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Jean-Étienne de Boré

Jean-Étienne de Boré lived from 27 December 1740 to 2 February 1820. [1]

He was the man who first commercially produced granulated sugar. He was not, as some also say, the first sugar refiner in Louisiana -- that was Valcour Aime.

Jean-Étienne was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois [2]. His father was Louis de Boré; his mother, Therese Celeste Carriere de Mont Brun.

When he was 4 years old, his parents returned to France with him. He was educated there, and when school finished, he got a position in the household guard "mousquetaires" for Louis XV [3].

In 1768, he came to Louisiana, which was Spanish by this time, then returned to France the following year in 1769 to take up command of a calvary company. On 20 September 1771 he married Jeanne Marguerite Marie Destrehan des Tours in Paris. Her father, Jean-Baptiste D'Estrehan des Tours, had been the treasurer of the French colony of Louisiana.

In 1776, Jean-Étienne returned to Louisiana with Jeanne Marguerite. They settled on some property that her father Jean-Baptiste had given her six miles north of New Orleans at the time. Their land is now within the city of New Orleans, and is known as "Audubon Park."

Jean-Étienne grew indigo (the plant used in making a colouring dye) on their land until insects ruined his crop in the early 1790s. This was a recurring problem for many growers, so he decided to switch to sugar, though his wife tried to talk him out of him (her father Jean-Baptiste had previously tried while in Louisiana, and failed.) Jean-Étienne began planting sugar cane in 1794, enlisting the help of a man named "Antoine Morin", who was an expert sugar maker from Santo Domingo.

Jean-Étienne was lucky the first time out. In the very next year, 1795, he not only had a successful first harvest, but he also managed to do something that others up till then had failed at -- turn his harvest into granulated sugar. Using a vacuum pan process, he produced 100,000 pounds (45,000 kg) of granulated sugar, which he sold at 12.5 cents a pound, and molasses, for which he got 50 cents a gallon. All in all, he earned $12,000 that first crop alone.

In 1792, he was joined in the business by his brother-in-law, Jean Noel Destrehan, who had been left a nearby plantation with a home built on it in 1787.

For the short period from 30 November 1803 to 26 May 1804, Jean-Étienne was the Mayor of New Orleans; but after working under many Americans, particularly the new American governor William C.C. Claiborne, he decided he just didn't like working with them, and that he'd just as rather get back to his own business. By 1806, though, he'd either had somewhat of a change of heart, or decided that the Americans weren't going to go away, and accepted an appointment as speaker of the Legislative Council. In 1807, he was made a member of the Police Jury.

Jean-Étienne died on 2 February 1820 at home on his plantation near New Orleans just before his eightieth birthday. He was buried in St. Louis Cemetery.

Jean-Étienne and Jeanne Marguerite had three daughters: Jeanne Marguerite Marie Isabelle (born 1773), Francoise Elizabeth (born 1777), and another. Jean-Étienne had become wealthy enough through his sugar business to leave them each $100,000 dollars.


[1] Some sources say that his birth date might have been 27 February 1741 or 27 December 1742.

[2] Kaskasia is now a ghost town, destroyed in an 1881 flood of the Mississippi.

[3] One of Jean-Étienne's ancestors was Robert de Boré, who in 1652 had been a household steward for Louis XIV and director general of the post-office in France. With such an ancestor, Jean-Étienne was considered minor nobility, and thus eligible to join the household guards.


Richard, Charley. "200 Years of Progress in the Louisiana Sugar Industry: A Brief History." New Orleans, Louisian: Sugar Journal. February, 1995.

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Oulton, Randal. "Jean-Étienne de Boré." CooksInfo.com. Published 04 May 2006; revised 27 May 2009. Web. Accessed 03/20/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/jean-etienne-de-bore>.

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