Excerpts From
The Origins of the Speyrer Family in America

By Rev. Jules C. Speyrer


America greeted its new citizen with open arms but with nonetheless empty arms. After the trip from Europe Conrad had the nominal sum of forty cents in his pocket. Our thoughts may well wander back to this arrival and wonder just what passed through his mind being so far from the land of his birth. The land was new and untamed, the French language difficult to understand. Yet there was no turning back. Alone, penniless, and as yet a foreigner he had come to make the best of it. We do not know how or with whom, but he did manage to arrive in Grand Coteau, La, possibly on an ox cart or wagon which carried freight to some merchant in that town.

Most of us remember that it was said that Conrad was a blacksmith by profession. But he was also a first rate farmer and businessman. One cannot help but admire the outstanding qualities and determination of a man who upon his arrival in America with only forty cents was also by hard work and saving was able to leave substantial tracts of land and property to each of his children. At any rate, it is still a serious temptation to associate him exclusively with the blacksmith shop.

Conrad Speyrer was a man whose height was about five feet ten inches tall and who weighed about 165 pounds. We understand that his rather broad shoulders were somewhat stooped. At any rate this ensemble was striking enough to move the heart of Josephine Quebedeaux. It must have been love at first sight, for Conrad had barely arrived in America before he and Josephine exchanged matrimonial vows. They were married on May 19, 1842, probably in the village of Grand Coteau. Apparently there had been no extended courtship since Conrad had only been in this country for a few months. Having so recently arrived he knew very little French but love it is said, finds a way. In any event, they were happily married and God blessed their union with five children, one daughter, Celestine and four sons, Louis, Joseph Conrad, Jean Batiste and Jules Conrad.

The next we hear of Conrad is that he is a blacksmith in Grand Coteau. From there he moved on and homesteaded on land called the Spanish Grant. He hoped to settle and acquire property on this land located northwest of the settlement of Grand Coteau. This plan was abandoned since he was unable to acquire a clear title. He then went to the coulee Duplesis area also located northwest of Grand Coteau but did not remain in this area very long. He then moved to the Prairie Des Femmes area south of the village of Leonville.

From Martin and Felix Auzenne, two mulatto brothers, he bought a tract of land extending from Bayou Teche south to Coulee des Marks, an area roughly five miles long and one mile wide. The eastern boundary of this property is the present Leonville to Grand Coteau road. At a later date he again bought property from the aristocratic Dejeans who were his closest neighbor to the northeast. The Dejean family, at that time, was riding the crest of prosperity and made no little fun of him, taunting, ``How will Conrad, with the foxes he has for mules, ever pay for this property?'' But by dint of hard work and frugality he did pay for it. When the Dejeans, no longer prosperous, were peddling their fancy clothes for bread, Conrad was bien-pour-vivre, well off financially, and free of debt.

After arriving in America, Conrad must have written back home telling his family all about this new land of opportunity. He must have done a good job of advertising because soon other members of his family joined him in America. Four of his brothers came over almost immediately. Louis, John and Michael found their way to Port Barre and to their brother's house. (Editor's Note: Research conducted by Lloyd E. Speyrer reveals that Conrad was not the first of the brothers to arrive.) Louis who was born in 1813 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. His son died in his youth.


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