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PUBLISHED BY NEW ORLEANS EAST, INC. 1651 National Bank of Commerce Building New Orleans 12, Louisiana


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New Orleans East, idee

Copyright, 1959

Bisse, } J here there is no vision,

the people perish...”


Dedicated to men of vision, past, present, and future.


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SIGNATURE OF ST. MAXENT, first owner of the plantation, “... to a point called Chef Menteur...’ Document, in collection of Missouri Historical Soctety, is dated April 20, 1778. It is a recognizance for exchange of slaves with Auguste and Pierre Choutean.


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eAuthor’s Preface

This little endeavor came about by accident. The author was di- rected to prepare a summary of the history of the Maxent-Lafon-de- Clouet-Michoud-deMontluzin tract to accompany a development pros- pectus being prepared for its new owner, New Orleans East, Inc. He assumed that a comprehensive study was desired and plunged with zeal into the voluminous sources available on the broad sweep of history of this area.

However, upon producing this material, it turned out that only a one-page summary of past ownership was desired. The deed had been done. Upon examining it, enough enthusiasm was generated by officials of New Orleans East, Inc., to proceed with a limited publication of the fuller treatment.

The author is beholden to many for encouragement and assistance: Mr. James J. Coleman, Mr. Herbert Waguespack, Mr. Robert Atkinson, Mr. John Seeley, all of New Orleans East, Inc.; Mrs. Rosa Oliver and Mr. C. E. Frampton of the Louisiana State Museum; Miss Margaret Ruckert, Mr. John Hall Jacobs, and Mrs. Sue Baughman of the New Orleans Public Library; Dr. Garland Taylor, formerly Head of Libraries, Tulane University; Mr. Leonard Huber, collector, author, his collaborator, along with Warren Ogden, on the book, “Tales of the Miussisstppr’, published in 1955; to Mr. Samuel Wilson, Jr., a walking compendium, encyclopedia, and living archive on anything about the New Orleans area, and our outstanding architectural historian; to Dr. Vergil Bedsole, Head, Department of Archives, Louisiana State University; to Mr. Albert Lieu- taud and to Mr. Harold Leisure who have helped him find many treasures for his private collection; to Mr. Charles van Ravenswaay and Miss Dorothy Brockhoff of the Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis.

The author also wishes to acknowledge the permission of the Louisiana Landmarks Society to use several engravings from “Lowsstana Purchase’, published in 1953; and to thank Mr. Russel H. Riley of Harland Bartholomew and Associates, for his assistance.


Appreciation is expressed to Mrs. Frances Jacobs for making the index; and to Colonel R. E. E. deMontluzin for information about his ownership of the property.

He is especially indebted to Mr. Donald R. Ellegood, director of the Louisiana State University Press, for permission to quote the definition of “Chef Menteur” from one of the Press’ publications; and to Mrs. Joseph G. Quinn, Jr., sister of the late Dr. Caroline Burson, author of “The Stewardship of Don Esteban Miro’, a monumental book on the history of the colonial period of Louisiana. Interesting sidelights on the career of St. Maxent are contained in this book, and the gracious permission to refer to it is deeply appreciated. He is grateful to Mr. Edmund F. Hughes, General Superintendent, Sewerage & Water Board, and his staff for infor- mation about the early drainage of New Orleans. And finally, to the inimitable John Chase, author and cartoonist, for his invaluable sugges- tions, and for his flattering Foreword. A second edition of Mr. Chase’s delightful and informative ‘Frenchmen, Desire, Good Children, and Other Streets of New Orleans!’’, is being prepared for release at Christ- mastide.

RSS: New Orleans, September, 1959.


The Meaning of Chef Menteur

The name Chef Menteur was first applied in 1763 to a tract of land lying at the confluence of Bayou Gentilly, or Sauvage, and Chef Menteur Pass in Orleans Parish. Here are situated the ruins of Fort Macomb, which was originally named Chef Menteur. Across from Fort Macomb on the other side of the pass, is Chef Menteur, a station on the Louisville and Nashville Railroad.

