The Fuselier de la Claire family dates back to at least the 1200s, when last names were just emerging. The American branch of the family all descends from a single man, the youngest son of a French industrialist, winemaker and nobleman, who left his home in
His father and probably many other ancestors made wine in some of
In Latin, “fusam” is a spindle and in the very early Middle Ages a fuselier was a spindle maker. The trade died out when spinning wheels were invented, but the word survived as the name of a French town dating back to the time of the Romans.
Of noble rank, the first Fuselier would have chosen his name from the village he owned, the
The earliest Fuselier emerges into history during the reign of Charles I de Valois, Duke of Orleans. In her book “Joan of Arc, her story,” French historian Regine Pernoud writes about Charles’ return from
Etienne’s son, Jean le Fuselier, was also “chancellor of the Duke of Valois.” Marie Le Fuselier, either a sister or daughter of Jean Le Fuselier, had married Engilbert Clausse, Seigneur of Monochy.
Marguerite le Fuselier, Jean’s daughter, married Jacques de Croisette, the Siegneur de la Motte. Their son, Laurent de Croisettes, was “seigneur de la Motte, Meremont, St-Meme and Charny, advocate to Parliament, adviser to the King in his Councils, agent-general of his business and substitute for Monsier the Procureur General.”
By 1598 the family had added the suffix “de la Claire” in honor of St. Claire, and is known to have lived in Vignory-en-bassignu, Haute Marne, in the Lorraine/Champaign region. Henri Fuselier de la Claire and his wife Francoise, had a son named Francois Fuselier born about 1621. Francois married Sebastienne Royet and had a son named
Pierre Antoine Fuselier de la Claire, born
In 1681, Pierre Antoine moved to
Pierre Francois, like his father, is described as being in the textile business but his interests were much, much broader. He is described in one account as a “wealthy
The Judge title stems from his appointment by the king as “juge conservateur des privileges royaux du roy a
Just a few miles south of
Upon Pierre Francois’ death, the winery, complete with “its vats, wine press, barrels, furniture and furnishings,” was willed to his eldest child, Genevive Fuselier de la Claire. His eldest son, Claude Pierre Fuselier de la Claire, inherited the estate and noble titles. His youngest son, Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire, born in August, 1722, pulled up stakes and sailed for the French colony of
After establishing himself in business in
The timing was excellent. In 1755, the British began the expulsion of all the French settlers (Acadians) in
In 1770 Gabriel Fuselier de la Claire surveyed the land and began dividing it among the arriving settlers. In his history of
All the Fuselier’s in
Gabriel was married twice and had 13 children. Gabriel’s seventh child (and second son), Louis Baptiste Fuselier de la Claire (born about 1785), went on to father 10 sons and seven daughters.
Gabriel’s eldest son, Agricole Fuselier de la Claire, carried on his father’s work and went on to make his own mark in Louisiana history, founding the city of New Iberia for arriving Spanish immigrants and, in 1790, establishing a large plantation on Bayou Teche near his father’s home.
Meanwhile, back in
Title to the French estates and winery were divided by the state among many people after the revolution. But 200 years later I am happy to revive the Fuselier de la Claire name in connection with a new vineyard and a new winery, in a new land.