The Gales/Gailes/Gills Family of St Landry Parish

This is the third in a series of articles we are posting on CreoleGen contributed by Mr. Alex Lee who has graciously agreed to share some of his research on Saint Landry Parish families.

This is a picture of Theo Gailes and his musically talented family. They were known to have played at house parties. Theo is the son of Joseph Andre Gailes and Coralie Damas. Both Theo and Coralie descend from people of color who were once owned by the Lemelle family of St. Landry Parish.

Theo’s family resided in the town of Opelousas off the old Washington Road. They were part of the “second class” people of color in the parish.  Because they were owned by the “first class” people of color this gave them an association which eventually allowed them to marry into those “first class” families.

The Gailes, Gills or Gales family descends from a man named Washington Gales born about 1820 and who died in 1892. He and his mother Marianne were owned by a Mississippi slave trader, Roberts Gales. At only 9 months, Washington was sold away from his mother to Adelaide Lemelle, free woman of color, for $300. His mother was sold to George Boulard, husband of Marie Jeanne Talliefert, mother of Martin Donato, the wealthy planter of St. Landry Parish.

It is unclear how and when Washington was emancipated but he was found as early as the 1860 census living with a mulatto woman named Sarah who was emancipated by Rachel Hicks in 1860, only a few months before being enumerated in the census as a free woman. Although she was emancipated in 1860, in the 1850 census she was living with Rachel Hix as a free person.

It is possible that Washington and Sarah met on the Gradenigo plantation. The person who emancipated Sarah was married to one of Adelaide Lemelle’s sons.

Washington Gales and Sarah had (9) children:
1. Joseph Andre Gailes, b. 1860
2. Seraphine Gailes, (1863-1880)
3. Amelia Gales, b. 1869
4. Antoine Gills, b. 1871, married to Octavie Guidry
5. Isidore Gales (1874-1927, d. in Houston) married to Alice Chenier
6. Emile S. Gales, (1875-1897)
7. William Gales, (1878-1926), married to Mary Anderson
8. Mary Gales, (1879-1895)
9. Helena Gales, b. 1883, married to James Higgins

Before Washington cohabited with Sarah he had two children with two different women. He had a son named James with a woman named Louisa Smith and he had a son named Emile Washington with Arthemise Thomas. It is interesting that his son Emile only used Gales when he was married as detailed in his Catholic marriage entry–GRADENI, Emile Washington (Washington & Artemise THOMAS) m. 5 Feb. 1883 Irene THOMAS, wid. of Gustin LEDE (SWLA, Wash. Ch.: v. 1, p. 83) — and from his civil marriage entry–WASHINGTON, Emile m. 29 Jan. 1883 Irene THOMAS, wid. of Justin LEDE (SWLR, Opel. Ct. Hse.: Mar. #12683). Prior to this marriage he used Gay. Since I had already done extensive research on Washington Gales I knew that Emile was using the Gradney or Gradenigo name since his father, Washington, was owned by the Gradenigo family. Most slaves in St. Landry Parish took as their surname the first name of their father.  So, the Gales, Gills, Gailes family is actually bigger than they most likely thought because Emile Washington’s family is huge being that he had children with both his wives.

Note: All of the research and conclusions drawn are the work of Alex Lee and not CreoleGen’s researchers. Please refer to our post dated April 24, 2015 “Martin Donato of St. Landry Parish” for more information about Alex. If you wold like more information on these families you can contact Alex on Facebook at a”Alex Genealogy.”

Lenora Gobert

3 thoughts on “The Gales/Gailes/Gills Family of St Landry Parish

  1. This summary of Alex’s findings on the Gailes family shows the twists and turns of genealogy on formerly enslaved families here in south Louisiana.

  2. Theo Gailes is the brother to my step-grandmother, Octavia. She played the fiddle/violin in the band. I’m pretty sure that’s her in the picture.
    Octavia was my mother’s step-mother. She would go to those house dances on the Washington Road. That’s where she met my father – Jessie Donatto (of the Martin Donato family).

  3. My Grandmother’s name was Evie Lemelle. I am also related to the Donato Family. My Grandfather’s name was Ross Guidry.

    Anyone familiar with either of these names?

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