Friday, November 13, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: Secondary Sources

Many people check secondary resources first when beginning their genealogical studies. Secondary sources include those items that are compiled by someone else, such as a book or a website about the family one is researching. I, on the other hand, check other people's compilations after I have done some work in original source documents that I have easy access to. Original source documents include birth certificates, death certificates, obituaries, marriage certificates, census records, and so on. I followed my usual pattern with Erastus J. Perry.

I found four GEDCOM files on's WorldConnect database that contained Erastus J. Perry. His birth date and death date match what I found in the WWI draft registration card, social security death index, obituary, and census records. His burial place also matched.

All four family files said that his wife's name was Bertha I. Perkins. Both her obit and Erastus' obit both say that her maiden name was Westbrook, and her obit even gives her brother's name as B.C. Westbrook. I wonder where the name Perkins comes from. Of course, none of them have sources documented as to where they determined that her last name was Perkins. I'm wondering if she was first married to a Perkins. This will require a trip to the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library to search their marriage records on microfilm, assuming she and Erastus married in Calcasieu Parish. In the meantime, I will search the 1920 census to see if she was married to a Perkins at that time. It would make sense if she were married prior to marrying Erastus because she was about 30 years old at the time of her marriage to Erastus, based on the age at first marriage given in the 1930 census. Granted, her marriage to Erastus may not have been her first marriage, but sometimes the census taker wrote down the age of the person at the time of their current marriage rather than their first marriage.

The family files also gave Erastus' father as Richmond L. Perry, who was born 26 Oct 1847 in Calcasieu Parish, and who died 9 Aug 1909. His burial place is given as Big Woods Cemetery. Erastus' mother is given as Harriet Wynonah Coward, who was born 3 Jun 1853 in either Calcasieu Parish or Galveston County, Texas, and who died 15 Dec 1921 in Calcasieu Parish. Her burial place is also Big Woods Cemetery. This is interesting because the 1920 census listed Gus Lyons as her brother. This is a note on the SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA database by Chas Alcock:

The 1920 census has Augustus Lyons, born 1866, living with Wuonah and lists him as her brother. I have them as first cousins. Previous censuses support them not being brother and sister. Erastus Perry, her son, was also living in the household.

On the Dickerson Family database by Bobby Dickerson, there is a note about Erastus' sister, Eula, from Eula's granddaughter, Marilyn Baker:

Bobby, I have received as of today my grandmother's (Edith Ursula Perry Castleberry Harvey) social security information in which she stated that she is the daughter of Richmond L. Perry and Wayona Coward. She has her birthday listed as 02 August 1895 in Vinton, La. She died 07 April 1973 in Houston, Harris, TX. She was married to Roy Castleberry and had two children Lucille and Roy Perry Castleberry. She later married an Unknown Harvey. Just thought I would pass this info onto you and others.
There is also another note from Marilyn about Eula in the SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA database:

Weaver Harvey is NOT Eulah J. "Edith Ursula" Perry's 2nd husband. I do not know where that information was found but it is a gross error. I have done extensive research on her and that particular information is not correct. Also, I have discovered that Lucille is not Eulah's daughter but step-daughter to Eulah. Eulah had 3 husbands and 2 children. All my sources are documented and in my genealogy I always make sure that credit is given to all my sources.
I did find this entry in the SSDI for Edith Harvey:

Name: Edith Harvey
SSN: 461-18-1611
Last Residence: 77003 Houston, Harris, Texas, United States of America
Born: 2 Aug 1895
Died: Apr 1973
State (Year) SSN issued: Texas (Before 1951)

Apparently, Eula's real name was Edith Ursula Perry and she was not married to Weaver Harvey, though I wonder what Harvey she was married to.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: Obituaries - Part II

I also found the obituary for the son of Erastus and Bertha Westbrook Perry, Erastus Joseph "Joe" Perry.

"Joe Perry," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 28 May 2008, p. A3:

SULPHUR --- Joe Perry, 83, passed away Tuesday, May 27, 2008, in his residence from a short battle with cancer.

He was a native of Vinton, and had lived in Carlyss for 60 years. He was a Navy veteran. Joe retired from Cit-Con Oil Refinery in 1981. He was a long time member of Henning Memorial United Methodist Church.

Joe was a devoted husband and father and is survived by his wife, Margaret Helen Vincent Perry of Grand Cove Nursing Home; daughters Uba Lee Anderson of Alexandria and Elizabeth Rike and husband Andy of Richmond, Texas; one sister, Carol Perry of Fort Stockton; four grandchildren, Scott and Steven Guimaraes of Alexandria and Christina Rike Snyder and Brian Rike of Richmond, Texas; and seven great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Henning Memorial United Methodist Church.

