Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
History of Bradford County PA 1770-1878
by David Craft
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History of Bradford County 1770 - 1878

The Reverend Mr. David Craft



THE settlement of the French at Asylum forms one of the most interesting and romantic chapters in the history of the county. In the circumstances which brought these people here, in the way in which their settlement was carried on, and the means by which it was arrested, it was altogether peculiar and unique.

The Revolution, by which the American colonies secured their independence of the mother country, marked an era in modern history. The throes which gave birth to this young nation to some extent were felt throughout the civilized world. France, more than any other nation of Europe, was moved by the influence of this Revolution. As the hereditary rival of Great Britain for power on both continents, she gave to the struggling colonies both encouragement and support. Representatives from the newborn nation were received with enthusiasm by her people, and the idea of a republican government, with its popular institutions under popular control, was eagerly accepted by a nation smarting under despotic rule, restive under the almost intolerable burden of taxation, and suffering for bread while kings rioted and princes feasted at their expense. Soldiers, sent across the ocean to fight the battles of freedom in this new world, returned to do service in their own land, and the shouts of republican victory sent up from this side of the Atlantic received answering echoes from the shores of France.

Early in the period of the French Revolution, many of her citizens,* apprehending troublous times, fled from their native country to other parts of Europe, while a large number came to America. At the time of the French Revolution, the island of St. Domingo belonged partly to the Spaniards and partly to the French, the latter occupying the western third of the island, where they had a few flourishing towns and many rich plantations cultivated by slaves. To this colony many wealthy and noble Frenchmen fled at the beginning of the troubles in their own country. Reports of what was doing in France, and discussions concerning the new order of things, were not confined to the whites, but were soon participated in by the blacks, who were in proportion to the whites as sixteen to one. These soon took up the cry of freedom and liberty, and deeming the occasion a favorable one planned an insurrection against their masters. This was carried into effect in 1791, when one of the most terrible wars broke out which it has ever been the duty of the historian to chronicle. Speedily the whole northwestern portion of the island was blazing with burning plantations, and the self-emancipated slaves were running riot over the possessions of their late masters. This conflict of races, with its record of horrid cruelties and exasperated hatred, was the occasion of many of the wealthy French planters fleeing to the United States. These, in most instances, were compelled to leave their wealth behind them, glad to escape with their own lives and the lives of their families.**

Prominent among these emigrants were the Viscount Louis M. de Noailles and the Marquis Antoine Omer Talon. Of these two men more than a passing notice

is demanded. Louis M. de Noailles was born in Paris, April 17, 1756. Very early in life he entered into the military service of his native country, and rapidly rose to a position of distinction in the army. When the French government espoused the cause of American independence, the young viscount sought and obtained permission to come to America. Here his great military ability, his ardent zeal for the cause of the colonies, and his unflinching courage won the esteem of both French and American officers, so that a number of times he was complimented for his bravery by Washington in general orders. At the battle of Yorktown he was appointed by Washington to receive, on the part of the French, the surrender of Cornwallis, and negotiate the terms of the capitulation.

On the conclusion of peace he returned to France. "At the epoch of the Revolution he accepted its principles, and was counted among the most zealous defenders of the popular cause." He was a deputy of the nobility to the States General, May, 1789, and subsequently a member of the National Assembly, where, on the 4th of August, he proposed those celebrated acts by which the whole feudal system, with its long train of abuses and privileges, was abolished. At length, in common with all true republicans, he fell under the displeasure of Robespierre, by whom he was condemned to death, and his property confiscated. He however escaped to England, and thence came to the United States and took up his residence in Philadelphia, where his former active service in the American Revolution brought him into intimate relation with the leading men of the country. In his "Journal of an Excursion to the United States of North America in the Summer of 1794," Mr. Wansey thus alludes to the viscount. Under date of June 8, he says, "I dined this day with Mr. Bingham, to whom I had a letter of introduction.... There dined with us Mr. Willing, president of the Bank of the United States, the father of Mrs. Bingham; Monsieur Callot, the exiled governor of Guadaloupe, and the famous Viscount de Noailles, who distinguished himself so much in the first National Constituent Assembly, on August 4, 1789, by his five propositions, and his speech on that occasion, for the abolition of feudal rights. He is now engaged in forming a settlement, with other unfortunate countrymen, about sixty-five miles north of Northumberland town. It is called ‘Asylum,’ and stands on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna. His lady, the sister of Madame La Fayette, with his mother and grandmother, were all guillotined, without trial, by that arch-villain, Robespierre." In company with Mr. Talon, he succeeded in establishing the Asylum colony, and was a prominent shareholder in the Asylum company. On the accession of Napoleon his estates were restored to him and he returned to France, and again entered the military service, and was killed in a naval battle with an English corvette before Havana. His soldiers, by whom he was greatly beloved, enclosed his heart in a silver box, which they attached to their flag.

