Letters to the Speyrer Family Association Newsletters - First Series


Dear John Allan:

I think the Newsletter is interesting. Where once all Speyrers were once in the Leonville area, it may be surprising now to see how far flung all the descendants are. "Old Grandpa Louis'' was just a name to me back in the 1930's when I lived with my parents on Grandpa Conrad's farm for the first seven years of my life. "`Old Grandma Louis'' was still living for some of that time, but bedridden. From the vagueness of my recollection of being taken to see her a few times.

I would imagine she died in 1933 or 34. Grandpa Louis had been dead since 1928. The headstones in the cemetery would give me this information, but it has been so long since I was shown their graves that I would not know in what part of the cemetery to look for them. The only thing Mama ever told me about them, always with a hint of amusement, was that Grandma Louis lived to anticipate all of Louis' wishes and waited on him hand and foot. She must have lived to be quite old, for many is the time mama would say, "`I'll probably live to be ninety like old Grandma Louis.'' And her prophesy came true, for ninety is indeed how old she lived to be. Grandpa Conrad's farm was the southernmost of the Speyrer farms as they stretched out from Leonville, but whether part of his acreage included what had been his father's, I never learned.

You and other Speyrer's would have to tell me that. I was very sorry when his farm passed out of family hands. I think Grandpa loved his land, something about the way I had seen him pause at day's end, leaned on his pasture gate, just gazing out at the fields. I'd never asked him his thoughts. I could never do much more than smile at him. I was not being taught French! My dad and mom were on the farm only shortly after I was born. Dad was looking for other work than farming. We left it in 1937, so even though we continued to visit my grandparents weekly, I don't remember much contact with Speyrer families.

Of Grandpa Conrad's children, Isaac, Lucille and Phoebe survive. Isaac would be the first to arrive at a family reunion if he could. He never forgot his Speyrer family. But he is most unwell and confined to his house with caregivers. Lucille in Lafayette, under the care of her son Sigred. He very probably would be interested in your newsletter. Phoebe has recently moved to be near her daughter, Delores, in Jacksonville, Florida. Of the deceased, Ulysse's children remained in New Orleans and Joe's wife, Shirley is still in Leonville and can give you information on her daughter Dixie.

Sincerely yours,

Wymie Smith
Jennings, LA

P. S. I recently stumbled quite by accident upon a descendant of Joseph Conrad. His son, Camille Joseph is in his nineties and lives in Pride, La with his daughter, Edna.

(Editor's note: Thank you for sending an interesting letter, Wymie. We're happy to report that Dixie, Phoebe, and Sigred have all joined the Association). See the following letter concerning Camille Joseph Speyrer.



Dear John Allan:

Greetings!

I think that your idea for a family association newsletter is a great one. It is so important that we maintain contact with each other in this fast-paced and, often, impersonal world. This type of correspondence offers an entertaining way to go back into and keep up with our family's many goings on.

I found your opening article on the Dörrenbach festival very interesting, particularly the information about the book on the city's history. Is the translation available to family members? I would very much like to acquire, or at least read, this publication. Please let me knew if this is possible.

I especially enjoyed learning about Celestine Speyrer. What a character old Conrad must have been to exact such concessions from her suitor! Perhaps there was a reason for insisting he change his name. I've heard that french Louisianans enjoyed some degree of safety from the federal troops during the Civil War. This suggestion could be all wet, but it might be interesting to find out, and it might shed some life on the personality and thoughtfulness of our ancestor. My thanks for Father Jules for his both informative and anecdotal contribution.

Nick's (Alfred C. Speyrer JJKS) idea for genealogical tracking looks like it will do the job of eliminating confusion in family branches. I was not aware that Conrad had five children. With all of the offspring, surely we must adopt some method of organization.

Bishop Jude's account of the trip to Doerrenbach made me itch to go there myself. If things work out I'll be going to England, France and hopefully, Germany at Christmas this year. May I use the newsletter to request advice on where to go and to whom to contract ``over there'?

In closing, I'd like to think you and the other contributors for making such a correspondence possible. I know that it takes time and effort to create an interesting and well-planned piece such as this. Congratulations on a successful first issue!

In appreciation,

Mary Speyrer
Lafayette, La

Editors Note: Mary, thanks for your contribution. I can't take credit for the Association. It is the brainchild of two of your uncles, namely Bishop Jude and Alfred Speyrer. We expect to continue to include excerpts from the book in the editions of the newsletter as fast as they can be translated! You may certainly use the Newsletter to request advice on where to go and whom to contact in Germany and a number of those who made the trip to Germany in the summer of 1992 are members of the Association.



