In 1775 or so, Marquis de LaFayette decided he liked the idea of having a queen, all right, but the idea of a democracy appealed to him also.
Couple this with the fact that the King of France decreed that no Frenchmen were to become involved with the conflict in American and the country of England.
One Marquis de LaFayette decided that he was second wealthiest man in France and surely this decree did not apply to him. Just in case, though, he amassed uniforms, supplies and manpower, and a ship, “La Victoire,” and sailed off to assist General George Washington in his fight for freedom from England. Oh, by the way, when he stopped off in England, he sent a letter to his wife, Adrienne Noailles, whose family was the wealthiest in France, and let her know where he was going and he wasn’t sure just when he would be back.
This sets the scene for how we probably got our name.
LaFayette did, indeed, assist General Washington and was in charge of several battles.
Our county was first settled in a lottery and the first persons to have the seniority to draw, were veterans of the American Revolution. So it makes sense that one or more of those had fought under General LaFayette and thought it a grand name for this brand new county.
No, we can’t prove this, but I will stand on the roof of the courthouse on the square, saying so.
General LaFayette’s birthday was September 6, 1757. Yes, I know, he was only 20 years old, or so, when he became a general in the French Army.
While county officials pretty much knew where the name came from during our decades, it was not until 1957 that we participated in LaFayette’s birthday celebration, way over there in France.
I have personally counted how many “Fayette’s, Fayetteville’s and LaFayette’s” there are in the United States, and they number just about 50 of them.
In 1957 France sent out an invitation to many of these sites inviting them to their celebration of LaFayette’s 200th birthday. I need to mention here that you had to pay our own way.
Fayetteville had a native citizen who had just been elected mayor and right away learned of the invitation. He and his wife had three weeks to get a passport and put together the funds to go, and away they went. It is interesting to note that out of all those American officials invited from here, only about a dozen went. But oh! what a nice time they had.
Each American official was paired as a sister-city with a city in France. We became a sister-city with Paulillac, a city in the champagne region in the southwest section of France. It is located on the Gironde River. The mayor then, Andre Cazes, owned a winery here, more on that later.
In the mid 1980s the Fayette County Historical Society had acquired a home, where it is still located, and this mayor, a native citizen of Fayette County, donated many magazines, menus and other memorabilia to the society. They are a treasure.
So we are most grateful to the late Varney Graves, whose love of history matches our own.