Prudhomme family.

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The nearly 200 year history of the Prudhomme family as plantation owners began with Jean Pierre Emanuel Prudhomme (1762-1845), the son of Jean Baptiste Prudhomme (1736-1786), a physician, captain in the militia, and planter, and the grandson of Jean Pierre Philippe Prudhomme (circa 1673-1739), a merchant and trader who settled in the Natchitoches area in 1716. Emanuel married Marie Catherine Lambre (1763-1848) in 1782, and around 1792 he purchased land that straddled the Red River thirteen miles south of Natchitoches. He planted indigo and tobacco crops, and in 1795 introduced cotton to the region. He was the first planter to grow cotton on a large scale west of the Mississippi River in the Louisiana Purchase territory. In 1818 he began building a plantation house and in 1821 the family moved in. The house and plantation were called Bermuda until 1873, when it was partitioned by the family. The house and the land on the right bank of the Red River thereafter became known as Oakland.

Emanuel's son, P. Phanor Prudhomme I (1807-1865), appears to have taken over the family plantation in the 1840s. Phanor I was married to Suzanne Lize Metoyer (d. 1855) in 1835. The Metoyer family also seems to have owned considerable acreage in Natchitoches Parish, and may also have been active in commercial endeavors, such as cotton factorages and stores. The Prudhommes had five children: Adeline (1836-1878); J. Alphonse I (1838-1919); Emma (d. 1854); Henriette, (1848-1922); and Emanuel (1844-1934).

Besides the main plantation, materials in this collection suggest that Phanor Prudhomme I had other business ventures, including a sawmill that was widely used by his neighbors. Prudhomme's stature in the community can be surmised from an 1855 letter in which he declined the offer of a Democratic Party nomination to Congress. Near the end of his life, Phanor's property was listed for war tax purposes. This 1862 assessment shows Phanor in possession of the following: 900 acres in cultivation; 1200 woodland acres; 100 acres directly fronting the Red River; 1000 acres of pine woods; and a lot and townhouse at Natchitoches. In addition, he owned a total of 146 slaves, several gold watches, considerable silver and gold plate, a piano, and miscellaneous farm and pleasure conveyances, both animal and vehicular. His children were well educated, with his daughters attending the Ladies of the Sacred Heart School in Natchitoches (mid 1850s), and his sons the University of North Carolina (J. Alphonse, 1858-1860) and Georgetown College, Washington, D.C. (Emanuel, 1861).

Upon Phanor Prudhomme I's death in 1865, J. Alphonse I took control of Bermuda plantation and other family interests. It is not clear how the other children shared in the inheritance. J. Alphonse I married Eliza Elizabeth Lecomte (1840-1923) in 1864. The Lecomte family, like the Prudhommes and the Metoyers, owned considerable acreage, across Natchitoches and in surrounding parishes. Magnolia, Shallow Lake, and Vienna plantations were among their holdings at that time.

J. Alphonse I and Eliza had eight children: P. Phanor II (1865-1948); Jules Lecomte (1867-1916); Edward Carrington (1869-1941); Marie Cora (1871-1952); Marie Attala (1875-1958); Marie Julia (1878-1933); Marie Maie (1880-1964); and Marie Noelie (1883-1978). J. Alphonse I proved to be a highly successful cotton planter. In 1904 he received a gold medal at the St. Louis World's Fair for growing the highest grade of cotton in the South.

Materials in the collection suggest that the Prudhommes experienced a relatively smooth transition from a slave to a tenant economy after the Civil War. Many freedmen became sharecroppers and hired laborers on the plantation. Cotton planting, ginning, and pressing remained the chief operations on the plantation, but it appears that livestock, hay, and timber also were important agricultural activities, especially during the 1880s.

Phanor II assumed plantation responsibilities probably during the 1910s, but certainly by 1919 when J. Alphonse I died. Before that, Phanor II attended Notre Dame (1886-1888). In 1891 he married Marie Laure Cloutier (1871-1941). The Cloutier family owned land in Natchitoches parish, although it is not clear how much. Materials in the collection indicate that after the Civil War and into the 1870s the Cloutiers contracted with freedmen to work the family land. Phanor II and Laure had nine children: J. Alphonse II (1896-1991); Louise Vivian (1898-1904); Elisa Elizabeth (1900-1953); Marie Adele (1903-1974); Marie Leanore (born and died 1904); P. Phanor (born and died 1908); P. "Pete" Phanor III (1909-1978); Marie Lucile (1911-1976); and Louis Donald (1913-1993).

During Phanor II's tenure as patriarch of Oakland, cotton and the general store were the chief operations. Phanor II retired and sold the family business to his son, J. Alphonse II, in 1942. Materials in the collection suggest that cotton and the store remained the primary focus of Prudhomme business interests after the 1940s. Cotton farming can be tracked until around 1960, and the store records extend to 1982.

Phonsie married Rosalie Lucile Keator (sometimes called Lu or LuLu ) in 1924. Lucile grew up in Webster Groves, Mo., with her parents Mabel and Mayo Sands Keator, an engineer. She also had Keator relations living in Bermuda, La., including her grandfather, Dr. James E. Keator, and her uncle, Dr. James T. Keator. In 1920 Lucile attended St. Mary's Academy in Natchitoches, La., where she befriended classmate Adele Prudhomme and her older brother. Phonsie and Lucile had four children: James Alphonse III (1927-1988); Kenneth Andrew (b. 1929); Mayo Keator (b. 1932); and Rose Vivian (b. 1934). The children of Phonsie and Lucile were the sixth and last generation of Prudhommes to live at Oakland. All four children married and moved from Oakland.

