Thursday, December 16, 2010

231st Anniversary Since Agnes Gained her Freedom

Signature of Governor Bernardo De Galvez
on Agnes Manumission Document
16 December 1779

     After nearly a year long struggle to gain her freedom,  Agnes through the assistance of Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo was granted Freedom by the Spanish Colonial Governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez.  Picture above is Glavez actual signature affixed to her 7 page manumission document.
      Today my family and I,  as descendants stand as living memorials of her achievement.   We marked this day, 16 Dec 2010 as the 231st Anniversary of Freedom from slavery for Agnes.   
      I invited you to view if you haven't already,  the PBS program History Detectives segment called "the Galvez Papers".   May it continue to inspire as you continue along on your ancestral journey of discovery.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Remembering Those Who Served in the American Revolutionary War at the Battle of Savannah

Be Sure To Double Click Highlighted Areas in RED for additional Information
Memorial dedicated to those
 who fought and died at the
Battle of Savannah, Ga.
October 9,1779

         The Coastal Heritage Society held its annual Battlefield March to commemorate the 1779 Battle of Savannah this weekend.

Michael Nolden Henderson
LCDR, USN Retired
Member of the
Button Gwinnett Chapter,
Sons of the American Revolution
         On October 9, 2010, many turned out to honor those who fought and died at the Battle of Savannah. I, as a descendant of American Revolutionary War Patriot, Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla, and also a retired U.S. Naval Officer, was honored when the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution asked me to render honors by placing the wreath at a memorial, which honored those who fought and died at the Battle of Savannah, Ga October 9, 1779, 231 years ago. 

Many in period uniforms
gathered to re-enact
the march to the battlefield

       Participants gathered at 7:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the Savanna Visitor's Center, and marched behind re-enactors to Battlefield Memorial Park. The route followed that of American and French soldiers who attacked British fortifications in the battle.
 Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander
Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar

         A brief ceremony took place on the battlefield, and included remarks from Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Commander Lt. Col. Jose Aguilar, a 21-gun cannon salute from the 3rd Infantry Division salute battery, and the placing of wreaths at the foot of the memorial.

      Other dignitaries who also presented wreaths were:

Consulat General de France
Etienne Abobi
Deputy Consul
A delegation of 30 Mayors from Haiti
gathered for the ceremony

Various chapters of both the DAR and SAR
present wreaths

    Later that morning several members of various groups participated in another ceremony in Franklin Square to commemorate the Haitian Memorial Monument. Special guests included the former mayor of Savannah Floyd Adams, Jr., Alderman District 5 Clifton Jones, Jr., 30 mayors from Haiti, and President and CEO, Physician Access Urgent Care Group Dr. Rudolph Moise, just to name a few.

The Haitian Memorial Monument
Franklin Square
Savannah, Ga
       This monument represents the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue, a regiment of soldiers who formed one-tenth of the allied army before Savannah in the fall of 1779. This unit was comprised of over 500 free men of color from the Island of Haiti and was the largest unit of men of African descent to fight in the American Revolution.

Resolution   by Brisé
Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue: Honors Haitian soldiers of Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue unit for their bravery & sacrifices in support of United States of America in its War of Independence.
Effective Date: Not Specified
Last Event: Adopted by Publication on Wednesday, April 09, 2008 11:49 PM

SAR Compatriot Bruce Maney
laying wreath at foot of
Haitian Memorial Monument

Rendering Honors
Compatriot Bruce Maney
Past President Button Gwinnett Chapter SAR
Compatriot Michael Nolden Henderson, LCDR USN Ret.

Mr. Baunars Charles
Mayor of Saint-Marc and several other Mayors
From Haiti gathered to honor those who served
 the Chasseurs-Volontaires de Saint-Domingue

Members of Button Gwinnett SAR
and their lovely ladies

As We remember, We also honor

Michael visits Colonial Park

     While in Savannah I visited the old colonial park cemetery and located the gravesite of my SAR chapter's namesake, Button Gwinnett, who was the second signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Resting place of Button Gwinnett
one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence

Michael Nolden Henderson LCDR USN Retired
A descendant of a patriot of the
American Revolution
Mathieu DEVAUX dit Platillo
    To learn more about my American Revolutionary War Patriot Ancestor   Mathieu DEVAUX dit Platillo, Click on his name.
See More here Two years later .

