Letters to the Speyrer Family Association Newsletters - Second Series

Second Series

In early November of 1990, Fr. Jules C. Speyrer received this letter with attachment:

Dear Father Speyrer:

First let me introduce myself. My name is Helen Williams Strunk and I live in Memphis, Tennessee. I am the great great granddaughter of George Speyerer of Vicksburg, Mississippi and I am working on my family history.

While in Vicksburg last spring, a little lady that seemed to know a lot of Vicksburg history told me about a Speyrer that was a `Brother of the Sacred Heart' in Louisiana. She said that he had a lot of information on the Speyerer family. While I returned to Memphis, I had a friend of mine, Fr Ed Creary, try to find him but to no avail.

Fr Creary is a Memphis diocesan priest but is presently serving as a chaplain the U. S. Air Force, stationed in North Carolina. He called me last night and told me he had found your name directory of priests and thought that even though your name is spelled a little bit differently it beared checking into. He suggested that possibly the lady was confused and you were a priest instead of a brother.

So after a lengthy explanation of why I'm writing, I would like to ask if you are part of this family or at least a branch of it?

I have talked with two Speyerers in Vicksburg and plan on calling a brother of theirs that lives in Tampa with weekend. I am looking for any information on George as a child, such as his parents' names, where they lived prior to the civil war and how he came to settle in Vicksburg.

Rather than go into this any further, I would like to call you and see if we can put our two families together. In case you are part of this same family and would like to try and put this into perspective, enclosed is a brief history of our branch.

I will be calling soon and I thank you for any information you may be able to furnish.


Helen Williams Strunk
1403 Sycamore Blvd
Memphis TN 38119

This information comes from U.S. Census records, military and pension papers and word of mouth.

George Speyerer came to America from Speyer, Germany in 1850, when he was five years old. Possibly, he entered in the Port of New Orleans, since that is where they seem to have settled. In 1861, at the age of 17, he joined the Confederate Army in New Orleans and served until the surrender in 1864.

He is next found in Vicksburg, Ms with his wife, Pauline Geisenburg. I have not been able to find where or when they were married, but the 1870 census shows their child was born in Louisiana.

They lived the rest of their lives in Vicksburg, raising 7 of 9 children, Georgia, Ada, Adelia, Julia, Harry, Fred and George. Their daughter Ada was my great grandmother. Pauline died in 1921 and George died in 1931.

Ada Speyrer married George McGuide on Christmas day, 1898. Their first born, Pauline was my grandmother. They also had three sons, Fred, Harry and Tom. George died in the early 1940's and Ada died in Sheffield, Alabama in 1964.

On a visit to see her father who was working in Alabama, Pauline met and later married Larry M. Williams from Sheffield, AL. They were married in 1918. They had two children, Ada now 71 years old and Larry ``Rook'' now 69. Larry M. died in 1972, Pauline in 1980. Ada is now Ada Lombardi. Larry R. is my dad. I mentioned Ada's last name because she has stayed in touch with a lot of the family members. She lived most of her adult life in Brooklyn, NY.

My dad Larry married my mother, Helen Mahannah in Memphis in October, 1940. I was born 1 year later and my sister Carol 4 1/2 years later.

I have three children, Chip, 27, Lauren, 25, and Holly, 17. My sister Carol has three children, Kirsten, 20 Rook, 19 and John 13. We all live in Memphis except for Kirsten who is married and lives in Houston, TX.

Editor's Note: I wrote to Helen Strunk and enclosed Bishop Jude Speyrer's article concerning the variations of spelling the Speyrer name. I feel that Laurence Weber of Lafayette would also be interested in Mrs. Strunk's response since in the Winter 1993 issue of this newsletter she wrote of a Speyrer who was a manager of a food company in Memphis.

Patricia Bordelon Scionneaux of Metairie is also the descendant of a Speyerer and might also be interested in the letter from Helen Strunk. While visiting Dörrenbach, Germany in 1949, I noticed variations in the spelling of the Speyrer name on the gravemarkers. I particularly recall the tombstone of one Ludwig Speyerer.

July 15, 1994

Dear John:

Anyone searching for information at the St Landry Parish courthouse should contact Keith Fontenot in the Clerk of Court's office on the second floor. His knowledge of history and files can be invaluable in where and what to look for.

