Family Circle 14

A family history site: Chasing My Own Tale

Thankful Thursday: Workers Unite!

In honor of today being International Worker’s Day I submit two stories, one from each side of the family. I knew one very well and Jon doesn’t believe he ever met the other. Otto Hebert was my paternal grandfather. Mathias Leonard Loucks was Jon’s maternal great-grandfather. I’ve chosen them today since they portray a unique picture of the times in which they lived, particularly, showing the effects of the Industrial Revolution to the formally agrarian system.

First my dear paternal Grandfather Otto Hebert. He was always a jolly kind of guy. As customary, we called him, “Popop Otto”. He had “coke-bottle” thick-framed glasses that shook in time with his belly when he laughed, which was often. All the grandchildren loved being around him. Mama first met Popop Otto when she got a job working at Trappey’s Beverage Company. It was on Pinhook Road in the heart of Lafayette, Louisiana, about 3 miles from where she lived at the time. Just next door was St Patrick Catholic Church, the church Popop Otto, Mamom Otto – my grandmother, Lucet (Broussard) Hebert – and family attended. We’ll discuss the local history later.

Mama was put to work watching the conveyor belt pass loaded with orange soda. Her job was to inspect the bottles for cleanliness and to make sure the bottles were sufficiently filled. To her right was another worker who checked the empty bottles before they came to her. This man, an older gentleman by the name of Otto Hebert, became her good friend and confidant. To her left was Otto’s brother-in-law, Clomere Gaspard. Clomere’s job was to stack the bottles in wooden crates and restack the crates onto the loading docks outside. The three of them sat together on lunch breaks.

Vintage ACL Classic Trappey s Beverages Soda Bottle Lafayette La Louisiana 10oz   eBay

Trappey’s played an active part in my grandparents’ lives. They both retired from working there. Later, a new processing plant was built just across the railroad tracks from their neighborhood. That made life easier for them as they could simply walk 10 minutes to work. They enjoyed having lunch at home where Popop’s mother-in-law Olive (Broussard) Broussard had a full table prepared.

Popop Otto Hebert died on July 8, 1969 at the age of 67 years. He was buried in the Calvary Cemetery near his home in Lafayette. When Mamom Otto died in 1983 she was buried right next to him. To her right is their son, PFC Carroll James Hebert  who was killed in Vietnam. Several other family members are buried there; we will discuss them soon.

Mathias Loucks worked very hard on his farm in Kansas and Iowa. According to the  US Federal Census, he had 160 acres, an entire “section” of land. His primary crop was corn; he also grew broom corn and sorghum. Sorghum is a feed for animals. Broom corn is also sorghum used to make whisk brooms and brooms. It can grow up to 15 feet in height. As Mathias and his wife, Harriet Sophia (Vaux) Loucks, had only two sons and a daughter, the primary work was on his shoulders. Apparently, he was quite successful.

Mathias and Harriet retired from farming and moved to be near their children in Southern California. They settled in San Diego. Mathias died on January 8, 1918 in San Diego at the age of 70 years. He is buried in the Mt. Hope Cemetery. This cemetery is perched on a hill not far from the coast. More on its history later.

Harriet, Mathias’ wife and my husband’s great-grandmother, is buried next to him. They are at the base of a large tree. Thanks to Find-A-Grave, we’ve been able to see the plot. Their youngest son, Warren Tice Loucks, purchased the plots for them. We find it curious that neither of the graves have a headstone. What could be the reason? Time to do more digging!

May 1st is International Worker’s Day for more than 80 countries. I believe researching genealogy helps us to appreciate our ancestors’ hard work to feed their family and survive. Whether they were factory workers like Otto, farmers like Mathias, or some other profession, their contribution of hard work helped us to be where we are today. 

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