Omer Talon was born in Paris, Jan. 20, 1760. At the age of sixteen he was accepted as an advocate, and rose through various grades to the position of civil lieutenant in 1789. In 1790 he became a member of the National Assembly, being a deputy for the district of Chartres. He was distinguished for his unflinching defense of the royal prerogative. Compromised by the flight of Louis XVI, he was arrested and imprisoned a month. He then became one of the faithful advisers of the king, with whom he had frequent meetings at the Tuileries, always at night. His name was found in the "Iron Chest," which led to the decree for his arrest. He managed to keep himself secreted from the police for several months, part of the time in Paris, and part of the time at Havre, until his friends finding an American ship about to sail for the United States, he was put into a large cask, carried on board, and secreted in the hold of the vessel, where he was kept until the vessel sailed, when he was released from confinement. In Philadelphia, he kept open house for his distressed countrymen, and when the settlement at Asylum had been determined on, he became one of its active promoters, and the general manager of the business at Asylum. He returned to France under the Directory, but was transported, for political offenses, to the isle of St. Marguerite, in 1804, and did not obtain his liberty until 1807. His mind gave way under the pressure of repeated privations and disappointments, but he continued to live in a sort of premature senility until Aug. 18, 1811, when he died at Goetz, in the fifty-second year of his age.

So great was the number of refugees fleeing to this country from France and St. Domingo, that some permanent provision for their maintenance was found to be necessary. For this purpose contracts were entered into with Robert Morris and John Nicholson, who were large proprietors in the wild lands of Pennsylvania, for a large body of these lands, provided a suitable place could be found for the settlement. Accordingly, M. Charles Bui Boulogne set out, in company with Mr. Adam Hoops and some other gentlemen, on a tour of observation. Under date of Aug. 8, 1793, Robert Morris addressed the following letter to Mr. Dunn, at Newtown, Matthias Hollenbeck, of Wilkes-Barre, Messrs. James Tower & Co., of Northumberland, and to any other persons applied to, saying, "Should Mr. Boulogne find it necessary to purchase provisions or other articles in your neighborhood for the use of himself or his company, I beg that you will assist him therein; or should you supply him and take his drafts on this place, you may rely that they will be paid, and I hold myself accountable. Any services it may be in your power to render this gentleman or his companions, I shall be thankful for."

The large plain of "Schufeldt’s Flats," lying on the Susquehanna, opposite the mouth of Rummerfield creek, was the place fixed upon as a suitable site for the settlement, provided the title could be made secure. In order to effect this, it was thought advisable to obtain both the Connecticut and Pennsylvania claim. The latter was undertaken by Mr. Morris, and the former was intrusted to Judge Hollenback, on whom the colonists depended not only to cash their drafts and bills of credit, but to procure nearly all of their supplies. The following letters, found among Judge Hollenback’s papers, will throw some light upon this period of the colony, while they establish the fact that the colony was established several months earlier than the date given by the Duke de la Rochefoucault.***

Under date Philadelphia, Oct. 9, 1793, Mr. Morris writes to Judge Hollenback: "Messrs. De Noailles and Talon desire to make the purchase of the eight lots or tracts that compose the tract called the Standing Stone, and also the island or islands which they mentioned to you; but they will have all or none as an absolute condition, as you will see by a copy of their observations on nine articles extracted from the contents of your letter to Mr. Talon. They do not object to the prices or terms of payment stated in your letter….If you can get the whole of them under such covenants under hand and seal, you can then make the whole valid, and proceed to perform the conditions and take the conveyances in the name of Mr. Talon; but should any of the parties refuse to sell, or rise in their demands so that you cannot comply with them, you can, in such case, hold the rest in suspense until Mr. Hoops or you send an express to inform me of all particulars, which will give my friends an opportunity to consider and determine finally.... "I must observe, that although Mr. Talon has agreed to the terms and prices demanded by the Connecticut claimants, yet I cannot help thinking them very dear; and more so, as we have been obliged to purchase the Pennsylvania title, as Mr. Hoops will inform you of. I hold it, then, to be incumbent on you to obtain the Connecticut rights upon the cheapest terms that is possible, and unless they will be content with reasonable terms, let them know that we will bring ejectments against them, or rather that you will do it, and try the strength of title, in which case they will get nothing. Whatever you do must be done soon. Winter is approaching, and these gentlemen are extremely anxious to commence the operations necessary to the settlement they intend to make, but they will not strike a stroke until the whole of the lots are secure for them; and unless the whole are obtained, they give up the settlement, and will go to some other part of America.

