The Dejoies of New Orleans – (Part 1 of 2)

One of those names which appears quite often on CreoleGen is that of the Dejoie Family. One of our principal sources on New Orleans of yesteryear, The Louisiana Weekly, was in fact founded by a member of that family ninety years ago. In honor of this milestone, we attempt here to give an overview of the genealogy of this large and widely-known family

The progenitors of the Dejoie Family are Jules Dejoie, a native of France, born about 1801 and Célestine, an enslaved woman, from Saint Charles Parish, born about 1816. Jules Dejoie was among the group called the “Foreign French,” migrants from France who settled in Louisiana in the antebellum years after the Louisiana Purchase. Many people credit this population along with the émigrés from Saint-Domingue with the perpetuation of French language and culture in Louisiana. Many of the single young men who settled in Louisiana traveled upriver from New Orleans to sugarcane country, seeking employment as tutors, clerks, or managers on plantations. Jules Dejoie declared in his will dated 1850, that he had been the country “about twenty years,” which would place his arrival somewhere about 1830. Later census records indicate that Jules Dejoie kept a grocery store in Uptown New Orleans, then a part of Jefferson Parish. Perhaps it was his interests in storekeeping that initially drew him upriver in the 1830s; or like many others he could have found work as a tutor or overseer

At some point in the late 1830s, Jules met an enslaved woman named Célestine, who was born about 1816. Célestine, a négresse créole described as ‘very dark’, was owned by Madame Césaire Dorvin Kinler, the widow of George Kinler, a planter in Saint Charles Parish. Jules purchased Célestine, then aged twenty-two, from Mme Kinler on 12 February 1838 before J. L. LaBranche, who was then a judge in Saint Charles Parish. The sale was made in the amount of $690.00.

Over the course of next decade, Jules and Célestine had six children, all boys, born in Saint James Parish. On 28 August 1844, Jules Dejoie appeared before notary Victor Foulon in New Orleans to manumit the members of his family. Célestine, then age twenty-eight, was freed with along their mulatto children: Théodore, age five; Paul-Hypolite, age three-and-a-half; Jules, age two; and Constant, age three months. Eventually two more sons, Prudhomme and Aristide, would be born.

State Senator Aristide Dejoie (1847-1917), son of Jules and Celestine Dejoie

State Senator Aristide Dejoie (1847-1917), son of Jules and Celestine Dejoie

In the year 1850, Jules and his family moved to Jefferson City, then a suburb of New Orleans. In that year, on May 21st, he purchased a piece of property on Valence Street between Annunciation and Tchoupitoulas streets, where he established his residence and a grocery store. Tragedy would soon strike however, for on 11 December 1850, Jules died at the age of fifty years old. Célestine was left to rear the six boys, ranging in age from about twelve to three, alone. On 8 December, three days before his death, Jules made a will in which he recognized Célestine and her sons as his children and his universal legatees. The proceeds from the sale of the groceries, the property, and some debts due to Jules, minus the expenses and debts, he owed left Celestine and the children with $1117.75, thus ensuring them some sort of a start in life. At some point between 1850 and 1860, Théodore died, leaving the five surviving brothers who lived to adulthood.

The boys, with the possible exception of Prudhomme, all seem to have acquired skills at baking, for they all are identified at some point as pastry cooks or bakers. Paul-Hypolite, Jules, and Constant all earned livings as cooks, while Prudhomme worked as a barber and Aristide, the youngest, abandoned the kitchen to engage in politics and government work. Being reared by a widowed mother, the boys all went to work early in life. A surviving case in the records of the Fifth District Court from 1859, documents the victory Célestine won against the captain and owners of the steamboat Osceola for failing to pay her sixteen year-old son, Constant, for his work as a “cook and pastry cook” for nine months. It was probably from his work on riverboats that Constant earned the nickname “Major,” which he kept throughout his life.

