Dupré was the descendant of an Acadian exile, Laurent Dupré Sr. and Marie Joséphine Gradenigo, the daughter of an immigrant said to be an Italian nobleman. Lastie was born March 20, 1795, and died Aug. 15, 1886. His father was Gov. Jacques Dupré and his mother was Théotiste Roy. He married Marie Bernard and they had seven children.
The vault that he built in the early 1800s is believed to be the first bank building in St. Landry Parish. He kept his riches there and and let his friends use it to store their money.
The walls on the little building - which still stands near Prairie Ronde - are 15 to 18 inches thick. A heavy iron door and a single barred and shuttered window were the only way in or out. The roof was made of slate laid atop thick cypress planks. The iron vault inside the building was chained to heavy bolts screwed into the thick walls.
He apparently had enough money to justify the elaborate vault. It has been said, I think with some exaggeration, that at one time he owned all of the land that is now Allen Parish, and that was only part of his real estate.
He was supposed to have also had regular, and profitable, dealings with Jean Lafitte. That part of the story is probably true.
The old tales say that he first built just the brick building to hold his gold and added the iron vault later. Before it was added, he reportedly buried his gold in layers in the dirt floor inside the building. Legend has it that he had so much gold buried there that it took a week to dig it up, wash it, and count it when it was time to transfer it to his new vault.
Jayhawkers tried to force their way into the little building during the Civil War, but to no avail. They beat on the door, shot at the locks, pulled on the door with horses, and tried a few other things, but Lastie's money stayed safe.
But, if he guarded his fortune against outlaws, he is said to have complete faith in the honesty of his neighbors. It was said that he was so honest it never occurred to him that anyone else could be dishonest - or, some say, he was just so rich that it didn't matter if someone took a little bit of his gold. At any rate, as the story goes, when his planter friends came by to get their gold from his vault, he just gave them the key and told them to take what was theirs.
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.