Marie Octavie Joffre
Special thanks for Gerald Farris, President of the Sowers Cemetery association for his hard work in restoring Marie’s headstone. He took advice from well-known restoration expert Jonathan Appell but Gerald’s artistry and determination are what made it possible for such an incredible transformation. Marie Joffre’s headstone was the cemetery’s memorial that was in the worst condition. Gerald had been working on the restoration of the headstone and its base since July 2019. Thank you, Gerald, for this quality restoration.
And special thanks to our tireless volunteer Darrell Blake for his help with placement of the stone and base.
Marie Octavie Joffre was born March 28, 1835 in France.
She was the wife of Christopher Joffre born in France in 1832. Christopher was a lifelong farmer. All 3 of their children were born in France.
Son Joseph was born in 1861 and married literally the girl next door. He married Mary Lanotte whose family was listed as the next entry in the 1880 census. Joseph and Mary had 2 sons Fred and Henry. Joseph died in 1889 at 28 years old. His 3-year-old son Henry also passed in 1889. Both are buried at Sowers. Mary remarried into the Dorety family and had at least 5 more children.
Daughter Louise was born in 1864. She last appears in the 1880 US census at age 16. No other information found.
Son Eugene Alexander Joffre was born in 1868. He lived to age 71 and is interred at Oak Grove.
There is a limited paper trail on both Marie and Christopher. Their earliest appearance is found in the 1880 US census. FamilySearch.org does reference French documents but none seemed to specifically match Marie or Christopher.
In 1880 they lived in the Sowers community. The Joffre homeplace was close to Britain Road and Union Bower Road.
Some of their neighbors were M.C. Lively, the Story families of Isaac and Jonathan Story and Christopher’s brother Eugene Joffre.
In the 1894 tax roll Christopher owned 118 acres of land and 1 carriage or wagon and 5 horses or mules.
Christopher’s brother Eugene was a farmer and a stone mason. In the same 1894 tax roll he owned approx. 200 acres of land.
According to brother Eugene’s obituary he was born in Bloits, France in 1838 and came to Texas September 20th, 1871.
That would correspond with the appearance of Christopher and Eugene in the 1880 census and can be assumed that the brothers traveled together.
Also, in Eugene’s obituary it mentioned his wife Fannie Marie Rousseau, born in Rouen, France, in 1844, as coming to Dallas County while very young and a resident of the La Reunion French Colony. As of this writing no connection between the La Reunion colony and the Rousseau family has been found.
Marie Joffre passes May 16, 1905. Her Inscription reads:
Christopher’s brother passes in 1909 and is interred in Oak Cliff Cemetery.
Christopher’s grave is unknown but is believed that he is buried at Sowers though no evidence has been found to confirm it.
Mar 28, 1835
May 16, 1905
The before photo of the buried headstone pieces is from a FindAGrave photo taken in 2007.
Marie’s restored headstone is close to the pedestrian entrance. Walking north from the pedestrian gate, her headstone is on the left just past the trio of Crepe Myrtles.
Historical information about this family was found in Findagrave.com, familysearch.org and the Irving history book ‘From Rails to Wings’.
Marie and Christopher’s grandson was A. F. or Fred Joffre, son of Joseph Joffre, born in 1884 and also interred at Sowers.
Fred was a highly respected builder in the Irving area. He started out as a merchant running a general store before starting to build houses. In 1912 Fred was commissioned by Charles P. Schulze to build him a fine new home at 303 Iowa (now S. O’Connor Rd.) which is now Irving’s Heritage house. Charles was the brother to J.O. Schulze, who founded, with Otis Brown, the town of Irving.
Fred bought the next lot to the south of the Schulze home for himself from Otis Brown for $300. Fred built his house in 1919 becoming an important local example of a Craftsman ‘Airplane’ Bungalow.
Both the Schulze and the Joffre houses were the first to have indoor plumbing. The Joffre home was sold in 1939 to Dr. Franklin Monroe Gilbert, son of Dr. Daniel Webster Gilbert. It is known as the Joffre-Gilbert house and was placed on National Register of Historic places in 2014.