Thursday, July 30, 2009

Erastus J. Perry: 1930 US Census

I decided to begin my Vinton research with the 1930 US Census. On p. 1A, the first family enumerated in Vinton is the family of Erastus J. Perry.

Center Street
Erastus J. Perry, head, owns home, home value is $2,000, owns radio, does not live on a farm, male, white, age 43, married, age 36 at first marriage, can read and write, born in Louisiana, father and mother born in Texas, retail merchant of ice, self-employed, can speak English, veteran of WWI

Bertha I. Perry, wife, female, white, age 37, married, age 30 at first marriage, can read and write, born in Mississippi, father and mother born in Mississippi, can speak English

Joseph Perry, son, male, white, age 5, single, has not attended school during the census year, born in Louisiana, father born in Louisiana, mother born in Mississippi

Carol Perry, daughter, female, white, age 3 5/12, single, born in Louisiana, father born in Louisiana, mother born in Mississippi

Lonnie Manuel, roomer, male, white, age 17, single, has attended school within the census year, can read and write, born in Louisiana, father and mother born in Louisiana, can speak English

Estimated birth years:

Erastus J. Perry, b. abt 1886-1887
Bertha I. Perry, b. abt 1892-1893
Joseph Perry, b. abt 1924-1925
Carol Perry, b. abt Oct 1926
Lonnie Manuel, b. abt 1912-1913

Estimated marriage year:

Erastus J. Perry m. Bertha I. ? abt 1922-1923 (assuming this was their first marriage to each other; the date does make sense in light of the children's approximate birth dates, but since he was 36 and she was 30 at the time of their marriage, it seems that they could have been previously married)

I have been trying to figure out which house the Perry's may have lived in. It looks like their neighbors, Linday and Etna Young, lived on the corner of Center and Industrial Street, so I have a pretty good idea, though I can't be certain without looking at land records. (Wow, I just realized that Vinton now has street views on Google Maps). Here is the house I think they lived in:

View Larger Map
The house on the right (not covered so much by the tree) is the one I think they may have lived in. That street to the left is Industrial Street. On Center Street, on the other side of Industrial, there is now a home for the disabled. It is possible the Perry's lived on that side of Industrial, and that their house was removed to make way for the disabled care center. I would presume that the disabled care center was built post 1930. Perhaps I could find a city directory for Vinton that would give me the exact address. I'll have to check the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical Library this weekend when I visit.

Finding this census record made me ask the following questions:
  • Was Erastus J. Perry related to Alexander Perry, the first mayor of Vinton?
  • How long had Erastus lived in Vinton?
  • What was Bertha's maiden name?
  • Did they have any other children after 1930?
  • Who were Erastus' parents and siblings?
  • Did I grow up with any of his geat-grandchildren? There were some Perry's who attended the Methodist church in Vinton when I attended there in the late 1990s and early 2000s. There was also a Perry who was two grades behind me in school.
  • When did Erastus die?
  • What was the name of Erastus' ice business?
  • Were Erastus or Bertha married previously, considering they were both probably over 30 when they married each other?
  • What happened to Joseph and Carol Perry after they grew up?
  • Was Lonnie Manuel a relative?
Stay tuned to find out some of the answers to these questions!!!


1930 U.S. census, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Vinton, enumeration district (ED) 26, sheet 1A, dwelling 1, family 1, Erastus J. Perry; digital images, ( : accessed 30 Jul 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 789.


Welcome to my new blog about the history and genealogy of the families of Vinton, Louisiana. I grew up in Vinton, and although my family did not settle there until the 1940s, I decided it would be interesting to study the family histories of the earlier settlers. I have been studying my own family history, which you can read about at Jennifer's Genealogy Blog, for ten plus years.

Vinton is located in Calcasieu Parish in southwest Louisiana on Interstate 10, just across the Sabine River from Orange, Texas. It had a population of around 3,300 at the time of the 2000 census. Jean Baptiste Granger was one of the first settlers of Vinton. He arrived in 1827 and settled between what is now Vinton and the unincorporated area just north of Vinton called Big Woods. Due to western Louisiana border disputes between the French and the Spanish, Vinton remained relatively unsettled, even after Louisiana was purchased by the U.S.

The Louisiana & Texas Railroad Company decided to build a railroad between New Orleans and Beaumont, Texas, due to the logging industry that was sprouting up in Calcasieu Parish. The railroad is what put Vinton on the map (and what later brought my great-grandparents to the area in the 1940s). At this time, Vinton was a whistle-stop called Blair.

A land developer named Jabez B. Watkins arrived in nearby Lake Charles, Louisiana, from Lawrence, Kansas in 1883. He bought 500,000 acres of land in southwest Louisiana. To attract settlers, he advertised in newspapers across the country. It is believed that Dr. Seaman Knapp was one of those attracted by his advertisements. Dr. Knapp, an Iowa native and former president of Iowa Agricultural College, arrived in Lake Charles in 1884. He ran an agricultural business for Watkins until 1887, when he opened his own land development company.

Knapp purchased 160 acres that would form the basis of Vinton, and another 640 acres was purchased by Robert F. Evans in 1887. By 1889, Knapp's land development company owned all these tracts and sold them for $10 to $25 per lot. Several other Iowa families that settled in Vinton were the Horridge, Stevenson, Eddie, Ferguson, Stockwell, Morgan, Nelson, Fairchild, Banker, Hall, and Haskill families. Vinton is presumed to be named after Knapp's hometown of Vinton, Iowa.

The settlement of Vinton increased with the oil boom in nearby Ged, an unincorporated community just south of Vinton. Vinton was incorporated on October 10, 1910, and Alexander Perry was appointed the first mayor.