Aerial view of Abbeville, La.

Special thanks to the Louisiana GenWeb project and especially the Vermilion parish website for the wealth of information I was able to find in just a short amount of time.

As I was ruminating on possible topics for this morning’s TT, I was reminded of a bit of genealogy research I did about six years ago. Although my mother staunchly refuses any Cajun roots and proudly calls herself a Texas girl, I know better. Her family, the Harringtons, were among the first English speaking settlers along Bayou Teche. From the 1850s on, the Harringtons (patriarch William) have repopulated Vermilion Parish in south Louisiana.

The point of this brief history? Well, nowhere else will you find more colorful-sounding names than south Louisiana in the 19th century. Here are just a few:

  1. Let’s begin with Arelise. When Arelise was 40 years old, she was mother to 10 children. That’s right. I said 10. No, she didn’t even start her world population mission until she was 20. At this point, she and her husband Joseph had a child every two years. I will never catch up.
  2. Aristide–he was a son of Arelise and Joseph. He did his part to multiply the population of Vermilion parish as well.
  3. Alzina–youngest daughter of Arelise and Joseph.
  4. The 1860 and 1870 censuses (censi) are a wealth of pleasurable names, beginning with Zerilda (spelled Serelda in a different census).
  5. Eugenie, Orisca, Selenie and Eulalie–what musical sounding sisters!
  6. Eloi–now there’s a name that usually stays in the Bible (remember the last words of Jesus on the cross? Eloi is Aramaic for God). I came across more than one Eloi while researching…
  7. Octave and Gustave
  8. Odile–now that is a Cajun name that I know I have heard in my own lifetime!
  9. Zelia, Ezilda and Melina
  10. Nastasie, Celeaus and Belzire
  11. The 1900 census provides us with more great names, beginning with Rosella and Clerfe
  12. Zeoline, Enercide and Cleophas
  13. Followed by two of my very favorites: Telesmar and…Jessie James!

1850 Vermilion Parish Census

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