His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 29, in Henning Memorial United Methodist Church. Burial will be in Big Woods Cemetery under the direction of Hixson-Sulphur Memorial Funeral Home. Visitation will be 5-9 p.m. today at Hixson-Sulphur Memorial Funeral Home and from 8:30 to 10 a.m. Thursday at Henning Memorial United Methodist Church. Words of comfort may be shared with the family at

Seems like Joe must have moved to Sulphur/Carlyss around 1948, when he would have been about 23 years old. I would assume this was probably around the time he was discharged from the Navy.

We learn that Joe married Margaret Helen Vincent and had two daughters, four grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

Joe's sister, Carol, seems to still be going by her maiden name and living in West Texas.

Like his father, Joe seems to have been active in the Methodist church, and like many men in southwest Louisiana, he worked in the oil refineries.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: Obituaries - Part I

Armed with the info found on Erastus (and possibly his wife and son) in the SSDI, I next decided to check the Lake Charles American Press for obituaries. Here is what I found:

"E.J. Perry," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 29 Apr 1963, p. 2:
SULPHUR -- Funeral services for E.J. (Ras) Perry, 76, of Sulphur will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Burke-Hammer funeral home chapel. Rev. V. Henry Bowden, pastor of the Henning Memorial Methodist church, will officiate.

Burial will be in the Big Woods cemetery near Edgerly.

Mr. Perry, a resident of 1112 Morgan street, died at 11:20 a.m. Sunday following a long illness.

A native of Vinton, he had lived there until moving to Sulphur two months ago. He was a retired construction worker.

He was a veteran of World War I and before moving to Sulphur, he had been a member of the official board of the Vinton Methodist church for many years. He was also made honorary steward just before he moved. He was also made honorary steward of Henning Memorial Methodist church of Sulphur.

Survivors are his wife, Mrs. Bertha Westbrook Perry of Sulphur; one daughter, Mrs. Jack Strickland of Andrews, Texas; one son, Joe Perry of Carlyss; one sister, Mrs. Eula Harvey of Houston, Texas; and four grandchildren.

Well, this definitely looks like our Erastus Joseph Perry. Seems like he went by the name Ras, which must have been short for Erastus. His age of 76 would support a birth date of 10 Sep 1886, which is the birth date from the WWI Draft Registration card and from the SSDI.

Now that I know his burial place, I will be stopping by to take pictures. Big Woods Cemetery is literally in the middle of some "big woods."

This obit gives Bertha's maiden name as Westbrook.

It also gives a husband's name and residence for Erastus' daughter, presumably Carol from the 1930 census. Seems like she had moved to West Texas by 1963.

It looks like his son, Joe, didn't move too far. Carlyss is just south of Sulphur and southeast of Vinton.

His youngest sister, Eula, age 14 in the 1910 census and living with Erastus and their mother, Wyonna, seems to have married a man with a last name of Harvey and moved to Houston.

Here is what I found for Bertha:
"Mrs. Bertha Perry," obituary, Lake Charles (Louisiana) American Press, 25 Apr 1976, p. 26:

SULPHUR --- Funeral services for Mrs. Bertha Westbrook Perry, 83, will be at 2 p.m. today, April 25 in Hammer Funeral Home Chapel.

The Rev. Warren Blakeman will officiate. Burial will be in Big Woods Cemetery in Edgerly.

Mrs. Perry died at 2:10 a.m. Saturday in a local nursing home.

A native of Tuscanola, Miss., she had lived in Sulphur for 53 years. She was a member of Henning Memorial United Methodist Church.

Survivors are one son, Joe Perry, of Sulphur; one daughter, Mrs. Carol Perry of Imperial, Tex.; one brother, B.C. Westbrook of Birmingham, Ala.; three sisters, Mrs. O.J. Blair of Sulphur, Mrs. Lennon Hughs and Mrs. Mary Thompson, both of Miami, Fla.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

The 1930 census did say Bertha and both of her parents were born in Mississippi. Tuscanola is an unincorporated area of Jones County in southeastern Mississippi. It is now called Moselle.

It seems like Bertha's daughter, Carol, had reverted back to using her maiden name, but still lived in West Texas, albeit a different town, in 1976.

Her son, Joe, still lived in the Sulphur/Carlyss area.

