Descendants of Early Settlers

Didier Sidney Zeringue and Ameile Troxclair
Didier Sidney Zeringue (nephew of Charles Troxler, who was the great, great-grandson of Johann Georg Troxler) and his wife, Amelie Troxclair. (Photo courtesy of descendent Anne Petit Hymel)

Almost one hundred years had passed since those first German settlers survived horrific conditions at homeland ports waiting to sail and at sea, many dying enroute by starvation, illness, or later succumbing to the difficult climate after arrival in Louisiana. The new engagés (indentured agricultural workers) were considered habitants (concessionaires) of the company. They arrived debilitated and penniless, received small land grants, and were forced to sell their products to the Compagnie des Indes. In return and at fixed prices, they were allowed only necessities such as food and tools. Upon dissolution of the company in 1731, the German settlers were freed from all imposed obligations and were then able to become farmers in their own right.

J. Hanno Deiler in The Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana and the Creoles of German Descent states, “The official census taken in November, 1724, must always be the principal source of information concerning the founders of the German Coast of Louisiana.” Listed in this census is an entry of a now familiar family name (Oubre). Members of this family married into the Zeringue, Schexnaydre, Lorio, and Hymel families, whose many descendants still live along the German Coast.

Celestine Schexnaydre
Celestine Schexnaydre. (Photo courtesy of descendent Anne Petit Hymel)

“Jacob Huber, with six arpents. Native of Suevia, Germany. Catholic; 45 years old. His wife, son of 16 years. One engage’. One cow, one heifer, a pig. Made no crop on account of inundation. Good worker.”
(Census of 1724)

“Jacob Huber’s son Christoph married Marie Josephine St. Ives. Descendants now write the name as ‘Oubre,’ ‘Ouvre,’ ‘Hoover.’” (Census of 1724)

“Johann Georg Troxler, of Lichtenberg in Alsace. Catholic; 26 years old. A mason. His wife. ‘Fort bon travailleur’. Two and one-half arpents cleared, on which he has been only since the beginning of the year having left the village in the rear. Exposed to inundation. Absent because of bad health. His wife is also sick. Lost his crop and his house. A neighbor, who cooked in a shed attached to Troxler’s house, accidentally set fire to it. 1731: Two children. Two negroes; one cow. Johann Georg Troxler was the progenitor of all the ‘Troxler’ and ‘Trosclair’ families in Louisiana.” (Census of 1724)

Charles Troxler and Donation Lorio
Charles Troxler (b. 1862) and brother-in-law Donation Lorio (son of Andre Lorio and Elmire Toups). (Photo courtesy of descendant Anne Petit Hymel)

“The first priest of St. John the Baptist, the German Capuchin Father Bernhard von Limbach (1772), who wrote even the most difficult German names phonetically correct, entered the name as ‘Scheckschneider’, which is an old German name. The progenitor of this family, Hans Reinhard Scheckschneider, is mentioned on the passenger list of one of the four pest ships which sailed from L’Orient on the twenty-fourth of January 1721…Yet he was already called ‘Chezneider’, even on board ship…At present almost every branch of this very numerous family writes the name differently….”
—J. Hanno Deiler, The Settlement of the German Coast of Louisiana and the Creoles of German Descent

Scheckschneider and Zeringue Families
The Scheckschneider (Schexnaydre) and Zeringue families standing in front of Ormond Plantation in Destrehan. (Photo courtesy of Larry and Sharon Schexnaydre)

Jacques Perilloux was the first Perilloux to come to Louisiana from France in the 1740s and was married at St. Charles Church in 1753. His descendants owned plantations in St. Charles and St. John parishes. At the Montz Plantation, there was a dance pavilion that was also used for theatrical productions. Perilloux Landing was one of the popular stops for steamboats and showboats. Like many other houses along the River Road, the Perilloux Plantation was destroyed in 1973 for a levee setback.

Montz was becoming more established by the 1860s and included enclaves named Coffee and Keller Towns. With the assistance of the Sons of Levi Benevolent Association, many black families located here when the Civil War came to an end.

Descendants of those early settlers courageously faced many of the same overwhelming odds as their ancestors but continued to persevere and thrive in the 19th Century.

Showboat’s A-Comin\'!
The showboats began in 1831 and brought much excitement to all living along the Mississippi River. They were traveling theatres with stages lit by candles or oil-burning lamps; hand-painted scenery; and curtains, which were lowered and raised. Some were very lavish and some very crude. The actors and actresses lived onboard. At night torches burned brightly on the levee to guide people to the showboat. Tickets were usually about twenty-five cents. Most had to save their pennies and some paid with sacks of potatoes, sides of bacon, honey, and the like. Most farming families had precious little money to spare. By the 1850s many showboats were present up and down the river. They would stop at each town going downstream, doing the same on the opposite bank when returning upstream. Showboats continued to entertain those living along the river for one hundred years into the twentieth century.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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