A biographical sketch of Louisa John
adapted from Louisa’s Legacy ~ A Continuation ~ (1998) and from A Legacy of Our Past (2002)
by Phyllis Pitre Lastrapes
As close as can be determined from church, census, and civil records, Louisa John (affectionately known as “Mama Noone”) was born in Louisiana during the late 1830’s to early 1840’s. Marriage records indicated that she was a daughter of Louis and Eloise John. Documented evidence supports the belief that Louisa was born a slave. When she registered a cattle brand in 1867, Louisa John was listed as “col freed woman”. Freed woman, according to an archivist with the St. Landry Courthouse, signifies that she was a slave freed because of the emancipation of all slaves in 1865. The court record displaying the cattle brand is exhibited in Louisa’s Legacy (1994).
On Tuesday, April 9, 1867 when Louisa registered her cattle brand, William Carcamo, a European immigrant and father to the Carmon offspring, also registered his cattle brand. At this time, the couple lived in the Ville Platte, Louisiana area and had become parents to Alcindor (1864), Theodore (1865), and Adayol (1866). The following year, 1868, their daughter Victoria was born. In 1868 William conveyed property to Louisa, and soon left the state after gaining U.S. citizenship. Once William departed the area of his children’s birth, document recorders likely used their own judgement in determining the pronunciation and spelling of the Carcamo name. As illiteracy was the norm for people of color, Louisa did not refute the spelling of her children’s surname. When the children grew to adulthood, they learned to write the name “Carmon” they were taught as youngsters.
In 1870, Louisa John married Phillip Levielle. It appears that the marriage was brief. By the late 1870’s, Louisa had given birth to daughters Victorine and Lena, fathered by Joseph Fontenot. In June of 1880 the Louisiana census shows Louisa with husband Jeff Campbell, and the Campbell household included the Carmon and Fontenot children. In November of 1880, Pierre Curley Campbell was born to the couple, followed by daughter Camille (1883), and sons Perrodent (1885), and Octave (1887). Marriage records indicate that Louisa, the widow of Jeff Campbell, became the wife of John Renty in March of 1899. Apparently, this marriage was brief, as subsequent census records show Louisa once again using the Campbell surname.
There are a number of records of Louisa purchasing land in Evangeline Parish on behalf of herself or her children, selling land, and conveying acreage to her children. Oral history indicates that Louisa once owned a general store, and also that she helped find a teacher for the school house built by her son-in-law, Louis Z. Fontenot (husband of Victoria Carmon Fontenot) in the early 1900’s.
While living with her daughter Victorine, Louisa died November 7, 1930 in Crowley, Louisiana.
Phyllis Pitre Lastrapes has done over 12 years of extensive research into the history of the Carmon, Campbell, and Fontenot families of Southwest Louisiana. She has written five books that provide a genealogical chronicle of Louisa John and her ten children, including photographs, narratives, memoirs, and copies of official records.