Nicknames in a Spanish Community
By Mary Lucille Rivers
Although the Ebarb and Zwolle Communities, as such, are not mentioned in Belisle’s History of Sabine Parish in 1912, they had been settled long before that time. In the 1700’s, honest Spanish or French settlers couldn’t get legal title to lands located between the Rio Hondo and the Sabine River since these lands were claimed at various times by both the French and the Spanish and later the United States of America. Many persons silently as ghosts came into this area and left little traces of their occupancy of the lands. Some would appear in a census, disappear for years and then reappear later on. Many of the Indians in this area of Louisiana were friendly and some of the settlers were even related to them. Settlers simply disappeared into the forests among these friendly Indians.
It must be admitted however, that even as late as the early twentieth century, few outsiders could have given a very accurate or impartial picture of life in this section of Sabine Parish. There were differences of religion, of nationality and loyalties, and of customs and culture between the Spanish settlers and their so-called Anglo – Saxon neighbors. The Spanish-speaking and the English speaking peoples did not, as a general rule have close communications; they lived apart.
The English-speaking pioneers (and their descendants) who had poured in from Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and the Carolinas were largely of English, Irish, Scottish, Dutch and German ancestry. Intent on making a living and absorbed in problems of their own, the Spanish speaking and the English-speaking people usually met for business purposes only; so it is not surprising that the proud heritage of the people of Ebarb and Zwolle are not mentioned in an early history of Sabine Parish. A few Spanish intermarried with the “whites” but they were the exception and not the customary way.
For most of the people, then and now, the words, Spanish and Mexican (Meskin) are synonymous but to the local people there was a big difference. In church records, business dealings and legal transactions the terms were used interchangeably. For more than a few generations, it was a “put down,” a racial slur to call anyone from the Zwolle or Ebarb area a “Mexican”. It was “time to fight” if anyone called you that. Residents vehemently claimed to be Spanish, not Mexican, and now (2011) many claim to be Indian. Actually, it wasn’t that long ago that being called an “Indian” was also an insult. It was as if you weren’t black but you weren’t white either. Some “whites” may have unknowingly used the word but they quickly learned to not do that again unless they were ready for a fight; others may have gotten slugged without even knowing what they had done wrong.
Another nickname for these Spanish people, also a “put down” was Choncis. There was a French name Chonce but its relationship to Choncis is not known. It is not as commonly used today but it formerly was equal to Mexican as put downs and was a sure cause for a fight if someone called you that name. Hal Leone, originally from Zwolle wrote a book titled Choncis but local people didn’t appreciate this term even if it was written by a Leone person.
People other than Spanish, French or Indian were called “whitefaces.” This term is still in use today (2011). The cemetery in Zwolle, along Highway 171, for those not of Catholic (Spanish, French) descent was and is still called the “American Graveyard”. You will find very few Ebarbs, Rivers, Martinez, and Sepulvados buried here because Catholics believed that they had to be buried in sacred ground that was blessed by a Catholic priest. Persons buried in this cemetery had changed religions to Protestant religions or were married to a Protestant.
Today, 2011, some persons with college degrees and professional backgrounds prefer to be called “Hispanic” even though none of them speak the Spanish language. These individuals are more closely aligned today to Southern United States cultural mores and patterns than the Spanish even though it is part of their heritage.
Today, 2011, no one born and raised in Sabine Parish can speak Spanish. There are several Spanish speaking persons born in Texas who have married local people. Young Mexican workers can be heard in the stores speaking Spanish but they are not native to the area. Several local girls have married these Spanish workers and have children by these persons and consequently their children may know the Spanish language. These young Mexicans do work of a menial nature that the local people won’t do: working in chicken houses, picking fruit; helpers in carpentry work, etc.
There were many Ebarbs, Sepulvados, Meshells, and Procells living in the Ebarb-Zwolle vicinity and since they had similar first names, it was difficult to tell which group an individual was talking about. These nicknames gradually evolved over many years. To begin with, the Native Americans had neither Christian names nor last names; sometimes, they called an individual the name of the animal whose characteristics they resembled: Little Beaver, Running Bear, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, or Red Fox.
Often the Indians, adults or children, upon being baptized as a Catholic, took the last name of the soldier or settler who was their sponsor; if females married a Spanish or French soldier they would take his last name. Elizabeth Shown Mills in her books on early Natchitoches lists many, many pages of the names of these individuals baptized into the Catholic faith.
Indians, as a unified tribe, do not exist in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. The Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb has state recognition and is seeking Federal recognition. Most local people probably have more of the Caddo tribe, the Adaes who were located near Natchitoches. They were mostly absorbed into the Spanish cultural group or the French. Looking at many of the local people, you do not need federal recognition to tell that they have Indian roots because of their olive skin coloring, straight black hair, high cheekbones, and dark eyes.
Europeans brought diseases such as syphilis, chicken pox, influenza, diphtheria, measles and smallpox to the native Indians. European and Asian lifestyles included a long history of sharing close quarters with domesticated animals such as cow, sheep, various fowl and goats. They had, as a result, epidemic diseases unknown the Native Americans. Being as the Indians had not previously had exposure to such diseases, Native Americans had no resistance or natural immunity to them and large numbers died off and few remain today. Surpassing any wars, between 10 million to 20 million Indians died as a result of exposure to these diseases. Sometimes epidemics, especially smallpox destroyed entire villages.
According to what geographic area, different family groups (10-20 families) lived, there were nicknames for them: Ebarbs – Bears, Saps, Maneens, Muleys; Malmay - Hawks; Meshells – Taylors, Muleys, Cleavers; Procells – Morales, Cadenas, Chays, Punchos; Ezernacks – Muleys; Sepulvados - Duleys, Goats, Goyas, Slacks, Billies, Minties, Jose O’s and Hackers; Cross the Creek Bunch; River (Creek) (Blue Lake) Bottom People; and the Grady Hill People.
The origin of some of these nicknames is lost in antiquity. Often times it was simply a matter of people calling one another nicknames and sometimes disparaging nicknames: Fatty Patty; Skinny Winnie; Shorty, Black Jack; Mc Nasty; Baldie; Hairy Cary; Long West; Monkey Man; Coon; Coon Ass; Possum; Frizzy Hair; Curley Top; Blondie; Blackie; Whitey; Red; Watch; Peg Leg; Sideburns; Slick Willie; Big Mouth; Motor Mouth; Loud Mouth; Cow; Pig; Mad Dog; Injuns (Indians); Rednecks (from working long hours in the sun); Hicks; Hillbillies.
Several of these nicknames were derivatives from the Spanish or Indian languages or a combination of the two. Some of these names were not appreciated by members of that group who considered it an insult to be called by such name other than by members of that group similar to blacks calling one another the “n” word but getting very angry if anyone else calls them that name.
Now, in 2011, some of these nicknames are not as commonly used. Others are still being used because there are still large numbers of people with the same last names. Even more confusing is the fact that some may even have the same first and last names. Their birthdays and social security numbers may have to be used to identify them. Joe (Jose, Joseph, Hosea) Sepulvado means hardly anything in identifying a person because there are so many with that name. In the 2008 phone directory for Zwolle are these following names: Joseph A. Sepulvado, Joseph B. Sepulvado, Joseph C. Sepulvado, another Joseph C. Sepulvado, Joseph M. Sepulvado, Joseph P. Sepulvado, and Joseph V. Sepulvado. Deceased are many Joseph or Hosea Sepulvados. In St. Joseph’s Cemetery there are many, many babies listed simply as unidentified Sepulvado baby or Jose Sepulvado. Others have their parents name or are buried next to a relative and you can identify them from that.
Grady Hill People were made up of individuals who lived about 2 miles southwest of Zwolle, on the right, off Highway 191, now officially named the Grady Hill Road. Why is it called by this name? No one presently living can remember a time when it wasn’t called that. Most of these people living here are related to one another by blood or by marriage and are family groups of Parrie, Meshell, Remedies, and Martinez. Grady Hill is located off a small hill of red clay. As you approach it, heading southwest out of Zwolle, you must “climb” a very winding portion of the road that is very dangerous. If you go very fast on this small stretch of winding road, you must be either suicidal or crazy or a combination of both. For good reason it is called Dead Man’s Curve and has been the “end of the road” for more than a few daredevils; if crosses were placed along this stretch of road, it would make a small cemetery by itself.
It is a custom in this northwestern part of Louisiana to erect a small, white cross on the side of the road where a fatal accident has occurred. Some curvy roads have many such memorials. Some are more elaborate than others. Names and dates of birth and death similar to a headstone in a cemetery are often found on the cross. Others have arrangements of flowers or other memorabilia like a small shrine to remember those, usually young males who have had fatal accidents in this place. More often than not, this occurs in the curve of a road. These memorials don’t seem to help much because accidents keep happening in these exact, same places.
