In 1824 when the Marquis de Lafayette returned to America, he brought with him a large wooden chest that he filled with soil. He took it back to France so that he could be buried on American soil and that soil lines the bottom of his grave. When the replica of his ship, L'Hermione, was ready to set sail for its historic voyage last year, members of the Hermione Lafayette Association went to the Chateau de Chavaniac, Lafayette's castle, where he was born and lived throughout his life, and collected soil from under the large oak tree in the front. It was placed in a velvet pouch, then in a metal canister and was brought onboard the L'Hermione to sail with the ship to America. This was given to Brigitte van den Hoven-Smith, the President of the Florida Friends of Hermione Lafayette in America Inc., and an Associate of the Comte de Grasse Chapter NSDAR, to be presented to an appropriate place to honor the Marquis de Lafayette.
Ms van den Hoven-Smith recently traveled from Florida to present the treasure to the Comte de Grasse Chapter at the Custom House in Historic Yorktown. It will be on display with other Lafayette commemoratives in the Custom House which is open for public visitation.
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