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FAMILY LORE, or how I might be related to the famous New Orleans pirate, Jean Lafitte

Possible portrait of Jean Lafitte from the

Rosenberg Library in Galveston, Texas

My mother's side of the family often took a back seat to my father's boisterous extended #Sicilian family. They were hard to compete with so much of my upbringing centered around their history and traditions. However, my mother's flamboyant Aunt Flo who worked at the local department store, #Krauss, for over forty years running the wigs and millinery would offer up glimpses into the #Creole side of our family. She would engage us with the tale that one of our ancestors was really the pirate Jean Lafitte. As children there were two local folk figures that mattered to us the most, Jean Lafitte and Marie Laveau.

Jean Lafitte (sometimes spelled Laffite adding to the confusion) was and still is a mystery so much of what is written is speculation--this is my disclaimer for what I am posting because so far no one knows the truth.

Genealogy is new to me so I immediately dug into this tale to see what I could find. I found that the man in question was known as Jean Baptiste #Boutté and he was my 4th great grandfather. He lived in #Barataria (from the French bararter meaning to trade goods but not money which might come from the Old French equivalent of "to deceive") and that his daughter was born on the island where the family had been granted land through the king of Spain. Barataria and Barataria Bay is an area south of New Orleans where swamps and marshland hid the lives and activities of many pirates, perhaps the term smugglers is more appropriate, including Jean Lafitte. Large boats could not enter the shallow area and knowledge of navigation was a must, a perfect place to hide. Some controversy connected to the land grant was the basis for the investigation explained in the article below. Additionally, Jean Lafitte allegedly died in 1823, the same year that Jean Baptiste Boutté was supposedly laid to rest in St. Louis Cemetery #1 in New Orleans.

Other surprises bloomed from this branch of my family tree---the realization that Jean Baptiste Boutté's wife, Maria Luisa Lemelle was the granddaughter of the first known baker in New Orleans who went by the name #Bellegarde (making him my 6th great grandfather) and that I am related to Marie Laveau through marriage but that's a rabbit hole for another day.

Boutté Tomb at St. Louis Cemetery #1

Photo by Laura Guccione

Boutté: French: from Old French bo(u)te ‘cask barrel’ applied as a metonymic occupational name for a cooper or as a nickname for a potbellied man.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022 @Patrick Hanks, 2003


William O. Skroggs. The Story of Louisiana. New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1953.

Raymond J. Martinez and Jack D. L. Holmes. New Orleans: Facts and Legends. New Orleans: Hope Publications, 1969.

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This is so cool! Keep going—inquiring minds want to know more…

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Thanks! I’m not sure if I can solve this one but there’s so much more to share about other ancestors and Louisiana history. I’m shocked

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