Bienville, The Namesake of our organization is also our leader. Each year our President
is named our new Bienville.
Who is This guy Bienville? Check out this brief history of The founder of our city and the man who brought
Mardi Gras to The New World.
Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (February 23, 1680 – March 7, 1767) was a colonizer, born in Montreal, Quebec and an early, repeated governor of French Louisiana, appointed 4 separate times during 1701-1743. He was a younger brother of explorer Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville. He is also known as Sieur de Bienville.
At the age of eighteen, Bienville joined his brother Iberville on an expedition to establish the colony of Louisiana. Bienville and Iberville during this expedition explored the north-central Gulf of Mexico coastline.
Before heading back to France, Iberville established the first settlement of the Louisiana colony, in April 1699 as Fort Maurepas or Old Biloxi (at present-day Ocean Springs, Mississippi), and appointed Sauvolle de la Villantry as the governor with Bienville as Lieutenant and second in command.
After Sauvolle's death in 1701, Bienville ascended to the governorship of the new territory for the first of four terms. By 1701, only 180 persons remained in the colony, the rest having died from malnutrition and disease.
On the recommendations of his brother, Bienville moved the majority of the settlers to a new settlement in what is now Alabama on the west side of the Mobile River, called Fort Louis de la Mobile (or "Mobille"). He also established a deep water port nearby on Dauphin Island for the colony, as Mobile Bay and the Mobile River were too shallow for sea-going vessels. The population of the colony fluctuated over the next few years. In 1704, in part due to fear the fraternization of French soldiers with native females may lead to conflict, Bienville arranged for the importation of twenty-four young French women. By tradition the young ladies were selected from convents, though most were likely from poor families, and they traveled to the New World with their possessions in small trunks known as cassettes, thus they are known in local histories as The casquette girls in early accounts and by the English translation of casket girls in later tradition.
The young ladies were lodged in Bienville's home under the care of his housekeeper, a French-Canadian woman known as Madame Langlois. (By tradition she was a widowed cousin to Bienville and his brothers, but there is no confirmation to this.) Madame Langlois had learned from local native tribes the arts of cooking local produce and imparted this knowledge to her charges in what is generally heralded as the origin of Creole cuisine. The names and fates of most of the Casquette Girls is uncertain but at least some remained in the colony and married French soldiers as intended, the first recorded birth of a white child occurring in 1705.
The population of the colony fluctuated over the next generation, growing to 281 persons by 1708 yet descending to 178 persons two years later due to disease. In 1709, a great flood overflowed Fort Louis de la Mobile: as a consequence of this and the disease outbreaks, Bienville ordered the settlement to move downriver to the present site of Mobile, Alabama in 1711 and building another wooden Fort Louis. By 1712, when Antoine Crozat took over administration of the colony by royal appointment, the colony boasted a population of 400 persons. In 1713, a new governor arrived from France, and Bienville moved west where, in 1716, he established Fort Rosalie on the present site of Natchez, Mississippi. The new governor, Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, did not last long due to mismanagement and a lack of growth in the colony. He was recalled to France in 1716, and Bienville again took the helm as governor, serving the office for less than a year until the new governor, Jean-Michel de Lepinay, arrived from France. Lepinay, however, did not last long due to Crozat's relinquishing control of the colony and the shift in administration to John Law and his Company of the Indies. In 1718, Bienville found himself once again governor of Louisiana, and it was during this term that Bienville established the city of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Bienville was governor of French Louisiana for a total of 30 years.