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Notable New Orleanians: A Tricentennial Tribute

An illustrated history of New Orleans paired with the histories of companies that have helped shape the city.

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T HE L OUISIANA H ISTORICAL S OCIETY<br />

PRESENTS:<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS:<br />

A TRICENTENNIAL TRIBUTE<br />

BY<br />

W ILLIAM D. REEVES<br />

W ITH CONTRIBUTORS


Thank you for your interest in this HPNbooks publication. For more information about other<br />

HPNbooks publications, or information about producing your own book with us, please visit www.hpnbooks.com.


T HE L OUISIANA H ISTORICAL S OCIETY<br />

PRESENTS:<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS:<br />

A TRICENTENNIAL TRIBUTE<br />

W ILLIAM<br />

BY<br />

D. REEVES<br />

WITH<br />

G. HOWARD H UNTER, JARI H ONORA, VERNON VALENTINE PALMER, PRESCOTT N. DUNBAR,<br />

C AROLYN G. KOLB, T. SEMMES FAVROT, LAWRENCE P OWELL, WILLIAM F OREMAN,<br />

AND S ALLY K. REEVES<br />

I LLUSTRATIONS LOCATED AND ARRANGED BY C AROLYN G. KOLB<br />

F OREWORD BY S. FREDERICK S TARR<br />

A Publication of<br />

The Louisiana Historical Society<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

2018<br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division of Lammert Incorporated<br />

San Antonio, TX


TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

3 LEGACY SPONSORS<br />

4 BIOGRAPHICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

5 INTRODUCTION<br />

6 FOREWORD<br />

7 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS<br />

8 HISTORY OF LOUISIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY<br />

10 SUBSCRIBER LIST<br />

11 BIOGRAPHICAL HISTORIES<br />

126 INDEX<br />

130 SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

216 SPONSORS<br />

217 ABOUT THE AUTHOR<br />

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2018 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing<br />

from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San Antonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790, www.hpnbooks.com.<br />

ISBN: 978-1-944891-43-5<br />

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2018933833<br />

<strong>Notable</strong> <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

editor: William D. Reeves<br />

contributing writer for “Sharing the Heritage”: Garnette Bane, Wynn Buck, Brett Spencer, Brenda Thompson<br />

cover artist: William Woodward<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

2<br />

HPNbooks<br />

president: Ron Lammert<br />

project managers: Barry A. Black, Bob Sadoski, Brett Spencer, Bart Whitaker<br />

administration: Donna M. Mata Melissa G. Quinn, Lori K. Smith,<br />

Kristin T. Williamson<br />

book sales: Joe Neely<br />

production: Colin Hart, Evelyn Hart, Glenda Tarazon Krouse, Tim Lippard<br />

Craig Mitchell, Tony Quinn, Christopher D. Sturdevant


LEGACY SPONSORS<br />

Through their generous support, these sponsors helped to make this project possible.<br />

Archbishop Shaw Boys Catholic High School<br />

1000 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, Louisiana 70072-3052<br />

504-340-6727 • www.archbishopshaw.org<br />

COLUMBUS<br />

PROPERTIES, L.P.<br />

Joseph C. Canizaro, Columbus Properties, LP<br />

900 Poydras Street, Suite 1700, <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Louisiana 70112<br />

504-584-5000<br />

Ed. Smith’s Stencil Works, Ltd.<br />

4315 Bienville Street, <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Louisiana 70119<br />

504-525-2128 • www.edsmiths.net<br />

Gardner Real Estate<br />

3332 N. Woodlawn Avenue, Metairie, Louisiana 70006<br />

800-566-7801 • www.gardnerrealtors.com<br />

Hancock Bank • Whitney Bank<br />

2510 14th Street, Gulfport, Mississippi 39501<br />

800-448-8812 • www.hancockwhitney.com<br />

Laitram, LLC<br />

220 Laitram Lane, <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Louisiana 70123<br />

504-570-1219 • www.laitram.com<br />

Roubion Construction<br />

824 Dakin Street, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Louisiana 70121<br />

504-269-9909 • www.roubioninc.com<br />

Xavier University of Louisiana<br />

1 Drexel Drive, <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Louisiana 70125<br />

504-520-7411 • www.xula.edu<br />

LEGACY SPONSORS<br />

3


BIOGRAPHICAL TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />

ABRAMSON, MARION 109<br />

ALCIATORE, ANTOINE AND FAMILY 76<br />

AMBROSE, STEPHEN E. 122<br />

ARMSTRONG, LOUIS 108<br />

BALDWIN, ALBERT 80<br />

BECHÉT, SIDNEY 105<br />

BEGUE, ELIZABETH 79<br />

BEHRMAN, MARTIN 95<br />

BIENVILLE, JEAN-BAPTISTE 11<br />

BLANC, ARCHBISHOP ANTONIE 41<br />

BOGGS, HALE AND LINDY 115<br />

BRENNAN, OWEN AND FAMILY 112<br />

BRION, JULIE 23<br />

CABLE, GEORGE W. 82<br />

CALDWELL, JAMES A. 37<br />

CARONDELET, DON FRANCISCO 19<br />

CELESTIN, OSCAR 98<br />

CLAIBORNE, WILLIAM 26<br />

CLAPP, REV. THEODORE 35<br />

COHEN, WALTER LOUIS 91<br />

COLE, CATHARINE 88<br />

CORDEVIOLLE, ETIENNE AND<br />

FRANCOIS LACROIX 44<br />

COUVENT, MARIE C. 21<br />

DART, HENRY PLAUCHÉ 90<br />

DE ARMAS FAMILY 37<br />

DEJOIE, ARISTIDE 83<br />

DELGADO, ISAAC 82<br />

DELILLE, HENRIETTE 47<br />

DENT, ALBERT W. 109<br />

DESDUNES, RODOLPHE 85<br />

DOLLIOLE, JEAN LOUIS AND JOSEPH 28<br />

DREYFOUS, FELIX 86<br />

DUBREUIL, CLAUDE-JOSEPH VILLARS 14<br />

DUNBAR-NELSON, ALICE 96<br />

DUNN, OSCAR J. 78<br />

DURHAM, JAMES 22<br />

EASTON, WARREN 84<br />

FAVROT, CLAUDE-JOSEPH AND FAMILY 20<br />

FORTIER, ALCÉE 89<br />

FRANCIS, MURIEL BULTMAN 119<br />

GAYARRÉ, CHARLES 43<br />

GODCHAUX, LEON 77<br />

GOLDMAN, JEROME 120<br />

GOTTSCHALK, LOUIS MOREAU 78<br />

HALEY, ORETHA CASTLE 124<br />

HANNAN, ARCHBISHOP PHILLIP 115<br />

HAUGHERY, MARGARET 48<br />

HENRY, TROY (CHINK) 111<br />

HERBERT, WALTER 106<br />

HIGGINS, ANDREW 99<br />

HOLMES, DANIEL HENRY 73<br />

JACKSON, MAHALIA 113<br />

KING, GRACE 87<br />

KOCH, RICHARD 102<br />

LABORDE, ALDEN J. “DOC” 116<br />

LAFFITE, JEAN AND PIERRE 31<br />

LAFON, BARTHELEMY 25<br />

LAFON, THOMY 46<br />

LAVEAU, MARIE 41<br />

LIVAUDAIS, JACQUES 12<br />

MALONE, SISTER STANISLAUS D.C. 94<br />

MARIGNY, BERNARD 33<br />

MATAS, RUDOLPH 92<br />

MATASSA, COSIMO 121<br />

MCDONOGH, JOHN 29<br />

MONTANA, ALLISON “TOOTIE” 119<br />

MOREAU-LISLET, LOUIS 24<br />

MORIAL, DUTCH 121<br />

MORRISON, JACOB AND MARY 114<br />

NAVARRO, FELIX 17<br />

NEWMAN, ISIDORE 81<br />

NICHOLSON, ELIZA JANE 85<br />

NICKERSON, CAMMIE 101<br />

OCHSNER, ALTON 104<br />

PETERS, SAMUEL JARVIS 42<br />

PILIÉ, JOSEPH AND LOUIS H. 34<br />

PLESSY, HOMER ADOLPH 93<br />

PONTALBA, MICAELA 39<br />

POYDRAS, JULIEN 18<br />

PRUDHOMME, PAUL 125<br />

RILLEUX, NORBERT 45<br />

ROBB, JAMES 73<br />

ROBERTS, NASH 117<br />

ROUDANEZ, LOUIS CHARLES 75<br />

SALAZAR, JOSÉ 16<br />

SAVARY, JOSEPH 30<br />

ST. MAXENT, GILBERT ANTOINE 15<br />

STERN, EDITH AND EDGAR 103<br />

TOURO, JUDAH 27<br />

TOUSSAINT, ALLEN 123<br />

TUREAUD, A.P. 107<br />

URSULINE NUNS 13<br />

VACCARO, JOSEPH 89<br />

WILLIAMS, L. KEMPER AND LEILA 100<br />

WISDOM, JOHN MINOR 110<br />

WOOD, ALBERT BALDWIN 97<br />

WRIGHT, SKELLY J. 111<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

4


INTRODUCTION<br />

On the occasion of the <strong>Tricentennial</strong> of the founding of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, the Louisiana Historical Society is pleased to honor a selection<br />

of the men and women who contributed to the creation of our community. Some received notice in their lifetimes, others not. Their<br />

achievements serve as models for our present generation, so that men and women of today will persevere in building up <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

We here begin our praise of these departed men and women, some who were famous, “but of others there is no memory….” 1 The one<br />

hundred notables described in this volume include the famous like Lindy and Hale Boggs as well as the forgotten like Julie Brion. In many<br />

cases each represents a class, or cause, or enterprise. But, as the prophet Sirach assures us, their virtues have not been forgotten; their heritage<br />

remains with their descendants. These <strong>Notable</strong> <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> explored the wilderness, laid out the city, established families and<br />

businesses, engineered technological solutions, created music or literature, carved out our legal system, wrote history, spoke the language,<br />

built our neighborhoods, preserved architecture, carried on customs, gave spiritual nourishment, nursed the sick, left bequests, or provided<br />

political or civil rights leadership. This is a volume about contributions, not criticism. The individual histories do not seek to weigh<br />

the pros and cons of each life. They present the positive and leave the negative for others. How poorer would our history have been without<br />

their contributions?<br />

“It is well,” writes Will Durant, “to study history as it was lived and made.” 2 With that truth in mind, we offer our notables in the order<br />

in which they were born, confident that as the stories of our civic ancestors unfold, so develops the story of our community. Their contributions<br />

were such that they affected the outcome of events, thus influencing the lives of citizens. As no successful leader works in a vacuum,<br />

the participation of others has always been required to accept and carry on their inspiring work. In this way the achievements of<br />

our notables have spread into the municipal culture, into its landscape.<br />

It is evident that the Louisiana Historical Society can only present a limited number of achieving men and women from the city’s three<br />

hundred complex years. But choices must be made and the Louisiana Historical Society is proud to offer its choices to contemporary <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Among our criteria is that a given figure is deceased. Thus, representation from those born in the twentieth century was reduced.<br />

In addition fame was not a requisite for being chosen. Though the volume begins with biographies of Jean Baptiste Bienville and the<br />

Ursuline Sisters, continuing through Gilbert Antoine St. Maxent and Governor Francisco Carondelet, it includes the unknown such as<br />

physician James Durham.<br />

These one hundred men and women are notable for what they did and whom they helped. Charity was never far from their lives, but<br />

it was principally their occupations in life that made them notable. Engineer Albert Baldwin Wood made pumps that changed <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. A. P. Tureaud fought lawsuits that revolutionized even more than <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Oscar Dunn set an example for business-like prudence<br />

that shows where Reconstruction might have gone. The great doctors learned their profession and then worked ceaselessly to<br />

advance it. Professor Stephen Ambrose not only conceived the National WWII Museum, but also donated substantial sums to make it happen.<br />

John Schwegmann did not give away food, just a way to sell it to more people more conveniently. Dutch Morial didn’t give away<br />

caresses; he demanded the right to do his job. The great families of Livaudais, Favrot, De Armas and Dejoie were great not because of their<br />

generosity, but because of their self-confidence, their faith in the future. Unlike the modern family, they had numerous children, because<br />

they were proud of their culture, present and future.<br />

The Louisiana Historical Society has always stood apart from serving a political or private interest. Through eight lectures a year the<br />

LHS invites all those who burrow in Louisiana’s archival records to speak about their work. It celebrates! For a century the LHS has hosted<br />

a great banquet in honor of the victory at Chalmette of the American forces. It likewise hosts a commemoration at the Cabildo each<br />

December to re-enact the transfer of Louisiana from France to the United States. In this volume this <strong>Tricentennial</strong> year the Louisiana<br />

Historical Society points to the notable men and women of our past and asks your recognition.<br />

William D. Reeves<br />

NOTES<br />

1 Sirach 44: 9.<br />

2 Will Durant (Compiled and edited by John Little), The Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time (<strong>New</strong> York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 69.<br />

INTRODUCTION<br />

5


FOREWORD BY S. FREDERICK STARR<br />

As <strong>New</strong> Orleans celebrates its founding three hundred years ago it is easy to assume that the city’s growth and success were inevitable.<br />

Does it not owe its fortune to mighty forces, any one of which could have propelled the city forward? We all know that geography made<br />

a key contribution, by presenting a water route across Lake Pontchartrain to Bayou St. John that saved sailing ships ninety-five miles of<br />

arduous upstream tacking on the Mississippi River in the face of a roiling current. The river’s status as the best outlet for agricultural and<br />

manufactured products from forty per cent of America’s territory assured the city’s economic prosperity. Politics helped, too, with three<br />

empires—France, Spain, and Great Britain—vying to control this crucial port until the new United States finally won out in January, 1815.<br />

Finally, social factors contributed, by making the city an attractive place for successive waves of immigrants to settle.<br />

What, then, could be missing from this quartet of powerful and impersonal forces? The answer is simple: people. We may comfortably<br />

assume that it was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ good fortune that forces such as these drove it forward. But none of them, nor any combination of them,<br />

accounts for the city’s distinctive identity or the range of fields in which its citizens have distinguished themselves. Nor can listing the geographic,<br />

economic, political, and social forces acting upon it explain the city’s rich contributions to America in so many fields. In the end,<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans’s survival, growth, and flowering trace above all not to impersonal forces but to people, specific men and women over 300 years.<br />

An obvious point? Perhaps, but two generations of American historians and journalists thought otherwise. Instead, they stressed above<br />

all the role of underlying social and economic forces in the development of societies. This caused individuals, with all their distinctive talents<br />

and penchants, to slip into the background. Now our perspective has shifted again, allowing a more balanced appreciation of the role<br />

of individuals in history, while at the same time acknowledging the larger context in which they function.<br />

Embodying this welcome shift in perspective, the compilers of this volume set out to identify those men and women whose lives and activities<br />

did most to define the identity, character, and contribution of <strong>New</strong> Orleans over the past three centuries. Moving beyond the narrow caricatures<br />

promoted by the tourist industry, they delved into many fields of endeavor, from science to art, philanthropy, religion, law, music,<br />

and technology. In each of these areas, and many others, <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> richly contributed to the life of their city, country, and the world.<br />

Author Dr. William D. Reeves and editor Sally Kittredge Reeves focused on one-hundred <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> who left their mark on the<br />

city and at the same time contributed to the larger culture. Selections were made with the help of a group of distinguished advisors and<br />

contributors, among them Dr. Lawrence Powell, Dr. Carolyn Kolb, Distinguished Professor Vernon Palmer, Educator Howard Hunter, and<br />

historians Jari Honora, Prescott Dunbar, and William Forman.<br />

The resulting list of personages, each of whose biography is included in this volume, is amazing for its range and scope. Here you will<br />

find colonizer and governor Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (1680–1767); city planner and architect Barthélemy Lafon (1769–1820);<br />

inventor of the Wood Screw Pumps that have saved the city from floods, Albert Baldwin Wood (1879-1956); pioneering newspaper editor<br />

Eliza Jane Nicholson (1849-1896); the sustaining force at [Daughters of] Charity Hospital over sixty-two years, Sister Stanislaus (Catherine<br />

Malone) (1863-1949); and human rights champion Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes (1849-1928). Together, the group of hundred forms a marvelously<br />

talented and diverse tableau. Had space allowed, the list of candidates could have numbered two-hundred, or five-hundred. At any<br />

length, there will inevitably be equally worthy folks who might have been included but weren’t. Take this as an invitation to add your own!<br />

Thanks to the diligence of editors and authors, you have in your hands a remarkably interesting and engaging book. Whether you read<br />

through it sequentially or skip around among the intriguing personalities presented therein, the story of these impressive <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> is<br />

bound to set you thinking. To this reader, these hundred biographical sketches served as a reminder of the sheer breadth and diversity of fields<br />

in which people have contributed to the welfare of this city, and in ways that affected future generations. There is no single path, or limited<br />

number of paths, by which people can become, in the fullest sense, “citizens,” respected and valued by those among whom they live and work.<br />

Nor is there any correlation between a person’s abilities and contribution and his or her “visibility” during their life-time or later. Most of<br />

those included in this compendium eschewed publicity and instead stayed focused on the task at hand. Those in the present day who seek<br />

acclaim and short-term notoriety pale by comparison. Above all, the lives of those included here constitute a kind of group monument to the<br />

lasting values of persistence and tenacity. Indeed, many did not live to see the full effect of their efforts, which are so clearly manifest to us today.<br />

As <strong>New</strong> Orleans celebrates its three hundredth birthday, it is useful to pause on these and other thoughts to which this book might lead us.<br />

This is not to say that the blind forces of geography, economics, politics, and society are insignificant in human affairs. They are present, of course,<br />

and demand our recognition and study. But the story of the lives presented here reminds us that we are, in the end, masters of our fate. Each of<br />

us has the capacity to build what needs building and to change what needs changing. This is precisely what these hundred <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> did<br />

over the course of three centuries. With luck, the coming years and decades will produce equally creative, positive, and tenacious <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>.<br />

S. Frederick Starr<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

6


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS<br />

This volume would not have been possible without the assistance of the individuals and organizations that have made so many contributions<br />

to its success. First, the Louisiana Historical Society would like to thank the over 150 members and businesses who have contributed<br />

to this project as subscribers or underwriters. Their business stories are told as part of this tribute, and subscriber names appear<br />

at the beginning of the volume. We also thank Ms. Nora Wetzel, president of the Louisiana Historical Society, for her many logistical efforts<br />

to facilitate the project.<br />

Our thanks go out particularly to Carolyn G. Kolb, who identified, collected, and attributed the photographs in this volume. For copies<br />

and the use of those images, we extend special thanks to the following individuals, archives, museums, and collections that have allowed<br />

us to use them. Their attributions appear as appropriate with the images:<br />

We thank Rebecca Smith, Head of Reader Services, Williams Research Center, Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection; Melissa Smith, Assistant<br />

Registrar, Louisiana State Museum; and, at Tulane University: Louisiana Research Collection, Head of Collection Leon C. Miller; Public<br />

Services Librarian Sean Benjamin; University Archives, Ann Case; William R. Hogan Jazz Archives, Bruce Raeburn and Alaina W. Hébert;.<br />

The Louisiana Division, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Library; Louisiana and Special Collections, Earl K. Long Library, University of <strong>New</strong> Orleans;<br />

The Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation of <strong>New</strong>ark, <strong>New</strong> Jersey; Executive Director Jackie Harris and the Board of Directors; The<br />

Office of Archives and Records, Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans; The Clarion Herald’s Peter Finney and photographer Frank Methe;<br />

Alexander Richmond Favrot, Sue Favrot, Semmes Favrot, Judge Morris Arnold, Cokie B. Roberts, Jack Belsom, Michael Haley, Robert<br />

Homes, Emily Leumas, and John Geiser have made particular contributions. Robert Hinckley, the author of William Woodward: American<br />

Impressionist, kindly permitted the duplication of an important Woodward painting.<br />

We also wish to acknowledge the ten historians who contributed nineteen of the one hundred essays in this volume as well as to other<br />

features:<br />

•S. Frederick Starr, Chairman, Central Asia. Caucasus Institute, American Foreign Policy Council: Foreword.<br />

•G Howard Hunter, Academic Dean at Metairie Park Country Day School and past President of the Louisiana Historical Society:<br />

deLesseps Morrison and Edith and Edgar Stern<br />

•Jari Honora, high school history teacher: Dutch Morial, and Homer Plessy.<br />

•Dr. Vernon Valentine Palmer, Thomas Pickles Professor of Law, Tulane School of Law: Louis Moreau-Lislet.<br />

•Prescott N. Dunbar, historian and civic supporter: Martin Navarro.<br />

•Dr. Carolyn G. Kolb, journalist and historian: Catherine Cole, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, “Chink” Henry, and Cammie Nickerson.<br />

•T. Semmes Favrot, attorney and board member Louisiana Historical Society: The Favrot Family.<br />

•Dr. Lawrence Powell, retired chairman of the Tulane Department of History: Leon Godchaux.<br />

William Foreman, attorney: L. Kemper and Leila Moore Williams<br />

Sally K. Reeves, M.A, C.A., archivist and past President of the Louisiana Historical Society: Jean-Louis Dolliole, Jacques Livaudais,<br />

Joseph and Louis H. Pilié, De Armas family, and Bernard Marigny; and Chronicling Louisiana: Reflections on its Historians<br />

How can the left hand acknowledge the work of the right hand? My wife Sally K. Reeves has been the right hand on this book. She has<br />

done the voluminous work of editing the biographical profiles, correcting grammatical mistakes and infelicitous phrases, and generally<br />

making them readable. In addition she has contributed six of the essays.<br />

William D. Reeves<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

August 29, 2017<br />

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS<br />

7


THE LOUISIANA HISTORICAL SOCIETY<br />

The oldest cultural organization in the state, the Louisiana Historical Society can, over its long history, count five major<br />

achievements. Founded in January 1836, the Society continues unabated its primary work of collecting and promoting the history<br />

of Louisiana. Its fifty-plus year publications of The Louisiana Historical Quarterly and its predecessor Publications still provide researchers<br />

with an opulent trove of source materials and interpretation about the heritage of the state. Custodian of Louisiana’s official documents<br />

since 1846 and of Louisiana’s French Superior Council and Spanish Cabildo colonial records since 1860, the Society re-collected them<br />

amid the chaos of the post-Civil War period, eventually putting them on deposit at the Louisiana State Museum. That institution, founded<br />

in 1906 and housed primarily in the Cabildo and Presbytere buildings, was also an outgrowth of the Society’s work. At the turn of the<br />

twentieth century, when the future of the assemblage of civic structures facing Jackson Square was not at all certain, the Society was the<br />

most important factor in their preservation. It then led the move to convert the Cabildo and Presbytere into museum buildings. Early<br />

museum trustees and curators were partly synonymous with Louisiana Historical Society boards and members. The State Museum’s fundamental<br />

deposit of portraits, landscapes, artifacts, books, and records was the collection that, over decades, the Louisiana Historical<br />

Society had been amassing.<br />

Several of the state’s greatest legal and historical leaders were among the Society’s founders. Its first president, Louisiana Supreme Court<br />

Justice Henry Adams Bullard, served in the 1830s, delivering its first address at the “Native American Association” Hall. Bullard served<br />

again after 1846, when Society members gathered in a store in the ground level of the St. Charles Hotel. That year, the Legislature formally<br />

recognized the Society in an act of incorporation that also made it the custodian of the state’s public documents, journals, and reports. At<br />

that time, the Society’s primary focus was to acquire copies of the state’s colonial records from the archives of France and Spain. To that<br />

end, it supported the overseas work of antiquarian Benjamin Franklin French and historian Charles Gayarré. 1<br />

Gayarré became president in 1860, before a period of dormancy during the Civil War. He served again from 1877 to 1888, when<br />

Louisiana Supreme Court Justice William Wirt Howe was elected. Under the subsequent leadership of Tulane professor of Roman<br />

Languages Alcée Fortier (served 1894 to 1913) and his successor, art and manuscript collector Gaspar Cusachs (served 1914-1929), the<br />

Society entered its golden era, expanding from eighty-eight to eight hundred members, inaugurating its quarterly journal Publications in<br />

1895 and co-founding the Louisiana State Museum.<br />

In 1900, the Society mounted an exhibit at the Fisk Free Library of 266 manuscripts and historical objects from its growing collection.<br />

To the vast exhibit were added over 2,000 items from the Favrot, Cusachs, T.P. Thompson, J.F. Couret, R.W. Walmsley, Wm. H. Seymour,<br />

Alcee Fortier, Charles Gayarré, Mrs. Albert Baldwin, and William Beer collections, and from the Archdiocesan and Ursuline Convent<br />

archives. The catalogue of this exhibit (in the collection of the Louisiana Historical Society) may be considered a record of the community’s<br />

identified treasures in this era. Three years later, the state legislature placed the Society officially in charge of commemorating the 1903<br />

centennial of the Louisiana Purchase. It was in anticipation of that event that the Society promulgated a resolution that it be “celebrated<br />

by the dedication of a Colonial Museum in the old Cabildo buildings.” The legislature also had the Society lead the later centennials of<br />

Louisiana’s statehood in 1912 and of the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1915. For those events, the Society arranged packed banquets, extended<br />

parades, public lectures, patriotic speeches, and visits by national and international leaders. Longtime secretary Grace King colorfully<br />

recorded these happenings as minutes in Publications, and later activities in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly, which continued the work<br />

of Publications after World War I.<br />

In 1917, The Quarterly began to publish transcriptions and translations by Heloise H. Cruzat of selections from the French Superior<br />

Council documents in its care. Spanish period records began to appear in the Quarterly three years later. Under the towering leadership<br />

of attorney and legal historian Henry Plauché Dart (q.v), calendars of both series began in sequence, as the Quarterly staff made their way<br />

through the stacks of records stored in early 19th century cedar boxes. With funding from philanthropist William Ratcliffe Irby, the work<br />

progressed until the Great Depression, when it continued under the WPA. Some long-sought Legislative funding for the Quarterly enabled<br />

it to remain in print until the middle 1950s, with scattered issues appearing as late as 1975 through the support of General L. Kemper<br />

Williams. General Williams also supported an attractive, illuminated index to the Quarterly by A. Boyd Cruise.<br />

A roster of Society incorporators and officers reads like a who’s who of state leaders; just a few among them the Supreme Court Justices<br />

and presidents noted, along with Governors Francis T. Nicholls and Louis A Wiltz, writers Gayarré, George W. Cable and Grace King, and<br />

important educators Robert M. Lusher and Alexander Dimitry. Early Quarterly editors included John Dymond, Henry Plauché Dart, and<br />

Walter Prichard, who in 1935 assumed the expansive role left by the much-lamented Henry P. Dart.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

8


In every decade, the Society has continued to produce new leaders who have kept alive its mission. Under longtime president Edward<br />

Parsons, the custom of commemorating the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans with a January 8 dinner at the famous Lake Pontchartrain restaurant of<br />

Chef Lucien Boudro began. Moving to Antoine’s, the Society held its banquet there for over fifty years, continuing under the leadership of<br />

leading intellectual Hugh M. Wilkinson, who succeeded Parsons in 1962.<br />

To this day, the annual banquet never deviates from the 8th of January. Filled with festive greetings from allied parties, the banquet rings<br />

with songs and toasts to France, to Spain, to England, to America, and to the lasting peace among them. A second annual event commemorates<br />

the Louisiana Purchase with staged readings, held on a Sunday nearest December 20. The Society holds this annual event in the Cabildo’s Sala<br />

Capitular, on which it holds a legal servitude for the presentation. In the year 2000 the Society launched a digital, searchable, Web republication<br />

of the Louisiana Historical Quarterly, available on line to members, and an effective membership tool. Well-attended regular meetings and lectures,<br />

held each month in season, have continued to the present day the Society’s work to find, produce, and promote the history of Louisiana. 2<br />

NOTES<br />

For Further reading see, William D. Reeves, “Recent History of the Louisiana Historical Society, 1940-2010” (Tulane University Archives). Concerning the history of<br />

colonial documents, see Howard Margot, Survivor(s)! Historical Peregrinations of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’s French Superior Council and Spanish Judicial Records, in<br />

Collections: A Journal for Museum and Archives Professionals. Volume 11, No. 3. Summer 2015, pp. 171-184.<br />

1 For an extensive exploration of Gayarré’s and French’s efforts in conjunction with the Society, see Faye Phillips, “Writing Louisiana Colonial History in the Mid-<br />

Nineteenth Century: Charles Gayarré, Benjamin Franklin French, and the Louisiana Historical Society, “ Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical<br />

Association, Vol. 49, No. 2 (spring, 2008), pp. 163-190.<br />

2 Recent presidents of the Louisiana Historical Society are:1997-2003 William D. Reeves; 2003-2009 Sally K. Reeves; 2009-2015 Howard G. Hunter; 2015-<br />

Nora Wetzel.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

9


SUBSCRIBERS<br />

A Friend of the Louisiana<br />

Historical Society<br />

Adams, Marthell T.<br />

Adatto, Dr and Mrs Kenneth<br />

Atkinson, Anne R.<br />

Axelrod, Tiki<br />

Babin, Mary Hillery and Hunter<br />

Bailey, Mrs. Barbara Becker<br />

Bartee, Roberta Purvis<br />

Bassett, Darleen<br />

Bassich, Mrs. Beauregard<br />

Beauford, Gertrude M<br />

Benge, Dorothy O’Toole<br />

Benjamin, Adelaide W<br />

Bennett, Ann<br />

Billiot, Chad M<br />

Boudreaux, Lawrence and Patricia<br />

Breaux, James P.<br />

Breaux, Paul J.<br />

Breitmeyer, Julie F.<br />

Capomazza di Campolattaro, Mr.<br />

and Mrs Carlo<br />

Chadwick, Georgia<br />

Chapman, Ron and Margaret<br />

Chesnutt, Carolyn Aiken<br />

Christovich, Mary Louise<br />

Cook, William ”Bill” C.<br />

Cornejo, Drs. Andres and Zoraida V.<br />

Cox, Patricia W. and Ralph C.<br />

Dauterive, N. Neville and Judith<br />

Sinclair<br />

de Montluzin, Katherine<br />

Detweiler, Maureen and Bill<br />

Dike, Douglas D.<br />

Dugan, Patrick Murray<br />

Duffy, Ann R.<br />

Eaby, Thelia Jean<br />

Eble, Drs. Bernard E, III and Susan W.<br />

Edmiston, Edward and Ninette<br />

Edmundson, Bob and Kathleen<br />

Elmwood, Augusta B. and Robert F.<br />

Elrod, Henry<br />

Evans, Mr. and Mrs. Robert B.<br />

Favrot, Alexander Richmond<br />

Favrot, Ann Bruck<br />

Favrot, Catherine and Semmes<br />

Favrot, Mrs. Mortimer<br />

Favrot, Mrs. Richmond Gerard<br />

Favrot, Gervais Freret, Jr.<br />

Fernandez, Shelia B.<br />

Foreman, Wayne and Linda<br />

Forstall, Richard L<br />

French, Mary An Godshall and Alfred<br />

Freyder, Christopher Thomas<br />

Freyder, Melissa Nicole<br />

Freyder, Dr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Scott<br />

Gallagher, Lillie Petit<br />

Gamble, Jacqueline<br />

Gaudin, Judge H. Charles and Myra<br />

Gehman, Mary E.<br />

George, Julie and Ted<br />

Grout, John C. Jr.<br />

Heausler, Martha Richmond Favrot<br />

Hero, George A. III<br />

Hollier, Mona<br />

Hoskins, Susan<br />

Hughes, Edmund W..E. and Elizabeth L.<br />

Hunter, Howard<br />

Hyde, Dr. Tonya Nichole<br />

Irwin, Dr. and Mrs. Thomas M.<br />

Jumonville, Florence M.<br />

Kauffman, Lura and Carl H.<br />

Keck, William<br />

Knight, Manuel Lisandro<br />

Knutson, Don and Marie Tiberville<br />

Kolb, Carolyn G.<br />

Lancaster, William and Suzanne<br />

Lawless, Paul and Virginia<br />

Lawson, Frederick Lee<br />

Lorenzen, Mrs. Becker Rutledge<br />

Louviere, Barbara B.<br />

Luke, Margie Laws<br />

Margot, Howard M.<br />

Marmillion, Janel and Norman<br />

Martin, Louise and Ted<br />

Mayer, Andy<br />

McDonald, Georgia<br />

McLellan, Marie Favrot<br />

Mills, Bruce and Judy<br />

Mills, James W. Jr.<br />

Modzelewski, Jeff and Kathy<br />

Molony, Carter Stevens<br />

Moore, Mary and Doug<br />

Morgan, Barbara B., M.D.<br />

Morse, Anne and James<br />

O’Brien, Dr. Pat<br />

Parker, Thomas Airy II<br />

Pena, Allison Heaps<br />

Perlis, Suzanne G. and David W.<br />

Perret, Dr. and Mrs. William<br />

Prechter, Kate<br />

Reed, Eileen K.<br />

Reeves, Sally K.<br />

Richard, Mary Margaret<br />

Robin, Harriet E.<br />

Ross, Dr. Bill III<br />

Roux, Jara Dubroca and Jeffrey A.<br />

Rufty, Helene and Al<br />

Rusovich, Marilyn S.<br />

Ryan, Elizabeth and John<br />

Sanders, Caroline Bingham<br />

Sarpy, Courtney Anne<br />

Schiro, Hon. and Mrs. Gasper J.<br />

Skiner, Dr. John R.<br />

Smith, Judy M.<br />

Sprott, Barbara and Jeff<br />

St. Martin, Armand<br />

Stahel, Mr and Mrs. Harry C.<br />

Stouse, Suzanne E.<br />

Strain, Timothy<br />

Sullivan, Scott<br />

Tanoos, Stella Carline<br />

Thompson, D.D.<br />

Thompson, Sheryl<br />

Toso, Dr. Donald R.<br />

Toso, Patricia and Michael J.<br />

Trevigne, Barbara<br />

Tupper, Joan Morrison<br />

Von Uhde, Lance W.<br />

Ward, Geraldline Elizabeth<br />

Waring, Peter A.<br />

Watts, James C.<br />

Wetzel, Nora J.<br />

Williams, Bob and Norris<br />

Williams, Sheila Wilkinson<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

10


J EAN B APTISTE L E M OYNE DE B IENVILLE<br />

(1680-1767)<br />

Canadian-born Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, founder of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, spent twenty years<br />

working to establish the city at its present site. He first arrived in Louisiana in 1699 as a naval second<br />

lieutenant of the French Marine under his elder brother Pierre d’Iberville. With his brother, Bienville<br />

explored Louisiana and much of Mississippi and Alabama. By 1718 he knew more about Louisiana<br />

than had anyone before his time.<br />

Bienville located <strong>New</strong> Orleans based on his strategic understanding of its geography. Three<br />

considerations—situation, security, and fertility—shaped his decision. In the first case, it sat cozily<br />

between the Mississippi River and Bayou St. Jean, which emptied into Lake Pontchartrain and thence<br />

into the Gulf of Mexico. This situation between river and bayou was good for convenience and<br />

transportation. From the equally important point of security, the site occupied the first high ground<br />

that could better protect its settlers from the elements. For military security, it was positioned well to<br />

thwart an enemy just enough above English Turn, that great obstacle to upriver sailing vessels before<br />

the age of steam. Finally, the less discussed, but really most important, consideration was the fertility<br />

of the alluvial soils in and around <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Bienville and his company had learned the bitter<br />

lesson that they could not provide for themselves on the sandy soils of the Biloxi area.<br />

In 1917, the Louisiana Historical Society launched its Louisiana Historical Quarterly with an<br />

issue devoted to Bienville to coincide with the Bicentennial of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. In one essay, writer<br />

Grace King concluded that the founder settled fifty men on the spot that came to be <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

in February 1718. This was essentially a three-year encampment until Royal Engineer Adrien de<br />

Pauger arrived in 1721 to draw a plan for the city and oversee its construction. Bienville sent the<br />

drawing to France, where it arrived just in time to be approved by the Company of the Indies—<br />

technically the proprietors of the colony—and the French Crown. Although Pauger lasted only five<br />

years after 1721 before succumbing to a fever, his city layout survives.<br />

Bienville was one of the few Frenchmen who took the trouble to learn the Native American<br />

languages, a skill that greatly facilitated cooperation and friendship. Serving as Louisiana governor from<br />

1718 to 1724, he ably met the challenge of diplomacy with them. On the personal side, he claimed<br />

several extensive tracts of east and west river bank land, which did not endear him with Company<br />

agents. Less able to navigate the perils of Metropolitan versus frontier politics, he lost favor with the<br />

Crown in 1724 and was recalled to France. While in Paris in 1726 Bienville sold the Society of Jesus his<br />

East Bank tract, establishing the Jesuits in the city for the first time. After disastrous handling of Native<br />

American relations forced the sacking of Bienville’s successor Étienne Périer, the founder was called back<br />

into service as Louisiana governor from 1734 to 1744 1 during which time Bienville himself became<br />

enmeshed in a protracted war with the Chickasaws, leading to his final removal.<br />

Despite his pioneering and extended service, historians have given Bienville relatively little<br />

credit for leadership. Grace King (q.v.) and Charles Gayarré (q.v.) looked at Bienville in the light<br />

of romantic narrative adventure, in keeping with their times. Catholic Church historian Roger<br />

Baudier found that “his conduct in so far as religious affairs are concerned cannot but be admired,”<br />

redounding “distinctly to his credit.” 2 Baudier noted Bienville had strongly supported religiouslybased<br />

education, initiating Jesuit and Capuchin schools for boys, while making the parish church<br />

(now St. Louis Cathedral) the centerpiece of the foundation. Recently, historian Lawrence Powell<br />

saw Bienville’s choice of the site for <strong>New</strong> Orleans between swamp and river as forcing a compact<br />

city, where the various ethnicities were compelled to shape a distinct culture that “may be America’s<br />

only original contribution to world culture.” 3 It is fairly safe to say, however, that Bienville had little<br />

thought about ethnicities shaping an American culture.<br />

<br />

Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

1 Lawrence N. Powell, The Accidental City: Improvising <strong>New</strong> Orleans (London: Harvard University Press, 2012), 53-55.<br />

2 Roger Baudier, The Catholic Church in Louisiana (<strong>New</strong> Orleans: 1939), 142.<br />

3 Powell, The Accidental City, 163.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

11


J ACQUES J ULIAN E SNOUL D E L IVAUDAIS<br />

(1696-1773)<br />

<br />

Benjamin Latrobe, View of the Balize, 1818.<br />

Benjamin Latrobe painted this view of the<br />

Balize as it appeared a century after<br />

Jacques Livaudais struggled to guide ships<br />

through the mouth of the Mississippi. Not<br />

much improvement had been made.<br />

Jacques Julian Esnoul, Sieur de Livaudais (known as “Diego” in Spanish times) was Louisiana’s<br />

most important eighteenth-century Mississippi River bar pilot and Captain of the Port of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Over a lengthy career managing the entrance to the river, Livaudais became one of the<br />

earliest European-born experts on Mississippi River navigation. He remained at his post for nearly<br />

forty years, married, lived a long life, and left a posterity that remains one of the most significant<br />

Creole families in Louisiana. It is no small accomplishment that they are both numerous and<br />

vigorous, retaining both name and a sense of identity in this place. Livaudais’ wife Marie Geneviève<br />

Babin was a Mobile Creole, and apparently his cousin. After her marriage to Livaudais in 1733, she<br />

carried and delivered eighteen babies in twenty-two years, nine of whom survived to adulthood.<br />

Livaudais followed his ancestors into the seafaring trade. Born in the walled port of St. Malo,<br />

Normandy, in 1696, he learned seamanship from his family and St. Malo traditions. His father<br />

Jacques Esnoul, a privateer and naval officer, became the Sieur de Livaudais as a reward for service<br />

to the French against English pirates. Esnoul became lord of the tiny village of Livaudais, just two<br />

rows of houses on a hill in St. Jouan des Guerets, on the southeast side of Brittany, engendering<br />

the name that survives in Louisiana.<br />

A ten-year career sailing for the East Indies Company led to a transfer to Louisiana as a river<br />

pilot in 1723, where by 1727, Livaudais succeeded Jean Sénat as Captain of the Port. At that time,<br />

the Mississippi was discharging 500 million tons of sand a year with constantly shifting sands that<br />

made it necessary to sound the passes every week when weather permitted. “You would have<br />

difficulty without seeing it,” Livaudais wrote the minister in 1748, “how frequently the river<br />

changes at its mouth from year to year…. For the twenty-one years I have served in the colony, I<br />

have never seen the passes go even one year without change.” 1<br />

By 1758, Livaudais had been Port Captain and chief bar pilot over thirty years. As Port Captain<br />

he had functioned as harbormaster, inspected ships, managed dock workers, and occasionally<br />

undertaken salvage operations for lost anchors or other equipment. Toward the end of the French<br />

period, Livaudais gained the Croix de St. Louis to go with his ten-arpent plantation near the city and<br />

another on the German coast. He died in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1773 at the age of seventy-seven.<br />

Among his surviving children were the eldest, Jacques Esnoul, whose plantation upriver from<br />

the city would become the Faubourg Livaudais, now the Garden District; Francois Esnoul, whose<br />

land would become the Faubourg Annunciation; and the eighth child, Joseph Dugué Livaudais,<br />

who pursued a career in lumber and resided on his 50,000-acre plantation in Lafourche Parish,<br />

now Gheens Plantation. Almost countless children followed, as the Livaudais family was fruitful,<br />

and multiplied.<br />

—Sally K. Reeves<br />

1 France, Archives Nationales Series C13A, 32, Fo. 74.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

12


U RSULINE S ISTERS AND M OTHER M ARIE T RANCHEPAIN<br />

(1680-1733)<br />

The Congregation of the Ursuline Religious of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans founded what continues as the<br />

oldest school for girls in the United States. Since<br />

1727, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Ursulines have been a<br />

fount of Christian culture that spread over the<br />

community, free black and white, Native<br />

American and slave. Much of <strong>New</strong> Orlean’s<br />

distinctive Frenchness, all of its female literacy,<br />

and all of its evangelizations among slaves and<br />

free persons of color originated with the 18th<br />

century <strong>New</strong> Orleans Ursulines.<br />

Pursuant to a contract with the Company of<br />

the Indies to provide housing and an annual<br />

stipend, the first Ursulines arrived in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans in 1727. Their superior, Mother Marie<br />

de Saint-Augustin Tranchepain (1680-1734),<br />

arrived with thirteen followers, among them the<br />

gifted epistolary Marie Madeleine Hachard. This<br />

young nun’s letters to her father in France, full of optimism and unconcern for hardship, open a<br />

window on the earliest experiences of these hardy missionaries, most of whom died young.<br />

Following a disastrous massacre of French colonist by the Natchez Tribe in 1729, the<br />

Ursulines undertook to care for the many orphans left from the event. From France, they<br />

also received the so-called “Casket Girls,” sent to the colony as future wives of settlers. Mother<br />

Marie instituted a lay confraternity of free women of color that laid the groundwork for the growth<br />

of the African-Catholic population. She also offered retreats for women, by 1729 reaching two<br />

hundred retreatants.<br />

Mother Marie Tranchepain died before a new convent opened to serve the military hospital.<br />

Among the most able nurses to serve there was Sister St. Françoise Xavier Hebert, who became the<br />

pharmacist for the hospital. For the next twenty years the Ursulines managed the hospital at<br />

increasing cost to themselves because the Crown did not increase their revenue. Their numbers<br />

thinned, even though in 1750 they received their first native born supplicant, Illinois-born Mary<br />

Turpin. By then, the initial convent had failed structurally. French engineers, with a better<br />

understanding of environmental conditions in <strong>New</strong> Orleans designed and completed a new<br />

convent in 1749, the current “Old Ursuline Convent” on Chartres St. in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

The transfer of Louisiana from France to Spain in 1766 weakened the Ursulines’ sense of security.<br />

Spain expelled the Jesuits, their diplomatic support in Louisiana. Instead in 1770, Governor<br />

Alexandro O’Reilly had the nuns cease administering the hospital, a welcome step considering their<br />

decline in numbers, allowing them to turn their attention entirely to their educational mission.<br />

The American era began with an escape from conflagration in 1812 followed by the stunning<br />

victory of the Americans over the British at the 1815 Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The citizens<br />

overwhelmingly attributed a part of the victory to the prayers of the Ursulines sisters and their alumnae<br />

to Our Lady of Prompt Succor. Local devotion to Our Lady of Prompt Succor has led today to the<br />

formation of the National Shrine of our Lady of Prompt Succor at the Ursulines’ uptown church.<br />

By 1818 the Ursulines were educating three hundred students in their convent on Chartres<br />

Street. That year they offered hospitality and financial assistance to Religious of the Sacred Heart<br />

Rose Philippine Duchesne and four companions, who had arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans to found their<br />

educational ministry in the United States. Philippine and her companions remained with the<br />

Ursulines at their Chartres Street convent for six weeks before boarding a steamboat for St. Louis.<br />

<br />

Ursulines Arrive in <strong>New</strong> Orleans by<br />

Madeline Hachard 1727. (Repainted by<br />

Paul Poincy.)<br />

COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF ARCHIVES AND RECORDS,<br />

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

13


The Religious of the Sacred Heart will celebrate the bicentennial of their founding in America<br />

concurrently with the tricentennial of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

In 1824, the expanding city forced the Sisters out of their French Quarter convent by cutting<br />

Chartres Street through their property. They moved to a country spot downriver from <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

where architect Jacques de Pouilly designed a magnificent complex for them. The school remained<br />

there until 1912, when a second expropriation forced another move. The Ursulines then purchased<br />

land uptown and moved to their present school site facing State Street backed by Nashville Avenue.<br />

Their enduring school remains the oldest continuously operating girls’ school in North America<br />

and its seventh oldest private school.<br />

For further reading see Sister Jane Frances Heaney, O.S.U., Ph. D., A Century of Pioneering: A History of the Ursuline Nuns<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans (1727-1827). Ursuline Sisters of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, 1993; Emily Clark, Masterless Mistresses: The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Ursulines<br />

and the Development of a <strong>New</strong> World Society, 1727-1834. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2007.<br />

C LAUDE-JOSEPH V ILLARS D UBREUIL<br />

(1697-1757)<br />

Claude-Joseph Villars Dubreuil was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ first general contractor. Dubreuil built<br />

houses, saw mills, canals, levees and a church, giving existence to the nascent town in the early<br />

eighteenth century. One of the first <strong>New</strong> Orleans colonists to arrive from France, he landed in 1719<br />

with his wife, son and daughter in a party of eighteen. He brought along skilled carpenters,<br />

coopers, joiners, a tailor, a shoemaker, and several domestics. 1 He settled on a large grant of land<br />

next to the Chauvin Brothers at “The Chapitoulas,” now a part of Jefferson Parish near Ochsner<br />

Foundation Hospital.<br />

Dubreuil seems to have come to prominence by building the first levee across the front of<br />

the city. To secure timber to sell for the construction of buildings he erected a sawmill below town<br />

and had the first canal dug from the river towards Bayou St. John. Cypress logs for construction<br />

lumber floated down the canal to its saw mill on the river. The city canal would later be expanded<br />

as the Marigny Canal, and even later as the route of the Pontchartrain Railroad, the nation’s second,<br />

now Elysian Fields Avenue. In 1740, Dubreuil also dug the first canal on the west bank of the<br />

Mississippi, linking the river to Bayou Barataria and thus prefiguring Harvey’s Canal next to Gretna a<br />

century later.<br />

In 1736, Dubreuil built the first Charity Hospital, using funds supplied by the estate of the<br />

sailor Jean Louis. As “Contractor for Buildings and Fortifications” of the French king, Dubreuil<br />

received a commission to rebuild the port of Balize at the mouth of the Mississippi after a hurricane<br />

in 1739. In 1745, Dubreuil began construction on the second Ursuline Convent, which still stands<br />

as the sole survivor of his industry.<br />

Dubreuil was equally interested in improving agriculture. He introduced the deep drainage ditch<br />

that helped dry out plantations so they could be farmed. He experimented with growing tobacco<br />

and indigo, later inventing a cotton gin. In cooperation with the Jesuit congregation in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

he also introduced sugar cane on their plantation just upriver from the city. In 1744, Dubreuil’s son<br />

and namesake purchased from the Chitimacha tribe a 50,000-acre tract of land in Lafourche Parish<br />

that during the nineteenth and twentieth century came to be known as Golden Ranch. 2 This<br />

plantation passed through numerous successor owners and has survived intact to today.<br />

1 Henry P. Dart, “The Career of Dubreuil in French Louisiana,” The Louisiana Historical Quarterly 18 (1935): 267-331. His<br />

estate sale does not mention the skills or occupation of his slaves.<br />

2 See act of 15 February 1820 before Hughes Lavergne, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Notarial Archives.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

14


G ILBERT A NTOINE DE S T . MAXENT<br />

(1727-1794)<br />

Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent was, with the industrialist and builder Claude Joseph Villars<br />

Dubreuil (q.v.) and developer-philanthropist Andres Almonester y Rojas, one of the three most<br />

important figures of Louisiana’s colonial economy. 1 A French native from Longny, St. Maxent<br />

emigrated to distant Louisiana during the 1740s, married Creole <strong>New</strong> Orleanian Elizabeth<br />

LaRoche, and enlisted in the French colonial regiment. To a modest but respectable amount of<br />

money brought with him, St. Maxent added his wife’s dowry to begin a business as a merchant<br />

importing and supplying manufactured goods from Europe to Illinois fur traders.<br />

During the 1750s, St. Maxent allied with Governor Louis de Billouart Kerlérec in his struggles<br />

with Intendant Louis Rochemore, establishing a pattern of political aptitude that for nearly four<br />

decades would serve him well. In return Kerlérec, in 1753, promoted him to colonel and<br />

commandant of the Louisiana Regiment.<br />

Kerlérec rewarded him further with a monopoly on the Illinois fur trade 2 at a time when “peltry<br />

still accounted for approximately one-third of the total value of commodities being exported from<br />

Louisiana.” 3 Based on his franchise St. Maxent, in 1763, sent Pierre LaClède up the Mississippi<br />

with a loaded flatboat to open a trading post that later became St. Louis. 4<br />

In 1768, Spain, now the owner of Louisiana, installed Antonio de Ulloa as the Louisiana colony’s<br />

first Spanish Governor. Defying the majority of Creoles who opposed the imposition of Spanish<br />

authority, Maxent stepped forward following his established pattern to become one of the first<br />

Frenchmen to pledge allegiance to the new governor. After the Creoles’ expulsion of Ulloa in the fall<br />

of 1768, they imprisoned St. Maxent briefly at his plantation. The following January (1769) Maxent<br />

thwarted the plotters’ efforts to enlist Native Americans in a planned resistance to any new Spanish<br />

attempts to reclaim <strong>New</strong> Orleans. That same August, Spanish General Alexandro O’Reilly landed in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans with twelve warships filled with two thousand soldiers and definitively suppressed the<br />

rebellion. No one was surprised when O’Reilly gave St. Maxent a new patent for the fur business under<br />

the name St. Maxent and Ranson.<br />

Over the next two decades St. Maxent became the richest man in Louisiana. He built the largest<br />

home in the area just below the city’s downriver gate, which would, in 1798, become the home of<br />

Pierre Philippe de Marigny and his family (q.v.). In 1770, Maxent’s second daughter Marie Elizabeth,<br />

married the succeeding Spanish governor, Luis de Unzaga. In sequence, his widowed elder daughter,<br />

<br />

An artist’s rendering of the house of the<br />

French colonial commissioner of Louisiana.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION 1987.65 I-III /<br />

PLAN DE LA NOUVELLE ORLEANS ET DES ENVIRONS DEDIE<br />

AU CITOYEN LAUSSAT PREFET COLONIAL ET.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

15


Felicite, married Unzaga’s successor, Bernardo de Galvez. St. Maxent’s service to Spain during the<br />

American Revolution from 1775-1782 was extensive and earned him a list of honors including<br />

Commandant of the Militia of Louisiana, Lt. Governor of the Provinces of Louisiana and West Florida,<br />

and Captain-General of the new Bureau of Indian Affairs of Louisiana and West Florida.<br />

At the peak of his career in 1782, the British captured St. Maxent in the West Indies, dealing a<br />

fatal blow to his credit. Subsequently, his notes lost much of their value. Though he was released,<br />

the Spanish authorities began investigating his finances. His warehouse burned in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

fire of 1788 and subsequently Spanish Governor Esteban Miró arrested him. He died in 1794, a<br />

shell of his former stature.<br />

1 See, for example Clark 1970: 52; Wilson, Farnsworth, and Mason 1987: 275.<br />

2 J. J. Coleman, Jr., Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent: The Spanish-Frenchman of <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Gretna: Pelican Publishing,<br />

1980), 14-20.<br />

3 Daniel Usner, Indians, Settlers, and Slaves in a Frontier Exchange Economy, the Lower Mississippi Valley before 1783 (Chapel<br />

Hill:University of North Carolina Press, 1992), 247.<br />

4 Coleman, Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent, 22-29.<br />

<br />

J OSE<br />

S ALAZAR<br />

(1750-1802)<br />

The Mexican-born painter Jose Xavier Salazar y Mendoza was the first professional artist to leave<br />

an illustrated record of colonial <strong>New</strong> Orleans figures. His stylized, elegant portraits of prominent<br />

<strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>, painted during the last two decades of the city’s Spanish colonial experience, have<br />

provided the single most important visual record of the time. In addition to likenesses, the paintings<br />

illustrate clothing and fabrics, jewelry and accessories, hairstyles, elegant military hats and medals,<br />

and sometimes details of furniture, complementing the vast body of material objects described in<br />

local archival inventories. Salazar’s sitters included military figures, merchants, prelates, physicians,<br />

members of the Cabildo, and importantly, women, who otherwise might have been known only in<br />

name. An example is the painter’s c. 1797 Family of Dr. Joseph Montegut, the single group portrait<br />

known to the local colonial period. 1 It depicts Dr. Montegut with eight other family members, six<br />

of them female. Salazar’s daughter Francisca (b. c. 1780), moreover, was the city’s first known female<br />

painter. She grew up in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and began to paint under her father’s tutelage, art historians<br />

speculating that she may have supplied some of the figures (and clothing) for his portraits.<br />

Born in Merida in the Yucatan where he probably absorbed the spirit of Mexican painting, Salazar<br />

arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans with his family to ply the technique and style of 18th-century Spanish<br />

American painters. Although it is believed that he arrived during the early 1780s, most of his<br />

surviving paintings date to the 1790s. Art historian Estill Pennington has divided his work into<br />

paintings of couples, the one large group portrait, and portraits “in the grandmanner,” which includes<br />

portraits of Andres Almonester y Roxas (q.v), and <strong>New</strong> Orleans Bishop Penalver y Cardenas.<br />

Salazar’s consistent style makes his work recognizable. Most of his portraits are three-quarter<br />

views of sitters holding symbolic or naturalistic objects such as women with birds or flowers, often<br />

seated in luxuriant gowns. Male figures stand formally, hand in vest or placed stoutly on hip, in<br />

military jackets or elegant waistcoats with prominent brass buttons, seldom in wigs. Colorful<br />

clothing and highlighted flesh colors stand out against dark backgrounds. Frequently, the painter<br />

placed his figures in an oval or tondo, bestowing emphasis on the sitter and a sense of greater<br />

immediacy to the image.<br />

Salazar married Maria Antonia Marana, with whom he had three surviving children—Jose,<br />

