Pierre Anthenor Bonvallet and his wife Louise Josephine Grenet were responsible for the American branch of the Bonvallet family. Pierre was born April 1, 1829, in Arzillieres, France. the oldest of three sons of Charles Pierre Bonvallet (1803-1880), a butcher, and Marguerite Eulalie Latronche (1803-1881). According to Leon’s history, Pierre went to Paris in 1848 as a member of the National Guard. After his discharge, he decided to stay in Paris and was joined by his parents. They established a profitable chain of low-cost restaurants and were joined by Pierre’s brother Charles.
Next door to the restaurant run by Pierre was a bakery, part of a chain owned by Alexis Grenet (1810-1871) and his wife Josephine Boucher (1818-1895). There he met their daughter; they were married July 27, 1854.
In 1860 Pierre sailed to the United States, where he was successful in business. But the outbreak of the Civil War caused him to return to France.
Pierre and his family, now including sons Alpert and Paul, sailed to the United States September 7, 1864. Travelling with them was Louise’s sister Berthe, who settled with them in St. Anne. The ship’s passenger list gives her occupation as “seamstress”. Also on that ship were Marie Pernin, age 17, and her family. The family settled in Clifton, Illinois, near St. Anne, where Marie met and married Pierre-Joseph Berger from Belgium. Their daughter Sophie became Paul Bonvallet’s wife.
Leon’s history explains that they travelled to Missouri, started a butcher’s shop in New York City, then settled in St. Anne. The approximate time of their arrival in St. Anne can be inferred from from Albert’s obituary, which states that the family arrived in St. Anne in 1865, while the July 3, 1865 Illinois Census does not include them.
No documents indicate why they chose St. Anne. But the town had been created around 1850 by a group of French Canadians led by Father Charles Chiniquiy. It is not clear if Pierre and Louise were Catholic, but settling among French speakers must have been comfortable. Possibly the Pernin’s told them about St. Anne.
On March 31, 1868, Pierre bought 160 acres of public land and started growing grapes. He bought a large house from the Pallisard family and moved it to his land. in 1871, asparagus was added. For the story of P.A. Bonvallet’s Sons, see that tab.
On April 16, 1874, Pierre became a U.S. citizen. His certificate gives his name as Peter. Under the law at that time, Louise automatically became a citizen.
As late as the 1900 Census, Pierre considered himself a farmer at age 71. Both Pierre and Louise died in1909 St. Anne: Pierre at age 80 on July 12 and Louise at age 73 on August 10. They and several descendants are buried in the family plot.