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


Friday, August 17, 2012

FRIDAY'S FAMOUS - Francois Gabriel "Valcour" Aime (1797-1867) PART I

Francois Gabriel Aime - ca. 1822
Said to have been the richest man in in the South during the first half of the nineteenth century, Francois Gabriel Aime is my second cousin 5x removed. His plantation home was known as 'Le Petit Versailles' due in part to its grand opulence. He was generous to his family - giving plantations to each of his daughters as wedding gifts.  He enjoyed lavish entertaining. He was also deeply religious, and generous in his gifts to the Church. He was wealthy, generous, intelligent, and a loving family man. The stories of his life and his death are quite amazing. In order to give a true picture of this extraordinary individual it will require more than one post. I think you'll agree with me that it's worth the effort.

Francoise Gabriel Aime was born about 1797 in St. Charles Parish, Louisiana to parents Francois Gabriel Aime II (1768-1799) and Marie Felicite Julia Fortier (1778-1806). His maternal grandfather, Michel Fortier II (1750-1819) was the older brother of my 5x-great-grandfather Jacques Omer Fortier (1759-1820). Jacques and Michel's parents are my 6x-great-grandparents Michel Fortier (1725-1785) and Perinne Langlois (1734-1804). He was called Valcour by his nurse when he was a baby and he was known by that name the rest of his life

He was a pioneer in growing cane on his sugar plantation in the early 1800's, and operated an experimental station on his property developing new and better sugar production capabilities. From 1821 until 1856 he kept a diary of his experiments and a record of his plantation activities. He shared his findings with his friends and family.

The following is taken from The Fortier Family and Allied Families, by Estelle M. Fortier Cochran (1963).
"Valcour Aime lived with his parents and brother, Michel, on the Aime Plantation in St. Charles Parish. His father died when Valcour was only two years of age. His mother married secondly Fermin Adelard Fortier. She became blind and ill, and died when Valcour was only eight."
[NOTE: Fermin Adelard Fortier (1775-UNK) was Valcour's mother's uncle. On October 3, 1803,  his grandfather Michel Fortier filed a "Request for Dispensation" with the Catholic Church: "Fortier, Captain of the Artillery states that with his consent his daughter Julie (Porter), widow of Francisco Ayme, and Adelard Fortier, her uncle, petition for dispensation to marry. Haste is necessary to avoid scandal in a large and distinguished family and he asks that his marriage be performed in strictest secrecy."]
"The two brothers had been put into the care of their grandfather Fortier when their mother became ill. They went to live in New Orleans with Michel Fortier II. He alone took care of them; both their Aime grandmother (Jeanne Deslandes), and their Fortier grandmother (Marie Rose Durel) had died earlier. They became a part of the active, useful life of their grandfather. They understood his influence in the civic problems of the community; they learned of his military activities in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812. According to the Records of the War of 1812, we learn, that in spite of their youth, both brothers were enlisted in the militia, and took some part in this conflict. They served under Captain Rene Trudeau, Troop of Horse, St. Charles, Dec. 14, 1814 to March 16, 1815.
Josephine Roman Aime ca. 1838
The Aime plantations which Valcour and Michel Aime had inherited were in St. Charles Parish, and the brothers often visited the relatives who lived there. Not far away, in St. James Parish, lived the Jacques Etienne Romans. The young people of the Roman family were friends of the Aimes, and very early Valcour fell in love with Josephine Roman. In July of 1819, when they were both twenty, they were married. The marriage was not only a union of members of two prominent families, but it was a marriage of wealth.
Five children were born to Valcour Aime and Josephine Roman Aime, four daughters and one son. Their son, Gabriel, was their youngest child and their hope for the survival of their name. The four daughters all married from the lovely plantation home, all marrying members of prominent Louisiana families." (p. 55-58)

Edwige Aime Fortier
Their oldest daughter, Edwige, born 1819, married Florent Louis Fortier (1811-1886) her second cousin, in 1836. He was the son of Louis Edmond Fortier (1784-1849), her grandmother's brother. They lived with her parents at 'Le Petit Versailles'. Florent served as the Manager of Valcour's St. James Sugar Refinery. They would have five children.