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Descendants of American Revolutionary War Patriots On Display at Louisville International Airport

National Society Sons of the
American Revolution
Exhibit at the
Louisville International Airport


           A couple weeks ago I got a phone call from an Archivist at the National Society, Sons of the American Revolution, headquartered in Louisville Kentucky asking me if I would be interested in participating in an exhibit which will be on display in the Louisville, International Airport, October 1 thru December 31, 2010. 
        Honored by such a request, I did decide to participate.  I later found out, it was the first time that my local Button Gwinnett SAR chapter here in Georgia had such an honor bestored on one of its members. According to the Archivist, "This will be a chance to show thousands of travelers how rewarding genealogy can be, as well as promote the National Society Sons of the American Revolution."
     As you can see in the above, my picture was placed in the upper left hand corner of the display with a brief caption about my research and connection to my patriot ancestor. 

Michael Nolden Henderson
Lieutenant Commander, USN Retired

       I realize the caption under the picture is a bit hard to read so here is what it says:

Lieutenant Commander Michael  Nolden Henderson,  Metro Atlanta, Ga.
On June 29th, Henderson, a retired U.S. Naval Officer, was inducted into the Button Gwinnett Chapter, Georgia Society of the SAR -- the first African American in Georgia to do so. Research led to his Louisiana Creole ancestry and to Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla, a French national from Marseilles, France. Devaux served as a militiaman under Spanish Governor General Bernardo Galvez. Henderson compiled birth, marriage, and death records for seven generations, as well as documents such as the December 16, 1779 manumission (freedom papers) of his fourth generation great-grandmother, and the 1810 will of his Revolutionary War patriot ancestor. The story of Henderson’s fourth generation great-grandparents and their connection to General Galvez and the American Revolution is the subject of a segment on PBS the series “History Detectives” titled “Galvez Papers,” which can be viewed online  (double click here) at

Saturday, October 2, 2010

First Creole Governor Of Louisiana Found In My Family Tree

"I collect dead relatives and sometimes a live cousins"

In my last blog post,  I mentioned several individuals who were involved in the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768, of which one,  Joseph Antoine Villere accused of Treason and put to death.  Well, as it turns out,  Villere and his wife Marguerite de La Chaise  had a son named Jacques Phillipe Villere
Jacques Phillipe Villere
(1761 - 1830)
First Creole Governor 
of Louisiana
(1816 - 1820)

He was born on the Jefferson Parish plantation of his maternal grandfather Jacques de La Chaise, April 28, 1761; son of Joseph Antoine Villeré,  captain of militia of the German Coast, and Louise Marguerite de La Chaise. Married Jeanne Henriette de Fazende, August 18, 1784, at St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. Children: René Gabriel, Adèle, Jules, Delphin, Céleste, Félix, Anatole, and Léocadie. Trained as a page in the court of Louis XVI and at age 18 commissioned an artillery officer in Saint-Domingue. The death of his mother impelled his return to Louisiana in the 1780s, where he married and settled as a landowner. It was on his plantation below New Orleans that the British established themselves in 1814 to begin the campaign of the Battle of New Orleans, in which Villeré served with distinction as a major general of the state militia. Political career: named to staff of Pierre Clément Laussat during the transition in 1803 from French to American control; delegate to 1812 state constitutional convention; governor of Louisiana, 1816-1820; administration noted for effort to provide bankruptcy for debtors, the designation of death by dueling a capital offense; and reduction of state debt; bid for reelection as governor failed in 1824. Died, March 7, 1830; interred St. Louis Cemetery, New Orleans. 

