Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Francois Ferbos, French Immigrant

Barsac is a commune located on the left bank of the Garonne river in the Gironde Department of southwestern France, about 20 miles from Bordeaux, the department capital.  It is one of the oldest communities in France and is rich in both natural beauty and history.  For centuries, Barsac and its nearby communities have been renowned for the sweetest wines ever produced.  The town itself gives its name to a wine-making appellation, Barsac AOC, that produces sweet white wines.  The town and its vineyards  are separated from the area of Sauternes to the south by the Ciron river, whose cooling effect is of key importance in encouraging the annual action of the Botrytis fungus on the Semillon grapes.  
As I browsed images of the region, I was amazed by the beauty of it.  There are many ancient buildings remaining in the area, surrounded by rolling hills and rich fertile valleys, enclosed within tall stone gates.  It is a place I would love to someday visit.  On the other hand, it is a place that one Frenchman left behind.  Why would one desire to leave such a beautiful place?  What dreams did Francois Ferbos desire to pursue by leaving his home in France and coming to America?  In the late 1770's and early 1800's, France was in a state of war with Britain.  Social oppression and religious persecution were common. Some of the French natives willingly came to America in hopes of a more prosperous life and religious freedom while others were driven out of their country.  I can only surmise that Francois Ferbos sought something that he did not have in his home country.  I can only wonder if he found satisfaction with his life here in America.

Francois Ferbos was born 12 January 1777 in Barsac, in the department of Gironde, France.  Family legend states that he was the son of Francois Ferbos and Marie Jeanne Nercam, but that information is not documented to my knowledge.  Although I have not yet located a copy of the passenger ship list documenting the arrival of Francois Ferbos, there is knowledge that Francois was in America by the early 1800's because on 23 October 1804, he married Marie Victorine "Reine" Trahan in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  Reine was born 03 October 1787 in St. Gabriel, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the daughter of Jean Baptiste Trahan and Anne Genevieve Daigre.  Did Francois travel alone to America, or was he with other family members?  How old was he when he arrived?  I wish I knew.  

A search through census records in Louisiana from 1810 through 1830 yielded no results.  I did find Francois Ferbos on the 1840 census in West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  That record shows his household members as one male between age 60-69 (Francois), one female age 50-59 (Reine) and one male age 20-29 (probably his son, Valmont).  The census also shows that Francois was a slaveholder, with a total of 20 slaves.  I would like to know how much land he owned but a search through land records has thus far been unsuccessful.  

The 1850 census shows that Francois Ferbos, age 72, and his wife "Reme", age 63, remained in West Baton Rouge Parish.  He was listed as a planter.  By that time, his son Valmont had married and was no longer in the same household.  

Francois Ferbos died on 19 April 1856.  His body was laid to rest in Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church Cemetery, Brusly, West Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana.  The inscription (written in the French language) on his head stone reads:

born in Barsac, 
department of Gironde, F
12 Jan 1777
died in West Baton Rouge
19 April 1856

His memorial is listed on Find a Grave.  Click here for the link.  

His wife, Reine remained in West Baton Rouge Parish and is shown on the 1860 census.  Another female, Hinorine? Ferbos, age 30, lived in the household with her.  Reine died 02 September 1868.  I have not yet located her grave site.  

Known children of Francois Ferbos and Marie Victorine "Reine" Trahan:
i.   Paul Alfred Ferbos- born 28 October 1807, married first Adeline Sidalise Landry, married second Pamelia Marson
ii.   Valmont Ferbos- born about 1813, married Marie Arthimese Landry

I believe that Francois and Reine had more children, but as of now, it is uncertain.  There is a Francois Ferbois on the 1866 U.S. IRS Tax Assessment List in Louisiana- could that be another son of Francois and Reine?  It is also possible that taxes were being paid on the items from their estate.  

If anyone has further knowledge of Francois and his family, please contact me- I would love to hear from you!  Thanks.

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