St. Louis Cemetery Stereograph

St. Louis Cemetery Stereograph

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St. Louis Cemetery stereograph Grant Rowles, an amateur photographer and collector, amassed this impressive collection of 389 stereograph photographs. This collection of vintage albumen prints of New Orleans and Louisiana date from mid 1860s to the early 20th century from 1880. St. Louis Cemetery stereograph Photo of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, located on Basin Street in Faubourg Treme. The...
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Chalmette Monument 1930s #battleofneworleans

Chalmette Monument 1930s #battleofneworleans

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Chalmette Monument 1930s is a photo from a WPA-sponsored arts program. Chalmette Monument 1930s Photo of the monument at Chalmette National Battlefield commemorating the Battle of New Orleans, on 8-January-1815. The obelisk, 100 feet in height, looks over the battlefield, which is one of the five sites of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Building the Obelisk The...
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Greenwood Cemetery, Mid-City New Orleans’ largest

Greenwood Cemetery

Single-vault tomb in Greenwood Cemetery. Note the very-tight plot size. (Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr)

The above-ground cemeteries of New Orleans are one of our most interesting historic attractions. Visitors often tour St. Louis Cemetery Number 1 while touring the French Quarter. Many folks also walk through Lafayette Number 1, on Garden District tours. For folks into genealogy add a trip to “the cemeteries” at the end of Canal Street. There you see the stories of families told out over generations on tombstones.

Greenwood Cemetery and the “Canal Cemeteries”

From the Canal Streetcar heading outbound, get off at Canal and St. Anthony, instead of turning the corner to the terminal. Stand and look towards the lake. To the left is Cypress Grove, to the right, Odd Fellows’ Rest, and across City Park Avenue is Greenwood Cemetery.

Greenwood and Cypress Grove are two of the oldest cemeteries in the city. The Firemen’s Charitable and Benevolent Association (FCBA) built both. Many benevolent societies in New Orleans pooled the financial resources of their members. They built “society vaults” in the city’s established cemeteries. So, the FCBA built two full cemeteries. The FCBA was founded in 1834.

At the time, firefighting was a job for volunteers. It was just as dangerous a gig then as it is now. So, firefighters tragically lost their lives all too early. Immortal young people don’t often pause to consider buying into a benevolent society. So, these firefighters’ families often didn’t have the means to bury their loved ones. FCBA helped. While they could sell plots for graves and tombs to those with means, they generated the revenue needed to bury the heroes.

The Firemens’ Monument

Greenwood Cemetery

Firemen’s Monument (Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr)

When you see Greenwood Cemetery from the streetcar, the most-visible fixture is the Firemen’s Monument. The FCBA commissioned the monument in 1884. It marked their 50th anniversary. Alexander Doyle sculpted the six-foot statue of a volunteer fireman. It’s the centerpiece of the monument.

Doyle’s work in New Orleans includes the Army of Tennessee (Louisiana Division). He also designed Washington Artillery Cenotaph Both are in Metairie Cemetery. Doyle also sculpted the statue of Margaret Haughery on Camp Street.

Monuments along City Park Avenue

Greenwood Cemetery

Confederate Monument, Greenwood Cemetery (Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr)

To the right of the Firemen’s Monument is a large, green mound topped by a bronze statue of an elk. This is the tumulus of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge 30. The Lodge built it in 1912. A “tumulus” is a mausoleum where the burial vaults are covered by an earthen mound.

The other large memorial at the front of Greenwood Cemetery is the Confederate Monument. It was the first Confederate memorial to be dedicated in the city. The U.S. Government had already constructed the Chalmette Cemetery, behind the 1815 battlefield. So, it was the first Civil War memorial in the area. In 1874, the Ladies Benevolent Association of Louisiana took up the cause of creating a burial place for Confederate troops. Many were originally buried in Chalmette Cemetery. They wanted their loved ones removed from the Union cemetery.

The ladies re-interred the remains of those soldiers and others, about 600 altogether. The tumulus is a low mound, topped with a statue of a Confederate infantryman. He stands, resting on his rifle, atop an ornate marble pedestal. That pedestal includes four busts of Confederate generals: Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, Albert Sidney Johnston and Leonidas Polk. (An equestrian statue of Johnston stands atop a tumulus in Metairie Cemetery, and is visible from I-10 as one drives into the city from the West.)

Burial Societies

Greenwood Cemetery

NOPD benevolent society vaults (Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr)

After the first row of monuments, Greenwood still has a number of interesting tombs, graves, and vaults. One of those is Police Mutual Benevolent Association. This was a burial society formed by  members of the New Orleans Police Department. Close by that tomb is one for employees of the D. H. Holmes department store.

