Thursday, January 19, 2017

Statesman, Inventor and World Traveler

You may have never heard of Etienne Girard but he lived in Paducah a number of years. Born in Louisiana and of French descent, he was a close friend of Alexander Colinet, who lived in Old Smithland,  Livingston County, a few years until his death.  Girard was an accomplished man - a statesman as well as an inventor and he also traveled to Europe a number of times.

Etienne, who was also known as Stephen,  was one of the numerous French-descent families who settled in Paducah or in the surrounding counties, including Livingston.  I do not know what drew these families to the area, but several arrived before 1850 and more families came during the next decade. 

After Alexander Colinet's death on 13 August 1854, Etienne Girard was appointed administrator of Alexander's estate.  Just one month later, on 26 September 1854, Etienne married Alexander's daughter, Louise, at Madame Colinet's home in Livingston County.  The couple settled in Paducah and their household included Clotilde, widow of Alexander Colinet. 

In 1859, Etienne Girard applied for a U.S. passport to travel to foreign countries. He was to be accompanied by his wife and two children.[1] Whether or not the Girard family traveled abroad at that time is unclear as they appear on the 1860 McCracken County, Kentucky census with Etienne Girard  (listed as Stephen) and his occupation was a tobacco speculator. His wife, Louisa, was age 27 and born in France. Her mother, Clotilde Colinet, was  47 years old and  born in Belgium, was also in the household.  There are three children in the family with the oldest being Hortense, age 5 born Belgium; Clotilde, age 4 born Kentucky and Louisa, age 2 born Kentucky.    If Hortense was a daughter of Etienne and Louise (Colinet) Girard, the family was living in Belgium about 1855 and was back in Kentucky the next year when daughter Clotilde was born in August 1856.

Etienne Girard appears on a passenger list from LeHavre, France and Southampton, England and arrived in New  York City on the ship Aragon 3 September 1861. The Girard family remains on the McCracken County census in 1870, then disappears after that until the 1900 census when they are enumerated on the Jefferson County, Kentucky census as living at 1022 Second Street in Louisville.

One might think this would be the last we heard of Etienne Girard and his family, but it was not. He became the Belgian Consul in Louisville. As Consul, Etienne was the official representative of the government of Belgium in Kentucky and his duties consisted of assisting and protecting Belgian citizens and  facilitating trade and friendship between the people of the United States and Belgium.[2]

Known children of Etienne and Louise Girard were as follows :
1.   Clotilde [same as Hortense?]  - born 1856 McCracken County; died unmarried of consumption 23 November 1890 Louisville. Her funeral  was at the Cathedral and burial at St. John's Cemetery, Louisville.[3]

2.  Louisa - born ca 1858 Kentucky. Listed on 1860 McCracken County census only.

3.  Etiennette - born ca 1868 Europe; married 1889 Sir Alexander Drake Kleinwort of England.[4]

4.  Etienne William - born 8 July 1870 Kentucky. Listed as an artist on his passport application to travel to Europe in 1889.[5]

5.  Charlotte - born 1874 Belgium; died 12 August 1901 Louisville and buried St. John's Cemetery.

In addition to being Belgian Consul, Etienne Girard was the inventor of a cigarette or cigar holder in 1897.[6] The holder consisted of a loop placed on the index finger with a short arm that extended upward and  held the cigarette or cigar. There is no indication how successful this invention was.

Most of the Girard family apparently lived in Europe after 1900. In the obituary of Charlotte Girard, it states that most of her relatives, including her mother, were in Europe.[7] No record of the Girard family returning to Louisville has been found.

While only Louisa (Colinet) Girard lived in Livingston County, the rest of the family did live in Paducah and several of the children were born in that city. A number of former Livingston County residents have been touched by prominence or fame, but this is one of the most interesting families I have encountered.

[1] U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,, accessed 27 August 2016..
[2] Wikipedia,, accessed 28 December 2016.
[3] Find A Grave, Clotilde Gerard, Memorial #52314497. Also "Girard," The Courier-Journal, 24 November 1890, p. 2.
[4] Burke, Sir Bernard and Ashworth P. Burke. A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage and Baronetage, 79th Edition, 1914, p. 1139, Google Books, accessed 8 Sep 2016.
[5] U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,, accessed 27 August 2016.
[6] The Canadian Patent Office Record and Register of Copyrights and Trade Marks, Vol. 25, page 1167, 1898, Google Books, accessed 15 November 2016.
[7] "Miss Charlotte Girard Dead," Louisville Courier-Journal, Wednesday, 14 August 1901, page 8.

Published 19 January 2017, Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,


john barneby said...

I am very interested in your blog about Etienne Girard who was my wife's Grandmother's Grandfather. I have been trying to find out what Etienne did in Paducah. He would appear to have come from France to stay with his uncle Etienne Menard who had bought a farm in Paducah in about 1851. There he met and married Louise Colinet whose family lived at Old Smithfield which appears to be nearer Paducah than the current Smithland. Etienne lived for some time in Ppaducah and is said to have had some form of shop but I can not find any record. They left Paducah for Memphis when General Grant invaded . Ettienne then acted as journalist during the war for a Paducha newspaper and was attached to General Beauregard at the battle of Shiloh and was with the General when he learnt that General Johnson had been killed. After the war the family went to Europe but Etienne spent many years trading Tobacco in Louisville before moving to live with his daughter Etiennette Kleinwort where he died. Any other information that you can find would be greatly appreciated.

Brenda Joyce Jerome said...

The 1859 McCracken County tax list shows this: Girard, Allen & Morton - 1 store valued at $1200. What kind of store is a mystery.

I would be happy to share and exchange information on this very interesting family. You can contact me at