Thomy Lafon

Last updated

Thomy Lafon (18101893) was a Creole businessman, philanthropist and human rights activist in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. He was born poor, on 28 December 1810, as a free person of color. He started out selling cakes to workers, opened a small store, was a school teacher for a time, and became successful at money lending and real estate investment. He was an opponent of slavery and supported racial integration in schools. Lafon is mostly known for his large donations to the American Anti-Slavery Society, the Underground Railroad, the Catholic School for Indigent Orphans, the Louisiana Association for the Benefit of Colored Orphans, and other charities for both blacks and whites.

The Creoles of color are a historic ethnic group of Creole people that developed in the former French and Spanish colonies of Louisiana, Southern Mississippi, Alabama, and Northwestern Florida in what is now the United States. French colonists in Louisiana first used the term "Creole" to refer to whites born in the colony, rather than in France. It was also used for slaves born in the colony.

New Orleans Largest city in Louisiana

New Orleans is a consolidated city-parish located along the Mississippi River in the southeastern region of the U.S. state of Louisiana. With an estimated population of 393,292 in 2017, it is the most populous city in Louisiana. A major port, New Orleans is considered an economic and commercial hub for the broader Gulf Coast region of the United States.

Slavery in the United States Form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution from the early years of the United States

Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British America from early colonial days, and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It lasted in about half the states until 1865, when it was prohibited nationally by the Thirteenth Amendment. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping.


In his will, he left funds to local charities and to the Charity Hospital, Lafon Old Folks Home, Dillard University, and the Sisters of the Holy Family, an order of African American nuns. [1] [2] The Thomy Lafon school was called "the best Negro schoolhouse in Louisiana," but it was burned down by a white mob during the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900. [3] Lafon also supported the Tribune, the first black-owned newspaper in the South after the American Civil War.

Dillard University private college in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

Dillard University is a private, historically black, liberal arts college in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States. Founded in 1930 and incorporating earlier institutions that were founded as early as 1869 after the American Civil War, it is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Nun Member of a religious community of women

A nun is a member of a religious community of women, typically living under vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience in the enclosure of a monastery. Communities of nuns exist in numerous religious traditions, including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, and Taoism.

The New Orleans Tribune is a newspaper serving the African-American community of New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as the name of a bilingual publication that served the area in the 1860s. The current publication was founded in 1985. The Tribune is published by McKenna Publishing Co., which also publishes The Blackbook, a community directory of African-American businesses, and Welcome, a guide for Black tourists to New Orleans.

Thomy Lafon never married; he died on December 22, 1893. [1] His remains were interred at the Saint Louis Cemetery No. 3. [4]

Saint Louis Cemetery cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, consisting of three discontiguous parcels

Saint Louis Cemetery is the name of three Roman Catholic cemeteries in New Orleans, Louisiana. Most of the graves are above-ground vaults constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bust of Thomy Lafon (at left) 100 2107.jpg
Bust of Thomy Lafon (at left)

See also

Related Research Articles

Mulatto is a term used to refer to people born of one white parent and one black parent, or from two mulatto parents. Although historically considered a factual, fair term of racial classification, in modern day, it is generally considered to be derogatory or offensive.

P. B. S. Pinchback American politician

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was an American publisher and politician, a Union Army officer, and the first African American to become governor of a U.S. state. A Republican, Pinchback served as the 24th Governor of Louisiana from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873. He was one of the most prominent African-American officeholders during the Reconstruction Era.

James McCune Smith American physician and abolitionist

James McCune Smith was an African-American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author in New York City. He was the first African American to hold a medical degree and graduated at the top in his class at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. After his return to the United States, he became the first African American to run a pharmacy in that nation.

Louisiana Creole people ethnic group

Louisiana Creole people, are persons descended from the inhabitants of colonial Louisiana during the period of both French and Spanish rule. The term creole was originally used by French settlers to distinguish persons born in Louisiana from those born in the mother country or elsewhere. As in many other colonial societies around the world, creole was a term used to mean those who were "native-born", especially native-born Europeans such as the French and Spanish. It also came to be applied to African-descended slaves and Native Americans who were born in Louisiana. Louisiana Creoles share cultural ties such as the traditional use of the French and Louisiana Creole languages and predominant practice of Catholicism.

Institute Catholique

The Institute Catholique, also known as Ecole Des Orphelins Indigents, and the Couvent School, was a school founded in the Faubourg Marigny district of New Orleans in 1840 dedicated to providing a free education to African-American orphans. It was the first school in the United States to offer a free education to African-American children. It also served the non-orphan children of free people of color, who paid a modest tuition. It operated as a distinct entity until 1915.

Sisters of the Holy Family (Louisiana)

The Sisters of the Holy Family based in New Orleans, Louisiana, were founded in 1837 as the Sisters of the Presentation by Henriette DeLille. In 1842, the religious institute changed its name to the Sisters of the Holy Family. Member use the Post-nominal letters S.S.F. which stands for Souers de la Sainte Famille.