Here is an interesting family connect as a result of linking Gilbert D'arensbourg, my 3rd generation great grandfather into the D'arensbourg family tree:

Marguerite de La Chaise,  Jacques Phillipe Villere's  mother is the Granddaughter of Karl Frederick D'arensbourg,  my 6th generation great grandfather.  Marguerite de la Chaise's mother was Marguerite Marie D'ARENSBOURG is the sister of Pierre Frederick D'arensbourg Sr. father of Pierre Frederick D'Arensbourg, Jr.  father of Gilbert D'Arensbourg,my 3rd generation great grandfather.  So here is how Jacques Phillipe Villere  is related to me too.
Karl Frederick D'arensbourg
1694 - 1777

Karl Fredrick D’ARENSBOURG            

  b. 1694
  d. 18 Nov 1777

& Catherine Marguerite  METZERINE                         
  d. 13 Dec 1776
| Pierre Fredrick DARENSBOURG
|   b. 1731, German Coast, La
|   d. 3 Aug 1788, St Charles Parish  La.
| & Elizabeth DUCLOS DE SELLE
|   b. Illinois
|   d. 22 Feb 1803, St Charles Parish  La.
|   m. 22 Feb 1762,  in Fort Chartres, Illinois.
| |   b. 1766
| |   d. 15 Nov 1799, St Charles Parish  La.
| | & Felicite
| |   b. 1764
| |   Unmarried
| | | Gilbert D’ARENSBOURG*  (Michael 3rd Generation Great Grandfather)
| | |   b. 15 Oct 1799, St Charles Parish  La.
| | |   d. 2 Jan 1874, St Charles Parish, La
| | | & Celestine BUTLER
| | |   b. 1810
| | |   d. 1873, St. Charles Parish. La
| | |   m. 16 Sep 1834, St Charles Parish  La.
| | | Gilbert D’ARENSBOURG*
| | |   b. 15 Oct 1799, St Charles Parish  La.
| | |   d. 2 Jan 1874, St Charles Parish, La
| | | & Marie JOSEPH
| | | Manette DARENSBOURG
| | |   b. 1790, St Charles Parish  La.
| | | & CANNON
| | Marguerite DARENSBOURG
| | & Joseph DELHOMMER
| | Elizabeth DARENSBOURG
| | & Etienne De VAUGINE
| | & Charles PERRET
| | Contance DARENSBOURG
| Charles Fredrick DARENSBOURG
|   b. 1726, St Charles Parish, Louisiana.
|   d. abt 1819, St Charles Parish, Louisiana.
| & Francsoise De La VERGNE
|   m. 18 Jun 1766,  St. Charles Parish, Louisiana
| | Charles Frederick DARENSBOURG III
| | Louis Zenon DARENSBOURG
| | & Celeste PERRET
| |  Jean-Baptiste Gustave DARENSBOURG*
| |  Jean-Baptiste Gustave DARENSBOURG*
| | &  Mathilde PERET
| |   m. 7 Jan 1805,  St. James Parish, Louisiana
| | & Pouponne PERRET
| Marguerite Marie D'ARENSBOURG
| & Jacque De la CHAISE
| | Auguste De la CHAISE
| | Marie De la CHAISE
| | & Francois CHAUVIN DE LERY
| | Louise Mignone De la CHAISE
| | &  Joseph Roy VILLERE
| | | Jacque Phillipe VILLERE
| | |   b. 28 Apr 1761
| | |   d. 7 Mar 1830
| | Pelagie Honorine De la CHAISE
| | & Michel Edmond FORSTALL
| | Marguerite De la CHAISE
| | Charles De la CHAISE
| | Philippe De la CHAISE
| | & Catherine de MOULION
| | Charlotte De la CHAISE
| | Mlle De la CHAISE
| | & Marest De la TOUR
| & Pierre Marest De la TOUR
| & Eugene de MACARTY

Now that I know where Jacques Phillips Villere (First Creole Governor of  Louisiana) is positioned on a branch of my Family's tree,  I am wondering what level of cousin he is to me.   Another interesting family mystery with  a new twist or should I say ancestral connection.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rebellion and Acts of Treason

As I continue to delve deeper into Louisiana’s Colonial history -- as well as my ancestral connections to several important individuals and family lines -- I am finding interesting stories of rebellion and acts of treason. 