"I engage to make good the contracts and agreements you may enter into consistently with your letter of the 14th of September last to Mr. Talon, and with his observations thereon, a copy of which Mr. Hoops will give you if desired; and to enable you to make the payments according to these stipulations, which you may enter into in that respect, I shall also pay the order for a thousand dollars already given you on their account. The settlement which these gentlemen meditate at the Standing Stone is of great importance to you, and not only to you, but to all that part of the country; therefore, you ought, for your own interest and the interest of your country, to exert every nerve to promote it. They will be of great service to you, and you should render them disinterestedly every service possible. Should they fail of establishing themselves at the Standing Stone, there is another part of Pennsylvania which I should prefer for them, and if they go there, I will do everything for them that I possibly can."

It may be remarked that the purchase of these lots was effected according to the wishes of Mr. Morris, and the conveyances legally executed in the early part of 1794. Mr. Boulogne had also, in his own name, purchased the farm of Simon Spalding, at Standing Stone. Either to this, or on the lands purchased on the opposite side of the river, he removed early in October, 1793. On the 19th, from Standing Stone, he writes to Judge Hollenback a letter, of which the following are some extracts:

"I received by Mr. Town the favors of yours dated the 11th inst. All that has been enumerated in your bill has arrived and been delivered, and you are therefore credited on my account. When you’ll send me the price of the ox-cart, cows, and bell, I shall do the same. The cows are exceeding poor, and hardly give any milk, but I hope they will come to. The difficulty of having the buildings and a great many articles of provisions in proper time hath determined us and the gentlemen in Philadelphia to lessen them, and, as Mr. Keating hath told you, the expenses will of course be lessened; therefore I have not sent you the draft of three thousand dollars which we spoke of when I was in Wilkes-Barre. Esquire Hancock hath not yet concluded his bargain with Gaylord & Skinner. You know it is of the greatest importance to have it concluded, as well as the one with Ross; otherwise it will stop me here at once, the gentlemen at Philadelphia being determined to have the whole or none at all, or to reject the whole purchase from Mr. Morris. In buying from Mr. Ross you must absolutely buy the crops which are on the ground, as everybody here is very poor."****

Other letters indicate that during the whole autumn, Mr. Boulogne was busy in making the needful arrangements for the reception of the colony. Workmen were employed in building houses, repairing fences, and making other improvements. Quite a large number were thus employed, as he speaks of wanting a thousand dollars to pay his workmen. About the middle of November, Mr. De Noailles visited the place of the settlement, which now took the name of "Asylum." The place of the settlement was determined on, and the whole plain was accurately surveyed into town and outlying lots. A map of this survey is still in existence.

Having determined upon the place of the settlement, the other arrangements were speedily completed. The lots purchased at Asylum were supposed to contain two thousand four hundred acres. In addition to this, Messrs. Noailles and Talon proposed to purchase a tract of two hundred thousand acres of wild land, to be cultivated by the colonists. But as the number of emigrants continued to increase, their plans were enlarged. In connection with Messrs. Morris and Nicholson, a company styled the "Asylum Company" was formed, and "Articles of Association" were entered into on April 22, 1794, between Robert Morris, on behalf of himself and others, his associates, of the one part, and John Nicholson, on behalf of himself and others, his associates, of the other part. The object is stated to be the "settling and improving one or more tracts of country within the State of Pennsylvania," to which they had acquired the titles. The affairs of the company were to be controlled by a board of managers, the lands surveyed, agents appointed to secure their settlement, and fabulous sums of money were anticipated as the result of the speculation. The capital stock of the company was to consist of a million acres, which was to be represented by five thousand shares, of two hundred acres each.

April 25, 1795, Nicholson having purchased the interest of Morris in the company, new articles of association were formed, by which the title of the lands was vested in a board of trustees, who were to be under the direction of the board of managers. The capital stock and number of shares remained unchanged, further purchases of land were prohibited, and an annual dividend of thirty dollars per share was guaranteed to each shareholder.

The company did not prove to be as successful as was anticipated. Aside from Messrs. Morris and Nicholson, only two thousand shares, representing four hundred thousand acres, had been taken up to Oct. 26, 1801, when the company was again reorganized, on account "of the inability of Robert Morris and the late John Nicholson to perform their covenants therein contained, arising from pecuniary embarrassments and judgments obtained against them." Under this last arrangement, the company secured the title to a large number of tracts of land in this and Sullivan, Lycoming, and Luzerne counties, which were sold on advantageous terms to actual settlers.