The history of the area that is now the US state of Louisiana began roughly 10,000 years ago. The first traces of permanent settlement, ushering in the Archaic period, appear about 5,500 years ago.

Barthélemy Lafon (1769–1820) was a notable Creole architect, engineer, city planner, and surveyor in New Orleans, Louisiana. He appears to have had a double life, as a respectable architect, engineer, and citizen; but also as a privateer, smuggler, and pirate. In later life his association with piracy, specifically with Jean and Pierre Lafitte became public knowledge.

Samuel A. Cartwright American physician

Samuel Adolphus Cartwright was a physician who practiced in Mississippi and Louisiana in the antebellum United States. Cartwright is best known as the inventor of the 'disease' of drapetomania and an outspoken critic of germ theory. During the American Civil War he joined the Confederate States of America and was assigned the responsibility of improving sanitary conditions in the camps about Vicksburg, Mississippi, and Port Hudson, Louisiana.

Michael Hahn American politician

George Michael Decker Hahn, was an attorney, politician, publisher and planter in New Orleans, Louisiana. He served twice in Congress during two widely separated periods, elected first as a Unionist Democratic Congressman in 1862, as a Republican US Senator in 1865, and later as a Republican Congressman in 1884. He was elected as the 19th Governor of Louisiana, serving from 1864 to 1865 during the American Civil War, when the state was occupied by Union troops. He was the first German-born governor in the United States, and is also claimed as the first Jewish governor; by that time he was a practicing Episcopalian.

Robert Charles riots

The Robert Charles riots of July 24–27, 1900 in New Orleans, Louisiana were sparked after African-American laborer Robert Charles fatally shot a white police officer during an altercation and escaped arrest. A large manhunt for him ensued, and a white mob started rioting, attacking blacks throughout the city. The manhunt for Charles began on Monday, July 23, 1900, and ended when Charles was killed on Friday, July 27, shot by a special police volunteer. The mob shot him hundreds more times, and beat the body.

Robert Charles American activist

Robert Charles (1865–1900) was an African American living in New Orleans who committed the spree killing of 4 police and 2 civilians, and wounding of over 20 others and sparked a major race riot in 1900; known as the Robert Charles riots.

Robert Reed Church American businessman

Robert Reed Church Sr. was an African-American entrepreneur, businessman and landowner in Memphis, Tennessee, who began his rise during the American Civil War. He was the first African-American "millionaire" in the South. His total wealth probably reached $700,000, not a round million. Church built a reputation for great wealth and influence in the business community. He founded Solvent Savings Bank, the first black-owned bank in the city, which extended credit to blacks so they could buy homes and develop businesses. As a philanthropist, Church used his wealth to develop a park, playground, auditorium and other facilities for the black community, who were excluded by state-enacted racial segregation from most such amenities in the city.

Walter L. Cohen, Sr. was an African-American Republican politician and businessman in the U.S. state of Louisiana.

New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern

The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was a 206-mile (332 km) 5 ft gauge railway originally commissioned by the State of Illinois, with both Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln being among its supporters in the 1851 Illinois Legislature. It connected Canton, Mississippi, with New Orleans and was completed just prior to the American Civil War, in which it served strategic interests, especially for the Confederacy. The New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was largely in ruins by the end of the War. From 1866 to 1870, when a hostile takeover induced a change of leadership, the president of the New Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern was P. G. T. Beauregard (1818-1893), former Confederate States Army general under whose command the first shots had been fired on Fort Sumter and who during the war helped design the Confederate battle flag.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.

Sylvanie Williams

Sylvanie Francoz Williams was an African-American educator and clubwoman based in New Orleans.

Henry Demas

Henry Demas (1848–1900) was an African American slave who became a constable, state senator, civil rights activist, and Southern University organizer in Louisiana during the Reconstruction era.

Don Nicolás María Vidal y Madrigal, civil governor of Spanish Louisiana and Spanish Florida from 1799–1801.


  1. 1 2 Smith, Frederick D. (2006). "Thomy Lafon". In Jessie Carney Smith. Encyclopedia of African American business. vol. 2 K-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 447–449. ISBN   0-313-33111-1 . Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  2. Ingham, John N.; Feldman, Lynne B. "Lafon, Thomy". African-American business leaders: a biographical dictionary. 1993. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 410–414. ISBN   0-313-27253-0 . Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  3. Hair, William Ivy (1986). Carnival of Fury: Robert Charles and the New Orleans Race Riot of 1900. LSU Press. pp. 177–178. ISBN   0-8071-1348-4 . Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  4. Creolegen

Find A Grave is a website that allows the public to search and add to an online database of cemetery records. It is owned by It receives and uploads digital photographs of headstones from burial sites, taken by unpaid volunteers at cemeteries. Find A Grave then posts the photo on its website.

Louisiana Historical Association

The Louisiana Historical Association is an organization of professional historians and interested laypersons dedicated to the preservation, publication, and dissemination of the history of the U.S. state of Louisiana, with particular emphasis at the inception on territorial, statehood, and the American Civil War periods. Since its founding on April 11, 1889, the association now reaches into the history of the late 19th and 20th centuries.