Ezemily was the daughter of Mary "Polly" Moss and Reuben Booth. She was the mother of sixteen children, eleven of whom lived past childhood. Ezemily died of yellow fever.
Letter dated October 18, 1908 from Sister Mary Margaret Augusta Perry (youngest child of Robert Perry, Sr., and Ezemily Booth). Sister Margaret Mary Perry was writing from the convent at Grand Coteau to Walter Burke, who had married her niece, Bertha (daughter of Robert S. Perry and Bertha Gary). Apparently she was responding to Walter Burke's inquiry concerning family history. Her reference at the top of the first page to "little John" is unclear because none of Walter Burke's children bore that name. The original letter is on file at the library at the University of Southwestern Louisiana among the Walter Burke papers (File No. 28, Archives, Louisiana Room):
Grand Coteau, Oct. 18, 1908
"I send a medal for little John."
My dear Walter,
It has been a subject of regret to me that I did not inquire more into our family history. I know comparatively little of it. Robert never told me that he had written a record. My father, as you no doubt have learnt, was born in Pennsylvania. When quite young his father moved to Kentucky. At the age of 19 he ran away from home, I was not told for what reason, and came to La. His little possessions were contained in a small bundle, although he died a rich man. His riches, however, were all gained by preserving hard, honest labor. As his property consisted principally of Negroes, nearly all was lost at the time of the war. When he left home, my grandma wrote him the gentle reproach, "Ah, my son, when you were small you trod upon my toes, but now you tread upon my heart." At the age of 33 he married my mother who was then 16. I am not aware of at what age her family came to La. What union reigned between them!! I never saw a cloud. My mother told me, however, that for a short time my father seemed inclined to wander from home, but she with womanly tact recalled him by her delicate attentions and by making home a happy one. We were 16 children, only 11 grew to any age.
Mary Ann Perry was born on the 20th of December 1841. She took a walk before breakfast to a spring which was not far from home and she had the imprudence to bathe her head, and from that time she caught a cold and died within six months. She must have been a very pious amiable child as when I came into the world they were still speaking of her as a little saint -- serving God to the best of her light. She was just home for vacation when she became sick. She spent only six months at the convent and Our Lord had not yet given her the Faith. I hope He had mercy on her according to her good will.
Alzenith Perry was born on the 26th of March 1825. She was about 60 years old when she died. I do not remember the date of her death. With her began the conversion of our family to the Catholic Church. She went to the Convent of Grand Coteau with sister Mary Ann, and in a few months became a fervent Catholic and remained so to the last. Some of her teachers asked her, upon the day of her baptism, if she was happy. "Happy! I hear, I feel, I see nothing but Heaven opened and Hell closed!" A very strange thing happened to her when she was yet a protestant and knew nothing of the Catholic religion. One day, a short while before leaving for the convent, she was pressing some collars, her little sister Amanda, a child of 2 years, played about the room. All at once she began to make these reflections to herself: "Protestants say that baptism is not necessary for salvation. Catholics say that it is. Well, I think it is better to be on the safe side. Now here is my little sister -- she is sick. I am going to to the Convent and she may die during my absence and what will become of her if it is true that baptism is necessary for salvation? I am going to baptize her." Whereupon, taking the water with which she was sprinkling her collars, she baptized her. She was scarcely at the Convent four months when her angel sister took her flight to Heaven. When she spoke of it afterwards, she was told that she had acted under the inspiration of God. Poor sister! Hers was indeed a life of trial, but her faith gave her strength to bear with resignation her sorrows.
Eveline Perry was born on the 20th of February 1827, and on the 10th of March 1829 she was drowned. My mother had company that day and at dinner time she went to see if everything was ready and meeting her baby Eveline she gave her some bread and butter, and the child ran off to play. After dinner the little one could be found nowhere. After searching for some time, they noticed some hounds standing around a vat and howling. Going to it they perceived a little pink dress floating upon the water. Our little sister was drowned! As the dogs were very fond of her, it was supposed that in playing with her they pushed her in.
My brothers, Augustus and Robert, you know. I need not speak of them -- both died Catholics. Brother Augustus received baptism about six months before his death. He wrote, himself, to tell me the good news.
My brother, Frank, came in between these two brothers. He was born on the 9th of March 1833. He married a Miss Carrie Niblett of Texas. He lived a while in La. but the greater part of his married life was spent in Texas. He was a farmer. How good and affectionate he was. He was in bad health several years before his death. His last years were spent in La. A short time before the end came, he went to my sister Alzenith's and remained there fifteen days in order to receive instructions from a priest previous to baptism.
Amanda Perry was born on the 28th of October 1838 -- I meant to say 36 -- and died on the 2nd of December 1838. She was the one that my sister Alzenith baptized.
Oliver H. Perry was born on the 23rd of October 1838 and died at Camp Pickens, Va. on the 22nd of August 1861, 15 days after the battle of Bull Run, of typhoid fever. He asked for baptism but there was no one to give it to him. I trust our Lord considered his desire and was merciful to him. Never will I forget the day on which we received his dear remains. Our grief, and especially that of poor Mother, was the greater as his death came so expectantly. He was the youngest, our darling brother! He was so gentle and so noble. I remember upon one occasion, some one complimented him at the cost of another person. He answered nobly, "I will receive no praise at the expense of another."