Charles Gayarré thus explains the origin of Chef Menteur:

“What the Choctaws were most conspicuous for was their hatred of falsehoods and their love of truth. Tradition relates that one of their chiefs became so addicted to the vice of lying that in disgust they drove him away from their territory. In the now Parish of Orleans, back of Gentilly, there is a tract of land, in the shape of an isthmus projecting itself into Lake Pontchartrain, not far from the Rigolets, and terminating in what is called Point-aux-Herbes, or Herb Point. It was there that the exiled Choctaw chief retired with his family and a few adherents neat a bayou which discharges itself into the lake. From that circum- stance the tract of land received and still retains the appellation of Chef Menteur, or ‘Lying Chief’.”

N. Bossu gives a different version of the story. ‘Though they (Choctaws) are barbarous and ferocious,’’ he says, “it is necessary, in order to gain their confidence, to take great care to keep your promises to them, without which they treat you with the greatest contempt, proudly telling you that you are a liar, an epithet which the Indians have given to the present governor, whom they call ‘Oulabe’ Mingo’ i.e., ‘the lying ehiet«

As Bossu made the foregoing assertion at the fort of Tombigbee on September 30, 1759, the Choctaws must have been referring to Baron de Kerlérec, who was governor of Louisiana from 1753 to 1763. ‘“‘Oulabe’


Mingo”, which Bossu renders by “le Chef Menteur’, is intended for Choctaw “holabi miko’, “‘liar-chief’. The Choctaw for “lying chief’’ is “miko holabi’’. Ialeské-Chata, indeed, renders Chef Menteur by ‘‘Mingo- labee’’.

Bossu’s explanation of the origin of Chef Menteur is more convinc- ing than Gayarre’s. What connection, however, there was between Kerlérec’s standing with the savages and any particular locality in Lou- isiana is far from being clear.

From: Louisiana-French by William A. Read, Ph.D. | Louisiana State University Press, 19351;


THE NEW ORLEANS STORY began in 1699 with Iberville on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and continued with Bienville and the founding of New Orleans in 1718. The story began French, became Spanish for a while, blended into Creole and never has become a// American.

The physical city’s beginning was a little colonial town, with dozens and dozens of neighboring plantations just beyond its commons. Time passed. The colonial town grew into a city, and all of those neighbors— including the commons itself—became neighborhoods of one vast New Orleans comprising 365 square miles.

Each of these neighbors, as it joined the city, brought in with it not empty acres alone, but people—and stories and legends of other people it had known before. Thus, each came in with its history! It is this blending that has brought the rich flavor and spicy seasoning to the fascinating New Orleans Story.

The Faubourg deMontluzin, last neighbor to become an active neighborhood, is certainly not last in the number of its acres. Not with 32,000 of them! And its contribution to the New Orleans Story, as Ray Samuel unfolds it in the following pages, is similarly substantial. The accounts of St. Maxent, Lafon and Michoud are notable acquisitions to the New Orleans Story, and Mr. Samuel has performed a most com- mendable introduction to them here. I knew something about Lafon, whom I consider foremost among 19th century city planners of New Orleans, but about all I knew about Michoud was that most of the time his name had been spelled wrong. As for St. Maxent, I wasn’t even sure how to spell him.


. to a point called Chef Menteur” will prove interesting to everybody interested in New Orleans. It has interested me.

Speaking of Chef Menteur, however, I find myself sharing Dr. Reed’s unenthusiasm for both Bossu and Gayarré’s explanations of this curious placename. In fact, I would throw out the testimonies of both in favor of much more convincing circumstantial evidence that Chef Menteur means simply Chief Deceiver. The stream is a tidal estuary of Lake Borgne and the open gulf, and its current deceptively flows back and forth with the tide. It flows fast, too; sometimes six knots or more.


To Bienville and the French-Canadian coureurs de bois who traveled these passes between the inner and outer lakes for years in birchbark and dugout canoes, such a current was decidedly a factor. There were several lesser passes with this deceptive current, but here was the chief one—the Chef Menteur.

Add to this all the other definitive names given by these practical woodsmen—Long Point, Grassy Point, Alligator Point, Shell Point, Little Lake, Big Island, Heron Bay. Such names are simply landmarks; they were characteristics of the localities. Even the Rigolets means ‘‘the drains” of the inner lakes.

Chef Menteur is part of this pattern. It is surely a name as old as the others. Perhaps many a night Bienville and his companions camped on its banks, when the current was against them. Perhaps, indeed, this founder of New Orleans was thus an itinerant settler on these lands of New Orleans East, Inc., before he ever founded the city—on these very lands that are last to be settled!

It’s very possible. I’m sure Ray Samuel will agree.

