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Jean Paul Robert Diary

Recently, Al Robert had found the journal of family relation, Jean Paul Robert, that dates back to 1899. It is a detailed account of how many children he had, as well as a description of the bitterly cold winter of 1898-1899. The journal was written in French and was recently translated by Diana Robert. Below is the translation from Diana Robert:

Jefferson Parish
January
February 25th, 1899
The day we left Carroll and we entered Jefferson to Mr. Soniat’s house. On February 11th and 12th, ice and snow fell that remained eight days on the ground and drifted in the river for 3 days, almost could slide a skiff across the river.

Page 3 and 4 contains a list of his eleven children with their birth dates and the parishes where they were baptized:

Marie Elmore et neé 19 Decembre 1876. Batiser St. John
Cecile Paula le 22 Novembre 1878. St. Philippe
Joseph Olide le 25 Novembre 1880. St. Philippe
Thérèsa Léona 15 Octobre 1882. St. Philippe
Mathieu Raoul 31 Mars 1885. St. Philippe
Jean Clovis le 23 Février 1888, St. Jean Baptiste
Paul Remie le 2 Juillet 1892, St. Jean Baptiste
Philomene Martha le 28 Février 1890, St. Philippe
Pierre Octave, 22 Août 1894, St. Jean Baptiste
Benoit René, 21 Février 1897, St. Jean Baptiste
Jacques Rolland, 15 Avril 1900, Jefferson, Kenner

The note refers to the time when Paul Robert left Johnson Plantation, also known as Carroll Plantation in St. John the Baptist Parish and moved to Tchopitoulas Plantation in Jefferson Parish. This was the first of several moves until they bought Donaldson Tract in 1925. Several families gathered together, renting plantations to farm rice and sometimes sugar cane. Jean Paul was with his family of 10 children between the ages of 3 and 23 and a pregnant wife, Octavie (she was expecting Roland). This colony of farmers included his brothers, Mathieu and Septime and his own families, his brother Benoit who could not walk, his mother-in-law, Arthemise Waguespac; four of his wife’s brothers, Faustin Brou, Honoré Brou, René Brou and Clemil Brou; three of his nephews, Septime Robert, Willis Robert and Albert Schexnaydre; his brother-in-law Floribert Schexnaydre, all of them with their own families. Fourteen families in all.

The note establishes the date of their arriving to Tchopitoulas Plantation and how when they arrived they faced one of the most extreme weather events on record in the eastern US known as the Great Blizzard of 1899. The Mississippi River froze its entire length down to the Gulf of Mexico. Some ice even flowed into the Gulf. The ice in the river in New Orleans was two inches thick and the lowest temperature registered in New Orleans was 7°.

Frozen Mississippi River 1899

Edgard Residents viewing ice in the Mississippi River, 1899. Olidé Schexnayder Collection, Louisiana Digital Library

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