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The Eslava Family of the Mobile Bay Area

     My third great grandfather, Miguel Eslava came to Mobile with the Spanish in 1780, when the area was seized from Great Britain by Spain. He was the Royal Treasurer for Spain at Mobile. On July-10-1794, at the church of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Miguel was married to Hypolite Alexandre, daughter of Jean Baptiste Alexandre III. In 1795, Jean Baptiste Alexandre III was living on his plantation on Rio Pescados (Fish River).

     Miguel and Hypolite lived South of Fort Conde on a hill overlooking the Mobile River. The house was built of materials brought from Spain and the lot surrounded by high pickets. The couple's first child, Gertrudis Francisca was born May-6-1795. Three sons were also born to the couple, Miguel DeSidero II, May-6-1797, Jerome about 1799, and my second great grandfather, Joachim born in 1812. A year later, in April 1813 the United States Army seized Mobile from the Spanish and this area became part of the Mississippi Territory in 1814. Alabama entered the Union on December 14, 1819.

     It was fortunate for the Eslava family that Miguel was a statesman, educated and civic minded. He had many friends and chose to stay in the country of his children. From the laws of the Republic, he sought protection for his property, which his former sovereign could not longer afford. Under the Government of the United States he showed himself, on every occasion, to be a good citizen. In his obedience to the laws and cheerful acquiescence in the new order of things, he set an example worthy of imitation.

     Joachim Eslava I was married on Jan-27-1830 to Mary (Emeline) Emilisa Cook (born Oct-18-1811) by Rev. John McClairy. Emilisa was the daughter of Nicholas Cook II and Constancia Boudin. Nicholas Cook II was a licensed Bay Pilot and a Justice of the Peace in 1817-1819. He held extensive land grants at Weeks Bay and Bon Secour areas and founded the hamlet of Bon Secour.

     Joachim and Emilisa had the following children: Jerome Gregoire Eslava born No v-12-1830; Malvenia Gertrudis Eslava born Jul-14-1831; Constantine Octavia Eslava born Aug-16-1833; Miguel Desiderio Eslava born Dec-13-1835; Cecelia Eslava born Mar-16-1838; Oscar Denis Eslava born Mar-30-1840-49; Michael D. Eslava born Sept-10-1840; Pauline E. Eslava born Jan-25-1844; Emeline Amanda Eslava born Jul-21-1846; Joachim D. Eslava II. Born 1849. Mary (Emeline) Emilisa Died Apr-30-1849, after their last child was born and was buried at Church Street Cemetery, Mobile.

     With extensive French and Spanish land grants in Baldwin and Mobile Counties, these families operated a variety of businesses and plantations all accessible by the now flourishing shallow draft steamboats. These steamboats made daily trips from Mobile carrying passengers and goods to the Bay shores and up the North and East Prong of Fish River as well as Bon Secour, bringing back bricks, produce and passengers. Most people who lived away from Mobile had family who lived in Mobile and would visit often. Until well after 1900, boats were the only practical method of transportation in this area, which is why the interior of Baldwin County was the last to be settled.

     With a baby and young children to care for, Joachim needed a lot of help. The 1850 Baldwin Census lists him as age 39. He lived on the North side of East Prong (Magnolia River), probably on part of his Grandfather Alexandre's Plantation. Joachim Eslava I married again to Rosalie Boudin born 1827. They had the following children: Theodore Marshall Eslava, my great grandfather, born Mar-27-1852, married Catrina Nicholas (daughter of William Nicholas and ? De Silves); Emeline Eslava born Nov-26-1854; Sophronia Eslava born July-14-1858; Joseph Beauregard Eslava born 1861; Morgan Eslava born Jan-20-1864; Aprelaim Eslava and Octavia Eslava. Joachim served as Justice of the Peace between 1866 and 1885. Rosalie died Jul-14-1882, and Joachim died Jun-27-1887. Both were buried in the Old Eslava Cemetery located on the North side of Magnolia River on Eslava property. Theodore Marshall Eslava and Catrina Nicholas had children: Augusta Eslava, my grandfather born Dec-12-1874, married Stanislaus Weeks, daughter of William Weeks and Alicia Cook; Felix Eslava born May-31-1898 and Marcus Eslava.

     My grandparents, Augusta and Stanislaus lived on the old Eslava home place on the north side of Magnolia River. Although they raised horses, cattle, pigs and chickens, cattle were the main enterprise. Augustus was a widely respected herdsman who knew more about cattle and their diseases than anyone for miles. If a farmer on the other side of the county could not diagnose or cure a sick animal, they would often come to him for help. He was an able blacksmith that made horseshoes and shod horses. Augusta and Stanislaus kept a garden and fished to help feed their large family of eleven. Their children, are:

  1. Nellie Eslava born Mar-07-1905
  2. Roy Eslava born Jun-1906
  3. Ira Nicholas Eslava born Sep-11-1907
  4. Paul Eslava born Nov-18-1909
  5. Lillie Eslava born Aug-29-1911
  6. Vivian Eslava born Aug-9-1914
  7. Thelma Eslava born Nov-25-1916
  8. Clarence Eslava born Nov-24-1918
  9. Alice Eslava born Apr-18-1921
  10. Joseph Eslava born Sep-22-1923
  11. Mary Eslava born Oct-29-1924

     The children in the area attended the Cooks School that was built before 1900 near the John Cook place. The school was located on the East side of Nolte creek (Bayou Esperance) close to Cooks Spring Branch, which enters the South side of Magnolia River (East Prong Fish River). This was a public school and many of the students came by boat. In 1898, at the age of 17, Laura Monteith who lived on the South River bank in Magnolia began teaching there. She was paid $19 per month. From Laura's notes: "We used benches for seats and put books and the slates on the floor under the bench when not in use as the only desk was the teacher's. I rowed a boat a mile down the river; then walked three-fourths of a mile through the woods to the school".

     My father, Ira Nicholas Eslava, born Sep-11-1907, married Mary Almeta Collins, daughter of Louis Placid Collins II and Annette Gabrielle Weeks.

     Written 2001 for The Baldwin County Heritage Book.
Submitted by: Judith Eslava Stump, 709 West Fern Av, Foley, AL 36535.