Francisca (who married Pedro Gordillo, Sargento de Dragones) and Ramon. Widowed in 1793, he<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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continued to paint and raise the children with the assistance of servants. His will, dictated before<br />

notary Narcisse Broutin in March, 1801, described his family, his being ill, and his plans for his<br />

funeral Masses and charitable bequests. He died in mid-August 1802. After the Louisiana Purchase,<br />

his family removed from <strong>New</strong> Orleans and do not appear again in city records. 2<br />

—Sally K. Reeves<br />

1 Art historians point out that this painting seems to be a coupling of two pieces, with one of the figures added by<br />

another hand. See Estill Curtis Pennington, Downriver: Currents of Style in Louisiana Painting, 1800-1950 (Gretna, LA.<br />

1991), 25-26.<br />

2 At the current writing (summer 2017) the first comprehensive exhibition of Salazar’s work, curated by art historian<br />

Cybele Gontar, is scheduled for March 2018<br />

at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

<br />

F ELIX<br />

N AVARRO<br />

(1738-1793)<br />

For twenty-two years Felix Martín Antonio Navarro administered Louisiana under eight<br />

Spanish governors. His brilliant financial management funded Governor Bernardo de Galvez’<br />

successful campaign against the British in western Florida during the American<br />

RevolutionaryWar (1776-1781), and the rebuilding of <strong>New</strong> Orleans following three major<br />

hurricanes (1772, 1779, 1780) and two disastrous fires (1779, 1788). Navarro’s 1780<br />

“memorials” to the Spanish king strongly recommending free trade and increased population<br />

as a means to economic prosperity resulted in the development of Spain’s Mississippi River<br />

trade. The memorials also successfully recommended government-sponsored experiments in<br />

the planting of flax,hemp, and tobacco, and the immigration to Louisiana of Isleños,<br />

Malaguenos and Germans for these industries.<br />

Navarro’s financial acumen underwrote the expenses of transportation for 1,600 Acadian<br />

exiles from France to the western lands of Spanish Louisiana. His codification of a per capita<br />

formula for support of immigrant families provided more than mere day-to-day subsistence<br />

for them. In gratitude, innumerable immigrants named him godfather to their children,<br />

earning him the title of “Le Bon Papa” throughout Acadiana and Nuevo Iberia.<br />

Born in La Coruña, Spain, Navarro arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, in 1766, with Antonio de<br />

Ulloa and the first contingent of Spanish officials to govern Louisiana. He served as Royal<br />

Treasury Officer until 1770, when he was promoted to Contador, or Minister of the Treasury,<br />

a position he filled until 1779. For twenty years, from 1768 to 1788, he was acting Intendente<br />

(Chief Financial Officer) in both unofficial and official capacities. The Spanish Crown had created<br />

the office of Intendente late in its colonial empire to combine military and provincial assignments,<br />

Navarro being its first appointee in Louisiana. “As a conscientious public servant,” wrote Gilberto<br />

Din and John Harkins, “Navarro was deeply interested in promoting economic growth, which<br />

would provide badly needed revenue to help offset the tremendous expense of retaining Louisiana.<br />

Accordingly, he periodically sent reports to Madrid on how best to foster development.” 1<br />

With his return to Spain in 1788, Navarro held the post of Intendente de Ejército (Chief<br />

Financial Officer of the Army) for two additional years, advising Charles III and his council of<br />

ministers on Louisiana matters. He ended his career leading a crucial trade mission to France<br />

during their revolution in 1792.<br />

Although Navarro never married, he recognized Adelaïde de Blanco Navarro as his natural<br />

daughter. When she married Navarro gave her a generous dowry and two large land grants in the<br />

Attakapas region. After his death Adelaïde and her husband Louis George Demarest established<br />

<br />

Felix Navarro.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, GIFT OF MRS.<br />

ROSE MILLING MONROE, 2005.0064<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

17


what is now known as “Francis Plantation” on Bayou Teche, the first brick and half-timber house<br />

in the area. Their descendants include two governor Fosters of the State of Louisiana, Ambassador<br />

Jefferson Caffery, national and state legislators, career politicians, nationally-recognized<br />

academicians and sports professionals. 2<br />

—Prescott N. Dunbar<br />

1 Gilberto C. Din and John E. Harkins, The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana’s First City Government, 1769-1803<br />

(Baton Rouge, LA, 1996), 94.<br />

2 Pat Powers and Sally K. Reeves also contributed to this profile.<br />

J ULIEN<br />

P OYDRAS<br />

(1746-1824)<br />

<br />

Julien de Lalande Poydras.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, GIFT OF THE<br />

CHILDREN OF ALMA BALDWIN DENÈGRE: GEORGE<br />

DENÈGRE, CAPTAIN THOMAS BAYNE DENÈGRE U. S. N.<br />

By endorsing the United States after the Louisiana Purchase, Julien Poydras influenced<br />

Louisiana’s French Creoles to accept American governance. Poydras’ leadership resulted in his 1805<br />

election as president of the legislative council of the newly created Orleans Territory, which organized<br />

the Louisiana area south of the 33rd parallel. His inaugural address urged citizens to the patriotic<br />

goals of America’s founding documents. “The clouds of ignorance must be dispelled,” he thundered,<br />

“cupidity restrained, and mankind convinced that private interest cannot be isolated from the<br />

general good....”<br />

Born in 1746 just outside of Nantes, Poydras settled in Pointe Coupée Parish during the 1760s.<br />

Over the ensuing decades, he amassed a fortune from six plantations and a general store. Dividing<br />

his time with <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Poydras led the way for a Chamber of Commerce-like organization and<br />

established the city’s first bank. He purchased land along the riverfront near the street that bears his<br />

name, subsequently leading a protracted struggle for the preservation of public access to the batture.<br />

Poydras’ interest in the batture influenced his views on the preservation of civil law at a time<br />

when jurists and legislators were debating Louisiana’s legal destiny. Toward the end of his tenure<br />

as president of the Territorial Legislature, he opposed the common law proposals of Governor<br />

William Claiborne (q.v.), saying , “We are on the eve of seeing confusion established by the forced<br />

introduction of a voluminous body of common law to which we are total strangers….”<br />

Elected as Orleans Territory’s delegate to Congress in 1810, Poydras urged statehood for<br />

Louisiana. The 1810 census having demonstrated the area’s demographic eligibility, he petitioned<br />

the United States Senate that the territory be declared a state. Congressional debate in January<br />

1811 featured Josiah Quincy of Massachusetts blasting the “heathens of that swamp country,” and<br />

equating Louisiana’s inhabitants with apes and alligators. Keeping in mind the history of witchcraft<br />

that haunted Massachusetts, Poydras retaliated with “a tongue-lashing that scorched the ceiling as<br />

well as the Congressman’s breeches,” according to an Eastern newspaper.<br />

The following month Congress passed legislation authorizing delegates to organize a<br />

government for the State of Louisiana. A convention to adopt the state’s first constitution convened<br />

in November 1811, choosing Poydras president. There, he spoke again of the benefits of<br />

republican government: “…Let us hail our emancipation from the odious servitude which has cost<br />

us so dear; let us hail it, I say, with transports of gratitude.....”<br />

In May 1812 President James Madison approved the new constitution, officially making Louisiana<br />

the nation’s eighteenth state. At the following election Claiborne was elected governor and Poydras<br />

state senate president. Poydras soon gave up active politics in favor of investing in <strong>New</strong> Orleans real<br />

estate. His principal memorial is Poydras Street, now the heart of the Central Business District.<br />

Poydras’ personal style curiously mis-matched his democratic views. General James Wilkinson<br />

noted that although he was “in conduct and sentiment a Republican,” his style was monarchist. He<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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wrote neo-classic poems celebrating victories in battle and dressed in the manner of a subject of<br />

Louis XV, sporting a queue, knee breeches, silk stockings, and shoes with silver buckles.<br />

For further reading see Brian J. Costello, The Life, Family and Legacy of Julien Poydras. John & Noelie Faurent Ewing, 2001;<br />

George Dargo, Jefferson’s Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1975.<br />

D ON F RANCISCO L UIS H ECTOR, BARON DE C ARONDELET<br />

(1748-1807)<br />

Although few Louisiana governors have succeeded in favorably impacting <strong>New</strong> Orleans history.<br />

Francisco Luis Carondelet (1792-1797) joins Jean Baptiste Bienville, William Claiborne, and John<br />

McKeithen in having done so. Acting as both governor and de-facto mayor in the 1790s, Carondelet<br />

prefigured Martin Behrman (q.v.) as a progressive who built up the infrastructure of the city.<br />

Carondelet’s tenure began during the fury of the Haitian Revolution, which sent its first wave of<br />

refugees to <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1791. Ambitious and educated, the newcomers offered intellectual<br />

competition to the Spanish government’s universe of verities through journalism and theater,<br />

presenting the governor with the option of either suppression or co-option.<br />

Carondelet chose the latter. By 1792 both the St. Peter St. Theater (Specâcle de la Rue Saint<br />

Pierre) and the Moniteur de la Louisiane were functioning—with the governor’s conditional blessing.<br />

Moniteur founder Jean Baptiste Le Sueur Fontaine (actor, journalist and St. Domingue refugee)<br />

kept his editorials safely conservative and was rewarded with contracts for publishing<br />

governmental decrees. On the theatrical side matters grew fluid, as audiences demanded French<br />

Revolutionary music and the governor was called upon to keep the peace, if not the lid on. 1<br />

Carondelet was most conspicuously acting mayor in the structure of city governance. His<br />

perception of revolutionary challenges—real or imagined—led to a flurry of municipal<br />

improvements, nearly all of them designed to strengthen public order. The governor divided the<br />

city into four barrios (wards) with an “Alcalde de Barrio” or Cabildo judge to supervise each. The<br />

city’s first police department appeared in 1796, consisting of a dozen “seranos” who patrolled the<br />

city at night and announced the hours. To provide some lighting, Carondelet had oil lamps<br />

suspended from ropes tied diagonally across street corners. He made a half-hearted attempt to<br />

build some fortifications for the city, an effort abandoned by his successors as the threat of<br />

revolution subsided. Not least of Carondelet’s contributions to <strong>New</strong> Orleans was the appointment<br />

of its first regular corps of African-American militia.<br />

Carondelet’s greatest achievement was the digging of the appropriately named Carondelet Canal,<br />

for which he employed convict labor. Most historians believe the city’s location was selected<br />

because of its proximity to Bayou St. John, but that was almost a century before Carondelet actually<br />

provided its first water link. To be sure, it was not much of a link, more a ditch ten or so feet wide.<br />

But its eventual success in promoting commerce with Lake Pontchartrain’s north shore and the<br />

Mississippi Gulf Coast inspired both the construction of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ first railroad to the lake and<br />

the costly, competitive, deadly <strong>New</strong> Basin Canal. This canal brought building materials to the<br />

Faubourg St. Marie, serving as a spur to the city’s upriver spread. Carondelet also ordered the<br />

construction of floodgates in the levee, which successfully diverted flood waters from the city. 2<br />

These were early examples of the principle of diversion exemplified by the Bonnet Carré Spillway,<br />

and the difficult diversion of 1927 that flooded St. Bernard Parish.<br />

Some of the most distinctive aspects of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans French Quarter date to Carondelet’s<br />

administration. It was during his tenure that, after the city’s first great fire in 1788, new building<br />

codes went into effect requiring brick with tile roofs and buildings sited close to the banquette.<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans’ second great fire of 1794 provided the opportunity for even newer fire-resistant<br />

<br />

Don Francisco Luis Hector Carondelet.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

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codes. Carondelet’s codes have spurred an unending controversy over whether the “French”<br />

Quarter is really, architecturally speaking, a “Spanish” Quarter.<br />

1 Sally K. Reeves, “The St. Domingue Refugees in <strong>New</strong> Orleans” Louisiana Historical Society, Creole Family Symposium, 2001.<br />

2 Gilbert C. Din and John E. Harkins, The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana’s First City Government 1769-1803 (Baton<br />

Rouge: LSU Press, 1996), 242.<br />

<br />

C LAUDE-JOSEPH F AVROT (1701-1777)<br />

AND H IS D ESCENDANTS<br />

<br />

Charles A. Favrot.<br />

LOUISIANA RESEARCH COLLECTION, LOUISIANA IMAGE<br />

COLLECTION NO. 1081, TULANE UNIVERSITY<br />

The Favrot family has made its mark in each of the three centuries of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history,<br />

tracing its Louisiana origin to the arrival of family progenitor Claude-Joseph Favrot (1701-1777)<br />

from France around 1732. During a long military career, Favrot served at several military posts and<br />

was wounded at the Battle of Ackia in the French campaign against the Chickasaw Indians in 1736,<br />

for which he was awarded the prestigious Croix de St. Louis. In 1735, he married Louise-Elizabeth<br />

Bruslé of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Their two children left many living descendants in Louisiana, including<br />

Pierre Joseph Favrot (1749-1824), who had his own long and distinguished career in the Louisiana<br />

military, serving both France and Spain. In 1779, he participated in Governor Bernardo Galvez’s<br />

expedition against the British forts at Manchac and Baton Rouge, where he fired the first shot on<br />

the Baton Rouge fort. He owned a home on Royal St. in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, experiencing considerable<br />

financial losses in its devastating fires of 1788 and 1794. In November 1814, Pierre Joseph (“Don<br />

Pedro”) wrote an incisive (although inaccurate) analysis to Governor William Claiborne on defense<br />

strategy regarding the anticipated British attack that resulted the following January in the Battle of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. He was present in the Place D’Armes (Jackson Square) on Jan. 22, 1815 for Andrew<br />

Jackson’s address to the people after their triumphant victory at Chalmette. Pierre Joseph spent his<br />

later years on his plantation in West Baton Rouge, where he died in 1824.<br />

For the next two generations, the Favrot family was firmly rooted in Baton Rouge, until two of<br />

Don Pedro’s great-grandsons returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans. In 1888, Henri Louis Favrot (1864-1918)<br />

began, to study law at Tulane, and remained in the city for the rest of his life. A Spanish-American<br />

War veteran, he had a distinguished career as a lawyer, state senator, and author, and is considered<br />

the “Father of the Boy Scout movement in Louisiana.” He was an authority on drainage, road, and<br />

land bond law, on which he wrote several treatises. He served for fourteen years as a state senator,<br />

was a student of Louisiana history, and collected many documents on the history of the state. He<br />

became an ardent supporter of the Louisiana Historical Society, authoring a pair of articles on the<br />

West Florida Revolution for the Society’s early series Publications. His son, Henry Richmond Favrot,<br />

was a lifelong <strong>New</strong> Orleanian, also a member of the LHS and of numerous genealogical societies.<br />

Charles Allen Favrot (1866-1939), younger brother of Henri Louis, came to <strong>New</strong> Orleans in<br />

1885 after being invited to work as an apprentice to his future father-in-law, noted <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

architect James Freret. His thirty-nine year partnership (Favrot and Livaudais) with architect Louis<br />

A. Livaudais produced several courthouses, the Hibernia National Bank building, the Municipal<br />

Auditorium, the Cotton Exchange, and many fine uptown and Garden District residences. Active<br />

in civic affairs, he influenced the creation of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans City Planning and Zoning<br />

Commission, on which he subsequently served as chairman. For this and other work as a member<br />

of the Tulane University Board of Administrators, and for founding the Bureau of Governmental<br />

Research, he received the Times-Picayune Loving Cup in 1935. He authored “An Historical Sketch<br />

on the Construction of the Custom House of the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans,” published in the Louisiana<br />

Historical Quarterly. His son Henri Mortimer “Morty” Favrot (1894-1953), son of Charles, served<br />

as a young man with the Washington Artillery at the time of Pancho Villa trouble in Mexico in<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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1916. Returning home, he practiced architecture with Alan C. Reed. The Favrot & Reed firm<br />

also designed many important local buildings, its successor firm later known as Mathes-Brierre<br />

Architects. An avid historian, Morty was instrumental in early efforts to preserve, translate<br />

and publish The Favrot Papers, an extensive collection of historical documents housed at<br />

Tulane University. He also authored “Colonial Forts of Louisiana,” published in the Louisiana<br />

Historical Quarterly.<br />

Henri Mortimer Favrot, Jr. (1930-2015), son of Morty, known as “Tim,” was a fourth-generation<br />

architect, receiving his architectural degrees from Tulane and Harvard University. He served in the<br />

U. S. Air Force during the Korean conflict, after which his practice focused on the design of<br />

apartment complexes. A passionate preservationist, he served two terms as president of the<br />

Preservation Resource Center, as member of the City Planning Commission (founded by his<br />

grandfather and later chaired by his uncle, Gervais) and in 2013 was named a Fellow of the<br />

American Institute of Architects, his proudest accomplishment. Tim’s countless civic and<br />

professional activities included leadership positions with the American Institute of Architects,<br />

Tulane’s Board of Administrators, the National World War II Museum, the Louisiana Landmarks<br />

Society, the Military Order of Foreign Wars, and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of Art.<br />

Thomas Blackburn Favrot (1923-2011), grandson of Charles Allen Favrot and son of Clifford<br />

Freret Favrot, served in the Navy in the Pacific Theater during WWII. His love of <strong>New</strong> Orleans was<br />

evident by his involvement in many organizations including the Louisiana Historical Society,<br />

Louisiana State Museum, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Friends of the Cabildo, Save Our<br />

Cemeteries, Preservation Resource Center, Lower Garden District Association, and Felicity<br />

Redevelopment, which struggled to turn the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Central City neighborhood around. Tom<br />

and others saved from demolition the former home of Henry Morton Stanley, the journalist and<br />

explorer best known for his possibly apocryphal greeting, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” when he<br />

found the missionary in Africa in 1871.<br />

—Semmes Favrot<br />

<br />

M ARIE<br />

C. COUVENT<br />

(1757-1837)<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans’ first known African-American philanthropist. Marie Couvent, founded a school<br />

for the education of orphans recorded in a will of 1837. The Couvent School would eventually<br />

energize African-American intellectuals who widely influenced <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ African-American<br />

community. Historian Keith W. Medley has identified several of the faculty members who taught at<br />

the Couvent School, which opened, in 1848, at the Dauphine Street property that Madame<br />

Couvent had bequeathed for the school. They included poets and writers Paul Trevigne and Joanni<br />

Questy, mathematicians E. J. Edmunds and Basil Crockère, and dramatist Adolphe Duhart.<br />

Trevigne, who taught at the Couvent School for forty years, also edited the newspaper L’Union.<br />

Armand Lanusse, poet and writer, served as its second principal and published Les Cenelles, the<br />

first anthology of poetry by people of color in the United States. 1<br />

Marie Couvent was one of some 4,000 free people of color who fled the colony of St. Domingue<br />

at the time of the Haitian Revolution. Born in Africa about 1757, she had been brought to the<br />

colony as a child. By the time she reached <strong>New</strong> Orleans soon after 1800, she had the resources to<br />

purchase land and slaves. In 1812, she married the free black carpenter Bernard Couvent.<br />

Couvent, who never learned to read and write, sought to remedy that challenge for others by<br />

stipulating that her property be “used in perpetuity for the establishment of a free school for the<br />

colored orphans of the Faubourg Marigny.” A faithful Catholic, she directed that the school be<br />

established under the auspices of Father Constantine Maenhaut [pastor of St. Louis Cathedral].<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

21


After her death, a group of prominent free men<br />

of color created L’Institution Catholique pour<br />

l’Instruction des Orphelins dans l’Indigence, which<br />

opened in 1848, and was known unofficially as<br />

the Couvent School. For the past century and a<br />

half five schools under various names have<br />

operated at the site, located at 1941 Dauphine<br />

Street. 2 One recent example was the Bishop<br />

Perry School for Boys, which closed after<br />

Hurricane Katrina. The Orleans Parish School<br />

Board operates another Marie C. Couvent School<br />

today at 2021 Pauger Street.<br />

<br />

Plan Book 94, folio 6. Clerk of Civil<br />

District Court.<br />

1 Keith Weldon Medley, Black Life in Old <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

(Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2014), 69.<br />

2 Neidenbach, Elizabeth Clark “Marie Couvent.” In<br />

knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David<br />

Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–.<br />

Article published March 15, 2011.<br />

http://www.knowlouisiana.org/entry/marie-couvent.<br />

J AMES<br />

D URHAM<br />

(1762 -1805)<br />

In November 1788 Declaration of Independence signer and Surgeon General of the Continental<br />

Army Benjamin Rush wrote a brief account of the life of James Durham, a Philadelphia-born<br />

African American, who would become the single documented black physician in eighteenth century<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. The Rush account, along with scant notarial records, indicate that Durham<br />

practiced in <strong>New</strong> Orleans for twenty years, from 1783 to his death in 1805. Although official<br />

Spanish records of this period do not mention him clearly, a legal edict of 1801 described him as<br />

“free negro Derum…having the right only to cure throat disease and no other,” a reference that<br />

does not reflect other opinions of his ability. 1 Rush, the leading physician of Philadelphia, had concluded,<br />

“I have conversed with him upon most of the acute and epidemic diseases of the country<br />

where he lives, and was pleased to find him perfectly acquainted with the modern simple mode of<br />

practice in those districts. I expected to have suggested some new medicines to him; but he suggested<br />

many more to me.” 2<br />

Durham was born about 1762 and raised as a slave in Philadelphia. He became successively the<br />

property of two accomplished doctors who taught him the practice of medicine. At the end of the<br />

American Revolutionary War Dr. Robert Dow brought him to <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Dow freed him in 1783<br />

in exchange for a payment of 500 pesos. 3 Durham then began a practice under the Dow patronage,<br />

earning the handsome sum of $3,000 a year. In 1788, Durham traveled to Philadelphia where he<br />

applied to and joined the Episcopal Church; it was there that Dr. Benjamin Rush interviewed him.<br />

Married at the time, Durham evidently returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans about 1794 to purchase a home<br />

on Bienville Street from Balderic Tomas, paying three hundred pesos cash and giving a mortgage<br />

for three hundred pesos more. 4 On May 23, 1805, Durham called a notary and witnesses to his<br />

house where he felt he was dying. He made a will and succession that transferred all of his property<br />

to his wife Marie Françoise Diana. His assets consisted of his house, several slaves and his furniture<br />

and effects. 5<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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1. Durham is mentioned in several secondary accounts.<br />

Charles B. Roussève, The Negro in Louisiana: aspects of his<br />

history and his literature. <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Xavier University<br />

Press, 1937; Gilbert C. Din and John<br />

E. Harkins. The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Cabildo: Colonial Louisiana’s<br />

First City Government 1769-1803. Baton Rouge: Louisiana<br />

State University Press, 1996. These accounts are not<br />

completely consistent.<br />

2 Freeman’s Journal; or, the North-American Intelligencer 8<br />

(November 1788), 153(Philadelphia, Penn)..<br />

3 Roberto Dow to Santiago Durham, Emancipation, in<br />

Leonardo Mazange, Notary Public, vol. 7, April 2, 1783,<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Notarial Archives.<br />

4 Balderic Tomas to James Durham, free Negro, in Pedro<br />

Pedesclaux, May 26, 1794, p. 528, <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Notarial Archives.<br />

5 Will of James Durham [identified as Jacques Derhomme], May 23, 1805, in Narcisse Broutin, NP, vol. 9, p. 406-7, <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Notarial Archives.<br />

<br />

<br />

Top: ”James Durham.<br />

BALDERIC TOMAS TO JAMES DURHAM, FREE NEGRO, IN<br />

PEDRO PEDESCLAUX, MAY 26, 1794, P. 528, NEW ORLEANS<br />

NOTARIAL ARCHIVES.<br />

Below: Julie Brion.<br />

PORTRAIT OF A FREE WOMAN OF COLOR: "BETSY", BY<br />

FRANÇOIS. (FRANZ) FLEISCHBEIN , HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1985.212.<br />

J ULIE<br />

B RION<br />

(1760-1802)<br />

Julie Brion, an influential colonial-era free woman of color, was an early model of the successful<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans woman of color. As did her more well-known descendants, she seemed to have connections<br />

everywhere, and was the ancestor of other important people of color to whom she left the properties<br />

in which she had invested. In writing of the later Marie Laveau, historian Ina Johanna Fandrich<br />

described “the remarkable free women of color who went on Sundays to the Cathedral, walked<br />

proudly the streets of <strong>New</strong> Orleans during the week, dressed in beautiful outfits, owned property, and<br />

ran their own businesses…. With close blood ties to both worlds, yet legally and socially separated<br />

from either one, their peculiar situation of being between black and white, slave and free, rich and<br />

poor enabled them to assume roles of power and economic independence unique to them.” 1<br />

Born about 1760, Julie Brion was probably the daughter of Rene Brion and connected to the<br />

Foucher family. A will dictated by her daughter Modeste Foucher, in 1848, identifies Julie as her mother<br />

and Joseph Foucher, f.m.c. as her father. 2 According to Julie’s succession papers, plantation owner<br />

Pierre Foucher was the tutor and curator of her children, having financed many of her property transactions.<br />

Although her succession did not identify her parentage, it did identify her children: Modeste<br />

and Rene Foucher; Benedicte and Achille Burel; 3 and Eugenie, Josephine, Antoine, and Julie Bonne,<br />

all quadroons. 4 Two of these children subsequently received donations of property from Rene Brion,<br />

presumed to be their grandfather. Julie Brion’s daughter Modeste Foucher was the mother of Thomy<br />

Lafon (q.v.) and the known consort of surveyor, map maker, and adventurer Barthelemy Lafon (q.v.).<br />

At Julie’s death, in 1802, she owned a two-story home on the prominent third block of Chartres<br />

Street next to the elegant home of Jean Baptiste Destrehan, and across Conti Street from sugar<br />

pioneer Etienne Boré. A couple of years after her mother’s death, Modeste Foucher sold the house<br />

to Pierre Foucher, providing a circumstantial clue to their relationship. Julie also owned a house<br />

on St. Anne Street, along with two more houses on Burgundy at St. Louis. Her slaves were<br />

Hyasinthe, a cook, and Hyasinthe’s three children, Rosalia, Ambroise, and Victoire.<br />

Julie Brion’s close connection to the Fouchers made her a cousin of the famous Madame Delord<br />

Sarpy who owned a part of the Faubourg St. Marie. Madame Sarpy employed surveyor Barthelemy<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

23


Lafon, Modeste Foucher’s consort, to survey her plantation and divide it into the streets now so<br />

well known to local residents.<br />

1 Ina Johanna Fandrich, The Mysterious Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveaux: A Study of Powerful female Leadership in Nineteenth-<br />

Century <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Routledge, <strong>New</strong> York: Taylor & Francis, 2005), 71-72.<br />

2 Modeste Foucher Succession. No. 8777 P. 118 of filmstrip, #213 Ancestry.com.<br />

3 Benedicte’s heirs were, in 1812, her minor children Valcour, Patrice, Elizete, Pizeros and Aglae Foucher. See Sale 928<br />

Toulouse, February 5, 1812, before Estevan de Quinones, NP, vol. 13, p. 366, Achille Burel, f.m.c., and Benedicte Burel,<br />

f.w.c., were represented by Joseph Foucher, f.m.c., in the sale to Louis Dufilho. The act declared that Achille and<br />

Benedicte Burel received the property through a verbal donation from Rene Brion and his wife Marianne Piquery. Achille<br />

and Benedicte were the grandchildren of Rene Brion, if not Piquery.<br />

4 Inventory of estate, Julie Brion, in Pierre Pedesclaux, NP, September 13, 1804, vol. 48, pp 939-940.<br />

L OUIS C ASIMIR E LISABETH M OREAU-LISLET<br />

(1766-1832)<br />

<br />

Louis Casimir Elisabeth Moreau-Lislet.<br />

L. MOREAU-LISLET AND HENRY CARLETON, THE LAWS OF<br />

LAS SIETE PARTIDAS, WHICH ARE STILL IN FORCE IN THE<br />

STATE OF LOUISIANA, NEW ORLEANS: JAMES M’KARAHER,<br />

NO. 60. CHARTRES STREET, 1820.<br />

Louis Moreau-Lislet may be the most important legal figure in the history of the State of<br />

Louisiana. His drafting of two civil codes, in 1808 and 1825, laid the groundwork and determined<br />

the future of the civil law in Louisiana. 1 An extraordinary jurist, linguist and public servant,<br />

Moreau-Lislet was born in St. Domingue and educated in Paris where he studied law at the<br />

Sorbonne. In 1789, at the age of twenty-three, he married Mlle. de Peters in Paris. His famous relative,<br />

the statesman Moreau de St. Méry, served as his tutor and attended the wedding. Returning<br />

to St. Domingue, Moreau-Lislet was appointed assistant public prosecutor (premier substitut de procureur<br />

général) and served in various governmental capacities. During the revolutionary upheavals<br />

in St. Domingue and prior to his departure for Louisiana he may have served as Toussaint<br />

l’Ouverture’s personal secretary, a position that would have been consistent with his well-known<br />

gifts as a linguist and translator. Finally fleeing the revolution he found refuge and initial employment<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans as a translator attached to the Orleans Territorial Legislature.<br />

Moreau-Lislet’s talents as a lawyer and jurisconsult soon came to the attention of Louisiana<br />

Governor William C. Claiborne. In 1806, Claiborne chose him and James Brown to draft a civil<br />

code for the Territory, which was completed and<br />

promulgated in 1808. This was the first code of<br />

European law enacted in the Americas. In 1822,<br />

Moreau-Lislet was again chosen as jurisconsult,<br />

with Edward Livingston and Pierre Derbigny, to<br />

draft the Civil Code of 1825, a work described by<br />

Sir Henry Maine as “…of all the republications of<br />

Roman law, the one which appears to us as the<br />

clearest, the fullest, the most philosophical, and<br />

the best adapted to the exigencies of modern society.”<br />

Some indication of Moreau-Lislet’s prestige<br />

in the legal community is that in the balloting<br />

to select the three jurisconsults, he received<br />

nearly twice the number of votes received by the<br />

eminent Livingston.<br />

Over the course of an extensive political career<br />

Moreau-Lislet held nearly every office of public<br />

trust in the State, including parish judge, state<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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epresentative, state senator and attorney general. At the bar he enjoyed an extensive and distinguished<br />

practice in which he handled the greatest cases of the day, appearing as counsel before the<br />

Louisiana Supreme Court in more than two hundred cases. In the process he amassed one of the<br />

largest law libraries of his day, consisting of more than a thousand volumes in French, English,<br />

Spanish and Latin. He was also renowned for his translations, most notably the first translation<br />

into English (with Henry Carleton) of Las Siete Partidas, the Spanish code.<br />

Despite his eminence as a jurisconsult and lawyer, Moreau Lislet died poor and suffered tragically<br />

in his personal life.<br />

—Vernon Valentine Palmer<br />

Editor’s note: Only Henry Plauché Dart (q.v.) is comparable in the next century.<br />

B ARTHÉLEMY<br />

(1769-1820)<br />

L AFON<br />

A man of many talents, Barthélemy Lafon designed buildings, laid out suburbs, created maps,<br />

surveyed the wilderness, made natural history drawings, taught engineering, speculated in land,<br />

manufactured bricks, acted in theater, and dabbled in privateering. Engineer, architect, artist, surveyor,<br />

he used his skills repeatedly over his thirty years in Louisiana. Lafon had a hand in laying<br />

out two of the faubourgs adjoining <strong>New</strong> Orleans, St. Mary and Marigny. Famous homes such as<br />

Bosque House at 617 Chartres have been attributed to him. His maps and surveys undergirded<br />

Andrew Jackson’s defense of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, in 1815, and helped to explain the American victory at<br />

the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. He served as chief deputy surveyor for <strong>New</strong> Orleans for four years, and<br />

then as a chief surveyor for the entire state. Lafon’s 1806 map of Louisiana is one of the “earliest<br />

comprehensive maps of any state or territory in US.” 1<br />

Born in the Province of Languedoc, France,<br />

Lafon arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans soon after 1790<br />

and sought a grant to a key portion of the commons<br />

along the future Canal Street. Soon after<br />

that, however, the Spanish began rebuilding Fort<br />

St. Louis, which overlooked the land. Lafon was<br />

ordered not to develop it, though apparently he<br />

had already constructed an iron works. This valuable<br />

parcel remained forever outside of his grasp.<br />

In 1801, Lafon purchased the 300-arpent Chef<br />

Menteur plantation along Bayou Sauvage in what<br />

is now Eastern <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His plan of the property, made in 1809, indicates a cypress house sur<br />

sole (on a framed foundation) with cabins of poteaux en terre (posts in the ground), the buildings<br />

roofed en pieux (roofing of elongated stakes), all in the method of early colonial construction.<br />

There, he had four million bricks. He made a will that year, thinking he was dying, leaving his<br />

instruments, books and drawings to his students, and leaving land to his natural children, but<br />

Lafon did not die. At least not then. The property remained in his estate in various legal states until<br />

1827, seven years after his real death.<br />

About 1803 Lafon had joined the Laffites in the business of piracy. His justification was that his<br />

vessels attacked Spanish ships only. Not impressed, the United States Navy condemned piracy<br />

against any nation. In 1813, Lafon’s La Misère brought in as a prize the Spanish vessel Cometa. The<br />

following year the United States government handed down indictments naming Lafon for his<br />

attacks on Spain. Undaunted, Lafon also purchased property in Donaldsonville along the<br />

<br />

Land owned by B. Lafon in Faubourg<br />

St. Marie.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1980.187.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

25


Mississippi River at its juncture with Bayou Lafourche. From there he moved cargo and probably<br />

slaves acquired from the Laffite brothers up and down the river. Piracy in the Gulf of Mexico was<br />

never far from the Laffites (q.v.) and Lafon seems to have loaned his talents to the enterprise.<br />

Profitability prompted the syndicate following the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans to form the “Associates,”<br />

consisting of Edward Livingston and other prominent <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>, to invade Spanish-owned<br />

Texas. Part of the plan was to acquire Galveston from Mexico and set up a town where smuggled<br />

good could be stored. Nevertheless, these ventures did not enable Lafon to remain solvent after<br />

1815. His plantation in the eastern part of the city later became Michoud and is now part of the<br />

NASA site.<br />

Lafon is also remembered as the consort of free woman of color Modeste Foucher, one of the great<br />

lures of the era. An unacknowledged son named Thomy Lafon (q.v.) has often been attributed to him<br />

because Thomy’s acknowledged mother Modeste was Barthélemy’s longtime consort and collaborator.<br />

1 Alfred E. Lemmon, John T. Magill and Jason R. Wiese, Charting Louisiana: 500 Years of Maps (The Historic <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Collection, 2003), 139.<br />

<br />

W ILLIAM C HARLES C OLE C LAIBORNE<br />

(1775-1817)<br />

<br />

William Charles Cole Claiborne.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

Louisiana Governor William C. C. Claiborne presided over the peaceful integration of Louisiana<br />

into the United States. An Anglo-American with an accommodating personality, he learned to<br />

accept the strong French personalities in Louisiana who opposed his charge from Thomas Jefferson<br />

to reconstruct the territory’s legal environment along the lines of the Common Law. Claiborne’s<br />

compromising approach eventually led to his most important accomplishment, providing political<br />

support for the adoption of a Louisiana code of laws based heavily on the civil law of France and<br />

Spain. Louisiana remains the only Civil Law state in the Union.<br />

Claiborne’s political background contributed to his success in Louisiana. Early on, his political<br />

ambitions had led him to run for and win a seat in Congress from the State of Tennessee before he<br />

was the constitutional age to be seated. He was still in Congress during the disputed Presidential<br />

election of 1801 where he cast his vote for Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson reciprocated, appointing<br />

Claiborne territorial governor of Mississippi. The purchase of Louisiana, in 1803, led smoothly to<br />

an appointment as governor of the Louisiana Territory, where Claiborne’s political instincts carried<br />

him through the next nine years leading the Louisiana territory. His success led to his becoming<br />

the first elected governor of Louisiana after statehood in 1812, followed briefly by election to the<br />

U.S. Senate where he died after only six months in office.<br />

Tragedy marked William Claiborne’s personal life. He married three times, his first two wives<br />

dying of yellow fever within five years of each other. With his second wife he had a son (William<br />

C. C. Claiborne II) who helped preserve the Claiborne name to the present. Ironically, while governor<br />

of the Mississippi Territory Claiborne was a pioneer in using mass vaccination against an epidemic,<br />

in that case of small pox. The yellow fever epidemics that killed his wives were to plague<br />

Louisiana for another century.<br />

Historians have generally accorded little gravity to Claiborne’s service to Louisiana. The state’s<br />

first published history by François-Xavier Martin found he was “honest and diligent, but somewhat<br />

intimidated,” perhaps understandable in a milieu that included the millionaire Julien Poydras (q.v.)<br />

and former <strong>New</strong> York Mayor Edward Livingston. 1 More insightful is the penetrating study of the<br />

introduction of the Civil Code by legal historian George Dargo, which found that, “Claiborne’s<br />

approval of the Civil Law Digest adopted by the territorial legislature, in 1808, a landmark in<br />

the legal history of Louisiana, was to be uncharacteristically bold and creative.” 2 Legal scholar<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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A. N. Yiannopoulos found “the 1808 Code was a concise statement of principles and rules easily<br />

ascertainable and readily available to all.” 3 In the end Claiborne was more important to Louisiana<br />

than his more well-known contemporaries Jean Laffite or Andrew Jackson.<br />

Louisiana’s Civil Code continued the rational European codification of laws and practice introduced<br />

by the French and Spanish. Its Civil Law system clashed sharply with the English system of<br />

judicial law that has ruled the rest of the United States. In most particulars it was so modern compared<br />

to American private laws that over the years other states have adopted many of its protections<br />

for the family, the widow, and the orphan.<br />

1 See R. Randall Couch, “William Charles Cole Claiborne: An Historiographical Review.” Louisiana History 36 (1995): 453-<br />

465 and Francois-Xavier Martin, The History of Louisiana from the Earliest Period, 2 vols. <strong>New</strong> Orleans, 1827-29.<br />

2 George Dargo, Jefferson’s Louisiana: Politics and the Clash of Legal Traditions (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), 50.<br />

3 A. N. Yiannopoulos, Louisiana Civil Law System (Baton Rouge: Claitor’s Publishing Division, 1977), 31.<br />

J UDAH<br />

T OURO<br />

(1775-1854)<br />

Judah Touro and John McDonogh (q.v.) were the most important philanthropists of antebellum<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans, endowing religious, charitable, and educational causes. Touro and McDonogh also<br />

shared remarkable personal histories. As young men, both participated actively in business, politics<br />

and social life. But both, following their participation<br />

in the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, gave up everything<br />

but business and virtually ended all personal<br />

relationships. Business dealings seemed to become<br />

their only social outlets. It was almost as if the carnage<br />

of the battle had lifetime effects on them.<br />

The concerns that their wills addressed, Jewish<br />

institutions in one case and public education in<br />

another, were less evident in their lifetimes than<br />

they were after their deaths. During his lifetime<br />

Touro endowed the congregation Dispersed of<br />

Judah, which became Touro Synagogue, and<br />

founded what is now Touro Infirmary. “In later<br />

life,” as Irwin Lachoff has written, “he sought to<br />

return to his Jewish roots, donating generously to<br />

the first Jewish congregations in the city. In the<br />

will that made him famous, he bequeathed over<br />

four hundred thousand dollars to Jewish and<br />

Gentile institutions, both religious and secular.” 1<br />

Earlier, Touro gave far more to explicitly Christian<br />

institutions than to Jewish ones. As to McDonogh, he freed and educated most of his slaves, and<br />

became the single most important factor in <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Schools, but did not publically support<br />

the public schools movement so crucial to the <strong>New</strong> Orleans American sector following 1840.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong>port and orphaned as a youth, Touro was brought up by an uncle who eventually<br />

established him in a mercantile business in Boston. In 1801, Touro left for <strong>New</strong> Orleans where he<br />

established a merchant shipping business for his firm. As did McDonogh, he invested in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

real estate, a golden opportunity in the rapidly expanding city. Also like McDonogh in the decade<br />

before the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Touro was active socially, yet by the Battle he too had remained single.<br />

<br />

Judah Touro.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION,<br />

1974.25.27.434.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

27


Severely wounded, Touro changed his lifestyle dramatically following his recovery. He became outwardly<br />

parsimonious and privately generous, a trait that greatly contributed to his later fortune. His<br />

largest real estate investments were the buildings on Canal Street (“Touro Row”) that came to be named<br />

for him.<br />

In the course of his life Touro donated to many Christian churches, such as Parson Clapp’s<br />

Stranger’s Church (q.v.) and the construction of the new St. Louis Cathedral in 1849. But beginning<br />

about 1845 Jewish leaders in <strong>New</strong> Orleans such as Gershom Kursheedt and Rabbi Isaac Leeser of<br />

Philadelphia convinced him of the importance of being Jewish in more than words. He was persuaded<br />

to fund a new Sephardic ritual congregation in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, in which he became an active<br />

member. Along with this came the funding of a new hospital later known as Touro Infirmary. The<br />

publication of his will assured his philanthropic reputation as he donated hundreds of thousands<br />

of dollars to Jewish congregations across the United States.<br />

Irwin Lachoff, “Introduction,” in Greater <strong>New</strong> Orleans Archivists, Jews of <strong>New</strong> Orleans:An Archival Guide (<strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

1998), pp 12-13.<br />

<br />

J EAN L OUIS D OLLIOLE (1779-1861) AND<br />

J OSEPH C HATEAU (1816-?)<br />

<br />

1440 Bourbon Street.<br />

PHOTO BY CAROLYN KOLB.<br />

Jean-Louis Dolliole, 19th century builder and community leader, played an important role in<br />

maintaining the culture and traditions of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Serving also as testamentary executor, legal<br />

tutor or sponsor for friends and relatives, he helped to maintain the family lives and stature of the<br />

city’s free black community. Best known as a talented builder along with his brother Joseph,<br />

Dolliole applied his skills to the creation of homes built and framed in the “French-style.” Using<br />

local materials like orange-red country brick and wood of cypress or pine, he drew largely on<br />

French building methods such as the triangular roof truss, half-timber construction, and the use<br />

of shingle, slate, hook tile roofing or over lathing strips to fashion rooflines. Dolliole’s home in the<br />

French Quarter at 933 St. Philip represents the best of local vernacular architecture. Built, in 1805,<br />

and owned by Dolliole for a half century, it was rescued from near ruin by a skilled local architect<br />

and his wife, an historian and educator. Just steps from Esplanade Avenue, Dolliole’s masterpiece<br />

at 1440 Bourbon stands on an irregular lot that reflects the crazy-quilt angles of the Faubourg<br />

Marigny. Here in 1819, Dolliole assembled the haunting lines of a softly-colored plastered<br />

brick cottage with a kaleidoscopic, double-pitched hipped roof of enduring flat tiles. Built not for<br />

himself but for his mother-in-law<br />

Catherine Dusuau, the house<br />

remained in the family until<br />

1858. Today it is one of the most<br />

picturesque in the city.<br />

Jean-Louis Dolliole was the son<br />

of a Provençal Frenchman and<br />

Geneviève Laronde, a mother of<br />

African heritage, one of thousands<br />

of free people of color whose legacies<br />

survive in neighborhoods,<br />

church life, business, politics,<br />

music, writing and Francophone<br />

culture. Their records abound in<br />

local archives, dating from the<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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18th century until the Civil War and later. Dolliole lived a long, prosperous life, census records of<br />

1850 showing that at the age of seventy-one he was still a builder with real estate worth $10,000,<br />

along with four slaves aged seven to forty-five. Ten years later, his household included the family of<br />

mason Pedro Barthelemy and carpenter Leon Bonnecase.<br />

Among other important builders of the antebellum period were Pablo Cheval, Paul Mandeville,<br />

Bazile Dédé, August Philippe, Francois Darby, Charles Dupard, Manuel Moreau, Francois Boisdoré,<br />

Louis Barthelemy Rey, Toby Dominique, Myrtille Courcelle, Francois Fils, Florville Foy, Pierre<br />

Rillieux, and Joseph Chateau.<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans-born Joseph Chateau (1816-) was one of the most prolific free black builders of<br />

the antebellum period, with significant work of several types. <strong>New</strong> Orleans notaries of the 1840s<br />

recorded seventeen contracts documenting his building activities, indicating that Chateau’s stockin-trade<br />

was the Creole cottage. With façades usually scored (floché) to resemble stone, and decorative,<br />

red-hued painting, they can still be found in the older neighborhoods. Chateau also worked<br />

in other genres, building townhouses, renovating a store on Chartres St., and making innovations<br />

to the vernacular cottage. His 1850 household included an Irish worker as well as two French-born<br />

carpenters, possibly helping to explain the wide scope of his work.<br />

—Sally K. Reeves<br />

<br />

J OHN<br />

M C D ONOGH<br />

(1779-1850)<br />

John McDonogh, the most important philanthropist in <strong>New</strong> Orleans history, began his career<br />

in the trading house of William Taylor of Baltimore where McDonogh was born in 1779. Taylor<br />

carried on an extensive trade with Europe, the West Indies and the South American countries. He<br />

sent young McDonogh out repeatedly as the<br />

owner’s representative, a responsible position for<br />

one not yet twenty years of age. Though<br />

McDonogh made his fortune in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, he<br />

never forgot the city of his birth. McDonogh’s<br />

elaborate will, devised a dozen years before his<br />

death in 1850, laid out his plans for a spectacular<br />

legacy to both <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Baltimore. Its<br />

clauses shed light on the testator’s personal life<br />

and beliefs. The high purpose of his life was the<br />

establishment and support of Free Schools in said<br />

cities, and their respective suburbs, (including<br />

the Town of McDonogh as a suburb of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans) wherein the poor, (and the poor only),<br />

of both sexes of all Classes and Castes of Color,<br />

shall have admittance, free of expense for the purpose<br />

of being instructed in the Knowledge of the<br />

Lord and in reading, writing, Arithmetic, History,<br />

and Geography. 1<br />

A prominent feature of the will was a bequest to the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans of the Louis<br />

Allard Plantation on Bayou St. John, which the donor specified was to be used as a public<br />

park. The land adjacent to it, he recommended, should be leased to farmers so the city could<br />

use the income to finance operations. McDonogh died, in 1850, leaving his entire estate<br />

equally to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Baltimore. It took nine years and a protracted series of litigation<br />

<br />

John McDonogh<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

29


etween the cities to settle the estate, but by 1859, <strong>New</strong> Orleans was able to declare the Allard tract<br />

a public (now city) park.<br />

McDonogh was not under the illusion that his plans would solve the problems of education for<br />

children. Rather, he challenged <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Baltimore to provide and pay for schools and<br />

teachers for all of its children, implementing a real estate tax on the population for the purpose. As<br />

he wrote in his will, it is an imperative, and Sacred duty, which each and every Government on<br />

earth, is bound to perform, [to provide] by Law, for the education of every child, within the limits<br />

of their respective Governments; To that effect, Parents, and Guardians of youth, should be made,<br />

under heavy penalties, to send their Children to Schools, supported, (under a System of general taxation,<br />

on real Estate;) at the sole expense of the Government.<br />

McDonogh was one of several nineteenth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans philanthropists who practiced<br />

austerity in their personal lives. Both he and Judah Touro opened their careers in the city as full<br />

participants in society, but the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans seems to have changed both into recluses.<br />

McDonogh lived in a large plantation house on the west bank of the Mississippi in what is now<br />

Gretna, Louisiana, accompanied mainly by slaves for whom he systematically provided the means<br />

of purchasing their freedom.<br />

Other philanthropists like Marie Couvent (q.v.) and Margaret Haughery (q.v.) did not bother with<br />

public policy statements, but simply saved or invested their money. McDonogh was unusual in that<br />

he gave very little away during his life time, his vast bequest after death coming as a corresponding<br />

shock to the cities of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Baltimore. His gift to Baltimore created one great school, the<br />

John McDonogh School, which survives today. His gifts to <strong>New</strong> Orleans led to the construction of<br />

over fifty public schools in the next half century, all but one named for him. Today political forces<br />

have led the school district to rename most of the schools, much as Isaac Delgado’s Museum has<br />

become the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of Art.<br />

1 McDonogh Will. <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Library 5th District Court, #4112.<br />

M AJOR J OSEPH S AVARY (1780-1830)<br />

AND THE F REE B LACK M ILITIA<br />

<br />

Chalmette Battlefield scene: American<br />

rampart, War of 1812 cannons.<br />

MALUS-BEAUREGARD HOUSE. CREDIT: NATIONAL<br />

PARK SERVICE.<br />

Major Joseph Savary led the St. Domingue battalion of the Free Black Militia in the Battle of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. It competed with the older Creole battalion and won particular notice from General Andrew<br />

Jackson. Before the Civil War, these two battalions were the only armed African-American forces in<br />

Louisiana. Savary, a native of Saint-Domingue (Haiti) had fought with the French during the Haitian<br />

Revolution. When Haiti became independent, Savary and his family settled in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. 1<br />

Enrique Mentzinger, Captain Francisco Dorville, and Sergeant Vincent Populus led the much<br />

older Creole Battalion d’Orleans, which had served in Spanish colonial times. 2 In 1807, the new<br />

United States government accepted its members into a new Battalion of Free Men of Color. About<br />

1809 the free black militias who had escaped from Haiti, Savary among them, began to importune<br />

Governor William Claiborne for official recognition.<br />

In December 1814 General Andrew Jackson arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and immediately mustered 350<br />

Creole veterans of the Spanish militia into the United States Army. Savary then raised a second black<br />

unit of Haiti’s refugee soldiers. Jackson recognized Savary’s considerable influence and knew of his reputation<br />

as “a man of great courage.” The Second Battalion, Free Men of Color of the Louisiana Militia,<br />

some 256 men, including staff officers, were assembled in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and on December 19, 1814,<br />

inducted into the service of the United States. On the same day, Savary, who had already assumed the<br />

rank of captain, was promoted to the rank of second major. Arsène Lacarrière Latour wrote in his<br />

Historical Memoir of the battle that “the gallant Captain Savary, who had occupied an honorable and<br />

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distinguished reputation in the wars of St. Domingo,” formed the newest battalion “chiefly with refugees<br />

from that island.” 3<br />

Four days after their mustering in, the Second Battalion’s first battle occurred during the savage<br />

night-time battle of December 23 on the banks of the Mississippi River. During the skirmish, Savary and<br />

his men fought back the British who were attempting to enter the city. In French, and reminiscent of<br />

the La Marseillaise, he urged his men to “March on! March on, my friends, march on against the enemies<br />

of the country.” After the commanding victory of the Americans on January 8, 1815, General Jackson<br />

noted that the British rout began when one of Savary’s men killed British Commanding General Edward<br />

Pakenham on the field of battle. Jackson publicly praised the Second Battalion and its commander, stating<br />

that saying, “Savary’s volunteers manifested great bravery….” 4<br />

On January 21 Jackson spoke to the troops assembled at Chalmette “recounting in glowing<br />

words the major events of the campaign, and taunting the enemy with the miserable frustration of<br />

their designs. He also used the occasion to laud the bravery of “Major Joseph Savary, a Free Man<br />

of Color from Haiti who had performed spectacularly during the fight.” 5<br />

When the war ended, however, white <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> persuaded Jackson to order the black<br />

troops out of the city. But, <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Louisiana did not forget Savary. In 1819, the State of<br />

Louisiana granted him a pension of $30 a month, which ten years later was still in effect. 6 That year<br />

Savary headed a pump brigade for the fire department, while the city council provided their lodging<br />

on Hospital Street. 7 He had descendants for a century later; pioneering black historian Charles<br />

Roussève noted that his granddaughter had married prominent Creole Joseph-Celestin Rousseau. 8<br />

1 Marcus Christian, “Negro Soldiers in the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans,” in Gary D. Joiner, ed., The Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans: A<br />

Bicentennial <strong>Tribute</strong> (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2015), 229-252.<br />

2 Jack D. L. Holmes, Honor and Fidelity: the Louisiana Infantry Regisment and the Louisiana Militia Companies, 1766-1821<br />

(Birmignahm, 1965), 55. See also Roland C. McConnell, Negro troops of antebellum Louisiana; a history of the Battalion of<br />

Free Men of Color (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1968).<br />

3 Christian, 243.<br />

4 Charles Gayarré, History of Louisiana. The American Domination (<strong>New</strong> Orleans: F. F. Hansell & Bro., Ltd., 1903), IV, 433.<br />

5 Winston Groom, Patriotic Fire: Andrew Jackson and Jean Laffite at the Battle of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans (<strong>New</strong> York: Vintage books, 2007), 228.<br />

6 Robert Ewell Greene, Black Defenders of America, 1775-1973 (Chicago: Johnson Publishing Company Inc.,. 1974);<br />

Roland C. McConnell, Negro Troops of Antebellum Louisiana: A History of the Battalion of Free Men of Color (Baton Rouge:<br />

Louisiana State University Press, 1968). Annie Lee West Stahl, “The Free Negro in Ante-Bellum Louisiana” in Louisiana<br />

Historical Quarterly, XXV (April 1942): 327-9.<br />

7 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Argus Feb 23, 1828. P. 3<br />

8 Charles B. Roussève, The Negro in Louisiana: aspects of his history and his literature ( <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Xavier University Press,<br />

1937), 28-29, 65.<br />

<br />

J EAN L AFFITE (1782-1823) AND<br />

P IERRE L AFFITE (1770 TO 1822)<br />

The subject of endless biographies; disagreements over whether he was a privateer or a pirate; controversy<br />

over an authentic-sounding personal journal written on period paper with authentic-looking signatures<br />

allegedly written decades after he was supposed to be dead; recognized and given a Presidential<br />

pardon for his contributions to the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans that at least one historian has now concluded<br />

were of little significance; and a commodified tourist draw for <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ Jean Laffite will not go away.<br />

Perhaps he is one of those figures who remain famous because everyone has heard of him. More<br />

likely, easily impressed adventurers seeking the exotic in preference to the workaday prefer to hear<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

31


Jean Laffite.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

about the mariner whose birthplace and death remain obscure and who practiced piracy in the balmy<br />

waters of the Gulf of Mexico, depositing his loot (and smuggled slaves) in the wilds of swampy<br />

Barataria south of languid <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

The truth is, there are actually primary records that document Laffite’s activities and those of his<br />

brother Pierre in their adventurous <strong>New</strong> Orleans period. Although some have called it privateering,<br />

Jean and Pierre Laffite practiced piracy out of <strong>New</strong> Orleans for twenty years. They dealt in clothing,<br />

food stuffs, slaves, anything from a captured vessel. They smuggled in slaves to the continent after<br />

Congress had outlawed their importation, selling them clandestinely at their Barataria hideout, or<br />

openly in the public offices of <strong>New</strong> Orleans notaries.<br />

While otherwise respectable citizens tolerated their activities because they provided desirable<br />

goods, the federal government was less amused. Naval Commodore Daniel Patterson and his forces<br />

raided their camp in September, 1814, seizing goods and providing a U.S. District Court record<br />

that historians have used. In their own days the Laffites basked in glory for having donated a sizable<br />

quantity of flints to Andrew Jackson’s army during the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Their most<br />

recent biographer has concluded, however, that the Laffites’ military roles were minor, their “greatest<br />

influence being…the moral force of their siding with the Americans, thus bringing leading<br />

