Louis Fortuné Mollot died at the age of 80 on June 10, 1871, in the village of Blandin, in the farmhouse of the “ferme de la Molinière” which still is occupied today as a residence, next door to where the “Château Blandin” would be built by his son Fortuné. Louis Fortuné had been suffering from a serious heart condition and, consequently, he had decided to spend the summer of 1871 in Blandin in order to rest. In addition, the political events of the day would have caused him anxiety. France had just been defeated and humiliated at the hands of Bismarck in the Franco-Prussian War. Because this war had been initiated by Emperor Napoleon III, with the signing of the Treaty of Frankfurt, the regions of Alsace & Lorraine were abandoned by France and taken by Germany. The French were also ordered to repay the cost of the war: the huge sum of some five billion francs. To compound this misfortune, unrest brought the country to the brink of civil war! Anarchy ruled in the streets of France again for a few months: monarchists against republicans. In what is called the “semaine sanglante” (bloody week), government troops in their attempt to keep law and order fought in the streets and massacred around 25,000 people, the last of which were lined up against the wall in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris and shot! It was a brutal episode that left a permanent scar on the political and psychological landscape of the country. To quote from Fortuné’s memoires, ‘Our emotions swayed anxiously from hope to discouragement as we followed the events’. Napoleon III was deposed and, finally in 1871, France came to its senses and established the Third Republic. This government would last until after World War II in 1946.
Louis Fortuné Mollot and his wife Thérèse were both laid to rest in the Guillotière cemetery in Lyon. According to the cemetery records, Louis was buried there on June 13, 1871, emplacement no. 23/24. Given the laws of burial in France, plots/graves are not issued in perpetuity; they are purchased for xx number of years and, if not renewed, are sold to someone else. In this case, the expiry year was 1924 and given that there was no family left to use or renew the concession, the plot was purchased by another family. The burials are registered at the cemetery but there is no longer a gravestone with their names.
Note that Louis Fortuné was born in 1791 during the French Revolution’s Reign of Terror (1789-1793) and died in 1871 just after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. It is interesting that these two devastating and tumultuous events in French history coincided with his birth and death. Indeed, Louis Fortuné lived in a period of political unrest.
1845-1924 FORTUNÉ LOUIS JOSEPH MOLLOT (8) As many of you are aware, the reason why we know so much about our ancestry is because Fortuné wrote his memoires in detail. The memoires have been passed on from generation to generation. We are very grateful that Fortuné took the time and effort to write these in detail. There are some sixty-six pages which have given us a tremendous insight into the life and times of the family. The original document is in hand-written form and, of course, in French. It was completed on July 18, 1912, when Fortuné was 67 years old, some twelve years before his death. Consequently, we only have limited data on their lives from 1912 to 1924.
During the past twenty or so years, his memoires have been typewritten in French and have also been translated into English. They are available in print in French and in English as well as on a CD all in pdf file. The memoires of Fortuné are posted on the Mollot web site: Mollot.ca
In order to better understand the man, it is strongly recommended that one read his memoires. However, an attempt will be made to provide some history of his life based not only on his memoires but also on family letters and on numerous documents such as wills, birth, marriage and death certificates, on various write-ups in local journals by historians and even on interviews with people who have also passed on but who knew the family; and, finally, on stories from his offspring.
As indicated on his birth certificate and civil birth registration certificate, Fortuné Louis Joseph Mollot was born at home on Nov. 4, 1845, in a 3rd floor apartment, No. 2 Place Sathonay in Lyon, France. Today, this residence is the mayor’s office of the 1st arrondissement of Lyon.
Place Sathonay, 2008
The complex overlooks an attractive city square
called Place Sathonay.
Also, according to his baptismal certificate, he was baptized on Nov. 16, 1845, in L’Eglise Notre Dame de St. Louis in Lyon, now called Eglise Notre Dame St. Vincent at 17 rue Vieille, Lyon, France. As a young boy from ages five to seventeen in the years 1850 to 1862, he attended a private boarding school called l’Abbé Bland in Lyon and traveled frequently with his father on various business trips throughout France. He expressed enjoyment of this travel. During the summers, they would spend time at “la ferme de la Molinière” in the village of Blandin with family and friends and travel in the Châlons sur Marne area (Trouans and L’huitre) visiting family. After grade school, Fortuné was placed at Minimes seminary for classical studies. He did not enjoy this school. However, there he started to develop an interest in drawing and painting. While at this school, he undertook a one year drawing class, taught by his teacher Pierre Bonirote, a renowned professor at the Fine Arts School of Lyon. He then further pursued his artistic talents at the Lycée de Lyon which is something like a college of fine arts. However, in the later years of his studies, the untimely death of his mother, Thérèse, on Dec. 4th in 1862 really distracted him from his studies…his desire was now to quickly finish his education and move on… but to what!
