Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Fall of New Orleans

B. F. and Eliza Pratt Tisdale with William Tisdale, belletisdale.blogspot.com
B. F. Tisdale and Eliza Pratt Tisdale
with son William Pratt Tisdale, 1862

This photo of B. F. Tisdale is a Crayon Portrait, an enlargement which was enhanced by the photographer with conte crayon, chalk, charcoal, or watercolor. This type of portrait was made from the 1860s into the early 1900s. Crayon Portraits were often made from one-of-a-kind photos, such as Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, or Tintypes, so that several family members could have a copy. The photo of Eliza and baby Willie Tisdale in early 1862 may have been a Tintype. (Originals, Helen Tisdale Davis family)

Belle's mother gave birth to William Pratt Tisdale at 6 o'clock A. M. on November 1, 1861. He was named after his Grandfather Pratt. His birth was registered on January 20, 1862 by his father B. F. Tisdale and the printed form filled in: “the Twentieth of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty two and the first of the Independence of the Confederate States of America...” The family was living at 234 Calliope Street in New Orleans. (Orleans Parish Birth Records, Volume 29, page 692)

We do not find the Tisdale family in the 1860 census. We do not know if Eliza and the children stayed in New Orleans during the occupation or fled to the Pratt's Oakland Plantation east of Baton Rouge. No stories of the war came down in our branch of the family. There was only a photo of a young man in uniform and an obituary of a cousin to hint at what was to come.

When Major Mansfield Lovell took charge of Louisiana and Mississippi in October 1861, he found “not a gun to spare.” He started on improving defenses at Fort Jackson and St. Philip. Work on construction of a raft and chain barricade across the river between the forts was pushed forward and completed in December 1861. Two new ironclad ships, the Louisiana and the Mississippi, were under construction. There was a shortage of metal at the foundries trying to manufacture cannons. Worst of all were shortages of guns and powder. Lovell complained, “New Orleans is about defenseless.” (Winters, p. 79)

Before secession New Orleans was one of the world's busiest ports, second only to New York City. When Lincoln ordered the blockade of all Southern ports after the surrender of Fort Sumter in April, shipment of cotton ceased. (Winters, p. 44) Even though some vessels succeeded in running the blockade, the drop in trade severely affected the city. Gold and silver disappeared and Confederate Treasury notes became currency. (Winters, p. 53-54) Charles Dufour writes in his book The Night the War was Lost that small coins were so scarce coffeehouses and merchants issued change in the form of tickets good in trade. George Washington Cable, who was working as a cashier, wrote, “The current joke was that you could pass the label of an olive oil bottle, because it was greasy, smelt bad, and bore an autograph- Plagniol Freres, if I remember rightly.” (Dufour, p. 113)

The Union blockade of the Mississippi River tightened and there were massive shortages. Prices rose higher and higher. Miss Clara Solomon wrote in her diary that by September she had only bread and molasses for supper. (Winters, p. 54) There were shortages of needles, thread, and cloth. The Ladies' Sewing Circles that had been making clothes for the Confederate soldiers were now cutting up tablecloths and petticoats to make bandages. “Even little girls were kept busy trotting around their neighborhoods with subscription lists for various companies, some seeking a flag, ,others equipment, and still others uniforms. (Dufour, p. 36) Several newspapers ceased publication and those that remained cut back to one issue a week because of paper shortages. (Dufour, p. 112) The Tisdale family would have a very simple Christmas that year.

At midnight on December 28 Belle's family was awakened by a huge explosion “which shook buildings all over the city, upsetting furniture and shattering windowpanes.” The powder mill in the old Marine Hospital across the river had blown up. The True Delta reported that “A pillar of flame shot up to the sky for an instant illuminating the whole heavens, and then came the noise and the shock. The Crescent said: “The explosion was tremendous, destroying the building and shaking the earth for miles around...” (Dufour, p. 121) The shortage of gun powder was now critical.

Gov. Moore regretted that he had sent off so many of his Louisiana volunteers. A new militia act was passed on January 23, 1862 ordering all free white males between 18 and 45 years of age capable of bearing arms to enroll in the State Militia. (Winters, p. 72) B. F. Tisdale was 38 years old. His service record says he enlisted as a Private in Company B of the Confederate Guards Regiment, Louisiana Militia, on March 8, 1862. His brother in law, Marion Pratt, joined the same regiment and they were among those “transferred by Gov. Thomas O. Moore to Major General Mansfield Lovell, C. S. A., for local defense of the City of New Orleans.” (Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers Who Served in Organizations from the State of Louisiana, NARA M320, 586957, Record Group 109, Roll 0376, familysearch.org, accessed 9/13/2014)

On the same day that Belle's father enlisted Union troopships arrived at Ship Island off Biloxi. Rumors of invasion spread through the city. The river was at flood stage and a windstorm damaged the raft barricade at the forts below New Orleans. The biggest fear was that the gunboats would succeed in passing the forts and attack the city. The barricade was soon repaired. Martial Law was declared in Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, and Plaquemine Parishes. (Winters, p. 80)

Many soldiers from Louisiana took part in the early battles of the war and spirits were running high with reports of victories, but in April 1862 after the battle at Shiloh, “the reality of war was brought home to the state. For two weeks after the battle, trains arrived in New Orleans carrying dead and wounded from that battlefield....”(Taylor, p. 90)

Lovell's appeal to Gov. Moore for 10,000 militia for defense of New Orleans was answered by only 3,000 men, the rest having been sent to P. G. T. Beauregard. Less than 1,200 were armed with muskets. The rest had shotguns or were unarmed. Some were ordered to Fort Jackson. Most were stationed at Chalmette. There they had a battery of ten 32 pound 28” cannon, half on each side of the river, but only enough ammunition for 20 rounds per gun. (Winters, p. 84) That may be where B. F. Tisdale and Marion Pratt were sent.

