This collection contains the papers of French-American jurist John Bouvier (1787-1851) and his family in Pennsylvania, including
Bouvier's daughter, science writer Hannah Mary Bouvier Peterson (1811-1870), his
son-in-law Robert Evans Peterson (1812-1869) and the Petersons'
son-in-law Philadelphia publisher George William Childs (1829-1894).
John Bouvier (1787-1851) was born of Quaker parents in 1787 in the small French village of
Codognan, department du Gard. Of his life before the age of fifteen little is known, except
that he attended school in Nimes. His father, Jean (1760-1803) was a man of considerable
means, having inherited property from his uncle and money from his grandfather. Bouvier's
mother, Marie Benezet (1760-1823), also brought a respectable dowry into her marriage with
Jean. Husband and wife farmed for a living, adding to this income money earned from a
distillery and from a farm products and manufacturing exchange enterprise. As a result of
his fortune, Jean Bouvier was one of the principal men of his village, occupying at one time
or another almost all of the village offices. However, when he attempted to feed his friends
and finance relief from the distress occasioned by the French Revolution (with which he
sympathized), a series of misfortunes crushed the family. Thus circumstanced, Jean and Marie
applied for passports to America in 1800, finally making the voyage in 1802 with their two
sons, John and Daniel (c. 1795-1825). John's father died less than a year later, while his
mother returned to France and died in 1823.
347 pieces + photographs and ephemera in 5 boxes
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