Msgr. Friend who was pastor at Zwolle for nearly 30 years would bury all the babies in one section of the cemetery, on the right, in a corner near the old lunchroom by all the pine trees. Why he did this we don’t know. Perhaps it was because some of them did not get baptized or were stillborn. In former times, if you weren’t baptized a Catholic and in good standing with the Church they wouldn’t allow you to be buried in the Catholic Cemetery because it was believed to be sacred grounds and the place where the Final Judgment would take place. Persons who killed themselves or were divorced outside of the Church were not allowed to be taken all the way into the Church but could be brought into the back of the Church for a blessing. All of these practices have been discarded and no one follows them anymore. Cremation was once forbidden in the Catholic Church but it is permissible today but the ashes have to be interred in a Catholic Cemetery and not sprinkled over a body of water or put in a private place or placed on the mantle in a home.
Dolores Rivers Clayton tells this story she heard when she was a child. Old Uncle Henry Pipps, once or twice a month would walk to church in Zwolle for Mass. He would start at 2:00 a. m. If he got there early he would sleep in the cemetery since he considered it a safe place. According to the story, one time while walking alone he looked down and saw a man lying in the ditch and covered by a newspaper; the man had no head. Asked what he did then, he stated “I put the newspaper back and kept on walking.” No one tells whether the body was still there when he came back through.
Some Sepulvados are long lived. Jose Antonio (1781 -1853) lived to be 75 years of age, which was very old for the times. His son Jose Esiquio (1829 -1910) lived to be 84 years old. The following Sepulvado descendants lived to be over 100 years of age: Paul (100); Susan Sepulvado, Henry Garcie, Ascension Garcie Sepulvado and Louisa Parrie lived to be 103; Louisa Ebarb Rivers (102); Margaretta Martha 101. Mrs. Mary Sepulvado Malmay celebrated her 103th birthday on June 4, 2011. She lives alone and still lives in her same house that she has lived in for over 50 years. Johnny Meshell is next in age to her; he is 96 years old. Mrs. Annie Sepulvado died in March 2008 at 93 years of age. Mrs. Sally Procell died in 2007 at 98 years of age.
Winding roads in rural Louisiana is a common occurrence. We generally blame this on the Indians and before them to the buffalo and deer that made trails through the dense woods and took the path of least resistance. When the settlers came, they followed these same trails. In some areas, new roads have been constructed and have cut out some of the winding roads that are so dangerous.
A “good ghost story” concerns John Brown’s Curve: also a dangerous place to drive on Highway 482 about 6 miles west of Zwolle. Three cemeteries from parts of lands covered by the Toledo Bend Reservoir waters in the 1960’s were moved near this curve so that these graves would not be flooded. Large portions of them are unidentified but they are placed in the same order and in the same rows as they were in the original cemeteries. A small Baptist Church was moved here also and rests next to the Cemetery. People are still being buried here today and this adds to the mystique that existed before the cemetery was moved here. No one lives near this curve today except for an occasional ghost. At one time John Brown lived here; he was born on August 12, 1877 and died in California around 1948; his wife was Lou Ella Garcie who was born in Ebarb in 1895 and died on December 15, 1918. This very bad curve would make even Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon slow down a little and say a prayer. Many fatal accidents have occurred here and it rivals Dead Man’s Curve as dangerous spots to drive. On Friday and Saturday nights, some people refuse to drive on either of these two roadways unless it is absolutely necessary. It too would have a string of white crosses along its winding curves in addition the ones already in the cemetery.
Another time, according to folk lore, someone saw a dead man lying in the middle of the road near John Brown’s Curve. There are also stories of people hearing a woman crying in the woods nearby. Some individuals swear that they have seen a headless horseman riding near the cemetery. One person tells the tale of how he saw 8 white, floating, scary looking, creatures coming at him from out of the cemetery one night; hurriedly he shot several times in that direction and took off into the night. The next morning someone found 8 white sheep lying dead at the gate to the cemetery.
Cross the Creek Bunch is composed of those individuals who lived in a settlement northwest of Zwolle, toward Noble and Converse. Some of these people originally went to Noble School or Ebarb School. After the Toledo Bend Reservoir was created in the 1960’s by the damming of the Sabine River and the small Noble School was closed, many of these people had to send their children to either Converse School or Zwolle School because the road going to Ebarb School was covered by water and there was no bridge spanning the old road. These people are still known as the Cross the Creek Bunch in 2008. They are composed of Manshack, Malmay, Procell, and Paddie families. If you hear of an Ebarb, Sepulvado, Paddie, Manshack, or Procell going to Converse School, it most likely will be from this group of people. Some of these groups may be overlapping: you might be considered part of the “Cross the Creek Bunch” or “Bottom People” at the same time depending on who is doing the talking.
These Creek Bottom People had lived here for generations. Some families had mixed with local Indian populations which is obvious if you look at some of their physical characteristics: olive skin, high cheek bones, straight, black hair and dark eyes. They lived simply: farming and letting their marked cattle and hogs roam in the river bottoms. They fished and hunted both for pleasure and from necessity in providing a fresh meat supply for their families particularly in the winter when food was scarce. The Bisons who had lived along the banks of the Sabine River for several generations were forced from their ancient homelands by the Toledo Bend Reservoir; they were uprooted and most moved from the bottom lands to Shreveport and surrounding areas to find work. Life as it was then exists only in the memories of the older citizens who were forced from their way of life into a new and scary but more modern existence.
River Bottom People were those who lived in the Bottom Lands of the Sabine River; they were composed of Rivers, Ezernacks, Leones, Bisons, Malmays, Procells, Etheridges, and Sepulvados. According to Richard “Scooter” Ebarb in the book Good Old Days page 20, some of the Lakes in the Sabine River Bottom before the damming of the Sabine River were: Round Lake, Deep Lake, Shallow Lake, Willow Pond, Horseshoe Lake and Blue Lake. Rudolph Malmay, fishing guide on Toledo Bend for many years in Traditional Arts in the Choctaw-Apache Community of Ebarb page 13 lists other names of the old lakes (pre Toledo Bend) Homes Old River, Webb Lake, Vines Old River, Black Lake, and Darnell Ferry.
All known Sepulvados in Sabine Parish whose lineage have been traced by genealogists are descended from Jose Antonio Sepulvado (1781-1853), a Spanish soldier and adventurer; he married Maria Guadalupe Chavana and had many children. All Sepulvados are related in varying degrees to all other Sepulvados from this geographical area. All known present day Sepulvados in Sabine Parish, can trace their lineage back to these sons or grandsons of Jose Antonio Sepulvado: Jose E. (1829-1910); Jose O. (1852); Jacob Geronymo (1854); Inez (1841); Jose Felipe Sesquimundo (1819); Bibiano (about 1832 – October 13, 1903); Esculano (November 7, 1838); William (February 10, 1864-March 1914); and Jose Maria (September 15, 1873-April 28, 1935).
According to oral tradition, Jose Antonio Sepulvado and his family came to Sabine Parish, Louisiana after the Cordova Rebellion, swimming the Sabine River where the water was about 2 feet deep. Never did they go back to Nacogdoches to live. Since the Republic of Texas did not take a census in 1840, it is difficult to know the precise time that Jose Antonio, his family and others came to Louisiana. It is also quite possible that the French speaking officials in Louisiana couldn’t understand the Spanish being spoken and did not spell the names correctly. They may also simply have been missed by the officials because they lived so far into inaccessible areas. Some Censuses may have taken several years to complete.
Jose Antonio Sepulvera married a native girl, Maria Guadalupe Chavana, daughter of Ramon Chavana and Maria Josefa Sanchez in 1817 in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Jose Antonio was twenty years older than Maria Guadalupe; they were married by Father Franco Magnes. They became parents of many children most of whom are named Jose or Maria because at Baptism they had to have the name of a saint. Dates are approximate because censuses list them differently and since their names are so similar, it is difficult to determine who is really named in a census with only initials. 1. Jose Felipe Sequimundo was born in 1819 and married Maria Louise Acosta in 1838; their children were Marie Lucie, Maria Petra, Jose, Antonio, Reter, Jose Optimis, B. and Mary. 2. Maria Bernabe was born in 1824 and married Thomas Sarnac (Ezernack); two of their children are Emidio, baptized on August 5, 1848, and Jean baptized on August 22, 1850 at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Texas. 3. Maria Antonia was born in 1823 and married Juan Sanchez and later Antonio del Rio (Rivers); son Victor del Rio was baptized in Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Texas on April 29, 1858.