Aristide (who also went by the nickname ‘Bird’) most certainly had a knack for leadership and quickly made a name for himself among the Republicans of the city during Reconstruction. He served as Assessor for the Sixth District of the city and later served two terms in the State House of Representatives from 1870 to 1874. In March 1875, along with his fellow Uptowner, Senator Tobias S. Stamps, Dejoie challenged the Civil Rights Act of 1875 by purchasing tickets for and sitting in a previously whites-only section in the Saint Charles Theatre. The two men were seated without incident, an event widely reported in the press. Aristide likely used his influence to get positons for his brothers, Jules and Paul-Hypolite, as banquette inspector and port warden, respectively. The matriarch of the Dejoie family, Celestine, was able to see the initial success of her sons before she died on 19 January 1892 and was buried from Saint Stephen’s Church.

Paul-Hypolite never had children from either of his two marriages. Prudhomme and his wife Elodie Riggs only had one daughter named Louisa, born in 1875. Constant and his wife Celestine Rowe had two children, a son Joseph who died as a young man and without children, and Mary, who married Xavier Albert of Saint James Parish. These circumstances left Aristide and Jules as the progenitors of the subsequent generations of Dejoies.

Dr. Paul Hypolite Vital Dejoie (1872-1921), son of Aristide Dejoie and Ellen Chambers

Dr. Paul Hypolite Vital Dejoie (1872-1921), son of Aristide Dejoie and Ellen Chambers

The descendants of these two brothers comprise the two family groups which exist today. Though too much is made of the distinction, these groups have been often termed the “Uptown Dejoies” and the “Downtown Dejoies.” While in more recent decades the relatives have moved all around the city (and while their common roots are all indeed ‘Uptown’), Aristide’s descendants were long based Downtown, while Jules’ descendants claimed Uptown as their home base. The other dividing factor is that while Jules’ descendants continue to be Catholics, most of Aristide’s descendants have been Protestant, affiliated with either Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church or Central Congregational Church.

In a subsequent post, more information will be given on some of the descendants of Aristide and Jules Dejoie and their varied business and civic interests.

Joseph John Dejoie (1881-1929), youngest son of Jules Dejoie and Octavie Segue

Joseph John Dejoie (1881-1929), youngest son of Jules Dejoie and Octavie Segue

Sources: 1850 Census, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana (E.D. ), Jules Dejoie household; Succession of Jules Dejoie, No. 3032, Jefferson Parish Third Judicial District Court; Succession of Hypolite Dejoie, No. 21,674, Orleans Parish Civil District Court; Sale of Slave – Mrs. George Kinler to Jules Dejoie, 12 February 1838, Saint Charles Parish Clerk of Court. The sale was made in the amount of 690 piastres; Celestine Dejoua [sic] to Fifth District Court (New Orleans), 1859, Petition 20886031, Digital Library on American Slavery (http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/petitions/details.aspx?pid=17227).

Jari C. Honora

35 thoughts on “The Dejoies of New Orleans – (Part 1 of 2)

  1. Jari,

    Thank you so much for sharing this intimate portrait of my family. We are so very grateful for you and your unparalleled pursuit of history.

    Warmest regards,
    Ava Dejoie
    Grandaughter of Joseph Dejoie, pictured above

    • I am very grateful for the work you have done to compile this information. It is a very valuable contribution, not only to our family but to the composite from which we can form a broad impression of Creole life that many of us enjoyed and now miss. My father was Prudhomme Jr., son of Prudhomme, Sr. and Pearl Fredrick (daughter of Rivers Fredrick, M.D.). I have siblings Deirdre, Prudhomme III (deceased), Paul H.V., and Steven deJoie. I’ll be glad to provide any documents/photos that you may find significant to your work. THANKS!!

  2. I am a cousin (by marriage) of Prudhomme J F Dejoie, III, who died in 1980. His mother, Carolyn Milanes Dejoie, is my father’s cousin. Prudhomme has a surviving brother and sister. My sons (J.A. Blaine Dejoie, IV and Devon Sarto Dejoie) are descendants of Joseph Adolph Blaine Dejoie, Sr. He and his wife, Margarite Duvernay Dejoie, lived in the 7th Ward, but I’m not sure if they were descendents of the Uptown or Downtown Dejoies.
    Thank you for this history lesson that I shared with my sons! Can’t wait for part 2.

