Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mississippi Ratifies 13th Amendment

I was watching the evening news on Monday, February 18th, when I heard the most astonishing news: "Mississippi finally ratifies the 13th Amendment banning slavery 148 years late!" I could not believe what I was seeing and hearing.

Dr. Ranjan Batra, a Mississippi resident and neurobiologist professor,  saw the Academy Awards nominated film, Lincoln, and decided to learn more about the Amendment and its history after seeing the politcal fight to pass it. The Amendment was ratified with the backing of three-fourths of the states in December 1865; four states eventually ratified it - except Mississippi.

Dr. Batra did some research. He noticed that there was asterick about a note which read"Mississippi ratified the amendment on 1995, but because the state never officially notified the U.S. Archivist, the ratification is not official." He contacted his friend, Ken Sullivan, who contacted Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman about the oversight. Sullivan set out to correct the mistake by filing papers with the Office of the Federal Register 18 years later.

On Febraury 7, 2013, it became official - Missisippi ratifies the 13th Amendment 148 years late!  Better late than never.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

USS Constellation, Flagship of the African Squadron

On Sunday, February 6, I checked out the schedule of the History Channel to see if they had any Black History programs on On Demand.  I found a very interesting one and I learned something that I did not know happened during the slave trade.

USS Constellation: Battling for Freedom was the title of the documentary and it will be available until February 28, 2013. It was a story about the USS Constellation, a sloop-of war and the second United States Navy ship to carry the name. Built in 1854, it was the fastest warship with 22 guns and 225 men on board.

The USS Constellation was the flagship of the African Squadron from 1859 - 1861.  Her mission was to disrupt the slave trade off of the western coast of Africa by interdicting ships smuggling slaves and released the imprisoned Africans. The slave trade was made illegal in 1808 U.S. and England and the U.S. considered it piracy and punishable by death. 

The word "interdict" was new to me. Before consulting a dictionary, I thought that it was misspelled. The definition of interdict according to Webster is : to forbid in a formal or authoritative manner; to destroy, cut or damage (as an enemy line of supply) by firepower to stop or hamper an enemy. Interdict is what they did.

The Constellation did not always catch the slave ships.  Many of the slavers out ran her and some lightened their loads by tossing their slaves, also known as Black Ivory, overboard. What an inhumane, despicable, unconscionable act! 

The Constellation interdicted 3 ships as the flagship:
  • the Delicia which had no papers to show nationality. It also did not have slaves but was fitted for slaves.
  • the Cora with 705 slaves, who were set free in Liberia; no effort to return the Africans to their villages was made due to the fear that they would be kidnapped again.
  • the Trition which held no slaves but was fitted for them.
According to the documentary, the Cora was taken to New York by some of the men of the Constellation. Most of the men were not U.S. citzens so they were released; however, four men were charged. The Capitan and another man escaped jail, which was believed to be an inside job; two men were sentenced to ten months. Nobody was put to death. 

The U.S.S. Constellation was move to Baltimore in 1955 for restoration and preservation. Due to the lack of funds, it took almost a decade to restore the ship for public use. There are separate programs for children and adults. To learn more and to view a video about the USS Constellation, go to:

16 February 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013

Blessed Katharine Drexel

My mother, Augusta, and her sister, Onita, attended the cannonization of Mother Katherine Drexel in Rome in 2000.  It was a banner year for my mother: she had her first plane ride; she went to a foreign country for the first time; and she had her first birthday party at the age of 80.  The trip to Rome was an early birthday gift from Onita.

Augusta was chosen to read her composition to Mother Katherine in 1934 at St. Monica. The assigned subject for the composition was "Building for Eternity."  Augusta wrote about doing chores for an ederly neighbor.  She was in the eighth grade and who knew that Mother Drexel would become a saint.

