Thursday, February 25, 2016

A present from Uncle Jenie

Among Belle's letters was a small wooden box just three inches long. 
In the box were several rusty pen nibs and a part of a silver horse charm.

Inside the lid  Belle had written "A Present from my Dear Uncle Jenie."

Joel Eugene Pratt
Joel Eugene Pratt c1870

Uncle Jenie was Joel Eugene Pratt, Belle's mother's youngest brother. His name is also written as Eugene, Gene and Jene in different documents. The family always pronounced it Gee NAY in the typical accent of Louisiana. He was born March 2, 1847 in Baton Rouge and was just eight years older than Belle. There is a photo of him at about age 18 in my May 12, 2015 blog post “Pratts and Tisdales in the Civil War.” He served as a private in Company I, Ogden's Louisiana Cavalry, from May 1864 until May 1865.

Uncle Jenie may have given this box to Belle for Christmas or for her birthday on January 3. We can only guess at what year, possibly the late 1860s when she was living with her grandparents, Bernice and William Pratt, most of the time.

In the 1870 census Joel Eugene Pratt, age 23, is listed as a cadet at Louisiana State University. On the day after Christmas in 1872 Uncle Jenie married Adeline Theresa “Addie” Taylor (1853-1924). They had eight children that we know of: Joel Marshall, Mary, William Buffington, Eugene Taylor, James A., Warren Fernanda, Ava Eunice, and Mabyn Theresa.  There were evidently two others that died young as in 1900 Addie tells the census taker that she is the mother of ten children, seven of whom are living.

In the 1880 census Uncle Jenie, Aunt Addie and their three oldest children are living on Greenwell Springs Road next door to William and Bernice Pratt, Eliza Tisdale and her five youngest children, and cousin Kate Craig.

In her 1904 letter to Cousin Will Itti, Cousin Kate Craig Coutourié writes:

Uncle Eugene could not leave the old home place, and so bought a little corner of it, and put up a little home and still lives there.

Addie died August 10, 1924 at age 70 and Eugene died August 2, 1932 at age 85. They are buried in the Magnolia Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.