Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Jacques
Jacques, front
Jacques, side
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2
Jacques has a German bisque head, with brown hair and blue eyes. According to
Mrs. Gray, "The style of this costume in detail is that of the hunter/trapper of
the Louisiana region." The buckskin Jacques is wearing is hand-tanned deerskin
which was actually tanned by Native Americans and which Mrs. Gray was able to
get through family contacts. Jacques also wears a muskrat cap; muskrats, which
favor aquatic habitats and love to feed on both rice and crayfish, were common
in Louisiana and often hunted for their fur. Along with his moccasins, also of
deerskin, Jacques wears green wool knitted socks. Prior to the invention of the
cotton gin and the spread of cotton farming, wool was much less expensive than
cotton or other materials imported from the Far East and therefore the most
common fabric for the middle and lower classes. The Industrial Revolution was
only a gleam on the horizon at this point in history, and people wore
hand-loomed and hand-knitted fabrics created in cottage industries. Jacques's
socks, or stockings as he would have called them, were most likely knitted by
his wife.



Jacques Blouin dit Lacroix



The first European explorers, who happened to be Spanish, arrived in Louisiana
in 1519, discovering the mouth of a great river that might have been the
Mississippi. However, the first expedition to cross the region was led by
Hernando de Soto (see Burial of DeSoto by Johannes Culver in our American
History Gallery) in 1541-42. However, the Spanish failed to follow up on their
discoveries and in the late 17th century, French expeditions established the
first footholds in the area. Robert Cavelier de la Salle named the region
Louisiana for King Louis XIV in 1682, and the first permanent settlement, Fort
Maurepas (near present-day Biloxi), was established by Pierre Le Moyne
d'Iberville, a French military officer originally based in Canada in 1699. In
1714, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis founded Fort St. Jean Baptiste (present-day
Natchitoches), the first permanent settlement in Louisiana. In 1718, Sieur de
Bienville, the brother of Iberville, began the construction of New Orleans as a
company town for the Company of the West. By 1721, the new village had a
population of approximately 370, including 147 male colonists, 65 female
colonists, 38 children, 28 servants, 73 slaves, and 21 Native Americans.



We know little about Jacques Blouin, but we do know that he was one of the
earliest colonists in Louisiana. Likely, given than another trade was not
specified for him, he pursued a living as a hunter and perhaps a farmer. We do
know how harsh life was in the new colony and Jacques's life gives us further
evidence: on April 23, 1721, he married a young woman named Elizabeth Giraud.
Yet only a little more than a year later, the same priest married him to Marie
Anne Daudess on August 21, 1722. Clearly, his first young wife survived her
wedding by less than a year. Unfortunately, as the records demonstrate, this was
not unusual. The wedding registry is crowded with widows and widowers remarrying
as harsh living conditions and disease, particularly yellow fever, decimated
their ranks.