Last Custodian Of Notarial Records For The Parish of Orleans

Stephen P. Bruno
Custodian of
Notarial Records

The last Custodian of Notarial Records for the Parish of Orleans was Stephen P. Bruno. Mr. Bruno is a New Orleans resident and practicing attorney in the New Orleans area. He is a graduate of Tulane University Law School. Appointed Custodian in January, 2004 by Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, Stephen P. Bruno was the last governor appointed custodian.

The Louisiana Legislature created the office of the Custodian in 1867.

At that time it instructed the Custodian of Notarial Records to "maintain a central office in the City of New Orleans in a fire proof building…." The Custodian was to "demand, take possession of, collect, keep and preserve in this office, the notarial records of notaries in the Parish of Orleans who have ceased to be such, either by death, removal or otherwise…" Since that time, the Notarial Archives has continued to grow.

Twenty persons have held the office of Custodian over the past 130 years.

The first Custodian was Andrew Hero, Jr. (1839-1914), a New Orleans native and notary who led a move to create a central repository for New Orleans notarial records after the Civil War. At this time many notaries had been forced out of business and their records were in danger of being lost. Hero became Custodian in 1867 and served in that capacity until John Bendernagel succeeded him. Hero's own notarial practice (87 volumes) began in 1865 and continued until his death in 1914.

John Bendernagel practiced as a notary until 1891, and was succeeded as custodian by John French Coffey. The next custodians were Martin Voorhies, Henry L. Garland, Jr., James J. McCann, Peter Stifft, Lyle Saxon, Frederick Deibel, Joseph F. Monie, and Harold J. Moore, followed once again by Peter Stifft.  All of these custodians were practicing notaries.

One of the most important twentieth century custodians was Rudolph H. Waldo (1944-1948 and 1952-1956), who oversaw and continued major book rebinding projects first undertaken by the Work Projects Administration during the late 1930s. Following the  term of Mr. Waldo, Charles A. Palermo served from 1948 to 1952 and again in 1956. Subsequent custodians have been Reginald T. Badeaux,  Jr. (1956-1972), Guy Wootan (1972-1981), Raoul P. Sere (1981-1984), Nat Keifer, Jr. (1984-1988), John Hainkel, III (1988-1992), Stephen P. Bruno (1992-1996), William L. Pratt (1996-2004), and Stephen P. Bruno, 2004 to date.

Louisiana law required  at first only that the Custodian should be a notary public qualified in Orleans Parish. Today the Custodian must be a duly-licensed practicing attorney at law in the Parish of Orleans and a member in good standing of the State Bar of Louisiana.