Photos by Joyce M. Tice
Retyped for Tri-Counties by Anne PRATT Slatin
(Joyce's Third Cousin)
Many thanks to the Tri-Counties guest who sent this book to Joyce and who wishes to remain anonymous.
THE LEFEVRE AND PREVOST FAMILIES.
THE HOMETS AND LAPORTES.
CHAS. FELIX BUE BOULOGNE had studied law, been admitted to the bar in Paris. When the American Revolution broke out, he was one of the company of young Frenchmen who came over with General Lafayette and volunteered their services in the army of the United States and served to the end of the war. Having become proficient in our language and made acquaintance with our people, he did not return to France with the others. He saw that there were greater opportunities for doing business and making money in America than in Europe and remained here. He was an active, prompt, business man. Mr. Craft says of Boulogne: "In the early days of Asylum he conducted the greater part of the correspondence with Americans, and seemed to be the general manager of the business." In the transaction of the outdoor business he often traveled long distances from home. It was when on one of these missions down in Sullivan County, below the Forks, that he was drowned in Loyal Sock, which was at flood stage, as we have stated elsewhere. That the d'Autremonts never blamed him for the imperfect title of the land he sold to them is proven by the friendly letter written to him by Alexander d'Autremont, only a year before his death, of which mention has been made.
Boulogne and Adam Hoops were the two men selected by the company to explore northern Pennsylvania and select the place for settlement, and to the former was given a letter of credit for any sum of money he might need in preparing the business on which they were sent. The place selected was entirely satisfactory to their employers. There is no evidence against his honesty that would be received in a court of justice.
Louis I. Beaulieu was formerly a captain in the French army, he resigned his commission, came to America, joined the legion of Pulaski under Lafayette, and after the war was over, remained in the country whose independence he had helped to achieve. During his service he was taken prisoner at Savannah, 9th of October, 1779, and was exchanged; was severely wounded at Charleston, S. C., May 12th, 1780, after the close of the war he married an English woman, and kept an inn at Asylum.
Madame d'Autremont had three brothers and three or more sisters by the name of d'Ohet. One of her sisters, Marie Geneviève d'Ohet, was born in 1752; married Anthony Bartholomew Lefevre, to whom were born two sons and two daughters. As before stated, one son died in France, just before they were ready to sail. The other son, Alexander, after coming to America, enlisted in the United States army in the War of 1812, and died of sickness at Carlisle, Pa. Cecelia, one of the daughters of Anthony Lefevre, married John Anthony Prevost of Lime Hill, in 1815. Mr. Prevost was born in Paris, September 23rd, 1777, and at the age of 23 came to this country in August, 1800. Asylum at that time was full of activity, but it is not known that Mr. Prevost visited the place then. He came to Angelica in 1809, and superintended the farm and garden of Judge Church while the Judge was visiting England. Two of Prevost's brothers were soldiers in Bonaparte's army and in the Russian campaign, and never returned. On a business trip traveling on horseback, he came to Lime Hill, Pa., where he became acquainted with Cecelia Lefevre whom he afterwards married. Except for a short time in Philadelphia, they lived in Russell Hill, Wyoming County, Pa.
He had been a florist in Paris, and on Russell Hill his greenhouse was filled with beautiful flowers and plants so rare that people came files to see their brilliant coloring, and scent their sweet fragrance. He had a grapery, and always made wine enough to sell to stage passengers and travelers. At the request of the passengers the stage always stopped at his house, and he would come out with bottle and glasses to sell them the pure juice of the vine. Three different times the writer was a passenger in the stage that stopped there. His price for wine was high, but nor more than tavern keepers charged.
He died April 30th, 1868, at the age of 90 years. His wife died at their home on Russell Hill, May 8th, 1876. Three children were born unto them: Edward, who inherited the homestead and whose descendants are among the best families in Wyoming County. Angelique, who married William Mix, Esq., of Towanda. Théophilus Prevost died at the age of 55 years. Augustine, daughter of Anthony Lefevre, married John Huff, and lived on Lime Hill. They had no children.
The youngest of the d'Ohet sisters, was Marie Claudine, born 1758. In early life she entered a school for nuns in Paris, where she continued until in the madness of the Revolution the religious establishments were broken up, and the estates of the church sequestered to public use. Miss d'Ohet went to Nantes, and from there in 1806 she sailed for New York, and from there went directly to her sister, Mrs. d'Autremont, in Angelica, N. Y., where her remaining days were spent, and where she died January 28th, 1810, and was buried in the cemetery at Angelica.