On April 18 Flag Officer David Farragut with 17 warships, the largest fleet the U. S. had ever assembled, began bombardment of Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip. Confederate Secretary of the Navy Mallory, ordered most of the ships at New Orleans up river, convinced that the forts were strong enough and that New Orleans would not fall. (Winters, p. 82) (Dufour, p. 216)

“After three days of intense anxiety, New Orleans on Easter Sunday was full of agitated, nervous people ready to believe almost any rumor...” (Dufour p. 241) “When the air was clear and the wind was right,” the rumbling of the mortars bombarding the forts could be heard like distant thunder in New Orleans. After four days and nights of mortar bombardment, the Union ships, under cover of darkness, cut the chains and began passing through the barricade and headed up river for New Orleans.

Early on April 24, word reached the city. The bells of all the churches began ringing. “Fearfully the people counted the methodical strokes of the clappers – one, two, three . . . ten, eleven, twelve. It was the signal of alarm, the signal for all military organizations to hasten to their armories.” (Dufour, p. 289)

Young Zoe Campbell heard the news from her friend Cecile Moise, daughter of the attorney general, that “the Yankees had passed the forts … the Federals were in the river.” Zoe wrote in her diary: “Our hearts stood still, fright overpowering us.” Teacher Mary Newman heard the tolling of the bells in her schoolroom: “I...dropped my books, snatched my bonnet & fairly flew home,” she wrote her sister. “I found everything and everybody in commotion.” Annunciation Square, where the Confederate Guards were encamped, was a scene of confusion... “some were packing up clothes, others tearing down tents, and still others hurrying to and fro, all eager for orders to start for the Jackson Rail Road.” (Dufour, p. 289) Was B. F. Franklin one of those men?

On the levee cotton bales were set on fire. Huge supplies of sugar, molasses, corn, and rice were also thrown on the fires. The True Delta reported: “Someone invited the women and children who thronged the levee to help themselves, which they did with a will. Men joined in the scramble, but they soon became disgusted with a retail operation and began to roll off sugar and molasses by the hogshead and barrel...”

Carts and wagons of military stores crowded the street to the Jackson Railroad station, where “every available car, freight and passenger, was on the tracks. Soldiers swarmed all over the cars - inside, on the vestibules, on top of them...Every moment the milling crowd grew as hacks dashed up and deposited terror-stricken women, children, and servants eager to flee the city.” (Dufour, p. 290-291)

George Washington Cable, clerk in a store whose owners had fled the city, closed up shop and joined the crowd on the Levee. He later wrote that he asked a man “Are the Yankee ships in sight?” The man pointed across the crescent bend of the Mississippi and Cable could see the masts of Farragut's vessels, engaged in silencing the Confederate batteries at Chalmette.

If B. F. Tisdale was one of the men at the Chalmette battery he would have been helping to fire one of the five big cannons. They fired until the ammunition ran out and then made their way through the surrounding swamps back to New Orleans to board the trains to Camp Moore. Cable watched the Federal ships approach. “Ah me! I see them now as they come slowly round Slaughterhouse Point into full view, silent, grim, and terrible; black with men, heavy with deadly portent; the long-banished Stars and Stripes flying against the frowning sky...” The occupation of New Orleans had begun.

Most histories of the Civil War spend few sentences on the bombardment of the forts and the breaking of the barricade. Joe Gray Taylor in Louisiana: A History writes one paragraph. John Winter in The Civil War in Louisiana writes twelve pages. Twelve of the sixteen chapters of Chester G. Heart's The Capture of New Orleans describe the events in meticulous detail. The bombardment and passing of the forts take up more than half of Charles L. Dufour 's 354 page The Night the War was Lost. His book was invaluable in getting an idea of what life must have been like for the Tisdale family in New Orleans.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Civil War Comes to Louisiana

Belle Tisdale, Frank Tisdale, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Cased Tintype
Belle and Frank Tisdale, c1862

A New Baby Brother

In 1860 Belle Tisdale had a new baby brother. Her mother Eliza gave birth to twins on 15 March 1860, but only one infant survived.  Eliza's older sister, Frances Ann Pratt McCaughey, registered the birth of Benjamin Franklin Tisdale, always called Frank, on July 21 in New Orleans, recorded in Volume 26, page 749, Orleans Parish, Louisiana Birth Records. 

Perhaps Belle's Grandma Bernice Pratt and her Aunt France came down from Baton Rouge to help Eliza. Eliza's widowed sister, Frances Pratt McCaughey, was remarried sometime after 1860 to Henri Anthoine of New Orleans. Eliza's older brother, Marion Franklin Pratt, was also living in New Orleans at the time with his new bride, Emily Doyle. 