In 1768, the French Louisiana Territory was to be handed over from French to Spanish rule as was agreed to in the Treaty of Fontainbleu.  This was 11 years before Spain declared war against Great Britain, which ushered Louisiana into the American Revolution 1779. The handover was an attempt by the French to ease tensions between the two nations and to ensure that the territory would not fall into the hands of the British at the end of the French and Indian War.

The Louisiana Territory at this time was primarily inhabited by French and German settlers along with several native tribes. Most of the influential people of the area were of French descent. These inhabitants were not content to let their territory be handed over to Spain and to accept Spain's restrictions on trade. This, in combination with a fairly slow handover and a weak Spanish military presence, opened the door to the rebellion.

The rebellion itself was aimed at forcing the Spanish Governor Antonia de Ulloa to return to Spain. Ulloa was, in fact, forced to return to Spain in October of 1768. However, that did not end the rebellion. The ruler of Spain quickly dispatched Alejandro O'Reilly and a fleet of ships to end the rebellion. O'Reilly successfully put down the rebellion and executed the leaders of the rebellion. This firmly established Spanish rule of the Louisiana Territory.

As I looked closely at the names of several of the conspirators who were accused of treason and were eventually put to death as a result of their participation in the rebellion, I discovered a few interesting aspects of history and more ancestral connections. What I did discovered was at least three of the six men (Lafreniere, Villere, Noyan) who were put to death for their involvement in the rebellion, were related to Karl Frederick D’arensbourg. As I mentioned in an earlier post, D'arensbourg is my 6th generation great-grandfather. This means that those participants in the rebellion are also related to me. 

I have more research to do. However, learning about this aspect of Louisiana's history and my ancestral connection to another revolution that took place in Louisiana is fascinating.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Following The Paper Trail and Discovering Another Manumission Document

Manumission Document
 the Missing link to My
Native American Ancestry
Part 1
Manumission Document
 the Missing link to My
Native American Ancestry
Part 2

My ancestral research continues to take me along many interesting twists and turns. One in particular I now believe has connected me and my Louisiana ancestry to a Native American line.  

It all came about while I was researching another one of my Louisiana Creole ancestral lines. Interestingly enough, this ancestral connection was two generations down from Agnes Mathieu and Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo.  Given the document I have discovered, I can now claim  descendency from Rouensa, Chief of the Illiniwek Indian tribe in the late 17th/early 18th century, via his daughter, Marie.  Here is how this all came to be.

One of Agnes Mathieu’s and Mathieu Devaux dit Platilla’s grandsons, Francois Mathieu -- son of Louis Mathieu and Claire Eulalie Peytavin -- was married to Rosette Philomena D'aresnbourg. She was the daughter of Gilbert D'arensbourg and Celestine Bulter. Rosette Philomena D'arensbourg, my 2nd generation great-grandmother was my first link into the D'arensbourg family tree.

For several years I had experienced some challenges locating the parents of her father, my 3rd generation great-grandfather, Gilbert D’ARENSBOURG. He was my next major link into the D’ARENSBOURG family of the "Cote des Allemands" or German Coast and to the progenitor of this family, Karl Fredrick D'Arensboug, a Swedish officer who worked for the Company of the Indies and arrived in Louisiana in 1721. Karl D’ARENSBOURG was to play a vital role in the history of the German Coast as well as that of New Orleans.  There exists a line of mixed-race Creoles of color among the D’ARENSBOURGS,  from which my family descends. Many stories have developed over the years about how such came to be.  

Some have said that the Creoles of color branch of the D’ARENSBOURGS most likely derived from former slaves, who after emancipation took on the D’ARENSBOURG surname as their own. This explanation could be quite believable and convenient, especially if the family’s official historian was attempting to explain away the miscegenation (race mixing) that occurred between several of the D’ARENSBOURG men and their former slaves. These men and their concubine often cohabitated and eventually D’ARENSBOURG produced mixed-race offspring, one of which was my 3rd generation great-grandfather, Gilbert D’ARENSBOURG. He was listed as a quadroon (meaning one parent was white and the other mulatto -- half black/half white), according to the Louisiana standard of racial classification.

