My Adventure Through Our Family Tree Branches

For over 50 years my Dad researched both his and my Mom's family tree branches - and loved every minute of it! Trying to fulfill the promise I made him the last month of his life, I have spent the past four years continuing where he left off - finding out about all the many family members who came before us, from the many branches of our family trees. The histories will still be published as my Dad always wanted. But what he wanted most was to share the stories of the people who came before us - the places they lived, the cultures of the times, the families they created, and the circumstances - good and bad - that would one day lead to us, their descendants. These are the stories of my Mom's families. . . .

Surnames in this Blog


Monday, July 4, 2011

MONDAY'S MILITARY - Our Own Revolutionary War Heroes - In Celebration of Independence Day

Most of the families in my mother's tree immigrated to America after the Revolutionary War. But there are still several actual ancestors that earned all of us membership in the Daughters or Sons of the American Revolution. Here are the stories of our very own Revolutionary heroes:

Jacques Omer Fortier (March 4, 1759-September 15, 1820) was my 5th great-Grandfather. He was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, the second son of Michel Fortier (1725-September 20, 1785), a prosperous sugar-cane plantation owner on the Great River Road, and Perinne Langlois (1734-March 19, 1804); he was the fifth of twelve children. Jacques married Aimee Marie Victoire Felicitie Durel (November 17, 1868-November 27, 1843) on October 1, 1787. The couple had ten children, including my 4th great-Grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (September 2, 1792-July 28, 1823).

Obituary of Jacques Fortier from New Orleans Louisiana Courier
18 Sep 1820
"Died, on 15th current, at his home in Cannes Brulees (“Burnt Cane” a.k.a. Kenner, Louisiana),
Mr. Jacques Fortier, aged 63, one of the most highly recommendable inhabitants of the country.
Mr. Jacques Fortier leaves a large (“numerable”) family and many friends to mourn (“cry”) his loss."

 [This Jacques and his wife Charlotte Adele Chauvin deLery (1796-May 4, 1834) had three children including oldest child Jacques Omer (1813-December 19, 1867), my 3rd great-Grandfather. Omer and his wife, Augustine Melanie Laperle DeGruy (January 17, 1822-November 1, 1872), were the parents of eleven. Their seventh child, Odalie Felice Fortier (August 31, 1857-November 14, 1920, was my great-great-Grandmother. Odalie married Charles Frederick Horst (December 21, 1856-August 30, 1912) and together they had five children. Their middle daughter, Pearl Alphonsine Horst (November 19, 1884-September 25, 1961), was my great-Grandmother and mother to my maternal Grandmother Susan Elizabeth Flemming O'Donnell (August 23, 1909-July 7, 1999).]
          Jacques Fortier was, like his father, a successful plantation owner several miles outside New Orleans. He also was a member of the German Coast Militia, made up of white males who were ready when called upon to serve. He, along with members of the other area militia, joined forces with Don Bernardo de Galvez, Spanish Governor of Louisiana, in 1779 and took part in defending Louisiana, a part of Spain at this time, from the British in key battles. Jacques Fortier achieved the rank of Colonel during his years in the militia. [See "Louisiana Soldiers in the American Revolution" below]
Colonel Michel Fortier II

Michel Fortier II (September 12, 1750-September 19, 1819) was the oldest child of Michel and Perinne Fortier, and brother to Jacques. He was my fifth Great-grand-Uncle. Michel was a planter and merchant, and served as a Captain during the campaigns under de Galvez, 1779-1881, along with his brother, cousins and other relatives. He later became a Colonel. He also became a member of the first city council in New Orleans. Michel II married Marie Rose Durel (1756-August 28, 1788), sister of his brother Jacques' wife Aimee. Together they had seven children. He is buried at St. Louis Cemetery #1.

Fallen marker at St. Louis Cemetery #1
Jn. Baptiste Degruy & Melanie Gaudin

Jean Baptiste Valentin DuFouchard DeGruy (March 8, 1751-March 1, 1838) was my 4th great-Grandfather, and father to Melanie Augustine Laperle DeGruy (see Jacques Fortier descendants above). According to a copy of his Service Record, Jean Baptiste had joined the Louisiana militia on September 25, 1774, subsequently serving in the German Coast Militia for over 17 years, then serving in the German Coast Disciplined Provincial Militia for over 8 years. He rose to the rank of First Lieutenant. Jean Baptiste participated in the Campaigns of Ft. Bute in Manchac & Baton Rouge in 1779, and Mobile in 1780 during the Revolutionary War, under Galvez [see story below]. It was noted in his service record: "known valor; average application; good capacity & conduct."