In the organization of the company, Mr. Noailles was to manage its concerns in Philadelphia, and Mr. Talon was to superintend its concerns at Asylum, for which he was to receive a salary of three thousand dollars per year. The buildings and other necessary expenses of establishing the settlement were placed to the account of the company. The houses were built of logs, the clearings were small, and the surroundings were anything but inviting. In fact, we can hardly imagine the effect of the contrast which these scattered log cabins, hidden in the woods, must have presented to the minds of these Parisian gentlemen and ladies to the wealthy and luxurious homes which they had abandoned. No sooner, however, were they settled in their new homes than they at once set about to improve their land and make themselves comfortable, so that in a short time they were surrounded with many of the luxuries to which they had been accustomed.

Mr. Talon came on the ground about Dec. 1, 1793, and on the 23d of the same month Mr. Boulogne writes that the masons were compelled by the severity of the weather to leave their work. With the returning spring, however, work was resumed, and as soon as navigation opened on the river the emigrants and their goods began to arrive. Here, as in all of their other works, Judge Hollenback was depended upon to manage the whole business, and the correspondence is quite voluminous which gives direction for the shipment of their various articles from Philadelphia via Catawissa, and thence by boat to Asylum.

The town was laid out in the form of a parallelogram, its greater length being from north to south, with a large market square in the centre. There were five streets running due north and south, extending the length of the plat. These were crossed at right angles by nine streets running east and west. The present road, running north from Hon. B. La Porte’s house, was the western limit of the plat, and the corner of his, Mr. Miller’s, and George Gordon’s farms is on the old market square. This plat contained 413 lots, the most eligible of which were on the river-bank, and have since been entirely washed away. There were also surveyed back of the town, on the west, seventeen lots of five acres each, and fifteen lots of ten acres each. In addition, there were purchased by subscription 100,000 acres on the Loyal Sock creek, 25,000 acres of which were divided into lots of 400 acres each and called town-shares, of which when any part was cleared and inclosed by a subscriber, he received nine dollars per acre out of the common fund.

Of the emigrants, some were of noble birth, several had been connected with the king’s household, a few belonged to the clergy, some were soldiers, while but very few, if any, were of the laboring class, and none were agriculturists. They had spent their lives in the city, were accustomed to its ease and luxury, but knew nothing whatever about clearing land, nor of the hardships, toil, and privation to which the early settler in a new country is necessarily exposed. Instead, therefore, of providing for their present necessities, and voluntarily subjecting themselves to some inconveniences, they expended their means for improvements which never contributed to their welfare, and for a style of living which was to them exceedingly expensive.

About the time that Asylum was founded, another company attempted a settlement on the Chenango, a few miles above Binghamton, at a place called "the Butternuts."

One of their number, M. D’Autremont, a man of considerable wealth, contracted for a tract patented to William W. Morris, containing thirty thousand acres, upon which the settlement was made. Log houses were built, and eight families moved on the tract. Their surroundings were even more unpleasant than those at Asylum. All their provisions had to be carried from Chenango Point, the Indian reservation was in their immediate neighborhood, and not even a corn patch was cleared in the woods. To add to the unpleasantness of their situation, M. D’Autremont, on his way to Philadelphia, was drowned while fording the river on horseback. In consequence of failure in the payments due on the land on which they resided, it fell back into the hands of the original owners. Discouraged and disheartened, Mrs. D’Autremont and her two sons went down to Asylum, where Madame Seybert, her sister, already resided, and were she received a cordial welcome. On making known to Mr. Talon the distressed situation of the other families at this settlement, he immediately sent up boats, which brought down the remainder of the settlers and their effects. By this means the number of souls at Asylum was materially increased, but not the wealth of the efficiency of the colony.

