1791-1871 LOUIS FORTUNE MOLLOT (7) As previously mentioned, Louis Fortuné Mollot was the only son of Pierre Mollot and Françoise Marie Joseph Freminet of Châlons sur Marne. Louis Fortuné was born and baptized on Feb. 15th, 1791, in Église St. Alpin in Châlons sur Marne. He very likely began work in the clothing, new fashions and accessories business of his father, Pierre, in Châlons where he learned the “tricks of the trade.” Due to a problem with his eyesight, Louis Fortuné retired from military service in Napoleon’s army in 1811. Louis Fortuné, then 20 years of age, moved to Paris for greater opportunities and for different and varied experiences in the fashion and clothing industry. In following his career path, one realizes that Louis Fortuné had similar character attributes as his father, Pierre. He was a go-getter…an entrepreneur…a businessman...a person with ambition and drive. After his time in Paris, Louis Fortuné moved further south to Lyon which at the time was the hub of the silk industry in France, Europe and the Western World. From the sixteenth century right up until postwar WWI (1918), silk was one of the main industries of the city, generating enormous wealth and contributing to a multitude of Renaissance architectural structures throughout the city. At the outset in Lyon, Louis Fortuné Mollot was involved as a salesman/broker of silk products. Later, he established his own silk manufacturing enterprise in the heart of “le Vieux Lyon” in the Croix-Rousse district. This area is still known as the “old silk weavers” district. To date, we have not done the research and do not have information pertaining to the specific location of his enterprise but it is certainly possible that he was established in this area. Based on facts from many books that have been written on the silk industry in Lyon, most of the focus is on this area. We do know, however, that it was at No. 2, Place Sathonay in the “vieux Lyon” where Louis Fortuné was originally a buyer and seller of silk goods (acheteur et vendeur de soieries). Louis Fortuné also lived in this same building on the 3rd floor which housed many of these silk merchants. In a book on the history of the silk industry in Lyon called “Les filières de la soie lyonnaise”, it clearly illustrates that Place Sathonay was the hub of the silk industry in the city at that time.
It is interesting to note, however, that Louis Fortuné Mollot in his latter years did not pass on his very successful silk business to his son or stepdaughter. The last few years that Louis was in business were not profitable. This was likely due to increased competition, imports from the Orient, and, possibly, his health and age. Also, his son had suffered a misfortune. At the age of 22, Fortuné had fallen off a horse and become partly paralyzed. In addition, Fortuné really had not shown a great interest or aptitude in business; he was more interested in pursuing a career as an artist as noted by Fortuné himself in his memoires. By then, Louis may have realized that his son, Fortuné, was not suited for the business. He sold the silk business.
Another interesting document that we have from Louis’ business affairs is a Mexican bond property certificate # 1488 dated August 31, 1869, in Paris. During the years 1864-1865, Louis purchased from the Imperial Government of Mexico ten of these bond issues. As today, in those days, there were risky venture investments available and one has to wonder if this was a profitable one for Louis. ‘Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.’! (…the more things change, the more they stay the same!)’
On the personal side, Louis Fortuné was very much like his father, Pierre; Louis Fortuné married later on in life at the age of 53! According to their civil marriage certificate, he married THERESE ANNEQUIN on Dec. 8, 1844, in the village of Châbons, Isère, France. She was 37 years old at that time. Thérèse had been born on Dec. 31, 1806, in the small village called Châbons in the commune of Grand Lemps which is nearby the village of BLANDIN where their son Fortuné would later end up building Château Blandin. Thérèse’s parents were Joseph Annequin, a farmer who died on Dec. 20, 1824, and Marie Malens.
One can speculate that Louis Fortuné may have met his wife Thérèse Annequin through his business interests in Châbons where were situated silk farms with which he likely had business interests or in the city of Lyon.
As to family, LOUIS FORTUNE MOLLOT and THERESE ANNEQUIN had two children, THÉRÈSE PAULINE MOLLOT (9) and FORTUNÉ LOUIS JOSEPH MOLLOT(8). Note again that the given names were repeated from one generation to the next. From letters and other documents, we know that Thérèse Pauline was adopted. Was she from a previous marriage of Thérèse? Is it possible that Thérèse Annequin was widowed? We do know that Thérèse Pauline was 12 years old when they married and we do know that Louis Fortuné adopted her as a daughter as indicated in a civil adoption registration certificate dated Aug. 31, 1852 in Lyon and in his last will and testament.
After extensive research, it has been determined that prior to being married to Louis Fortuné Mollot in 1844, Thérèse Annequin, age 26 had had a child on Sept. 12, 1832 in Lyon. The child’s name on the birth certificate is Thérèse Mulin. Some 8 days after the birth, Thérèse Annequin the mother, had the child’s name changed to Thérèse Pauline Annequin as recorded in the child’s civil birth registration dated Sept. 20, 1832. When Thérèse Annequin married Louis Fortuné Mollot in 1844, Louis Fortuné later adopted Thérèse Pauline as his daughter. Further research will be required to determine the connection with the surname Mulin.
