Will of Genevieve Mayeux DeCuir

The following was translated and transcribed by DeCuir researcher Julie Eshelman-Lee, who is generously allowing Shari Comfort to put a copy of her transcription and notes on Shari's page. You may e-mail Julie at jeshlee@aol.com. Thanks Julie!

1779, New Orleans, Louisiana

Notarial Archives

(Original in Spanish)

Following are my notes regarding the translation of the will. The document is a bit difficult to decipher because of the ink blotches; hence the the notes are fragmented translations.

It says at the end that because she did not know how to write the witnesses were asked to sign on her behalf. Other interesting things: She makes provision for her minor children and named Jean Baptiste Tournoir [merchant and son-in-law- m 1774 to Marie Anne Decuir] as guardian of Jean-Baptiste [ b 1769, the youngest child] Then there is a big blotch and the names of the other three minor children- Jean Paul [b 1757], Jean Pierre [b 1761] and Antoine [b 1765] are mentioned. Now maybe there was another guardian for them, hard to read, but may refer to one of the other older siblings as guardian. It notes she was born in New Orleans. Later she says she has only two maid servants with her, all her other property being on her plantation in Pointe Coupee. She leaves six pigs and one undescipherable to Pierre, the oldest son. She is writing the will while lying on her sickbed, "fearing death," and there is a lot about faith in God and hope that it will all turn out well. She asks to be buried in the holy ground of this parish [New Orleans] and asks for her debts to be settled.

Note [1]: Genevieve Mayeux affixed her "signature" on her marriage document with Jean Francois Decuir in Nov 1743 along with other witnesses. Jean Francois made his "mark." After much discussion with a few scholars we have come to a new way of thinking regarding a "signature" indicating "formal education." Especially for this early period of the colony. It could very well be that our ancestors who were able to scribe a "signature" were taught their signed name more like a child who is taught to draw a picture. Meaning more as an isolated understanding of letters as they refer only to their name and not necessarily an indication of understanding the written language. This theory may explain why she was able to "sign" her name at the age of sixteen in 1743 and then indicating "she did not know how to write" in 1779. She more than likely didn't have much opportunity to sign her name, or, the need to know how to read or write in the balance of her life, so she could have lost the ability or visualization of her signed name.

Note [2]: During this period of the colony children did not reach the age of "majority" until 25.