Guédry & Petitpas Family

The Louisiana Slave Database
and The Louisiana Free Database
and Slave Narratives

by Marty Guidry
 

With the unprecedented success of the ABC TV miniseries “Roots” in 1977 and the earlier-published book of the same title by Alex Haley, African-Americans and other began researching the genealogy and history of American slaves in earnest. Initially, as Haley discovered, records were difficult to locate and information within the records was tantalizing, yet incomplete. As time passed, researchers have found new sources and techniques for researching American slave genealogy and history. It is not unusual today for a person to trace their African-American genealogy to a tribe in Africa although few have the money, time and resources as Haley did to visit Africa on extended trips and seek their genealogy further back in time through the oral history of the tribe.

Louisiana Slave Datatase & Louisiana Free Database

Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall1,2, a Louisiana native and then-professor of history at Rutgers University in New Jersey, was doing research at the courthouse in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana in 1984 when she discovered boxes of old notarial records containing a wealth of information on the slaves of that region. Captured by this intriguing information, Dr. Hall spent the next fifteen years gathering additional slave information from throughout Louisiana as well as from French, Spanish and Texan records.

Through her diligent, painstaking research, Dr. Hall amassed an unimaginable amount of information on over 100,000 slaves from Louisiana. The data included not only the slaves’ names, but also their genders, ages, occupations, illnesses, family relationships, ethnicity, places of origin, owners, prices paid by owners and other tidbits of their history rarely known before.

In addition to compiling extensive information on 100,666 Louisiana slaves, Dr. Hall also recorded information on the manumissions of 4,071 slaves in their route to freedom. She divided her work covering the time period 1719-1820 into two databases: the “Louisiana Slave Database” and the “Louisiana Free Database”.

In March, 2000 LSU Press published the two databases on a Compact Disk (CD) entitled “Louisiana Slave Database and Louisiana Free Database 1719-18203. The CD’s soon sold out; however, the database was very cumbersome to use and difficult to search.

In 2001 ibiblio.org maintained by the University of North Carolina requested that Dr. Hall let them place the databases on their website. She agreed with the condition that they create a search engine for accessing the records easily. Unfortunately, ibiblio.org created a search engine only for the Slave Database and not the Free Database. They also made some changes to the databases; however, these are minor in nature. In November, 2001 ibiblio.org published the databases on their web portal under the name “Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1719-1820”4. In addition, to the searchable database, the website also includes Dr. Hall’s statistical calculations and three pre-set searches “African Names”, “Revolts” and “Runaways”. To access the “Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1719-1820” database on ibiblio.org, click on this link:

http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/ (Slave Database)

Later Ancestry.com asked Dr. Hall for permission to incorporate the two databases into their search engine.  Dr. Hall agreed provided Ancestry.com did not charge for their use. In 2003 Ancestry.com opened the two databases to the public free of charge under the titles “Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-18205 and “Louisiana Freed Slave Records, 1719-18206. The two databases can be accessed on Ancestry.com at:

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7383 (Slave Database)

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7382 (Freed Database)

Before searching either the ibiblio.org or the Ancestry.com databases, one should read the brief explanation on how to conduct a search and tips for improving the search at:

http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/explain.php (How-To Search the Databases)

Dr. Hall’s detailed description of the Louisiana Slave Database and the Louisiana Free Database7 discusses the underlying format of these databases and provides statistical analyses of the information in the databases.   Read her description at:

http://www.afrigeneas.com/library/louisiana/ (Description of Databases)

Although the Slave and Free databases provide a wealth of information on slaves in Louisiana during the 1700’s and early to mid-1800’s, these records do not include all slaves in Louisiana during this time period. Often additional information on slaves can be found in estates and conveyance records in Louisiana parish courthouses. Also, slaves during this period almost always were known by their given names as they did not have surnames. In searching the records, it is often more productive to search by the master’s surname. Furthermore, searching spelling variations of the master’s surname often provides more complete results.

A brief search on the Guédry surname and several of its variants produced these results:

Database Master’s Surname - No. of Records
  Guedry          Guidry          Geddry
ibiblio.com (Slave) 13 119 1
Ancestry.com (Slave) 13 133 1
Ancestry.com (Freed) 0 1 0
       

No results were found for Guidery, Guidrey, Guedrey, Guedery, Gaidry, Guildry, Guildery, Guildrey, Gindry, Gindery, Gindrey, Gidry, Gudry, Gedry, Jeddry, Jedry, Labine, LaBean. Petitpas and Pettipas.

