Introduction to 1790 Passenger Lists
by Henny Evans
In October, 1790 Gallipolis, Ohio was settled by a group of French who later became known as the French Five Hundred. The settlers sailed on several ships to several ports, the main one being Alexandria,Virginia, on their way to the final destination of Gallipolis, the City of the Gauls. At that time Gallipolis was pure wilderness and the French, primarily artisans and craftsmen, were totally unprepared for what they would find…100 cabins in what is now the City Park with lookouts on each corner. Many of the Frenchmen were fleeing the French Revolution and seeking refuge in America.
When they arrived in Gallipolis, they were faced with the fact that they did not own land in Gallipolis at all. The Scioto Company which had collected some monies from the French had never purchased the land from the Ohio Company, so when the settlers arrived their deeds were worthless. It was five more years before Pres. Washington stepped in and granted them free land in the French Grant which was not even in Gallia County, but in Scioto County. However, at that time Ohio was not a state but part of the Northwest Territory and boundaries for Gallia County did not exist. Those moving to the French Grant had to live on the land for five years in order to own it. Those staying in Gallipolis had to purchase land a second time, this time from the rightful owners, the Ohio Company.
There have been several sources naming the various ships that carried the French to America. However, about 1993 it was discovered that all of these names were not accurate. Jocelyne Zanelli of Baule, France who was working on her thesis about Gallipolis came for a visit. (Reference to the book that resulted from her thesis is in the next paragraph.) One of the things she shared with me was two passenger lists which have now been posted on the website. These lists are of the Liberty and the Patriot. Ships that we know are accurate include the Recovery, an English ship with 86 passengers, which was damaged in crossing and the passengers rescued by another British ship, the Elizabeth; the Liberty, a French ship with 121 passengers; the Patriot, a French ship with 150 passengers; the Nautilus of Scarborough, an English ship with 119 passengers, thirty of whom were aristocrats and the rest were laborers; the Discovery, Lady Washington, Union, Citizens of Paris and Mary.
Much more detail is given in the book written by Jocelyne. (It is written in French.) Please refer to Jocelyn Moreau-Zanelli’s book published in 1996 by L’Harmattan, "Gallipolis: histoirie d'un mirage americain au XVIIIe siecle."
When using the lists we found the name of the traveler, a profession, gender, birthplace and age. Also, you could tell the group in which a person traveled. We did use a French to English dictionary for the professions and even then it was not always clear. We added question marks or simply left it in French with quotes around it if we could not decipher it. The variety of occupations would have allowed for a town to have been created. These included wholesalers, woodcutters, clockmakers, doctors, lawyers, farmhands, tailors, wigmakers and so on.
There is no guarantee that those who were on the passenger lists actually came to Gallipolis but we know that many did as their names appear somewhere in our history.