The Morancys of Milliken's Bend
By Minnie Murphy
MADISON COORDINATOR’SNOTE: The Morancy family was one of the most prominent families in Milliken’s Bend during the middle 1800’s. Honoré Morancy was a large land & slave owner, became a state senator and is responsible for the formation and naming of Carroll Parish (now East and West Carroll), which at that time included a part of what would later become Madison Parish, including Milliken’s Bend.
When Mrs. Murphy wrote this she used the name “Morency” rather than “Morancy.” It is logical to assume that their name would have been spelled Morency since the actual French name was Montmorenci. However, when the name was shortened, Morancy was used rather than Morency. Therefore all of Mrs. Murphy’s references to Morency have been changed to Morancy. For more on the Morancys see Madison Parish, LA – an analysis of the 1850 Census Data. RPS
This article was found in the Robert L. Moncrief Collection and was contributed by Stephen Moncrief of Oxford, Mississippi.
To few persons is given so eventful and vivid a life as that experienced by the two Morancy brothers, Honoré and Emile, who came to Milliken's Bend prior to the Civil War and ended their useful In that quiet spot.
The Morancys were of that illustrious French family, Montmorenci, whose activity and royalistic allegiance during the turbulent period of the French Revolution caused one of their members to be guillotined and two others, the father and the uncle of Honoré and Emile, to refugee with other French aristocrats to the Island of San Domingo. Here the brothers prospered, adding to their not inconsiderable fortunes, and lived in luxury and happiness with their families in their new home.
But fate had marked the Morancys for other things than peace and passivity.
The ominous rumble of dissatisfaction and insurrection disturbed the tropic calm, the freedmen beginning in 1789 to struggle for equal political rights.
Naturally the overlords resented this and the unrest seethed until, under the leadership of the shrewd and powerful Toussaint L'Ouverture a fearful and bloody insurrection took place. Here again, in a new land as in Paris, a Morancy was cruelly and relentlessly slain in the Public Square.
The remaining brother, with three little children, his wife having died just three month before the uprising, joined the others of his class who were hastening to the ships in port at the time.
Almost at the wharf Mr. Morancy observed a wild, shouting, torch-light procession closing in around his carriage.
He realized the horror of the moment and cried out, "They are after me! And turning to the nurse, "Follow me and take care of the little ones."
He left the carriage, and with his little family behind him, endeavored to force his way through the frantic mob.
He fought bravely, but to no avail; he was soon seized by the howling mob, hideous in its hate and once again a Montmorenci paid the price of an ancient lineage.
By some strange freak of fortune the faithful nurse, in the confusion, rushed the children through the crowd and, spying an empty hogshead to one side, she lifted them into it.
There they remained In precarious safety; Honoré, Emile and their little sister, Victoria, delicately nurtured and cherished children, till they were rolled, like common freight, across the wharf onto an American vessel, belonging to Stephen Girard.
Having reached this blessed sanctuary the unfortunate children were given every consideration, and the other refugees and fellow sufferers helped to assuage their pitiful loss.
We know that in this distressing hegira families were separated --- fathers and mothers, going back for a last glimpse of lovely homes, or to murmur a final mass in a beloved chapel, were never to see again the children, nor the money, plate and jewelry which had been sent to ship in advance, as it lay anchored out from the land.
We know that Mr. Girard placed a large amount of money and valuables to the credit of persons who had shipped it on his vessel, but little was ever called for.
The star of destiny which shown on the Morancy family took on a brighter hue when the three children reached the States. The little girl was adopted by a French Countess, a lady of charm and goodness, who took her as her own and returned with her to Paris, where she lived a happy and sheltered life.
Emile Morancy, or Emilius as he was sometimes called, was taken in charge by Charles Carroll, of Carrolton, who treated him as a beloved son, educating him and giving him every advantage. (NOTE: Charles Carroll was one of the signers of the US Declaration of Independence.)
Honoré was put under the guardianship of a French Abbot who superintended his education, but it was always Charles Carroll who acted "in loco parentis" for the two young boys, judiciously managing the large indemnity sum paid to the desolate children by the French government, and in vacation time bringing them together at his home in Maryland.
It is a beautiful fact that in return for this care and companionship the children loved him devotedly, and, as a token of appreciation Honoré, who in time rose to prominence in Louisiana politics, occupying a seat In the Senate, requested that the north eastern parish, cut off from Ouachita, be called "Carroll Parish". These two brothers grew up, true to tradition and background, men of honor and culture, with high moral standards. Upon reaching manhood they came to Louisiana to live; Honoré first teaching school in Opelousas, then moving to the hills of Warren County, Mississippi where he opened a store about 1820.
His industry and fairness brought him prosperity arid his personal charm assured a wide popularity. Emile studied medicine and became a Doctor of repute practicing for some time in Natchez, Mississippi. He, too, was well beloved by his friends and clientele.
The brothers did not remain long in Mississippi; but moved to Milliken's Bend, Louisiana, bought lands and became cotton planters on a very large scale, and with their large families, lived there the remainder of their lives.
Again fate rewarded worth; they became wealthy and prominent members of the community. Mr. Honoré Morancy built a house of great magnificence, sumptuously finished and adorned with “objects d’art" from the finest store houses of Europe. This house sat in a park of many acres, filled with trees. It is a neighborhood tradition that the beautiful home was spared during the Civil War because of a personal plea made try Mrs. Morancy to Gen. Grant to restrain his men, who had cut down forty of the great Oaks within her grounds and threatened further depredation. The Federal General manifested the magnanimity in this that characterized him at other times and ordered the vandalism stopped and the house spared.
The onslaughts of the mighty Mississippi, however, were not so easily checked, and after having been three times moved back to safer ground, the handsome old home was destroyed, the great trees swept away on swirling waters and the solidarity of the large family destroyed.
The older members have passed on to the peace of another world; the children and grandchildren have traveled far from the scenes of their childhood, but carry with them always a pride of birth and a wealth of memories.
Mr. Honoré Morancy built the little Catholic Chapel at Milliken's Bend and long after his passing people would cross themselves piously at the clear call of the Angelus and think of their old friend and benefactor whose memory lingered like a delicate incense. The Vicksburg Evening Post of April 24, 1936 contained a very pertinent sketch of Mr. Morancy's life.
In the column headed "Postscripts" it was a reprint of an article entitled "Reminiscences of Warren County", written April 24, 1886 evidently by a close friend of Mr. Morancy. After citing the vivid incidents of his life as given in this sketch the writer very fittingly concludes: "The last time the writer saw this former merchant of Warren, County when it was a wilderness, he was slowly arid feebly walking in a large City in that county (Vicksburg) about sunrise, to attend the services of the church of his choice.
*After the devastating flood of 1912, the little church was torn down and the material brought to the town of Tallulah, about 10 miles south where it t was rebuilt, and used until 1948.
It may be natural to expect that this practical man who made preparation to move to Opelousas, and then from that place to Walnut Hills, and from the latter place to Milliken's Bend, would also make preparation to pass from this life to another. He could bar taken as a model by a great many.
H.P.M. departed this life but recently at an advanced age.