Juan St. Malo & Cimarrons – Corrections & Additions to New Orleans Advocate article

The New Orleans Advocate newspaper on August 7th, 2016 carried an article about Juan St. Malo, runaway slave in Spanish Colonial Louisiana. The article in the Historically Speaking section referred to him a Jean Saint Malo. In the Spanish judicial records he was known as Juan St. Malo in 1780’s. He had run away from the D’Arensbourg Plantation upriver from New Orleans on the “German Coast” near today’s Hahnville LA. He made his way to Lake Borgne (see map) and rose to be the leader of two villages of runaways, known as “cimarrons”. The villages, Chef Menteur and Ville Gaillarde, numbered together about one hundred villagers. They traded with the slaves behind plantations, sold cypress trees from the swamps to a British sawmill operator, grew crops and gathered the bounty of south Louisiana wetlands.

After a few years Spanish authorities closed in on the cimarrons. Those captured were interrogated and their testimonies are in the Spanish archives (translated into English in the Journals of the Louisiana Historical Society in the 1930’s). They were not plotting an insurrection, merely seeking their own freedom.

Read more of the story of Juan St. Malo, the village and events that led to their capture and punishment on pages 27-28 in my book DOWN IN NEW ORLEANS: True Stories of a Fabled City.

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