Throughout its long history, Opelousas has seen some colorful characters. One of those was Jules Perrodin, an Opelousas businessman who lived in the town during the 1800s and early 1900s.
Jules Perrodin was born in Tarcia, Department of the Jurs, France on March 27, 1820. As a young man in October of 1839 he came to the "New World" to seek his fortune. His travel took him to Louisiana and eventually he ended up in Opelousas, St. Landry Parish in 1856. He was employed for a short time as clerk in Opelousas. His services were then secured by J. B. Pollingue, a very successful merchant in Grand Coteau. Mr. Perrodin had charge of his business until Mr. Pollingue retired to a plantation a short time before the Civil War.
Perrodin then came to Opelousas and engaged in the mercantile business with his brother, Auguste Perrodin, doing business as J & A Perrodin.. They were very successful merchants, dealing with the best and the largest planters in the parish. Perrodin was also involved in real estate and other business dealings during that time.
When the Civil War began, Auguste Perrodin volunteered in the military service of the Confederacy, leaving his old partner in charge of their store. Although Jules was "drafted" to serve in the Confederacy, he refused claiming he was still a French citizen and as so, was not taking a stand in the war. He filed a writ of habeas corpus alleging that he was a French subject and therefore not liable to the operation of the conscription law of the Confederate States, and asked to be discharged from the Military service of the States. The court ruled in his favor and that decision was signed in the town of Opelousas on January 27, 1864.
Like others, the Perrodins suffered great losses during the war. And because of this, In August 1868, Jules Perrodin filed a petition in the United States Court of Claims asking compensation for the proceeds of 360 bales of cotton, which he alleged were taken from him by the Federal forces in May, 1863. Although he was not awarded for all of his claim, the court did agreed that he was entitled to some compensation.
The Perrodin partnership continued for a number of years following the Civil War and was finally dissolved by mutual consent in 1876, with the final d
issolution on January 10, 1880. August Perrodin was charged with the liquidation of the affairs of the copartnership, and Jules Perrodin continued doing business on his own at the old store building.
Gradually Jules disposed of his stock and spent the remainder of his years quietly and peacefully at home, which became his whole world. Seldom was he seen outside of its gate, and nothing but the most urgent business could induce him to be seen on the streets of Opelousas.
Jules Perrodin was twice married. His first wife was a Miss Poiret who lived only a few years after her marriage.. Of this marriage there was no children. His second marriage was to a Miss Lastrapes. The two surviving children of Jules Perrodin were from this marriage. His surviving daughter was listed in his obituary as Rose Perrodin the wife of Louis Prados. His son is listed as J. J. Perrodin, the well-known cashier of the People's State Bank in Opelousas.
With the death of Jules Perrodin, Opelousas lost one of its most estimable citizens. He was a devoted husband and father and a good friend to many. He was a man of few wants, his greatest pleasure he found in the company of his devoted family. He had a genial disposition and loved to gather around his intimate friends and spend an afternoon with them in the interchange of thoughts and ideas. He was a Frenchman to the very end, with a true devotion to the country of his birth, and he never abandoned his allegiance to La Belle France.
It was said the Jules passed away without a struggle or a pain. A few days before his death, he was asked if he suffered. "Not at all," he said. "I have never suffered in my life."
Jules Perrodin lived in a house on the corner of Main and Grolee Street in Opelousas during his time in the town. The house remained in the family until the 1960s when it was sold. It was demolished soon after and the new Opelosuas Eunice Library building constructed on that property.
These two photos show us a view of the Perrodin House on Grolee Street, from Main to Union, where it stood for over 100 years. Today the Opelousas Library sits on that property.
August Perrodin and Perrodin's Hall
Jules Perrodin's one time business partner and brother, August Perrodin, was also the owner of Perrodin's Hall, a popular local "Opera House" that was also used as the St. Landry Parish Courthouse during the 1880s.
In 1882, the Perrodins purchased the large building which was originally designed for a cotton seed oil mill, near Victor Bourdin's Steam Corn Mill on Bayou Tesson at the corner of Grolee and Market streets. The building was dismanteled and rebuilt on Main Street at Grolee Street, near the store of Jules Perrodin, on the lot where Perrodin's Lumber yard stood. It was than used as a large warehouse and Opera House. The upper floor was the Opera House. The lower story was used as a carriage emporium and other things.
This hall was well used by the community. Many plays and other forms of entrainment were presented at the hall. Other activities held there included dances and "hops" for young people, Skating parties, Graduation excersises for the area schools, Mardi Gras Balls, Social events, etc. In 1886 when a fire destroyed the St. Landry Parish Courthouse, the temporary courthouse was set up at Perrodin's Hall until the new building could be constructed. Perrodin's Hall is said to have the first electrics lights in Opelousas.
In 1892, J. B Sandoz opened a new carriage repository at Perrodin's Hall. Sandoz later purchased the building. Although the "Opera House" part located on the second story of the building was still used for some time, eventually the building became a hardware store with no more "Opera House." The building was remodeled and charged during the years and finally, in 1952 the building was demolished and a new J. B. Sandoz Hardware Store was built on the site.
Perrodin's Hall and J. B Sandoz shown here as it appeared in 1896 on Main Street at the corner of Grolee Street in Opelousas.
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