Genealogy interest, resources abound in south Louisiana

By Joel Levy
Baton Rouge, Louisianna (AP) 9-07
From research tools to novels, the “Genealogy: Histories and Mysteries” seminar at the East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Regional Branch Library this month covered lots of territory.

Baton Rouge resident Charlotte Hudson Ewing, a retired business owner and first-time novelist, described how she felt compelled to write a book by the mysterious threads she uncovered while investigating the life of her great-great-grandfather’s family in the early 1800s. The result was her novel “Red Land.”

“Although this is my first novel with sections fictionalized and embellished, the historical and genealogical data are factual,” Ewing said. “(My main character’s) strength to merely survive amid hardships and heartaches, has always amazed me.”

Combined with the unveiling of secrets of the Hudson and Tyree families in the Gulf South region are family charts and census and land records.

Ewing will speak again at the Sept. 9 West Baton Rouge Genealogical Society meeting.

Introducing the speakers was Cassie Fedrick, genealogy librarian at the Bluebonnet Branch, where the parish library system centralizes its genealogy resources.

Besides briefly running down the materials the department offers – which include access to two huge Web databases which operate by paid subscription only – she shared the bittersweet story of finding one of her own ancestors and coming to closure with events which have shaped her life. She also said that the library offers free genealogy classes for beginners throughout the year.

Besides Croom and Ewing, speakers at the seminar included Bill Stafford, assistant director of the Louisiana State Archives, who spoke about family research resources at the archives, and Janet Coleson, assistant director of the Creole Heritage Center.

Coleson said the Creole Heritage Center at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches is dedicated to the support and celebration of this much-misunderstood group of people. Creoles, she said, are people of mixed French, African, Spanish, and Native American ancestry, most of whom live in Louisiana or have familial ties to the state.

The center’s Genealogy Department aims at eventually serving as a central clearinghouse for all Creole genealogy information. To this end, the center is seeking submission of Creole family histories.

Stafford said the Louisiana State Archives celebrated its 20th year in the “new” building on Aug. 24. The building was officially dedicated in 1987. The Archives is the official repository of more than 30,000 cubic feet of archival records, including assessment records, colonial documents, passenger manifests, Confederate pension information and papers from the State Land Office.

Also available in the library are census indexes, immigration schedules, church records and family histories. A computerized database provides more than 2 million names, census information, pedigree charts, international ancestral data, marriage information, a nationwide telephone index and information based on Social Security filings.

On the Net:
Emily Croom,
Charlotte Hudson Ewing,
The Louisiana State Archives,
The Creole Heritage Center,
The East Baton Rouge Parish Bluebonnet Branch Library,