County Archives main page
(Updated June 18, 2004)
Within three or four miles of the town of Dallas, on the West side of the river, near Reunion, the reader may see (if he will take the trouble to go that far), a rare sight for this section of country, and one which we could hardly believe, if not aware of the facts, and which will convince anyone that Northern Texas is capable of producing almost any fruit raised in the tropics. Mr. Reverchon, who lives 1 1/2 miles south of Reunion, has in his garden, besides almost every species of garden vegetable known to this continent, fruits of almost every clime, such as grapes, of Italy and France, together with such as are common to Texas; Apricots, larger than the ordinary peach, Quinces of the best quality, Pears, Plums (almost as large as walnuts), Nectarines, Peaches of the most luscious kind, and equal to any grown in any part of the United States, Apples of various kinds, Almonds, both hard and soft shell, full size and growing upon trees from 10 to 15 feet high, Bananas, and a number of other fruits of the United States, the West Indies and Europe, of which we do not now remember the names. Besides the above Mr. R. has a rare selection of flowers of every variety, and his gardens are laid off and adorned in a manner equal to those of European and other cities.
- o o o -
THE STATE OF TEXAS,
Sheriff or any Constable of Dallas County-Greeting:
That Amand Guillemet and Angelle A. Vacher are the only heirs of Auguste Guillemet, deceased; that Maxime Vacher is the husband of Angelle A. Vacher and joins herein pro forma; that Mrs. Alexandrine Charles Camille Scholastigue Savarden is the sole heir of August Savarden, deceased; that Mrs. Marguerite Catherine Bossereau is the widow and sole heir of Abel Hyacinthe Dailly, deceased; that plaintiffs and defendants are tenants in common on the following land lying in Dallas County, Texas, being a part of the Enoch Horton survey and known as the west half of Section No. 12, meted and bounded as follows: Beginning at a point on the south side of said survey 285 varas west of the original southeast corner of said survey. Thence west with said line 475 varas. Thence north crossing the West Fork of the Trinity River 1900 varas to north line of said survey. Thence east with said line 475 varas. Thence south 1900 varas to the beginning, containing 120 acres.
That in the division of said land in proportion to the sum of money paid by each respectively, therefore, Charles Capy is entitled to 1 9/10 acres, Angelle Vacher is entitled to 17 9/10 acres, Amand Guillemet is entitled to 17 9/10 acres, Mrs. Alexandrine Charles Camille Scholastigue Lecler Savarden is entitled to 60 8/10 acres, Mrs. Marguerite Catherine Bossereau is entitled to 11 7/10 acres, Bonnin is entitled to 1 1/12 acres, Lebatteuax is entitled to 20-23 of an acre, Guillon is entitled to 5-23 of an acre, Gruan is entitled to 5-23 of an acre, Chambris is entitled to 20-23 of acre and Mme. de la Fontaine Solare for herself and children is entitled to 6 1/2 acres.
Wherefore, plaintiffs sue and pray for partition of said land among themselves and defendants according to the rights of each. Herein fail not, but have you then and there, before said Court, this writ, with your return thereon, showing how you have executed the same.
J. H. Stewart, Clerk of the District Court of Dallas County,
J. H. STEWART, Clerk, District Court, Dallas Co., Tex.
- o o o -
OLD FRENCH COLONY.
Dallas in 1855.
Theories of the French Econ-
Stories of Reunion and the Colonists.
How They Lived Beyond the River,
and How They Are Scattered.
Thirty-six years ago, come the 27th of April, one traveling from Dallas toward Fort Worth would have been attracted by a busy scene on the right, when a point had been reached about three miles from the river. In the center of an elevated plateau, this traveler would have seen a numerous company of laborers busily engaged preparing to erect houses. He would have heard the ring of the ax as it ate into the tree, the crash of the saw, the whir of the plane, the sound of the hammer and the clink of the trowel as a stone was shaped. If this traveler has been of an inquiring mind and had turned from his route for a closer inspection of this busy scene, surprise would have succeeded to idle curiosity. He would have heard these laborers talking as they worked, but talking in unknown tongue. A song may have been caroled, but all save its melody was meaningless to him. Had he asked a question of a workman, he would have been answered by a shake of the head or a shrug of the shoulders, the traveler would have passed on wondering. And well he might wonder! For he had seen, unknowingly, a notable sight. He had seen a colony of Europeans engaged in the beginning of an attempt to exploit the peculiar social theories of Francois Charles Marie Fourier. He had seen a company of communists, sans culottes, if you will, with their heads full of formulas engaged in an attempt to found a Utopia on the prairies of Texas. He had seen the laying of the foundations of the old French colony, Reunion.