Mother Katherine Drexel was a Philadelphia heiress who founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and started school such as St. Monica to educate poor African Americans and American Indians. Mother Katherine was the daughter of Francis Drexel, whose firm became the investment giant Drexel Burnham Lambert. She used her trust fund to fight poverty and racism through education. Mother Drexel died in 1955.

"When you look back on it, that is great to know somebody who has become a saint," Mom said. "I feel blessed."

15 February 2013

Thursday, February 14, 2013

St. Monica Catholic Church

St. Monica was built in 1924 at the corner of South Galvez and First Streets in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was built and opened with hopes of  erecting a school for four hundred poor Colored Catholic children who had no opportunity of a Catholic education. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament (SBS) taught Sunday School to about one hundred fifty children in the church but they were on their own for the rest of the week.

In less than 6 months, St. Monica Catholic church had a school. The school was dedicated on October 1924 and was run by two SBS sisters who commuted from Xavier University. All of the Hicks siblings and their children attended St. Monica Catholic School. Nace Hicks, Sr., my grandfather, was a founding member of St. Monica and he built built an altar to the Blessed Mother with a place to kneel in the corner of each room,

My mother, Augusta, was in the first graduatiing class.  At that time, St. Monica Church and School was grey. In Mom's day, it was a four-room school that housed eight grades. When I attended, St. Monica had at least eight rooms, a room for each grade level.

 I can remember my days at St. Monica.  We wore uniforms, blue skirts and white blouses. Mom made our uniforms. The blouses were starched heavily, so much so, the collar would scratch our necks when we turned our heads.  We lived in Dixie Court at the time and right around the corner from cousins, Brenda and Linda. Each morning we would get dressed, pick up our cousins and continue walking to school with our lunch and book bags.

On October 3, 1987, First Annual Alumni Gathering was held and the Hicks family presented a card catalog and a dictonary stand in honor and memory of Nace Hicks.

The above photograph was taken in 2003 or 2004 before Katrina struck the city.  The Hicks/Estes family had a reunion in 2004 and we attended mass in the church on Sunday. After Katrina, St. Monica was shuttered and never reopened. It was merged with two other church parishes and is now a part of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church on Broad Street.

Although, some of has moved out of Louisiana and some have moved to other church parishes, we still consider St. Monica as our home.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Walking With Ancestors II

Patricia Bayonne Johnson & Bennett Headstone
Benjamin Bennett was my "ancestor" to research and present at Walking with Ancestors II at Fairmount Memorial Cemetery in 2011.
13 February 2013   to be continued

Wednesday, February 6, 2013



My great grandfather inspired me to research my family history.  I began my research in 1999 when my siblings and I inherited interests in a property from our father that Jules and his friend, Francois Francis, purchased in Livonia, Louisiana.  A royalty statement with Walter Parlange's name led me to search for answers as to why  his name was on the statement.

It did not take long for me to discover that Walter Parlange owned the Parlange Plantation in New Roads and wells were being drilled on this property. For years, I researched the Parlange and the Ternant families, the original owners of the Parlange Plantation, looking for a connection to the Bayonnes.  For years, I thought that Jules was a slave on the Parlange and  the property had been given to him by Walter Parlange.  All of that change when my mother decided to clean the room where my ailing father spent his last days.

Mom found a copy of a Bill of Sale that indicated that the property had been purchased by Jules and Francois in 1870. We did the happy dance that day.  A few years later, I hired a genealogist who discovered a birth register that indicated that Jules was born a free child of color...another happy dance. 

The photo was given to me by a cousin, Vera Colar Keen. When I began my research, I sent her a letter with questions about Jules and his wife, Victorine. She visited me soon afterwards and said that her sister, Anita, had a picture of Jules and she would make a copy when she visited her in New Orleans. When I got that picture, I was so excited that I could barely contain myself. I made copies for my siblings and anyone who wanted one. I put that picture on a chair for months where I could see it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Now, it hangs on the wall in my vanity and it is still the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night.  I had Henry Watson, a wood carver to carve Jule's picture and he did a fine job.  Henry said that it was the first and the last portrait that he would carve. I guess it was challenging. We do not have a picture of Victorine Randall Bayonne.