In May, 1795, the Duke la Rochefoucauld de Liancourt visited the settlement, which at that time consisted of "thirty houses, inhabited by families from St. Domingo and from France, by French artisans, and even by Americans. Some inns and two shops [stores of general merchandise] have been established, the business of which is considerable. Several town-shares have been put in very good condition, and the fields and gardens begin to be productive. A considerable quantity of ground has been cleared on the Loyal Sock, from ten to twenty acres per share [of 400 acres] having been cleared. The owner can either settle there himself or intrust it to a farmer. The sentiments of the colonists are good. Every one follows his business—the cultivator, as well as the innkeeper or tradesman—with as much zeal and exertion as if he had been brought up to it….Motives arising from French manners and opinions have hitherto prevented even French families from settling here. These are, however, in a great measure removed. Some families of artisans are also established at Asylum, and such as conduct themselves properly can earn great wages. This cannot be said of the greatest part of them. They are, in general, very indifferent workmen, and much addicted to drunkenness. Those who reside here at present are hardly worth keeping. The real farmers who reside at Asylum live, upon the whole, on very good terms with each other, being sensible that harmony is requisite to render their situation comfortable and happy. They possess no considerable property, and their way of life is simple. Mr. Talon lives in a manner somewhat more splendid, as he is obliged to maintain a number of persons to whom his assistance is indispensable. The price of the company’s land at present is $2.50 per acre; that in the town of Asylum fetches a little more. The bullocks which are consumed in Asylum are generally brought from the back settlements, but it is frequently found necessary to send thither for them. The grain which is not consumed in Asylum finds a market in Wilkes-Barre, and is transported thither on the river. In the same manner all kinds of merchandise are transported from Philadelphia to Asylum. They are carried in wagons as far as Harrisburg, and thence by barges up the river. The freight amounts, in the whole, to two dollars per hundredweight. The salt comes from the salt-houses at Genesee. Flax is produced in the country about Asylum. Maple-sugar is made in great abundance; each tree is computed to yield, on the average, from two to three pounds per year. Molasses and vinegar are prepared here. A considerable quantity of tar is also made, and sold for four dollars per barrel, containing thirty-two gallons. Day laborers are paid five shillings a day. The manufacture of potashes has been commenced at Asylum, and it is contemplated the brewing of malt liquors. A corn-mill and saw-mill are building on the Loyal Sock."

Mr. Weld, an Englishman, passed through Bradford County in October, 1796, and speaks of Asylum as a "town laid out at the expense of several philanthropic persons of Pennsylvania, who entered into a subscription for the purpose as a place of retreat for the unfortunate French emigrants who fled to America. The town consists of about fifty log houses, and, for the use of the inhabitants, a considerable land has been purchased adjoining it, which has been divided into farms. The French settled here, however, seem to have no great ability or inclination to cultivate the earth, and the greater part of them have let their lands at a small yearly rental to the Americans, and amuse themselves with driving deer, fowling, and fishing. They live entirely to themselves; they hate the Americans, and the Americans in the neighborhood hate and accuse them of being an idle and dissolute set. The manners of the two people are so very different that it is impossible they should ever agree."

The duke also speaks of the dislike many of the French colonists had for the Americans, which was so strong that a number of them declared they would never learn to speak English.

Mr. Talon planned his improvements on a large scale. His first care was to open and make passable the roads leading to Asylum, and to construct a road to the Loyal Sock. This was opened as far as the present Laddsburg, and is still known as the old French road. It is said that Mr. Talon expended in a single year more than three thousand dollars on this one item of improvements. Farms were also laid out, and quite a settlement was begun on the farm in Terry township formerly owned by Hiram Stone. The refugees, being all royalists, felt the deepest interest in their unfortunate king and his family, who, when they left France, were being rapidly degraded by the constituent assembly, and whose lives were in constant jeopardy from the mobs that controlled Paris. It was thought at one time that the royal family could be safely brought to America, and arrangements were actually made to this effect. Two spacious houses were erected on the Loyal Sock road near the settlement in Terry, a large bakery was constructed, and other buildings were in contemplation, when the news reached Asylum of the death of the king, which put an end to all further preparations.

In the valley of the south branch of the Towanda creek, from New Albany to Laddsburg, numerous choppings were commenced, but no further improvements were undertaken, except that at the latter place the frame of a saw-mill was put up, some of the irons necessary for the gearing were brought over, and one or two sugar-camps were erected. One solitary adventurer had gone four miles beyond, to the site of the present village of Dushore, and there commenced a clearing. At Asylum a brewery was built on the small stream which crosses the road a little above Richard Gilbert’s. Arrangements were subsequently made for its enlargement, but the disruption of the colony prevented the plans being carried out.

