La sentinelle de Thibodaux / Thibodaux Sentinel was founded in 1861 in Thibodaux, Louisiana, a small farming community at the heart of the state’s sugar-growing region. It struggled during the Civil War, partly because of paper shortages (at least three issues were printed on wallpaper). A later editorial recalled that during the war years, the Sentinel had been “dead under the wings of adversity and military power.”
In August 1865, the journal was revived by former Confederate soldier Pierre Ernest Lorio (1833-1894) and François Sancan (ca. 1826-1897), a native of France who had emigrated to Louisiana as a young man and worked as a portrait painter and photographer. Issued weekly in four pages with two in French and two in English, the Sentinel’s motto was “Independent in all things—neutral in none” / “Independant en tout. Neutre en rien.”
The paper carried brief local news items along with miscellaneous stories on national and international topics mostly copied from other sources. A business directory was included on the first page, where readers also found advertisements for local businesses, announcements of public sales, town ordinances, and (during Reconstruction) military orders. Though neutral in politics, the Sentinel voiced a mild opposition to the Federal occupation of Louisiana. Other pages typically contained articles on a wide range of topics, including politics, agriculture, education, and entertainment. Marriage notices, obituaries, and the minutes of the Lafourche Parish police jury (similar to county councils in other states) were also printed.
In June 1866, the Thibodaux Sentinel was renamed the Weekly Thibodaux Sentinel [LCCN: sn86079078] and was published under that title until 1875, when its name was changed again to the Weekly Thibodaux Sentinel and Journal of the 8th Senatorial District. François Sancan, who edited the French section, owned the paper until his death in 1897; the English section was edited by Duncan S. Cage and Silas T. Grisamore, among others. From 1882 to 1898, the Sentinel was published in separate English and French editions, each with four pages. In 1898, its title reverted to the Weekly Thibodaux Sentinel. Two years later, the French-language edition was discontinued. From 1905 to 1912, when it went out of business, the paper was published as the Thibodaux Sentinel by Henry R. Dupré (b. ca. 1874).