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Document of the Month - 2023 Archive

We were pleased to begin these pages in April 2012 and have presented a variety of historical documents of interest to our members and visitors. This page is an archive of documents for the year 2023 in reverse chronological order.

1773 Dobelin Power of Attorney

(12/1/23) The Dobelin or Daublin family was among the earliest to settle in the Louisiana colony. Valentin Joseph Daublin, an edge-tool maker, arrived from Lorient, France, in 1720 and married in 1726 Marie Margueritte Joseph Decuir in New Orleans. Among their children was Marie Jeanne or Jeanette Dobelin, born at Cannes Brulées (present-day Kenner), who in 1759 at Pointe Coupee contracted marriage with Joseph Prevost dit Collett, widower of Margueritte Mayeux. Jeanette was at Opelousas in 1773 when she gave power of attorney to her husband to sell seven arpents of land with buildings at Pointe Coupee to Widow Toinon. This was likely property inherited from her parents, which under Louisiana law, was her separate property. The one-page document, written in French, can be found in the Natchez Trace Collection Provincial and Territorial Documents, 1759-1813, Reel 5, on microfilm at the Louisiana State Archives (Accession N1999-1). This collection was abstracted and published in 1999 in Calendar of the Natchez Trace Collection Provincial & Territorial Documents, 1759-1813. An index to this book is found on Le Comité's Publications page https://www.lecomite.org/members/comite.html.

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Professor Longhair (1918-1980)

(11/1/23) Roeland Henry Byrd, also known as Professor Longhair, was a rhythm and blues musician in New Orleans from the 1940s through the late 1970s. He was born in Bogalusa, the son of Willie Byrd and Ella May Rhodes or Rose. The family soon moved to New Orleans. A few months after his discharge from the army in 1943, he married Beulah May Walker, from whom he was divorced in 1971. Byrd first performed as a tap dancer on the streets of New Orleans, then played drums and guitar briefly, but settled on the piano. Keyboardists in New Orleans were often called "piano professors" and the name "Longhair" was supposedly given to him by a nightclub owner. His recordings include "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," "Big Chief," "Tipitina," "Bald Head," "In the Night," and "Ball the Wall." He died in 1980 at the age of 61. His jazz funeral, which the newspapers described as a Mardi Gras parade, was widely attended. He was buried in Mount Olive Cemetery. His marriage certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Marriages, 1943, vol. 59, #950).

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Thomy Lafon (ca. 1811-1893)

(10/1/23) Said to be the wealthiest African American in the United States in 1870, Thomy Lafon amassed a fortune through interest on loans and shrewd real estate investments. In 1870, his real estate and personal property were valued at $75,000. Noted for his philanthropy, he erected and endowed many charitable institutions including the Lafon Orphan Boys' Asylum, the Home for Aged Colored Men and Women, the Catholic Indigent Orphans' Institute, and others. He was the son of Frenchman Pierre Larande and Modeste Foucher, a free woman of color from Haiti who became the common law wife of Barthelemy Lafon, a French architect and engineer in New Orleans. Thomy Lafon died unmarried in New Orleans at the age of 82 of pneumonia. His death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Deaths, 1893, vol. 105, p. 549).

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Cary White Will (1823)

(9/1/23) In September of 1823, Catherine "Cary" White, weak in body but sound of mind, sat down with St. Landry Parish notary James Ray and dictated her will. After the payment of her debts, she bequeathed $1,000 to her husband Elisha Forman, whom she had married the previous month. She then left the bulk of her estate to her son William and granddaughter Sarah Arden. Although not spelled out in the will, Sarah was the daughter of Rachel Milburn, Cary's daughter by her first husband, Henry Milburn. Cary would die a few weeks later and her probate opened. The one-page document is found in a collection of miscellaneous records from the St. Landry Parish Clerk of Court's office, undoubtedly separated from her probate file. Microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah in the 1980s, this collection can be found on microfilm at the Louisiana State Archives (Accession P1985-4).

