The Legacy of Four Families
The Texas Story Project.
Four families, nearly two centuries ago, totally unconnected, two from the European continent and two from Ireland, began their journey to the United States and toward one another forging one family strong in faith and determination, hardworking, loving and accomplished.
Two families, the Loonams, Hugh James from Offally Ireland and Margaret McDermott from Rascommon, Ireland and the O’Briens, Tom and Batt from Purt, Abbeyfeale, Ireland began their story in the sixteenth century when the persecution of Catholics started. By 1863, Catholics could not own land, hold more than serfdom jobs, often barely able to feed their families after the potato famine of the 1840’s. It was in 1863, that Hugh Loonam, a civil engineer, and wife Margaret McDermott boarded a ship bound for New Orleans. Those that survived the journey often had one thought on their minds: to be free of British oppression. The American civil war was still raging, however by this time the Union had control of New Orleans so immigration was possible.
The prospect of jobs on the railroads being constructed to span the United States from east to west had to have been very tempting to Hugh as well as Batt and Tom. In what manner Hugh and Maggie got to Wichita, Kansas, can only be guessed at and I am guessing a wagon train was their method of travel. Hugh and Maggie settled there and in 1874 a daughter Mamie was born. Then in 1876 little Elizabeth Mary arrived. Maggie lost two sons before Agnes Genevieve was born in 1886.
Wichita was a trading post in 1863 and the Wichita Indians were then occupying the land and the town was named for the tribe. In May, 1872, the railroad reached Wichita. The city continued to grow as did the children of Hugh and Maggie Loonam.
By the 1880’s plans for the construction of levees along the Mississippi River were in the works and Hugh moved his family to Tennessee. At some point, probably the mid 1890’s Mamie and Elizabeth (later known as Aunt Day) met and married the O’Brien brothers Batt and Tom who had immigrated from Ireland. This begins the connection of two of the families. Tent cities were erected along the river for the workers and their families. Mess tents and laundries were included. I was told that Elizabeth never learned to cook as all meals were provided and later in Houston she was fortunate enough to have help.
On a side note, I once asked Aunt Day ( we called her Gaa) why people called her “Aunt Day” and she replied that she never like her name. At the time there was a popular song “Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do…” A Bicycle Built for Two. She loved the name Daisy and wanted to be called that. I assume her nickname was shortened to Day.
In 1896, Mamie and Batt were blessed with a daughter, Anna Mae. In 1897 in Natchez, Mississippi tragedy struck and Mamie died. There are several stories about her cause of death. One is that a chiffarobe fell on her. Another that she died in child birth and her death certificate states the cause of death as nephritis. Any or all of them could be true. She could have been pregnant and when the chiffarobe fell on her she lost the baby and damaged her kidney. As Batt worked long hours Maggie Loonam, Anna Mae’s grandmother cared for her.
In 1900, Tom and Elizabeth had a daughter, Lillian Margaret and two years later a son Hugh was born and lived only 3.5 months. The death certificate states “convulsions” as his cause of death. Now remember they were living on the river at a time when yellow fever was rampant. Hugh was born in April and died in August, 1902, so he could easily have had an infection or disease resulting in a high fever and convulsions. Elizabeth, Aunt Day, had had enough of living in tents on the river and she wanted her mother so she took Lillian and joined a wagon train headed across the Old Spanish Trail that ran from San Augustin, Florida, to San Diego, California and through Houston.
Hugh and Maggie, Anna Mae along with daughter Agnes Genevieve headed to Houston sometime before 1902 so that he could assist with the construction of the bridge over the Brazos river near Richmond, Texas.
While working and living near the Brazos River, Agnes (Aggie) became engaged. The story goes that one day this very handsome man by the name of Emile Baudat rode up on a gray horse and instantly stole Agnes’s heart. Emile was a farmer from France. He had immigrated to Mexico to farm but the land was not conducive to growing produce so he traveled to Texas. He married Aggie and they bought a farm in Mt. Houston just outside of Houston on the north side.
Eventually Tom and Batt O’Brien arrived in the Houston area. In 1904 Tom and Elizabeth had another son, Thomas O’Brien, and then in 1906 Rosalie was born, fatherless as Tom died shortly before her birth in October, 1905.
In the meantime, Batt O’Brien began purchasing land in Clodine, Texas, in Fort Bend County. Tom Tuffly told me he bought 1000 acres total for $.32 an acre in the early part of the twentieth century. He began farming cotton. Eventually share croppers inhabited and worked the farm after Batt moved to Houston. The property or parts of it remained in the family until the 1980’s.
Some time after the death of Tom O’Brien, Batt and daughter, Anna Mae moved into Aunt Day’s home on Hadley just outside of downtown Houston near the corner of Austin Street. St. Thomas High school was originally located just across the street. Together Batt and Elizabeth continued to rear these four children.
Anna Mae reared first by her grandparents after the death of her mother Mamie in 1897, then by her father Batt O’Brien and Aunt Day, met and married Robert Dwyer. If memory serves me Robert (Bob) was an accountant. They had one son Robert (Bobby ) who passed away in 2017. The family lived near the University of St. Thomas in the Montrose area.
Tom O' Brien married Audrey Herbert and they had no children.
Rosalie married Ben Woodhead. They lived in Beaumont and had four children, Tootsie, Patricia, Ben and Michael.
When the last child left home and I am assuming that was Rosalie, it was not considered proper for Batt and Elizabeth to live in the same house unmarried so they resolved that problem by marrying each other. Batt died in 1947 and Elizabeth in 1965.
The Baulards and Tuffly Families
Victor Baulard was born in Besancon, France in 1828 and came to the United States through Galveston in 1843 at the age of 15. He arrived here from Switzerland with his father Jean Antoine Baulard. There is no record of his mother that I have been able to find. I presume she died in Europe as Jean Antoine remarried Margarite Guiot and they had two children. Jean and Margarite both died of yellow fever in Galveston in 1854.