4. Maria Toribia was born in 1826 and married Emmanuel Jacinta Garcia on April 24, 1847; they had the following children: Crescentio, Delores, Maria Georgonia, Jimmy, Catherine (Celia), Jose, Paola, Julien, Hysanthe, Jacinto, Milton and Joseph. 5. Maria Juanna Francisca, born in 1827, married Jose Bebee and had the following children: Narcissa, Dionysia, Louis and Joseph. 6. Jose Esiquio (Egcit, Eugenio) born in approximately 1829 married Rosa Guay and had 10 children: Isabella, Acario, Rosa, John, Juanna, Pedro, Richard, Justa, Joseph Jacob (J.J) and Marcelina; Jose E. married Rebecca Ferguson and had 10 more children: Lucy, Sam, Jim, Betty, Joe (Cap), Will, Henry, John, Jose and Mary.
7. Jose Biniano (Viviano) was born in 1832; he married Georgonia Estrada and they had these children: Jose O. and Jacob Geronymo. Secondly, Biniano married Josephine Ezernack and had: Louisa, Raphael, Hilaria Elidia, Maria Antonia, Marie Guadalupe, Mary L., Luciano, and Antonio; Biniano married Jenny Procell and had the following children: Margaritta, Maria Louise, Marie Macedo (Martha), Tiburcio (Bush), Juliano, Robert and Joseph Rufus. 8. Maria Mariana born in 1832, married Louis Bebee and had the following children: Pimiella, Theodora, Maria, Petra, Joseph, Francisco, Pauline and Guadalupe.
9. Santiago (Stago) was born in 1835; he was baptized on July 25, 1840 at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches, Texas and is listed in the 1850 Census of Sabine Parish, Louisiana. Nothing else is known about him. 10. Elorio (Henry) was born in 1845 and is listed in the 1850 Census of Sabine Parish, Louisiana. 11. Herculano (Esculano) was born on November 7, 1833 and married Macedonia Micheli on January 26, 1862; folklore says they had a son William who was born after his father’s death.
12. Inez was born in 1841 and married Ireneca Procella on January 26, 1862 and had the following children: Hose Maria, Juliana, Simon, Franciso, Ascension, Lucy, Paul, Guilliamo, and Juana. Inez married Maranacia (Nancy) Martinez and had these children: Gertrude and Tony; Inez also married Jennie Jiminez. 13. Jose Eugenio was born in 1826, could possibly be the same as Jose Esiquio listed above. He is listed in the First Census of Texas and also in the 1850 Sabine Parish Census. 14. Jose L. born in 1840 is also listed in the 1850 Census. Nothing else is known about him. This list is far from complete and needs more work to be done on it.
After the Cordova Rebellion in Texas was over, an indictment of Cordova’s men by a grand jury took place on August 10, 1838. All of those tried were found guilty of treason. As a condition of their release, they had to leave the area. Indicted were: Andres Bermea (Malmay), Francisco Cordova, Antonio Calderon, Vincente Cordova, Jose Manuel Cordova, Sr., Jose Antonio de los Santos Coy, Marcus Garcia, Jr., Gregorio Lopez, Juan Longoria, Juan Lopez, Cayetano Martinez, J. Vincente Michelli, Delores Martines, Crescencio Morales, Nathaniel Norris, Candelario Perez (Parrie), Jose Anselmo Prado, Jinio Rameris (Remedies), Juan Jose Rodrigues, Sequimundo Sepulvado, Margil Sharnac (Ezernack), Antonio de la Serda, Miguel Torres, Estevan Villanova, Anastacio Y’Barbo (Ebarb), Candelario Y’Barbo, Benigno Y’Barbo, Juan Y’Barbo, Manuel do los Santos Y’Barbo, Miguel Y’Barbo, Manuel Mariano Y’Barbo, Luciano Y’Barbo and Jose Maria Y’Barbo. Many of present day inhabitants of Sabine Parish can trace their ancestors back to this group of people.
Of Spanish ancestry are the following: Cartinez (Cortinez); Lopez; Mora; Paddie (Padalia, Padilla); Parrie (Peres); Procell (Prosela, Procella); Rivers (del Rio); Sanchez; Torres; Ebarb (Y’Barbo, Ibarvo, Ebarbo); Remedies (Ramirez); Cordova; Longoria; Quintero; Carmona; Cherino; DeSoto; Castie, Castee (Castillo); Sepulvado (Sepulvera); Martinez.
Ebarbs in Sabine Parish can trace their ancestry back many generations to Mariano Y’Barbo (Ibarvo), son of Don Antonio Gil Y’Barbo, and grandson of Matheo Y’Barbo. Matheo had come from the province of Andalusia, Spain in 1725; he married Juana Luzgardo Hernandez of the presidio of San Antonio de Valero on April 18, 1723 daughter of Nicholas Hernandez and Simona de Sepulbeda (Sepulveda); her relationship to Jose Antonio Sepulvera has not been established if there is one. Born at Los Adaes, in 1729, Don Antonio acquired considerable knowledge concerning trading among the French settlers of Louisiana, the Spanish settlers of Texas and the Caddo Indians throughout the region.
Again, according to oral tradition, Manuel Y’Barbo and his family came to Louisiana when the War ended. The Y’Barbos camped along a stream of water. Early the next morning, they heard a rooster crow and knew others were near. The rooster belonged to the Martinez family. The Ebarbs do not appear in the Louisiana Census immediately after the Cordova Rebellion. It is difficult to determine when they came to Louisiana. It would not be logical to assume they stayed in Texas after they were indicted for treason. By 1850, Manuel Y’Barbo and his family – including those indicted for treason after the Cordova Rebellion were listed on the Census in Sabine Parish, Louisiana.
In actuality, nicknames sometimes, served a useful purpose because so many people had the same last name it was difficult to distinguish one group from another. However if you used one of these nicknames, everyone immediately knew which group you were talking about.
Bears, Saps, one group of Muleys and Maneens were all Ebarbs and also had commonly used first names, usually names of Saints as required by the Catholic Church. These names which sound like the Litany of the Saints, a long prayer in the Catholic Church Prayer Book that lists the Saints of the Ancient Church include: Joseph, (Jose, Hosea); Sam, Samuel (Anselmo); Jim, James (Eusebio}; Lee; Santiago; Ignatius, (Ignacio); Elie (Elighio); Michael (Miguel); Anthony, Tony (Antonio); Manuel (Emmanuel); Lou (Luciano); Luke, (Lucas); Martin; Stephen (Estevan); Richard (Desiderio); Andrew (Andres); William (Geronimo, Jeronymo); Charles; Thomas (Tomas); Gregory (Gregorio); Peter (Pedro, Pierre); Beta (Beto); Tyne (Cayetano); Edward (Edwardo); Phillip (Felipe); George; Dora (Theodora); John (Juan, Jean); Louis (Luis); Henry (Elorio); Paul (Paulo); Vincent (Vincente); Robert (Roberto); Matthew (Mateo, Mattheo, Mathias); Albert (Alberto); Paul (Pablo); T (Taliaferro, Tefanio, Teofilio); Martin (Martine); Marceline (Marcelino); Lupe (Guadaloupe); Bush (Tiburcio); Alfred (Alfero); Francis, Frank (Francisco).
Old timers could explain the origin of some of these nicknames. According to 86 year old, Leonard Ebarb, son of Phillip Ebarb and Mary Sepulvado, presently a resident of Toledo Nursing Center in Zwolle who could be a member of either the “Sap” or “Bear” Group attempted to explain the origin of “Saps”. Leonard’s father, Phillip Ebarb, a nice looking man but small in stature (like his Apache ancestors) was born in 1880 and died in 1928 was first given the nickname “Sap”. In the Spanish language “sapo” is a small toad or a frog; most people of the area at that time spoke Spanish. Many of the people were poor and could not afford horses or mules except for farm work. Usually they made a trail in the woods, following the paths made by the buffalo or deer which explains why some of the roads were so curvy. They simply walked wherever they needed to go. If they couldn’t walk there, they didn’t go there very frequently.
As the story goes, one day the wiry Phillip was walking through the deep woods; coming to a small stream, he quickly hopped across it. Two other men happened to be coming up the trail through the woods. Seeing this, one of them jokingly commented, “Look at that little sapo coming this way.” It became a commonly used moniker for him, his wife and his children. It served to distinguish his large family from the other Ebarbs living in that area. It has mostly fallen into disuse today but some older people still call the group by that name. Information was provided by Travis Ebarb, great grandson of Phillip Ebarb.
J. B. Ebarb, 93 years old and a relative of William and Phillip Ebarb also tells a variation of this same story. According to him, William Ebarb called his son Phillip a “Sapo” because he was small and hyper and would hop around like a little frog or toad.
According to Loran and Lucille Ebarb the Saps were so called because the Spanish name for frog was “Sappo.” Phillip supposedly according to them was a big, fat guy with a soft belly like a frog. After a while people shortened Sappo to Sapp.
