The Dejoies of New Orleans (Part 2 of 2)

In an earlier post, we covered the Dejoie family from 1838, when Jules Dejoie acquired an enslaved woman named Célestine, with whom he would ultimately have six sons, up through the 1890s, when Célestine died and her two sons, Aristide and Jules, emerged as the brothers whose children would perpetuate the family name.

Aristide Dejoie (1847-1917), President - New Orleans Branch of the National Negro Business League

Aristide Dejoie (1847-1917), President – New Orleans Branch of the National Negro Business League

Aristide Dejoie (1847-1917) married Ellen Chambers (ca. 1852-1920) on 9 May 1872. Their marriage of forty-five years produced seven children: Paul Hypolite Vital Dejoie (1872-1921); Aristide Romas Stamps Dejoie (1874-1947); Florence Frances Dejoie (Mrs. Leonidas T. Burbridge) (1875-1916); Nellie Dejoie (Mrs. John A. Palfrey) (1877-1922); Paul Prudhomme Dejoie (1879-1964); Constant Charles Dejoie, Sr. (1881-1970); and Bernardine Dejoie (Mrs. Lawrence E. Webb) (1885-1956).

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Jules Dejoie married Octavie Segue on 15 December 1870. Their union produced four children: Frederick Dejoie, Sr. (ca. 1873-1937); Edmond Dejoie (1874-1924); Mary Arnocieal Dejoie (Mrs. Ernest T. Bauduit, Jr.) (1876-1903); and Joseph John Dejoie, Sr. (1881-1929).

Joseph Adolph Blaine Dejoie, Sr. (1901-1968)

Joseph Adolph Blaine Dejoie, Sr. (1901-1968)

Frederick Dejoie (who married Aurelie Estelle Armant) and Edmond Dejoie (who married Augustine Dutrey) both engaged in the skilled work of slaters for the length of their careers, leaving their brother, Joseph, to continue the family’s entrepreneurial spirit. Frederick’s children were: Joseph Adolph Blaine Dejoie, Sr.; Stephen John Dejoie; Aurelia Dejoie Brewer; Frederick John “Fred” Dejoie; Beatrice Dejoie; Leona Dejoie; and Marie Dejoie Gordon. Edmond’s children were: Earl Anthony Dejoie; Christine Dejoie; Jules Dejoie; Zellah Dejoie; and Ivernia Dejoie.

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The Dejoie brothers expanded their professional interests in the 1880s, establishing a restaurant and confectionary at 236 Canal Street, which was later renumbered 1316 Canal Street. Prudhomme initially ran the business and was later joined by Aristide’s older sons, Paul H. V. and Aristide, Jr. In 1895, Aristide’s oldest son, Paul Hypolite Vital Dejoie, graduated from the Medical College of New Orleans University. In 1896, Aristide’s oldest daughter, Florence Frances Dejoie, married Leonidas Tullius Burbridge, a successful young physician. The addition of two doctors to the family opened the path to a new business venture – pharmacies. Initially located on Canal Street, the Dejoie & Burbridge Pharmacy, later known as Dejoie’s Cut Rate Pharmacy was located at 1832 Dryades Street. It was managed by Dr. Burbridge and Aristide Dejoie, Jr. It contained the medical offices of both Dr. Burbridge and his brother-in-law, Dr. Paul H. V. Dejoie.

Dr. Paul H. V. Dejoie (1872-1921)

Dr. Paul H. V. Dejoie (1872-1921)

At the same time, Jules and Octavie Segue Dejoie’s youngest son, Joseph John Dejoie, Sr. (1881-1929), who followed the example of his first cousins, when he established Joseph Dejoie’s Cut Rate Pharmacy at the corner of South Rampart and Seventh streets, which was later designated as Danneel and Seventh streets. This business along with his second drug store in the office of the Louisiana Life Insurance Company (of which he was an officer and shareholder), enabled him to provide a secure upbringing for his ten children: Alvin Dejoie, Joseph John Dejoie, Jr., Lucille Dejoie Tureaud, Marie Dejoie Prudeau, Leonidas B. Dejoie, Myrtle Dejoie Williams, Byron Anthony Dejoie, Anna Tureaud Daniels, Burel Francis Dejoie, and Wellington A. Dejoie. Joseph and Louise sent many of their children to Talladega College for their educations, including Joseph, Jr. and Lucille, who furthered their studies at Howard University in pharmacy.

