Monday, November 29, 2010

Jean Baptist Pinta

Recently, while reviewing documents for Jean Baptist Pinta, it dawned on me that perhaps he wasn't the scoundrel that I had pictured.  At about age 30 he said good-bye to his parents and siblings in France and traveled to Haiti seeking adventure and riches, probably in the sugar cane industry.  This would have been prior to1803, which was when his first known child was born in Haiti.  He later took his children and Luce Grandmaison, the mother of his children, to New Orleans by way of Cuba.  Documents indicate that he cared for Luce and the children until his death, even though Luce and JB were never married.  Speculation is that Jean Baptiste Casimir Menial (see post of 11/17/10), Luce's younger half brother, also moved with them from Haiti to New Orleans.  

Jean Baptist Pinta operated a jewelry shop at 35 Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 1811, became treasurer of the The Grand Lodge of Louisiana of New Orleans, trained young men in the jewelry business and served in the war of 1812.  After his death the The Grand Lodge of Louisiana of New Orleans, land owner Celestin Pontalba, and probably others, attempted to sue the estate claiming JB had debts to pay and suggesting that he was less than honorable.  I have not yet found where any money was to be paid to these accusers, however some of the documents were impossible to read.  Originally, my first reaction was that he was a rascal and had a sizable estate due to shady dealings.  However, in taking another look at all this, perhaps others saw the potential of trying to take advantage of the sizable estate and manufactured debt after his death.

JB carefully drafted his will leaving his estate to his siblings in France and his children.  However, he also listed people he owed money and requested they be paid.  He seemed to be concerned about taking care of family and extended family.  Could this really be a man who was also dishonest.....well look at the Godfather or Sopranos, they took care of their own while messing with the rest of the community.  Granted, they were theatrical productions but history shows that there was a good amount of truth in these lifestyles.  Was this the same type of attitude?

Hard to determine what really transpired.  All parties involved would have been influenced by his status, in one way or another.  Any ideas as to where we can get more documents?


  1. Scoundrel? I always assumed that the suit by the Masons involved monies held by JB on their behalf by virtue of his office as Treasurer.

    I also doubt that the estate was all that sizeable. You might want to contrast the very favorable Indenture Agreement entered into by JB with that signed after his death by Luce on behalf of two of the boys, which was much less favorable. I don't think she would have done that unless money was pretty tight.


  2. Oh, I am so excited! Someone actually posted a comment! Thanks.

    1820 was an eventful year for JB. The will is dated 29 April 1820. JB died on 3 May 1820, and I don't know the cause of death. According to the will, it appears, JB did not leave any monies to Luce, so she had to do what she could to survive. He left 200 piastres to a colored women who worked for him, which he states is because he was asked to keep it for her? 1822 city directory shows Luce as a jeweler on St. Ann, which is listed as JB home address in the will & Luce address in the 1820 census. Perhaps, due to the fact that the estate had to be distributed, Clancey, a black male slave, was sold on 31 July 1820, or as you pointed out, maybe they needed the money. I have not found any evidence of property ownership, which could indicate the estate was not that large.

    I wanted to put another twist on this puzzle and take a look at another angle of possibility. Would love to get more documentation.