Narcissa Duncan Pailette: Named for Nature, Defied Nature

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Nature.  To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


This week’s prompt led me to an ancestor named for nature — my 3x-great-grandmother Narcissa Duncan Pailette. The name Narcissa means “daffodil” in Greek,¹ and these spring flowers are part of the plant genus Narcissus

Not only was my ancestor Narcissa named for nature, she also defied it. She lived into her 90s, and her obituary recognizes her as one of the oldest citizens of north Louisiana in 1948.


Narcissa Caroline Duncan was the daughter of Charles Stevens Duncan and Elizabeth Roberts and was most likely born in Franklin Parish, Louisiana.³ Records vary on a birth date for Narcissa. Although her obituary claims she was 97 years old at her death,⁴ census records place her birth year somewhere between 1853 and 1858.⁵ Based on birth order and child spacing in the earliest censuses of her family, I believe Narcissa was most likely born in 1855 or 1856.⁶

Narcissa lived near the Boeuf River all her life. She appears with her family on the 1860 census for Franklin Parish in the community of Red Mouth.⁷ This area became part of Richland Parish in 1868, and is near present-day Four Forks and Dave’s Bayou communities. The following map from John Clarence Lewis’s dissertation The Settlement Succession of the Boeuf River Basin, Louisiana, shows the location of Red Mouth with present-day parish boundaries:⁸

Map of Boeuf River Basin Communities in 1860 – John Clarence Lewis, “The Settlement Succession of the Boeuf River Basin, Louisiana,” (Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 1973)

All following censuses place Narcissa in this area of Ward 5 in Richland Parish. A more accurate location for Narcissa and her family can be concluded by her father’s purchase of 40 acres of land from Mrs. C. H. Choat on January 29, 1876.⁹ The legal description of the land is the NW1/4 of SW1/4 of Section 33, Township 15N, Range 6E , or — translated onto modern maps — a parcel beginning at the corner of LA-576 and Duncan Road in rural Mangham, Louisiana. (Descendants of Charles Stevens Duncan may have lived in this area into the recent past for a road to be named after the family.)

Narcissa married Frank Pailette on February 13, 1879, in Richland Parish.¹⁰ The couple likely knew one another as family friends, or perhaps they met through their siblings, as Narcissa’s brother Thomas and Frank’s sister Selina married in 1876.¹¹

Like most of my ancestors, Frank was a farmer, and Narcissa was a homemaker who undoubtedly had a huge role in running the family farm. Narcissa and Frank also had help from their nine children:

  • Alma (1880-1964) who married Joseph Nichols¹²
  • Charles, (1882-1937) who married Stella Lena Shipley¹³
  • Laura Ettie (1884-1969) who married Cicero Edward Hendry¹⁴ — and from whom I descend
  • Jane (1887-1933) who married Clarence Russell¹⁵
  • Dora (1888-1975) who married Patrick Childress¹⁶
  • Edwin (1891-1973) who married Mamie Roy¹⁷
  • Martha (1894-1961) who married Henry Roy¹⁸
  • Robert (1898-1942)¹⁹
  • Agnes (1899-?)²⁰

After Frank’s death in 1923,²¹ Narcissa and her son Robert moved in with another son Edwin and his family who also lived in Ward 5, Richland Parish.²² Narcissa spent her final days in the home of her daughter Dora and died there on March 28, 1948.²³ The following obituary appeared in The Richland Beacon-News on April 3, 1948:

Narcissa Duncan Pailette ObituaryThe Richland Beacon-News, 3 Apr 1948, p. 1, col. 1

Narcissa is buried in Duncan Cemetery²⁴ — also known as Ford Field Cemetery — on the land once owned by her father. Her parents, husband, and many of her children are also buried in this cemetery.

Because Narcissa is a distant ancestor of mine, I have no photos of her. However, she lived well into the 20th century, and I’m sure other family lines received family artifacts. If you are a Duncan-Pailette descendant with mementos of Narcissa, please contact me. I would love to add a photo of her and get to know this side of my family better.


¹Pamela Redmond Satran and Linda Rosenkrantz, Nameberry (http://www.nameberry.com : accessed 17 May 2019), “Narcissa.”

²Encyclopaedia Britannica (https://www.britannica.com/plant/narcissus-plant : accessed 17 May 2019), “Narcissus.”

³Parents identified and birth location estimated from 1860 census:

1860 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, population schedule, Red Mouth Post Office, p. 2 (penned), Narcissa C Duncan in Chas S Duncan household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4231222_00170 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M643, roll 411.

⁴”One of Oldest Citizens Passes,” The Richland Beacon-News, 3 Apr 1948, p. 1, col. 2; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31685568 : accessed 17 May 2019).

⁵ Narcissa’s reported age varies on census records. Her earliest inferred birth year is 1893, as reported on the 1900 census. The latest inferred birth year is 1898, as reported on the 1910 and 1920 censuses.

1900 U.S. census, Richland Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 101, sheet 12-A, Narsis Paillett in Frank Paillett household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120193_01109/22065122 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 527.

