Oct 26th, 2008 by Larry Click on images for larger view.
Jean Louis dit Colon FONTENEAU was born 18 Dec 1686 in Poitiers, France and was baptized in Saint Jean de Montierneuf Church of the same town. By 1720, Jean Louis was a Sergeant serving in French military and on the ship named the “Drommadaire” heading for the new world for an assignment in the colonies. He arrived through the portat Mobile bay which was the French military headquarters and seat of government for the Louisiana Territory and was assigned to Fort Condenear Mobile. During his stay in Fort Conde, he met and married a young widow named Marie Louise Henrique (Henry) and they married on 8 Feb 1725/26 in Mobile. Sometime after his marriage to Marie, Jean Louis was assigned to Fort Toulouse, which in the present day is located in Elmore County, Wetumpka, Alabama at the junction of two rivers, the Coosa and Tallapoosa.
Jean and Marie had twelve children, 8 sons and 4 daughters, and they were all born at Fort Toulouse. Their sons joined the marines and married daughters of other marines and their daughters married sons of marines and they lived near the Fort. Family names for the spouses were Doucet, Brignac, LaGrange, Lobell and Berthelot. Jean Louis died in October 1755 at the age of 68 and was buried in the Fort cemetery but the location of his remains is unknown.
Sometime after the signing of the treaty which ended the French and Indian War, Jean Louis’ living sons, daughters, and Widow Marie Louise moved from the Fort and settled in the vicinity of present day Opelousas, St Landry, Louisiana. All present day Fonteneau’s (Fontenot) in this country are direct descendants of these early settlers.
At a gathering of Fonteneau decedents in October of 1998, a Memorial was place in the Fort Toulouse cemetery.
The inscription on the front reads:
In Memory of
Jean Louis “Colin” Fonteneau
Sergeant in the French Colonial Marines
Served at Fort Toulouse 1730-1755
Born: Dec.18, 1686 in Poitiers, France
Died: Oct. 29, 1755 at Fort Toulouse
Progenitor of all Fontenots in North America
Donated by his living descendants in 1998
The inscription on the back reads:
En Memoire de
Jean Louis Fonteneau dit Collin
Sergent, Troupes de la Marine Francaise
Service Militaire: Fort Toulouse, 1730-1755
Ne a Poitiers, France, le 18 Decembre 1686
Mort a Fort Toulouse le 29 Octobre 1755
Fondateur de la Famille Fontenot en l’Amerique du Nord
Donne par ses Descendants Vivants, l’annee de Notre Seigneur 1998
The eulogy, written and delivered by Merrick “Sonny” Fontenot, at the gathering in October 1998 reads:
Jean-Louis, the third child of Joachim Fonteneau and Marie Jeanne Pradeau, was born in Poitiers, France in 1686. We don’t know much about his life before he boarded the ship “Drommadaire” as a Colonial Marine in 1720 in route to the New World at the age of 34. To our knowledge, he never returned to his native France to see his family again. He entered the Port of Mobile, the French military headquarters, and was probably assigned to the garrison at Fort Louisin Mobile. There, he met a young widow, Marie Louise Henrique, and married her in February 1726. She was 26 and he was 40 years old. This union would produce many thousands of descendants who would make countless contributions to their adopted country. They defended the country in every war since and became statesmen, soldiers, farmers, cattlemen, wealthy land owners, bankers, sailors, marines, engineers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, musicians, journalists, authors, artists, and many other occupations too numerous to list at this time. I’m sure that there were a few unsavory characters in there as well.
Jean-Louis, or “Colin” as he was called, died in October of 1755 and was laid to rest in this very cemetery. It is not hard to imagine his grieving family gathering here to pay their last respects on that day so many years ago. About 8 years later, his family was forced to leave Fort Toulouse to seek a new life in unfamiliar lands west of the Mississippi River; except for the widow Marie Louise, Fort Toulouse was the only home they had ever known. The family never returned to their origin — until last year  when we held our first reunion.
Jean-Louis would be very proud to see so many of his “children” gathered here to honor his memory and to witness the unveiling of his memorial, donated by them. It bears testament to his existence and to the life that he lived in this rugged frontier. Because of your generous contributions, future generations of his descendants will be able to visit this spot and reflect on their heritage.
On behalf of Jean-Louis, I thank all of you and God bless.
Children of Jean Louis and Louis Fonteneau:
Louise Fonteneau - Born about 1726 to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. Died 15 December 1814 in Louisiana.
Philippe dit St. Philippe Fonteneau - Born 21 August 1727 at the post, to Louis & Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763. Married on 7 May 1747 to Marie-Nicole Brignac, daughter of soldier Simon Brignac.
Marie Fonteneau - Born about 1729 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. Married Jean dit La Tulipe Lagrange a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763.