Daughter Josephine, born 1821, married Alexis Ferry II (1815-1884) in 1839; together they had twelve children. Her father bought St. Joseph Plantation as a wedding present, completely furnished with a full staff of slaves, where they lived. This plantation is still standing. [There is no known portrait of Josephine. Some relatives believe that, although a favorite of the younger family members, "Tante Zo", as she was called, was somewhat headstrong and refused to sit to have her portrait painted.]

Felicite Emma Aime Fortier
Their middle child Felicite Emma was born February 26, 1823. In June 1841, she married another second cousin Alexander Septime Fortier (1816-1898). Septime was a younger brother of Edwige's husband Florent Fortier. Valcour gave Felicity Plantation to the newly married couple. They would raise thirteen children together in their home. [See post "Saturday's Structures: Felicity Plantation", July 16, 2011]

Felicie Aime
Youngest daughter Felicie was born in 1825. She married her first cousin, this one on her mother's side of the family, Alfred Roman (1826-1892) and they had two children. She died while visiting Paris, France with her husband. She was just 34 years old. She was brought back home and buried in her family's tomb. [Later they would all be reinterred at St. Louis Cemetery #3]

Gabriel Aime
Son Gabriel was born March 11, 1828. He never married. His father put great care in educating him, even sending him across the Atlantic Ocean to learn more about sugar production in Europe. 

[NOTE: Click on any portrait to enlarge for better viewing]

"Valcour kept a daily journal from 1820 to 1854 documenting temperature, farming techniques, as well as experiments with new varieties of cane and equipment. In 1795, Etienne de Bore’ introduced sugar cane to Louisiana, but it was the genius of Valcour Aime that perfected the refining process. He learned to harness steam power and designed and made this equipment by 1829. He traveled to Cuba and other countries to study the latest developments. Some of his experiments cost over $40,000 per year and their success earned him the title of “The father of white sugar.” VaIcour’s sugar was judged best in the world at the New York Exposition in 1853.
By the 1830’s Valcour’s plantation had grown to 10,000 acres and he was reputed to be the world’s leading sugar producer and the richest man in Louisiana. He named his plantation, the St. James Refinery Plantation, and in 1833 he added a railroad to his estate. This railroad stretched from his steamboat dock through the fields and to the remote cypress swamp. He disliked waiting for steamboats since they never were on time, so he bought his own, and named it for his son Gabriel.
Valcour built two huge green-houses which contained rare plants, trees and shrubs from all over the world. Valcour’s plantation was so self-sufficient that he wagered $10,000 ($1 million by today’s standards) that he could produce from his plantation alone, a meal complete with wine, coffee and cigars that would surpass any. He won the bet.
He read all the industry related literature available and he employed only the most competent personnel to oversee each segment of his operation. However, the keys to Valcour’s success were his abilities to delegate responsibility, to document all orders and experiments and to follow-up on each." [From an article published in 1995, by Andrew Capone]
Valcour's diary, Plantation diary of the late Mr. Valcour Aime, formerly proprietor of the plantation known as the St. James sugar refinery, situated in the parish of St. James, and now owned by Mr. John Burnside was published in 1883 and can be read online or is available for purchase.

[End of Part I]
Find out more about Valcour Aime's extraordinary plantation home in tomorrow's post 
"Saturday's Structures - 'Le Petit Versailles".


  1. Hello. My name is Edwige Aimee Fortier, I was named after Valcour Aime's Daughter Edwige (the one you have a photo of!). This is a beautiful family history you have, it's really enjoyable to read. I have never seen a photo of my great great grandmother, thank you.