Family researchers may want to contact Nick Fontenot in the Clerk of Court's office whose office is also located on the second floor. I met Nick by chance and am very happy that I did. He could be a valuable asset in searching for information on the Speyrer family because Nick is, also, a Speyrer, descendant. He is a descendant of John's (Conrad's brother) daughter, Elizabeth, who arried Aristile J. Ortego.

During this chance meeting we shared some interesting information. Nick did not know, did not know, until our second meeting, that his Speyrer family was the same as ours. We discussed getting together to share information. Hopefully, he will join the Speyrer Family Association and share with all of us.

Lloyd E. Speyrer
Opelousas, La 70570

May 18, 1995


Just got the latest newsletter and enjoyed reading it, especially the old stories written by Fr. Speyrer.

For general info - if anyone wants to do further reading on the Yankee incursions into St. Landry Parish during the Civil War, the book, Yankee Autumn in Acadiana gives a detailed account of the largest Yankee foray into the area, including an account of a battle which, I believe, occurred between Grand Coteau and Sunset, at Bayou Borbeau. There are lots of individual stories in the book. Naturally, the Yankees were repulsed by Confederate forces. But those Confederate solders were not from Louisiana. It took a bunch of TEXANS to run the Yankees out of St. Landry Parish!

One interesting story it contains is of a marriage occurring at St. Landry Church involving a Stelly girl. When they heard the cannon fire, the priest hurried up with the wedding and everyone got the heck out of the church and probably out of town also. I checked Fr. Hebert's book for a record of this marriage and sure enough the record of the license being issued is in the book, but there is no entry of the date when they were married in the church. I guess the priest forgot about recording the information when things finally settled down!

I'm sure the book is available at local libraries and Hebert Publications still has copies of it for sale for $25. Its author is David C. Edmonds. I also noticed a very recent and interesting book authored by Glenn Conrad on the 1927 flood. It is titled: Cravasse - 1927 Flood in Acadiana.

I would be interested in the source of the information on the Karankawa Indians, as I've not found any source saying that they went east of the Sabine. I've always understood that they resided mostly on Galveston Island and in the Coastal Bend of Texas. They did have a tradition of being cannablistic however, but that has been proven to be pretty much of a myth. Have you had any takers on the mention in your last newsletter for someone to write a history of Leonville? If not, maybe, I can pick up some info and get something done.

We are going to be over that way later this month and may be able to stop in the area for one day only. We have plans of going to Lafourche parish and doing some research on my mother's maternal line - PICOU. This is one area of Louisiana I've never visited for any period of time and don't know how long we'll be there. I want to finish up some research there so I can put together a little booklet for my cousins, but I may still have time to pass by Opelousas.

William Richardson
Channelview, Texas

Editor's Note: Bill and his wife, Barbara, visited with me one morning in Opelousas during late May of this year. Bill's main interest is genealogy and he is the author of the excellent article which appeared in the Summer, 1994 issue of the newsletter about the connections of the Quebedeaux and Speyrer families. The Richardson's family interest in the newsletter is due to Barbara being a descendant of John (Jean) Speyrer, brother of Conrad Speyrer who immigrated to Louisiana about the same time as his brother.

The three of us visited the Grand Coteau cemetery to view Conrad Speyrer's renovated gravesite. Unfortunately, my camera was not in working order, so I don't have a record of Bill's and Barbara's visit. We also went to Washington and walked the grounds of Magnolia Ridge Plantation, where Bill was quick to point out a sign in front of an early Acadian style home located to the rear of the large plantation home. The sign stated the home to be the ``Mildred Speyrer Olivier Loom House.'' The house held two looms (very old hand operated clothe-weaving devices) which were donated by her to Magnolia Ridge Plantation.

We then drove a few miles to the west and viewed Arlington, the ante bellum home of Dr Louis and Ann Olivier Nix. Ann's mother is the former Mildred Speyrer of Leonville. She is the former owner of Arlington, where the two antique unassembled looms had been stored. We also visited the Town of Washington's Museum, the Washington Cemetery and St Landry Catholic Church in Opelousas. Bill, this issue contains an article from information gleaned from your recommended book, Yankee Autumn in Acadiana. I went through the book and as a base for the article, used the references therein which concerned Leonville.

