My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Friday, August 5, 2011

FRIDAY'S FORGOTTEN - Elodie deGruy Gagnet Mendoza (1828-1914)

Julia Elodie deGruy Gagnet Mendoza
(wearing cameo of her mother)

Julia Elodie deGruy was born January 22, 1828 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was baptized at the St. Louis Cathedral on March 5th. She is my 3rd great-grand aunt. She was one of seven children born to Jean Baptiste Valentin deFouchard deGruy (1751-1838) and Melanie Gaudin (1786-1853), both from New Orleans - my 4th great grandparents. Elodie, as she was called, was the younger sister of my 3rd great-grandmother Augustine Melanie Laperle deGruy Fortier (1822-1872).

Some time in the mid-1840's Elodie married Alphonse Gagnet. Alphonse was born in Alabama in 1822. Their only child, daughter Alphonsine Gagnet was born September 1844. Tragedy struck early in their marriage when Alphonse, only 24, drowned on November 11, 1846. His obituary in the New Orleans Bee newspaper on November 16, 1846, page 1, tells the story (translated):
"Alphonse Gagnet a young man of twenty-four years, has succumbed to one of these bad times which sometimes strikes us like lightning. Last Wednesday at Mr. Hewitt's house, he drowned in the river, by one of those inexplicable accidents. He leaves an inconsolable widow, which he was the sole support, a grieving mother that he was always the charm and glory, and many friends who know the magnitude of the loss to experience what they feel, and mingle their tears to all her were fortunate enough to know him. Good father, good husband, good son. May his soul rest in peace in the Lord, whom he liked to remind him. A FRIEND"

By 1850 "Widow Gagnet" was living with her widowed mother-in-law, daughter Alphonsine, 5, and F. Mendoza, a 29-year-old male clerk from Florida. On March 10, 1855, Elodie, age 28, was married by the Justice of the Peace to Ferdinand "Frank" Mendoza in New Orleans. By 1860 Elodie, Frank and Alphonsine had moved to Mobile, Alabama. In 1863 Frank enlisted, at the age of 42, with the Mobile Volunteers, a local militia assigned to protect the city during the Civil War. What happened to him after this time is unknown. By 1880, Elodie was once again widowed. But she's wasn't alone.

My 3rd-great-grandparents Jacques Omer and Laperle Fortier, Elodie's brother-in-law and sister, both died relatively young - Jacques in 1867 at age 54 and Laperle in 1872 at age 50. At the time of her death, she had six young children still at home and in need of a caretaker - Omer Auguste, 17; Odalie Felice, 15 (my great-great grandmother); Gaston James, 12; twins Lucian and Luciana "Lucy", 11; and Jeanette, 4 (born six months after the death of her father). The six orphaned children were sent to Mobile to live with their aunt Elodie. By this time she was 45 years-old and twice widowed. Her daughter Alphonsine was 28. Alphonsine would later marry James Southworth (1844-1899) and have one child that died before 1900.

The six Fortier children called Elodie "Tante Grandma" - 'tante' is French for 'aunt'. By 1880 the four youngest children were still living with their beloved aunt - Odalie had married Charles Horst (my great-great-grandfather) in 1879 and eventually moved to Birmingham; Omer married in 1880 and moved home to New Orleans.

At 2:30 in the morning on March 10, 1914, Elodie died at the home of her niece Lucy Fortier Boulo. The cause of death was listed as "Senility". She was 84. The Mobile Register published her obituary:

Julia Elodie deGruy Gagnet Mendoza by all accounts was a good daughter, wife and mother. She was also a good and caring sister and aunt, taking in her sister's six orphaned children after having been widowed twice. She was buried at Magnolia Cemetery in Mobile, with her daughter Alphonsine after her own death in 1922. With no grandchildren and no descendants she has been virtually forgotten. But her life's circumstances and her willingness to take care of my great-great-grandmother made it possible for me to even exist. Here's why:
    Grave at Magnolia Cemetery
    Mobile, Alabama
  • If Elodie's first husband Alphonse hadn't have died tragically, leaving her a widow at 19 years old she wouldn't have married Frank;
  • By marrying Frank she left New Orleans and moved with him to Mobile;
  • When her sister died young she accepted her six orphaned nieces and nephews to care for, making them move to Mobile to live with her;
  • While living in Mobile with her aunt, my great-great-grandmother Odalie met Mobile resident Charles Horst, my great-great-grandfather, eventually having five children including my great-grandmother  - Pearl Alphonsine Horst (Flemming), named for her maternal grandmother Laperle deGruy Fortier and her mother's cousin Alphonsine Gagnet Southworth.
So thank you Tante Grandma. You are no longer forgotten.


  1. Welcome to the Geneabloggers family. Hope you find the association fruitful; I sure do. I have found it most stimulating, especially some of the Daily Themes.

    May you keep sharing your ancestor stories!

    Dr. Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories" and family saga novels:
    "Back to the Homeplace" and "The Homeplace Revisited"

  2. What a lovely remembrance for Elodie. Very nice.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)

  3. Always glad to find a "New" Gagnet I've never heard of.
    Thought I was the first and only one in 'bama.
    From Big Easy - been in bama for 20 years.
    Thanks for posting,
    Phil Gagnet

  4. business and personal webpages from united kingdom.