November 9, 2013

Mystery of the Stave Maker

James Bishop is buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery near Sicily Island in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.  I photographed his tombstone back in September of 2010.  Looking back through my tombstone photographs I came across his and became curious.  Who was James Bishop?  Who were his parents and family?  How did he come to be living in Catahoula Parish?

As you can see from his tombstone inscription, his place of birth was England.  He died in Sicily Island in 1912.

The only documentation found to date has been the 1900 U.S. Census.  The census was taken on July 2 and shows him living in Ward 8, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.  Ward 8 was considered the town of Jonesville.

The following information can also be gleaned from the above census record:
Date of Birth (Mo/Yr):  February 1861
Age at last Birthday:  39
Marital Status:  Single
Place of Birth:  England
Father's Place of Birth:  England
Mother's Place of Birth:  England
Year of Immigration:  1885
Number of Years in United States:  15
Naturalization:  al
Occupation:  Stave Maker
Ownership of Home:  Camp in the Woods
The census also shows the following boarders and a servant who apparently worked for James Bishop:
James McGowan, Age 26, Day Laborer
John A. Gore, Age 27, Day Laborer
Mary Gore, Age 40, Cook/Servant
Eugenia Clark, Age 12
Samuel Day, Age 19, Day Laborer
Staves are thin slats of wood held together with hoops to form barrels.  Did James Bishop operate or work in a small stave mill in the woods near Jonesville?  By current roadways, Jonesville is approximately 24 miles from Sicily Island.  Had he relocated to Sicily Island prior to his death in 1912?  Or was he only passing through the area at the time of his death?

Per the above census, his year of immigration was 1885, making it difficult to find U.S. documentation prior to 1900.  His closest neighbors were the black families of Robert Jones and Sallie Burns.

Are there distant relatives or researchers out there searching for this James Bishop?  If so, my hope is that they will run across this post and at least learn of his final resting place in this beautiful, peaceful cemetery near my hometown.

Old Pine Hill Cemetery near Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

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