As related in the memoirs of Fortuné’s, approximately one year into the marriage of Louis Fortuné and Thérèse, their only son Fortuné Louis Joseph Mollot, was born at home at 3 p.m. on Nov. 4, 1845, in their 3rd floor apartment: No. 4 at Place Sathonay. However, documents such as his civil birth registration certificate and his baptism certificate have the birth taking place at No. 2 at Place Sathonay located in the 1st arrondissement (circle or district) in Lyon. As previously mentioned, this was in the heart of the then silk industry in old Lyon. Fortuné’s parents were not exactly young when he was born; his father was 54 years old and his mother was 39 years old. Interestingly, there was fifteen years difference in age! According to his church baptismal certificate, Fortuné was baptized at Eglise Notre Dame de St. Louis, now called Eglise St. Vincent, 17 rue Vieille, on Nov. 16, 1845. His godfather was his uncle Capitaine Fortuné Collet who had married Françoise Jeanne Mollot of Châlons sur Marne.
According to other documents, in the early 1850’s, Louis and Thérèse Mollot moved from their apartment on Place Sathonay to a home at 18, rue du Béguin in Lyon where their young son Fortuné spent his early childhood years.
On September 13, 1852, his stepdaughter Thérèse Pauline Mollot, age 19, married Jean Baptiste Benoit Bonaventure Algoud in Lyon as recorded on their civil marriage registration certificate. His civil birth registration certificate also indicates that he was born on July 14, 1819. His parents were Barthelemy Algoud, a silk merchant and Jeanne Marie Davchez of Lyon. From Jean Baptiste Algoud’s numerous letters and papers, we can certainly conclude that he was a very well educated and astute business person. They had three children; Louis Jean Baptiste, Marie Thérèse, and, would you believe, another Fortuné!
The Algoud family was also involved in the silk industry in and around Lyon. Found on a business letterhead is the following; Soieries Unies, Algoud Frères, 3 Montée de Griffon, Lyon. This was a silk manufacture in the heart of the former Lyon silk trade but today it is a night club! Also, Jean Baptiste Algoud, Fortuné’s brother-in-law, owned a silkworm company in Grand Lemps which is only 11 kms. from Blandin. In those years, silkworm farms were very thriving industries in and around Grand Lemps. From all accounts, it can be surmised that the Algouds were a very wealthy family. It is interesting to note that there must have been a business connection between these two families. An example, among others, is that a Mollot relative, Paul Thevenot from the Trouans area in the Champagne region, the cradle of the Mollot family, was the manager of the silkworm company in Grand Lemps next to Blandin in Isère. That connection would be an interesting puzzle to resolve. Presently, we have personal friends by the name of Thevenot whose ancestors immigrated to Canada from the same area of France as ours!
Now back to Louis Fortuné Mollot; he was an extremely successful businessman and amassed a very large fortune described by a present day historian as “colossal” for those days. Besides this fortune, he also inherited from his wife, Thérèse, some property which was “la ferme de la Molinière” (farm) located in the village of Blandin in the “vallée de la Bourbe”, approximately 80 kms. from Lyon where, ironically, his son Fortuné would later spend part of his inheritance building what he called “Château Blandin” (known today as Château de Molinière) for his future bride to be, Léopoldine Benoit, who would not care for the château nor for country living! This property happens to be within 15 kms. from the village of Châbons where Thérèse Annequin, the wife of Louis Fortuné Mollot, was born and raised. This property, originally owned by the Annequin family, was part of the dowry of Thérèse Annequin when Louis Mollot and Thérèse were married in 1844. Louis later inherited the property from his wife Thérèse.
Originally, the property comprised a large farmhouse and barn on some 17 hectares or 42 acres of land…..and, would you believe, the original farmhouse is still standing today some 200 years later! The present owners are the Dominique and Frederique Buisson family who are very good family friends. According to their research, this ancestral farmhouse was built in the year 1821.
Of interest, Louis Fortuné Mollot also left a footprint in the village of Blandin which still exists today. He donated the property for the existing cemetery. In fact, on a large stone in the cemetery is inscribed the following: “Souvenir de Reconnaissance à M. Louis Fortuné MOLLOT (Donnateur de ce cimetière)……Souvenir of recognition to Louis Fortuné MOLLOT (Donor of the cemetery)”. As previously mentioned, Louis Mollot inherited the Blandin property from his wife Thérèse Annequin who had received it in her dowry. This may explain the connection between the names on this monument; Marguerite Chaboud née Annequin and Louis Fortuné Mollot.
Monument in the cemetery in Blandin, France
Thérèse, the wife of Louis Fortuné, did not live a long life. After only eighteen years of married life, she died of breast cancer on Dec. 4, 1862, at the age of 56 in Lyon. According to her civil death certificate, she died in their home which at the time was # 18 rue du Béguin in Lyon. It’s amazing that even in those years, they somehow were able to diagnose such illnesses but had virtually no cure for them! In the memoires of her son, Fortuné, he says that, “she underwent surgery for breast cancer which gave her hope and relief for a year or two but the disease returned with a vengeance; stronger and more painful than before and made my mother a veritable martyr in the final year of her life!” One can only imagine the helplessness experienced by those facing a terrible disease in those times. At the time of Thérèse’s death her daughter Pauline was 30 years old and her son Fortuné was 17 years old. Louis Fortuné, her husband, was 71 years old. In remembrance of his wife Thérèse, Louis Fortuné had a picture frame made with decorative woven locks of her hair enclosed with the following inscription on the back; ‘Cheveux Provenant de Thérèse Annequin, Epouse de Louis Mollot, décédée le 4 décembre 1862, dans sa 56 ième année. Ses descendants : Louis Joseph Fortuné Mollot et Thérèse Mollot.’ This is the second memorabilia of this nature that has been passed on as a souvenir.