  2. Hello. My name is Joseph Condon. I was born and raised in New Orleans. We may be related.

    My maternal grandfather's name was Clarence Aime. Actually, it may officially have been Joseph Clarence Aime, but he liked being called Clarence better than Joe or Joseph. He passed in, I think, 1962 when he was 61 or 62 years old, and is buried at Hope Mausoleum on Canal Street in New Orleans. Margaret Walker Aime, his wife and my maternal grandmother, told me many years ago that Valcour Aime was, to some degree, a great uncle.

    Do you think you may have enough family tree information to determine if indeed I am related to Valcour Aime?

    Thank you,
    Joseph Condon

    1. You are right - Clarence's father was William Henry Aime, his grandfather was Jean Marie Valcour Aime, and his great-grandfather was Michel Aime - brother of Valcour. Your 3x-great grandfather was Michel, and Valcour would be your4x-great uncle. Pretty cool. Michel is my 2nd cousin, 5x removed. I'm not sure what that makes us.... Thanks for connecting! -Susan

    2. My name is Byron Ayme and I was born in Good Hope, La. 80 years ago. My father's family is from Convent, La. I have a handwritten copy of a transcription by Emile Tastet, St.Charles Parish clerk, of a marriage between Noel St. Martin, son of Francois St. Martin and Aimee Bermondy and Anais Aime, daughter of Michel Aime' and Anais Fortier dated January 25, 1848. I'll send you a copy if you provide me with an address. My email is

  3. I have a picture of Valcour Aime and his wife hanging in my house. It came from my grandmother who was a Le Breton. I believe her mother was Roman, I was always told he was my Great- Great- Great Grandfather. My cousin and I are trying to put the pieces together and information would be helpful.
    Mary Edwards If interested I will provide my E-mail

    1. Hi cousin! I am also a descendant of Valcour Aime and Josephine Roman. I would love to have a picture of your picture! It has been almost a year since you posted this, but if/when you get it, please provide your email. - Mary

  4. Susan, I only just found your reply to my inquiry in January about my possible relationship to Valcour Aime and you. I dont know why I did not find it sooner. Thank you so much for the information. This is very special to me. I hope to return to Louisiana in 2015 with my family for a visit to my childhood home, schools, and family burial sites. This will make the visit all the sweeter. You're a gem.

  5. All so interesting! My father in law has the portrait of Felicie Aime pictured above hanging over his fireplace. So here I am just looking through the history of the family and portrait. He says the other Aime portraits are hanging in Oak Alley. Can any of you confirm that?

  6. The Jesuits had a huge sugarcane plantation on what is today's CBD in New Orleans, about 50 years before deBore. But, deBore was credited with figuring out who to profitably extract crystallized sugar from the cane, thus making it a profitable cash crop. It is unclear what deBore did, but most believe the perfected the process of using a series of sugar kettles and boiling the cane juice throughout a complex process of temperature changes, using the Jamaican Train method.

    Valcour was a very smart businessman who tried and "invented" new techniques, but also leveraged off of what everyone else was doing to be successful. This included purchasing a Vacuum Evaporator from Norbert Rillieux to mechanize the sugar crystallization process.

  7. Susan, thank you for posting this interesting information, especially along with the pictures! I am a descendant of Valcour Aime, through Emma Aime Fortier and Septime Fortier. I saw a picture in book once of Valcour Aime, and surprisingly, it looked like he had very blue eyes. It was a small picture, so I couldn't be sure. Have you seen any color pictures of him? - Mary

  8. There is book called
    "Ghosts along the Mississippi"
    By Clarence Joseph Laughlin,
    that contains family history of the Amie family in it.

  9. There is book called
    "Ghosts along the Mississippi"
    By Clarence Joseph Laughlin,
    that contains family history of the Amie family in it.

  10. I have looked for years for some type of validation as to whether or not we are related to Valcour Aime. My paternal grandfather was named Abel Aime and my paternal grandmother was Pearl Mire. I do remember having an uncle Clarence Aime, but the Aime side was never really shared with us. Anything you could do would be much appreciated. Thank you, Lisa Aime Joffrion