From this obit, we learn some of Bertha's siblings names and/or their spouse's names and their residences. I'm not quite sure if Lennon is her sister's name or her sister's husband's name. It looks like she had at least one other sibling in southwest Louisiana.

The obit says that Bertha had lived in Sulphur for 53 years, which would have put her moving there in 1923. I think this is an error, since she lived in Vinton in 1930. I believe that it meant to say that she moved to southwest Louisiana from Mississippi in 1923. According to the 1930 census, she married Erastus sometime around 1922 or 1923. Therefore, it would make sense that she moved to Louisiana in 1923. She probably moved to Sulphur in 1963 when her husband moved there, just two months before his death.

What's interesting is that the Perry family is still a prominent family in the Methodist Church in Vinton. I doubt the ones today are direct descendants of Erastus Joseph Perry and Bertha Westbrook because it seems that their only two children moved away from Vinton before 1963.

Stay tuned for the obituary of Erastus' son, Joe Perry.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: SSDI

My next step in searching for Erastus J. Perry was to check the SSDI at to find a death date. I found the following:

Name: Erastus Perry
SSN: 433-16-2685
Last Residence: Louisiana
Born: 10 Sep 1886
Died: Apr 1963
State (Year) SSN issued: Louisiana (Before 1951)

This birth date matches that found on the WWI Draft Registration Card of Erastus Joseph Perry mentioned in my previous post.

I also found an entry for what looks like Erastus' son, Joseph Perry, from the 1930 census:

Name: Erastus J. Perry
SSN: 433-32-6190
Last Residence: 70665 Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana, United States of America
Born: 20 Mar 1925
Died: 27 May 2008
State (Year) SSN issued: Louisiana (Before 1951)

The Joseph Perry in the 1930 census was five years old, meaning he was likely born between April 1924 and April 1925. This Erastus J. Perry was born in that window of time. This Erastus J. Perry had a residence in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, where Joseph Perry lived at the time of the 1930 census. It was likely that Joseph Perry was actually named Erastus J. Perry like his father and went by his middle name of Joseph in order to distinguish him from his father.

Last but not least, I also found an entry in the SSDI for Erastus' wife, Bertha:

Name: Bertha Perry
SSN: 436-02-8767
Last Residence: 70663 Sulphur, Calcasieu, Louisiana, United States of America
Born: 5 Feb 1893
Died: Apr 1976
State (Year) SSN issued: Louisiana (1971)

This Bertha's age matches that of Bertha Perry from the 1930 census, and she was living in Calcasieu Parish, just like Bertha Perry from the 1930 census. The Bertha from the 1930 census was age 37, which means she was likely born between April 1892 and April 1893. This Bertha fits perfectly into that time frame.

Stay tuned to find out what I found when I went searching for obits.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: WWI Draft Registration

As I was starting to run out of luck with Erastus J. Perry in the census records, I decided to look him up in the WWI Draft Registration. All men born between 1873 and 1900 were required to register for the WWI draft in 1917 and 1918. I found the following:

Erastus Joseph Perry
Age 30
Resident of Vinton, Louisiana
Born 10 Sep 1886 in Edgerly, Louisiana
Self-employed farmer
Has dependent mother and niece (age 5)
Grey eyes, red hair, medium height and build

Erastus registered on 5 Jun 1917. This seems to be the right Erastus, as he lives in Vinton, and his birth date roughly coincides with his age on the 1920 and 1930 census records. We finally have a middle name for Erastus, which makes sense, as his son's name on the 1930 census is given as Joseph Perry. His birthplace of Edgerly is in Police Jury Ward 5, where the family lived in 1880 and 1910. Perhaps the niece that he supported was the daughter of his younger sister, Levenia. Levenia was listed as the mother of one child still living on the 1910 census, although the child was not listed. However, if the niece's age is reported correctly on the WWI draft registration card, then she wouldn't have been born until 1911 or 1912, so this may not be the ghost child from the 1910 census.

I decided to also look for Erastus' known brothers in the WWI draft registration database at and found the following:

William Henry Perry
Resident of Vinton, Louisiana
Age 38
Born 31 Dec 1879
Stockman for J.G. Gray in Vinton, Louisiana
Has dependent mother: Mrs. Wyona Perry of Vinton, Louisiana
Blue eyes, sandy hair, medium height, stout build

William registered for the draft in Sep 1918. His birth date and age matches that of the William H. Perry found on the 1880 and 1910 census records. It seems like William either hadn't married by 1918, as he did not list a wife as his dependent, or his wife had died by 1918. He does not appear to have any children either.

