AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum
Masse/Leveille/Fusilier,early fpoc in swst LA 18th century
I have been studying the history and origins of the early free people of color community in the old attakapas region(St. Martin Parish) of Louisiana during the 18th century when it was still sparsly populated in the 1760s to 1770s. The earliest known group of free people of color in that area was formed by the former slaves of a French trader/rancher/and slaveowner in the area by the name of Andre Masse. His presence in the area goes back as early as 1743. He was known as a thorn in the side of the Spanish because he was one of many Frenchman who made attempts to settle in Jefferson County, Texas and trade with the Natives of that area illegally. in 1755, according to the account of a spaniard in Jefferson county, Andre Masse owned 20 slaves..And some of these slaves were Native American because the freed slaves are referred in the records as a mixture of african/native american heritage. The earliest recorded free person of color in the Attakapas region was a man known variously as Andre Leveille, Leveille, or Leveille Masse and his wife, Marie Flore. They were witnesses to weddings between slaves/fpoc and various baptisms as well. They were free as early as 1756. Eventually, Andre Masse freed EVERY slave he owned by 1772. They intermarried fpoc such as the mulatto Fusiliers(Cambre,Guillaume, and Seme). I have been trying to link them to my 4greatgrandmother, Babet MASSE, a free black woman who married Louis Sem/Sam, free in Opelousas in 1836. I believe Jean Louis Sam was the slave Jean Louis(30yrs) freed by the widow of Seme Fusieler or Etienne Seme in 1811 at St. Martin Parish. a year later, a free negro named Louis Semme, shows up on a cattle registration record in the same parish. My family name in early records is spelled Sem/Sam. Also Louis Sam shows up early in St. Landry Parish in 1822 on a baptismal record with Babet. Babet MASSE has to have descended from these free MASSEs I found in the 1777 census and through conveygences records in Attakapas:
children of Lisette and Pierre(black/Ind):Peter,Dominique,Claude,Jean Francois,Zenon,Pierre,Magdaleine(married Seme in 1783) Anne, and Rosalie(these children were freed in 1765 at baptism in the Pointe Coupee area)
children of Andre Masse and Therese(Therese was an African. After she died, Andre had some more children by an indian woman named Catherine):Pual,Claude,Pierre(orphan),Marianne(orphan)
children of Andre Leveille and Marie Flore: Baptiste,Alexandre,Augustin,Claudine,Angelique
I have found mostly fragments in catholic records, Cuban papers, census, conveyance/court records, and manumissions, baptisms dating from 1756 to the 1830s. I havent linked Babet Masse to a free Masse(but there is no doubt that she is descended from one). Any advice will be helpful. Its tough because a lot of things werent recorded.