Visiting History-St. Denis dies June 11, 1744 – his belongings include 450 jars of oil

By Judge (Ret.) W. Peyton Cunningham Sr.
Editor’s Note: Articles from “NATCHITOCHES, Translations of Old French and Spanish Documents” by Germaine Portre-Bobinski, 1928.  The documents, from which these translations were made, are filed at the Natchitoches, Louisiana, Courthouse.  These papers are in their original form, lack capitals, correct punctuation, spelling and grammar.
The French explorer and commander of the Red River as commandant of the “post” (the fort), St. Denis dies on June 11, 1744.  His belongings are listed here, including 450 jars of oil.  Why would he have so much “oil”?  Coal oil?  Bear fat rendering?  If you know, please let me know.
June 12, 1744
On the 12th of June 1744, in accordance with the order from Mr. de Terpint, captain in command of the post in Natchitoches, we were notified at about 6 a.m. that Mr. St. Denis, Commandant of the Natchitoches post died, probably at 6 p.m., June 11.  We, that is Charles de Taillefert, lieutenant of the said Mr. Dejugeaux and Mr. Louis Le Cour, a cadet also in the same company and by the usual Clerk of our post, went to the house of the deceased.  We put the seals on a closet filled with several pieces of furniture and on a chest, without knowing their contents.  We left in the hands of Mrs. De St. Denis five or six chests, in which were the dresses and underwear of her children and herself; a dozen shirts, belongings to the deceased, four hundred and fifty jars of oil, twelve negroes, male and female, three big “savage” women (Indians), one “savage” man (Indian), five small Indians, male and female, a hundred head of cattle, big and small.  We left for the use of the said lady and her children: half a dozen china plates, seven china salad plates, twelve silver spoons, twelve silver forks, two silver cups, a “kind” of wash bowl of silver, nine dishes with designs, three soup pots, a cauldron, two dozen towels, six table clothes, twenty mattresses, a feather bed, three beds, two with printed cotton, one blue one, three fine bed covers.  The inventory was made in the usual fashion in the presence of the said seals in care of Sieur Henry Triche, inhabitant of the said post.  Made at Natchitoches, the day, month, year as above.  In addition to this, we acknowledged having fifty horses.
De Taillefert eldest (not Sr.)
Cross of Henry Triche Le court de Terpin.
Done in front of me Besson, acting clerk.