“Cemetery Scene” by Jeffrey H. Goldman, 1985 (via HNOC)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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:
COPY and TRANSLATION
From the Original Spanish Plan dated 1798,
City of New Orleans
Its Fortifications and Environs
A note at the bottom says, “Drawn by Alex’ DeBrunner N.O.”
Notes on Plantations
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.
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.
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.
Two short-form pieces this week on 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 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
Unveiling of the USCT Memorial in Cape Girardeau MO
New Orleans History – All Souls Day and above ground cemeteries in New Orleans in celebration of Halloween!
House decorated for Halloween (Infrogmation photo)
New Orleans History – All Souls, Saints, and All Hallows Eve
Ghosts and ghouls and goblins! All Hallows’ Eve is upon us! New Orleans never lacks for an excuse to party. Halloween provides a fun theme. Even in New Orleans, the season offers more than jack-o-lanterns, black cats, and witches on broomsticks. On Halloween, Catholics gear up for the really important day: The Feast of All Souls, on November 2.
Feast of All Saints, novel by Anne Rice
Halloween wasn’t really A Thing in New Orleans until the 1980s. Anne Rice’s first novel of her “Vampire Chronicles” dropped in 1976. The series enticed people. Readers accepted the notion of vampires in New Orleans. Combine this with other authors like Poppy Z. Brite (Billy Martin), writing about paranormal New Orleans. It was as if we always had vampires. Add The Witching Hour and Rice’s other “Mayfair Witches” stories. Halloween and New Orleans connected.
Voudon and Halloween
Voodoo Experience Stage, 2009 (courtesy Commons user Njmaki)
Voudon doesn’t have a lot of connection to Samhain or All Hallows Eve. St. John’s Eve, at midsummer, was always the big “feast day” for followers of Voudon. While the focus should be on the Celtic traditions, Voudon gets caught in the mix. The annual Voodoo Music Fest contributes to this, much to the dismay of those who don’t approve of the mashup.
All Saints Day
Three “double” tombs in front of the Italian Society Mausoleum in St. Louis Cemetery Number One in Faubourg Treme (author’s photo)
The Catholic Church recognizes individuals believed to be in heaven as saints. (New Orleans recognizes football players wearing black and gold as Saints). While conclusive evidence of such a state is hard to come by, Catholics make it happen. So the Church looks for supernatural events after a person’s death. Those taking up the “cause” of a prospective Saint attribute “miracles” to them. A sick person prays to a holy person for intercession. Their illness passes. The Church calls that a miracle. So, the Pope declares the holy person a saint.
Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, a Redemptorist priest whose work in New Orleans helped make him a candidate for sainthood. (Wikimedia Commons)
Martyrs, those who give their lives defending their faith, are believed to go immediately to heaven, which is why the yearly calendar of saints’ feast days includes a large number of them. In fact, the first recorded general recognition of saints was in 609, when Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome for the Blessed Virgin and all martyrs. May 13 was designated the date this event would be commemorated. During the papacy of Gregory III (731-741), the recognition of “all saints” was moved from May 13 to November 1. This commemoration gave the Church a “catch-all” day, where folks could pray for their “personal saints,” family and friends who they believed were in heaven but would never be formally recognized by the Church as such.
The tradition of All Hallows (All Saints) is a strong one, but it’s still secondary in New Orleans. Faithful Catholics rise and go to Mass on November 1st. So, then they head out to the cemeteries. They clean up and prepare their family tombs for November 2nd. That’s the “Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed.” Catholics call the day, the Feast of All Souls.
While most people don’t want to believe that Grandpa is burning in the fiery pit for all eternity, maybe he wasn’t as good a person as he could have been. Catholics have a solution for that situation: Purgatory.
The idea was, since Grandpa wasn’t ready to go directly to heaven, he had to make a stop along the way, for purification. This pit stop was worked up over centuries into an elaborate system, where the faithful could pray for a “reduction in sentence” as it were, for their loved ones that were in Purgatory. Knowing that Grandpa wasn’t on the express train motivated Grandma to make sure the family tomb was kept up well and prayers regularly said for the repose of his soul. Since November 2 was a work day (the day before often is a holiday in Catholic-dominated countries), any clean-up projects at the cemetery had to be done on the day before.
“Decorating the Tombs” from Harper’s Weekly, 1885 (public domain)
Fixing up the Family Tomb
Cleaning up the family plot is often a bit more complicated in New Orleans than other parts of the United States, because we regularly bury our loved ones above-ground. The New Orleans cemetery tour guides will tell stories of how this had to be done in the early years of the city, since burying coffins below sea level would force them to the surface as the water table would rise. The truth of the tradition is a bit more simple (and obvious): above-ground burial was something that came over to New Orleans from France. Above-ground tombs gave families a better focal point for visiting the departed and praying for a remission of their time in Purgatory.
These tombs are usually made of regular brick-and-mortar, then plastered over and whitewashed. Catholic cemeteries in New Orleans were usually constructed by the various ethnic groups that made up the city’s faithful. The French-Spanish-African Creoles had the original St. Louis cemeteries in Faubourg Treme and Faubourg St. John. The Irish built the St. Patrick’s cemeteries at the head of Canal Street, and the Germans had their cemeteries dedicated to St. Joseph on Washington Avenue.