The Maneens, another group of Ebarbs were supposedly called that because one of their ancestors was Marceline Ebarb. Being as there are more than one Marcelino, we don’t really know for certain who this group was really named after. This particular settlement of Ebarbs lived near the Ebarb School on the road that is now closed by Toledo Bend Dam that runs along side of the present day Ebarb School. Reese, Arvel (Duce), Mary Hazel, Thomas Whitney, Sr., Mertie Mae, Mattie and Fred Ebarb are members of this group of Ebarbs. Linda Champion is a member of this family and together with Reese are the only members left of this family who still reside in Zwolle or Ebarb.
According to the 1900 Census of Sabine Parish, Louisiana, an early Marciliano Y’Barbo, a farmer was born in June 1843; he married Mary who was born in December 1854. Their children were: Velnadena, November 1873; Jefferson, August 1877; Cecilia, May 1876; Betolio, January 1880; Fellis, April 1882; Annie, March 1884; Walter, February 1886; Marciline June 1887; Wharmer (Juanna) January 1890; Tyne, April 1892; John, May 1894.
Also in St. Joseph’s Cemetery is buried a Marcelino Ebarb who was born on June 2, 1845 and died on January 2, 1919. He married Maria Sanchez Ebarbo who was born in 1850 and died on September 1, 1913. Near their graves which appears to be a family plot, located about midways on the left side of the cemetery is buried Fred Ebarb who was born on February 25, 1881 and died on March 21, 1966; buried here is a Mary Emma Ebarb, his wife, who was born on September 9, 1898 and died on September 3, 1975. Also buried here is Arvel “Duce” Ebarb who was born on February 9, 1927 and died on July 28, 2002. On his tomb is listed this information: brothers, Reese and Thomas; sisters Mertie Rosado and Hazel Austun. There are several empty spaces near their graves and no one knows if anyone is buried there or not.
Another Marceline Ebarb was born on February 10, 1888 and died on November 19, 1951. He married Thomasa Martha Malmay who was born on December 8, 1893 and died on August 23, 1973; Thomasa was the daughter of Hosea Simon (Bermea) Malmay and Callie Carmel Meshell. Their children were: Thelma Jean who married Roy Paddie; Joseph Elmer born on November 2, 1916; and Virgil Adam (Butch) born in 1919 and died on February 18, 1970; Butch married Florence Howard who was a sister to Faye Howard Ferguson (wife of Hobert Ferguson) who were from Arkansas.
How all these tie in together is somewhat of a mystery and more work needs to be done on this branch of the Ebarb family tree.
Indians of some sort possibly Choctaw also had a camp near B. and B Grocery Store on the present Ebarb Road. They used a large corral near Jose E. Sepulvado’s cabin when they rounded up their horses. Others camped in the river bottoms. Oral tradition tells of Alcario Ebarb riding down to the bottoms and a bunch of “wild” Indians asked him to eat with them. They had a big horse hanging from a tree with blood still coming out of the corners of their mouth. Being as he could speak their language, he could converse with them. But this was too much, he told them he was full, put a switch to his horse and got out of there. Marcelina Ebarb, Alcario’s nephew could also speak with the Indians some of whom were possibly kin to him.
“Bears” was yet another nickname given to one group of Ebarbs. Sometimes, anyone who was an Ebarb was called by this nickname especially if the speaker was a young male and he knew the other person did not like to be called that name. One version of how Ebarbs came to be known as Bears went this way: it was said that an Ebarb man sat on his front porch a lot, killing time (before television, radio, telephones, computers and ipods). In the heat of the tropical Louisiana summers, it was much cooler on the porches than inside the houses. Someone said that he looked like a “big ole bear” sitting there. At least this is one explanation as to why the group was called Bears.
Another explanation is told, explaining how Manuel Ebarb’s descendants came to be known as Bears. Manuel Ebarb it seems was a large-bellied man who would sleep on his vine-covered porch in the heat of the afternoon (days before air conditioning or even electricity). His friends jokingly would say that he looked like an old bear in his den and the nickname stuck with him. This nickname, too, even today (2011) is frowned upon by certain members of the group and can be fighting words.
Loran Ebarb and his wife Lucille in their interview in 1982 discussed nicknames in the Ebarb community. Manuel Ebarb it seems was a tough old man who hunted and fished a lot. He had a lot of black hair growing on him and he was big and he’d hit his chest and say “Look at me, I’m like a bear.” And according to them this is the explanation of why Manuel’s descendants are called “Bears.”
Emmanuel Y’Barbo was born about 1866 in Sabine Parish, Louisiana. He married Merigilda Mechel on August 23, 1884; she was born in August 1869. Manuel is noted in the 1900 Census of Sabine Parish, Louisiana. A step-son John Nigraval, age 16 born November 1883 is living in the household with them. The family is listed in the 1910 and 1920 Census of Sabine Parish. In 1910 John Nigraval is still living in their household. Their children are: Thomas born January 29, died July 2, 1973; Mary born December 1888; Henry born June 19, 1889, died December 1969; Caroline Carmel born August 1892; Joseph born August 28, 1893, died February 12, 1971.
One groups of Ebarbs were known as the Muleys. John Ebarb born in 1848 was the father of this group. According to the 1910 Census of Sabine Parish, he had these children: Hattie born in 1881, Wesley 1883, George 1886, Evvie 1886, Louisa 1887, Henry, 1891, Jesse 1893, Elias 1896 and Martha 1896. His daughter, Mary married Joe Meshell and had many children. Another daughter married Zee Sepulvado. Joe Meshell was the son of Taylor Meshell(1860) whose wife was Shelia(1871); with her he had these children: Martha, Julia, Mary, Aubra, Lara and Andrew (1910 Census of Sabine Parish.)
Duleys, Hackers, Billies, Jose O’s, Morales, Goats, Goyas, Minties and Slacks are all Sepulvados and are all related to some degree to each group of persons in the Sepulvado group. There were more Sepulvados, then and now (2011) than any other group of Indian-Spanish people. If you live in Sabine Parish, you’d be wise not to say anything derogatory about Sepulvados because you’ll more than likely be talking to someone who has a Sepulvado in his lineage by blood or by marriage or by both.
The name Minty was given to the descendants of Manuel Sepulvado and his family. In the evenings, Manuel would stand on his porch step and call his children from the field with the words “Ho Minty” a Choctaw phrase for the verb meaning “you-all come.” I don’t imagine he had to call many times for them to quit working. Sometimes anyone whose surname is Sepulvado and who lives on appropriately named Big Sepulvado Loop is called by the nickname: Minty.
Loran and Lucille Ebarb explained the term “Minties”. It seemed that this old man, Manuel Sepulvado had a speech impediment and would stammer and stutter. He’d say “I meante, I meante”. And that’s how the name Meantes came about.
Manuel married Francis Sanchez and had these children: Victoria October 1, 1899-January 4, 1978; Julia May 6, 1901-May 30 1967; Gertrude “Trudy” March 13, 1903-February 27, 1977; Christina January 30, 1906-June 5, 2002; Teofilo May 7, 1908-January 23, 1960; Ben April 2, 1911-February 13, 2002; Albert March 25, 1916-September 7, 1940; Richard February 12, 1914-November 2, 1915; Bessie June 30, 1918-July 30, 2001.
Richard Sepulvado was the grandfather of all these “Mintis”; Richard was the son of Joseph E. Sepulvado and Rosa Guay. Richard was born in November 1855 and died on January 11, 1910. He married Maria Victoria Procella who was born on January 8, 1857 and died on July 22, 1899. They were the parents of 9 boys: Manuel, Thomas, Phillip, Stephen, George Hosea, Richard, Sevada, Frank and Joseph. Each one of these boys also had large families so you can see why there are so many “Mintis” in the Minti settlement. They also used these same names and it is very confusing trying to put them into the proper families.
One story told about how some Sepulvados became known as Goats, another unpopular nickname. It was the name given to Jose Maria Sepulvado and his wife Elizabeth (Lizzie) Morales and their family who raised a lot of goats. Practically everyone raised cattle, hogs, horses and chickens but they must have had more goats than most of the others.
Oscar Sepulvado in his 1982 interview says that his father had 80-90 goats as well as 80-90 head of cows and hogs. His dad would sell half grown goats for 50 cents. His neighbor would sell his grown goats for $1.50. His dad couldn’t believe that at a sale in Mansfield in 1982 a person could get $40 for a goat.
When cold weather would come they would kill a cow and then take that fresh meat and salt it down and leave it for 8 days. They would smoke the meat in a smoke house.
Oscar also tells how they would put a hog in a pen closed up for about a month to “keep them clean”. They would feed them plenty of acorns and beech mast. When cold weather would come, they would kill the hog. Using bear grass to hang the meat up, they would take the hog guts out, wash them and grind up the fresh pork and make some sausage and then smoke them.
