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.
John James Audubon
Jean-Pierre Hippolyte Basterrèche
Jean Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe
Xavier Blanchard de Bray
Jérôme Napoléon Bonaparte Jr.
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
Bishop Jean-Antoine Forest
Benjamin D. Foulois
Louis Juchereau de St. Denis
Jean B. LaCoste
Alexis Latourette (photographer)
Frédéric Leclerc (wrote history of Texas)
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
Antoine Eugène Pierrot
Prince de Polignac
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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