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Pavement Tile marking entrance to the former Joseph Dejoie Pharmacy at Danneel and Seventh streets.

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While his sons engaged in the fields of medicine and pharmacy and his daughters in teaching, Aristide Dejoie sought to improve the business life of black New Orleanians. He was the founder and first president of the New Orleans chapter of the National Negro Business League, which had been founded by Booker T. Washington in 1900. Until his death in 1917, Dejoie was the recognized leader of the city’s black businessmen. In 1907, he helped to orchestrate the merger of several black mutual aid and beneficial societies into the Unity Industrial Life Insurance Company, which was the first company of that sort organized among blacks in Louisiana. The other principal figures in the company were undertaker George D. Geddes and contractor William E. Roberson. Aristide served on the company’s board, as did his son, Dr. Paul H. V. Dejoie, who served as its longtime president. After Dr. Dejoie’s death in 1921, his brother, Constant C. Dejoie, Sr., became president of Unity.

Joseph John Dejoie (1881-1929), Druggist & Officer, Louisiana Life Insurance Company

Joseph John Dejoie (1881-1929), Druggist & Officer, Louisiana Life Insurance Company

Constant Charles Dejoie, Sr. (1881-1970), Founder - The Louisiana Weekly

Constant Charles Dejoie, Sr. (1881-1970), Founder – The Louisiana Weekly

Under the leadership of C. C. Dejoie, Unity grew by leaps and bounds. Branch offices extended across the state of Louisiana and a subsidiary company was organized in the ever-growing metropolis of Chicago. During the same era, in 1925, C. C. Dejoie founded a weekly newspaper which he initially named The New Orleans Herald. With Dejoie’s leadership and the skilled editorial oversight of O.C.W. Taylor, the paper soon gained a statewide and national readership and was renamed The Louisiana Weekly. C. C. Dejoie invested in a variety of business interests including at one point, a black-owned oil company in Mound Bayou, Mississippi. C. C. Dejoie was joined in marriage in 1914 to the former Miss Vivian Baxter, with whom he had three children: Constant Charles, Jr., Vivian (Mrs. John V. Roussell), and Henry Baxter Dejoie.

The Louisiana Weekly - Copy

Now in its eightieth year, The Louisiana Weekly is still published by the C. C. Dejoie family.

The Great Depression took its toll on life insurance companies as it did all other businesses. The assets of Unity Industrial were greatly reduced. Under C. C. Dejoie, Sr.’s leadership, the company ceased issuing sick and accident policies and began writing only whole life policies. In the late 1930s, differences within the Dejoie family over the management of Unity reached a boiling point. In August 1939, in a scandal widely reported by the black press as the “Dejoie Affair,” C. C. Dejoie stood accused of conspiring to have his nephew, Prudhomme John Earl Dejoie, murdered. While Dejoie was cleared of any connection to the incident, his friend and company employee, Henry Wilcox, an employee of the company and close friend of C. C. Dejoie was found guilty of shooting Prudhomme Dejoie with the intent to kill. Ultimately, C. C. Dejoie who led the majority faction in the dispute sold the majority interest in the company to First National Insurance Company, a white firm. C. C. Dejoie survived the negative publicity, including a scathing editorial in competitor paper, The Sepia Socialite, which labeled him a traitor to his race.

