NEW IBERIA | NUEVA IBERIA | LA NOUVELLE-IBÉRIE | IBÉRY
My goal here really is to offer a quick briefing on the city of New Iberia and the 16 families by whom the city was named.
Before jumping to the Malagueños, I must make known to you a few things.
Most people have heard that the city of New Iberia (Nueva Iberia, in Spanish; La Nouvelle-Ibérie, in French; and Ibéry, in Louisiana Creole) was founded in 1779 by Spaniards from the province of Málaga, Spain.
What people do not know is the Malagueños were not the first to resettle in what’s now the city of New Iberia.
The area had long been a crossroads between the lower Teche, where the bayou spills into the Atchafalaya River at Wax Lake, and the upper Teche at Port-Barré where it draws water from Bayou Courtableau. These were the lands of the Eastern Band of the Atákapa-Ishak, who lived all along the Teche (the name of disputed origin) until the late 18th century.
Historically, the Eastern Atákapa-Ishak had villages at Charenton, Grand-Coteau, just north of Abbéville and at the Mermentau River (aka Le Menton).
Their Western band cousins lived along the Brazos and Trinity Rivers in Southeast Texas (where the Eastern band migrated in the latter quarter of the 18th century and where they all still live today).
André Masse, a native of Grenoble, France, was contracted by the French Crown to establish a cattle ranch in the 1740s along the Teche. The cattle was to feed the population of the colony. He wasn’t the only one, by the way. He purchased 20 Sénégal, Manéga and Wolof slaves around that same time, and a handful of Atákapa and together, they established his first ranch around present-day Charenton.
Legend has it that in the Spring of 1765, when Acadians were sent to live in The Attakapas District by Governor Charles-Philippe AUBRY, André Masse and his business partner, Jean Antoine Bernard d’Hauterive, also a native of Grenoble, but resident of The Iberville Post, complained to Governor Aubry and Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire, Commandant at The Opelousas Post, about the Acadians trespassing on their lands.
The issue was resolved by a transfer of land, where Masse turned over his ranch at Charenton and established a new one on what was then known as Lac Flamand, named so for the Grévenberg dit Flamand [sic] brothers from Belgium. Masse’s new cattle ranch stretched from Lac Flamand to the Vermilion River.
Reality is such that not one single civil act exists for transfer of land, sale of land or donation by Masse or d’Hauterive to Acadians in the St Martin Parish courthouse, the only one along Bayou Tèche until the 1820s. I’ve not even located this in the Spanish legajos for the period.
Meanwhile, from extant civil records, I know that d’Hauterive had land located at and around Fausse-Pointe, just outside of present-day Loreauville, and land encompassing the entirety of present-day St Martinville, where many tracts were sold to newly arrived Acadians in 1765 (e.g. Amand dit Beausoleil Broussard’s family at Fausse-Pointe).
By 1779, when Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny arrived with 16 families of Spaniards from the provinces of Málaga and Granada, the local population numbered no more than 900. The 1 April 1781 Census listed 1,118 souls, though none were Malagueños, curiously.
Now, on to the Malagueños.
Málaga: port city on the Mediterranean Coast of Spain in the Province of Málaga in the Autonomous Community of Andalusia.
A total of 16 families, roughly 82 heads, embarked the San Josef and Princesa de Asturias for Spanish New Orleans in 1778. They were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Francisco Bouligny. Only about 60 actually made it to Louisiana, others remained in Puerto Rico and Cádiz, Spain from illnesses.
Louisiana Governor Bernardo de Gálvez, himself a Spaniard, approved a settlement for the Malagueños on Bayou Tèche in the vicinity of present-day Charenton (St. Mary Parish).
Don’t be so quick to think that all was peaches and cream with their arrival, though. Recall that in 1768, when the official representatives of the Spanish crown arrived in New Orleans to take over the colony, they were quite literally met with militia of Francophones to run them out of the city. In 1779, when Bouligny, who originally wanted to settle the Malagueños someplace along the Ouachita River near The Arcs (Arkansas) Post, and de Gálvez compromised on the Teche, the local Commandant of the Attakapas, Alexandre-François-Joseph, Chevalier de Clouet, reportedly did not care for the idea one bit.
Bouligny settled them there, anyways, along with 75 slaves, 32 pairs of oxen, 20 cows, and 12 horses.
Spring floods reportedly inundated the encampment in April of 1779, which they called Nueva Iberia. Some of the original families remained at this original resettlement.
When Bouligny and a handfull of the families arrived further upstream at a bluff and bend in the Teche (part of present-day Bouligny Plaza in downtown New Iberia) as a result of 6 feet of water in their original encampment, it was discovered that the land was a concession awarded to François Prévost. Bouligny paid Prévost 400 pesos for a track of land 30 arpents deep by 8 arpents width facing Bayou Teche and there resettled the families that had followed him.
Downtown New Iberia.
In June 1779 another 9 Malagueños relocated from the original encampment near Charenton.
When Bouligny left the new site in August of 1779, he reported that the Malagueños at the new site had planted 75 arpents of corn and 35 at the original encampment. Additionally, they had cultivated 25 arpents of rice, 6 arpents of potatoes and a small amount of tobacco.
With the aide of hired local Acadians, homes were built for them at the new site, equal in size of 15 by 28 feet and raised 9 feet off of the ground to avoid inundations from the bayou during rainy seasons.
Some of these families at the new site relocated in the 1780s to the outskirts of New Iberia and settled on Lac Flamand, which later became known as Lac des Espagnols, or Spanish Lake, for them.
By the early 1790s, only 7 of the original Malagueño families remained at Nueva Iberia (de Artacho, de Segura, Garrido, López, Míguez, Romero, Villatorro).
Of the 10 children born (in Nueva Iberia #2) to Francisco de Paula Joaquim de Segura and María de Prados (natives of Málaga), 4 married local francophones, the other 3 married Romero siblings and 3 married Villatorro siblings.
Raphaël Segura, the eldest of the sons of Francisco and María above, married to María Carmelita Romero, was by far the most economically successful and well known of the 1st generation of Malagueño-Louisiana Creoles. He owned a plantation on the banks of Spanish Lake in an area later called Segura precisely for him. His plantation home, a two-story traditional provincial Louisiana brick plantation with front galery and high raised roof, stood until the 1960s or 1970s, when it was demolished.
Anyway, Raphaël and Carmelita produced a family of 6 children. Only 1 married a son of Malagueños, the others married local francophones.
Given their small numbers from the get-go, and at both sites, and immersed in Francophone, Creolophone and Atákapanophone culture, by the 2nd generation, not only did the name giving practices shift among the Malagueño families from Spanish traditional given names to local Creoles ones, but the grandchildren of the Malagueños were nearly all francophone and marrying francophones – a good indication of why very few vestiges of Spanish language exist in the New Iberia area today.
Breakdown of surnames and hometowns of San Josef passengers
ALHAURÍN DE LA TORRE
1. Garrido (Gary)
2. Villatorro y Gómes (Viator, Gómez)
3. Gómes (Gómez)
ALHAURÍN EL GRANDE
1. López Ríveros
1. de Porras
LOS CARAVEOS, BURGOS
1. de Lagos
6. de Molina Póstigo
8. de Puentes
1. de Aguilar
5. de Prados
6. de Quero
7. de Segura
8. de Castilla
1. de Ortíz
2. de Villalba y Maldonado
SAN SALVADOR DE FEBRA, TUY
1. de Artacho