Although I have written about Ascension Parish and Louisiana history several times throughout this blog, I have yet to mention my own personal connection to this area of the state. My mother’s family, the Montero’s and Blanchard’s, settled in this area quite early. The Blanchard’s were part of the original Acadian exodus in 1763. The Montero’s arrived in Louisiana during Spanish rule of the colony, sometime between 1763 and 1801. Both sides just so happened to settle upriver from New Orleans, on the banks of the fertile Mississippi, where generations of my family have lived and worked the land. Below is a small excerpt from our family history here in Ascension Parish, dating back to the Civil War:
During the Civil War, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Laurence Montero, operated a ferry at the headwaters of Bayou Lafourche, in present-day Donaldsonville. Although his name was Laurence, he changed his name to Lorenzo when speaking to a Spaniard, or Lawrence when speaking to an American. He was a young man, only 18 or 19 years old at the time.
A few years into the war, most likely around 1863, Laurence was going about his daily business of ferrying customers across the bayou, when a Union cavalry detachment came barreling down the road, fleeing from a Confederate brigade hot on its heels. The cavalry unit quickly forced Montero to ferry them across the bayou. After landing on the opposite shore, the Yankees proceeded to destroy Montero’s ferry to prevent their pursuers from continuing the pursuit. The Union continued on down the river, and Montero was left on the banks of the bayou, deprived of his livelihood.
Not much is recorded after of Laurence’s life during the rest of the war, or the subsequent decades after that. It was until after the turn of the century, between 1900 and 1910, that Laurence resurfaces in our family history. Laurence had recently passed away, and his wife was determined to gain some form of reparation from the federal government. The Montero’s brought suit against the federal government. Testimony was taken from several of Laurence’s friends and Donaldsonville citizens who had witnessed the incident. After a lengthy trial, the Montero’s scored a major victory, and $10,000 in property damage reparations were awarded to them.
And so ends a brief chapter of my own personal family history here in Ascension Parish. More Montero/Blanchard annotations will be added in future posts.