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LABADIE, NICHOLAS DESCOMPS

LABADIE, NICHOLAS DESCOMPS (1802–1867). Nicholas Descomps Labadie, physician, pharmacist, and entrepreneur, was born on December 5, 1802, in Assumption Parish, Windsor, Ontario, the son of Antoine Louis and Charlotte (Barthe) Labadie. His father, a fur trader, died when he was five, and his older siblings helped send Nicholas to the parish school, where he did well. At about age twenty-one, hoping to escape the poverty of the area, he traveled to Perry County, Missouri, to become a priest at St. Mary's of the Barrens, a Lazarist college founded in 1820. He studied with John Timon and Jean Marie Odin,qqv two priests who later led the Catholic Church in Texas. Labadie forsook the priesthood by 1828, decided to become a doctor, and moved to St. Louis, where he studied under Dr. Samuel Merry, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, and supported himself by clerking for a merchant. Labadie mastered both medical and pharmacology practices of the day and in the spring of 1830 moved to Fort Jesup, Louisiana, where he clerked for Harrison and Hopkins and may have practiced medicine. In January 1831 he visited San Felipe and decided that his best prospects lay at Anahuac, where a garrison had been established. He left the Brazos for New Orleans, where he bought medicines, and reached Anahuac in March. Col. John Davis Bradburn employed him as post surgeon and gave him a town lot on which to build his home and office, where he treated his civilian neighbors. He participated in a mercantile partnership with Charles Willcox from June 1831 through 1833. Angered because his sinecure as post surgeon was terminated on November 9, 1831, Labadie sided with the insurgents in June 1832 and joined in the attack against Bradburn (see ANAHUAC DISTURBANCES). The doctor wrote about the events at Anahuac for the Texas Almanacqv for 1859.

Between 1833 and 1838 Labadie lived on his plantation on the shore of Lake Charlotte, a site that connected with the Trinity River north of Wallisville, where he raised hogs, corn, cattle, and honey for market and practiced medicine. He marched to join Sam Houston's army with the Liberty militia on March 11, 1836. At the Groce family's Bernardo Plantation he was appointed surgeon of the first regiment of regulars on April 6 and treated the various camp illnesses. He later fought under Gen. Sidney Sherman and tended the wounded at San Jacinto. He recorded his reminiscences of that campaign in the same volume of the Almanac. John Forbes, commissary general of the Texas army at San Jacinto, sued Labadie for libel in the district court of Nacogdoches County, and the suit was not finally dismissed until 1867. Labadie returned to his home in May 1836 to find it had been ransacked by looters, his wife and children having fled towards the Neches River. In September 1838 under orders from Secretary of War Thomas J. Rusk he moved with his family to Galveston, where he continued to practice medicine and pharmacy and also sold such sundries as paint and paper. He invested in real estate, conducted a boarding house, and built the first Catholic church there. In 1851 he traded his plantation on Lake Charlotte to Michel B. Menard for Galveston wharf rights and built Labadie's Wharf near the foot of Twenty-sixth Street. Here he operated a line of sailing vessels to Pensacola, Florida, that imported lumber. During the Civil War Labadie served as examining physician for draftees in 1863 and as surgeon of the First Regiment, Texas Militia, in Galveston. His wife, Mary (Norment), whom he had married in November 1831 when Father Michael Muldoon visited Anahuac, died during the yellow fever epidemic in 1839. He married Mrs. Agnes Rivera, formerly of New York, in Galveston in December 1840 before his old acquaintance, Father Timon. She bore him a son in 1841, but she died in 1843 during another fever epidemic. Labadie was married a third time, to Julia A. Seymour, a native of Connecticut, in September 1846; they had no children. One of his sons-in-law, Ebenezer T. Barstow, became Labadie's business partner. The doctor died on March 13, 1867, and was buried in the Catholic Cemetery, Galveston.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James M. Day, comp., Texas Almanac, 1857–1873: A Compendium of Texas History (Waco: Texian Press, 1967). Charles Waldo Hayes, Galveston: History of the Island and the City (2 vols., Austin: Jenkins Garrett, 1974). George Plunkett [Mrs. S. C. Red], The Medicine Man in Texas (Houston, 1930).

Margaret Swett Henson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Margaret Swett Henson, "LABADIE, NICHOLAS DESCOMPS," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fla05), accessed September 15, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.