S: Created by Bridgett Sonnier Rider 2012
FC: The Sonniers Through The Years From the Acadian Exile to Today Created by: Bridgett Sonnier Rider
1: This book is dedicated to all the Sonnier's, but especially to my daddy Douglas Wayne Sonnier
2: From Nova Scotia to Louisiana | In the early 1700's Pierre Saulnier (Sonnier) married Madeleine Comeaux. They had several children, one of which was Sylvain Saulnier. Sylvain was born in 1736 in Nova Scotia and died in 1801 in Opelousas, Louisiana. All of our Sonnier family and many other Sonnier families are descendants of Sylvain Sonnier. | In the early 1700's Pierre Saulnier (Sonnier) married Madeleine Comeaux. They had several children, one of which was Sylvain Saulnier. Sylvain was born in 1736 in Nova Scotia and died in 1801 in Opelousas, Louisiana. All of our Sonnier family and many other Sonnier families are descendants of Sylvain Sonnier. | In the early 1700's Pierre Saulnier (Sonnier) married Madeleine Comeaux. They had several children, one of which was Sylvain Saulnier. Sylvain was born in 1736 in Nova Scotia and died in 1801 in Opelousas, Louisiana. Our Sonnier family and other Sonnier families in Louisiana are the descendants of Sylvain Saulnier...the following is his story along with other Acadian exiles. Sylvain had to leave his home, his land, and almost all of his possessions during the Acadian expulsion. The expulsion, or deportation of Acadians, began in October of 1755 and ended in 1762 at the end of the Seven Years War. Thousands of Acadians were packed onto over-crowded ships. They were kept in renovated cargo holds. In some ships these holds measured 24 feet wide, 60 feet long with ceiling heights slightly over 4 feet high. The holds were locked creating a prison with no windows for light or ventilation, no sanitary conditions and no heat, except for that of the huddled bodies. Due to the horrendous conditions on the deportation ships many of the exiles did not reach their destination. Over-crowding and poor diet had devastating effects on the health of the exiles. It was further worsened by stress and sea sickness. Epidemics of typhus, smallpox, and other devastating diseases broke out among the exiles either during the voyage or upon arrival at their destinations.
3: These deportation ships usually kept a head count of exiles on board, but rarely listed names. One ship captain compared it to the shipping of cattle. While I have no way of knowing which ship Sylvain and his family were on I have to assume they must have endured the same horrible conditions the other exiles endured. While most Acadian exiles were scattered up and down the eastern seaboard, some were sent back to France and others were sent to St. Domingue, now Haiti. According to www.acadiansingray.com Sylvain and his family first landed in St. Domingue in 1765. Sonnier's were among the earliest Acadians to seek refuge in Louisiana. Seven of them came from Halifax via Cap Francais, St. Domingue in 1765 and settled in Opelousas, Louisiana. Sylvain was one of these seven. We know for sure that at least three of these deportation ships were lost at sea. Hundreds, if not thousands, of men, women and children lost their lives on on these ships.
4: Descendants of Sylvain Sonnier In Louisiana, Sylvain met and married Marie Bourg. They settled in what was known as Opelousas. They had many children and grandchildren. Two of the grandchildren were Lucien "Tom" Sonnier and Belisle "Jack" Sonnier. It is said that Lucien got the nickname Tom from an indian that he used to follow around as a child. The census from 1860 has him listed as Lucien Sonnier age 8 years. He was one of 7 children. His father is listed as Belisle Isk Sonnier age 52 and his mother Louise age 42. His occupation was farm laborer. Some sources list Belisle's nickname to be Isk, other sources say his nickname was Bic. Bic or Isk married Eloise "Louise" LaCaze. Belisle Isk Sonnier also shows up in Jack Sonnier's family. Belisle Isk/Bic and Louise had a son who was a junior. From what I can tell Belisle (Isk or Bic) Sonnier Jr. is Jack's father, which would have made Roy and Ament cousins. I don't know if Jack was a middle name or a nickname. The 1900 census has him listed as Belisle J Sonnier. At the time of the census he and his wife Alidia had three children, Ede a son, Edna a daughter and Amynthe (Ament) a daughter. They have Ament listed as being born in February of 1898, but her headstone has her being born in 1899. | Made by John Sonier is printed on many of the cross-style headstones.
5: I couldn't read any dates on this, only the name Clementine Sonnier | Belisle Sonier The dates match up to those of Belisle Jack Sonnier At the bottom it says: Made by John Sonier | This reads: Flavia Lacase wife of Donat Sonnier. Donat was one of Bic's brothers. They married sisters, Eloise and Flavia. | There are several Belisle Sonnier's it got very confusing trying to figure out who was who. I did the best I could, but it still might be wrong. | Grave of Lucien "Tom" Sonnier Almost completely unreadable, but I was able to make out Lucien Sonnier born July 7
6: Sonnier Family Tree: Family of Roy Sonnier
7: Sonnier Family Tree: Family of Ament Sonnier | Both trees went back further than what is shown here. I just didn't have room to show them. I traced it back to Sylvain's family that came from France.
