In the summer, 1939, edition of the Louisiana Conservation Review magazine, an extensive description was published telling of the land sales and property acquisitions that led to Fontainebleau State Park and the Town of Mandeville. It is a complex tale of state legislative action, auctions, advertisements and family connections.
The account details Bernard De Marigny's political ambitions, his many purchases and sales of land in and around Mandeville, and his fortunes and misfortunes. Here is that story:
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The senior foreman historian, National Park Service, formerly at Tchefuncte State Park (now Fontainebleau State Park), noted that the basic research for this article was done by the Federal Writers' Project of Louisiana.
On July 12, Bernard Marigny "of the City of New Orleans" bought the property described below from "Martha Richardson wife of Joseph Letchworth".'
A certain tract or parcel of land, lying and being situate in this Parish [St. Tammany] and State, bounded on the South by Lake Pontchartrain, on the East by the Obner tract, now owned by the present purchaser, on the North by Chinchuba Creek, and on the West by the Labatut tract, now owned by Judge Lewis, containing six hundred and thirty one acres.
This property was acquired by inheritance from her former husband Zachariah Faircloth, who died leaving no heirs but his surviving wife the said Mrs. Richardson. The sale price of the property (now Section 46, T.85. R.11E. of the Greensburg District) was $3,200 for which the purchaser has made two promissory notes of even date herewith payable to Joseph Letchworth; the first for two thousand dollars, payable on the first day of November next, at which time possession of the property is to be given.
The other for Twelve Hundred Dollars, payable the first day of November, eighteen hundred and thirty-one .
Gustave Adolph Marigny, second child of Bernard Marigny's first marriage, died October 26th, at the age of 23,' leaving no issue. On December 24th, Bernard Marigny bought the property described below from the heirs of Samuel Smith.'
A certain tract of land lying or being situate in this parish, [St. Tammany] on the margin of Lake Pontchartrain, bounded on the East by land formerly belonging to the Edwards' [Section 50] now owned by the present purchaser [bought on January 22nd, 1829] on the South by Mrs. Elizabeth Bartle [Mrs. Elizabeth Goodbee, widow by first marriage of Thomas Spell and by second marriage of Jacob Bartle], supposed to contain two hundred superficial acres.
This sale is made for and in consideration of the sum of sixteen hundred dollars all in hand paid.
1831. Rosa de Marigny married Francisco Sentmanate y Sayas of Havana on June 20th.
Marigny acquired additional property in St. Tammany Parish at this time:
Be it known and remembered that on this fifth day of September, Jesse R. Jones, Judge of the Parish of St. Tammany, in pursuance of a Judgment of the Court of Probates for said parish, pronounced in the case of Hortense Delisle vs. Thomas Spell's heirs, after the legal advertisements and all the formalities required by law, I proceeded to the sale of a tract of land situate in this parish fronting on the Lake Pontchartrain and bounded on the other three sides by lands belonging to Mr. Bernard Marigny containing according to the certificate, three hundred and sixty acres, but according to the surveyor's return, only two hundred and twenty-one acres, and after the various offers and bids, Bernard Marigny of the City of New Orleans, being the highest bidder, said tract of land was adjudged to him for the- price of One Thousand Six Hundred and Twenty dollars, which I hereby acknowledge to have re‑
This property (now Section 48 of T.8S, R. 11E, of the Greensburg District) later became part of the town of Mandeville.
Marigny was a perennial office seeker and few elections passed without his name being included in the list of candidates. He was the outstanding Creole in the state and while he often carried the predominantly Creole Parishes he received scant support from the up state Parishes.
His ambition was to become governor of the state and he tried in 1824, 1828 and 1830 to secure the vote of the people for that office, but he was unsuccessful. Thus was fulfilled the prophecy contained in the following paragraph which appeared in Le Courrier de la Louisiane, for June 28th, 1824.
