My notes show that Oscar Demesme is listed on the 1860 Census of Ascension Parish as Oscar Mesma. He was 23 years old and living with his widowed mother. His occupation was laborer, and his birthplace is given as France. The 1890 Census for Ascension shows only one family with a similar name--Mesmate. All members are shown as "colored."
If my poor memory of how he came to my attention is correct, Chris Calkins (who was working at Appomattox at the time) alerted me that a man claiming to be a descendant of Demesme had visited the area and told Chris that Demesme had been black. The man himself was black and, I believe, told Chris that he was an army veteran. A few years later, as I tried to follow up on this tip, I contacted a lady in Donaldsonville whose name was Demesme and asked her about the family. She said she had no information to share but gave me contact information on a man named De Mesme who lived in Baton Rouge. I spoke to him briefly on the telephone, but he knew nothing about Oscar.
Church records were no help either.
All of this was too tenuous for me to draw the conclusion that Oscar Demesme was a free black. He might have been, but as they say "the jury is still out."