Robert and Olly being nearer the same age were very united, so much so that when the war broke out and Robert told him he was going to enlist in the army, Olly answered: "Well, I am going too." They both left together, and a few months later he was brought home a corpse. Robert always thought that he had sacrificed his life to fraternal love. He never could speak of it without weeping, even in his last visit to me, he referred to it and was so overcome by emotion that I was obliged to change the subject. Ollie had studied to be a doctor.
Laura Perry was born on the 29th of December 1840 and died on the 26 of September 1865. Laura, Adeline, and Augusta were baptized at the Convent of Grand Coteau on the same day, 7th September 1857. Laura was Robert's pet sister, and she deserved to be so. When dying, she exhorted him to study the Catholic religion and to become one. She said she would die happy if he would give her that promise. As a child she was very much prejudiced against the Catholic priests and nuns, so much so that, when our Mother decided to send us to the convent, she would not consent to go with us the first year. However,the next (year) she accompanied us back. I can see her walking through the classrooms with her head haughtily thrown back and an expression of disdain upon her face. She even desired to direct her studies. Reverend Mother Moran, her teacher, consulted Reverend Mother Jouve, who was then Superior, about it and she, with tact, advised her not to contrary her, but to yield to her in everything. Laura, seeing herself not contradicted in any way, began, little by little, to give in, and at the end of the year asked and received baptism, as I said, on the 7th Sept., and made her 1st Communion the next day. When my mother came for us the year after, Laura did not wish to go home. My mother would not hear of her becoming a religious because she said "a Perry" could not stand the religious life. She would die of consumption. Poor Mother, she was not a Catholic, and did not understand what happiness she was depriving her loved ones of. Alas, she went home, married, and eighteen months later died of consumption, the very thing my dear mother so much dreaded. Laura went to see a friend. When she left to return home, the weather was warm, and of course, she was lightly dressed. Suddenly, a very cold north wind blew up and she caught cold and in a few months all was over. She married a Mr. Cornelius Rice and had one child -- it being born on the 7th and died on the 8th September after receiving baptism. Rev. Father Nachon, the holy Jesuit who baptized us, came down from Grand Coteau to administer the last sacraments. He had the kindness to remain all night near her bed, praying for her and left her only when she had breathed her last.
Adeline Perry was born on the 8th of November 1842. She was baptized, as I said, with Laura and Augusta and made her first communion on the 27th of December of the same year. Her health being bad, my mother withdrew her from the Convent and took her to Texas to spend a short time with our brother, Frank, to see if a change of air would benefit her. Returning home she married a Mr. Anthony Landry. Our Lord blessed her with three children, Arthur, Stanislaus, and Augusta. He gave them to her, however, only to make little saints of them soon after. The oldest lived to be 2 years and one month, the second 18 months, and the third 4 months and 17 days. One day, a little before Arthur's death, he was playing on his mother's bed. All at once he began to ask joyfully: "Grandma, do you want to see God? I want to see God. Auntie, do you want to see God? I want to see God." He continued to ask everyone in the room the same question and always added: "I want to see God." A month afterwards his wish was realized. He died of typhoid fever.
My sister had the sorrow to lose her kind husband a short time after the death of her last child. He was born on the 12th of December 1837, and died on the 5th of June 1870. Two years after, on the 18th of December 1872, Our Lord called her out of this world of misery. She received all the sacraments and died blessing Him for taking her.
Mary Margaret Augusta Perry was born on the 15th of January 1845. The last of sixteen children to come into the world and will be the last to leave it. The privileged spouse of the Sacred Heart, who has no other regret now, in the evening of her life, but that she has made so poor a return to Our Lord for all that he has done for her. A long life of almost perfect health and happiness, verging on 64, with scarcely an infirmity of age, although she is "a Perry" who has spent all her life, with the exception of a few years, within the walls of a convent. She has realized a dream of her youth -- she seemed to be in a boat in the middle of a river. She was all alone. All her loved ones of "by-gone" days had gone to a better world, and, so it has now happened.
I remember absolutely nothing about the Booths. They all lived in Texas, and we lost sight of them. If you wish to know more about the Perrys, perhaps you may find out something from our relatives in the North. Perhaps our cousin, Mrs. Oran, might give you some information.
Our father, Robert Perry, was born on the 16th of November 1787, and our mother on the 11th of August 1804. The first died on the 26th of August 1852, and the second on the 28th of October 1867 of yellow fever which raged at Abbeville for the first and, I think, only time. She was baptized on her death-bed, thank God!
I congratulate you on the birth of your little son. When are you going to bring him to see me. I am not so far off. I suppose you have heard of your saintly friend Rev. F. Janin's death. I am sure he prays for you and your little family.
I am truly glad that you are pleased with your children's progress. Roberta wrote to me and I also remarked it. Now goodbye. Give my love to all at home.
Yours most affectionately,
Rel. S. H. (Religious, Sacred Heart)
When you have finished your record, I would be pleased to see it.