Jean dit Jean Fonteneau - Born 1 January 1729 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until 1758. He married Maraie Francoise Lagrange, daughter of soldier (Jean)-Henri Lagrange, and had 8 children. Died in 1776 in Louisiana.
Jean-Louis dit Debonaire Fonteneau - Born 27 February 1730 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763. Married about 1760 to Marie-Francoise Doucet (daughter of soldier Pierre Doucet & Marie-Francoise Pagot) and had 3 sons. Died 8 October 1813 in Louisiana.
Joseph dit Bel Aire Fonteneau - Born 27 February 1730 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763. Detached in Mobile June 1760. About 1760 married Marie-Joseph-Jeanne Brignac (daughter of soldier Simon Brignac & Marie Turpin) and had 7 children. Died 15 October 1790 in Louisiana.
Jean-Baptise Fonteneau - Born about 1731 at the post, to Louis & Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until 15 September 1763. Before 1763 he married Marie-Louise Lagrange (daughter of soldier (Jean)-Henri Lagrange) and had 5 children. Died 4 October 1805 in Louisiana.
Pierre dit Bellevue Fonteneau - Born about 1727 at the post, to Louis & Louise Fonteneau. Joined Marines 1/1/1743. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763. In 1755 married Louise Doucet and had 7 children. Died 15 September 1811 in Louisiana.
Marie-Louise Fonteneau - Born about 1741 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. Married Simon-Pierre dit St Pierre Brignac a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until November 1763. Detached to Mobile in 1760.
Francois dit La Douceur Fonteneau - Born about 1743 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until 1758. Died in a hospital at Mobile 16 January 1759. Not married.
Henri Bellvue Fonteneau - Born about 1733 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. He was a Fusilier at the post from prior to 1756 until 15 September 1763. Married in about 1770 to Marie-Louise Doucet (daughter of soldier Pierre Doucet & Marie-Francoise Pagot) and had 9 children. Died 14 September 1813 in Louisiana.
Marie-Therese Fonteneau - Born about 1746 at the post, to Louis and Louise Fonteneau. She married Jean-Baptiste dit La Tulipe Lobel a soldier and King’s Interpreter at the post from prior to 1756 until July 1760.
The History of Fort Toulouse and Fort Jackson
Fort Toulouse was constructed in 1717 and was the offensive-defensive eastern outpost of French Louisiana, and was named Compte de Toulouse after the legitimized son of Louis XIV. However, by the 1740s the Fort was suffering from general disrepair and age and a new Fort was constructed and finished in 1751.
The Indian tribe which lived in the area referred to the Fort as “Fort Toulouse Aux Aibamons.” The French befriended the Indians of the region and freely traded and assimilated with them. They occupied the Fort until 1763 when it came under the possession of the British after the signing of the treaty which ended the French and Indian War. Not wanting to come under British rule, the French and many of their Indian friends migrated westward and resettled on land grants in the Louisiana territory.
The British never occupied the Fort and it wasn’t used again until Andrew Jackson occupied the abandoned site. In 1814, after defeating the Creek Indians at Horseshoe Bend, Andrew Jackson occupied the abandoned site. He constructed a new fort at the location of the old one and named it Fort Jackson.
In 1897, about 200 bodies were removed from the fort cemetery to the national cemetery in Mobile. Most were the remains of men who had been assigned to Andrew Jackson’s army, but some of them may have been Frenchmen.
Fort Toulouse-Jackson Park is now operated by the Alabama Historical Commission, and includes a replica of the second Fort Toulouse built in 1751 and a partial reconstruction of the 1814 Fort Jackson. The park is host to living history programs throughout the year.
Interesting Side Note
Jean Louis dit Colon Fonteneau and Louise Angelique Henry were Fay Wolverson Worrilow’s (my wife) 6th Great Grandparents and it wouldn’t be so interesting except we live not 10 miles from Fort Toulouse in Wetumpka Alabama. So how did a girl from Pennsylvania arrive at such a place some 279 years later?
After the Fonteneau (Fontenot) family left Fort Toulouse, they settled in the vicinity of present day Opelousas, St Landry, Louisiana. The family stayed in Louisiana until Fay’s mother, Lorena Violet Buniff married Stanley George Wolverson and moved from Louisiana to Boothwyn Pennsylvania. You can follow the linage in the Fonteneau index. Stanley Wolverson worked for the Sun Ship building company and traveled to Pennsylvania for work.
Fay grew up in Boothwyn, Pennsylvania where we met in high school and married in 1972. I joined the Air Force in 1973, traveled the country, and my last assignment was in Montgomery Alabama. About 4 years ago we moved to Wetumpka, Alabama and now the circle is complete. Some 279 years of history from the time Jean Louis Fonteneau arrived at an outpost in the French Louisiana Territory about 1725 until 2004 when we arrived in present day Wetumpka, Alabama. It’s a small world indeed.