Emma Mille Duperier

Survived 1837 – 1936

Plaquemine, Louisiana

Zoe Emma Mille was born in Plaquemine, Iberville Parish, Louisiana on October 10, 1837, to sugar planter and French native Pierre Thomas Mille and his wife, Marie Pauline Dupuy.

Her family owned a summer cottage and spent summers vacationing at Isle Dernière.

Emma was struck in the head by a piece of timber as her home collapsed and blew away. She fell asleep floating, resting on the same piece of timber that struck her head. When she awoke, she was on the sand, naked and badly injured surrounded by the dead and entangled in debris.

Some slaves nearby recognized her as Thomas Mille’s daughter, so they found Richard, her father’s servant, in the hull of the Star. Hurt and weak, Richard carried Emma back to the boat so she could receive medical attention. Dr. Alfred Duperier sewed up a big gash on her head and left side. She then learned that her brother, Homer, his wife, Althee, and their baby were dead; her guest, maid, and parents were also lost.

Emma and Dr. Alfred Duperier, who cared for her injuries from the storm, fell in love and married just months later in December 8, 1856.

She was also the last survivor of the Great Storm of 1856 to die.

Memory

“After our house gave away, there was no human voice. I drifted in that black swell all night clinging to the very piece of the house that had fallen on my head. Logs struck against me with the force of battering rams. It was then I heard Altea call, ‘Mamma. Look at Mamma.’ And there was my mother standing on wreckage. Someone was throwing her a rope. This was my imagination, of course. A vision. For I was paralyzed and totally alone in the gulf. You may think it strange, but I felt no fear. It never occurred to me that any of us could be killed. It was then I fell asleep with my face and chest on that piece of timber.”