The legend of Petit Jean is the one of the most captivating tales in Arkansas.
This is a photo of statue depicting the woman who was nicknamed Petit Jean – French for Little John – because of her small size.
She was a young woman from Paris who disguised herself as a cabin boy so she could sail to the new world with her nobleman fiance in the 18th century.
The young woman’s name was Adrienne DuMont and her French nobleman fiancé was named Jean-Jacques Chavet.
Apparently, Chavet was granted an expedition to explore uncharted regions of the new world.
Adrienne begged her fiancé to allow her to travel with him. However, knowing the danger and hardship, Chavet refused to let her go.
Adrienne then cut her hair and went in disguise as a young man. She got a position as a cabin boy on the ship.
Amazingly, not even her fiancé recognized her! That seems highly unlikely, but that’s what they say.
After spending a summer here on the mountain, she fell deathly ill, possibly with swamp fever. She asked to be carried to the summit where she died at nightfall.
Adrienne wanted to be buried high upon the point of this mountain overlooking the river.
Chavet and the ship’s crew buried her here and named the mountain after her.
That is the legend of Petit Jean Mountain.
And for those who don’t know, it’s pronounced “Petty Jean” here in Arkansas.
Alternative Legend of Petit Jean
Another legend that is commonly told here in Arkansas is that Chavet (Petit Jean’s fiancé) died, so she took her own life by jumping off the side of the mountain.
Location of Petit Jean’s Grave
The plaque at the grave site states that Petit Jean was buried there upon request.
However, a man replied to my photo on Facebook and said, “I hope this doesn’t upset anyone too much. My grandfather was a park employee at Petit Jean for many years. He and one of his coworkers selected the location for the grave site. He commented that if the legend is true, it was very unlikely that she was buried at that location. “It is solid rock and you would have been lucky to bury a squirrel there. They had no idea if there was actually a grave so they just picked that location based on its beauty.”
If you visit this amazing state park, don’t miss this: 14 “Must Do” Things at Petit Jean State Park