Fourth Generation: St. Martinville Years

Francis Primeaux grew up under the moss-draped live oaks in rural Vermilion Parish. He had been only three years old when his father died in St. Martinville and his mother relocated to the Atakapas prairie. Vermilion Parish was the only home he knew in his short life, but something drew him back to St. Martinville, and when he was 21 years old he courted and wed Justine Angelique Baudoin on February 22, 1808, there. Justine was from St. Charles Parish and was the daughter of Pierre Baudoin and Marguerite Toups.

Francis and Justine did not waste any time creating a family, and once they started they did not stop until they had produced 12 children. The children were: Pierre Armelin Primeaux, December 8, 1808 – August 16, 1891, who is our ancestor; Francois Primeaux, born December 8, 1808, and apparently the deceased twin of Pierre Armelin; Susanne Primeaux, born September 24, 1810 – January 24, 1870; Joseph Primeaux, July 26, 1812; Aspasie Primeaux, born December 20, 1815; Marie Uranie Primeaux, born October 3, 1816; Marie Cesaire Primeaux, September 8, 1818 – May 19, 1890; Marie Francoise Primeaux, September 24, 1810 – August 5, 1854; Emilite Primeaux, born December 5, 1822; Marie Valsaine Primeaux, born December 1, 1824; Onezide Primeaux, born November 15, 1828; and Euclide Primeaux, August 10, 1829 – June 24, 1918. All of the children were born in St. Martinville or Lafayette.

In 1800, control of Louisiana returned to France by the Treaty of San Idelfonso. The pact was not officially made public until 1802, but it was rumored throughout the territory that the French were coming back into power, and the Acadians were surely looking forward to French rule.

In the newly-established United States, though, the government was apprehensive about the change. Napoleon Bonaparte was in power in France, and his expansionist policies had him at war with all the major powers in Europe. President Jefferson feared that Napoleon might strengthen French forces in the Louisiana territory and become a threat to the young nation. In 1802, before the transfer to France became public, the Spanish governor closed the port of New Orleans to all shipping from the United States because of problems with smuggling. With commerce on the main river through the heart of the continent brought to a standstill, Jefferson saw the urgent need to establish a secure seaport under American control on the Mississippi. He obtained authorization to pay as much as $10 million for the purchase of the City of New Orleans and the area along the river to the Gulf of Mexico, and he dispatched envoys to France to make the deal. And what a deal they made. They purchased the entire Louisiana territory, from the Gulf of Mexico to Canada, and the entire area drained by the Mississippi River, 828,000 square miles of territory in all, comprising about one-third of the present 48 continental United States, for about $8.8 million and the forgiveness of some French debt. The purchase price turned out to be about three cents per acre. It was a good deal for both sides: Napoleon had cash to finance his wars; and the United States doubled its territory instantly and removed foreign powers from its back door.

A transfer ceremony was held in New Orleans on November 29, 1803. The United States’ representative at the ceremony was Meriwether Lewis, who with William Clark, set out on the Lewis and Clark expedition and discovered much of the American northwest. One of the crew members of the expedition was a descendant of Francois Primaut.

Louisiana became one of the United States on April 12, 1812.

Francis Primeaux died in Lafayette on June 17, 1833, at the age of 46.

If the fourth generation was relatively uneventful for our branch of the family, it was a significant time for another branch. It was in the fourth generation that Jean Baptiste Primeau, another great-grandson of Francois Primaut, established himself in the area of what is now St. Louis, Missouri some time after 1780. He was among the earliest settlers of St. Louis. His son Pierre was a boatman on the Missouri River. Pierre’s son Louis was a trapper who lived among the Indians and ranged as far north as Sasketchewan and Vancouver. Another scion of that branch was Paul Primeau, a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition who was later killed by Indians in 1863, and whose son Charles operated a trading post at Fort Clark in the mid 1840’s. It is in that midwestern branch of the Primeaux family where John Henry Makovec’s ancestry lies. His branch carried the family into the west and northwest, where the Primeau name is widespread, particularly among Native Americans.