Michel Bouvier (1792-1874)

Michel Bouvier, Cabinetmaker & Land Speculator, of Philadelphia

He was born at Pont-Saint-Esprit, a town on the Rhone River in the south of France. He was trained as a cabinetmaker and fought in the Napoleonic Wars. After France was defeated in 1815, he emigrated to Philadelphia and continued his trade as a cabinetmaker. His success soon led him to count among his clients counted both Stephen Girard (1750-1831) and Napoleon's brother, the ex-King of Spain etc., Joseph Bonaparte (1768-1844). It is likely that some of Bouvier's furniture or handiwork, whether directly or indirectly, was fitted in Lansdowne House and/or Point Breeze. Michel also imported mahogany and marble from Italy, and he had a further business distributing firewood which led him to acquire some 800,000-acres of forest in Pennsylvania. Fortuitously, this forestland also transpired to contain several large reserves of coal, and he continued to add to his fortune through a series of shrewd real estate acquisitions. His three sons, Eustache, John and Michel, all became members of the New York Stock Exchange and the fortune they inherited was vastly increased. Today, he is best remembered as the great x2 grandfather of First Lady Jackie (Bouvier) Kennedy Onassis.

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