Monday, August 12, 2013

Jean Baptiste Coudroy de Lauréal

Couple days ago I was meandering around the graveyard at St. Augustine's Mission Nombre de Dios (you know, where The Great Cross is) and wondering about just who these people were and how came they here. Selecting one at random, I decided to do some research on this here Jean Baptiste Coudroy de Lauréal fellow.

Surprisingly, there's very little out there to be found. The most information to be gleaned about ol' J.B. comes from a page not about his grave, but his wife's:

Madame Augustine de Laureal, for many years a resident of Carondelet [Missouri], and related to some of the best known French families of that part of the city, died Monday evening at the residence of her niece, Mrs. Macklot Thompson. The deceased was the widow of J. B. Coudroy de Laureal, a wealthy South American planter who settled in Carondelet in 1848. Mons de Laureal and his family were driven from their vast estates, near Trinidad by an uprising of slaves, and came here stripped of almost all their wealth. Mme. de Laureal was greatly esteemed, and her piety and unostentatious charity endeared her to many. The funeral will take place this morning from the residence of Mrs. Mackot Thompson, third and Kansas streets.

(Curiously, my novel The Seventeenth Island also deals, tangentially, with a tropical plantation overthrown by an uprising of its slaves. Life imitates art imitates bread imitates butter imitates toast and jam.)

Sounds like the de Lauréal folks led an interesting life, but what I still don't know is how he ended up buried in St. Augustine if he and his Haitian wife (whose grave is shown at right) were living out their twilight years in Missouri.

Apparently he authored a medical text, Some Considerations on the Vertebral Disease in Children, which may mean he was a scientist or a doctor, but back then in those freewheeling days, that's not necessarily a given. Maybe he was a self-styled physician (there's a lot of those in Interzone), or just one day woke up and decided to declare himself a spinal expert.

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