JOHN CHASE August, 1959


loa point called Chef Menteur ...”

« Bor every house 1s builded by some man, but he that built all

things is God.”


a Bee lawyer, there is perhaps nothing more deadly than the lay- man’s careless words. To a layman, there is likewise nothing duller than a lawyer’s involved rhetoric.

Yet, even the layman will admit that, buried beneath the lawyer’s mountain of fly specks, an interesting story is often hiding. All the layman needs are patience and perserverance to find it.

So, when a stroke of a pen on a three-page document changed the name of Faubourg deMontluzin to New Orleans East, Inc., all it took were the aforesaid patience and perserverance on the part of a party of the third part, plus a small amount of romantic imagination, to make all ot it absorbing to somebody other than lawyers and the parties represented.

Viz., i.e., and to wit:

Before the Superior Council of the Colony of Louisiana, one day early in March, 1763, there stood a soldier of the King, Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, successful merchant of New Orleans, partner in the firm of St. Maxent and Lacléde. With a magnificent flourish, typical of the long line of French aristocrats from which he came, Sieur de St. Maxent handed a document to Governor Louis de Kerlérec.

“I beg your excellency,’”’ he said, “to consider my petition for a grant from the Royal Domain, as I humbly set forth.’’

Royal grants of land in the colony were issued to such well-placed men of high-born French parentage, soldiers and others who had served their King well in the New World. St. Maxent had already received

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land; this time he desired a certain tract near the capital of New Orleans.

Governor Kerlérec was a controversial figure in Louisiana history. A naval captain, veteran of many years of conflict at sea, with battle scars to prove his valor, he did not find the transition from quarter deck to governor's seat very easy. He would probably have been a good ad- ministrator, but he made too many enemies. He was accused, recalled to Paris and thrown into the Bastille, before being exonerated.

He was near the end of his régime on the day Sieur de St. Maxent stood before him. The governor picked up the document and examined it.

“The tract of land . . . petitioned for at the place called Chantilly (Gentilly) . . . from the boundary of the tract you have just granted M. du Fossat, to a point called Chef Menteur . . . which property I, Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, shall employ as a plantation...

As with such petitions before the Superior Council, this one of St. Maxent was taken under advisement, with the 18th century equivalent of “don’t call us, we'll call you”.

On March 10, St. Maxent stood once again before Governor Kerlérec. The petition had been granted. But not without a few if’s, and’s, and but’s.

First, within a year, St. Maxent must put the land to use as stated; that is, a plantation would have to sprout. Second, when Monsieur du Fossat would bring the roadway across his property to the border of St. Maxent’s, the latter must continue it all the way to “said point’, Chef Menteur, or as far as he may be able to go. Or else the King got it all » back. Also, the trees were reserved for building or repairing the royal ships.

These conditions being of little concern to the wealthy aristocrat, he agreed, and the patent was issued.

Thus came into being for the first time, this single tract covering some 34,500 acres, which was to pass down through nearly two centuries almost intact.

The location was an unusual one. Interestingly, mention of it by the early colonist antedates the founding of New Orleans. That is, it was a landmark of early explorations before the French had gotten around to establishing the capital of the colony at the familar bend in the Mis- sissippi River.

Louis de Phélypeaux, royal Minister of Marine, is perhaps the un- sung hero of it all. It was he and his family who interested themselves in doing something about the mighty territory which La Salle had added to the royal domains on his voyage of discovery from Canada to the mouth of the Mississippi in 1683.

Louis de Phélypeaux’ title was Count de Pontchartrain. Despite romantic assumptions that he was motivated by empire-building for his King, it is plain fact that his interest in exploiting Louisiana was one of extreme defensive tactics. From the East Coast, traders from British Charleston were pushing into the back country, and by 1698, their pack- horses had penetrated to the Mississippi. The English were actually claiming Carolina ‘‘from sea to sea’, including the Mississippi Valley.

Thus, Iberville’s expedition to find the mouth of the Mississippi and to build a fort there—coupled with Cadillac’s founding of Detroit and protecting that flank from the English—were purely defensive mea- sures to hold the French colony.

The Court’s choice of Pierre le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville was fortui- tous. He was the most distinguished colonial soldier of the New World, son of a Quebec family of the petty nobility. He became the first colon- ial to be commissioned in the French Navy, and distinguished himself in a naval engagement against the English on Hudson’s Bay. At the age of 38 when chosen to lead the expedition to Louisiana, he walked with a limp from an old leg wound.

