Francois and Elise’ Rillieux

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.