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Calcasieu Historical Preservation Society

Truman Stacey

"Notable Men and Women of SWLA" is result of work compiled by SLHA member Truman Stacey.

A native of Texas,Truman Stacey served in the U.S. Army in World War II, earned bachelor and master degrees from the University of Detroit, and worked on a number of newspapers before serving as editor-in-chief of the Lake Charles American Press from 1961 to 1982, when he became chief information officer for the Catholic Diocese of Lake Charles. 

Stacey wrote the series of articles here to commemorate the Bicentennial of the Louisiana Purchase. These articles appear in numerous newspapers across the state, including the DeQuincy News, the Cameron Pilot, the Teche News, the Welsh Citizen, the American Press, the Ville Platte News, and the Hammond Star.

He is a past president of Southwest Louisiana Historical Association.

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Etienne de Bore

The father of Louisiana’s sugar industry was a scion of a noble family in Normandy, but was born "in the Illinois" in Kaskaskia. Jean Etienne de Bore first saw the light of day on December 27, 1742, the son of Louis de Bore and Celestene Therese Carriere.

When he was four years old the family returned to France, where young Etienne was educated in French schools. After he reached maturity he became a musketeer in the King’s Household Guards in 1768, and in 1770 he was promoted to captain of the Second Company of Cavalry of the Mousquetoires Noires.

On November 5, 1771, he was married to Jeanne Marguerite Marie Destrehan des Tours, a member of a prominent and wealthy Louisiana family. With new responsibilities he and his bride returned to Louisiana in 1776 and settled in St. Charles Parish to live the life of a country gentleman and his lady.

In 1781 he was granted extensive property above New Orleans which included the present-day Audubon Park. He embarked upon an agricultural career with the planting of indigo, which the Council of the Indies had introduced in 1723. At first all went well and indigo became one of Louisiana’s agricultural staples along with tobacco. By the 1790s the colony’s indigo crops were bringing in $180,000 a year.

Then a couple of years of drought hurt crops, and in 1793 and 1794 a new type of insect attacked the plants and the indigo fields were left with bare stalks. De Bore and other planters were on the verge of bankruptcy.

He decided to gamble on sugar cane, against all of the advices of his in-laws and his friends. The Jesuits had first introduced sugar cane into Louisiana to make molasses, but it never developed into a commercial crop, and all efforts to crystallize the syrup into granules failed. De Bore, nevertheless, was determined to try his hand. Obtaining cane from two of the Spanish growers, Mendez and Soliz, he planted a crop.

He raised a good stand of cane, and by combining a vacuum pan process with the Spanish method of making molasses he was able to crystallize the syrup into sugar granules. He sold his 1796 crop for $12,000 and a new industry was born in Louisiana.

De Bore continued his agricultural career, but also became a community leader. His fame spread and his plantation often had important guests. In 1796 the celebrated French General, Victor Collot, who was traveling through the Mississippi Valley, supposedly gathering material for a book on the fauna and flora, stopped off to visit de Bore. While he was there, the Governor, Baron de Carandolet, sent troops to arrest the general, who was charged with spying upon Spanish fortifications during his travels. The governor was a tempted to arrest de Bore, too, but only gave him a scolding.

In 1798 more illustrious visitors came: three French princes of the blood arrived in Louisiana and of course they visited de Bore. They were the Duke of Orleans, who was to ascend the throne of France when Napoleon was deposed, and his brothers, the Duke of Montpensier and the Count of Beaujolias. De Bore had become one of the social lions of the colony.

When Napoleon snatched Louisiana back from Spain and sent Pierre Clement Laussat as Colonial Prefect to receive control of the colony from Spain, Laussat immediately set up a municipal government for New Orleans in place of the Spanish cabildo, and he named de Bore as the city’s first mayor. His term lasted only three weeks, however, before the United States took possession.

President Thomas Jefferson appointed W.C.C. Claiborne to govern the colony in 1803, and the new governor was shrewd enough to include Frenchmen in the new legislative council. De Bore was one of these. De Bore was appointed speaker pro tem of the legislative council in 1806 and was a member of the Police Jury in 1807.

De Bore was one of the leaders of the movement for immediate statehood for Louisiana, and was pleased to see his efforts succeed in 1812.

De Bore passed away full of years and honors on February 2, 1820. He was given a state funeral and was buried in St. Louis Cemetery.

His children continued to play leading roles in the life of New Orleans. Jeanne Marguerite Marie Isabelle, born in 1773, married Barthemmy Francois Le Breton; and Francoise Elizabeth, born in 1777, married Charles Gayarre, a relative of the Louisiana historian.

The King’s Musketeer proved to be leading citizen of the Republic in the end.