On April 26, 1852, Dallas had a sensation somewhat different from those which usually furnished her with gossip. On that day, several wagons drawn by patient oxen, came into the town from the direction of Houston. There was nothing in the appearance of a train of ox wagons of a sensational character, for even then, the star of empire was taking its way westward. But the men who came with these wagons were different from the ordinary immigrants. They wore blouses, which gave them a womanish appearance to the strapping Texan pioneers, clad in their buckskin garments, trophies of their prowess in the chase. On their feet were wooden sabots, contrasting strangely with the leather shoes which encased the feet of the natives. Perhaps a bonnet rouge may have crimsoned the head of some of the strangers. For these men were of revolutionary brood. Their parents had probably seen Robes Pierre's guillotine at its busiest and they, themselves, had probably danced the carmagnole and felt their blood grow feverish as they chanted the Marseillaise with its "allons! marchons! pour la patrie." The curiosity of the citizens of Dallas was soon gratified with regard to these strangers. Mr. Guillot, said to be the first Frenchman who settled in Dallas, was living here. He could converse with the strangers for they were his countrymen; and it is likely that he told the curious who they were and what they proposed doing. The strangers did not tarry in the town. They passed on to the Trinity, crossed it on a rude bridge said to have been constructed by Mr. Cockrell, father of the Cockrells who live here now, pushed on across the bottoms and camped that night three miles beyond the Trinity. Their camp was the site of Reunion. They began work the next day. The first group of the French colony had arrived and Dallas county had received the nucleus of her foreign population.
The story of the old French colony, or of Reunion, is almost like a leaf out of a romance. It was an attempt to establish communism, or, as the leaders of the movement put it, social democracy in America on a large scale. The peculiar school which the colonists represented was that of Fourier. Fourier was born in 1772, and early in life, became impressed with the conviction that social arrangements resulting from individualism and competition were imperfect and even immoral. He was an apostle of natural optimism, holding that the free development of human nature, or the unrestrained indulgence of human passion, is the only way to happiness and virtue. He held that society must be reconstructed on these lines and, as a means of reconstruction, advocated co-operative industry. Society on his scheme, was to be divided into phalanges, each phalange was to live in a common house and cultivate an allotted portion of the soil. The houses were to be built after a uniform plan. Agriculture was to be the principal industry, but the series and groups into which the members were divided, might devote themselves to such occupations as were most pleasing. It was not necessary to abolish private property, nor was the privacy of family life impossible. Each family may have separate apartments and there may be richer and poorer members. Out of the common product of the phalange, a certain portion is deducted to furnish each member with subsistence, and the remainder is distributed in shares to labor, capital and talent-five-twelfths to the first, four twelfths to the second and three-twelfths to the third. At first, his scheme attracted no attention, but when Fourier attacked the doctrines of other French socialists, the public became interested.
In 1834, Victor Considerant became a disciple of Fourier, and to that discipleship is to be attributed the founding the French colony in Dallas county. In 1832, a newspaper was started by the school and was published till 1850, when it was suppressed. The name of the paper in its last years was the Pacific Democrat and Considerant was the editor. When Louis Philippe was dethroned in 1848, and Louis Napoleon chosen president, Considerant adhered to the republicans and was elected to the constituent assembly. In July 1849, taking part in a republican demonstration in favor of the Roman republic, he was forced to leave France and retired to Belgium.
All this time, the Fourier propaganda was being preached and was winning converts. Converts were easy to make after the coup d'etat of 1851, by which Napoleon assumed the title of emperor. The red revolution was not so far in the past that the people had forgotten the cry of liberty, equality and fraternity. Considerant was devoted to the socialistic principles of Fourier and he thought the United States offered a splendid field for the exploitation of those principles. In the state of unrest in France, he was certain of followers and he determined to make the venture. Accordingly, he visited America in 1853 in order to select a site for his colony.
