Leomas and Emelie (neé Hebert) Arceneaux were the parents of Alfred P. Arceneaux, Sr., and the paternal grandparents of Ralph and Alfred, Jr.
By Maria Russo Arceneaux
Leomas Arceneaux was born around 1864 in Assumption Parish. His parents were Hubert Arceneaux and Irma Rodrigue, who had at least eight other children. The family was counted in the U.S. Censuses of 1850, 1860 and 1870. Leomas, at age 8, was included in the household in the 1870 census.
Assumption Parish court records indicate Leomas had two marriages. The first was to Anastasie Arabie. Other sources tell that they had four children: one son and three daughters – Ben, who may have drowned; Rita (Mrs. Paul Naquin); Eultima (Mrs. Agusta Cancienne); and Tee.
Following the death of Anastasie, Leomas married his second wife, Emelie, in 1892. The next official notice of him is as the head of the household in the 1910 U.S. Census. By this time, Leomas and Emelie had six children: Nola, 17; Andre (Andrew), 15; Cora, 8; Laura, 6; Alfred, 4; and May, 2. Leomas’ occupation was listed as blacksmith. We believe he worked on a sugar plantation in the parish. The Marais, a location near Napoleonville, was mentioned as a home site.
The 1920 U.S. Census finds this family living in a rental in Morgan City. From the memory of his son Alfred, we learned that Leomas moved his family from Bayou Lafourche to Morgan City in about 1912. He remembered they made the trip by boat, traveling up the Mississippi River, through the locks at Plaquemine, down Bayou Plaquemine and Bayou Long, and finally disembarking at Morgan City.
The move was prompted by a job offer to Leomas from John Pharr, a sugar cane planter in St. Mary Parish. Pharr planted cane on nearby Avoca Island, which flooded often. He built levees around the island and installed a system of pumps to drain the land. Leomas was hired as a pump operator.
Details of the family’s life in Morgan City are scant. It is understood that Leomas suffered badly from asthma and was in poor health is his last years. When he died, in 1939, he was buried in the Catholic cemetery in Labiedeville. Emelie survived until 1945, living with their daughter May Barbier on Florence Street. Emelie’s grave is in the Arceneaux plot in the Morgan City Cemetery.
Learn more about the Arceneaux ancestors, beginning with Pierre Arsonneau’s arrival in Acadia from France around 1671