Belle and Frank Tiisdale c1862, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Tin Type plate
Belle and Frank Tisdale, c1862

Judging from the ages of the children, this cased tintype was probably made in early 1862 when Belle was 7 and Frank was almost 2.  Tintypes were made using the same collodion process as the Ambrotype. (See last week's amended blog post.) It is a silver image on blackened iron. They were made as early as 1856, but peak years were 1860-1863. It never caught on in Europe and was known there as "The American Process." Tintypes were durable, light, cheap, and popular with Civil War soldiers. (Original in possession

of J. S. Sarradet)

I cannot find B. F. and Eliza Tisdale in the 1860 census, but B. F. Tisdale is listed in the 1861 New Orleans City Directory which was printed in December 1860. He is working for John B. Murison & Co., Commission Agents, located on Calliope Street north of Dryades. His brother N. O. J. Tisdale is also listed in the 1861 city directory as
Treasurer of the New Orleans Gas Light Company.  
Belle's cousin Nathan Tisdale is listed as living across 
the river in Algiers.

The 1860 Presidential Election

That summer New Orleans was full of parades and fireworks displays put on by supporters of the three candidates for President, Stephen Douglas, the Democrat; John Breckenridge, the Southern Democrat; and John Bell, the newly formed National Constitutional Union party. The Republican Abraham Lincoln was not on the Louisiana ballot. (Winters, p.5)

We don't know who Belle's father or her grandfather supported, but the winner in Orleans and East Baton Rouge Parishes was John Bell, the co-operationist candidate. He won nine of the more populous parishes, but only 20,204 statewide votes. John Breckinridge, the Southern Rights candidate, won the state with 22,681 votes. Stephen Douglas, the Unionist, was a distant third with 7,625 votes. (Winters, p. 6-7)

When word reached Louisiana that the winner was the Republican Abraham Lincoln, candidate of the most radical and dreaded political faction, talk immediately turned to secession. The only question was how and when to secede. Military companies, often referred to as Minute Men, began to form and the governor called a special session of the legislature in Baton Rouge. (Winters, p. 8-9)

The above information comes from the book The Civil War in Louisiana by John D. Winters. It was originally published in 1963 for the centennial of the war and republished in 1991
by Louisiana State University Press for the war's 150th anniversary. I started reading this book to get an idea of what life was like for Belle and her family during the Civil War, but my interest was soon captured by the author's in-depth research and writing style. This is not just an account of military events but also the political and social effects of the war on the lives of the people in Louisiana. It begins in 1860 with the first talk of secession and ends with surrender and occupation by Federal forces in 1865.

In the forward Professor T. Harry Williams mentions Charles L. Dufour's “vivid description of the fall of New Orleans, The Night the War was Lost...” I remember Charles “Pie” Dufour with fondness. He was my American History teacher when I was attending night classes at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was the first history teacher I had who truly made the past come to life. He was a dynamic speaker with piercing blue eyes and he paced up and down the floor while lecturing. He also wrote a column in the Times-Picayune newspaper. I still have some of them that I clipped out and saved. I ordered his book and it came yesterday. It was originally published in 1960, around the time I took his course at Tulane, and was reprinted in 1988 and 1990 by University of Nebraska Press. All proceeds from this latest volume go to the Confederate Museum of the Louisiana Historical Association.


On 7 January 1861, Belle's male relatives went to the polls again to select delegates for a convention to decide the secession question. There must have been much discussion of the event in the Tisdale and Pratt households because one of the delegates was Gilmore Franklin Connely, Belle's Grandma Pratt's cousin.

Roger Connelly writes in his Connelly Family newsletter, Connelly Connections, Volume 1, Number 2, April-June, 1980, page 3:
“A surveyor, lawyer, and plantation owner, Gilmore played an important role in Louisiana's history. On January 7, 1861, he was elected as a representative from Terrebonne Parish to a State Convention called to consider whether or not Louisiana should secede from the Union. Gilmore was one of 130 delegates elected that day; 83 were Secessionists and 47 were Cooperationists (Gilmore was numbered with that minority). The State Convention convened at Baton Rouge on January 23, 1861, and 3 days later an Ordinance of Secession was adopted. Before the vote on secession was called, the Cooperationists consulted, and when the vote was taken a number of them explained that although they were elected as Cooperationists, they felt that no other course but that of immediate secession could be pursued. The vote on secession was 113 for, 17 against; Gilmore voted with the majority. (When the ordinance was signed a short time later, 8 of the 17 affixed their signatures also.) For the next 2 months, Louisiana was an independent state.”

Governor Moore in Baton Rouge had wasted no time and ordered Louisiana Militia troops to seize the U. S. Arsenal. On January 10 the skeleton crew at the Arsenal surrendered. Also on January 10, Louisiana militia was sent downriver to demand surrender of Forts Jackson and St. Philip. Fort Pike was surrendered a short time later. The U. S. Mint and Customs House in New Orleans was also seized. (Winters, p.10-11)

On January 29, 1861 the convention met in New Orleans to choose six delegates to attend the February 4 meeting in Montgomery, Alabama, to create a confederate government of Southern states. (Winters, p. 14)

Joe Gray Taylor in Louisiana, A History writes, "There was an exceptionally gala Mardi Gras that year; speeches, band music, the recruitment of unarmed men, and drilling by officers whose ignorance of drill was matched only by that of their men went on almost incessantly." (Taylor, p. 89) 

On March 4, 1861 the convention resumed in New Orleans and created a state army headed by Braxton Bragg. On March 21 the Constitution of the Confederacy was ratified by a vote of 101 to 7. Gilmore Connely signed with the majority. 

