Le pionnier de l'Assomption
Napoleonville, the seat of Assumption Parish, is located along the banks of Bayou Lafourche in coastal southeast Louisiana. Tradition says that the town took its name from a French settler who had served under Napoleon Bonaparte. The population grew rapidly in the 1890s and was nearing 1,000 by 1900 (it has since fallen to about 600). Sugar cane became the parish’s principal crop in the early 1860s and continues to be important.
Dubbed the “Official Journal of the Parish of Assumption and the Town of Napoleonville,” the Pioneer of Assumption provided its readers with a wealth of national and international information. The paper originated as a French-language journal, Le Pionnier de l’Assomption, and was the first newspaper in the parish. It was founded on September 7, 1850, by Eugene Supervielle (1824-1868), a French émigré, and F. A. Devilliers (d. 1857). By 1853, the paper was being published in both French and English. Ownership would change over the years with Amadéo Morel (1813-1867) becoming proprietor in 1855 and Conrad L. Mavor both editor and proprietor the following year. Under Mavor’s management, the paper’s title changed to the Pioneer of Assumption.
French immigrant Charles Dupaty (ca. 1829-1884) bought the paper in 1858. Two years later, he sold it to his brother Joseph (ca. 1822-1867) while he voyaged to Mexico to support Maximilian I. Upon Joseph’s death in September 1867, Charles returned to Napoleonville, resuming his role as editor and becoming involved in the state legislature; he was also elected mayor of Napoleonville, a position he would hold for two terms. At Charles’s own death in September 1884, his widow Susan Young Dupaty (ca. 1843-1929) took over the paper’s management. In 1895, it changed its title once more to the Assumption Pioneer, by which it continues to be published as of 2013. By 1896, it was being printed in English only. Susan Dupaty would continue to manage the paper until 1903, after which it came under the editorship of a prominent local family, the Gianellonis.
The Pioneer of Assumption was published weekly on either Sunday, Tuesday, or Saturday. During the 1850s, it was principally a political journal, though issues were filled with a mix of judicial, local, national, and international news. The paper also included an official town directory, as well as literature, essays, and domestic advice. One of the contributors was Prudent d’Artlys, pen name of Hippolyte-Prudent de Bautte (1821-1861), a political refugee from France and editor of the newspaper Le Meschacébé in Lucy in nearby St. James Parish. The Pioneer of Assumption was one of the few Louisiana newspapers that did not suspend publication during the Civil War.