Louis JUCHEREAU DE ST. DENIS was born 17 September 1676 to a prominent family in Québec. His parents were able to send him to France to further his education. In late 1699, he joined the second expedition of IBERVILLE, his relative by marriage (IBERVILLE had married his niece.) sailing from La Rochelle, France, and arriving in Biloxi in 08 January 1700. He commanded some forts on the coast and near the Mississippi River. By 1713, Governor CADILLAC sent ST. DENIS and a company of men to interact with Native Americans, explore the Red River, and establish an outpost. Result was the founding of Natchitoches, oldest settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, in 1714.

His exploration of Spanish lands continued into present-day Texas and Mexico until he reached the Presidio St. Juan Bautista del Norte (near present-day Guerrero) in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, where he was placed under “pleasant house arrest.” During his confinement, he courted Manuela DE SANCHEZ-NAVARRO y GOMEZ-MASCORRO, the beautiful step-granddaughter of the Commandant, Major Diego RAMÓN. The Spanish decided to arrest ST. DENIS for trade violations, and they transported him to Mexico City. He managed to convince the Spanish of his good intentions, and as a result, was appointed Commissary Officer of the RAMÓN expedition to establish missions in east Texas, but not before marrying Manuela circa 1716 at the Presidio.

With the death of King Louis XIV of France and the conclusion of the War of Spanish Succession, French-Spanish cooperation had ended. ST. DENIS was then arrested and sent to Mexico City for a second time but escaped before being taken to Spain as a prisoner, finally making his way to Natchitoches by February 1719. Spanish officials permitted Manuela and their three children to join him in 1721, and the couple spent their remaining years there at Natchitoches where their remaining children were born and where he served as Commandant. For his leadership in dealing with the native Indians and his victory at Pensacola, King Louis XV of France granted ST. DENIS knighthood (Chevalier) in the Royal Military Order of St. Louis.

Louis and Manuela had the following children:

  1. Marie Rose (b. 1716 - d. 28 April 1733), who m. Jacques DE LA CHAISE 06 Jul 1733
  2. Louise Marguerite (b. 1717 - d. 03 August 1741)
  3. Marie Gertrude (b. 1718)
  4. Louis Charles Antoine (b. 1721 - d. 07 Feb 1778)
  5. Marie Dolores (b. 1722 - d. 15 April 1758), who m. Louis Charles Césaire DE BLANC DE NEUVILLE 09 June 1750. DE BLANC succeeded his father-in-law as Commandant of Natchitoches Post.
  6. Marie Péteonille Félicienne (b. 1729 - d. 01 February 1748), who m. Athanase Fortune Christophe DE MÉZIÈRES 18 April 1746. DE MÉZIÈRES, who was fluent in European and Indian languages, served both France and Spain. He was appointed Governor of Texas but was not able to assume the office due to injuries and illness.
  7. Marie des Nieges (b. August 1734 - d. 10 August 1797), who m. Don Manuel Antonio BERMUDEZ y DE SOTO 02 Jun 1754. BERMUDEZ y DE SOTO was Secretary to the Governor of Texas; however, he was accused of treason and sought refuge in Louisiana marrying into the ST.DENIS family and was secure until Spain took control of Louisiana. Governor O’REILLY ordered him arrested and taken to Mexico City. By 1790, he and his wife had secured a land grant near the Opelousas Post in present-day Evangeline Parish.
  8. Pierre Antoine (b. 20 June 1740 - d. 29 September 1782) served in the American Revolution, 1780, as part of a Natchitoches cavalry unit.
ST. DENIS died 11 June 1744 and had an elaborate funeral. Manuela died 16 March 1758 as the wealthist woman in Louisiana and was buried next to her husband within the site of the first parish church.

First Families Descendant Member
Elba Anthony (Tony) DARDEAU, Jr.
The Order of the First Families of Mississippi:  1699-1817
P. O. Box 821  —  Natchez MS  39121  —  601.442.0018