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 yet 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 number of people born French or of French descent in Texas has steadily increased from 700 in 1850, to nearly 1,900 in 1860, over 10,000 in 1930, to nearly 600,000 in 1990, statistics from “FRENCH,” Handbook of Texas Online, published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The sources for many 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.
John James Audubon
John James Audubon (born Jean Rabin; 1785 – 1851) was an American ornithologist, naturalist, and painter. Audubon was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti) on his father’s sugarcane plantation. He was the son of Lieutenant Jean Audubon, a French naval officer (and privateer) from the south of Brittany, and his mistress Jeanne Rabine, from Brittany. They named the boy Jean Rabin. Jean Audubon returned to France, and in 1791 he arranged for his two natural children (including John James) to be transported and delivered to him in France. The children were raised near Nantes in France by Jean Audubon and his French wife, whom he had married years before his time in Saint-Domingue. In 1794, they formally adopted both children. They renamed the boy Jean-Jacques Fougère Audubon and the girl Rose. When Audubon, at age 18, boarded ship in 1803 to immigrate to the United States in 1803, he changed his name to the anglicized form with which we are familiar: John James Audubon. He visited Texas in 1837.
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 (ca. 1805–1851), was an early naturalist, born before 1805 between Fort de l’Ecluse, France, and Geneva, Switzerland. He studied botany at the academy in Geneva. Chosen by DeCandolle to make botanical collections in Mexico, Berlandier he came to Mexico in 1826 to make botanical collections. He then joined, as botanist, the Mexican Boundary Commission, which left Mexico City on November 10, 1827. Berlandier made botanical collections around Laredo, Texas, in February 1828 and around San Antonio, Gonzales, and San Felipe in March, April, and May 1828. He settled at Matamoros, where he married and became a physician. He made further botanical and animal collecting trips in Mexico and Texas. During the Mexican War, he was in charge of the hospitals in Matamoros and served as an interpreter. He drowned in the San Fernando River near Matamoros in 1851.
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.
René Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle
Victor Prosper Considérant(1808–1893)
Victor Considérant, founder of La Réunion, a colony near Dallas, was born in Salins, France, on October 12, 1808. After a short service in the French army he resigned to devote his energies to popularizing and applying the utopian ideas of Charles Fourier. Considérant was one of the leading democratic socialist figures in France during the volatile revolutionary period of 1830 to 1850 and functioned as the international leader of the Fourierist movement. See full story athttps://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fco45
Joseph De La Baume
Pierre-François de Lassaulx
Charles Despallier died at the Alamo in 1836. He was born either i Louisian or in SAnto Domingo. The story of teh Despallier family is in Rasmus Dahlqvist book, From Martin to Dspallier, 2013, ISBN 978-1493603252.
Auguste Guy de Vaudricourt (painter)
Father Emmanuel Domenech
Jean Pierre Isidore Alphonse Dubois de Saligny
Bishop Claude Dubuis
Father Claude-Marie Dubuis
See Aury entry.
See Aury entry.
Bishop Jean-Antoine Forest
Benjamin D. Foulois
See Aury entry
Louis Juchereau de St. Denis
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.
Alexis Latourette (photographer)
Frédéric Leclerc (ca. 1810 – 1891)
Frédéric Le Clerc, physician and author, was born around 1810 in the Loire valley of France. He traveled to the United and visited Texas for several months in 1838 and wrote a treatise “Le Texas et sa révolution” which appeared in the Parisian periodical La Revue des Deux-Mondes (1840) and in book form (an English translation, Texas and its Revolution, was published in Houston a century later in 1950. Five hundred copies only were printed). A French copy of the book was auctioned $45,000 in 2007. The book is based in part with Le Clerc conversations with President Mirabeau Lamar. Le Clerc was chief physician of the General Hospital of Tours, France, from 1839 to 1871. Then, in the wake of the war of 1870 against Prussia which had ended in disaster for the French, he returned to the United States. Four years later, his wife, having not heard from him, asked for separation. A daughter from his first marriage was Marie Frédérique Jeanne Le Clerc, later known as Jeanne Goussard de Mayolle, a famous as traveler, author and public speaker. She wrote about her adventures with her husband in New Mexico in 1897, especially commenting on the Navajos, and gave numerous talks in France after her return. He died on January 3, 1891, in Bloomfield, San Juan County, New Mexico. His grave is the oldest in the cemetery.
Charles Marion Lesueur
Charles Marion Lesueur was a Captain in Sibley’s Brigade in New Mexico during the Civil War. He had come to Texas in the early 1850s, served as a member of the Texas Legislature and was a delegate to the Secession Convention at Austin in March 1861. After the war, he went back to Milam County, Texas, where he served as county treasurer for many years.
Michel and Pierre Ménard
Jean-Baptiste Merion (from Castroville)
Athanase de Mézières
Marcel Moraud (1886-1978) served as head of the Department of Romance languages at Rice University from 1924 to 1956. The Marcel Moraud papers consist of research notes, manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, photographs, publications, maps, and artifacts pertaining to Moraud’s scholarly research in French and Texas history, primarily in the areas of French exploration and settlements in Texas from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The papers also document his participation in events and projects pertaining to the French presence in early Texas. The Marcel Moraud Papers are at the Sam Houston Regional Library and Research Center, Texas State Archives.
John Monier and descendants (from Castroville)
Bishop Jean C. Neraz
Bishop Jean Odin
Pierre-Marie François de Pages
Snider de Pellegrini
See Aury entry
Antoine Eugène Pierrot
Prince de Polignac
See Aury entry
François Simars de Bellisle
Pierre (Pedro) Vial (1746?-1814)
Pierre Vial was born in Lyons (France). He was employed by the government in New Mexico in 1786-93 to explore possible trails between Santa Fe and San Antonio and Santa Fe and St. Louis. He is a legendary character and considered as the founder of the Santa Fe Trail.