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CAROLA LILLIE HARTLEY
Contributing Writer

Continuing to focus on the women of Opelousas and St. Landry Parish during National Women’s History month, today we share information on two more women in our history – Mrs. J. A. Delaurelle, and Miss A. Traber Renaud. Although there is not much information available on these two women, we do know they were both teachers of young women in Opelousas in the 1840s-1860s.

As early as the 1840s, Opelousas had schools for young ladies. In 1844, Mrs. J. A. Delaurelle opened her Opelousas Boarding School for Young Ladies. The Opelousas Whig newspaper during the 1840s, as well as the Opelousas Courier in the early 1850s, often ran advertisements and announcements about this school.

Mrs. Delaurelle’s school was situated in one of the most pleasant parts of Opelousas and offered all the advantages that parents desired for their daughters. She was assisted at the school by Miss A. Traber. The teachers worked with the students to improve behavior. Discipline, although strict and maternal, was used to improve the mind and for moral training of the young ladies.

Instructions were about the same in this school as was offered in similar institutions in other cities during that time. It included reading, writing, grammar, practical learning of French and English. Also included were Sacred, Ancient and Modern History, Geography, Arithmetic, Needle Work, Drawing and Painting. Piano, Harp, and working with artificial flowers could also be studied, but at an additional cost.

Lessons were taught on weekdays, with Saturdays and Sundays as days of recess. Short vacations were allowed for the Fourth of July and Christmas.

The price for boarding scholars was $146 for the year, exclusive of books and stationery. In case of sickness the parents were responsible for fees charged by the doctors. Payments in full to the school were made at the end of each quarter. Day scholars also attended this school with a tuition charged according to the age of the students, and the number of children from each family.

Mrs. Delaurelle’s school continued until her death, sometimes prior to September of 1858.

Another early woman educator in Opelousas was Miss A. Traber Renaud. She began her work in education as an assistant teacher at Mrs. Delaurelle’s school. Following her marriage, by 1852 she opened her own Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies, located in the late residence of Mr. Labyche in Opelousas. Her school had instructions like the Delaurelle school. There are many advertisements for this school in the Opelousas Courier during the 1850s. It seems the school was forced to close during the early 1860s with the start of the Civil War.

It is unfortunate that we do not have more information on these two pioneers of early education in St. Landry Parish. They played an important role in our history by educating the young women of our community. It was their legacy, and their names will forever be included in the history of old Opelousas.

We would like to know more about these two women of Opelousas. Maybe some of our readers can provide us with additional information on Mrs. Delaurelle and Mrs. Renaud. Please send what you know about their lives to carola@StLandryNow.com 

Feature photo caption: Opelousas Courier, September 17, 1853, advertisement for the Boarding and Day School for Young Ladies operated by Mrs. A. Traber Renaud in Opelousas.

Mrs. Delaurelle’s Opelousas Boarding School for Young Ladies advertisement in the St. Landry Whig on July 18, 1846.