When Considerant visited America, he met a Mr. Brisbane, now living in New York, and succeeded in interesting him in his colonial project. Mr. Brisbane, it seems, was acquainted with Major Merrill of the United States army, who it said is still living, and informed him of the project. Major Merrill, at that time, was stationed at Fort Worth and offered Considerant every facility to aid him in selecting a site. Various sites were inspected, and finally 12,000 acres of land were selected in Dallas county beyond the Trinity. Lands were also purchased in Uvalde county. Considerant returned to Brussels to organize a company to carry out his project. He was arrested on a charge of conspiracy, but was released, and in 1854, the colonization company was organized in Paris.
Among the stockholders were Mr. Brisbane of New York, Mr. Berkely of the Swiss congress, a brother of Marshal Bazaine and other notables. The capital of the company was very large and the mother colony was to be founded near Dallas, and from that mother the projectors hoped that many children would be born.
Considerant, at this time, published a book, "To Texas," pointing in glorious colors the advantages offered by the state and the success that a colony might achieve organized on the principles of Fourier. The book created a perfect furor among the socialists, not only of France, but of Europe. The disciples of Fourier in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany tumbled over each other in order to get in on the ground floor. The conditions made by Considerant's company were that the colonists should cultivate the land near Dallas, pay the company six per cent per annum on the capital invested, and divide the remainder as prescribed by Fourier. The company was to manage the affairs of the colony by a director and was to employ bookkeepers to look after the co-operative accounts.
The company soon had as many volunteers as it wanted-all ardent believers in the socialism of Fourier. The character of the colonists, too, was good. They were sturdy artisans, mostly, and staunch republicans all. The believed in liberty, equality and fraternity as cardinal principles and, if those principles could triumph in no other way, would not have objected to letting a little aristocratic blood as their fathers had done. Most of them had been at their mother's breasts when the guillotine was being worn out on the necks of the nobility at the close of the last century, and had imbibed republicanism from their birth. Many of them had left France when Napoleon the Little, became emperor, rather than endure his usurpation. In addition, had they not the formulas of Fourier, and could not a happy life be evolved from these formulas in free America?
"To Texas" bore fruit rapidly. The French and Belgian colonists rendezvoused at Antwerp and the Swiss and German at Zurich. From those places, they were to begin the journey to Texas. The plan was to send the colonists out in groups, the groups to meet at New Orleans and from there, proceed to Texas. Of course, the delays incident to travel deranged these plans. Some groups reached New Orleans before others and immediately pushed on to Dallas.
The first group to leave the Crescent city was one of which Ex-Alderman Louckx was a member. Mr. Louckx is living in Dallas now on Floyd street. Mr. Louckx tells an interesting story about his group's trip. They sailed from New Orleans for Galveston in February. After reaching Galveston, they proceeded by the bayou to Houston and took ox wagons from there to Dallas.
The passage of these foreigners through the country created a sensation. Mr. Louckx says fame out-traveled the oxen and that at every settlement between here and Houston, crowds of the natives were collected to view them. The weather was fine and the prairie bespangled with flowers. Mr. Louckx's group, as all other groups, was in joyous spirits. They took everything unknown for magnificent. Six weeks were consumed by Mr. Louckx's group in reaching Dallas. This was the avant coureur of the colony, which reached Dallas on April 26, 1855, and gave the inhabitants something to talk about.
As has been said, this group immediately proceeded to the site of the new Utopia. They found their 12,000 acres across the river but, save the trees and the flowers upon it, they found nothing else. But what cared they? Had they not the formulas of Fourier? And would not those formulas, religiously exploited, give plenty and happiness? So, the group began to build houses and to put those formulas into operation.
Group followed group in quick succession and soon a large number of colonists had arrived, among them Cantagrel, the director, and soon afterward, Considerant, the founder, and Joseph Bourgeois, the bookkeeper for the company.
The company had planned to send out groups representing as many different purposes as possible. There was to be an agricultural group, a mechanical group, a garden group and so on. The groups came fast, and soon everything was ready to test the formula of Fourier. Cattle were bought, wheat sown, a tin shop established, a turning mill and various other small industries put in operation. But, somehow the affairs of the colony did not seem to prosper. There was nothing in the formula of Fourier which said anything about the grasshoppers coming by millions and destroying the wheat. There was nothing in those theories, which, put in to practice, were to produce the ideal state, about prolonged drouths that made the prairie as dry as tinder and parched up the wheat. All these things the colonists experienced. The grasshoppers came and the drouth, too. The colonists saw their crops destroyed, they took in all with a good heart and joked each other, while the grasshoppers ate the wheat, about the seven plagues of Egypt.
