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


Sunday, August 19, 2012

SUNDAY'S OBITUARY - Gabriel Aime (1826-1854)

Gabriel Aime - age 9
Gabriel Aime was born on March 11, 1826, at his father's plantation, known as "Le Petit Versailles", in St. James Parish, outside New Orleans, Louisiana. His father was Francois Gabriel 'Valcour' Aime (1797-1867), the richest man in the South, and his mother was Josephine Roman (1797-1856), sister of Andre Roman (1795-1866), two-term Governor of Louisiana. Michel Fortier (1725-1785) Gabriel's 2x-great-grandfather and my 6x-great-grandfather - that makes Gabriel my 3rd-cousin, 4x removed.
Gabi, as he was affectionately called, was much loved by his parents, his older sisters and his friends. But he had a special place in his father's heart. As his only son, Gabriel would one day take over and run his home and his successful business, the St. James Sugar Refinery. Valcour had found the best tutors to live in their home and teach the children. He had further educated Gabriel by sending him to Europe where he lived for several years - to further his studies, to experience the various culture, and to learn all he could about the sugar refinery business.
Gabriel Aime
In the Louisiana State Museum there is a translation of a diary written by him in one of his travels abroad. He writes:
"In Rome, Apr. 1, 1847, My first visit, as you can imagine, was to the 'Apollo Belvedere' and to the 'Laocoon'. I admit, not without a certain shame and confusion, that this piece of marble which is praised so much by the artists ... has made no impression on me. There is assuredly no fault to find where everybody finds nothing but praise, but, for the beauty of form I prefer 'The Gladiators of Anova'.
Good Friday, Apr. 2, 1847, I spent three hours in the midst of the ruins of ancient Rome, which were spared from vandalism and the ravages of time... I shall name the objects which I have seen; the Forum Romanum where Brutus condemned his son ...; the Arc of Severus, erected by the Senate and the Roman people in honor of Septimus Severus and Antonius Caracolla and Cieta, his sons, to commemorate the victors won over Porthos, the Arabs and other peoples of the Orient....
Holy Saturday, Apr. 3, 1847, I hired a carriage and I went to the Cathedral of St. John Lateran, conceded to be, after St. Peter, the greatest church of Christianity. It was built by Constantine.
Easter Sunday, Apr. 4, 1847, at the Papal Blessing. It is impossible to describe the feelings and motions which each one felt, much as an electric current. These are unique moments in the life of a man, religious moments of this kind are only felt in this great house of Christian worship at a time when the Supreme Representative of God bestows his blessing Urbis et Orbis."
It was shortly after arriving back from one of these trips that Gabi was infected with Yellow Fever. He died a few days later, September 18, 1854. The following notice of his death was published in the Times-Picayune on September 24, 1854.
Times-Picayune, pg.2
September 24, 1854
'DEATH. - We regret to learn the death, after a short and sudden illness, of Gabriel Aime, in the parish of St. James, at the residence of his father, the well known, intelligent and universally esteemed planter, Mr. Valcour Aime. We knew this young man well, and sympathize deeply with his afflicted family and wide circle of friends. He was about thirty years of age, unmarried, and united b the ties of blood, like most of our Creoles, to many of our old and most respectable families. His amiable disposition, generous heart, and high sense of honor, endeared him to all who knew him, and many indeed and deep will be the signs for his untimely fate. It is but a few weeks once we saw him, his tall, well developed, manly form swelling with youthful health and vigor, and his easy, polished, courteous manner lending additional grace to his pleasant words and lively, smiling countenance. If any one bid fair to live a long and honored life, surely it was he. Inscrutable are the ways of Providence! Before its decrees we must bow the head in silent submission, for manhood in all its pride and strength is but as the grass before the mower's stroke.' [Times-Picayune; Sept. 24, 1854; page 2]
Grave Marker
St. Louis Cemetery #3
[click to enlarge]
The following day; Baton Rouge's newspaper had this to add:
"Louisiana has lost one of her most honorable and promising scions - Mr. Gabriel Aime - a gentleman but recently come to manhood, endeared to many friends by his noble virtues and accomplishments.
We have seen it stated elsewhere that Mr. Aime died of the yellow fever contracted in New Orleans a few days before his death; while passing through New Orleans from Biloxi on his way home." [The Advocate; Sept. 25, 1854; page 2]
Directly below the notice of Gabriel's death, the paper reported news of the yellow fever outbreak:
New Orleans - Health of the City
The Courier of Saturday says -
"Still does Yellow Fever reign in our midst, as fatally and unsparingly, as at any period of the summer. We cannot, unhappily, communicate to our readers the agreeable intelligence that there is the slightest appearance of diminution. In the Charity Hospital, by the last report, which we published in our edition of yesterday, it appears that the number of deaths from five o'clock Saturday evening till the same hour on Thursday evening amounted to one hundred and ten - making the average of twenty-two deaths, for each twenty-two hours at that establishment alone. This shows that the mortality is far from being on the decrease, and should be sufficient warning for those who may not as yet acclimated, to be on their guard. We understand, also, that in private practice the disease is still as prevalent and malignant as ever." [The Advocate, Sept. 25, 1854; page 2]
Gabriel's death had a profound affect on his father. An article in Baton Rouge's The Advocate described it like this:
Original Valcour Aime Family Tomb
St. James Cemetery, St. James Parish
[click to enlarge]
"A proud father, Aime built substantial mansions as wedding gifts for his daughters, but his one real pride was his son, Gabriel. With the youth's unexpected death from yellow fever in 1854, Aime suffered a crushing blow from which he would never recover. The daring man of intensity and strength sank tragically into a reclusive life of mourning. His days became a ritual of visiting the family tomb in nearby St. James Cemetery where his only son was laid to rest. There he and his wife would spend hours at the side of the lost Gabriel, sometimes leaving only at the urging of a servant as night approached. As Aime's life slowly decayed, so did his mansion and its grounds." [July 30, 1978, page 103]
Septime Fortier Family Tomb
Aime Family Markers on right
St. Louis Cemetery #3
Gabriel Aime was buried first in the family tomb in St. James Parish, where his parents and sister Felicie (1825-1859) would also be interred. In 1929, all Aime family graves were reinterred at St. Louis Cemetery #3, in the Septime Fortier (1816-1898) tomb. Septime was the son-in-law of Valcour Aime, and the brother-in-law of Gabriel.

