Excerpted from "Colonial Mobile", Peter J. Hamilton (Houghton, Mifflin
and Company, 1897)
Chapter XVI: Some Old Families
By the middle of the century, the Mobile country had been well-explored
and settled, both about the sound and bay, and far up the rivers, too.
Indian disturbances would play their part, but names would remain even
when some of the plantations were abandoned.
Almost all the names about Mobile, particularly of the watercourses,
were given by the French, and are found on their maps and in their
private and public documents. Strange to say, the Tombechbé is
not on many French maps. It is almost always called Mobile River,
-- so on Homann about 1720, Dumont, Du Pratz 1757, and others.
Sometimes it is named for the Chickasaws among whom it rose, and
by the English Coxe for the Choctaws, but only occasionally
it received the name Tombechbé, which became usual under
British. The Alabama, however, almost uniformly was called
des Alibamons, except by Coxe 1722, who names it Coza,
Delisle is the real founder of modern geographical science, and
his maps of Louisiana, for instance 1703, are valuable. Danville's
map of Louisiana, 1732-52, is for Mobile points the best
of all. It calls for Baye de la Mobile, has Pte. de la Mobile,
and the now familiar Bay Minet, Ecor Rouge, R. aux Poissons (low
down on which some maps give a waterfall), Isle Dauphine, with Islets
aux Grand Goziers out towards the channel entrance, and our Little
Dauphine Island is Isle A Guillori, with I. aux Herons nearer
aux Huistres. There is also Pts. aux Pins, and R. A Derbane
is not yet changed to La Batterie. Les Jones (grass islands)
show the breakwaters of Portersville Bay, but Isle aux Herbes
(Coffee Island) is not given, nor the Pass a Barreau to the
east. The bay at Choctaw Point is marked two fathoms, and all below
is three, -- an improvement on Delisle's two and a half.
seems nearer Gross Pte. , but Bellefontaine between Rivieres
aux Poules and Chevreuil and R. aux Chiens are the same.
Bienville in our Garrow's Bend we have seen, but
Sauvagé with two village marks, one on each side of Dog River,
at different places, would seem to point to the Choctaws, whom Bienville
had transplanted there.
Of the people, we of course know more of the residents of Mobile
town, but, besides Boissy near Toulminville, the Baudins
on Miragounae or Mon Louis Island, and the Carriers
over near Bay Minette, we find traces of some of the many settlers
up Mobile River still mentioned even after the change of flag.
Many of their names are lost to us, but, as a southern Acadian race,
they tilled the river banks, and the smoke from homes of thrifty
settlers rose amid the figs and vines from Mobile up
beyond the fork of the rivers. Gayety was not lacking, and pirogues
carrying pleasure parties would pass the farmer or the hunter taking his
products to town, or hail the solemn Indian in the bayous.
We should naturally expect to meet them mostly about the bluffs, not
on the swamp lands predominant below Twenty-one Mile Bluff, and
so it was. This, the first highland, was occupied by Beauchamps,
who sold to Grondel, for whom the plantation was called St. Philippe,
and a little promontory almost making up a part of it is even yet sometimes
called La Prade. Lizard Creeks across in the delta were long named
for Beauchamps, and Bayou Registe a little above we have
noticed as at least certainly French. Creek Dubrocas, including
the Brus, have long lived near Twenty-one Mile Bluff, although
grand places B. Dubroca, south of Bayou Sara.
About the site of the old fort we do not find settlers, but the
well-known La Tours seem to have been near the river bend a mile
above. Bayou Mathieu across in the delta may commemorate
the curé of this name, and Krebs Lake perpetuates some one
of that family.
The De Lussers, at the close of the French period, certainly
lived at the north end of the delta. Where the Tensaw leaves the
and Apalaches, one plan shows the Parenta, and not far away
Eleven leagues from Mobile, and therefore near what is now called
the Le Sueurs at one time had a plantation at a bluff on the west
side of the river. It was afterwards the property of
description, owing to court proceedings, has survived in some detail. In
1756 the house was new, thirty feet long by twenty wide, a filled-in
frame of posts, and roofed with bark. It had six windows and
two doors and a clay chimney, with a gallery at one gable;
there was also a lean-to (appentif) kitchen with chimney.
To one side was a chicken house, and to the right of the yard
(cour) a large structure sixty by thirteen feet, surrounded
by posts and piling, covered with bark, used as a lodging
for slaves. On the other side was a barn, twenty-five
toises square. The place faced on the river fifteen
by two deep, and across the river there was another
ten arpens across front by two deep.
To this time we must assign the adjacent Chastang settlement
Chastang's Bluff, still represented by the large and interesting
colored Creole colony who live in the vicinity. They claim descent
from Dr. John Chastang of Spanish times but really go back
to the French period, of which their patois is an interesting
reminder.The church registers give the history of some families quite in
detail, and of these it will be interesting to select for fuller notice
the Le Sueurs and De Lussers, whose out-of-town houses we
have just noted.
In the fascinating pages of Penicaut we learn of one La Sueur
who in 1700, went from Biloxi in charge of an expedition up the
the Falls of St. Anthony and to the Sioux west of our
Michigan in order to find a copper mine on Green River,
of which he had known in previous years. He had had a post on the upper
Mississippi in 1695, and discovered the
Minnesota, which he
named St. Peter River. These former expeditions must of course have
been by way of Canada. He had come to Louisiana on the voyage
of 1699, but had spent several years among the Sioux, and it was
on account of his knowledge thus acquired of the Indians that
so highly recommended him as suited to induce the vast resettlement
of nations which this leader planned. The Canadians slyly intimate
that the partiality was due mainly to their connection by marriage, Le
Sueur having married the other's cousin-german.