In the name of God Amen! I Carey White wife of Elisha Forman, of the State of Louisiana & Parish of St. Landry, being weak in body, but of perfect memory & sound mind, make and ordain this my last Will & Testament. First it is my Will & desire that after my death, my lawful debts be punctually paid by my executor herein after named. Secondly, I give and bequeath to my beloved husband Elisha Forman the sum of one thousand dollars to be raided out of my Estate. Thirdly I give & bequeath to my son William, & to my granddaughter Sarah Arden, daughter of John D.S. Arden, the balance or residue of my Estate. And fourthly I do hereby nominate, constitute & appoint my said husband Elisha Forman, the sole Executor of this my last Will & Testament, hereby revoking all other Wills, testaments, or codicils, heretofore by me made or acknowledged. In testimony whereof, after hearing the foregoing read, as by me dictated, & written by James Ray Notary Public in & for the aforesaid Parish of St. Landry, I have signed & I do hereby acknowledge the same, in presence of James Dixon, Amos Rawls, & Evan O'Connor, & before the aforesaid Notary this twenty third day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred & twenty three.

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George Herriman (1880-1944)

(8/1/23) George J. Herriman was a cartoonist best known for his comic strip Krazy Kat. He was born in New Orleans in 1880, the son of mixed race parents, George Herriman, Jr., and Clara Morel. The family moved to Los Angeles, where young Herriman attended school. In 1900, he was living in Brooklyn working as a newspaper artist. In 1910, he introduced the Krazy Kat character in his comic strip the Dingbat Family. Three years later, he gave Krazy Kat his own strip, which ran until 1944, when Herriman died in Los Angeles. His 1880 birth certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Statewide Deaths, 1968, vol. 11, #519). Thanks go to Larry LaBauve for suggesting this entry.

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Caroline Mims (1873-1938)

(7/1/23) Born in New Orleans in 1873 to Alfred A. Mims and Martha Gibbons, both natives of England, Caroline Mims was a widely known New Orleans physician. Before studying medicine, she was a teacher at a New Orleans public school for 13 years. She then attended the Woman's Medical College in Philadelphia where she graduated in 1912 and shortly thereafter, obtained a license to practice medicine in Louisiana. The 1920 census of her household lists her two sisters, Minnie and Maude, as trained nurses. She attended Louisiana novelist and historian Grace King in her final illness and signed her death certificate (see January 2019 Document of the Month). Dr. Mims died of cancer the 8th of May 1938 at the age of 65. She was buried in Masonic Cemetery No. 1. Her birth and death certificates are on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Births, 1873, vol. 61, p. 921, and Orleans Deaths, 1938, vol. 211, p. 292).

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Laura Matta Fuqua (1866-1968)

(6/1/23) Laura Matta Fuqua has the distinction of being the longest lived First Lady of Louisiana, having died at the age of 102. She was born in Baton Rouge in 1866, the daughter of John Herman Matta and Adelaide LaNaul (Lanoue). She was married in 1890 to Henry Luce Fuqua, who was elected governor in 1924 (see October 2022 Document of the Month) and they had two children. After her husband's death in office, Mrs. Fuqua lived in the family home on Napoleon Street, an historic building now on the National Register of Historic Places. She died in a Baton Rouge nursing home in 1968 and was buried in Roselawn Memorial Park. Her death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Statewide Deaths, 1968, vol. 11, #519).

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Richard Webster Leche (1898 - 1965)

(5/1/23) Richard Webster Leche was born in New Orleans 17 May 1898, the son of Eustace W. Leche and Stella E. Richard. After serving briefly in the military at the close of World War I, he earned his law degree at Loyola University. He became active in politics, managed Huey Long's campaign for the U.S. Senate, and advised O.K. Allen, who succeeded Long as governor of Louisiana. Leche then succeeded Allen in 1936. As governor, Leche retreated from some Long positions, offering tax exemptions for new businesses and backing a one-percent sales tax. He did, however, continue the highway, bridge, and hospital construction plans Long had begun. As predicted by Long, his term was marred with scandal. He resigned in 1939, citing health issues, and the following year, he was convicted of mail fraud for taking kickbacks on the purchase of state trucks. He was sentenced to ten years in the Atlanta federal prison and disbarred. Paroled in 1945, Leche was pardoned by President Harry Truman in 1953. Leche died in New Orleans in 1965. His birth and death certificates are on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Births, 1898, vol. 113, p. 536, and Orleans Deaths, 1965, vol. 0, #1464). He was buried in Metairie Cemetery.

