Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Great Grandfather John DuBell, the first of many mysteries!

Great-Grandfather, John DuBell came to America about 1868, we have no records showing the exact date or what port he came in to.   There are a great many stories about this man and we are striving to find the truth of his journey to America!  

I’d like to start with what we know to be true from documents we have put together at this time. 

According to the United States Federal Census records his date of birth is June 1837.  According to these records his place of birth is states as either “Holland” or “Europe”.  These records also give the dates of his arrival as 1864 or 1869. He is found in the 1880, 1900 and 1910 United States Federal Census records,
His marriage license shows he married Josephine C. Barr on October 20, 1874 at Stafford’s Landing in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana Sadly, this community is no longer in existence. 

He was naturalized on
 December 20th 1885 in Franklin Parish Courthouse in Louisiana.  His name is recorded as John DuBell and signed “John du Bell”.
Their children were;

Mary E DuBell, b. 1875 – d, abt 1894
2 still born children about 1880 and 1882
Edgar DuBell 1882 – date of death unknown
Annie Mae DuBell 1885 - 1942
Rachel DuBell 1888 - 1934
Ellis about 1890 – died as a child
Alice Phenia DuBell 1891 – d. 1950
Benjamin Franklin DuBell 1893 – d. 1909
Thomas DuBell 1895 – d. 1969
Alexander William DuBell 1897 – d. 1974 (My Grandfather)
Lonnie DuBell about 1899 – d. unknown
Marine DuBell 1900 – d. unknown
I will add updates on dates of death when they are verified

Great Grandma Josephine died about 1911 and Great Grandpa John DuBell was awarded Tutorship of their 3 minor children, Thomas, Alexander and Marine.  I have these documents in my files.

He owned land in Catahoula and Franklin Parishes in Louisiana.

After these known facts there are many stories, I’d like to refer to them as “Family Lore” at least until we have found proof of their truthfulness or that they remain Family Lore and are known as such though they are most probably tinged with a certain amount of truth!

We do know a number of things.  My grandfather, Alexander “Alec” DuBell was the first generation born in America in his paternal family… his father; John DuBell came here in 1867 to 1869 from The Netherlands.  He bought farmland in Franklin Parish, Louisiana and raised a family there.  I've been told he attended the local Baptist Church.   It may have been a church in Holly Grove, a small community near his land, or it may have been the church that his son was a deacon of for many years, South Central Baptist Church, Wisner, Louisiana.  Until we find church records we will not know for certain. 

Our Great Grandpa wasn’t known for telling his family very much about the family he left behind in Holland.  At least not that anyone remembers now.  What we do have is memories of other family members about him, and the stories we have all heard over the years, such as:

1.  He was “Shanghaied” by a “press gang” in Amsterdam and made to work on a schooner or ship going back and forth after one such trip.  We have no documents showing he spent any time in New Orleans or immediately began traveling, eventually living in the Catahoula/Franklin parish area of Louisiana

2.  He was from a family who were said to be linen merchants and had their own “schooners/ship”.  The story goes that he was a stowaway on one of the schooners or was working on it and “jumped ship” in New Orleans, once again it isn’t known if  he spent any time in New Orleans or immediately began traveling, eventually living in the Catahoula/Franklin parish area of Louisiana. 
There is one thing that rings true from these stories, our Great Grandfather came to America; we have no idea through what port, New Orleans?  Houston?  New York?  He made his way to Franklin/Catahoula Parish Louisiana. After this, he married Josephine Barr, bought farm land and raised a family.  He became a Naturalized citizen in 1885.  They were married approximately 37 years when Josephine passed away and he was left with 3 of their children to raise.  From documents I’ve found as of this date I believe he died between 1915 and 1919, I haven’t found his name in any census records from 1920 to 1930.

There is one other story I have heard over and again is one of a letter from The Netherlands that arrived in Wisner, Louisiana.  My grandfather Alex DuBell, could not read Dutch he was to get someone possibly a neighbor, to interpret it for him but it has been lost. What it was about, we have no idea.  
There is more to be told about our Dutch Heritage…. I am now corresponding with a lady who lives in Sweden, is of Dutch heritage and is a DuBell!  We are having a difficult time translating our messages as she is writing in German, and I in English!  Thank goodness for Google Translate!  We may be cousins, although I’m not going to get too excited until we find out more about our ancestors and if we are, indeed cousins! 

Do you have any ideas as to what to do next?

TTYS, I hope!

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