8: Roy and Ament Sonnier | Louisa Costello 1st wife of Tom Sonnier | Tom Sonnier This picture was taken from a newspaper article on the Sonnier's | Tom and Louisa Sonnier Parents of Roy Sonnier. After Louisa died Tom later married Celima Guillory. Aunt Pearl said how good Celima was to all the kids. | *Dorceneaux (Dorcino) is listed on this census from 1900. He was 14 at the time. This was just 2 years before he supposedly murdered his ex-sister in law, Sidonia, Luciens ex-wife. *I never heard the murdered sister's name, just that she was 3 years younger than Dorceneaux so I think it was Dolvina. She was 11 at the time of the 1900 census.
9: This is printed out from THE TWELFTH CENSUS OF THE UNITED STATES SCHEDULE No. 1 -- Population taken from Police Ward 1 Hickory Flat & part of all west of the Kansas City Watkins and Gulf R.R. 14th day of June 1900 | Some of it is hard to make out, but it lists Lucien Sonnier (Tom Sonnier) as Head of Household born July 1853 age 46. His wife, Servena (it's spelled different in other censuses) born Feb 1872, age 28 married for 1 year. It lists 9 children, but more were born after this census was taken. The name that caught my attention was John R Sonnier. I didn't know Grandpa Roy Sonnier's first name was John, but the birthdate (August 1893) matched up to Roy Sonnier. | * *
10: The Story of Lucien , Dorceneaux, Sidonia and Dolvina This story was told to me by several people. There are a few different versions, but the main idea was the same in each one. I read a little about it on the internet (rootsweb.com). I talked to Jeffery Ryder who told a little different version and then to Aunt Betty, who told another version...I'll always remember how it saddened her as she started crying while trying to tell me the story. She talked of the son Dorceneaux left behind when he went to prison. She said that he spent his life looking for his daddy hoping to find him. The following story was taken from a newspaper article written in 1902 or 1903, in what was called The Lake Charles Weekly American. Murder Among Teens They were so young. The shooter, Dorceneaux, was barely 16. Sidonia, his ex-sister-in-law was also 16. He blamed her for the suicide death of his 13 year old sister. It happened on December 8, 1902, near Oberlin. "It was a tangle of marriage, separation, betrayal, suicide and revenge," according to the newspaper, "and a gun in the hands of a young boy who, in a sudden gust of passionate anger, shot and killed a young girl." Dorceneaux had been working out of town in Acadia parish when he got a letter telling him that his 13 year old sister had committed suicide by drinking strychnine. He jumped on his horse and rushed to his home in Oberlin to find out what happened.
11: According to the family his little sister had been "ruined" by some man whose identity was known only to Sidonia, the ex-wife of his 18 year old brother, Lucien. They had been married only a couple of weeks when trouble developed and he left her. The family believed that Sidonia, in revenge, had approached his sister and suggested they both drink strychnine. The 13 year old sister drank, but Sidonia did not follow through. The picture on the right shows Louisa Costello Sonnier and her 2 oldest children, Lucien and Dorceneaux. | After hearing the family's story Dorceneaux rushed off in an angry frenzy to find Sidonia. He went to her sister's home where she was staying. Riding his horse up to their gate he called "Sidonia come out. I want to talk to you." He demanded to know who ruined his sister, but Sidonia refused to tell him. He then asked her "Did you tell my sister to drink strychnine and that you'd drink it with her?" Sidonia denied that. There followed more conversation and a gunshot rang out. Sidonia's sister rushed out of the house and found Sidonia lying dead on the ground and saw Dorceneaux speeding off on his horse. Law officials were notified and began hunting for Dorceneaux. They found Lucien first and charged him as an accessory,
12: holding him in jail for four months. In the meantime, Deputy Zenon Darbonne found Dorceneaux near Millersville and took him to the Jennings jail. He was later transported to Calcasieu Parish jail to await trial. The trial began on April 10, 1903. It started Friday afternoon and continued until 10:30 that night. By the next day the case was in the hands of the jury. The trial was considered slow because those involved spoke only French, and although the Judge and several of the attorneys could understand French some of the jury members could not, so an interpreter was used. Dorceneaux was called to the witness stand where he told of his actions on the day of the murder: "I did not intend to shoot Sidonia when I stopped there. But she made me so mad that I just pulled out my pistol and shot her." Dorceneaux was found guilty of manslaughter and his brother was immediately released. (I never understood or figured out why his brother, Lucien, was jailed in the first place. The article says "accessory", but how was he an accessory? Over one hundred years later and I think there are still untold stories of this murder. It makes me wonder what really happened.) Five days later Dorceneaux faced sentencing before Judge Miller. His attorney made a plea for leniency because of the boy's youth and also because of the provocation which Dorceneaux believed he had. Judge Miller turned to Dorceneaux and said "I believed the jury has shown all the leniency you are entitled to and I believe it is my duty to give
