Lighting Lee

Lighting Lee

The White League engaged in terrorism by lighting Lee.

lighting lee - lee monument in 1916

Lighting Lee Circle

Photos of Lee Circle at night. The first, set back from the monument, is a John Tibule Mendes shot taken in 1916. The second is from New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated, from 1928. Caption for the 1916 photo (via THNOC):

Poorly-exposed night view of the Lee Monument at Lee Circle in the Central Business District looking along Saint Charles Avenue towards Uptown. Streetcar tracks are visible in the foreground. The Lee Monument honors Confederate General Robert E. Lee and was dedicated on February 22, 1884. John Roy of New Orleans designed the mound and column while Alexander Doyle designed the bronze likeness of Lee that stands atop the column.

Accordingly, New Orleans Railway & Light Company provided the electric power for lighting Lee in 1916.

lighting lee - lee monument in 1928

The second photo shows the monument from a closer perspective.

Why Lee?

The purpose erecting a statue to the traitor Lee was simple: assertion of white supremacy in New Orleans. So, Confederate sympathizers terrorized the population of New Orleans from the start of the Union occupation in 1862. Unionists, mostly Irish and Germans, went to the river levees to greet the Union squadron under the command of Flag-Officer Farragut. Despite their defeat, white men shot and killed them, forcing others to retreat from the levee. Confederates held the Irish and Germans responsible for the loss of the city. During the attack, the Irish and German troops at Fort Jackson mutinied, sealing the city’s fate. Local lost-causers formed the White League, formalizing their opposition to a Union-controlled state government. Therefore, the White League was, for all intents and purposes, a terrorist organization.

So, fast forward to twenty years after the conflict. The White League pressed their control of the city. hey used Carnival organizations and social clubs to bolster the terrorist violence of their militia. The city’s demographics changed radically in the 1880s, with the influx of Sicilians into New Orleans. The Sicilians brought their own criminal element with them. The Mafia challenged the White League’s control. This required a response from the established criminals.

The monument

To emphasize the economic control the White League held, they commissioned a column of “white Georgia marble” to be placed at the center of Tivoli Circle. They topped that column with a statue of the traitor Lee. Sculptor Alexander Doyle crafted that statue. it was dedicated on Washington’s Birthday in 1884. While the outward forms of support for the monument stated it was built to recognize the sacrifices of the Confederacy, its underlying purpose was asserting power.

The lights

The White League experimented with illuminating the monument almost immediately. The first attempts involved burning magnesium in the urns around the column. This lit up Lee Circle for miles. Of course, the magnesium burned out and had to be replaced. By the 1910s, urban electrification extended into residential areas of the city. First came the streetcars, in the 1890s, Power lines extended from the streetcar routes. With Lee, it was a matter of someone willing to pay the light bill.

Why bother with lighting? The monument stood at the Western end of the Central Business District. Tourists rarely ventured past Poydras Street. In the early part of the 20th century, most buildings in New Orleans were three or four stories. The monument towered over the neighborhood. Light it up at night, and Lee was visible for miles. That pleased the White League. It communicated to everyone their ownership and control of the city. That made the light bill worth it.

Bay to City – BOSH in the 1860s

Bay to City – BOSH in the 1860s

The Brothers of the Sacred Heart moved into Faubourg Marigny during the Civil War, Bay to City.

bay to city

Bay to City

At the beginning of the Civil War, the Brothers of the Sacred Heart (BOSH) stood at a crossroads. The Institute operated St. Stanislaus College in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, since 1854. With secession of Louisiana and Mississippi, the Union Navy blockaded the Western Gulf Coast, anticipating an invasion of New Orleans. The Brothers closed St. Stanislaus to boarders.

To fully appreciate this move, consider a trip from the city to the bay. We’re not talking about an hour’s drive. In 1861, you’d load up a coach or wagon with your boy(s) and their luggage, and head about 100 miles east. That was a eight hour ride. With Farragut’s ships and gunboats, along with Butler’s 30,000 troops on Ship Island, safety was a serious concern. While families understood the concerns, they didn’t want to just give up on a BOSH education for their boys.

To the City

bay to city

Brother Athanasius Faugier, S.C.