Richmond W. Perry
Age 25
Resident of Vinton, Louisiana
Born 23 Jun 1892 in Vinton, Louisiana
Oil field laborer for Gulf Refining Company in Ged, Louisiana
Has dependent wife and child
Gray eyes, black hair, medium build

Richmond registered on 5 Jun 1917. Ged is just south of Vinton. Richmond appears to be the only brother who had married by 1917. His birth date roughly matches that found on the 1910 census.


"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, ( : accessed 3 Nov 2009), Erastus Joseph Perry, serial no. 1585, order no. 219, Draft Board, Vinton, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, roll 1684666.

"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, ( : accessed 3 Nov 2009), William Henry Perry, serial no. 3325, order no. 3318, Draft Board, Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, roll 1684666.

"World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, ( : accessed 3 Nov 2009), Richmond W. Perry, serial no. 1595, order no. 109, Draft Board, Ged, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana; citing World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, roll 1684666.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: 1880/1900 US Census

If Erastus J. Perry were born in 1886 or 1887, as suggested by the 1920 and 1930 census, or even 1884 or 1885, as suggested by the 1910 census, the 1900 census would have been his first census debut. However, he seems to be shying away for the 1900 census. It seems like I've searched everywhere for him, his mother, and even his siblings, but to no avail.

I decided to check out the 1880 US census for Wyonna and hopefully, Erastus' father. I found the following in Lower Sabine in Calcasieu Parish:

Richman Perry, white, male, age 32, married, laborer, b. LA, f.b. LA, m.b. LA

Ona Perry, white, female, age 24, wife, married, keeping house, b. LA, f.b. MS, m.b. MS

Azema Perry, white, female, age 4, daughter, b. LA, f.b. LA, m.b. LA

Margaret Perry, white, female, age 2, daughter, b. LA, f.b. LA, m.b. LA

William H. Perry, white, male, age 5/12, son, b. LA, f.b. LA, m.b. LA

Estimated birth dates:
Richman Perry: b. abt 1847-1848
Ona Perry: b. abt 1855-1856
Azema Perry: b. abt 1875-1876
Margaret Perry: b. abt 1877-1878
William H. Perry: b. abt Dec 1879

This looks like a close match for Erastus' family because of the following:
1) We know Erastus' mother's name is Wyonna from the 1910 and 1920 census. She was born about 1854-1855 in Louisiana. This Ona was born about 1855-1856 in Louisiana. Ona is likely a nickname for Wyonna.
2) William H. Perry, Erastus' brother, according to the 1910 census, was born about 1879-1880 in Louisiana. This William H. Perry was born about Dec 1879 in Louisiana.
3) Erastus had a brother named Richmon Perry, according to the 1910 census. The father in this family is named Richman Perry.
4) Azema and Margaret do not show up in the 1910 census, but this is probably because they were married with families of their own in 1910. They would probably not have lived at home with their mother.
5) Levenia, Erastus, Richmon (the son), and Eulah would not have shown up in this census, as they were all born after 1880, according to the 1910 census.

The only discrepancy is that on this census, Wyonna's father's birthplace is given as Mississippi. The 1910 and 1920 census records give her father's birthplace as Louisiana.

I decided to read the 1900 census for Lower Sabine line by line to again look for Erastus' family. I did not find them but found the following families:

Aug L. Perry, age 48, b. Dec 1851 in TX
Alice Perry, age 38, b. Feb 1862 in LA
Johnson A. Perry, age 19, b. Jun 1880 in LA
Benson Perry, age 18, b. Feb 1882 in LA
Raymond Perry, age 15, b. Jan 1885 in LA
Gussie Perry, age 5, b. Jan 1894 in LA

Jos. L. Perry, age 38, b. Sep 1861 in LA
Hattie Perry, age 31, b. Nov 1869 in LA
William Perry, age ?, b. Aug 1885 in LA
Lillie Perry, age 14, b. Feb 1886 in LA
Lucius Perry, age 8, b. Mar 1892 in LA
Gracie Perry, age 2, b. Jan 1898 in LA

Wm. L. Perry, age 45, b. Apr 1855 in TX
Catha Perry, age 44, b. Oct 1855 in LA

Edgar Perry, age 27, b. Sep 1872 in LA
Lea Perry, age 27, b. Mar 1873 in LA
Lonnie Perry, age 8, b. Jan 1892 in LA
Agnes Perry, age 3, b. Jun 1896 in LA
Adam Perry, age 1, b. Mar 1899 in LA

