AfriGeneas Free Persons of Color Forum Archive
Re: succession of ANDRE MASSE
In Response To: succession of ANDRE MASSE ()
His agnate grandparents were Pierre Antoine Fusilier and Genevieve Compagnon, parish St. Nizier, Lyon. The elder Fusiliers were married 7 September, 1681.
His enate grandparents were Joseph V. Quantin Chaufouralt (sic) and Madelaine Pannier who were married 19 Avril 1612 in Nizier Paroisse, Lyon, France.
The Fusiliers were wealthy merchants and leaders of private armies raised to protect the king; thus the name "Fusilier" was bestowed upon the family by Louis XIV 2.
The full family of Pierre and Luduvine consisted of eight children:
Genevieve 5 Mai 1715
Anne 2 Juillet 1716
Claudine 3 Juillet 1717
Claude Pierre 8 Dec 1718
Claudine 19 Febrier 1720
*Gabriel 28 Aout 1723
21 Oct 1789
Claudine 22 Aout 1723
Marie 14 Aout 1724
The fact that three girls were named Claudine indicates infant deaths for the first two.
Gabriel came to New Orleans in 1748 3at the age of 26 years,and resided at 1555 N. Dorgenois Street. He served in various high level governmental posts until 1763 when the Spanish appointed him commandant of the Poste des Attakapas 4(St. Martinville) and in 1771 the additional command of the Poste des Opelousas 5.
While living in New Orleans, Gabriel had a liaison with Jeannette, a free woman of color, who bore him three sons. The oldest, Guillaume, was born in 1752 6, Etienne Sem was born in 1755 7and Cambre in 1761 8. He brought his family with him when he moved to Attakapas.
While living in southwest Louisiana, he and Jeanette had two daughters, Françoise and Josephine. No records are available to document their births and baptisms. Françoise's death record indicates that she was born circa 1768. No secondary records exist for Josephine. The Church of St. Landry was not founded until 1776. Thus the family of Gabriel and Jeannette consisted of:
Guillaume c. 1752
Etienne Sem c. 1755
Cambre c. 1761
Françoise c. 1768
20 May 1831
Josephine* c. 1771
Gabriel had two legal marriages. The first was to Jeanne Roman on 4 Mar 1764. Jean died 24 Feb 1770. In 1771, he married Helen Elizabeth Soileau. These two marriages produced seven children. Many records attest to the close relationship between the colored and white families of Gabriel. In fact, he gave identical land grants to Etienne Sem and Agricole consisting of eight hundred arpents (677 acres) located at the confluence of Bayou Bourbeau and Bayou Vermillion, where the two streams joined to form Bayou Fusilier, and was located on the Prairie Basse 9
In 1774, Gabriel Fusilier was replaced as commandant of the Opelousas and Attakapas Posts and retired to his plantation on Bayou Teche 10 . In 1788 he wrote his will at Natchez 11 . Shortly thereafter, he returned to France and died at Bordeaux 12 October 1789 12 .
The documented records of the mulatto sons of Gabriel begin with the Eglise-St Martin de Tours entry on page 22 of Volume I of the marriage of Guillaume (mulatto libre) and Françoise (griffe libre) on 17 April 1771. Gabriel was the witness to the marriage.
The census of 1774 shows Guillaume and Etienne Sem residing on the lands of their father. 13 , Guillaume is recorded in the census of 1777 14 That document shows him, aged 25, married to Françoise, also aged 25, with five children, Louis 7, Pierre and Etienne, both 1, Felicite 4, and Seleste 3. They owned twenty arpents of land and had eight cattle, four horses and no pigs.
The next significant document of the mulatto Fusilier family was the signing of the marriage contract between Etienne Sem and Magdelaine Masse 15 , the daughter of Lisette and Andre Masse, free Mulattoes of Attakapas. André was the son of André Masse, one of the first explorers and traders of southwest Louisiana. His mother was not identified.
According to the census of 1777 16 , Magdelaine was born in 1750. Her mother was the slave of Andre Masse, fils, her father, and was born 1732 and died in 1806. Andre freed Lisette and Magdelaine, and they had eight additional children.
