TEXANS

FRENCH TEXANS
Given the close connections between New Mexico and Texas throughout history, and the extensive traveling across the American West and Southwest by pioneers, explorers, traders and soldiers, I have included below a preliminary list of the French in Texas.

The French were early traders with the Indians and Spanish in Texas. The La Salle expedition landed near Matagorda Bay in 1685, but La Salle was murdered by his own men and the expedition ultimately failed. Three of his men, Grolet, l’Archeveque and Meusnier ended-up in New Mexico. Grolet and L’Archeveque founded family dynasties famous to our days.

After the Louisiana Purchase in 1805, many Frenchmen came to Texas to escape Anglo-American domination. The early French settlers included Creoles, Cajuns, refugees from the slave uprisings in Santo Domingo, and émigrés from the French Revolution. These immigrants were politicians, farmers, businessmen, slave traders, pirates, and soldiers.

Below are a few Frenchmen of Texas (this list is obviously incomplete, I will be delighted to add names that you might suggest to me). I have not included the many French names of the Champ d’Asile (in 1818, 20 French Bonapartist veterans of the Napoleonic Wars established a short-lived colony in Texas, the Champ d’Asile, in the hopes of rescuing Napoleon from St. Helena and making him emperor of Mexico).

The sources for most of these names are from (1) Eugéne Maissin, The French in Mexico and Texas, 1838–1839 (Salado, Texas: Anson Jones Press, 1961), Texas State Historical Association; (2) François Lagarde, editor, The French in Texas,  The University of Texas Press, 2003;  (3) Rex H. Ball, The French Texans, The University of Texas, 1973, and (4) Twentieth century history of Southwest Texas, vols. 1 and 2, Lewis Publishing Company, 1907.

Virginia H. Taylor’s book, The Franco-Texan Land Company (University of Texas Press, 1969) includes many French names related to the history of Texas from about 1850, they are not (yet) included below.

In response to viewers’ demand, I am progressively adding notes under the names. Contributions to these notes would be greatly appreciated.

William Alley
John James Audubon

Louis-Michel Aury
Governor of Texas in 1817. Other Frenchmen in the new government included Durieux, Governor and Military Commandant; John Ducoing, Judge of Admiralty; Pereneau, Major du Place; Rousselin, Adfministrator of Revenue; and Jean Jannet, Marine Commandant.

Jean-Pierre Hippolyte Basterrèche
Jean Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe

Jean-Louis Berlandier
French naturalist and explorer in northern Mexico and Texas between 1826 and 1852.

Xavier Blanchard de Bray
Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte Jr.

Joseph Blancpain
(?–1756). Joseph Blancpain was a French trader of Natchitoches, Louisiana, whose activities in Texas heightened bad feeling between France and Spain in the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1754 Blancpain, Elias George, Antonio de la Fara (Antonio Dessars), and two black men from Louisiana were caught by Lt. Marcos Ruiz trading among the Orcoquiza Indians in Spanish territory. The Frenchmen’s stock of goods was confiscated and divided among their captors; their huts were given to Chief Calzones Colorados; and they were taken to Mexico City and imprisoned. Blancpain testified that he lived on a plantation near New Orleans and that he had been licensed by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, governor of Louisiana, to trade for horses among the Attacapa Indians. A list of his goods showed him to be furnishing the Indians with firearms, and his diary caused the Spanish to believe him to be an agent for the French government. On February 6, 1756, Blancpain died in prison in Mexico City.

Paul Brémond
Ernest Carlin
Henri Castro
René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
Victor Prosper Considérant
Joseph De La Baume
Pierre-François de Lassaulx
Auguste Guy de Vaudricourt (painter)
Father Emmanuel Domenech
Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois de Saligny
Bishop Claude Dubuis
Father Claude-Marie Dubuis

Durieux
See Aury entry.

John Ducoing
See Aury entry.

Bishop Jean-Antoine Forest
Benjamin D. Foulois
Frédéric Gaillardet
Théodore Gentilz
François Giraud
Honoré Grenet
François  Guilbeau

Jean Jannet
See Aury entry

Louis Juchereau de St. Denis
Powhatan Jordan
Nicolas Labadie

Jean-Baptiste LaCoste (1823-1887)
Jean-Baptiste LaCoste was an entrepreneur instrumental in the development of the Santa Rita mine in New Mexico and other businesses in Texas. Born in Gascony, France, in 1823, he immigrated to the United States in 1848, landing first at New Orleans and then moving to San Antonio, where he founded the first ice plant in Texas. He moved to Matamoros (a Mexican port city just across the Texas border) to serve Emperor Ferdinand Maximilian of Mexico, and after the French defeat returned to San Antonio and began rebuilding his economic fortunes. He was part of an interconnected group of Texas merchants of El Paso and San Antonio, who supplied the west Texas and New Mexico military posts and settlements. The firm Sweet & LaCoste worked with many of the prominent businessmen of the times. In the spring of 1862, the mine shipped copper via Mexico to the mouth of the Rio Grande, where LaCoste had become a broker of Confederate cotton and other contraband bound for Britain, and was afforded protection by the Confederates during their retreat in 1862. During the remainder of the war, LaCoste lived in Matamoros  and shipped confederate cotton via Mexican ports. James Sweet and Jean-Baptiste LaCoste ended their days as revered pioneer San Antonio businessmen, dying in 1880 and 1887 respectively. LaCoste, a city in Medina County, Texas, was named in his honor in 1898.

Jean Laffite
Charles Lallemand
Alexis Latourette (photographer)
Frédéric Leclerc (wrote history of Texas)
Leon LeComte
Théodore Léger
Charles Marion Lesueur
Michel and Pierre Ménard
Jean-Baptiste Merion (from Castroville)
Athanase de Mézières
John Monier and descendants (from Castroville)
Bishop Jean C. Neraz
Bishop Jean Odin
Pierre-Marie François de Pages
Snider de Pellegrini

Pereneau
See Aury entry

Antoine Eugène Pierrot
Prince de Polignac
Henry Raguet
Louis Rose
Rousselin
See Aury entry

François Simars de Bellisle
Pierre (Pedro) Vial

The census of 1850 showed 647 French-born men in Texas; that of 1860 listed 1,883; in 1930 10,185 persons. In 1990 there were nearly 600,000 people of French descent in Texas.

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One Response to TEXANS

  1. Charla Hawkes Vinyard says:

    My great, great grandfather, Jean Baptiste Merion, came to Texas with Henri Castro, to become a citizen of the United States, Texas and Castroville, Texas, through New Orleans on February 7, 1849, where he met and married my great-grandmother, Brigitta Koenig, in 1851, who was born in Texas. Jean Merion was a stonemason and a farmer, and he designed and oversaw the building of the aqueduct system for Castroville and the Catholic Church. He personally built the bell tower on the church.

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