But, though the formula of the socialist was not solving the problem of human happiness and prosperity at lightning sped, still the colonists had their social pleasures and they mad the most of them. Though the men had greatly outnumbered the women, yet the women came after a lapse of a few months.
The first woman to reach the colony was a Mrs. Despard. She was with the first group, and for a long time, did the cooking for the colonists. As soon as the first dwelling was built, however, Mrs. Barbier, who had stopped in Dallas while her husband and sons went on, came to keep Mrs. Despard company.
The colonists had a vocal music class of which Mr. Capy, now living in Dallas, was the director. They gathered in the ball room and forgot the formulas of Fourier, the grasshoppers and drouth while they sang the chansons of the dear mother country. They had no waxed floors, but there was the prairie with its green sward and many a fete champetre did these enthusiasts enjoy. They had a piano, too, the first every brought to Dallas county. It was brought by Mr. Bureau, secretary of the colony. Mr. Bureau's family came with him. They were all fine musicians and added no little to the pleasure of the colonists.
They had their weddings, too, and, strange to say, the first girl who married, chose not a colonist, but a Mr. Jones, then or afterwards, county clerk of Dallas. she was a Miss Dussau. The wife of Mr. Considerant gave birth to the first child. The first Fourth of July that came, the colonists celebrated. A large number of people from Dallas went over to see the celebration. The Fourier society at Lyons sent the colony a handsome silk flag which was used at all celebrations. The flag was afterwards destroyed by fire.
So long as the summer lasted, the colonists were reasonably happy, but with the coming of winter and the northers, their happiness vanished. The houses were of longs with great chinks in them, through which the keen wind whistled, and the Fourier formula seemingly had not contemplated cracks and wind. There was not room enough to accommodate the members of the colony, and they huddled together too closely for comfort. There was a house given up to the young men and they slept in little bunks, one above the other.
But the winter passed away and preparations for the new year were made. The colonists prepared for their wheat and various other crops, but it began to appear that, while the agricultural group should have formed the larger number of the colonists, there were but few agriculturists. It is said that there carpenters, florists, doctors, etc., in plenty, but the men who knew how to till the soil were in a minority. It is said that out of 500 colonists, there were not a dozen farmers. It is related of Mr. Cantegrel, the director, that in speaking of this state of affairs, he exclaimed: "Mon Dien! I am sent here to direct an agricultural colony and have no agriculturists to direct." The consequence was that the colonists soon found themselves with wheat on their hands which had cost them $3 per bushel, when their neighbors were selling the same wheat for 75 cents a bushel.
Then, too, individualism was beginning to assert itself. The desire to have some thing as an individual, something that could be used or killed or sold without calling a town meeting to discuss the matter, was making headway against the formula of Fourier. The Swiss contingent left and set up for themselves, across the Trinity at a place called Moon's Lake. The shrewder men among the colonists began to reason that, as they produced more than their fellows, there was not reason why they should not enjoy all they produced. So there was a drifting away of some of the best men. Nor were the colonists able to pay the 6 per cent interest. The disintegration of the colony had begun.
The final scattering came in 1858, about three years after the colony was founded. No one seems to know just how the crash came. There was no outbreak, no deliberating, the colony, consisting then of 500 persons, just melted away, some came across the river to Dallas, some few remained at the colony, some went back to France, some to New Orleans. Fourier's formula was forsaken. The attempt to found a Utopia in Texas had failed.
Some few of the old colonists and their descendants are in Dallas now, and from them, many interesting details have been gathered about the colony. These are: Messrs. Louckx, Capy, Boulay, Reverschon, Royer, Raymond, Michel, Boll, Loupot, Coiret, the Sontaire boys, the Barbiers and the Goetsells. Mrs. Christian, of Oak Cliff, and Mrs. Nussbaumer, were of the colonists.
Mr. Barbier is full of reminiscences of the old days. On one occasion, when he and Mr. Louckx were in their bunks in the bachelor building, lightning struck on that side of the building. The shock threw them out of their bunks and a steel-tipped stick under Mr. Louckx's bunk was shattered. Mr. Barbier's father had charge of the lime-kiln. At the time of the Cedar Hill cyclone, the old gentleman was at the lime-kiln and was seriously injured by the wreck of the kiln.
