Monday, July 20, 2009

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Last week I took a genealogy road trip to Acadia Parish, Louisiana. I wanted to find some information and gravesites for ancestors on my mom's side of the family.

One of the places I went was the city of Rayne (aka Frog Capital of the World). The cemetery system there is a bit confusing as there are two St. Joseph cemeteries, referred to as 1 and 2. After searching for my great-great grandparents all over cemetery #2, I learned the information I was given was wrong. They were buried in #1.

St. Joseph's Cemetery (#1) has a unique characteristic, as described here:

"The site of St. Joseph's Catholic Church and Cemetery was determined after the new settlement of Rayne was established. Huge wooden wheels were made and the old church from the original Poupeville settlement was mounted on them and moved to this location in 1882. The cemetery, adjacent to the church, was the only known Christian cemetery for many years where the graves were placed in a north-south direction lengthwise. According to ancient Christian customs, graves are positioned east-west so the bodies of the dead lie facing the rising sun, the symbol of Christ's resurrection. Folklore about the cemetery's misalignment has been passed down over the years in stories, but no one knows for certain why this cemetery does not follow tradition."

I looked for the graves of my great-great grandparents Bourgaux, but did not find anything. Many of the markers were worn and the print hard to read. Mosquitoes were everywhere and I had to walk at a clip to keep them at bay. I did not find what I was looking for.

My father and I asked for the Bourgaux grave location at the cemetery/church office, but was told the exact spot was unknown. They were out there somewhere. The lady also said something disturbing. The sidewalk around the cemetery was constructed over gravesites, now marked only by the cement path on top of them.

I sure hope my great-great grandparents aren't buried under the sidewalk. They came here from France and Belgium. They got married on July 4. The had 13 children and lost 8 early on. They ran a theater. When they lost it in a fire, they moved and began again with a blacksmith business. They deserve better than to be buried under a sidewalk.

Emelie Menou Bourgaux (1876-1944)
Emile Bourgaux (1866-1948)

Edit: They've been found.


  1. I recently had a similar experience. I took a trip to a graveyard and upon arriving, I saw a memorial just through the gate. On it were the names of those graves that have been lost as time has gone on. My two ancestors I went to find were listed on that wall.

  2. Sorry you couldn't find your ancestors. I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. I found all the aunts and uncles, but not the money shot of my cousin's great great grandparents. I know they are buried in the cemetery as I have a death record...but no marker. Most discouraging.

  3. Th cemetery where my husband's ancestors were buried is now a parking lot. Supposedly the remains were reintered in another cemetery with just one large monument but no names. I hope your monument was just to worn to read.