Iberville selected his 17-year-old brother, Jean Baptiste leMoyne, Sieur de Bienville, and the Sieur de Sauvole as his chief lieutenants. The three ships of the expedition reached the gulf coast in January of 1699.

Examining the coast, Iberville moved on with his ships until Febru- ary, when they anchored at Ship Island. Here he switched to smaller boats. On February 27, two long-boats set out from the ships, carrying Iberville, Bienville, Sauvole, and 50 men. They entered the mouth of the Mississippi on March 2, and the next day being Mardi Gras, they camped at a bayou which was named for the religious holiday, and it re- mains Bayou Mardi Gras on maps to this day.

The expedition pushed on against the current, scanning the banks and making occasional friendly contacts with the Indians. They went beyond the present site of Baton Rouge, to a spot near Tunica Bend, before turning back. Below Baton Rouge, they stopped at the small outflow of the Mississippi called by the Indians ‘‘Manchac’, said to signify a “back entrance”. This is exactly what it was, a short cut to the

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Gulf, and Iberville decided to explore it. He sent Bienville and Sauvole back the way they had come, down the river, to rejoin the vessels at Ship Island.

The Manchac later became known as Bayou Iberville, and was fin- ally closed by General Andrew Jackson as a defensive measure. Out the Manchac went Iberville, coming to the two large lakes. He named them for the Phélypeaux family. The larger, he called Pontchartrain; the smaller, Maurepas, for the Count de Pontchartrain’s son and successor as Minister of Marine, Jerome de Phélypeaux, Count de Maurepas.

Although Iberville had instructions to build a fort on the Mississippi, he realized the danger from flooding and decided the first establishment should be on safer, more accessible ground. As he skirted the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, he almost selected a spot on its northern shore; but he sailed on out the Rigolets, and rejoined the ships, giving orders to start construction of the fort at Biloxi. Placing Sauvole in charge, with Bienville as second in command, Iberville sailed back to France for supplies.

In his brother’s absence, Bienville explored the coastal area, gain- ing knowledge of the country and making friends with the natives. He had been ordered to explore the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.

Bienville was a name-giver, too, but some of his were practical, names which could be of use to later explorers. After hunting “‘fifty wild animales”, buffalo and deer, at Bay St. Louis, he and his party continued on until they came to a pass which was covered with herons. Bienville named it ‘‘Passe-aux-Herons’’. Leaving the “sea”, they were directed by Indian guides to enter an inlet, arriving at a camping place on a small island which he named ‘‘Isle-aux-Pois’’—because they left on the island a sack of peas!

They broke camp early the next morning to avoid the stinging gnats and “‘maringouins’’, mosquitoes. Soon they entered Lake Pontchartrain by means of a “‘creek’’. So many shells did they discover that they named the entrance to the lake, “Point-aux-Coquilles’’.

Now we quote an eye-witness account: ‘“‘After one enters this water course and sails upward for a league and a half from the entrance, he finds at his left a point called Pointe-aux-Herbes; here we sheltered our long-boats . . .”

A grassy point it was, and Pointe-aux-Herbes it still is on maps of the Lake Pontchartrain region, including “. . . Chef Menteur Land’, the point so easily identifiable.

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Remember, this was 1699. It was not until 20 years later that Bien- ville was finally ordered to move the seat of government from the Gulf coast to a point on the banks of the Mississippi, at a place of his own choosing. He remembered a location on a bend, observed by Iber- ville on their first exploration of the river in 1699, which had a con- venient outlet at its rear, flowing into Lake Pontchartrain. This bayou Bienville had named for himself, St. John. A short portage, well-worn by Indians, linked the head of the bayou with the river's bank. Ideal spot!

In 1718, Bienville sent a detachment of fifty artisans to clear the bank on the Mississippi for a new capital. The land was indeed for- bidding. Looking back from the high ground near the river, all was impenetrable forest. Tall cypress swayed in the breeze, moss covered, trunk wet. The annual inundations of the river left swamp and marsh, cut up with thousands of small ravines, ruts, and pools of stagnant water. It took real vision to see a thriving metropolis growing from this mire. Maybe others were right when they had pressed for Manchac as the site, on nice, high ground.