Mr. Raymond still lives near the site of the colony. Mr. Raymond married the eldest daughter of Mr. Sontaire, who is said to have been one of the only three farmers in the colony. Mrs. Raymond was one of the only three women in the colony who knew how to milk. The other two were Mrs. Sontaire and Mrs. Gouffre. Mr. Gouffre died in Dallas. He owned property just in rear of Sanger Bros.
Mr. Michel and Mr. Barbier did all the mason work for the colony. They directed the co-operative store and the director's house. These buildings were concrete and the first of the kind ever built in Dallas county.
Much interesting matter has also been obtained from Mrs. George Potter, nee Guillot, who lives at 113 Live Oak street. Mrs. Potter is the daughter of Mr. Guillot, who came to Dallas in 1848. Mr. Guillot was not a member of the colony, but he acted as interpreter for them. There is an interesting story connected with Mr. Guillot's coming to America. Some time in the '40's, a colony of French communists started for Texas. Their guide was a man named Gounant. Gounant was in the pay of the French government and was instructed to lead the colony into the wilds so that it might perish. He obeyed his instructions only too well, and lost the colony somewhere about Denton. The colonists suffered great hardships. Many of them died. Mr. Guillot had a brother-in-law in this colony and came to Texas to search for him. This colony discovered the treachery of their guide, tried him and condemned him to death. But some of them hesitated at this extreme step and, determined to mitigate the punishment. Gounant had a magnificent beard, and hair of which he was very vain. The colonists, in lieu of the death penalty, shaved his head and face and drove him into the woods. Gounant remained for some months in the wood. One day, a United States army officer came upon him as he was chopping wood. The officer was going to Fort Worth and was in some doubt as to the route. He inquired of Gounant, but the latter not speaking English very well, could give him no information. Gounant, however, was very smart and managed to catch the officer's meaning. He was an expert draughtsman and out of the rude materials, a hand soon made a sketch which gave the officer the information wanted. The officer recognized the man's talent and took him to Fort Worth and gave him employment. Gounant, in spite of his treachery, was received into the Dallas colony and became book-keeper.
Mr. Van Grinderbeck, who was one of the original colonists, returned to his home in Belgium when the dispersion took place. Mr. Van Grinderbeck was a great friend of Mr. Louckx, they having been reared in the same town. To Mr. Van Grinderbeck belongs the honor of having put in the first brewery plant at Dallas. He established his brewery in a house on the corner of Wood and Market. He made good bear, too, according to Mr. Louckx.
who was one of the book-keepers of the colony, died in Dallas.
He had a belief that the Trinity could be made navigable and
often discussed the project.
Reverschon and Barbeaux were among the gardeners and florists. Mr. Reverschon is here in Dallas. Mr. Barbeaux died in Galveston.
Mr. Broissy was one of the colonists. He has a daughter yet living near the site of Reunion.
A notable personage who visited the colony was Madame Clarisse Vigereau. She was an author of note. One of her best known works is "Paroles de Crolyant, or Words of a Believer." She was the mother-in-law of Considerant and returned to France.
After the colony scattered, the company kept agents here for several years to wind up its affairs. The last of these agents was Mr. Thevenet, yet living in Dallas. He wound up the business along in the sixties.
the founder, went to San Antonio after he saw his plans crumble,
and remained there several years. His wife died there. From San
Antonio, he returned to France, where his son now lives. Considerant
was an intimate friend of Ledru-Rollin, who opposed Louis Napoleon
for the presidency of the French republic.
Cantegral and Victor streets still recall the memory of these men to citizens of Dallas. And, it may be mentioned here that the people of Dallas spell the director's name incorrectly. It is "Cantegrel," not "Cantegral."
