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MEUNIER, PIERRE

MEUNIER, PIERRE (1670–?). Pierre Meunier, a member of the La Salle expedition, was born in Paris in 1670, the son of Louis Meunier, Sieur de Preville. He remained among the East Texas Indians following La Salle's murder. After his rescue by Alonso De León, he gave significant testimony in Mexico concerning events of the La Salle incursion and returned to Texas with Domingo Terán de los Ríos as interpreter of Indian languages. Never permitted to return to France, he became a soldier and settler in New Mexico. By 1696 he was in Santa Fe, where he filed written information on himself in 1699 before disappearing from the record. When testifying in Mexico, he claimed his father's title for himself.

At age fourteen, he related, he traveled from Paris to La Rochelle as La Salle's companion and sailed thence on the storeship Aimable, which later was lost at the mouth of Matagorda Bay. In the colony Meunier evidently incurred the leader's wrath, for when La Salle undertook his exploration west of the bay area in the 1685–86 winter, he left Meunier and four others aboard the ship Belle in irons. He was therefore on the vessel when she wrecked on Matagorda Peninsula during a squall. He returned to La Salle's Texas Settlement with the other survivors after an ordeal of some months' duration. When La Salle left La Salle's Texas Settlement on his final journey, with the intention of proceeding to his Fort St. Louis on the Illinois River, Meunier was among his company of seventeen. As the group neared the Trinity River in mid-March 1687, Meunier went with three other men to bring to camp some buffalo carcasses that the hunters had killed. Consequently, he witnessed events surrounding the murders that culminated in the death of La Salle. Afterward, when seven of the survivors resumed the march northward, Meunier, claiming illness, remained among the Hasinais and had his face and body tattooed in the natives' manner. When he and Pierre Talon (see TALON CHILDREN) heard of the approaching Spanish troop of Alonso De León in May 1690, they sought to evade capture but were taken by surprise. They guided the De Leon expedition to the Hasinai village near the Neches River and served as interpreters for the missionaries as they began building San Francisco de los Tejas Mission. As the two young Frenchmen translated the native language into French, Francisco Martínez and Gregorio de Salinas Varona relayed it in Castilian, enabling the friars to compile a Hasinai wordlist.

At age twenty, Meunier-unlike the fourteen-year-old Talon-was considered old enough to give reliable testimony to Spanish officials in Mexico. When the Spanish troop returned to the Rio Grande, Salinas Varona took Meunier and reports of the expedition and hurried on to Mexico City. Meunier gave his testimony in the capital on August 19, 1690. The following year he was sent back to Monclova to join the Terán expedition as interpreter. During the march he accompanied Martínez on his side trip to Matagorda Bay and thus proved himself as an interpreter of the Karankawan language as well as Hasinai. Little is known of him after the expedition returned to Mexico, except that he went to New Mexico as a soldier with the second expedition of Diego de Vargas or shortly thereafter.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Adolph F. Bandelier, The Gilded Man (El Dorado) and Other Pictures of the Spanish Occupancy of America (New York: Appleton, 1893; reprod., Chicago: Rio Grande Press, 1962). Lino Gómez Canedo, ed., Primeras exploraciones y poblamiento de Texas, 1686–1694 (Monterrey: Publicaciones del Instituto Technológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, 1968). Robert S. Weddle, The French Thorn: Rival Explorers in the Spanish Sea, 1682–1762 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1991). Robert S. Weddle, Wilderness Manhunt: The Spanish Search for La Salle (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).

Robert S. Weddle

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Robert S. Weddle, "MEUNIER, PIERRE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fme73), accessed July 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on November 25, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.