It was named New Orleans, in honor of Philip, Duke of Orléans, Regent of France.

Things were rough in the first years of New Orleans. Not until 1721 did the settlement deserve that name. In 1728, Governor Périer was worried: “Whereas it is maintained that the diseases that prevail in New Orleans during the summer proceed from the want of air and from the city being smothered by the neighboring woods, which press so close around it, they shall be cut down as far as Lake Pontchartrain . . .”

Governor Périer also deserves a vote of thanks for another achieve- ment, his decree in 1727 that levees be built to protect the city from the river. During the floods, New Orleans was described as a vast sink or sewer. The waters of the river and the lake met at the high ground we know as Metairie Ridge. For drainage, a large ditch ran around each square of ground, and every lot of the city was also ditched, ‘looking like a microscopic Venice’’.

A wide ditch was dug in 1727 the length of Bourbon Street which helped to carry off the water into the outside moat, or canal.

Gradually, due to the need for space and the desire for estates on the part of distinguished and influential citizens, the land outside the original city, the Vieux Carré of Bienville’s plan, became habitable, arpent by arpent. More canals were dug, land cleared for planting and for country homes of the wealthy.

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One of the first to push beyond the confines of the city toward the east were the brothers Dreux. They received a large tract on Bayou Sauvage, and later named it Gentilly for a commune of the Seine in their native France. The names of Dreux and Gentilly became synonymous. Until du Fossat and St. Maxent received grants beyond the Dreux’, everything in that direction was called simply Gentilly.

Mathurin and Perier Dreux had come to Louisiana through the super-salesmanship of John Law, the perpetrator of the ‘‘Mississippi Bubble’. Mathurin, it is said, helped Bienville’s engineer, Le Blond de la Tour, lay out the city. These “Sieurs of Gentilly” were patricians and knew how to establish a dynasty. Their home and hospitality were famous.

A petition to the Superior Council of January, 1769, read: ‘“. .. The inhabitants of the coast of Gentilly (The Sieurs of Gentilly) have the honor to represent that a certain Bazillier, living on Bayou St. John, has for several years taken the liberty of going on the Gentilly grounds to kill cattle which he pretended were wild. A few years ago, by his own authority, he is said to have left some cattle at a place above Gentilly, called Chef Menteur .. .”

This depredation, claimed Dreux Pére, reduced his herd from some 800 to 80!

In connection with the future of ‘. . . a place above Gentilly...” we should note an interesting project to the south, between that location and the Mississippi River. Near the land which was to become the battle- ground at Chalmette, a prosperous planter named Pierre de la Ronde had bought a large tract.

The lovely de la Ronde plantation became an early landmark, noted for the beauty of its comfortable house and its luxurious tropical gardens. Upon de la Ronde’s death, the plantation was purchased by a syndicate with big ideas. They named the plantation “Versailles”. An engineer was engaged to lay out the property into a mighty real estate development. In 1834, a completed plan showed opportunities for pur- chasing large tracts for estates. A road would connect the Mississippi River with Lake Pontchartrain, and it was named Paris Road. The plan even envisioned a barge canal down the middle of Paris Road!

Versailles never got out of the ground. The only evidence remain- ing is Paris Road, still connecting river with lake, through the eastern extremity of Gentilly.

So, the idea of a large development to the east is not entirely new.

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To the east, then, is the direction in which St. Maxent looked for this royal grant. But who was Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent?

The St. Maxent family flourished in the last half of the 18th cen- tury in New Orleans, and surrounding territory. It left an indelible mark on the colony. And yet, like many aggressive and influential families of the French and Spanish periods, the name is forgotten. Only a short street, Maxent, perpetuates the name, appropriately enough just off the old Gentilly Road.

St. Maxent is important to our story as the first owner of the property. He is equally important to the history of Louisiana. Appa- rently, the name first appeared in Louisiana with the arrival of Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent from France, the exact date we can only attempt to reconstruct. He came from the town of Longy in Lorraine, which perhaps accounts for the Germanic sound of Maxent. It is of record that he was baptized in the parochial church of St. Dagobert, Diocese of Treves, on April 4, 1727. His father was Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, which explains several references to him as “‘Jr.’’. His mother was the former Elizabeth Le Cocq.

