Monday, August 18, 2014

Who was Belle Tisdale?

Belle and Mary Tisdale
Belle and Mary Tisdale c1860

Arabella Maria Tisdale was my great grandmother. She was born on the third of January 1855 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her parents were Benjamin Franklin Tisdale and Eliza Helen Pratt. In one of the letters in Belle's collection, her father writes that she was named Arabella for a pet name he had given to her mother and Maria for his sister. She signs her name Belle in all her letters.

The carte de visite photograph is of Belle and her sister Mary Bernice. It was taken at the studio of B. Moses in New Orleans. Judging from their ages it must have been about 1860. (It's interesting that, when I was a freshman in college, I had my photo taken by Moses Photography.) Belle and Mary and two of their brothers spent a lot of time in Baton Rouge with their grandparents, William Henry and Bernice Connely Pratt. They wrote frequent letters home to their parents in New Orleans full of descriptions of their everyday life.

Belle married Samuel Walker Booksh on 23 April 1878 and they had four children. They lived in Iberville Parish in Grosse Tete and moved to New Orleans in 1893. Great Grandpa Sam died on 3 November 1930 and Belle died on 30 March 1934 in New Orleans, Louisiana. They were buried in the Girod Street cemetery in New Orleans, which is now under the Superdome.

Even though she died before I was born, I feel like I know her because I have spent so much time looking at all the photos and reading all the papers and letters she left behind. Fortunately I discovered them while my grandfather, Wilton Tisdale Booksh Sr., and his sister, Vera Booksh Ventress, were still alive and could tell me who most of the people were. It was also fortunate that I copied as many as I did before Hurricane Katrina came through the area and put a magnolia tree through my aunt's roof.

I have spent the last two years transcribing Great Grandma Belle's papers and doing research with plans to do a book. Recently I have been introduced to blogs and it seems to me that this is the perfect way to share her collection with all the cousins that I know as well as all the cousins I don't know. Maybe they can contribute other letters and information.

There are 34 original documents and 41 photocopies plus uncounted photographs and newspaper clippings. The dates range from 1842 to 1929. It's my plan to post one document every two weeks, generally in chronological order, along with information about the people mentioned and associated photos. I also plan to research what was going on in New Orleans and Baton Rouge and post that along with links to sources. Eventually I plan to post family group sheets and pedigree charts. I'm just learning this new blogging thing so be patient with me.