Hosea Maria Sepulvado, (September 15, 1873-April 28, 1935) son of Hosea Ines Sepulvado and Paula Ireneca Ezernack married Elizabeth Morales (July 26, 1873-April 26, 1913) whose parents were Jesus Morales and Maria Francisca Manshack. Together they had these children: Sidney; Betty; Roy; Mary Lee (died October 31, 1978); Jules (August 17, 1891-May 3, 1902; Edward (April 1892-April 2, 1980); Jeff David (March 6, 1897-July 27, 1973); Francis July 6, 1899; Oscar Joseph (August 16, 1901-March 25, 1984); Mary (December 4, 1903-July 29, 1938); Julia (September 22, 1906); Irene Rehina (December 16, 1909-June 3, 1960); Gus (December 26, 1910-February 7, 1994).
Goyas were nicknames for the descendants of Ed Goya Sepulvado: Andrew, Edward, Johnny, Clayton, Clarence, Abram, Clifton, Selina, Verseline, Annie, and Ruby are members of this group.
Some of these groups overlap and it is difficult for even locals to tell which group a person belongs to. Sometimes, even now in 2011, anyone who was an Ebarb was called “Bear” and anyone who was a Sepulvado was called “Minti” depending again on who was doing the talking.
Morales were called that because Jesus Morales, a Spaniard was one of their ancestors. Jesus Morales is recognized as a full-blooded Indian from Oklahoma. His father, Andres, had also been involved in the Cordova Rebellion in Nacogdoches, Texas. This group is mostly made up of Procells and Sepulvados. Morales is still a common name in 2011 in Spanish circles. If you are a professional baseball fan, in 2011, you may find Morales and other Spanish names, as they were originally, for the Spanish baseball players from Central America and South America: Calderon, Del Rio, Garcia, Sepulvera, Castillo, Martinez, Cartinez, Padilla, Y’Barbo, Manchaca, Lopez, Peres, Carmona, Longoria, Cordova, Rodriguez, Ramirez, and Cepeda.
J.O.’s was the name given to members of Jose O. and Louisa Laroux Sepulvado family. It is not used today but it formerly was a family nickname. Jose O. enjoyed riding his horse through the settlements and kept so much gossip going around that he was called “Lying Jose”.
The Civil War between the Northern and Southern States erupted but the people of Louisiana were tired of fighting and wanted no part of it. Louisiana seceded from the Union on January 26, 1861. Unfortunately, for them, the state of Louisiana passed a conscription law in 1864, which demanded that all men between the ages of 17-50 be drafted for battle. The Battle of Mansfield took place on March, 1864. General Robert E. Lee, the Southern General office finally surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
Some men not wanting to join in The Civil War hid out in the forests during the day; their wives would bring them food at night. According to local folklore, Esculano (Herculano) Sepulvado, son of Jose Antonio, and father of William (Billy) (1862-1914) was carried off during the Civil War, leaving his pregnant wife, Macedonia Meshell (1847-1936) behind. It was said his family heard two shots after the soldiers had crossed the creek. He was never heard from again.
William married Stefana (Fannie) Bebee (1870-1946) and had these children: John 1893-1984; Sarah 1896-1980; Jack 1896-1980; Beto 1898-1986; Robert (Rob) 1903-1980; Peter 1908-1955; Martha 1912-1994. Hence, these Sepulvados living off Blue Lake Road were called Billies: Billy’s children and grandchildren.
Some members of this group also don’t like the nickname “Billy” either but their road is called Billy Road and everyone knows them as Billies. Some of them, especially the descendants of Beto Sepulvado (1898-1986) and Josie Malmay (1905-1996) were known for their red hair which was rather unusual in an area where most of the people had straight, black hair. This characteristic they inherited from one of their grandmothers who had red hair. Even today a baby with bright red hair will appear in a group where everyone else in the family has black hair. Invariably you can trace its ancestry back to this group of Sepulvados. Beto and Josie’s children were: Leroy; Beto Jr.; Pat; Argerine; K.C.; Willis; and Patsy. (Story related by Lucy Sepulvado Ebarb, grandmother of the author of this article).
Brothers Jim and Sam Sepulvado, sons of Jose E. Sepulvado and Rebecca Ferguson were called Jim Slack and Sam Slack but no one knows why! Their brother Jose was called Cap. We assume he liked to wear caps when he was a small boy. No one really knew that his name was Jose since everyone had always called him Cap. Jim, Sam and Cap’s nephew Jessie, son of their brother John was called Jessie Hacker. Joe, another son of John was known as Joe Duley. Again no one knows why!
The Hackers one group of Sepulvados was called that because they were supposedly so mean that they would “hack you up.” Someone who didn’t like this particular group or was trying to be “funny” probably gave this explanation.
Some of the early settlers in Sabine Parish area were of Italian ancestry. Meshells are descendants of Jose Vincento Michelli (born about November, 1770 in Italy and died in March, 1847) who served in the Spanish army and was a trader, merchant, and soldier in Louisiana and Texas who came by way of New Orleans. He came to Nacogdoches in 1793. Except for the years 1800-1803 he was a continuous resident of Texas. During this time of absence he was reportedly in the State of Coahuila, Mexico promoting cotton gins, which eventually caused his bankruptcy. Micheli’s name can still be found on old deeds to land in East Texas. Jose Vincente’s will was filed on June 15, 1848 in Bexar County, Texas but listed a fixed residence in Nacogdoches, Texas. It was a very long will and was written in Spanish.
Most of the early settlers in and around Nacogdoches had grants of land from the Mexican government in 1834 and 1835. A person could receive at least a league of land and today their names can be found in hundreds of deeds filed in the county courthouse at Lufkin.
All Meshells (Micheli, Michel, Michelis, Michels, Mitchell) are probably related but to varying degrees. Jose Vincente Micheli had three wives: Brigida Sanchez (born in 1798); Telesfora Procella (1812); and Viviana (Bibiana) Carmona (born 1824, in Nacogdoches, Texas, married on November 19, 1841 and died in 1870 in Many, Louisiana). Just here alone are three sets of Meshells. There is also another wife listed in some places: Perer Maria De Jesus.
If you’re a Meshell today (2008), you are probably related to some degree to John (born 1730 in Verona, Italy) and Lucretia Micheli (born in 1732 in Verona, Italy) who came to the New World from Italy.
In the Census of Nacogdoches, Texas in 1833, and again in 1834, 1835 Jose Vicente Micheli is listed as married, laborer and age 39; wife is Telesfora Prosela, age 21; Maria Matilda, age 9; Blas Ramon, age 8; Jose Loreto de Jesus, age 2; Maria Petra age 6 month; in 1835 there is an additional child Maria del Refugia, 5 months.
On October 21, 1797, Vincenti Micheli was granted 4,870 acres of land in Angelina County in Texas by the Spanish government. The Angelina River was a route for settlers to come from the coast to East Texas and was crossed by Smugglers’ Road used for dodging tax collectors. It furnished a significant means of transportation to settlers in the East Texas region. Micheli opened a trading post on the Bedias Trail and later was partners with Lucombiche in ranching. Jose Lucobiche, an Italian established a post or rancho about 10 miles east of the Neches Rivers. Lucobiche appears to have been an associate of Vincente Michelli, another Italian who had two trading posts in the area, one at Don Joaquin’s Crossing and another on the east side of the Neches near the Bedias Indian lodges.
The Bedias Trail was not the only early route into the county. The Bodan or Smuggler’s Trail was popular in the 1760’s. Legends say fortunes of gold lie buried along the trail or at the bottom of the Angelina River, left there by Spaniards or gold-runners being pursued by soldiers and customs collectors.
Later a Frenchman named Francis D. Bodan settled in the area and established a small store. Built for trading with the Indians, Bodan’s post soon developed into an important artery for contraband goods as traders used the road to avoid stiff Spanish cuties in Nacogdoches.
A sawmill town was named after Micheli on land that is now covered by Kurth Lake. There is no record that it had a post office. Micheli was a good-sized sawmill town around 1900 with a population of 1,000 by 1905. The mill was built about 1900 by the Tyler-Car Lumber Company of Tyler. Located in the Vincente Michel land grant, the mill had a singular circular saw with a daily capacity of about 90,000 board feet. The sawmill was one of the few to use the Angelina River for floating logs, but the venture was unsuccessful. In 1906, the mill went into the hands of a receiver and in order to save it, the company rented the mill and cut the logs it had in the river as well as the rest of its timber in the county. The lumber company provided homes, school buildings, and churches for its employees. The mill closed in 1906 and the town died.
Micheli bought a large ranch in what is now Angelina County from Esteven Goguet who was the son-in-law of the original owner Pedro de Larza Poso. He also bought a 17,000 acre ranch on the Neches Rivers from an Indian chief. Listed as payment were: one blue undershirt, one white shirt, eight brass bracelets, one handful of vermilion (red dyes or pigments), one fathom of red ribbon, one gun and fifty charges of powder and ball. Micheli died in 1848 in a San Antonio mission after having been declared bankrupt. Many travelers later knew this crossing as Procella Crossing. This old Bedias Trail provided the main path for U. S. Highway 59, which runs from Nacogdoches southward to Lufkin and then to Livingston.
