By Richard Gwynallen
In The Bondurant Migration to America, I introduced the Bondurant immigrant ancestor from France, Jean Pierre Bondurant. Exterior pictures of his house in the village of Génolhac appeared in The Bondurant Migration to America and The Bondurant Ancestral House in Génolhac.. Thanks to the Bondurant Family Association, below are images of earlier Bondurant properties in France.
First is a photo of a pre-World War II postcard showing in the foreground the Bondurant home near the existing Cougassac mill site, below the viaduct, or Chamborigaud bridge.
This was the Bondurant home and inn on top of Belle Poile in the Gard Department, and part of the historic Languedoc region, of south-central France. It was a three-storey stone house. It was known as the Malihieres property because the Bondurants came from the village of Malihieres. The property was also known as Cougoussac. The setting is the Cévennes, a mountain range in south-central France that includes this part in the Gard Department.
The Bondurants left the property in the 1500s for a house in the town of Génolhac but continued to operate it as an inn. This was part of the properties sold by Jean Pierre Bondurant to finance his immigration to Virginia in 1700.
A viaduct is a bridge, usually constructed of several spans, connecting roads and crossing a valley, river, or other obstacle. This viaduct is not ancient. It was completed in 1867 near the village of Chamborigaud. It is unique apparently because the curve of the Viaduct of Chamborigaud faces upstream.
This house was accidentally bombed in World War II by the allies while they were trying to destroy the bridge in an effort to slow down German troops on the viaduct.
This picture shows the viaduct as it exists today.
In this picture a gentleman stands at all that remains of the Bondurant house, the basement with trees and brush growing out of it. The house built to replace it is in the background.
With the Malihieres property was a mill. In addition to being innkeepers, the Bondurants ran mills. Below is the ruins of the mill at Cougoussac.
Jehan, or Jean, Bondurant, the first known owner of this property, was known as les
Maliheyres because he came from Malihieres, a small village near Belle Poile. Malihieres stood on a steep mountain slope above the settlement of Donarel and the le Luech River.
Stone terraces were constructed along the slope and filled with soil hauled up from the valley to make small gardens. Residents grazed sheep and goats, and gathered chestnuts from trees in the area for food. There was little arable land to grow extensive crops. Jehan owned the Bondurant property at Malihieres.
When Jehan died, he left the property to his son, also named Jehan. Jehan II ran the inn, which was inherited in 1472 after Jehan II’s death by his son, also named Jehan. It was Jehan III’s grandson, Anthonie or Antoine Bondurant, who inherited the property, but after marrying Gilette Amat of the nearby settlement of Donarel in 1558 and moved the family ten miles away to Génolhac, where he died in 1604. He and Gillette were innkeepers in Génolhac as well as running the Malihieres property.
In the fullness of time, the immigrant ancestor, Jean Pierre Bondurant, would inherit
these properties, become an innkeeper and apothecary in Génolhac, and then, under increasing religious pressure at home as a Huguenot, sell off properties to become part of the Huguenot migration to the American Colonies.
A quick note on the spelling of names: Jehan is the Oc equivalent of Jean. Oc (or Occitan) was the primary language of the Languedoc area and the Cévennes in the Middle Ages. When France conquered and annexed the region after the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1229), Occitan was replaced by French and Latin in the official and ecclesiastical records, but continued to be spoken as a common language. Therefore, Jehan and Jean both appear at different times, as do Anthonie and Antoine.