[Dixielandjazz] The Bocage family

Brian Harvey brer.rabbit at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Oct 1 12:59:57 PDT 2004

Brian Wood in his amazingly valuable book "The Song For Me" writes......

The firm of O. J. Bocage & Sons, boat builders, was well established in
Algiers by the end of the nineteenth century. The boatyard was on the 500
block of Powder Street facing the river, with the family living in adjacent
residential accommodation. The senior member, Octave Janvier Bocage, was
born in Algiers on April 1, 1835. He and his wife Germine110 (née Gayot) had
no fewer than 21 children, two of whom, Leopold Bocage (born 1857) and
Octave J. Bocage Jr. (born 1871), were partners in the business. Although
Leopold was christened as such he rather confusingly went by the name of
“Paul”. He married Emilie Lamothe in 1885 and witnesses were Jules and
Joseph Manetta of another famous musical family. The children of Paul and
Emilie were the famous musicians Peter, Henry and Charles. And in yet
another musical twist their daughter, Lillian, married Lorenzo Tio. Lillian
and Lorenzo took Charles Bocage to live with them after they married. There
were other musicians in the family: Wilfred played sax and Leonard, was a
guitarist. Leonard Bocage, born in Algiers, Dec 14, 1897 was the son of John
A. Bocage, so was first cousin to Peter, Henry and Charles. An e-mail from
Kevin Herridge (12/11/02) supplies the following: I just went to do a short
interview with Albert Bocage who lives at 923 Verret St. (Henry Allen, Sr.’s
former home) Albert was born in Algiers on Nov.29th, 1919, his father being
Leonard Bocage and mother Rosalie Bellaire. His
grandfather was John Bocage. Leonard played guitar, banjo & drums and played
with Kid Thomas and a couple of bands over the river and the Creole
Serenaders. He was born Dec.4, 1897 and died Sept. 1976. Last address was
1002 Vallette St. and also lived at 1213 Belleville St.
He came up with “Red” Allen and bought him his first pair of long pants so
that he could get into gigs and look older. They all lived by the “Canal”
(an open ditch that ran along Lamarque St.) Albert went to dances at the
Greystone Voters League (I saw the Nevilles there in the 60’s), the Masonic
Hall (James Rivers was a regular performer there), Elk’s Hall (local bands)
and Kohlman Hall (where he was a barman). Interestingly the birth
certificate of Leopold (aka Paul) has on it the declaration by Octave Bocage
that “on June 25th, 1859, was born at his residence a male child named
Leopold Boucage”. This could be a spelling variation but I suspect it an
error introduced by the pronunciation of Bocage. I am indebted to Kevin
Herridge and The Algerine for all this information. Lately I have noticed a
reference to Frank Bocage in IHYK in a piece on Bobby Mitchell a singer from
Algiers. In 1950 he formed a group called The Toppers which included Lloyd
Bellaire, Frank Bocage, Gabriel
Fleming and Gabriel Butler. Later, Milton Batiste, David Grillier and Ed
Foucher played with them.

If anyone would like to know more about this book, please contact me and
I'll put you in touch with Brian.

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