Slave Narratives

During the 1930’s the Works Progress Administration (WPA) established the Federal Writers’ Project in which historians in the United States interviewed former slaves and compiled their narratives. The Slave Narrative Collection contains the autobiographical accounts of ex-slaves from 17 states. Compiled from over 2300 interviews during 1936-1938, these narratives are a unique glimpse into the life of a slave in the United States and are often difficult to read for the horrors suffered.

In 1941 the U. S. government microfilmed the narratives as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves8. Recently the Manuscript and the Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress placed the original interviews and over 500 photographs of former slaves online on the website “Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-19389 at the link:

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html (Born in Slavery)

Former slaves living in Louisiana were not interviewed as part of the Federal Writers’ Project; however, 308 ex-slaves in Texas were. Many former slaves from Louisiana had moved to Texas after the Civil War. In 1974 Texas narratives of the Federal Writers’ Project were published in four-volumes as The Slave Narratives of Texas10. Later in 1940-1941 ex-slaves in Louisiana were interviewed after the Federal Writers’ Project had closed. Their narratives were published in 1990 in Mother Wit: The Ex-Slave Narratives of the Louisiana Writers’ Project11.

Recently Ancestry.com has compiled the slave narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project as well as those from several others sources into a searchable database entitled “Slave Narratives”12. This extensive collection has over 3500 interviews with ex-slaves and spans the period from 1929-1939. “Slave Narratives” can be accessed on Ancestry.com at:

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4342 (Slave Narratives)

 



Examples of plantation slave quarters in Louisiana

Although none of the former slaves interviewed had the surname Guidry (or a variant of it), several of the interviews mentioned a person named Guidry as the slave owner (master). These are:

Agatha Babino – Born a slave near Carencro, LA, Agatha Babino was living at Beaumont, TX when interviewed. She had lived near Carencro, LA most of her early life with a short stay in Opelousas, LA after marrying. About 25 years before the interview, she moved to Beaumont, TX.

Agatha was a slave of Ogis Guidry and his wife Laurentine and was the daughter of Dick and Clarice Richard from the Carolinas and slaves of Placide Guilbeau. She married Tessifor (Telesphore) Babino (Babineaux) and had twelve children. In her testimony Agatha gave a vivid description of her life as a slave during the Civil War era. According to Agatha, her master was very cruel - beating the slaves and providing only rudimentary living quarters and minimal food. Ogis Guidry had a large, one-story house with gallery and brick pillars. He owned many acres of land and had about 50 slaves.

Mentioned in the interview was a Dr. Guidry, a relative of Ogis Guidry, who told the slaves of their freedom after the Civil War. Also mentioned was Charlie Guidry, a judge, who married the slaves. {From the information provided in the interview, we know that Ogis Guidry and his wife Laurentine were Augustin Guidry and Marie Leontine Guilbeaux, the sister of Placide Guilbeaux, who owned Agatha Babino’s parents.

Augustin Guidry m. Marie Leontine Guilbeaux (sister of Placide Guilbeaux)
          |
Augustin Guédry m. Adelaide Robichaud
          |
Pierre Guédry m. Marie Claire Babin
          |
Augustin Guédry m. Jeanne Hébert
          |
Claude Guédry m. Marguerite Petitpas

The Dr. Guidry mentioned probably was Dr. Alexis Onesime Guidry, born in 1816 and the husband of first Celestine Laperle Dupre and then Palmyre Dupre. He was a physician and planter in St. Landry Parish, LA. He was the son of Charles Alexis Onesime Guidry and Julie Euphrasie Potier. Augustin Guidry, husband of Marie Leontine Guilbeaux, and Dr. Alexis Onesime Guidry were first cousins once removed.}
 

Lou Turner (also called Lou Eumann) – Born a slave at the Richard West plantation at Rosedale, TX near Beaumont, Lou Turner spent her entire life within three miles of the Beaumont, TX. She lived in Beaumont at the time of the interview.

