My Ancestors (30b) – Rev. Elijah and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion – The Family in New Orleans – 1840’s

Last June I  read about a Challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and I was intrigued. I decided to take up the challenge. Some Ancestors may take more than one week, but I still intend to write about 52 Ancestors. I hope you enjoy reading about My Ancestors as much as I am looking forward to researching and writing about them.

(1) Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion; (2) Alfred Beck Guion; (3) Alfred Duryee Guion; (4) Alfred Peabody Guion; (5) Judith Anne Guion

The Family in New Orleans

I do not know the exact year when Guion’s pastorates in the smaller Louisiana communities ended and he was called to St. Paul’s, New Orleans’ principal Episcopal church. It must have been not late in the 1840’s, for my mother was born in 1843, and her first memories were of New Orleans. It always irked her that she had been born in Connecticut — “That Yankee State!” she used to say. This was not an old-Southern family, and it was not strictly Creole though it had much the Creole (French-Spanish) mix; but as the boys and girls grew up you couldn’t have told the difference — they were pre-war New Orleans, and during the war, Confederate to the core.

The Creoles were bilingual, speaking both French and English. So was this family; the Guions hadn’t forgotten their French from their Huguenot times, while my grandmother was an accomplished linguist, speaking French, Spanish and German, all as native tongues and singing in them, too. The center of their education was the Episcopal Church school, which Guion founded and conducted with the very active aid of my grandmother, who taught languages, music, and doubtless other subjects and helped manage the school as well. With all her talent and vivacity, she had a solid scholarly tendency inherited from her German father; as a teacher she was extremely thorough and painstaking, and a bit of a martinet. As to Guion, he was martinet clear through by all accounts. Probably there wasn’t a better or a stiffer school in easy-going New Orleans than the one that these two conducted. My mother and aunts were, of course, trained there, then went on to the New Orleans high school, which was closed during the Civil War when Admiral Farragut captured the town and General Benjamin F. Butler’s troops occupied it. My mother was still in high school at the time; the occupation ended her schooling and ended New Orleans’s Golden Age as well, and she used to say with infinite scorn: “That Yankee Ben Butler — he was no gentleman!”

The charming Greek-columned house in the French quarter held a numerous family. My grandparents had 11 children: the first (I think) born in the South, the next two in the north, the remainder in the South again. The list:

John (1840-‘ 48); Clara (Dec. 14, 1842 –- Sept. 26, 1899); Josephine (Dec. 15, 1843 — June 21, 1921); Elijah or “Lijey” (1845 — ?); Adolphus or “Dolphey” (1847 –- ‘75): Covington or “Covey” pronounced “Cahvey” (1849 — “99); Elizabeth (Aug. 23, 1850 – Nov. 28, 1928); Joanna (1852 ,d. In infancy); Alfred or “Alfie” (1853 – ‘99) (Sept. 24, 1853 – Mar. 2, 1899); Almira (Dec. 21, 1855 — ?); And George (1857, d. in infancy).

All these children had “Beck” as a middle name, their first names, as is seen, came from both the Beck and the Guion-Marshall side. All the surviving daughters married and went west, while the sons stayed in New Orleans. (This is not actually true. I know Alfred went to New York, became a stock broker, married into a prominent New York family and had two children – Grandpa and his younger sister Elsie May. Covington may also have come north and married there. Elijah spent most of his adult life in Tennessee.) Guion’s are numerous and prominent in New Orleans today.


COLONIAL ORIGINS of the CALIFORNIA GUIONS, An Informal Genealogical Study by Ernest Jerome Hopkins, finished in 1952.

Next Sunday, I’ll continue the story of the Rev. Elijah, Clara and their large family in New Orleans.

Starting tomorrow, I’ll continue posting Grandpa’s unique, personalized Christmas Cards.

Judy Guion


6 thoughts on “My Ancestors (30b) – Rev. Elijah and Clara Maria de los Dolores Marina de Beck Guion – The Family in New Orleans – 1840’s

  1. Mrs. P says:

    I too, found errors in historical accounts but in every authors defense, they did not have the technology we have today and relied on word of mouth. How many of these mouths, recalling ancient history, were old and memory challenged is only a guess. That’s why getting oral reports from people, as you have done is so beneficially…inconsistencies and different perspectives show up right away.

    • Judy Guion says:

      Mrs. P. – It is very easy to jump to a conclusion or explanation using the available information. The statement that Elijah and Clara met in New Orleans and married there is quite logical, with the information available. It wasn’t until I found out that they were married in Flushing, L.I., New York, and that they both lived in New York City, that I did some more digging.

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