Family tombs

Greenwood Cemetery

Pelton Family tomb, Greenwood Cemetery (Photo from Infrogmation on Flickr)

Another of the more interesting tombs is that of the Pelton family. Most tombs in New Orleans are constructed of brick-and-mortar. So, they get covered with plaster, and then whitewashed. It seems like they’re fancy, when it’s all just red brick. Families with more financial means often covered their tombs with stone. Granite or marble are common choices. The Pelton family constructed a metal tomb. They painted it silver, to prevent rust.

So, this tomb uses two plots. Greenwood’s plot size is small compared to many cemeteries. This made it more affordable for families to buy into the cemetery. It lacks the grand monuments in other cemeteries. The typical New Orleans burial vault is called a “double,”. It contains two vaults. Usually these are one on top the other. The law requires a year and a day waiting period before re-using a vault. So, a “double” gives a family the option of burying a second loved one in that time period.

Greenwood Cemetery is one of the largest in New Orleans

Greenwood Cemetery

Aerial view of Greenwood Cemetery, looking towards City Park Avenue in 1967 (Photo via New Orleans Public Library)

The sheer size of Greenwood Cemetery is hard to appreciate by just walking in the front. Therefore, this aerial view from 1967 shows the overall size. It extends far back from the City Park Avenue entrance. So, in addition to all these tombs, Greenwood has a large mausoleum in the back corner. As a result, Greenwood has space for generations to come.

Cemetery Scene with Railroad Tracks

Cemetery Scene with Railroad Tracks

Cemetery scene with railroad tracks along I-10. (cross-posted to Pontchartrain Railroad – N Scale)

cemetery scene

“Cemetery Scene” by Jeffrey H. Goldman, 1985 (via HNOC)

Cemetery Scene

Local architect and artist Jeffrey H. Goldman painted this “Cemetery Scene” in 1985. It depicts a cemetery from the other side of a single railroad track. This painting and several others by Mr. Goldman are now held by the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Rabbit holes

I try to post three or four images of old New Orleans daily to social media. It’s a great way to promote my books. The process of choosing those photos is rarely simple. While it’s easy to find images and tie them to themes in my books, I end up going down rabbit holes. For example, I may find a great image of the Lakefront, then see another with details that merit further research. Then I look at other images related to that one, and down and down I go. It’s fun, even though it can be time consuming.

Finding this Goldman painting is typical. I sought Boyd Cruise paintings, since he did so many of buildings in the French Quarter. I expanded the search to include other artists, and Goldman came up.

The Cemetery

This “Cemetery Scene” is of Greenwood Cemetery, viewed from the other side of the New Orleans Terminal Company track running parallel to the cemetery. Greenwood opened in 1852. Its western side was on the east bank of the New Basin Canal. The trains ran between the cemetery and canal.

The Trains

Norfolk Southern Railroad owns the track. The ownership runs through the old New Orleans Terminal Company. Southern Railway acquired NOTC in the early 1900. Now, it’s all Norfolk Southern.

This particular track connected old Union Station with the “back belt” tracks that run from Metairie, out to New Orleans East. Now, it’s only used by passenger trains coming and going from Union Passenger Terminal. While several trains used the track prior to the Amtrak consolidation, now it’s only used by the Amtrak Crescent. The video above shows the Amtrak Crescent traveling the track shown in Goldman’s Cemetery Scene. It’s shot from the other side of I-10, for safety reasons.

This video is from a couple of days prior to the cemetery scene. It shows the Crescent after it’s switched onto the Back Belt and is heading out of town.

The Artist

Mr. Jeffrey H. Goldman was born on February 11, 1941. He was an architect, photographer, writer, and artist. He passed away on September 4, 2010.

Spanish Map 1798 – Copied/translated in 1875

Spanish Map 1798 – Copied/translated in 1875

Spanish Map 1798 is a copy image created in 1875.

spanish map 1798

“Plan of the City of New Orleans and adjacent plantations,” 1798. (Public domain image via LOC. Click image for higher resolutions)

Spanish Map 1798

My friend Derby Gisclair posts old New Orleans images that catch his eye daily on social media. I love this, because the more of us that promote the city’s history, the more people come around to the subject. And the more books we sell! Derby posted this map yesterday. The wording on the image caught my eye, so I gave it a deep dive.

Plan of the city

The title of the map:

Plan of the City of New Orleans and adjacent plantations.

Compiled in accordance with an Ordinance of the Illustrations Ministry and Royal Charter, 24 December, 1798

Signed: Carlos Trudeau

But this is not the original! It is a copy. The copy illustrator made this note:


From the Original Spanish Plan dated 1798,

showing the

City of New Orleans

Its Fortifications and Environs

April 1875

A note at the bottom says, “Drawn by Alex’ DeBrunner N.O.”

Notes on Plantations

spanish map 1798

Detail of Trudeau’s map, showing the French Quarter.

