Louisiana Cemetery Board Meeting: Damon Veach and the Clarion Ledger

A few articles of interest concerning Southwest Louisiana in Damon Veach’s column that I found in my mailbox today. I’ve cited the article below for future reference.

There were also alerts for Mississippi Cemeteries today that have been posted to the group from the Clarion Ledger. According to the Clarion Ledger story, Mississippi does not have a Cemetery Board like Louisiana, and therefore, Mississippians are subject to fraudulent activities of funeral homes, cemeteries and the like. The story has been in the news previously. A Louisiana State Cemetery Board member, (an executive member by the way) was interviewed in the article, “Who’s watching out for the dead?”. From what I understand of the Louisiana Cemetery Board, I believed them all to be volunteers, appointed by the Governor, but they may have changed this recently as it has been several years since I’ve read the site. Upon looking for the board member cited by The Clarion Ledger, the name is absent from the LCB website and appears to be possibly outdated. In Chapter 2 of their rules and laws it is said:

§ 63. Compensation; expenses
The members of the board shall receive no compensation but shall receive necessary
traveling and other expenses directly related to the performance of their duties.

The Louisiana Cemetery Board website has several meetings scheduled which are important to note. With the vandalism that has been occurring Louisiana cemeteries, I’m sure that there are interested persons and affected parties who would like to attend. There have been, to my knowledge, several parishes with cemetery vandalism in the news. Independance Colonial cemetery and Acsencion Parish cemeteries have either experienced vandalism or Veteran plaque thefts, in addition, there are nine historical Washington Parish cemeteries that are endangered by the construction of a new reservoir. You can read more on the Louisiana Cemetery Preservation wikispace from the home page click on the discussion section.
From the Louisiana Cemetery Board website:
2008 Board Meetings
2007-11-28 17:20:04

Friday, May 16, 2008
9:00 A.M
111 Veterans Memorial Boulevard
Heritage Plaza
18th Floor Conference Center
Metairie, Louisiana

Friday, November 7, 2008
9:00 A.M
111 Veterans Memorial Boulevard
Heritage Plaza
18th Floor Conference Center
Metairie, Louisiana

A Yahoo 360 blogger, mestar, has been posting information about Mississippi cemeteries for quite some time. You can read her blog about a few cemeteries in counties in Mississippi here. Also some of these cemeteries have not been transcribed or submitted to MSGenWeb’s county site, that I could ascertain. So the transcriptions may be of interest to Mississippi researchers of genealogy. Her most recent post, “Clear Creek Baptist Church and Cemetery”, I have not read yet or checked with the county genealogy site to see if these transcriptions are present. I did check on one of the cemeteries either from Quitman or Lafayette county to see if a transcription was present, but did not immediately find it. I’ll have to check on Find a Grave, too. Mississippians out there who have an interest in cemetery preservation and genealogy may give it a “look see” and determine for yourself. I really enjoy reading Star’s Science and History Blog.

Damon Veach, April 27, 2008
http://www.2theadvocate.com/entertainment/magazine/18178334.html

“The late Rev. Donald J. Hebert was a friend of mine and an outstanding genealogical
preservationist. He is responsible for the publication of many records about the southwest Louisiana area, especially Catholic Church records, and his publications started appearing back in the 1970s.

The Rev. Hebert was born in Lafayette on April 8, 1942, a son of Louis Hebert and Leader Marie Mire. He was reared near Mire, a small community near Lafayette, and he attended his first seven years of school in Mire and attended eighth grade at Rayne High School in 1955. He decided to enter the seminary to study for the priesthood in September of 1956. This was at Immaculata Minor Seminary in Lafayette. In 1962, he entered St. John Seminary in Little Rock, Ark., and in 1967, he entered his final year at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. He was ordained a priest at St. John’s Cathedral in Lafayette on June 1, 1968, and his first assignment was at St. Francis Regis in Arnaudville.