So, the BOSH contacted the Archbishop of New Orleans, Jean-Marie Odin, about setting up a presence in the city. Odin agreed, and connected Brother Athanasius Faugier, S.C, of St. Stanislaus, with Father Anthony Durier, pastor of Annunciation Parish in Faubourg Marigny. Fr. Durier helped the Brothers set up shop in the Marigny. This made a lot of sense. Brothers from France worked with a French archbishop to open a school in a very-French neighborhood. Fr. Durier loaned a house to the BOSH. They renovated that house to accommodate twenty-five boarders. They then rented a house on Union Street (now Touro Street) and opened the school. The school was about six blocks away from the boarding house. The 1883 Robinson Atlas segment above shows Annunciation Church in block 492.

bay to city

Fr. Anthony Durier

This arrangement continued through the end of the rebellion. The BOSH packed up and returned to the Bay. It wasn’t long, though, that Archbishop Odin invited the institute to establish a permanent presence in New Orleans. The BOSH purchased the house at Chartres and Barracks Streets in 1869, and St. Aloysius opens.

Thanks to the faculty members of Brother Martin High School, who assembled much of this information for their Day of Experience, “Exploring the Origins of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans.”

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Podcast 42 – Martin Madness

Brother Martin High School’s spring fundraising campaign is “Martin Madness”

martin madness

Martin Madness

Sharing some history, reflections, and thoughts on the influence of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, from the Civil War to the present.


Here’s the PDF

Go support Brother Martin High!

Steam to Mules NO&CRR

Steam to Mules NO&CRR

Mules NO&CRR transition took place in the 1840s.

origins NO&CRR

Continuing the New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad Story

I spoke to the Friends of the Cabildo Tour Guides at their monthly meeting this past Monday. They had me in to discuss the origins of the NO&CRR (New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad), which evolved into the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. I’ll be presenting the talk via blog posts here. We discussed the origins of the line, now we move to the transition to mules from steam power.

Mules NO&CRR

While steam power made sense to the management of the New Orleans and Carrollton Railroad, residents along the Carrollton Line (which later became the St. Charles Avenue Line) grew unhappy. Steam trains are noisy and smokey. As New Orleans annexed what is now the Garden District, more people built fine houses close to the line.City officials pressured the railroad to abandon steam engines. Mules NO&CRR began in the 1840s.

Mules on the line

Naiads and Napoleon, 1860. Lilienthal photo, halfway for Mules NO&CRR

Naiads and Napoleon, 1860. Lilienthal photo, halfway point for Mules NO&CRR

Theodore Lilienthal photo of Naiads and Napoleon Avenues, 1860. The railroad built their facilities for the Carrollton line here. The intersection was more-or-less half-way between the CBD and the city of Carrollton.

mules no&crr

St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues in 1948. Compare the difference with 1860.

mules no&crr

Section from the Robinson Atlas, 1883, showing streetcar tracks around St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues. The half-way facilities for the railroad expanded over the twenty years since the Lilienthal photo. The black dot on St. Charles is a turntable. If you’ve been to San Francisco, you’ve seen this type of turntable. Here, the driver leads the mule out of the barn, placing the car on the turntable. He then walked the mule around, lining up with the track on the street, and off they went.

The building on the right housed the streetcars and the mules. Superior Seafood and Fat Harry’s stand there now. The buildings on the left (lake) side of St. Charles are now the Lower School for the Academy of the Sacred Heart.

Downtown on the line

mules no&crr

The corner of St. Charles and Canal Streets in 1850. Notice there are NO streetcar tracks! That’s because the Carrollton line continued to use Baronne Street. While the steam trains terminated at Poydras and Baronne, the streetcars went all the way to Canal Street. The drivers turned around on a turntable on Baronne.

So, there were no streetcars yet on either St. Charles or Canal. The Canal line opened in 1861. The lighter-colored building in the background of this illustration is the first incarnation of the St. Charles Hotel. This building burned down in 1851. The second incarnation opened in 1853.

mules no&crr

This 1856 map shows downtown New Orleans (CBD) in 1856. The streetcars came down Naiads to Tivoli Circle. Like the modern line, they curved around to Delord Street, now Howard Avenue. Unlike the modern line, the Carrollton line went up to Baronne, then turned right. Baronne Street had two tracks with a turntable to change direction.

The streetcars

mules no&crr

The railroad purchased and operated “Bob-Tail” streetcars from the Stephenson Car Company, from the 1850s until the line electrified in 1893. The driver attached the mule to the right side of the car in this photograph. The single-truck design made for a less-than-smooth ride. Still, the cars were as good as it got for the time.

mules no&crr

While the bob-tails did most of the work on the line, the railroad experimented with alternatives. After the Southern Rebellion, PGT Beauregard returned to New Orleans. The railroad employed him as president in the 1870s. Being an engineer, Beauregard entertained a number of different ideas for streetcars. This car used canisters of ammonia gas to propel the car. This drawing is by Alfred Waud. It includes a small drawing of a white woman, and another of a black woman, along with Gus.

mules no&crr

The Lamm Thermo-Specific locomotive operated on the line in 1874. The engine’s “fireless” design enabled quiet operation. So, the engine carried a large bottle/canister containing compressed air, steam. The engineer released the steam and the engine moved forward. The Lamm engines pulled 1-2 bobtail cars. The railroad discontinued operations of the Lamms, because of having tor re-charge the canisters.