Assuming that he was baptised not long after birth, and that he was about 20 years old when he came to America, his arrival can be placed at about 1747. That is just two years before his recorded marriage in St. Louis Cathedral, August 31, 1749, to Elizabeth La Roche. The young couple set about producing one of the most unusual Creole families in Louisiana. Of nine children listed, six did especially well for them- selves. Gilbert III became an officer in the Spanish army when the colony came under that country’s rule; a daughter, Felicity, first married a d’Estrehan and soon became a wealthy young widow. She then married the dashing Don Bernardo de Galvez. She rode with him to the heights as he became the Governor of Louisiana, Viceroy of Mexico and of all the Indies.

Francois Maximilian de St. Maxent became Spanish Governor of West Florida, and later harassed Governor Claiborne of the U. S. terrt- tory of Louisiana. Josephine became the wife of another Spanish gover- nor of Louisiana, Don Luis de Unzaga y Amezaga, and later went with him to rule Venezuela. Pupon also married into the influential d’Estrehan family; and Celestino, a further military-minded son, became a captain of the Third Louisiana Regiment and was one of the Spanish defenders of the fort at Baton Rouge in 1810.

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- ext eked fords bree CURE.

PLAN OF THE CITY of New Orleans in the State that it was when His Excel- lency the Count O'Reilly took possession of it, (1768), by Carlos Trudeau, St. Maxent’s star ascended under the Spanish régime.

But it is the lovely daughter Felicity who is perhaps most enshrined. For her were named the parishes of West Florida, East and West Feliciana, the beautiful “Feliciana parishes’ of today.

The father of this illustrious Louisiana brood, Col. Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, was a mixture of brilliance and controversy. Like many influential French colonists, he made the transition from French to Spanish sovereignty with ease. In the revolution of the French hot-heads in 1768 against the first Spanish Governor, Ulloa, St. Maxent was one of those who called for moderation. Had he prevailed, bloodshed would have been avoided when O’Reilly came to avenge the insult to Spain. In fact, O'Reilly was so impressed with St. Maxent’s stand that he gave him a commission in the Spanish colonial army.

With that entré into Spanish good graces, coupled with the lucky marriage of his beautiful and wealthy daughter to the well-connected Galvez, St. Maxent’s light became a meteor. Galvez’ father was the King of Spain's closest adviser!

St. Maxent must have been a pretty good soldier, too, for he accom- panied his son-in-law in daring and successful military expeditions,

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notably the capture of the British forts at the Manchac and at Baton Rouge, and at Mobile and Pensacola. At the Manchac, St. Maxent was the first to storm into Fort Bute. The affluence of St. Maxent at this time is shown by his personally underwriting the soldiers’ pay and other expenses during a strain on the colonial purse.

In a long letter from Carlos III to Governor Galvez, dated October 31, 1781, the King recounts all of St. Maxent’s exploits and loyal services to the crown, conferring upon him the rank of ‘Commandant of the Military Forces in Louisiana, Lieutenant Governor of the provinces of Louisiana and Western Florida, and Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs of both provinces . .

On the surface, it seems that St. Maxent was firmly entrenched. But all was not well. St. Maxent had gained immense wealth, and he also was able to spend it with equal vigor. The father-in-law of the governor went to Spain and sold the King on allowing him to purchase for large sums of pesos, cloth, trinkets and other merchandise for the pur- pose of trading with the Indians and keeping them happy. He offered to advance these large sums from his own purse, and the King accepted. But all did not work as St. Maxent had anticipated. Deliveries were not forthcoming from Spain. Indian chiefs were disappointed. A wholesale mess ensued, and St. Maxent was fired as Indian Commissioner, with some well-founded accusations that his personal financial affairs were in

high disorder.

Meanwhile, St. Maxent had been dealing in a dozen directions. The same year he obtained the Chef Menteur grant, he also had negotiated an unusual franchise from the King of France. Together with his partner, Pierre Lacléde, “merchants of New Orleans’, they received the exclusive right to “Indian trade in the Missouri River valley and all of the country West of the Mississippi as far north as the St. Peters river...” A memoire of Jean Lacléde, brother of Pierre, in the National Library in Paris, tells the story of the expedition, which left New Orleans on August 3, 1763. Its purpose was to transport certain goods to a post which they would establish for the exploitation of their franchise. To make a long and highly interesting story short, the expedition resulted in the founding of the city of St. Louis!