French Louisianans over to that side.” 1<br />

Although there have been arguments otherwise, the most convincing evidence is that Pierre Laffite<br />

was born and raised in Bordeaux, Jean in the nearby wine-producing region of Pauillac. During the<br />

1790s they traded with the colony of St. Domingue until the French Revolution and its attendant<br />

wars made that impossible. Events not fully understood brought them to <strong>New</strong> Orleans about 1803. 2<br />

While the brothers were separated by twelve years of age, once they arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans they<br />

became close. Over the next decade the Laffites captained and organized pirating operations and<br />

landed many of their prizes at Grand Isle on the Louisiana coast. During preparations to face the<br />

British invasion of the Louisiana coast in late 1814, Jean Laffite famously refused a British naval<br />

officer’s offer of wealth and immunity to join the invaders. The Laffites boasted of their loyalty to<br />

the United States, Jean vowing he would never attack an American flag merchant man. He offered<br />

his services instead to Andrew Jackson. Jackson, hard up for flints, guns, and soldiers, took a<br />

chance and accepted the offer. President James<br />

Madison later sent the pardon.<br />

Following the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Jean was<br />

out of ships and having trouble raising money to<br />

outfit new privateer expeditions against either<br />

Spanish or English merchantmen. He then<br />

embarked on a spying engagement for Spain<br />

within the large assortment of buccaneers in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans plotting the overthrow of Mexico and/or<br />

the capture of Texas. The purpose of the spying<br />

was the monthly pay from Spain’s operatives,<br />

headed in <strong>New</strong> Orleans by the Capuchin friar<br />

Antonio de Sedella.<br />

The “Associates,” a subset of the above-mentioned<br />

buccaneers, put together the money that<br />

enabled Jean Laffite to establish a base at Galveston<br />

for new attacks on merchant shipping in the Gulf.<br />

Peace between Spain, England, and the United<br />

States led to the gradual extirpation of privateering,<br />

putting an end to it. About 1823 the Laffite brothers<br />

died separately at sea near Campeche, Mexico.<br />

The romance of the Laffites naturally attracted<br />

writers, an initial novel appearing within three<br />

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years of their deaths. The Memoirs of Lafitte turned out to be a fictional romance that went through<br />

six editions and led to a stage performance. <strong>New</strong>spaper articles tying the Laffites to Lord Byron’s<br />

poem “the Corsair,” and Joseph Holt Ingraham’s 1835 two-volume novel The Pirate; or, Lafitte of the<br />

Gulf of Mexico spread legends about pirate treasure.<br />

Until recently historians have scarcely done a better job of understanding the subject. 3 A highlight<br />

of the biographies was that by Stanley Clisby Arthur who, having access to federal court records in<br />

his capacity of Director of the Survey of Federal Records during the Great Depression, claimed in a<br />

preface that his work was the last that needed to be done on the subject. At least eight Laffite biographies<br />

have succeeded his. The most thoroughly researched and the standard today is the 2005 work<br />

by William C. Davis, The Pirates Laffite.<br />

1 William C. Davis, The Pirates Laffite: The Treacherous World of the Corsairs of the Gulf (<strong>New</strong> York: Harcourt, Inc.,<br />

2005), 223.<br />

2 Davis, The Pirates Laffite, 5-7.<br />

3 A partial list of the biographies, not including those in Spanish. Mary Devereux, Laffite of Louisiana 1902; Lyle Saxon,<br />

Laffite le Pirate 1935; Stanley Clisby Arthur, Jean Lafitte: Gentleman Rover 1952; Iris Vinton, We Were There with Jean<br />

Laffite at <strong>New</strong> Orleans 1957; Robert Tallant, The Pirate Laffite and the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans 1951 and 1989; Jane Lucas De<br />

Grummond, The Baratarians and the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans 1961; Catherine Troxell Gonzalez, Lafitte, the Terror of the Gulf<br />

1981; Jack C. Ramsey, Jean Laffite: Prince of Pirates 1996.<br />

B ERNARD X AVIER P HILIPPE DE M ARIGNY DE M ANDEVILLE<br />

(1785-1868)<br />

Bernard Xavier de Marigny de Mandeville, the founder of the Faubourg Marigny and the Town<br />

of Mandeville, made his reputation in antebellum <strong>New</strong> Orleans as a land developer, politician, and<br />

embodiment of all things French and Creole. Born in the third generation of his family to live in<br />

Louisiana, he lived a span that covered four national flags.<br />

Romantic lore surrounded Marigny’s legacy from the time of his minority. Orphaned at the age of<br />

fifteen, he became a brash young man at twenty-five who told tall tales of dueling exploits that never<br />

occurred. Romantic writers, within a decade of his death, began to exploit his memory as a bon vivant<br />

Frenchman whose love for gambling caused the loss of a vast inherited fortune, depicting him as the<br />

richest man in America who became the poorest.<br />

In fact, Marigny was never as rich or as poor as legend would have it. True, he inherited wealth<br />

from both of his parents’ estates at a much too young age. But as a developer who astutely financed<br />

his sales of land at interest, he earned as much wealth as he inherited. His 1805 development of his<br />

parents’ plantation into the Faubourg Marigny sold out in a short span, the owner retaining only<br />

two squares of ground where stood the family home. Twenty-five years later, Faubourg Marigny had<br />

grown into a settled neighborhood dense with Creole cottages, a sprinkling of Creole townhouses,<br />

churches, commercial and industrial enterprises facing the Mississippi, a market and ferry landing,<br />

and a vibrant public square at Elysian Fields Avenue.<br />

In 1829, when American Sector developers of the Pontchartrain Railroad sought to purchase<br />

Marigny’s two reserved squares and a right-of-way alongside a canal on his land, he realized that<br />

the line would offer convenient access to Lake Pontchartrain and its northern shore. He refused the<br />

sale to the railroad, leased his house to a hotel developer, and kept the rights to the Mississippi<br />

waterfront at the mouth of his canal. The incident led to his decision to develop the Town of<br />

Mandeville on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.<br />

Marigny began to accumulate land in the future Mandeville in 1829, completing his acquisitions<br />

two years later. By 1834 he had had his town cleared and laid out, developed a public relations<br />

<br />

Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, GIFT OF MR.<br />

G. WILLIAM NOTT, 1974.61.1.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

33


program, and sold the lots at auction. Occasional defaults on sales in Mandeville were handled like<br />

those in Faubourg Marigny: a repossession, default on the deposit, and a subsequent re-sale to<br />

Marigny’s profit. The Northshore development became the Town of Mandeville, which to this day<br />

honors the one stipulation in the founder’s sales: to keep its lakefront clear of development.<br />

Marigny’s political life was just as extensive and complicated. At 26, he was elected to his first<br />

public office, a seat on the <strong>New</strong> Orleans City Council, where he served several short terms. He<br />

served in the Louisiana State Senate from 1822 to 1823, subsequently losing two races for governor.<br />

But he was elected to two state constitutional conventions (1812 and 1845), where he successfully<br />

battled for the preservation of requiring French in all things legal.<br />

The Panic of 1837 led to bankruptcies nationwide and a general depression in the American economy,<br />

the hard times lasting through most of the 1840s. Highly leveraged with bank loans, by 1845<br />

Marigny had to surrender most of his assets to his bankers. In subsequent years he was never again<br />

wealthy, but unlike others in the business community, he never declared bankruptcy.<br />

Married twice, Marigny had seven children and two unhappy experiences in marriage. His first<br />

wife Mary Ann Jones died in childbirth, their two sons both dying in early manhood. With his second<br />

wife Anna Morales, daughter of former Spanish Intendant Juan Ventura Morales, Marigny had five<br />

more children and numerous grandchildren, nearly all of whom have posterity today. After fifty years<br />

of unhappy marriage, Marigny and his second wife finally divorced in 1859. The following year, he<br />

purchased a gracious home on the Mandeville lakefront. There, near the home of a daughter and<br />

grandchildren, he rode out the Civil War, and at the time of his death in 1868, was spending much<br />

of his time. The house subsequently became Mugnier’s and then Bechac’s Restaurant. The last and<br />

only extant home of Mandeville’s colorful founder, the house still stands.<br />

—Sally K. Reeves<br />

<br />

G IL J OSEPH (1789-1846) AND<br />

L OUIS H. PILIÉ (1821-1886)<br />

<br />

Joseph Pilé.<br />

Father and son Joseph and Louis Henri Pilié were the two most important City Surveyors of<br />

19th century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Between them, they designed and managed the major portion of the<br />

city’s 19th century infrastructure, from roads and bridges to wharves and public markets. With<br />

400 known drawings in the Notarial Archives (Office of the Clerk of Civil District Court) and<br />

another 300 drawings in the City Archives (<strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Library), Joseph Pilié pioneered<br />

the art of drawing property surveys and house indications for the <strong>New</strong> Orleans civil engineering<br />

profession. As Deputy Surveyor and then City Surveyor following his father, Louis H. Pilié managed<br />

the maintenance and rebuilding of markets, streets, curbs, wharves, and other public facilities<br />

over a forty-year period. His son Edgar (b. 1845), although not a City Surveyor, continued the family<br />

profession as a civil engineer in late 19th century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His colorful, small-scale survey<br />

drawings are usually attached to acts in the Notarial Archives collection.<br />

The office of City Surveyor was part of municipal government from the 1805 incorporation of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. Louisiana-born Jacques Tanesse was the first to fill the position, having served first<br />

as surveyor general in St. Domingue. He is best remembered for an 1812 map of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and<br />

for having, in 1813, designed the French Quarter’s meat market, still standing. Joseph Pilié<br />

assumed his office at the death of Tanesse in December 1818, remaining in office until 1836, just<br />

before the city split into three municipalities. Ironically, the St. Domingue-born Pilié then left the<br />

“First Municipality” (the French section) and at forty-seven went to work in the American Sector<br />

as the surveyor of the Second Municipality until 1844. He also did engineering for private clients<br />

in this period, working sometimes even for the Third Municipality, surveying until not long before<br />

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his death in 1846. One of his greatest works was to design and draw specifications for a multi-level<br />

steamboat wharf that could function when the river was at high or low water.<br />

The City Surveyor’s chief responsibility was to provide for the municipality’s orderly physical<br />

growth. He was the city architect, engineer, and health and safety official. He surveyed and marked<br />

lot lines, issued building permits, inspected theaters, walls, sidewalks and encroachments, laid out<br />

streets and supervised their construction, and designed and let contracts for market buildings, firehouses,<br />

asylums, prisons, courthouses, wharves, school houses, and other public facilities. An<br />

expert on the growth of the city and its property titles, the Surveyor was usually the expert witness<br />

in boundary dispute cases.<br />

The elder Pilié came to <strong>New</strong> Orleans with his family as a refugee child. In 1805, the sixteenyear-old<br />

entered into a contract with Barthelemy Lafon (q.v.) to learn the surveying business. He<br />

became a draftsman in the office, one of his assignments being to make a property-owners’ map of<br />

the Vieux Carre that was issued in 1809. Before the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, General Wilkinson<br />

appointed him “to survey the lakes near the city and establish forts from Bayou St. John to<br />

Mobile.” 1 Appointed City Surveyor for Orleans Parish in late 1818, Pilié began to make drawings<br />

that appear in notarial records the following year. Many are small in scale with lot lines only; a large<br />

number, however, are “indications,” depicting the footprint of every structure on a lot with convincing,<br />

shaded roof shapes that explicate the building’s massing. Pilié’s last known drawing dates<br />

to 1846.<br />

Joseph Pilié sent his son Louis Henry to study at Janin’s College in St. Louis. At the age of fifteen<br />

he joined his father’s private firm. At twenty-two (1843) he received an appointment as deputy surveyor<br />

of the First Municipality, becoming City Surveyor after the reunion of the three municipal<br />

subdivisions in 1852. He worked steadily in that capacity until the Civil War. One of his great<br />

achievements from 1858 until 1861 was to survey and make oversized water color auction drawings<br />

of the vast stock of property in Orleans and surrounding parishes owned by John McDonogh<br />

and left to the city. Louis Pilié’s drawings for the McDonogh auctions fill entire plan books of the<br />

Notarial Archives Division. His painting style and graphics were straightforward—clean and softly<br />

colorful, without a great deal of linear detail.<br />

In 1862, Union General Benjamin Butler had Louis Pilié seized and thrown into jail in the federal<br />

Customhouse on a spurious charge. In 1865, Pilié sued the city over the extortion of money<br />

and Butler’s false imprisonment, and won his case in both district and the Louisiana State Supreme<br />

Court when Louisiana was still under federal control. 2 Louis H. Pilié went on to serve the City of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans for another twenty years.<br />

—Sally K. Reeves<br />

1. Deposition, Louis H. Pilié, “<strong>New</strong> Orleans Canal and Banking Co. vs. the United States,” USDC No.28; April 14, 1874.<br />

2 Louis H. Pilié vs. City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, 19 LA Annual Reports 274 appeal from 5DC No. 15070.<br />

T HEODORE C LAPP (1792-1866) AND<br />

B ENJAMIN M ORGAN P ALMER (1818-1902)<br />

Unitarian Dr. Theodore Clapp and Presbyterian Reverend B. M. Palmer were the most popular<br />

white sermonizers of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history, although their Protestantism varied. Clapp began as a<br />

Presbyterian, and then rejected Calvinism a few years after becoming the preacher at First Presbyterian<br />

Church. His followers became the First Congregational Unitarian Society, a church that revolved<br />

around only Parson Clapp. The parson’s oratory made Clapp a minor tourist attraction, as visitors to<br />

the city were persuaded to hear him preach in such numbers that his church became known colloquially<br />

as the “Strangers” church. An audience of a thousand was not unusual, especially since the church<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

35


Rev. Theodore Clapp.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

was immediately next door to the voluminous<br />

St. Charles Hotel, and across the street from the<br />

Verandah Hotel.<br />

Memorialist Eliza Ripley, in her Social Life in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans recorded some keen observations of<br />

Clapp’s church:<br />

No Bible class, no Sunday school, no prayer<br />

meeting, no missionary band, no church committee,<br />

no Donor’s Society, no sewing circle, no donation<br />

party, no fairs, no organ recital, absolutely<br />

“no nothing,” but Dr. Clapp and his weekly<br />

sermon. The church was always filled to its<br />

utmost capacity. 1<br />

Clapp was close to several prominent local merchants,<br />

most notably the humble and generous<br />

Judah Touro (q.v.). Touro provided the funds to<br />

build Clapp’s church and, when it burned two<br />

decades later, the funds to rebuild. Clapp recalled that after the fire no Christian church would extend<br />

a hand to the Unitarians. Meanwhile, his fabled tolerance invited vigorous debate. “I think it very<br />

wrong to apply disparaging epithets to any person on account of his honest opinions on religious matters,”<br />

he wrote in his memoirs. “A minister should never denounce, but he may discuss, and entreat<br />

with all long-suffering and forbearance.” 2<br />

<strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> appreciated Clapp for his courage during the cholera and yellow fever epidemics<br />

of the 1830s and 1853. He unhesitatingly visited the sick and dying, conducting funerals<br />

daily of many who had great plans for their future. “I went, one Wednesday night,” he wrote, “to<br />

solemnize the contract of matrimony between a couple of very genteel appearance. The bride was<br />

young, and possessed of the most extraordinary beauty. A few hours only had elapsed before I was<br />

summoned to perform the last office over her coffin. She had on her bridal dress….” 3<br />

Clapp’s attitude towards slavery shifted twice, initially from a critical posture and then to accommodation.<br />

By the 1850s, however, he had begun to believe that slavery was antithetical to Christianity.<br />

Such were not the views of his former First Presbyterian Church. Clapp remained pastor of his congregation<br />

for thirty-five years, departing in 1856 to live his final years in Louisville, Kentucky.<br />

That year, First Presbyterian welcomed the Rev. Benjamin Morgan Palmer, founder of the<br />

Southwest Presbyterian Seminary (now Rhodes College) and an orphanage at Columbus,<br />

Mississippi, one of the early ministries in his career. Palmer had become a “fire eater,” an outspoken<br />

promoter of the Southern cause. His 1860 speech in behalf of secession swung many to that view.<br />

Palmer’s was the city’s dominant Protestant Congregation. The steeple of his Camp Street church<br />

overlooking Lafayette Square, the city’s tallest, was a local landmark. His oratory firmly established<br />

the Presbyterians in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His speech, in 1891, against the Louisiana Lottery is credited with<br />

halting its extension. A political Progressive in his last decade, he endorsed its two principal tenants,<br />

opposition to the Louisiana lottery and support for racial segregation. 4 Towards the end of his life<br />

he moved to 1718 Henry Clay Avenue. Reverend Palmer remained pastor of First Presbyterian until<br />

his death in 1902. He was accidently killed by a streetcar while walking on the St. Charles Avenue<br />

neutral ground. After his death the City renamed the lake side of Henry Clay Palmer Avenue.<br />

1 Eliza Ripley, Social Life in Old <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Being Recollections of my Girlhood (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company,<br />

1998), 123.<br />

2 John Duffy, ed., Parson Clapp of The Strangers’ Church of <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1957),<br />

87.<br />

3 Duffy, 81.<br />

4 See also Samuel Wilson, Jr. The First Presbyterian Church of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Louisiana Landmarks Society, 1988.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

36


J AMES<br />

H. CALDWELL<br />

(1793-1863)<br />

James H. Caldwell pioneered English-speaking opera and drama in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, built the city’s<br />

most magnificent theatre, and founded the gas manufacturing company needed for lighting its<br />

immense arena. Promoting the growth of his American Sector, he served as alderman and aldermanic<br />

board president as well as a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives. With other investors,<br />

he organized the <strong>New</strong> Basin Canal, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Nashville Railroad Company, the <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Water Works, and the Verandah and St. Charles hotels. His contemporaries Samuel J. Peters<br />

(q.v.) and James Robb (q.v.) collaborated in their efforts to achieve social prominence in American <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. A thoroughly Anglo-American entrepreneur, he was in modern parlance a developer who<br />

injected cultural and economic energy into the <strong>New</strong> Orleans business community (albeit on the<br />

American side of Canal Street).<br />

An English actor who made his American debut at Charleston in 1816, Caldwell moved to<br />

Washington, D. C. in 1817, and began a managerial career. The following year he built a theatre in<br />

Petersburg, Virginia, but by 1820 had brought his theatrical company to <strong>New</strong> Orleans. There it<br />

opened at the St. Philip Street theatre (Théâtre St. Philippe). Within months Caldwell had transferred<br />

to the Orleans Theatre (Théâtre Orléans), sharing it with a resident French-speaking company.<br />

Recognizing greener pastures and a market void, Caldwell moved in 1835 to the American side<br />

of town. That year he opened the opulent St. Charles theatre at a cost of $350,000. The building<br />

seated an astounding 4,100 and was lighted by a gas chandelier twelve feet high with 250 gas jets<br />

and 23,200 crystal drops. Seven years into the venture the theater burned in a spectacular fire, a<br />

common fate for theatres of the time. Caldwell was nevertheless “the Pioneer of the Drama in the<br />

South,” according to a study of theatrical management. 1<br />

In 1833, Caldwell founded the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Gas Light and Banking Company pursuant to a<br />

Legislative charter. It began operations in 1834, with a thirty-year contract to light the city of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. In 1835 he sold his interest to the newly-incorporated <strong>New</strong> Orleans Gas Light and Banking<br />

Company, which would evolve in time into <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Service, Inc., now Entergy.<br />

As the Civil War began, Caldwell moved with his wife Josephine Rome to Cincinnati and then<br />

to <strong>New</strong> York where he died in 1863. 2<br />

<br />

James A. Caldwell.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

1 Sol Smith, Theatrical Management in the West and South for Thirty Years (<strong>New</strong> York, 1868), 153, cited in Arthur<br />

Henry Moehlenbrock, “The German Drama on the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Stage,” Louisiana Historical Quarterly XXVI April<br />

1943, 370.<br />

2 Louisiana Wills and Probate Records 1756-1868, Orleans wills 1860-1865, p. 481-7, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Library.<br />

<br />

D E A RMAS F AMILY OF N EW O RLEANS<br />

Since just after 1800, the multi-talented de Armas family of <strong>New</strong> Orleans has produced notaries<br />

and artists over numerous generations, producing a vast record of the Early American, Antebellum,<br />

and even Post Civil War city. The oldest known public figure was Christoval Loubis de Armas y<br />

Arcila, an Isleño born in Santa Cruz on the volcanic Canary Island of Palma. Christoval practiced as<br />

a notary only later in life (from 1815 until his death in 1828), having lived earlier in Baton Rouge,<br />

and probably he was involved in some earlier legal disputes. He emigrated to Louisiana before 1783,<br />

when he married Amiraud Duplessis of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The couple had seventeen children, of whom<br />

seven survived to adulthood. Christoval’s acts reflect the old Spanish and French Creole populations<br />

of the city during its Early American years. 1 Never wealthy, he and his wife Amiraud resided in a<br />

small rental cottage in the 400 block of Bourbon. His library was small, his inventory nevertheless<br />

identifying a notarial press and the books a notary should have: the indispensable Parfait Notaire;<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

37


De Armas, Notarial License.<br />

GEORGE H. AND KATHERINE M. DAVIS COLLECTION,<br />

LOUISIANA RESEARCH COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

two Civil Codes; and the interesting Tratato de Clausulas Instrumentals, which would have provided<br />

the formularies for Spanish wills, marriage contracts, sales, and mortgages.<br />

Christoval’s oldest son Miguel (1783-1823),<br />

the notary Michel de Armas (volumes 1809-1823)<br />

became the first important city notary of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. His acts record the activities of the city<br />

corporation in dividing the “Commons” along<br />

what is now Canal St and Esplanade, along with<br />

dozens of sales of the lots to individuals. Michel<br />

also passed the 1810 act of sale to the city of their<br />

plantation by Mr. and Mrs. Claude Tremé. This<br />

transaction precipitated the city’s creation of the<br />

Faubourg Tremé and its sales of land there, Tremé<br />

being the only faubourg not created by private<br />

landowners. Among hundreds of clients, Michel<br />

counted second-generation members of the Enoul<br />

Livaudais family, Edward Livingston, Louise de la<br />

Ronde Castillon (widow of Andres Almonester<br />

and mother of Madame de Pontalba) and Bernard<br />

Marigny, many of whose early sales of land in his<br />

faubourg appear in Michel de Armas’ volumes.<br />

An avid book collector and student of civil law,<br />

Michel assembled one of the most important<br />

libraries of Early American Louisiana. His library,<br />

which he kept in his home and office in the 400 block of Chartres Street, consisted of some 3500 volumes<br />

in French, English, Spanish, Latin, Italian and Greek. As S. Reeves has reported, “Because of his<br />

notarial and legal practice, about a third of the library consisted of legal books such as civil law treatises,<br />

digests, and court reports,” along with the world’s great classical works, natural histories, and<br />

literature in English and French. 2 Michel de Armas died sadly in 1823 at forty, leaving a wife<br />

(Gertrude Dubreuil) and four minor children. The inventory of his estate, including his property, furniture,<br />

books and papers, took a notarial team and family members three months to compile. 3<br />

Michel’s brother Felix Nicolas de Armas (1796-1839) assumed Michel’s notarial and city notary<br />

commission in 1823, practicing as a notary until his death at forty-three, another short life. His acts<br />

reflect the continuing activities of the city to complete its sales and quittances in Tremé, along with<br />

almost innumerable Creole family activities and succession sales—Destrehan, Foucher, Freret,<br />

Marigny, the Rivardes of Bayou St. John, and so on. Felix de Armas became the family notary for<br />

Bernard Marigny, his early 1834 acts recording the sales of land in Mandeville after Marigny’s great<br />

auction of lots there after assembling the tracts of land that would form the town.<br />

Their youngest brother Octave de Armas (1804- ca. 1889) seems to have made up for the short<br />

lives of his siblings, practicing as a notary from 1828 until 1889 (a record) and completing 108 volumes.<br />

His vast works cannot be encapsulated, except to note that Octave became the notary for the<br />

Catholic Church and Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, along with several white Protestant and African-<br />

American religious groups. Much of the growth of local churches shows in his record of building<br />

contracts, mortgages, sales, and acts of incorporation. He was never a city notary, however.<br />

In the third generation, Felix, Jr., and Charles A. de Armas (1824-ca. 1889), sons of Felix; and<br />

Arthur de Armas (1850-1903, son of Michel, appear in local records, Felix, serving only briefly as a<br />

notary, and Charles’ notarial volumes covering only the period 1833 to 1836. Notarial practice was<br />

not his calling, as Charles de Armas was one of the great artists of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history.<br />

With some 300 Plan Book drawings and surveys and thousands of sketches, Charles Arthur de<br />

Armas found his calling in the public auction system of civil law <strong>New</strong> Orleans. A gifted artist, he<br />

drew and painted a vast body of mid-19th Century water color drawings for hanging in the auction<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

38


houses of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Made to comply with civil law’s public notice requirements in cases of property<br />

rights involving minor children, creditors, women, or absent heirs, the drawings depict houses,<br />

lots, and tracts of land all over the city’s seven municipal districts. Skilled in perspective and a gifted<br />

colorist, Charles de Armas painted in an easily recognizable style that combined a soft, almost pastel<br />

palette with sharp, linear, highly-detailed images and “stop-ornament” style graphics. His favorite<br />

hues seem to have been pale ochre, used when needed to depict stucco-covered exteriors; Paris<br />

green, appropriate for the city’s ubiquitous batten and louvered shutters; and lavender-grey, which<br />

de Armas lavished on images of the slate rooftops that covered the city’s Creole cottages.<br />

Today, Charles de Armas’ Plan Book drawings are housed at the Notarial Archives Division of the<br />

Office of the Clerk of Civil District Court. In addition, his research-worthy and interesting, “Sketch<br />

Books,” to be found at the Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection, provide rare insight into the making of<br />

the auction drawings that later became “Plan Book” drawings. Made directly from field observations,<br />

these pencil sketches of the buildings and streetscapes that he would later paint as water colors are<br />

full of interesting details and title notes. Several contain notations that the property sketched was sold<br />

in an earlier period on a certain date before “Grandpere,” (meaning Christoval de Armas).<br />

Charles de Armas’ last years and death date remain unresolved. In his prime, he signed his<br />

drawings either “C. A. de Armas, or “Chs. de Armas,” with his distinctive signature and drawing<br />

style. During part of his career, he signed as Deputy City Surveyor, and appears in the 1880 census<br />

in this capacity. He was evidently made a prisoner during the Civil War, and no drawings can be<br />

positively attributed to him after 1867. There followed a body of strikingly similar work signed by<br />

“A. de Armas,” sometimes “Arthur de Armas,” Charles’ cousin, whose notarial and sketch book<br />

drawings were also prolific. Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection records show that Arthur de Armas<br />

used the Charles de Armas sketch books and continued to make great numbers of entries in them<br />

from 1868 to 1886; as did George de Armas (1850-1915) from 1862 to 1914. 4<br />

According to family visiting the Archives, the de Armas family has continued to produce artists<br />

to the present day, enriching its heritage as it has for so long.<br />

1 Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection MSS 125.365, Letter from Etienne Boré, mayor of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, to Pierre Clément<br />

Laussat (1803 December 10 (18 frimaire an XII)); H. Lavergne, N.P., 11-1-1827; Notarial Archives Division; <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Public Library Will Book 4, f. 176. .<br />

2 Sally K. Reeves, Introduction, Jacques-Felix Lelièvre’s <strong>New</strong> Louisiana Gardener (Baton Rouge, 2001), 17; H. Lavergne, 9-<br />

10-1823.<br />

3 H. Lavergne, N.P., September 10 to<br />

December 3, 1823.<br />

4 Reference obtained from Howard Margot, Archivist/Curator, Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection, August 23, 2007.<br />

<br />

M ICAELA A LMONESTER DE P ONTALBA<br />

(1795-1874)<br />

Micaela Almonester de Pontalba and her father Andrès Almonester y Roxas made indelible marks<br />

on <strong>New</strong> Orleans with the construction of the city’s most iconic buildings surrounding Jackson Square.<br />

After the city’s two great fires of 1788 and 1794, Almonester provided the gifts and loans that made<br />

possible the rebuilding of the St. Louis Cathedral, the Cabildo, and the Presbytere. Nearly sixty years<br />

later his daughter Micaela had the thirty-two Creole row houses built that fill two sides of Jackson<br />

Square and partially define its appearance. In her memory, they are known to history as the Pontalba<br />

Buildings. Between 1782 and his death in 1798 Almonester also donated funds to build a new charity<br />

hospital, the old having been destroyed by hurricanes; along with an orphanage, a Lepers’ Hospital, a<br />

new chapel for the Ursuline Nuns, and a replacement public school. Almonester financed his other<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

39


Micaëla Leon Arda Antonio<br />

Almonester Pontalba.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION,<br />

1974.25.27.358.<br />

two projects, a replacement for the Cabildo, and a Presbytere, with a loan that the city eventually<br />

repaid. Of Almonester’s buildings, the latter two alone remain standing.<br />

Andrès Almonester came to <strong>New</strong> Orleans from Spain, in 1769, as the royal notary or escribano royal<br />

with General Alexandro O’Reilly. He practiced as a notary until 1782, when he gave up his commission,<br />

purchased a seat on the Illustrious Cabildo, and began investing in <strong>New</strong> Orleans real estate. As a young<br />

man he lived frugally, at one point without any servants. In 1787, he married Louise de la Ronde, a<br />

Creole from a socially prominent family who spoke no Spanish and lacked a dowry. It appears they had<br />

been lovers, since five years before the marriage Andres had given her a large house with servants.<br />

Micaela was the Almonesters’ only child to reach adulthood. Her father’s death, in 1798, left his<br />

estate in the hands of his wife Louise, who turned out to be a wise investor. Although citizens<br />

ridiculed her second marriage, in 1803, to a man much younger than she, the union soon ended<br />

in the husband’s death. In 1811, about the time she began looking around for a husband for<br />

Micaela, she received a letter from Joseph Xavier Delfau de Pontalba in France, a distant relation.<br />

The letter suggested Pontalba’s son Célestin would be a good match for Micaela. Louise agreed, and<br />

in a matter of just months Célestin arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, met Michaela, and married her in an<br />

outsized ceremony at St. Louis Cathedral.<br />

The couple, followed by their two mothers, moved to the Pontalba estate Château Mont-l’Évêque<br />

outside of Paris. There Micaela met Célestin’s father, a <strong>New</strong> Orleans-born Creole and newly-established<br />

Napoleonic baron. Pontalba soon displayed his reason for arranging the marriage: enriching his family<br />

at the expense of his daughter-in-law. Micaela, with the resolve of her parentage, resisted his efforts to<br />

give him full control of her money. As a result he made her life miserable, treating her as an outcast. All<br />

the while, the young couple lived together most of the next twenty-three years until 1834 when Baron<br />

Pontalba succumbed to his rage at Micaela for her<br />

failure to turn her personal fortune over to him. In<br />

her small bedroom in the Chateau, he entered and<br />

shot Micaela with a pair of pistols and then, after<br />

brooding all day in his study, fatally shot himself.<br />

With two balls lodged in her chest, Micaela<br />

lived on for forty years. Her first task was to get out<br />

from under the Pontalbas, a legal process that took<br />

several years before she received a divorce, a <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans judge giving her full control of her fortune.<br />

By 1840 she was established in Paris where<br />

she lived comfortably in her first building project,<br />

the Hotel Pontalba. This magnificent structure now<br />

houses the American Embassy in France.<br />

The Revolution of 1848 prompted Micaela to<br />

leave France, first for London and then for <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. In the city, she examined Jackson Square<br />

and the aging rental property that her father had<br />

built flanking the square. Reflecting on the elegant, galleried appearance of the Place Royale (now<br />

Place Vosges) in Paris, she conceived of the great project of her life, row houses for each side of the<br />

Place d’Armes, soon renamed Jackson Square. It took Micaela three years and $300,000 to design<br />

and launch the construction of the Pontalba buildings that stand today as an exquisite echo of Paris<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Over the course of her marriage, Micaela had four sons and a daughter. She outlived her former<br />

husband, dying in Paris, in 1874.<br />

For additional reading see Christina Vella, Intimate Enemies: The Two Worlds of the Baroness de Pontalba. Baton Rouge:<br />

Louisiana State University Press, 1997; Leonard v. Huber and Samuel Wilson, Jr., Baroness Pontalba’s Buildings and the<br />

Remarkable Woman Who Built Them, <strong>New</strong> Orleans, 1964.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

40


A RCHBISHOP A NTOINE B LANC<br />

(1792-1860)<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Archbishop Antoine Blanc presided over the greatest expansion of the Catholic<br />

Church in <strong>New</strong> Orleans history. During his thirty-five year tenure Archbishop Blanc added fortyseven<br />

churches and a dozen Roman Catholic congregations to his diocese, including newly-founded<br />

parish churches for Creole, Irish, African-American, and German congregations. Among the<br />

churches were St. Vincent de Paul in Faubourg Marigny, St. Augustine in Tremé, Annunciation and<br />

St. Mary’s Churches in the Irish Channel, St. Joseph’s Church in the Business District, St. Theresa<br />

of Avila in the Lower Garden District, and St. Stephen’s Uptown. Blanc’s work transformed the<br />

Catholic Church in <strong>New</strong> Orleans into the multi-faceted organization it is today.<br />

Born in Sury in central France, Blanc came to the United States, in 1817, as a missionary. He<br />

began his American ministry in northern Louisiana, working there until 1835 when he was called<br />

to succeed <strong>New</strong> Orleans Bishop Leo Raymond de Neckère, who had died in office of yellow fever.<br />

The new bishop almost immediately opened the diocese’s first boys’ college and its first seminary.<br />

He subsequently invited the Society of Jesus back to <strong>New</strong> Orleans from which, in 1760, it had been<br />

expelled. The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Jesuits went on to found Jesuit High School, the Baronne Street landmark<br />

Immaculate Conception Church, Holy Name of Jesus Parish, and Loyola University of the<br />

South. By 1860 Blanc was directing almost one hundred priests and had recruited a remarkably<br />

diverse group of religious orders to serve the city’s explosive population, which doubled during his<br />

long tenure. Among the congregations were the Sisters of Charity, the Sisters of Notre Dame, the<br />

Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Congregations of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and of the Holy Cross.<br />

On behalf of the diocese Blanc took on the considerable and long-standing political power of<br />

the Marguilliers (wardens) to control St. Louis Cathedral. In 1844, the Louisiana Supreme Court<br />

rejected the claims of the Marguilliers and the Bishop quietly took possession of his cathedral.<br />

Blanc’s success in that proceeding finally settled the long and divisive dispute over staffing, paving<br />

the way for a church of growing local influence. Blanc’s appointment as an Archbishop, in 1850,<br />

cleared the way for a new St. Louis Cathedral. This National Historic Landmark, designed and built<br />

during Blanc’s tenure, by the gifted architect Jacques de Pouilly, stands today as an emblem of the<br />

Catholic Church of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and the city.<br />

<br />

Archbishop Antoine Blanc.<br />

COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF ARCHIVES AND RECORDS,<br />

ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS.<br />

For further reading see William Lemuel Greene, Antoine Blanc 1792-1860: Fourth Bishop and First Archbishop of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Baton Rouge, La.: Claitor’s Publishing Division, 2008; Roger Baudier, The Catholic Church in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans: A. W. Hyatt Stationery Mfg. Ltd, 1939.<br />

<br />

M ARIE<br />

L AVEAU<br />

(1801-1881)<br />

Marie Laveau set herself the task of performing and preserving the African rituals that reached<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans in the eighteenth century. These rituals, collectively known as Voudou, fascinated and<br />

frightened many 19th century <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>, drawing crowds of black and white participants<br />

into a level of shared experiences previously suppressed.<br />

Marie Laveau was born in 1801 into the web of free people of color led by Julie Brion (q.v.). Her<br />

parents Charles Laveaux, free mulato, and Marguerite Darcantel, free mulata, had her baptized by<br />

Capuchin friar Antonio de Sedella six days later. Her father owned several houses and a grocery<br />

store in the Faubourg Marigny. It is likely he was the son of Charles Laveau Trudeau, surveyor<br />

and first president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ City Council. 1 Her mother Marguerite was the daughter<br />

of Catherine Henry, from an equally well placed family. Marie’s aunt married into the Foucher<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

41


Marie Laveau.<br />

MARIE LAVEAU AND DAUGHTER MARIE, THE HISTORIC<br />

NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1974.25.23.131.<br />

family. Marie Laveau herself in August 1819 married Jacques Paris, a free quadroon from Haiti, at<br />

St. Louis Cathedral.<br />

Abundant notarial records show that it was not uncommon for free women of color to engage in business<br />

or build their own homes. Francoise Fusillé, Marie Laveau, Modest Foucher, Madeline Oger,<br />

Charlotte Morand, Rosette Rochon, Eulalie Mandeville, and Helene Toussaint, were among the many who<br />

built homes or engaged in business. Real estate, however, did not interest Marie Laveau. The comfort the<br />

spiritual world provided the poor drew her to Voudou rituals that evoked her and her people’s African<br />

backgrounds. Voudou services were primarily small affairs conducted in small rooms such as those at<br />

Marie Laveau’s home on St. Ann Street. The center piece was an array of food, plants, and candles displayed<br />

on a white tablecloth spread on the floor. A series of chants led swiftly to dancing movements that<br />

gradually spread throughout the room. Charms and gris gris were created and distributed as desired.<br />

Just before Laveau died in 1881, The Daily Picayune sent a reporter to the house. His description<br />

suggests it was a Spanish style cottage with a tile roof; inside, a walnut bedstead almost filled the room<br />

on which rested the Voudoo queen. The house had<br />

“a low roof of red tiles that peeped over the top of<br />

the rude decrepit board fence…The room was one<br />

of those low, close compartments with whitewashed<br />

walls and ceiling and bare floor…through<br />

the passage way back could be seen the yard, and<br />

further back a house, well lighted, whence came<br />

the music of the organ and the sound of dancing.”<br />

The census of 1880 records persons of color Marie<br />

[Laveau] Glapion living here at 95 [actually 80]<br />

years of age. Her daughter Philomène Glapion<br />

Legendre, thirty-nine, kept house, along with her<br />

three children Fidelia, Noemie, and Alexandre.<br />

In Marie’s view, Voudou had a dimension of<br />

social service along with its spiritual qualities. In<br />

that capacity she served as chaplain for condemned<br />

men in parish prison. 2 Unfortunately, none of<br />

Marie’s children seem to have carried on her arts.<br />

Her daughter Marie Philomène Glapion strongly<br />

objected to such allegations, selling the house on St.<br />

Ann Street a few years after Marie’s death.<br />

1 Ina Johanna Fandrich, The Mysterious Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveaux: A Study of Powerful female Leadership in Nineteenth-<br />

Century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Routledge, <strong>New</strong> York, 2005. See also Liliane Crété, Daily Life in Louisiana, 1815-1830. Baton<br />

Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.<br />

2 Carolyn Morrow Long, A <strong>New</strong> Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau. (Gainsville: University<br />

Press of Florida, 2006}, 110, 164.<br />

<br />

S AMUEL J ARVIS P ETERS<br />

(1801-1855)<br />

Samuel Jarvis Peters was the embodiment of the Anglo-American civic leader and businessman<br />

who emigrated to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and led its American Sector growth. As a banker he was president<br />

successively of City Bank and Louisiana State Bank. As a businessman in 1832, he founded a <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Chamber of Commerce. As a politician in 1836, he ran for the city council and opposed<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

42


the breakup of the city. As a reformer he revamped the financial structure of the city, permitting<br />

the funding of streets and wharves. As an advocate for public education, he oversaw the creation<br />

of the city’s first public school system.<br />

Peters arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans at the age of twenty and joined a merchant house with ties to <strong>New</strong><br />

York. In 1823, he formed Peters and Millard, wholesale grocers. He sold, borrowed, and loaned until<br />

1829 when his personal fortune enabled him to run for the city council. In one term he uncovered fraud<br />

in city finances and revamped them. In 1831, he helped start the Pontchartrain Railroad, the city’s first,<br />

and served as its president. He persuaded the city to build wharves along the Faubourg Marigny. The<br />

next year he founded the Chamber of Commerce in order to persuade businesses to pull together.<br />

Meanwhile the Mississippi River embankment had been moving, depositing acres of new soil<br />

along the American sector riverbank above Canal Street and rendering the wharves there useless.<br />

When the Creoles refused to cooperate in their rebuilding, the various interest groups decided to<br />

separate into three municipalities. Peters argued successfully that they should not go so far as to<br />

create three different mayors, that the municipal councils should function with a single executive.<br />

The arrangement continued from 1836 to 1852, when the factions voted to reunite, adding the<br />

upriver City of Lafayette as a fourth district to balance the politics between Creoles and Americans.<br />

During the period that he led the Second Municipality, Peters worked to create a public school<br />

system in the American sector. He traveled to <strong>New</strong> England to study their schools, reputedly the<br />

best in America. There he met with Horace Mann and John A. Shaw of Massachusetts, who became<br />

the Supervisor of the Second District schools. The district was launched, in 1842, with just 300<br />

students, but by the end of the year that number had increased to 800. By the 1850s the system<br />

had twenty-six schools, all funded without McDonogh (q.v.) money. Peters was intimately involved<br />

in getting the new city hall, known as Gallier Hall, completed. He was equally important to the<br />

construction of the new Custom House at the foot of Canal Street. 1<br />

Peters married Marianne Angelique Myrthe de Silly and had three children, S. J. Peters, Jr.,<br />

Benjamin Franklin Peters and Harriett Angelique, who married Jules A. Blanc. Towards the end of<br />

his life Peters and his son-in-law Blanc purchased the Calhoun estate in the uptown <strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

later the Academy of the Sacred Heart. Peters died at the mansion after owning it for only two<br />

years. His funeral was held near the fountain that still splashes water there.<br />

<br />

Samuel Jarvis Peters.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1974.25.12.80.<br />

Rita Katherine Carey, “Samuel Jarvis Peters” in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly XXX (April 1947), 441-480.<br />

C HARLES E TIENNE A RTHUR G AYARRÉ<br />

(1805-1895)<br />

Charles Etienne Arthur Gayarré was the first historian to show how records in France could<br />

correct and inform Louisiana’s colonial history. He spent years in France copying documents and<br />

composing histories, yet his life was not confined to such writing. He practiced law, served in<br />

legislative, administrative, and judicial offices, and led the Louisiana Historical Society. Gayarré<br />

was one of the most cosmopolitan men of nineteenth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The “Judge” was<br />

majestic, “in his high satin stock that held his head inflexibly erect.” Grace King (q.v.) recalled his<br />

height which towered over her tall father. 1<br />

Gayarré grew up on his grandfather Etienne Boré’s plantation where sugar was first commercially<br />

granulated. A few years at the College d’Orléans prepared him for law school in Philadelphia. His law<br />

degree, impeccable social connections, and adequate inherited income enabled him, in 1830, to win<br />

a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives. He had hardly settled into the House before the governor<br />

selected him deputy state attorney general. Originally aligned with the Whig party, Gayarré did<br />

not remain so, but became an active Jacksonian Democrat. In 1834, he was elected to the United States<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

43


Charles Etienne Gayarré.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

Senate from Louisiana, but illness forced him to decline the seat. Fortunately for Louisiana history, he<br />

spent his next seven years of “retirement” in France and Spain where he devoted himself to tracking<br />

down and laboriously copying documents amplifying Louisiana’s barely understood colonial history.<br />

During the 1840s Gayarré reentered politics, winning a seat in the Louisiana House of<br />

Representatives. This led to his appointment as Louisiana Secretary of State where he served for eight<br />

years, using his office to acquire historical documents from Spain. His Jacksonian politics put him in<br />

the [John] Slidell wing of the Democratic Party, a wing that opposed compromise before and during<br />

the Civil War. The troubled 1850s saw him join the Know Nothing nativist party, but his Catholicism<br />

kept him inactive. In 1856, he entered into what was to be a happy but childless marriage. The Civil<br />

War culminated this decade and led to the loss of his fortune and political influence. 2<br />

History proved to be Gayarré’s salvation. In 1860, the Louisiana Historical Society elected him<br />

its president, although the Civil War and Reconstruction hindered its development. Gayarré served<br />

when it was reorganized in 1877, and remained its president until 1888. The post Civil War years<br />

saw his major works published, including Philip II of Spain (1866); and the well-written A History<br />

of Louisiana (4 vols., 1866). The Louisiana history still has considerable value and represents the<br />

accumulated research of Gayarré’s pre-war efforts.<br />

1 Grace King, Memories of a Southern Woman of Letters (<strong>New</strong> York: The Macmillan Company, 1932), 31. Another summary<br />

of his life is at http://www.neworleanspast.com/todayinneworleanshistory/january_9.html.<br />

2 Faye Phillips, “Writing Louisiana Colonial History in the Mid-Nineteenth Century: Charles Gayarré, Benjamin Franklin<br />

French, and the Louisiana Historical Society” in Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, vol.<br />

49 (Spring, 2008), 172-3.<br />

<br />

E TIENNE C ORDEVIOLLE (1806-1868) AND<br />

F RANCOIS L ACROIX (1795-1876)<br />

Merchant tailors Etienne Cordeviolle and François Lacroix were a partnership of ante-bellum free<br />

people of color who dominated the fine clothing business of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. They promoted both the<br />

latest styles of Paris and their own tailoring for gentlemen. Chartres was the street of fashion, featuring<br />

“Cordeviolle and Lacroix, tailors,” at No. 123 and “Colvis & Dumas,” merchant tailors nearby at<br />

No. 124. Two other fine tailors, August Jansemme, fils, and Erasme Legoaster worked from the same<br />

shop, and would go on to found their own stores.<br />

Cordeviolle & Lacroix’s customers knew their shop as “The Fashionable Store.” Its inventory<br />

offered garments of cashmere fabric and eleven colors of cloth for gentlemen’s fine suits. The partner’s<br />

ten lines of frockcoats included velvet, cashmere, silk, and satin. The partners imported from<br />

Paris the dress coats of the latest fashion, frock coats, and Paletots [double-breasted French topcoats]<br />

in six styles. 1 According to The Daily Picayune “Cordieviolle [the son of an Italian and a local<br />

free woman of color] was a very flashy, elegant looking fellow, a duelist and a ‘blood’ of the first<br />

water.” Cuban-born Lacroix, more staid, was an artist, “a maker of coats that passed muster before<br />

the severest tribunals of Europe, of trousers that made the dandies of rotten Row, or the Champs<br />

Elysees groan with envy. They were the models of style, the expression of the esthetics of dress.” 2<br />

As their profits grew both partners plowed them into real estate. They ended up owning property<br />

all over the city, in one case 23 St. Charles, a storehouse that Cordeviole used as a business<br />

and residence. The partnership prospered until 1849 when Cordeviolle sold his interest to Lacroix,<br />

and moved to Paris, where he carried on his stylish designs before moving to Italy. In 1865, King<br />

Victor Emmanuel of Italy honored him with la Croix de Chevalier de l’Ordre de St-Maurice et<br />

Lazare. 3 Since the sixteenth century this papal honorific has been awarded to individuals noted for<br />

their charity to the poor and lepers.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Lacroix’s end was not so honorable,<br />

although by 1870 his success in business<br />

and real estate had made him a millionaire.<br />

In 1874, after he consistently refused to<br />

pay his property taxes, state officials auctioned<br />

his property at a fraction of its value.<br />

Lacroix died a pauper three years later.<br />

According to The Daily Picayune’s report,<br />

there were many opportunities for Lacroix<br />

to have settled with the city, but he steadfastly<br />

refused. Looking back, his apparent<br />

paralysis could have been owing to the fate<br />

of his sons. One was killed in 1866 in the<br />

Mechanic’s Institute riot, and Lacroix disowned<br />

the other after the son gambled<br />

away $30,000 intended for the taxes. 4<br />

Julien Colvis and Joseph Dumas, another<br />

partnership, used their profits from tailoring<br />

to purchase <strong>New</strong> Orleans real estate.<br />

While still in their thirties, they owned<br />

twenty-one houses in Tremé, five in the<br />

French Quarter, three in the Marigny, eleven in the St. Mary Faubourg, and one in the town of<br />

Mandeville. 5 During the 1850s Dumas moved to Europe but returned during the Civil War to claim his<br />

property from the Federal government. His son Francis Dumas joined the Union army as a captain in<br />

the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards, earning a military decoration. After the war he<br />

entered Reconstruction politics, running for Governor in 1868.<br />

<br />

Billhead from Cordeviolle and Lacroix<br />

Fashionable Store.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1955.27.<br />

1 Daily Picayune, November 21, 1843.<br />

2 Daily Picayune, September 9, 1874.<br />

3 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune, October 13, 1865.<br />

4 More information on François Lacroix is available on line at nutrias.org/exhibits/lacroix/intro.htm<br />

5 Sally K. Reeves, Essay on free people of color, 2000. (unpublished).<br />

<br />

N ORBERT<br />

R ILLIEUX<br />

(1806-1894)<br />

The American Chemical Society recognized Norbert Rillieux as one of America’s great chemical<br />

engineers, naming his “Multiple Effect Evaporator under Vacuum” as a National Historic Chemical<br />

Landmark. Rillieux’ patents did much for the sugar industry, but his process has also had widespread<br />

application in other industries. The 1844 invention decreases the pressure in the boiling<br />

process of sugar and other commodities, the best method for lowering the temperature of all industrial<br />

evaporation, saving large quantities of fuel. Rillieux’s principles are used even today to produce<br />

condensed milk and freeze-dried foods.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1806, Norbert was sent to school in Paris. By the age of 24, he was an<br />

instructor in applied mechanics at the Ecole Centrale in Paris. Around 1830, Rillieux published a<br />

series of papers on steam engines and steam power before returning to Louisiana, where he began<br />

thinking about the problems of sugar making. About 1844 he began fabricating his first “Rillieux<br />

steam process” and by 1850 fourteen major Louisiana plantations were employing it. It soon became<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

45


Above: Norbert Rillieux, carte-de-visite<br />

(reproduction of).<br />

AFTER 1864. COURTESY OF THE LOUISIANA<br />

STATE MUSEUM.<br />

Below: Thomy Lafon.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION,<br />

1974.25.27.221.<br />

essential to the sugar business, leading to a substantial income for its inventor. In spite of Rillieux’s<br />

professional success, life in Louisiana in the 1850s for men with African ancestry was becoming<br />

increasingly uncomfortable and insulting. Near the end of the decade Rillieux returned to Paris where<br />

he spent the next forty years, teaching, writing, and investigating the mysteries of the Rosetta Stone.<br />

Rillieux came from an important Creole family. The mixed-race branch descended from François<br />

Rillieux, prosperous white Frenchman who had two important sons—Pierre and Vincent. Pierre<br />

formed a household with Rosalie Dusuau, a free woman of color, with whom he had two sons—Elisée<br />

and François Rillieux. The two Rillieux sons bought and developed plantations, putting together many<br />

of the farms that eventually became the core of the later Godchaux plantation. After that venture they<br />

moved upriver to Pointe Coupée Parish, where they briefly owned parts of the later Alma Plantation.<br />

Pierre’s brother Vincent developed the cotton press system in <strong>New</strong> Orleans with his first press at<br />

Tchoupitoulas and Poydras. He also took a free woman of color, Constance Vivant, as his consort.<br />

They had six children, notably Norbert and Edmund Rillieux, a prominent Creole builder in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Norbert did not marry or have children, dying in Paris, in 1894.<br />

<br />

T HOMY<br />

L AFON<br />

(1810-1893)<br />

Thomy Lafon was the most prominent of two known African-American philanthropists of nineteenth<br />

century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Historians have debated his parentage, the consensus being that his<br />

mother was Modeste Foucher, a free woman of color and daughter and granddaughter of planters<br />

Joseph and Antoine Foucher. His father was probably the French-born civil engineer and architect<br />

Barthèlemy Lafon (q.v.), who came to <strong>New</strong> Orleans about 1790 and died in 1820. The elder Lafon<br />

acknowledged children by Modeste Foucher in an 1809 will—not including Thomy—who was born<br />

the following year. Lafon never acknowledged Thomy, who was left to grow up with his mother. Until<br />

his death at the age of 82, Thomy Lafon coyly refused to speculate on the identity of his father.<br />

The younger Lafon became a merchant, as listed in an 1842 city directory. His mother Modest<br />

Foucher died in 1848, leaving him a majority interest in two city properties. 1 Provided with additional<br />

capital, Lafon moved on to speculation in real estate. His wealth increasing, he acted as a<br />

private banker in the Creole community, a common practice in an age of limited public credit.<br />

Emerging from the Civil War financially intact, Lafon built his fortune from real estate and<br />

businesses. He became active in politics, helping to found the Friends of Universal Suffrage, an<br />

interracial organization committed to securing the vote for African American males. By 1870, his<br />

wealth was estimated at $250,000, making him one of the wealthiest African Americans in the<br />

nation. Despite this circumstance, Lafon lived in a modest house on Ursulines Street in the<br />

Faubourg Tremé, where he died in 1893. At that time his estate was inventoried at over $400,000. 2<br />

Lafon is remembered today as one of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ five great bachelor philanthropists. He founded<br />

the Lafon Orphan Boys’ Asylum and the Home for Aged Colored Men and Women. He also<br />

donated to other charitable and religious organizations including the American Anti-Slavery Society,<br />

the Underground Railroad, the Catholic Institute for the Care of Orphans, <strong>New</strong> Orleans University,<br />

the Sisters of the Holy Family, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and the Lafon Old Folks Home.<br />

A bust of Thomy Lafon resides in the Cabildo in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. 3<br />

1 Modeste Foucher Succession. No. 8777 P. 118 of filmstrip, #213 Ancestry.com; Louisiana, Wills and Probate Records,<br />

1756-1984 Orleans Wills, 1846-1853 Before First District Court of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Judge John C. Lane April 25, 1853. Her<br />

children at this point were Josephine Lacoste, Thomy Lafon and Alphe Lafon.<br />

2 Inventory of Thomy Lafon, in Antoine Doriocourt, January, 1894, Act 7, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Notarial Archives.<br />

3 Robert Jeanfreau, The Story behind the Stone (Gretna: Pelican Publishing Company, 2012), 49.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

46


H ENRIETTE D ELILLE (1812-1862)<br />

In 1842, Henriette Delille founded the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, which continues to provide sustenance to the poor, the elderly and the sick. Her order of<br />

nuns spread around the Western Hemisphere and today stands at two hundred sisters.<br />