    • Hi Kathy,
      Carolyn Milanes Dejoie is my grandmother and Prudhommes surviving brother and sister are my Mother and Uncle. It’s great that this site is available which allows us to connect with family.

    • I believe your father may have gone to the University of Iowa around 1922. You can find a photo using the link below. If that is him I would love to connect as I am in the process of writing a book that would include him and an organization he help start while at Iowa. Thanks!

      • My Grandfather, Joseph Adolph Blaine Dejoie Sr. attended University of Iowa finishing in their school of Pharmacy, 1926. He was one of the Charter Members of the Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha Theta Chapter.

  3. Jari,
    Thank you for this great Part I of the Dejoie Family. I am the grandaughter of Joseph J. Dejoie. My mother is Lucille Dejoie Tureaud, second eldest child of Joseph and Louise Burel Dejoie. I look forward to Part II and would like to get as much information about my Dejoie family tree. Uptown or downtown, we are all related, of course by various degrees of “cousin ship”.

    • Curious. .My grandfather is Joseph John De Joie-Baker 3rd..My father is the 4th..brother is the V..what state are you in? I stay in St. Louus

  4. I really enjoyed your publication and look forward to future issues. I plan to share them with my grandchildren (8).

    Thanks,

    Errol LeCesne

  5. Nice article on my cousins, the Dejoie’s. Uncle Paul and his wife, Thelma, lived in the house behind ours which faced Allen St. and Uncle Pru (Proudhomme II) and his wife Pearl (Fredricks), my mother’s sister, lived across the street from us. We were a very tight knit family whose homes occupied four blocks ( all facing each other) in downtown New Orleans. Mike Dejoie lived around the corner from us and we were childhood friends. I have many happy memories of all of them. O the stories I could tell!
    If the children of Janice Dejoie read this, will you please contact me! I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully to contact her or/and Cindy or Drew for several years.
    Thank you again for the article, I’m looking forward to part 2.
    Linda Millet Cope

    • Hello everyone! My name is Desiree and I am so excited to have found this website! I am the granddaughter of Prudhomme II, and Carolyn Dejoie. They had three children, Prudhomme III, Deirdre and Duane. Deirdre is my Mother. My great grandfather is Prudhomme Sr, my Great grandmother is Pearl and Dr. Rivers Fredrick is my great, great grandfather. I think it’s so very important to know family and I’m hoping to be able to connect with you all in some way.

      • I have been trying to locate Carolyn Dejoie for several years. I have had no success trying her phone number in Madison, Wi which is where I live. My ex-husband, Fred Odell, was a friend of Carolyn’s. He passed away in 2008 and I don’t know whether or not Carolyn was aware of his death. She used to call me occasionally to ask about our children. Basically, I want to know if she is still living and in Madison. I would appreciate any information that you can provide. Thanks so much.

    • Hi Linda
      It’s Shelly I am the daughter of Malcolm La Place and Pearl Adele Marie Dejoie! My grandmother is Pearl Adele Fredrick Dejoie, The daughter of Rivers Fredrick! My grandfather is Prudhomme Dejoie,Sr. My son found this website and we are thrilled that you all have replied! Linda, I was in NOLA in April and took a picture in front of the old house! I knocked but you and the family weren’t home! My Uncle is Prudhomme Dejoie, Jr. and my Aunt is Janice Dejoie. I can put you in touch with Cindy and Drew. I remember lots of wonderful summers in NOLA!!!!

      Shelly

  6. This was a wonderful treat to see these photos. I’ve been working on my family tree off and on for yrs.
    Aristide is my 3rd great grandfather. My grandfather was Harry Aristide Dejoie, from Dejoie pharmacist on Dryades Street. The building was sold the the Dryades YMCA maybe a yearly two before Katrina.
    I have photos of the Aristide Dejoie that started the pharmacy which was possibly a grocery in the early days. Thank you again
    Cheryl

  7. Thank you very much for this informative history. I am currently researching my history and trying to figure out my known family tree (Philadelphia and Boston) connect with the Jules DeJoie family tree. This article will assist me with making these connections.

