The Daspits of St. Amant

 

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My grandmother handed me a box of old newspapers not long ago. She wanted me to do something with them.

Looking through them, I realized she’d saved issues of “The Houma Courier” and other newspapers that featured family history stories. These aren’t stories about our family. They’re stories about other people’s families.

LSU wasn’t interested in my pile of yellow, crumbling newspapers since they have so many newspapers on microfilm. So I typed up the stories (fixing a number of typos) and scanned in the photos themselves (I love looking at old photos, don’t you?). I hope someone stumbles across this blog and learns about their family tree.

Here are the Daspits:

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“Today we meet the Daspits de St. Amant again – in particular, Charles Matthew Daspit Jr., another Berger Block pharmacist. He ran the Standard Drug store in the old Blahut building.

Some Houmans remember when they used to get their prescriptions filled at Charlie’s Standard drug store. You can still see the name Standard written on the side of the building.

‘The date 1905 pops into my mind,’ said Mrs. Agnes Daspit Wright when I queried her on the subject. ‘I’ve heard my late mother talk about it so often.’

One of the druggists who used to fill prescriptions in the Standard Drug store died just recently, former Clerk of Court Randolph A. Bazet, recalled. He was Randolph Theriot. He moved away from Houma many years ago.

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Many more Houmans remember Charlie’s Drug store was located in Block 300 Main – on the corner of Main and Church – the Fraisse-Standard, the building destroyed in the 1970 gas explosion. That was a drug store corner for many years in Houma’s yesterday. Louis Fraisse bought the property in 1886, according to Herbert C. Wurzlow, former abstracter, and sold to Dr. Leon H. Jastremski in 1899. I could not dig up the exact date when Charlie made his move from Pharmaceutical Lane to Block 300 Main, but it was after the Fraisse-Standard Drug company was formed and the two drug stores merged. Charlie moved his drug store in the late 1930s, said Agnes, when he retired. He died in 1940.

The name Robert Daspit appears as a city official in Randolph’s little red book. He was a trustee from 1857 to 1872. He was Charlie’s grandfather, both Agnes and Mrs. Mercedes Ray Pertuit, informed me. He was their great-grandfather.

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Robert was the son of Marcel Daspit de St. Amant, who fought as an adjutant major in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. He owned the Ranch plantation on Little Caillou.

Robert Daspit spent close to three score years on planet earth. He was born in 1811, according to Agnes. He departed from this world in 1870. He was the owner at one time of Honduras plantation. He married Henriette Myrthe Chauvin de la Freniere.

Robert and Myrthe were married twice, Agnes related. It was an old bayou custom down here in Terrebonne – that is before St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church came to be in 1847. They were married first in a civil ceremony and when the priest came from Thibodaux, they were married again in a religious ceremony. Their civil marriage was performed in 1837, Mercedes found in courthouse records. It was not until some years later that the priest, Father Menard, got around to Houma to perform the religious rites.

Their union was blessed with eight children: Charles Matthew (Agnes’ grandfather), Aubin Arthur, Oscar B. (Mercedes’ grandfather), Henri Joseph, Elvire (wife of Houma’s mayor, Joseph Aycock), Victoria (wife of Sylvanus Munson).

The name Daspit has been a familiar one around city hall through the years. Other Daspits followed Robert’s footsteps in the town government. Felix Daspit was Houma’s mayor in 1871. Oscar B. was city clerk and assessor in 1871 and a trustee in 1878. Charles Matthew Daspit was treasurer in 1855 and assessor from 1876 to 1881. Isaac Daspit was a Houma solon in 1900. J. Arthur Daspit was Houma’s mayor in 1924. These facts and figures are gleaned from Randolph’s little red history book.

Agnes’ father was Robert Valentine Daspit. Charles Matthew Daspit who operated the drug stores was her uncle, her father’s brother. Their brother, Joseph Robert, we will meet in another story.

This was long before the age of Woman’s Lib, but two daughters of Charles Matthew Daspit, the Elder, have left their footsteps on the sands of time in Houmas’ yesterday. They were the Misses Agnes and Elizabeth Myrthe Daspit. Miss Lizzie still lives in New Orleans. She will soon celebrate her 90th birthday, said Agnes.

Miss Agnes, as everyone called her was a volunteer nurse in World War I. Miss Lizzie left here during the first world war to serve as a Red Cross relief worker in Servia and Montenegro. She worked for the Louisiana State Department of Health until her retirement 24 years ago.

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Their mother was Charles Matthew Daspit Sr.’s first wife, Elizabeth Berger, daughter of Valentine Berger and Louisiana Stoufflet. Charles Matthew’s second wife was Iniside Hotard.

It is plain to see where Charles Valentine got his romantic name. He was named after his two grandfathers – Valentine Berger and Robert Daspit.

Agnes’ father was a sugar planter. He worked on Honduras and Hollywood plantations. Later, he leased and ran Waterproof, Waubun and Ardoyne plantations, his daughter related. This was before the family moved to their place on Bayou Blue, where his daughter Katharine still makes her home.

Agnes has two other sisters – Carolyn (Mrs. E. A. McMurry of College Station, Texas), and Louise (Mrs. E.W. Geary of New Orleans). Her brother, Robert, a World War II veteran, is deceased. Her brother John was killed in action in World War II.

Agnes’ mother was Margaret Butler of Natchitoches, La. Her mother’s family, the Le Mees, Agnes related, were owners of LeMee House, Natchez showplace. The LeMees, she added, came from France. They opened one of the first banks in Louisiana Purchase.”

 

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