Jean François 1769
Pierre Bonhomme 1773
The marriage contract 17 of Etienne Sem Fusilier and Magdalene Masse, written in French, and in part illegible, stated:
Today, the third of July, 1782, before us Alexandre--De Clouet, Lieutenant Colonel, Commander Civil and Military, of the Postes Attakapas and Opelousas appeared in person the named Etienne Seme, free mulatto, son of the named Jeanette, free negress, native of New Orleans in Louisiana on the one part; and Magdaleine, free negress, daughter of Lisette, free negress, also native of the Poste of Attakapas on the other part:
Both parties, not having been able to contract marriage according to civil and religious laws and wanting to take names and sacraments of marriage and to celebrate it as soon as possible, will have it take place in the Roman Catholic Church and take as witnesses to their convention, on the part of Etienne, those named Stix and Guillaume, free negro and mulatto and those named Cambre and Cupidon, both free mulattos, their parents and friend and in whose presence have agreed about what is to follow:
The community of the future spouses will be regulated and governed according to the law and customs of Spain even though this colony might change domination.
The future spouses will not be held responsible for the debts of each other contracted before marriage (but) on the contrary the debts will be paid by the one who will have made them from his or her holdings.
In case of separation authorized by law, each party will take back what he/she brought to the marriage while sharing the fruit of community if they have any, or loss if some occurs.
The holding of the future husband consists in a developed land of eight Arpents by the customary depth (40 arpents) on one part on St. Charles Metaye and the other part situated at the spot named Grand Couteau...
(This part of the document is faded and illegible, but the total value of Etienne's estate was 655 piastres. Magdeleine's estate was valued at 145 piastres. The document continues:
Because of the good friendship that each carry upon each other of the future spouses and seeing that what they bring home from their labour, they both agree, according to the law, to give to each other the holding which will belong to the surviving spouses in case of death with heirs so that he/she can enjoy and dispose of freely as his/her own wealth.
The contracting persons in the presence of Messieurs De Viliers and De L'homme have signed with the parties convened by the mark ordinary and with us, Commander Civil and Military, this same day and year which is at the head of the contract.
Those making their mark were Seme, Magdeleine, Stix, Guillaume, Came, Cupidon, and Lisette.
The reference in the contract to the inability of the contracting parties to engage in a civil marriage was probably due to the fact that no priest was assigned to the post and the couple had been married in fact for some time prior to the legal ceremony.
One must also remember that a civil marriage according to Spanish law was a Catholic Church marriage. The civil and religious acts were one and the same. In actuality this ceremony was only the blessing of a state already existent.
The marriage ceremony did not occur until 5 May 1783 at the Church of St. Martin de Tours.
No other record of the Fusilier family appears until 16 January 1790 when François Marcantil sells to Cam a tract of land 18 at Prairie Basse, three arpents wide by the customary depth. The land sold for forty dollars.
A month later, Cam was brought 19 before the commandant and charged by Pierre Tauriac, surgeon, with the theft of his pigs. He asked $600 in compensatory damage and the jailing of Cam.
The several papers in this series indicate that Cam had sold salted pork to the military and that pigs with the notched ears matching with Tauriac's mark were included.
On 23 March 1790, Cam addressed the commandant,
"Sieur Cam has the honor to (refer) you to the (subject) of the third request that he (sent) you against the named Sieur Tauriac who has accused him of having stolen a quantity of pigs, for, as it is said, six hundred dollars. The (people) know, thank God, the means and fortune (wealth) that the said Tauriac can own. And (everything) well considered he would have trouble to raise six hundred dollars if it was necessary to have a general sale of everything he owns.
The supplicant having always enjoyed a good reputation, no matter where he lived, as much for his faithfulness as for his probity, does not understand nor want to suffer that his reputation be tarnished by the Sieur Tauriac nor by (the action) to make people believe that which never took place.
The supplicant requests (demands) to Your Grace to have Sieur Tauriac appear in Superior Court which is (at your house), in order to make amends of what he accused me, and to rehabilitate my honor by an honorable testimony that he will address to me in front of witnesses...and (I) want to preserve (save) my honor until my last breath.
If the request that the supplicant makes against the said Tauriac is not accorded to him, concerning the (accusation), the supplicant will appeal to the first judge of the Capital; or at Havana, if necessary.
If the Sieur Tauriac has the least right against the supplicant, let him produce the (exact) proofs and bring them and take an oath in your presence. If I am found guilty of the least infraction, I willingly (will) suffer death if the justice condemns me.