1910 U.S. census, Richland Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 117, sheet 29-B, Caroline Pialette in Frank Pialette household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7884/31111_4329989-01277 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 527.

1920 U.S. census, Richland Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 5, Precinct 1, enumeration district (ED) 108, sheet 30-A, Coline Pailett in Frank Pailett household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6061/4300983_00370 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 628.

⁶Narcissa is between brothers Thomas and David in birth order. Thomas’s birth year is consistently inferred as 1854 on the 1860 and 1870 censuses; David’s birth year is inferred as 1858 on the 1860 census and 1857 on the 1870 census. Therefore, Narcissa was born between these two brothers in 1855 or 1856.

1860 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, population schedule, Red Mouth Post Office, p. 2 (penned), Chas S Duncan household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4231222_00170 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M643, roll 411.

1870 U.S. census, Richland Parish, population schedule, Ward 5, Girard Post Office, p. 14 (penned), Charles Duncan household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7163/4269459_00594 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 528.

⁷1860 U.S. census, Franklin Parish, population schedule, Red Mouth Post Office, p. 2 (penned), Chas S Duncan household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7667/4231222_00170 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication M643, roll 411.

⁸John Clarence Lewis, “The Settlement Succession of the Boeuf River Basin, Louisiana” (Ph.D., Louisiana State University, 1973), 73; digitized as LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses (https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3478&context=gradschool_disstheses : accessed 17 May 2019), paper 2479.

⁹Richland Parish, Louisiana, Notarial Record Book E, “Mrs. C. H. Choat to C. S. Duncan: Sale of Land,” p. 437, 29 Jan 1876; digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/343555 : accessed 16 May 2019).

¹⁰Richland Parish, Louisiana, Marriage Book B, “Frank Payett & N.C. Duncan,” p. 471, 13 Feb 1879; digital images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/search/catalog/339812 : accessed 16 May 2019).

¹¹”Louisiana, Compiled Marriage Records, 1851-1900,” database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?dbid=5228&h=25672&indiv=try&o_vc=Record:OtherRecord&rhSource=7163 : accessed 17 May 2019), entry for Thomas J. Duncan – Salina Puillett, 25 May 1876, Caldwell Parish; citing FHL microfilm #0311886-0311887.

¹²Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31792558/alma-nichols  : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 31792558, Alma Pailette Nichols (1880-1964), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.
 
¹³Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31792563/charlie-pailette : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 31792563, Charlie Pailette (1880-1937), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁴Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/34618926/ettie-hendry : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 34618926, Ettie P. Hendry (1884-1969), Providence Memorial Park Cemetery, Winnsboro, Franklin Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁵Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31792587/jane-russell : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 31792587, Jane Pailette Russell (1887-1933), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁶Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (
https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/33361200/dora-childress : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 33361200, Dora Pailette Childress (1888-1975), Hewitt Cemetery, Charlieville, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁷Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31792567/edwin-d-pailette : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 31792567, Edwin D. Pailette (1891-1973), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁸Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/31792574/martha-roy : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 31792574, Martha Pailette Roy (1894-1961), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

¹⁹”Robert Pailette Dies,” The Richland Beacon-News, 22 Aug 1942, p. 1, col. 6; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/27235153 : accessed 17 May 2019).

²⁰Agnes only appears in the 1900 and 1910 censuses; therefore, she may have died in childhood:

1900 U.S. census, Richland Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 101, sheet 12-A, Agnes Paillett in Frank Paillett household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7602/4120193_01109/22065122 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 527.

1910 U.S. census, Richland Parish, Louisiana, population schedule, Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 117, sheet 29-B, Agnes Pialette in Frank Pialette household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/7884/31111_4329989-01277 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 527.

²¹”Louisiana, Statewide Death Index, 1900-1949,” database, Ancestry.com (https://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv=1&dbid=6697&h=171500&ssrc=pt&tid=57700064&pid=38026498723&usePUB=true : accessed 17 May 2019), entry for Frank Pailette, 30 Oct 1922, Richland Parish; citing Vital Records Indices, State of Louisiana, Secretary of State, Division of Archives, Records Management, and History, Baton Rouge.

²²1930 U.S. census, Richland Parish, population schedule, Part of Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 42-14, sheet 5-A, Caroline and Robert Pailette in the Edwin Pailette household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/6224/4584717_01041/35749446 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 817.

1940 U.S. census, Richland Parish, population schedule, Police Jury Ward 5, enumeration district (ED) 42-15, sheet 1-B, Narcissus and Robert Pailette in Edwin Pailette household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/2442/M-T0627-01444-00622 : accessed 17 May 2019), citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1444.

²³”One of Oldest Citizens Passes,” The Richland Beacon-News, 3 Apr 1948, p. 1, col. 2; image copy, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/clip/31685568 : accessed 17 May 2019).

²⁴Ancestry, Find A Grave, database with images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/178093149/narcissa-caroline-paillet : accessed 17 May 2019), memorial 178093149, Narcissa Caroline Pailette (1853-1948), Duncan Cemetery, Mangham, Richland Parish, Louisiana.

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