About Gary Lavergne












Every human life is an historical achievement; few people realize that; it was not until this project was underway in early 1977 that I discovered this truth. This work is about generations of individual historical achievements.

Sometimes the genesis of a project is forgotten over time, but that is not the case here. A singular joy of my life was my relationship with my father, Nolan Dale Lavergne. We often sat together on the front steps of his house on the Lawtell Highway in Church Point, Louisiana. Those steps served as our porch. I remember being with him as he talked, smoked cigarettes and drank beer. It was a most unlikely place to impart homespun wisdom. I remember toiling with him at his gas station and accompanying him as he delivered butane to the remotest of areas in central and south Louisiana. He spoke of the hardships of his childhood and the ease of mine (a parental tradition I've continued faithfully with my own children!). He also spoke of his father, a man whom I did not know. And yet, Nolan Lavergne did not know much about his own family history. I do not believe he even knew the names of his own grandparents before I began this project. It seemed to me that there was a missing piece of his own self; there was something tragic about someone who had to be told the names of his grandparents just before his own death.

And so began my journey from the simple objective of finding out who my great grandfather Lavergne was to this quite substantial genealogy. What is so frustrating about this work is that I know, in my heart, that even after a 14 year odyssey of searching and researching there is so much more to know. Surely, there is a way to discover why Louis Lavergne of France braved the Atlantic to help build Quebec in New France (Canada). There must be a way to find out where he lived as a Frenchman, and who his parents were and what they did. If there is a way I was unable to uncover it.

I found myself living the lives of many of my ancestors. How was it possible to raise 15 or more children, or to lose three or four children in infancy only to start again to raise a large family, or to arrive in a strange land from Acadia (Nova Scotia), St. Malo, Dunkirk? What kind of life did Marie Anne Simon lead? What must she have been feeling when, in 1675, at the tender age of 14 , she married a 28 year old Louis Lavergne, a man literally twice her age? What was it like for her to bid farewell forever to at least one of her six children as they left Quebec for Louisiana in the 1720s? She died and was buried in Quebec in 1743, shortly before her 83rd birthday.

Many of the lives briefly chronicled here were lives of quiet desperation and failure, some were lives of excitement and success, befitting accomplished pioneers. Pierre Tomelin was a carpenter from Dunkerque, France, who weatherboarded the original St. Louis Cathedral on St. Ann Street in New Orleans---and later got sued for it! Firmin Breaux built a bridge across Bayou Teche--the site is now the city of Breaux Bridge--the "Crawfish Capital of the World!" Jean Baptiste David was Sheriff of "Imperial St. Landry Parish, the Mother of Parishes," when he died in 1855. Robert Viez de la Mothe of Quebec, New France, was a "premier sergent d'une campagnie du regiment des gardes," and yes, Nolan Lavergne was elected without opposition the Chief of Police of Church Point as was his grandfather-in-law Louis Richard.

The vast majority of those listed in this volume, however, were simple country farmers. They lived, married, parented, and finally died. While their lives were simple and seemingly uneventful, had any one of the persons in bold print in this book died as a child, I would not be writing these words. Had Louis Lavergne died en route to New France, or been captured by dreaded English or Spanish Pirates, or been visited by unwelcomed Indians, many thousands of French- Canadians and Americans would not be alive today---they would never have been born.

The beauty of personal history is that every living person has a family tree, and many different people share various branches of the same tree. The reader will almost assuredly identify with some part of this work. As an historian by training, I found it my duty to make sure I knew all there was to know about my family so that my children would never suffer the tragedy of not knowing the names of their grandparents.

We each have 64 great-great-great-great grandparents, and 1024 great times 8 grandparents. Each of these lives has a story waiting to be told; each contributed to the fact that we are here. That is why every human life is an historical achievement.

Gary M. Lavergne
Cedar Park, Texas
26 January 1991

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