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Journeys Into the Past—
Abbeville:  The Early Years

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Journeys into the Past
Journeys Into the Past:
Abbeville, Louisiana—The Early Years


Table of Contents
Foreword . . . . ix
Preface . . . . xi
Chapter 1 Abbeville, Louisiana: As It Was in 1894 . . . . 1
Chapter 2 The Priest, the Church, and the Parish . . . . 7
Chapter 3 E. I. Guégnon, Founder of the Meridional . . . . 11
Chapter 4 Solomon Wise—Rags to Riches . . . . 15
Chapter 5 Eli Wise—like Father, like Son . . . . 19
Chapter 6 Yellow Fever Strikes Abbeville . . . . 25
Chapter 7 Fire—Abbeville’s Nemesis . . . . 29
Chapter 8 A. D. Martin and His Moss Horse Collar Factory . . . . 35
Chapter 9 Hurricanes, Droughts, and Infrequent Snow . . . . 41
Chapter 10 Vermilion Parish Courthouses through the Years . . . . 47
Chapter 11 E. I. Addison, Newspaperman . . . . 57
Chapter 12 Lastie Broussard: Statesman and Family Man . . . . 61
Chapter 13 The Railroad Links Abbeville to the Outside World . . . . 65
Chapter 14 An Elegant Soirée on the Bayou . . . . 71
Chapter 15 Eloi Erath and Joe D. Russo:  Soda Pop Manufacturers in Abbeville . . . . 77
Chapter 16 Postmaster Joseph T. Labit, the Sugar Maker . . . . 81
Chapter 17 A Duel in the Depths of Darkness . . . . 85
Chapter 18 The Beginnings of a Medical Dynasty . . . . 91
Chapter 19 The Delights of a Steamboat Excursion . . . . 97
Chapter 20 Electricity Finally Comes to Town . . . . 103
Chapter 21 The Godchauxs . . . . 111
Chapter 22 Bakers Provided More than Our Daily Bread . . . . 119
Chapter 23 Magdalen Square—Abbeville’s Centerpiece . . . . 125
Chapter 24 A Fatal Shooting on the Vermilion River . . . . 135
Chapter 25 Dr. Clarence J. Edwards . . . . 141
Chapter 26 The Early Catholic Churches in Vermilion Parish . . . . 153
Chapter 27 Isaac Wise and Ludwig Sokoloski . . . . 165
Chapter 28 Jean Pierre Gueydan . . . . 173
Chapter 29 Dr. F. F. Young and the Fenwick Sanitarium . . . . 179
Chapter 30 Little Known Abbevillians . . . . 187
Chapter 31 Service Organizations, Clubs, and Other Groups . . . . 191
Chapter 32 J. Henry Putnam, Sr., and Emmet P. Putnam, Sr. . . . . 201
Chapter 33 The Bridge . . . . 215
Chapter 34 The Melebecks . . . . 223
Chapter 35 Parades and Processions of the Past . . . . 231
Chapter 36 Beauxis Family . . . . 241
Chapter 37 The Bourques: Horologist, Undertaker, and Businessmen . . . . 247
Chapter 38 The Escudiers: Inventors, Tinsmiths, and Wordsmiths . . . . 257
Chapter 39 The Veranda-Audrey Hotels . . . . 273
Chapter 40 Letters from Local Veterans of the Spanish-American War . . . . 297
Chapter 41 Christian George Honold: Abbeville’s Stellar Architect . . . . 311
Chapter 42 The Old Masonic Cemetery . . . . 321
Afterword . . . . 329
Index . . . . 330

Ken Dupuy and Gary Theall

Ken Dupuy and Gary Theall at the booksigning in Abbeville

About Ken Dupuy (from the Foreword by Gary E. Theall):

