January 19, 2010

Jonas Chaison

Jean Baptiste (Jonas) Chaison was born on August 7, 1745 in Nova Scotia to French parents. After imprisonment by the British during the French and Indian War, he and his parents fled in 1763 to France, where he was soon orphaned. He returned to North America, and joined the Colonial Army in 1775 at Quebec, to take revenge against the British. Continuing in the Continental Army, he served with Lafayette at Brandywine, 1777; fought at Germantown, 1777; was wounded serving under Greene and Marion at Eutaw Springs, 1781; and found under Lafayette's command at Yorktown, 1781.

Coming to western Louisiana as a cattle raiser and farmer about 1785, he married Marie LeBlanc and had eight children. About 1840 he moved to Beaumont to live with his son McGuire Chaison (1809-1859). He was strong and healthy of mind and body as long as he lived, and farmed there until 1854. Dying at a few days under 109 years of age, he was buried in Jirou Cemetery. He was one of the few men of the American Revolution involved in Texas history. The Daughters of the American Revolution marked his grave site in 1944; the DAR marker was moved to Pipkin Park when a church was built in 1969 on the extinct Jirou Cemetery.
Chaison's memorial (left) in Pipkin Park
In 1969, Jirou Cemetery, the city's oldest burial ground, was razed in order to build the church shown below. None of the graves were exhumed and witnesses reported that the tombstones were simply thrown out into the street. Fortunately, Jean Chaison's 1940s-era grave marker was recovered and placed in nearby Pipkin Park. Jean Chaison's remains, however, as well as all of those others buried in Jirou Cemetery, still lie here. The GPS coordinates will take you to the position seen in the photo below.

GPS Coordinates
30° 05.640, -094° 06.588

Jirou Cemetery (Defunct)

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