French Settlement at Julian, Nebraska

Jean Marie Bize Louise Bize Laurent Bernard

Mr. and Mrs. Bernard were the first settlers at Julian. Julien Bahnard came a year or two after Mr. and Mrs. Bernard, and then came Mr. and Mrs. Jean Lavigne and next Mr. and Mrs. Jean Marie Bize.

The movement of French people into the Nebraska country began before the territory was opened for settlement, the first men coming from France being trappers, or Indian traders. For a hundred years or more they had roamed over this region, and to them it owes many geographic names.

When the territory was opened to white settlers there were already small colonies of French people at Rulo, Bellevue, and along the Missouri and Niobrara rivers. They were closely associated with the Indian tribes and commonly took Indian wives. The genuine French settlers came in the late fifties, and for ten or fifteen years thereafter. One of the most important of their settlements was at and in the vicinity of the present village of Julian, a station on the Missouri Pacific railroad. Julien Bahnard was among the first settlers, and the new town which was established on the railroad was named for him. It is said that the railroad company called the station Julian because they could not pronounce the surname of the most prominent settler.

The rich land in that vicinity attracted thrifty people from France until about forty families had settled there. They were educated and intelligent. For a time their trading places were Glenrock, Brock, Peru, and Brownville. When the Missouri Pacific railroad came through the county with two branches, Julian was the French center though there were a goodly number at Brock. They quickly acquired the American spirit, and while the French language was kept up in the homes, English was spoken elsewhere. Only two or three of their whole number failed to acquire the English language.

Those were the older women who lacked the practice in speech which contact with people of other nationalities would have given them. All of the younger generation were educated in English in the schools and in French at home, and their home environment gave them the polite demeanor peculiar to the French people. The immigration of those settlers to Nemaha County was not a sectarian movement. The colonists were about equally Catholics and Protestants.

On May 20. 1918, the French people of Nemaha county held a picnic and celebration, calling together all those who had remained in the original colony, as well as those who had gone elsewhere in later years. A large number gathered for this celebration, which consisted of a basket picnic and then a meeting in a grove in Julian where stories were told and songs sung. The address of welcome was by Mr. C. L. Mesnet, speaking both in English and French, with responses by several of the others.

The principal feature of the day, perhaps, was the taking of moving pictures of the assemblage at the grove, of the gathering at the railroad station to speed to the war some French boys, and of the parade of the Home Guard.

This picnic was a good start on what may later develop into a state association of French people and their descendants. For this purpose a partial list of the early settlers and their children was made, as follows:

Jules and Mary Bernard;
Blanche, Rozelle,
Laurent, Lenora.
Lucian and Theresa Bernard; Alice, Richard.
Calixte L. and Millie Mesnet.
Frantz and Mariette Gamboni; Franky, Calixte.
Mrs. Louise Bize, mother; Paul and Blanche Bize; Paul, David, Louise.
Mrs. Marchand, mother; Henry and Marie Lavigne; Albert, Pierre, Blanche, Henri, Rose, Alice, Catherine, Paul, George.
Emile and Laura Marchand; Raymond, Malvin, Frederic, Marie.
George and Louise Chavez; Emma, Louis, Stella.
Fred and Louise Bourlier; Laura, Blanche, Clifton, Ivan, Leston.
Fremont and Emma Jodry; Amber, Harold, Mildred.
Mrs. Catherine Vernier; Sophia, Jane, May Beason.
J. M. and Louise Burress.
James and Flora Bourlier; Sidney, Floyd. James, (Sr.) and Laura Bourlier.
Fred and Liza Bourlier; James, Elsa, John, Blanche, Helen, Nellie.
John and Susie Bourlier; Donna, Lysle.
Mrs. Mellie Bourlier.
Fred, Frank and Armand Barbier.
Emile Berlet and wife; Amelie, Alice, Blanche, Irma.
Fred and Amelie Marchand; Alphonze, Emma, Charles, Lea, Louise, Lilly, Laura, Mary, George, Rose, Jules, Blanche.
Peter Berlet and wife; Fred, Lucile, Mina, Emma, Victoria, Elois.
Fred and Jennie Donze; Dot, Fred.
Fred and Vina Kiechel; Walter, Addie, Raymond, Doane.
Frank and Mary Gilbert; Gus, Millie.
Mrs. Muster and Mrs. Besancon.

