Days Gone By - stories from the past

Marquis de Lafayette said Mobile, Alabama girl was prettiest in the United States



Benjamin D. Baker

Federal Writers’ Progressing

Council Chamber, City Hall

Mobile, Alabama

November 21, 1939

Marquis de Lafayette was feted Royally When a Guest in Mobile Homes

A Mobile girl, Miss Josephine Marie Jusan, was pronounced by the Marquis de Lafayette, to be the most beautiful girl he had met in America.

Madame Josephine Marie Hollinger (Photo submitted to by Helen)

Lafayette toured America

It was in 1824 when Lafayette staged his one-man invasion of this country. His tour was one triumphant march. America received him with open arms. From the moment he stepped off the Cadmus which brought him to what was then the New York pier, America was at his feet. He was feted everywhere. Dances, balls, and banquets were given in his honor.

Mobile received him in true southern style. On his arrival, a parade, headed by two of Mobile’s choicest bits of femininity, met him at the station. It was on this occasion, that seeing Miss Jusan, later Marie Hollinger, who was one of the girls, that he pronounced her to be the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in this country.

Gen. Lafayette

Stayed in the old Spanish Government home

The marquis, tired from travel, was allowed to rest in the old Spanish Government home, supposed to be on the corner of Conti and Conception streets, though the exact house is not known. Some Mobilians state that the houses on this corner are not over 100 years old, and seem to think that the original Spanish Government house is on Conti and St. Emanuel. Realty men, well posted on old Mobile buildings, state that they do not know the location of the house.

Lafayette was continually feted during his stay in Mobile.

Jumped from second-story window

On one occasion a ball was given in his honor. Merriment was at its height when some one with a distorted sense of humor yelled “Fire,” and Lafayette, defiant of death in dungeon depths and in battles, forthwith jumped through the second-story window and landed in a mud puddle. He was unhurt, fortunately, but his immaculate costume fared rather badly.

On the second day of his stay here, the marquis was entertained at a banquet given at the residence of the Mayor. Records reveal that Garrow was the incumbent at that time. His residence was on Government and Joachim streets. As to which house, exactly, is not known. One house on this corner was once the old McGill residence, the family having lived there for over 50 years.

His stay in Mobile was one continuous round of pleasure. On the second day, a boat from New Orleans arrived to take the marquis to that city to continue his trip through the country. He later sailed up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, visiting towns on the way.

She married Adam Hollinger

Many a young suitor, ravished by the beauty of Miss Jusan, sought her hand, but she spurned their officers.

Then came one Adam Hollinger, who had fought with Jackson at New Orleans, and who was present at the massacre at Fort Mimms. Young Hollinger wooed and won his maiden under stiff competition.

After a romantic courtship, they were married and lived on what was then Dog River island, but which has been changed to Hollinger island in honor of Madame Hollinger.

Madame Hollinger, as Miss Jusan was known after her marriage, was buried in the old Church Street cemetery. On her grave is a marble slab erected by her children. The following are some of the words inscribed on the tomb: “Madame Josephine Marie Hollinger, born near Mobile and who lived to witness its passing through various changes of Government to become the Commercial Metropolis of a Free People.”

Madame Hollinger is but one of the many celebrated persons buried in Mobile’s oldest cemetery. (References from Personal Investigations of different records)

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Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. This is my Great ……. Grandmother

  2. No surprising she was from Bama.

  3. Very interesting. We enjoyed the read.

  4. I must question the validity of this story based upon the fact that Marie Josephine Juzan Hollinger would have been 58 years old (born in 1766 according to the Find a Grave link imbedded in the article) at the time of Lafayette’s visit in 1824. Perhaps Lafayette was referring to her daughter??

    1. Hmmmm… you don’t think that the celebrated French general could have found a woman of that age extraordinarily beautiful? There have been a number of folks who might have disagreed with you!

  5. This Adam Hollinger was not at fort Mims. If I recall correctly he died in 1808 and was buried in washington county. His son William Hollinger was at Fort Mims and survived and had a cattle ranch and farm in Monroe County his death around 1850.

  6. Technically she is buried in Mobile’s oldest cemetery that we can see. My wife’s 7th ggf was buried somewhere in Mobile in 1716.

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