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Isabell Guy (1907-1968)

(4/1/23)  Isabell Tolliver Guy was the mother of Louisiana guitarist and singer, George "Buddy" Guy. She was born in 1907 in Lettsworth, the daughter of Earley Tolliver and Annie Hayes. She married Sam Guy and they had two daughters and three sons. The family sharecropped in rural Pointe Coupee Parish. In the 1950s, the Guy family moved to Baton Rouge where Buddy attended high school. He had to drop out after his mother suffered a stroke so that he could work and help support the family. In his spare time, he taught himself to play the guitar, and in 1957, he left for Chicago to pursue a music career. Isabell Guy died in 1968 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Her death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Statewide Deaths, 1968, vol. 7, #465). She was buried in Lettsworth.

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Augustus Elmer, Sr. (1880-1953)

3/1/23) For decades, Louisiana children have been waking up to Easter baskets filled with Gold Bricks, Heavenly Hash, and Pecan Eggs, and sweethearts have received heart-shaped boxes filled with assorted chocolates for Valentine's Day. These sweet treats are the product of the Elmer Candy Company of New Orleans which traces its roots back to 1855 when Christopher Henry Miller founded the Miller Candy Company. Miller's son-in-law, Augustus Elmer, Sr., joined him in the business and it became the Miller-Elmer Candy Company. Elmer died in 1906 and his sons joined the company and it became the Elmer Candy Company. In the 1960s, the company was acquired by Roy Nelson who moved it to Ponchatoula, where it continues to operate today, and changed the focus from everyday to seasonal candy. Augustus Elmer, Sr., one of five sons of Augustus Elmer and Olivia H. Miller, died in 1953. His death certificate is on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Deaths, 1953, vol. 0, #1887). He was buried in Metairie Cemetery.

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Armand J. Piron (1889-1943)

2/1/23) Armand John "A.J." Piron was a New Orleans jazz musician and violinist. He was born in 1889, the son of Armand Piron, a shoemaker, and his wife, Jennie Zeringue. At the age of 21, he was working as a barber in his own shop, but a few years later, he formed the Piron and Williams Music Publishing Company with Clarence Williams. In its first year of operation, it published Piron's most famous composition, "I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate." Piron went on to form his own orchestra and played in venues around New Orleans. The 1920 census lists his occupation as professor of music. He married Oxana McKenna in 1912 and they had four children. Piron died at the age of 53 on the 17th of February 1943 of tubercular meningitis. He was buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. His birth and death and certificates are on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Orleans Births, 1889, vol. 98, p. 611, and Orleans Deaths, 1942, vol. 504, #1993).

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Oscar K. Allen (1882-1936)

(1/1/23) Oscar Kelly Allen served as the 42nd Governor of Louisiana from 1932 to 1936. He was the first individual elected as governor after Huey P. Long's resignation to serve in the United States Senate. Allen and Long were childhood friends in Winnfield, Louisiana, and Long handpicked him as his successor. Allen's term coincided with worst period of the Great Depression in Louisiana. Local governments became more dependent on the state for funds that previously were raised by the parish, while the state became more dependent on federal dollars, particularly those from the New Deal agencies providing relief to the needy. After Long's death in 1935, Allen won the primary to succeed him in the U.S. Senate, but never had the opportunity to serve. He died on the 28th of January 1936 in Baton Rouge at the executive mansion of a brain hemorrhage. His death certificate, on file at the Louisiana State Archives (Statewide Deaths, 1936, vol. 2, #523), identifies his parents as Asa L. and Sophronia Perkins Allen. He was buried in the Winnfield Cemetery.

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