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AfriGeneas Brick Wall Forum

ALTEMUS family ~ Plaquemine LA

I have been researching my Grandmother Helen Altemus's family and have now hit a brick wall. I have ordered marriage licenses, death certificates, contacted parish archive departments, searched various name variations, various genealogy sites, etc. and have researched every census possible, as well as took advantage of trial memberships to research and post messages requesting assistance, with no help. I have also managed to create a family tree at since I am researching both my father and mother's families.

I also spoke with family members. And unfortunately, there is no information available because I was told the family never discussed their ancestors or their history. Which led me to do the research because first, I would like to know my heritage and be able to share it with my family, second, why was it such a secret that no one was allowed to discuss.

My grandmother Helen Altemus was born in Plaquemine, Louisiana, as was her brother and sister. I found her on the 1920 Baton Rouge (EBR) census with the last name spelling of Altermes with her father listed as Erdin or Edin Altermes (who I later confirmed was the first name Edward, per a marriage record) and her mother Mary Altermes, all listed as mulattoes. Another story I proceed with caution since I am told Mary’s family was of Choctaw descent and Edward’s family was of Caucasian and African-American descent (mixed races).

Mary's mother, who is my gg grandmother, is also listed on the 1920 census as Kizzis or Kissir Johnson. I confirmed through a death record that her name is Kissiah Johnson or Kisiah Johnson (as listed on her daughter's 2nd marriage record) whose maiden name was James (per death record, mother last name Tolliver, father last name James).

I also found my grandmother on the 1930 Baton Rouge (EBR) census with her mother Mary J Altemus (Mary Jane), her two siblings, and her grandmother Kisiah Johnson and a boarder named Virginia Johnson. Erdin is not listed and Mary is a widow. Mary's father name is Thomas Johnson (per 2nd marriage cert, death record, and 1900 census in Iberville, Louisiana).

I have found only one mulatto Altemus family in Iberville, Louisiana from the 1880, 1900-1930 census but cannot seem to make the connection to my family since I cannot locate my great grandfather's mother, father, or siblings on any other census.

For example, there is a Gray or Gary Altemus, day laborer, born in VA, found on the 1900 Iberville, Ward 2 census, at St. Louis Plantation listed above the family of Wilson Jeames (possible relative). Additionally, according to research, Edward J. Gay was the slave owner of this plantation. I also found an Altime Altanus (Altemus) married to Mary Altanus on the 1910 St. John the Baptist census. These are the only two people I have been able to locate.

The other Altemus families (with Altimus spelling variation) I found on the above mentioned census show four of the five children that include Gay and Lane (also a plantation in Louisiana) as a middle name. Their father is shown as John F. Altemus on

On the flip side, there is a ton of information available on the Caucasian Altemuses of Philadelphia as well as the Altemus family of Iberville Parish, (Plaquemine/Iberville), Louisiana who may be connected/related to the Altemuses of Philadelphia based on common name affiliations (Marionneaux, etc; common name found near my other Augustus/Hebert family members).

I have reached out to two Family members with family trees found on but have not received a response. One of the family members' family tree include Caucasian descent and list Edin or Erdin as a relative of which they cited the 1920 census as a source. Although they listed his mother incorrectly because the census erroneously reported her as his mother and not his mother-in-law, I would like to at least get a response to share information that may help to determine ancestors of my relatives.

Lastly, I am not certain if my Altemus family was owned by slaves because I am not sure where to start not to mention Louisiana is such a difficult state to locate records.

My hope is to gain any assistance I can to locate my relatives as well as be provided any assistance where I may start looking for slave documents of Plaquemine, Iberville, Louisiana.

Side note: I have already contacted Baton Rouge (EBR), Iberville as well as Plaquemine, Iberville, La several times and have searched their website for additional contacts to no avail or lack of direction I needed to go.

I have limitations that prevent me from traveling to do research in Louisiana, but am working with my generation of family members to locate information that will help them with the planning of a future family reunion.

Any assistance anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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