It was written by William R. Burke of New Iberia, who said, "On Saturday last, Mr. Lizen Lege, accompanied by a dark-haired young man and Mr. Antony Plattsmyer, all from the town of Rayne, called at my residence for the purpose of ascertaining from me certain reports that had come to them in regard to a teacher that had been employed in this parish some twelve years ago." The visitors thought that she might have been "the lost and unknown mother" of the young man.
Mr. Burke couldn't help them. He said that no teacher fitting their description had ever taught in Iberia parish, but he was intrigued by the history of the young man "whose life has been clouded in mystery."
The visitors told Burke this story:
"In about the year 1866, one Christmas morning, a child just born was placed in the corner of Dr. Pickett's field near Royville [Youngsville today]. An old Negro woman living nearby found him early in the morning wrapped only in swaddling clothes. The only watchers in that lonely spot were the stars in heaven that seemed to twinkle on the face of the infant sleeper; and as morning dawned, the birds of the meadows kept up their lullabies" until the old woman "gathered to her bosom the child of a cruel fate."
She picked up the foundling and took it do Dr. Pickett's residence, where it was taken in and cared for by the family for the next week.
"During the interval," the storytellers continued, "the Pickett family offered to give the child away to anyone willing to raise it. Mr. Lezin Lege . . . happened to be in Royville . . . [and] heard of the offer. Not being familiar with the English language, he requested Mr. Aurelien Primeaux, a friend of his, to get the child and he would promise to raise it. The child was given up on New Year's Day, being just eight days old, and taken to Mr. Lezin Lege's home on Bayou Queue de Tortue, near the town of Rayne. As soon as Mr. Lege got the child, he took him to Lafayette and had him baptized under the name of Phelozie Trouve, trouve, being the French word for 'found,' and he is now known by that name.
"When the child was seven years old, a planter living near Royville offered Mr. Lege . . . $500 for the boy on the pretense that he wanted to educate him, but Mr. Lege refused the offer. When the boy was about twenty years old, he received an anonymous letter stating that someone would be glad to see him in Royville, but he declined to go. He was asked why he did not go and see who was so anxious to see him. His answer was that he felt timid and afraid, and something seemed to say to him that it was his mother. He had no love nor care for the unknown; his love and affection had been given to others.
"He now regrets that he did not meet the party, as she might have been the one he now seeks . . . even though she had proven herself a false and faithless mother.
"About fifteen years ago, he married Miss Adelaide Cormier, from which marriage six children were born . . . two boys and four girls, all living in peace and contentment in their prairie home on Bayou Queue to Tortue."
The boy said Mr. and Mrs. Lege told him the story of his birth "as soon as he came of reason," but that he considered them his parents.
Mr. Burke was told, "The only legacy he is now seeking is a name for himself and the children."
As far as I can find, Phelozie Trouve, the foundling, never did unlock the mystery of his history. You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.