LA REUNION, North Texas’ Second Colony

After his return and in concluding his details of their journey to the area originally known as Three Forks, but now called the village of Dallas, Victor Considerant wrote, “I have seen the light of the Burning Bush, and in the last days of that journey, my mind was opened to a study, henceforth blended with hope, and stimulated by a superior and a social interest. I repressed, however, the outflow of these sentiments, and waited to examine every point more thoroughly, before welcoming without reserve a faith which might fascinate my reason.”  The area would become known as La Reunion.

Victor Considerant La Reunion Founder

Victor Considerant La Reunion Founder

Upon his arrival to the tiny village of Dallas, Considerant was surprised to meet one of his countryman, Maxim Guillot. Guillot had arrived in Texas in the spring of 1848 as part of a group of sixty-nine fellow French Colonist. This colony, formed by Etienne Cabet, was known as the Icarians. They located in an area now known as Denton County, Texas which is about twenty miles north of Fort Worth. Cabet decided to relocate the Icarian Colony to Nauvoo, Illinois after twelve months. The colonist expelled Cabet and then disbanded. A pioneer photographer by the name of L. Gouhenans was the only member of the Icarian Colony to remain in Texas and later become a member of La Reunion. He later became a well known photographer and a prominent citizen of Dallas.

Dr. Eugene Savardan would join the La Reunion colony once it was established and become their leading physician as well as their chief magistrate. He would also later become very critical of Considerate and accuse him of being disorganized and ill prepared to commence such an undertaking. Savardan later published his account of La Reunion life in a book entitled Naufrage au Texas which translated means Shipwreck in Texas. Savardan accused Gouhenans of being misleading and deliberately deceiving Considerant about the Texas weather and more specifically the soil conditions in the area of the future La Reunion townsite.

Considerant later reported that he had derived much valuable information about the country from Guillot.. He also made several observations about climate, land prices, local conditions and historic facts. He reported that the prevalent wind of Texas was from the south and that it was fresh air from the Gulf of Mexico with a gentle breeze continuing to blow until three or four P. M. every day. He reported that the soil was so rich that one could easily plant two crops per year, but the local farmers only bothered to plant one since the soil was so rich and fertile it yielded more than enough for the entire season. He also mentioned that he had never seen such vegetables. Beets that were two feet in circumference and corn that was as high as a man’s head. He even reported that the climate was suitable for growing tropical fruit. But more than anything, he was amazed by the over abundance of wild grapes. He later wrote, “One of our countrymen who lives here, M. Gouhenans, has gathered wild grapes and pressed them, the wine he obtained brought a dollar a bottle. I think there is no doubt that vineyards of the finest kind could be raised on the rocky slopes of the country.”

On their return trip, Considerant and Brisbane traveled to Fort Worth and then on to Austin, Texas before returning, once again, to New Orleans. They were planning on a brief layover in New Orleans, but Considerant fell victim of the dreaded Yellow Fever and out of necessity, spent the next fifteen days there. It would then be July before he boarded ship at New Orleans and headed out for a brief visit in New York and Havana, Cuba before his arrival back in Belgium on August 29, 1853.

Courtesy translated version of Au Texas by Victor Considerant and White Cliffs of Dallas by George Santerre.