"We read this morning in the Louisiana Gazette, a very mean paragraph, from a very mean writer, BERNARD DE MARIGNY, candidate forever and ever for the office of Governor, which he shall starer get, notwithstanding all his journeys, and the handsome Spanish songs and Boleros with which he treated the voters of the upper Fourche; his promises to some, and his threats to others, in short those delicate means which excited a feeling of pity in the mind of everyone.
The following incidents show his persistence. On December 15th, 1831, Marigny was defeated at a special election for the seat of Mr. Freret, who had resigned from the House of Representatives." Nine days later he was a candidate at another special election for the seat vacated by W. C. C. Claiborne in the House of Representatives by resignation" and was defeated by S. O. Dixon by one vote.
"The election was immediately contested and on January 23rd, 1832 declared void by the House of Representatives." In the new election Marigny won by a majority of 130 votes."
Marigny served many years in the House of Representatives, part of a term in the Senate and held many local offices in New Orleans, being on the Board of Aldermen and the City Council repeatedly.
1832. In the regular July election,Marigny was elected one of the seven State Representatives from Orleans Parish."
On March 15th, The Congress of The United States confirmed Marigny's claim to the two tracts of land bought on June 25th, 1829 from the Bonnabel heirs."
Laws of the United States Passed At The First Session of The Twenty-Second Congress.
[PRIVATE, NO. 371
AN ACT for the relief of Bernard Marigny of the State of Louisiana.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Bernard Marigny, as assignee of Antonio Bonnabel, be, and is hereby, confirmed in his claim to a tract of land of four thousand and twenty superficial arpents, situated in the State of Louisiana and Parish of St. Tammany, bounded on the southwest by Lake Pontchartrain, and on the northwest by lands formerly owned by the heirs of Lewis Davis;
the tract confirmed by this section being the same which was surveyed for Antonio Bonnabel, by Carlos Trudeau, on the fifteenth January, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-nine and was granted to said Bonnabel on the twenty-fifth January, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-nine by Manuel Gayoso De Lemos, Governor General of the provinces of Louisiana and West Florida; and for which a claim was filed in the name of said Bonnabel, in the land office at St. Helena court house, under the act of Congress of Twenty-fifth April, one thousand eight hundred and twelve.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That Bernard Marigny be, and is hereby, confirmed in his claim to a tract of land of seven hundred and seventy-four superficial arpents, situated in the State of Louisiana and Parish of St. Tammany, bounded on the southwest by Lake Pontchartrain, on the northern side by Castin Bayou, and on the southern side by the lands confirmed in the first section of this act;
the said tract of seven hundred and seventy-four arpents being the same which was granted on the twentieth January, one thousand seven hundred. and seventy-seven, by Peter Chester, British Governor at Pensacola, to Lewis Davis, whose title to the same was afterwards, to wit, on the eleventh June, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight confirmed by decree of Estevan Miro,—Spanish Governor of the provinces of Florida and Louisiana, and for which a claim was filed in the name of heirs of Lewis Davis, in the land office at St. Helena court house, under the act of Congress of the twenty-fifth April, one thousand eight hundred and twelve:
Provided, That the said two tracts of land shall be considered as confirmed, in the same manner, and under the same regulations, restrictions, and provisions, as if the same had been recommended for confirmation in the reports of the commissioner for the district west of Pearl river and east of the island of New Orleans, which was confirmed by the act of Congress, approved on the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and nineteen, entitled "An Act for adjusting the claims to land, and establishing land offices in the districts east of the island of New Orleans:"
Provided, also, That the claim of Antonio Bonnabel, embraced in the said commissioner's reports, as of four hundred arpents, shall be considered as comprised in the forming part of the tract of four thousand and twenty arpents, confirmed in the first section of this act.
Approved, March 15th, 1832
1833. Marigny introduced a bill in the state legislature to incorporate the Citizens' Bank of Louisiana." The Act of incorporation was approved by Governor Roman on April 1st." Marigny thus helped to create the institution which later took most of his fortune in mortgages.
1834. In this year Marigny decided to sell some of his property over the Lake and the following advertisements appeared in The New Orleans Bee.