The first call for troops to serve in the Confederate army came on March 9. Old Metairie Race Course was converted into a military camp. At Camp Moore on the Amite River, thousands of volunteers were in training not far from the home of Bernice and William Pratt. 

Civil War

In New Orleans business was brought to a standstill by news of native son Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard's bombardment and capture of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 14, 1861. The Civil War had officially begun.

Social life in New Orleans consisted of "attending drill, watching parades, visiting camp, seeing the soldiers off, and promoting military benefits..." In May the Washington Artillery departed for Virginia. Businesses closed and ladies thronged the galleries and balconies. Cheering crowds lined the street as brass bands marched by. On the Fourth of July, 10,000 visitors rode out on the Carrollton Railroad for a Grand Review by the soldiers at Camp Lewis. (Winters p. 27)

By July 1861 Louisiana had sent 2,100 troops to Pensacola, 2,300 to Virginia, 1,000 to Arkansas, and 1,950 men for seacoast and harbor defenses. There were 4,000 still at Camp Moore and 5,000 in New Orleans for home protection.  Besides sending most of her troops out of state, Louisiana sent most of the guns and ammunition from the U. S. Arsenal to the CSA leaving the state vulnerable to attack. (Winters, p. 20 and 28)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Belle's Family

October is Family History Month, so let's look at Belle's Family.

Belle Tisdale, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Arabella Maria Tisdale c1859
Belle's parents, B. F. Tisdale and Eliza Helen Pratt, married on 29 July 1851. Their first child, Belle's sister Mary Bernice, was born 15 March 1853. 

That was the year of the worst yellow fever epidemic in Louisiana history. 7,849 people died in New Orleans. Belle's Grandmother and Grandfather Pratt moved out of the city of Baton Rouge to their plantation, Oakland, about 5 miles east. The Baton Rouge Weekly Comet reported on 2 October 1853 that there were 1,600 cases of yellow fever in Baton Rouge. This was at a time when the population of the city was about 4,000. There was another lesser epidemic in 1854, with 2,425 dead in New Orleans alone. (Yellow Fever Deaths in New Orleans, Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library, nutrias.org, and George Augustin's History of Yellow Fever (N.O., 1909)

Arabella Maria “Belle” Tisdale was born on the third of January 1855. That summer and fall there was another yellow fever epidemic with 2,670 dead in New Orleans. In 1855 the State Board of Health was formed. The Picayune called it the Board of Death.

Belle's family was living in New Orleans by 1854. B. F. Tisdale is listed in the 1854 city directory at "S. Customhouse."  In  1855, 1856, and 1857, he is listed as an accountant at 26 Old Levee St. and in 1859 he is with the John B. Murison firm, Commission Agents, and living at 2 Bienville Street. His oldest brother, Joseph Wade Tisdale, had been living in New Orleans since 1842 and brother Nathan O. J. Tisdale had lived there since 1850.

On 8 May 1857 a third daughter, Florence Helen, was born. Little Florrie, not yet 18 months old, died on 3 December 1858 in New Orleans and was buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge. We have no record of her cause of death, but there was another yellow fever epidemic that year, “exceeded only by 1853,” with 4,845 deaths in New Orleans “by mid-November.” (Louisiana State Board of Health, The Formative Years (1855-1884) Gordon E. Gillson, Professor of History, Adams State College of Colorado, 1966. Gillson was a graduate student at LSU and this was his doctoral dissertation.)

Belle's mother and grandmother may have taken her to A. D. Lytle's photography studio in Baton Rouge to have this carte de visite made. She appears to be about 3 or 4 years old and is wearing a crinoline or hoop skirt, typical of the 1850s. The photo must have been made about 1859 soon after A. D. Lytle opened his studio. There is no photographer's imprint on the back which tells us it was an early use of this new system for making images.

Previous Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, and Tintypes were one of a kind images. In all three processes the image was formed directly on a coated plate by exposure in the camera. The carte de visite camera had four lenses and the interior was divided into four compartments. By using a sliding plate holder and exposing first one half and then the other, eight small portraits could be taken on an 8” x 10” glass plate. By uncapping each lens separately, eight separate poses could be taken on one plate. The resulting contact print was cut into eight 2 1/4” x 3 1/2” portraits which were pasted onto 2 1/2” x 4” cards, the common visiting card size. This made photography much cheaper. (A Concise History of Photography, Helmut Gernsheim, Third Revised Edition, Dover Publications, Mineola, N.Y., 1986.)