The letters of Louis Paul to his mother and brothers were numerous and affectionate. One of them is given here:
"Paris, July 18th, 1798
"I always begin my letters with a reproach, or at least, a complaint. Why is it that I have not received letters from you for five months. I know that circumstances are anything but favorable for frequent communications. So many vessels do not reach their destination. Even those that escape the danger of being taken rarely escape the fear of the loss of letters. I wrote you about six weeks ago by M. Borneyville, vice consul at Boston. Today I take advantage of the departure of M. Gerry, one of our commissioners, to send you this. I will not speak to you of political affairs. In your solitude they would have little attraction for you. I will abstain then, from speaking of them. I have plenty of things to tell you of concerning myself to fill this paper. I have to tell you of a little business I have just finished, and which will require for its entire conclusion the good will and attention of my deal Alexander. I have just bought of Duvernot all of his best lands in Chenango that is to say, all that belonged to him. I have made a bargain with him for a thousand acres of land. I have my choice everywhere. All the clearings, even the mill belongs to me. You will say: But why is this new purchase--what does this new project mean? In two words, my dear, I will explain to you. It is not well demonstrated to me yet that America is not the best country in the world. It is the one without dispute where one can be free and tranquil. After all that the late papière of France must have told you, you must perceive that the greatest that can happen to a man is that neither good nor evil overtake him. According to this manner of thinking, which I share with many others, I must think of my future. I have bought these thousand acres in that every possible case I may have refuge. My intention is to give 200 acres to Alexander for a wedding present if he marries.
"My substance (Capital) is not considerable (not rich), but it will permit me to live by becoming a farmer again and, no matter how small it is, Alexander, Auguste and you shall share it. Write to me at length and more of your country.
"Adieu. I love and embrace you as mother and friend."
(I have omitted the portions of his letter relating only to business, and giving directions about the lands he had bought and proposed to buy.)
The Duke de la Rochefoucauld says:
"M. W. Prevost, he had been a citizen of Paris, celebrated there for his benevolence and membership in benevolent societies. He came to America with considerable property, a considerable part of which he expended on a settlement which he attempted to establish on the banks of the Susquehanna above Binghamton, but was not successful, and from thence came down to Asylum." Mr. Craft says that "M. W. Prevost, while on horseback, attempted to ford the Loyal Sock, greatly swollen by recent rains, was drowned. His body was recovered, brought to Asylum, and buried in the cemetery on Broad Street." It is evident that Mr. Craft musts be mistaken. Mrs. Murray, and the other writers, do not mention it. It was Boulogne who was drowned in the Loyal Sock.
Charles Homet, Sr., had been a steward in the household of King Louis XVI, and fled when the misfortune came upon his sovereign. In the same vessel in which he crossed the Atlantic was a Miss Schillinger, who had been one of the waiting maids of the Queen, Marie Antoinette. The King's steward and the Queen's waiting maid had known each other in Paris, and became better acquainted during the voyage, and although she was ten years his senior, they were married soon after their arrival in this country. They lived in New Jersey for about one year, and then moved to Asylum and settled a few miles back from the river on a place near where the village of New Era is now located, and where preparations were being made for the reception of the dethroned King and Queen of France in case they were allowed to come. Mr. Homet remained one year at New Era, then bought several lots of the Asylum Company and moved on them. When the settlement was abandoned, Mr. Homet and Bartholomew Laporte, Sr., bought a large part of the land which it occupied. Mr. Homet's first wife (Theresa Schillinger) died January 3rd, 1823. Their children were Charles, Francis X., Harriet, and Joseph. In 1827, Mr. Homet married Cynthia Sickler, by whom he had one daughter, Lydia. Mr. Homet died in 1838, at the age of 70 years, and is buried with his first wife in the cemetery beside the Methodist Church at Frenchtown. Although most of the exiles at Asylum were Catholics and had a small chapel and services, Mr. Homet joined the Methodist Church at Wysox.
Bartholomew Laporte was born in Tulle, now in the province of Correze, France, in 1758. In 1776, he emigrated to Spain and settled at Cadiz, where he became a prosperous wine merchant, and had accumulated a considerable fortune when the Spanish government issued a decree banishing all French residents, and confiscating their property, which left him almost penniless. At Marseilles, he became acquainted with Talon and came with him to America, as has already been related in another place. If he ever followed the sea as some accounts state, it must have been before he engaged in the wine business.
In 1797, he was married at Asylum to Elizabeth Franklin. Their only child, John Laporte, was born at Asylum, November 4th, 1798. At the breaking up of the settlement, Mr. Laporte was empowered by the Asylum Company to lease the French holdings for one year, and eventually be became the owner of a large part of Asylum. He died Feb. 11th, 1836. His wife died May 5th, 1852. Their only child, the Hon. John Laporte, was twice elected to Congress, where he served for two terms of two years each, and afterwards served as Surveyor General of Pennsylvania. He had previously served as County Auditor, been a member of the Legislature for five years, (being Speaker of the House one year.) He was also one of the Associate Judges of Bradford County. In person he was very large--about six feet high and weighing 300 pounds. He died in Philadelphia, August 22nd, 1862. His first wife, Matilda Chamberlain, died August 5th, 1838. On November 28th, 1840, he married Eliza Bendle. They had one child, Matilda Jane. By his first wife he had three children, Bartholomew, born January 5th, 1823, Elizabeth, born November 24th, 1825, Samuel McKean, born February 25th, 1832.
