Vial Era

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Leon C. Vial, Sr. (1878–1939)
Leon C. Vial, Sr. (1878–1939).

Early in the century, a young man would emerge on the political scene as a member of the House of Representatives and then parish assessor. Finally in 1916, at the age of thirty-eight, he would become sheriff for 22 years until his death in 1939. He was Leon C. Vial, Sr., whose ancestry could be traced back to the mid-1600s in Rhone, France.

The family migrated over the centuries to Mexico and later to St. John the Baptist Parish. Sheriff Vial was succeeded in office by his widow, Marie Keller Vial, who completed her husband’s term. In 1940, Ralph Dubroca was elected sheriff, serving one term in the Vial era until 1944. Dubroca was married to Shirley Tinney, granddaughter of the late Sheriff Vial. In 1944, Leon C. Vial, Jr., son of the former sheriff, was elected to the position and served five successive terms for twenty years until 1964, when the Vial era ended after nearly fifty years of public service. Many members of the Vial family continue to hold prominent local, state, and federal government positions well into the 21st Century.

The Vial House on Fashion Plantation property was built about 1900 by local luminary Leon C. Vial, Sr. The Vial House is currently owned by Leon C. Vial III and his wife, Mary Janet Vial. Following his grandfather and father into public service, “Sonny” Vial has served as assistant district attorney and parish attorney for many years. His brother, the late David Vial, served as parish coroner for years.

Sheriff Election Handout
An election handout shows Vial, Sr., running for sheriff. (Courtesy of the Suzanne Friloux collection)
Newspaper Account of Sheriff\'s Death
A newspaper account of Sheriff Vial’s death. (Courtesy of the Suzanne Friloux collection)

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