Monthly Archives: February 2017

300 Years Ago, 1717: We Got Cows!

Momentous changes were in store for Louisiana in 1717-1718. The old Crozat monopoly was done for and the new Company of the West began to get things done. For the next decade, the Company would run the colony. Although the new company’s rule was not always a panacea, the population continued to grow during the 1720’s and more and more of the Louisiana territory came under French control.

In 1717 the new shape of the colony began to take on more and more focus. Over the next several months, arrangements were being made to recruit Germans (really Alsatians and Lorrainer’s) for Louisiana. On a more somber note, the slave trade was ramping up for transport from West Africa to Louisiana. But these things were planned not actuated for many months. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Meanwhile from two more or less reliable sources, we learn . . .

Jean Baptiste Bernard de Le Harpe: Summary of his chronicles of 1717:

March, 1717. Two royal vessels arrived at Dauphine Island carrying the new ?transition? government as Crozat’s regime ended and the Company of the West took over Louisiana. Within a few weeks,{towards the end of the month} one of the ships, the Ludlow, was sent to Havana to buy cattle for the colony. They purchased 60 cows, but loose lips sink cows, and the Spanish governor found out about the purchase and removed 45 cows from the ship, leaving the colony with only 15.

August, 1717. “a commercial company was formed in France and named the Company of the West” Also under the August entry: “. . . The colony numbered 700 people and about 400 head of cattle . . .”

From Giraud’s History of French Louisiana, Vol. 2, p. 122.

The new Company of the West “decided that the ships should pick up some cattle at Havana,a scheme that was to come to nothing.”

Here, once again, from the standard academic history and a primary source, testimony is provided that even though times were tough early on for Louisiana, these 700 Europeans did indeed have some food sources. Better than one head of beef cattle per every two colonists provided milk and beef on an on-going basis. and while the French settlers have achieved fame as being lazy and not interested in agriculture, most everybody had a garden and access to the rich bounty of the vast forests (game, nuts, and fruits) and endless waterways of south Louisiana. After all, these 700 people “had to eat” something.

SNEAK PREVIEW: 1717-18 SET UP OF THE TRICENTENNIAL:

{{{{{{Throughout the autumn of 1717, the company began to get organized and at the end of the year, ships sailed to Louisiana and arrived in February of 1718 with what was the kickoff of whole new era for the colony – To Wit:

• The ships landed a fourth company of infantry.
• M. de Boisbriant arrived, commissioned as royal lieutenant of the colony.
• Governor L’Epinay was recalled and Bienville was commissioned a Commandant General (aka governor) of Louisiana.
• M. Hubert was named named director general (the money guy) of Louisiana.
• 60 French immigrants arrived.
• An abortive expedition to St. Joseph’s bay in Florida was attempted but ended in failure.
• Bienville began to scope out “a suitable spot on the banks of the Mississippi” to build a new capital, then sent a group of 50 or so laborers to clear the land where the Bayou St. John portage met the river – 😉 and you’ll never guess what happened then :-0 }}}}}

But these events are really the part of the opening blog entry for next year.

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