“Ovens” in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (Mugnier photo)
The heat and humidity of the city’s climate takes its toll on those structures. They require periodic maintenance. Families share tombs. They also share the maintenance duties.
One Big Picnic
So, the adult children go out to the cemetery with Grandma on All Saints Day. The kids come along, of course. So the scene in the cemeteries was often quite festive. Everyone spruced up their tomb. What started as work details became picnics where families that grew apart would come together for a very worthy cause. Siblings and cousins could catch up with each other, and Grandma was able to go to the cemetery regularly for another year with her head held high.
Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain, All Saints and All Souls!
Locoul Family Tomb drawing from its HABS survey. (Library of Congress)
Locoul Family Tomb
Locoul Family Tomb HABS Survey (Library of Congress)
The Historic American Building Survey (HABS) collection at the Library of Congress contains several surveys of tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, in Faubourg Treme. The Locoul family’s tomb is particularly interesting, because of the family’s links to Laura Plantation.
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 draws large numbers of tourists daily to Basin Street. The city opened the cemetery in 1789. St. Louis No. 1 replaced an earlier cemetery, St. Peter’s, in the Vieux Carre. So, the French tradition of above-ground burials in tombs and vaults allowed families a lot of creativity in designing their resting places. Therefore, individual tombs attract study. Catholics and Protestants buried their dead in St. Louis No. 1, until Christ Episcopal opened Girod Cemetery in 1822.
Significance: The Locoul family owned the Laura Plantation on River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The family’s patriarch, George Raymond Locoul, arrived in New Orleans in 1821 and shortly thereafter married Elisabeth Duparc, whose family owned one of the largest sugar plantations in St. James Parish. Raymond himself had a lucrative wine importing business. From 1820 to 1920 the plantation was a main distribution point for French wines and other liquors, with a 10,000 bottle capacity. Raymond died in 1850 from yellow fever, leaving Elisabeth and their two children, Louis Raymond Emile and Mary Elisabeth Aimee.
It was after his death the tomb was built, for the contagiousness of the disease prevented the body from being transported upriver to the family tomb. Elisabeth ran the plantation during the Civil War up until her death in 1882. The plantation later became the focus of a bitter property war between siblings Emile and Aimee. Since Aimee owned the sugar mill on the land, Emile built his own and subsequently named it after his daughter, Laura. Laura Locoul Gore would later go on to write a memoir, “Memories of the Old Plantation Home,” of the Locoul family’s history.
The Locouls were Creole in heritage and one of the wealthiest families in Louisiana at the peak of the plantation’s production. The tomb puts that wealth on display by employing a slate and granite foundation and has some of the cemetery’s finest ironwork surrounding the tomb.
The first image in the survey includes a map of St. Louis No. 1. The map shows the location in the cemetery of the Locoul tomb.
HABS and St. Louis No. 1
Map of St. Louis Cemetery No 1 included in the HABS surveys of tombs in the cemetery.
There are a number of HABS surveys on tombs in St. Louis No. 1. So, we’ll look at them as we go forward.
In the meantime, if you’d like to visit St. Louis No. 1 and the Locoul tomb, check out my friends at Two Chicks Walking Tours.
Wednesday Cemetery Blogging and NOLA Kossacks Open Thread
Sep 26, 2007 10:12am Central Daylight Time by YatPundit
Thing is, Da Dome wasn’t built on the cemetery. Girod Street Cemetery was built between Girod, LaSalle, and Liberty Streets, roughly on the area now occupied by the parking garage for the New Orleans Centre shopping mall. I got one piece wrong in the original article: The stadium was built on land occupied by a bunch of warehouses and other commercial buildings. The engine terminal was on the other side of Union Passenger Terminal.
Before the Superdome
Girod Cemetery and Poydras Street, 1883
This is a section of the Robinson Atlas of 1883. The cemetery extends to Freret Street.
New Orleans Union Passenger Terminal (left), Girod Cemetery (right)
Here is an aerial shot from 1954, after the completion of Union Passenger Terminal. So, Girod Cemetery is to the right. The Chapter of Christ built Girod in 1822. Prior to 1822, Protestants buried their dead in the back of St. Louis Cemetery Number One. ,
Girod was a grand cemetery for almost a century. Unfortunately, Christ Episcopal did not establish a “perpetual care” fund. So, the cemetery deteriorated. The Chapter lacked the funds to maintain it. By 1957, the cemetery was a jungle.. Therefore, the diocese deconsecrated Girod. They demolished the cemetery in late 1957.
The Superdome and UPT Today
Map of area around Da Dome
So, here’s a map of the area around the Superdome today. Notice Freret Street.
Google Earth view of Da Dome
Here’s a Google Earth view of the same area The train sheds mark the stadium’s position. Compare that and Freret Street. The earlier photo puts the cemetery below the stadium. So, Champions Square occupies the top end of the cemetery. New Orleans Centre occupied the site of Champions Square before 2010.
The curse isn’t real
While the curse isn’t real, it would explain a lot about the Saints! .