Friday, June 26, 2015

Cousin Kate McCaughey

On February 25 1867 Belle's cousin Kate McCaughey married T. H. Durr in New Orleans.
Durr - McCaughey 1867 Marriage,
Durr - McCaughey 1867 Marriage Certificate
Kate McCaughey 1867,
Catherine Bernice McCaughey 1849-1917

When I sat down with my Grandpa Booksh to identify photos he said that he thought this Carte de Visite photo was of Kate McCaughey, his mother's cousin. Judging from her age it would have been taken near the time that she married.

Cousin Kate, Catherine Bernice McCaughey, was born 27 August 1849 to Frances Ann Augusta Pratt. Aunt France was the oldest sister of Belle's mother, Eliza Helen Pratt. On March 26, 1850 when Kate was just seven months old her father, William H. McCaughey, died. Kate's older brother, Emilius Valerius McCaughey, died some time before 1850. Aunt France and Kate went to live with Grandma and Grandpa Pratt.

"William McCoy" is listed in the 1850 U. S. Census Mortality Schedule and his widow Frances and one year old daughter Bernice are listed in the population schedule 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.

Several Masonic documents related to William McCaughey were posted to this blog on 9 September 2014.

Kate's marriage certificate identifies the witnesses as her step father, Henry Anthoine; her Uncle Jene, Eugene J. Pratt; and her Aunt Eliza, E. H. Tisdale. It includes their signatures and is signed by the minister Gaylord Lewis More.

Just one month later Belle and Kate's Aunt Bina, Albina Sarah Pratt, married George W. Durr. We can assume the two men were related, although I can find very little information on George and no information on T. H.

On 1 August 1870 George and Albina Durr and their two children are listed as living in dwelling 328 in Ward 3, Baton Rouge, East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana. Eliza Tisdale and her six children are in dwelling 327 and Grandma and Grandpa Pratt and Uncle Jene are in dwelling 326. Emmett Craig, widower of Susan Pratt, with their two daughters, Katie and Mary, are in dwelling 329. So Oakland Place had become quite a family compound.

Kate McCaughey is listed twice in the 1870 census. On 6 June 1870 she is living in New Orleans with her mother, Frances, and stepfather, Henry Anthoine, and is listed as Kate McCoy. On the 29 July 1870 she is listed with her mother and a domestic servant named Martha Washington in Ward 3, Baton Rouge, at dwelling 236. In the1880 census Kate is recorded as living at 249 Treme Street in New Orleans with Henry and Frances Anthoine. Her Aunt Bina and George Durr and their children had moved to Texas by then and are listed in Precinct 2, Wood County, Texas.

We don't know what became of Kate's husband, T. H. Durr, or why her marriage certificate ended up in Belle Tisdale's papers. Kate is listed as a widow in later censuses, but we can find no death record for T. H. Durr. Kate Bernice McCaughey Durr died in September 1917 in New Orleans and was buried in plot 718, Greenwood Cemetery on 19 September 1917 according to cemetery records.

New Orleans in 1867

Although the Civil War was over the political situation in New Orleans in 1867 was still in turmoil. The U. S. Congress passed a Reconstruction Bill early in 1867 to provide for more federal control in the South. Military districts were created to govern until violence could be suppressed and a more democratic political system established. Louisiana was put into the Fifth Military District. Ex-Confederates, mostly white Democrats, were temporarily disenfranchised, and the right of suffrage was to be enforced for free people of color. (Wikipedia and Alcee Fortier, A History of Louisiana, Volume 4)

Our city is in a state of utter hopelessness,” Mayor Edward Heath declared in 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War. The city council had to contend with ruined wharves, hospital shortages, and hungry orphans as well as economic stagnation. In his book New Orleans 1867: The Photographs of Theodore Lillienthal, Gary Van Zante tells the story of an amazing plan for the city to take part in the Paris World Exposition, hosted by Napoleon III in 1867. The city council selected Prussian-born photographer, Theodore Lillienthal, to make 150 large photographs of the city to show New Orleans as a modern metropolis worthy of foreign investment. The photos were sent to Emperor Napoleon III for the Exposition to reassure France and other European countries that the city had not been destroyed and remained a good place to do business.

All but 24 of the 150 photographs survived and were discovered in the Napoleon Museum in Arenenberg, Switzerland, in 1994. They were exhibited at Tulane University and the New Orleans Museum of Art in 2000 and published in book form in 2008 with expert commentary by Gary Van Zante, curator of the Southeastern Architectural Archive at Tulane University, 1994-2002. For more information see The Way We Were and How an early photographer captured a shaken city.