Crevasse, the book about the 1927 high water flood, your other recommended book, is on order from the library. Many thanks for telling me about these two books. That means we have two additional articles for the Speyrer Famiy Association newsletter. There seems to be a continual shortage of material for the newsletter. Our last issue contain two pages fewer than usual. Hopefully, the newsletter can remain at ten pages in the future or perhaps even expand! I enjoyed your and Barbara's visit.

Thanks again for your kind offer to write a history of Leonville. would be greatly appreciated by all of the citizens of Leonville if you would begin such a project. I don't know how to begin writing a political history of Leonville, but, I think I could write a history of the early merchants of Leonville. This would include grocery stores, banks, bars, blacksmith shops, barber shops, garages, repair shops, etc. Bill, you've got me excited about the project!


May 23, 1995

Dear John:

Enclosed you will find a check to cover my dues plus a small contribution for the gravesite restoration. George and I have moved many times in the last thirty years, but Louisiana will always be home to us. The Speyrer Family Newsletters have given me so much joy. The writings bring back memories of my childhood visits to Leonville and help me connect to my roots in a special way.

Keep up the good work.


Rita Potter
Dallas, Texas

Editor's Note: Thank you for your kind words, Rita.

May 24, 1995

Dear John Allan:

I was in Memphis recently, but not able to reach Helen Strunk. Her address has changed from the one you had in the publication. I failed to obtain the new one, but will ask Carroll to get her address for me.

On a Sunday tv program I saw something very interesting. I was watching the Indy 500 trial runs and they interviewed an Al Speyrer. He is on the Firestone Racing Team. I have attended this event for the past several years, however, this year I will not be there. I have given the information to a friend and, hopefully, he can return with an address or some information. I will certain watch some of the races with hopes that I can get additional information.

I am looking forward to the 1996 Speyrer Family Reunion!


Laurence M. Weber
Lafayette, LA

Editor's Note: Laurence, I was happy to learn of your latest efforts to contact Helen Strunk. Hopefully, her family will turn out to be some long lost cousins! Please keep us informed of your efforts at locating her.

And it seems that you are on the track of still another Speyrer. If you are unable to obtain any information about the Al Speyrer who was interviewed, perhaps I could write a letter to the Firestone Tire Company as they should have his mailing address.

See you in Basile in 1996, Laurence!

Dear John,

The news from around here is the Great May 8, 1995 Flood. The media calls it the 100 year flood. Harahan, River Ridge and Metairie got hit hard. I live in Harahan. My brother Karl lives in River Ridge and my brother David lives in Metairie, so you can see it was a family affair. Our homes and cars were full of storm sewage water. The clean-up has been slow and a lot of work. Thank God we all had flood insurance.

Rental cars were not available for several weeks! FEMA and the Red Cross have been a big help. We have had to move out of our homes temporarily. Much of New Orleans and the surrounding areas were underwater. Many people did not have flood insurance because they were in a no flood zone. You never know what nature will do. We lost so many personal possessions such as furniture, clothes, food, appliances, family video, pictures. All of the construction crews are very busy so we have no idea how long one must wait until one's house gets back to normal. The houses have to be gutted and re-built. Temporary apartments are hard to find. Harahan, River Ridge and Metairie got hit hard. I live in Harahan.

My brother Karl lives in River Ridge and my brother David lives in Metairie, so you can see that it was a family affair. Our homes and cars were full of storm sewage water. The clean-up has been slow and a lot of work. Thank God 'we all had flood insurance. Rental cars were not available for several weeks! FEMA and the Red Cross have been a big help.

We have had to move out of our homes temporarily. Much of New Orleans and the surrounding areas were underwater. Many people did not have flood insurance because they were in a no flood zone. You never know what nature will do.

We lost so many personal possessions such as furniture, clothes, food, appliances, family video, pictures. All of the construction crews are very busy so we have no idea how long one must wait until one's house gets back to normal. The houses have to be gutted and re-built. Temporary apartments are hard to find.

