Family legend has it that my great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth Montet Giroir, came from a well-to-do family who lost everything with the conclusion of the Civil War. Certainly, they didn’t have any money after the war. The family lived very hand to mouth.
I wondered if the Montets really were prosperous and dug through old newspapers and succession records to find out. The succession records talk of a sugar house and property (this was after the Civil War so no slaves at that point). Newspaper accounts refer to an Aurelie Plantation in Assumption Parish that belonged to the Montets.
I’m pretty familiar with the swath of bayou road between Plattenville and Thibodaux. I travel it regularly to see family. The big plantation home in the area is Madewood, which belonged to the Pughs. I’d never heard of Aurelie.
At this point, I should point out – once again – that the mention of the word “plantation” in the family tree likely doesn’t mean that your family once lived at Tara. Plantation is another word for farm. Sorry.
But I went in search of Aurelie anyway. Elizabeth’s father came from a large family who lived near Plattenville. One of his brothers was Zephirin Montet. It was Zephirin who launched Aurelie, which he named for his wife.
Zephirin was actually Zephirin Rosemond Appolinaire Montet. He was a prosperous planter in Assumption Parish. His grandson Numa Montet was a U.S. congressman.
It appears that the extended Montet family called Aurelie home. The Assumption Pioneer – still in circulation to this day – recorded Zephirin’s sister-in-law Pauline Truxillo Montet dying at Aurelie in 1886.
I don’t know if Elizabeth grew up on Aurelie or if she grew up on a neighboring property. I remember my grandmother talking about the Montet home, but she never clarified if it was the Florentin Montet home, the Zephirin Montet home or the home of Florentin and Zephirin’s father.
What I suspect is that Aurelie originally was the property of Elizabeth’s grandfather (father to Zephirin and her own father, Joseph Florentin). It seems likely that the property got divvied up when the old man died, and Zephirin called his portion Aurelie for his wife. Perhaps Zephirin’s portion was a real money-maker – or maybe he added to it and expanded the acreage.
A similar arrangement happened after my husband’s grandfather died. Each child got a portion of the family farm. The entire farm still is in his descendants’ hands to this day, but it’s not really intact. Instead, it got sliced up into thirds for his three children. One of those thirds has been more profitable than the other two-thirds. It’s the luck of the draw.
From the succession records, it seems that the Montets shared a sugar house (where sugar was boiled into syrup). It appears that Zephirin and Florentin got shares in the sugar house when their father died. I’ll have to dig up Joseph Philippe Montet’s succession record, which most likely is in French, for clarity.
In 1912, Aurelie changed hands. The National Real Estate Journal described the sale as one of the biggest real estate deals of the month. The Montet Company Ltd. sold the plantation on Bayou Lafourche to Joseph Webre. At that time, the plantation included 600 acres, including 500 acres in cultivation, residences, cabins and a sugar house. The sale was speculated to be $50,000.
Other accounts name the buyer as John Webre, who died in 1915. It looks like Numa Montet bought the family property back temporarily and then sold it to an Edmond E. Webre.
I’m still in search for more on Aurelie. An old map of Assumption Parish probably would help.