In 1971, the Rev. Hebert began research on the Hebert, Mire, Credeur and Leger families, and in April
of 1974, he published Volume 1 of Southwest Louisiana Records (1756-1810), the beginning of a series of records that have helped many researchers in their search for early ancestors in this part of the state. One of Louisiana’s foremost and most respected genealogists, Jacqueline Olivier Vidrine, wrote the foreword to the original edition which included a brief history of the Catholic Diocese of Lafayette, formed in 1918. The historical boundaries cover the area west of the Atchafalaya River to the Sabine River, bounded on the north by the
Diocese of Alexandria and on the south by the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of the documents which form a basis for these abstracts are in French and Spanish. According to Vidrine, many are difficult to decipher, and a few have deteriorated. The Rev. Hebert included all civil and
ecclesiastical records relating to births, marriages and deaths for the period between 1756 and 1810 that could be found. He also included documents located in the State Archives here in Baton Rouge and at the
LSU Library.

The work that the Rev. Hebert did on his own family lineages prompted his interest in doing more to preserve
early records. Being a priest of the Lafayette Diocese made it possible for him to have easy access to the sacramental registers kept in each Catholic Church. It was also helpful when working with the Dioceses of
New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Seeing the condition of many of these old records inspired the Rev. Hebert to strive to get them in published form quickly. His work in the churches in Opelousas, St. Martinville,
Lafayette and Grand Coteau left a tremendous impact on him.

He recalled his first summer vacation after arriving at St. Anthony’s Church in Eunice in June of 1970. His time was spent dictating onto tape the many records found in the St. Landry church records, and he
mentioned in the preface to his first book that he taped for well over 80 hours sitting in one of the upstairs rooms where it was quiet enough to do the recordings. For two weeks, his time was spent speaking into a
microphone, spelling all of the difficult and foreign names in order that someone could type up the data properly. He even recalled how hoarse he became from talking so much, but with the cooperation of all concerned in the project, that first book of Southwest Louisiana records became a reality.

With the help of students who were willing to work for very little pay, the copying, indexing, and arranging of the material fell into place. This was before the use of computers, so every entry had to be copied and
cross-indexed onto cards. With the many students working with him, the Rev. Hebert was able to produce sometimes up to seven or eight books a year.

With all the hard work that he put into this massive project, he became very proud of his accomplishments and
realized that it was all worthwhile. He credited Vidrine with the encouragement to publish these records. His original intent was to copy records for his own use in researching his lineage, but safeguarding the old records became the major emphasis as he continued to uncover the deteriorating records. His work didn’t end with that first volume of records. He continued with more than 40 volumes bringing documents into print to 1910, but the church records weren’t the only manuscripts he published. Working with other genealogists, he was instrumental in publishing A Guide to Church Records, 1720-1795, Researching Acadian Families, and many more important books.

After the Rev. Hebert’s death, many wondered what would happen to all of his publications and possible future publications that he had planned to do. It can now be announced that Claitor’s Publishing Division of Baton
Rouge purchased the highly respected Hebert Publications in February and March of 2008, and they have already reprinted around 30 of the out-of-print titles. This indeed will prove to be a valuable asset for
all future genealogical endeavors. The goal of Claitor’s is, in time, to be able to display the full line or at least most of it, and they are off to a good start.

Claitor’s was established in 1922 and is well known for their excellence in publishing including both genealogy and technical books. Acquiring Hebert Publications puts them up there with some of the bigger publishers of genealogical materials. They have the capabilities with new Print on Demand equipment to really change the equation in the number of copies produced at one time and still retain prices that are reasonable for all of these newly acquired books. It is important to note also that in addition to publishing these outstanding books, Bob
Claitor is knowledgeable in all phases of both researching and determining what is most useful in the form of genealogical preservation through the printed volumes. With this said, Claitor’s will be moving into the national spotlight as powerhouse of genealogical publishing.

They are already working with a retired Louisiana priest and author who is interested in continuing the work that Hebert began. This means its possibile that more of these important records will be made available to the public.
There will be more about this and future plans for genealogical publications as they become available for release, but the breath of life has returned to a monumental work, and it is good to see something like this happen in the genealogical world.

You can learn more about Claitor’s and the reprints of all the Hebert books at http//www.claitors.com. They are located at 3165 S. Acadian Thruway at Interstate 10 or call (225) 766-0752.”

About Louisiana Genealogy Admin

I manage several RootsWeb mailing lists and message boards, support Louisiana Cemetery Preservation, am a former Louisiana and Mississippi librarian, have been researching genealogy of my family since 1988, and write and promote several blogs supporting either Louisiana genealogy or Louisiana cemeteries.
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