To quote Fortuné, “I now faced the difficult question of what to do next. I would really have liked to attend the school of fine arts. But my father, like most of the generation of 1830, held a firm prejudice against artists, and he would not hear of it. He had made his fortune in business and this is what he had in mind for me. But I did not suit that type of occupation at all and I knew that I could never be the businessman that my father had been. Nevertheless, I resigned myself to please him and with the help of my brother in law, Mr. Algoud, I started as a junior employee at a large wholesale novelty house called Magnun Fauré & Company, located at 40 L’Imperatrice Street in Lyon.”
In his late teens and early twenties, after having served an apprenticeship in the silk and apparel industry, Fortuné traveled quite extensively throughout France, Italy and Switzerland thanks to the “Banque de Papa”. However, tragedy would strike again. On March 19, 1868, at the age of 22, he suffered from a fall from a horse which virtually rendered him immobile!
This unfortunate event changed his life dramatically. To quote Fortuné, “From this moment onward, however, I had to renounce any intentions of going into business, an outcome which I was not altogether upset about. Something good came from my injury for I could finally realize my dream of painting. This occupation pleased me greatly and, at the same time, allowed me plenty of time to recover.”
During the next few years, Fortuné traveled the country seeking treatment at various spas, salt baths and thermal resorts in the Pyrenees and the Alps. Eventually, strength did return to his limbs and he could walk quite well but, as my parents John and Blanche told me, he walked with a noticeable limp. In photos, we see him with a cane.
Then on June 11, 1871, nine years after the death of his mother, came the sudden death of his father, Louis, at the age of 80! Fortuné, age 25, inherited what is considered by historians today as a “huge fortune” for the era; in excess of 500,000 francs, plus a monthly stipend of 25,000 francs and real estate. This information is found in his memoires. In reference to Pauline, the adopted sister of Fortuné, Louis’ last will and testament indicates that she had received her portion at her wedding.
With this new amassed fortune at his disposal, Fortuné began to spend his wealth. His mother Thérèse had always dreamed of living in the countryside. His father, too, had always dreamed of being able to live in the country but during his business career had never had the time to realize that desire. Fortuné did not enjoy city life! Therefore, in 1871-72, at the age of 25, having no wife or family, he hired an architect, M. Bourbon, to plan and build an 1850 sq. meter or 16,650 sq. ft. mansion on a 42 acre property that had been purchased previously by his father Louis Fortuné. This property was in Blandin, the quaint little French village situated only a few kilometers from Châbons, the small hamlet where Fortuné’s mother, Thérèse Annequin, was born.
In the process of doing research to purchase furniture, tapestries and paintings for his future home, Fortuné one day noticed an advertisement in a Lyon newspaper of an establishment called “le Martouret” in Die which is located close to the French Alps. This establishment offered thermal baths, treatments that seemed to suit his condition as he still suffered from his physical ailments. Quoting from his memoires, “At the end of July, 1871, I headed for the Martouret. It was the first of many times that I would go there for it was there that I was destined to meet my wife! “
Between his constant need for therapy and his courtship of LÉOPOLDINE BENOIT, (10) the eldest daughter of Dr. Alexandre Benoit and Ernestine Croze, proprietors of the thermal establishment “Le Martouret”, Fortuné found himself going to Die frequently. Also, Mme. Benoit would bring Léopoldine occasionally to Lyon for singing lessons, during which time they visited with Fortuné. Léopoldine was known to have a very pretty voice and a passion for theatre. Through his future brother-in-law Gabriel, Fortuné would ask for her hand in marriage. His request was accepted. After approximately fourteen months of courtship, the wedding date was set. The civil ceremony occurred on Oct 4th and the church and wedding celebration took place on October 5, 1872, all in Die. Fortuné was 28 years old and Léopoldine was 20 years old.
Historically, the French Revolution of 1789-1792 separated the powers of the church and the state. Hence forth, the state required municipal registrations of marriages, births and deaths. The church and the state kept separate records and issued certificates accordingly.
After the wedding, Fortuné and Léopoldine went on a honeymoon and then settled into Château Blandin situated in the small village of the same name, “Blandin”.
In 1871, Fortuné age 26, Léopoldine age 19.