I have made great strides in my search for Jules and his family, but one aspect of his life is still missing. Besides the birth record I have for Jules, I have found no information about his early childhood. He knew how to read and write, but it is a mystery how he learned. Jules signed the Bill of Sales slip, crossing out the "x" that the notary had written on his signature line before wrting his name. The woman who sold the property and Francois could not write. A "x" was on their signature lines.

The Bayonne descendants have had two family reunions to honor Jules and Victorine Bayonne. The first one was held in New Orleans in 2003, the same year that Louisiana was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Louisiana Purchase. We, too, were celebrating a land purchase, the land that Jules and Francois purchased 133 years prior.  The second reunion was held in 2008 in Baton Rouge.  Baton Rouge was about 30 miles from Livonia, the town where the Bayonne property is located.  The family picnic was in New Roads, the parish seat of Pointe Coupee Parish and a few miles from Livonia. The highlight for my siblings and I, was a tour of the Parlange Plantation where Jules was a domestic servant in 1870.

We also visited St. Mary Catholic Church Cemetery where Jules is buried in an unmarked grave.  He died in 1903 of causes unknown. One day the family will have to get a gravestone for Jules. I do not know where Victorine is buried. Locating Victorine's burial place will be my next project.

The descendants filed a lawsuit four years ago to get get rid of a lawyer who managed to keep the succession open since 1980 and who is collecting 20% of the royalties generated by the gas and oil wells. Hopefully, these matters will be resolved in 2013. 

6 - 8 February 2013        

Monday, February 4, 2013


Wilma Elizabeth Hicks
Our family lost another member on September 28, 2012. My aunt Wilma died four days before Jerry and I were supposed to leave for South Ecuador.  We canceled our trip and attended the funeral instead.

Wilma was the second child of Wilie Estes Hcks and Nace Hicks, Sr. My mother, Gussie, was the first born.  As the first grandchild in the Hicks/Estes family, I received a lot of attention from Mom's siblings, especially from Wilma.  After my birth, Wilma assisted Mom in caring for me; she did a lot of babysitting which did not always happen at the house. Anyone who knew Wilma at that time, knew that she loved to party and had a few favorite bars that she patronized. Wilma took me to the bars while babysitting.  Mom often said that I had been in more bars than she had. Smile. Nowadays, this could not have happened as minors are not allowed, but in the good old days I went bar hopping with my beloved aunt.

Although Dad loved all of the Hicks girls, Wilma, "Bill" as he affectionately called her, was his favorite. He loved her very much, especially her buoyant joy of life.

When I was a young girl, many people thought that I looked like Wilma. Some even said that we looked more like mother and daughter than aunt and niece. I loved being compared to her because of her beauty, fashion sense, dedication to family and her passion for life.

Wilma was a wonderful aunt. Her life was well lived and her soul was well loved.  She will be forever in our hearts.
4 & 13 February 2013   

Sunday, February 3, 2013


Our family lost two members in 2012 thirty four days apart. My aunt Gladys was the first; she died on August 16, 2013.  Jerry and I were planning to go to New York for Onita's Open House party when we got word that Gladys was dying.  The party was canceled and we went to New Orleans for the funeral instead.

Gladys was the fourth child and the third daughter of Willie Estes Hicks and Nace Hicks, Sr. She worked as a cook and became highly respected for her extraordinary culinary skills.  Gladys home became the site of many holiday and family celebrations. Gladys was very active in social clubs and always elegantly dressed in her fancy hats, gloves and beautiful suits and dresses.

I will always be grateful for the sacrifices that Gladys made when she went to Virginia to assist Gussie, my mother and her Big Sis, in caring for us during WWII. Our Dad served as welder of damaged ships and Mom was a housewife with two small children, Jackie about five weeks old and me, a toddler about one and a half years. Mom could not have made it without Gladys.