Consider the grief and trouble that the supplicant has seeing himself accused of a crime by false statements, and the killing of a good reputation he has always enjoyed. The supplicant begs you to see that justice is done and let the (chips) fall where they may (for one or the other).
The supplicant will pray to heaven for the conservation of your days.
Cam X his usual mark
Opelousas, 23 March 1790.
Cam was evidently incarcerated, for on 12 June 1790, he entered a plea for bail which was granted with Guillaume as his guarantee 20 .
No records of a trial exists but other records indicate that Cam remained free, so he was probably exonerated.
The census of free blacks and mulattoes in Opelousas in 1792 21 lists:
Cam m'le, age de 29 ans, garcon
Sem, m'le, age de 37 ans, marie, estropie, d'un pied.
"Garcon" used in this manner indicates "bachelor".
This notation "estropie d'un pied" (crippled in one foot) is the only reference to Sem's handicap.
A similar census in Attakapas, the same year, lists "Guillaume Fusillie" and also lists "Came Fusillier" 22 .
A land census in Opelousas in 1793 23 lists Cam (Mulatto) with six arpents of land and Sem (Mulatto) with sixteen arpents.
The census of the Opelousas Post on 23 May 1796 24 lists 28 free people of color who were heads of households. Both Cam and Seme are listed.
In 1793, Sam acquired two tracts of land. One tract, measuring ten arpents square, located on the lower part of Bayou Teche adjacent to the land of Andre Masse was purchased for an undisclosed sum 25 . The other, also owned by Andre Masse was donated to Sam, his son-in-law 26 . This plot was four arpents by the usual depth.
Sam had a natural son, Esope.
On 26 August 1797, Sem purchased his natural son 27 , variously called Esope or Pierre Esope, and gave him his freedom. The document says in part
Etienne Sem, free mulatto, resident of this post, moved by sentiments of love that he has for Pierre Esope, mulatto, his son, and wanting to give him a sign without mistake of his tenderness, confess and declares, having from this moment on and for always give to Esope, his son, full and complete freedom without any reservations nor money, obligations nor---, making him a pure gift and the gift freely given, without reserving any other rights or power than to serve for him as a father by his advise and instruction in his Christian life and honesty and to take him back when he sins, if that should be the case, wanting him to enjoy all rights and prerogatives which come with liberty from this time on as he promised to Auguste Soileau who has sold him to him under that condition--and the condition (that) he abides with the voluntary and spontaneous consent of Magdelaine, free black lady, his legal spouse, by means of which Pierre Esope will be freed of all servitude and slavery and will remain under the authority of his natural father, Sem, as a free child.
The last statement indicates that Pierre Esope had not reached his twenty fifth birthday which was the age of maturity under Spanish law.
Two years later on 1 June 1799, Sam and Magdaleine appeared before Martin Duralde, commandant of the post and executed the following act of adoption 28 .
At the Opelousas, the first day of the month of June of the year 1799, appeared in front of us, Martin Duralde, captain of militia and commander, civil and military, of this post, appeared in person Etienne Sem Fusilier, free mulatto and Magdelaine Mas, free negress, who as legitimate spouses united by the holy sacrament of marriage within Holy Mother Catholic Church, Apostolic and Roman, with free will and with spontaneity have declared that Providence having deprived them up to now of a legitimate child and wanting to reward their industry, ---and economies with some wealth, they have resolved and have agreed without afterthought to the freedom and intentions of one another ------Magdelaine Mas took as solemn oath that she freely engaged herself without any constraints to the present unanimous deliberation to name an heir of all their belongings of any nature that this wealth may exist, before being surprised by death--- of Pierre---known under the name of Esope, natural son of Etienne Sem as a clear testimony --- having obtained his freedom and also his attachment to them, and wishing on their part to respond by a benefaction toward such meritorious disposition, they confer and declare in common agreement that they adopt as their son Pierre Esope with all extension permitted by law, naming him as their unique heir, after their death, of all their goods present and in the future in whatever location and -- that there may be, they want that because of the double quality that they give him, he may dispose of their property without interference of relative on either side who may have pretensions of the succession of either of them, now or ever. The goods (property) they have being the fruit of their toils and sweat, it is their intention and will to give all to him as if he was a child born of their legal marriage.