The Spanish Map 1798 offers detailed notes on the various property holdings around the city. While the detail of what is now the French Quarter is accurate, the detail outside the Quarter enhances its usefulness. The map shows the “first cemetery,” inside the bounds of the Quarter, as well as St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, on Basin Street. The cemetery sits just west of the turning basin of the Caroldelet Canal. The linear canal stands in stark contrast to Bayou St. John and other waterways in the area.

The map presents what is now St. Louis Cathedral as the “parish church.” While this may be a translation issue, it’s possible that Don Carlos named it that on his original. The city re-built the church after the fire of 1788. It became a cathedral in 1793, when Louisiana became a separate diocese.

Gravier’s holdings

spanish map 1798

Note explaining the land holdings of John Gravier.

Just outside the French Quarter

Land of John Gravier, part of the plantation of the Jesuits, confiscated through his very christian Majesty ; 15 arpents front on the Mississippi River.

The Society of Jesus received a land grant from the King of France, operating a plantation just upriver. The Spanish suppressed the Jesuits in Spain in its colonies in 1763. John Gravier received the Jesuit land. By 1798, the Spanish planned to fully develop what is now the Central Business District.

The Spanish Map 1798 confuses royal titles. While the Spanish controlled colony in 1798, the map references the French king’s title. The king of France used the title, “His Most Christian Majesty.” The king of Spain, “His Most Catholic Majesty,” and the king of Great Britain, “His Most Brittanic Majesty.” Debrunner likely translated the title wrong, since the reference is to the king of Spain.

Don Carlos Trudeau created the Spanish Map 1798

Trudeau was Surveyor General of Spanish Louisiana. While the dominant language of Colonial New Orleans was French, Spanish records list him as Don Carlos Trudeau. Trudeau surveyed and designed what is now Lafayette Square, in Faubourg Ste. Marie. This Spanish Map 1798 fits the pattern of extensive documentation by the government of the Viceroyalty of New Spain.

Trudeau was born in New Orleans, in 1743. France owned and governed New Orleans at the time. He became Surveyor General in the 1780s (the Spanish assumed control of New Orleans in 1763). Trudeau held the post until 1805. He resigned after the Americans took over New Orleans. So, Charles returned to public service a few years later, serving as Acting Mayor for six months in 1812, and on the City Council.

“dit Laveau”

Trudeau’s family followed a French naming tradition of the time honoring distinguished women. Charles received the honorific, “dit Laveau,” recognizing his paternal great-grandmother, Marie Catherine de Lavaux, of Montreal. Trudeau married Charlotte Perrault. So, the couple had four daughters. Additionally, Trudeau engaged in a relationship with Marguerite Darcantel, a gen de couleur libre. He had a daughter with Darcantel, Marie Laveau.




NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019 – Industrial Canal and USCT

NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019 – Industrial Canal and USCT

Two short-form pieces this week on NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019

NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019

Chalmette National Cemetery (NPS photo)

NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019

We hope you enjoyed our conversations with Derby Gisclair over the last two weeks. Back to short-form this week, with our pick from Today in New Orleans History and some thoughts on Chalmette National Cemetery.

The Industrial Canal

Our pick from NewOrleansPast dot com this week is 6-June-1918. That’s when construction of the Industrial Canal began.As a refresher, there were three connections that ran from the city to the lake over time:

  • The Carondelet Canal, 1795, which ran from just above the French Quarter, out to what is now Mid-City, and the start of Bayou St. John. This canal fixed the “Old Portage” problem.
  • The Pontchartrain Railroad, which ran from Port Milneburg to Faubourg Marigny. The railroad was a straight run, along what eventually became Elysian Fields Avenue. Heavier ships would come into Lake Pontchartrain from the Gulf of Mexico and would dock at the pier at Milneburg. The railroad carried goods and people from the pier to the station at the river.
  • The New Basin Canal. Completed in 1838, the New Canal connected the “American Sector” to the lake. The canal began at S. Rampart Street. It ran out to Lake Pontchartrain  at West End. A small portion of the canal remains at West End.

So, these three connected the city up to the start of the 20th Century. By 1910, though, the canals lacked the depth to service larger ships. In 1914, the state authorized the Port of New Orleans to build a new canal. The canal began in the Ninth Ward, just past Poland Avenue. It runs straight from there, out to the lake.

Chalmette National Cemetery

NOLA History Guy Podcast 8-June-2019

Unveiling of the USCT Memorial in Cape Girardeau MO

I saw an article about a monument to United States Colored Troops (USCT) in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. When I shared that article on NOLA History Guy’s Facebook page, I mentioned that we should have such a USCT monument, probably out at Chalmette National Cemetery. Thousands of USCT soldiers rest in that cemetery. I got some racist feedback on this, from folks who clearly were unaware of the cemetery’s origins. Here’s a quick run-down.