127 Carland St
Channelview TX ,77530

Dear John:

It is with great pleasure that I send you the enclosed $10.00 for my wife's membership in the Speyrer Family Association. Please enroll Barbara Jean Stelly Richardson as a member.

Although I am not a direct descendant of Conrad Speyrer there is a connection, as he was my 3rd great grand uncle by marriage. His wife, Josephine Quebedeaux was the sister of my 3rd grand grandfather, John Baptiste Quebedeaux. John Baptiste and Josephine were the child of Francois QUEBDEDEAUX AND Celestine LAGRANGE. So I guess that makes us distant cousins of some sort.

Barbara's descendancy is through Marie Speyrer, daughter of Louis (Lous Conrad, I assume). We have not pursued her descendancy any further than that due to confusion in the information contained in Fr. Hebert's Southwest Louisiana Records regarding who her mother was. Alfred Speyrer is currently pursuing this matter for us and hopefully will clear the matter up. In any event we are relatively certain that Marie Speyrer was her great-great grandmother and married Jules LaGrange. Their daughtrer Josephine married Ignace Stelly and their second son, Joseph, was Barbara's sister.

We have done some research on our families from St Landry Parish with most of the information coming from Fr. Hebert's works, but we have managed to begin some documentation of the information as well. My maternal line and both of Barbara's lines have extensive roots in St Landry Parish going back to some of the earliest settlers in the area.

We will be glad to send you whatever information we have that you would be interested in regarding the descendants of Marie Speyrer and Jules LaGrange. As is often the case in genealogical research, we sometimes have more information on earlier generations that current or the past couple of generations, but are still in the process of getting it all together.

I do not have any stories to pass on for inclusion in your newsletter, but I'm sure I can get some from Barbara or her sister about their visits to Leonville and surrounding area when they were children or later visits. Barbara's sister, Jo Dela, did mention to me the other day, that she remembers a John Speyrer, owning a store in Leonville many years ago. She said that she still has a small coffee pot that she bought there. As I get the opportunity, I'll try and get some stores from them about the times they spent over there.

Barbara has a aunt that is still living in the Opelousas area, if not in the town itself. Her name is Bertha Berryhill. I believe, not am not sure, that she is the last living child of Ignace Stelly and Josephine LaGrange. Like I said, we have not gathered information on more recent generations as assiduously as we have the earlier ones, but I do not remember Barbara mentioning that any of her other aunts or uncles are living. There were 9 children of Ignace and Josephine and for the most part they all lived in and around the Opelousas area.

Looking forward to your next newsletter and additional information on the Speyrer family.

Sincerely,

Bill Richardson

Editor's Note: Bill, that store in Leonville was owned by my father. He operated the general merchandise store from the time he was discharged from the army after World War I in 1918 until he was 72 years old in 1967. Thanks for your interesting contribution.



Dear John:

Thanks for your interest in our problem with Marie Speyrer, who was married to Jules LaGrange. I have discussed this problem with Alfred Speyrer on Prodigy service, but haven't heard from him in some time. His last message did confirm some of the information I gave him. You did clarify one thing, and that is, Louis Conrad was not the father of Marie.

All of my information is from Fr. Hebert's Southwest Louisiana Records, with one exception. We do not a copy of the license and bond of the marriage of Marie Speyrer and Jules LaGrange. They were married at Grand Coteau on 18 Nov 1879. He was the son of Treville LaGrange and Felonise Olivier. Fr. Hebert's book shows Marie being the daughter of Louis Speyrer and Celamie Miller. The marriage bond was signed by a Louis Speyrer and Jules LaGrange. So at this point it would be safe to assume that her father was a Louis Speyrer and her mother Celamie Miller. However, we can find no record of marriage between these two individuals. An earlier volume has the following entries:

SPEYRER, Marie (Louisa and Celanie STELLY) b 5 Jun 1892 (Arnaudville Ch v2, p 40)

SPEYRER, Louis m. 25 Apr 1864 Mrs. Azelie Mayer wid of Theogene STELLY (Opel Ct Hse: Mar #2503)

SPEYRER, Josephine Andre (Louis and Azelie MAYER) b 11 Mar 1865 (Arnaudville Ch: v.2 p49)

There is no record of a church wedding between Louis and Azalie. Now Alfred has confirmed that Marie (a) was the daughter of a Louis Speyrer and had a half-sister named Josephine. So we are currently stuck on the parents of Louis Speyrer and the mother of Marie Speyrer. Is it Celanie STELLY or Celamie MILLER? or whom? We can find no reference to either of these women marrying Louisiana or any birth/baptism information. As you well know, the STELLY and MILLER names were quite common in the St Landry Parish area, so I feel that one of them should have shown up. I know there may have been an error in transcribing information from the Arnaudville and Grand Coteau church records and I have not checked with those two churches as yet.

