A Distant Relative on Pierre Bossier

You may have insulted someone’s honor before, but I bet you’ve never been challenged to a duel. Back in the 1800s, duels were a way of life for Southern gentlemen. After being chastised that he was too weak to challenge anyone to a duel, Pierre Bossier did just that. The legacy of General Pierre Bossier’s sure shot dueling win over General Francios Gaiennie would go on to live forever not just through the parish and city named after him, but also through the well-kept documentation of his family. His 5th generation relative, Janie Bossier Straus, reached out to Be Bossier to share some of her family’s legacy with us. Read below for more details on our Parish’s namesake.

What can you tell us about Pierre Bossier? Why do you think this area is named after him?

“Pierre Bossier was working for the government when they were drawing parish lines in Louisiana. They decided to name one after him. One of our cousins says that so many Bossiers were prominent during that time that they collectively named Bossier after all of them, ” said Janie. I asked Janie if anyone in her family believed that to be true and she said most of her relatives believe the naming comes from Pierre Bossier, specifically. Historical conspiracy theories exist in all families, right?

He was a farmer and a congressman. What kind of job do you think Pierre would have today?

“He would probably still be in politics. He was willing to risk his life over it. One of his seconds (a right hand man of the time), Sylvester Cesaire Bossier, was also in duel as a result of the fallout from Pierre Bossier’s duel. Sylvester fought with a sword and won. Our family is still passionate about politics today. We’re all hard-headed and stubborn – it runs in the family!” The jewel encrusted duel-winning sword was hidden in a walking cane and is said to still exist in the home of an unknown family member. In the Bossier family, mysteries abound.

If he could actually travel through time to modern day Bossier City, what do you think he’d be most impressed by? Where would he like to hang out?

“I believe he would hang out at Barksdale Air Force Base. I think he would be really proud that the parish and city named after him has such a strong military presence. We are a very patriotic family and are all about bettering our country. We have always been willing to die for and to stand up for our beliefs. I think he would also be proud that the Bossier City is the biggest city in the parish.”

Moment of truth: Are we all pronouncing Bossier correctly?

“When Pierre Bossier first ran for the U.S. Senate, he ran as ‘Peter Bossier’ because he thought his given name sounded too French and that it could be used against him when it came time to vote.” The first generation of Bossiers came to the United States from France where Bossier was pronounced like ‘Bo-sjay’. In South Louisiana, it is pronounced like ‘Bo-shay’. This brings us back to North Louisiana where Pierre himself changed the pronunciation to what we now pronounce it as ‘Bo-szur’. And that, Folks, is history.


For more info on the infamous duel: Isbell, Terry. History: Blood and Honor: Duel on the Cane, 1839. USGW Archives.

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