Marion Franklin Pratt, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Marion Franklin Pratt c1857

Ambrotype plate
Ambrotypes were first made in 1854 and their peak years were 1857 to 1859. The embossed design in this case was patented in 1855. That fact and his hair and beard style date this image to the late 1850s. The Ambrotype, developed by James Ambrose Cutting, is a silver image on a glass plate with a black cloth or cardboard backing. The image appears negative against a white background but positive against a black background. To coat the plate the photographer used collodion, a thick, sticky mixture of guncotton, alcohol, and ether invented in 1847 and used by military physicians as a liquid bandage. One of the drawbacks of the Ambrotype was its fragility. You can see that this glass plate is broken. 

Marion Pratt, Eliza's brother, may have been living in New Orleans when this image was made. The cardboard backing behind the plate has an advertisement for a New Orleans blacksmith.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Benjamin Franklin Tisdale

B. F. Tisdale c1850, belletisdale.blogspot.com

Benjamin Franklin Tisdale (1823 - 1876)

The 1850s
Belle Tisdale's parents, Benjamin Franklin Tisdale and Eliza Helen Pratt, were married on the 29th of July 1851 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Eliza had just turned 14 on March 11. Benjamin was 28 years old. This photo of B. F. Tisdale (as he always signed his name) was probably taken about that time. It appears to be a photographic copy of a Daguerreotype or Ambrotype printed on canvas. Location of the original is unknown.

B. F. had probably known the family for some time as he and Eliza's sister's husband, William McCaughey, were members of the same Masonic Lodge. Benjamin may have met Eliza when he came to the Pratt house for William McCaughey's funeral in March of 1850. B. F. Tisdale had married Maria Pike in 1846 and she died of “fever” in September of 1849. (U. S. Census Mortality Schedule.) It may have been Yellow Fever, which struck Louisiana hard that year and killed 769 people in New Orleans alone. (Yellow Fever Deaths in New Orleans, 1817-1905, Louisiana Division, New Orleans Public Library.) http://nutrias.org/facts/feverdeaths.htm

We find B. F. Tisdale on the 1850 U. S. Census in Baton Rouge which at that time had a population of 3,905. He is age 27, a clerk, living in a boarding house.
It is a fairly up-scale boarding house as some of the other residents listed are a school master, a carriage maker, a dentist, and a physician. He says that he was born in Alabama, but we know that he was born on 19 March 1823 in New Bern, North Carolina, son of Nathan Tisdale, a silversmith, and his second wife, Mary "Polly" Wade. B. F. Tisdale was named for his famous relative Benjamin Franklin. The family was quite proud of being related to Ben Franklin and it took a lot of research to figure out the connection. Our common ancestors were Benjamin Franklin's grandparents, Peter Folger and Mary Morell. Ben Franklin was B. F. Tisdale's first cousin four times removed and my first cousin eight times removed.

An article titled “Some Memories of the Magee Farmhouse” by Belle Tisdale's nephew, Marion E. Tisdale, Jr., says that Nathan Tisdale bought “a small plantation on the Tombigbee River and traveled here by wagon train with his family in 1830." Daughter Mary Tisdale "and her older brother, Joseph Wade Tisdale, probably helped care for their younger siblings, N. O. J., Benjamin Franklin and John on the trip to Alabama.” Nathan Tisdale and his family are listed on the 1830 U. S. Census in New Bern, North Carolina, so they moved to Alabama some time after June 1830. Nathan and Polly Tisdale both died in 1839.

B. F. Tisdale was an accountant for William S. Pike at Pike Brothers and Co. in Baton Rouge for several years after he and Eliza married. The couple may have lived with Eliza's parents for a while.

Belle's cousin, Kate Craig Couturie, wrote to her cousin, Will Itti, in 1904:
In 1853 they [Grandfather and Grandmother Pratt] moved out onto the Plantation five miles east of Baton Rouge on account of the yellow fever which was very bad that year.” [7,849 deaths in New Orleans, the worst yellow fever epidemic in the history of Louisiana]  The family often spent time at Oakland, their Grandparents' plantation in East Baton Rouge Parish, and it was there that most of Belle's letters are written. 

Eliza's first two children, Mary Bernice (1853) and Arabella Mariah “Belle” (1855), were born in Baton Rouge. A third daughter, Florence Helen, was probably born there also as she does not appear in the New Orleans Index to Births. She died in December 1858 at the age of 18 months old and is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge. The next seven children were born in New Orleans from 1860 to 1874. I cannot find B. F. and Eliza Tisdale in the 1860 U. S. Census, but B. F. is listed in the 1861 New Orleans City Directory. He is working for John B. Murison & Co. on Calliope Street. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Connely Family History Document

Bernice Connely, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Bernice Hackley Connely Pratt
taken in Baton Rouge c1860

Connely Family photostat, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Negative photostat of document

Connely Family History Document

The most challenging document I have transcribed is a history of the Connely family, probably written by Belle Tisdale's grandmother, Bernice Hackley Connely. The handwriting is similar to one page of a letter written by Bernice to her daughter Eliza in 1867. There were two sets of copies of the three page document. By the time I got them they were both faded and almost illegible. One set consists of three faded negative photostats on heavy photographic paper and the other set contains three faded Xerox copies made by my mother in the 1960s. Present location of the original is unknown.

We don't know who had the negative photostats made or when, but it was probably before my mother started researching in 1964. The Photostat Corporation began about 1920 and the 1922 issue of Patent and Trade Mark Reviews says that its former name was The Commercial Camera Company. Photostat brand machines were in use as early as 1911. Photostat eventually became the generic name for any kind of copy just as xerox has become the generic name for copies today. The Xerox process was introduced in the 1950s and the Photostat Corporation was absorbed by Itek in 1963. 

