1715 - 1757 (42 years)
||Jean Baptiste BAUDREAU |
||dit Graveline II |
||Dauphin Island, Alabama
- then known as Massacre Island; part of French Louisiana settlement
|Cause of Death
||executed by breaking wheel |
||7 Jun 1757
||New Orleans, Louisiana
- executed by breaking wheel in front of St. Louis Cathedral
- During the course of his life, he had problems with French authorities and was subject to imprisonment several times. Despite his warm relations with Bienville, he was regarded with suspicion by some French authorities, because of his unique relationship with the local Native American population, due in no large part because of his half Indian heritage. At the same time however, he was a vital part of the French colonial operation, as he was often the one who was sent on trading excursions into Creek territory. In the 1740s, he had been imprisoned by French authorities on kidnapping charges related to an excursion he took to Havana, Cuba. He broke out of prison and took refuge in Native American villages north of Mobile. The native Americans refused to engage in any further trade with the French until he was pardoned. Governor Vandrieul petitioned for King Louis XV to drop the charges, which he did.
In the 1750s, Baudreau was imprisoned at the French prison on modern day Cat Island, Mississippi for charges of illegal salvaging wrecked ships. In 1757, soldiers stationed at the prison, staged a mutiny and killed the commanding officer. They took Graveline hostage and forced him to be their guide as they went into the hinterlands away from the colony. They provided him with a signed certificate saying he had not been a party to the mutiny. Goveror Kerlerec had him court martialed and he was sentenced to death. He was executed by breaking wheel in front of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, Louisiana on June 7, 1757. He is the only person ever to be executed in the America's by the breaking wheel. The French authorities subsequently mutilated what were left of his remains and deposited them in the Mississippi River. A movement is currently ongoing by some of his descendants to get the City of New Orleans to erect a marker in Jackson Square commemorating his life and brutal execution at that site.
In the 1740s, he began having an affair with a girl named Marie Henriette Huet, whose family owned a plantation in the area around modern day Portersville Bay. He had several illegitimate children with her, the majority of whom would use the surname of Baptiste (in modern day Mobile, this has evolved into Battiste). In 1747, while he was on the run from French authorities following his prison escape, the mother of his illegitimate children, Marie Henriette Huet, filed a claim with the French authorities for support of her children. The senior Graveline, the grandfather of the children, agreed to help provide for their support. Baudreau's affair with Marie Henriette Huet served as the basis for the book "The Passion of the Princes" by author Eloise Genest.
Baudreau was the 6th great-grandfather of singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett, the 6th great-grandfather of actress Diane Ladd, 7th great-grandfather of actress Laura Dern, and the 5th great-grandfather of Mobile, Alabama cook, socialite and television personality Connie Bea Hope.
Here is the tale about the new Orleans funeral.
The link at bottom takes a minute to load, but should give you the NPR piece. Freeman
Dear Friends, old and new, and family,
In the hope this will be of interest, I thought you would enjoy a small summary about the Commemorative Funeral my Creole kinfolks gave to my gruesomely executed ancestor Jean Baptiste Baudrau II. I have just returned from this "jazz funeral" march through the French Quarter. National Public Radio covered the event. The audio link below takes afew moments to load, so be patient...
Attached is a profile believed to depict Jean Baptiste Baudrau II [1717-1757], my Gulf Coast, half-Native American, ancestor. He holds a ceremonial feather. His father, JB Baudrau dit Graveline, was the most successful member of the Founding Party of the Louisiana Colony. He made his first fortune trading pelts with the Choctaw and Muscogee (Creek) peoples of today’s Mississippi and Alabama. He made his 2d fortune trading in cattle with the Spanish of Havana and Vera Cruz. His wife was “the daughter of a great Chief of the Indian nation,” and they produced one son, our executed ancestor. Jean Baptiste Baudrau II was an agent of his father, and a famous up-country frontiersman for the French around Mobile, which was one of the early colonial capitols. He was fluent in several native tongues, and highly regarded, especially among the Alabamon Creeks. Historical accounts say Jean Baptiste served as go-between on numerous occasions in the rescue of French captives, sometimes pledging his own pelts to redeem captives’ lives. He was a well-regarded citizen of the colony. He was also something of a wildcat. The French Gov. Vaudreuil charged him with rum smuggling to the Spanish at Pensacola. When he ran away with his mistress to Havana, trumped up kidnap charges saw him thrown in prison in New Orleans in the early 1740’s. He broke out after four months, and fled to the protection of his