To Be Continued…

We’ll move on to electrification next time.

Riding along Tchoupitoulas – St. Mary’s Market

Riding along Tchoupitoulas – St. Mary’s Market

Riding along Tchoupitoulas offers a view of the “sliver along the river, including St. Mary’s Market.

St. Mary's Market

St. Mary’s Market

St. Mary’s Market, seen here in this photograph from McPherson and Oliver, in 1864ish. This is the location of the original market. It stood where Tchoupitoulas, Poyfarre, Delord, and St. Joseph Streets converged. So, the market, part of the city’s network of public markets, serviced Faubourg Ste. Marie, also known as the “American Sector.” While the French Market was the city’s first public market, St. Mary’s enabled residents living on the Uptown side of Canal Street to shop without having to go into the French Quarter. This satisfied both Anglo-Irish and Creole families.

Riding along Tchoupitoulas

I took the Canal Streetcar into town from the Cemeteries yesterday. After a wonderful lunch of red beans and rice at Mother’s Restaurant,  So, I rode the #10 bus, the Tchoupitoulas line, from Magazine and Poydras up to Audubon Park. It’s fun to let someone else do the driving while observing how neighborhoods change. Additionally, going Uptown made the trip a big loop. While the public markets vanished in favor of modern supermarkets after WWII, they left imprints on their respective neighborhoods.

The market for the American Sector stood close to the river. It offered groceries, fresh meat, and seafood to families of men who worked the riverfront. Germans and Irish immigrants regularly took jobs as longshoremen. Enough Irish settled in Ste. Marie that the Archdiocese created St. Patrick’s Parish in 1833. By 1836, the market opened. Now, the rough triangle marking the site of the market houses a gas station, several warehouses, and a restaurant. They city authorized the relocation of St. Mary’s Market in 1858. The Southern Rebellion delayed the actual move.

Transition

St. Mary’s Market stood in what is now known as the Warehouse District. So, like Magazine Street, Tchoupitoulas Street winds its way from Canal Street through many neighborhoods we collective refer to as “Uptown.” The #11 bus line ends, along with Tchoupitoulas Street, at Audubon Park. So, the bus serves both the port and important institutions Uptown like Children’s Hospital.

We’ll continue with more on Tchoupitoulas Street this week!

First Chalmette Monument

First Chalmette Monument

The First Chalmette Monument was the Grand Army of the Republic monument.

first chalmette monument

First Chalmette Monument

Photo of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) Monument, by George François Mugnier. Undated photo, likely from the 1880s. This monument stands in the Chalmette National Cemetery, on the end closest to the river. The Latin inscription translates to, “While they are silent, they shout.” Locals referred to it as the “First Chalmette Monument.” The 1907 obelisk claimed the title “Chalmette Monument” upon its completion.

Chalmette National Cemetery

New Orleanians buried Enslaved Americans, along with troops fighting on both sides of the Southern Rebellion, as early as 1861, in Chalmette. So, in 1864, the Union Army formalized this burial ground. They designated 17.5 acres of land from the “back” of the Chalmette battlefield as a National Cemetery. Locals know this area as the “British side” of the battlefield. The British advanced to this location on 8-January-1815. Of the approximately 15,000 people buried in the cemetery, over 6,500 are unidentified. Additionally, most of these are United States Colored Troops (USCT), whose graves are marked only by numbered headstones. While most of the burials here date to the Southern Rebellion, four veterans of the 1815 battle rest here.

Grand Army of the Republic

The Grand Army of the Republic was a Union Army and Navy veterans organization, founded in 1866, at Springfield, Illinois. The organization claimed membership of 410,000 by the 1890s. Union veterans established local chapters, known as “posts” across the country, including many cities in the former rebel states. The GAR post in New Orleans funded and erected the monument in Chalmette Cemetery in 1874. It stands on the river side of the cemetery, because that side was the main entrance for years. So, over time, the levee system along the Mississippi River grew, swallowing up River Road near the cemetery.

The National Park Service took over management of both the battlefield and cemetery in 1933. They moved the entrance from the river side to the St. Bernard Highway (LA 46) side. Visitors now enter the cemetery from St. Bernard Highway, circle around the GAR monument at the other end, and exit back to the highway.