The original document appears to have been a little smaller than 8” x 10” and consisted of one full page written on front and back and one page with two short notes. I started trying to transcribe the document in November 1991 and worked on it off and on. When I got a scanner and photo editing software, the job became possible. By reversing the negative to a positive and enlarging words on the computer screen I was able to piece the text together from the two copies.

Enhanced Xerox copy of the document

When I finally got the transcription done in August 1995, I sent a copy to my cousin Janet Sarradet Colletti in Louisiana. She wrote me back and said that she had heard from another Connely family history researcher, Roger Connelly, in Maryland. She gave me his address and I wrote to him. (Notice this was back when we were communicating via snail mail.) I sent him copies of my transcription and told him that we were going to be visiting friends in his area in about a month. Within a week he wrote back:

“The transcription of the 'Connely Letter' was a treasure, thanks for going to all that trouble with multiple copies and for sharing it with me. It seems to be based on the info found in a Connely family Bible (my trans. of that enclosed) but has some dates and counts of children that are of interest to me. I saw this Bible in person (see a few paragraphs in one of the early issues of my newsletter which are enclosed).”

Roger's transcription of the Gilmore Connely Bible information was almost word for word the same as my document, but includes more information on the Gilmore Connely line. There was either a strong oral tradition passed down in the family or both had been copied from an earlier document. Roger also sent me copies of his Connelly Connections newsletter that had much more information on the Bible.

Gilmore Franklin Connely was a great-grandson of the original emigre, Thomas Connely. He married Lucy Leffingwell in Assumption Parish, Louisiana, on February 14, 1843. This was about the same time that William Henry Pratt first came to Louisiana and settled not far away in Baton Rouge. In 1980 the family Bible was in the possession of Gilmore's grandchildren, Ruth and Lavinia Connely, in Houma, Louisiana.

About seeing Gilmore Connely's handwritten information in the Bible, Roger wrote:
“What a thrill it was to read those 3 sentences [the introductory sentences of the document], written by a Connely one and a quarter centuries ago, and providing a wealth of information about our immigrant ancestors of yet another century earlier.”
“...actually seeing the words written by Gilmore Franklin Connely brought tears to my eyes.” 
(Roger R. Connelly, Connelly Connections, A Connelly Family Newsletter, Vol. 1, No. 2, April-June, 1980, pages 1-3)

Roger had been doing genealogical research for much longer than I had, and I was overwhelmed with the amount of information he had gathered. Roger has graciously given me permission to use these quotes. If you would like to see the Gilmore Connely Bible data transcription and learn more about the whole Connely/Connelly family, go to Roger's website at:http://www.rogerconnelly.com/

Roger even told me where to find Arthur Connely's grave in Old Stone Church cemetery in Augusta County, Virginia. But that's a story for another post.

For today here's the transcription of Bernice Connely Pratt's Connely Family History:
The original is written as one long document with no paragraphs. I have transcribed the words exactly as written but formatted it for ease of understanding. I have used brackets whenever I was not sure or when I have inserted information.

[page 1]
           Thomas Connely, his Brother Arthur & Sister Mary, together with their Father & Mother emigrated from Ireland to the State (then colony) of Virginia in the year [blank].
about 1756 or 57 [inserted between lines]
They left behind them a married sister who never had any children.

Thomas Connely married in Virginia a lady named Walker, who bore him 9 children to wit:
Arthur – Thomas – Alexander – Robert – Martha – Mary – Jane – Eliza[beth & Isabella faded but supplied from next generation]

Of the above 9 persons
Arthur married Jane Dale in Augusta County Virginia by whom he had 9 children, (to wit:
Isabella Connely born [27th] Sept 1786 – died Dec 5 1849 leaving one child named Donaldson.
Thomas Connely born 24th Nov 1787 has 6 living children-
Alexander Connely born 17 May 1789 has 16 living children.
Arthur Connely born 19th Dec. 1790 has 7 living children.
Robert Connely born 20th Dec. 1794, has no children.
Margaret Connely born 1st Nov. 1792 – married S. Logan – has 11 children -
Elizabeth Connely, - died in infancy,
Gilmore Connely, born May 5, 1799 has 9 living children -
Maria Connely born 29th Dec. 1800 – married twice died 16 Aug. 1831 leaving no children –

Thomas married & emigrated to Boone County Kentucky where he died leaving 5 children.
Alexander settled & still lives in Covington Ky where he raised 8 children -
Robert settled in Boone County Kentucky (where he died in 1850) he raised 11 children -
Martha married her Cousin Arthur Connely -
Mary Married [her cousin][struck through twice] George
[page 2]
Berry but never had any children – She died in 1848)
Jane married Charles Patterson by whom she had two children a son & a daughter – (The former             was killed in 1837 by a fall from a horse)-
Elizabeth married Samuel Tharp by whom she had seven children who now live mostly in Illinois -
Isabella married Saml Gowdy and settled at Xenia, Ohio where she died in 1838 leaving a large               family –