Though the colony as a colony failed and found no Utopia in its attempt to carry out the theories of Fourier, still it is certain that the individual members of it prospered. In spite of their wheat at $3 per bushel, which the neighbors were selling at 75 cents, most of the individual members got ahead. Some will see in this success of the individual a reason for the failure of the community. However that may be, nearly all of them managed to get ahead, and Dallas to-day, has no more thrifty citizens than the members of the old colony still living and their descendants. It is curious, too, that none of these members ever assign any reason for the failure of the colony. There seems to have been no dissensions. It was a fraternal community. It just simply scattered because it could not withstand the impetus of individualism. All these old members of the colony speak lovingly of Reunion. Their eyes glisten as they tell how the first house was built, of the first birth, of the first marriage, of the spring where they got water, of the thousand and one little things that made up the every day life of the colony. And yet, there is no regret in their tones. They seem to understand dimly that the problem of life, of society, of happiness, of prosperity, cannot be solved by the formula of Fourier. Still, Mr. Louckx yet likes to talk of Godin Lemaire, who was a friend of the colony, and who made a success of the co-operative plan in his great iron works at Guise, France.
The original colonists are rapidly passing away. Mr. Girard died the other day, and so did Mr. Henry, and the few yet remaining are advanced in years. Soon, Reunion will be only a tradition in Dallas.
One traveling westward from Dallas now would hardly notice the elevated plateau where Reunion was founded. The busy hum of labor that was heard there thirty-five years ago, is hushed. Cows wander where the joyous sons of France once gave their fetes champetres. The ball room has long since crumbled; the co-operative store is used for a barn. Of the many houses that once dotted that plateau, only four remain, and they have long since fallen into decay, as the sketches of them show. Reunion, with its enthusiasts who talked of the philosophers and yet knew not how to plow, has gone. The theory which Fourier spent his life in propagating, has failed. Individualism was too much for formula.
- o o o -
NAMES OF COLONISTS
French and Belgians Who
Came Here in Early Days.
Dallas, Then Known as Reunion.
Object of Long Journey.
Last week a reunion
of the survivors was held to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary
of the arrival in this city of the members of what is known as
the original French-Swiss colony. In this colony were many men
who had won distinction in Europe. Some of them came to the then
new country of Texas because of the greater opportunities afforded
by the New World. There were only a few survivors and at the
reunion they sepent the days in talking over the days when this
country was young.
In addition to
the foregoing, Alfred Allen, an American boy, was a member of
Of the original colony, only fifteen or sixteen are now living.
- o o o -
Death of Last Survivor of Old
French Colony Revives Memories
Of Its Interesting Projectors
BY LOUELLA STYLES VINCENT.
the most venerable and interesting characters of Dallas county
died Sunday night in her pretty cottage, 713 West Tenth street,
Oak Cliff, where, for ten or twelve years, she has been awaiting
Made Trip on Foot.
M. Emil Remond.
Printed in France.
- o o o -
OLD FRENCH SETTLEMENT NEAR DALLAS
HAD MANY SPLENDID CITIZENS
By W. S. ADAIR
at least two ways of looking at life, both for the individual
and the community. One view is that the start must be made from
nothing, and the way slowly won from one sure step to the next,
by the dim lantern of experience. The other is that man is already
perfect, and that in order to be propserous and happy, it is
only necessary for him to get rid of the errors and prejudices
of the past which oppress him. Both ways have been tried out
at the Forks of the Trinity. Dallas took the plodding way; Reunion,
the French colony, the other.
the example of Chateu-Briand, who in 1792, traversed the Mississippi
River from source to mouth, Considerant wrote a book of something
like 300 pages, entitled "Texas," giving an account
of his travels, and setting forth his impressions with all the
eloquence of Rousseau, combined with the picturing power of the
German romanticists. He utters exclamation after exclamation
at the vast reaches of savage forest, along the great rivers,
becomes enthusiastic over the simple life of the Indians and
speaks of the Choctaws taking lessons on the violin from a negro.
Mr. Monduel built a brewery and turned out the first beer brewed in Dallas County. The elder Reverchon, scientific farmer, preached dry farming fully fifty years before that method was again taken up and advocated it in this part of the county. He told the colonists that if they would plow the land deep in the fall and plant early in the spring, they could produce good crops of corn every year, and he showed them how to do it in the midst of one of the most distressing drouths of which tradition speaks. He also gave lessons in horticulture. He planted an extensive orchard near what is now Stop 27 on the interurban, and was the pioneer of the county in grafting and budding fruit trees. His orchard long outlasted the colony.
