La Conçon, part 2

On the morning of November 28th of 1927, La Conçon complained to her live-in nurse of stomach pain. By the late afternoon, a high fever had set in, and La Conçon drifted in and out of consciousness for the next few days. Graves reported “a curious delirium, in which past and present were mingled with pure fantasy; Miss Maurignonneaux was rarely incoherent, but even more rarely was she lucid of her surroundings.” La Conçon ultimately died a few minutes after sunset on November 31st, of what the coroner declared peritonitis.

At the time of La Conçon’s death, though very near completion, the manuscript of her memoirs was never assembled into publishable form until 1987. It was discovered among the late James Graves’ documents in the old Times-Picayune building which has since been demolished, in New Orleans, Louisiana. At that time, the executor of the estate held up the payment due her daughter from her mother’s will, forcing an embarrassing episode involving a payday cash advance, some questionable transactions, and a market crash. The payday loan was calculated to cost over 2,000% over the course of the year and the police, although notified, were unable to recover any of the funds. The scandal was widely reported in Europe, where her fan base wept for the future of their cherished personality/entertainer.

The Gardens where she spent much of her time towards the end of her life were beautiful. At the end she spent very little time entertaining or going out into public & experience medical conditions. Her niece also fancied spending time there, she too found that time alone was preferred to time spent in the company of others in many cases.

Alas, Storyville’s demise was hastened by Prohibition; while largely ignored among New Orleans residents compared to the more dramatic and violent results elsewhere, the increased Federal scrutiny was often focused on well-known “houses of ill repute”. Federal snoop Isiodor “Izzy” Einstein personally infiltrated the Chateau (in disguise) and placed the establishment on his long list of violators; in 1923, Federal agents raided the house and arrested La Conçon under the Volstead Act.

A sympathetic local jury refused to convict her, but La Conçon realized that she had fewer and fewer ‘friends in high places’ willing to look the other way. Fewer judges, fewer lawyers, few man of politics and business came by on a regular basis. One focused maritime lawyer whose company she especially enjoyed told her that office was expanding and they were sending him to Texas- specifically to Galveston where a new waterfront area was being built. He was going to represent several oil companies against any maritime related lawsuits brought by injured maritime workers. She thought it strange that he would be representing the barge owners rather than maritime workers who really need the support of Texas lawyers familiar with maritime law. The big companies already have both representation and legal teams ready to defend them, while the workers are the ones with zero power and no representation.


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