The children of the marriage of Jules LaGrange and Marie Speyrer were:

1. Joseph b. 14 Jun 1883 m. Ignace Stelly (my wife's grandparents)

2. Marie Alida b. 12 Apr 1881 (do not have record of her marriage, if any)

Jules La Grange was buried at St Charles in Grand Coteau on 12 May 1885 at age of 24 years. Marie Speyrer married Jerome Stelly on 18 Jul 1888 at St Charles (v.4, p.112). According to Alfred Speyrer they had a daughter named Melanie.

That is all we have on Marie and possible relations. I would appreciate it if you could clarify this problem for us. Where there are other Speyrer's who came to Louisiana besides the family of Conrad?

Sincerely,

Bill Richardson
Channelview, Texas

Editors Note: Yes, there were other Speyrers who emigrated from Dörrenbach, Germany during the same time period. (1) Louis Speyrer who was born in 1813 and had one daughter. He lived in Leonville and operated a blacksmith shop. John, born in 1809, lived in Leonville and in Grand Prairie, La where he had one son and four daughters. The son died in his youth. Some of the above information was acquired from the U.S. Federal Census of 1870. And there was another son named Michael. He was the last to arrive in Louisiana but due to ill health was the first to seek his fortune elsewhere. Nothing was heard from him after his departure. However, during the 1960's there appeared an article in the Reader's Digest magazine concerning the Steinway Company of New York. Mention was made that Frederick Speyrer was the general manager of the firm. I corresponded with him. Besides knowing that his ancestors were from the Alsace-Lorraine area he knew nothing else concerning his ancestry. Perhaps he was a descendant of Michael Speyrer or perhaps he was another inhabitant of Doerrenbach, Germany who left the hard times in Germany to emigrate to America.



Editor:

I would like to join the Speyerer Family Association even though we don't go back directly to Conrad Speyrer. I feel that maybe information or names mentioned may help me untie this mystery of my mother's family. I feel that somewhere down the line my Freidrich Speyerer may be a cousin of Conrad Speyerer.

Patricia Bordelon Scioneaux
4821 Argonne Street
Metairie, Louisiana 70001

Patricia enclosed a second sheet with her letter. It is reproduced below:

Friedrick Speyerer came to New Orleans in the 1840's. He was an evangelical reformist, supposedly had a beautiful voice and he was a cistern maker in New Orleans.

Friedrick Wilhelm Speyerer (b. about 1820 d. 1872 in New Orleans) married Eva Schmidt who was born about 1821 in Alsace-Lorraine.

Children: Friderick Wilhelm (b. 10/22/1851) d. 7/26/1903) Heinrich (b. 1854)

Friederick Wilhelm Speyerer married Mary Ann Tierney 1875 Children: William (b 1877) Katie Margaret (b 1882) Ella Elizabeth (b 1884) Mary Ann (b 1887) Frank (1895) Eva (1891) Annie

Around 1850-1860 we've found several Speyerer Families all living in the same general area. There are 3 Friedrich Speyerers and a Jacob Speyerer. Two of the Friedrich Speyerers were cistern makers and one was a butcher.

Editor's Note: Thanks for your letter Patricia. This was the first information we have received of a Speyrer in America who was not a descendant of Conrad Speyrer. The different spelling of names (Speyrer and Speyerer) is of no consequence, since the spelling has changed over the years as was explained in an article in the last issue of the newsletter. In a trip to Doerrenbach in 1949 I noticed that tombstones in the cemetery used both forms of the spellings.

Hopefully, Patricia, Bishop Jude Speyrer will be translating portions of Walter Schleicher's book Dörrenbach 992 - 1992 which relate to the Friedrick Speyerers who emigrated to America.



Dear John Allan:

Please put me on the subscription list for the family newsletter. Mom, (Lee Speyrer Phillips), sent it to me to read and I found it very interesting along with the `96 reunion. I guess I qualify as a direct descendant of Conrad Speyrer. I want more than anything to know more about my grandfather, Jules Conrad Speyrer. I just figured out today his first wife, Eulalie was Mom's namesake.

With my grandmother, Edna Speyrer speaking little English, I could find out only bits about him. How she met and how a young girl of 26 married a 60 year old was very interesting. But what about all those years before and 8 kids? I was responsible for opening and examining the hidden chest in the attic, almost unthinkable at the time, of Eulalie's things after she died.