From the valuable book, ‘The Stewardship of Don Esteban Miro”, by the late Dr. Caroline Burson, we learn many facets of St. Maxent’s accomplishments. For instance, she discloses that St. Maxent could make money at almost anything. By 1784 he had even licked the agriculture


THE MONTEGUT FAMILY, (Ca. 1790) by an Unknown Artist. This fine paint- ing depicts a typical wealthy family of the Louisiana colonial period. Dr. Montegut, right, a prominent physician of New Orleans, was retained by St. Maxent to administer to the health of his slaves.

problem. With the failure of indigo as a profitable crop in the colony, the plantation owners frantically tried other means of seeking reward from the soil. The perishable tobacco, beset by other hazards, didn’t work. Sugar had not come into its own, nor had cotton.

Yet, in 1784, St. Maxent had three profitable plantations going at the same time, working 167 negroes, with a diversified list of money crops, plus a stockfarm.

We also know that St. Maxent was a contractor of sorts. He was associated with his nephew, Guilberto Guillimard, architect of the Cabildo, the St. Louis Cathedral, and the Presbytére. St. Maxent, on his own, built Fort St. Philip in Plaquemines Parish under contract, and his succession discloses that he owned slaves still working there in 1794.

When it came to living, St. Maxent was supreme in the colony. Even the governor couldn’t touch him. His finances were often in

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extremely mixed-up condition. He was arrested for participation in a smuggling scheme, but due to his station, he was treated with deference and allowed to remain at home. After all, he was the father-in-law of Bernardo de Galvez!

The records of his lavishness, as gleaned by Dr. Burson from the yellowed pages of his succession, show how a wealthy planter lived in Louisiana. One of his homes was valued at 26,000 pesos. It was ninety feet long and forty feet wide, with a twelve-foot gallery surround- ing it. The records show that in 1789, St. Maxent sold a residence to the Captain of Militia, Lorenzo Sigur, “adjoining the so-called French Gate, having a frontage of seven arpents, and a two-story house with gallery around it and two flights of steps twenty-eight feet long and sixteen feet wide.’ The sale included “the tapestries which were fastened to the walls as well as the woodwork and mirrors of the fireplaces . . .”

According to Samuel Wilson, Jr., this house and plantation were later purchased from Sigur by the fabulous Marquis Pierre Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville. There he and his son, the even more amazing

A VIEW OF NEW ORLEANS taken from the plantation of Marigny, (1803) by J. L. Bouqueto de Woieseri. This print celebrates the acquisition of Louisiana by the United States. “Under My Wings Every Thing Prospers’ reads the banner carried by the eagle. Marigny’s plantation house was originally St. Maxent’s lux- urious home,

THE MARIGNY HOUSE, sketched before its demolition. St. Maxent sold it to Lorenzo Sigur, from whom the Marignys bought it. Here the future King of France was entertained.

Bernard, held princely sway. In this house the exiled Duke of Orleans, later King Louis Philippe, was magnificently entertained, and upon de- parture, was supplied with a munificent purse for his expenses. The house stood on the site now occupied by an electric generating plant, between Elysian Fields and Marigny St. The great plantation—extending from Elysian Fields Ave. to the Industrial Canal—was later incorporated into the city.

The house was also the New Orleans residence in 1803 of Pierre Clement de Laussat, prefect of Napoleon for Louisiana, who arrived to take over the colony from Spain, only to find it had been sold to the United States. However, he entertained here with colorful parties on the occasion of the double transfer.

At the time of St. Maxent’s arrest in 1784, an inventory was made of his estate, but so large was the task, that only the major pieces were listed. The above-mentioned plantation house was described. Also, a plantation with fifty negro cabins “adjoining the Santilly (Gentilly of the Dreux’) plantation”’ worth 20,000 pesos; a rum distillery worth 4,000 pesos; a plantation a half-league below the city on the other side of the river, 5,000 pesos; and a country place on Bayou St. John, a league from the city, 0,000 tpesOne. ten.

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Besides his slaves, said to be skilled hands all, his huge herds of cattle, his lumber and bundles of furs, he had two regal coaches com- plete with sparkling harness, and two gigs.

He had a mahogany billiard table, crystal chandeliers, silver candle brackets, a clavi (early type of piano), tables for playing chess and checkers, writing sets on mahogany tables, fifty dozen napkins with matching tablecloths, one hundred dozen pieces of fine china, porcelain and crystal, silver of the finest Parisian