My Georgia History

Nicholas Delaigle

It’s interesting what brings people to Augusta.  Now I know some people were born here, like Amy Grant, Hulk Hogan and Brenda Lee just to name a few.  But most people were born somewhere else and moved here.  The potato famine in 1844 brought a lot of Irish people to Augusta.  Greek people, Asian people, and of course, lots of English people came.  But, in the 1790s a certain Frenchman came to Augusta.  Now I don’t know how many people went through what he did, but it’s interesting.

It was during the French Revolution, in the 1790’s.  He was captured during the revolt and was sentenced to die for his part in the fighting.  He would be beheaded by the guillotine.  He was put in prison awaiting his death.  His name was Nicholas Delaigle.  Now, if he had been beheaded the story would have ended here, but it doesn’t.  He was able to escape prison and leave the country of France.  He caught a ship bound for the Caribbean.  He got to the islands and breathed a sigh of relief, he had made it.

So Nicholas started, over again.  He started working.    It wasn’t long before he found himself in trouble again, life threatening trouble.  Once again he took off.   Where should he go?  He went down to the wharf, and snuck aboard a ship that was heading to the new colonies, America.  Well lucky for Nicholas, the ship set sail.  But unlucky for him, he was found out, and was then made to work with the crew.  Nicholas Delaigle thought back to the close call in France, and how he was out of Barbados, and still alive.  It was almost, too much to believe.  Well, what did this new country hold for him?  He just couldn’t keep living this way, it was too much.

Nicholas Delaigle’s life had been spared again. He took off again this time he stowed away on a ship bound for the new country of America.  Nicholas met a man on the ship, who was traveling with his wife.  They talked, and soon became close friends.  What could go wrong now?  Oh, but wait a minute, there’s more.  One day, a ship was sighted.  It kept coming until it was very close.  All of the sudden, its flag was unfurled.  It was a pirate ship.  The next thing  he knew, the Pirates were in control.  The Pirates had all the men gather on deck.  The Pirates then went through the ship, taking anything of worth.  After they finished plundering the ship, it was time for a little merriment. So they decided to have the men of the captured ship, walk the gang plank.  One by one, the men walked the plank and fell into the ocean where they drowned.  Nicholas was handling a Masonic medallion.  One of the Pirates, noticed the medallion and had Nicholas step out of line.  He didn’t have to walk the gang plank.  His close friend however, did.  The Pirates left the ship.  After receiving help from a passing ship, they proceeded on to America.  The third time, his life had been spared. ‘

When the ship docked, Nicholas along with his friend’s wife, Mary Margaret, came to Augusta.  Nicolas later married her.  They had several children together.  Nicolas Delaigle was not a poor man.  On his jacket, the buttons were actually gold pieces that had been covered with cloth.  He had money!  He bought land and he started a brickyard.  He even gave the land  to the city for Magnolia Cemetery.   Nicholas Delaigle is now buried in the cemetery, with his family. Augusta is made up of all kinds of stories, and this is definitely one of the interesting stories of Mr. Nicholas Delaigle.

Written by Mark Woodard

Research resources:

  1. The Story of Augusta. Cashin, Edward J. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Company Publishing. (1996)
  2. Memorial History of Augusta, Georgia. Jones, Charles C. Spartanburg, SC. The Reprint Publishers. (1890)
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