Alzena Perry, age 51, b. May 1849 in LA
Mary Perry, age 23, b. Nov 1876 in LA
Emily Sonnier, age 80, b. May 1820 in LA

Alexander Perry, age 41, b. May 1859 in LA (wonder if this was Vinton's first mayor)
Minervia Perry, age 36, b. Mar 1864 in LA
Estella Perry, age 19, b. Apr 1881 in LA
Luther Perry, age 17, b. May 1883 in LA
Ethel Perry, age 14, b. Sep 1886 in LA
Cleave Perry, age 12, b. Nov 1888 in LA
Lister Perry, age 9, b. Jul 1890 in LA
Artian Perry, age 6, b. Aug 1893 in LA
Elmer Perry, age 3, b. Apr 1896 in LA
Lillian Perry, age 1, b. Apr 1899 in LA

William L. and Catherine Perry, who lived next door to Wyonna and her children in 1910, show up in 1900.

Not much was found for certain with these searches. Perhaps Erastus' father's name was Richman Perry.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: 1910 US Census

Logically, my next step in this search for more information on Erastus J. Perry was to comb the 1910 census for Erastus and his mother, Wyonna. I found a widowed Wyonna living in Police Jury Ward 5 of Calcasieu Parish with five children. Ward 5 is just north of the town of Vinton, where Edgerly, Big Woods, and Starks (all unincorporated) are located.

Wyona H. Perry, head, female, white, age 55, widowed, mother of 10 children, 9 children still living, born in Louisiana, father born in Louisiana, mother born in Mississippi, speaks English, own income, owns house free of mortgage

William H. Perry, son, male, white, age 30, single, born in Louisiana, both parents born in Louisiana, speaks English, stock ranch herder, wage earner, able to read and write

Levenia E. Perry, daughter, female, white, age 23, widowed, mother of one child, one child still living, born in Louisiana, both parents born in Louisiana, speaks English, able to read and write

Richmon W. Perry, son, male, white, age 19, single, born in Louisiana, both parents born in Louisiana, speaks English, stock ranch herder, wage earner, not employed, able to read and write, attended school within the census year

Erastus J. Perry, son, male, white, age 25, single, born in Louisiana, both parents born in Louisiana, speaks English, farm laborer on a rice farm, wage earner, not employed, able to read and write

Eulah Perry, daughter, female, white, age 14, single, born in Louisiana, both parents born in Louisiana, speaks English, able to read and write, has attended school within the census year

Estimated birth dates:

Wyona H. Perry - b. abt 1854-1855
William H. Perry - b. abt 1879-1880
Levenia E. Perry - b. abt 1886-1887
Richmon W. Perry - b. abt 1890-1891
Erastus J. Perry - b. abt 1884-1885
Eulah Perry - b. abt 1895-1896

We find the names of Erastus' siblings: William H., Levenia E., Richmond W., and Eulah. There are probably older sibilings who had already moved out of the household, considering William, Levenia, and Erastus were all in their twenties and thirties. In addition, Wyonna is listed at the mother of ten children, and only five are listed here.

Erastus' age is given differently on this census. He appears slightly older here. If the other two census records are correct, then he would have been about 23 or 24 years old, rather than 25. I'm not sure why he was enumerated out of order either. He is older than Richmon, but he is listed below Richmon.

Erastus was a farm laborer on a rice farm in 1910. So he went from being a farm laborer to a house carpenter to a retail merchant of ice. Hmmm....seems like he was a jack of all trades.

Erastus' parents birthplaces are again given as Louisiana, which is making me think the 1930 census was incorrect when it said they were born in Texas. The 1920 census also said Louisiana.

Wyonna's birth date is again estimated as about 1854 to 1855, which agrees with the 1920 census. Her birthplace and parents' birthplaces also agree.

One interesting thing about this household is Levenia E. Perry. The census says she was widowed and had a child who was still living, but where is the child? Eulah is too old to he her child, and besides, it says Eulah is the daughter of Wyonna. Also, why was Levenia's last name still Perry if she was widowed? Maybe her child had actually died, and maybe the census enumerator just accidentally listed her as a Perry since everyone else in the household was a Perry.

It is important to note that there is a Perry family living next door. They are William L. Perry, age 55, born in Texas, and Catherine Perry, age 55, born in Louisiana. Could William be a brother-in-law to Wyonna? If so, maybe Erastus' father was born in Texas. Hmmm....

Source: 1910 U.S. census, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana population schedule, Police Jury Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 41, sheet 6A, dwelling 106, family 106, Wyona H. Perry; digital images, ( : accessed 3 Aug 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T624, roll 511.