This list is incomplete, being largely made up from families attending the picnic. Messrs. C. L. Mesnet and Paul Bize expect to complete the roll of all the living persons who have been connected with the Nemaha County colony, so that a comprehensive history of the settlement may be written.

Tombstone Inscriptions

The following interesting records are copied from inscriptions on monuments in the Catholic and protestant cemeteries, respectively:

Catholic Cemetery

Bahuaud, Julian, Born 1827, Died 1890
Bize, Jean Marie, Born in Nantes, France, March 30, 1835, Died November 30, 1804
Bernard, Laurent, Died July 21, 1888, At 71 years, 11 months, 11 days
Bernard, Annie E., Daughter of Julian and May, Born April 30, 1907, Died September 13, 1909
Anville Caliste Isidore, Born April 4, 1916, Died September 11, 1916
Bazin, Jean Felix, Ne a Ste-Remi-Savoie, France, 18 December, 1847, decede at Julian, Nebraska, le Mars 1907
Michel Marie M. Adelaide, Born in Suisse, Aug. 23, 1830, Died June 22, 1893
Grivel Joseph, Ne le 7 Avril, denede le 6 Novembere 1914
Michon Pauline H., Ne Paris, France, le 15 October 1872, decede 24 October 1911
Priez vous le Repos lie son ame
Lavigue Jean Jacques, ne le Juillet 1820, decede le 25 Janvier 1898, 40 ans d'Amerique, Native de France
Master, Michel, Born Sept. 20. 1834, Died Apr. 20, 1898
Michon Willie, Born Aus. 22, 1890, Died Jan. 23, 1891
Breull, John A., Born July 29, 1832, Died Feb. 13, 1894
Breull, Albert, Born July 3, 1892, Died Aug. 2, 1893
Marconnit, John F. Son of
Fred and Mary, Died April 29, 1885
Burger, Col. Peter, Born in Loraine, Prance, May 15, 1835, Died April 17, 1903
May wife of Peter Burger
Died Feb. 10, 1893, Age 62 yrs. 1 mo. 15 days.

Protestant Cemetery

Bourlier, Augusta, Born Oct. 29, 1862, Died July 22, 1911.
Bourlier, William, Born Nov. 15. 1884, Aug. 30, 1911.
Bourlier, Irvin L., Born Oct, 16, 1908, Died Sept. 3, 1910.
Conlon, Alphonse, Born Dec. 25, 1825, Died Jan. 30, 1911.
Conlin, Alphonse, Oct. 16, 1842 (doesn't state if birth or death. Spelling as on the list)
Conlon, George F., Born May 24, 1861, Died Dec. 20, 1916, Repose le corps d
Marchand Pierre, decede Oct 15, 1878, Jule. Fils d
Auguste et Emile Clair, decede le 8 Dec. 188
Sattler, Caroline, 1821-190
Raymond, son of H. A. & N. L. Lavigne
Barber, Peter, Born Mar. 14, 1870, Died Sept. 8, 1905
Barber, Margaret, Born Feb. 1885, Died June 12, 1902.
Barber, G. F., Born Dec. 23, 1829, Died Mar. 25, 1900.
Bourlier, James, Born Nov. 30, 1820, Died July 25, 1889.
Bourlier, Mary, Born Dec. 17, 1820, Died Dec. 10, 1891.
Mosier, M. Victoria, Born June 11, 1864, Died Feb. 21, 1896.
Quante, David, 1908-1917.
Quante, Rosetta, 1849-1910. 

Nebraska AHGP

Source: Nebraska History and Record of Pioneer Days, Volume I, Number 1, Published Monthly by the Nebraska Historical Society, February 1918.

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