Lucile Keator Prudhomme was an active advocate for Prudhomme and Oakland plantation history. She conducted much of the historic preservation and genealogical research activity at Oakland. Her family research interest dates to the 1920s when she joined as a charter member of the St. Denis chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Lucile would go on to join several more genealogical societies and remain active in them until the 1980s. Her concern for the preservation of Oakland began in 1940 when a museum of the plantation's artifacts was arranged in a couple of rooms in the house. Her devotion to the preservation of Oakland culminated in its being placed on the National Register of Historical Places in 1979. In 1997 Oakland was purchased by the National Park Service to become part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

From the guide to the Prudhomme Family Papers, 1765-1997, (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Prudhomme Family Papers, 1765-1997 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Achille Lebreton person
associatedWith Achille Prudhomme person
correspondedWith Adele Prudhomme person
associatedWith Adele Prudhomme Brett person
associatedWith Adolphe Prudhomme person
associatedWith A. Lecomte person
associatedWith Alexis Cloutier person
associatedWith A. L. Prudhomme person
associatedWith Ambrose Lecomte person
associatedWith Amelie Cloutier person
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associatedWith American Legion Ladies Auxiliary corporateBody
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associatedWith Angella Prudhomme person
associatedWith Antoine Prudhomme person
associatedWith August Lambre Prudhomme person
associatedWith Bass family
associatedWith Blake family
associatedWith Blanche Capaville person
associatedWith Breazeale family
associatedWith Carol Lee Thomas person
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associatedWith Catherine Lambre Prudhomme person
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associatedWith Charles E. Keator person
associatedWith City Bank of New Orleans corporateBody
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associatedWith Colonial Dames XVII Century corporateBody
associatedWith Colonial Dames XVII Century, Louisiana Society corporateBody
associatedWith Confederate States of America corporateBody
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associatedWith Cora Prudhomme Lawton person
associatedWith Cotton Producers Association corporateBody
associatedWith Cunningham family
associatedWith Daughters of the American Revolution corporateBody
associatedWith Daughters of the American Revolution, St. Denis Chapter corporateBody
associatedWith Dominique person
associatedWith Donald L. Prudhomme person
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associatedWith Eliza Lecomte person
associatedWith Eliza Prudhomme person
associatedWith Elma Lambre person
associatedWith Emile Cloutier person
associatedWith Emma Breazeale Lambre person
associatedWith Emma Cloutier person
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associatedWith Emma Lambre person
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associatedWith James A. Prudhomme person
associatedWith James E. Keator person
associatedWith James T. Keator person
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associatedWith J. Lawrence Prudhomme person
associatedWith John Henry Oil and Gas, Inc corporateBody
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associatedWith Julia Prudhomme person
associatedWith June Prudhomme person
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associatedWith Kate Kitten Keator person
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associatedWith Knights of Columbus corporateBody
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correspondedWith Laure Cloutier Prudhomme person
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associatedWith Mabel Keator person
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associatedWith Marie Coralie Cloutier person
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associatedWith Metairie Jockey Club corporateBody
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associatedWith National Registry of Historic Places corporateBody
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associatedWith N. C. Levoy person
associatedWith New Orleans School of Medicine corporateBody
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associatedWith Nina Prudhomme person
associatedWith Noelie Prudhomme person
associatedWith Notre Dame corporateBody
associatedWith Order of the Eastern Star corporateBody
associatedWith P. A. Prudhomme person
correspondedWith Pauline Amelie Bossier person
associatedWith Pauline Bossier person
associatedWith Peoples Bank corporateBody
associatedWith People's Party corporateBody
associatedWith Peter L. Prudhomme person
associatedWith Peter P. Prudhomme person
associatedWith P. Felix Prudhomme person
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associatedWith Phanor Prudhomme II person
associatedWith Phanor Prudhomme I's person
associatedWith P. Lestan Prudhomme person
associatedWith P. L. Prudhomme person
associatedWith Poetry written for Coralie Buard person
associatedWith P. Phanor Pete Prudhomme III person
associatedWith P. Phanor Prudhomme I person
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associatedWith Randall R. D. Keator person
associatedWith Reginald Prudhomme person
associatedWith Saint Mary's Academy corporateBody
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associatedWith Samuel M. Hyams person
associatedWith Seessel Breazeale Durand person
associatedWith S. Hyams person
associatedWith Social Tennis Club corporateBody
associatedWith Solomon Williams person
associatedWith Standard Oil corporateBody
associatedWith Taxpayer Association corporateBody
associatedWith Tercentenary Shakespeare Society family
associatedWith Terminal Railroad Association corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas Affleck person
associatedWith Tremble family
associatedWith United Confederate Veterans corporateBody
associatedWith University of Notre Dame corporateBody
associatedWith U.S. Army corporateBody
associatedWith Vivian Prudhomme Flores person
associatedWith Voiers family
associatedWith Walter Stuart Blake person
associatedWith Warren Voiers person
associatedWith Webster Groves Garden Club corporateBody
associatedWith William S. Tourney person
associatedWith W. W. Breazeale, Jr. person
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Ark ID: w6gz9s50

SNAC ID: 74718784