Etienne de Bore
1741 - 1820
Etienne de Bore is credited with developing the process of
making granulated sugar. Of noble
Norman descent, de Bore was born in the Illinois district of the Louisiana
province on December 27, 1741. Members
of his family had been high in the service of French kings for generations.
His great-grandfather was conseiller de roi and postal official under
Louis XIV. When Bore was four, his
parents took him to France where he received his education.
On coming of age he joined the king’s household troops in
which only the nobility could qualify. In
the tenth year of his service he accepted the command of a company of cavalry.
Prompted no doubt by his marriage to the daughter of Destrehan, former
royal treasurer of the Louisiana colony under the French, he returned to the
land of his birth where his wife had inherited much property.
De Bore settled on a plantation six miles above New Orleans
where Audubon Park is now located and planted indigo, which the insects
repeatedly destroyed, while his slaves sickened of fever and died.
Historically, the production of sugar had been a failure in
Louisiana. However, a number of
expert sugar-makers were among the refugees who had escaped from Santo Domingo
in the bloody massacres of 1791 and arrived in the province. De Bore determined to risk what there was left of his modes
savings on sugar. After turning his
crops to cane and the crops were harvested, the kettles were put to boil.
With a dubious audience gathered around, the sugar-maker’s technique
proved that sugar could be granulated, and de Bore’s industry took off.
As he prospered in his undertaking, his fame and his
fortune expanded. His great house,
surrounded by a moat and ramparts, opened its doors with equal hospitality to
the exiled brothers of Louis XIV and to the officers who served under General
Jackson. In 1798 three princes of
the royal blood found refuge from France’s reign of terror on his estate.
When Louisiana was transferred from Spain to France in
1803, de Bore was appointed mayor of New Orleans and served in that capacity
into the American period. He was
then appointed a member of the first legislative Council, but, consistent with
his opposition to the form of government imposed, he refused to serve and
repaired to his plantation.
He died at the age of seventy-nine, requesting that his
funeral be conducted in simplicity so that the money saved might be given to the
Charity Hospital of New Orleans. To
the manor born, Etienne de Bore was a gentleman of character and culture.
During his lifetime he was revered as the agricultural savior of his
people, and his plantation was the social center of Louisiana.