Phillippe du Lac (1671 – 1725)
The French architect who founded the colony of Nouveau Calais in 1714. Phillippe’s original settlement is what is now called Old Calais and he was responsible for the initial plans for both the Park District and West Clay. A prolific mason, Phillippe du Lac also built or designed the Blackwell and Green Lawn plantations and his own family’s ancestral home the nigh-mythical “Lake House” whose location was lost to the bayous to the west of the city.
Theo Bell (1803 – 1840)
The favorite house slave of Ebenezer Bell, Theo’s life was quiet as far as slaves go until 1827, when his master died and left him and the rest of his property to his grandson, Charles. Unlike Ebenezer, Charles was a monster who all but stopped farming and instead used his slaves for his own… ministrations. Theo would, in 1840 lead a horrifically violent and bloody slave revolt against his master and his family. He was never apprehended by the authorities and was assumed killed but local legend is quick to point out that a body was never found and that, after the Civil War, a number of surviving Bell slaves “followed Theo Bell” into the swamp to become what would be the Bell family.
Josiah Hill (1812-1872)
Born in Virginia on March 24, 1812, Josiah Hill came to New Calais with his family and devoted most of his time to the plantation and managing the slaves. The Stonybrook plantation house was finished in 1859 and like Blackwell Farms was primarily a source of sugarcane. According to local legend Mr. Hill spent his life terrified of a mysterious entity and while in New Calais acquired the aid of a “warlock” named Sullivan Barnes, who promised that so long as he did not leave his beloved Stonybrook he would be safe. Josiah Hill died on March 23, 1872 when a fire swept through the great home, killing him and his entire family, many of whom were visiting for a festival in honor of their grandfather’s 60th birthday.
Jules Blackwell (1830 – 1912)
Born Jules Swartzentruber on June 16, 1830 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Jules changed his name to Blackwell along with the rest of the family when they fled the Bodycomb Commune in 1854. Blackwell began his business career after the death of his father, John Blackwell, by entering the employ of Alphonse Guzman and showed great business ability. He was soon invited to become a partner in the house of M.J. Beeber & Co., one of the largest retail stores in New Calais and one of the largest dry goods importing and jobbing houses in the South. He was in the dry goods business from about 1856 to 1873. After some years, he met George Varney, the well-known Baton Rouge banker. Shortly after the meeting, in 1878, Blackwell entered George Varney & Co. as a partner. Ten years later, Blackwell succeeded Varney as head of the firm and changed its name to J. S. Blackwell & Co. After the American Civil War the firm was appointed the financial representatives of Louisiana to the United States government.
Dr. Vernon Lamont, PhD (1848 – 1929)
A Physicist from New Hampshire, Dr. Lamont was a successful and well read researcher who applied for and received a grant from the Louisiana Government to build a Black College just off campus from Talbot University in 1899. The University itself offered Dr. Lamont some acreage for the new school and this only exacerbated the enmity felt by the locals who felt that the black doctor and his students. Sadly Dr. Lamont didn’t live to see his school become a part of the University proper or become one of the premiere School of Physics in the southern United States.
Jean du Lac (1873 – 1938)
One of the many architects spawned by the Dulac family across the centuries, Jean du Lac’s influence over the city’s skyline was prolific and long lasting, many of his buildings still stands and the Jean du Lac School of Architecture was dedicated to him when it was constructed twenty years after his death.
Friedrich Cohen (1879 – 1962)
A researcher and Librarian from Munich, Friedrich Cohen moved his family to New Calais to run the Talbot University Library in 1931 and brought his family with him. The Cohen family has grown to be an important part of the city’s culture, with no small part of that because of Friedrich’s early philanthropy and work expanding the library.