Henriette grew up in <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ unique free women of color community, which had produced<br />

such notables as Marie Laveau (q.v.) and Julie Brion (q.v.). A Catholic community, it revered<br />

the sacrament of baptism. Early on, the Church<br />

had promised to baptize all African-Americans,<br />

free or slave, for which local Archdiocesan<br />

records offer much evidence. Baptism required<br />

godparents, who often were selected from unrelated<br />

families. These relationships helped to unify<br />

the community of free women of color.<br />

Henriette’s mother Marie Joseph Diaz maintained<br />

a white liaison by whom she had four children. Her<br />

older daughter Cecile followed in her footsteps, taking<br />

a white lover, though remaining in the Diaz<br />

household. Henriette, then about fifteen, determined<br />

to take her life in another direction. By 1829<br />

she had formed friendships with Juliette Gaudin and<br />

Josephine Charles, two other spiritually gifted free<br />

women of color. The three determined to live a life<br />

of faith, praying at St. Louis Cathedral and propagating<br />

the faith through teaching catechism to poor<br />

blacks. By 1836 Henriette was called to write in her<br />

prayer book, “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love.<br />

I wish to live and die for God.” Within a few months the friends had formed their first official church<br />

organization, The Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their three<br />

rules called first, for pious behavior, second for mutual support, and third, for a concern for “the sick,<br />

the infirm, and the poor.” 1 Today the Sisters date the founding of the Sisters of the Holy Family from<br />

1842, when the Diocese purchased a home on Bayou Road for the active Sisters of the Presentation.<br />

In 1850, Henriette used part of her inheritance to purchase another house on Bayou Road,<br />

which came to be the principal residence of the nascent community. Aided by Jeanne Marie<br />

Aliquot, who was linked to the Ursulines, the Sisters remained committed to teaching catechism<br />

to the poor, preparation for first communion, and educating girls. After another ten years of quiet<br />

service. Sister Henriette Delille died in 1862. By 1900 the Sisters had a mother house, eight schools<br />

and orphanages, and convent schools in three communities outside of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Today, believers consider Henriette Delille a saint. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI approved her<br />

heroic virtues and named her Venerable. The Congregation for the Causes of Saints gave its formal<br />

assent for the commencement of the cause of beatification with the declaration of “nihil obstat”<br />

(nothing against) on 22 June that year. Delille was then given the title of Servant of God and soon<br />

may become the first native born <strong>New</strong> Orleanian to be canonized.<br />

<br />

Henriette Delille.<br />

COURTESY OF THE SISTERS OF THE HOLY FAMILY.<br />

For further reading see Cyprian Davis, O.S.B., Henriette Delille: Servant of Slaves, Witness to the Poor. <strong>New</strong> Orleans, LA:<br />

Sisters of the Holy Family, 2004. The official biography of Henriette Delille, co-published by the Sisters of the Holy<br />

Family and the Archives of the Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. See also the recent Virginia Meacham Gould. Henriette<br />

Delille. Strasbourg: Éditions de Signe, n.d.<br />

1 Virginia Meacham Gould and Charles E. Nolan, “Mother Henriette Delille (1812-1862): Servant of Slaves” in Dorothy<br />

Dawes and Charles Nolan ed., Religious Pioneers: Building the Faith in the Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Archdiocese of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans, 2004), 31.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

47


M ARGARET G AFFNEY H AUGHERY<br />

(1813-1882)<br />

<br />

Photo of Alexander Doyle portrait statue.<br />

TAKEN BY CAROLYN KOLB.<br />

Margaret Gaffney Haughery, orphaned as a<br />

child, became the outstanding exponent of<br />

orphans of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history. Her statue in<br />

Margaret Place in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Lower Garden<br />

District depicts her with children. Margaret can<br />

also be considered an exemplar of the successful<br />

business woman. From a destitute beginning she<br />

rose to begin a small business that grew into a<br />

powerhouse baking factory, its profits supporting<br />

Margaret’s causes.<br />

Born in Ireland, Margaret went first to<br />

Baltimore and then, in 1836, to <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

After her husband’s death left her penniless, she<br />

began working as a laundress at the St. Charles<br />

Hotel. Moved by the large number of orphans in<br />

the city, she approached Sister Regis of the Sisters<br />

of Charity with an offer to donate part of every<br />

wage she received. Noting how much milk was in<br />

demand, she used her remaining wages to acquire<br />

a dairy cow and begin to peddle its milk, gradually<br />

adding other cows. Each day Margaret delivered<br />

milk in the French Quarter from<br />

a cart, stopping at hotels and restaurants to beg<br />

for food for orphans. Margaret soon saw the<br />

opportunity to acquire a bakery on <strong>New</strong> Levee<br />

Street. Improvements quickly followed, the business<br />

becoming the first “steam bakery” in the<br />

South. Margaret’s Bakery bread and cakes were<br />

eventually sold throughout the city, with much of<br />

it sold at cost to the local orphanages.<br />

Over the years this “Mother of Orphans” built<br />

and supported Louise Home for working girls at<br />

1404 Clio Street, the St. Elizabeth House of<br />

Industry at 1314 Napoleon Street, and St. Vincent<br />

Infant Asylum at Race and Magazine Streets. She<br />

also funded the Camp Street Female Orphan Asylum of the Sisters of Charity. Her charity was nondenominational,<br />

extending to Protestants and Jewish institutions including the Seventh Street<br />

Protestant Orphan Asylum, the German Protestant Orphan Asylum, and the Widows and Orphans<br />

of Jews Asylum.<br />

At Margaret’s death in 1882, her pall bearers were Governor Samuel D. McEnery; former<br />

Governor Francis T. Nicholls; Mayor Joseph A. Shakspeare, George Nicholson, publisher of The<br />

Daily Picayune; and others. <strong>New</strong> Orleans has memorialized her with a large marble statue by<br />

nationally prominent Alexander Doyle, sculptor of the Robert E. Lee and P. G. T. Beauregard monuments,<br />

standing in Margaret’s Place at Camp and Prytania.<br />

For further reading see Raymond Martinez, The Immortal Margaret. <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Hope Publications, 1967, Robert<br />

Meyer, Jr., Names Over <strong>New</strong> Orleans Schools, and Ann Gilbert, “Margaret Haughery: The Bread Woman of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.”<br />

Inside <strong>New</strong> Orleans. IV, 2 (April-May 2017), 40-47.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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William Woodward, 1859-1939, Old Ursuline Convent and Cottage Chartres (oil and crayon on board (ca. 1929).<br />

Impressionist William Woodward’s eye-catching view of the French Colonial Ursuline Convent (completed 1751) with a tile-roofed Creole cottage in the foreground provides precious<br />

evidence of the early twentieth century appearance of important components of the old French Quarter. The second convent on the site, the Ursulines’ building was designed by Ignace<br />

Broutin and built by Claude-Joseph Villars Dubreuil (q.v.). The cottage, built in 1798 for the Ursuline Nuns (q.v), remained in their possession until 1834 when they sold it to notary<br />

Hughes Pedesclaux. The picturesque house survived until about 1926 when it was demolished for a filling station, the loss shocking Woodward and other citizens into action to preserve<br />

the distinctive character of the Quarter. It was that year that the first legal tools to save the Vieux Carré were put into place, leading to the confirmation of the Vieux Carre Commission<br />

in 1936.<br />

The filling station itself later became the focus of an important legal battle in the annals of preservation, City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans vs. Pergament, when the city prosecuted its operator for<br />

“displaying on its premises a large advertising sign without the permission of the Vieux Carre Commission.” Pergament responded that the city’s action was arbitrary, deprived him of his<br />

property without due process, and could not apply to a modern building. The city’s state Supreme Court victory in the case brought a wider scope of French Quarter property under the legal<br />

purview of the Commission. <strong>New</strong> Orleans preservationist and city attorney Jacob Morrison (q.v) would cite the case in later legal battles to preserve the French Quarter. The current<br />

Lyons and Hudson townhouse on the site replaced the filling station in 1983.<br />

Meanwhile, in the background, the Old Ursuline Convent has survived periods of neglect and decay to become a museum operated by the local Catholic Cultural Commission. Donated to<br />

the local bishop by the Ursuline Nuns in 1824, it was still the bishop’s residence at the time of the Woodward painting. It has been an icon of the city for over 250 years.<br />

COURTESY OF ROBERT HINCKLEY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

49


CARTE PARTICULIERE DU FLEVUE [sic] S.t LOUIS dix lieues au dessus et au dessous DE LA NOUVELLE<br />

ORLEANS ou sont marqué les habitations et les terrains concedes à Plusieurs Particuliers AU MISSISSIPY (n.d.,<br />

n.d., [ca. 1723].)<br />

Jean Baptist Bienville may have had his finest hour at the age of nineteen when he bluffed a British captain into turning back at the<br />

bend of the Mississippi known to history as Détour des Anglais, or English Turn. Although its configuration would be better<br />

understood in later decades, the famous double bend is shown in detail on this ca. 1723 map of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans area “ten leagues<br />

above and ten leagues below” <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The young French officer’s bravado in 1699 put him, literally, at a turning point in history<br />

as he convinced the British captain to turn back with a claim that the French were already established further up the river with armed<br />

vessels to protect them. Less familiar is the wider context of the story. As every good sailor knows, a sailboat can tack against a<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

50


current, or against the wind, but not against both at the same time. It is for this reason that British Captain Louis Bond and a shipful<br />

of would-be Huguenot colonists, ascending the river from its mouth with the aid of a southeast wind, had to stop and anchor at the<br />

first reach of the Turn. There they had to wait for the wind to change to northeast to propel the corvette through the first reach of the<br />

Turn. Bond would have known that there was no way he could maneuver upriver until the wind changed, and it was precisely then<br />

that Bienville and his companions, in “two bark canoes” came paddling downriver from their explorations above the site of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. An experienced sailor and naval captain, Bienville would have immediately recognized Bond’s predicament. His further<br />

consideration was that he had encountered this same captain earlier at the Battle of Hudson’s Bay, where his brother Pierre d’Iberville<br />

had captured him. As Bienville later wrote, “I knew this captain; I knew him to be timid.”<br />

COURTESY OF THE NEWBERRY LIBRARY, CHICAGO, ILL. SCAN COURTESY HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

51


José Salazar y Mendoza (ca. 1750-1802), Andrès Almonester y Roxas (1796).<br />

José Salazar, commissioned by the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Cabildo to render a portrait of the “insufferably pompous” Andres Almonester, depicted its oversized benefactor in all of his social glory,<br />

his heraldic insignia and cross of Carlos III displayed proudly. On behalf of the Cabildo, Almonester had funded the construction of the Cabildo and Presbytere buildings as they stood before<br />

the addition of Mansarde roofs as seen today. After a great fire in 1792, Almonester also funded the rebuilding of the damaged <strong>New</strong> Orleans cathedral, which stood until 1850 when the<br />

current more French style church replaced it. Between 1782 and his death in 1798 Almonester also donated a new charity hospital, the old having been destroyed by hurricanes; along with<br />

an orphanage, a lepers’ hospital, a chapel for the Ursuline Nuns, and a replacement public school.<br />

While in Spain as a young man Almonester had seized the opportunity to become the Royal Notary in the soon to be subdued colony of Louisiana. As Royal notary he was a necessary<br />

participant in official contracts. He practiced for thirteen years before retiring to the Cabildo and commencing a career investing in <strong>New</strong> Orleans real estate, which built his fortune. His wife<br />

Louise de la Ronde helped him through his final ten years and gave him his surviving child.<br />

In the next generation, their famous daughter Micaela Almonester de Pontalba (q.v) planned, funded, and supervised the construction of the Pontalba buildings along the two sides of<br />

Jackson Square, completing the civic package underwritten by her father.<br />

COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF ARCHIVES AND RECORDS, ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW ORLEANS.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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School of José Salazar, Pierre-Joseph Favrot (ca. 1795).<br />

This distinguished Salazar-style portrait of Pierre Joseph Favrot (q.v.) has provided posterity a likeness of a second-generation ancestor of one of Louisiana’s most ancient and prominent<br />

families. It depicts “Don Pedro,” as the family refers to him, in full military regalia, emblematic of his long military career. Favrot’s military service began in Louisiana’s French Colonial<br />

period and continued into its Spanish period, when he served with Governor Bernardo Galvez in his expeditions against British forts at Manchac and Baton Rouge. The portrait depicts him<br />

at approximately forty-five, in the height of good health, silver-tipped sword at his side and three-cornered hat embellished in feathery red. The earnest gaze, erect posture, and serious<br />

demeanor apparently sent a mandate to his descendants, who have continued the family tradition of civic service.<br />

COURTESY OF ALEXANDER FAVROT AND RICHMOND FAVROT FAMILY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

53


Detail, Joseph Antoine Vinache, Plan De La Nouvelle Orleans Et Des Environs Dedié Au Citoyen Laussat Préfet<br />

Colonial Et Commissaire De La République Française (1803).<br />

Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent (q.v.) is assumed to be the builder of this extraordinary, ten-bay late colonial mansion. One hundred<br />

and twenty-seven feet wide and sixty-four feet deep, with two kitchen buildings and numerous other dependencies, it was oversized<br />

even for its wealthy owners—St. Maxent in the 1780s, Laurent Sigur in the 1790s, and, briefly, Pierre Philippe de Marigny from 1798<br />

until his death in 1800. At the time that French Commissioner Pierre Laussat administered <strong>New</strong> Orleans in late 1803, the house had<br />

passed to Marigny’s surviving children Jean Baptiste, Bernard, and Celeste Marigny Livaudais. Laussat’s engineer Vinache painted this<br />

detail of the house as a cartouche on his 1803 “Plan of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Environs Dedicated to Citizen Laussat….” Below his<br />

painting of the house, he inscribed it “Palais du Préfet Colonial Commissaire du Gouvernement Francais à la Louisiane en l’an<br />

12 de la République/Dessiné sur les lieux/Vinache fecit.<br />

The mansion was famous for the entertainments given there, the most impressive probably a 1799 ball staged by Pierre Philippe de<br />

Marigny in honor of the Duke d’Orléans (Louis-Philippe), future king of France and his brothers the Duc de Montpensier and the<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Comte de Beaujolais. French Commissioner Laussat also gave a ball there on the 16th of December (1803), which lasted from mid<br />

evening until 9:30 the following morning, as guests ate, danced, and gambled all night. “You never saw anything more brilliant,”<br />

Laussat wrote in his journal. “Entertainment lasted twelve hours. ….Sixty places were set at the main table, 24 at the small table, and<br />

146 on 32 small round tables. As a local touch, twenty-four gumbos were served, six or eight of which were sea turtle.” 1 On the<br />

evening of the transfer to the United States, Laussat hosted another all-night extravaganza for American, French, and Spanish<br />

participants where supper finally appeared at 1:00 a.m. Among other card games, the guests play craps, evidence that the game was<br />

well known in <strong>New</strong> Orleans before Bernard Marigny ever came home from school in Europe.<br />

Laussat leased the house from Bernard Marigny (q.v.) from April to December, 1803, the extent of his tenure in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Following Marigny’s 1804 marriage to Mary Ann Jones, he lived there occasionally until her death in 1808, and later with his second<br />

wife and family, until 1818. That year, he relocated and leased the mansion to a variety of tenants. It was demolished in 1831.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION 1987.65 I-III.<br />

NOTE: 1. PIERRE CLEMENT DE LAUSSAT, MEMOIRS OF MY LIFE. TRANSLATED BY AGNES-JOSEPHINE PASTWA, .O.S.F. ED ROBERT D. BUSH, (BATON ROUGE, 1978), 86.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

55


Detail, John L. Boqueta de Woiserie, A VIEW of NEW ORLEANS TAKEN FROM THE PLANTATION OF MARIGNY (1803).<br />

De Woiserie’s interesting 1803 view of <strong>New</strong> Orleans from below the city shows an under-utilized port and the city at a crossroads, the Louisiana Purchase at its doorstep. While numerous<br />

full rigged ships are waiting at anchor, a naval shipyard at the foot of St. Philip Street occupies valuable riverfront. Ships are half-careened there, waiting for repairs. Not long afterwards,<br />

city authorities would evict the shipyard facilities, sending them to the west bank of the river, where they remained. Meanwhile Antonio de St. Maxent’s (by then Bernard Marigny’s)<br />

lumber mill and canal at what is now the foot of Elysian Fields occupy more waterfront. Citizens were accustomed to stroll on the levee in the cool of the evening, a pastime whose days were<br />

numbered. (View taken from the gallery of the St. Maxent/Marigny (q.v.) house. City surveyors Joseph and later Louis H. Pilié (q.v.) would in due time be responsible for wharf<br />

designs that would accommodate a growing American port and drastically change the waterfront.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1958.42.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Detail, Marie Adrien Persac (ca. 1823-1873), View of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Skyline from Port and City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans (c. 1860).<br />

Adrien Persac’s incomparable view of <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1860 reveals the drastic changes to its port and waterfront wrought by ante bellum prosperity. Gone are the pastoral environment of<br />

the 1803 levee scenes and the prevalence of lumberyards and ship repair facilities. The appearance of the steam engine, both for the river trade and for use in seagoing vessels, has<br />

magnified the prosperity promised in 1803. City surveyors Joseph Pilié, Louis H. Pilié (q.v), John Communy, and others have designed and installed long finger wharves over both the<br />

levee and the docking areas, occupying the port in front of the old city.<br />

Along the Faubourg Marigny waterfront, a ferry, its landing, and the 1840 Port Market figure prominently. Commercial buildings occupy the site of the Marigny plantation garden, the<br />

depot of the Pontchartrain Railroad just visible behind them.<br />

Beginning in the 1830s, civil engineers designed wooden wharves that made tying up safer and more convenient. Some wharves featured sloping decks allowing the wharves to reach down to<br />

the water no matter the height of the river. These were used primarily for the steamboat wharf, deep in the background of the painting in front of the American Sector. In the middle distance<br />

appears the gabled end of the U.S. Mint.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1988.9.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

57


Barthelemy Lafon, Plan of the Mouths of the Mississippi (c. 1810).<br />

Barthelemy Lafon’s colorful depiction of the lowest reaches of the Mississippi River illustrates its principal features from Plaquemines<br />

Bend and Fort St. Philip through Head of Passes to the river’s three main outlets. Bayou Mardi Gras received its name from Pierre<br />

d’Iberville at the time of his 1699 explorations. At the bottom, Southwest Pass (today’s primary outlet) came into favor after 1906<br />

and the construction of [James] Eads’ second Jetties. The “South Pass” designation sows confusion, as this outlet (never a preferred<br />

pass) is located in the middle, between Southeast Pass and Southwest Pass. Southeast Pass itself divides into Northeast Pass and Pass<br />

à L’Outre (Otter’s Pass).<br />

The fortress and community of the Balise (“seamark”), their buildings and lighthouse drawn at top, built to guard the river and<br />

accommodate pilots, dated originally from the early French Colonial period. Destroyed and rebuilt several times, the Balise<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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community was abandoned after 1850 in favor of Pilot Town, now above Head of Passes. Jacques Enoul Livaudais (q.v.), one of the<br />

original pilots, was stationed at the Balise as early as 1723.<br />

The Spanish erected Fort St. Philip above Head of Passes at the juncture of Bayou Mardi Gras to defend the entrance to the river. It<br />

stands on the Mississippi’s east bank at the sharp curve where the river turns 90 degrees east. Here Colonel Pierre Joseph Favrot<br />

(q.v.) served as commander during the 1790s. Effective in the age of sail, the fort suffered heavy bombardment after the Battle of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans and by 1862 was rapidly overcome during the Civil War. Indications of obstructed bayous may have been added to the<br />

drawing at the time of the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The river, after only a couple of miles flowing west to east near the fort, turns<br />

sharply south again.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1970.2.2_O2.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

59


Joseph Pilié, PLAN des terrains, représentant également la belle maison ainsi que les dependances, occupés par<br />

Mr. J.A. Fort dans le Faubourg La Course/Dressé à la requisition de Mr. J.A. Fort/Nlle. Orléans le 18 Avril<br />

1827/Jh Pilié/Voyer de la ville.<br />

Joseph Pilié’s (q.v.) polished drawing of the Jean-Baptiste Marigny plantation complex (“the landscape representing equally the<br />

beautiful house as well as the dependencies”) appeared long after Marigny’s death in 1805. At the time (1827), the plantation<br />

buildings were intact and there was still a pathway to the river, but J.A. Fort was the owner, and the Faubourg LaCourse was growing<br />

up around them. At the corner of the property, Annunciation Square would soon fill with Greek Revival houses, replacing the rural<br />

buildings of an earlier generation.<br />

Marigny’s parents, Pierre Philippe and Marie Jeanne D’Estrehan Marigny, had assembled the eleven-arpent plantation beginning in<br />

1790, when Jean-Baptiste was nine years old. By 1800, both parents were deceased and Jean-Baptiste and his siblings Bernard and<br />

Marie Celeste Marigny Livaudais inherited the estate. Jean-Baptiste received this property in a partition, but died childless a few years<br />

later. After a second partition, his sister sold the plantation in 1807 to Pierre Robin Delogny, who developed the Faubourg LaCourse<br />

around Annunciation Square in the Race Street (Rue de la Course) area.<br />

The drawing is an excellent example of Joseph Pilié’s preferred drawing technique and palette at the peak of his career as City<br />

Surveyor, with a complex of rooftops masterfully shaded to show their ascent. The procedure followed the technique of his drawing<br />

teacher Barthelemy Lafon and of his predecessor as City Surveyor Jacques Tanesse, but neither of them ever achieved the finesse of<br />

Pilié’s “indication” drawings. From his representations, combined with the scale at the bottom of the drawing and the property<br />

measurements on the block, it is easy to compute the size, massing, and framing of these seven hipped roof buildings. A further<br />

refinement is the depiction of ornamental gardens with their par terres and surrounding hedges of orange trees.<br />

IMAGE ATTACHED ACT OF H.K. GORDON, NOTARY, MAY 2, 1827. COURTESY DALE N. ATKINS, CLERK OF CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ORLEANS, NOTARIAL<br />

ARCHIVES DIVISION.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Charles de Armas, PLAN/OF TEN LOTS OF GROUND/WITH THE BRICK & WOODEN BUILDINGS THEREON/2d. DISTRICT (June 14, 1862).<br />

Charles de Armas’ exalted view of the Philippe Avegno complex on Toulouse, St. Peter, and Burgundy Streets glows with color. The drawing, which depicts a pair of arched-front Creole<br />

townhouses on Toulouse and cottage rental property on the opposite street, was made to advertise Avegno’s 1862 succession sale. As with most notarial Plan Book drawings, the image<br />

features four categories of information. The clever title portion, in de Armas’ recognizable graphic style, announces that ten properties will be sold. The site plans—the most legally<br />

enforceable part of the drawing—illustrate the accurate lot dimensions and building footprints, which de Armas would have surveyed himself, potential buyers relying on that information<br />

to calculate their bids. The elevations, which show the houses at their greatest potential, remind us of the beauty of the original buildings, less obvious today after a century and one-half<br />

of change.<br />

(PLAN BOOK 6, F. 100, COURTESY OF DALE N. ATKINS, CLERK OF CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ORLEANS, NOTARIAL ARCHIVES DIVISION.)<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

61


Jean Joseph Vaudechamp, Antoine Jacques Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville (1833).<br />

Mandeville Marigny (1811-1890), Baptized “Antonio Santiago de Marigni de Mandeville,” to accommodate his Spanish mother, was<br />

the third son of Bernard Marigny, and the oldest surviving child by his second wife Anna Mathilda Morales (1789-1859), daughter<br />

of the controversial Spanish Intendant Juan Ventura Morales. His French Creole father and Spanish Creole mother had various views<br />

about his name, the nickname “Mandeville” soon winning out over the Spanish “Antonio Santiago,” and the French version “Antoine<br />

Jacques.” Born just a few years after the untimely death of his uncle Jean Baptiste Marigny, Bernard’s older brother, he was nicknamed<br />

for the uncle, whom Bernard’s father (Pierre Philippe) had called Mandeville.<br />

Born to wealth and shown in the Vaudechamp portrait in the prime of young manhood as a handsome cadet at a French military<br />

school, Mandeville lived a life of sincerity and honor, but increasing misfortune. His marriage to the glamourous Sophronie Claiborne,<br />

daughter of the governor, produced five children, three of whom survived to adulthood, and none of whom stayed close to their father.<br />

Over fifty years of the long and unhappy marriage of his parents, he tried to stand by his mother, who died in 1859. Mandeville’s<br />

investments and attempts at business were generally unsuccessful, his wife eventually suing for separate estates in their marriage. In<br />

1860, she left <strong>New</strong> Orleans for <strong>New</strong> York and never returned. There, she resided with her prominent mother, Susannah Bosque<br />

Claiborne Grymes, widow of the successful lawyer and public official John R. Grymes.<br />

At the time of Mandeville’s death in 1890 as a roomer in a boarding house on Dauphine St., his daughters traveled from <strong>New</strong> York to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans to identify his remains, but did not stay for his funeral. This was a pity, as they would have seen that Mandeville<br />

Marigny’s funeral cortege to St. Louis No. 3 Cemetery on Esplanade Avenue was accompanied by a lineup of the most prominent and<br />

important citizens of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM, FM 1235.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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George Peter Alexander Healy (1813-1894) James Robb (1852)<br />

James Robb (q.v.) and his predecessor James Caldwell (q.v.) were two of the most distinctive business promotors in ante-bellum <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Robb is linked to railroads, necessary to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans to permit the city’s port to develop imports, the weak side of a port that was booming through the export of cotton and food stuffs. Robb also understood that city support was<br />

necessary to make a successful railroad. That insight made him the leading promotor of reunification of the City in 1852. His <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad eventually<br />

became part of the Illinois Central Railroad.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1988.43.+<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

63


Francois [Franz] Fleischbein (ca. 1801-1868) Portrait of Betsy. Oil on canvas, 1837.<br />

This portrait stands in place of a portrait of Julie Brion (q.v.), a free woman of color whose biography is included in this volume. She has dignity and presence befitting an influential<br />

member of the community. Her hat or tignon is remarkable and must have stirred envy amongst the ladies of the time. Ear rings and a brooch round out her impressive persona.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORICAL NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1985-212.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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George H. Grandjean, Plan/MICHOUD PLANT.n /the property of/Alphonse Michoud/ Containing 36,056 Acres—40067 Arpent. Exclusive of areas owned by the<br />

United States, the L&N Railroad and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Northeast Railroad Co. /situated in the Parish of Orleans LA/1883<br />

George H. Grandjean’s stunning plan of the Michoud Plantation was the result of his own and Land Office surveys, depicting topographical features from Pointe aux Herbes and its<br />

lighthouse on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain down to the northern shore of Lake Borgne; and from Chef Menteur Pass on the east to the Gentilly Dreux plantation on the west.<br />

Throughout the drawing undulates the verdant line of Bayou Sauvage or Gentilly, named by <strong>New</strong> Orleans settlers Pierre and Mathurin Dreux before 1720.<br />

In 1883 the tracks of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Northeast Railroad (now part of the Norfolk Southern system) opened across the northern edge of the property on its way to the Northshore,<br />

probably the occasion for the plan. The older Louisville and Nashville (founded as the U.S., Mobile, and Chattanooga R.R., now part of CSX) line had built tracks across the land in 1873<br />

on its way to Mobile and Nashville. The L & N built the Michoud Station on the plan as a convenience to hunters.<br />

On the eastern edge, Fisherman’s Bayou was the infamous site where “Spanish fisherman” admitted the British army into eastern <strong>New</strong> Orleans on their way to attack the city in 1814<br />

during the War of 1812. Fort Macomb, named for Army engineer General Alexander Macomb was known at one time as Fort Wood. Built in 1822, it has never seen military action. The<br />

fort still stands, tenuously. The Petit Bois (“petty bwa”) or Little Woods encampment on Lake Pontchartrain was once a holiday favorite of <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong>, who enjoyed waterfront living,<br />

fishing, and crabbing from its row of camps raised high over lake waters.<br />

This easternmost section of <strong>New</strong> Orleans is one of the few locally where township and range (TX RXIII) are used in property descriptions. Granted to fur trader Antoine de St. Maxent in<br />

1763, the tract passed in 1801 to engineer Barthelemy Lafon, who used it as a brick plantation, retaining most of the tract until 1812 when he lost it to creditors. Antoine Michoud made<br />

his first acquisition of the tract in 1827, adding to it by numerous purchases until 1855. Michoud developed the land as a sugar plantation, the Grandjean plan indicating remnants of his<br />

residence, sugar house and cane fields on the alluvial overflow plain of Bayou Gentilly. His heirs retained the tract for almost a century.<br />

Later owners were Robert E.E. de Montluzin and Higgins Industries, which (unsuccessfully) undertook to build liberty ships and then cargo planes for the U.S. during World War II. The<br />

U.S. Army had tank engines manufactured there during the Korean War, followed by NASA, which commenced Saturn vehicle stages in 1961.<br />

PLAN ATTACHED TO ACT OF E. GRIMA MAY 28, 1910, COURTESY DALE N. ATKINS, CLERK OF CIVIL DISTRICT COURT, PARISH OF ORLEANS, NOTARIAL ARCHIVES DIVISION.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

65


Department of the Gulf. Map No. 5. Approaches to <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

This plan was drawn to show the Confederate fortifications constructed in the brief interval between the outbreak of the Civil War and the fall of <strong>New</strong> Orleans from the sea in April 1862.<br />

The works known as Camp Parapet ended up serving as a Union defense of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The plan shows the routes of the two northerly railroads—the 1830s “<strong>New</strong> Orleans and<br />

Nashville” road that never reached further than the swamps of St. Charles Parish; and the James Robb road “The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Jackson and Great Northern” that reached Jackson,<br />

Mississippi before the war. The plan also shows the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Carrollton Railroad, now the St. Charles Streetcar line, and its continuance to the Jefferson and Lake Pontchartrain<br />

Railroad that extend from Carrollton to Lake Pontchartrain. Shown as bare land are Audubon Park and the future campuses of Loyola and Tulane. Fortifications are also shown along<br />

Bayou St. John and the Pontchartrain Railroad, now Elysian Fields Avenue. On the West Bank, fortifications defend the successful <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Opelousas and Great Western railroad.<br />

DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF. MAP NO. 5. APPROACHES TO NEW ORLEANS, PREPARED BY ORDER OF MAJ. GEN. N. P. BANKS, HENRY L. ABBOT, CAPT. AND CHIEF TOP. ENGRS. FEB. 14, 1863. SURVEYS UNDER DIRECTION OF CAPT. ABBOT BY MR. J. G.<br />

OLTMANNS, ASST. USCS; MR. CHS. HOSMER, ASST. USCS; MR. T. W. ROBBINS, CIVIL ENGR.; MR. J. DEUTSCH, CIVIL ENGR.; ZIMPEL’S MAP OF NEW ORLEANS. SURVEYS BY W. H. WILDER.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Louis H. Pilié, PLAN OF A VALUABLE PROPERTY/SECOND DISTRICT, September 30, 1880.<br />

After an extended career as a municipal engineer and surveyor, Louis Henri Pilié’ was still making surveys and drawings as Deputy City Surveyor as late as 1880. He had begun in 1841<br />

as apprentice and deputy in the Surveyor’s Office at the age of twenty-one. The heart of his career was his service from 1849 to 1862 as Surveyor for the First Municipality. During that<br />

period, Pilié created innumerable specifications for public market repairs, prisons, school houses, wharves and levees, and street repairs. During the Civil War, he endured a run-in with<br />

Union General Benjamin Butler, but was back in office by 1866. He served again as Deputy Surveyor from 1873 to 1880, signing the present drawing that year in his capacity as Deputy.<br />

Pilié’s fairly simple illustration of a row of gable-sided Creole cottages at Toulouse and Bourbon is a fair example of his lettering preferences, site plans, and style of rendering. He seldom<br />

devoted time to embellishing title sections, preferring a monochromatic lettering scheme in three-part “Tuscan-style” graphics. At the bottom of the sheet, his painting of the houses appears<br />

in a uniform plane with only modest light and shadow, the storefront window and open doorway getting the most attention.<br />

The strength of this drawing is Pilié’s greater interest in the site plan, which clarifies the partitions and interior use behind a continuous, eight-bay façade. From its configuration, we learn<br />

that the row consists of a corner store with a family quarters behind it; a second premises with a three-room domicile next to an interior alley offering the complex access to the rear (and<br />

explaining the open shutters in the elevation); and a third, three-room residence. At the rear, kitchens serve each domicile, the corner property also using what was possibly a storeroom.<br />

With nearly 400 examples of his work preserved in Notarial records* and City Archives, Pilié’s record has left <strong>New</strong> Orleans with one of its greatest bodies of documentation.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

67


Above: Banana Port post card, undated.<br />

The Vaccaro Brothers (q.v.) started in the retail fruit business in the<br />

French Quarter in the 1880s. Beginning with the new century they<br />

began importing fruit, notably bananas from Central America. The<br />

business paid for the purchase of ships that enabled the brothers to<br />

expand into other markets. They soon formed Standard Fruit<br />

Company that came to rival the United Fruit Company. Both<br />

strengthened the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and both improved the quality<br />

of port operations so evident in this post card. Bananas are no longer<br />

carried by stalks but moved on conveyor belts from ships and then to<br />

trucks.<br />

Below: J. Scordill, Madame Bégué’s Restaurant, <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

La.,<br />

ca. 1910<br />

Madame Begué’s restaurant had been a tourist attraction for several<br />

decades when John Scordill, a Greek immigrant with a souvenir shop<br />

on Canal St., published this postcard of the famous building at<br />

Decatur and Madison. At the time, the building also housed a barber<br />

shop; next door was a florist. The Begué’s sign, with “Exchange”<br />

beneath the restaurant label, signaled that the business also housed a<br />

corner bar inside, as all “exchanges” were really taverns. The absence<br />

of Tujague’s Restaurant as part of the scene also signals a date for the<br />

photograph before 1914, the year that Guillaume Tujague’s partner<br />

Philip Guichet purchased the business from Begué’s heirs, eventually<br />

expanding into the adjoining space. The building, built in 1838 on the<br />

site of the old United States arsenal, was never owned by the<br />

restaurant’s proprietors.<br />

In hindsight, if it is possible for two restaurants to become one that<br />

pair was Begue’s and Tujagues. French Market butcher Guillaume<br />

Tujague opened his restaurant in 1856 nearby on Decatur Street<br />

across from the Marché aux Boeufs (Beef Market). Two years later<br />

Madame Begué (Elizabeth Kettering, q.v.) married Louis<br />

Dutreuil and soon afterwards opened a coffee shop in the building<br />

that became the restaurant in the image. After his death she married<br />

another butcher, Hypolyte Begué, with whom she built their<br />

restaurant trade, renaming it Begué’s “Exchange.” The early clientele<br />

for both restaurants were the butchers and workers in the French<br />

Market across Decatur Street. Their day started early so it legally<br />

ended between 10:00 a.m. and noon, making their first meal<br />

breakfast. The restaurants made both their breakfasts and their<br />

hospitality famous, the subject of popular postcards like the one<br />

pictured here. After Madame Begué’s death in 1906 her daughter<br />

took it over, only to sell it in 1914 to the business successors of<br />

Guillaume Tujague. Their heirs, the Philip Guichet family, owned<br />

Tujague’s until 1982 when Steven Latter purchased it.<br />

SALLY K. REEVES, POST CARD COLLECTION.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Unknown Artist, Roy Alciatore (1902-1972).<br />

The portrait appropriately places Roy Alciatore, 20th century proprietor of Antoine’s Restaurant, in an armchair with a view of Jackson Square in the background, his Confrèrie des<br />

Chevaliers du Tastevin cup shown prominently on its sash. The grandson of Antoine Alciatore (q.v.) Roy was the last of the restaurant’s proprietors to bear the Alciatore name. Serving<br />

from 1934 to 1972, he developed the restaurant’s cuisine and service to its highest prominence, serving princes to presidents such delicacies as Oysters Rockefeller, Pompano en Papillote<br />

and Pommes de Terre Soufflés. As the <strong>New</strong> York Times reported at the time of his death, Roy Alciatore “seemed no less aristocratic than the dignitaries he served.” It was a commonplace<br />

among the many local patrons for whom “Dinner at Antoine’s” was the ultimate delight that “no dish ever exited the kitchen at Antoine’s without passing under his inspection.”<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

69


Johnny Donnels, John Kuhlman, and Southland Records LP 206, Papa Celestin’s Golden Wedding.<br />

Southland Records’ LP album of Papa Celestin’s favorite hits was one of many <strong>New</strong> Orleans recordings that the St. Louis Street studio produced in the 1950s. Released posthumously after<br />

Celestin’s death in 1954, the album shows one of the city’s most beloved trumpeters looking down at his classic instrument in his signature bow tie. The recordings on the album—from<br />

Marie Laveau to Oh Didn’t He Ramble were so familiar to Celestin’s clients that they invariably gathered to sing them whenever the orchestra tuned them up. Orchestra members included<br />

Edward Pierson on trombone, Adolphe Alexander on clarinet, Sidney Brown on bass, Jeanette Kimball on piano, Albert French on banjo, and Louis Barbarin on drums. Of these, Albert<br />

French would lead the band into the following decades.<br />

COURTESY WILLIAM RANSOM HOGAN JAZZ ARCHIVE, TULANE UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES AND DR. BRUCE RAEBURN.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

70


Michael P. Smith, Allison "Tootie" Montana, Big Chief, Yellow Pocahontas<br />

Michael P. Smith’s photograph of Allison “Tootie” Montana (q.v.) captures the essential beauty of Montana’s all pink “Indian” costume on Mardi Gras Day, 1991. Montana channeled the<br />

beauty of sewing art into a vehicle of peace for an important segment of the African-American population of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. For decades they had fought among themselves for dominance<br />

among the “Mardi Gras Indian” groups, some of whom claimed descent in some manner from Native Americans of south Louisiana. The descendants increased in numbers and associated in<br />

neighborhood bands with increasing confrontation. Tootie’s contribution was to persuade the bands to make costume representations of their ancestors with the finest winning honors for their<br />

art instead of for physical dominance. His Mardi Gras Indian costume set the standard for the “prettiest,” as the tribes still march on various routes in their finest attire on Mardi Gras Day.<br />

Tootie’s plan is a model for conflict resolution to this day.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 2007.0103.2.122, PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL P. SMITH, 1937-2008. COPYRIGHT HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

71


[Sewerage and Water Board of <strong>New</strong> Orleans], Our Drainage System Protects OUR CITY.<br />

Under stress at the present writing both politically and financially, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Sewerage and Water Board was founded in 1899 when it absorbed the 1896 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Drainage<br />

Commission. The agency operated (and was viewed) as a municipal reform for almost a century. Board members served without compensation; meetings were public; and contracts received<br />

by sealed public bid. With the power of expropriation, the right to use city streets, mayoral support from Martin Behrman, and a variety of funding sources, the board undertook the vast<br />

work of connecting every premise in the city to the sewerage and water system. The system received its greatest enhancement in 1913 when the gifted and philanthropic engineer Albert<br />

Baldwin Wood donated his brilliant Wood Screw Pumps to the city, “the pumps” passing into the local language as a general assumption of public benefit. Wood may be considered the single<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleanian who did the most good for the most people over the longest time in the city’s 300-year history.<br />

COURTESY SALLY K. REEVES COLLECTION.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

72


J AMES<br />

R OBB<br />

(1814-1881)<br />

Antebellum banker James Hampden Robb was the most important promotor of railroads in<br />

Louisiana. His persistence led to his greatest accomplishment, the opening of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

Jackson and Great Northern Railroad in 1858. Robb’s business leadership during the 1840s led the<br />

way for Louisiana to redraft its law of incorporation, which freed corporations from ad hoc decisions<br />

of the legislature. In politics, Robb was also the principal spokesman for the reunification of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1852, following its sixteen years of division into three municipalities.<br />

Born in Pennsylvania, Robb migrated to <strong>New</strong> Orleans during the 1830s and entered banking.<br />

He survived the nationwide financial Panic of 1837, and throughout the next decade his business<br />

grew as he built a chain of banks. Early on, he noticed that <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ dependence on exporting<br />

foodstuffs from the Midwest was not a sufficient economic anchor. The city needed imports, and<br />

for imports to be feasible it needed railroads to send goods north in exchange for foodstuffs that<br />

floated down the Mississippi River. Although the city’s first short line railroad linked the city to<br />

Lake Pontchartrain and by coastal vessels to easterly markets, going north internally required traversing<br />

the entire state of Mississippi to reach northeastern markets. A railroad to Nashville had<br />

been planned during the 1830s, but was never executed. Robb took over that project and launched<br />

the <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Jackson and Great Northern Railroad.<br />

Political support had to proceed hand in hand with business development. The city’s 1836 division<br />

into three municipalities had paralyzed attempts to put its full support behind that development.<br />

Robb thus entered politics with the two-part objective of reforming state corporation laws<br />

and re-combining the municipalities into one. He won election as a state senator in 1851, from<br />

which post he persuaded the legislature to remove the cap on incorporations as well as removing<br />

a one-million dollar capital limit on banks. He also led the movement to merge the neighboring<br />

city of Lafayette into the city of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

In April 1851, Robb hosted a major railroad convention at which he challenged the city to unify<br />

and tax itself to finance the northern railroad. The populace strongly opposed his property tax proposal,<br />

but in 1852 Robb ran for the post of city alderman, from which post he successfully passed<br />

the tax. The reunification of the city and its new tax permitted the commencement of the Great<br />

Northern Railroad, completed in 1858.<br />

That same year, at the height of his accomplishments, Robb’s fortunes failed to survive a second<br />

widespread national banking panic. His empire collapsed as his chain of banks suffered unsustainable<br />

losses following the panic. Robb then lost his Garden District mansion and left <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

When he returned briefly after the Civil War, memories of his tax and pro-Northern sentiments<br />

made him unwelcome.<br />

<br />

<br />

James Robb.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1988.43.<br />

D ANIEL H ENRY H OLMES (1816-1898)<br />

Daniel Henry Holmes introduced the department store to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and made it a success.<br />

He learned the business at a young age, having been sent by his father at twenty to <strong>New</strong> York to<br />

work for Lord & Taylor, founded just ten years earlier by Samuel Lord and George Washington<br />

Taylor. Recognizing the opportunities available in a <strong>New</strong> Orleans branch, the partners searched for<br />

and found in Holmes a willing clerk who could speak fluent French.<br />

Arrived in the city, Holmes instead joined Taylor, Medley & Co. Dry Goods on Chartres Street,<br />

the city’s most prominent commercial artery. In 1842, at the age of twenty-six, he decided to go<br />

out on his own, opening D. H. Holmes Department Store. By 1846 he was importing goods directly<br />

from Paris, where he opened an office. Holmes’ Parisian bonnets, garments, and frock coats suited<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

73


Daniel Henry Holmes.<br />

ILLUSTRATED NEWS NEW ORLEANS, VOL. 3 NO. 22, APRIL<br />

22, 1922.<br />

the tastes of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and became a longtime<br />

hallmark of his store. The business prospered<br />

on Chartres Street until 1849 when<br />

Holmes decided that Canal Street had even better<br />

prospects. That year, he had the contractor<br />

Charles Pride build a four-story Gothic-style<br />

store in the 800 block of Canal, complete with<br />

lancet windows, hood moulds, and an interior<br />

atrium. Its full-length shop windows were predecessors<br />

of the memorable holiday-dressed windows<br />

dear to <strong>Orleanians</strong> for a century. It was the<br />

heart of boom times in <strong>New</strong> Orleans owing to<br />

the explosive growth of the cotton trade. 1<br />

Daniel Henry Holmes’ retailing innovations<br />

became legendary. He introduced home delivery<br />

in horse-drawn carts or by streetcar, a convenience<br />

that housewives had never experienced.<br />

The Holmes delivery system ultimately developed<br />

into the Mercedes-Benz brown-on-brown<br />

delivery trucks familiar to <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> until<br />

the demise of the store. Holmes also introduced a<br />

guaranteed-return of merchandise policy, one<br />

with a known loss rate outweighed by the<br />

increase in volume it promoted. During the Civil<br />

War, he hired female clerks owing to a shortage<br />

of men, a practice that survived the war. He operated<br />

on a cash-only basis, avoiding the dangers of<br />

credit in an economy that usually required business<br />

owners to wait weeks or months to be paid.<br />

He opened an office in <strong>New</strong> York to handle much of the ordering and shipping. 2<br />

During the 1850s Holmes, growing wealthy, decided that the summer climate in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

was too dangerous for his family. He purchased land across the Ohio River from Cincinnati where<br />

his old French friend Eugene Levassor now lived. After the Civil War Holmes constructed a monumental<br />

stone castle there, which survived until 1936.<br />

As did several other successful men in 19th century <strong>New</strong> Orleans Holmes avoided society,<br />

declining to join political organizations or social clubs. While he had little or no formal education,<br />

he learned languages throughout his life and at his death spoke fluent French, Spanish, Italian,<br />

Greek and Hebrew. He married Eliza Maria Kerrison of <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1847 and had four children.<br />

Only two survived him—his namesake D. H. Holmes, Jr., and Georgine Holmes who lived<br />

into the 1940s and had a shop in the French Quarter.<br />

Before his death Holmes turned the management of the store over to two associates, Samuel<br />

Geoghegan in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and James T. Walker in <strong>New</strong> York. After his death, local businessmen<br />

Hugh and Bernard McCloskey led a consortium to buy out Holmes’ heirs and to found D. H.<br />

Holmes Company, Limited. The company expanded into the <strong>New</strong> Orleans suburbs and south<br />

Louisiana while its Canal St. store remained a landmark where <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> made it a custom<br />

to meet under its clock. It prospered until 1989, when it was sold to Dillard’s Department Store,<br />

which closed the Canal Street store and abandoned it to the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

1 Betty Lee Nordheim, Echoes of the Past: A History of the Covington Public School System Published May 2002 see<br />

http://covingtoncsd.ky.schoolwebpages.com/education/school/schoolhistory.<br />

2 Obituary D. H. Holmes, in The Times-Picayune, July 4, 1898.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

74


D R . LOUIS C HARLES R OUDANEZ<br />

(1823-1890)<br />

Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez launched Reconstruction politics in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1862 with the<br />

publication of his first newspaper, L’Union. The paper announced that African-Americans must<br />

have the right to vote. Dr. Roudanez pursued this goal for the remainder of the War and<br />

Reconstruction, diminishing as a voice with the end of formal Reconstruction and the expiration<br />

of his second newspaper the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune.<br />

Born in St. James Parish, Roudanez received a first-class education for the<br />

time. He attended Dartmouth College and later received a medical degree from<br />

the University of Paris. His professors urged him to remain in France, as they did<br />

for Norbert Rillieux (q.v.), another Creole. But Roudanez was inspired by his participation<br />

in the French revolution of 1848, which led to the end of slavery within<br />

the French empire. This inspiration led him to return to <strong>New</strong> Orleans where<br />

he began a successful practice as a physician on Customhouse Street (Iberville)<br />

at the edge of the French Quarter. His clientele there were probably both black<br />

and white.<br />

In September 1862, with Union troops in the city and General Benjamin<br />

Butler considering his options, Dr. Roudanez, assisted by his brother Jean<br />

Baptiste and Paul Trevigne, launched their L’Union, the first black-sponsored<br />

newspaper in the United States. Primarily aimed at the French Creole population,<br />

it also carried English content and for two years came out three times a week.<br />

From the beginning it brought up the right to vote, although aware that neither<br />

Butler nor President Abraham Lincoln was prepared to endorse black voting.<br />

In March of 1864 the Roudanez-inspired petition for voting rights signed by<br />

one thousand African-Americans in <strong>New</strong> Orleans was presented to Lincoln at the<br />

White House. That July, L’Union folded, to be succeeded two days later by another<br />

Roudanez newspaper, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune. This paper was far more radical,<br />

calling for the end of discrimination in public accommodations, street cars, and<br />

segregated public schools. The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune eventually became a daily<br />

newspaper, widely read in Washington and <strong>New</strong> York, and wielding significant<br />

influence over the politics of Louisiana Reconstruction. In October 1865 Frederick Douglas wrote<br />

J. B. Roudanez praising the paper and stating that he read it whenever he could.<br />

In 1867, Roudanez achieved his dream when a state election to a new constitutional convention<br />

saw 75,000 voters, of which most were black. Although the constitution it produced contained<br />

most of Roudanez’ Tribune agenda, internal politics within the Republican party spelled the end of<br />

the paper within a year. The Republicans backed the Creole Francis Dumas for Governor against<br />

Henry Clay Warmouth, fearing Warmouth was too close to the Democrats. Warmouth’s narrow victory<br />

led to a Republican party boycott of the Tribune. Warmouth went on to veto legislation implementing<br />

the radical planks of the constitution, just as Roudanez had feared. The new governor also<br />

delisted the Tribune as an official government journal, and by 1869 it was virtually out of business.<br />

Roudanez carried on his efforts, best evidenced by his prominent role in the Unification<br />

Movement of 1873 led by General P. G. T. Beauregard. This large group supporting racial solidarity<br />

among blacks and whites had a life of only one year. Removed from politics, Roudanez continued<br />

to practice medicine almost until his death in 1890, just before Homer Plessy (q.v.) took his fateful<br />

train ride.<br />

<br />

Louis Charles Roudañez.<br />

COURTESY OF ROUDAÑEZ HISTORY AND LEGACY,<br />

WWW. ROUDAÑEZ.COM.<br />

For further reading see Mark Charles Roudané. The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune: An Introduction to America’s First Black Daily<br />

<strong>New</strong>spaper. <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Mark Roudané, 2014. Gospel Banner (Augusta, Maine). September 1, 1866. on the Tribune. Keith<br />

Weldon Medley. http://www.theneworleanstribune.com/main/celebrating-dr-louis-charles-roudanez/, by McKenna Publishing,<br />

150th Anniversary of the original <strong>New</strong> Orleans Tribune.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

75


A NTOINE A LCIATORE (1824-1875)<br />

<br />

Antoine Alciatore.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1994.89.61.4.<br />

In 1840, Marseilles native Antoine Alciatore opened his first restaurant in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Relocated to its present location in 1868, Antoine’s Restaurant is still owned and operated by his<br />

descendants, a feat unmatched in longevity by any other local business. <strong>Notable</strong> for its food, size,<br />

reputation, and glamour, Antoine’s Restaurant has been the oldest in the city since at least 1905,<br />

when a dining room renovation led to newspaper headlines about “the old Landmark, famed for<br />

its excellent cuisine.” 1 Alciatore early on established his importance by offering his customers the<br />

experience of dining out for celebration as opposed to offering a rooming house that fed its boarders<br />

a daily meal or a tavern that fed travelers.<br />

Born and trained as a chef in Marseilles, Alciatore emigrated through <strong>New</strong> York to <strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

where he worked at the St. Charles Hotel. His first restaurant was part of a boarding house. He<br />

married Julie Freyss, an Alsatian whom he had met when both were crossing from Europe to<br />

America. With a growing family of seven children, the couple in 1868 purchased a double Creole<br />

townhouse on St. Louis Street, to which in 1874 they added cast iron pilasters and a prominent<br />

Mansard-style roof. At the time, the business operated as a restaurant, lodging, and boarding<br />

house. Three years later, Antoine returned to France, where he died of tuberculosis.<br />

Widowed with a large family, Julie Freyss Alciatore stayed on, managing and improving the business<br />

until her retirement in 1887. She sent her young son Jules to France for training. Jules would<br />

become the next proprietor, inventing some of Antoine’s signature dishes including Oysters<br />

Rockefeller, “often imitated, but never duplicated.” A typical advertisement for Antoine’s dating from<br />

1916 names Jules Alciatore “Proprietor” and his list of new creations Oysters à la Ellis, Soufflé of<br />

Pompano, and Poulet à la Rupinicoscoff. 2 Under Jules’ leadership, the restaurant expanded into nearby<br />

buildings on both sides of 713 St. Louis St., demolishing adjacent service buildings to create a covered<br />

courtyard space now known as the Edwardian Room. An expansion into another courtyard created<br />

the elegant Rex room, perhaps the city’s most prestigious private dining space. In the meantime,<br />

the little French family passageways that are part of every Creole townhouse remained, adding to the<br />

sense of spatial mystery that diners experience as they navigate the restaurant’s complex floor plans.<br />

Jules’ eldest son Roy Alciatore succeeded him in 1934, serving as proprietor with great distinction<br />

until 1972. No dish left the fabled kitchen without passing his inspection. The last proprietor<br />

to be named Alciatore, he left children and grandchildren as proprietors, all of them direct descendants<br />

of Antoine. At the present writing, the proprietor is Rick Blount, Roy’s grandson.<br />

At a capacity of one thousand, Antoine’s size has made it the premier site in <strong>New</strong> Orleans for<br />

banquets. During Carnival season, social, political and Mardi Gras organizations compete to dine<br />

there as the ideal place to see and be seen in a festive season. Seldom open to the public, these<br />

events contribute to the restaurant’s cachet with a sense of exclusiveness that has never hurt it. Its<br />

Rex and Proteus organization luncheons have filled the restaurant to the brim. For fifty years, the<br />

festive Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans banquet of the Louisiana Historical Society (q.v.) filled the Edwardian<br />

room with toasts and historical speeches lasting well past midnight.<br />

The formally attired waiters at Antoine’s are exceptional, trained to explain the intricate menu<br />

with its French-named dishes. They remember their customers, who also ask for them by name.<br />

This practice is found occasionally elsewhere, but remains distinctively Antoine’s, where at the current<br />

writing waiter Sterling Constant is in his fiftieth year. In 1918, when another waiter died<br />

approaching his fiftieth year with Antoine’s, headlines read, “one of the most familiar figures in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans, and for nearly half a century connected with Antoine’s restaurant….” 3<br />

For further reading, see Roy F. Guste, Jr., Antoine’s Restaurant, Since 1840, Cookbook (<strong>New</strong> Orleans, 1978); Acts of Abel<br />

Dreyfous, N.P., December 24, 1877, Notarial Archives Division; Civil District Court docket 209-046.<br />

1 The Times-Picayune, October 1, 1905.<br />

2 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Item, January 22, 1916.<br />

3 <strong>New</strong> Orleans States, July 4, 1918.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

76


L EON<br />

G ODCHAUX<br />

(1824-1899)<br />

At the time of his death in 1899 he was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ most famous businessman,<br />

his passing noticed in newspapers across the country. He was hailed as the<br />

“Sugar King of Louisiana,” not to say the mastermind of a clothing empire. No one<br />

knows when “Lion Godchot” arrived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans from the small French village<br />

of Herbeville in the Lorraine Valley. It could have been 1837 when he stepped<br />

onto the levee and became Leon Godchaux.<br />

Godchaux started out in business as a teenaged Jewish backpack peddler working<br />

the French-speaking sugar plantations of the Mississippi River’s lower coast.<br />

Shrewd and keenly observant, alert to what his customers wanted in the way of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans notions and gossip, he was an instant success. Soon he took on a<br />

partner, Joachim Tassin, a light-skinned free man of color from Jamaica whom he<br />

had befriended on the voyage to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and who would remain in business<br />

with him throughout their lives.<br />

The partnership’s peddling concern hurried into overdrive. Leon bought a<br />

horse and wagon to handle the additional inventory. He built a store in Convent,<br />

Louisiana, then another on Decatur near the French Market where he sold urban<br />

garb to transient seafarers. He was only twenty years old. He brought his family<br />

over from France. One brother, Mayer Godchaux, joined the firm, which soon<br />

expanded to the addresses on Canal Street where the great clothing emporium<br />

that bore Godchaux’s name followed the Civil War. In 1858, using sewing<br />

machines that were beginning to revolutionize the ready-made clothing industry,<br />

