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July 19, 2018
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History: Rev. Louis Ledoux Remembered

Rev. Louis P. Ledoux
Rev. Louis P. Ledoux

Following the death of Rev. Louis Ledoux in 1885, hs wife, Katherine, wrote a loving account of the life of her husband. This is what she wrote:

“Louis P. Ledoux was born near Opelousas, Luisiana, June 8, 1822.

His parents were Eugene and Celeste Pietre Ledoux. His father and grandfather were successful planters in the parish of St. Landry, with large sugar and cotton estates among the fertile prairies of the Vermilion River. The latter came from France, Department of Basses Pyrennes, early in the last century. Accompanied by two brothers he first settled in Canada, where they remained, but he removed to the more congenial soil and climate of Louisiana.

Louis Ledoux was one of the younger children, and preeminently a ‘mother’s boy.’ He was rarely away from home, his early education being received from private tutors in company with his brothers and sisters. Is boyhood was a happy one, with few wishes unsatisfied that wealth and affection could fulfill. Horses, guns, and servants were at his command, aRev; nd he had a large circle of young friends from neighboring plantations. Under the influence of a gentle mother he developed a sympathetic, religious nature, faithful to the duties of the French Catholic Church, to which all his relatives belonged. His elder brothers, leaving school one after another, married and settled on plantations of their own, but Louis’ inclination was for a more studious life. An uncle, on his mother’s side, was eminent at the bar of New Orleans’ subsequently a judge. Influenced by his advice, as well as by his own inclination, his parents decided to give him a collegiate education, and fit him for the legal profession.

It was then the custom among Southern families of means to send their sons to Northern colleges, and so, on the 30th of May, 1840, Louis Ledoux left his Southern home to complete his preparatory studies at Lawrence Academy, Groton, Massachusetts, then in the zenith of its fame.

For a young man with his early training and surroundings to be suddenly transplated from the sunny prairies of semi-tropical Louisiana, amid the rigors of New England life and climate, must have been indeed a change. Looking back upon this periodof his life, he wrote in 1860:

‘The small, stony, side-hill farms; the rock walls; the poor stunted corn; but above all, the customs of the people, impressed me as very strange. Sunday of all days was to me most sad and uninteresting. From their manner of Sabbath observance, as well as their doctrines, as I then understood or rather misunderstood them, I entirely dissented. Their Puritan standards I rejected ab immo prectore. I was brought up in a community whose members regarded Sunday as a fete-a-day for visiting and amusements, Imagine my horror at the return of each Sabbath day in Groton! All amusements are suspended, all social visits interdicted. No vehicles tolerated on the streets, except to or from meeting; the front blinds were all closed. Even the dinner bell in my hotel was not rung on Sunday, and conversation was carried on in a suppressed tone. At nine, the church bells began ringing. At ten, church commenced, followed immediately by Sunday school; then a cold lunch lunch, and servive again at half-past-two. I spend the time in being homesick and writing letters. Once I went out in the forenoon fo a walk, but the looks of surprise and pain that met me from the windows of the good people, led me not to repeat the experiment, and I determined at least to respect their prejudices.’

He remained at Lawrence Academy until entering college, and it was there, under the influence of its respected and much-loved principal, Rev. E.H. Barstow, as well as one of the teachers, that he took a step that changed radically the whole current of his life. After a period of most searching self-examination, he united with the Protestant (Congregational) Church, and announced to his relatives that instead of becoming a lawyer, he felt called to become a minister of the Gospel. Nothing could have astonished or disappointed them more. He could not be dissuaded, but firmly adhered to his resolution. He felt that God had called him. His brothers’ disappointment; his uncle’s expostulations, and even his gentle mother’s tears failed to run him, and he went on with his concluding studies at Groton 00 his future life’s work clearly defined. He gave up a career which, with his family’s position and uncle’s help, offered wealth and station in his native state, to prepare for the more humble, and often ill-paid toil of a Presbyterian minister. What the step cost him, only his nearest and dearest can ever know.

His father died; then followed the death of his mother, and with it the sudden cessation of financial aid for home. Undeterred, he entered Amherst College in the fall of 1844, supporting himself by teaching, and as tutor of French in college.

Graduating in 1848, he entered the Union Theological Seminary of New York City, whence he graduated in 1851.

In the summer of 1851 he was married to Katherine C. Reid, the youngest daughter of Edward Reid of New York, by whom he had two Sons, Albert R. and Augustus D., born in 1852 and 1858 respectively.

After graduation, he at once commenced preaching, supplying the pulpit of the Presbyterian Church at Dobbs’ Ferry. Although pleasantly situated here, his desire was to do missionary work, and declining a call to the permanent pastorate, he went ti Newport, Kentucky, to upbuild a little church but recently established. Placing this church on a firm, self-supporting foundation, he accepted a call to Monroe, Michigan, where for nearly three years he acted as pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. There on the lake shore, his wife and son, born in Newport, were attached with chills and fever. Being advised that nothing but a decided change of climate would eradicate this disease, he accepted a call to the Third Presbyterian Church of Richmond, Va., where he remained until 1858. Then, called to the pastorate of the church at Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, New York, he accepted, and it was here that his best and hardest life-work was done. Beside his pastoral work, at this period of his life he was also busy with his pen, but usually in an unobtrusive, anonymous way, publishing a number of sermons, tracts, lectures and newspaper articles. A more elaborate treatise on “The Hypocrisy of Infidelity,” in 1861, gained for him the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from the Indiana State University, whose Faculty saw and appreciated this review.

In 1865, after a pastorate in Cornwall of eight years, repeated attacks of a bronchial affection, with resulting loss of voice, compelled him to resign his charge and again to take up teaching, for which by education and experience he was well fitted.

In this occupation, without interruption, he continued until his last illness – a complication of heart failure with his old bronchial affection. He founded and maintained a successful collegiate school upon Cornwall Heights.

During his residence at Cornwall, the cruel wave of civil war swept over our country, and not even indirectly could he hear from his relatives in Louisiana. When peace was restored, he journeyed South to see them. He found money; servants; land had been swept away by the ebb and flow of conflict. His coming was unannounced. One moonlight night he rapped at the door of his childhood’s home. A window opens above, and a brother’s voice asks in French: “Who is there?” Replying in the same familiar tongue, he asks if a stranger may have a night’s lodging. The window closes, a step descends the stair, the front door opens, and before him stands the brother with outstretched arms and says, “come in, my brother, this is the old home.’ With tears of joy and sorrow, childhood’s days are gone over, the old affection renewed, and the story of all the long years of separation is told; then, with a great life’s wish gratified, Louis Ledoux returned to his work, from which on September 30th, 1885, the Great Schoolmaster released him. What was the character and what the results of this work, let others tell in the following pages.

His funeral services were held on October 3rd in the church of Cornwall, in which he had preached for so long, amid a large congregation of his former parishioners and pupils. The building was appropriately draped, and the services were conducted by the present pastor, Rev. Mr. Noble, assisted by Rev. Drs. Lyman Abbott, Snowden and J.W.Teal, the latter, perhaps, Dr. Ledoux’s nearest friend in the ministry during the later years of his life. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, near New Windsor, surrounded by the hills he loved so well.
--his wife, Katherine R. Ledoux
New York, December 31, 1887”


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