    For more than thirty years, Kenneth A. Dupuy has established his credentials as the premier historian of the small town of Abbeville, Louisiana. What is unusual is this: while he frequently refers to Abbeville as “our town” in his writings, he has never lived in Abbeville.  He was born in Houston, Texas, and spent his early years there.  Why, then, has he written a history of Abbeville?
    In 1970, Ken and Velores moved to her place of origin in Maurice, ten miles from Abbeville.  Ken’s hobby was collecting historical artifacts.  He would occasionally visit Abbeville to search for things such as old medicine bottles.  He began researching the Abbeville Meridional newspaper, which was available on microfilm, to find information on the bottles he was collecting.  The more he researched, the more he became fascinated with Abbeville’s early development, its society, its struggles, its harmonious mixture of ethnicities, and ultimately in all of its early history.
    Abbeville is fertile ground for a historian.  Its story is one of a small, isolated Louisiana town of Cajuns, Jews, Anglo-Americans, African-Americans, Italians, and other nationalities who had to struggle to achieve the advantages that came easily to many other towns.  Although Vermilion Parish was a strong producer of agricultural products such as sugar cane, cotton, and rice, tremendous efforts had to be expended by the early inhabitants to secure the means to ship their products to markets.  As new methods of transportation became available—steamboats, then the railroad, then highways—Abbeville was able to benefit from them only belatedly and after prolonged and prodigious effort by all local ethnicities working together.  As a result, at least two industries, Riviana Foods and Steen’s Pure Cane Syrup, thrived and helped to provide prosperity to Abbeville for a century.
    Since joining the Vermilion Historical Society in the mid 1990s, Ken has regularly informed the members of the society on points of historical interest that he has discovered.  His writings have served as the basis for numerous presentations to the society.  He contributed heavily to the History of Vermilion Parish, Louisiana, volume 2, published by the society in 2003.
    Journeys into the Past is based primarily on the series of newspaper articles written by Ken in the 1990s and published serially in the Abbeville Meridional. The Meridional has an interesting history itself.  It was started in 1856, and is still in business.  Almost all of the issues from December, 1877, through modern times are available on microfilm.  Ken drew heavily on these Meridional articles for his stories in this book.  However, he had numerous other sources, including courthouse records, minutes of meetings of public bodies, personal diaries, interviews, microfilms of other area newspapers, photographs, letters, invoices, and other documents.
    Ken’s gift is that he can weave together all of this information from different sources into coherent and interesting stories.  His writing style is informal, conversational, and entertaining.  He delights in placing himself in the past and writing about what he is experiencing there through all five of his senses.  And as you will soon discover, he has not only a good imagination but a fine sense of humor.
    Ken has long spoken of publishing this book. He was given great encouragement by all of the directors of the Vermilion Historical Society. We regard it as a milestone in fulfilling the purposes of the society, namely, the collection, preservation, and dissemination of the history of our area.  For his contributions toward achieving those goals, the directors of the society extend to Kenneth A. Dupuy their profound gratitude and admiration.  May his book survive forever and be widely read.

Gary E. Theall


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Journeys Into the Past—Abbeville,
Louisiana: The Early Years
Shipping and handling (per book) $5.00
Total (per book) $45.00


See also Volume 1, Volume 2.

To buy this book, print the order form and send it in with your check or money order.




I feel as though I have been taken back to the time period you write about, as your depiction is so clear and easy to read.

Betty Comeaux


To Ken Dupuy whose labor odf love, painstaking research, has taught us so much about ourselves . . . .

Chris Segura, author


[W]e want to commend you for your extensive knowledge of our past.  What a great gthing you are doing by sharing this valuable information with us.

R. Brady Broussard, Sr., former mayor of Abbeville


Your interest and dedication to local history and good, clear communication in English, cannot be missed by any thoughtful person.

Dr. David Regan


Our city and culture will be more informed for generations because of your work . . . .

 Brady Broussard, Jr.


You have a way of capturing the feeling of the moment in time, especially with the way you draw upon surrounding trivia to color the events.

Mike Bradford, author


You do have a way with words and I so enjoy.

Carol Jean Hebert


[Y]ou have given us stories and a feeling for the heart of Abbeville.

Davie Burleigh


How I wish my husband and I could travel and visit Vermilion Parish. . . . You bring the stories to life.

Ruth McVey


[I]n 1894 in Abbeville . . . daily living at that time springs to life from the pages as Ken paints a vivid picture of living history.

Frank Wall


You have so much literary talent that it is hard to accept that you spent most of your life in another profession.

Paul Bergeron


Your love of writing shows.  You seem very passionate about it.

Patricia Heard