The City of Bastrop founded in 1852 has a storied history, and that history began 259 years ago this week with the birth of its founder, the Baron de Bastrop, on November 23, 1759.
Bastrop, whose birth name was Philip Hendrik Nering Bogel, was born in Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana on November 23, 1759.
He later Married Georgine Lijklama a Nyeholt, moved to Leeuwarden and had five children. He fled the country after being accused of embezzlement during his time as a collector of general taxes.
Bogel changed his name to Baron De Bastrop Felipe Enrique Neri and came to Louisiana in April 1795. He received a land grant from the Spanish Governor-General Carondelet. He was to bring 500 families to settle the land and would receive travel expenses, six month's provisions, and seeds for a wheat crop they would grow. He brought 17 families composed of 99 individuals and gave them 400 acres each.
Bastrop built a flower mill near the mouth of Bayou De Siard and began a mercantile business and Indian trade near the present location of Forsythe Park in Monroe.
After many ups and downs, including suspension of the project, Bastrop eventually sold the grant to Abraham Morehouse for a time before receiving it back in 1800. He later mortgaged his grant and moved to Texas leaving someone else to manage his interests. He died in 1823.
Morehouse Parish continued to grow, and the City of Bastrop was established in 1852 as the first incorporated community. It has grown over the years as a center of industry and agriculture. The Baron's name has been somewhat forgotten, but it has been remembered in small ways. The local Baron Ball Park is named after him as was the former Baron de Bastrop Plaza.
Historians don't know everything about Bastrop, and some questions still remain. Was he really guilty of embezzlement? Did his family come to America with him?
Even so it’s interesting to think Bastrop exists thanks to this colorful and enterprising Dutchman.