Alvan Lafargue

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Alvan Henry Lafargue, Sr., M.D.
Born (1883-10-14)October 14, 1883
Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, USA

February 11, 1963(1963-02-11) (aged 79)
Sulphur, Calcasieu Parish,

Residence Sulphur, Louisiana
Alma mater

Louisiana State University
Tulane University School of Medicine

University of Tennessee Medical Center
Years active 1910–1962
Known for Calcasieu Parish medical officer; founder of West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital in Sulphur; founder of Calcasieu Cameron Fair in Su;phur
Political party
Religion Roman Catholic
Spouse(s) Florestine Richard Lafargue
Children Alvan Lafargue, Jr., Myron, Irene, and Prudence

Alvan Henry Lafargue, Sr. (October 14, 1883 – February 11, 1962), was a Louisiana physician, politician, and civic leader. His medical practice exceeded fifty years. He served for twelve years as the mayor of his adopted city of Sulphur in Calcasieu Parish in the southwestern portion of the state.

Early years[edit]

Lafargue was born in Marksville, the seat of Avoyelles Parish in south central Louisiana, to Adolphe Jolna Lafargue, a state court judge, and the former Annie Winn Irion, the judge's first wife. When she died, the judge married Emma, her sister. Alvan Lafargue's maternal grandfather was U.S. Representative A. B. Irion of Eola in Avoyelles Parish. In 1843, Lafargue's paternal grandfather founded the Marksville Weekly News, which claims to be the oldest still publishing weekly newspaper in the state of Louisiana.[1] Lafargue's father, Judge Lafargue, continued to publish the newspaper.[2] Lafargue's brother, Walter Strong Lafargue, was the superintendent of schools in Lafourche Parish.[3]

Lafargue was educated in the Avoyelles Parish schools, Louisiana State University, the Tulane University Medical School, and the Memphis Hospital Medical School, since the University of Tennessee Medical Center, from which he graduated in 1910. He married the former Florestine Richard of Baldwin in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, daughter of Arthur Richard, a sugar planter, and the former Blanche Dumesnil. The couple had four children, Alvan, Jr. (1913–1994),[4] Myron J. Lafargue (1914–1973), Irene (1917–1969), and Prudence (1924–2009).[5]

Medical practice[edit]

Lafargue practiced medicine in Cheneyville, Baldwin, Franklin, and, finally, Sulphur, where he located in 1915.[5] In Baldwin, as the physician for a sawmill, he treated accident victims and often performed operations and amputations with whisky as the only available anesthesia.[2] Lafargue opened his office in the Paragon Drug Store in Sulphur. He covered an area of some twenty-five miles by horseback, buggy, and later, a Model T Ford.[2]

In Lake Charles, Lafargue was the Calcasieu Parish health officer from 1934-1938. He thereafter served as the Sulphur municipal health officer. He was a director of the Lake Charles Charity Hospital (now known as Moss Regional) and was on the staff of St. Patrick and Memorial hospitals as well. He was instrumental in building the West Calcasieu-Cameron Hospital in Sulphur, of which he served as the first president. He was the physician of the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1960, he was honored by the Louisiana Medical Society in Baton Rouge for fifty years of medical service, A memorial light was placed on the Sulphur water tower to recognize his delivery of five thousand babies.[5] At the ceremony, Lafargue said, "Fifty years of being a doctor adds up into lots of buggy trips on cold nights and hot days, long hours of waiting for babies to be born, tears, laughter, and a heap of satisfaction."[2]

Political and civic matters[edit]

An active Democrat, Lafargue was the mayor of Sulphur from 1926 to 1932, during which time he initiated many municipal improvements. The town was in debt, and he made so many visits to a bank in Lake Charles that people there thought he worked at the bank. In time, Sulphur was put in the financial black column.[2]

A Roman Catholic, Lafargue was a member of the men's organization, the Knights of Columbus. He was active in Rotary International and Woodmen of the World. In 1925, Dr. Lafargue founded the Calcasieu-Cameron bi-parish fair and served many years afterwards as president of the organization. He developed the Businessmen's Club of Sulphur, which later became West Calcasieu Association of Commerce. He won the Silver Beaver award from the Boy Scouts of America. He was also a director of the American Red Cross. He was president of the Gulf Beach Highway Association, which promoted the construction of U.S. Highway 27. He was vice-president of the Louisiana Division of the Old Spanish Trail Association, which lobbied for the extension of U.S. Highway 90 from the Atlantic to the Pacific coasts.[5]

Lafargue died in Sulphur at the age of seventy-nine. He is interred at Orange Grove Cemetery in Lake Charles.[5][6] Dr. Lafargue once said that his great accomplishment was having never turned away a patient in need.[2]


  1. ^ "Newspapers of Avoyelles". Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Early Calcasieu Doctors". Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Genealogy search for Lafargues". Retrieved February 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e "Lafargue, Alvan Henry". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography. Retrieved February 17, 2011. 
  6. ^ A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography uses Erbon W. Wise, Brimstone! The History of Sulphur, Louisiana (1981) and Lafargue family papers as the basis of its sketch of Dr. Lafargue.