Michel Branamour Menard
|History of Mexico|
|History of Texas|
Michel Branamour Menard (1805–1856) was a Canadian-born trader and merchant, first active on the upper Mississippi River and later in Texas. He co-founded Galveston, Texas. He represented Galveston County in the Congress of the Republic of Texas.
His Galveston home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Michel Branamour Menard was born on December 5, 1805 at La Prairie, Quebec, Canada to Michel B. and Marguerite (de Noyer) Ménard. He was already working at a young age as an engagé, working through the Detroit post of the American Fur Trading Company. He spent most of two years conducting business in Minnesota. An uncle, Pierre Menard, recruited him to trade furs at Kaskaskia starting in 1822. The young Menard received a francophone education. Later he learned English, but spoke with his native French accent throughout his life. Still working for his uncle, he moved to the Ste. Genevieve area, where he traded and lived with a local band of Shawnee. He followed the Shawnee south to the White River, and in 1828, crossed with them into Mexican Texas along the Red River.
Trading in Mexican Texas
Menard applied for Mexican citizenship on December 1, 1829 at Nacogdoches, where he established a base for his fur trading operations. He opened a sawmill in 1833, and by 1834, he had accumulated various tracts of land along the Trinity and Red Rivers amounting to about 40,000 acres (16,000 ha). His trading reached as far south as Saltillo, Mexico, and he continued to send goods north on the rivers to the American Fur Company.
Founding of Galveston
Menard founded the city of Galveston, Texas after a series of events between 1833 and 1838. In 1833, Menard represented Juan Seguin, securing for him a Mexican headright. Seguin received a grant from the Monclova government amounting to about 4,605 acres of land at the east end of Galveston Island. On October 3, 1836, after Texas Independence, Menard sold the land to Thomas F. McKinney on behalf of Seguin. Then, in order to settle the legality of Seguin's original ownership of the land, Menard led a group of ten men who were petitioning the Texas Government to recognize the 1833 conveyance of the Galveston Island land from Mexico to Seguin. On December 9, 1836, the Republic of Texas agreed to confirm the conveyance in exchange for $50,000 in cash or merchandise. The next day, McKinney sold the land to Menard. David White acted as an agent to receive payments from Menard on behalf of the Republic of Texas. White claimed that Menard made the payments, but it is not clear about the form of the payments and how much, if any, was forwarded to the Republic of Texas.
John D. Groesbeck completed his orthogonal plan for Galveston in 1838. He named the east–west streets according to letters from the alphabet, and used ordinal numbers for north–south streets, though many of these streets were renamed. Menard helped to organize the Galveston City Company, which began selling lots on April 20, 1838. Seven hundred lots sold in the first year, populated by over one hundred buildings and sixty families.
Menard was a delegate to the Texas Convention of 1836 and signed the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico. In 1840, he served Galveston County in the lower house of the legislature of the Republic of Texas.
Menard was married briefly after 1832 to Marie Diana Leclerc of Ste Genevieve, who died of cholera on May 14, 1833. Late in 1837 he married again, this time to Adeline Catherine Maxwell. She died in Galveston in July 1838, probably of yellow fever. He wedded two more times, first to Mary Jane Riddle in 1843, and she died in 1847. His fourth and final marriage was to Rebecca Mary Bass. They had one son, and he also adopted her two children from a previous union.
1838 Michel B. Menard House
Menard commissioned the construction of a two-story, Greek Revival house, then broken down and shipped as parts from Maine. The Michel B. Menard House still stands at 1605 Thirty-Third Street in Galveston. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. As of 2018, this is the oldest house still standing in Galveston.
- Margaret Swett Henson (June 15, 2010). "MENARD, MICHEL BRANAMOUR". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved August 24, 2018.
- David G. McComb (1986). Galveston: a history. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. pp. 42–43.
- The other men were Moseley Baker, A.J. Gates, William Hardin, William H. Jack, Thomas F. McKinney, David White, Samuel May Williams, and the co-founders of Houston, Augustus Chapman Allen and John Kirby Allen.
- Henson (1976), p. 111.
- Henry Gannett (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 205.
- Howard Barnstone (1966). The Galveston that Was (1993 reprint ed.). College Station, Texas: Texas A&M Press in association with the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. pp. 7–8.
- "1838 Michel B. Menard House". Galveston History. Galveston History Foundation. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
- Henson, Margaret Swett (1976). "A Man Proud in His Spirit and Proud in His Character". Samuel May Williams: Early Texas Entrepreneur. College Station: Texas A&M University Press. pp. 94–113 – via archive.org.
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