Valuable Property for Sale "Quartier de Mandeville"
Will be sold at public auction at Hewlett's Exchange, as soon as the plan shall be made, the wide space of ground divided in large lots, laying in front of Lake Pontchartrain, opposite the Railroad and at seven leagues distance from New Orleans: situated between Casting [sic] Bayou and Judge Lewis' plantation; it measures 5,000 arpents; previously to the sale a prospectus shall be published, which will give some particulars of the advantages of the place and the beauty of the trees which overspread it, and in order that the purchaser may convince himself of the facts mentioned in my prospectus, he shall be allowed to refuse the sale within one month after the day of sale, provided he will go and visit the lot adjudicated to him and will declare to my agent on the premises that he does not accept the adjudication; the purchasers shall be afforded the facility of repairing to Quartier Mandeville, on appointed days, at the house of Mr. Coquillon, who is a resident there.
TO THE PUBLIC
"The steamboat Black Hawk, Captain Hoffman, will leave the railroad, Sunday next, at 9 o'clock A. M. for Mandeville, and will on the same day leave Mandeville, at 4 o'clock P. M. Persons desirous to visit the lots of ground offered for sale, are to repair to the railroad near the river at 8 o'clock A. M.—the departure will be at 8 1-2 A. M. Steamboat expenses will be paid by the subscriber.
Lots Are Sold In Mandeville At Auction
A few days later Le Courrier carried the following item:
"The sale of a small portion of the lands at Mandeville, situated over the lake, belonging to Mr. Marigny, and, which took place yesterday [February 24] at Hewlett's Exchange brought $55,000 [should be $40,975]. The part of the lots sold does not constitute the fourth part of the whole.
The sale continues today and will not probably be completed under two or three days.
The auction was conducted by Messrs. T. Mossy and Garidel and F. Dulillet and lasted three days (February 24th to 26th inclusive). Sales on the first day amounted to $40,975, on the second to $27,975 and on the third to $11,050, a total of $80,000 for the three days."
426 lots were sold and the price ranged from $1,275 for Lot No. 3, Block 25 [on the Lake] to $40 per Lot No. 6, Block 18 [fourth Block from the Lake between Madison and Monroe Streets]. Considering that the entire property cost only $11,620 and that much of it was still unsold, Marigny made quite a handsome profit on his investment. Other lots were sold from time to time but as late as 1842 all were not sold as will be shown later.
The conditions attached to the sale of the lots were as follows:"
Conditions: Payable in one, two and three years credit, in notes endorsed to the satisfaction of the seller with special mortgage until full payment. The acts of sale by Felix de Armas, at the costs of the purchasers.
The purchasers will be placed in possession by the vendor, Mr. Marigny, has authorized us to say at the time of the sale that Captain Cherident is charged by him, and Mr. John Davis to buy a good steamboat of a superior travelling capacity, for the Mandeville trip and that the price of the trip across the Lake will not exceed one dollar.
All the lots sold, conforming to the plan drawn by Louis Bringier, General Surveyor on January 14th, 1834, with the following observations, signed by Mr. Marigny,
1st. That the space situated between Lake Street, and the Lake will always remain free and for the common use; that no individual nor corporation shall raise any edifice whatsoever, nor change its destination, and that the banks of the Lake facing the said space will also remain forever free and for common usage.
2nd. That all streets have fifty feet of width, with the exception of the streets of Marigny and Jackson, which have a hundred, and of Lake Street which has sixty.
3rd. That the little Bayou Castaing which serves to drain, will not be stopped in its course as also the Shell Ravines in the width of at least 25 feet taken in the center.
4th. And that the wharf marked on the plan once completed conformably to the prospectus will be maintained by the owners of the lots of Mandeville.
5th. Mr. Marigny also obligates himself to have made a bridge across the little Bayou Castaing and one across the Shell Ravines, in the marked spots on the plan, these bridges once completed will be maintained by the owners of the lots of Mandeville.