AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Where is the Family of Ephemie Lemelle and Charles
Euphemie Lemelle Maran, a free woman of color who was originally from St. Landry parish, Louisiana, found herself and her children threatened with enslavement after living her life as free. Euphemie Maran was the daughter of Eve, a slave who belonged to Marie Jeanne Lemelle, a free woman of color, and the son of Marie Jeanne Lemelle. After Marie Jeanne Lemelle’s death, her daughter Catiche Lemelle, inherited her slaves (1834), including Euphemie and her sister Andrinette. Euphemie, alone with her sister Andrinette, her sister’s children, and her children except for Chleopolas were purchased from Catiche Lemelle’s estate on September 19, 1848, by Charles Maran, a free man of color. Euphemie Lemelle and Charles were purported to have been married soon after Catiche Lemelle died. But in 1854, Charles Maran died interstate, (Succession Record: April 05, 1854 Opelousas Ct. Hse. #1827; S/W, V. 5, P. 379), leaving the freedom of Euphemie and their children [Jules(1838), Emily(1840), Bridget(1844), Cornelius(1847), Jerome(1848), Cleophale(1850), Infant(1854)] in the hands of his sister, Juliette Maran, also a free woman of color and his only living legitimate heir.
Then in 1858, Juliette Maran, enticed Euphemie and her children to New Orleans by promising to help them “have their free papers legally made out.” But, shortly after Euphemie arrived in the city with her children, Juliette contracted with the sheriff to seize her and her children to hold them in the slave yard until they could be sold. Without evidence of an officially approved act of manumission, Euphemie’s freedom and that of her children rested on her ability to prove that she had gone as free for more than twenty years, an avenue of freedom that had been established under the Spanish and that was occasionally appealed to during the antebellum years.
It was first established that Euphemie was a woman of color, born the mulatress daughter of the black slave for life, Eve.
Estave Fournier, a merchant and a free man of color of New Orleans, testified that “I knew the mother of Euphemie. She is living. She was a slave when Euphemie was born. She is a slave now. She is in color a Black woman. Euphemie and her children are mulattoes. “Euphemie’s mother had been owned by Marie Jeanne Lemelle, a free woman of color described as a quadroon, of St. Landry. Euphemie’s father, who was dead, was, according to the witnesses, the light skinned son of Marie Jeanne Lemelle. Marie Jeanne Lemelle raised Euphemie as her own daughter.
Witnesses and other documentation demonstrated that Euphemie had been the property of Marie Jeanne Lemelle.
Witnesses and other documentation demonstrated that Euphemie had been acquired by Catiche Lemelle, who was described as bright mulatto or a quadroon, though her mother’s estate.
Witnesses and other documentation demonstrated that Euphemie, after Catiche Lemelle died, she had been acquired by Charles Maran, her husband.
Witnesses and other documentation demonstrated that Euphemie had been inventoried in the records of the estate of Charles Maran, an estate that had been administered by his sister and sole heir, Juliette.
Witnesses and other documentation demonstrated that Euphemie had lived with Marie Jeanne, as a daughter, and then later Catiche Lemelle, as a niece, until she married Charles Maran, at which time she moved in with him.
Several witnesses testified that they were married, that a priest from Opelousas had come up the river to marry them, that there had been a big church wedding.
The court “was satisified that the plaintiff had enjoyed her liberty, during more than twenty years, in the presence of those who held title to her, and that she and her children who were born during the time that she went free, were freed. Therefore, while she won her freedom since she had gone free for more than twenty years, she was not awarded Maran’s estate, which was negligible.
Juliette Jordan vs. Ephemie Lemelle Maran, Third District Court of New Orleans, January, 1859
In Full Enjoyment of Their Liberty: The Free Women of Color of the Gulf Ports of New Orleans, Mobile, and Pensacola, 1769 - 1860 by Lois Virginia Meacham Gould
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