Etienne Repon – Coming to America

  • Submitted photo
    Submitted photo

Etienne Repon, the patriarch of the Reppond family, was born around 1765 in Marseille, France, came to Louisiana before 1783. Repon came to Post d’Ouachita in 1783 with Jean Baptist Filhiol (see Filhiol biography in previous article). They traveled up the Ouachita River, spending two years at Ecore-a-Fabry, now known as Camden Ark.

Then they returned to Post d’Ouachita to establish a trading post, subsequently building Ft. Miro together, which became Monroe in 1804. (see previous article)

Etienne Repon, my 4th great-grandfather, married Catherine Olivo in Dec. 1787 at Post d’Ouachita. She was the former wife of Louis LeBlanc, whom she married Dec 13, 1778, in Pointe Coupee, Louisiana. While LeBlanc was on a hunting trip with fellow pioneers, everyone in the hunting party was killed and scalped during an Osage Indian raid.

Filhiol and Repon were close friends and built Fort Miro together. They conducted business together evidenced by their joint signatures on a 1787 document.

Repon’s step-daughter, Lucilla “Lucy” LeBlanc Repon, married Filhiol’s son, Jean Joseph Filhiol on Oct 21, 1822. Lucy and her husband, Jean Joseph, lived on the Filhiol Plantation.

Repon and Catherine had four children: Luis b. 1795, Augustina b. 1796, Joseph b. 1797 and Vincent b. 1802

My 3rd great-grandfather, Luis Repon, born at Post d’Ouachita, ventured further out as he became a young man. He came up the Ouachita River from Monroe with a party of men on a bear hunt. He liked the country so well that he decided to settle there.

Louis settled in the eastern part of what is now Union Parish in the year 1820, two miles north-west of the Ouachita River near what’s now the Alabama Landing. The land was fertile and the country had an abundant amount of wild game. Bear and deer were plentiful as well as all other kinds of game. Being a bear hunter, the country suited him fine.

There were some friendly Indians who lived in a small village on a ridge jutting out into the swamp nearby. Subsequent to the Natchez Massacre, all Indians were forced to join the “Trail of Tears” march to the Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. Repon always favored the site of the Indian village, so when the federal land office was finally established in 1839, Repon was the first to purchase favored land near Alabama Landing area for little over $1 per acre. (this writer was born on the property which is still in our family’s possession)

Repon traveled up the river with his wife, Henrietta McCormick, two men and another woman. He started to carve himself a home out of the wilderness. There were no other settlers in that part of the country; his nearest neighbor lived 14 miles away. A Mr. Steward lived 7 miles southwest of what’s now the town of Marion.

Louis Repon traveled to Monroe twice a year either down the river 45 miles or through the wilderness on horseback with pack horses to bring back the needed supplies. However they didn’t have to buy many things because most everything was raised and made at home. Cloth was hand woven and knitted, leather was tanned and shoes were hand made. Nearly all the food was home grown.

He was a small farmer and a cattleman. Cattle were cheap then. He drove his cattle to Monroe and sold them to the government post, the big steers for $5- 6 dollars each.

About 15 years after he moved there, other settlers began to move in and settle the country. So many people came from Alabama on steam boats, bringing with them large numbers of slaves that they named the boat landing where they unloaded, Alabama Landing.

Names of the people who came to our part of the country were the Horgi’s, George’s, Thomas’, Roark’s, Crow’s, Haile’s, Edwards, Lee’s, Day’s, Byrd’s and the Abscent’s. Some who owned large numbers of slaves started clearing large tracts of land and started raising cotton on a big scale. A shipping point was established at Alabama Landing. Steamboats by that time had begun to travel the river and became the major source of shipping and transportation.

Over the course of two generations, the Repon name evolved into Reppo, Repond, Reppond. The creek that Luis Repon traveled to our property is now known as Reppo Creek.

A portion of the Reppond homestead (50 acres) remains in our family possession. I was born on the old homeplace and appreciate the efforts our ancestors made to establish small settlements in Union Parish.