Review of the Author's Book
Introduction: The following is a review of the author’s book Pasteur Pierre Peiret et Jean Latourrette en Amerique by Gabrielle Cadier-Rey, translated into English by Frederique Marsault-Ledbetter of Prescott, Arizona. The Cadier name of the reviewer traces back to Alfred Cadier (1847- 1933), the minister at Osse from 1871 to 1906 and the author of the history of Osse Protestantism, Le Bearn Protestant. The first paragraph of the review recounts the author’s lecture at the Osse temple bicentennial in 2005, where his son Marc presented his paper in French about Jean Latourrette leaving Osse in 1685.
Review of John E. La Tourette: Pastor Pierre Peiret and Jean Latourrette in America (with the collaboration of Gilberte Gaubil), Pau, CEPB, 2010, 144 p.
From the Bulletin of the Society of the History of French Protestantism
In the Aspe Valley (Pyrénées Atlantiques), in a Béarn gone back to Catholicism, is a resilient Protestant island, a small village with temple, presbytery and services: Osse-en-Aspe. In 2005, was celebrated the bicentennial of the rebuilding of the temple (destroyed in April 1686), named Bethel. For the occasion, three evenings in a row, great festivities took place, with ambulatory plays, theater and pastorals with the collaboration of other villages in the valley. The following Sunday, in an ultra-full temple, were two lectures. In the first one, Professor Philippe Chareyre evoked the ties between the mountain and the protestant ethics. He even talked about the Ossoise written in the early 1900s, on the tune of La Cevenole. The second lecture brought the greatest surprise! It was an American, John La Tourette, President Emeritus of (Northern) Illinois University, who came to tell how his ancestor, Jean Latourrette, had left Osse in 1685 with the village minister, Pierre Peiret, and how they made their way to New York. And here it was that thanks to this intervention, the Refuge was no longer a historical abstraction. John was coming back to Jean's land.
?Since that day, John has done more research to complete what he already knew from family tradition. This book testifies to it. If Jean, son of David Latourrette, notary and land owner, could leave with the minister and his family, in September 1685 (the dragoons came to Osse between September 2 and 25), it is because he was the cadet of the family, therefore not an heir to the land. He was a carpenter.
The route they followed was through Switzerland (how did they get there?) via Basel then along the Rhine, through Francfort and Rotterdam. Peiret did not stay in Holland: there were already too many French pastors. He went to London. They are found with Latourrette in the registers of the French Committee of Assistance. For a while they contemplate going to Denmark, where the pastor La Placette (from Pontacq in Bearn, like Peiret), had found a parish thanks to Queen Charlotte-Amélie, reformed queen of a Lutheran kingdom. Finally, they opted for America. Their passage was financed by the Committee. They arrived in New York in October 1687. Peiret was 43 years old, Latourrette 36. The town counted about 3,500 residents of varied origins, geographical as well as social and religious, with different faiths; Protestant, Catholic and Jewish The French Huguenots were numerous enough to start a parish, the Saint-Esprit, of which Peiret became the minister. Latourrette, carpenter, built in 1688 a wooden temple to which he added galleries in 1693. The temple was situated at the point of Manhattan, just south of Wall Street. It was about the same size as the temple of Osse which counted in 1665 seventy five families, or about 400 people. The American registers of pastoral acts give the impression that Peiret's parish in New York had a few more people. Jean Latourrette was married there on July 13, 1693 to Marie Mercereau, from Saintonge. Soon another temple was built in stone (to date there have been 7!) that Peiret did not see completed because he died in September 1704.
Jean Latourrette and his family moved to Staten Island, southwest of New York, a small farm region where he himself acquired about 30 hectares. Of the house he built (now gone) we have drawings and photos dating from the late 1800s. But the name has survived and Latourrette Park figures in the United States National Register of Historical Sites. A temple was built in 1698 at Staten Island, similar in size to the Saint-Esprit and Bethel. Unfortunately the parish registers have been lost, maybe during the American Revolution. In any case, by 1738, the temple was abandoned. There was no new French support to maintain an ethnic, religious and linguistic community, while the British immigration was constant and the pressure from the Anglican Church was strong.
The descendants of both these pioneers from Osse were rapidly absorbed by the American society, notably through exogenous marriages. Peiret's became "Perit"; Latourrette's only lost one "r". Many have occupied important positions, often prestigious. Nevertheless the French Church of the Saint-Esprit has survived. The United States Huguenot Society considers it its official chapel and periodically holds commemorative ceremonies.