The Arthur Connely – brother of the first named Thomas married in Virginia & there died, having            raised 9 children to wit:
Thomas – Robert – John – David – Arthur – James – Mary – Jane & Sarah -
Of the last named 9 -
Thomas was killed in the Revolutionary War
Robert was killed by the Indians while on a surveying expedition in Kentucky -
Arthur married his cousin & settled in Kentucky -
James left a family in Scott County, Kentucky -  [Bernice Hackley Connely's father]
John never married he died near Xenia Ohio
David left a family near Xenia Ohio who now are scattered over the west and south -
Mary married Joseph McCauley (left a family -
Jane married David Williamson –
Sarah married John Walker the brother of her uncle Thomas's wife– she lived to a great age & died          in Augusta County Virginia
[page 3]
     note - Alexander Connely of Covington Died [?] May 1851 the last of the old stock

[Faded note near middle of page 3]
I may have mi[ illegible ] wife with Alexander & it may have been the sister of Thomas & Arthur the first emigrants that married John Walker.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Three Mysterious Daguerreotypes

1840s Little Girl, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Who are these beautiful people?

When I first saw the Daguerreotype of this serene little girl, I thought it might be Valerie Catherine Pratt (1839-1846). The wood case and simple mat are consistent with a date in the 1840s. But one of the memorial essays written by her classmate says that Valerie had dark flaxen hair. This little girl appears to have dark brown hair.The off-the-shoulder dress was typical for little girls all through the 1840s and 1850s. This cased image was with Eliza Pratt's family photos so it could be Eliza herself, born in 1837, or one of her sisters Susan May, born in 1842, or Albina Sarah, born in 1845.

The flairing sleeves and white undersleeves date this dress to about 1850. The collar and hair-do are also early 1850s. The lady is also wearing a chain with a slide that holds a gold pencil, typical of that time period. Eliza Pratt was born in 1837 and married Benjamin Franklin Tisdale in 1851, a little more than four months after her 14th birthday. This Daguerreotype could have been taken around that time. Is this Great Great Grandmother Eliza Pratt Tisdale? Or could it be B. F. Tisdale's first wife, Maria Pike, who died in 1849.

1840s Man no ID, belletisdale.blogspot.com

Is this dashing young man Benjamin Franklin Tisdale (1823-1876)?The case and mat appear to be from the 1840s. His collar and tie also can be dated to the 1840s. There are three other known photos of B. F. Tisdale when he was older. (We will see them later.) I think the hairline and face shape in this Daguerreotype are consistent with the later photos. Another possibility is that it may be Frances Ann Pratt's husband, Wiliam McCaughey, who died in 1850.  Are there any Tisdale or Pratt cousins out there who recognize this man or have a similar image?    

Daguerreotypes were made from 1839 to 1865, but the peak years for this type of image was from 1852 to 1858. The process is a positive image on silver-coated copper plate, mirror-like and not magnetic. The most common size is 1/9 plate, 2" x 2 1/2" like the three above.

Dating old photographs is both science and art. I have done presentations describing the process for several genealogical societies and I have posted my handout as a separate page on this blog. I'll be referring back to it as we look at more of Belle's photos.                                                                        

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Masonic Documents

Letter from Hendreson to Fuertes 1845, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Letter from Stephen Hendreson to A. R. Fuertes, June 25, 1845

Among Belle's letters were several documents that pertain to the St. James Lodge #47, Free and Accepted Masons, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Belle's father, Benjamin Franklin Tisdale, was a member of the lodge and served as Secretary in 1848 and Worshipful Master in 1850. The lodge is still active.<http://www.stjameslodge47.org/officers.htm>

According to Le Raconteur, the journal of Le Comité des Archives de la Louisiane, Inc., St. James lodge was formed in 1844 after two former lodges in Baton Rouge had ceased to exist. (Le Raconteur, Volume XXXIII, No. 3, September 2013, page 193.)

Letter dated June 25, 1845 from Stephen Hendreson to A. R. Fuertes

The first letter is a thank you to A. R. Fuertes of the Sacred Music Society of Baton Rouge signed by Stephen Hendreson. Original. 7 1/2" x 12 1/4" sheet of paper folded to 3" x 5 1/2" and addressed on the center back to A. R. Fuertes Esq. Manuscript ink. Original in possession of V. B. Zimmerman. Transcribed exactly as written.

Baton Rouge June 25th 1845

A. R. Fuertes Esq
Leader of Baton Rouge
Sacred Music Society

                                    I have been deputed by the Members of the Masonic Fraternity, composing the St. James Lodge, in this Town, to tender to yourself and the Sacred Music Society, their sincere and grateful thanks, for the voluntary and efficient aid rendered by the choir, in assisting the Members of the Lodge to celebrate the anniversary of their patron, St. John the Evangelist.
                                  I seize for myself this opportunity, to express to you, my admiration of the untiring industry, that actuates yourself and Lady, in your efforts to improve the Sacred Music Society, which has become the ornament and pride of the Town of Baton-Rouge.
                                                                              I am
                                                                                Very respectfully
                                                                                  Your obtS”
                                                                                 Stephen Hendreson

[Center Back]

     A. R. Fuertes Esq: .
Leader of the Sacred Music Society


I could not find A. R. Fuertes in Louisiana census records. Stephen Henderson (spelled Henderson instead of Hendreson as in the signature) is on the 1840 and 1850 censuses in the 8th Ward of East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. 

