Life On The Bayou – 1850s

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Matern Family
Dufrein (Dufrene) Family. Pictured are Jean Gregoire Francois Dufrene (descendant of Julian Dufrene, ca. 1641?) and Emilina Dufreney (Dufrene). Originally from Nantes, France, descendants moved from Canada to Louisiana arriving at Bois Choctaw around the late 1850s. This family and others lived there until moving further inland to Down the Bayou Village Des Allemands, and Bayou Gauche. The Dufrenes became master boat builders, constructing cypress lugger-type boats first used and built in Louisiana during the earliest colonial times. Portrait taken in 1900. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Donald (Annabel Matherne) Hogan, Sr.

“Johann Adam Matern, of Rosenheim, in Upper Alsace. Catholic; 26 years old. Weaver. His wife with a child at the breast; two sister-in-laws, 18 and 20 years of age. One and a half year on the place. Two and a half arpents cleared. ‘A good worker’, who deserves some Negroes. Three pigs. 1731: Three children. Three Negroes; seven cows.”
—  Census of 1724; J. Hanno Deiler, The Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana and the Creoles of German Descent

Dufrein (Dufrene) Family
Dufrein (Dufrene) Family. Pictured are Jean Gregoire Francois Dufrene (descendant of Julian Dufrene, ca. 1641?) and Emilina Dufreney (Dufrene). Originally from Nantes, France, descendants moved from Canada to Louisiana arriving at Bois Choctaw around the late 1850s. This family and others lived there until moving further inland to Down the Bayou Village Des Allemands, and Bayou Gauche. The Dufrenes became master boat builders, constructing cypress lugger-type boats first used and built in Louisiana during earliest colonial times. (Photo courtesy of Mrs. Donald (Annabel Matherne) Hogan, Sr.)

There were several settlements along the German Coast that are no longer in existence. A small community was settled in the late 1850s on the east side of Lake Salvador in St. Charles Parish. Early Choctaw Indians and settlers named the village Bois Choctaw which means “Oaks of the Choctaw.” Trapping, hunting, and fishing provided food and livelihoods for all of the families. Some had permanent homes ashore while others lived in chalands (houseboats) to move about for seasonal hunts. Bois Choctaw fell victim to time and tide.

The “Forgotten” Bayou-Lake Villages
The “forgotten” Bayou-Lake Villages. (Map courtesy of Paul Hogan)
Bois Choctaw
Bois Choctaw – gone but not forgotten. Left to right, home of Jean and Mary Corrindon Dufrene, Dufrene Store, and the home of Willie E. and Agnes Trauth Dufrene. Lake Salvador is in the foreground. (Photo courtesy of Mrs. Donald (Annabel Matherne) Hogan, Sr.)
Hogan Family
Hogan Family. Jeremiah (Jeremie) Hogan, standing at left, departed Ireland and arrived in New Orleans in the 1860s. The family lived in Bois Choctaw. As time passed, family members moved further inland to Comardelle Village before settling in Bayou Gauche and Des Allemands. He is standing, at left, with his extended family of Comardelles, Mathernes and Dufrenes in a 1902 family portrait. Photo courtesy of Mrs. Donald (Annabel Matherne) Hogan, Sr.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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Further Reading

Des Allemands: A Bayou Runs Through It
By Roy Lunk, Published in 2011

The Germans of New Orleans
Louisiana Cultural Vistas
Vo. 14 Issue 2
Summer 2000