Louisiana Soldiers in the American Revolution
          "During the early days of the Louisiana Colony, it was the duty of all able young men to serve in the militia, and to do their part to insure the protection of all. Militias were formed in the German Coast, Point Coupee, Opelousas and Attakapas throughout Louisiana.
          Spain, already in control of Florida, signed the secret Treaty of Fountainbleau, along with France in 1762, giving Spain the additional territory of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River and the Isle of Orleans. Then, in 1763, the Treaty of Paris was signed giving Britain control of the French held territory of Canada and the Spanish held Territory of Florida. These events unknowingly helped to set the stage for the shaping of the next twenty years of history and the birth of a new nation.
         As America's war for independence was raging following the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Spain, still in control of Louisiana, remained officially neutral, but ever watchful of the powerful British forces. In September 1776 Spain appointed a new Governor of Louisiana, Don Bernardo de Galvez, just 29 years old, to replace the retiring governor. Although Spain remained officially neutral, Galvez secretly helped the Americans by supplying munitions and money to Washington's Army fighting in the Western part of the 13 colonies, and facilitated American shipping by sea and up the Mississippi River, all the while improving the defenses of the Louisiana Colony.
          In 1778 France joined in the war in support of the new American Government, but Spain continued to resist official involvement and Galvez continued aiding the Americans in secret. His surveillance of the British, particularly at Pensacola, began to yield evidence that they were reinforcing their defenses beyond reasonable means. It was obvious that some form of attack was forthcoming, and it was suspected that the attack would be waged against New Orleans. The time had come and a decision had to be made. Galvez could wait for the suspected attack by the British, or he could take the initiative and attack them first.
          These events finally led to Spain's declaration of war against England in May of 1779, and Galvez was given permission to attack the British. He immediately began preparations and the attack was planned for the first part of August. Disaster struck less than a week before his troops were to leave. In his words, "a hurricane, like none other registered in the memory of this colony," destroyed every ship so painstakingly fortified by Galvez for the impending attack. The city was totally devastated and even more importantly, defenseless. The colonists also felt the fury of the storm. Their crops and homes were destroyed as well as the stores and provisions of the colony. If the British, who had not experienced the devastation of the hurricane, had attacked New Orleans at this time, they would have gained control with very little resistance.
          Galvez knew that something had to be done, and that there was no time to spare. Knowing of the devastation of the residents of New Orleans, he hesitated to ask for their help, but had been left with no other choice. He could not even be sure that the ships scheduled to arrive from Spain with reinforcements, had not also perished in the storm. And so it was that Galvez presented the facts to the inhabitants of the city. Although he hoped for a favorable response, he seemed somewhat surprised and relieved when, without a second thought, every man capable rallied to his aid.
          Word of the situation was soon passed to the settlements of the German Coast, Point Coupee, Opelousas and Attakapas. Although these areas had not felt the full fury of the hurricane as those in New Orleans had, they no doubt suffered the consequences of the torrential rains and damaging winds. Even with their fields and homes damaged, they, just as the inhabitants of New Orleans, did not hesitate to band together and lend their assistance to Galvez.
          Meanwhile, Galvez was finally able to leave New Orleans with an army of about 600 of his men, mostly new Spanish recruits. They were joined along their way to English-held Manchac, about 115 miles up the Mississippi River on British West Florida, by the 500 or so men from the Opelousas, Attakapas, Point Coupee and German Coast Militia, as well as Indians and free men of color willing to fight in the conflict. This rag tag army, containing men of every "class, nation, and color," endured many hardships on the nearly two week long journey. The bad roads and thick forests no doubt slowed their progress, and with no tents to protect them from the elements and very few supplies, many were forced to drop out along the way due to illness and exhaustion. By the time the group reached Fort Bute at Manchac, Galvez had lost nearly one third of his army, but, thanks to the added numbers of the colony's militia, they were still of sufficient force to capture the fort.
         After a few days of rest, the still shrinking army continued on their trek towards Baton Rouge. At Manchac, Galvez had had the element of surprise on his side, as the English were not yet aware that Spain had declared war against them. Not so at Baton Rouge, and as they approached the fort, the English began to fire on them.
           Realizing that to storm the well fortified and protected fort would be certain suicide for his army, Galvez sent one group of his army into the woods near the fort to draw the attention and fire of the enemy. They were protected by the trees of the dense woods and very little damage was done to them. Meanwhile, the rest of his army was busy digging trenches behind the fence of a peach orchard, a short distance from the fort. By the time the British realized where the main body of the Spanish Army actually was, they were already in the protected shelter of the trenches. The following morning, September 21, 1779, Galvez began a serious attack on the fort, and within a few short hours the British surrendered. Galvez also insisted that Fort Panmure of Natchez be turned over to him, and the British, having no other choice, accepted his terms.
          During the next few years, with the aid of the militia companies of the colony, Galvez went on to wage successful battles against the other British held forts of Mobile and Pensacola, thus returning the Florida Territory to the control of Spain.
The Importance of Spain's Actions
          In order to understand the importance of Spain's actions during the years of the American Revolution, one must first remember that Louisiana, at that time, consisted of the entire interior section of the present United States east of the Mississippi River and south of Canada.
          England owned the Floridas, and if Spain had allowed the British to attack and take New Orleans, they would have been in complete control of the mouth of the Mississippi River, as well as the Port of New Orleans. Once the British were in control of New Orleans, Galvez would have been hampered in trying to retain control of the rest of the colony as most of the trade and reinforcements from Spain were received in the New Orleans Port. Eventually England would have no doubt taken control of all of Louisiana, giving them not only complete control of the Mississippi at its mouth, but the entire Eastern side of the river as well.
          If this had occurred, the outcome of the American Revolution could very well have ended with England the victor. If England had gained that much control of the Mississippi River, it would have been as though they had opened a back door to the American Colony, thus giving Britain the ability to attack them from the west by way of the river as well as from the east by way of the ocean. This explains why some historians credit Galvez's capturing of the British held Floridas a turning point in the war, and why the militiamen of the Colony of Louisiana are, most definitely, Veterans of the American Revolution."
- from "A History of Louisiana Soldiers", posted by Lee Crockett on, 24 Jan 2003


1 comment:

  1. look a little farther- Michael- Fortier- I have as also serving at the Battle of New Orleans- he led to troops of Black Militia.