Sunday, December 11, 2011

Cook Collins family Reunion

My cousin can you believe he is 46, I hope I look as good when I’m his age and my Grandmother Clare is 84. I’m blessed that both of my Grandmothers are living.  


The weekend after Thanksgiving I was invited to attend a Family reunion from a side of my family I knew little about. The Cook/Collins my paternal Grandmothers maiden name. After arriving I quickly discovered that this part of my Creole heritage and family was richly rooted in Mobile’s French Creole’s of color culture and history.


Riviere Au Chien,

The family reunion was held at a beautiful location overlooking Riviere Au Chien or the English translation Dog River. I thought I  had arrived at a public park. But latter found out that the 10 or more acres of  river front land belong to my family. The views were beautiful.  When the French settled Mobile in 1702 they name all of the rivers running thru Mobile after animals.  

Riviere Au Chien,

Riviere Au Chien is about 8 miles (13 km) long. Dog River is a brackish river - a mixture of fresh and saltwater. Also known to be a shallow river with the average depth at around 9–12 feet deep with some areas along the wetlands being only 1–2 feet at mid-tide. There are both fresh and salt water fish species including bass, brim, mullet, redfish, croakers, speckled trout and flounder. Most land connected to the river is privately owned however there are several parks and public boat launch areas.



This branch of my family spring from a Nicholas Bodin of Tours, France 1677-1746 and of the town of Mont Luis on the Loire river who settled in Mon Luis Island located outside of Mobile in 1707. He arrived on the French ship named Renomme. In 1710 Nicholas Bodin petitioned the French Government for a land grant for a Island outside of Mobile. He received the land grant from the French Government in 1710 and signed by Sieur de Bienville, founder of the city of Mobile the first French capitol of Louisiana. Nicholas setted the Island calling it Mon Luis island after his homeland in France. He called his homestead Miragouine due to the many mosquitoes there.

The family property with family homes in the background

During the Spanish occupation of the area, the surname Bodin began to be changed to Baudain. Born into Nicholas Bodin’s  household was a Mutatto (a person of  mix heritage), Maximillian  Colins a Free man of color during the time of American slavery. Maximillian ‘s father also a mulatto, Honore Colin was the son of Josef Colin, the deputy surveyor of Mobile for King Louis XV of France. His mother was a Mulatress named Calette of the Household of Luis Baudain. His paternal grandmother Julia Villars a mulatress had been born in Mobile in 1732, and was of the Household of Claude Joseph Dubrieul de Villars who had arrived in Mobile in 1716 as the Royal contractor of public works. The Free woman of color Julia Villars was owner of many pieces of properties in Mobile, one in particular on the corner of what is now St. Joseph and St. Michael streets was known as her homestead, and is so designated on early French maps.

The family property overlooking Dog river


Maximillian grew up on Mon Luis Island, in the Household of Luis Baudain. After Luis Baudain’s death, his wife, Marianne Roy, in her Will, stated that according to the last wish of her late husband, Luis Baudain, that Maximillian must stay a Free man and this is what was her husbands last wish and her desire. This Will was filed in Mobile in June, 1812 (on file in



One of the family homes

Maximillian then began his homestead there. Maximillian and his wife Hortese Bernoudy Collins, had eight children. On Mon Luis Island,  Maximillian Collins raised Cattle. In the census of 1850 he is recorded as a Mulatto farmer with real estate and cattle valued at $23,000. and 400 acres. The newspapers of that time reported that he was the largest free non white landowner in Mobile County.  Maximillian Collins allotted portions of the land to his children.


Late 18th century New Orleans collage showing a elegantly dressed Free woman of color with her mix race daughter

A late 19th century map shows the entire Mon Luis Island acreage in the names of his descendents. Maximillian Collins, being of French Catholic ancestry, built a one room Catholic chapel on his land which became known as St. Rose of Lima. This parish is still the center of life on Mon Luis Island. He also built a one room school house for Creole children taught by Nuns that is still on the land. When Maximillian Collins died on February 1, 1870, he was buried in the cemetery next to the church which he built. The descendents of Maximillian Collins still live in family property in Mon Luis Island, surrounding areas of Mobile and all over the USA today.


Late 18th century New Orleans collage showing a Free woman of color with her mix race Free man of color gentleman friend. Not elegant furnishings and bed covered in Toile de Jouy  


The Cook/Collins family


Other Creole surnames connected to this family include Andry, Bartholomew, Bernoudy, Brue, Chastang/Chestang, Cook, Dubroca, Durette, English, Gobin, Juzan/Juzang, LarFargue, Laurendine, Laurant/Lorant, La Lande, McCardle, Parker and Stanton.

The Cook/Collins family


My Grandmother Clara









Doing the Jamaica Funk


Doing the Jamaica Funk





LeRoy of Mon Luis Island



LeRoy of Mon Luis Island






My Grandmother, Uncle and favorite Aunt “The Duchess”

 My favorite Aunt “The Duchess”





A few days earlier Thanksgiving day service at Christ Church Cathedral established in 1823 as the first Episcopal congregation in Mobile, Alabama and the first in the State of Alabama.


Me and my Grandmother



My Grandmother
Mobile Probate Court
.) In 1829, recorded in Mobile County Deed Book 1, p. 136 is an instrument whereby, Luis Baudain’s brother, Alexandre, deeded that land, being part of the estate of the late Luis Mon Luis and known as Mon Luis Island to Maximillian Collins and his heirs forever.

9 comments:

  1. very beautiful family and lots of history. You are lucky to have them. Most my family is gone, both parents, and grand parents. Your grand mother is very elegant. Thanks for sharing. Richard from My Old Historic House.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was great. Such a history. And thanks for sharing your lovely family. Very interested in the two collages, as well.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Richard Thanks for the kind comments. Yes you are right she is a very elegant woman. Stephilius Thanks the collages are wonderful and rare.

    ReplyDelete
  4. My great grandfather and great grandmother and I live onon the island Louis English and Mattie English I think we maybe related

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sir, I think I know a relative of your grandmother. Her name is Theresa Gully. Maiden name I am unsure about, but looking into more. She has dementia and is losing her short term memory, but her memory of living on Mon Louis Island is so vivid it was no surprise when I saw the building she had described like the little church. Please let me know if this name is at all familiar with your family.

    ReplyDelete
  6. She is currently in her early to
    Middle 80's.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I so enjoyed reading of your beautiful family and its history. My Great Great Grandfather lived on Mon Louis Island and last name was Delchamps. Do you know anything of this family name?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I looked back at my family's historical documents to find that my great, great, great, great Grandfather John Julius (Jule) Deschamps would sneak away from his home, 'Bel Espoir', on Mon Louis Island and run four miles to the nearest neighbor children in the 'Creole Settlement' to play with the 'little Collins, Durettes and La Lins.' There is more...please email me at hkerutis@mac.com so that I may send you more. I love this connection and hope to visit Mon Louis soon. Bless, Heather

    ReplyDelete
  9. Maximillian Collins was my 3rd great grandfather. I'd love to connect with the Collins family members on Mon Louis Island. Please contact me at denise@chisleyenterprises.com. Cecilia Collins and John J. Boudan were my great grandparents. Nora Boudan was my grandmother.

    ReplyDelete