Leon established a clothing factory in <strong>New</strong> Orleans to supply the retail and wholesale<br />

sides of his growing business.<br />

All the while, sugar was on his mind. He was convinced he could grow cane and refine sugar<br />

with greater profit than could his country customers. He got the chance during the Civil War, when<br />

Louisiana’s sugar industry teetered on the brink. Leon Godchaux converted many of his assets into<br />

gold and silver and in 1862 bought at auction the foreclosed La Reserve plantation. By war’s end<br />

more plantations had fallen into his orbit, some through foreclosure on loans extended by<br />

Godchaux. By the time he was finished, he had accumulated 60,000 acres of timberland and<br />

10,000 acres of cane land—fourteen plantations all told. He centralized sugar manufacturing in a<br />

few large mills, connecting them by a dense network of “tramways” (small-gauge railroads). He<br />

even founded a dairy business. “He seemed to be everywhere,” Bennett H. Wall observed, “and yet<br />

at the same time hard to find.”<br />

Leon sired ten children. The entire family, like most nineteenth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans Jews, was<br />

highly assimilated. They relished music, dancing, the French Opera. They belonged to Rex. The<br />

Godchaux’ were exceptionally civic-minded. To name one example: they supported the campaign<br />

that led to the establishment of Touro Infirmary at its present location.<br />

During his lifetime not even the great sugar trusts of the age could shove Leon Godchaux aside.<br />

By 1958 times had changed. The year the National Sugar Refining Company purchased the<br />

Godchaux sugar empire and shuttered it shortly afterwards. In 1986, the Godchaux Department<br />

Store chain closed.<br />

—Lawrence N. Powell, retired Professor of History, Tulane University<br />

<br />

Leon Godchaux.<br />

RUDOLF BOHUNEK, 1875 CA.-1913 ACTIVE, LEON<br />

GODCHAUX, OIL ON CANVAS, 30 X 25 IN. (76.2 X 63.5 CM),<br />

1909. COURTESY OF THE LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM.<br />

For further reading see Elliott Ashkanazi, The Business of Jews in Louisiana, 1840-1875 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama<br />

Press, 1988). Bennett H. Wall, “Leon Godchaux and the Godchaux Business Enterprises” The American Jewish Historical<br />

Quarterly, 66 (1976), 50-66. Laura Renée Westbrook, “Common Roots: The Godchaux Family in Louisiana History,<br />

Literature, and Politics” (Ph. D dissertation, The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2001). Peter M. Wolf, My <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, Gone Away: A Memoir of Loss and Renewal (Harrison, N.Y.: Delphinium Books, 2013).<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

77


O SCAR<br />

J. DUNN<br />

(1826-1871)<br />

<br />

Oscar Dunn.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1970.11.155.<br />

Oscar J. Dunn combined a background in private business with scrupulous honesty<br />

to meet the challenge of navigating Reconstruction in Louisiana. He set an example for<br />

the newly emerging African-American leadership. His most prominent work fell in the<br />

period from 1866 until his premature death in 1871, when as the state’s lieutenant governor<br />

he was poised to become governor. On November 20, 1871, he suddenly fell ill and died two<br />

days later.<br />

Dunn’s family had worked for successful pre-war businessman James Caldwell (q.v.), who,<br />

in 1819, had freed Dunn’s father James. James Dunn subsequently purchased the freedom of<br />

his wife Marie and their two children, Oscar and Jane. James Dunn’s father had been a valued<br />

carpenter for Caldwell during the construction of the St. Charles Theatre in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Oscar Dunn subsequently joined his father’s trade as a plasterer. But he was also able to<br />

become a popular violinist and taught lessons with the instrument. During the 1850s Dunn<br />

joined the Prince Hall Freemasons and rose rapidly as Master and Grand Master of Richmond<br />

Lodge No. 4. The lodge, founded in 1850, was an offshoot of the St. James A.M.E. Church. 1<br />

Dunn did not volunteer for either side of the Civil War. But, towards the end he saw that<br />

the new Freedmen’s Bureau needed administrative help. He opened an employment agency<br />

that found positions for the former slaves. Joining the Advisory Committee of the Freedmen’s<br />

Saving and Trust Company of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, a private company, he was selected its secretary.<br />

At the same time he launched the Louisiana Association of Workingmen’s People’s Bakery.<br />

Dunn’s comparatively short political career began with an appointment to the <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans City Council in 1867. In 1868, he ran successfully for lieutenant governor on the<br />

ticket of Henry Clay Warmouth. Dunn then served until his death in 1871. His honesty was sufficiently<br />

tested as he was head of the Metropolitan Police and the state Printing Committee, both of<br />

which had million dollar budgets, and the board of Straight University.<br />

Dunn’s alliance with Warmouth unraveled as Dunn joined the “Federal” or “Custom House” faction<br />

of the Republican party, led by Stephen B. Packard. <strong>New</strong> U. S. Senator William Pitt Kellogg<br />

also followed Packard and Dunn, all of them finding Warmouth too close to the Democrats. In this<br />

political situation Dunn was poised for higher office, except for his premature death.<br />

See Joseph A. Walkes Jr. Jno G. Lewis, Jr.—End of an Era: the History of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Louisiana, 1842-<br />

1979. Leavenworth, Kan.: J.A. Walkes, Jr., c1986.<br />

<br />

L OUIS M OREAU G OTTSCHALK<br />

(1829-1869)<br />

American composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk never abandoned his <strong>New</strong> Orleans roots, and<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans music has never abandoned him. Gottschalk’s compositions—celebrated in France,<br />

Brazil, and California—demonstrated a distinct, home-based rhythm that spread through the late<br />

nineteenth and twentieth century world of popular music. <strong>New</strong> Orleans composers who followed<br />

him owed his music a considerable debt. Biographer S. Frederick Starr wrote “No ragtime composer<br />

exploited [Gottschalk’s]Caribbean and Creole syncopated rhythms more thoroughly than [did]<br />

Jelly Roll Morton….” 1 The French-speaking population of <strong>New</strong> Orleans played Gottschalk’s works<br />

regularly, notably Gottschalk’s piano music based on the great operas of the time. “Jelly Roll prided<br />

himself on his ability to “rag” the Miserere from Il Trovatore, which he almost certainly learned<br />

from Gottschalk’s transcription.” 2<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Born in 1829 <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Gottschalk grew up in a Creole household with a grandmother and<br />

a nurse from St. Domingue, the fount of Creole influences. His genius was to corral his surrounding<br />

musical influences and through his creativity and inventiveness influence others. In 1842, after<br />

a career as a child prodigy in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, the thirteen-year-old went to Paris, very much on his<br />

own. He was already self-conscious of his talent and had set goals for his life that included making<br />

his own living. Though not admitted to the Parisian Conservatoire, he studied with private tutors<br />

and within a few years had made a reputation as an outstanding pianist. His first major compositions—Bamboula,<br />

La Savane, Le Bananier, and Le Mancenillier, date to these years.<br />

In 1853, Gottschalk returned to the United States. Travels across the country on paid piano<br />

recitals brought him occasionally to <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The ensuing Civil War seemed to have only a<br />

slight effect on his schedule. However, in California in 1865 he began a relationship with a student<br />

that turned sour, led to threats, and Gottschalk’s permanent departure from the United States for<br />

South America, especially Cuba and Brazil. Four years later he was dead at the age of forty, apparently<br />

suffering a stroke while finishing his performance of Mortel!<br />

His diary reveals Gottschalk as a person honest with himself. He recognized his own abilities<br />

and criticized the fetishes of European pianists, such as the long hairstyle of Franz Liszt. Yet when<br />

he overdid himself as he often did, playing exhausted from travel, he admitted to himself that he<br />

cheated his audience.<br />

<br />

Louis Moreau Gottschalk.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 1979.144.6.<br />

1 S. Frederick Starr, Bamboula! The Life and times of Louis Moreau Gottschalk (<strong>New</strong> York, Oxford University Press,<br />

1995), 447.<br />

2 Starr, 447.<br />

<br />

M ADAME E LIZABETH K ETTERING B EGUÉ<br />

(1831-1906)<br />

The first <strong>New</strong> Orleans chef to achieve renown as a female, Madame E. K. Begué was the central<br />

figure of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ late nineteenth century bistro world. That world revolved principally<br />

around the Gascogne–born butchers in the storied French Market, where her husband Hypolyte<br />

and other butchers worked. Born not in France but in Bavaria, Elizabeth emigrated to <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

in 1858. Where she married butcher Louis Dutreuil. During the 1860s, Elizabeth and Dutreuil<br />

opened a coffee house at the present-day site of Tujague’s Restaurant, located on Decatur Street<br />

across from the Marché aux Boeufs (Beef Market).<br />

Widowed after the Civil War, Elizabeth, in 1877, married Hypolyte Begué, with whom she built<br />

their restaurant trade, renaming it Begue’s “Exchange,” a nineteenth-century word for a corner bar<br />

and restaurant. The Begués’ primary clientele were the butchers of the market, who famously<br />

enjoyed Elizabeth’s multi-course breakfasts commencing after ten a.m. when city ordinances<br />

required that the market close in summer. As word spread of the hearty times there, the restaurant<br />

acquired acclaim in newspapers and guidebooks, especially following the 1884 World’s Fair.<br />

Begué’s food and ambiance soon brought in tourists and the well-to-do who came for her snails,<br />

tripe, cheese, eggs, steak, brandy, and wines served in an old European ambiance. Elizabeth’s cookbook<br />

“Madame Begué’s Recipes of Old <strong>New</strong> Orleans Creole Cookery,” published in 1900, helped<br />

publicize <strong>New</strong> Orleans cooking nationwide. 1 Madame Begué was probably an early celebrity chef<br />

in the sense that tourists who visited <strong>New</strong> Orleans sought out her restaurant as one that they had<br />

read about. Her restaurant was a destination.<br />

At Elizabeth’s death in 1906, The Daily Picayune exclaimed Madame Begué had been the<br />

“Queen of Cooks for Over Thirty blessed Years.” 2 “The name Begué,” the Picayune continued,<br />

“has been associated with the highest expression of epicureanism not only with the<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

79


people of this city, but with men and women, some of whom are famous in literary and<br />

artistic circles…who have enjoyed a breakfast at Begue’s, and have returned home to sing the<br />

praises of that excellent rendezvous of lovers of savory and original menus.” A few months after<br />

her death, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Item reveled in the memory of “a breakfast that, once tasted, would<br />

never be forgotten; a breakfast that had power to call men and women back from foreign lands—<br />

breakfast that was an ounce of poem and comforter.” 3 After his wife’s death, Hypolyte Begué married<br />

again—to the widow of a French Market butcher. Today, their historic building houses<br />

Tujague’s Restaurant.<br />

<br />

Elizabeth Kettenring Begue.<br />

MME. BEGUÉ AND HER RECIPES: OLD CREOLE COOKERY. SAN<br />

FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA: SOUTHERN PACIFIC, SUNSET<br />

ROUTE, C1900, RARE BOOKS DEPARTMENT, HOWARD-<br />

TILTON MEMORIAL LIBRARY, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

For Further reading, see Sally K. Reeves, “Making Groceries,” Louisiana Cultural Vistas, (fall, 2007), 24-35; Poppy<br />

Tooker, Tujague’s Cookbook: Creole Recipes and Lore in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Grand Tradition (<strong>New</strong> Orleans, 2015).<br />

1 Elizabeth M. Williams, <strong>New</strong> Orleans: A Food Biography (<strong>New</strong> York: Altamira Press, 2013), 103-4.<br />

2 The Daily Picayune, October 20, 1906.<br />

3 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Item, June 20, 1907.<br />

<br />

A LBERT<br />

B ALDWIN<br />

(1834-1912)<br />

Albert Baldwin built the firm of A. Baldwin & Co. into the most significant hardware firm in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. Born at Watertown, Massachusetts, and raised in Boston, he had a reputation as a<br />

gifted mathematician that served him well in business. At twenty-four (1857) Baldwin migrated to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans with his first wife Rhoda Maria Griffin and their son Jacob to work as an accountant.<br />

His employer was a firm known as “Richards, [Cuthbert H.] Slocomb & Co,” where Albert’s brother<br />

Henry Baldwin was a partner. Founded in 1822, Richards, Slocomb and Co. were “Importers and<br />

wholesale dealers in Foreign and Domestic Hardware.” Some items from their inventory reflect the<br />

needs of a growing nineteenth century city:<br />

“700 tons of Snede and American Bar iron, 500 tons of Hollow Ware and Castings, 800<br />

dozen Axes, 900 dozen shovels, 9,000 ploughs.”<br />

Sorrow beset Baldwin’s early life in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. As chronicled by Bouligny family historian<br />

Fontaine Martin, “In the autumn of 1858, about a year after the Baldwins’ arrival in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, both<br />

mother and child died of yellow fever.” Martin also reports that a few years later Baldwin’s older brother<br />

Henry also lost his life in a storm on Lake Pontchartrain. The death occurred during the Union occupation<br />

of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, during which time Cuthbert Slocomb was serving in the Confederate Army. 1<br />

“To keep the firm going on the death of one partner and the absence of the other,” Martin writes,<br />

“Albert as executor of his brother’s estate gave up his previous positon and took over the temporary<br />

management of the firm. When the war was over and Colonel Slocomb returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

Albert was formally made a partner and the firm became Slocomb, Baldwin, and Co.” In 1874, the<br />

firm became A. Baldwin & Co., by which it was known until Baldwin’s death.<br />

In 1862, Baldwin remarried to <strong>New</strong> Orleans-born Arthémise Bouligny with whom he would<br />

engender thirteen children. In 1869, the Baldwins purchased the most elegant home on Esplanade<br />

Avenue, known today at the Dufour-Baldwin House. Designed by prominent architects Henry<br />

Howard and Albert Diettel in 1859, the Italianate mansion dominated the 1700 block of<br />

Esplanade, where its monumental mass and galleries still command the interest of local citizens<br />

and visitors. The Baldwin family remained there until 1912.<br />

Surviving Reconstruction, in the 1870s Baldwin purchased controlling stock of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

National Bank. Over the next four decades, the bank grew explosively, the share price opening at<br />

$40 and reaching $750 a share by 1912 when Baldwin died. Baldwin became vice-president of the<br />

Times-Democrat Publishing Company, and also served as director of the American Brewing<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

80


Company, the National Rice Milling Company, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Waterworks Company, and the<br />

Sun Life Insurance Company.<br />

Not surprisingly, Baldwin was preeminent in the social world of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. At one point his<br />

charming personality and wit had made him a member of every prominent club in the city. Among<br />

them, he co-founded the School of Design (Rex Organization), reigning over Carnival as Rex in<br />

1876. He became an active sailor on Lake Pontchartrain and served as Commodore of the Southern<br />

Yacht Club. 2 He eventually established an estate on the North Shore of the lake, which his family<br />

inherited. An Episcopalian who was generous to the needy throughout his career, Baldwin in his<br />

will made bequests to Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish charities. 3 His important grandson Albert<br />

Baldwin Wood (q.v.) was likewise a devoted sailor.<br />

1 Fontaine Martin, A History of the Bouligny Family and Allied Families (Lafayette, LA., 1990), 254-55.<br />

2 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Item, April 22, 1912; The Times-Picayune, April 22, 1912.<br />

3 Martin, Bouligny Family, 256.<br />

<br />

I SIDORE<br />

N EWMAN<br />

(1837-1909)<br />

Isidore <strong>New</strong>man made his fortune in banking and street railways rather than in land, using his wealth<br />

to endow a series of charitable and educational causes. As did John McDonogh, Thomy Lafon, and Judah<br />

Touro before him, <strong>New</strong>man gave generously to the needy of many faiths, including all orphan asylums,<br />

the Home for Incurables, Touro Infirmary, and the Jewish Children’s Home. After the turn of the twentieth<br />

century, <strong>New</strong>man decided that the most important educational tool that poor children needed was manual<br />

training, which led him, in 1901, to found Isidore <strong>New</strong>man Manual Training School. After more than<br />

a century of growth, it survives today in evolved form as Isidore <strong>New</strong>man School.<br />

<strong>New</strong>man came to Louisiana from Bavaria in Germany in 1854. Nothing is known of his education.<br />

From early in his career he demonstrated a keen speculative sense. During the 1870s he saw<br />

an opportunity in the depreciation of State of Louisiana notes. The Panic of 1873 had forced the<br />

state to issue script to its employees. As one of the few investors with cash at the time, <strong>New</strong>man purchased<br />

many of these rapidly depreciating notes from needy state workers. Over the next few years<br />

the finances of both state and city strengthened, permitting both the state and the city to honor their<br />

obligations. Their notes and bonds gradually rose in value, yielding <strong>New</strong>man a fine profit.<br />

<strong>New</strong>man made his investments through a private bank, Isidore <strong>New</strong>man and Son. During the 1890s,<br />

it successfully invested in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, making it profitable. <strong>New</strong>man then<br />

invested in street railways across the South, including railways in Birmingham, Nashville, Memphis,<br />

Little Rock and Houston. During the 1890s he consolidated all of his street railway companies into the<br />

American Cities Railway and Light Company, later incorporated into <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Service, Inc.<br />

<strong>New</strong>man’s impact on <strong>New</strong> Orleans shopping was equally memorable. In 1897, he refinanced<br />

and rebuilt the Maison Blanche Department Store, turning the property over to his son-in-law<br />

Simon Schwartz and Mark Isaacs. It was then, during those closing years of the nineteenth century,<br />

that an enduring competition between Maison Blanche and D. H. Holmes (q.v.) began.<br />

Unlike some earlier philanthropists, <strong>New</strong>man was no recluse. He married Rebecca Keifer with<br />

whom he had seven children, three boys and four girls. The boys joined <strong>New</strong>man’s firm and then<br />

branched out. A son became president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Stock Exchange; daughter Marie married<br />

architect Emile Weil. Another daughter married wood products manufacturer S. T. Alcus.<br />

In 1903, <strong>New</strong>man received the Times-Picayune Loving Cup, the second in what became a prestigious<br />

series. At the time, a reporter caught this quotation: “Why, don’t you know that a good Jew<br />

must be a good Christian, and to be a good Christian you must be a good Jew!<br />

<br />

Above: Albert Baldwin.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, GIFT OF THE<br />

CHILDREN OF ALMA BALDWIN DENÈGRE: GEORGE<br />

DENÈGRE, CAPTAIN THOMAS BAYNE DENÈGRE U. S. N.<br />

Below: Isidore <strong>New</strong>man.<br />

FROM "THE JEWISH COMMUNITY OF NEW ORLEANS," BY<br />

IRWIN LACHOFF AND CATHERINA KAHN.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

81


I SAAC<br />

D ELGADO<br />

(1839-1912)<br />

<br />

Isaac Delgado.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

Isaac Delgado, along with John McDonogh, Judah Touro, and Thomy Lafon, was one of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans’ four great bachelor philanthropists. A Jamaican native who made his fortune as a sugar<br />

broker, Isaac emigrated to <strong>New</strong> Orleans at the age of fourteen to join the firm of his uncle Samuel<br />

Delgado. Unlike some earlier philanthropists, Delgado participated in social life and was a member<br />

of the Boston Club and the Chess, Checkers and Whist Club. Delgado impacted <strong>New</strong> Orleans art,<br />

education, and medicine. His sugar brokerage firm came to include Thomas McDermott whose fortune<br />

built the uptown Holy Name of Jesus Church.<br />

In 1908, Delgado donated $200,000 to Charity Hospital for a building to house its operating<br />

rooms and 140 additional beds. This building came to be known as the Woman’s Hospital and survived<br />

until 1951, when it was demolished and its land given to the LSU Medical School. Long a<br />

proponent of trade schools, Delgado, in 1909, bequeathed the residue of his estate to the City of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans to establish a manual training school for youth. Perhaps he was inspired by Isidore<br />

<strong>New</strong>man (q.v.) who a few years earlier had donated funds for a manual training facility that grew<br />

into <strong>New</strong>man School. With Delgado funds the city purchased fifty-seven acres adjacent to City<br />

Park, leading to the 1921 opening of Delgado Trade School. Manual training has given way to technical<br />

training in keeping with the demands of the modern economy. In 1970, the City donated the<br />

school to the Louisiana State Board of Education and Delgado expanded its mission into the<br />

Delgado Community College.<br />

Isaac long resided at the Delgado home of his uncle, 1220 Philip Street, a house filled with<br />

paintings, sculpture, and objets d’art. For many years he continued to purchase art, supporting the<br />

Art Association of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, an organization of artists and their sponsors dating to the 1880s.<br />

He followed in the footsteps of his uncle and aunt who had long collected art on their many trips<br />

to Europe. 1 At the age of seventy-one Delgado wrote to the board of the City Park Improvement<br />

Association that he wished to build a new fire-proof art museum, and wondered if City Park would<br />

donate the land. So it transpired. In December 1911 the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art opened with<br />

the Delgado collection as its centerpiece, just a month before Delgado’s death.<br />

1 Obituary The Times-Picayune, January 5, 1912.<br />

<br />

G EORGE WASHINGTON C ABLE<br />

(1844-1925)<br />

George Washington Cable succeeded at the unlikely task of humanizing and romancing Creole<br />

life in <strong>New</strong> Orleans while not glossing over race and miscegenation. Although he never achieved<br />

the first rank in American literature, he wrote in an era when local color was gaining popularity in<br />

reading circles. Owing to his skillful management of colorful material, Cable was widely read and<br />

admired both locally and nationally.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans to a well-to-do Anglo-Presbyterian family, Cable absorbed the colorful life of the<br />

city as a boy. His Virginia-born family had settled in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1837, seven years before George was<br />

born. They changed residences frequently within a radius of the lower Garden District, not far enough<br />

away from the Mississippi River and Canal Street to prevent a boy with a keen sense of wonder to take it<br />

all in. His father, a restless optimist with an entrepreneurial spirit, entered into numerous ventures before<br />

failing in business, leading to an early death in 1859. Cable had to go to work, but he learned French,<br />

which he put to good, if controversial, use in his writing. A stint in the Confederate Army left him with<br />

malaria, following which he turned to writing, apparently expanding on his reflections while sick. His<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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eflections led to short stories, some published<br />

nationally, notably “Sieur George.” For several years<br />

thereafter, he wrote for The Daily Picayune.<br />

Collected in Old Creole Days, published in<br />

1879, Cable’s early stories made his reputation.<br />

The book opens with “Madame Delphine,” carefully<br />

unfolding a triste life as the quadroon lover<br />

of a fearless privateer, who might have been Jean<br />

Laffite but turned out otherwise. The following<br />

year Cable’s first novel, The Grandissimes: A Story<br />

of Creole Life, became his best work. The<br />

Grandissimes were a French Creole family whose<br />

elegant lifestyle gradually devolved into a shell of<br />

its former self, although with a certain dignity.<br />

Cable’s contemporaries in <strong>New</strong> Orleans criticized<br />

his positive view of racial harmony, especially<br />

his thinly-veiled insinuation that many<br />

were partly African-American. By 1885 he had<br />

moved to Northampton, Massachusetts, where<br />

his six children attended school and the family enjoyed the harmony of a <strong>New</strong> England town. The<br />

literary spirit that had flourished in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, however, refused to adopt <strong>New</strong> England; whereupon<br />

a dozen works focused again on Louisiana flowed from his pen before he died in 1925. These<br />

works never had the bite of his early volumes. Among the later works is Strange True Stories of<br />

Louisiana (1890), apparently based on stories supplied to Cable by Louisiana poet Sidonie de la<br />

Houssaye, which themselves originated with compositions by her colonial grandmother Comtesse<br />

Françoise Bossier. 1<br />

Cable and his close friend Lafcadio Hearn are remembered most frequently for their steady criticism<br />

of Southern racism. 2 Novelist Shirley Ann Grau described him as “the first writer of the modern South.”<br />

<br />

<br />

George Washington Cable.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

T HE D EJOIE F AMILY<br />

(1847-1917)<br />

Aristide Dejoie had an enduring influence on the African-American business environment in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. After the Civil War he settled Uptown, and during Reconstruction entered politics.<br />

He was elected to the Louisiana State Legislature, and later still state assessor for the city’s Sixth<br />

District. In 1884, the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans appointed him commissioner of the Cotton Centennial<br />

Exposition, a position that opened his transition from politics to business.<br />

Influenced by the writings of Booker T. Washington, Dejoie began in the 1890s to devote<br />

his efforts entirely to business and the National Negro Business League. 1 He established Dejoie’s<br />

Cut-Rate Pharmacy at 1832 Dryades Street, an emporium with an ice-cream parlor featuring<br />

a ceiling fan, pure-fruit sundaes, soda water, and assorted candies. In 1906, Dejoie combined four<br />

small burial societies into the Unity Industrial Life Insurance Company. By the mid 1920s United<br />

was the largest black insurance company in Louisiana with 80,000 policy holders and an annual<br />

revenue of $637,000. The firm supported a clinic for expectant mothers and babies, and gave to<br />

the Community Chest contributed financially to the formation of Flint-Goodridge Hospital, and<br />

gave another $19,000 to build the important black YMCA on Dryades Street, now O.C. Haley<br />

(q.v.). 2 When Dejoie died Walter L. Cohen (q.v.) succeeded him as president of the local Negro<br />

Business League.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

83


Aristide Dejoie was the father of seven children and grandfather of fourteen. The family resided<br />

at 4807 Magazine Street and attended St. Luke P. E. church. Paul, his elder son, was the first<br />

African-American to pass the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners. Another son Constant<br />

C. Dejoie took over Unity Insurance after Paul’s 1921 death. Paul Dejoie’s wife Ella also went into<br />

business, serving as treasurer of Unity Insurance in <strong>New</strong> Orleans as well as of its Chicago offshoot.<br />

Ella Dejoie also founded Broadmoor Laundry, Cleaning and Dyeing Company. In 1925, C. C.<br />

Dejoie and a partner founded the Louisiana Weekly newspaper, still publishing today and an enduring<br />

voice of the African-American community. 3<br />

<br />

Above: Aristide Dejoie.<br />

COURTESY OF RENETTE DEJOIE HALL AND THE<br />

LOUISIANA WEEKLY.<br />

Below: Warren Easton.<br />

SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, EARL K. LONG LIBRARY,<br />

UNIVETSITY OF NEW ORLEANS.<br />

1 John N. Ingham and Lynne B. Feldman, African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary (Westport,<br />

Conn.:Greenwood Press, 1994), 174-178.<br />

2 After Dejoie’s death, Walter L. Cohen {q.v.) succeeded him as President of the local Negro Business League.<br />

3 For more information see also Jara Honora, The Dejoies of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Part 2, in CreoleGen, an online history, August<br />

20, 2015 and Ryan Whirty’s essay in The Times-Picayune, May 3, 2017.<br />

W ARREN<br />

E ASTON<br />

(1848-1910)<br />

Warren Easton shaped the early twentieth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public School system. That<br />

Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of its infrastructure in 2005 cannot obscure a century of success.<br />

Easton grasped the halting efforts of the nineteenth century and made them comprehensive. At his<br />

death in 1910 at the age of 61 the national Journal of Education noted that the <strong>New</strong> Orleans public<br />

schools constituted one of the “notably good school systems of the country. No one has evolved a<br />

more complete and satisfactory system in an old city than did Mr. Easton,” it wrote. At the time of<br />

Easton’s death, enrollment had reached almost 40,000 students and included<br />

numerous special education programs.<br />

Easton and has successor Joseph Marr Gwinn oversaw the erection of the first<br />

major high schools in the city. They also encouraged “cooperative clubs” (PTAs)<br />

of which there were soon fifty-three, all supporting libraries, school-room decorations,<br />

grounds, and athletic equipment. The cooperative clubs also served a<br />

“penny” luncheon for the benefit of needy children. Cooking, sewing, and manual<br />

training classes were extended, and programs for the deaf and disabled were<br />

launched. As a result of Easton’s leadership, the city began directly supporting<br />

the school system. At the state level, the legislature revamped the school board’s<br />

structure, reducing its size to five and mandating attendance in school until the<br />

age of fourteen, sixteen if the student were unemployed. 1<br />

Easton was born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, graduating from Louisiana University in<br />

1871. After a short stint teaching in 1873 he was appointed principal. In 1884,<br />

he began a four-year term as State Superintendent of Education. Easton regularly<br />

attended the annual meetings of the National Education Association and<br />

served as president of the Louisiana Education Association, promoting progressive<br />

ideas in education. 2<br />

Easton’s untimely death left citizens with a feeling of considerable loss. A high<br />

school bearing his name was dedicated in 1911. Today it is fitting that Warren Easton High on Canal<br />

Street should be experiencing a wave of improvement inspired by the computer revolution.<br />

1 A. E. Winship, “Looking About”, Journal of Education. May 29, 1913.<br />

2 Journal of Education. October 27, 1910.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

84


R ODOLPHE L UCIEN D ESDUNES<br />

(1849-1928)<br />

Over a life that spanned the decades from Reconstruction through Progressivism, Rodolphe<br />

Lucien Desdunes followed his calling as a writer, poet, and educator to advance the cause of civil<br />

rights in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Known most prominently for his seminal history of Francophone African-<br />

American Creoles Nos Hommes et Notre Histoire, Desdunes is also remembered for co-founding the<br />

activist Comité des Citoyens. This group brought the legal action leading to the United States<br />

Supreme Court decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, which from 1896 until 1954 allowed “separate but<br />

equal” public facilities in public accommodations.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and a life-long Republican who served as secretary of the Republican State<br />

Central Committee, Desdunes graduated with a law degree from Straight University. With several<br />

other prominent Creoles such as Walter Louis Cohen (q.v.), he worked at the U. S. Customhouse<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, the principal Federal patronage job of the day. In 1874, he fought the White<br />

League at the Battle of Liberty Place and was wounded. During the following years he became dedicated<br />

to the Odd Fellows organization and wrote for newspapers such as the Republican Crusader.<br />

With his brother Aristide and a group called L’Union Louisiannais, Desdunes in 1884 reopened the<br />

Marie Couvent (q.v.) School for poor blacks. There, both brothers served on the board of directors,<br />

with Rodolphe teaching history.<br />

The Louisiana Legislature’s 1890 passage of the “Withdraw Car Act” (better known as the “Separate<br />

Car Act”) had forced blacks and whites to sit in separate railway cars. In response, Desdunes and others<br />

planned to challenge the law. His son Daniel was the first to stage a violation, but his arrest was<br />

voided because it occurred on an interstate train. In June 1892, Homer Plessy (q.v.) volunteered to<br />

be arrested the Comité securing his immediate release. Subsequent legal proceedings culminated in<br />

the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that the arrest had not violated Plessy’s rights and that the state<br />

law was acceptable. The Comité soon disbanded and Desdunes turned to history, beginning a multiyear<br />

effort to capture the biographies of notable <strong>New</strong> Orleans African-American leaders. He wrote Nos<br />

Hommes et Notre Histoire in the early twentieth century, after he had withdrawn from activist politics.<br />

Desdunes married Mathilde Cheval, by whom he had five children. Less admirably, he subsequently<br />

lived with Clementine Walker and had four more children. One daughter became the wellknown<br />

blues pianist Mamie Desdunes.<br />

<br />

<br />

Rodolphe Lucien Desdunes.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, 59-110-L.<br />

E LIZA J ANE N ICHOLSON<br />

(1849-1896)<br />

Although by her own words, Eliza Jane Poitevent Nicholson “was the wildest girl in her class,” she<br />

ended as one of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ most successful business women. Nicholson took a stodgy, financially<br />

troubled nineteenth century newspaper full of business news and built it into the city’s most long-lived<br />

and successful daily. Through her leadership, The Daily Picayune came of age, living on to become The<br />

Times-Picayune, a decades-long daily monopoly that until the age of the Internet influenced politics,<br />

supported culture, identified society, promoted sports, and was the go-to place for checking obituaries.<br />

Among Eliza’s innovations at The Daily Picayune were the “big Sunday paper,” loaded with features,<br />

including the Weather Frog; bordered advertisements, and the concept of the family newspaper with<br />

content aimed at men, women and children. Nicholson created the Society Column, authoring it herself<br />

for years. With an eye for newspaper talent, she promoted promising writers such as Catherine<br />

Cole, Grace King, and Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, better known as “Dorothy Dix.”<br />

Set against these accomplishments of the first woman in America to run a major daily paper was<br />

Eliza Nicholson’s personal life. Raised practically alone by an aunt in the backwoods of Mississippi,<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

85


Eliza Jane Nicholson.<br />

FROM MOUNT, MAY W., SOME NOTABLES OF NEW<br />

ORLEANS, MAY W. MOUNT: NEW ORLEANS: 1896.<br />

she attended a nearby school and soon claimed the title of wildest in the class. Yet it was in<br />

Mississippi that she first began to write, choosing the poetry of nature as her subject and the pen<br />

name “Pearl Rivers.” After the Civil War, Eliza began to submit poems to various journals, including<br />

The Daily Picayune newspaper. In the 1930s Grace King recalled Eliza Jane as “our poet laureate,”<br />

who encouraged young writers.<br />

Showing up in <strong>New</strong> Orleans after the Civil War determined to make a name for herself with her<br />

poetry, Eliza Jane Poitevent caught the eye of The Daily Picayune’s elderly (and married) proprietor,<br />

Colonel A. M. Holbrook. The lack of a literary editor prompted him to offer the post to this<br />

unknown author from Mississippi. At age nineteen Eliza Jane seized the position and evidently<br />

took steps to acquire the proprietor, steps that brought success in 1872 while enraging the absent<br />

wife, who returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans, went to the office and fired two shots at Eliza, followed by a<br />

bottle over the head. None of her blows was successful, Eliza escaping as the incipient proprietor<br />

of the newspaper. She was 23; Holbrook was 64. The marriage, no more successful than The<br />

Picayune, lasted three years, ending with the Colonel’s death. Eliza Jane Poitevent Holbrook, 26<br />

years old, found herself with a newspaper.<br />

Not long thereafter, Eliza found companionship in the paper’s business manager, George<br />

Nicholson. They married in 1878 and carried the newspaper to success, with the lion’s share of the<br />

credit to Eliza. In 1896, they died of influenza within a week of each another.<br />

<br />

F ELIX<br />

D REYFOUS<br />

(1851-1946)<br />

Notary, businessman, legislator, civic leader, and reformer, Felix Dreyfous was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’<br />

first “Progressive.” The “reform era” between 1888 and 1900 led up to that optimistic period in<br />

American history known as Progressivism, an era that commenced about 1900 and ended with<br />

World War I. During that era Felix Dreyfous and his fellow reformers achieved many of their goals -<br />

—suppression of the Louisiana Lottery, flood control, police reform, sewerage and water service,<br />

dock reform, election reform, and the bold establishment of the still-functioning <strong>New</strong> Orleans City<br />

Park Improvement Association. Felix Dreyfous played a major role in each of these issues.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans to Alsatian Jewish attorney and notary Abel Dreyfous and his Bavarianborn<br />

wife Caroline Kaufman, Felix grew up in the Esplanade Avenue neighborhood near Bayou St.<br />

John. He entered the legal office of his father and received his first notarial commission in 1892.<br />

He would go on to complete more than 300 volumes of notarial acts in his long career.<br />

Elected to the Louisiana legislature in 1888, Felix Dreyfous wrote the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Police Board<br />

bill, his first major piece of legislation. 1 Long a football of politics, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans police department<br />

had declined in quality for decades. The Dreyfous legislation transformed the police department<br />

from one of patronage to one of civil service principles. An unpaid board supervised the new<br />

department and its newly created pension fund. At that time, the Louisiana Lottery was the last<br />

political remnant of Reconstruction, indeed of Post-Reconstruction. Originally chartered in 1868,<br />

it was set to expire in 1895. Dreyfous led the move to deny its re-chartering, marking a major<br />

Progressive victory.<br />

Repeated flooding of the “back-of-town” lands had long diminished property values and threatened<br />

the city’s health. In 1890, Dreyfous persuaded the Legislature to create the Orleans Parish<br />

Levee Board through Act 93, which formed the Parish of Orleans into a public levee district. The<br />

legislature empowered the new board to levy a one-mill tax that would be due in 1890, the very<br />

year of the passage of the act. The new board also had the power to expropriate land necessary for<br />

levees, either in <strong>New</strong> Orleans or in the surrounding parishes. Felix Dreyfous took his oath to serve<br />

as Commissioner from the Second District on August 4, 1890, 2 commissioners electing him the<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

86


first president of the Levee Board. By the spring of 1892, the board had built over twenty-one miles<br />

of levees using 314,257 cubic yards of earth. All the levees along both river banks as well as the<br />

Old and <strong>New</strong> Basin Canals were expected to be completed in 1892.<br />

In 1896, Dreyfous turned to city politics and ran successfully for the City Council. From that<br />

position he wrote a bill for the legislature to establish the nine-member Drainage Commission of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans with a variety of funding sources, power of expropriation, and right to use city<br />

streets. In 1899, it became part of the new Sewerage and Water Board. No member of the new<br />

board was to receive compensation; meetings were to be open to the public, and contracts by<br />

sealed public bid. Its central power was the authority to compel all premises in the City of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans to connect to the Sewerage and Water system.<br />

As president of the Levee Board Dreyfous had observed how detrimental to business the port’s<br />

wharf leasing system had become. His campaigning led the State Legislature to step in and create<br />

the Board of Commissioners of the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Dock Board), the public agency that has<br />

successfully operated the docks throughout the twentieth century.<br />

In 1891, Dreyfous helped organized the City Park Improvement Association. Felix J. Dreyfous,<br />

the most influential of all City Park leaders, served as acting president and then president for seventeen<br />

years. He was a member of the board for fifty-five years, from its start in 1891 until his<br />

death in 1946. His son Julius Dreyfous served after his father for another fifty years. Dreyfous had<br />

three children, but no grandchildren survive him.<br />

<br />

Felix Dreyfous.<br />

FROM THE ARCHIVES OF TOURO INFIRMARY.<br />

1 An Act Creating a Police Board for the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.... No. 63, approved July 11, 1888.<br />

2 Dreyfous files, Levee Bd.<br />

<br />

G RACE<br />

K ING<br />

(1852-1932)<br />

Grace King filtered the Southern past to produce a beautiful corpus of writings exalting her ancestors.<br />

They were the ancestors of many in Louisiana. While King is notable as the champion of “the Lost<br />

Cause,” a more appealing quality is an appreciation of racial harmony found in some of her works. She<br />

contrasts with Alice Dunbar-Nelson (q.v.) whose works turned often on tragic individual conflicts.<br />

A Protestant Anglo-Saxon, King lacked the Catholicism that animated much Creole writing. Still,<br />

one of her two best books, Creole Families of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, is the standard introduction to Creoles of<br />

white extraction. Following World War I African-Americans of mixed race appropriated the term<br />

Creole since their ancestry also extended before the war. As Alcée Fortier (q.v.) has shown, the Creole<br />

language of the blacks was quite old and was not dependent on a mixed race ancestry. In Monsieur<br />

Motte King restricts her use of Creole to the language or to whites, as when she wrote of the school<br />

girls’ mothers who were once, “little creoles like themselves.” In The Pleasant Ways of St. Medard King<br />

writes …“pretty dancing Creole girls of Monsieur Pinseau’s dancing days….” 1<br />

Grace King considered herself a Creole based entirely on her parent’s residence in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

prior to the Civil War. Her father seems to have been a stern Protestant and her mother a rather<br />

subservient creature with a surprising fund of stories exalting the old days. That King became a<br />

writer might be attributed to her father’s straightened post-war circumstances, but her natural<br />

story-telling seems inevitably to have led to literature. Charles Gayarré (q.v.) was a close friend of<br />

her father, inviting the young Grace and her sister to spend summers at his plantation. In the mid<br />

1880s George Washington Cable’s (q.v.) accounts of mixed-race Creoles were much resented by the<br />

white Creoles and led to the first stories collected in Monsieur Motte. Cable and King had similar<br />

trajectories moving through the genre from local color to history. Cable left <strong>New</strong> Orleans permanently<br />

because of his definition of Creole, while King remained exalted.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

87


A classic Grand Dame in her later years, King became “a complimentary member” of the Orleans<br />

Club when it was organized in 1925. She was president of Le Petit Salon from the time of its chartering<br />

in 1924. King also belonged to the Athenae Louisianais, Les Causeries de Lundi, the<br />

Quarante Club and the Casino Espagnol. 2<br />

For additional reading see Robert B. Bush, A Southern Destiny. Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 1999.<br />

1 Grace King, The Pleasant Ways of St. Medard (<strong>New</strong> York: Henry Holt and Co., 1916), 61.<br />

2 The Times-Picayune, January 15, 1932.<br />

<br />

C ATHERINE<br />

C OLE<br />

(1855-1898)<br />

<br />

Above: Grace King.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION,<br />

1974.25.27.214.<br />

Below: Catherine Cole.<br />

FROM MOUNT, MAY W., SOME NOTABLES OF NEW<br />

ORLEANS, MAY W. MOUNT: NEW ORLEANS: 1896.<br />

Catharine Cole, the pen name of Martha Reinhard Smallwood Field, brightened the pages of The<br />

Picayune and then The Times-Democrat, as she churned out columns of newspaper copy in the last<br />

quarter of the nineteenth century.<br />

Miss Cole was unabashedly sentimental, but fearless in going after a story, producing eminently<br />

readable work. Still, she was a writer of her time, prey to the racist comments and dialogue then<br />

acceptable to whites, if not to blacks. Ultimately, Cole gives a picture of <strong>New</strong> Orleans in a specific<br />

period that rings true. A working journalist all her adult life, Cole did her writing by hand, and<br />

when her Parkinson’s disease had progressed, she dictated to her daughter Flora (“Flo”) Field, who<br />

also became a <strong>New</strong> Orleans reporter. Cole apparently never used a typewriter.<br />

Her father, a colonel in the Union Army, moved the family from Missouri to <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

after the Civil War where he became Postmaster. 1 In the 1870s, Cole followed her father into<br />

journalism and is said to have worked on the San Francisco Post. While there she married Charles<br />

Field, had her daughter Flora, and when he died, returned with her child to her family’s home<br />

in Carrollton.<br />

Picayune owner Eliza Nicholson hired Cole to write her own Sunday column and be a fulltime<br />

reporter. She covered major events and took on travel assignments, reporting back from<br />

Europe and from almost every corner of Louisiana. In March 1893, when Governor Murphy<br />

Foster called an “Immigration Convention” at the St. Charles Hotel, The Daily Picayune reported<br />

that Cole, as “the only lady delegate, was escorted to a seat in the front row.”<br />

Cole’s travel writing described Louisiana’s fertile farmland, attracting farmers to the state. Her<br />

travels were arduous, but her descriptions were compelling. “The dense green wildernesses of<br />

the great Atchafalaya swamp” were filled with “splendid clusters of the dwarf palm, the warlike<br />

Spanish dagger, the beautiful, sprawling latanier…” But, “one of these days, I doubt not, this<br />

jungle will perish and in its place will be the panorama of peaceful farms and prosperous fields.”<br />

Cole took pride in her fellow female journalists: at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago,<br />

she reported that the Louisiana exhibit included women’s literary work, and “the committee decided<br />

that some of the liveliest work of Louisiana women appeared in the papers”. She wrote of the<br />

everyday gracefully: “Ten cents worth of sweet basil bought in the market for the dear sake of its<br />

fragrance is worth more than prized orchids arranged for effect,” she advised. Her favorite writings<br />

seem to be sentimental stories and essays. In “A Little Good-by to Arcady,” she wrote of her<br />

Carrollton neighborhood, where “cowbells tinkled dreamfully down the uncertain roads.”<br />

—Carolyn G. Kolb<br />

For additional reading see Martha Field, Louisiana Voyages: The Travel Writings of Catharine Cole and Catharine Cole’s Book<br />

(1897).<br />

1 The Daily Picayune, December 7, 1994.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

88


J OSEPH V ACCARO (1855-1945)<br />

AND F AMILY<br />

Joseph Vaccaro, his two younger brothers (Felix and Luca), and his sister Marie, represented by<br />

her husband Salvador D’Antoni, created the prominent <strong>New</strong> Orleans shipping business Standard<br />

Fruit & Steamship Company in the heyday of the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Along with its rival United<br />

Fruit Company, Standard Fruit made <strong>New</strong> Orleans the nation’s premier importer of fruit, from<br />

coconuts to bananas. The business was particularly important to <strong>New</strong> Orleans because imports had<br />

long been a weakness of the port.<br />

Born in Contessa Entellina, Sicily, Joseph Vaccaro arrived in the United States with his father<br />

after the Civil War. At first a common laborer, by the age of twenty he had started a small retail<br />

fruit business in the French Market. He transformed it into a wholesale business, then added the<br />

Louisiana orange crop to his inventory. A great freeze, in 1899, forced Vaccaro into bananas and<br />

other imports, a decision that led to purchasing ships to transport the fruit.<br />

After 1899 Joseph operated as the Vaccaro Bros, only later becoming the Standard Fruit &<br />

Steamship Company. The company incorporated in 1905 with Joseph Vaccaro as president and<br />

brother-in-law Salvador D’Antoni Foreign General Manager. Later the Vaccaro Bros. invested in ice<br />

companies, Union Indemnity Insurance Company, the Chalmette Oil Refinery, and Tropical<br />

Printing Co. In 1925, they purchased the declining Grunewald Hotel and built an annex on<br />

Baronne Street, nearly doubling its size. It was then that Vaccaro Brothers renamed the Grunewald<br />

The Roosevelt Hotel.<br />

The following year Standard Fruit went public, with bankers Washington Irving Moss, Harold<br />

<strong>New</strong>man, and Rudolph Hecht joining the board of directors. Moss then became chairman of the<br />

board and Felix Vaccaro president.<br />

In 1931, Salvador D’Antoni became president of Standard. Two years later Standard reverted<br />

back to the Vaccaros when the Great Depression prevented the bankers from honoring their commitments.<br />

At this point Felix Vaccaro became chairman of the board and Salvador D’Antoni president.<br />

In 1935, Salvador D’Antoni bought out the now elderly Vaccaro brothers. His son Blaise<br />

D’Antoni became vice president in 1947 and followed his father as president from 1949-1952. Dr.<br />

Joseph D’Antoni followed his brother until 1964, when the family sold out to Castle and Cook,<br />

Inc. By 1968, Castle and Cook had assumed full ownership, the Vaccaro-D’Antoni assets now an<br />

indistinguishable part of the Dole Company.<br />

<br />

Joseph Vaccaro.<br />

FROM NEW ORLEANS: THE CRESCENT CITY, NEW<br />

ORLEANS: GEORGE ENGELHARDT, 1903.<br />

For additional reading see Thomas L. Karnes, Tropical Enterprise: The Standard Fruit & Steamship Company in Latin<br />

America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1978.<br />

A LCÉE<br />

F ORTIER<br />

(1856-1914)<br />

Alcée Fortier established the legitimacy of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Creole literature as an academic discipline.<br />

A professor of French at Tulane University, he studied and wrote about the various dialects<br />

in Louisiana and incorporated them into his class lectures.<br />

Born in St. James Parish the grandson of fabled planter Valcour Aime, Fortier was connected to<br />

most of the prominent Creole families. Yet, he studied all Louisiana dialects, including the Acadian,<br />

Isleno, and African-American. The Modern Language Association, formed in 1883, later elected<br />

him president. His concern for Louisiana dialects led him to be active in the American Folklore<br />

Society, while his history of Louisiana led to the presidency of the Louisiana Historical Society during<br />

one of its most productive periods.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

89


Alcée Fortier.<br />

TULANE UNIVERSITY ARCHIVES, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVESITY.<br />

In 1885, Fortier first published folktales based<br />

on the Creole dialects he had absorbed from the<br />

stories of blacks along the Mississippi river. 1 Of<br />

the three types he explored—the lyrical, the fairy<br />

tales from India, and the animal tales from<br />

Africa—the last are best known. In 1895, Fortier<br />

published the principal volume of his Louisiana<br />

Folk-Tales. 2 In the introduction he noted his<br />

thanks to his nieces Misses Désirée and<br />

Marguerite Roman and Mr. Zenon De Murelle residents<br />

of St. James Parish. The very first sentence<br />

points to a sociological problem Fortier faced: “It<br />

is very difficult to make a complete collection of<br />

the negro tales, as the young generation knows<br />

nothing about them, and most of the old people<br />

pretend to have forgotten them.” The Creole<br />

dialect “is not merely a corruption of French, that<br />

is to say, French badly spoken, it is a real idiom<br />

with a morphology and grammar of its own…,a<br />

speech concise and simple, and at the same time<br />

soft and musical.”<br />

Fortier’s books were Sept Grand Auteurs du XIXme Siècle; Histoire de la Littérature Française;<br />

Louisiana Folk-Tales: In French Dialect and English Translation; History of Louisiana. Nineteen hundred<br />

and four saw the publication of Fortier’s Illustrated History of Louisiana in four volumes.<br />

Fortier’s educational contributions led to an appointment on the Louisiana State Board of<br />

Education and the naming of the major public uptown high school after him. Following Hurricane<br />

Katrina the Alcee Fortier High School became Lusher Charter High School.<br />

1 Gerard Labarre St. Martin and Jacqueline K. Voorhies, Ecrits Louisianais du Dix-Neuvieme Siecle: Nouvelles, Contes et Fables<br />

(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979), xxiv.<br />

2 Alcée Fortier, Louisiana Folk-Tales: In French Dialect and English Translation. Boston:Houghton-Mifflin and Company, 1895.<br />

H ENRY P LAUCHÉ D ART<br />

(1858-1934)<br />

Henry Plauché Dart, whose writings launched The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, combined great<br />

legal acumen with a most extensive grasp of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history. Constant work at long hours<br />

brought him to an understanding few achieved before or after his time. Without the luxury of<br />

schooling beyond a single term in the Jefferson City High School—his family was unable to provide<br />

much formal education—he was rich in intellect and curiosity. He went to work at the age of fourteen,<br />

paid his own schooling and apprenticed as a law clerk and student in the important office of<br />

Cotton & Levy. Passing the Louisiana Bar examination in 1879, he founded the influential law firm<br />

of Dart and Dart. Nine years after his Bar exam, Dart argued his first case in the Louisiana Supreme<br />

Court, where he was to try over 300 cases over a 55-year career. Among his many clients were the<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans States newspaper office, and future Chief Justice of the United States Edward Douglas<br />

White, whom he represented while White served on the U. S. Supreme Court bench. On the occasion<br />

of White’s death in 1921, it was Dart who gave the most important address before the bar of<br />

the United States Supreme Court.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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A constant interest was the structure of the law profession in Louisiana. In 1896, Dart led an early<br />

struggle to create the Louisiana Bar Association (predecessor of today’s state bar association) and was<br />

rewarded with its presidency. Dart’s <strong>New</strong> Orleans practice during his early career led him to advocate<br />

the union of various courts and archives into a new Supreme Court building, constructed in 1910. Until<br />

its completion, the Louisiana Supreme Court shared the Cabildo with a Police Court, while the Court<br />

of Appeals, Civil District Court, and Bar Association Library occupied the Presbytere.<br />

Dart was equally facile in English, French and Latin, an aptitude that drew him to Louisiana’s<br />

colonial history. His fifteen-year career as editor and archivist of The Louisiana Historical Quarterly,<br />

where he penned over 130 articles and introductions to colonial records, encapsulates his service<br />

to the history of Louisiana. From his editor’s chair, (and with the able work of Laura L. Porteous<br />

and Helene H. Crozat) Henry Plauché Dart illuminated the treasures of Louisiana’s French Superior<br />

Council and Spanish Cabildo records.<br />

A passionate commitment to Louisiana’s Civil Code led Dart to delve into its history and importance.<br />

His 1911 address to the Louisiana Bar Association on “the Sources of the Civil Code of<br />

Louisiana” is a classic in the complex annals of its historiography. Printed by Hauser of <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

the year of its composition, it came into print again through Harvard Law School Library. In 1921,<br />

the association published his “Courts and Law in Colonial Louisiana,” 1 the first published analysis of<br />

Cabildo practice in Louisiana. Dart’s ”Lectures on the Civil Code of Louisiana,” delivered as visiting<br />

professor at Loyola Law School, were also published (Upton, 1925) and more recently reprinted.<br />

After his death, the Louisiana Historical Society held “Commemorative Exercises in Memory of<br />

Henry Plauché Dart” in the Cabildo’s historic Sala Capitula. The Quarterly devoted an entire issue<br />

to his life and work, opening with a description of the memorial: “In the audience were the members<br />

of Mr. Dart’s family, officials of the State and City, men and women of the Louisiana Bar and<br />

of the Universities, members of the Louisiana Historical Society, and a cross section of the public<br />

of metropolitan <strong>New</strong> Orleans.” 2<br />

Dart’s papers are preserved at the University of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. For additional reading see the<br />

Henry P. Dart Memorial Number of The Louisiana Historical Quarterly XVIII (April 1935).<br />

—Sally K. and William D. Reeves<br />

<br />

Henry Plauche Dart.<br />

DEACON, WILLIAM MADEN, REFERENCE BIOGRAPHY OF<br />

LOUISIANA BENCH AND BAR, NEW ORLEANS: COX<br />

PRINTING AND PUBLISHING COMPANY, 1922.<br />

1 22 LA Bar Association Reports 17 (1921); Louisiana Historical Quarterly II:255 (1922); Gilbert C. Din and John E. Harkins,<br />

The <strong>New</strong> Orleans Cabildo (Baton Rouge, 1996).<br />

2 Louisiana Historical Quarterly 18:2 p 239.<br />

<br />

W ALTER L. COHEN, SR .<br />

(1860-1930)<br />

Walter L. Cohen led the local Republican Party in the Progressive Era of the “black and tans,”<br />

and from 1890 to 1930 was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ most notable practitioner of the philosophy of<br />

Booker T. Washington.<br />

Cohen began his career in his early twenties as a protégé of P. B. S. Pinchback and a member of<br />

the Fourth Ward Republican Club. He soon became the secretary of the Republican state central committee,<br />

a position that led to his first appointment as Inspector of the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. He served<br />

in this capacity until the end of the 1890s when he received an appointment as Register of the United<br />

States Land Office in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Over the course of the following decade Cohen cemented a relationship<br />

with Booker Washington and top Republicans such as Marcus A. Hanna, Boies Penrose, and<br />

Will Hays. Cohen served as president of the Iroquois Literary and Social Club, and the Société<br />

d’Economique, which had been organized in 1836 and was “composed of the oldest and best French<br />

families who are very careful and scrupulous as to the reputation of the character” of their officers.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

91


Walter Cohen, Sr.<br />

OCTAVE LILLY, JR., PAPERS, AMISTAD RESEARCH CENTER.<br />

He was active in the NAACP, the Knights of<br />

Pythias, Elks and Odd Fellows. He continued his<br />

political work such as organizing a campaign to<br />

have blacks pay the poll tax of 1910, a campaign<br />

that led to at least five hundred new black voters. 1<br />

In 1910, Cohen founded People’s Benevolent<br />

Insurance Company, which during the 1920s converted<br />

to People’s Industrial Life Insurance<br />

Company. He also founded two People’s Drugstores<br />

to rival Dejoie’s (q.v.), Labranche’s, Baumann’s, and<br />

Nelson’s drugstores. Coincident with the 1920s<br />

return of Republicans to power in Washington he<br />

received a plum federal political appointment as<br />

controller of the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Just a week before his death Cohen was participating<br />

actively in the Christmas Gift Fund for<br />

poor children sponsored by black businessmen in<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. Cohen was a member of Corpus<br />