Jose Vincenti Micheli’s children are: Matilda, 1821; Blas 1825; Jose de Jesus, 1831; Maria Del Refugio, 1835; Canuta, 1835; Maria Petra, 1837; Maria Loreta, 1837; Maria Conception 1842; Rosa Maria, August 30, 1844; Jose Rock 1846-November 29, 1935; Jeanne, February 8, 1855; Alvino, March 1, 1859-August 5, 1903. Juan born in 1860; Telespore born on January , 1866 – October 23, 1953; Thomasa born in 1868; Leno, born in 1870; Georgoria born on December 15, 1872 – March 10, 1959; Stephen born in 1874; Melus born in 1877.
Jose Rock Micheli, son of Jose Vincente Micheli was born in 1846 and died on November 29, 1935; he is buried in the Old Catholic Cemetery in Zwolle, Louisiana. He married Mary Petra Sepulvado born in 1846 in Zwolle Louisiana on April 20, 1865. Mary Petra was the daughter of Jose Felipe Sepulvado (born in 1819) and granddaughter of Jose Antonio Sepulvera and Louisa Acosta who was born in 1823 in Nacogdoches, Texas. He also married Mattie Martinez.
Jose Rock’s children were Juan born in 1860; Telespore born on January 5, 1866 – October 23, 1953; Thomasa born in 1868; Leno, born in 1870; Georgoria born on December 15, 1872 – March 10, 1959; Stephen born in 1874; Melus born in 1877. He was married to Mattie Martinez.
Taylors were so called because Taylor “Telesphora” Meshell (1866-1953), an early settler of the area had many children from two different wives: Marcella Del Rio (1868-1902) and Louisa Parrie (1880-1983). Taylor married Marcella on October 8, 1885. With her he had the following children: Thomasa December 21, 1886; Julia April 19, 1889; Abram March 15, 1890-February 28, 1969; Mary Manuela June 19, 1891-January 17, 1974; Abel March 15, 1893; Catalina January 14, 1895-October 1, 1982; Andrew Dash February 7, 1900-November 18, 1935.
Taylor married Louisa Parrie on August 9, 1902; they had these children: Lucie, December 16, 1903-November 5, 1977; Robert (Bob) October 8, 1905-January 26, 1990; Floyd July 24, 1908-October 8, 1997; Edna July 24, 1908-November 22, 1989; Walter, Sr. January 11, 1911- 2007; Albert December 30, 1913-February 4, 1977; Earnest February 26, 1916-August 27 1965; Wilson Henry February 9, 1918-October 27, 1979; Hosea Hilton June 13, 1929. Taylors as a nickname was used to distinguish his family from other groups of Meshells. Joe Meshell also had the nickname Joe Cleaver.
Melchar Procella, a Spaniard was born in 1749 at Las Adaes; he was the father of Manuel Procella who was born in 1778; his son was Incarnacion Procella who was born in 1803 and died before 1870. Incarnacion married Maria Antonia Christi (m. May 22, 1842 in a Natchitoches Church) who was born on March 1, 1816. These could possibly be the ancestors of many of the Procells in Zwolle and Ebarb. Chays or Procells from Noble and Converse were called this to distinguish them from other groups of Procells. Henry Procell (September 2, 1888-December 8, 1959) was among the first to be called Chays.
One group of Many, Louisiana Procells was called Puncha, which was the father, Jose Procella’s nickname; this group also married into the Garza family.
Procells have a story in coming down from Oklahoma, crossing the river to hunt and deciding to stay. Their Spanish name was originally spelled Procella.
Elvie Sepulvado who married John H. (Bub) Procell was called Elvie Cadena. It could be that this is another way of spelling Katelina or Cadenia. No one knows the origin of this nickname although Cadena is a Spanish name that was brought to the New World by soldiers and settlers from Spain. It is still found in Spanish communities.
Most Garcies (Garcias) are descended from Emmanuel Jacinta Garcia (1822) who married Toribia Sepulvado (daughter of Jose Antonio Sepulvado). The Garcie’s (Garcia’s) came according to oral tradition to the area “when they had Wars over there.” The Garcies had to swim the Sabine River to reach safety in Louisiana. Emmanuel and Maria Toribia had these children: Celia, Crescentio December 28, 1847-March 13, 1932; Delores 1856; Jimmie (Chenta, Jacinta) 1858-January 31, 1948; Paulo Dick November 10, 1859.
Spanish-speaking people of East Texas and Louisiana had been using The Neutral Territory as a refuge for a long time. They could simply disappear into the forests among friendly Indians. By 1840 and 1850, all major community families were listed in the Census. Oral tradition reflects what brought these people here. The Martinez brothers, Juan Jose, and Cayetano, had come to Louisiana to escape trouble in Spanish Nacogdoches. Four of the Martinez brothers are listed in the 1840 Louisiana Census. In 1838 Juan Jose and Cayetano had been indicted for treason in connection with the Cordova Rebellion. The Martinez family appears to be the first to settle permanently in the area around Ebarb and Zwolle.
Many of the Martinez family can trace their lineage back to the Spaniard, Steve Martinez who most likely came from Spain by way of Monterrey, Mexico and San Antonio, Texas. Steve Martinez Sr. February 8, 1847-December 24, 1917 son of Emmanuel Martinez and Maria Nancy Procell married Juanita (Whanna) Sepulvado March 17, 1851-September 24, 1895 daughter of Jose Esiquio Sepulvado and Rosa Guay. Their children were: Louisa September 20, 1868-August 25, 1929; Manuel November 5, 1870-November 11, 1911; Esteven Jr. May 24, 1875-May 19, 1944; Gilbert June 30, 1880-November 3, 1947; Francisco January 22, 1884-January 24, 1968; Lucia October 3, 1889-April 24, 1920; Juan Jose July 13, 1895-March 18, 1983.
Indians were “run out of the country by the Americans” during the Civil War or some simply left. A few Indians managed to remain. Some were slaughtered farther north. According to a legend, Stephen Martinez and his family gave refuge some of the Indians. Emmanuel Martinez and his son Stephen belonged to the local militia and possibly tried to protect the Indians. Alice Toby, a Choctaw Indian and her family were helped by the Martinez family. The story is told of how Alice, great grandmother of Ernest Rodrigues, official “storyteller” of the Choctaws, and, great, great grandmother of Cody Bruce, local historian was sold for a sack of potatoes. Whether this story is actually true or not, it makes for interesting folklore! Not many people could read and write in those days and the stories told have come down by way of oral tradition and these stories have a way of changing with the storyteller.
Some people moved into this area from further north. Some came down from Oklahoma. Jose Meregildo Rameriz (Jose Hildo Remedies) is shown in the 1830 Nacogdoches Census. Some Indian groups did join in the Cordova Rebellion and would have had to leave Nacogdoches. In local folklore, Oklahoma is said “to be where all the Indians are.” Rameriz is always referred to as being an Indian.
Louis Parrie and his wife Felipe Quintero are also referred to as full-blooded Indians. Louis was raised by Candido Sanchez whose son Candelerio also married a Quintero woman. Quinteros appear in Nacogdoches but also moved to Louisiana. They are linked to a Choctaw settlement in the forks of Choctow, Alice or Hurricane Creeks. Family names here are: Carmona, Gumboya, Dawson, Procell (Purcell) and Toby. Another Choctaw village lay in the forks of San Miguel and Bayou Scie.
All Rivers (Del Rio) probably are related to some degree but so far “the missing link” has not been established; some possibly are descended from Matias del Rio who was a Spanish soldier at Los Adaes. Jose del Rio and Manuel del Rio are possibly some of their ancestors. Elizabeth Shown Mills, a certified genealogist, submitted the Los Adayes Troop list of 1734-1737. There are listed several del Rios: Domingo del Rio, Phelipe del Rio, and Yptobal del Rio. Found in the Bexar Archives at the University of Texas Archives, in Austin, Texas is a List of the Third Company in Nacogdoches, February 19, 1806: Jose del Rio, Vicente del Rio, Manuel del Rio and Mariano del Rio.
In the 1880’s people started using the English translation, Rivers instead of Del Rio. Del Rio is not used by any persons in Sabine Parish in 2011 but is still found in Spanish Communities in Texas, California and southwestern United States. The author’s great grandparents, James Rivers (1856 – 1936) and Martha Martinez (1868 – 1939) had 15 children. Their first 6 children: Josephine, Rosie, Richard, Annie, Joseph and Thomas are listed as Del Rio. After Thomas, born in 1887, they are all listed as Rivers.
