HOW IT ALL BEGINS

Jean Louis ìColinî Fontenot (1686-1755) was born in France and came to America as a Sargent in the French Colonial Marines, assigned to Fort Toulouse, near Montgomery, Alabama. There, he met and married Marie Louise Henry (1700-1767) in 1726. They had a large family at Fort Toulouse and apparently all their sons became soldiers and all their daughters married soldiers.

One daughter, Marie Therese Fontenot, born 1746, met a soldier, Jean Baptiste Laubel, (born 1740 in Alabama) and were married at Fort Toulouse in 1760. Her father had died earlier in 1755. In 1763, the Treaty of Paris ended the French & Indian war. The land called West Florida, which included southern Alabama, was ceded by France to England.

The French soldiers abandoned their forts before the British arrived, and most went to New Orleans. The French government was promising land to French citizens that relocated. In 1764, they were also handling the Acadian exiles who were also arriving. The government saw the need for farming communities along the river to supply food for the growing population of New Orleans. Spain had actually received ownership of Louisiana from France in 1762, but did not take over control until 1766.

Jean Baptiste and his young wife at this time (probably) received a grant for a 6 arpent by 40 arpent plot in St. John the Baptist parish. Not much is known about this time. They did build a small house and did some farming (probably rice). They did have two sons, Jean-Baptiste in 1773 and Louis in 1774. Also, in 1774, there was tragedy as Jean-Baptiste died on July 4. Marie Therese maintained ownership until her death on Nov. 26, 1806.

The 6 arpent lot was divided in half into two 3 arpent lots, each for the two sons. Jean-Baptiste,(junior) had married Catherine Conrad in 1802. She was the daughter of Andre Conrad, their next door neighbor. Louis had married Leonide Vicknair in 1800.

In 1810 Louis sold his 3 arpent lot to Christome Borne. Jean-Baptiste, Jr. sold his lot, on the downriver side to Antoine Borne, Christome’s brother. These two lots were upriver from the property of Jean Borne, another brother, who had purchased his property about 20 years earlier.

The Laubels (now being spelled Lobell) then moved to St. James parish, then to Ascension parish. The last record of Louis is of him living in Livingston in 1840. Jean-Baptiste was living in French Settlement in 1820. His son Adam served as sheriff of Ascension parish in 1859-1865. Adam’s home is still standing.

Christome Borne was born in 1781 in Edgard. His parents were Jacques Antoine Borne and Anne Marie Haydel. In 1805 he had married Marie Cambre from Lions. Then in 1810, he purchased Louis Lobell’s property. They had five children at that time. Christome enlisted in the military in LaBranche’s 5th Regiment during the War of 1812 (1812-1815). However, from 1811 to 1818, they added another six children. He apparently did not see much fighting.

In 1815 after only five years on the property, Borne sold it to Jean-Baptiste Fleming and Jeanette Teiner, both free persons of color. The Bornes then moved to Plaquemine, in Iberville parish according to the 1820 census. Christome died in 1823 at the age of 42. He was buried in Edgard. Marie died in 1853 and was also buried in Edgard.

 

PART 2

It is now 1815 and the property is owned by Jean-Baptiste Fleming and Jeannette Teiner(Teinter). Jean was born in 1792, but that is all we know about these two prior to this time. The pair purchased the property for $3500 and then purchased the upriver, 2 arpent lot containing a small house, rice mill, and other buildings. They remodeled the main house and added other improvements.

After only six years, they sold the property to brothers, Francois and Elise’ Rillieux, two Free Persons of Color. The brothers offered $12,300, a sizable profit and an offer that could not be refused. The Rillieuxs’ father was white, his father born in France. Their mother was possibly a freed slave, or mixed blood. Francois was married to Amelia Picou. Elise married in 1826 Palmire Wiltz, another free person of color.

At this point the House story usually continues with Francois dying in 1827, and Elise’ selling his half of ownership to Francois’s widow. However, I want to diverge and discuss the relationship of Jean-Baptiste Fleming and Elise’ Rillieux. These two free men of color, less than two years apart in age, worked together for several years in buying and selling real estate. We are not sure when this partnership started, but it may have been before or during Fleming’s ownership of the Reserve plantation.

These two did not seem to be actually interested in any long term, farming venture, but making profits from agglomerating properties into plantation sized operations. Francois on the other hand seemed to be more interested in actual ownership of the plantation. We will not know, due to his early death.

In 1828, Elise’ was purchasing properties west of Reserve and sold these in 1830 as what would become San Francisco plantation. He made a sizable profit, doubling his investment. At this same time he and Jean-Baptiste together bought properties in Bayou Goula. Jean-Baptiste also bought adjoining properties on his own. Elise’ sold his interest to Jean-Baptiste, but Jean only broke even on the sale. This plantation was later named “Tally-Ho”. By 1834, Jean-Baptiste was bankrupt.

Before we move back to the Rillieux years, we will finish with Fleming. He died in New Orleans July 6, 1852. His succession papers list a sole heir as daughter Jean Marie Fleminette Fleming. (I kid you not). She was married to Arnaud Ramare. Inventory of his belongings only consists of a wooden bed, armoire, suspenders with silver buckles, bureau, gold watch with chain, and miscellaneous items. Guess he never recovered from losing it all in real estate.

Elise’ in later years did a little better, but was by no means a wealthly landowner. The 1850 census has him, wife and 6 children in New Orleans. Property value is listed at $3,600 and his occupation is listed as ‘livery stable’. Does he own one or work there? In 1865, just after the war, he is a director in “Office of the Association in Aid of the Freedmen, for the City of New Orleans”.
In 1880, the census has Elise’ at 88 years old, wife Palmire at 73. Living with him are his son, Adolphe and his family. His occupation is listed as ‘horse dealer’. Elise’ died April 8, 1888.

Now let’s get back to the House in 1827.

Continued.