Monday, June 4, 2012

Cross Country Thibodeaux Travelers

During a rare free evening earlier this week, I did a little poking around and my own private family tree there. It's been so long since I've been able to work on my own ancestral lines that there were dozens of "shaky leaves" or hints waiting for me.

Two of the hints were for my great-grandfather, Noel Holly Thibodeaux. Both were for city directories that had been added since I last worked on my own tree. 

The timeline for this man is a work in progress. He moved his wife Josephine (my great-grandmother) and his family back and forth between Louisiana and California several times. This was in the 1920s and 1930s before a national highway system, convenience stores and everything we expect for a road trip.

Circa 1926. One of many road trips between Louisiana and California.
Photo courtesy of my cousin, Eldridge, whose parents were along for the ride.

Though I am still searching city directories in southern California and Louisiana, here is a loose timeline of the many residences of the Noel Holly Thibodeaux family:

between 1914 and 1916 - Noel and Josephine got married. My grandfather says his parents got married in California. However, my great-grandmother was a young lady in an established Louisiana family. Did they elope to California? That would be quite a scandal, though I wouldn't put it past Noel as he looked like he was a handsome charmer. I'm still looking for a marriage record.

1917 - lived in San Bernardino, California with a child on the way.

1920 - Noel, Josephine and 2 children lived in New Orleans, Louisiana.

1922 - lived in "furnished rooms" in San Bernardino, California.

1924 - lived in Los Angeles, California

1926 - at least one trip to Lousiana, as the photo above was on a trip from Louisiana to California.

1928 - lived in Brawley, California. They had 4 kids then.

1930 - lived in Josephine's parents' house in Rayne, Louisiana.

1931 - lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. They had 5 kids.

1937 - lived in El Centro, California. They had 7 kids.

1939 - lived in El Centro, California at a new address.

1940 - lived in El Centro, California at a new address.

1944 - lived in Bell Gardens, California.

1948 - lived in Bell Gardens, California at a different address.

1950 - lived in Downey, California.

1962 - lived in San Jacinto, California, at the time of Noel's death.

I can't imagine moving around that much, especially cross-country with kids, but they did it. Hopefully Josephine had a sense of adventure and it wasn't just a chore. Here is a photo of my great-grandparents and one of the cars that took them there and back and there again:

Josephine Bourgaux and Noel Holly Thibodeaux
On the road again. And again. And again.

Hopefully this summer I'll get some more time to scour the city directories and fill in this Thibodeaux timeline. Until then, those shaky leaves will continue to tease me.

[Here's a search tip: don't always trust the search box for city directories on I've found this family in two separate directories where the search said "not found," but they were there when I manually searched the books page-by-page online. This manual search isn't hard, as the directories are in alphabetical order. Put in the extra time in searching. They payoff is worth it. --A]


  1. So many sources of information out there when you know what to look for - we just need more hours in the day, that's all.

    This sounds like such an interesting couple and you have great pictures, too!