As an illustration of the improvements made, style of their houses and gardens, the following description, recited in an agreement between Sophia de Seybert and Guy de Noailles, made Dec. 23, 1797, may be of interest: "On Number 416, stands a log house thirty by eighteen feet, covered with nailed shingles. The house is divided into two lower rooms and two in the upper story; the lower ones are papered. On both sides of the house stand two small buildings of the same kind; one is used for a kitchen, the other being papered is commonly called the dining-room; both these buildings have good fire-places and a half-story. Three rooms in the biggest house have fire-places; the two side-buildings and the other are joined together by a piazza. There is a good cellar under the dining-room. The yard is inclosed by a nailed pale-fence, and there is a good double gate. The garden has a like fence, and a constant stream of water runs through it. Over the spring a spring-house has been erected; it is divided into two rooms, one of which is floored. The garden is decorated by a considerable number of fruit-trees, young Lombardy poplars, and weeping willows, and by a lattice summer-house. Next to the garden is a nursery of about nine hundred apple-trees. The lower part of the lot forms a piece of meadow of about eight acres, inclosed by a post- and rail-fence. On the same lot stands a horse grist-mill. The building is forty feet long by thirty-four feet wide. Part of the lower story is contrived into a stable for the mill horses and a cow-stable. Part of the upper story is used to keep fodder. The mill is double-geared and in complete order, being furnished with a good pair of stones, good bolting-cloth, and in one corner stands a good fire-place. Above the mill runs a never-failing spring, which waters a great part of the meadow."

The house of Mr. Talon was of the same style, but considerably larger, and stood near the site of the old La Porte dwelling. Some of the emigrants succeeded in bringing away from France a part of their furniture, which added somewhat to the elegance of their mode of living. I shall never forget the enthusiasm with which Mrs. John Huff (a daughter of one of these immigrants, who was born in Paris, and has told me that she can remember seeing men’s heads carried on pike-poles through the streets of that city) said to me, in pointing to a bureau with a marble top, "That came from France."

Two stores were opened at Asylum, which were far better supplied with goods than any which had been established by our own people, and although they were designed for the especial benefit of the colony, were in a short time frequented by people from a distance. The duke mentions with evident zest the pleasure with which M. Blacons listened to the complaints made at Tioga Point, that their trade had been sadly damaged by the stores at Asylum.

Although lying on that side of the river where there was usually the least travel, yet Asylum soon came to be thronged with visitors, who were drawn to it either from motives of curiosity or business, or on account of the superior entertainment it afforded. To accommodate the strangers who came among them, as well as some of their own countrymen who were without homes, in August, 1794, M. LeFevre was licensed to keep an inn at Asylum. At its January session, 1795, the court of Luzerne granted a like license to M. Heraud, and in April, 1797, to Peter Regnier and John Becdelliere.

Among the noted visitors at Asylum, beside the Duke de la Rochefoucauld, in 1795, was Talleyrand, who had occupied a prominent position in the constituent assembly, escaped to the United States in 1792, and was at Asylum in the autumn of 1795, where he remained for some time.

In 1796, Louis Philippe, Duke of Orleans, and afterwards king of France, visited the colony and remained for a week or two, the guest of his former acquaintances in Paris. In company with him were the Duke Montpensier and Count Beaujolais.

Among the more important families who lived at Asylum the following may be noticed:

Lucretius de Blacons, a marquis, was deputy for Dauphine in the constituent assembly. After leaving France he married Mademoiselle de Maulde, late canoness of the Chapter of Bonbourg. He kept a store, having as partner Mancy Colin, formerly Abbe de Sevigny and Archdeacon of Tours. M. Blacons returned to France, and became a member of the national assembly. M. Colin went to St. Domingo; became chaplain in the army of Toussaint L’Ouverture. On the surrender to Bonaparte he fled to Charleston, S.C., where he died shortly after. James de Montule, a French baron, was captain of a troop of horse in the king’s service. In Asylum he lived in the upper part of the settlement, and was superintendent of the clearings. His cousin, Madame de Sybert, whose husband was a rich planter of St. Domingo, where he died, lived near him. John Becdelliere had a store near where Miller’s house is. He had for partners two brothers, Augustine and Francis de la Roue, one of whom was a petit gend’arme and the other a captain of infantry. They returned to France with Talleyrand, to whom one of them became private secretary. M. Becdelliere returned to France in 1803. M. Beaulieu was a captain in the French service; served in the legion of Potosky in the Revolutionary war. He remained in this country, and married his wife here. Doctor Lawrence Buzard was a rich planter in St. Domingo, and, with his wife, son, and daughter, settled at Asylum. He was eminent as a physician. He removed to the island of Cuba, where he died. Mr. John Brevost, a native of Paris, was, with M. Dulong, interested in the settlement at the Butternuts. At Asylum he was a farmer. In January, 1801, he advertises in the Wilkes-Barre Gazette "that he intends to open at Asylum a school for teaching the French language. The price of tuition and boarding a child between the ages of ten and sixteen years will be sixty bushels of wheat per year, to be delivered at Newtown, Tioga, Asylum, or Wilkes-Barre, at the places pointed out by the subscriber, one-half every six months." The school at Asylum proving a failure, he went to New Orleans, where he, his wife, and daughter established a flourishing ladies’ seminary. Peter Regnier, who has been mentioned as an inn-keeper in 1797, in a letter to Judge Gore, dated at Wilmington, Del., Nov. 20, 1803, writes that Henry Welles, of Tioga, had made application to Mr. Brevost to purchase the horse-mill M. Regnier had at Asylum, and says that it can be had of Mr. George Aubrey, of Asylum; and adds, "After a long journey of two years in Europe, I am returned to this country, with the intention never to quit it again, being of opinion that there is not a better one in the world. I have no doubt but you will hear with much concern that I have been very unfortunate during my absence. With a great deal of trouble, I had realized some properties I had in France, and remitted the proceeds to my house in Philadelphia; in short, I expected to have an independent fortune. Far from it. Three months previous to my arrival here my partner had made his escape to the West Indies, leaving me and my family destitute of everything. However, I keep up my spirits and trust in Providence, now the only hope I can rely on." Mr. Aubrey was a blacksmith at Asylum; went to Philadelphia for surgical aid to remove a tumor from his neck, and remained there. M. Fromente and M. Carles were priests, and conducted religious services in the colony. The old missal used there is still in existence, and was only recently in the possession of Rev. P. Toner, priest at Plymouth, Penn. Alexander d’Autremont married a daughter of Major Dodge, of Terrytown. He, his brother, and mother removed to Angelica,^ New York. John Keating, an Irishman, was a prominent man at St. Domingo, who, rather than violate his oath of loyalty to the king of France, retired to the United States without a shilling. He was a valued counselor of M. Talon. Afterwards removed to Philadelphia, where he became a prominent merchant.

But the most remarkable man in the whole settlement was Aristide Aubert Du-petit-Thouars, or, as he was usually called by the people here, "the Admiral," a post-captain in the French navy, born in 1760, and educated in the military school of Paris. Of a frank, generous disposition, and fond of adventure, he was very popular with his companions at school and in arms. He was in the French naval service during a war with England, and after the peace was engaged in cruises to England and elsewhere. Later his interest became aroused in the fate of the missing navigator, La Perouse, and, at great personal sacrifice, he fitted out an expedition to find and rescue the unfortunate adventurers. He set sail in September, 1792, and had only fairly begun his voyage when a fatal malady carried off one-third of his crew in a few days, upon which he determined to put into the nearest harbor---the island of Ferdinand de Noronha. Here the Portugese seized his vessel, arrested and sent him a prisoner to Lisbon, where he underwent a captivity of some duration. Immediately on his release he came to America, where, being acquainted with M. de Noailles, he was induced to come to Asylum. His fine spirit, genial temper, and benevolent disposition made him beloved and respected by all who knew him. No one of the French people is so well remembered as he, and of none are so many anecdotes repeated as of the "Admiral." On his arrival at Asylum he was the guest of M. Talon; but, disdaining to be the mere idle recipient of his favors, he obtained a grant of four hundred acres of land in the neighborhood of Dushore. Single-handed (he had lost an arm in an attack upon a pirate ship) and alone, he went four miles beyond any other clearing, and commenced an opening in the forest within the limits of the borough of Dushore, near what has since been known as the Frenchman’s spring. Several years afterwards the late C. F. Welles, Esq., of Wyalusing, in company with Mr. John Mozier, the owner of the tract, discovered the clearing, and knowing the history of this remarkable man, at once suggested the name Dushore (the common pronunciation of the admiral’s name by the Americans) to the adjoining settlement, which was then just commenced, a name which it has ever since retained. Among the numerous anecdotes related of Du-petit-Thouars the following are characteristic: Returning one day to Asylum, he met a man nearly naked, who told him he had been a captive among the Indians and had just escaped, whereupon the admiral gave him his only shirt, and, buttoning up his coat to conceal the loss of his nether garment, returned to M. Talon’s. That evening, at tea, the room being very warm, the admiral was observed to be in a profuse perspiration, when it was suggested he would be more comfortable if he unbuttoned his coat. With true French politeness, he thanked them for their attention, but observed that he was only comfortable---too proud to expose his own poverty and too modest to tell of his own benevolence. His necessities were soon known, and supplied in a way to save his feelings from mortification. When his clothing was so much worn as not to be respectable, the soiled articles were quietly exchanged for better ones and no remarks were made. When the Duke de la Rochefoucauld left Asylum, Messrs. Blacons and Du-petit-Thouars accompanied him to Niagara Falls, the former on horseback and the latter on foot, protesting all the time that he much preferred walking to riding, when the truth was he was too proud to appear to be dependent upon others. On the revocation of the decree of expatriation he returned to France, and was recommended by the most noted naval captains for a place in the French navy. It is said of him that when he presented himself before the minister of marine to receive his commission, the minister said to him, "You have but one hand, you ought to go on the retired and not on the active list." Du-petit Thouars, proudly rising and stretching forth the handless stump, replied, "True, sir, I have given one hand to France, but here is another for her service." Soon after, the expedition to Egypt was proposed, and Du-petit-Thouars was placed in command of "Le Tonnant," an old vessel of eighty guns. Having reached its destination, the fleet was on the point of returning, but was detained in the roadstead of Aboukir by the imprudent orders of the general-in-chief. Du-petit-Thouars declared they were lost if they awaited Nelson in this unfavorable position, and urged they should set sail without delay; but declared, "I do not know what counsels may prevail, but one thing is certain, as soon as I am on deck my colors shall be nailed to the mast." He fought with great bravery against the already-victorious enemy, and was slain just at the close of the engagement, August 1, 1798.^^