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Prudhomme Dejoie also survived the incident and focused his interests on the Louisiana Life Insurance Company and Louisiana Undertaking Company. Louisiana Life (founded in March 1920) and subsequently Louisiana Undertaking, owed much of their existence to Dr. Rivers Frederick, a noted surgeon and Prudhomme Dejoie’s father-in-law. The Dejoies had significant interests in Louisiana Life, including the children of Joseph J. Dejoie, who was an officer of the company. Prudhomme J. E. Dejoie served as treasurer of the company beginning in 1929, succeeding his mother, Ella Brown Dejoie. In 1954, Prudhomme John Frederick Dejoie, was elected president of Louisiana Life and Louisiana Undertaking, succeeding his grandfather, Dr. Frederick. In 1960, he negotiated the sale of Louisiana Life to Universal Life Insurance Company of Memphis, one of the nation’s largest black insurance companies.

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Prudhomme John Frederick Dejoie, son of Prudhomme J. E. Dejoie and Pearl Frederick Dejoie

Prudhomme John Earl Dejoie, Sr. (1904-1955)

Prudhomme John Earl Dejoie, Sr. (1904-1955)

Other business concerns of the Dejoie family in the twentieth century included the Hub Shoe Store, in which Aristide Dejoie had an interest. Ella Brown Dejoie oversaw the Broadmoor Laundry, Cleaning, and Dying Company prior to her death, and was succeeded by her son, Prudhomme J. E. Dejoie. Leonidas Dejoie continued his father’s pharmacy business, and with his brother, Wellington, oversaw the Dejoie Cab Company beginning in the 1940s. Thelma Epps Dejoie, wife of Paul H. V. Dejoie, Jr., ran the well-known Dejoie Flower Shoppe for many years. C. C. Dejoie, Sr. was one of only two black businessmen to be initial investors in the New Orleans Saints franchise.

Home of Prudhomme J. E. Dejoie, Sr. in New Orleans' Sugar Hill section

Home of Prudhomme J. E. Dejoie, Sr. in New Orleans’ Sugar Hill section

The many Dejoies through successive generations and the many Dejoie business interests make for an impressive legacy. It is especially noteworthy when one considers that the clan was begun less than two centuries by a formerly enslaved woman and a French immigrant grocer. It is hoped that this meager attempt at outlining this family will inspire greater interest in researching the history even more of Louisiana’s families of color.

Jari Honora

Sources: Soard’s City Directories, New Orleans, (1886-1920); Woods Directory (1912); The Pittsburgh Courier, Nov 2, 1929, pg. 4; The Chicago Defender, Feb 15, 1941, pg. 1; Nov 2, 1929, pg. 1; May 11, 1918, pg. 7; The Louisiana Weekly, October 15, 1955, p. 2.

23 thoughts on “The Dejoies of New Orleans (Part 2 of 2)

  1. Thank you for this incredibly complete and detailed genealogy. Hopefully, it will serve as an inspiration to others. We need to know the history of our families and when we realize Blacks had amazing involvements in the history of this country and especially New Orleans, it should give us a different way to look at who we are.

    I knew some of the Dejoie’s better than others – was in one or two weddings as a flower girl – and met Paul Prudhomme’s ex-wife in – of all places – Madison, Wisconsin, where I believe she still lives and has made a substantial life for herself with a reputation and writings that will withstand the generations.

    Vivian Dejoie was a regular visitor to our house – being a friend of my grandmother’s and I remember sitting under the table listening to hours of gossip, which I absolutely loved to do. That is probably one of the way I have so much knowledge of New Orleans history.

    Hope you will take a look at the Baranco family. Dolores was my god-mother and I believe one of the Baranco’s was chair of the Louisiana Republican Party many- many years ago.

    Cookie

  2. I am the son of Prudomme DeJoie and have an interest in more information on the DeJoie’s history in Haiti and how they came to the United States.

  3. Thank for the detailed account of the family. It is a good example of hard work in genealogy which I have done also.

  4. You mentioned a medical school in your article located in New Orleans. I have a relative that possibly attended this school, Dr. Allen A. Kelly, that practiced in the Hattiesburg, Ms area. His wife was also from New Orleans. Does anyone have any information on this school? Kelly probably attended this school in the late 1800’s, or early 1900’s.

    • Bonjour Mr. Dahmer!

      Thank you for visiting CreoleGen! Please visit and support us often!