Victor met and married Chlotilda Gillette in 1851. Victor, a painter and merchant, apprenticed himself to Joseph W. Rice. In 1853 the two men established the firm of Rice and Baulard, dealers in paints, oils, glass and other similar goods. The firm developed a trade extending throughout Texas and western Louisiana. In 1870 Joseph Rice and Victor Baulard built the Rice-Baulard Building on the corner of 23rd and Tremont near the Strand area of Galveston. In, 2017, the building is still there and is currently developed into lofts.
During the battle of Galveston on January 1, 1863, Victor, a member of the Confederate army went to do battle with the Union Navy as they attempted to blockade the Port of Galveston. Providence guided him to take his silver covered prayer book with him in his left breast pocket. This cover stopped a Union bullet saving his life. The prayer book cover remains in the family according to the late Patricia Gautier Parma but it is unknown who that is.
Chlotilda and Victor had seven children, Mathilde M. who married Louis J. Tuffly, Claude M. who married Frank T. Reicherzer, Julia B (Pinkie), who married Edouard Borelly, Victor L who married Mary Ratto, Cammillo Paul who died in 1926 never having been married, Eloise (Bussie) A Baulard who married Walter J. Mouton, Blanch Baulard who died at the age of thirteen months.
Victor and Chlotilde eventually bought a home at 2628 Broadway in Galveston where they raised their family. This home is still there next to the Moody Mansion and houses the offices of the Moody mansion and is now referred to as Quigg Cottage. On May 21, 2017, it was dedicated as Quigg-Baulard Cottage to the National Register of Historical Places and as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
Mattie Baulard met and married Louis J. Tuffly and they had five children Blanche, Joseph ,Louis Frank, Louise and Victor who died very young. Louis was originally from Illinois and I do not know how he arrived in Houston or how they met.
Louis owned a bar or saloon in downtown Houston in the old Capitol hotel. They built what was called a cottage in 1884 near the corner of Webster and Milam for a total cost of $3000.00 and went to live there as bride and groom until 1899 when they erected a two story house on the corner for $4700.00. In the late 19th century Louis was elected to the Houston City Council and served as Mayor Pro Tem. Family lore says that Louis was responsible for getting the fire station at 2403 Milam, near his home, constructed. It serves as the Houston Fire Museum today.
Louis died in 1907 and Mattie continued to live there until 1927 when she moved to the house on Southmore in the Riverside area. The original two homes on Milam were razed to make way for the Earle North Buick Company, which eventually became Al Parker Buick. Dr. John Krupp lived two doors down from the Tuffly’s on Milam..
In 1882,Louis partnered with John Krupp and opened Krupp and Tuffly Shoes near or in what we know as the Rice Hotel. At that time it was called the Capitol Hotel. After the death of Louis in 1907, his son Louis Frank, took over the reins of the shoe store. In 1929 the new art deco store at the corner of Main and Walker opened and remained opened until after the store was purchased in the mid1960’s.
There are a number of stories about Mattie that I will include from time to time. One is that she owned a couple of acres in the area that is now known as the Galleria and that she sold them for two cows.
Mattie was a devout Catholic and a founding member of Sacred Heart Church now known as the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and when the building was constructed donated the Stations of the Cross to the church. My understanding is that her grandson Tuffly Ellis has asked that should the old church be razed that the stations come back to him for donation to another church.
When the stock market crash of 1929 occurred, Mattie’s son Joseph lost his small appliance business and went to work at the shoe store. The store managed to survive because ‘everyone had to have one pair of shoes’.
It was also some time in the 1930’s that Mattie broke her hip and became an invalid. Her bedroom was moved to what I knew as the sun parlor on the first floor of the Southmore House. She died in 1945 and her son Louis, president of Krupp and Tuffly died shortly thereafter. A Mr. Kuhlmann was appointed president and served for several years until Edward Tuffly took over in the late ‘40’s. Edward’s son Louis Edward said that Mr. Kuhlmann pretty much ran the business into the ground and it took Edward most of his tenure to get it back on stable ground. Edward died in 1969.
In 1919, Lillian O’ Brien met and married Joseph Baulard Tuffly, merging the four families, Loonam, O’Brien, Baulard and Tuffly into one. Joe had a small appliance business. They had five children, Joe Jr., Lillian (Chickie), Betty May, Batt and Tom. They resided in the Riverside area between downtown and the University of Houston. The children attended first Holy Rosary school and then St. Mary’s. The boys attended St. Thomas High school and the girls St. Agnes Academy where their mother had gone to school. Eventually they moved to the Meyerland area of Houston.
Four families spanning nearly 200 years has grown to include hundreds of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, sons, daughters and grandchildren those who remain and those who have gone before. This is a heritage rich in history throughout the southern United States and particularly in Houston and Galveston. It is a lesson in family and the strength of family. Regardless of your current name, if somewhere along the way a family member was a Loonam, an O'Brien, a Baulard, a Tuffly you have wealth untold. You have family.
- Margie Gulledge, descendent of the Baulard, Tuffly, Loonam and O'Brien family
Written May, 2017
I am the fifth generation of the Baulard Family and an avid history buff, especially family history. I spent hours visiting with family members collecting information and anecdotes to write this family history. It has been a labor of love and I ervently hope it serves to keep this small part of Texas history alive, Thanks especially to Tuffly Ellis, Patricia Parma, Tom Tuffly, Betty Mae Tuffly Fitzgerald, Chickie Tuffly Kelly, Robert Dwyer and Diane Dwyer for their input.
Posted March 11, 2019
TAGGED WITH: Immigrant Experience