Many researchers of the Teche region know the name André Massé: He was an early, if not the earliest, European pioneer of the Attakapas District of Louisiana (that is, south-central Louisiana). Unfortunately, a good deal of misinformation surrounds Massé’s place of residence.
|Map of Louisiana showing the Attakapas District (copyright © 2008). |
Source: Shane K. Bernard, Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors:
A Young Reader's History (2008).
In his voluminous Treatise on the Limits of Louisiana and Texas (1812), the Spanish cleric José Antonio Pichardo placed the French settler along the Sabine River, or, as he put it, “next to a river . . . call[ed] . . . the Adaes [Río de los Adays], or Mexicano — and which is [also called] the Sabinas. . . .”
Confusingly, Pichardo also quotes the Spanish governor of Texas, Navarrete (1759-1767), who wrote that Massé’s dwelling stood “[T]o this [east] side of the Río de los Adaes [Sabine River], and before coming to the little Río de las Flores. . . .” The Spanish cleric Morfi echoed this claim in his Memorias para la Historia de Texas (ca. 1781).
About the location of this Río de las Flores: Pichardo stated that he did not refer to the larger waterway of the same name found in Texas. Rather, he referred to a smaller Río de las Flores, which he associated with Bayu de Agua Salada and Río de los Lobos, small waterways that emptied in the Gulf of Mexico on either side of Encinal del Tigre (present-day Chênière au Tigre, Louisiana). The encinal (a Spanish term for a clump of oak trees) stood a short distance west of the Río Bermellon (Vermilion River).
|Pichardo's 1811 map of the south Louisiana coast |
showing Bayu de Agua Salada, Río de Lobos,
and other geographic features.
This would place Massé in or near present-day coastal Vermilion Parish, Louisiana — which, although in the Attakapas District, is farther west than Massé’s actual documented place of residence, near Bayou Teche.
It seems clear to me, however, that Pichardo — writing decades after Massé’s death — did not really know where Massé had resided. Was it along the Sabine on the present-day Louisiana-Texas border? Or was it in or near present-day Vermilion Parish?
|Miranda's 1757 map of "Texas" with red square |
around Massé's house. Map source: Research Laboratories
of Archaeology (RLA), http://rla.unc.edu/EMAS/index.html