13: you the full punishment of the law, imprisonment for 20 years." A few months later a news item from Angola Prison stated that Dorceneaux and a fellow prisoner had gone into the sleeping quarters of the guards who were at dinner and took a rifle, shotgun and pistol. They escaped toward the river, but dogs were quickly put on their trail and in less than two hours they were back in the prison hospital. After serving about a year Dorceneaux escaped again. That time he went to see his wife and two-year-old son near Oberlin and then continued to Arkansas where he is thought to have stayed about a month. After that he disappeared and was never heard from again. | Lucien Sonnier with his second wife Armina "Minnie" Sonnier
14: This was taken from The Twelfth Census of the United States Police Jury Ward 1 Hickory Flat (part of) all east of Kansas City Watkins Gulf R.R. 2nd & 4th day of June 1900 | The family of Belisle J Saunier, age 27 and wife Alidia age 24. Married for 7 years. They had 3 children at this time. Amynthe was 2 years old. Alidia's parents were close neighbors. They are listed next in this census. Same family on the next page 10 years later...
15: This was taken from the THIRTEENTH CENSUS OF THE UNITED STATES: 1910 Population State: Louisiana County: Calcasieu Ward 1 22nd and 23rd day of April 1910 | This census shows Grandma Ament Sonnier and her family in 1910. She is listed as 11 years old. Her father who was known as Jack Sonnier is listed as Belisle Saunier age 38, married 16 years. Aldia is listed as his wife age 33. Seven children are listed. Ade 15, Edna 14, Amynthe 11, Ola 9, Leelia 5, I can't make out the last two names, looks like Lecila 3 and Eloi 1. Language was listed as French and Trade or Profession listed as Farmer.
16: This was taken from two pages of the Census of 1860 Free inhabitants in the county of Calcasieu in the state of Louisiana 11th & 12th day of July 1860 Post Office: Hickory Flat | This portion of the 1860 census shows the family of Bic Sonnier Sr. age 52. He had 7 children listed from Bic Jr. age 21 down to Rosaline age 2. Lucien "Tom" was 8 years old. Some records show he was born in 1850, but according to this he was born in 52. He just had a birthday about a week before this census was taken.
17: The children of Sylvain Sonnier and Josephine Bello This was taken from the page of Gordon Sonnier in Ancestry.com It shows Bic Sonnier born Jan. 3, 1812 in Opelousas, Louisiana. He had a son named after him, Bic jr. was born in 1840.
18: This was taken from the FOURTEENTH CENSUS OF THE UNITED STATES: 1920 POPULATION Ward 1 and Police Jury 1 6th day of February 1920 | This portion of the 1920 census shows Roy and Ament Saunier with four of their children. Roy age 26, and Ament age 20. Her first child Clyde was 6 years old. It also lists Curly (Callie) age 4, Pearl age 3 and Bessie age 2. I suppose the others, Leroy, Shelton, Lloyd and Jane were born after this census was taken. I could not find a census for 1930. They also had another baby that died when he was just a few months old. Five babies in their small community died that year. It must have been around 1923 or 1924. Aunt Pearl said she was about 6 or 7 years old...
19: A story from Aunt Pearl I asked her about Grandma's baby that died...and this is what she had to say. She said "I don't know why I remember this because I can't remember some things that happened yesterday, but this I remember so clearly, as if it just happened." "He was a few months old when he got sick. The doctor would come every day to check on him. I can't remember his name, but he was old enough to have a name so he must've had a name. Anyway, he wasn't doing good at all and the doctor left, but a neighbor lady came over and stayed for hours. I believe she was a Darbonne or a Bertrand. Back then we didn't have cars or phones so she told my daddy "If something happens and you need us shoot your gun in the air and we'll come back." I'll never forget when I saw my daddy reach for his gun. He fired a shot in the air from the south side of the porch and I said to myself my baby brother is leaving us. We didn't live very far from the cemetery and we walked over carrying the baby and buried him in Sonnier Cemetery." *They called it Sonnier Cemetery because the Sonnier's donated the land, but a Durio was the first one buried there so it became known as Durio Cemetery.