Lou Turner was owned by Richard West and his wife Mary Guidry. They had a plantation near Rosedale, TX where Lou was a slave. The West family had only a few slaves. Lou’s parents were Sam Marble from Mississippi and his wife Maria. Lou discusses her life as a young girl living in the Big House with the master’s wife treating her very kindly. She indicated that Mary Guidry was a ‘doctor’ and would go to other plantations to treat the folks there. The children of Richard West and Mary Guidry were grown, had moved away and had children of their own. Lou Turner would get to go with Mary Guidry to visit the grandchildren and would play with them. Richard West generally treated his slaves well especially before the Civil War.

After being freed, Lou Turner married George Turner in Beaumont when she was 19 years old. They had one daughter Sarah.

{Richard West, born at Mansura in Avoyelles Parish, LA on 31 July 1802 and the son of Thomas West and Susanne ‘Nancy’ Folk, was married three times: (1) Ann Foreman, daughter of Edward Foreman and Nancy Perry, on 27 March 1819 in Opelousas, LA; (2) Sara Lyons, daughter of Jean Michael Lyons and Mary Hayes, on 22 Jun 1824 in Lafayette, LA and (3) Mrs. Mary Guidry on 30 May 1854 in Jefferson County, TX. The wedding license of Richard West and Mary Guidry has “Mrs. Mary Guidry” indicating that Mary Guidry may have been married previously and Guidry was her former husband’s surname.}

Lou Turner, also called Lou Eumann

 

Orelia Alexie Franks

 

Louis Evans – Born near Grand Coteau, LA, Louis Evans was living at Beaumont, TX at the time of the interview.

Louis Evans was a slave of John Smith and his wife Carmellite who lived in a six-room, sawed-plank house on cypress pillars about three feet off the ground. Smith owned 140 acres of land on which he grew corn, cotton and potatoes and raised cattle and horses. John Smith owned about ten slaves – seven were Louis Evans, his brothers and sisters and his father Tom Evans and mother Rachel. From his early youth Louis was the personal servant of John Smith and was treated very well. His master treated all the slaves well. In the interview Louis discusses his life as a young slave and his observations of the Civil War around Grand Coteau, LA.

During the interview Louis Evans briefly discussed a slave Harry owned by Joe Guidry. Mr. Guidry let Harry work for money at times and Harry was able to buy his freedom and some land. He also mentioned that during the Civil War one of the Guidry boys deserted from the army. He was caught and punished. Young Guidry’s father borrowed money from another man during the Civil War. After the War the lender seized all of Guidry’s property except Harry’s land because Guidry’s son had deserted.

When he was 20 years old, Louis Evans married a quadroon lady Cora Gindry, who was the daughter of Old Dr. Gindry.

{In the interview Cora Guidry is called Cora Gindry. Here Gindry is a variant of the surname Guidry. A quadroon was a person of mixed race with ¼ African ancestry and ¾ Caucasian ancestry.

Louis Evans was the son of Tom Evans and Rachel. Cora Guidry probably was the daughter of Alexis Onesime Guidry, a physician and planter in St. Landry Parish, LA, and a mulatto woman (possibly Virginia Barker). The identity of the other Guidry’s mentioned in the interview are not known.

Cora (Corinne) Guidry m. Louis Evans
          |
Alexis Onesime Guidry with mulatto woman
(Wives: Celestine Laperle Dupre & Palmyre Dupre - sisters)
          |
Charles Alexis Onesime Guidry m. Julie Euphrasie Potier
          |
Louis David Guédry m. Marie Modeste Borda
          |
Pierre Guédry m. Marie Claire Babin
          |
Augustin Guédry m. Jeanne Hébert
          |
Claude Guédry m. Marguerite Petitpas}

 

Orelia Alexie Franks – Born a slave on the plantation of Valerian Martin near Opelousas, LA, Orelia Alexie Franks lived in Beaumont, TX for many years before her interview there.

She was the slave of Valerian Martin and his wife Malite Guidry. Her parents were Alexis Franks and Fanire Martin. Valerian Martin had a large plantation on which he raised sugar cane and cotton as wells as hogs and beef. He treated his slaves very well, checking on them every morning and ensuring they got treated properly if sick. He did not allow anyone to beat his slaves. The slaves had rudimenttary quarters, but ate well and enjoyed holidays together. Valerian Martin provided a cabin for his slaves to have prayer meetings. In the interview Orelia discusses several aspects of her life as a slave.

{Valerian Martin was André Valerien Martin, son of Jean André Martin and Gertrude Sonnier. Malite Guidry was Emelie Guidry, daughter of Louis David Guédry and Marie Modeste Bordat.