When the French National Assembly came under the controlling influence of Robespierre, it issued a decree commanding all emigrants to return immediately to France, and on their failure to do so declared that they were forever expatriated, and their estates were confiscated. Wiser counsels prevailed about the time Napoleon began to assume the control of public affairs, and all Frenchmen were invited to return to their native country, with the assurance of the restoration of their estates. From what has already been said it may be inferred the French people at Asylum were not happy in their new occupation, and when the post brought the news of the new decree, the whole settlement was given over to a jubilee, and the great majority at once began to make preparations to return to their own beautiful France. Others, as we have seen, went to other parts of the United States; but three families remained, an account of whom will be given in the annals of the township, on a subsequent page of this volume.

Although the colony was of only short duration, yet in the example of better modes of living, the construction of passable roads, the introduction of more polite manners, better buildings, and, what was of much more value, the use of money, several thousand dollars of which were expended by them, they left an influence for good which was felt in all the subsequent history of the country.


*It has been estimated that seventy thousand of the nobility left France at this period.

**See article, "Toussaint L’Ouverture," in Penny Magazine, March, 1838.

***The duke says that M. Talon cut the first tree in December, 1793, intimating that this was the first improvement made. The site of the town was an old clearing begun in 1770, while Mr. Boulogne was engaged in building houses and making improvements all through the month of November.

****The reader, who may be curious to know whose these eight lots were, how situated, and when obtained, may be interested in the following from the deed records of Luzerne county:

  1. M. Hollenback, Adm’r. of the Es’t. of Robert Cooley, to the Directors of the Asylum Co., Jan. 8, 1796, 300 acres in Asylum.
  2. Charles Townley to Louis de Noailles, May 28, 1794, Nos. 19, with improvements, and 20.
  3. Robert Alexander to L. de Noailles, Jan. 11, 1794, No. 21.
  4. Robert Alexander, Jr., to L. de Noailles, Jan. 11, 1794, an Island known as Standing Stone Island.
  5. M. Hollenback to L. de Noailles, Oct. 9, 1793, the lot purchased of Adelphi Ross—this includes Perrin Ross’ improvement.
  6. The Forsyth lot sold at Sheriff’s sale to Rosewell Welles, who to Benajah Stone, Jan. 11, 1793, to Ebenezer Skinner, June 30, 1793.
  7. The lot of Justus Gaylord, Sr.—no record of the conveyances of the last two to M. de Noailles, but probably Nov., 1793.
^He gave to this place its name, which was in honor of his daughter.

^^In his official account of the Battle of the Nile, given by Rear-Admiral Gantiaume to General Bruix, minister of marine and colonies, dated Alexandria, Aug. 23, 1798, he says, "The admirals, the chiefs of division, Casa-Bianca, Thevenard, and Du-petit-Thouars are killed, and six other superior officers are dangerously wounded." Almost every school-boy has read the poetic description of the military obedience of the son of Casa-Bianca, who would not leave the burning ship without his father’s command, beginning, "The boy stood on the burning deck."

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 30 MAR 2004
By Joyce M. Tice
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Bibliographic data for your source citations: Craft, The Reverend David; 1770-1878 History of Bradford County, Pennsylvania with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominient Men and Pioneers, originally published 1878 by L. H. Everts & Co., Philadelphia, Reprint edition published by Tri-Counties Genelaolgy & History by Joyce M. Tice ( 1999-2004.