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Local News

April 24, 2014

Clyde Vincent, Cajun genealogist, dies

BEAUMONT — Clyde Vincent, who dedicated much of his life to chronicling and preserving the Cajun culture, has died.

His legacy, however, will live on.

Vincent, who died Monday at the age of 88, willed his vast collection of Cajun genealogy research, books and even VCR tapes of interviews with “old timers” to the Tyrrell Historical Library in Beaumont.

Stephanie Soule, archivist with the Tyrrell Historical Library said the collection is being catalogued and will be available for patron use.

“Our Louisiana section in the genealogy department is one of the most frequently used sections and that’s what all of these books are about,” Soule said. “It will be so useful for our patrons and a real benefit to the library.”

Soule said the library received 21 boxes of books.

Vincent grew up in Port Neches in a section referred to as “Little Abbeyville” due to the proximity of the Louisiana city and for the amount of Cajun descendants living there.

“Known as Clyde to everyone, this self-effacing unassuming Cajun man spent a lifetime working hard to keep the Cajun language and culture alive in an area of East Texas where Cajuns were at one time the object of scorn by the Dutch, not to mention attacks by the area Ku Klux Klan,” Kay Penshorn Vincent, daughter-in-law, said. “The Cajuns had two things going against them; they spoke French and were Catholic.”

Richard “Dick” Vincent, one of three sons of Clyde Vincent, said his father’s research into the Cajun culture went deep. For decades he would visit with older Cajuns, mostly from Louisiana, both black and white and has interviewed descendants of slaves. Vincent did this to learn all he could about how Cajuns lived.

In 1979 he formed a group called Les Acadiens du Texas, whose primary goal was to “sponsor educational activities for its members that encouraged, assisted and promoted interest in the preservation of the Acadian language and culture,” Kay Vincent said. By 1983 the group became a non-profit, tax exempt organization. He headed up the group for 30 of its 33 years.

Vincent also had a hand in bringing an authentic Cajun house to the city of his birth. In 1989 he was offered an old Acadian house, circa 1810, and was instrumental in having the house floated by barge down from Vermilion Bayou to its location at Port Neches Riverfront Park.

Richard Vincent said his father spoke with “old timers” and learned the  formula for the original mixture that Cajuns used to seal logs and this was used in the restoration process. The home was dubbed La Maison Beausoleil and was dedicated to the memory of Joseph Broussard, also known as Beausoleil, who was a leader of the Acadian people in a movement against their expulsion from Acadia.

Vincent was recognized for his work in preserving the Cajun heritage last year when he was inducted into the Order of the Living Legends at the Acadian Museum in Erath, La. in  February, 2013.

Clyde Vincent, of Beaumont, is survived by his sons, Ernie Vincent and wife Robin, of The Woodlands; Richard “Dick” Vincent and wife Kay, of Houston, and David Vincent and wife, Ana of Franklin, Tenn.; grandson, Richard “Richie” Vincent, Jr.  of Houston; granddaughter Carrie Vincent Stadjuhar and her husband, Marc, of Spring, Texas; and great-granddaughter, Cora Lou, also of Spring. He is also survived by his dear companion of many years, Hattie Greenway.

A gathering of Vincent’s family and friends will begin at noon, with his funeral service to follow at 2 p.m. Friday, April 25, at Broussard’s, 505 12th St., Nederland. Interment will follow at Oak Bluff Memorial Park, Port Neches.

E-mail: mmeaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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