      I was able to find a few references to Dr. Allen Alexander Kelly but none which mention his educational background. I would suggest that you check newspapers from the time of his death in 1911. I will send you what I found via email.

      • Thank you. I did find articles on his tragic death in Black New Orleans French & English publications from that era at the Williams Collection in the French Quarter. He may have went to Meharry instead, but the New Orleans school was closer to their homestead in Ms, plus several of the Kellys and other local families did marry individuals from New Orleans and across the lake. Some of those in Kelly’s and later generations did “passe blanc”, once they left Kelly Settlement. I would not be surprised if he did this to get into medical school. I saw on his tombstone that he was a member of the “Gideon Society”.

  5. I always love reading about my family’s history. We were related to Dr. Rivers Frederick and as children my sister and I would spend time with his daughter’s (Lolita and Pearl) children in Sugar Hill. We loved going to visit them and thought their homes were so beautiful. I would always think of Lolita’s house as my “dream house” and was disappointed to know it is no longer there. We also went to Holy Ghost School with some of the Dejoie children, one of which married one of my cousins. My sincere thanks to CreoleGen for keeping these posts available.

  6. Jari,
    Thank you for this history of my Dejoie Family. I am now able to connect the many dots and I am truly grateful…granddaughter of Joseph J. Dejoie and daughter of Lucille Dejoie Tureaud. One observation:my Aunt, Anna Daniels’ maiden name is Dejoie, not Tureaud. Please send me your email address or other contact info. I LOVE creolegen.org THANKS to all.

  7. In an earlier response, I did not fully identify myself.
    I went to Blessed Sacrament Grammar School which no longer exist. I went to Xavier Prep and played football.
    I also went to Dillard in Gentilly. My father was Aristide
    Dupre Dejoie of Dryades St. My mother was Stella Brown Dejoie. I am now living in Alexandria,La.
    I have one sister, Louadrian D. Reed, and a deceased brother, Andre J. Dejoie.

  8. My father went to Xavier Prep and played football. They used to say the Dejoie were his cousins. Did you know Taylor Segue?

  9. My name is Stephanie Segue.
    Eloise Dejoie lived with my grandparents Taylor Segue and Elme Mathieu.
    I am trying to do some family research. I know I am related to the Dejoie family through Ella Brown Dejoie. After I am wondering if that is the only connection. I would appreciate any additional information.

  10. I am Taylor Segue III, and when I read part II of your article I realized that something I had believed my entire life may have been the reverse of my perception. I always believed that the connection of the Segue’s to our cousins the Dejoie’s was through my grandmother Elma Marie Mathieu/Brown and her cousin Ella Brown Dejoie. My father often spoke of his cousin Prudhomme Dejoie. But when I read about Jules and Octavie Segue Dejoie in your article I realized that my perception may, after many years, be incorrect. Thank you.

    • Yes, Bootsie was our aunt and Dr. Taylor Segue was our father. There are seven children all together and three of us have posted a response to this article.

  11. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful information about my family. My Great-Great Grandfather was Aristide Dejoie – His eldest daughter Florence Frances married Leonidas Tullius Burbridge, my Great Grandfather; my father goes by the name of his grandfather. Please keep up the excellent work of this website.
    Kudos.

  12. This is a great site. My name is Michelle La Place-Watts. Prudhomme Dejoie, Sr. Was my grandfather and Pearl Fredrick Dejoie was my grandmother. My mother was Pearl Dejoie-La Place and my father was Malcolm La Place. My uncle and aunt were Prudhomme Dejoie, Jr and Janice Dejoie. My cousins are Duane deJoie, Deidre Dejoie, Prudhomme Dejoie, III(deceased), Paul Dejoie, Stephen Dejoie, Cindy White and Drew White. I had 1 brother Malcolm La Place, III (1960-1979), 2 sisters, Pier La Place and Lisa La Place-Stanton. Between us we have 10 children and 12 grandchildren.
    My mom told me a lot of stories about her life in Sugar Hill and all her cousins, the great, the good and the ugly! Happy Holidays!

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