Hyacinthe Henri E. Dedons, marquis of Pierrefeu, was born on September 27, 1762 and died at Auxerre on September 11, 1828. He married Gabrielle Élisabeth Joannis, Eugene’s aunt. From this marriage was born Émile Dedons de Pierrefeu. We know almost nothing about this marquis who, from at least the beginning of the French Revolution, no longer lived with his wife. Eugene mentions him once in a letter to President de Mazenod dated February 16, 1803. He said that the marquis came to Aix for two days. “He is compelled to leave France because he has found the means to run up as many debts in Paris as he has at Lyon and Aix.” He was more fortunate than President de Mazenod. Mrs. Dedons provided her husband with “a pension of 1200 francs.”
Mrs. Dedons, Gabrielle Elizabeth Joannis, Mrs. de Mazenod’s younger sister, was born on November 3, 1765. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Mrs. de Mazenod and her daughter, Eugénie, Mrs. Dedons and her son, Émile, caught up with President de Mazenod and Eugene at Nice at the beginning of 1791. They followed the de Mazenods to Turin in 1791-1794, then to Venice in the month of May 1794 until the beginning of 1795.
Upon his return from exile in 1802, in the Joannis family home at no. 2, Papassaudi, Eugene found his grandmother, his mother and his sister Eugénie, his aunt Dedons and his cousin Émile. Eugene was used to living in Sicily with his father and his two uncles, all very quiet and peace-loving. He suffered from living in the company of these three women. He found that his mother and especially his aunt were always agitated. On August 31, 1803, he wrote his father: “My grandmother cannot open her mouth without provoking a violent reaction from her younger daughter. If it was not for the manifest pain this causes my poor grandmother, it would be laughable. There are cries, howling, threats to cast herself headlong, charges of always being biased towards favouring her older sister, in short, all kinds of wild nonsense. In the most recent row, I was compelled to break open a door, pick my aunt up bodily from the floor and throw her down on a sofa, force some water down her throat, snatch up a large fan and fan her, and the most difficult thing was to keep from laughing when I saw my sister in the corner of the room making all sorts of faces.”
Nevertheless, on February 16 of that year, Eugene had admitted that he got along “very well” with his aunt. In 1805, he travelled to Paris in view of obtaining a passport for Sicily. It was his aunt who paid for the trip and accompanied him with his cousin, Émile. She died on June 6, 1807. On the 12th, Eugene communicated her death to his father: “In her, we lose a loving friend who had a mother’s love for us and whom my sister and myself loved more than one ordinarily loves one’s parents.”
Émile Dedons de Pierrefeu, Eugene’s cousin, often called “Carabotti,” was born in 1789. Upon his return to Aix, Eugene wrote to his father on November 5, 1802: “Émile is a good child and will not amount to much. Very spoiled by his mother, who is always ready to create a row when anyone seems inclined to consider her child is not well brought up.” On February 16, 1803, he added that Émile “is the dumbest creature on earth. He never has even one idea of his own. He is always repeating what his mother says and will never be anything other than a poor fool. He is peevish, guileful, self-centred, avaricious. He harbours the seeds of many vices. We are, however, good friends.”
Émile received his First Holy Communion on June 5, 1803 and for a few years had a priest as his tutor. In 1803-1805, he attended the school of a Mr. Topin, a school teacher in Aix. In 1805-1806, he attended boarding school at Stanislas college in the suburb of Saint-Germain in Paris.
In 1812, it was Eugene who, once again in Paris, found him a rich woman and carried out all the negotiations necessary for a marriage contract. His opinion of his cousin has changed at this time because, in presenting his cousin to the Demandolx family, he describes him as a “well-born young man with a revenue of from 9 to 10 thousand pounds, without a cent of debt, as well-ordered as a musical composition, well proportioned physically, and above and beyond all that, conducting himself well and holding the best principles of religion and honesty…” (letter to Émile, February 15, 1812)
The marriage of Émile with Amelia de Demandolx, the niece of the bishop of Amiens who ordained Eugene to the priesthood in 1811, was celebrated on September 29, 1812. The newly-weds went to live with the Demandolx family on Jeune Anacharsis street in Marseilles. They had a few children and grandchildren. In his October 5, 1859 entry to his Diary, Bishop de Mazenod states that he gave First Holy Communion to two grand nephews Dedons de Pierrefeu.
About 1815, Émile was aide de camp of a Mr. de Panisse, inspector of the national guard of Bouches-du-Rhônes. He inherited the property of the Joannis family at Saint-Julien near Martigues in Bouches-du-Rhônes and from the Dedons at Pierrefeu in the Var.
Yvon Beaudoin, o.m.i.