The Coulon/de Villiers/Jumonville family has a long and noteworthy history from the Middle ages through to the present. My recent and ongoing research through the South African de Villiers has placed ours in another part of France around the 1300s and this is being investigated now.
Records we have been able to obtain show the family as Coulons. We know this is one family because a progression of documented information shows the evolvement. We are able to see when the family started carrying the name of de Villiers in France. By the time the first of his line came to the New World, the name de Villiers was being used in conjunction with Coulon.
The family is believed to have migrated from the Villiers Herbisse and Troyes area to Paris and Mantes (now Mantes la Jolie.)
The first Nicolas Coulon who has been so far located, was the Sieur de Chahagny et de Merheron in 1590. In 1594 he was provost royal at Mantes. In October of that year King Henri IV granted patent letters of nobility to Nicolas.
He and his wife Marie Deslandes had a son, also named Nicolas, who married Marie Leber on September 6, 1609. That couple had a son and was baptized as Guillaume on October 20, 1616, at Mantes.
In 1650 Guillaume married Elizabeth LeCouturier and they had a son, Raoul-Guillaume, who came to bear the title of Sieur de Villiers-en-Arthies. This Guillaume married Louise delaFosse on May 6, 1677, at Beaumont-sur-Oise. (See the map above right, for these places.) Their son, Nicolas-Antoine, was baptized March 20, 1683 in the parish church of St. Etienne at Mantes.
Nicolas is believed to have arrived at Quebec in 1703, and on December 7, 1705, he and Angelique Jarret de Vercheres signed a marriage contract before the notary Abel Michon. Angelique was the daughter of Francois Jarret de Vercheres and Marie Perot, and sister to the “heroine” of Canada, Madeleine Jarret de Vercheres.
Nicolas and Angelique are believed to have had from 10 to 13 children depending on who is counting--Tanguay or the Bulletin of Historical Research. At the time of Nicolas’ death, however, Nicolas left 10 children.
The first and/or second child is Marie/Madeleine de Villier; Nicolas-Antoine of whom there is dispute as to whether this was one child or two; Louis Coulon; Francois Coulon; Joseph, surnamed Jumonville; Pierre; Charles-Francois Coulon; Marie Anne; Terese; Marguerite; and Madeleine-Angelique.
The son, Joseph, was the one who made the name Jumonville famous through the New World, France and England, when he was shot by troops of George Washington. It was the incident at what is now Jumonville Glen in Pennsylvania that Horace Walpole called "...volley fired by a young Virginian in the backwoods of America (that) set the world on fire."
The French said Jumonville was killed under a flag of truce and that it was an assassination. The English claimed differently. Nevertheless, it is seen as the spark which finally brought the hostilities between France and England to a head. Historians have also disputed which of Jumonville’s brothers--Louis or Francois--avenged his death at Fort Necessity. Research has led me to believe with many that it was Louis who was at Fort Necessity, and that it was Francois who was in command when Fort Granville was taken in 1756.
Francois, the progenitor of the vast family which exists today throughout the United states, Cuba and other countries, had the longest-lasting career in New France, of which more can be read in various historical volumes and in my book, "The de Villiers."
Francois (at right in a print from an original painting which hangs in the Cabildo in New Orleans) married three times: the first to Elizabeth Groston de St. Ange de Bellerive sometime before 1746. The had four children, Isabelle, born in 1740, who married Francois de Volsey, a captain in the Illinois district; Joachime, born in 1746, who married Captain Francois Picote de Belestre; Joseph, born in 1747, who died without issue; and Louis, born in 1751, who married Marie Fontenette in the Attakapas Territory.
His second marriage was to Madelaine Marin, daughter of Paul Marin, and of this union, one son, Marc, was born. March, having remained loyal to Spain, went to Pensacola, Florida after Louisiana reverted back to France by virtue of the secret treaty of San Ildefonso between Napoleon's government and Spain. He died there in 1804.
Francois married Genevieve Esnoul de Livaudais, who died in New Orleans in 1803. That marriage produced another son, Charles-Pilippe.
From these three marriages descended the families who exist principally in Louisiana, but throughout the world today.
There have been numerous stories about this family: that it was of the same family as George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham, that it was at the Battle of Rhodes, that it participated in the Crusades, and many other oral history. I have not yet been able to prove or disprove some of these stories. However, we do know that the family participated in at least three Crusades, as is shown by its coat of arms, which features the heads of three Moors as explained by the heraldic artist who painted it from a description in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris.
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Francois Eraste Coulon DeVillier was born January 6, 1866, in Notleyville, Louisiana. He was only 22 when he married 17-year-old Marie Clotilde McBride on June 30, 1888.(Photo at right, taken circa the mid-thirties, according to a grandson, John Devillier of Groves, TX).
The couple had six sons and three daughters. The last of the siblings, Ike C. DeVillier, died in 2000. Other children were Villier Antone, Charles Coulon, John Coulon, William Coulon, and Allen Pierre Coulon DeVillier, Zula DeVillier Rightmire, Alice Marie DeVillier Lancon, and Marie Thelma DeVillier Daily.
The family moved from Louisiana to Port Arthur in 1913. In 1923, they were among the first settlers in the suburb of Groves, which was carved out of an experimental pecan orchard. They moved into a home Francois and his sons built. The sturdy home still stands despite being buffeted by hurricanes.
Francois was a skilled craftsman whom Louisiana landowners commissioned to build their buggies and wagons. Later, he gained renown in Texas as a cabinet maker and boat builder. When he died in 1947 at age 81, his casket was flanked by six tall candleholders which he made for Immaculate Conception Church; over the altar was a wooden canopy which he also had crafted.
Marie Clotilde McBride, also of French lineage except for her Irish father, died in 1954. Her grandchildren remember her devotion to family and church. "She was in the thick of action when Grandpa butchered a hog," said one. "She supervised the boudin, sausage and soap making. Grandma made wine from homegrown grapes and plums, and no one has been able to duplicate her ďdelicious tea cakes."