New Orleans Public Library
|Administrations of the Mayors of New Orleans|
Joseph Valsin Guillotte (1850-1917)
Joseph Valsin Guillotte was the thirty-eighth Mayor of New Orleans. Born in Jeffersosn Parish, Louisiana, June 29, 1850, the son of William Guillotte and Pauline Schexnaidre Guillotte, he moved with his family to New Orleans where they settled in the Ninth Ward and he was identified with that section of the city thereafter.|
He began his career as a clerk and his remarkable skill as a penman is always spoken of by those who remember him. He first sprang into prominence as a leader of the White League and Commander of one of the companies that took part in the battle of September 14, 1874 which overthrew the Metropolitan Police and ended the carpetbag rule in Louisiana. His services on that occasion have never been forgotten.
He was City Comptroller during the Behan Administration and succeeded Behan in office, serving as mayor of the city from 1884 to 1888. After completing his term as mayor, he was admitted to the bar, passing the examination before the State Supreme Court. He practiced law for several years as a member of the firm of Kerr, Duvigneaud and Guillotte. He also was a member of the State Senate during the Foster and Sanders Administrations and was serving as Assistant Secretary of the Police Department at the time of his death.
During his administration the Cotton Centennial Exposition was held here. This exposition which was a success in every respect, except financially, was the direct cause of drawing the people’s attention to the upper portion of the city, known as Carrollton, as a desirable residential section and immediately after the exposition a movement was started to build up that vast area, with the result that New Orleans gained very greatly in population and attractiveness. He also headed the delegation which brought the Liberty Bell to New Orleans for the exposition. The only landmark remaining today of Carrollton as an incorporated town in Jefferson Parish, is the Courthouse erected in 1855. This building was converted into a public school and is known today as McDonogh School No. 23.
In 1884, the old records particularly stressed the poor illumination of the streets and the limited Board of Health facilities; also the fact that the city was policed in a manner which made discipline impossible. The sensational Murphy murder, will not soon be forgotten. At that time Murphy was employed by the Department of Public Works. Through the ability of District Attorney Lionel Adams, the guilty men were hanged, but as they had been given poison while in jail they were practically dead on the day of their execution.
Mr. Guillotte married Ezilba Bernard, daughter of John B. Bernard and Camille Robert Bernard. The death of his wife on January 14, 1917 caused him to grieve so greatly that it impaired his health and he died June 24, 1917 at the age of 67, survived by four sons and three daughters. The funeral was conducted from his residence, 3155 Burgundy Street, and he lies buried in the St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery.
|Members of the Guillotte Administration|
April 29, 1884-April 23, 1888
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