1787: Jean Pierre Normand, Avoyellean of the Year 1787: Jean Pierre Normand, Avoyellean of the Year

1808 district map of Avoyelles Parish (T.2N, R.4E) showing the location of Normand's Landing on the Red River (upper right of the map.)

Jean Pierre Normand, Avoyellean of 1787


Birth: 27 March 1742 at Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Death: 20 October 1824 at Normand’s Landing, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Burial: Notre Dame du Mont Carmel Cemetery, Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana
Military Service: First Company, German Coast Militia. Served during the American Revolution under Governor Galvez during the capture of the British forts at Bayou Manchac and Baton Rouge, 1779.

JEAN PIERRE NORMAND: In 1787, Governor Miro granted to Jean-Pierre Normand a tract of land encompassing 756.27 arpents (640 acres) on the Red River where the Bayou Rouge fed into the river. At that point on the river bend, a coupé formed an oxbow lake. Normand's land lay equally on both sides of the bayou and the oxbow lake. At such a strategic point, Normand had a portage which became known as "Normand's Landing," or the "port of Jean Normand," or just "Jean Normand's place," and was listed as such in a number of colonial records of the late 1700s. A few miles downriver was Baker's Landing, also known as Avoyelles Landing, mentioned in 1804.
Jean Normand's Landing was important for the growth of Avoyelles Parish in the last decade of the 1700s as the population of the parish tripled. The Landing gave local farmers and merchants a means by which they could sell, buy and ship goods to other markets. For a fee, Normand provided safe and secure storage for goods at the landing. The Normand home often served as an Inn, where travelers could spend a night or two, and have a good meal. It was also a good place to sit and visit, and share a drink. Every bit of news arriving from the outside world passed through Normand's Landing before it spread to the rest of the Parish.
  Jean Pierre Normand came to Louisiana from Montreal about 1765 along with his parents, Jean Gaspard Normand and Marie Josephe Chenier, and three of his four surviving brothers. His father was born at Quebec City, Canada, and was named for his godfather, Gaspard Emeri, a physician at the hospital in Quebec. On their arrival in lower Louisiana, the Normand family settled at the German Coast, first at St. Charles Parish, and later moving to the parish of St. Jean-Baptiste. About 1768, Jean Pierre married Marie Marguerite Wichner, daughter of Johann Nicholas Wichner and Anne Barbe Frederic.
In 1770, Jean Pierre Normand was listed on the roll of the First Company of Militia at the German Coast, which participated in the captures of Fort Bute at Bayou Manchac and Fort New Richmond at Baton Rouge in 1779. By 1787, he had made the decision to sell his property on the German Coast, and apply to the new Spanish Governor, Esteban Rodriguez Miro, for a land grant on the Red River near the Avoyelles Prairie. The grant was approved before the end of the year.

NORMAND’S LANDING: In 1806, shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the Freeman-Custis Red River Expedition to explore and map the Red River. The Expedition mentioned the “Avoyelles Landing,” but this was the port of Jean Normand, and not the landing at Baker’s. The Port of Jean Normand is not to be confused with the Normand's Landing that was, in later years, located 2.7 miles upriver, which was on land claimed by Joseph Normand, one of Jean-Pierre Normand's grandsons. Also, it is not to be confused with the third Normand's Landing that was well-known in the early twentieth century, located in Brouillette, about three miles downriver. This third landing was on the property of Louis A. Normand, a great-grandson of Jean-Pierre.
On 6 March 1822, Jean-Pierre Normand, seventy-nine years old, sold his Red River property to George Gorton. As a result, during the steamboat days of the early 1800s, Normand's Landing became known as “Gorton's Landing.”
In 1850, the landing was purchased by James Harper Barbin and two others. Barbin also bought part of the original Normand land grant, and started advertising it as “Barbin's Landing” in the The Villager newspaper in Marksville. At the end of the 1850s, the “glorious decade,” five highways radiated from Marksville to five Red River landings. It was not unusual to see nine steamboats go up or down the river in a day. In the 1860 Census, the forty-four year old James H. Barbin was still listed as “landing keeper.” But, soon after that, he sold Barbin's Landing to his brother, Ludger Barbin, and the remaining property from the Normand land grant to his brothers Francois and Aristides. In 1875, when navigation on the Red River began to decline, there were more that fifty-two boats engaged in transportation on the Red River.

CHILDREN: Although Jean Pierre Normand had three brothers who came to Louisiana, all three adopted their father’s middle name, Gaspard, as their last name. As a result, all the Normands of Avoyelles Parish and their families descend from Jean Pierre. His oldest brother, Charles Normand, born in 1735, chose to remain in Montreal, and has many Normand descendants, mostly in Canada and the mid-west.
Current research reveals the names of seven children born to Jean Pierre Normand and Marie Marguerite Wichner. They were:

1. Francoise Normand (also called “Marie Josephe” for her paternal grandmother), born about 1767 at St. Charles Parish, married Pierre Dupuy in 1785, and died 22 November 1848 at Avoyelles. We know of seven children from this marriage.
2. Justine Normand (baptized “Marie-Augustine”), born about 1769 at St. Charles Parish, married in 1791 to Andre Dupuy, brother of Pierre Dupuy (above), and died 12 March 1855. We know of nine children of this marriage.
3. Marguerite Normand, born 9 September 1772 at the parish of St. Jean-Baptiste, and died as a child.
4. Pierre Normand, born 18 December 1774 at St. Jean-Baptiste, married 1) Marie Joffrion, and 2) Marguerite Marcotte, and died in 1844 in Avoyelles Parish. He had one son from his first marriage, and we know of twelve children from his second marriage.
5. Marguerite Normand II, born in 1777 at St. Jean-Baptiste, and died as a child.
6. Laurent Normand, born 7 May 1780 at St. Jean-Baptiste, married Gertrude Couvillon at Avoyelles Parish, and died 1 October 1842. We know of seven children from this marriage.
7. Jean Baptiste Manuel Normand, born 3 October 1791 at Avoyelles, baptized in New Orleans at St. Louis Cathedral on 14 December 1791, and died on 16 July 1803, age 11. His was the first grave on the grounds of Notre-Dame-de-Mont-Carmel (St. Paul) in Cocoville, Avoyelles Parish.

– Submitted by Pierre Goudeau Normand, Jr.
P.O. Box 10434; College Station, Texas 77842

(Sources: History of Avoyelles Parish, by Corinne Saucier; Earthen Walls, Iron Men: Fort DeRussy, Louisiana, and the Defense of the Red River, by Steven M. Mayeux; The Normand Family of Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana, by Mark Normand; and The Barbin and Goudeau Families of Louisiana, by Maner L. Thorpe.)

For a list of past recipients of the Avoyellean of the Year award visit: Avoyelleans of the Year