for the colony were selected by the directors in Europe, without
much regard to their fitness for pioneer life. They came in small
detachments during the first eighteen months, until there were
between 350 and 400 of them. The survivors of the colony are
not agreed as to the number. The recruits were chiefly from the
artisan classes. The result was that they became discouraged
before they could adjust themselves to an agricultural and pastoral
life. To aggravate the situation, a dreadful drouth prevailed
throughout this section, and with the exception of the few who
followed Mr. Reverchon's method of dry farming, the colonists
made very poor crops the first year, and for what they did make,
there was no market. There was no money in the colony and the
store and the restaurant found themselves doing a credit business.
the educated members of the colony could speak English and they
exercised a great influence on the Americans in this part of
the country. Men like Col. John C. McCoy appreicated them from
the start, welcomed them, and had them in their homes. The artisans
who settled in Dallas and other Texas towns, were thorough in
their respective lines, and there were no more skilled workmen
than those Ameicans who learned their trades under them. Some
of the colonists were the early music teachers and school teachers
in Dallas. In fact, much of what the colonists brought with them
in the way of culture and skill in the handcrafts was absorbed
by the community, and it has been of lasting value.
Emil Burkl; Jacob Nussbaumer; Henry Boll, wife, son Henry, and two daughters; Droxel; Stiffel; Yeuch; J. Peler; Schaerer; J. Knepfly and family; Reinhardt; Willis, wife, two sons and daughter; Bucher; Bar, wife and son; Witiker; Frick and family.
Van Derbosh; Ettein; Louis and William Van Grinderbeck; Rose, wife and son; Dr. Desmet; Goudsill, wife, son and three daughters; Vreidag.
Jacob Nussbaumer and Dorothy Boll; Henry Boll and Miss J. Griset; A. Lounetta and Miss Pimparef; Boulay and Miss Pimparet; Mr. Dailly and Miss Besseveau; L. Louis and Miss Henrietta -------.
George Cretien; Gustav Santerre; Emil Cretien, Alfred Guillemet, Mathilda Coiret.
Mrs. Lucie Ouirin, Mrs. Cesarin Remond, Mrs. Nativa Capy, German Santerre, and Emanuel Santerre, all of whom live in, or near, Dallas.
- o o o -
ONCE FAILED HERE
Tells Their Story.
Killing Indians and Hunting.
parents, Charles and Nativa Capy, came to Texas with the French
colonists who settled at Reunion, near the present town of Cement
City, in 1855," A. W. Capy of 4811 Junius street, said.
"The colony, which was an attempt to put into practice the
theory current at the time in France that communism would bring
about the happiest state of society, proved a failure, but whether
because of a defect in the theory, or the absence of some of
the necessary conditions of success, I shall not undertake to
Built Homes of Stone.
- o o o -
Citizens Were Endangered.
Close to Cement City.
"My parents, Athanaso and Augustine Cretien, came to Texas with the French colonists, who settled Reunion, near Cement City, arriving here May 10, 1856, seventy years ago this year," said George Cretien, 647 North Tyler street. "The colonists left France in January or February of that year, were sixty days on the ocean and thirty days making the trip in ox wagons from Houston to Dallas. Three months after their arrival, that is, on Aug. 11, I was born. My mother, who had been reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, the object of which, being in line with the sentiment that had moved the colonists to seek a home in the wilderness of Texas, made such a profound impression on her that she named me for Old George, the kindly negro character in that book. The French people at that time were without any of the prejudice that prevailed in this country against the negroes as a race. They viewed them as enslaved human beings with freedom justly coming to them.
End of Reunion.
Original Village of Dallas.
Village Gets Wild and Woolly.
- o o o -
Added June 18, 2004:
Early Settler Revisits
French Colony Ruins
When Emanuel Santerre, now 88 (shown at the right), visited the last ruined building of the French Colony of La Reunion, near Dallas, he recalled gay parties and pretty girls. The walls of the last building, shown at the left, are crumbling, and weeds now grow where happy French colonists once danced.
Parties, Pretty Maids
Who Danced at House
Overrun by Weeds
and age-gnarled Emanuel Santerre, 88, last survivor of the old
French Communist colony of La Reunion, chuckled over his memories
when he went back to the last ruined building.
Lived in Dugout.
Needed More Farmers.
- o o o -
Work Starts Wednesday
On Houses at LaReunion
Dust will begin
to fly Wednesday on the site of the old LaReunion colony with
the start of construction of the first 1,000 of 3,000 temporary
war houses to be built here, George V. Walsh, assistant regional
director for development of the Federal Public Housing Authority,
- o o o -