Jean Étienne de Boré, the first mayor of New Orleans, was a pioneer of the sugar Industry in Louisiana. He came into the world as French nobility in Illinois County in Louisiana in 1740. In 1771, Boré married Marie Marguerite d’Estrehan, who belonged to one of the prominent families of colonial Louisiana under French rule. Within five years of marriage, the couple moved to New Orleans.
Father of Commercial Sugar Industry
Boré acquired an extensive indigo plantation more than a couple of miles up the river from New Orleans. Boré’s plantation was on the land now known as Audubon Park. For 20 years, he cultivated the indigo crop. Soon, competition from Guatemala made him convert his field for sugar cane farming.
Boré established a sugar mill on his plantation for sugar processing. With some guidance from two sugar experts from Cuba (known as the ‘Sugar Bowl of the World’), Boré produced Louisiana’s first granulated sugar. This innovation quickly led to a large demand for sugar cane farming and processing.
Taking advantage of the growing global demand for sugar, Boré expanded his operations for sugar granulation. Sugar cane turned into the primary commodity crop of Louisiana. Sugar delivered substantial profits for the colony under Spanish rule.
Innovation and Enterprise of Boré
Boré and other planters persisted with more innovation and continued to experiment with new varieties of sugar cane. Subsequently, experiments on more efficient methods of distillation began. Boré along with his brother-in-law Jean Noel Destrehan were the first to make use of bagasse. Boré and Destrehan decided to use bagasse as a fuel for the distillation process. They also utilized bagasse as a cover for the cane trapped by frost in the fields after it was cut.
By 1800, the sugar cane industry in the region had become extraordinary. It provided the kind of economic rewards that could be reaped by applying scientific research and technology to agriculture.
First Mayor of New Orleans
In late 1803, following the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase territory by the United States, Governor William C.C. Clairbone appointed Boré as New Orleans’ first mayor under American authority. (His involvement in public service had already begun during the transitional phase of French governorship under Pierre Clement de Laussat.)
Boré resigned from his position as the mayor of New Orleans in May of 1804, and went back to focusing on his personal affairs.
In 1820, Boré died at the age of nearly eighty. One of his grandsons, Charles Gayarre, became a well-known historian of Louisiana towards the end of the 19th century.
Two of Boré’s original sugar kettles remain in Audubon Zoo, located along the Mississippi River, just behind Audubon Park.