If it happens that this act goes against the rights of some pretender from either side, they ----to the rigor of the law, giving all that is possible to Pierre Esope, who from this moment they regard as their son and ask that he be regarded as such, and as their only heir in justice and everywhere (?); and in return for this gratitude, that will be his, after the death of one and of the other. they impose on him the obligation to assist them and not to abandon them until the end of their days.
However, the present adoption takes place in the case of no legitimate child, it is --- and their will is that against all odds a child could issue from their marriage --- the rights which --- from nature.
To this document, they made their marks. They had no indications at that time that both Sem and Esope would proceed Magdaleine in death and although Magdaleine left a will 29 the litigation over the estate would go back and forth in the courts, reaching the Louisiana Supreme court two times. The case remained active for over twenty-five years and in all probability resulted in lawyers getting all the estate.
During the next ten years a number of documents were executed by Etienne Son Fusilier involving sales and purchases of land and slaves. Copies of these are in my files.
The most significant documents are found in the American State Papers. After the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the United States in 1803, it became necessary to determine the legal ownership of land. Many tracts had been abandoned or sales not recorded.
Each owner of land was required to submit a legal survey. Even then the points of the survey of Sams land used such landmarks as a red oak tree, a persimmon tree and a sweet gum.
Each claimant was also required to bring proof that he had utilized the land continuously for the last ten years. Sam furnished such proof with the testimony of John Baptiste Heran who certified that San had inhabited and cultivated the three tracts he claimed for about thirty years.
On September 11, 1811, the land board certified his ownership. Sam died shortly after in 1811 30 .
On 15 December 1811, Magdalaine appeared before the judge of the parish to carry out his deathbed request that Pierre and Louis, slaves of Sam's be freed. The act was completed 31 .
Esope died in 1820 32 and Magdelaine died on 30 Sept. 1824 33 .
Guillaume Fusilier had passed away on 23 April 1819 34 . No record has been found of Cam's death.
Françoise Fusilier died, unmarried, in New Orleans on 20 May 1831.
Josephine Fusilier was the mother of nine children. Their father was Joseph Carriere Damas. Except for the listing of her name in several birth and marriage records, nothing more is known about her.
1. Philastre, Emma Marie Fusilier de la Claire, Fusilier de la Claire and Allied Families. N.O. Public Library
3. De Ville, Winston, Oplousas, p.24
6. Papeles Procedentes de Cuba, legage 2356, folios 258-300. Univ. of Southwest Louisiana History Series, Lafayette, La.
7. Liste des Mulâtres et Negre Libres du Poste des Opeloussau, 1792, Pepeles Procedente de Cuba, lagajo 206.
9. American State Papers, University of Southwest Univ., La fayette, La.
10. De Ville, Winston, Op cit. p. 24
12. De Ville, Winston, Op Cit, preface.
13. Papeles Procedentes de Cuba, Legajo 2358
15. Original St. Landry Papers, 1702, Books, No. 27
16. Papeles Procedentes de Cuba, Legajo 2358
17. Original St. Landry Papers, Book 3, No. 27.
18. Original St. Landry Papers, Opel. 1790, Jan. 16
19. Ibid, Opel 1790, Feb 23.
20. Ibid, Opel 1790, June 12.
21. Op Cit.
23. De Ville, Winston, Land Census of the Inhabitants of the Opelousas 1793, Louisiana Genealogy Register, Vol XIII, 1966
24. Ibid, Vol XIII, 1966.
25. Original St. Martinville Papers, Book 14, No. 59.
26. Ibid, Book 14, no. 60.
27. Original St. Landry Papers, Opel. 1797, Aug 26.
28. Ibid. Opel 1799, June 1.
29. Probate Records. St. Landry Courthouse.
30. Henry Lastropes vs. Congregation of the Catholic Church of St. Landry, No. 317. District Court of ST. Landry Parish, Sept 3, 1816.
31. Original St. Landry Papers, Opel 1811, Dec 15.
32. Court Records, No. 1381, Oct 31, 1828 St. Landry Courthouse.
33. Probate Records, St. Landtry Courthouse, 30 Sept, 1834
34. Funeral Records, Elise St. Martin Church, 23 April 1819
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