Emelie Guidry m1. Alexandre Dugas; m2. André Valerien Martin
          |
Louis David Guédry m. Marie Modeste Bordat
          |
Pierre Guédry m. Marie Claire Babin
          |
Augustin Guédry m. Jeanne Hébert
          |
Claude Guédry m. Marguerite Petitpas

[Note: Emelite Guidry and Augustin Guidry (husband of Marie Leontine Guilbeaux) were first cousins.]}

 

Amos Lincoln – Born a slave on the Elshay Guidry plantation in the lower delta country of Louisiana about 50 miles south of New Orleans, Amos Lincoln was living in Beaumont, TX during the interview. He had lived in Beaumont for 52 years.

While a slave, Amos Lincoln was owned by Elshay Guidry. During the interview Amos stated that Elshay Guidry was quite mean and whipped his many slaves. The slaves had very rudimentary cabins with dirt floors and very rustic furniture. They hunted, trapped and gathered most of their food. Amos married twice – first to Massage Florshann and then to Annie. After being set free, he sharecropped briefly in Louisiana and then moved to Texas where he again sharecropped.

 

Mary Scranton – Born near Lafayette, LA, Mary Scranton was living in Texas at the time of the interview.

Mary Scranton remembered that her first owner was called Valiere, but did not recall his last name. Her second owner was LaSan Guidry, who was very good to his slaves – always ensuring they could practice their religion and never mistreating them.

Mary’s parents were Joseph Johnson and his wife Clara Bell. When she was about twenty, she married George Scranton in Louisiana. They had five children together before George died in Port Arthur, TX. 

{The LaSan Guidry mentioned in the interview was very probably Lessin Guidry, born 1829 in Lafayette Parish, LA and son of Alexandre Guidry and Marie Carmelite Broussard. He married Louisianaise Breaux, daughter of Valiere Breaux and Marcelite Fostin, in 1852 in Lafayette, LA. They had five children including Marie Eusiede Guidry, born in 1855. The first slave owner mentioned in the interview may have been Valiere Breaux, the father of Lessin Guidry’s wife Louisianaise Breaux. He actually would have been the owner of Mary Scranton’s parents, not Mary Scranton, as Valiere Breaux died before 1853 and Mary Scranton was born in 1859.

Lessin (Laisin, Lessaint, Lessaurt, Laison) Guidry m. Louisianaise Breaux
          |
Alexandre Lessin Guidry m. Marie Carmelite Broussard
          |
Joseph Guidry m. Scholastique Hébert
          |
Pierre Guédry m. Marie Claire Babin
          |
Augustin Guédry m. Jeanne Hébert
          |
Claude Guédry m. Marguerite Petitpas }


Other Afro-Louisiana Resources

A new database on Ancestry.com is the ”New Orleans, Louisiana, Slave Manifests, 1807-186013. Although the international slave trade was banned in 1807, within the United States slaves could still be marketed. The 1807 law banning the international slave trade also required that captains of vessels carrying slaves within the continental waters to prepare a manifest of their slave cargo. These are the surviving slave manifests prepared for ships entering and leaving the Port of New Orleans. Some inward and outward manifests have been lost over time. The records are not indexed at this time so each individual manifest must be searched. There are 29,875 individuals on the manifests.

http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1562 (New Orleans Slave Manifests)

The “Louisiana Digital Library14 is a massive database containing over 144,000 photographs and documents on all aspects of Louisiana history and culture from the 1500’s to the present day. Within the digitized collection are several hundred photographs and documents on slaves, the slave trade and slavery in Louisiana. Some are of a general nature, but many name the individuals and provide information on their lives. For best results use the “Search All Collections” feature on the homepage. See below for an example of one document from this collection on two slaves Henry and Don Louis belonging to Augustin Guedry. The original documents can be downloaded from the website at:

http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/ (Louisiana Digital Library)

The “Digitial Library on American Slavery15 contains detailed information on over 150,000 slaves, free people of color and whites. The information was gleaned from over 17,000 legislative and county petitions as well as wills, inventories, bills of sale, court proceedings and other civil government documents filed between 1775 and 1867 in 15 southern states and the District of Columbia. There are six entries for Guidry (no other variants mentioned) in the database – Cilesie Savoy Guidry, Firmin Guidry, Louis Guidry, Onezime Louis Guidry, Onezime Guidry Esq. and Theodule Guidry. The “Digital Library on American Slavery” is at:

http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/about.aspx (Digital Library on American Slavery)