Indian people. The villages were located south of present day Montgomery. The Indians refused to trade with the French for five years until he was pardoned, and Vaudreuil finally petitioned the king of France to revoke the kidnap charges. Vaudreuil wrote that “the respect of the Indians for Baudrau is to be feared. He is known to be brave, enterprising and well liked by all of the tribes. I favor pardon since his intentions were not bad… (This single man) is said to possess more knowledge of this continent than (all the other) French and the Indians.” In the mid 1750’s, Jean Baptiste was convicted of illegal salvaging of Spanish wrecks, and imprisoned on Cat Island, off Biloxi. Coincidentally, its garrison mutined against a martinet commander, and forced Baudrau to escort them across hostile territory to English Georgia and freedom. The new Louisiana governor, Kerlerec, had only been in office 2 years, and must have seen the rap sheet on Baudrau. In response, he insidiously sent Baudrau’s own 2 sons to Mobile carrying a sealed arrest order for their father, then subjected our ancestor to a brief summary trial. Documentation available today suggests Baudrau was indeed not guilty of participating in the mutiny. The odious nature of his death [breaking on the wheel, decapitation, quartering the body, display of the parts on the public refuse heap in New Orleans, and disposal into the Mississippi], created a deep sense of shame, humiliation and outrage on the part of his wife, mistress, half-sister, and 6 children. The sorrow and opprobrium connected with this intergenerational transmission of trauma has been passed across the centuries. Our funeral upon the 250th anniversary of his execution was designed to bring long-delayed honor to a forgotten American hero, a skilled frontiersman who resembled later Daniel Boone or Jim Bowie, and to set his unburied soul to rest. The lines created by his Fayard, Farve, Seymore, Bosarge, Fontaine, Moran, Tannette, Dedeaux, Ladnier, Baptiste, Bang, Ryan, Lord, Lewis and other descendants runs to thousands of Americans alive today. Nearly 100 of them joined together for a 2-hour jazz funeral procession through the Vieux Carre on June 10, 2007. Afterwards, to the ringing of bells and beating of Indian drums, they consigned a rememberance wreathe of rosemary, and the written prayers of many for Jean Baptiste, into the Mississippi River across from Jackson Square, the site of his horrible death.
Thanks for your interest in this unusual tale from old Louisiana history.
With greetings and good wishes...
F reeman "Hobs" Allan – Crozet VA 434-242-4718
Dear Eloise, (and Norman)
Thanks for a thorough update. Now it is up to our next generation to carry on, and keep the fires kindled.
M. Randall Ladnier sent me the email below to the VIEUX CARRE COMMISSION in New Orleans:
My half-Indian ancestor was executed in front of St. Louis Cathedral on June 07, 1757. At the time, he owned a small log home on the corner of Rampart and Ursulines in the Vieux Carre. This summer will mark the 250th anniversary of his death.
He was executed (together with a French soldier) by "death on the wheel", having been convicted three hours earlier at a "Council of War" on a charge of aiding a mutiny which had occurred on Cat Island earlier that year. This event has been described in gruesome detail by Governor Kelerec in his letter to the King's Minister, Peirine de Moras, October 02, 1757.
My ancestor's death provoked public outrage in France, in the Colony of Louisiana, and among the Indian Nations of Mississippi and Alabama who considered him a great hero. This outrage may have contributed to France's adoption of the guillotine in 1792 as a more "humane" form of execution. Clearly my ancestor is the only native-born American to have died on the on the infamous French "wheel".
In addition to his being the direct ancestor of such famous persons as Pete Fountain and Jimmy Buffett, he is the great, great, ... uncle of Brett Favre, Hale Boggs, and Cokie Roberts.
He was the illegitimate son of Jean Baptiste Baudrau dit Graveline, a Canadian who had served with d'Iberville when they defeated the English at Hudson's Bay and accompanied him to Louisiana in 1700. Before the 1717 Hurricane decimated his cattle herds at Dauphin Island and Pascagoula, M. Graveline was considered the wealthiest man in the Colony.
Jean Baptiste Baudrau certainly rebelled against the French administrators of Louisiana. He was reprimanded for smuggling homemade rum to the Spanish at Pensacola. He had the gall to collect some of the cargo from a sunken Spanish ship when it washed up on Cat Island. But in 1757 he was something of a hero to the poor settlers of Louisiana who were just trying to survive despite French abuse and neglect.
He is certainly a hero to the many thousands of descendants who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama today. His ancestors would like to place an historical marker in or near Jackson Square to commemorate the 250th anniversary of his death.
Please contact me in this regard. I can provide you with many more historical facts that support our belief that he was an important figure in the history of Louisiana.
These letters are from the UBGGA Web Site. www.ubgga.com
||3 Apr 2011 |