Christi Catholic Church in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. He was<br />

married there to the former Antonia Manadé. The<br />

couple had three children: Walter Cohen, Jr., Bernard J. Cohen, and Margot C. Farrell.<br />

For further reading see John N. and Lynne B. Ingham, African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary.<br />

Westport, Conn.:Greenwood Publishing Group, 1994; “Cohen, Walter L.” in A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, vol. 1,<br />

Louisiana Historical Association (1988); Robert Meyers, Jr., Names Over <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Schools. <strong>New</strong> Orleans:<br />

Namesake Press, 1975.<br />

1 <strong>New</strong> Orleans Item, December 23, 1910.<br />

<br />

R UDOLPH<br />

M ATAS<br />

(1860-1957)<br />

Forty-eight years after receiving his M.D., but still almost thirty years before his death, Dr.<br />

Rudolph Matas received honorary degrees from his alma maters Tulane and Princeton Universities.<br />

What struck the Daily States at the time was that he had already received thirteen honorary degrees<br />

from American and eight from European universities. 1 Although Tulane and Princeton were late to<br />

recognize their own, Matas was the most honored physician in <strong>New</strong> Orleans history. He served as<br />

Chair of Surgery in the Medical Department of Tulane University, he headed the Department of<br />

Clinical Surgery in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Polyclinic, was a chief surgeon of Touro Infirmary for decades,<br />

performed surgery as visiting surgeon at Charity Hospital, and consulted in surgery at the <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital. At a time of segregation in medicine he also supported<br />

the work of black physician Dr. J. T. <strong>New</strong>man to found the Provident Sanitarium and Training<br />

School for Nurses. Chicago-trained <strong>New</strong>man had in 1871 been appointed the first black surgeon<br />

at Charity Hospital.<br />

The dapper Matas wore a fastidiously trimmed beard and mustache with his jet black hair. His<br />

enormous energy left him no patience with antique ways of doing things. While Tulane’s dean of<br />

surgeons Edmond Souchon still used a bulky knife in surgery, Matas went directly to the newlyinvented<br />

small-bladed modern scalpel. Insightfully, he concluded that the calomel-induced purgings<br />

and blood lettings that constituted the contemporary treatment for yellow fever were “homicidal.”<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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Matas was one of the first to support Havana physician Carlos Juan Finley’s hypothesis that mosquitoes<br />

were a vector for spreading yellow fever. After Finley published his research, the only journal<br />

that cared to republish the work was Matas in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal. The<br />

Cuban government, in 1940, responded by awarding Matas its first Finley Medal.<br />

Matas was born in St. John the Baptist parish in 1860, the son of a doctor. He studied in the literary<br />

department of Soule’s College, spent three years in Matamoras where he studied Latin and<br />

Greek, graduated in 1876, and entered the Medical Department of Tulane in 1877. During the local<br />

yellow fever epidemic of 1878 the young student helped in the struggle. His close friendship with the<br />

nocturnal writer Lafcadio Hearn yielded numerous late-night observations of the world of working<br />

people in the city—put to use for medical observation. In 1879, the national board of health’s yellow<br />

fever commission recognized his worth and sent him on a research mission to Havana. Throughout<br />

the 1880s he published scientific papers both on yellow fever and on surgical techniques.<br />

In 1909, Matas was elected president of the American Surgical Association, followed in 1924 by<br />

the presidency of the American College of Surgeons. He died in 1957 at the age of 97 after assembling<br />

his formidable History of Medicine in Louisiana, which was edited by John Duffy in two volumes<br />

as The Rudolph Matas History of Medicine in Louisiana and published by LSU Press (Baton Rouge,<br />

1958). Matas’ riveting biography by Isidore Cohn and Hermann Deutsch reads like a novel.<br />

<br />

Rudolph Matas.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

For further reading see Isidore Cohn, M.D., with Hermann B. Deutsch, Rudolph Matas: A Biography of One of the Great<br />

Pioneers in Surgery. <strong>New</strong> York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1960.<br />

1 <strong>New</strong> Orleans States, June 25, 1928.<br />

<br />

H OMER A DOLPH P LESSY<br />

(1863-1925)<br />

To characterize Homer Adolph Plessy as merely a thirty-year shoemaker when he entered the<br />

annals of history in 1892, is just as overly simplistic as the long-popular portrayals of Rosa Parks,<br />

some sixty years later, as merely a tired worker who would not relinquish her seat on a bus. Homer<br />

Plessy emanated from the same community that gave birth to the Civil Rights movement of the<br />

twentieth century.<br />

Homère-Patrice Plessy was born on 17 March 1863 to Joseph-Adolphe Plessy and Rosa Debergue.<br />

His family history extended to colonial <strong>New</strong> Orleans and included ties to the colony of Saint-<br />

Domingue. He was baptized and married at Saint Augustine’s Church in the Faubourg Tremé, where<br />

his paternal grandmother, Agnès Mathieu, a free woman of color, was among the original landowners.<br />

After the early death of his father, Plessy came under the influence of his stepfather, Victor Dupart,<br />

and the related Demazellière family. Plessy followed his stepfather into the shoemaking business.<br />

He came of age following Reconstruction. In 1887, at twenty-four years of age, he joined many veterans<br />

of that period in forming the bilingual Justice, Protective, Educational, and Social Club. Plessy<br />

served as vice-president of the association, which fought for equal educational opportunities. He was<br />

also later an officer in the Société des Francs Amis, Cosmopolitan Mutual Aid Association, and the<br />

Scottish Rite Masons. The onerous Separate Car Act of 1890 was passed by a “redeemed” state legislature,<br />

which was a far cry from the well-integrated body it was in Plessy’s youth. Within a year of its<br />

passage, the Comité des Citoyens was organized to wage a legal battle against legalized segregation. It<br />

solicited donations from individuals, churches, and societies in the city, which enabled them to plan<br />

and execute a test case utilizing Homer A. Plessy as the plaintiff. On June 7, 1892, a thirty-year-old,<br />

neatly-dressed Plessy purchased first-class passage on the <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Northeastern Rail Road to<br />

Covington, Louisiana. Plessy’s fair complexion enabled him to obtain the ticket and subsequently<br />

board the “whites-only” first-class car without detection. The conductor and the detective who would<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

93


Historical marker at Press and Royal<br />

Streets., commemorating Homer Plessy’s<br />

arrest, which sparked the Plessy-Ferguson<br />

legal case.<br />

PHOTO BY CAROLYN KOLB.<br />

demand that Plessy move to the “colored” car or be<br />

arrested and forcibly ejected were both informed of<br />

the event in advance and played the roles orchestrated<br />

by the Citizens Committee. The ensuing<br />

court case, which questioned the constitutionality<br />

of the Louisiana act and similar laws like it came to<br />

judgment in the United States Supreme Court in<br />

May 1896. The court ruled that “separate but equal”<br />

access to public services did not imply inferiority,<br />

nor did it violate the Fourteenth Amendment.<br />

Homer Plessy and the other members of his<br />

community adapted as best they could to life in<br />

an intensely segregated society. Unlike many,<br />

Plessy did not migrate out of the South, nor did<br />

he “pass for white.” He continued his involvement<br />

in various benevolent societies and ultimately<br />

became a collector with the People’s<br />

Industrial Life Insurance Company, founded in<br />

1910 by Walter L. Cohen, Sr. (q.v.). Plessy and his<br />

wife of thirty-six years, Louise Bordenave, had no<br />

children. Homer Adolph Plessy, activist and community leader, died on March 1, 1925, and was<br />

interred in Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1.<br />

—Jari Honora<br />

<br />

S ISTER S TANISLAUS C ATHERINE M ALONE<br />

(1863-1949)<br />

Daughter of Charity Sister Stanislaus Malone was the towering figure in the storied history of<br />

Charity Hospital. She served the sick poor there for sixty-two years, many of them as “Sister<br />

Servant” or director of nursing at Charity. Perhaps her birth in a mining town in the West and<br />

orphaned childhood prepared her for this life. Catherine Malone eventually became (with Dr.<br />

Rudolph Matas) one the two most important figures in the history of Charity. In 1884, after just a<br />

few months as a novice in the Daughters of Charity, the Sisters assigned her to <strong>New</strong> Orleans, a city<br />

ravaged by yellow fever and poverty. She sprang to work at the old Charity hospital, earning from<br />

her first days the admiration of the hospital’s head of surgery Dr. A. B. Miles. With energy and a<br />

personality best described as sparkling and cheerful, Sister established herself as a force, all the<br />

while gravitating to children and the elderly, bringing them candies and cheer.<br />

Sister St. Stanislaus was instrumental in establishing the hospital’s School of Nursing, becoming<br />

in 1897 its first graduate. As Charity Hospital historian Dr. John Salvaggio has written, “The role of<br />

the school of nursing and its students in managing and serving Charity Hospital soon became phenomenal.”<br />

1 For twenty-five years Sister St. Stanislaus was also in charge of Charity’s operating<br />

rooms. She raised money for the hospital’s expansion, persuading Mrs. Richard Milliken to donate<br />

funds for a children’s wing and Mrs. John Dibert to give funds for a memorial building to treat tuberculosis<br />

patients. In 1916, she played an important role in establishing the school of anesthesia.<br />

Until Huey Long became governor of Louisiana the Daughters of Charity administered the hospital.<br />

Faced with the challenge of Long’s interference during the 1930s, Sister Stanlaus persuaded his<br />

administration to permit the Charity Nursing School to become an affiliate of the new LSU Medical<br />

School in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, an affiliation that enabled the nurses in training to attain advanced degrees.<br />

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In 1933, Dr. Rudolph Matas (q.v.) testified to Sister’s years as directress of the operating theater<br />

“it was in that busy workshop that my duties as a visiting surgeon and later, as professor of surgery<br />

in Tulane, brought me in almost daily contact with her, and it was there that I learned to appreciate<br />

the admirable qualities of head and heart that so greatly endeared her to those who enjoyed the privilege<br />

of her ever alert and loyal collaboration.” 2 In 1943, the Times-Picayune Publishing Company<br />

awarded Sister St. Stanislaus Malone its cherished Loving Cup for her work at Charity Hospital.<br />

1 John Salvaggio, <strong>New</strong> Orleans’Charity Hospital, A Story of Physicians, Politics and Poverty (Baton Rouge, Louisiana State<br />

University Press, 1992), p. 90.<br />

2 Times-Picayune, February 13, 1945, Loving Cup presentation.<br />

<br />

M ARTIN<br />

B EHRMAN<br />

(1864-1926)<br />

Mayor Martin Behrman was fortunate to preside over a prosperous city, which while beholden<br />

to machine politics, was also on the cusp of progressivism. Behrman operated a well-known political<br />

system based on the precinct and ward divisions of the city, which for four terms generated the<br />

votes necessary to keep himself and his candidates in office. Although seen as the product and<br />

exemplar of the early twentieth century “machine,” Behrman also supported a concurrent spirit of<br />

municipal reform. Perhaps that is why he was the city’s longest-serving mayor, remaining in office<br />

from 1904 to 1920, and re-elected in 1925.<br />

The centerpiece of Behrman’s tenure was the creation of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Sewerage and Water<br />

Board. The organization and authorization of that board, along with a Public Belt Railway, Orleans<br />

Parish School Board, and a Police Department reorganized under mayoral control, are still the most<br />

important products of his time. The Sewerage and Water Board provided for the removal of sewage,<br />

drainage and flood control, and a supply of fresh water to most of the city. The water system led directly<br />

to fire hydrants, dramatically reducing the dangers of fire and the cost of fire insurance. Meanwhile,<br />

drainage of the streets made more of them passable and the neighborhoods they crossed less unsanitary.<br />

The sanitary disposal of sewerage also alleviated the pollution of the surrounding waterways. In<br />

1975, the Louisiana Engineering Society named the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Sewage and Water Board’ achievements<br />

one of the ten top engineering projects in Louisiana history (see Albert Baldwin Wood).<br />

In the area of education Behrman strongly supported the expansion of public schools. During<br />

his tenure, the number of schools increased to a point that allowed for the first time mandatory<br />

attendance laws, while enrollment reached fifty thousand (v. Warren Easton). Behrman supported<br />

a revision of the school board that took elections from wards and had the members elected citywide.<br />

The new five-member school board then focused on education without having to compromise<br />

with the demands of other city agencies.<br />

On the industrial side, the creation of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Belt railway was an extraordinary solution<br />

to manage the logistics needed to take advantage of the six national railroads reaching <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Providing these companies equal access to the port eliminated their wasteful struggles for accomodations.<br />

The new public agency worked closely with another comparatively new agency, the Board of<br />

Commissioners of the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, known as the Dock Board, to systemize the operation of the<br />

port. Through their efforts, the cost of moving a single railway car dropped from $6.00 to $2.00.<br />

Similarly, Behrman strongly supported the so-called Commission Form of government.<br />

Proposed in 1912, it was adopted by the legislature, and then confirmed by local voters. The plan<br />

provided for all commissioners to be elected at large, a move intended to weaken the power of traditional<br />

ward politicians. Never at a loss politically, Behrman used the change to make the political<br />

class more dependent on the mayor.<br />

<br />

Sister Stanislaus Malone.<br />

COURTESY OF DAUGHTERS OF CHARITY, PROVINCE OF ST.<br />

LOUISE, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

95


In the area of parks and recreation, in 1909, Behrman oversaw the creation of the Parks and<br />

Parkway Commission and charged it with beautifying streets such as St. Charles Avenue. The commission<br />

operated from a new public nursery in Gentilly that still supplies plants to the city. The West End<br />

Park was removed from amusement companies and converted to a quiet park, while City Park, which<br />

since 1892 had been managed by an independent agency, prospered. 1<br />

In 1920, “Reform” era politics removed Martin Behrman after sixteen years in office. Andrew J.<br />

McShane served four years before Behrman was back in office, from which he died in 1926, after<br />

a little over a year. A lifelong bachelor and resident of Algiers, Behrman left only nieces and<br />

nephews to mourn his passing, (that is, if one does not count thousands of citizens). Today a street<br />

in Algiers and a circle in City Park preserve his memory.<br />

<br />

Martin Behrman.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

For further reading see John R. Kemp, ed., Martin Behrman of <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Memoirs of a City Boss. LSU Press, Baton<br />

Rouge: 1977.<br />

1 See Williams, Robert W., Jr. “Martin Behrman and <strong>New</strong> Orleans Civic Development, 1904-1920,” Louisiana History, II<br />

(1961), 373-400.<br />

<br />

ALICE MOORE DUNBAR-NELSON<br />

(1875-1935)<br />

Alice Dunbar-Nelson, a mixed-race writer, speaks with power from her own perspective of late<br />

nineteenth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. She grew up in the same complex cultural milieu that provided<br />

material for George Washington Cable (q.v.), Grace King (q.v.), and Kate Chopin. Her first two collections<br />

of stories and poems, Violets and Other Tales, 1895, and The Goodness of St. Rocque, 1899,<br />

were both set in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Dunbar-Nelson was an outspoken advocate for women, and an<br />

astute chronicler of the late nineteenth-century city.<br />

Dunbar-Nelson was born Alice Ruth Moore in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1875 to Patricia Wright, a dressmaker<br />

and former slave, and Joseph Moore, probably a merchant seaman. After an unpleasant number<br />

of years in public school, at twelve she happily entered the high school program of Straight (now<br />

Dillard) University, completing teacher training there in 1892. She began teaching in <strong>New</strong> Orleans,<br />

was active in African-American women’s clubs, wrote for local publications and, using the city and<br />

its people as her inspiration, began writing stories and poems. Tulane Associate Professor Kate Adams<br />

co-edited a 2016 issue of Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers devoted to “Recovering Alice<br />

Dunbar-Nelson for the Twenty-First Century” where she and her co-editors concluded “Her work and<br />

life speak in important ways to already lively areas of scholarship and teaching, including black print<br />

culture and periodicals….” The Legacy issue contains a chilling short story “St. John’s Eve,” in which<br />

a doubting Yankee newcomer to <strong>New</strong> Orleans is transported to a frightening “voudou” ceremony.<br />

Dunbar-Nelson’s stories are sometimes bittersweet as she follows her outsider characters as they confront<br />

poverty, loneliness, adventures and lost loves in the neighborhoods of the city. She puts in poems,<br />

and essays, and even a somewhat psychedelic account of getting chloroform at the dentist’s. “M’sieu<br />

Fortier’s Violin” in St. Rocque is a carefully drawn study of the audiences and performances at <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans’ French Opera House in the early 1890s, ably demonstrating Dunbar-Nelson’s knowledge of<br />

music and musicians, including allusions to the mixed-race composer Edmond Dédé. “Anarchy Alley” in<br />

Violets is an essay on Exchange Alley and its bohemian lifestyle, before construction of the building housing<br />

the Louisiana State Supreme Court obliterated that part of the street between Chartres and St. Louis.<br />

Returning to the city’s history Alice published “People of Color in Louisiana” in The Journal of Negro<br />

History in 1916 and 1917 in response to Charles Gayarré’s and Grace King’s views. She wrote a personal<br />

essay “Brass Ankles Speaks,” short stories, and an incomplete novel loosely based on the life of<br />

Jordan Noble, an African-American drummer boy at the Battle of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. After World War I she<br />

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contributed a chapter on African-American women during World War I to (Emmett Jay) Scott’s Official<br />

History of the American Negro in the World War.<br />

Alice Dunbar-Nelson, with mother and sister, left <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1897 and was soon teaching in<br />

<strong>New</strong> York. Seeing her picture published with a poem in the Boston Monthly Review, well-regarded<br />

African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar began corresponding. They married in 1898. Their difficult<br />

union ended in 1902 with a legal separation. He died in 1906. She would marry twice more (the<br />

third time happily) and continue living on the East Coast, in Delaware and Pennsylvania, until her<br />

death in 1935. Selected writings are available at www.Gutenberg.org and https//www.poetryfoundation.org<br />

(accessed August 5, 2017).<br />

—Carolyn G. Kolb<br />

<br />

A LBERT B ALDWIN W OOD<br />

(1879-1956)<br />

Engineer and inventor Albert Baldwin Wood contributed the most ongoing good to the greatest<br />

number of citizens in the history of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His invention—and subsequent donation to the<br />

city—of his three Wood Screw Pumps, has drained the city during rainstorms and floods for over a<br />

century, while pumping out the sewage. Wood’s “low lift pump,” and his “Wood Centrifugal pump,”<br />

not only clear the city of standing water, but preclude the many consequences of water on a land that<br />

will not naturally drain. Wood’s pumps in fact have made great swaths of the city inhabitable, allowing<br />

tens of thousands of middle class folk to build or reside in more affordable housing. Their importance<br />

to <strong>New</strong> Orleans can hardly be overstated, as demonstrated in August 2017, when power failures and<br />

an apparent lack of planning left important pumps<br />

inoperable during an extraordinary rainstorm.<br />

In 1899, fate placed Wood where his inventions<br />

would do the most good, as engineer of the<br />

newly-created Sewerage and Water Board of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. His low-lift pump facilitated the movement<br />

of water through the underground canals of<br />

the city to its pumping stations. There the “Screw<br />

Pump” lifted water almost effortlessly ten feet up<br />

to sea level, actually the level of Lake<br />

Pontchartrain. Meanwhile, Wood’s Centrifugal<br />

Pump pushed water and sewerage into the new<br />

sewerage system, using a pump with added vanes<br />

that blocked large items from lodging in the<br />

works and blocking their action. Between 1899<br />

and 1934, the Baldwin Wood pumping system<br />

enabled the city to double the number of residential<br />

premises from 67,000 to 125,000, increasing<br />

drained acres from 13,000 to 50,000. 1 As biographer<br />

R. H. Thompson has written, within Wood’s adult lifetime <strong>New</strong> Orleans was transformed from<br />

a dirty, swampy, pestilential city (1897) to “the most perfectly drained and healthiest in the U. S.” 2<br />

Wood attended Tulane University during the 1890s graduating from its School of Engineering in<br />

1899. His class was extraordinary, including lawyer and notary Percival Stern, industrialist Ernest<br />

Lee Jahncke, and the brilliant jurist J. Blanc Monroe. A few months after his graduation Wood joined<br />

the city’s new Drainage Commission, soon to be the Sewerage and Water Board, remaining at the<br />

agency until his death fifty seven years later. For much of that time Wood’s salary was $5,000 a year.<br />

<br />

Above: Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson.<br />

FROM DUNBAR-NELSON, ALICE, THE DUNBAR SPEAKER<br />

AND ENTERTAINER, NAPIERVILLE, ILL.: J. L. NICHOLLS &<br />

CO., 1920.<br />

Bottom: Albert Baldwin Wood.<br />

COURTESY OF THE NEW ORLEANS SEWERAGE AND<br />

WATEER BOARD.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

97


Toward the beginning of his career, Wood offered his inventions to the Sewerage and Water Board<br />

at no charge. His pumps were subsequently used around the world, yielding Wood substantial royalties<br />

(much of which he spent on his sailboat). Wood consulted and designed the drainage, pumping,<br />

and sewage systems for Chicago, Milwaukee, Baltimore, and San Francisco, as well as managing<br />

projects in Holland, Canada, Egypt, China, and India.<br />

Wood’s commitment to the Sewerage and Water Board was equaled only by his commitment to<br />

sailing, especially on the Gulf Coast. His grandfather Albert Baldwin (q.v.), Commodore of the<br />

Southern Yacht Club, was also a regular sailor to and from his home in Mandeville. Wood died at<br />

the age of 77 at the helm of his small yacht Nydia, now on display at the Biloxi Maritime Museum.<br />

1 Nicole Romagossa, “Albert Baldwin Wood, the Screw Pump, and the Modernization of <strong>New</strong> Orleans” M.A. Thesis,<br />

University of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, December 2010.<br />

2 Ray M. Thompson, Biography of Albert Baldwin Wood, typed manuscript in the Louisiana Division, Tulane Library.<br />

O SCAR<br />

“PAPA” CELESTIN<br />

(1884-1954)<br />

<br />

Oscar Celestin.<br />

LOUISIANA STATE MUSEUM, PHOTOGRAPH, 7 3/4 X 10, IN.<br />

(19.7 X 25.4 CM), UNDATED.COURTESY OF THE NEW<br />

ORLEANS JAZZ CLUB.<br />

For fifty years Oscar “Papa” Celestin and his Original Tuxedo Jazz Band played and to some<br />

extent personified Dixieland Jazz in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Celestin’s Dixieland Jazz Band sprang into existence<br />

in 1910 when Papa agreed to lead it. The<br />

band still performs under the leadership of<br />

descendants of Papa’s original Tuxedo band.<br />

While so much jazz had moved on, the Tuxedo<br />

band remained the best source for listening to<br />

Dixieland music.<br />

“Papa” was already playing the cornet in<br />

Napoleonville when Louis Armstrong (q.v.) was<br />

born in 1901. Soon after that he arrived in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, taking jobs wherever he could and working<br />

as a longshoreman. A year after cornetist Buddy<br />

Bolden retired from Henry “Red” Allen’s Brass Band,<br />

Celestin was playing occasionally in Bolden’s former<br />

seat. About 1909 Tom Anderson hired him to<br />

play at his Fair Play Saloon in Storyville, from<br />

which, in about 1910, he moved to the new Tuxedo<br />

Dance Hall nearby and quickly became the leader<br />

of its band. Celestin renamed it the Tuxedo Orchestra, leading it at the dance hall on Franklin Street<br />

between Iberville and Bienville and at an increasing number of society engagements around town.<br />

From about 1916 to 1922, Louis Armstrong played often with Celestin’s Tuxedo Orchestra,<br />

playing his last two gigs with the Tuxedo before heading for Chicago. If the first jazz recording<br />

occurred in 1922 or so, Papa cut the first jazz recording in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1925 with Okeh<br />

records. About this time he discovered the classic “When the Saints Go Marching In,” becoming<br />

the first musician to play the old spiritual as a jazz number.<br />

During the 1920s unionization came to Mississippi River boats, requiring musicians to join a<br />

union and present a card to be hired. At that time <strong>New</strong> Orleans did not have a black musicians<br />

union, only a white one. In response, Celestin in 1926 organized “A. F. L. Local 496 Colored.”<br />

Elected its first president, he enabled the Tuxedo Orchestra to begin steamboat trips upriver to<br />

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St. Louis and other points on the important Strekfus Steamboat Line. During 1926 and 1927<br />

Celestin also had two recording sessions with Columbia Records. Within this decade the Tuxedo<br />

added the Tuxedo Brass Band, a marching ensemble of about seven instruments.<br />

Through the Great Depression years of the 1930s the band played occasionally. When Pearl Harbor<br />

shut the band down, “Papa” got a job working in a shipyard. Near the end of World War II he was hit<br />

and run over, his legs badly damaged, leading to two more years out of action. But after World War II<br />

night clubs began to populate Bourbon Street, and it was at the Paddock Lounge at 315 Bourbon that<br />

Celestin re-invigorated Dixieland Jazz in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. He played there and on the society circuit to<br />

standing room crowds almost until his death.<br />

For further reading/listening, see Robert Homes website https://www.brief-case.org/ devoted to the life and music of<br />

“Papa Celestin.”<br />

<br />

A NDREW J ACKSON H IGGINS<br />

(1886-1952)<br />

Andrew Higgins created the largest locally-owned manufacturing business in <strong>New</strong> Orleans history—Higgins<br />

Industries. At the peak of World War II the company employed over 25,000 workers<br />

in seven plants. More remarkable was the nature of the work force, which included many<br />

women and African-Americans, one of the few such labor pools in America. To create this large and<br />

diverse a company virtually overnight testifies to Higgins’ genius.<br />

Higgins’ genius came in various forms. As did others, he started small, while new ideas occurred<br />

to him from his own imagination and from the world around him. He began his career importing<br />

timber to the United States, then added sawing<br />

and shaping, then manufacturing plywood, finally<br />

boat building. His most successful early boat<br />

was the Eureka flat-bottomed swamp boat, which<br />

was equipped with a tunnel up the middle housing<br />

the shaft and propeller. The first model had<br />

adequate speed, but by constantly modifying the<br />

hull shape Higgins created a truly fast and<br />

maneuverable boat. The more than 20,000 plywood<br />

landing craft or “Higgins Boats” he built<br />

during World War II became the essential tool<br />

that enabled the Allied forces to invade Europe.<br />

Inspired by their employer’s innovative spirit,<br />

Higgins’ loyal employees became a hall mark of<br />

his industries. People hired in the 1920s stayed<br />

on to work for him through the World War II. He<br />

employed every graduate of Delgado Trades<br />

School, a vital resource to his work force, which<br />

prided itself upon its training and discipline.<br />

For all his genius Higgins was never popular in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His confidence made him somewhat<br />

overbearing, which did not endear him to society. Wartime spending and wages kept organized labor<br />

at bay, but the end of the war brought the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of<br />

Industrial Organizations struggling to unionize his plants. Unsurprisingly, Higgins resisted, closing<br />

his local plants and putting thousands out of work. During the post-War period, his genius was not<br />

able to find the peacetime products that would sell.<br />

<br />

Andrew Jackson Higgins.<br />

JACK AND DAVE MCGUIRE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA<br />

RESEARCH COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

99


Less than a decade after the close of World War II, Higgins was dead, leaving an estate of $1,400,000,<br />

a modest sum for the hundreds of millions that passed through his companies. His plant on the<br />

Industrial Canal continued manufacturing boats under the leadership of two of his sons, Frank and<br />

Andrew Higgins, Jr., eventually passing through the hands of successor companies and becoming part<br />

of Equitable Shipbuilding. One remnant of Higgins plants today is the Michoud plant he initially developed<br />

while his landing craft are preserved and displayed at The National WWII Museum.<br />

At the time of Higgins’ death The Times-Picayune editorialized that Higgins’ was “a recognized<br />

triumph over early adversities and late setbacks. He never quit trying…he rendered a great service<br />

to his country in its dire peril; to <strong>New</strong> Orleans, to thousands of workers…he was colorful, abrupt,<br />

confident, hard-hitting—But measuring his deeds, his spirit, and his general outlook, there isn’t<br />

much controversy to it. He was a valiant of the old days, and honor will be paid him long after his<br />

going….He made his mark, and it is not erasable. There went a man.” 1<br />

1 The Times-Picayune, August 2, 1952.<br />

<br />

L EWIS K EMPER W ILLIAMS (1887-1971) AND<br />

L EILA M OORE W ILLIAMS (1901-1966)<br />

<br />

Leila Williams.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, THE L.<br />

KEMPER AND LEILA MOORE WILLIAMS FOUNDERS<br />

COLLECTION, 72.135.2A WR.<br />

Lewis Kemper Williams and his wife Leila founded The Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection and<br />

contributed to the religious and civic life of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. The Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection,<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans’ most important non-academic<br />

research center, opened in 1966 as a museum and<br />

research library. Active in civic affairs, Kemper<br />

Williams was also the first chairman of the Housing<br />

Authority of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. In recognition of his service,<br />

in 1937 he received The Times-Picayune’s Loving<br />

Cup and an award from the City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans for<br />

his distinguished service as Chairman of the<br />

Citizens’ Committee for Public Improvement.<br />

Kemper Williams was the son of the founder of F.<br />

B. Williams Cypress Company, based in Patterson,<br />

Louisiana. He attended Patterson public schools, then<br />

Lawrenceville Preparatory School in <strong>New</strong> Jersey, graduating<br />

in 1905. He next attended the University of the<br />

South in Sewanee, Tennessee, where he received his<br />

degree in 1908. As cypress lumber neared depletion,<br />

the F. B. Williams Cypress Company turned its attention<br />

to oil and gas investments, changing its name to<br />

Williams, Inc. After World War II, Kemper served as<br />

president of Williams, Inc. from 1949 until his death<br />

in 1971<br />

In 1917, Kemper Williams joined the American effort in World War I, remaining on active or<br />

reserve duty for the U.S. Army from 1917-1945 and attaining the rank of Brigadier General. His<br />

service recalled the motto of The Society of the Cincinnati “Omnia relquit servare rempublicam”—<br />

translated to “he left all to serve the Republic.” In 1921, Williams married Leila Moore whom he<br />

had met the previous year.<br />

During the 1930s the Williams moved to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and put their wealth to work on behalf<br />

of the city. In 1938, they purchased and restored the two homes on Royal Street where they lived<br />

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and which, in 1966, became The Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection. Building on the endowment left<br />

by Kemper and Leila Moore Williams, The Collection has grown to include ten historic buildings<br />

making up two French Quarter campuses. As the museum describes its facilities, “the Royal Street<br />

campus, located at 533 Royal Street, serves as our museum headquarters, housing our main space<br />

for rotating exhibitions, the Williams Gallery; our permanent installation, the Louisiana History<br />

Galleries; and our house museum, the Williams Residence. The Chartres Street campus, located at<br />

400 and 410 Chartres Street, comprises the Williams Research Center, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, the<br />

Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, and our on-site vault for collections items.” 1<br />

Kemper and Leila Williams were active in the Episcopal Church throughout their lives, Williams<br />

serving on the Vestry of Christ Church Cathedral for over ten years. He also returned to Sewanee<br />

after graduation, serving as Trustee and Regent and receiving an honorary doctorate in 1935. He<br />

also served as president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Community Chest and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Philharmonic<br />

Symphony Society.<br />

—William H. Forman, Jr.<br />

For further reading, see A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, Vol. 11; Glenn R. Conrad, General Editor (Lafayette, LA:<br />

Louisiana Historical Association, 1988)<br />

p. 850; and this author, Christ Church Cathedral: The Third Century Begins (<strong>New</strong> Orleans, LA: The Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Collection, 2004) p. 9.<br />

1 Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection Web site, retrieved July 26, 2017.<br />

<br />

L. Kemper Williams.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, THE L.<br />

KEMPER AND LEILA MOORE WILLIAMS FOUNDERS<br />

COLLECTION, 72.135.2A WR.<br />

C AMILLE L UCIE N ICKERSON<br />

(1888-1982)<br />

Camille Lucie Nickerson moved through life to her own Creole rhythm as a pianist, singer and<br />

music educator. Besides founding a <strong>New</strong> Orleans African-American music club that is still around a<br />

century later, she was a champion of African-American Creole folk music as a researcher; published<br />

her own arrangements of folk songs; and performed as “The Louisiana Lady” in the United States<br />

and, in Europe, for the U.S. Department of State.<br />

She was born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1888 to Creoles of color Aurelie Duconge and William Joseph<br />

Nickerson. Her mother died when she was eight, and her father married a music teacher, Julia<br />

Ellen Lewis. Her father, known as Professor Nickerson, was a violinist and a respected music<br />

teacher whose pupils included Jelly Roll Morton and “Sweet Emma” Barrett. Manuel Manetta,<br />

another jazz pianist and music teacher, noted that Camille was “the greatest pianist they had<br />

around here.”<br />

When Professor Nickerson formed the Nickerson Ladies Orchestra, his pianist was Camille,<br />

aged nine, joining her cellist stepmother on stage. Camille’s childhood home was filled with <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans music, and memories. Once, she “beheld my father playing an accompaniment in doublestops<br />

on his violin to a most attractive jolly little tune ‘Suzanne, Belle Femme.’” Although her father<br />

also sang, “the sole performer in this interesting picture was my great-grandmother who, with a<br />

brightly colored tignon tied neatly around her head, made graceful play with a madras handkerchief...<br />

while she danced gaily up and down.” She related this story in her Oberlin College Master’s<br />

thesis on Creole folk music. After receiving a degree in 1916, she taught music with her father.<br />

In February of 1917, Camille Nickerson organized the B Sharp Music Club for her advanced students<br />

to explore “the wider field of present day musical thought and cultivate a finer musical taste.”<br />

By 1921, the club had joined the National Association of Negro Musicians (which Camille would later<br />

serve as president) and admitted male members. The club’s aims were to encourage love and appreciation<br />

of “traditional and original Negro music,” encourage musicians and music education through<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

101


scholarships, and “sponsor such activities as will extend the influence of music as a necessary and<br />

inspiring element in the life of the people.”<br />

Camille Nickerson also studied at Juilliard, and was awarded a Rosenwald research grant. She<br />

ultimately moved to Washington, D.C. and joined the faculty of Howard University, where she<br />

taught until 1962.<br />

—Carolyn G. Kolb<br />

For further reading see Anne Key Simpson, “Camille Lucie Nickerson, ‘The Louisiana Lady,’” Louisiana History: The<br />

Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association Vol. 36, No. 4 (Autumn, 1995), pp. 431-451.<br />

Collins, Peter “Camille Nickerson” knowlouisiana.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana<br />

Endowment for the Humanities, 8 Aug 2013. Web. 1 Aug 2017.<br />

R ICHARD K OCH (1889-1971) AND<br />

S AMUEL W ILSON, JR . (1911-1993)<br />

<br />

Above: Cammie Nickerson.<br />

FROM THE VINING FAMILY PAPERS, AMISTAD<br />

RESEARCH CENTER.<br />

Bottom: Richard Koch.<br />

COURTESY OF KOCH AND WILSON, ARCHITECTS.<br />

Practically everyone in <strong>New</strong> Orleans who is a preservationist today can trace their civic lineage to<br />

architects Richard Koch or Samuel Wilson, Jr. 1 Informed by enlightened city planning, Koch early on<br />

saw the beauty and utility of the original buildings in the French Quarter when others saw disposable<br />

slums. With partners Charles Rice Armstrong and later Samuel Wilson, Jr., Koch spent decades studying<br />

and restoring <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ most treasured landmarks. Among public buildings his firm worked on<br />

were Le Petit Théatre, the Pontalba Buildings, the Merieult House (Historic <strong>New</strong> Orleans Collection),<br />

Gallier House, Beauregard-Keyes house, Hermann-Grima House, and the Cabildo. Outside of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, the firm restored Shadows-on-the- Teche,<br />

Oak Alley, Whitney, Evergreen, and Home Place<br />

Plantations, as well as historic buildings in Natchez,<br />

Biloxi, and other southern sites.<br />

Koch graduated from Tulane University in<br />

1910 and spent two years in Paris. Returning to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orelans in 1916, he became a partner with<br />

Armstrong (1888-1947) forming the architectural<br />

firm of Armstrong and Koch until 1933. Their<br />

philosophy was to employ adaptive reuse, a practice<br />

that conserved both buildings and the spaces<br />

they occupied. Koch used photography to document<br />

existing conditions and imply what they<br />

could become, demonstrating the necessity for<br />

legal protections for the French Quarter. A campaign<br />

of over ten years finally resulted in a 1936<br />

state constitutional amendment authorizing the<br />

City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans to create the Vieux Carré<br />

Commission, accomplished by ordinance on<br />

March 3, 1937. The Vieux Carré Commission<br />

tightly regulates construction and destruction in the Quarter, and after Charleston, was the second<br />

such regulatory body in the United States. From 1944 to 1954, Koch served on the Vieux Carré<br />

Commission, establishing design guidelines with every decision.<br />

Koch was a founding member of the Arts and Crafts Club in 1921, president of the local chapter<br />

of the American Institute of Architects in 1930-1931, served on the City Park Improvement<br />

Association from 1930-1940, and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Delgado Museum<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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of Art.1 His architectural work made him the logical candidate to become the director of the Work<br />

Projects Administration Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in Louisiana, a federal program<br />

designed to employ those in the architectural trades during the Great Depression of the<br />

1930s. In that capacity, he traveled around Louisiana photographing historic buildings, from great<br />

plantation houses to Creole cottages and slave quarters. One of those employed in the project was<br />

Samuel Wilson, Jr., a Tulane School of Architecture graduate who had also spent time in Paris.<br />

In 1955, Wilson became Koch’s partner, creating the well-known firm of Koch and Wilson,<br />

Architects. During the two decades leading the firm after Koch’s death in 1971, Sam Wilson<br />

became the leading figure in <strong>New</strong> Orleans restoration architecture and colonial scholarship. He<br />

authored almost two hundred books and articles dealing with Louisiana architecture, and taught<br />

Louisiana Architecture at popular Tulane University classes. Wilson co-founded the Louisiana<br />

Landmarks Society and was its first president. He pioneered the “Vieux Carre Survey,” and served<br />

as principal historian for the eight-volume Vieux Carré Demonstration Study. He died in 1993.<br />

1 I wish to acknowledge the valuable assistance of Mr. John Geiser on this profile.<br />

E DITH R OSENWALD S TERN (1895-1980) AND<br />

E DGAR B LOOM S TERN (1886-1959)<br />

As wealthy members of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Jewish community, Edgar and Edith Stern could have led<br />

merely comfortable lives— he as a real estate developer and pioneer in television (founding WDSU<br />

in 1948) and she as a Sears heiress doing charity work. But they chose to lead lives of civic and cultural<br />

engagement, both essentially founding schools. Edith co-founded <strong>New</strong>comb Nursery School in<br />

1926 and Metairie Park Country Day School in 1929; Edgar obtained the funding for establishing<br />

Dillard University in 1930. They were political reformers<br />

who cared deeply about social justice. And they shaped<br />

the cultural landscape of the city by their commitment to<br />

the arts and historic preservation.<br />

Edith Rosenwald Stern and Edgar Bloom Stern both<br />

came from families that valued philanthropy and civic<br />

activism. Edgar’s father Maurice Stern, a German Jewish<br />

immigrant who acquired prodigious wealth as a cotton<br />

factor, served on the Orleans Parish School Board as well<br />

on the boards of Touro Infirmary and Temple Sinai. Edith<br />

Stern’s father Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears and<br />

Roebuck in Chicago, supported the construction of 5,000<br />

schools for African-American children in the rural South<br />

through his Julius Rosenwald Fund.<br />

The Sterns believed in human dignity in a city in<br />

which race is always an issue. Concerned about the lack<br />

of housing for returning black veterans after World War<br />

II, Edgar developed Pontchartrain Park, the first African-<br />

American subdivision in the city. He also guided the nascent African-American Dillard University<br />

as board president where he continued to serve for thirty years, earning The Times-Picayune Loving<br />

Cup for his efforts. In 1949, Edith founded the Voters’ Registration League, a women’s good government<br />

group that purged the voting rolls of spurious (dead) voters, and registered African–<br />

American voters. At the same time Edgar served as Chairman of the Mayor’s Advisory Council<br />

under reform mayor de Lesseps Morrison.<br />

<br />

Above: Edith Stern.<br />

COURTESY OF LONGUE VUE HOUSE AND GARDENS.<br />

Left: Edgar Stern.<br />

COURTESY OF LONGUE VUE HOUSE AND GARDENS.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

103


Edith donated a large part of her modern art collection to the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of Art and<br />

the family foundation eventually added an auditorium annex there. She had modernist views on<br />

education—both <strong>New</strong>comb Nursery and Country Day were founded as “progressive schools” which<br />

sought to educate the whole child without traditional “rote” learning.<br />

Possibly the most noteworthy accomplishment of the next generation was in the 1960s when<br />

Edgar Stern, Jr., committed the Stern Family Fund toward blocking the proposed construction of<br />

a River Front Expressway that would have severed the French Quarter from the Mississippi River.<br />

The largess of the Stern Fund allowed for preservationists to mount a spirited campaign and win<br />

at a time when most cities were bulldozing old buildings in the name of progress.<br />

Edgar Stern died in 1959 and did not live to see Edith honored by both secular and religious<br />

organizations. After receiving the Loving Cup in 1964 she was awarded the Saint Mary’s Dominican<br />

College Medal in 1968; the Hanna G. Solomon Award at the Jewish Community Center in 1972;<br />

and the Benemerenti Medal from the Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1977. Her dedication to<br />

human dignity transcended all groups and faiths.<br />

—Howard Hunter<br />

<br />

A LTON<br />

O CHSNER<br />

(1896-1981)<br />

<br />

Edward William Alton Ochsner.<br />

DR. ALTON OCHSNER, COURTESY OF OCHSNER HEALTH<br />

SYSTEM ARCHIVES AND SPECIAL COLLECTIONS.<br />

World renowned thoracic specialist Alton Ochsner was the guiding surgeon among a group of five<br />

physicians who in 1942 founded the Ochsner Clinic, 1 today the world-renowned Ochsner Health<br />

Systems. Later in life, Ochsner would also lead a national movement to educate the public about the<br />

hazards of smoking tobacco. The first Ochsner Clinic opened on Prytania Street near Touro Hospital<br />

with nineteen physicians on staff. 2 At the time, group practice was rare in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, and somewhat<br />

controversial. Until then doctors had practiced solo, made house calls, or served as hospital physicians<br />

or faculty members of Tulane University Medical School. Famously, the decision to form a joint practice<br />

led some competing doctors to leave bags of forty silver dimes on each founder’s doorstep.<br />

Ochsner Clinic grew rapidly, within fifteen years opening its permanent campus in Jefferson<br />

Parish just beyond the borders of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Its practicing hospital was a former army camp<br />

near the Mississippi River levee and Huey P. Long Bridge. At the clinic, Ochsner left management<br />

to others, remaining until his death a voice of reason and cooperation in the medical field. His reputation<br />

as a surgeon by the age of forty-five made him the natural leader of the new clinic, but he<br />

had already achieved some national fame with his work linking tobacco smoking with lung cancer.<br />

Ochsner was a Midwesterner who grew up in South Dakota in a close knit family. He graduated<br />

from the local university and, as his physician cousin A. J. Ochsner recommended, attended<br />

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. After his graduation in 1920, he took a<br />

position in Chicago with his cousin. A. J. Ochsner financed two years of study for him in Europe,<br />

after which Alton joined the University of Wisconsin staff. In 1927, the chairmanship of Tulane<br />

University’s Surgery Department opened up following the retirement of Rudolph Matas (q.v.). A fellow<br />

student from St. Louis recommended Ochsner, who won the resulting appointment.<br />

Dr. Ochsner made his reputation practicing at the fabled Charity Hospital in <strong>New</strong> Orleans while<br />

also serving as a Tulane Medical School faculty member. There he also researched and wrote. In<br />

cooperation with Dr. Michael DeBakey, already well known and within a decade to be in Houston,<br />

Dr. Ochsner published a startling paper in the journal Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics. This 1939<br />

article concluded, “In our opinion the increase in smoking with the universal custom of inhaling<br />

is probably a responsible factor [for lung cancer], as the inhaled smoke, constantly repeated over<br />

a long period of time, undoubtedly is a source of chronic irritation to the bronchial mucosa.” The<br />

nation’s anti-smoking campaign was born.<br />

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By the end of World War II Ochsner Clinic’s success was assured, but the availability of hospital<br />

beds was not. A surplus of veterans’ hospitals after the war enabled the partnership to purchase a<br />

facility facing the Mississippi River known as Camp Plauché. Guided by counsel J. Blanc Monroe,<br />

the steering board decided that a non-profit foundation would develop and operate the hospital.<br />

This enabled the Alton Ochsner Medical Foundation, chartered in 1944, first to operate at Camp<br />

Plauché and then to build its new permanent facility facing Jefferson Highway near Deckbar Avenue.<br />

Over the next twenty years Ochsner Clinic and Hospital solidified its position as the leading<br />

medical center in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. In time, one of the rules Dr. Ochsner had accepted for the clinic<br />

required his cessation of surgery in 1967 at age seventy. When Medical Director Dr. Merrill Hines<br />

delivered the news, Ochsner protested. A few weeks later he stepped down, putting the Ochsner<br />

Hospital ahead of Ochsner the person. 3<br />

Dr. Ochsner survived his first wife Isabelle by thirteen years and was survived by his second<br />

wife Jane Kellogg Sturdy Ochsner; three sons, Dr. Alton Ochsner, Jr., Dr. John L. Ochsner, and Dr.<br />

Mims G. Ochsner, and a daughter Mrs. John Mann.<br />

1 The five founders were Alton Ochsner (Surgery), Guy Alvin Caldwell (Orthopedics), Edgar Burns (Urology), Francis E.<br />

LeJeune (Ear, Nose and Throat), and Curtis Tyrone (Obstetrics and Gynecology).<br />

2 Alton Ochsner, Michael E. DeBakey, Rudolph Matas (consultant), Mims Gage, Neal Owens (consultant), and Dean<br />

Echols (consultant, Thomas Findley, Samuel B. Nadler, John H. Musser (consultant), Julius Wilson (consultant), Edgar<br />

H. Little, Guy Caldwell, Harry D. Morris, Curtis Tyrone, John C. Weed, Edgar Burns, Willoughby E. Kittredge, Francis<br />

E. LeJeune, Philip J. Bayon.<br />

3 For additional reading see John Wilds. Ochsner’s: An Informal History of the South’s Largest Private Medical Center. Baton<br />

Rouge: LSU Press, 1985.<br />

<br />

S IDNEY<br />

B ECHET<br />

(1897-1959)<br />

Sidney Bechet, like Louis Armstrong (q.v.), exploded out of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ early twentieth century<br />

working class, both going on to become world figures in music. Innumerable tourists have come to<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans solely to find and be part of what they can see was the most fertile era in American<br />

musical traditions. In 1980, folklorist Alan Lomax spoke to an assemblage of the earliest historians<br />

of recorded jazz at Tulane University. “We represent the first wave of criticism of an American musical<br />

tradition… everybody here can tell stories about how little interest there’s been in learning about<br />

how the first world musical language was invented in its capital here in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.” 1 Bechet initiated<br />

the language of <strong>New</strong> Orleans-style collective improvisation. <strong>New</strong> Orleans bands “created an<br />

atmosphere of sensation in Chicago and <strong>New</strong> York during World War I, giving Americans outside<br />

of the Crescent City their first sustained taste of jazz, surpassed only by two… <strong>New</strong> Orleans groups,<br />

King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Rhythm Kings…. 2<br />

Bechet’s parents, the father a shoe maker, were both musically oriented and committed to their family.<br />

Before Sidney was six, his siblings had organized a brass band. At a young age, he borrowed a clarinet<br />

and began practicing. He came to the attention of pioneering musicians Lorenzo Tio, Big Eye Louis<br />

Nelson, and George Baquet. Just as Armstrong switched from the cornet to the trumpet, Bechet<br />

switched from the clarinet to the alto-saxophone, on which he became a dominant player wherever he<br />

blew notes. As Martin Williams has pointed out in Jazz Masters of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, “It is important to<br />

remember... that Bechet was then not just a kid in the opinion of <strong>New</strong> Orleans players. While still in<br />

his teens, he was acknowledged as one of the best clarinetists in the city—to many the best.” 3<br />

In the summer of 1917 Bechet made the transition from <strong>New</strong> Orleans to the prosperous fields<br />

of Chicago, recently enriched by thousands of blacks fleeing Southern segregation. He played with<br />

Sidney Bechet.<br />

HOGAN JAZZ ARCHIVES, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

105


Lawrence Duhe’s band at the De Luxe Café, with Freddie Keppard’s band at the Dreamland and<br />

with King Oliver.<br />

In 1919, Bechet joined Will Marion Cook’s orchestra for several years touring Europe. Back in<br />

the U.S., Bechet made his recording debut in 1923 with Clarence Williams and during the next<br />

two years he appeared on records backing blues singers. However, from 1925-1929 Bechet was<br />

overseas, traveling as far as Russia.<br />

The next three decades were spent mostly in Europe, with spells of unemployment in the United<br />

States. In 1945, he was briefly reunited with Louis Armstrong at the Jazz Foundation Concert in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, and soon after he made several sides for the Blue Note label with another famous <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

trumpeter, Bunk Johnson. 4<br />

1 Bruce Boyd Raeburn, <strong>New</strong> Orleans Style and the Writing of American Jazz History (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan<br />

Press, 2012), 39.<br />

2 Raeburn, 213-4.<br />

3 See also Rhodes Spedale, Jr., A Guide to Jazz in <strong>New</strong> Orleans (<strong>New</strong> Orleans: Hope Publications, 1984), 46.<br />

4 For further reading Sidney Bechet’s memoirs Treat It Gentle:An Autobiography and John Chilton, The Wizard of Jazz.<br />

Thanks also to Information from websites of Scott Yanow, http://scottyanow.com/.<br />

<br />

W ALTER<br />

H ERBERT<br />

(1898-1975)<br />

<br />

Walter Herbert.<br />

NEW ORLEANS OPERA ASSOCIATION ARCHIVES, SPECIAL<br />

COLLECTIONS, LOYOLA UNIVERSITY.<br />

Classical music conductor and opera impresario<br />

Walter Herbert was the guiding light of the twentieth<br />

century’s <strong>New</strong> Orleans Opera Association, which<br />

resurrected the local opera after its near demise. He<br />

gave continuity to the staging and structure of opera<br />

during his ten-year management, which tragically<br />

ended in dissension. Even so, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Opera organization as created by Herbert lives on,<br />

though seldom comfortably.<br />

German-born Herbert began his conducting<br />

career in Switzerland in 1925 after studying under<br />

composer Arnold Schonberg in Vienna. A career<br />

with the Volksoper in Vienna during the 1930s<br />

ended when the Germans took over Austria in 1938.<br />

By then Herbert was also acclaimed as a bridge player,<br />

participating and winning the world championship<br />

on Italy’s team. Prior to the coming of World<br />

War II he left Europe and was soon in the United<br />

States. From 1940-1943 he was director of Opera in<br />

English for the San Francisco Opera.<br />

In autumn 1943 the fledgling <strong>New</strong> Orleans Opera<br />

Association named Herbert its first general director, a<br />

position he retained until 1954. His European background had familiarized him with a rich selection of<br />

works that tended to be overlooked in the French Opera tradition. During Herbert’s tenure he staged<br />

166 performances of thirty-nine operas by twenty-four composers. These included first <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

performances of The Old Maid and the Thief by Gian Carlo Menotti, The Abduction from the Seraglio by<br />

Wolfgang A. Mozart, Petrouchka by Igor Stravinsky, Salome by Richard Strauss, and Der Rosenkavalier by<br />

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Richard Strauss. 1 The N. O. Opera’s performance of The Abduction actually preceded the first Met’s performance.<br />

Herbert also believed in cooperation among opera lovers. He instituted a cooperative agreement<br />

with a fledgling company in Shreveport to share singers, chorus, and sets.<br />

In 1954, the Opera Board dismissed Herbert, an apparent act of shortsightedness that was to benefit<br />

Houston. There he created what has become the great Houston Grand Opera. While in Houston<br />

he also helped Sister of the Blessed Sacrament M. Elise Sisson found Opera/South in Jackson,<br />

Mississippi, a primarily African/American company. He remained in Houston until 1972 when he<br />

departed for and founded the San Diego Opera. He married the Chorus Director Madeleine Beckhard.<br />

Truly, Walter Herbert was a Johnny Appleseed of opera.<br />

1 My thanks to Jack Belsom for sharing notes from his upcoming book on the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Opera.<br />

A.P. TUREAUD<br />

(1899-1972)<br />

The only African-American practicing attorney in Louisiana for a number of years, Alexander<br />

Pierre Tureaud led the legal challenges that overturned segregation in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. During his long<br />

career, he represented the NAACP in voting matters; overcame efforts by the state legislature to preserve<br />

school segregation, and generally litigated the cases that brought down local segregation.<br />

A <strong>New</strong> Orleans Creole, Tureaud fled the city in his youth. He moved to Chicago as a teenager,<br />

working as a laborer in a railyard. In <strong>New</strong> York he worked briefly as a dishwasher. Moving to<br />

Washington, D.C. he fell into his calling as junior clerk in the library of the United States<br />

Department of Justice. There he was able to enroll in the law school of Howard University,<br />

graduating in 1925. Tureaud returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans the following year when the dean of<br />

black politicians, Walter Cohen (q.v.), hired him to work for the Comptroller of Customs at<br />

the Port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Five years later he married Lucille Dejoie (q.v.), equally well connected<br />

in the Creole community.<br />

In 1940, the NAACP in <strong>New</strong> Orleans summoned the legendary litigator Thurgood<br />

Marshall to represent it in the case Joseph P. McKelpin v. Orleans Parish School Board. African<br />

American teachers from the segregated public school system had filed the suit against the<br />

school board for salaries equal to their white counterparts. At that time Marshall retained<br />

Tureaud as local counsel on the case. On September 1, 1942, the case was settled out of court.<br />

Tureaud resigned his post at the Customs Office and entered private practice. For the next<br />

thirty years, he represented plaintiffs on dozens of significant cases that gradually chipped<br />

away at the institution of segregation in <strong>New</strong> Orleans and Louisiana. The Louisiana State<br />

University in Baton Rouge was one of his principal targets. In three cases, notably Payne v.<br />

LSU, he forced LSU to admit African-Americans.<br />

From the earliest days the Civil Rights movement had been concerned about the right to<br />

vote. In 1952, Tureaud argued a suit to eliminate local hindrances to voting, a suit brought<br />

by the NAACP known as Edward Hall v. T.J. Nagel, Registrar of Voters. It was a great victory.<br />

The famous case of Brown v. Board of Education in Arkansas led to successor suits. Federal District<br />

Judge J. Skelly Wright, (q.v.) quashed the Legislature’s attempt to preserve segregation by state law<br />

in Earl Benjamin Bush v. Orleans Parish School Board, a suit argued by Tureaud.<br />