Yellow Fever & Its History in New Orleans

Yellow Fever appeared for the first time in Louisiana in 1769. In the 100 years between 1800 and 1900, Yellow Fever assaulted New Orleans for 67 summers. Its main victims were immigrants and newcombers to the city, but its citizens were also at risk. The worst epidemics in the city coincided with some of the largest waves of Irish and German immigrants - 1847, 1853, 1854, 1855 and 1858.

Yellow Fever is a viral infection transmitted by the common mosquito. It's spread when a mosquito bites an infected person, then bites a new person who is not infected. Its name comes from the yellow-ish tint of the skin that some infected people, but not all, display- this happens as the virus attacks the liver. Yellow Fever is still prevalent in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Once the person is infected there is no known cure. Symptoms can be treated. According to the World Health Organization Yellow fever infects approximately 200,000 people worldwide each year, killing 30,000 of those infected.
Trenton State Gazette (N.J.). p. 2
Aug. 12, 1853

In the summer of 1853, considered the deadliest outbreak of the virus, 29,120 people contracted the disease - 8,647 died from it. In August of that year, an average of 1300 people died each week. By the end of the epidemic approximately 1out of every 12 people died from the virus in New Orleans alone. The figure was worse for Irish immigrants - 1out of every 5 died from the disease that summer.

In 1854, the year of Gabriel Aime's death, the number of deaths from Yellow Fever was 2,425.

It wasn't until 1900, when Army physician Major Walter Reed and his colleagues, using a theory first put forth by Cuban Carlos Finlay (1833-1915) in 1881, that it was proven that mosquitoes are the only way to contract and spread Yellow Fever. Until then, it was assumed that the virus was transmitted from person to person or through the air. The findings of Walter Reed, in contact with Finlay, along with his team, helped stem the mortality rate during the building of the Panama Canal.

You Know You've Contracted Yellow Fever if . . .
1. Three to six days after you were bitten by a run-of-the-mill, harmless little mosquito, you start to show symptoms.
2. Your symptoms include high fever, backache and other muscle aches, headache, chills, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting.
3. Your heartbeat slows down with your fever instead of speeding up
4. In most cases you will suffer from these symptoms for 3 or 4 days and then you should recover completely.
5. If you're unlucky enough to be in the 15% of those that don't get better, the fever will return.
6. Along with the high fever, you'll start to have stomach pains and vomiting.
7. Blood can start running from your mouth, your eyes and/or your nose.
8. Your kidneys may begin to fail, shutting down your body's ability to produce urine.
9. You start to notice a yellowish tint to your skin as the virus begins attacking your liver.
10. If your luck is still no good, you may be among the 50% of infected people who reach this stage. . . and you die.
11. You travel to a country where the virus is active and you didn't get the Yellow Fever Vaccination . . . and you start to feel sick.



    Today marks the anniversary of the passing of Gabriel. As a family member related to Oak Alley Plantation, we will be celebrating his life on a facebook post today. Come visit with us!

    Enjoyed your blog post very much

  2. 2016-03-15: Just discovered "Climbing the Branches". Thank you so very much for continuing your father's research. I have come late to the interest of learning of family gone before me and now that I have found this treasury of information, I will visit regularly. Again, Thank You. Susan Ferry

  3. Thanks for this interesting info on this family. I have known this story for many years through the harnett cane book. Thanks to this post I was able to see what gabie really looked like. Such a sad story too