When I was growing up in Ville Platte, it was common knowledge among my elders that, “all FRANKS are kin.” This was especially interesting to me because my grandmother, Joanna DENTON, had married three different FRANK men: first, she married my grandfather, Chester FRANK, with whom she had two children—Felton and my father Welton. She then entered a common-law marriage with Orise ARDOIN, (whose mother was a FRANK, making him a part of the FRANK clan); together, my grandmother Joanna and Orise had seven children: Ophelia aka Toot, Preston aka Goo-lie, .Horace aka Poule, twins Mattie and Ethel (aka Toe-Toe), Albert, and Maryann aka Pinky.
My grandmother’s last FRANK husband was the well-known gospel minister, Rev. Willie “W.C.” FRANK (1884). The reverend and my grandmother had no children together, but Rev. FRANK (who had been married twice before he married my grandmother) fathered 22 children, four of which were raised by my grandmother. Here’s a picture of W.C. FRANK that currently hangs in the Greater Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Ville Platte:
So I accepted early on that I was kin to all FRANKS in my hometown area. What I didn’t know was exactly how I was kin to these FRANK cousins. No one could ever tell me. Finding the specific connections to the FRANK families became one of my many genealogical projects.
To start this research, I first sought out to document my personal FRANK family. Here’s some of what I found:
My grandfather Chester and his brother Clifton were the children of Yves FRANK (b. 1870) and Ozelia BIBBS )b. 1876). Continuing up my family tree, you will find that Yves was borne to Ephraim FRANK (b. 1835) and Nancy GEORGE HUDSON (b. 1842). Ephraim and Nancy were also the parents of Francois (b. 1864), Malinda (b. 1866), Susan (b. 1868), and Sarah (b. 1872.)
In the Southwest Louisiana Records, which was recorded by Father Donald Hebert, I found that Ephraim FRANK also married Domatlie LAVIGNE, at which point Ephraim identified his parents as William FRANK and Eloize. Ephraim and Domatile had one child, whose name was Etna FRANK (b. 1884).
My grandmother’s second husband, Orise ARDOIN, descended from the FRANK clan through his mother Florence. Louis Baptiste FRANK (b. 1857) and his wife Melaise PIERRE aka Melaise ARVIE (b. 1863) together had at least 13 children. One of their children was Orise’s mother, Florence (aka T-Ka). Their other children were Morris Myer, Louis, Tenaide (aka T-Na), Delaide, Lee, Rita, Prosper, Regile (aka Richard), Martha, Mary, Athenaise, and Alex Hosea.
My closest FRANK cousins in Ville Platte were all descendants of this Louis and Melaise clan. Louis Baptiste was the son of Jean Baptiste FRANK (b. 1830) and Amelia LOUIS (1835). Their children were Eugene (1852), Jean Baptiste Jr. (1855), Francois (1860), Alcee aka Aley (1865), Julia (1865), Elvina (1869), Armand (1876), Armantin (1877), and Marie (1887). Here’s a picture of Armand Frank provided to me by his granddaughter:
Note: this picture also hangs in the Greater Mount Pilgrim Baptist Church in Ville Platte and had been unidentified, until now.
It’s been more difficult to trace the FRANK line of my grandmother’s third husband, Rev. W.C. Frank. His father was Jervais, aka Gervais FRANK, and his mother, Celeste ELY. Rev. W. C. was the eldest of the eleven children. Their other children were Willis (1889), Melicia (1892), Ophelia,(1894), Amelia (1898), Odelia (1899), Octavia (1900), Philip (1904), Felix (1904), Lorena (1906), and Emily. However, I’ve been unable to identify yet who Gervais’s parents.
Since I now had the progenitors of these two different FRANK families (Ephraim and Jean Baptiste), I wanted to see if I could tie the family of Ephraim FRANK to Jean Baptiste FRANK.
I first looked at the census records and trying to find males in the Saint Landry parish with similar birth years who were living in close proximately to one another. If I were to find any living in the same vicinity, I could start with the premise that they were siblings or otherwise closely related. I did find several males on which to focus and with the assumption that the following FRANKS were brothers:
I will continue discussing my discoveries in the next blog post.