Monday, October 15, 2018

Casefile Report: La Mirre (Freed Slave)



            My starting point in this document was me choosing which file I wanted to research. I have the file of a freed slave and I picked it because I find it interesting to know how or why someone was freed during the time period of slavery. Since they were technically property I wanted to know what would prompt someone to voluntarily give up their assets most likely bringing in funds or benefiting their household in some way. I am looking at the records of a slave, or someone still not classified as human, I didn’t have the hope that I would find much. Even with the resources that we have today, no one really cared enough about the humanity of property back then so I wasn’t expecting to find many documents on my person today. Regardless of these facts I still held a little hope that I might a little something to give me further information of who this person was.
            At the beginning of my research I really didn’t know how to start and didn’t have access to ancestry.com yet so I searched the slave master’s name in google. To begin with I though Jeanne Kerrourette was a man and that the slave La Mirre was his mistress. So when the results came back and there was a link by LSU on interracial relationships, I clicked on it. It told me that in the year my slave was freed this was the same time that France had ceded Louisiana to Spain. This was the beginning of the most liberal period in Louisiana's history. It was also very common during this time for while men to have long relationships to black women. Even though there was still slavery, black women would commonly do this so that it improve their social status and secure them as well as their children. With these situations women would have the economic upper hand and over time they acquired valuable property through these relationships. I thought I had found a discovery because when my slave was freed she was to get 25 barrels of corn/year for the rest of her life when the mistress, or who I thought was the wife, died. What I found instead on ancestry.com was a marriage contract for Dame Jeanne Kerrourette. So the slave master was a woman and in the contract I also found that La Mirre was her slave coming into the marriage and in the pre nup it said that her husband was not allowed to sell her. It also mentions her first husband Nicolas Aubert Dumont, who passed away. I thought that my then discovery was wrong because my slave master was a white woman.
Once I gained access to ancestry.com I was able to find the rest of the information I am about to share. I found her divorce papers and Jeanne Kerrourette was only married to her husband Louis Populus for about a year before they petition to separate. She gets 1200 pounds/year, 5 cords of wood/year, 3 servants (slaves), including La Mirre, all medical expenses paid, 40 tons of corn/year, 450 pounds of flour/year, and 4 cows. It says that they want to separate because their relationship “deteriorates to the point of rupture”, they are “unable to live peacefully together”, they have “incompatible temperaments”, and “one is a burden to another”. Louis Populus buys Jeanne Kerrourette a separate house next door just to get away from her. They agree not to ever step foot into one another's house. All of this information was found just from me searching Jeanne Kerrourette's name in ancestry. After this point I decided to start a tree for the family to see what other information I could find.
From the tree when I clicked on her ex-husband Sieur Louis de Populus I found that he was married before he got with Jeanne. He was married to Marie Joachim Langlou, but I think she passed. I also found another free slave record linked to his name. I didn’t dive that deep into it because I was on another track, but the name on the record was La Mirra. This is suspiciously close to La Mirre. It says she was freed January 10, 1720 by living master in New Orleans, the same city La Mirre was freed. Although this is 43 years before La Mirre is freed it says that she was freed for fidelity and good service and in the comments is says Luis Populus is the widower of Juana Kerroley. All of the names mentioned in this document were suspiciously similar to the ones related to the document I am looking at now. By clicking on Jeanne Kerrourette’s name I found that she had 2 children with Louis Populus named Vincent and Victoria Populus. The thing is, I found this information out because they were listed on a slave record. I was confused wondering “Why would a woman who received so much from the separation from her husband sell her children into slavery?” What I found out about the children was that Victoria was born in 1762-3 and Vincent was born about 1760. They were sold together January 11 1775 to Juan Rene Gabriel Fazende, BUT their mother bought them back April 13, 1776. Another interesting thing that I found was that both children under race were labeled as Mulatto, which we know as half black half white. From my research I have concluded that Louis Populus is white so that means… Jeanne Kerrourette was black! She was a free black woman married to a white man who owned slaves including La Mirre. Going back to the beginning of my research it all makes sense. I thought that La Mirre was having an affair with a white man and that’s why she was freed with compensation. That’s also why I was looking at the idea that it was common for black women to have long standing relationships with white men. The Spanish laws that helped push this progressive movement was called Las siete partidas. These laws made it increasingly easier for slaves to get their freedom. It also created a culture of interracial relationships with benefits towards black women being more accepted.
            What I’ve found is that Jeanne Kerrorette was a black woman who was married to a white man and had 2 mixed children, Victoria and Vincent Populus. She also owned slaves herself and had enough power to free one of them, La Mirre, and give her a stipend after she died. She also for some reason had to sell her children into slavery 1775 to a man named Juan Rene Gabriel Fazende. She then bought her children back after about a year in 1776 with no issue. Jeanne was able to do all of this because of Spanish owned Louisiana. The laws that were implemented during this time allowed her to get property from her husband, sell and free slaves, be free herself, and maintain status and power in her community. What I have yet to find is more information of her ex-husband Louis Populus. I still don’t know how that free slave document I found from 1720 of La Mirra links to the free slave document of La Mirre in 1763. I also don’t know about the man who Jeanne Kerrorette sold her children to, Juan Rene Gabriel Fazende. Finally, I don’t know why she sold her children to begin with. Although I have found some information from my file given to me, I feel I have only scratched the surface when it comes to Jeanne Kerrorette and the people in her life.