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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Who is Badollet and why do I feel such a connection? Part 1

My 5th great grandfather, Jean (John) Louis Badollet (14 Jul 1757-29 Jul 1837) was by all accounts a sensitive man. (Those who know me would say the same. My birthday is July 22, so Badollet and I share the same astrological sign of Cancer.

A large number of letters exist to confirm this. The most compelling being a letter to his daughter's (Sally) son John Badollet Caldwell from Albert Gallatin before his death. This letter is a response to a letter written to Gallatin from J.B. Caldwell asking him about his grandfather. This letter along with others show a man very liberal in his views and very rigid in his views on human nature and morals.

From this letter written 3rd of June 1841 from Gallatin's home in New York, I will transcribe portions. Within this letter you find a timeline for the Badollet family as well as Badollet and Gallatin himself. This original letter, along with many others, is housed at the Lewis Library on the campus of Vincennes University. It has also been microfilmed by the Indiana Historical Society for their collection.

"Dear Sir:
I am in my 81st year, write with difficulty and was prevented by other pressing avocations from returning an earlier answer to your letter of 27th April last. It would afford me pleasure to be of any service to the grandson of my late excellent friend John Badollet."

"In conformity with your wishes I will give you a sketch of your grandfather's life until he removed to Vincennes. John Badollet belonged to an ancient Genevese family settled at Geneva since about the year 1520, but which had fallen into poverty. His father was a watch maker and he was himself educated to be a Minister of the Gospel..........Though near three years older than me, Badollet and I were in the same class and took our degrees of A.B. on the same day in May 1779. He then entered the Theological Seminary, but feeling no vocation, he determined to abandon that career. (Badollet became an outspoken freethinker and strongly anticlerical...p.18 of The Correspondences of John Badollet and Albert Gallatin, edited by Gayle Thornborough, Indiana Historical Society, 1963).

This letter goes on to give details of Badollet's life leading up to his commission as the land registrar of the Indiana Territory, a position Gallatin helped him obtain. The one and only sign of favoritism in Gallatin's long career. I would argue that Badollet was more suited for this position than many because of the Indiana Territory being largely French at the time with English being a second language. Someone had to go into this area to sell and record land purchases diplomatically from French who spoken none or very little English and were uneasy about the turn over to Americans. Badollet, being a gentle, fluent French speaking, foreign born America, most likely made this transition much smoother.

"......You know the respectable standing which your Grandfather earned in Indiana by his virtues and talents. He had been no less respected and was generally beloved in Greene County, PA, where he was an associate judge and might have had, when Chief Justice McKean became Governor of that State, the lucrative office of Porthonothary (chief court clerk). This he declined rather than the incumbent should be turned out merely on account of his political opinions. He was a good scholar with much general information and no inconsiderable talents; but his prominent qualifications were not simply strict integrity and morality, but a purity and disinterestedness rarely equalled, never within my knowledge surpassed by any human being."

(here is were you get a glimpse into his sensitively) "He was from temper and habits ill-qualified to make money and had to struggle hard in Pennsylvania in order to supply his family. I lost in him the best surviving friend of my youth and his memory will be dear to me so long as I live.
I remain, with sincere wishes for your welfare,
Your obed'nt servant,
(signed) Albert Gallatin

John B. Caldwell,
Shawneetown, Illinois
(John B.'s father John T. Caldwell was the land receiver in Shawneetown, Illinois moving there about 1816. My grandmother, who raised me as my "mom", grew up in Shawneetown and never knew of this heritage.)
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