Mom and Dad (Shirley and James Speyrer) did not flood so they we're able to help with transportation, shelter, food and washing. Their efforts which were exhaustive have been appreciated so very much.

Please keep sending the newsletters. We enjoy the good news in them so muchl Hopefully, brighter days are in store for us in the futurel

Monica S. Bonura
303 Bailey Street
Harahan, LA 70123

Editor's Note: Monica, I had no idea that the flood problem was so disruptive. Television and newspapers reported it and then went on to other news. I hope your life and the life of Karl and David are almost back to normal. Thank you for your newsy note and association duesl

August 4, 1995

Dear John Allan:

Please find some information for the next newsletter. It is information on the descendants of Gabriel Speyrer, Sr, who is my father. His father, my grandfather, was Pierre Speyrer.

It additional information is needed on some of the familes from the Leonville area to fie in with other descendants I may be of some help.

To some extent I have information on the Rivette, Lalonde, Lahaye, Weber, Dore and Savant bloodlines.

If anyone is interested in this information, I will be happy to provide them with what I have.


Charles R. Speyrer
104 Turtledove Dr.
Monroe, La

August 5, 1995

Dear John:

in response to "Who Is the Oldest Living Speyrer Man and Woman?" I offer the following:

Lucille Speyrer Lanoux, second daughter of Conrad "Coon" and Marie Azema Meche Speyrer was bom on October 4,1904. She will celebrate her 91 st birthday by the time our next newsletter is printed. She and her husband, Nelson J. Lanoux presently reside at Cornerstone Infirmary on Sidney Martin St here in Lafayette.

I really enjoy the newsletter. It is interesting to read about my family about whom I known so little.

Sig Lanoux
Lafayette, LA


Many thanks for including the announcement of my mother's death in the last issue of the newsletter. The article on Jean Batiste was of great interest. He was my great grandfather a nd his first bom, Emile, was my grandfather. I am a little confused on the date of his death which is listed as 1904 as I remember my Dad Moise, atwys told me that he was seven years old when Emile died. This would put the year of Emile's death in the year 1911 or 1912.

In regard to who is the oldest Speyrer woman, I would like to submit the following person for that title. Mrs. Rocksie Guilbeau, who is my Dad's sister. She is is 88 years old. She was born on April 2, 1907 and presently resides with her husband at the Arnaudville Nursing Home. They have two children, Roy Guilbeau and Mrs. Everest Kidder (Georgi). They currently reside in the Prairie Des Femmes area. Roy requested %tha you send him a copy of the next newsletter so he can join. His addrss is Route 3, Box 312, Arnaudville, 70512.

And finally, I occasionally bump in to other family members who are unaware of the Speyrer Family Assn. Newsletter. As a suggestion to increase participation, I suggest that the next newsletter have a membership campaign. Each member would be requested to send you a mailing list of all their descendants and relatives. I also suggest that you indicate in the next issue, the total number of members we have in the association.


Huey Speyrer
111 Estainville Avenue
Lafayette, LA 70508

Editor's Notes: Thanks for the information, Huey. We might have listed the incorrect date for your grandfathers death. I tried to check the date in Father Hebert's Southwest Louisiana Records books at the Opelousas library but unfortunately the records extend only to 1908. However, I was not able to verify the date of his death as 1904, so you are probably correct.

J. B. Speyrer also mentioned to me that Mrs. Rocksie Guilbeau might be the oldest living Speyrer woman.

We made the initial mailing list for the Speyrer Family Association Newsletter from a national computer telephone list which contained all of the Speyrers in the United States. A copy of the first issue was sent to each. However, those who had married and thus had a different last name were not sent an invitation to join since we did not have their addresses. We would be happy to have current members send in a mailing list of all their descendants for the record and also as potential members.

As of today we have a total membership of 81. In 1993 we had 99 members and in 1994 we had 91 members. I think a decline in membership was to be expected. The novelty of the association was a drawing card for many. Those who renewed their memberships are those who have a continued interest. Naturally, one objective of the Speyrer Family Association is to publicize our family which will held next year in Basile.

The continuance of the Association after the reunion will depend on the interest of the members and on the continued receipt of material which can be printed in the association newsletter. Thanks for your comments, Hueyl

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