What finally led me to the discovery of my Native American heritage -- and a completely different story of my ancestral connection to the D’ARENSBOURG surname -- was when I located a slave manumission document dated November 28, 1799. Listed on the two pages written in French were the names of a one-month-old boy named Gilbert, a nine-year-old girl named Manette, both listed as quadroons, and their mulatto mother named Felicite, who was listed as the concubine of Pierre Frederick D’ARENSBOURG, Jr., who had died just 13 days earlier.  

This family of three was being granted their freedom by Elizabeth Duclos DE SALLE, widow of Pierre Frederick D’ARENSBOURG, Sr., and mother of Pierre Frederick D’ARENSBOURG, Jr. After the death of her son, Elizabeth had the awesome task of determining the fate of this slave woman and her two children. Rather than selling them on the auction block, she decided to grant them their freedom. The manumission document explained that the reason for granting their freedom was “in recognition of the good and faithful service" that Felicite had rendered for at least the last four years of Pierre Frederick D’ARENSBOURG's life. Elizabeth Duclos DE SALLE most likely knew of her son's cohabitation and relationship with his slave concubine, Felicite. I would have to suspect that the children who were born were most likely Elizabeth's quadroon grandchildren. 

Karl Frederick D'Arensbourg 
   (1694 -1777)

As I further researched the background of Elizabeth Duclos DE SALLE, I discovered that she too was of mixed-race ancestry (French and Native American). In fact, she was the granddaughter of a full-blooded Indian named Marie “Aramepinchone” ROUENSA and a French military officer. ROUENSA, herself was the daughter of François-Xavier Rouensa, Chief of the Kaskaskian tribe. 

Stories have been written which tell of Marie ROUENSA and her conversion to the Catholic faith, which set into motion a sequence of conversions among her native people. This turn of events laid the basis for the founding of the Franco-Indian settlement of Kaskaskia in 1703, a momentous event in early Illinois history. This was at least 15 years before my hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana was founded in 1718.

Many have read about the Native American woman, Sacajawea, who helped Lewis and Clark on their exploration of the Louisiana territory after 1803. I believe I have discovered my family's "Sacajawea" in finding Marie ROUENSA, my 7th generation great-grandmother 100 years earlier. Equally exciting, is the connection to the Swedish D’ARENSBOURG family of the "Cote des Allemands." Connecting these two lines of my heritage is truly amazing for me. As it turns out, Pierre Frederick D’ARENSBOURG, Jr. was the grandson of Karl Frederick D’ARENSBOURG. Seeing that Pierre had a quadroon son with the now freed woman, Felicite, that would make this one-month-old boy, Gilbert, the great grandson of Karl Frederick D’ARENSBOURG. Finally, I had discovered the link to my ancestral connection into the D’Arensbourgs of "Cote des Allemands." (see pedigree chart).

Michael Nolden Henderson

FRANCES     ?    (Albert Henderson)
NELLIE MATHIEU   (Thomas   ? ) 
CHARLES MATHIEU  (Georgiana Legaux)
                                                                           |                                           I
                                                                           |                                           |
                                                                           |                                           |
                                                  Louis Mathieu / Claire Eulalie Peytavin             |
                                                       |                                                               |
                                                       |                                                               |
                                          Mathieu DeVaux dit Platillo / Agnes Mathieu             |
                                                                                  GILBERT D’ARENSBOURG /(Celestine Butler)
                                      I                                                                                                I
                                      I                                                                                                I
                PIERRE Fredrick D’Arensbourg JR.                                                       FELICITE                                                  
                   (Mixed Race)                                                                                   (Mulatto/ Mixed Race)
                              I                                                                         I      (Quadroon /Mixed Race) 
         KARL FREDRICK D’ARENSBOURG                                         I
                                                       ALEXANDRE DUCLOS DESELLE/ ELIZABETH PHILLIPPE                                                        
                                                                               (French)            |     (Mulatto/Mixed Race) 
                                                      MICHEL PHILIPPE  /Marie “Aramepinchone” ROUENSA
                                                                               (French)           I     (Full Blood Native Indian)
                                                            FRANCOIS XAVIER “ MAMENTHOUENSA” ROUENSA
                                                                                     (Full Blood Native Indian)