Mom has told me of his violin playing, his great fun nature but even she only knew him until since she was a young teen. Can we have more stories from those who knew him?

Sue (Phillips) Crosland
26130 N.W. Grist Mill Dr
Hillsboro, OR 97124

Editor's Note: Thanks for the interesting letter Sue. We also would love to have stories of Jules Conrad Speyrer. He was also my grandfather. I remember my father telling me that Jules Conrad was sickly as a young man and his father therefore suggested that he not become a blacksmith as he had done. He opened a store in Leonville on the same lot where your grandmother lived. The only memory I have of him was his sitting on the back steps of his house and his removing his false teeth to tease me which scared me half to death! I was five years old when he died of a stroke at age 84.



Dear John:

About a year ago, I contacted the Louisiana State Archives in Baton Rouge and received the enclosed information on Louis Conrad Speyrer, my great grandfather. The National Archives in Washington, D. C. had nothing more on file.

Margaret Marks Lanclos
3430 Harrison Street
Baker, LA 70714

Editor's Note: Margaret enclosed photostat copies of various documents of Louis Conrad Speyrer, including Property Assessment Valuation for 1914, Application for Confederate Pension and Application for Widow's Pension. If anyone wants to see these documents, please contact me.



September 15, 1993

Dear John Allan:

I regret that I was not able to attend the "Speyrer Gathering.'' My sister, Lucy, and cousin, Althalea, gave me a full account. Great review!

The family history has always intrigued me. I was fortunate enough to have worked with Tony (Anthony Speyrer) for seventeen years. During that time he shared a whole lot of information about Leonville and the family.

While on vacation, I visited my son who lives in Germantown, a suburb of Memphis. There is a chain of supermarkets around Memphis by the name of Sessels. He informed me that a bulletin was published during the grand opening of one of the stores giving the history of the original store which opened years ago.

He informed me that the original owners were a Mr. Sessels and a Mr. Speyrer. I questioned him and asked if he was certain the name was Speyrer and he insists it was. I checked the listings in the telephone directory and could not come up with a Speyrer. He did promise to try to obtain information from the manager of one of the supermarkets in his area. If I am able to obtain any information, I will share this with you.

I was never fortunate enough to have known any of my grandparents, neither Speyrer nor Marks. I was four years old when my grandmother Speyrer died. My only recolleciton of her is going to visit, presumably while she was ill. She had a cigar box underneath the bed and I recall crawling there to help myself to a piece of candy.

It would be interesting to know if any family member would have pictures of my grandfather, Louis Conrad. We do have one of grandmother, Felicie. Perhaps this could be shared with those of us who were not fortunate enough to know him.

Please keep the newsletters coming - very informative.

Sincerely,

Laurence M. Weber
203 Norton Street
Lafayette, La 70507

Editor's Note: Laurence, I'm sure that family members would be interested in knowing more about the Speyrer merchant in Germantown, Tennessee. Please keep us informed if you obtain additional information.

We would be happy to try to print the photograph of Louis Conrad if any are available. I'm not sure how good the quality would be, but would be happy to try printing that photo or others which are old.

Those cigar boxes held a veritable trove of treasure throughout the years. I remember my own from my childhood.

P. S. I still use one!



Dear John Allan,

I've just finished reading my third copy of the Speyrer Family Newsletter I enjoyed your reminiscences, and as one reminiscence calls for another, I thought I would share with you what came to my mind as I read.

When, after the 'oil bust.' Jennings' young mayor, Greg Marcantel, decided on a new direction for Jennings, he and our Chamber of Commerce began pushing Historic Development. One of the first projects as to house the contents of an old country store, mostly stored away intact at the time of its closing in the early 40's, in a building in downtown Jennings.

Accordingly, such a site was found, a new comment upon seeing it was, "It looks like my Cousin John's country store in Leonville." But I told them two things were missing. There were no apothecary jar of candy for the little kinds, and no hanging bunches of bananas.

Now you have to understand that so far as I know, I never set foot in your dad's store except with my dad back in the 30's. But am I not right about those two things? Surely a little kid wouldn't dream up a thing like being held up to a candy jar and told to pick any candy of her choice.

If you ever go through Jennings, stop by our MainStret and tell me what you think of the old Tupper store. For me, country stores will always mean that line of candy jars with its lagniappe dispensed by a man with a friendly smile and a treat for little kids.

Sincerely yours,

Wymie Smith
511 East Thirteen Street
Jennings, La

Editor's Note: Your memory servces you well, Wymie! Thanks for sharing.


Return to Speyrer Family Association Homepage

1