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Re: Meuillon / Cheval?
In Response To: Re: Meuillon / Cheval? ()

I think you are close, but not quite right. In my opinion, here is the story. Surgeon Antoine Meullion (born circa 1701) owned the slave Marianne/Marie Jeanne (born circa 1737). While owned by Meullion, presumably after Meullion moves from Pointe Coupee to the German Coast, she is impregnated by Francois Cheval, officer of the militia at the German Coast, and gives birth to a son,Jean Baptiste (born circa 1765). Somewhere in the 1775 to 1777 time frame, Antoine Meullion dies and leaves the majority of his estate to his son, Louis Augustin Meullion, who by this time is Captain of the Militia at the German Coast. Promptly, and perhaps with his father's instruction, Antoine Meullion frees Marianne and her son Jean Baptiste on Feb 21, 1777. The emancipation requires, however, that Marianne (and Jean Baptiste?) serve Louis Augustin Meullion until his death.

Thereafter, circa 1782, the DeLaChaise/Villere estate is settled upon the sale of the estate assets. At the estate sale, Louis Augustin Meullion purchases a black slave named Angelique (born circa 1767). Angelique's father, Jacques,was purchased at the estate sale by Deslandes. Still on or around the Meullion properties due, perhaps, to the service condition of the emancipation, Jean Baptiste comes to have some form of relationship with Angelique out of which come two children: Eloise (born 1786) and Zemise (born circa 1791).

Sometime between 1782 and 1792, Deslandes or a subsequent owner frees Jacques (Angelique's father, who takes the name or goes by Jacques Villere in reference to his original owner. In 1792, Jacques Villere purchases, and presumably frees, his daughter Angelique. He does not, however, acquire or free Angelique's children. (Perhaps he lacked funds, refused to acquire them, was denied the right by Louis Augustin Meullion, or was blocked by the request of Jean Baptiste Meullion who by this time was established in the Opelousas area.)The following year, 1793, Marianne/Marie Jeanne (Meullion) dies and leaves to her son, Jean Baptiste, property in New Orleans which she apparently obtained from Louis Augustin Meullion. What appears to be the case is that any "service" restriction in her emancipation has been ignored or forgiven in that she is living in New Orleans. (If not, it is possible that she watches over Meullion's property in the city.) The next year,1794, in Opelousas, Jean Baptiste contracts to marry and does marry Celeste Donato, the sister of Martin Donato who is a prosperous mulatto in the Opelousas area. When he marries, Jean Baptiste identifies his father as Francois Cheval. Mere months after this marriage, Jean Baptiste travels to the German Coast and acquires, and presumably frees,his children by Angelique who return to Opelousas with him and his new wife. The next year, 1795, Jean Baptiste's children with Celeste begin to be born. Even there, one of the children of the marriage,Francois Cheval Meullion, maintains the naming duality and the Cheval lineage. By 1803, Eloise (who also uses Cheval name from time to time - undoubtedly because Jean Baptiste himself did so) marries Joseph Guillory in Opelousas and thus begins the merger of Meullion/Donato/Guillory families. Jean Baptiste is by now accumulating his own wealth in the Opelousas area. And thus the story goes.

What I find facinating about this story is the odd (to me) fact that Angelique's children get left behind and taken by Jean Baptiste months into his marriage to another woman. Apparently, Angelique stays with her father has seemingly has no further contact with Jean Baptiste or his/her children by slavery. Put simply, Jean Baptiste's mulatto/griffe(or whatever the designation) children were of value while his affair with the black slave Angelique was not. While it appears that I comment on that critically, I do not mean to for that was the reality of the times. Mixed blood and lighter blacks saw themselves as separate from (and better than) blacks and slaves. Anyway, that is for the sociologists.

The thing that apparently still bugs you, but not me, is the reference in various books to Louis Augustin Meullion as the father of Jean Baptiste. Simply put, it is safer to trust books for reported facts more so than for author conclusions or opinions. When Jean Baptiste himself identifies Cheval as his father and keeps the Cheval name going through children of two different women, the debate is over. I give credence to his statements and actions over author conclusions. The second thing that appears to bother you is the Hall reference to Jean Baptiste being freed "for serving us with loyalty and love consistently". I agree that often "service" is code for a sexual relationship, but not always. The referenced language suggests some relationship to the broader family than to Louis Augustin individually. But, I digress. I have no doubt that at some point Louis Augustin Meullion and Marianne had a"relationship." That "relationship" probably carried forward into the time of her freedom. That does not mean, logically or otherwise, that the relationship went backwards in time to the time of Jean Baptiste's birth. My point is that there is not any necessary contradiction. Cheval had sex with Marianne circa 1764 (with or without her consent) and thereafter she began a relationship with Louis Meullion. It is not the case that both men could not have been part of her life. AND the record of the times will not let Cheval be ignored.

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Lemelle

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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