While sitting on the front steps of a very modest home in the small Cajun community of Church Point in Louisiana, Nolan Lavergne talked to his son about the happiness and hardships of growing up on a tenant farm in rural St. Landry Parish. His son was a rookie high school American History teacher who asked a seemingly simple question: "Who was your grandfather?" The father did not know.
"Well, Daddy, I'm going to find out for you," said the son.
Thus began a fourteen-year-long project culminating in Lives of Quiet Desperation, a look at the ancestry of Gary M. Lavergne, a Louisianian of French descent. In addition to a substantial genealogy with over 1,200 names, Lavergne includes a series of concise essays placing generations in historical context. Special treatment is given to the forces that helped to determine the migrations of various groups of French-speaking people, and the pioneers who helped to build new worlds in Canada and French Louisiana. Particular emphasis is placed upon defining and describing the differences between Cajuns, Creoles, and other Louisiana French cultures.
The vast majority of the ancestors were simple, poor, tenant farmers with large cohesive families. the uncommon were pioneers of note. they all faced considerable odds and led lives of quiet desperation.
Jean Clairville Lavergne and Aline Olivier
The little girl standing in front of the elderly woman is reportedly Aline Olivier Lavergne. She was born on May 26, 1891 and married Jean Clairville Lavergne on September 18, 1909.
Jean Clairville Lavergne, circa 1910, about the time of his marriage to Aline Olivier.
Left -- Jean Clairville Lavergne at his home in Lawtell, Louisiana. Circa 1950. he died in Opelousas, Louisiana on September 17, 1958. Right -- Jean Clairville Lavergne sitting with Aline Olivier on the porch of their home in Opelousas. Aline Olivier died on November 3, 1977.