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PORCHE, PIERRE

PORCHE, PIERRE (1804–1876). Pierre Porche, Southern planter, delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1845, and supporter of the Catholic Church in Texas, son of Pierre Joseph Porche and Brigitte Guerin, was born in Pointe Coupee, Louisiana, on March 4, 1804. Porche was the descendant of French immigrants to Louisiana and grew up on a tract of land next to the False River. He was an entrepreneur, and he managed thirty slaves and the production of cattle, corn, and cotton on his real estate valued at $10,000 in Point Coupee.

In 1825 Pierre married Celanie Gremillion; they had a daughter, Josephine. After his wife’s death in 1838, Porche married Juliet Bergeron later that same year; they had a son, Pierre Evariste, and twin daughters, Louisa and Aloysia. Porche sent Pierre Evariste to a boarding school known as St. Joseph’s College, in Bardstown, Kentucky, and Louisa and Aloysia attended a Catholic school called Nazareth Female Academy in Bardstown. Josephine received a special dispensation from the Catholic Church in order to marry her cousin Severin. Aloysia died of yellow fever during the epidemic in Texas in 1867. Porche also had children with his mulatto slave, Julia Ann, who was considered a faithful servant rather than a slave. Julia Ann and her children, including Cecilia, Athanaise, Joseph, Adelia, Engle, and Julienne Porche, lived together with Porche and his other family members.

In 1844 Pierre Porche fought a duel with Jean Baptiste Bergeron, a relative of his second wife, over the results of a previous election. Porche was uninjured, while Bergeron was shot in the leg. The following year Porche served as Pointe Coupee’s Parish delegate to the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1845.

Pierre and his family, including Julia Ann and her children, left Louisiana for Yoakum in Lavaca County, Texas, on January 1, 1860. The desire to move to a place with affordable land, an emerging community of fellow Creoles, and protection from the oncoming Civil War led Pierre Porche to choose Texas as his new home. His move to Texas was also an opportunity for him to cultivate his interests in growing cotton and cattle. During the Civil War, Porche sent large shipments of cattle from his new business location in Texas to areas of battle in Louisiana.

Pierre Porche and his descendants made significant contributions to the Catholic Church in Texas. Porche helped to rebuild St. Mary’s, a Catholic school in the region, and he wrote a set of school rules in French in the mid-1860s. Along with his son Pierre Evariste, and his daughter Josephine, Porche went on to become a teacher at St. Mary’s. Porche and his family also helped in the construction of St. Joseph’s Church (also called the Brushy Creek Church), which was built between 1866 and 1876 near the trading station and post office of Yoakum. The Porches were crucial in establishing the congregation that worshipped at the Brushy Creek Church; the entire family, including Julia Ann and her children, served as the founding parishioners of the congregation.

Pierre Porche spent his final years as an active member of St. Joseph’s parish and raising crops and cattle on the remainder of his land, until October 25, 1876, when he passed away at age seventy-two. He was laid to rest in Yoakum in St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery. Through the will he signed on September 14, 1875, Pierre left his wealth both to his legitimate children and to the offspring of Julia Ann. Julia Ann died in 1909 and is buried along with many descendants in Pleasant Grove Cemetery in Yoakum.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Dallas Morning News, July 28, 1907. Journal of the Proceedings of the Convention of the State of Louisiana, begun and held in the City of New Orleans, On the 14th day of January, 1845 (New Orleans: Besançon, Ferguson & Co., 1845). Thomas LaVerne III, LeDoux: A Pioneer Franco-American Family with Detailed Sketches of Allied Families (New Orleans: Polyanthus Press, 1982). Porche (Pierre) Papers, Natchez Trace Small Manuscript Collections, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin. Yoakum Sesquicentennial Book Committee, Yoakum Community (Dallas: Curtis, 1988).

Edwin L. Cooper

Citation

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

Edwin L. Cooper, "PORCHE, PIERRE," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fpo82), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on May 9, 2013. Modified on November 5, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.