20: Grandma and Grandpa Family Photo's
22: More family photo's
25: Roy and Ament Sonnier They had 9 children Clyde, Callie, Pearl, Bessie, Shelton, Lloyd, Leroy, Jane and a baby boy that died at just a few months old. They had countless grandchildren, great-grandchildren, great great grandchildren and more. Here are some of their pictures...
26: The Family of Clyde Sonnier - Children: Latain, Betty & Douglas Married Ketha Turner | Ketha and Clyde | Clyde, Ketha, Latain and Betty | On the back it says: Clyde my brother when in CCC camp cook. The bottom says: THis is for Latain | Douglas Wayne Sonnier | Clyde and Lloyd | Ketha Turner Sonnier
27: Diane Cole Sonnier Douglas Wayne Sonnier | Doug holding Brady Grandma in the background Shelton Sonnier | Not sure who all these people are. I just thought it was a good picture.
28: More Family of Clyde Sonnier
30: More of the family of Clyde Sonnier
32: Clyde Sonnier's family continued | Someone told me this was Aunt Tain that Grandma was holding.
34: More of Clyde Sonnier's family...
36: Great-Grandchildren of Clyde Sonnier
38: More Great-Grandchildren of Clyde Sonnier
40: A few family photos
45: Family of Callie Sonnier Hammers - Daughter: Rovena Mae Married Charlie Hammers | Rovena Mae on a donkey. I'm not sure who the other child is.
46: Family of Pearl Sonnier Taylor - Daughter: Linda Taylor Manuel Married H.C. "Chic" Taylor
47: More Family of Pearl Sonnier Taylor
49: Family of Bessie Sonnier | Bessie's grand daughter Allison
50: Family of Shelton Sonnier - Children: Billy Ray, Danny Joe, Bobby Dean and Randy Married to Irene
51: Not sure who this is. It was in Uncle Shelton's old pictures.
52: More pictures from the family of Shelton Sonnier | Someone must have been mad at poor little Danny Joe...the picture was ripped down the middle. | Billy and Danny | Danny Joe | Billy Ray and his cousin Jackie Thompson
53: Look who was an LSU fan way back then...
54: More from the family of Shelton Sonnier
55: More pictures from the family of Shelton Sonnier...
58: This article made me think of Robert. | Lucien Sonnier on a wolf hunt
59: Family of Leroy Sonnier - Children: Keeter, Michael, Rene , Sharon and Janet Married to Francis and 2nd wife Norris | I wish I had more pictures of Uncle LeRoy's family.
61: Leroy Sonnier | Thank you Janet for sending me these pictures.
62: Family of Lloyd Sonnier - Children: Brenda, Becky, Josie, Ricky, Craig, Melanie, Steve Wife: Esther | I hate that I wasn't able to get more pictures of his family, but I did the best I could.
63: More of the family of Lloyd Sonnier | I love this picture. This is exactly how I remember Uncle Lloyd. | On the back of this picture it said: To Grandma you're the greatest grandma anyone could ask for. God really blessed the Sonnier family when he gave us you. Grandpa we love and miss you. Love You, Becky and Mel God Bless | Clyde and Lloyd
64: Josie's daughter and family | Josie | Craig's son Nathaniel | Ricky's daughter Janella "Toodles" | Melanie's daughter Liberty and her family | Melanie's daughter Christine and her children
65: Jane Sonnier Worthington -Children: Debbie, June, Donzil Married Quade Worthington
66: In the gulf. Latain, Ketha holding Doug, Betty in front, Aunt Jane, June(?) Grandma holding Debbie.
67: More of Jane's family... | Jane and Quade with Jane's side of the family and Quade's side of the family. | Grandpa Roy, Aunt Jane, Grandma Ament, June, Debbie and Donzil
68: I wish I had more of Aunt Jane's Family
69: More Family Snapshots Thank you everyone for sharing your pictures and stories with me. This book wouldn't be possible without all of you. Ketha Sonnier (photo albums) Debbie J. Worthington Sibley Betty Sonnier Nevils Janella Sonnier Johnson Shelly, Amy and Robert Sonnier Randy and Colleen Sonnier Josie Sonnier Pearl Sonnier Taylor Jeffery Ryder and those of you with facebook (I had to steal some of your pictures) | Whatever you did to help, whether you told me stories or gave me pictures... THANK YOU ALL!
70: I'd love to know who has the picture over the mantle
74: The last home place for Roy and Ament Sonnier. I was told they moved around a lot. Roy would move from job to job when his temper would get the best of him they would have to move again...I heard they would sometimes move before grandma could finish unpacking the wagon.
75: ...and that's the story of the Sonnier's, maybe not the whole story, but an interesting story anyway. I did my best to get names, dates and events accurate, but if any of you know of mistakes please let me know so I can make corrections.
77: The End