For largely unknown reasons, 9 of James and Martha’s children preceded them in death. Some of them are buried, along the fence, immediately to the right as you enter the Old Catholic Cemetery (St. Michael’s) in Zwolle. James and Martha’s children are: Josephine (February 28, 1878-January 6, 1906); Rosie (1879-died before 1903); Richard (July 9, 1881-April 23, 1957); Annie (August 19, 1883-died before 1900); Joseph (August 10, 1885-December 11, 1968); Thomas (July 13, 1887-December 22, 1909); Mary (July 2, 1889-January 10, 1909); John (May 11, 1891-August 28, 1925); Samuel (March 19, 1893- November 14, 1960); Stephen (July 20, 1895-July 30, 1942); Nancy (November 1, 1897-September 4, 1978); Lula (December 6, 1899-July 8, 1933); George W. (October 22, 1901-April 18, 1975); Lee (December 29, 1905-October 18, 1915); James (October 22, 1907-September 9, 1915). Only two of their children (Joe and Nancy) reached their 80’s. Rivers and Leones do not as a general rule have longevity in their DNA.
Malmays (Bermea, Mermer) are Spanish and all possibly come from Andres Bermea who was involved in the Cordova Rebellion and had to leave Nacogdoches.
Bermeas (Malmays), Micheli (Meshell), Leone (Samuel dit Lioness), Y’Barbos (Ebarbs), and Morales are not listed in the 1840 Louisiana Census.
Spain retained Bayou Pierre on the eastern side of the Sabine. Families there included Procellas, Lafittes, Valentines, De Sotos, Rambins, Y’Barbos, and McDonalds. Miguel Crow was allowed to stay on his ranch since he had purchased it from Vincente Micheli in 1797. Other than these, no one was supposed to live in the Neutral Strip. It would appear that the Hispanic settlements at Adaes and Vallecillo presumably moved closer to their kin people around Nacogdoches.
At Las Ormigas, north of present day, Zwolle, at a crossing of the Sabine lived the Mora, Irvin and Lafitte families. The Spanish government granted land to Paul Bonet Lafitte in 1799 or 1800. His sons, Louis and Caesar later sold it to Joseph Irvin. This land lay between the Sabine River and Bayou San Patricio.
Some early settlements in Sabine Parish were in the Bayou Scie area, 7 miles N.E. of Zwolle on Highway 120; Los Cavazas, south of present day Zwolle; Ebarb, west of Zwolle settled by the Y’Barbos, Martinez brothers, Jose A. Sepulvado Family and the Garcia Family. The Carmona, Procella and Toby families settled Choctaw Village at the fork of Choctaw or Alice and Hurricane Creek. The Vallecillo village lay in the fork of the San Miguel and Bayou Scie, south of Zwolle.
By the 1840’s Texas had become a republic and Anglo-Texans were resolute in their fight for freedom for Texas from the Mexicans.
Names that appeared after the 1860 Census are: Malmay (Bermea); Manshack (Manshaca); Martinez and Castie (Castillo). Maternal names that appeared in the late 1700’s to the mid 1800’s are: Caro or Cano; Acosta; de la Ara Dosos; Carmona; Equis (means your X); Estrada; Gagne; Quintero and Toby.
The San Augustine area of Texas became the meeting place for the French traders: Frinaries, Labinaries, Lagross, Largen and Prudhomme. Louisiana Spanish traders included: Cherino, Y’Barbo, Cardoba, Montichec, La Lima, Procell and Chacon. These Spanish smugglers established a rather loose community ranging about 24 square miles in area with a central point of operations being among the Ayish Indians. The El Camino Real, the official highway of the Spanish military centered among the Ayish Indians. The Spanish did not really care to establish a town in this area because it would have brought the military in with it and their smuggling activities would have had to been curtailed.
Some French people seemed to have re-established or simply had remained in the western part of Louisiana. From at least 1819, there were: Grappe; Bebee (Brevel) near Bayou Scie in Zwolle; Laroux (Rond, Rondeau, Rondin, Ronde, Rondus, Rondion, Rondaine, Ronden, Rondau, Rondo, Ron); Guay; Gagne: Leone (Samuel dit Lionnis); Nigreville (Nigrebela, Nigrevella); Ezernack (Sarnac); Rambin; Prudhomme; Sharbeno. Lafittes, Bisons (Besson), and Valentines married into the group and moved further north toward Mansfield.
Jean Baptiste Samuel (Lionnis) Leone was born about 1733 in Leon, France in the Parish of Saint John, Archdiocese of Lyon, France. He originally lived in Canada and came down the Mississippi River to Louisiana. He was a soldier at the garrison of Saint Jean Baptiste, Natchitoches, Louisiana. He enlisted in the French Army on April 20, 1756 for a period of six years, and was in the Spanish Army in 1780 and participated in the Revolutionary War. He died April 20, 1796 in Nacogdoches, Texas. He was the common ancestor of all the Leones in Sabine Parish. They are French and not Italian as a lot of people think. Italians generally spell their form of Leoni with an I instead of an E.
Between 1716 and 1762, the Natchitoches fort was garrisoned by independent companies (Compagnies Franches de la Marine). Functioning under the Ministry of the Marine, they were charged with the administration and defense of the French royal colonies. Marines served dual duties as soldiers and policemen in the small frontier settlement. While most of the enlisted men of the companies were recruited in France, young aristocratic Canadians served as officers. Many settled in Natchitoches before or during their enlistment or after their enlistment expired as it was the Ministry’s intent that these Marines become part of the community they served. In addition to the average 40 man companies, the fort included an ordinance consisting of two four-pound naval guns and two one-pound wall mounted swivel guns.
The fort continued to serve as a military outpost and commercial trade center until 1762 when France’s defeat by England in the French and Indian War forced her to cede the Louisiana colony to Spain. Under Spanish authority, the fort served as a trade center and link in Spain’s intra-colonial communications network. But since its original purpose of protecting a territorial boundary no longer applied, the Spanish eventually did not need the fort and closed it.
Jean Leone married Ana Maria Francisca who was born in 1748 and then Juana Ann Marie. Both were Apache Indian maidens. Jean and Ana Francisa were the parents of Jose Santiage Leone born about 1777 in Los Adaes, Louisiana; he was baptized on May 31, 1778. Jean later married Juana Maria and they became the parents of Marie Blac born in about 1790 and Pablo (Paul) born in about 1793.
Jose Santiago Leone married Marie Josefa Mora about 1802, daughter of Manuel Mora and Isabel Esparaza who was born in 1781. Santiago was employed as an Indian interpreter for the years 1806-1810 in the Spanish army in Nacogdoches, Texas.
Ezernacks can trace their lineage back to the Frenchman Jean Sarnac, a native of Rochelle, France a farmer, trader and merchant at Natchitoches, Louisiana who had come from New Orleans; he married Maria Antonia Cortinas a native of Las Adaes.
Abram Ezernack and his family were also known as Muleys but his connection to the Ebarb Muleys is not known.
Bebees (Brevel) can trace their ancestry back to Point Coupee, Louisiana, a French fort on the Mississippi River (in Point Coupee Parish) near Baton Rouge in the 1700’s.
Some of the English, Scottish, or Irish “White Faces” ancestry were: McDonald; Irvin; Campbell; Ferguson; Wright; Raborn; Craig; Salter; Cook; Brandon; Pickett; Smith; Norris, Symes (Sims); Parrott; Quirk; Fairchild; Anderson; Simpson; Sullivan.
Some families must have enjoyed giving their family members nicknames because everyone in their family had a nickname. Other families only had a nickname given to the entire group and not to individuals in it. In the South, common nicknames include: Bubba, Bub, Buster, Buck, Bo, Brother, Bud, Buddy; Sister, Sue, Susie, Sis, Sissy. Practically every family has a Bubba or Sissy in it. Other terms of endearment are: Pie, Sweetie Pie, Shugie, Shug, Sugar, Sweetie, Honey.
Another Southern tradition is calling a person by two names: Jimmy Joe, Gary Mark, David Earl, Ella Marie, Mary Jo, Margie Ann. One practice consists of giving girls boy’s names: Johnnie Bell, Bobbie Sue, Jimmie Faye, Bernice, Tommie, Pat, Shannon, Courtney, Bennie, Danny, Bonny, Jamie, Freddy, Willy. Any first name with Sue at the end of it pretty much makes a good sounding Southern name for most folk south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
It was considered disrespectful to call an old person, male or female by their first names. You would call them Mrs. Martha or Mr. Frank or Mr. or Mrs. Sepulvado. Very often everyone called the senior members of the Community Aunt or Uncle. It was hard for some of the children to know whom they were really related to since they called practically everyone: Aunt, Uncle. Some did tell their children about their family members and so they knew more than others than others about their family tree. In the interviews conducted in 1982, 1983 and 1984, a lot of the people said they were related to Jacob Sepulvado. It turns out that very few were related to him other than being a Sepulvado.