Over the decade Tureaud’s many petitions following this decision led directly to the desegregation<br />

of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Public Schools. Towards the end of the 1950s he became involved in the issue<br />

of segregation in places of public accommodation. The arrest of three students in Baton Rouge<br />

sparked the sit-in movement beginning in 1959. Tureaud and the NAACP developed the case of<br />

Garner v. Louisiana that the U. S. Supreme Court decided in 1961 in favor of the students. The<br />

<br />

A.P. Tureaud.<br />

PHOTO OF SHELEEN P. JONES PORTRAIT STATUE, TAKEN BY<br />

CAROLYN KOLB.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

107


decision went a long way towards legitimizing the sit-in movement. Through the 1960s Tureaud<br />

took on city hall, bringing suits to desegregate the local parks, buses, and airport.<br />

Tureaud retired in 1971 and died in <strong>New</strong> Orleans two years later. In his honor, London Ave., a<br />

thoroughfare in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, was renamed A.P. Tureaud Ave. Marie C. Couvent (q.v.) School at<br />

2021 Pauger Street was renamed after him in 1999. His statue by Sheleen Jones was dedicated in<br />

1997 at the A. P. Tureaud Civil Rights Memorial Park. Tureaud’s papers are at the Amistad Research<br />

Center in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

<br />

L OUIS<br />

A RMSTRONG<br />

(1901-1971)<br />

<br />

Louis Armstrong.<br />

JULES CAHN COLLECTION AT THE HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION, 2000.78.1.1546, USED WITH<br />

PERMISSION OF THE LOUIS ARMSTRONG EDUCATIONAL<br />

FOUNDATION OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY, EXECUTIVE<br />

DIRECTOR JACKIE HARRIS, AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS.<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans always claimed Louis Armstrong, and Armstrong always remained attached to <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Never forgetting his roots, Armstrong put his native city into the hearts of people around the<br />

world. The city, in response, re-named its municipal airport after him, along with a local park<br />

where his statue greets visitors.<br />

Armstrong’s upbringing in the city in the first two decades of the twentieth century parallels<br />

the lives of much of its contemporary poor. His father abandoned his mother, whereupon<br />

his mother apparently left him to his grandmother. In time a remarkable city orphanage took<br />

him in, introduced him to music, and generated his storied career. Leaving the “Colored<br />

Waif’s Home” at the age of fourteen, Armstrong went to work hauling coal. When evenings<br />

came, he played the cornet given him at the orphanage, attracting the attention of the local<br />

bar crowd. At the time, these were specifically the denizens of Storyville, the red light district<br />

converted eventually into a local housing project. Legendary cornet player Joe “King” Oliver<br />

took an interest in Louis, providing occasional jobs and pointers on playing. In 1918, Louis<br />

replaced Oliver in the Kid Ory band, the city’s most popular. In the summers Armstrong<br />

began playing Mississippi riverboats, where he met other nationally-famous players and his<br />

hot sound matched the weather.<br />

Making his career in Chicago, “King” Oliver in 1922 summoned Louis to his “Creole Jazz<br />

Band.” Again Louis gradually surpassed Oliver, making his first recording the following year.<br />

In the Chicago of the late Nineteen Twenties, Louis earned his reputation. The illustrated<br />

website biography.com has a succinct audio and verbal description of his achievements there:<br />

From 1925 to 1928, Armstrong made more than 60 records with the “Hot Five” and, later,<br />

the “Hot Seven.” Today, these are generally regarded as the most important and influential recordings<br />

in jazz history; on these records, Armstrong’s virtuoso brilliance helped transform jazz from an<br />

ensemble music to a soloist’s art. His stop-time solos on numbers like Cornet Chop Suey and Potato<br />

Head Blues changed jazz history, featuring daring rhythmic choices, swinging phrasing and incredible<br />

high notes. He also began singing on these recordings, popularizing wordless “scat singing” with his<br />

hugely popular vocal on 1926’s Heebie Jeebies.” 1<br />

During the 1930s Armstrong began performing extensively in Europe, a career cut short by a<br />

swollen lip. After World War II he went back to recording and traveling, to which he added movies<br />

and radio performances. Of Armstrong’s four wives, his first is remembered for persuading him to<br />

leave Oliver and move to the Fletcher Henderson band in <strong>New</strong> York City. That lasted only a year,<br />

although Armstrong’s music transformed that ensemble. His fourth wife persuaded him to purchase<br />

a home in <strong>New</strong> York City right after World War II, and that is where Armstrong spent his final<br />

almost three decades. Though Armstrong’s home in Queens <strong>New</strong> York is a National Historic<br />

Landmark, his roots in <strong>New</strong> Orleans were the incubation of his career.<br />

1 http://www.biography.com/people/louis-armstrong-9188912.<br />

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A LBERT<br />

W. D ENT<br />

(1904-1987)<br />

The administrative and personal qualities of Albert W. Dent made a <strong>New</strong> Orleans hospital and<br />

university successful in a difficult era for African-Americans in the South. The founding director of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans’ Flint-Goodridge Hospital, Dent began his work in 1932 as a twenty-seven year old<br />

Morehouse College graduate. He recruited staff from among the city’s thirty-five licensed African-<br />

American physicians who had formerly no hospital or internships through which to practice. 1<br />

While black physicians received training, Dent, supported by philanthropist Edgar B. Stern (q.v.)<br />

as chairman of the hospital board, invited experienced white physicians to head departments temporarily<br />

and share their skills.<br />

In 1936, Dent raised the funds to hold a summer internship for African-American doctors from<br />

across the South. Doctors from Tulane and Charity Hospitals offered an intense two-week course<br />

with classes at Touro, Tulane and Flint-Goodridge. Dent later remarked that it was the first time<br />

African-American doctors had gone into Touro and Tulane Medical Schools. Thanks to these<br />

efforts, by the end of the 1930s African-Americans headed all of the departments at Flint-<br />

Goodridge Hospital. The hospital achieved national accreditation, owing largely to Dent’s effective<br />

leadership. His resonant voice coming from an imposing six-foot frame gave his practical leadership<br />

authority. Dent’s work at newly-founded Flint-Goodridge was so effective that in 1940 he was<br />

recruited as the second president of newly-founded Dillard University. 2<br />

Dent’s contributions to <strong>New</strong> Orleans were manifold. For the two decades before 1970, at a time<br />

when there were no black city-wide officials, 3 he was the most influential black leader in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. He persuaded Mayor deLesseps Morrison to permit blacks to take the civil service examination<br />

in 1945. He then succeeded in persuading the library board to permit blacks into the main<br />

public library. When he joined the board of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Boy Scouts he did so on the condition<br />

that all troops drop segregation. In 1960, he received the Silver Beaver Award from the local<br />

Scouting Council for distinguished service to youth. In 1977, Albert Dent received the Times-<br />

Picayune Loving Cup for his achievements at Dillard.<br />

<br />

Albert W. Dent.<br />

DENT FAMILY PAPERS, AMISTAD RESEARCH CENTER.<br />

1 Joe M. Richardson, “Albert W. Dent: A Black <strong>New</strong> Orleans Hospital and University Administrator,” Louisiana History 37<br />

(Summer, 1996): 309-323.<br />

2 Five presidents have succeeded Dr. Dent. Under the sixth president, Dr. Marvalene Hughes, Dillard successfully survived<br />

Katrina and introduced a four college organization. Enrollment today is about 1300.<br />

3 The Times-Picayune, February 13, 1984.<br />

<br />

M ARION A BRAMSON (1905-1965)<br />

Marion Pfeifer Abramson made her mark on the civic life of <strong>New</strong> Orleans as an educator,<br />

activist, and pioneer in public television. She organized the Independent Women’s Organization<br />

and led “get out the vote” drives. She became an active member of the League of Women Voters<br />

and then president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Civic Council.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> York City in 1905, Abramson grew up in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. She attended Isidore<br />

<strong>New</strong>man School and in 1925 graduated from Sophie <strong>New</strong>comb College. She was editor of the<br />

<strong>New</strong>comb/Tulane Hullabaloo student newspaper and ghost-wrote newspaper columns for football<br />

tight end Jerry Dalrymple (“My End of It”— which several times appeared in the Saturday Evening<br />

Post) and Tulane half back Don Zimmerman’s (“Back Talk”).<br />

Marion landed her first employment after college as an assistant to physicians researching the<br />

hematology of pregnant women. She then moved on to tutoring high school students in literature<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

109


Above: Marion Abramson.<br />

COURTESY OF THE FAMILY.<br />

Below: John Minor Wisdom.<br />

COURTESY OF THE WISDOM FAMILY AND HEIRS OF<br />

PHOTOGRAPHER H.J."PAT" PATTERSON.<br />

and languages. With organizational politics calling after World War II, Marion became a member<br />

of the national board of the American Association of University Women and later served as president<br />

of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans chapter. Though a member of the Independent Women’s Organization for<br />

many years, in 1946 she began a career on the Orleans Parish Democratic Executive Committee.<br />

During the 1950s, Marion began planning for an educational television station for <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

She brought her project to fruition on October 23, 1957, when National Educational Television<br />

station WYES opened with Abramson as chairperson of the board of directors of the Greater <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Educational Television Association. WYES-TV signed on the air on April 1, 1957, as the<br />

twelfth educational television station in the nation. In 1970, the station swapped frequency allocations<br />

with another local station, thus becoming Channel 12. In recognition of her educational<br />

services, the Orleans Parish School Board named its large <strong>New</strong> Orleans East high school for her.<br />

Demolished by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the school reopened in 2007 as Abramson Science and<br />

Technology Charter School.<br />

In 1925, Marion married Louis Abramson Jr. Their only child, Lucie Lee, grew up to follow her<br />

mother in service to the community.<br />

<br />

J OHN M INOR W ISDOM<br />

(1905-1999)<br />

John Minor Wisdom, a brilliant and powerful lawyer, Republican, and member of <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

society was one of the two federal judges who carried through the desegregation of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

The first was J. Skelly Wright (q.v.) at the District Court, followed by Judge Wisdom at the Federal<br />

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.<br />

In his early career as a lawyer of the 1950s, Wisdom represented supermarket owner and Public<br />

Service Commissioner John Schwegmann (q.v.) in a case against Louisiana’s price fixing laws.<br />

When the U. S. Supreme Court upheld Schwegmann’s suit, Wisdom came to the attention of<br />

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who appointed him to the <strong>New</strong> Orleans-based Fifth Circuit of<br />

Appeals. 1 His early years on the Fifth Circuit Court saw a steadily increasing caseload that demonstrated<br />

the lamentable pace of school integration and continuing discriminatory jury selection, difficult<br />

voter registration requirements, and universities determined to remain all white. In redressing<br />

these issues, Wisdom claimed that his decisions were a product of the education he received<br />

while on the bench, not of anything he knew before he joined the Court.<br />

Wisdom’s career really began in 1962 when he ruled in favor of James Meredith, an African-American<br />

whom the University of Mississippi had refused to admit. Subsequent decisions invalidated Louisiana’s<br />

voter registration and jury selection laws. In the 1960s Wisdom wrote several decisions forcing school<br />

boards to speed up their desegregation. As a result of the changes during those decades, “the<br />

Constitution is both color-blind and color-conscious,” Judge Wisdom said in a 1987 forum at Tulane<br />

University. “It is color-blind to prevent discrimination, and it is color-conscious to correct past discrimination.”<br />

Like Judge Wright he felt the burden of past discrimination demanded affirmative action.<br />

Born and raised in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, Wisdom attended Isidore <strong>New</strong>man School and Tulane Law<br />

School. His father had participated in the Mechanics Institute riot of 1874 against black political<br />

participation, a century before Wright’s famous decisions. John Minor Wisdom married Bonnie<br />

Mathews, an attractive and intelligent plantation girl and graduate of <strong>New</strong>comb College. The couple<br />

resided in a prominent mansion on First Street in the city’s Garden District. Near the end of<br />

Wisdom’s career President William Clinton awarded Wisdom the Presidential Medal of Freedom,<br />

the country’s highest civilian honor.<br />

1 Obituary John Minor Wisdom in The Times-Picayune, May 16, 1999.<br />

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C HINK<br />

H ENRY<br />

(1910-1974)<br />

Clarence “Chink” Henry spent his working life on the docks of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. An African-<br />

American, he was an important mid-twentieth century force in the International Longshoremen’s<br />

Union, with a legacy of pride and community involvement. “Chink” Henry started working on the<br />

docks in 1927 and became president of the African-American Local 1419 in 1954.<br />

The port depended on the longshoremen who stowed or unloaded cargo. Before container ships<br />

and their successors, the local cargo was mainly “break bulk.” Bales of cotton, stalks of bananas,<br />

bags of coffee beans and sugar: muscle power filled ships’ holds and workers’ pockets. <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans longshoremen, from before World War II into the 1970s, were well paid and respected in<br />

their own communities.<br />

After the Civil War, newly freed African-American and white waterfront workers marched<br />

together for higher wages. Although they worked together during 1892 and 1907 actions, for most<br />

of the twentieth century there were two longshoremen union locals, racially divided. Henry’s Local<br />

1419 was larger than the white local. Besides presiding over his membership, Henry oversaw their<br />

community involvement. The I.L.A. Union Hall at 2700 South Claiborne Avenue was built by<br />

Local 1419 at a cost of $500,000. <strong>New</strong> Orleans architects Laurence and Saunders designed the<br />

building in 1959. The building, now gone, was clad in green marble with white markings and had<br />

an elaborate truss system on its top that resembled the super structure of a cargo ship.<br />

The African-American longshoremen felt a special responsibility to their community. Their<br />

extensive membership boasted both family and friendly ties throughout the city. Henry’s grand<br />

union hall hosted political activities, civil rights organizations (including the Southern Christian<br />

Leadership Conference), and provided a venue for groups unable to find or afford other places in<br />

the city: gay Mardi Gras balls and African-American high school proms were welcomed.<br />

“Chink” Henry died in 1974 after a brief illness. By then he was part of the city’s establishment and<br />

had been the first African-American appointed to what was then called the Domed Stadium<br />

Commission. From his election as president of Local 1419 in 1954, he won every subsequent election<br />

and was serving his Local 1419 at the time of his death. In 1980, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick<br />

J. R. Heebe ordered the merger of the white and black ILA Local unions. He is memorialized by the<br />

“Chink” Henry Truckway, the heavily trafficked truck route behind the flood walls along the<br />

Mississippi River docks.<br />

—Carolyn G. Kolb<br />

<br />

Troy (Chink) Henry.<br />

COURTESY OF HIS SON, TROY HENRY.<br />

For further reading see Dave Well and Jim Stodder, “Short History of <strong>New</strong> Orleans Dockworkers,” Radical America,<br />

January-February, 1976., Philip S. Foner, Organized Labor and the Black Worker, 1619-1981. Chicago: Haymarket Books,<br />

2017 edition reprint.<br />

Eric Arnesen, Waterfront Workers of <strong>New</strong> Orleans: Race, Class, and Politics, 1863-1923. <strong>New</strong> York: Oxford University Press,<br />

1991. The Times-Picayune, May 2, 1974; obituary, May 3, 1974.<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Item, June 20, 1945.<br />

<br />

J. SKELLY W RIGHT<br />

(1911-1988)<br />

United States District Court Judge James Skelly Wright issued the orders that integrated much of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans, notably the public schools. His reward was opprobrium from a large part of the white community,<br />

but his orders led to the integration of the city’s public institutions. Besides opposing segregation, he<br />

defended consumers, labor unions, and in the case of the Pentagon Papers, freedom of the press.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

111


J. Skully Wright.<br />

COURTESY OF THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF THE DISTRICT<br />

OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT.<br />

Judge Wright was born and raised in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, attending public schools and Loyola<br />

University Law School. After service in World War II, he received an appointment from President<br />

Harry Truman as U.S. Attorney in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, and the following year as a federal district judge.<br />

He began his career in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana at the<br />

age of thirty-eight, the youngest on the federal bench.<br />

The historic 1954 Brown vs Board of Education case prompted Wright to consider favorably suits<br />

brought by African-American lawyers such as A. P. Tureaud (q.v.) to integrate the city’s public schools.<br />

Although his 1960 decision in favor of integration led to threats on his life, his continuing decisions integrated<br />

LSU and Tulane University, <strong>New</strong> Orleans City Park, and the Regional Transit Authority System.<br />

Judge Wright broadened the definition of discrimination to include ‘’de facto’’ conditions—segregation<br />

existing largely because of residential patterns. ‘’Racially and socially homogeneous<br />

schools,” he wrote, “damage the minds and spirits of all the children who attend them—the Negro,<br />

the white, the poor and the affluent—and block the attainment of the broader goals of democratic<br />

education, whether the segregation occurs by law or by fact.’’ 1 This principle led to busing students<br />

to achieve integration, a practice with only a limited success. While in Louisiana Judge Wright<br />

struck down more than one hundred laws designed to foster segregation.<br />

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy appointed Wright to the Federal Court of Appeals in<br />

Washington, D.C., a position he held for more than two decades. He died of cancer in Washington<br />

in 1988. 2 In his obituary the <strong>New</strong> York Times reported that <strong>New</strong> Orleans-born Skelly Wright had<br />

been considered one of the most liberal judges in the federal court system.<br />

1 <strong>New</strong> York Times, August 8, 1988.<br />

2 For further reading see James D. Wilson. “A Biographical Sketch: J. Skelly Wright.” Louisiana History 38 (1997): 100.<br />

O WEN B RENNAN (1911-1955)<br />

AND F AMILY<br />

Owen Brennan founded a dynasty of <strong>New</strong> Orleans restaurateurs who have become central to the<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans food and tourist industry. Shocked at his untimely death in 1955 when Brennan’s Royal<br />

Street restaurant was under interior construction, his siblings and direct and collateral descendants carried<br />

on his name. Today they operate restaurants from City Park to Canal Street and beyond. Owing<br />

in considerable part to the leadership of the Brennan family, dining in <strong>New</strong> Orleans over the course of<br />

the twentieth century grew into a major segment of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans economy. The Brennan’s dining<br />

experience became famous not only at their flagship restaurant “Brennan’s” on Royal Street, but also at<br />

Commander’s Palace, where important chefs Paul Prudhomme (q.v.), Emeril Lagasse, and Frank<br />

Brigsten rose to stardom. These innovators built upon the paths cleared by earlier chefs, such as Louis<br />

Boudro, Antoine Alciatore and Elizabeth Begué. In their time <strong>New</strong> Orleans food and hospitality began<br />

to compete with the city’s industry, the port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Owen Brennan launched his career as a tavern keeper at the storied Old Absinthe House at Bourbon<br />

and Bienville Streets. There he kept late hours, attracting both locals and travelers with his gregarious<br />

personality and a wise decision to hire the gifted jazz pianist Wally “Fats” Pichon. It was not long before<br />

Brennan—eyeing the sleepy and run-down Vieux Carré Restaurant across the street, had purchased<br />

that establishment. He then hired his eighteen-year-old sister Ella to manage operations while he saw<br />

to hospitality (with historic results). From a decidedly modest start at the Vieux Carré the Brennans<br />

made a profit, soon taking on a larger venue, the former Patio Royale at 417 Bourbon. Along with being<br />

a pioneering restaurant owner, Owen Brennan was also the founding father of the Krewe of Bacchus,<br />

which he began to as early as 1949. With his new Royal Street restaurant under construction in mid<br />

1955, however, he died suddenly at the age of forty.<br />

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With her siblings and nephews, Ella Brennan carried on. They invented the idea of “Breakfast<br />

at Brennan’s,” a concept that moved <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> to more ambitious dining at any part of the<br />

day. With breakfast came another concept, the “Eye Opener,” or a mixed drink early in the day.<br />

After a family schism, Ella Brennan in 1974 moved on to Commander’s Palace, leaving her<br />

nephews to operate Brennan’s and eventually making Commander’s the premier uptown restaurant<br />

dedicated to the best of food, cocktails, and service. Cousins Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan<br />

have carried on the family tradition of innovation, introducing the idea of training their bartenders<br />

in the best techniques of the business. Commander’s Palace thus seized an early role in the crafts<br />

cocktail movement of the twenty-first century. 1 Nephew Ralph Brennan operates three famous<br />

restaurants today while Owen’s brother Dickie and his family have their own popular lines of<br />

restaurants and steakhouses.<br />

1 Elizabeth M. Williams, <strong>New</strong> Orleans: A Food Biography (<strong>New</strong> York: Altamira Press, 2013), 110-11; Elizabeth M. Williams<br />

& Chris McMillian, Lift Your Spirits: A Celebratory History of Cocktail Culture in <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Baton Rouge, La.: Louisiana<br />

State University Press, 2016), 127-9, 146-7.<br />

<br />

M AHALIA<br />

J ACKSON<br />

(1911-1972)<br />

Mahalia Jackson and Louis Armstrong joined the “great migration” from <strong>New</strong> Orleans in the<br />

1920s, leaving <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ fertile incubators for the unlimited business opportunities of the burgeoning<br />

city of Chicago. She grew up in the uptown Black Pearl neighborhood on Pitt Street, where<br />

she learned to sing with the choir of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. Mahalia left with her great<br />

contralto voice and her Baptist choir heritage, both of which lifted her to stardom in Chicago. But<br />

both Jackson and Armstrong always remembered their <strong>New</strong> Orleans roots that played an<br />

important role in their stylistic accomplishments. Both helped to identify <strong>New</strong> Orleans as the<br />

American musical originator.<br />

Almost immediately after arriving in Chicago in 1927 Mahalia was invited to join the Greater<br />

Salem Baptist Church Choir and then the professional Johnson Gospel Singers. Her career solidified<br />

when she formed a professional relationship with gospel composer Thomas A. Dorsey, who<br />

composed “Take My Hand, Precious Lord,” known as her signature song. Remarkably she refused<br />

to switch from gospel to any other musical form. “I sing God’s music because it makes me feel<br />

free.” Jackson added, “It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.”<br />

Mahalia married twice, but neither union was successful. To perform she traveled regularly<br />

beginning in the 1930s. Following World War II she became a national success with the<br />

William Herbert Brewster song “Move On Up a Little Higher.” In the next decade she began<br />

singing in Europe to large enthusiastic crowds.<br />

When the Civil Rights crusade began in the 1950s Mahalia was a major supporter and a close<br />

friend of Dr. Martin Luther King. He and Ralph Abernathy persuaded her to sing at the Montgomery,<br />

Al., bus boycott concert in December 1956. From then on she steadily increased her presence, most<br />

famously at the March on Washington 1963 speech by Dr. King in which he used a phrase, “I have<br />

a dream” suggested by Mahalia. She sang “How I Got Over” and “I Been ‘Buked and I Been Scorned.”<br />

After Mahalia died near the end of January 1972, her remains were brought to <strong>New</strong> Orleans for<br />

a great funeral at the Convention Center. Mayor Moon Landrieu and Governor John McKeithen<br />

both spoke. The funeral cortege drove uptown past her Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and then to her<br />

grave in Providence Memorial Park in Metairie. At her death Mahalia left a sizeable estate valued<br />

in the millions. <strong>New</strong> Orleans placed her name on one of the largest public buildings in the city, the<br />

Mahalia Jackson Center of Performing Arts.<br />

<br />

Above: Owen Brennan.<br />

COURTESY OF THE COMMANDERS FAMILY<br />

OF RESTAURANTS.<br />

Below: Mahalia Jackson.<br />

JULES CAHN COLLECTION AT THE HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION, 2000.78.1.1602.<br />

<br />

Mahalia Jackson.<br />

JULES CAHN COLLECTION AT THE HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION, 2000.78.1.1602.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

113


J ACOB M ORRISON (1905-1974) AND<br />

M ARY M EEK M ORRISON (1911-1999)<br />

<br />

Mary Morrison.<br />

THE HISTORIC NEW ORLEANS COLLECTION, BEQUEST OF<br />

THE ESTATE OF MARY MORRISON, 99-59-L.7.<br />

For four decades, Jacob “Jake” and Mary Morrison were the most outspoken voices supporting<br />

historic preservation in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans French Quarter. Ironically, neither was born in the city,<br />

Jacob in <strong>New</strong> Roads, Louisiana, and Mary in Mississippi. Jacob penned the first text of Historic<br />

Preservation Law in 1957, used by preservationists regularly since its publication. In 1938, he<br />

drafted the charter of the Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents and Associates, Inc. (VCPORA)<br />

and in 1957 the charter for the Friends of the Cabildo, serving as president of both.<br />

Mary Morrison entered politics in 1940, launching a grass-roots women’s campaign supporting<br />

reform candidate Samuel Jones for Louisiana governor. Her<br />

political work in 1946 subsequently led to the formation of<br />

the Independent Women’s Organization, active today. Mary<br />

and Jake settled in an 1829 home at 722 Ursulines Street in<br />

the French Quarter, which they made a virtual center of historic<br />

preservation planning. Mary followed the path set out<br />

by her predecessor Elizabeth Thomas Werlein (1883-1946),<br />

who had led the Louisiana League of Women Voters, founded<br />

the “Quartier Club” to restore old French Quarter houses,<br />

and was instrumental in the founding of the Vieux Carré<br />

Commission. Mary co-founded the Louisiana Council for<br />

the Vieux Carré, served on the Vieux Carré Commission,<br />

and was consistently active in the Vieux Carré Property<br />

Owners, Residents, and Associates. Until her very old age,<br />

Mary Morrison penned countless letters-to-the-editor of the<br />

dominant Times-Picayune supporting preservation causes.<br />

Over the years, the Morrisons led opposition to the demolition of vernacular cottages, the extension<br />

of the Quarter’s commercial zones, and the proliferation of hotels, which displaced local residents.<br />

Appointed to a position as city attorney by his half brother Mayor de Lesseps S. Morrison, Jake became<br />

the lead attorney in a number of landmark preservation cases, including City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans v.<br />

Pergament 1 in which the Louisiana Supreme Court overturned a lower court finding that the Vieux<br />

Carré Commission did not have jurisdiction over signage. His efforts laid the groundwork for other<br />

landmark cases, especially Succession of Morris G Maher v. City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, 2 in which the United<br />

States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit first enunciated the doctrine of the tout ensemble in letting<br />

stand a lower court decision that the Commission had jurisdiction to deny the demolition of an “ordinary”<br />

shotgun on Dumaine Street. 3<br />

In October 1974 the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized the Morrisons’ advocacy<br />

when it gave them the Louise DuPont Crowinshield Award, the Trust’s highest honor. That<br />

award noted that Mary had been intimately involved for thirty years to maintain the integrity and<br />

unique character of the Vieux Carré and that Jacob had been “in the forefront of many legal battles<br />

to preserve the Vieux Carré and has won most of them.” 4 Jacob Morrison died two months later,<br />

Mary outliving him by twenty-five committed years. Today, the Vieux Carré Commission<br />

Foundation and VCPORA sponsor a biannual lecture series to commemorate their work, known as<br />

the Jacob Haight and Mary Meek Morrison Memorial Lecture Series.<br />

1 5 So.2d 129 (1941).<br />

2 516 F.2d 1051. A third notable case was City of <strong>New</strong> Orleans v. Impastato in which the court agreed with the city’s<br />

position that the Commission had jurisdiction over sides and courtyards, in this case, the courtyard of the Napoleon<br />

House Bar).<br />

3 222 So.2d 608 (1969).<br />

4 Times Picayune, 3 222 So.2d 608 (1969).<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

114


A RCHBISHOP P HILIP M. HANNAN<br />

(1913-2011)<br />

Archbishop Philip M. Hannan served <strong>New</strong> Orleans from the aftermath of Hurricane Betsy in<br />

1965 through Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He spent the first twenty-three years as Archbishop of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans, and the second twenty-three years until his death in service to his church and community.<br />

Hannon oversaw and led the local Catholic Charities organization to its position as the<br />

largest non-governmental charity in the city. In one year, his Social Apostolate program provided<br />

over 20,000,000 pounds of free food to the poor. Under his leadership the archdiocesan newspaper<br />

Clarion Herald became more widely read and a staple for diocese-wide news. He founded the<br />

local Catholic public television station WLAE. He recruited Pope John Paul II to visit <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. He provided for thousands of Vietnamese refugees to settle in <strong>New</strong> Orleans in the aftermath<br />

of the Vietnam War. He helped to found the influential parish Our Lady of Vietnam in the<br />

eastern part of the city. He increased the scope and prestige of the local Catholic diocesan seminary,<br />

which at this writing is training 140 men to be Catholic priests for the world-wide Church.<br />

Hannan grew up in Depression-era Washington, D. C. Instead of going to West Point where he<br />

was intended, he joined the seminary. He then spent three years in Rome as a seminarian.<br />

Returning to Washington, he received his doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University of<br />

America. When the United States entered World War II he joined and eventually became a chaplain<br />

with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne division and parachuted into Germany. After the war he went<br />

back to Washington, serving in various positions in the hierarchy. While there he befriended a new<br />

Congressman, John F. Kennedy. This friendship added to Hannan’s reputation in Catholic circles.<br />

During the 1960s the Archdiocese of Washington sent Hannan to the Second Vatican Council<br />

where he served as press officer. Towards the end of the Council the Vatican chose him for the<br />

newly-available position as Archbishop of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Hannan plunged into the relatively smaller<br />

community with all the aplomb and energy of the wide world he had experienced. He had been<br />

in Rome at the rise of Fascism and knew Communism to be just another variety of dictatorship.<br />

He thus shared the sentiments of Pope John Paul II, who chose to visit <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1987 just<br />

before Hannan’s retirement at the age of 75. After retirement, Hannan did not disappear but instead<br />

devoted himself to his favorite programs and charities in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans area. When Katrina hit<br />

in 2005 he was on duty at a Catholic television station. His hope was in the Word and in charity.<br />

Hannan died in 2011 to the widespread regret of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His body lay in state at St. Louis<br />

Cathedral, where thousands visited to pay their last respects. He is buried in the church along with<br />

the city’s most important benefactors.<br />

<br />

<br />

Archbishop Phillip M.Hannan.<br />

PHOTO BY FRANK H. METHE, III, CLARION HERALD.<br />

H ALE<br />

B OGGS(1914-1972) AND<br />

L INDY B OGGS (1916-2013)<br />

For forty-four years Hale and Lindy Claiborne Boggs successively represented <strong>New</strong> Orleans in<br />

the United States House of Representatives. Hale Boggs served continuously from 1946 until his<br />

untimely death in an airplane crash in Alaska twenty-seven years later. Lindy Boggs then won the<br />

seat and served an additional eighteen years. Hale had all the qualities of the best elected officials—<br />

love of fellow man, intelligence, lack of pretense, and that boundless energy characteristic of the<br />

best politicians. Lindy reflected many of these qualities and added a dignity to the post that led<br />

finally to her appointment as the United States Ambassador to the Holy See.<br />

Both born during World War I, Hale and Lindy married in 1938. Two years later he entered<br />

Congress for a single term, leaving to serve in the Navy during the Second World War. In 1946, he<br />

won re-election to the position he held until his death. Though both lived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans at various<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

115


Top: Lindy Boggs.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

Above: Hale Boggs.<br />

LOUISIANA IMAGE COLLECTION, LOUISIANA RESEARCH<br />

COLLECTION, TULANE UNIVERSITY.<br />

times, their occupation kept the Boggs family in Washington D. C. where they vigorously represented<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans. At the time of his death, Hale had become Majority Leader of the House of<br />

Representatives and was in line to be Speaker.<br />

Boggs’ long career reached its pinnacle during the vibrant 1960s, beginning in 1956 with his efforts<br />

to create the nation’s Interstate Highway program. In 1965, he opposed his region in supporting the<br />

historic Voting Rights Act and three years later he pushed the Open Housing Act of 1968. In 1965,<br />

when the National Football League was considering expansion, it sought an anti-trust exemption to<br />

merge with the American Football League. Boggs secured the anti-trust exemption for the league, after<br />

which <strong>New</strong> Orleans received its subsequent expansion team, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Saints. In 1969, when<br />

local and federal officials and business interests were pursuing a riverfront expressway across the<br />

French Quarter, Boggs became one of the handful of officials who were willing to change their own<br />

and the administration’s minds, leading to the cancellation of federal funds for the expressway.<br />

Succeeding her husband after his death in 1972, Lindy Boggs responded knowingly to Lady Bird<br />

Johnson’s remark that the task would be more difficult because she did not have a wife! However, she<br />

too rose to the top of Democratic Party ranks. The first women elected to the House from Louisiana,<br />

Lindy was also the first to chair the Democratic National Convention, a founder of the Congressional<br />

Women’s Caucus, and finally the only woman to have a room in the Capitol named for her. One of<br />

Lindy’s first concerns upon her election was releasing funds that President Richard Nixon had<br />

impounded to continue rebuilding Poydras Street, along with other urban renewal projects in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. 1 She spearheaded the creation of the Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

East, a vast tract of fresh and brackish marshes that was home to a number of native Louisiana animals,<br />

birds, and plants. When Interstate 10 was planned, however, developers secured interchanges in<br />

Eastern <strong>New</strong> Orleans in order to develop it with houses and apartments. Environmentalists succeeded<br />

in changing that decision and the 23,000 acre Bayou Sauvage Wildlife Refuge became the largest such<br />

refuge within an American city. Lindy subsequently sponsored the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park,<br />

preserving a large swath of West Bank marsh and bayou. (In a curious twist the Park was subsequently<br />

redefined to include the historic French Quarter.) Public preservation went hand in hand with private<br />

preservation through the National Flood Insurance Program, for which Lindy was the spokesperson in<br />

the House. Also important for the long term viability of <strong>New</strong> Orleans are the Caernarvon and Davis<br />

Pond Freshwater Diversion Structures, which were the state’s first efforts to stem the tide of coastal erosion<br />

by introducing nutrient-rich freshwater into the marshes.<br />

In addition to her practical achievements in a world then dominated by men, Lindy Boggs is<br />

remembered for her gracious demeanor and gentle, generous spirit. Those who basked in the glow<br />

of being addressed “darling” were many—in fact, they included most of the people she knew.<br />

1 Lindy Boggs, Washington Through a Purple Veil: Memoirs of a Southern Woman (<strong>New</strong> York: Harcourt Brace & Company,<br />

1994), 282-83.<br />

<br />

A LDEN<br />

J. LABORDE<br />

(1915-2014)<br />

The co-founder of Ocean Drilling & Exploration Company (ODECO) and Tidewater Marine,<br />

Alden J. Laborde developed the infrastructure that enabled the nation’s off-shore oil industry. That<br />

industry created thousands of new jobs and many new skyscrapers for <strong>New</strong> Orleans. For two<br />

decades, his firms led the industry in offshore innovation.<br />

Laborde’s innovations evolved to accommodate ever increasing drilling depths in the Gulf of<br />

Mexico. His bottom-sitting submersible drilling rigs worked best in waters up to forty feet; while<br />

jack-up rigs worked best in waters of seventy-five to three hundred feet of depth. For even deeper<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

116


water the industry drilled from floating anchored ships. As costs increased to accommodate new<br />

developments ODECO, which had been private, was forced to go public for additional funds. By<br />

1970 the authoritative Oil & Gas Journal called ODECO “one of the off-shore-drilling giants.” 1<br />

During the 1960s Laborde designed the Ocean-Driller, the first column-stabilized semi-submersible<br />

drilling rig. It actually floated in deep water, kept in position by anchors, its deck supported<br />

by hollow columns that extended into the sea and offered stability to the drilling deck and vessel.<br />

ODECO also built Thunder Horse, at one time the world’s largest semi-submersible drilling and production<br />

platform, for BP [British Petroleum] in 2008. It displaced 130,000 tons of water, a number<br />

that by a familiar comparison, far exceeds the 90,000 tons of Cunard’s ocean liner Queen Victoria.<br />

Tidewater Marine originated in a meeting of industry representatives that Alden Laborde called in<br />

June 1954 to meet ODECO’s shortage of supply vessels. The meeting included engineers, contractors,<br />

the owner of Alexander shipyards, and a representative of Murphy [Oil] Corporation. Each agreed to<br />

put up $10,000 to build a new type of supply boat with a forward pilot house and long, open rear deck.<br />

Laborde and the Murphy Corporation immediately recognized a conflict of interest between<br />

ODECO and Tidewater. Alden dropped out of Tidewater, allowing Laborde’s younger brother John<br />

to run the new enterprise. Taking over as Tidewater’s first president, John Laborde led the company<br />

to become within the next decade the largest supply company to the world-wide oil industry.<br />

Alexander Shipyards, Inc. constructed its first three boats, Ebb Tide, Rip Tide, and Gulf Tide, 2 and<br />

over succeeding decades many more followed. Among the largest were the Mammoth Tide and the<br />

Goliath Tide, each 218’ in length with four engines pushing two props. For their size they made the<br />

respectable speed of 13.5 knots.<br />

In 1993, ODECO Drilling became Diamond Offshore Drilling, Inc. Alden retired and lived quietly<br />

until his death in 2014. His younger brother John Laborde still participates in <strong>New</strong> Orleans activities.<br />

<br />

Alden J. "Doc" Laborde.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LABORDE FAMILY AND<br />

OVERBOARD HOLDINGS.<br />

1 Oil & Gas Journal, May 4, 1970, p. 107.<br />

2 On line shipyard data base by Tim Colton.<br />

<br />

N ASH<br />

R OBERTS<br />

(1918-2010)<br />

Nash Roberts was <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ first celebrity television weatherman. In an age before computer-generated<br />

graphics and models, his meteorological predictions proved true with such regularity<br />

that his audiences trusted him. Roberts’ low key personality eschewed weather hype, endearing him<br />

to the people. Before the use of satellites, he cannily predicted cold fronts, thunderstorms, sunshine,<br />

hazy afternoons, and of course, hurricanes. His predicting triumphs came with hurricanes Audry<br />

(1957), Betsy (1965) and Camille (1969). It was not until Hurricane Katrina, his last experience and<br />

one long after his retirement, that a storm forced Nash and his wife Lydia to leave <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Nash became a weatherman out in the Pacific during World War II. It was then that the Navy<br />

recruited him to fly with other crewmen into the eye of hurricanes. They gathered information<br />

about moisture, pressure, and winds—a new undertaking, requiring a steady hand and nerves.<br />

Somehow, Nash came out of the war knowing that meteorology was to be his business. A short<br />

teaching stint at Loyola led to the opening of a private forecasting business for the Gulf of Mexico,<br />

the explosion of oil and gas drilling in the Gulf demanding good predictions. Nash developed his<br />

private consulting business for the industry.<br />

Nash’s first tools in the business of reporting the weather were a grease pen and marker board. It<br />

was just after 1951, when he went to work for the new WDSU TV as the first weatherman in the<br />

South, that these simple instruments became known. Countless little television screens depicted the<br />

Nash marker at work drawing great arcs with little carrots on them, indicating lines between high and<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

117


Nash Roberts.<br />

COURTESY OF WWL-TV.<br />

low air pressure. During hurricane seasons, <strong>New</strong><br />

<strong>Orleanians</strong> huddled about these twelve to fifteen-inch<br />

inch screens to hang on Roberts’ every word. At the<br />

time, his principal technology was the precision<br />

barometer, although the National Weather Service’s<br />

use of radar and computers was in sight.<br />

After years at WDSU, Roberts joined WVUE where<br />

personable and outspoken meteorologist Bob Breck<br />

would later replace him. Nash concluded his career at<br />

WWL with his final triumph, a 1998 prediction that<br />

Hurricane Georges would hit to the east of <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans when all the scientific instruments predicted<br />

the west. “As long as Roberts and his Magic Markers<br />

are exclusive to WWL,” The Times-Picayune wrote<br />

after Georges, “Channel 4 will remain the only place<br />

to get an answer to the first hurricane-related question<br />

asked by anyone who’s lived in <strong>New</strong> Orleans for any<br />

length of time: ‘What’s Nash say?’” Despite the decades that have passed since his on-air warnings,<br />

Nash remains a local icon. His television appearances have been absent since 1998, so long that his<br />

successor Breck has also retired, yet Nash has not been forgotten. As Breck noted, “I think Nash<br />

wasn’t afraid to fail. He trusted his instincts and he just followed his gut. I think that’s what people<br />

remember him for.” 1<br />

1 Obituary by Stephanie Stokes in Times-Picayune, December 20, 2010.<br />

<br />

M URIEL B ULTMAN F RANCIS<br />

(1919-1986)<br />

Muriel Bultman Francis, connoisseur and patron of music and the arts, generously supported<br />

the musical and contemporary art scene and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of Art. The daughter of<br />

Fred Bultman, the last of the Bultman Funeral home family to operate that family institution, Mrs.<br />

Francis purchased her first work of art at the age of eighteen, At that time she astutely bought<br />

Claude Monet’s “Chrysanthemums” and an Odilon Redon painting, both for $2,400. A graduate of<br />

the Academy of the Sacred Heart and a keen student, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the<br />

University of Alabama and studied at the Sorbonne. After World War II she moved to <strong>New</strong> York<br />

City where she had her own <strong>New</strong> York agency, which represented classical music performers.<br />

Among her clients were violinist Yehudi Menuhin and opera stars Lily Pons, Rise Stevens, Ezio<br />

Pinza, Leonard Warren and Marguerite Piazza.<br />

The death of her father in 1964 brought Muriel back to <strong>New</strong> Orleans where she immediately<br />

plunged into the art world. For years her father had served as president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Opera<br />

Association and she soon joined that board. Because the opera needed an orchestra, Francis joined<br />

the board of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Philharmonic Orchestra and became its president. The Philharmonic<br />

continued to serve as the fount for members of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Opera Orchestra.<br />

Art did not stop with music as Francis became an promotor of the Contemporary Arts Center<br />

and a supporter of Dashiki Theatre, an early black theatre troupe. When the struggling Tennessee<br />

Williams was looking for a place to stay she put him up at her mansion on Louisiana Avenue, a<br />

venue memorialized in Suddenly Last Summer. On the political side she was president of the <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans chapter of the American-Israeli Cultural Foundation and on the social side she was<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

118


treasurer of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Spring Fiesta. Muriel also played a role in having nationally prominent<br />

architect Edward Durrell Stone design the new ITM building in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Over the years, Francis most notably patronized the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of Art. Upon her death<br />

she donated substantially all of her works collected over decades to the museum. These included Cubist<br />

works by Braques and Picasso, Surrealist paintings by Joan Miro, and Impressionist paintings and drawings<br />

by Bonnard, Magritte, Redon, Giacometti and Degas. Just before her death the museum saluted<br />

Muriel with the exhibit “Art Seldom Seen,” memorialized in a volume Profiles of a Connoisseur: The<br />

Collection of Muriel Bultman Francis.<br />

From beautiful art to beautiful clothes is not a big leap. When she died in 1986, Muriel Francis had<br />

collected designer originals including a dress Christian Dior made himself and a gown by Yves St.<br />

Laurent. 1 Married twice, she left no direct descendants.<br />

1 The Times-Picayune, May 2 and May 11, 1986; The Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), May 2, 1986.<br />

A LLISON “BIG C HIEF T OOTIE” MONTANA<br />

(1922-2005)<br />

Allison “Big Chief Tootie” Montana brought respect to a raucous <strong>New</strong> Orleans folk custom<br />

known as Mardi Gras Indian masking. Under his influence the “Indian” tradition acquired a new<br />

legitimacy and popularity. It ranks today as one of the most distinctive customs of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Many African-American <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> have a significant percentage of Native American<br />

blood, dating back to eighteenth century relations between the races. Towards the end of the nineteenth<br />

century, this subset of the African-American community organized into tribes or neighborhoods.<br />

The tribes then sought fame by competing with rivals, occasionally lapsing into serious<br />

injury or death.<br />

Tootie’s father Alfred Montana had introduced him as a young age to the “Indians” and made his<br />

first costumes and crowns. His great grandfather Becate Batiste was one of the earliest Indian<br />

maskers. Early on Tootie became disgusted with the fighting between tribes that essentially reflected<br />

nothing but a desire for prominence. With brilliant<br />

insight, he saw that prominence could reside in<br />

the costume instead of in physical superiority. Thus<br />

he became a spokesman for a new form of competition,<br />

a competition that would be judged on the<br />

sewing expertise, beauty, elegance, and extravagance<br />

of the costume.<br />

By World War II Tootie was Big Chief of the<br />

Yellow Creole Pocahontas tribe, and after the war he<br />

also organized The Monogram Hunters, who selected<br />

him as Big Chief. With taste, daring, and energy,<br />

he introduced extravagant color, ostrich feathers,<br />

and exquisitely designed beadwork to old-fashioned<br />

Indian attire. He challenged the other Indian tribes<br />

to do a better job, a challenge that led to months of<br />

work for the ambitious members of his Yellow<br />

Creole Pocahontas tribe and then the wider Indian<br />

community. By the 1970s the Mardi Gras Indians<br />

had become a tourist attraction, a distinction that<br />

had been part of Tootie’s program. By 1987 the<br />

<br />

Above: Muriel Bultman Francis.<br />

COURTESY OF THE ACADEMY OF THE SACRED HEART.<br />

Bottom: Allison 'Big Chief Tootie" Montana.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL P. SMITH ©THE HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

119


National Endowment for the Arts had selected him Master Traditional Artist in the Folk<br />

Art Program.<br />

Yet, Tootie and subsequent Big Chiefs never let the Indians become showcased objects of tourist<br />

gawking. The various Indian tribes continued to parade on Mardi Gras day on meandering random<br />

routes. They continue to follow a Spyboy who looks for suitable opportunities to show off the<br />

tribe. The Spyboy then reports to the Flagboy who relays the information to the Chief, who then<br />

decides to continue either left, right, or straight.<br />

Professionally, Montana was a master lather and plasterer and member of a select community of<br />

Creoles in the building trades. His proudest assignment was plastering the vast, uninterrupted interior<br />

of the city’s first convention center on Poydras Street known as the Rivergate. He was saddened<br />

when the building was demolished for a gambling casino. Tootie and and his wife Joyce made their<br />

home on North Villere Street a center of non-stop sewing, designing, and visiting. As he aged,<br />

Tootie named their son Darryl Montana to succeed his father as Chief of the Yellow Pocahontas.<br />

Tootie died in 2005 while making an impassioned statement in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans City Council<br />

chambers about police mistreatment of the city’s Mardi Gras Indians.<br />

<br />

J EROME<br />

G OLDMAN<br />

(1924-2013)<br />

<br />

Jerome Goldman.<br />

COURTESY OF THE GOLDMAN FAMILY.<br />

Maritime inventor Jerome Goldman’s innovations enhanced the port of <strong>New</strong> Orleans and permanently<br />

influenced international trade. During the 1950s he developed the “all-hatch” concept<br />

for freight ship design, a technique that led to the container ship. As Captain James<br />

McNamara described Goldman’s two principal accomplishments, “The first… resulted in the<br />

“all-hatch” design, which was embodied in Delta Line’s Del Rio-class vessels in 1960, and<br />

later adopted in both American and European cargo ships. The technique of virtually opening<br />

up the entire weather deck with hatchways has since been applied to today’s containership.”<br />

1 The second was the Goldman-designed LASH (lighter aboard ship) vessel pioneered<br />

by <strong>New</strong> Orleans-based Central Gulf Lines, headed by Niels W. and Erik F. Johnsen. In 1967,<br />

they ordered the first LASH ship Acadia Forest, designed to facilitate the use of substantial<br />

ships at river ports accessible to barge fleets, reducing loading and unloading times and permitting<br />

access to shallower draft river ports.<br />

A native of Illinois, Goldman graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Naval<br />

Architecture and Marine Engineering. He moved to <strong>New</strong> Orleans in 1944 to work for Andrew<br />

Higgins (q.v.) Shipbuilding. Goldman soon formed his firm of Goldman and Friede through<br />

which he accomplished his principal designs. In the 1950s he worked on the first jack-up rigs<br />

and later on submersible and semisubmersible rigs. Going beyond maritime innovation,<br />

Goldman also designed and built <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ high-rise Chevron office building. A second<br />

development, the residential tower One River Place, became his home.<br />

Goldman’s inventions soon made him a philanthropist for such institutions as the<br />

University of Michigan, the University of <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ School of Naval Architecture, the<br />

National World War II Museum, Temple Sinai, and the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra.<br />

The four principal American Engineering Societies, Mechanical, Electrical, Naval, and Automotive<br />

awarded him their prized national Elmer A. Sperry Award for distinguished contributions to transportation.<br />

His universities of Michigan and <strong>New</strong> Orleans awarded him honorary doctorates and he<br />

was later inducted into the Offshore Pioneers Hall of Fame. Goldman died in 2013 at the age of<br />

89, leaving a wife and two daughters and seven grandchildren.<br />

1 Captain James McNamara “Where Have the Barge Carriers Gone?” in American Shipper, May 2015.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

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C OSIMO<br />

M ATASSA<br />

(1926-2014)<br />

Recording mastermind Cosimo Matassa enabled the earliest and the best of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

sound in R&B, rock, and soul. His engineering skills played an essential role in Fats Domino’s “The<br />

Fat Man” on Imperial in 1950; in Little Richard’s “Tutti Frutti,” and for the hits of Ray Charles, Lee<br />

Dorsey, Dr. John, Smiley Lewis and others, especially the Allen Toussaint-Ernie K-Doe superhit<br />

“Mother-In-Law.” In Matassa’s crowded Rampart Street studio, Dave Bartholomew produced “The<br />

Fat Man” and played an important role in Rhythm and Blues thereafter. Later Allen Toussaint (q.v.)<br />

became one of Matassa’ s regular producers and composers.<br />

In the world of 1950s music, producing a hit recording called both for product and for distribution.<br />

Successful record labels, notably “Imperial” and “Specialty” from the West coast, along with<br />

“Ace,” “Minit,” and “Instant” labels had a comfortable step on <strong>New</strong> Orleans. While Matassa dominated<br />

the local scene, his Chicago and Memphis competitors were well along in the business. Benefitting<br />

from Matassa’s leadership, the <strong>New</strong> Orleans sound competed with solid drumming, heavy guitar and<br />

bass, heavy piano, light horns and a strong vocal lead. And local genius did not hurt.<br />

Matassa’s earliest and most famous studio, J&M Recording, was located on Rampart Street and is<br />

now one of eleven historic rock and roll landmarks nationwide. In 1956, he moved to Governor<br />

Nichols Street with the Cosimo Recording Studio. One of the first successes recorded there was Shirley<br />

and Lee’s “Let the Good Times Roll” (Aladdin).<br />

The lure of distribution eventually led Matassa into that speculative field through his Dover<br />

Records, which distributed Art Neville’s “Tell It Like It is” and Robert Parker’s “Barefootin”. The business<br />

collapsed in 1968, leading to the closing of Cosimo Recording Studio. Although he kept working<br />

for twenty years, Matassa never regained his dominant position in the business. In his last decade he<br />

received recognition for his lifetime of work including the Grammy Lifetime Achievement in Music<br />

Business Award in 2007, and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.<br />

Born into an Italian French Quarter family who operated a grocery, Matassa at eighteen years<br />

gave up thoughts of either college or the food business. Instead, he opened his first recording studio<br />

behind his parent’s Rampart Street business. As all things go around, after retiring from music<br />

in his eighties he briefly took over the Matassa grocery before his death in 2014.<br />

<br />

Cosimo Matassa.<br />

SYNDEY BYRD, COSIMO MATASSA, PHOTOGRAPH 8" X 10"<br />

1967. COURTESY OF THE LOUISIANA STATE USEUM.<br />

For further reading: see John Broven who authored the first book on <strong>New</strong> Orleans R&B, Walking to <strong>New</strong> Orleans, in<br />

1974. The book is still in print in the United States as Rhythm & Blues in <strong>New</strong> Orleans (Pelican Publishing).<br />

E RNEST<br />

N. MORIAL<br />

(1929-1989)<br />

Ernest Nathan Morial’s career was filled with “firsts,” during a period of <strong>New</strong> Orleans history<br />

that some call its “Second Reconstruction.” He was elected in 1967, the first black member of the<br />

Louisiana House of Representatives since Reconstruction. Subsequently, he became the first black<br />

Juvenile Court Judge and the first black Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge. In 1977, with near<br />

universal black support and the support of a fifth of the city’s white population, he was elected the<br />

first black mayor of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. As the city’s fifty-seventh mayor, Morial presided over a period<br />

of rapid growth for the city prior to the “Oil Bust” of 1986. He was an effective administrator who<br />

had no qualms about upbraiding the legislative branch and possessed a decisive, confident personality<br />

that critics described as arrogant and pugnacious.<br />

Born in <strong>New</strong> Orleans on October 9, 1929, to Walter Etienne Morial and Leonie Moore, Morial<br />

belonged to the second generation born during the period of Jim Crow. Like his mentor,<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

121


Dutch Morial.<br />

LOUISIANA DIVISION/ CITY ARCHIVES, NEW ORLEANS<br />

PUBLIC LIBRARY, MAYOR ERNEST N. MORIAL PHOTOGRAPH<br />

COLLECTION #1200.<br />

A. P. Tureaud (q.v.), he early recognized the crippling effect of segregation and drew inspiration<br />

from the colored Creole activists of the nineteenth century. Early in life, he was given the nickname<br />

“Dutch” for his resemblance to the character on cans of “Dutch Boy” paint. Reared in the<br />

Faubourg Marigny, he attended the nearly century-old Holy Redeemer School before graduating<br />

from the city’s first black high school, McDonogh No. 35, then Xavier University of Louisiana.<br />

With two other black candidates he was successful in gaining admission to the Louisiana State<br />

University Law School in 1951. In February 1954, Morial became its first black graduate.<br />

After service in the Korean Conflict, Morial returned to <strong>New</strong> Orleans and began to practice<br />

law under the mentorship of A. P. Tureaud. He served as general counsel for the Standard Life<br />

Insurance Company, also serving as National Advocate and National Editor for the Knights of<br />

Peter Claver and from 1962 to 1965 as president of the <strong>New</strong> Orleans N.A.A.C.P. Shortly afterwards<br />

the prestigious Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity chose him as its General President.<br />

Morial’s confidence as mayor came to the fore during a calculated strike of the city’s sanitation<br />

workers and police during the 1979 Carnival season. He enlisted the support of Carnival organizations<br />

who cancelled Mardi Gras rather than acquiesce to the demands of the police union. Soon<br />

he introduced quotas for hiring minority city contractors. His administration increased significantly<br />

the number of female city officials and brought the percentage of black city employees to more<br />

than 50%, reflective of the city’s population. Morial oversaw the development of Canal Place, the<br />

renovation of the Jax Brewery Building, and the creation of what is now the Regional Business Park.<br />

He believed in the potential for riverfront development and during his second term welcomed the<br />

1984 World’s Fair. While a memorable event for the city with world-class exhibitions and attractions,<br />

the fair was an economic failure of the sort that foreshadowed the 1986 Oil Bust. It would<br />

nevertheless lead to an explosion of renewal in the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Warehouse District.<br />

Morial maintained his popularity and political clout despite his aggressive and sometimes ruthless<br />

manner. Many citizens regard him as the best mayor of twentieth century <strong>New</strong> Orleans. His career was<br />

a testament to the heights attainable for people of color in the city after the pall of Jim Crow was<br />

removed. Together with his wife, Sybil Haydel Morial, an influential first lady and professional woman<br />

in her own right, Morial had five children, including Marc H. Morial, who served as the city’s fiftyninth<br />

mayor from 1994 to 2002. Ernest Nathan Morial died unexpectedly on December 24, 1989.<br />