The Hon. John Laporte built the brick house standing on the corner of Main and Lombard Streets, Towanda, and later the property and residence of the late Dr. Henry C. Porter. Mr. Laporte had lived in the house for some time previous to his death. He had been a resident of Towanda for a number of years, being engaged in the banking business with Gordon F. Mason and B. S. Russell, the firm's name was Laporte & Mason. There being no state banks in Towanda at that time, their business was very large. The writer attended Mr. Laporte's funeral in Towanda. The casket was placed on benches on the sidewalk in front of his house, and it seemed as if all the people in Towanda passed by to take the last look at their departed citizen. He was taken to Asylum for burial.
Antoine Lefevre was the keeper of a fashionable café in Paris, his wife being the sister of Madame d"Autremont. Besides his wife, his family consisted of one son and two daughters. Becoming alarmed at the condition of affairs in Paris, he disposed of his business and, in company with his sister-in-law, Madame d'Autremont, came to America. He was only allowed to bring a part of his family with him. The government authorities being desirous of stopping emigration by keeping a part of every family as hostages for the return of those who departed. His passport included himself and son as stated in preceding pages. While waiting at Havre for a vessel his son was taken sick and died. He then dressed one of his daughters in his son's clothes and cut her hair so that she answered the description in the passport so closely as to escape detection. His wife and daughter soon after made their escape.
They first settled at The Butternuts, where Madame d'Autremont settled at first, and from there both families removed to Asylum, where during it continuance they kept an inn. After its abandonment they moved over the river to Lime Hill, Pa. Here they kept an excellent house of entertainment, where clean beds, and cleanly kept chambers and well furnished tables, with finely cooked food, were long remembered by their guests who traveled up and down the river and always planned to make this their stopping place if possible. Both Antoine Lefevre and his wife are buried in the cemetery at Wyalusing.
Two of their daughters lived to maturity. One married John Prevost and lived on Russell Hill, Wyoming County. The other married John Huff and lived on Frenchtown Mountain, east side of the river. Mrs. Huff was the little girl whom her father brought over disguised in her brother's clothes. Both these ladies lived to be past 90 years of age, and could remember many of the events that transpired in the streets of Paris at the beginning of the Revolution.
The continuance of the Asylum settlement was less than ten years, but the Frenchmen set their American neighbors about them the example of better houses and roads, better gardens and better tillage, more careful surroundings with flowers and shrubs, fruit trees and nut trees, courage in adversity and polite, courteous manners.
In 1796 there were nearly fifty houses, twenty-nine names on the tax list, and from one hundred and fifty to two hundred inhabitants.
During the continuance of the colony, one person committed suicide, and several were killed by accident, or died from sickness. When the French came to Asylum there was not a post route, or post office, in Bradford County. The publishers of newspapers distributed them by private express. The people at Asylum sent an express weekly to Philadelphia, the postman traveling on horseback, and this service was continued during the greater part of their stay.
Under the controlling influence of Robespierre, the National Assembly, had issued a decree commanding all emigrants to return under penalty of having their estates confiscated. When the strong hand of Napoleon Bonaparte assumed power, all Frenchmen were invited to return, and the restoration of their estates was promised. The postman who brought the glad news to Asylum waved his hat and shouted the tidings to all he met until he became hoarse. The colonists were rapturous with joy. Men hugged and kissed each other to the profound astonishment of American beholders. Some days were spent in feasting and then most of them commenced making preparations to leave the Pennsylvania woods for their beloved France. They did not go all at once, but returned across the ocean as fast as they could dispose of their property and obtain the means. They returned on the same route by which they came--down the river in boats to Catawissa, and from thence by land to Philadelphia.
Only two (Mr. Homet and Mr. Laporte) remained at Asylum. Mr. Lefevre moved across the river to Lime Hill, as has already been stated. The last land company in which de Noailles, Talon and others were interested did not prove so successful, as had been anticipated and was dissolved in 1808, and the lands deeded to Archibald McCall, John Ashley and Thomas Ashley in trust for the Asylum Company.
On the 4th of March, 1843, the lands remaining unsold, amounting from ten to twenty thousand acres, were sold to William Jessup of Susquehanna County, who subsequently conveyed the same to Michael Maylert of Laporte, Pa.