Living History, Family History
On June 30, 2018, the Joseph and Zelma Gilbert/Pryer family celebrated their family reunion in Plaquemine, LA. They are one of the largest families of Iberville Parish with their history dating back to the early 19th century. The reunion brought together 550 family members, traveling from California, Maryland, Georgia, Virginia, Texas, and across Louisiana.
The Glibert/Pryer family history starts in Vacherie, LA in St. James Parish. It was here that their ancestors faced the brutal hardships of slavery, receiving little to no education, no financial stability, and no basic human rights. Nevertheless, they built Vacherie and its plantations that are still preserved today. Brandy Evans, the great-great granddaughter of Zelma and Joseph Gilbert explained,
Today, tourists from all around the world marvel at the beauty and history of these grand estates. They may or may not realized that they are consequently marveling at our people too. We can take pride in that.
Evans passed away in April 2018, but before her death, she strongly encouraged her family members to attend the reunion.
The exact date that Zelma Pryer married Joseph Gilbert, a sharecropper, in Vacherie, Louisiana is not recorded, but we do know that on July 28, 1889, their first child was born–a daughter named Gracie Gilbert James. The couple gave birth to four more children in Vacherie before packing up their belongings and relocating to Trinity Quarters, a small area between Grosse Tete and Rosedale, in the early 1900s. It was here that their remaining six children were born, making Iberville Parish their home for generations to come.
Honorees at this years reunion were: Odelia Pryer Lewis, 87, Daisey Ward, 85, and Rosalie Lockman, 80. The last reunion was held in June 2003 where there were more than 700 family members present. The next Gilbert/Pryer Reunion will be held in summer 2020 in Shreveport, Louisiana.