local young man by the name of Curtis Joseph Dumas. In 1932, she became known as Julia Dumas. Together, Julia and Curtis would raise a large family of their own--13 children in all. (My father was #12.) In addition to raising her biological children, Mama Julia also raised some of her grandchildren. Mama Julia's many responsibilities to her large family did not limit her generosity. Her home was always open. Her faith, hospitality and culinary skills are legendary.

The Grave and Beyond

Julia Jones Dumas passed away on Tuesday, September 1, 1982 at West St. James Hospital after enduring cardiac arrest. She was 68 years young. She is buried with her family at Willow Grove Cemetery in Wallace, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana on Friday, September 9, 1982.

The biggest lesson I have learned by researching my grandmother's life is that tragedy and heartbreak need not be the end of our story. Strength is pressing on despite the tough times. It is finding love, joy and comfort with loved ones whom we choose to share our lives with. Despite deep loss, we can all celebrate deep love.

God Bless

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Milton Morris (1829-1896): King of Freedom

This week's theme for Amy Crow’s 52 Ancestor Challenge is to write about a king. The famous freedom fighter, Dr. Martin Luther King's birthday is on the 15th of January. We all know of the great work Dr. King did as a champion of equality. With this in mind, the first ancestor of mine who came to mind was Representative Milton Morris.

Milton was born circa 1829 in Howard County, Missouri as chattel property.
Milton's humble beginnings did not limit his aspirations for improving life for himself or those around him. He remained enslaved until the Civil War broke out. He enlisted in the United States Colored Troops, 80th Troops Regiment. He served in the infantry at Port Hudson, Louisiana.

According to his pension file, his last known owner was Mrs. Harriet Cole of the Cole Plantation in Iberville, Louisiana. It is unknown when he was purchased by Mrs. Cole and made the move from Missouri to Louisiana.

About 1853, Milton married Lucy Ann Richard. Together they had three known children: Madeline, Charlie and Susan. Lucy passed away after 1870. The exact date and location is unknown. However, the family was living in Ascension Parish, Louisiana before her death.

Milton Morris set his ambitions to becoming a landowner. On 27 September 1865, Milton applied for land where the Ashland Plantation stood, with other freedmen. With the combined effort of five other freedmen and their families, they applied for 100 acres of land. Records reveal they had a combined $500 in cash, one horse, two carts, two plows, 300 bundles of corn and two and a half acres of cotton. The families wished to use the land to raise cotton and corn.

Political Career:
After serving in the military, Milton pursued a career in politics during Reconstruction. Serving under the first black Lieutenant Governor, Milton Morris served as the state representative for Ascension Parish, Louisiana. He was a Republican. (He is the third, from the top right.)

Milton attended the Convention to Create a Constitution for Louisiana in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served on the Militia committee.

Though Milton and his family were free, they had to fight an uphill battle against racism. Milton was arrested by white supremacist in an attempt to intimidate him after running for public office in 1870, according to a newspaper article.

However, Milton Morris was praised by his hometown for his service:

Newspaper article:

Hon. Milton Morris, from this parish, has proven himself a staunch and consistent Republican, be it said to his honor. His vote has been cast invariably in opposition to the mongrel coalition headed by that ex-Confederate Colonel, Geo. W. Carter, and in favor of the friends of the administration, who have had such a hard fight to perpetuate Republicanism in Louisiana. Mr. Morris will come back to his people with his hitherto bright record still brighter, and will receive their hearty thanks and unqualified endorsement for representing them so faithfully.

~Donaldsonville Chief

Weekly Louisianan

14 Jan 1872

Second Family:
After all Milton had accomplished, he decided to start another family. Milton married a young woman (27 years his junior) named Faith A. Stewart. Together they had two known children: Ruth and James. Faith stated she met Milton about 1867 (when she was 11 years old and he was still married to Lucy) on the Ashland Plantation, Ascension Parish, Louisiana. Milton and Lucy married 3 April 1879, when Lucy was 23 and Milton was 50 years old.

Ascension Parish has home to Milton and his descendants for many years.

Milton passed away in New Orleans, Louisiana on 6 June 1896 at the approximate age of 67 years-young. His burial place remains unknown. It is my heart’s desire to find his resting place and place a marker for his service as a veteran and politician.

I descend from Milton Morris via: 

Charlie Morris

Catherine Morris

Morris Keller, Sr. 

Morris Keller, Jr. 

My mother 

Sources used in this complication include: 
U.S. Civil War Pension File 
1850 Slave Schedule
U.S. Census: 1860-1880
Freedman’s Bank Records
U.S. Military Troops Records
Land Application 
Louisiana State Legislators List

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Pierre Jacques Caire (1836-1885)

Pierre Jacques Caire (1836-1885) 

A Fresh Start #52Ancestors in 2015

This is my first attempt to complete Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to write about the ancestors I have rediscovered and to share them with those interested in a less technical format.

This is the first weekly post. Each week has a theme. This week’s theme is “a fresh start”. Who better than the nearest ancestor who immigrated to America? 

Pierre Jacques Caire is my maternal 3x great-grandfather. He was born 15 April 1836 in the south of France in small town called Jausiers, near the Italian border. He was the son of a farmer Etienne Caire and Marianne Teissier. He was one of several children. At least two of his brothers: Jean Louis Caire (b. 1818) and Jean Baptiste Caire (b. 1823) moved to Louisiana.

Pierre Jacques Caire (aka PJ Caire) immigrated to America at age 18 in 1854. He settled with his brothers in Edgard, Saint John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana. He became a merchant just like his brothers. He owned a store called Bruly Landing.

PJ had two children with Pélagie Mary Jean-Louis, a woman of color and former slave who was only sixteen when she gave birth to her first child. PJ did not own 
Pélagie. She was owned by his sister-in-law Felicie Burcard, daughter of Jean Frederic Burcard and wife of Jean Baptiste Caire. 

Pierre Jacques and Pélagie's children were Louis and Louise. They both carried the Caire surname and knew their father was a Frenchman. It is unclear as to the extent of their relationship with their father. Pélagie and her children moved to New Orleans. PJ remained in Edgard. 

At age 40, on 12 October 1876, PJ Caire married Marie Stella Jaume in St. Michael's Church in Covent, Saint James Parish, Louisiana. From their union brought forth one son, Eugene Francois Caire. Pierre Jacques Caire passed away 16 January 1885 and is buried in Saint John the Baptist Cemetery with his relatives.

I descend from Pierre Jacques Caire via: 
Louis Caire
Eunice Caire
Jessie Mae 
My mom