|Francois Gabriel Aime - ca. 1822|
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.
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.
Josephine Roman Aime ca. 1838
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|
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|
[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".