Baroness Janice (Jenika) de Feriet (de Ferriet)
The De Feriet family were members of the French nobility since 1521, and Madame de Feriet had even been a maid of honor for Queen Marie Antoinette. She was highly educated and personable.
Janice likely met James Le Ray in London in 1816. Since she was a fellow wealthy French citizen he decided to try to sell her some of his land in Northern NY. Rumors were that she was possibly the mistress of James Le Ray.
When James Le Ray de Chaumont returned from France in 1816 with his daughter, they brought Madame Jenika de Feriet. Madame de Feriet lived in Leraysville as the guest of the Le Ray's and the companion of the Countess de Gonvello, where she lived in a small house on the estate.
In 1820 she purchased a large tract of land from Le Ray, quite a distance east of LeRaysville at the large bend in the Black River, near where the village of Deferiet now stands, built a beautiful mansion she named “The Hermitage” (a 'Hermitage' is a secluded residence or retreat). It was finished in the Spring of 1824 and was very well and artistically decorated, where she entertained lavishly, but the area was very undeveloped and surrounded by dense forests.
Madame de Feriet was a skilled musician, artist, a versatile litérateur, and was known as a woman of exceptional personal magnetism and well-known hostess in the County.
But she had financial difficulties and as early as 1826 wanted to sell her estate, with Vincent Le Ray asking her to make payments on the estate that she could not afford. This led to difficulties between her and the Le Rays and by 1828 the property had been mortgaged.
In 1831 she built a bridge over the Black River to make the property more attractive to buyers, and also began building a village with the same idea - but the houses were never used.
Her brother in New Orleans urged her to put her property for sale in 1836, but no one was buying. She traveled to New Orleans and (after a bad trip) stayed with her brother and his family for a year, and in 1839 returned to The Hermitage. On July 15, 1841 she finally left the area and returned to France. Once there she found herself also unhappy, poor, and fell ill. She died on May 6, 1843 at Versailles.
In 1871 The Hermitage burned to the ground. All that remains of The Hermitage is a line of trees and a few steps, and the village of Deferiet which is named after her.