Honoring the Lares and the Penates

Bertonneau 02 Louis Bertonneau Father of Arnold

My great-great grandfather Louis Bertonneau, born ca. 1785 in Cap Francais, Western Saint-Domingue; died ca. 1850, New Orleans, Louisiana

Bertonneau 11 Image Spokane Wa

My great-grandfather, Arnold Bertonneau, Sr., born 1832, New Orleans, Louisiana; died 1912, Pasadena, California.  The date is ca. 1890

Bertonneau 28 (Top Item of B 18) Nelli & Gaston

My paternal grandmother Nellie (nee Gayaut), my grandfather Gaston Felix Bertonneau; and Therese Gayaut, mother of Nellie, on Nellie and Gaston’s wedding day in the French Quarter in 1909.  The spire of the St. Louis Cathedral is dimly visible in the background.  (Gaston’s dates are 1881 – 1918; Nellie’s dates are 1885 – 1966)

Bertonneau 23 Pasadena Store Arnold (Left)

Storefront of Arnold Sr.’s Grocery and Wine Shop on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, California, ca. 1900

Bertonneau 08 Pasadena Grocery Interior

Interior of the same establishment; Arnold Sr. is to the left

Bertonneau 10 Hermanie Gayaut Rush Taken in Denver

My great aunt Herminie (nee Gayaut) — Probably taken around 1930

Bertonneau 17 Nellie Gayaut Bertonneau & Family

Nellie (Gayaut) Bertonneau with her children. Left to right: Gaston and Roland (my uncles), Helene (my aunt), and Daniel (my father), ca, 1925


9 thoughts on “Honoring the Lares and the Penates

  1. Pingback: Remembering the Lares and the Penates | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: Remembering the Lares and the Penates | Reaction Times

  3. Thank you for sharing this. I’m a genealogy enthusiast myself, and am always pleased to see people I know (even if only in cyberspace) connect with their past. I confess I had secretly wondered when and through which routes your family with its very Gaulic name had come to this country.

    • Thank you, Roger. Arnold Bertonneau was an extraordinary character. He was not limited to being a wine merchant. He was the co-publisher and contributing editor of La Tribune de Nouveau Orleans, a bi-lingual newspaper for the gens de couleur which came out in French on MWF and in English on TuThurs; he was the author of the Creole Petition; he served, first, as an officer in the Louisiana Native Guards (Captain), Southern “Colored” Infantry; and later, when the North occupied New Orleans, and when the Native Guards were given the opportunity of signing up under Federal aegis, as an officer in the Corps d’Afrique, the first “Negro” unit in the Northern Army — before the Massachusetts one. After the war, in the 1880s, he opened a new line of business, a haberdashery that clothed the early jazzmen. Jellyroll Morton told the Library of Congress interviewer that if a musician wanted to look good, he would go to Bertonneau and Sons!

  4. Dr. Bertonneau:

    The old photos are great! Thanks for posting them.

    A couple of years ago when my wife and I were caring for my dying father, one of dad’s cousins brought by a binder containing similar old photos of the old family business called T.F. Morris & Sons.

    The business was housed in an old building very similar in looks to the building in your photo, and serviced the community with groceries, general hardware items, plumbing parts and materials, furniture and appliances, auto parts, and even contained a little cobbler’s shop back in one corner of the building.

    After the end of the war (WWII), the boys all returned to work in the family business. My paternal grandfather, Dana Morris, was the shoe cobbler. As the boys began to marry, my great grandfather gave to each a part of the business. Uncle James took the hardware and plumbing aspects, uncle Buddy the auto parts, uncle Ivan took the furniture and appliances, and so on.

    Incidentally, several of the Morris boys married Wade girls (sisters). A few years back it was discovered that the Wades currently hold the Guiness world record for most members of a single family of origin (14) who were married over 50 years. I have links to articles on the subject somewhere. I’ll see if I can find them.

    • Thank you for your comment. I also possess numerous documents relating to my ancestors, including the testament of my great-great grandmother, a Bertonneau, dictated by her to a lawyer’s scribe in New Orleans in 1840, shortly before her death. I might add a couple more photographs to this post and perhaps I will organize a separate post based on the documents.

      I use the photos of the Colorado Boulevard grocery in my Business in Literature course to illustrate one of the principles of estate management articulated by Xenophon in his Platonic dialogue “The Economicus” (“Householder”): Namely that the householder or businessman needs to know precisely where every item is and must be able easily to lay his hands on it. This principle partakes in another: That order is a necessary ingredient in beauty and that what is orderly tends to be beautiful.

  5. Very interesting photos. Can’t help noticing those dates. Your grandfather married at sixteen? And his short life ended in 1918. Was he in WWI? Spanish flu?

    Your smiling uncles and aunt contrast with your father’s unsmiling, sad face, which is nearly identical to his mother’s.

  6. To Scott in PA: You are right, Gaston, Roland, and Helene look happy; neither my grandmother nor my father look happy. Gaston and Roland were jokesters when I knew them, and Helene seemed to sustain a happy mood (her daughter, Little Helen, is also a happy person); my father, like my grandmother — not so much. Nellie’s dour aspect is understandable. She was widowed only a few years before the date of the photograph and was struggling, with some help from extended family, to raise four semi-orphans.

    My grandfather was thirty-nine or forty when he died in 1918. It’s possible that I mixed up the arithmetic or the dates in one of the captions.

    Incidentally, I seem to have inherited the jokester trait.


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