Louis Le Couteulx


Spelled and referred to variously, Frenchman Louis Le Couteulx appears to have come to Albany in 1794-95. He went on to a more notable life after leaving Albany. This sketch intends to focus on his life in its Albany setting.

External sources tell us he was born in Rouen, France in August 1756. Thus, he was the son of one Anthony Le Couteulx - a well-placed legal counselor.

Spurning the law, in 1776 young Louis was sent to Cadiz, Spain to learn business in the family counting house. After the Revolutionary war, he moved to England and entered the family enterprise in London. Before long he was chosen to represent family interests in America

He is said to have married one Miss "Jane Eliza" Clouet in 1786. Shortly thereafter, they emigrated to the United States - landing in New York in December. Business led him to New Jersey and then to outside of Philadelphia. However, that residence was short-lived as Louis, his wife, and two sons returned to France. There they learned that a number of family members had been imprisoned. Fleeing to England, he made his way back to Pennsylvania - this time without his wife who refused to make the journey. He then forged business relationships with his friend Robert Morris - chiefly with real estate ventures in the newly opened West. By the mid-1790s, he had settled in Albany where he sought to supply settlers going westward chiefly through his "drug store."

By 1795, his neighbor was Elkanah Watson who later described Mons. Le Contaulx and their neighbors living in a suburb called "the Colonie." At that time, Watson observed "His residence was the resort of the French emigrants."

About that time, a French nobleman visited Le Couteulx and noted:

“Some French families reside in this town and its vicinity; that of M. Le Couteulx—a highly interesting name— is the only one whose acquaintance I wished to obtain. They who are acquainted with this family know that it has long been distinguished for rectitude and talents, as well as for a consummate knowledge and punctuality in commercial transactions; qualities which have been as it were hereditary in it. M. Le Couteulx of Albany, is, by unanimous testimony of all who have had any dealings with him, worthy of his name. His ideas as well as his expressions carry some air of peculiarity; but he is good, obliging, honest, and universally respected. He is engaged in partnership with M. Quesnel, a merchant of St. Domingo; this house is again connected with the firm of Olive in New York and through this it is asserted with the great and respectable house of Le Couteulx in France.”

Louis Le Couteulx had other distinguished visitors, while residing in Albany. Here Lafayette was his guest. And here, too, when as a French exile, he was forced to leave England by the “Alien Bill,” Talleyrand, the great French diplomat, had many a chat with his countryman. Talleyrand sailed for the United States February, 1794, and remained in this country more than a year. Part of this time was spent in Albany, where he had lodgings in a quaint old building standing until recently on the west side of Chapel Street and south of Maiden Lane. Chapel Street brings to mind the religious life of Albany in which Louis Le Couteulx took a prominent part. In spite of the frequent visits of Catholic missionaries on their way to the Indian villages in the Mohawk valley, there was no organized body of Catholics in Albany until 1796.

In 1796, he was one of the founders and early trustees of St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church which began operations shortly thereafter. The standard church history described him as a "U. S. citizen" and businessman who stayed in Albany about five years. He seems to have been the only Frenchman among the St. Mary's founders.

In 1800, his ("Lewis Lacuttear") household was configured on the census for Watervliet. At that time, it consisted of a couple aged 26-45 and an older man. Probably by the end of the year, he sought greener pastures in the west and left the Hudson Valley.

By 1804, he had settled in a new and then permanent home in what became Buffalo, New York. Over the next three decades he would achieve prominence in governmental, business, and religious affairs.

Louis Le Couteulx is said to have died in Buffalo in November 1839. Numerous regional notices praised his contributions. Perhaps he was among the early Catholic residents interred on land he had given for use as a cemetery.

biography in-progress


the people of colonial Albany Sources: The life of Louis Le Couteulx has no CAP biography number. This sketch is derived chiefly from family and community-based resources. Virtually all the qualitative information appearing on this page is taken from a number of external (non community-based) resources. Chief among them is the Memoir of Stephen Louis Le Couteulx de Caumont by Martha J. F. Murray and appearing in volume nine of the Publications of the Buffalo Historical Society (1906), pp. 432-83; ONLINE. Search also via Google.com. Like many traditional/antiquarian resources, this substantial/useful/wonderful work is detailed yet under documented. Most of his life as depicted in this source was beyond the scope of our concern. Thus, we provide only the barest details of his life before and after Albany.

Louis Le Coulteaux, the second mentioned on this list of trustees, came to America after the Revolution in 1787, became a citizen of the U. S., establishing a business in Albany, remained about five years, then moved to Buffalo, dying there in 1839. He was the founder of St. Louis Church in that City, as by gifts of land and other aids the Catholics were enabled to erect their first church in 1831.

first posted 12/10/16; updated 4/8/17