—Jari Honora<br />

<br />

S TEPHEN<br />

E. AMBROSE<br />

(1936-2002)<br />

Stephen Ambrose drew upon his scholarly authority as a professor and author at the University of<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans and love for his adopted city to lead the creation of the National D-Day Museum (now<br />

the National WWII Museum). Dr. Ambrose’ 1970 biography of President Dwight D. Eisenhower had<br />

evolved into a concern for the citizen soldier and the home front workers who<br />

crafted the industrial might that played a pivotal role in America’s victory in World War II. One<br />

of the outstanding examples of home front effort took place in <strong>New</strong> Orleans with the establishment of<br />

the Andrew Higgins (q.v.) boat works. Higgins had designed and constructed the thousands of landing<br />

craft that enabled troops to get ashore at Normandy on D-Day in the face of withering enemy fire.<br />

Ambrose grew up in the Midwest and studied under Huey Long biographer T. Harry Williams<br />

at LSU. Under William B. Hesseltine at the University of Wisconsin, he received his Ph.D in 1963.<br />

His more than forty books and articles on Eisenhower, World War II, Richard Nixon and the Pacific<br />

Railroad have been best-sellers. Most notable were Band of Brothers, Citizen Soldiers, and Undaunted<br />

Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and The Opening of the American West, which remained<br />

on a best-seller list for more than two years.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

122


Ambrose’s idea for a local D-Day Museum originated in<br />

his collection of soldier’s reminiscences of their experiences<br />

during World War II. During the mid-1990s Ambrose<br />

donated $500,000 to launch a museum to tell and illustrate<br />

their stories. Opening its first facility to local fanfare in<br />

2000, it has since then tripled in size, with a comparable<br />

impact on <strong>New</strong> Orleans tourism. The National WWII<br />

Museum today ranks as one of the most popular destinations<br />

in the United States. For his participation Ambrose<br />

received numerous awards, notably the National<br />

Humanities Medal in 1998.<br />

Though his energy produced vast quantities of written<br />

words, it was Ambrose’ willingness to “put his money where<br />

his dream was” that left the largest impact on <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

The museum he founded has spread to three squares in the<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Central Business District, and is now erecting<br />

a hotel to facilitate visitors from across the world.<br />

<br />

<br />

Stephen E. Ambrose.<br />

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS ARCHIVES, SPECIAL<br />

COLLECTIONS, EARL K. LONG LIBRARY, UNIVERSITY OF<br />

NEW ORLEANS.<br />

A LLEN<br />

T OUSSAINT<br />

(1937-2015)<br />

Perhaps in no other church is the distinctive <strong>New</strong> Orleans custom of assembling a food and statue-laden<br />

St. Joseph’s Day altar more important to the congregation than it is at St. Joseph’s Church<br />

on Tulane Avenue. There, on a quiet St. Joseph’s Day afternoon in 2015, visitors focused their<br />

attention on the altar, admiring its color and inspiration and receiving special blessings from the<br />

designated deacon. Few probably noticed the piano quietly sitting part way down the aisle. Soon,<br />

a handsome figure entered, strode down the aisle, noticed the piano and, as if drawn to a fire, sat<br />

down to play “Amazing Grace.” Allen Toussaint had come to honor St. Joseph.<br />

The composer of “Java,” “Mother-in-Law,” “I Like It Like That,” “Fortune Teller,” “Ride Your<br />

Pony,” “Get Out of My Life, Woman,” “Working in the Coal Mine,” “Everything I Do Gonna Be<br />

Funky,” “Here Come the Girls,” “Yes We Can Can,” “Play Something Sweet,” “Southern Nights,”<br />

and the all-time classic “Mother-in Law” was there to the enduring joy of <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> visiting<br />

the St. Joseph’s Altar.<br />

Born in 1938 into the soon-to-be famous Neville family, Toussaint grew up in Gert Town near<br />

Xavier University. He was still a teenager in 1957 when he began playing with composer and rock<br />

and roll pioneer Dave Bartholomew and pianist Fats Domino. An early influence on his piano style<br />

was the inimitable Henry Roeland Byrd, better known as Professor Longhair, whose melodious, offbeat<br />

upper keyboard swells and currents would sooner or later emerge in Toussaint’s playing.<br />

Toussaint’s first hit album, in 1958, included the much-recorded “Java,” leading in the following<br />

years to writing and producing for Minit Records. Toussaint now entered a period of great fertility,<br />

exemplified by the brilliant lyrics of “Mother-in-Law,” a hit which singer Ernie “K” Doe would build<br />

around his career. After a stint in the army in 1965 Toussaint launched his own record label, Sansu.<br />

More successes followed, notably “Working in the Coal Mine,” where he used as backup the Meters,<br />

including Art Neville on keyboards. Toussaint went national during the 1970s, accompanying his<br />

vocals on the keyboard, and using his studio Sea-Saint, and singing himself, culminating in<br />

“Southern Nights.”<br />

During the 1970s Toussaint wrote and produced records for Malcolm “Mac” Rebennack (“Dr.<br />

John,” In the Right Place) and the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Mardi Gras Indian tribe the Wild Tchoupitoulas,<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

123


Top: Allen Toussaint.<br />

PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL P. SMITH ©THE HISTORIC NEW<br />

ORLEANS COLLECTION, 2007.0103.4.750.<br />

Below: Oretha Castle Haley.<br />

LOUISIANA WEEKLY COLLECTION, AMISTAD RESEARCH<br />

CENTER.<br />

led by “Big Chief Jolly” (George Landry). He worked<br />

with his nephews Art and Cyril Neville of The<br />

Meters and Charles and Aaron of the Neville<br />

Brothers. He began collaborating with national figures<br />

Glen Campbell, Paul McCartney, and The<br />

Pointer Sisters. He served as musical director of the<br />

<strong>New</strong> York run of Stagerlee. By 1984 author Rhodes<br />

Spedale, Jr., could write, “For someone self-taught,<br />

he has risen to the top of his chosen field. There is<br />

no better success story; for his is an artistic as well as<br />

commercially successful career.” 1<br />

Hurricane Katrina drove Toussaint from <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans to <strong>New</strong> York for five years, but he returned<br />

to continue, mainly as a performer in demand<br />

around the globe. He died unexpectedly in 2015,<br />

shortly after a performance in Madrid, Spain.<br />

Shocked <strong>New</strong> <strong>Orleanians</strong> paid their respects by the<br />

thousands, whether in person or at home reflecting<br />

on the brilliance, character, kindness, and creativity of one of their own.<br />

Rhodes Spedale, Jr. A Guide to Jazz in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. (<strong>New</strong> Orleans: Hope Publications, 1984), 269.<br />

O RETHA C ASTLE H ALEY<br />

(1939-1987)<br />

At the age of twenty Oretha Castle Haley participated in the first sit-ins at <strong>New</strong> Orleans Canal<br />

Street stores. She had graduated from Joseph S. Clark High School in <strong>New</strong> Orleans, and was<br />

attending Southern University of <strong>New</strong> Orleans. Equally important, she was a member of Mount<br />

Zion Baptist Church led by civil rights leader the Reverend A. L. Davis. 1 Haley was attacking segregation<br />

of public accommodations for a cause that went back to the efforts of Louis Charles<br />

Roudanez (q.v.) a century earlier.<br />

The picketing of lunch counters across eastern America seems to have begun in late 1959. With<br />

their prominence and popular lunch counters, Woolworth and other five-and dime stores were favorite<br />

national targets, the response in Boston, Princeton, and elsewhere being predictably hostile. The first<br />

blow in <strong>New</strong> Orleans came on September 17, 1960, when college students Haley, Rudy Lombard,<br />

Cecil Carter, Jr., and Sidney Goldfinch, Jr. were arrested at McCrory’s lunch counter. 2 They were convicted<br />

of trespass and other “crimes” thus generating the 1963 decision by the U. S. Supreme Court in<br />

Lombard, et al v. Louisiana that disallowed state and city efforts to maintain segregation in places of<br />

public accommodation. Shortly after this initiative Haley helped found the local chapter of the<br />

Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).<br />

Haley rose rapidly in the ranks of CORE, first as a recruiter in Louisiana cities, before becoming<br />

a state coordinator. Back in <strong>New</strong> Orleans she took on City Hall, specifically the <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Recreation Department, that notable achievement of Mayor deLesseps Morrison (q.v.). It practiced<br />

the segregation that she helped to end. Haley then moved into electoral politics, becoming a leader<br />

of the Black Organization for Leadership Development (BOLD) in 1970, and working in the political<br />

campaigns of former legislator Dorothy Mae Taylor. She then went to work as Deputy Director of<br />

Charity Hospital, where one of her achievements was helping to establish the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Sickle<br />

Cell Anemia Foundation. She married another civil rights leader Richard Haley and had four sons.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

124


Black activist Bill Rouselle said about her life “she was the flame that never stopped burning.”<br />

In 1989, the city of <strong>New</strong> Orleans honored her memory and work in the Louisiana Civil Rights<br />

movement by renaming Dryades Street, the site of many a civil rights demonstration, Oretha Castle<br />

Haley Boulevard. In 2017 the National Main Street Center named it a Great American Main Street.<br />

1 Letter from Michael Haley, Castle’s eldest son, to William Reeves, July 1, 2017.<br />

2 The Times-Picayune, September 21, 1960.<br />

<br />

P AUL<br />

P RUDHOMME<br />

(1940 TO 2015)<br />

Paul Prudhomme‘s great culinary imagination and talent for seasoning drove him to prominence<br />

as Louisiana’s first international “celebrity” chef. With the encouragement of Commander’s Palace<br />

proprietor Ella Brennan, Paul reinvented several traditional Creole dishes and conceived of “blackened<br />

redfish,” the dish that would later make him nationally famous. As Ella Brennan has noted,<br />

the dish “became so popular nationwide that fishing restrictions were implemented to preserve the<br />

species.” 1 After making his name at Commanders, Prudhomme left the restaurant to lead a wave<br />

of <strong>New</strong> Orleans cooking across the country and the world. He built on the work of earlier families<br />

such as the Brennans (q.v.) and the Alciatores<br />

(q.v.), who had created a consensus in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans that its food was different and delicious.<br />

Born in 1940 in Opelousas, Louisiana,<br />

Prudhomme grew up in an Acadian family, the<br />

youngest of thirteen. He learned Cajun cooking from<br />

his family, but he and his wife Kay quickly acquired<br />

and popularized the taste for Creole as well as<br />

Acadian cooking. In 1979, Paul and his wife opened<br />

their restaurant on Chartres Street that became K-<br />

Paul’s. The following year Prudhomme became a<br />

Chevalier of the Ordre National du Mérite Agricole in<br />

honor of his work with Cajun and Creole cuisines. He<br />

eventually published eleven cookbooks and cheerfully<br />

accepted media appearances around the world. His<br />

most famous book, Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana<br />

Kitchen came out in 1984 and is still in print. The<br />

result was that Louisiana-themed restaurants sprang<br />

up around the world, from Tokyo, to London, Cape<br />

Cod, and elsewhere. In 1983, Prudhomme increased<br />

his impact on <strong>New</strong> Orleans by opening a seasoning<br />

business, “Magic Seasoning Blends,” now found in supermarkets nationwide. Cajun Magic Seasonings<br />

may be its core, but Prudhomme’s company makes seasonings for many other companies. 2<br />

In Prudhomme’s obituary The <strong>New</strong> York Times observed that the new popularity of <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

cooking was part of a new nationwide emphasis on regional cooking across the country. As the<br />

ambassador of Louisiana cooking, Prudhomme “rode the wave to become one of the first American<br />

superstar chefs.”<br />

<br />

Paul Prudhome.<br />

COURTESY OF CHEF PAUL PRUDHOMME'S MAGIC<br />

SEASONING BLENDS.<br />

1 Ella Brennan and T. Adelaide Martin, Miss Ella of Commanders Palance (<strong>New</strong> Orleans, 2016), p. 127.<br />

2 Elizabeth M. Williams, <strong>New</strong> Orleans: A Food Biography (Altamira, <strong>New</strong> York, 2013), 118-119.<br />

BIOGRAPHIES<br />

125


A<br />

Abernathy, Ralph, 113<br />

Abramson, Louis, Jr., 109-110<br />

Adams, Kate, 96<br />

Aime, Valcour, 89<br />

Alciatore family, 69, 76, 112<br />

Alcus, S. T., 81<br />

Allen, Henry, 98<br />

Alliquot, Jeanne Marie, 47<br />

Almonester y Rojas, Andres 15, 38-40<br />

Ambrose, 122-123<br />

Anderson, Tom, 98<br />

Armstrong, Charles Rice, 102<br />

Armstrong, Louis, 98<br />

Arthur, Stanley Clisby, 33<br />

B<br />

Babin, Marie Genevieve, 12<br />

Baldwin, Albert, 80<br />

Baquet, George, 105<br />

Barrett, Sweet Emma, 101<br />

Barthelemy, Pedro, 29<br />

Bartholomew, Dave, 121<br />

Batiste, Becate, 119<br />

Beauregard, P. G. T., 48, 75, 102<br />

Beckhard, Madeleine, 107<br />

Begue, Elizabeth, 68, 80<br />

Bienville, Jean Baptiste, 11<br />

Blount, Rick, 76<br />

Boggs, 115-116<br />

Bolden, Buddy, 98<br />

Bonne, Julie, 23<br />

Bonnecase, Leon 29<br />

Bordenave, Louise 94<br />

Bore, Etienne, 23, 39, 43<br />

Bossier, Francoise, 83<br />

Boudro, Antoine, 112<br />

Bouligny, Athemise, 80<br />

Breck, Bob, 118<br />

Brennan, 112<br />

Brewster, William Herbert, 113<br />

Brigsten, Frank, 112<br />

Brion, Julie, 23<br />

Brown, James, 24<br />

Bultman, Muriel, 118<br />

Burel, Achille, 24<br />

Butler, Benjamin, 35, 67, 75<br />

Byrd, Henry Roeland, 123<br />

Byron, Lord, 33<br />

INDEX<br />

C<br />

Cable, George W., 8, 82, 83<br />

Caffery, Jefferson, 18<br />

Caldwell, James, 37<br />

Campbell, Glen, 124<br />

Carleton, Henry, 24-25<br />

Carondelet, 19-20<br />

Carter, Cecil, 124<br />

Charles III, 17<br />

Charles, Josephine, 47<br />

Chateau, Joseph, 28-29<br />

Chauvin Brothers, 14<br />

Cheval,Pablo, 29<br />

Chickasaws, 11<br />

Chitimacha, 14<br />

Chopin, Kate, 96<br />

Claiborne, William, 18-19, 26<br />

Clapp, Parson, 28, 35-36<br />

Cohen, 84, 91, 107<br />

Cohn, Isidore, 93<br />

Cole, Catherine, 85, 88<br />

Colvis, Julien, 44-45<br />

Constant, Sterline, 76<br />

Cook, Will Marion, 106<br />

Courcelle, Myrtille, 29<br />

Couvent, Marie C., 21<br />

Crozat, Helene M., 91<br />

D<br />

Dalrymple, Jerry, 109<br />

D’Antoni, Salvador, 89<br />

Darby, Francois, 29<br />

Darcantel, Marguerite, 41<br />

Dargo, George, 19, 26-27<br />

Davis, A. L., 124<br />

Davis, Wm. C., 33<br />

de Armas, 37-39, 51, 61<br />

de la Houssaye, Sidonie, 83<br />

de La Rond, Louise, 38, 40<br />

De Murelle, Zenon, 90<br />

de Peters, Mlle, 24<br />

DeBakey, Michael, 104-105<br />

Debergue, Rosa, 93<br />

Dejoie, 5, 83<br />

Delgado, Isaac, 30, 82<br />

Demarest, Louis George, 17<br />

Demazelliere family, 93<br />

Derbigny, Pierre, 24<br />

Desdunes, Aristide, 85<br />

Destrehan, Jean Baptiste, 23, 38<br />

Diana, Marie Francoise, 22<br />

Diaz, Cecile, 47<br />

Dibert, Mrs. John, 94<br />

Diettel, Albert, 80<br />

Dior, Christian, 119<br />

Dix, Dorothy, 85<br />

Dolliole, 28-29<br />

Dominique, Toby, 29<br />

Domino, Fats, 121, 123<br />

Dorsey, Lee, 121<br />

Dorsey, Thomas A., 113<br />

Douglas, Frederick, 75<br />

Dow, Dr. Robert, 22<br />

Doyle, Alexander, 48<br />

Dr. John, 10, 121<br />

Dreyfous, 86<br />

Duchesne, PSCJ, Rosa Philippine, 13<br />

Duconge, Aurelie, 101<br />

Duhart, Adolphe, 21<br />

Duhe, Laurence, 106<br />

Dumas, Francis, 45, 75<br />

Dumas, Joseph, 45<br />

Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 87, 96<br />

Dunn, 78<br />

Dupard, Charles, 29<br />

Dupart, Victor, 93<br />

Dusuau, Catherine, 28<br />

Dusuau, Rosalie, 46<br />

Dutreuil, Louis, 68, 79<br />

E<br />

Easton, Warren, 84<br />

Edmunds, E. J., 21<br />

Eisenhower, Dwight D., 110, 122<br />

Esnoul, Jacques, 12<br />

F<br />

Farrell, Margot C., 92<br />

Favort, 7, 10, 20-21, 53, 59<br />

Field, Charles and Flora, 88<br />

Fils, Francois, 29<br />

Finley, Carlos Juan, 93<br />

Fontaine, Jean-Baptiste LeSueur, 19<br />

Fortier, Alcee, 87, 89-90<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

126


Foster, Governor, 18, 88<br />

Foucher, 23-24, 46<br />

Foy, Florville, 29<br />

Francois, 64<br />

Freret, James, 20-21<br />

Freyss, Julie, 76<br />

Fusille, Francoise, 42<br />

G<br />

Galvez, Bernardo de, 16-17, 20, 53<br />

Gaudin, Julie, 47<br />

Gayarre, Charles, 11, 43, 87, 96<br />

Gilmer, Elizabeth Meriwether, 85<br />

Goldfinch, Sidney, Jr., 124<br />

Good Shepherd Sisters, 41<br />

Grau, Shirley Ann, 83<br />

Griffin, Rhoda Maria, 80<br />

Gwinn, Joseph Marr, 84<br />

H<br />

Hachard, Marie Madelleine, 13<br />

Haley, Oretha Castle, 83, 124<br />

Haughery, Margaret, 30, 48<br />

Hays, Will, 91<br />

Hearn, Lafcadio, 83, 93<br />

Hebert, Sister St. Francoise Xavier, 13<br />

Hecht, Rudolph, 89<br />

Heebe, Frederick J. R., 111<br />

Henderson, Fletcher, 108<br />

Henry, Catherine, 41<br />

Hesseltine, William B., 122<br />

Higgins, Andrew, 65, 99<br />

Hines, Merrill, 105<br />

Holbrook, A. M., 86<br />

Holmes, D. H., Jr., 73-74<br />

Howard, Henry, 80<br />

I<br />

Ingraham, Joseph Holt, 33<br />

Isaacs, Mark, 81<br />

J<br />

Jackson, Andrew, 20, 30-32<br />

Jackson, Mahlia, 113<br />

Jahncke, Ernest Lee, 97<br />

Jesuits, 11, 13, 41<br />

John Paul II, Pope, 115<br />

Johnsen, Erik F., 120<br />

Johnson, Bunk, 106<br />

Johnson, Lady Bird, 116<br />

Jones, Mary Ann, 34, 55<br />

Jones, Sam, 114<br />

K<br />

Kaufman, Caroline, 86<br />

K-Doe, Ernie, 121<br />

Keifer, Rebecca, 81<br />

Kellogg, William Pitt, 78<br />

Kennedy, John F., 112, 115<br />

Keppard, Freddie, 106<br />

Kerrison, Eliza Maria, 74<br />

King, Grace, 11, 43-44, 85-87, 89, 96<br />

King, Martin Luther, 113<br />

Kursheedt, Gershon, 28<br />

L<br />

Laborde, 116-117<br />

Laffite, Jean, 25-26, 31-33<br />

Lafon, Barthelemy, 23, 25-26<br />

Lafon, Thomy, 23, 26, 46, 58, 60, 82<br />

Lagasse, Emeril, 112<br />

Landrieu, Moon, 113<br />

Landry, George, 124<br />

Lanusse, Armand, 21<br />

LaRoche, Elizabeth, 15<br />

Laronde, Genevieve, 28<br />

Latour, Arsene La Carriere, 30<br />

Laveau, Charles, 41<br />

Laveau, Marie [Glapion], 23, 41-42<br />

Lee, Robert E., 48<br />

Leeser, Rabbi Isaac, 28<br />

Legendre, Phlomene Glapion, 42<br />

Lewis, Julia Ellen, 101<br />

Lewis, Smiley, 121<br />

Lincoln, Abraham, 75<br />

Liszt, Franz, 79<br />

Little Richard, 121<br />

Little Sisters of the Poor, 46<br />

Livaudais, 12, 20, 54, 59-60<br />

Livingston, Edward, 24, 26, 38<br />

Livingstone, Dr. David, 21<br />

Lomax, Alan, 105<br />

Lombard, Rudy, 124<br />

Long, Huey, 94, 122<br />

Lord, Samuel, 73<br />

Louis, Jean, 41<br />

M<br />

Madison, James, 18, 32<br />

Maenhaut, Constantine, 21<br />

Maine, Sir Henry, 24<br />

Mandeville, Eulalie, 42<br />

Mandeville, Paul, 29<br />

Mann, Horace, 43<br />

Marigny, Bernard, 38, 55-56, 62<br />

Marigny, Pierre Philippe de, 15, 54<br />

Marshall, Thurgood, 107<br />

Martin, Fontaine, 80-81<br />

Martin, Francois-Xavier, 27<br />

Martin, Ti Adelaide, 113<br />

Matas, Rudolph, 92-93, 105<br />

Mathews, Bonnie, 110<br />

Mathieu, Agnes, 93<br />

McCartney, Paul, 124<br />

McCloskey, 74<br />

McDermott, Thomas, 82<br />

McDonogh, John, 27, 29-30, 35, 82, 122<br />

McKeithen, John, 19, 113<br />

McNamara, James, 120<br />

McShane, Andrew J., 96<br />

Meredith, James, 110<br />

Miles, A. B., 94<br />

Milliken, Mrs. Richard, 94<br />

Miro, Joan, 119<br />

Monet, Claude, 118<br />

Monroe, J. Blanc, 97, 105<br />

Montana, 71, 119-120<br />

Moore, Joseph, 96<br />

Moore, Leonie, 121<br />

Morales, Juan Ventura, 34, 62<br />

Moreau, Manuel, 29<br />

Morial, 121-122<br />

Morrison, de Lesseps, 103, 109<br />

Morrison, Jacob and Mary, 49, 103, 114<br />

Morton, Jelly Roll, 78, 101<br />

Moss, Washington Irving, 89<br />

N<br />

Natchez Tribe, 13<br />

Neckere, Leo Raymonde de, 41<br />

Nelson, Alice Dunbar, 87, 92, 96-97<br />

Neville, 123-124<br />

<strong>New</strong>man, Isidore, 81-82<br />

<strong>New</strong>man, J. T., 92<br />

Nicholson, Eliza, 48, 85-86<br />

Nickerson, Camille, 101<br />

Nixon, Richard, 116, 122<br />

Noble, Jordan, 96<br />

O<br />

Ochsner, A. J., 104-105<br />

Oger, Madeline, 42<br />

Oliver, King, 105-106, 108<br />

INDEX<br />

127


O’Reilly, Alexandro, 13, 15, 40<br />

Ory, Kid, 108<br />

P<br />

Packard, Stephen B., 78<br />

Pakenham, Edward, 31<br />

Paris, Jacques, 42<br />

Parker, Robert, 121<br />

Parks, Rosa, 93<br />

Patterson, Daniel, 32<br />

Pauger, Adrien de, 11<br />

Penrose, Boies, 91<br />

Peters, Samuel J., 37, 42-43<br />

Philippe, August, 29<br />

Piazza, Marguerite, 118<br />

Picasso, Pablo, 119<br />

Pichon, Wally, 112<br />

Pilié, 34-35, 57, 60, 67<br />

Pinchback, P. B. S., 91<br />

Pinza, Ezio, 118<br />

Plessy, Homer, 75, 85, 93-94<br />

Pointer Sisters, 124<br />

Pons, Lily, 118<br />

Pontalba, Micaela Almonester de, 38-40<br />

Pope Benedict XVI, 47<br />

Porteous, Laura L., 91<br />

Pouilly, Jacques de, 14, 41<br />

Poydras, Julien, 18-19<br />

Pride, Charles, 74<br />

Prudhomme, Paul, 112, 125<br />

Questy, Joann, 21<br />

Quincy, Josiah, 18<br />

Q<br />

R<br />

Ray, Charles, 121<br />

Rebenack, Malcolm (Mac), 123<br />

Redon, Odilon, 118<br />

Reed, Alan C., 21<br />

Reeves, S., 38<br />

Rey, Louis Barthelemy, 29<br />

Rillieux, Norbert, 45-46, 75<br />

Rillieux, Pierre, 29<br />

Ripley, Eliza, 36<br />

Rivers, Pearl, 86<br />

Robb, James, 37, 63, 73<br />

Rochemore, Louis, 15<br />

Rochon, Rosette, 42<br />

Roman, Desiree, 90<br />

Roman, Marguerite, 90<br />

Rome, Josephine, 37<br />

Rosenwald, Julius, 103<br />

Roudanez, Louis Charles, 75, 124<br />

Rouselle, Bill, 125<br />

Rush, Benjamin, 22<br />

S<br />

Salvaggio, John, 94-95<br />

Sarpy, Mme Delord, 23<br />

Schwartz, Simon,81<br />

Schwegmann, 110<br />

Sedella, Antonio de, 32, 41<br />

Shaw, John A., 43<br />

Shirley and Lee, 121<br />

Silly, Marianne Angelique Murthe de, 43<br />

Sisson, Sister M. Elise, 107<br />

Sister Regis, OC, 48<br />

Sisters of Charity, 41, 48<br />

Sisters of Notre Dame, 41<br />

Sisters of the Holy Family, 46-47<br />

Slocomb, Cuthbert H., 80<br />

Souchon, Edmond, 92<br />

Spedale, Rhodes, 106, 124<br />

St. Laurent, Yves, 119<br />

St. Maxent, 15-16, 54, 56, 64<br />

St. Mery, Moreau de, 24<br />

Stanley, Henry Morton, 21<br />

Starr, S. Frederick, 6, 78-79<br />

Stern, 97, 103-104, 109<br />

Stevens, Rise, 118<br />

Stone, Edward Durrell, 119<br />

T<br />

Tanesse, Jacques, 34, 60<br />

Taylor, Dorothy Mae, 124<br />

Taylor, George Washington, 73<br />

Taylor, William, 29<br />

Tio, Lorenzo, 105<br />

Tomas, Balderic, 22-23<br />

Touro, Judah, 27-28, 30, 36, 77, 87, 92,<br />

104, 109<br />

Toussaint, Allen, 121, 123-124<br />

Toussaint, Helene, 42<br />

Tranchepain, Marie de Saint Augustin, 13<br />

Trevigne, Paul, 21, 75<br />

Trudeau, Charles Leveau, 41<br />

Truman, Harry, 112<br />

Tureaud, A. P., 107-108, 112, 122<br />

Turpin, Mary 13<br />

U<br />

Ulloa, 15, 17<br />

Unzaga, Luis de, 15-16<br />

Ursuline Nuns, 14, 39, 49, 52<br />

V<br />

Vaccaro, 68, 89<br />

Vivant, Constance, 46<br />

W<br />

Walker, Clementine, 85<br />

Walker, James T., 74<br />

Warmouth, Henry Clay, 75, 78<br />

Warren, Leonard, 118<br />

Washington, Booker T., 83, 91<br />

Weil, Emile, 81<br />

White, Edward Douglas, 90<br />

Williams, Clarence, 106<br />

Williams, Martin, 105<br />

Williams, T. Harry, 122<br />

Williams, Tennessee, 118<br />

Wilson, Samuel, Jr., 36, 40, 102-103,<br />

105, 112<br />

Wood, Albert Baldwin, 72, 81, 97-98<br />

Wright, J. Skelly, 107, 110-112<br />

Y<br />

Yiannopoulous, A. N., 27<br />

Z<br />

Zimmerman, Don, 109<br />

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128


Ursuline Convent.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.<br />

INDEX<br />

129


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130


SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

Historic profiles of businesses,<br />

organizations, and families that have<br />

contributed to the development and<br />

continued growth of <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Quality of Life ...........................................132<br />

The Marketplace.........................................170<br />

Building a Greater <strong>New</strong> Orleans....................198<br />

<br />

The city of <strong>New</strong> Orleans, and the Mississippi River Lake Pontchartrain in distance. Currier & Ives<br />

lithograph, c. 1885.<br />

COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.<br />

SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

131


A mural dedicated to Carter G, Woodson,<br />

the founder of the Association for the Study<br />

of African American Life and History<br />

COURTESY OF THE LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.<br />

NOTABLE NEW ORLEANIANS: A <strong>Tricentennial</strong> <strong>Tribute</strong><br />

132


QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

Healthcare providers, foundations, universities,<br />

and other institutions that contribute to the<br />

quality of life in <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

Patrick F. Taylor Foundation ........................................................134<br />

Xavier University of Louisiana .....................................................140<br />

Archbishop Shaw High School .......................................................142<br />

Southern University at <strong>New</strong> Orleans ..............................................144<br />

Brother Martin High School..........................................................146<br />

Delgado Community College .........................................................148<br />

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center<br />

School of Medicine.................................................................150<br />

Mount Carmel Academy ...............................................................152<br />

St. Mary’s Dominican High School .................................................154<br />

Tulane University .......................................................................156<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau ..................................158<br />

Academy of the Sacred Heart ........................................................160<br />

Cabrini High School ....................................................................161<br />

CrescentCare .............................................................................162<br />

St. Mary’s Academy.....................................................................163<br />

Ursuline Academy of <strong>New</strong> Orleans.................................................164<br />

Ochsner Baptist ..........................................................................165<br />

Stuart Hall School for Boys ..........................................................166<br />

<strong>New</strong> Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary .....................................167<br />

Metairie Park Country Day School ................................................168<br />

Dillard University ......................................................................169<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

133


PATRICK F.<br />

TAYLOR<br />

FOUNDATION<br />

The way I want to be remembered is by the young<br />

people of this nation and my ties to them. I tell them<br />

that, like me, they can dream. I talk about hard<br />

work, integrity, and guts. I demand that of them and<br />

they respond.<br />

—Patrick F. Taylor<br />

<br />

Bottom: Patrick F. Taylor and John<br />

Mecom, Sr.<br />

The story of the Patrick F. Taylor<br />

Foundation began with a remarkable young<br />

man, his tenacity and his love of learning.<br />

Born in Beaumont, Texas, in 1937, to a family<br />

of modest means, Taylor’s independence<br />

and quest for knowledge manifested itself at<br />

a young age. Despite leaving home at sixteen,<br />

Taylor won a full academic scholarship to The<br />

Kinkaid School in Houston, one of the most<br />

prestigious private preparatory schools in<br />

the country.<br />

Following up on that, he went to Louisiana<br />

State University in 1955 because of its strong<br />

petroleum engineering program, and, because<br />

tuition was less than $100. With finances being<br />

a major concern, he graduated in three and<br />

one-half years with a degree from the difficult<br />

petroleum engineering program. Once again<br />

demonstrating his penchant for learning and<br />

hard work, Taylor joined the United States<br />

Marine Corps PLC Officer Training Program<br />

during his sophomore year at LSU. His<br />

completion of the senior course was sidelined<br />

due to a heart condition—but his lifelong loyalty<br />

to the Marines, and to all branches of the<br />

United States Armed Forces was unstinting.<br />

Armed with his petroleum engineering<br />

degree, Taylor went to work for famed Texas<br />

oil-man, John Mecom, Sr., up to 1966, when he<br />

formed his own company—eventually partnering<br />

with Mecom again in 1974, to form the successful<br />

Circle Bar Drilling Company. In 1979,<br />

Taylor Energy Company was formed, based<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans. It would go on to become<br />

the only individually owned company to<br />

explore for, and produce, oil and natural<br />

gas in federal offshore waters in the Gulf of<br />

Mexico—up until the time of Taylor’s death<br />

in 2004.<br />

As Taylor’s wife, Phyllis, remarked years<br />

later, he “was born to be an oil-man.” But,<br />

important as it was to his biography, oil<br />

was just the beginning of the Patrick F.<br />

Taylor story, and it is at this point that<br />

Taylor’s drive and his love of learning<br />

again took center stage.<br />

The term “visionary” has been much<br />

bandied about over recent years, but it is<br />

no exaggeration to state that Taylor was<br />

indeed a visionary leader. Any number of<br />

people over the years have decried the difficulties<br />

that economically disadvantaged<br />

students face in acquiring a higher education.<br />

Taylor was one of the very few who<br />

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134


was able to expand his own individual vision<br />

into ongoing, sustainable programs to address<br />

those problems.<br />

Taylor’s ideas began to take tangible form in<br />

the early 1980s, when he pledged to send 183<br />

underprivileged and underachieving Middle<br />

Schoolers—lovingly called “Taylor’s Kids”—to<br />

college, provided they studied hard, kept up a<br />

“B” average, and stayed out of trouble. This<br />

promise to a group of inner city <strong>New</strong> Orleans<br />

students was kept–and then some. What<br />

became known as the “Taylor Plan” resulted in<br />

an ambitious project to ensure that all<br />

Louisiana schoolchildren had the opportunity<br />

to work toward a higher education. What set<br />

the plan apart was its structuring of rigorous<br />

standards for academic performance, coupled<br />

with the chance for students to qualify for<br />

state-funded tuition programs allowing them<br />

to attend university and/or community and<br />

technical colleges. Uniquely, the plan stressed<br />

graduation, rather than enrollment, and with<br />

these strict guidelines and criteria for successful<br />

completion in place, Taylor embarked on a<br />

determined battle with the state legislature to<br />

enact his vision into law. And he prevailed.<br />

This signal achievement was known as the<br />

Tuition Assistance Program of 1989. By 1997,<br />

this had been expanded to include all students<br />

regardless of income (a true merit-based program)<br />

under the banner of the Tuition<br />

Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS). By<br />

the time of Taylor’s passing in 2004, what had<br />

started out as an individual local commitment<br />

had been enacted, with various modifications,<br />

by over twenty additional states. In recognition<br />

of Taylor’s dedication, the Louisiana legislature<br />

renamed TOPS as the Taylor Opportunity<br />

Program for Students.<br />

Since 1985, the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation<br />

has been carrying out and expanding Taylor’s<br />

early and ongoing engagement with higher<br />

education. Originally founded by Phyllis and<br />

Patrick Taylor as the charitable arm of the<br />

Taylor Energy Company, the Foundation has<br />

continued the commitment in a myriad of<br />

ways—from encouraging the enactment of<br />

Taylor Plan programs in additional states across<br />

the U.S.; through individual scholarship programs;<br />

scholarships targeted to specific<br />

schools; and financial assistance to historical<br />

and cultural centers, as well as to law enforcement<br />

and armed forces programs and other<br />

worthy civic organizations.<br />

One of the longtime core projects of the<br />

Foundation has been the provision of individual<br />

scholarships and grants to two-year and fouryear<br />

Louisiana undergraduate institutions and<br />

high school students who meet certain financial<br />

and academic criteria. These scholarships are<br />

administered directly by the Foundation.<br />

Another category of scholarships involves<br />

specific institutions of learning. These are typically<br />

administered by the individual schools<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

135


Top: Patrick and Phyllis Taylor attend<br />

streetcar dedication.<br />

themselves. Examples of this commitment<br />

by the Foundation are numerous, and<br />

include such schools as Louisiana State<br />

University for Engineering, Chemistry,<br />

Geology and Geophysics, Loyola University,<br />

Xavier University, Louisiana Tech University,<br />

LSU School of Medicine for Primary Care, The<br />

Kinkaid School, Cabrini High School, Patrick<br />

F. Taylor Science & Technology Academy, and<br />

many others.<br />

Together, the vast array of scholarship<br />

opportunities provided by the Patrick F.<br />

Taylor Foundation stands testament to Taylor’s<br />

dedication to education and, while this remains<br />

its core mission, its work extends well beyond<br />

the classroom. Representative of the wide-ranging<br />

work of the Foundation are the following<br />

programs and initiatives: the Patrick F. Taylor<br />

Science & Technology Academy; Patrick F.<br />

Taylor Hall at Louisiana State University;<br />

Patrick F. Taylor Campus at Kingsley House;<br />

Taylor Scholars Awards Program; Object Project<br />

at the Smithsonian; and the United States<br />

Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program.<br />

The Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology<br />

Academy is a public school in Jefferson<br />

Parish, named in honor of Taylor, and with<br />

close ties to the Foundation, though not<br />

administered by it. The Foundation awards<br />

college scholarships to Academy students<br />

yearly based on academic and financial criteria.<br />

The school models the most rigorous college<br />

preparatory settings, offering challenging<br />

“STEAM”-oriented courses (in science, technology,<br />

engineering, art and mathematics.)<br />

Designed to foster higher order thinking, the<br />

school maintains a very low teacher-to-student<br />

ratio, which not only allows more oneon-one<br />

instruction, but also fosters the long<br />

term relationships that nurture student career<br />

goals and planning, as well as internships and<br />

work-related experience.<br />

Patrick F. Taylor Science & Technology<br />

Academy stresses project-based learning as a<br />

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136


way for its students to acquire real-world<br />

twenty-first century skills. This approach<br />

encourages collaborative learning, and is<br />

based on a system of school-wide learning<br />

outcomes (SWLO) in which the entire school<br />

community—students, parents, and teachers—are<br />

fully committed to the school’s culture<br />

and curriculum. Shared governance<br />

enhances student responsibility and leadership,<br />

and creates an environment in which<br />

personal professional conduct is expected.<br />

The concepts employed by the school takes<br />

Taylor’s ideas of education into the present<br />

and prepares for the future.<br />

With this challenging approach, it is no<br />

wonder the Academy has been the recipient<br />

of countless awards and accolades, as one of<br />

the top secondary schools both locally and<br />

nationally. One of the “crown jewels” of the<br />

Academy is the Phyllis M. Taylor Fab Lab.<br />

The Fab Lab is a “state-of-the-art digital<br />

design and fabrication facility” based on<br />

applied learning concepts developed by<br />

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It<br />

was the first of its kind in Louisiana, and<br />

allows students the ability to combine<br />

experimentation and innovative technology.<br />

They can literally design and create<br />

their dream ideas, and gain the critical<br />

skills involved in actually building<br />

working prototypes. The Fab Lab<br />

provides students with such resources<br />

as 3D printers, vinyl cutters, hand<br />

tools, extensive computer design software<br />

and an Epilogue laser<br />

cutter/engraver.<br />

Funded through a gift from the<br />

Foundation, the Fab Lab perfectly<br />

exemplifies the original vision of<br />

Taylor’s love of learning given practical<br />

application through hard work.<br />

Another recent example of the<br />

Taylors’ support of higher education<br />

was the personal donation of $15 million<br />

made by Phyllis M. Taylor from<br />

the estate of Taylor to the LSU College<br />

of Engineering. It assisted in the<br />

ambitious $110 million renovation<br />

and expansion of Patrick. F. Taylor<br />

Hall, including a new Chemical<br />

Engineering Annex. How fitting that<br />

the building where Taylor received his education<br />

and then, after his death, was named for<br />

him by the LSU Board of Supervisors, honoring<br />

his contributions to education, would<br />

receive financial support from his estate. The<br />

largest private donation in the history of the<br />

College of Engineering, Mrs. Taylor’s gift was<br />

a key part of the public/private partnership,<br />

which will benefit LSU engineering students<br />

with expanded teaching and laboratory space,<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

137


as well as student collaboration<br />

space, classroom seating and faculty/staff<br />

offices. After its completion,<br />

Patrick F. Taylor Hall will be<br />

the largest academic building in<br />

the State of Louisiana, and one of<br />

the largest free-standing college of<br />

engineering edifices in the country.<br />

Construction of the Patrick F.<br />

Taylor Campus at Kingsley House,<br />

in <strong>New</strong> Orleans’ Lower Garden<br />

District, was completed in October<br />

2016. It exemplifies the wide range<br />

of civic projects outside the classroom<br />

that the Patrick F. Taylor<br />

Foundation has supported over the<br />

years. It was Taylor who worked behind the<br />

scenes to secure the land where the building<br />

now stands. This 24,000 square foot facility is<br />

home to a Head Start program and an adult<br />

day care facility and allows Kingsley House<br />

the ability to serve an additional 100 children<br />

and 100 senior citizens. Founded in 1896,<br />

Kingsley House provides a variety of services<br />

to over 2,000 children, seniors and medically<br />

disabled adults. Culminating over fifteen<br />

years of efforts by local leaders and citizens,<br />

the expansion of Kingsley House is the largest<br />

since its inception. In addition to providing<br />

classrooms for about 100 children with<br />

growth and developmental needs, it will also<br />

allow a number of medically fragile adults and<br />

seniors to continue to live in their homes and<br />

communities for as long as possible.<br />

Since its inception, a mission of the Patrick F. Taylor<br />

Foundation has been to encourage young people to<br />

excel in the classroom. The Taylor Scholars Awards<br />

Program was created to provide motivation and<br />

incentive to achieve the goal.<br />

—Phyllis M. Taylor<br />

Chairman and President<br />

Patrick F. Taylor Foundation<br />

Recognizing that learning does not stop in<br />

the classroom, in 1996, Taylor conceived the<br />

concept of the Taylor Scholars Awards<br />

Program. Basically, it rewards hard work in<br />

the classroom. By so doing, all Louisiana students<br />

in grades seventh through twelfth who<br />

qualify are eligible to receive free one-year<br />

memberships to the <strong>New</strong> Orleans Museum of<br />

Art and Audubon Nature Institute attractions–the<br />

Audubon Zoo, Audubon Aquarium<br />

of the Americas and Audubon Butterfly<br />

Garden and Insectarium.<br />

The program has been so successful that<br />

in the 2016-2017 school year, more than<br />

211,000 students had taken part—an increase<br />

of more than 6,000 participants over the prior<br />

year. Special “Family Free Days” on selected<br />

dates have extended these invaluable learning<br />

experiences to an even wider public, as Taylor<br />

Scholars may bring parents or guardian, plus<br />

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138


two family members or friends, at<br />

no cost.<br />

The Object Project at the<br />

Smithsonian, which debuted in<br />

2015, is yet another example of the<br />

Foundation’s conviction that learning<br />

is a lifelong experience, and that it<br />

can be pursued in a wide variety of<br />

ways. It mimics the vast array of<br />

interests Taylor had in his life. He<br />

was an early skydiver, did rodeo in<br />

college, ran power boat races, and<br />

hunted in Africa and other countries.<br />

At his ranch in Mississippi, he<br />

developed a state-of-the-art cattle<br />

operation, which included “on-the-ranch”<br />

embryo transfer and the breeding of various<br />

exotic animals.<br />

The project was launched when the<br />

Foundation donated $7.5 million—located<br />

in the Smithsonian National Museum of<br />

American History, in its renovated west wing,<br />

now dubbed the Innovation Wing. A true<br />

hands-on exhibit, the Patrick F. Taylor<br />

Foundation Object Project features “everyday<br />

things that changed everything.” Over 250 different<br />

objects—everything from appliances,<br />

clothing, toys, games—invite the public to discover<br />

living history in a fun, interactive manner.<br />

Educational in the best sense, the Object<br />

Project invites participants to observe and<br />

think about the many ways in which innovation<br />

has been connected to society and its<br />

ever-changing needs over time.<br />

Harking back to Taylor’s days in the United<br />

States Marine Corps PLC Officer Training<br />

Program, and his subsequent unwavering<br />

support for the United States Armed Forces, the<br />

Taylors have worked for over thirty years in<br />

support of the United States Marine Corps<br />

Reserve Toys for Tots program. As part of<br />

this program, Christmas cards and Toys for<br />

Tots ornaments are sent to their colleagues<br />

in the community, letting them know a<br />

donation has been made in their behalf to<br />

Toys for Tots and encouraging them to<br />

donate unwrapped toys to the program.<br />

These are collected at the Foundation building,<br />

and then picked up and distributed by<br />

the Marines throughout the community, to<br />

less fortunate children of all ages.<br />

In surveying the legacy of Patrick F. Taylor,<br />

and the Foundation, which Taylor and his<br />

wife started over thirty years ago, the magnitude<br />

of its achievement is remarkable. The<br />

sheer scope of their involvement in the betterment<br />

of their community becomes extremely<br />

difficult to quantify. It is instructive to note<br />

that, in addition to the numerous programs<br />

discussed above, the Foundation has also<br />

worked with or helped to support such vital<br />

civic projects as the Riverfront Streetcar<br />

Project, United Way for the Greater <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Area “Success By 6” early education<br />

program, WRBH radio, the Louisiana<br />

Endowment for the Humanities, the <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans Jazz Market, Water Innovation:<br />

Reducing Hypoxia, Restoring Our Water, the<br />

National World War II Museum, and the<br />

Greater <strong>New</strong> Orleans Foundation.<br />

The legacy of Taylor truly serves as an<br />

enduring reminder of the power of education<br />

and continues to have a significant impact<br />

through the work of the Foundation.<br />

<br />

Above: Patrick and Phyllis Taylor, United<br />

States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for<br />

Tots Program.<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

139


XAVIER<br />

UNIVERSITY OF<br />

LOUISIANA<br />

<br />

Top: Xavier University of Louisiana's<br />

campus<br />

Below: Since its inception in 1925 by St.<br />

Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the<br />

Blessed Sacrament, Xavier University of<br />

Louisiana’s fundamental vision stands upon<br />

the education of students who would become<br />

agents of change in society, government and<br />

the church.<br />

Founded in 1925, Xavier University<br />

of Louisiana is a private, coeducational<br />

liberal arts college located in <strong>New</strong><br />

Orleans. Among its many other historic<br />

aspects, Xavier is also the only historically<br />

black Roman Catholic institution<br />

of higher learning in the United States.<br />

Since its inception, Xavier has been<br />

closely linked to historic figures, events<br />

and issues of major significance to both<br />

the state and the nation. Its origins go<br />

back to the work of Saint Katherine<br />

Drexel, and her efforts in helping to expand<br />

educational opportunities to minority students,<br />

which resulted in the founding of a<br />

high school in 1915, on the site previously<br />

occupied by Southern University. This began<br />

a process, which culminated in the establishment<br />

of a College of Liberal Arts & Sciences<br />

in 1925, and the opening of the College of<br />

Pharmacy two years later.<br />

In 1929, construction began on a new<br />

campus for Xavier University of Louisiana,<br />

which has remained its home to this day.<br />

Anchored by its iconic U-shaped Gothic<br />

Revival Main Building, Convent and Library<br />

and its Administration Building, both of<br />

which are designated landmarks, Xavier has<br />

grown as its mission has expanded in the<br />

ensuing years.<br />

Xavier’s link to significant contemporary<br />

issues has been an ongoing theme over the<br />

years, especially in light of its designation as an<br />

Historically Black College and University. In<br />

1961, when the civil rights activists known as<br />

the Freedom Riders were denied lodging in the<br />

city, due to fear of reprisals, then-Dean of Men<br />

Norman C. Francis gained the approval of the<br />

University president to allow the group to stay<br />

for a short time in one of the dorms. Dr. Francis<br />

would go on to make history himself by serving<br />

for forty-seven years as Xavier’s president from<br />

1968 to 2015, which at the time of his retirement,<br />

was the longest tenure of any college president<br />

in the United States, and as a recipient of<br />

the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2006.<br />

Xavier again brushed up against history in<br />

1987, when Pope John Paul II addressed the<br />

presidents of all the country’s Catholic colleges,<br />

speaking from the university courtyard.<br />

In 2010, President Obama addressed the<br />

nation from Xavier’s campus, on the fifth<br />

anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. The university’s<br />

response to Katrina was nothing less<br />

than historic itself. Because of its location, the<br />

school suffered extensive damage from the<br />

flooding to almost every structure on the campus–some<br />

of which remained submerged for a<br />

substantial time. Despite such severe disruption,<br />

through the determined efforts of dedicated<br />

staff, faculty and students, including<br />

rescue by boats of those stranded on campus,<br />

students were able to return to the university<br />

in January of 2006.<br />

Today, Xavier University of Louisiana is recognized<br />

nationally as a highly-ranked liberal arts<br />

institution. Its College of Arts & Sciences offers<br />

courses of study in the following Academic<br />

Divisions: Biological and Public Health Sciences;<br />

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Business; Education and Counseling; Fine Arts<br />

and Humanities; Mathematical and Physical<br />

Sciences; and Social and Behavioral Sciences.<br />

The College of Pharmacy is comprised of divisions<br />

in Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences and<br />

Clinical and Administrative Sciences.<br />

Xavier has earned a well-deserved reputation<br />

as a “STEM” oriented school. Its graduates excel<br />

in the sciences, technology, engineering and<br />

mathematics. Although the school does not<br />

offer an engineering degree, it partners with<br />

several top engineering institutions, enabling its<br />

graduates to obtain dual degrees in the field.<br />

Xavier has distinguished itself for education in<br />

the sciences and pre-med having been cited for<br />

being the top producer of African-American<br />

medical doctors in the United States.<br />

Xavier’s College of Pharmacy, one of only<br />

two in Louisiana, is highly-ranked in graduating<br />

African-Americans with degrees in<br />

Pharm.D. In 2006, the College of Pharmacy<br />

was the recipient of a $17.5 million donation<br />

from the nation of Qatar, to assist in hurricane<br />

recovery and towards the opening of the new<br />

Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion.<br />

Xavier University of Louisiana provides its<br />

students with limitless opportunities for educational<br />

and personal growth. Everything<br />

from studying abroad and professional development<br />

to a wide array of programs and activities<br />

encouraging leadership and community<br />

service. Although Xavier is a Catholic university,<br />

it reflects a highly diverse population,<br />

and it has always welcomed qualified students<br />

of every race and creed; about one fourth of<br />

its students are not African-American, and<br />

approximately three-fourths are not Catholic.<br />

Its location in <strong>New</strong> Orleans presents a myriad<br />

of cultural and social interests, which enrich<br />

the educational experience of its students.<br />

Xavier has distinguished itself in numerous<br />

rankings of colleges and universities in the<br />

United States garnering accolades as one of the<br />

best schools in the nation in many categories.<br />

Recently, The Princeton Review rated Xavier<br />

among the 382 best colleges and universities in<br />

the United States based on several criteria of<br />

academic quality. It was deemed the “best<br />

value” among southern regional colleges and<br />

universities by U.S. <strong>New</strong>s Media Group.<br />

Students interviewed were proud of the<br />

school’s “close-knit, family” atmosphere; of the<br />

availability and caring of their professors; and<br />

of the motivation and hard work of their peers.<br />

When surveyed by the Wall Street Journal about<br />

how well they felt they were being prepared for<br />

their careers, Xavier’s students responded with<br />

the highest rating of any school in the south<br />

and the top nationwide. In the words of one<br />

student, “Xavier has the tools to help everyone<br />

get to where they want to be.”<br />

Xavier University of Louisiana has been<br />

making history since its inception more than<br />

ninety years ago, and its remarkable success<br />

over the years assures that its legacy of academic<br />

excellence will cultivate students who<br />

are prepared to lead and build a more just and<br />

humane society.<br />

<br />

Above: Xavier University of Louisiana<br />

students pledge to value humanism as the<br />

core of healthcare and scientific excellence,<br />

as they take professional oaths during their<br />

White Coat ceremony.<br />

Below: Xavier University volunteers serve<br />

communities in Hurricane Harvey relief<br />

efforts<br />

QUALITY OF LIFE<br />

141


ARCHBISHOP<br />

SHAW HIGH<br />

SCHOOL<br />

<br />

Top: Raymond Cooke, Rudolph Koteba<br />

SDB, and Father Edward Liptak SDB in<br />

front of the Hope Haven Institute, where the<br />

Salesians were invited in <strong>New</strong> Orleans.<br />

Founded in 1962, Archbishop Shaw High<br />

School is the only boys’ Catholic school on<br />

the West Bank of Jefferson Parish. Named in<br />

honor of Archbishop John Shaw, who led the<br />

Archdiocese of <strong>New</strong> Orleans from 1918 to<br />

1934. It is owned by the Archdiocese and<br />

operated and administered by the Salesians of<br />

St. John Bosco.<br />

Located in Marrero, Louisiana, Archbishop<br />

Shaw High School’s mission is “to provide a<br />

program that furthers the college preparatory<br />

education of its students in a manner consistent<br />

with the doctrines of Catholic education.”<br />

Stemming from the Salesians’ mission to serve<br />

the poor and the young, the school follows St.<br />

John Bosco’s Preventive System of Education,<br />

which emphasizes the tenets of Reason,<br />

Religion, Loving Kindness, and Active Presence.<br />

The school traces its origins back to Hope<br />

Haven Institute, which was founded as an<br />

orphanage and foster home for boys–administered<br />

for many years by the Salesians of St.<br />

John Bosco. In 1962, Archbishop Joseph<br />

Rummel dedicated a new high school for the<br />

West Bank and Archbishop Shaw High School<br />

was built on the same seventy-acre plot of<br />

land that had been occupied by Hope Haven.<br />

Under the leadership of its founding principal,<br />

the Reverend Paul Avallone, SDB and<br />

his successors, Shaw grew steadily from its<br />

original small complex, expanding enrollment<br />

to meet the needs of the growing West Bank<br />

population. Although it has experienced<br />

many changes over the course of its fifty-sixyear<br />

history, the school has always remained<br />

committed to developing the total person:<br />

spiritual, intellectual, social, moral, emotional,<br />

and physical.<br />

Over the years, Shaw has responded to the<br />

needs of its community and today its campus<br />

consists of four academic buildings and five<br />

sports facilities (football, soccer, baseball,<br />

wrestling and swimming.) Its learning environment<br />

is enhanced through current technology,<br />

such as Smart Boards in classrooms<br />

and Chromebooks for student use. Further<br />

changes and additions are planned, in keeping<br />

with Shaw’s mission of providing its students<br />

with the highest quality education.<br />

All of Shaw’s students are required to take<br />

a course of studies that meets the entry<br />

requirements of four-year Louisiana institutions<br />

of higher learning and its students may<br />

qualify for honors, advanced placement, and<br />

dual enrollment courses in most disciplines.<br />

The school enrolls all-boys classes in grades<br />

eighth through twelfth, is approved by the<br />

Louisiana State Department of Education and<br />

accredited by AdvancedEd. Shaw’s focus on<br />

academic achievement is underscored by the<br />

school’s high college acceptance rate of ninety-eight<br />

percent with the remaining two percent<br />

joining the Armed Forces.<br />

Archbishop Shaw High School fosters an<br />

environment in which students develop academic<br />

and personal skills as they prepare for<br />

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