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Notes for Napoleon Paul LaPlant

The Family of John LaPlant & Mary Huard

1880 United States Census Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska Page Number 410C
Name Relation Marital Status Gender Race Age Birthplace Occupation Father's Birthplace Mother's Birthplace
John LAPLANT Self M Male W 39 CAN Brick Moulder CAN CAN
Mary LAPLANT Wife M Female W 29 CAN Keeping House CAN CAN
Salina LAPLANT Dau S Female W 10 NH At Home CAN CAN
Delenos LAPLANT Dau S Female W 8 CAN At Home CAN CAN
Napoleon LAPLANT Other S Male W 6 VT At Home CAN CAN
Hilda LAPLANT Dau S Female W 4 VT At Home CAN CAN
Hada LAPLANT Dau S Female W 2 VT At Home CAN CAN

1885 Nebraska State census - Ashland,Saunders Co, Nebraska 04 Jun 1885
John Lea Plant, age 39, b. Canada
Mary Lea Plant, age 34, b. Canada
Salina Lea Plant , age 15, b. New Hampshire
Emma Lea Plant, age 12, b. Canada
Nepoleon Lea Plant, age 10, b. Vermont
Edena Lea Plant, age 8, b. Vermont
Eddie Lea Plant, age 6, b. Vermont
Minnie Lea Plant, age 4, b. Nebraska
Willie Lea Plant, age 2, b. Nebraska

1900 census Florence, Fremont Co., CO
Household #121/128
Napolyon LaPlant, head, Sept 1874, age 25, md 0 yrs, VT/French Canada/French Canada, Brick Mason
Bessie B., wife, Jan 1878, age 22, md 0 yrs, 0 births, KS/VT/NY

Napoleon died 1905 in probably brick making accident in Colorado

1910 - Bessie is where?


My mother, Lula (LaPlant) Dyer recounted stories that became an informal history of the LaPlant Family. I clearly remember the salient features of those stories. Other comments and "infill" are mine from visits with Lula's sisters Anna, Emma, and Nellie, and with Eddie who lived in Tucson.

These are the recollections of my memories of the LaPlant family and of my mother's stories about them.

John LaPlant probably met Mary in French Canada. I do not know Mary's maiden name and I do not know much about her. She taught my mother, Lula (and I assume each of the daughters) embroidery and how to crochet along with other homemaking arts and crafts.

Seven girls and four boys were born to John and Mary LaPlant. As best I can recall, one child died in infancy and twin boys died at age 12 or 14, one in an accident at John LaPlant's stone quarry and brick yard in Florence, Colorado, and the other from a major illness. The others were raised to adulthood. Napoleon died at age 31. Seven children are pictured with John and Mary in the only family photo I have which was probably taken after Napoleon's death.

John's business in Florence was apparently substantial. His brick yard and stone quarry can be seen today at the edge of town and many of the buildings he built of fine brick and stone are still in use, many now more than one hundred years old. His bricks were made in wood fired kilns that were stoked continuously for 24 to 48 hours. When finished and cooled, the bricks would "ping" when struck with a hammer, a mark of quality. His brick and stone foundations were allowed to "settle" under straw and canvas for 30 days before starting the walls. He was also, of course, an accomplished brick mason and stone mason.

Apparently, John married again after Mary's death to the consternation of the LaPlant daughters. I believe he visited Eddie in Tucson before he (John) died in 1923. During the Tucson visit, John may have visited with my mother, possibly to see his newest grandson, my brother, John Edwin Dyer, Born in 1919.

John taught his sons Eddie and Napoleon the art of brick making along with stone and brick masonry. Eddie started his own brickyard (factory) in Tucson about 1915, or soon after Mary LaPlant died. He made fine bricks and was a highly respected building contractor, brick mason, and stone mason. The brickyard was just west of downtown Tucson, on Congress Street about a quarter of a mile west of the Santa Cruz River. It was the only brickyard in Tucson for at least 50 years. In 2001, on the brickyard site, archeologists found evidence of canals and artifacts made by Indians 2,500 years ago.

About 1920, Eddie designed and built a fine home in Tucson of authentic Mexican adobe with custom milled doors, cabinets and interior woodwork of hardwood selected from Mexican forests. It is still occupied (as of April 2002). I believe it is on Tucson's local register of historic buildings.

As the result of some rift in family relations, I did not meet Eddie until 1937 (when I was 12 years old). He was pleasant and kind and gave me a T-square, triangles, and a scale when I was 15. After that, I saw him infrequently. In 1962 or 1963, during one of our visits to Tucson he was delighted with my sons Bret and Cameron. I saw Eddie for the last time just after Lula's funeral in September 1965. Although 85 years old, he was still building custom fireplaces (with laborers) in vacation homes in the Catalina Mountains just north of Tucson. He died at age 88. His wife Jeane soon moved to Prescott, Arizona, where I understand she died at age 98.

Anna visited our home in Tucson in the early 1930's. She was the happy one, and apparently well known for the laughter she generated in the family and socially. As a child, I enjoyed her playfulness during her stay. She and her husband George Milliken, were most hospitable while I was stationed at Pueblo Army Air Base in 1944 and invited me to their home 2 or 3 times.

Emma LaPlant married a man named McQuery and gave birth to a son, Donald. Emma also visited our home in Tucson in the mid-thirties and affectionately taught me finger painting. She was a fine artist and great talent, but was not formally trained. She painted china and in oil on canvas. Donald was living in Tucson at that time. A daughter Donna, and a son, Robert Lee, resulted from his first marriage. Donald married a second time and worked as a dental technician. He was still living in Tucson in 1965.

In 1931, my mother and I briefly visited Nellie, her husband Earl Spence, and their daughter in Santa Anna, California. Nellie and Earl drove us to see the Graf Zeppelin that had landed after crossing the Pacific Ocean on a globe circling flight. It was an exciting experience that I have never forgotten. Nellie and family later moved to Arcata, California and Nellie was still living there in 1967.

Lula seemed to be the prettiest of the young LaPlant girls. At about 18, she became a telephone operator at a terminal in Florence, Colorado that apparently handled telephone calls for several of the small towns in the vicinity. She rode horses sidesaddle and shot prairie dogs with a 22-caliber rifle from a buggy. She rode in an ore bucket at a nearby mine, which was apparently considered a thrill-ride at that time in the absence of carnival rides. She loved to dance.

Lula divorced Milton Mackie after a marriage of one year (1908-1909). In 1916, she married my father John Elmer Dyer in Raton, New Mexico. They adopted a 4-year-old girl (Mary Jane) in Raton in 1918 and moved that year to Tucson. Their first son, John Edwin, was born in Tucson in December 1919. I was born in 1925. Lula was then 39 years old and my father almost 50. Sometime in 1926 or early 1927 Mary Jane died. In September 1927, John Edwin died of spinal meningitis. The loss of two children within a year resulted in almost unbearable grief for Lula and John.

Lula was a wonderful homemaker with a strong sense of design and colors. I can clearly remember the home in Tucson in which I was raised.

In August 1952, while living in Denver, I visited Florence, Colorado and called on Exhilda, or "Nix", the name of this sister commonly used by my mother. This is not a strong memory, but I recall that Exhilda, then about 75, was cordial but not talkative. I believe the house in which she lived had been the LaPlant family home, a sturdy brick home as would have been built by John LaPlant.

I cannot recall anything about Minnie LaPlant.

Robert E. Dyer
July 23, 2002