We deeply appreciate Gladys for all of the things that  she did and to have her presence in our lives as a loving aunt.

3 & 15 February 2013 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Harold Ferguson Bayonne, Jr.
Harold Ferguson BayonnE,Jr. passed away on Tuesday, August 25, 2009 at Ochsner Hospital surrounded by family and friends. Juney, as he was known to all, was the last of five children of Augusta Hicks Bayonne and the late Harold F, Bayonne, Sr.
Juney attended Washington Elementary School in Kenner, Louisiana and graduated from Shrewsbury High School. As a teenager he learned carpentry from his father and worked in construction all of his life. Harold Jr. had a great sense of humor and was adored by his grandchildren who got a kick out of the funny things he said to them. He was an avid reader and especially enjoyed western novels and the mystery novels of Walter Mosely and James Patterson. Juney loved his dogs and his bike, Sugar.
Harold married Charlene Heard and together they had one son, Dino. Following a divorce, he met Deborah Reid Norah of Metairie, Louisiana. To this union, two daughters were born, Simone and Ingrid.
Harold, Jr. is survived by a large family which includes his mother, Augusta Bayonne of Metairie, LA; his son, Harold "Dino" Bayonne, III (Tracee)of Florida; two daughters, Simone Yvette Norah and Ingrid Niesha Norah (Jason Brown) of LaPlace, LA. There are four sisters: Patricia Bayonne(Gerald) Johnson of Spokane, WA; Jacqueline Bayonne of Seattle, WA; Annette Rodgers of Metairie, LA; and Carol Bayonne of New Orleans, LA. He will be missed by many nieces, nephew, aunts,uncles and cousins. 
A funeral mass was held at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, August 28, 2009 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, 1908 Short Street, Kenner, LA. Father Miles, celebrant. Interment: Providence memorial Park, Metairie, LA.
It is hard to believe that my handsome brother has been dead almost three and one half years. He was the last of the Bayonne siblings to be born and the first to go.
2 February 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013


Walking with Ancestors is a program sponsored by the members of Eastern Washington Genealogical Society in Spokane.  Members and friends of the society research a person buried in the cemetery and make a presentation to the public who are invited to attend.  Our "ancestors" are not related, just names that are randomly chosen in a certain area of the cemetery. 

WwA I happened in 2010.  My "ancestor" was Rudolph Bowman Scott, the best known and most prominent of the Black Pioneers in the Inland Northwest.  Born free in New Haven, Connecticut, Scott became interested in politics at a very young age.  He took up the cause of the Union and enlisted in the Navy in 1861 for service in the Civil War.

After the war, Scott engaged in mining in Colorado, New Mexico, Washington and Idaho.  He came to Spokane in 1883 and established one of Spokane's first fire and life insurance companies which was able to payall claims that occurred during the Spokane fire of 1889.

Rudolph Bowman Scott was actively involved in politics. In 1889, Mr. Scott, President of the John Logan Colored Republican Club, was appointed by the Republican Party as a delegate from Spokane County to the state convention that organized the government of the state of Washington. He was one of the leading representatives of the Grand Army of the Republic, attained the thirty-three degree of Scottish Rite in Masonry and a personal friend to Chief Joseph, the Indian Chief of the Nez Perce tribe, accompanying him and other chiefs to Washington to presenttheir cause to the Indian Commission and the President.

Rudolph B. Scott was appointed United States Chinese inspector from 1902-1906 in and about the city of Spokane. He was the first black man to hold a federal position in the Northwest. He resigned in 1906 due to health problems and died on March 23, 1909.

Mr. Scott married Adele Wagner in 1883 in Denver, Colorado and together they had three children: Rudolph, Jr., Henry and Adeline Scott.  The Scotts are buried in Fairmount Memorial park in Spokane, Washington.

1 February 2013