11 June 2009

The History of the Fontenots in North America

Sergeant Jean-Louis Fonteneau, left home (Poitiers, France) in 1720 on the ship "Drommadaire" for assignment in the colonies. He came through Mobile, the French military headquarters and the seat of government for the Louisiana territory, and was initially assigned to Fort Conde near Mobile. In 1726 he met and married a young widow named Marie Louise Henrique in Mobile. She was about 27 years old and Jean-Louis was 40. Shortly afterward, he and Marie moved to Fort Toulouse, some 300 or so miles up river from Mobile and remained there for many years afterward; enough time to have and raise 12 children (8 boys, 4 girls). Jean-Louis died at the fort in October 1755 and Marie and the rest of the family remained there until it was surrendered to the English in 1763. Rather than submit to English rule, the family and many of their Indian friends moved west and resettled on land grants in Spanish controlled Louisiana. It is from this family that all of us descended. The spelling of our last name was probably changed to its current spelling by the Spanish census authorities when the family settled in Louisiana. Our progenitor's (Jean-Louis) remains lie in an unmarked grave at the cemetery at Fort Toulouse.

All Fontenot's in the United States are descendants of Sergeant Jean Louis Fontenot (Fonteneau). Jean Louis was one of six children born to Joachim Fonteneau and Joane Prado from the St. Germain Parish in Monturneuf, city of Poitiers, France. He was born on December 18, 1686. Jean Louis joined the French Colonial Marines as a young man and left France in 1720, at the age of 34, for assignment in the Mobile (Alabama) military district. Six years later (February 8, 1726) he married a widow from New Orleans (Marie Louise Henrique) and was assigned to the Poste aux Alabama (Fort Toulouse) shortly afterwards. Based on "roll call" records at the fort in the mid 1700s, it appears that Jean Louis was the only sergeant at the garrison of about 40 soldiers. He and Marie Louise had twelve children, 8 sons and 4 daughters, all born at the post. When these children became of age (teenagers), the boys joined the marines and married daughters of other marines and the girls married sons of other marines at the fort. Family names for the spouses were Doucet, Brignac, LaGrange, Lobell and Berthelot.

Jean Louis died in September 1755 at the age of sixty-nine and is buried in the cemetery at the fort; however, the exact location of his remains are not known.

In 1763, the fort was abandoned by the French and came under the possession of the British. At that time, seven Fontenot sons (one son, Francoise, died several years earlier in Mobile), their families, the widow (Marie Louise), the daughters and their families migrated westward and resettled on land grants in the Louisiana territory. Some of the daughters and their families settled in what is now Edgard, Louisiana. All of the sons and their families (including the widow Louise) settled in the vicinities of Opelousas, Chataignier, Ville Platte and Church Point, after a short stint in the area of Pointe Coupee. All Fontenot's in this country are direct descendants of these early settlers.

Taken from The Fontenot Family Home Page


bilis said...

Awesome Lu! Glad you posted that. Given the amount of Fontenot's now, they must have been some potent SOB's.

Brian Branch said...

Interesting. I want to visit Louisiana one day. I am half english half acadian myself

Lucius A. Fontenot said...

I think it is cool that I am Creole (the Fontenot part) and I am Cajun/Cadien/Acadien (Savoy & Dupis -each a grandmere.)