To add to the city's woes, there was another yellow fever epidemic in 1867. It started in New Orleans and spread to Baton Rouge. An article by Judy Riffel titled “Yellow Fever in West Baton Rouge in 1867” in Le Raconteur, the journal of the Louisiana State Archives, says:
Yellow Fever was dormant in Louisiana throughout the Civil War years. In fact, the last major epidemic had been in 1855. That eight-year grace period, however, ended in June of 1867 when the disease reappeared in New Orleans. It reached epidemic proportions in August. Deaths diminished by October with the advent of cooler weather and the epidemic ended in November.”
(John Duffy, ed., The Rudolph Matas History of Medicine in Louisiana, Volume II, Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1962, pp. 423-425)

The 1867 epidemic was second only to the outbreak of 1853. There were 50 deaths a day in September 1867. (Van Zante, New Orleans 1867)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

March 14, 1867 Letter from Belle to Papa and Mama

Belle Tisdale c.1865,
Belle Tisdale c 1865
Belle turned twelve years old on January third, 1867. This carte des visite photo of her was made at A. D. Lytle's studio in Baton Rouge during the time she was living at her Grandma and Grandpa Pratt's Oakland Place Plantation. The original is in a carte des visite album in the possession of J. S. Sarradet.

The original letter is on 15 1/2” x 9 3/4” faintly lined paper, folded in half, with manuscript ink writing. Condition is good except for a torn corner on page 3-4. It is transcribed exactly as written. The original letter is in the possession of Vera Booksh Zimmerman.

Page 1
Oakland Place,                         
  March the 14th 1867
My Dear Papa,
Belle Tisdale back, by A. D. Lytle,          I was in A great hury when I wrote that last letter to you; because Grand Pa was in A hury to get to town. Ask Mama if she will come up here and come along with her. Bob, Aunt Bina's cat is A little, wilde because every time that Uncle Jena  sees Bob he commences to dance and that scares  Bob half to death. how are you all wee are all  well.   It  was freezeing cold last; night and it sleeted  last night, and then again this morning about A quarter of an  hour  after breakfast it turned warmer, A little, and then it  turned colder, than ever; and now iceicles About three or  four inches long are hanging on the houses.

Goodbye God bless you; your            
Affectionate daughter, Bella Tisdale.
     Page 2
I have not much to tell you but I thought as that last letter was so short I might as well write some more. As soon as it gets A little warmer I think; that is if the Amit is not to high we wil go and spend the day at the Amit; and if we go  I want you to come up and go with us. How is that blessed little Robert; I do wish you all had some sence, you would come up and go with us. Next Sunday Grace Mary Kate and I are all a comeing going up the road and stay until I see you all A comeing,
   Bella Tisdale

Oakland place March the 16, 1867
     My Dear Mama,
                 I have something splendid to tell you; Grand Pa is a getting up the timber to make A gin and he is a going to buy an engine to work his mill with. We say our lessons every

Page 3

day, and I work two hours every day on my slipper; and I will have it finished before next week is out; and just as soon as that one is finished I will commence the other one. Mary's ball of worsted has given out. Aunt Lizz says that there is no news yet; and Aunt Lizz sends howdy to you all.We have not had more than two or three days good weather since I have been here. Uncle Jena has gone to spend the day at Mrs. David's. Mary and Grace made A cake this morning; and what kind of egg's do you think she made them out of; I will tell you the whole truth; 
there was A goose a wa [torn]
when it [torn]
of water [torn]
that She c [torn]
that was [torn]
the goose [torn]
two or thre [torn]
he hopes th [torn]
your buisne [torn]

Page 4
Good bye God bless you      
 Your Affectionate daughter;
Bella Tisdale.

In her letter, Belle refers to Uncle Jena. This is her mother's youngest brother Joel Eugene Pratt. The family called him Jena, pronounced in the distinctive Louisiana style as Gee NAY. I can just see him doing a little jig and scaring the poor cat. I believe that Aunt Bina is Albina Pratt Durr, Grandma Pratt's sister. Aunt Lizz may be Uncle James Pratt's second wife, Mary Elizabeth Coyle. 

The Amit that Belle mentions is the Amite River just a few miles east of Oakland and a favorite fishing spot. Belle asks about her baby brother, Robert Rafael Tisdale, who was born in  New Orleans on October 24, 1866. Evidently Belle is either knitting or crocheting herself a pair of slippers. This is the only letter I know of that Belle signs Bella.