If I remember, the historical marker at Audubon Park notes that the park is the site of Etienne de Bore's sugar plantation, where he first refined sugar. How did Pierre Foucher's plantation come into this story?
I'm glad you asked, because it gives Old Blake a chance to tell an interesting story that should make us all proud. For the benefit of other readers, I will point out that your question is in reference to my Nov. 9 column, in which I wrote, "Audubon Park originally was the site of the Foucher Plantation" and that in 1871 the city purchased part of Pierre Foucher's plantation, which later became Audubon Park. My error was in using the word "originally."
Foucher bought the plantation from Charles Etienne Gayarre, grandson of Jean Etienne de Bore, the man mentioned on the historical marker. For Foucher, it was among other land holdings he had all over New Orleans, portions of which are now Audubon Park and Tulane and Loyola Universities.
But it was de Bore who made a new industry viable in Louisiana. Born in Illinois (then a territory) to a prominent French family — his grandfather was an adviser to Louis XIV — de Bore was schooled in France and became a musketeer (a French king's guard), rising to the rank of captain in the Cavalry. De Bore moved to St. Charles Parish in 1776 with his wife, Jeanne Marguerite Marie Destrehan des Tours, who had inherited land from her wealthy Louisiana family.
New Orleans was under French rule at the time and granted de Bore a large amount of property in 1781. Before that, the Spanish government had given it to Balthasar de Masan for his patriotic acts in putting down a rebellion in 1769, which arose in an attempt to rid New Orleans of Spanish rule. Napoleon later got Louisiana back and gave the land to de Bore. At first de Bore planted indigo, which, along with tobacco, was gaining a foothold as a commercial crop in the area. But after he lost his crop to insects in 1794 for the second year in a row, he decided to switch to sugar cane, which was a minor crop in Louisiana because it could not be crystallized into granulated sugar; it was mostly made into molasses.
De Bore used a vacuum pan (continuous boiling) process — improved versions are still used today — to crystallize molasses into sugar granules in 1796, making sugar cane a cash crop. He pulled in $12,000 for it that year.
Besides being an agricultural entrepreneur, de Bore was a social and community leader, hosting luminaries including the Duke of Orleans, who became king of France after Napoleon was ousted. But when Napoleon was still in power and took Louisiana back from Spain, he named de Bore mayor. His term lasted only three weeks — until the U.S. government made its greatest land deal of all time, the Louisiana Purchase.
De Bore didn't lose his influence, however. Gov. William C.C. Claiborne named Bore a member of the state's new legislative council, and he became speaker pro tem in 1806. Bore died on Feb. 2, 1820, and is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.
Foucher, who was de Bore's son-in-law, acquired the sugar plantation in 1825 from a grandson of the sugar baron.