Bullitt County History

John D. Colmesnil

Louisville Past and Present: Its Industrial History
As exhibited in the Life-labors of its Leading Men.

by M. Joblin & Co., 1875, page 219

[previous page] ...expenses left him over two thousand eight hundred dollars for his trip. In the summer he returned to Natchez by boat, and from there through the wilderness to Kentucky on horseback. He next went into business in Louisville with John A. Tarrascou, making trips for them to Pittsburgh and trading generally for the firm. Afterward he went into the dry-goods business with Edward Tyler and Isaac Stewart, under the firm-name of Stewart, Tyler & Co.

Mr. Colmesnil still remained on the river, trading for the firm. He made several trips to New Orleans, bought a barge called "Mary" from Baum & Perry, in Cincinnati, and another called "Two Brothers," after the Tarrascous. He generally went with the barges to New Orleans in the fall and returned in the following spring. He made the shortest time on record then with a barge, which was sixty-three days. He beat Nicholas Berthude, with whom he made the race, and who started from New Orleans two weeks ahead of him. The next season he undertook to make two trips; made the first trip in ninety days, and starting immediately on the second he got to New Orleans, and left there in July, and did not get to Louisville until Christmas, on account of the ice.

The business of Stewart, Tyler & Co. was not profitable. About 1815 they sold out to Tom Barbour, which was his ruin. About this time he married Miss Honore, and went into business with I. A. Honore; dissolved business about 1817, and went into the barge business again. His wife died soon after, and he went into the steamboat business; owned the "Grecian," "Huntress," "Louisiana," "Peruvian," "Java," and "Homer." They all did profitable business. In 1826 he married Sarah Courtnie Taylor, daughter of Major Edmund Taylor, United States Army.

By the bankrupt law, in 1838, he lost a great deal of money. He also lost a large fortune by the failure of Townsend, Prior & Co., New Orleans — about one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. Captains William Gay and Blancagniel were in New Orleans when Townsend, Prior & Co. failed. Mr. White, of the firm of Townsend, Prior & Co., made them believe that if they had twenty thousand dollars it would set them right; and they, in order to save Mr. Colmesnil, drew on him for twenty thousand dollars. The same mail that brought the draft to Colmesnil brought also the news of the failure. Mr. Colmesnil, not willing to sacrifice Gay and Blancagniel, accepted the draft, and it was protested; but in order to save them he gave them a mortgage on half the "Homer" and the "Louisiana." The boats ran the balance of that season and the whole of the next; the "Homer" commanded by Captain Gay and the "Louisiana" by Beckwith, and the two boats made enough to pay the principal and interest, lacking about fourteen hundred dollars. The failure of the firm in New Orleans was the chief cause of Mr. Colmesnil's failure. But he paid every one of his debts, amounting to over two hundred thousand dollars, dollar for dollar. He paid the Bank of the United States over sixty thousand dollars and the Bank of Louisville two thousand dollars. The banks took his real estate for full payment at fifteen per cent under tax valuation. He gave his wife some out-lots for her dower. Allen & Co., brokers, got the Overstreet House for sixteen thousand dollars. They sold ... [next page]


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The Bullitt County History Museum, a service of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is located in the county courthouse at 300 South Buckman Street (Highway 61) in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. The museum, along with its research room, is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday. Admission is free. The museum, as part of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society, is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization and is classified as a 509(a)2 public charity. Contributions and bequests are deductible under section 2055, 2106, or 2522 of the Internal Revenue Code. Page last modified: 27 Jul 2015 . Page URL: bullittcountyhistory.org/bchistory/colmesnil_lpp_4.html