A team of international historians has compiled a superb website entitled “The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database16 with information on almost 35,000 slave voyages from 1501 to 1866 destined for the United States and six other regions of the world. The names provided in this database are the African names of persons being transported as well as the names of the ship captains. Although not specific to Louisiana, this database provides a superb, detailed overview of slave trade from Africa to the United States and other regions of the world. It is available at:

http://www.slavevoyages.org/tast/index.faces (Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database)

Another excellent resource for Afro-American History and Genealogy is the AfriGeneas (African Ancestored Genealogy) website and particularly its AfriGeneas Library17 at

http://www.afrigeneas.com/library/ (AfriGeneas Library)

There are many sources of information on slaves and slavery in Louisiana in texts and on the internet. The above are but a select group of the better ones readily available on the internet. With the expanded resources available today one can now trace his African ancestry well beyond the post-Civil War period. Additionally, there are professional genealogists specializing in Afro-Louisiana Genealogy with whom one can contract to get help.

See page 28 for References


Slave Quarters, Violet, Louisiana-1930’s Slave quarters at the former home of
Colonel
Daniel Edwards in Tangipahoa Parish Louisiana in 1955


SLAVE NARRATIVES-AGATHA BABINO

 

SLAVE NARRATIVES - ORELIA ALEXIE FRANKS



SLAVE NARRATIVES - LOU TURNER

 

SLAVE NARRATIVES - SLAVES EXECUTED

 

REFERENCES SLAVENARRATIVES

1. “Gwendolyn Midlo Hall”, Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia; Internet at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwendolyn_Midlo_Hall

2. “Gwendolyn Midlo Hall”; ibiblio.org; Internet at: http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/hall/vitajune2007.html

3. Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo; Databases for the Study of Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy (Louisiana State University Press; Baton Rouge, LA; March, 2000). Compact Disk.

4. Hall, Gwendolyn, Midlo; Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820 (ibiblio.org; University of North Carolina; Chapel Hill, NC; November 2001).  Searchable Internet Database: http://www.ibiblio.org/laslave/

5. Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo; Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820 (Ancestry.com; Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Provo, UT; 2003). Searchable Internet Database: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7383

6. Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo; Louisiana Freed Slave Records, 1719-1820 (Ancestry.com; Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Provo, UT; 2003). Searchable Internet Database: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=7382 .

7. Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo; The Louisiana Slave Database and the Database: 1719-1820 (Afrigeneas Library; Atlanta, GA). Internet Site: http://www.afrigeneas.com/library/louisiana/

8. Works Progress Administration; Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves (Works Progress Administration; Washington, D.C.; 1941). Microfilm, 17 volumes.

9. National Digital Library Program (NDLP), Library of Congress: Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938; Searchable Internet Database: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snack.html

10. Tyler, Ronnie C. & Murphy, Lawrence R., editors; The Slave Narratives of Texas (Encino Press; Austin, TX; 1974).

11. Clayton, Ronnie W.; Mother Wit: The Ex-Slave Narratives of the Louisiana Writers’Project (Peter Lang; New York, NY; 1990).

12. Works Progress Administration, et al.; “Slave Narratives” (Ancestry.com; Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Provo, UT; 2003). Searchable Internet Database: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=4342

13. National Archives and Records Administration; New Orleans, Louisiana, Slave Manifests, 1807-1860 (Ancestry.com; Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.; Provo, UT; 2003). Searchable Internet Database: http://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=1562

14. Louisiana Library Network; Louisiana Digital Library (State Library of Louisiana; Baton Rouge, LA; 1992). Searchable Internet Database: http://louisdl.louislibraries.org/

15. ERIT, University Libraries, UNCG; Digital Library on American Slavery (University of North Carolina; Greensboro, NC; 1993). Searchable Internet Site: http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/about.aspx

16. Eltis, David & Halbert, Martin; The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (Emory University; Atlanta, GA; 2008).

17. Nelson, Valencia King (webmaster); AfriGeneas (African Ancestored Genealogy) Library (Afrigeneas Library; Atlanta, GA). Searchable Internet Site: http://www.afrigeneas.com/library/