    • I am also searching the DeJoies of Boston/Philadelphia and the connection to NOLA. My grandfather (Victor) was born in Philly in 1898 to Celestine and Matthieu. He relocated to Boston some years later. Any added info would be appreciated.

    • I started researching my family and have actually found relatives on fb. It’s amazing. We are all descendants of these 2 brothers from my understanding. We are all some how related. I’m proud of that! Growing up I thought we were the only De Joie’s in the world! I’m proud of my name.

  8. Mr. John Dejoie: Thank you for visiting the site. Please visit and support CreoleGen often. Your Philadelphia and Boston connection sounds fascinating. I will email you so that we can correspond further.

  9. Thank you for the invaluable work you have done to compile this data. It is also a unique way to reach lost relatives. I am the great grandson of Rivers Fredrick, son of Prudhomme Jr. Who was the son of Pru Sr. and Pearl Fredrick. My siblings are Deirdre and Prudhomme Iii (deceased)”. Desiree bowling is my niece and Deirdre’s youngest daughter. My son is Prudhomme Aristide DeJoie and my daughter Evigne Marie. My email is uxmal5@att.net. Love to hear from you all!

    • Hi Cousin
      This is fascinating! It’s nice to know we carried on the family names. My Adele is named after our great- grandmother

  10. This is really interesting. My grandfather is Joseph Dejoie and so his son.. Not sure what generation but we’re based in St. Louis, Mo… All I know of my great grandfather (Joseph DeJoie) is that he was a pilot

    • My father, Joseph John Dejoie III is from St. Louis and was a P51 fighter pilot! Im told he went to Tuskegee flight school. Perhaps we are related?

  11. It’s nice learning about my family’s name. My father is Joseph John De Joie 4th and my brother is Joseph John De Joie V…amazing to see the man who started the legacy of this name

  12. This is all so very interesting! My dad is Joseph John DeJoie III. He did not graduate from Tuskegee Air School because it was determined that he was white… I am white, my sister is white… Or just very light? How are we all related? I love the diversity and would love answers to the questions! I am just finding out about this as others have come forward and contacted me… Wow… this is just amazing! Are you my relatives? 🙂

  13. My dear Michelle! You wouldn’t remember me as well as I remember you! You took your first steps for me. We surprised Nanny and Uncle Mike when they came home and you greeted them at the door. I haven’t lived in New Orleans since I retired five years ago and rarely visit there. I would really enjoy corresponding with you. I was lamenting the fact only yesterday that my children don’t know their relatives. Hopefully we are allowed to post our e-mail addresses: millet1812@yahoo.com. Please let me hear from you. I am anxious to know if Janice Dejoie is alive and have news of Cindy and Drew, as well as you three girls.

  14. I am grateful to have gotten a link to this site from my nephew. I am Pier Angeli La Place. My sister is Michelle La Place-Watts, Duane DeJoie is our first cousin. His father Prudhomme, II was my uncle. We share our grandmother, Pearl Fredrick Dejoie. Our mother Pearl Adele Dejoie La Place told us many stories about our family history and I recognize many of the names in this article, including Paul-Hypolite and Aristide. Cousin Linda, I was in New Orleans two summers ago and went by the house on Humanity. I looked you up but could not find you; now I understand why. My mother’s sister, Aunt Janice has passed; but Cindy and Drew are doing well. I saw that Shelly will be giving you their information. Duane, Lisa, Michelle, and I are all in northern California, in the Bay Area. We have other cousins in New York and also in the Bay Area. It would be fantastic to connect. My e-mail is pierangeli.laplace@comcast.net. Let’s reach out.

  15. Hello Pier Angeli La Place, my name is Desiree and I’m the Niece of Duane Dejoie. He was going to introduce me and my Sister to Janice, but, unfortunately the time never presented itself. I have been wanting to meet this side of my family for a very long time me. I don’t want that to happen again now that I have finally found a way to connect. I’m so thankful for this site. Please consider connecting with me
    @successisadecision@yahoo.com

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