We do not know much more of Le Sueur , except that he spent the
winter at the north in his Fort D'Huillier, where his name is perpetuated
by a county in Minnesota, and in 1701 came back with thirteen hundred
pounds of green earth, which he sent to France. The result of the
assay Penicaut doe not know.
The church registers throw light upon the subsequent family history,
for it must be his widow, Bienville's cousin-german, whom we find
in 1708 as the mother of Jean and Marguerite, who act as
sponsors for a Barrand child. Next year the son's name is given
as Jean Paul, and a sister Marie is mentioned, who, by the
way, cannot write her name. Marguerite we find still mademoiselle
in 1722, but
Marie was two years before wife of Sieur La Tour,
captain of a company, probably the commandant of Fort Toulouse. La Tours
were later to have their residence on a plantation up in the Mobile
delta, although this one is mentioned, in 1727, as then major at
Six years before this, we find a Mr. Pierre La Sueur named as
officer of the garrison at Mobile, and then, years later, mention
of a Captain La Sueur whose full name is not given, and J. P.
Le Sueur seems to have been, perhaps casually, at Fort Toulouse
in 1736, when Pechon died. Whether the commandant at Tombechbé
was Jean Paul or Pierre must therefore remain uncertain,
but the dates well admit of Jean Paul's commanding in the twenties
Dauphine Island, and in the thirties and later up the Tombigbee.
We know that before his death at Mobile, in 1751, he was a major
as well as chevalier of the order of St. Louis. He must, therefore,
have been a man of experience in the service.
Another family worthy of study is that of the De Lussers.
It has been the romantic dream of antiquarians that the land owning
De Lusser was the widow of the gallant victims of Akia, and
that town-lots and, later, more extensive lands were grants in the nature
of a pension by a grateful sovereign. But the recitals of his heirs seem
to point to the husband surviving his wife, and enjoying what he (like
others of a more commercial epoch) put in his wife's name.
And yet there is good reason to believe that the romantic story is true,
and the family tradition is wrong
We have seen that Captain Joseph Christophe De Lusser was killed
at Akia in 1736, and there is nothing to point to any other De
Lusser in Mobile except his wife and children, unless a Captain
Joseph in the baptismal records be other than his son. His wife, and
widow, was Marguerite Bouras. They had three children. Of these,
Constance was born and baptized September 10, 1750; Marie Joseph
was another child, but her baptism has not been noticed in the church records.
She, like her sister, was old enough in 1734 to attest the baptism of a
son of engineer De Vin. On June 4, 1724, was born the third children
Jean Baptiste. He was ondoyé by Father Claude at the
time of his birth, but for some reason the baptismal ceremonies were no
supplied until February 4, 1735. Then they had a great time of it. Governor
Bienville was godfather to the boy, who bore his name of Jean Baptiste.
Dame Barbe Bienville was godmother, and among the dozen witnesses were
La Sueur and Beauchamps.
Captain De Lusser
was a a large slave-holder, and every now and
then the register shows he had one baptized. After his untimely death,
his widow continues to acquire slaves, and Mme. De Lusser had them
baptized. Sometimes her daughters act as godmothers or witness the ceremony,
- - as October 1, 1736, where Constance signs as godmother, and
March 7 of the next year, Marie, who always writes her pet name,
By 1737 we find J. B. Lusser, officer, witnessing a baptism in 1742
again as ensigne d'infanterie.
Constance became the wife of Captain Pierre Nicholas Annobal
Chevalier, Sieur De Velle, and April 17, 1740, we find young Lusser,
his mother, and several others witnessing the baptism of the first De
Velle child. Marie soon afterwards married Lieutenant Francis
Marie Joseph Hazeur, and their first child was baptized in 1742. Both
lived to raise large families, and ultimately moved to New Orleans.
We find no mention of children of Jean Baptiste, and the children
of his sisters Constance and Marie were to claim his property
on the ground that he left no direct heirs. But it would seem that the
property he was to leave was acquired of his mother, Marguerite Bouras,
for the land was given to the owner of the slaves, and the owner of the
slaves was the Akia widow, mother of Constance, Manon, and Jean
Baptiste. How he inherited from their mother we do not know, but may
well have bought out his sisters' interests when they moved away.
Suffice it, however, that the Mme. De Lusser, from whom came
De Lusser Tract and other hands, was probably the mother, not
the wife, of J. B. De Lusser.
Another prominent family was that of Francoise Cesar Bernoudy,
long garde magasin and royal attorney (procureur) at Mobile.
His wife was Louise Marguerite Belzagai. He was dead by 1757, when
she signs as Veave Bernoudy, but they seem to have had a large family.
A daughter called for her was wife of Captain J. B. Aubert, Francois
is named as cadet Suisse, and at the same time Mlle. Margeurite
Mlle. Francoise Bernoudy also appear in the church records.
"Endless genealogies" could be made of many city families, some noble,
some bourgeois, but these will suffice. Of families that will later meet
us, however, may be named Charles Rochon and his son Pierre,
Landry, Delalande, Jean and Simon Favre, Durand Duret, Jusan and H.
E. Krebs. Colored offshoots of the Bernoudy and Favre
families were to perpetuate those names in land grants. The Pechons,
Beauchamps, Mandevilles, and others of rank were to disappear with