James Carville is known near and wide as the Ragin’ Cajun.
But is he really a Cajun?
His mother was Lucille Normand, but everybody called her Nippy because, according to Carville, she regularly gave handouts to a hobo named Nip during the Great Depression.
Her side of the family came from both Canada and France, and she was raised in Avoyelles Parish in central Louisiana, just like Edwin Edwards. So, yes, her son has a Cajun lineage.
But what about the Carvilles?
His great-grandfather was born in Ireland, immigrated to Wisconsin, served in the Union Army during the Civil War, and then moved to Louisiana.
“He was an out-and-out carpetbagger,” Carville said with a laugh, referring to John Madison Carville, who, he added, briefly served as a Republican in the Louisiana Legislature during the Reconstruction Era. His great-grandson, of course, is an ardent Democrat.
John Madison’s son – Carville’s grandfather – was Louis Arthur Carville, who served as postmaster in the town of Island in Iberville Parish. According to Carville, the postal service renamed the town on June 9, 1909, after his grandfather.
Louis Arthur’s son was Chester James Carville. He was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, when his first child was born in 1944.
His name: Chester James Carville Jr.
Yes, the famous political consultant’s first name is Chester.
“But I’ve always been known as James,” he said. “I’ve never been known as anything else. My mother didn’t want me to be known as Jim, Jimmy, or Jr.
“My great-grandfather was a carpetbagger, and my mother was named after a tramp,” Carville added. “There’s nothing vanilla about my story. I guess that means I won’t be getting in the Pickwick Club any time soon.”
But he is a member of Rex, the exclusive Mardi Gras krewe.
He is registered on their rolls as Chester James Carville Jr.