In 1850 Stephen Henderson is on line 21, family 811. Stephen is listed as age 51, born in Scotland. His wife is Mary Henderson, age 39, born in Germany. Their children, all born in Louisiana, are Stephen, age 20; Zelia, age 18; Robert, age 14; Mary, age 12; and Caroline, age 8. Also living with the family are Alexander Boreland, Accountant, age 24, born in Louisiana; William W. Rogers, Druggist, age 24, born in England; and Ann Randolph, Mulatto, age 55, born in Louisiana. He is also listed on the 1850 Slave Schedule with 55 slaves. (United States Census, 1850, index and images, FamilySearch.org, NARA mf M432.)

McCaughey Masonic Documents

The next four documents are related to William H. McCaughey, husband of Frances Ann Augusta Pratt.  She was Belle Tisdale's aunt and Eliza Pratt's sister. William was born in Ohio about 1820 and was initiated as a master Mason in 1842.

Wm. H. McCaughey 1842, belletisdale.blogspot.com
Wm. H. McCaughey Masonic initiation 1842

Photocopy of 1842 Masonic certificate of initiation for William H. McCaughey. Location of original unknown. Transcribed exactly as written.

Wheeling, Oct 13th 1842

This is to certify that the bearer hereof our trusty and beloved brother Wm H McCaughey has been regularily innitiated passed and voiced to the sublime degree of a master Mason and is now a member of Ohio Lodge No. 101

Witness the seal of Said Lodge this 13th

day of October AL 5842 A.D. 1842.

[Signed] James W. Clemens

[Seal]                                    [Signed] Geo. W. Sights Secty
[Signed] Wm H. McCaughey

William McCaughey came to Louisiana sometime before 3 December 1846 when he married Frances Pratt. He was admitted to Baton Rouge Lodge #47 of the Masons on 
4 November 1848.
Wm. H. McCaughey Masonic document 1848, belletisdale.blogspot.com

Original Masonic document granting Demit to William H. McCaughey, dated 4 Nov 1848, signed by B. F. Tisdale. 8” x 16" grey paper folded in half, then folded to 3" x 5" with address center back, manuscript ink. Original in possession of V. B. Zimmerman.
Transcribed exactly as written.

St. James Lodge No. 47
Baton Rouge Nov 4th 1848

To All Free and Accepted
Masons throughout the World
                                                          Our Worthy Brother
William H. McCaughey, having made a written application to this L. for a Demit, and his dues to the Same being all paid, the Said Demit was Granted him unanimously in Open Lodge the day and date above Written.

In testimony whereof I have            
placed my Official Signature          
and affixed the Seal of the             
L .. to this instrument of Demitment
[Seal of St. James Lodge]
[Signed] B. F. Tisdale
Secretary St. James
L.-. No. 47.

Center Back:
W. H. McCaughey Esq

On 26 March 1850 William McCaughey died of consumption. The family had funeral notices printed as was the custom at the time. Photocopy, 5" x 7 1/2". Original location unknown.

McCaughey Funeral Announcement, belletisdale.blogspot.com
William McCaughey Funeral Notice 1850

The final McCaughey Masonic document is a letter of condolence to his widow with the resolutions passed at the March 27, 1850 sitting of St. James Lodge.  10" x 16" grey paper with watermark, folded in half with the letter on the first page and resolutions on the third page. Manuscript ink, faded and difficult to read. Original in possession of V. B. Zimmerman. Transcribed as written with brackets to indicate illegible writing.

Baton Rouge March 28/50
Mrs Wm H. Mc Caughey
                  Baton Rouge

                                At the request of St. James Lodge No 47 - I have the honor to hand you herewith, the Resolutions passed by [him? or tm for them?] at the sitting of the 27th Inst, In token of respect for the memory of our departed Brother:
I remain with much respect
Your obedient Servant,
[signed] Eugene Lanoue
St. James L: M 47


           Whereas it has pleased Almighty God, in the dispensation of his all wise providence to take from us by Death, our Worthy & beloved Brother Wm H. Mc Caughey in the       year of his life.
           Therefore be it Resolved:
That in the death of Bro: William H. McCaughey, we have lost a worthy Brother and this community a good citizen.
           Resolved that whilst we bow to the decree of Divine Providence, yet we Sincerely deplore the loss of Bro. Wm H. Mc Caughey & deeply sympathize with his family in their bereavement & tender them our heartfelt condolence for their loss.
           Resolved that in token of respect for the memory of the Deceased, this Lodge & its furniture be clothed in Mourning for the space of 30 days.
           Resolved that a copy of these resolutions be furnished to the Widow of the deceased and published in the papers of this City.
[signed] Eugene Lanoue
of St. James L: No 47
St. James Lodge No. 47
Baton Rouge March 27, 1850

"William McCoy" is listed in the 1850 U. S. Census Mortality Schedule and in the population schedule his widow Frances and one year old daughter Bernice are listed as living with her parents, William and Bernice Pratt. Their surname is given as "McCoy." Until I saw that census it never occurred to me that McCaughey could be pronounced as McCoy. The family always pronounced it McCoffee.