I wrote this for LA Road Trips back in 2011:
Everyone is familiar with Lamy Lane and Louisville Avenue in Monroe, but very few know anything about the family they were named for (correction in Sept. 2020: I have just found out Louisville Avenue is named for Louis Ashley Breard, Sr. and NOT the Lamy family. mea culpa!). No descendants of that illustrious name remain, but the family’s legacy has an impact still felt today.
On May 7, 1797, Louis Michel Jean-Francois Lamy came to the Ouachita Valley as a Maison Rouge colonist. With him were two slaves, Telemaque and Sara. The young Frenchman was the son of Louis Charles Antoine and Magdaleine Louise Meurger Lamy, and was born in Normandy, France. Almost two months after settling into the area, Jean-Francois marries Felicity Roi, the daughter of Auguste and Marianne Moron Roi. The two were married by Commandant Jean Filhiol.
Three years after their marriage, on December 2, 1800, the first of the Lamy children is born, named Louis Francois Lamy. Jean-Francois and Felicity would have two more children: Augustine and Louisa. Augustine seems to have died young, because no further record can be found after their birth, but Louis and Louisa would become two of the most beloved residents in Ouachita Parish.
Jean-Francois would be made captain of the Ouachita Parish militia in 1805, shortly after the Louisiana Purchase. He would also serve on the board of trustees for the first school in the area in 1811. In that same year, Jean-Francois passed away from some unknown illness, leaving two young children and a widow behind. Felicity Lamy would not remain a widow for long. It was very tough for a single woman and two young children to get by on their own. On November 12, 1812, she marries family friend John R. DeWitt. They would go on to have two children, Isaac and Julia (who would marry John Ray).
The Lamy son, Louis Francois, decided to study law. He received his law degree from Transylvania College in Kentucky and upon his arrival back in Ouachita, was made the Parish Judge. Louis served from 1832-1844 when the Parish Judge position was abolished. He was so well respected, that some of the most prominent men in Ouachita would come to study under his tutelage. Men such as Wesley J.Q. Baker and John Ray learned their trade from Louis. Louis married Lucinda E. Shannon February 27, 1838 but they had no children. On December 9, 1881, Judge Louis Lamy died at the age of 81. It is likely he was buried in the Old City Cemetery on DeSiard Street, but no headstone can be found. His obituary stated: “He was a gentleman of the old school, and a citizen of unblemished repute and inflexible devotion to his country. Peace to his ashes!”
The Lamy daughter, Louisa would marry a young planter named Robert Forbes McGuire on April 24, 1820. Robert was a lawyer and a doctor by profession. He is most well known for leaving behind his diary. He kept very detailed weather reports, but his social observations were few. For instance, in an 1829 entry, he simply states, “Lost my two children this summer.”
Robert and Louisa Lamy would go on to have five children together: Lewis, Mary Louise, Felicity, Robert Alan and Angela. All would die young, leaving no heirs. Robert and Louisa would help found the Masons and the Order of the Eastern Star. Both societies have chapters in Monroe that still bear their names. Robert would die during the Civil War in 1862. Louisa would outlive her entire family. On February 4th, 1882, almost two months after her brother, Louisa Lamy McGuire died at her home in Monroe. Her obituary stated, “It would be folly, in a short obituary, to give even a meager part of her eventful life-a life sparkling with acts of kindness, full of charity for suffering humanity and ever evincing a warm and generous heart for orphanage.”
Part of Louisa’s legacy, stipulated in her will, was her husband’s law office and books. They were given to the city of Monroe for use as a public library. Unfortunately, nothing was done at the time to carry out her wishes. Around 1915, Judge A.A. Gunby stumbled across Louisa’s will in the courthouse and found her bequest. After further investigation, it was found the former law office on Wood Street was being used to store coal! It was immediately cleaned out and a group was formed to bring a library to Monroe. On May 8, 1916, Louisa Lamy McGurie’s wish finally came true; Monroe’s first public Library opened in the little house on Wood Street.