Really old people were called Granny, Grammy, Gramps, Grandpa or Grandma. Along the same line, everyone in the South always taught their children to answer an adult with “Yes Sir” or “No Sir” or “Yes Maam” or “No Maam”. Before you can detect their Southern drawl, if you hear someone answer Yes Maam or No Maam, you pretty much know they are from the South.
Since most of the people were either Spanish or French, or a combination of the two, the Catholic Church required then and still do in 2011 that they have a saint’s name when they were baptized and another different one when they were confirmed. Every family had a Joseph (Jose, Hosea), Anthony (Antonio), John (Juan, Jean), Steven (Esteven) Thomas (Tomas) or Michael in it. Feminine names were usually Mary (Maria), Elizabeth, Martha, Catherine, or Lucy (Lucia). Thus we see one reason why nicknames were frequently used.
Another reason for the use of nicknames is that Spanish names like Florencia, Esequio, Desiderio, Santiago, Lucretia, Geronymo, Guadalupe, Incarnacion, Sesquimundo, Telesfora, Herculano, Macedonia, Brigida, Ascension, Candalina, Margarita, Conception were also hard for English speaking people and also young children to pronounce. These nicknames were easier to pronounce and spell. Very few of these Spanish names are used today.
After looking at the names listed below, you can come to the conclusion that nicknames are more common for the male gender for unknown reasons. Some of these nicknames are obviously not flattering and one can only guess as how that nickname came about. Apparently if the child had the same name as the parent, he was called “Little”, “Young”, “Sonny”, “Junior”.
Some of the common nicknames given to people in Zwolle, Ebarb and Sabine Parish are: Cooter, Doonie, Chee Chee, Tugger, Gotha, Griz, Tuck, Duce, Big Show, Nunny, Gabe, Dummy (couldn’t talk), T. Dean, Peabody, Wellaby, Speedy, Twin, Slick, Shrek, Punk, Mook, Hairy, PeeWee, Beebo, Monk, Tinker, Wimpy, Shorty, Hootie, Kabookie, Three-Thirty, Chic, Humpty, Honkie, Buckeye, Cowboy, Bozo, Jinx, Cheerio, Sugarman, Mooda, Old Nag, Diggy, Butch, Strut, Dunsey, GoGo, Mackel Docket, Smooth, Goobie, Showtime, Speedy, No, No Scott.
Colorful nicknames are: Red, Blue, Patsy Red (Red Hair), Andrew White (premature white hair), White Rodney, Black Rodney, Black Doug, Blue Eyes, Red Dog, Blackie, Blondie, Gray, Gray Horse, Pink Panther, Black Ralph, White Ralph, Black Mule, Pretty Boy.
Body parts are not to be ignored: Head, Big Foot, Big Nose, Crooked Neck, Chin, Chicken Neck, Iron Head, Mustache Sally, Tush, Peg Leg, Sideburns, Smooth Mouth, Toothless, Skin, Hammer Head, Big Mouth, Motor Mouth, Two Bellies, Curly Top, Snag (Missing tooth), Popeye.
Animal names seem to be very popular as far as nicknames are concerned: Duck, Donald Duck, Coon, Coon Dog, Coon Ass, Coonie, Coon Puppy, Hound, Hound Dog, Dump Dog, Mad Dog, Short Dog, Monkey Man, Monkey Head, C. Cat, Tom Cat, Dead Cat, Spur Cat, Roach, Coyote, Hogtail, Hog Head, Hoggie, Pig, Jerry Hog, Hog Tail, Mosquito, Squirrel, Freddy Frog, Frog, Horse, Hoss, Rugrat, Bull, Range Bull, Hook a Bee, Mustang Sally, Tonk and Crow (twins), The Beast, Jay Bird, Mike Bear, Cricket, Road Runner, Rabbit, Brer Rabbit, Turkey Butt, Rooster, Fuzzy Bear, Porky Snake, Tater Bug, Possum.
Names of food or foodstuffs are: Taco, Cheese, Pepper, Pepperbelly, Beenie Weenie, Buckwheat, Hot Tamale, Wine, Cornbread, Coffee, Popcorn, Candy Kisses, CoCo, Wine, Ice Water, Two Beers, Candy, Big Apple, Cookie, T. Bone, Tootsie Roll, Cinnamon.
Inanimate objects and things are: Cap, Trees, Suitcase, Pearl, Scooter, Buckshot, Screwdriver, Doodad, Swamp, Coal Oil, Tennis Shoe, Sponge, Cotton, Horn, Clutch, Tackle Box, K. Wall, Watch.
Mens names are also a source of some nicknames: Mr. Ed, Uncle Joe, Little Tony, Big Pat, Big Walter, Young Cleve, Little Paul, Henry, Percy, Chic, C. Toot, Kabookie, Hootie, Gabe, Tom Slick, Sam Slack, Jim Slack, Chuckey, Hubie, Steene, Lug, Strut, Smiley, Spanky, Ekey, Click, Bancie, Shat, Google, Shatz, Teddy, Chubby, Crazy Roy, Skeet, Timbo, Jimbo, Cubby, Boo Boo, Boo Dookie, Bebee, Joe Burgerhouse, Big Yank, Too Lou, Man, Big Papa, Wild Man, Booger Man, Big Boy, Lonnie, Butch, Man Baby, Good Daddy, Big Daddy, Little Bit, Big Op, Pop, Code Man, Cookie Man, Bucky, Peter Gun, Ugly Buddy, Doogie Doll, Cowboy, Buck, Chubby, Sonny, Junior, Bo, Boo Boo, Cap Man, Hat Man, Lying Jose, Long West, Tuffy, Guffy.
Initials were also a source of nicknames: A.J., T.J., B.J., J.J., M.J., B.B., T., C., D.D., C.J., G.I., J.T.
Some nicknames were so ugly and disrespectful that you wonder who coined them or who would even dare to use them: Shitty, Doo Doo, Slut, $100 Woman, Pecker, Double Ugly, Triple Ugly, Booger, Double Bagger, Triple Bagger, Whore, Fortface, Inner Tube Woman, McNasty.
Some girls nicknames are: Feeny, Little Mary, Little Hun, Old Lady Hun, Poops, Girlfriend, Missy, TaTa, Ti Ti, Landina, Cootie, Camala, Beulah, Hot Dot, Big Forty (40-40-40), Poopsie, Pearlie, Pearl, Punkin, Dot, Tootie, Big Mama, Auntie, Grammy, Cat, Mimi, Teton, Mary Cat, Sweetheart.
Big cities have nothing on the small, rural areas of the South for colorful language. Some of their expressions defy an explanation but are colorful just the same. Some are a little on the rough side but are the language of the people.
To be pregnant was to “be up the country” or a “Bun in the oven.” “Making the block” was to drive around the town, going down the street usually where the teenagers would hang out.
“Fixing to” means getting ready to do something. It can be used as a noun, verb.
One lady instead of using hell or damn as an expletive would say “shit fire and save matches”. Everyone around her was familiar with the expression. “Hit the hay” means going to bed. She would also say that she was busier than a cat covering up its pile.
Self explanatory are: strong as an ox; clear as mud; hot as fire; slippery as an eel; dirty as a pig; sleep like a baby; flat as a pancake, sour as a pickle, lemon, persimmon; slippery as ice; mad as a wet hen; silly as a goose; high as a kite; sweeter than sugar; sly as a fox; nutty as a fruitcake; like a dog in heat; jumpy as a grasshopper; seedy as a watermelon; fly like an eagle; saw logs (sleep); eat like a horse; lit up like a Christmas tree; proud as a peacock; high as a kite; slow as Christmas; quiet as a mouse; honest as the day is long; slow as molasses in January; windy as day in March; snort like a pig; sing like a nightingale; cool as a cucumber; hot as an August day in Texas or Louisiana, hang on to your horses.
Some of the above legends and stories are simply a matter of folklore and were not intended to offend anyone. If anyone does not want their name or their families name in this article, please let me know at 318-645-9939 and I will “delete” you and your ancestors. Since a lot of the older members of the community are deceased now, it really is a matter of conjecture since there are not many ways to prove or disprove why these nicknames evolved to what they are today. Many persons could not read or write, so a lot of these stories are a matter of a family member telling these stories. Some of these stories would change with whoever was telling the story. There is not much written about our people so I thought I would begin the venture and encourage anyone to continue where I leave off.
Copyright © 2012 Mary Lucille Rivers and Cody Bruce. This document may be duplicated or printed for use in personal research as long as this copyright notice is included. It may not be reproduced in any other media form and/or for commercial use without the express written consent of the author. All rights reserved.
The information in this document is provided ‘as-is’. While every effort has been made to verify as much of this information as possible, no warranty is given or implied. Individual researchers are urged to verify for themselves the validity of this information as it may apply to their own family line.