Cypress Grove was also known as Fireman’s Cemetery.
Cypress Grove Cemetery
Theodore Lilienthal photo of Cypress Grove Cemetery, ca. 1882. The cemetery stands at the end of Canal Street, at City Park Avenue. The Firemen’s Charitable and Benevolent Association (FCBA) owns the cemetery. Additionally, they acquired the property across the street and founded Greenwood Cemetery. Cypress Grove features a number of private tombs and copings. Maunsel White, who fought at the Battle of New Orleans, is buried here.
FCBA entered the cemetery business for the same reasons other community organizations did. Burying your loved ones wasn’t cheap. Firefighting was a volunteer job in the 19th century. The dangers of protecting lives and property meant fireman (no women at this time) died in the line of duty. The families of those volunteers were often unable to bury them. So, the firemen organized a burial society. They purchased property in “backatown.” That became the cemetery. Several fire companies across the city built mausoleums in Cypress Grove.
Photographers like Lilienthal created a market for 3-D images. They printed two of the same image on a card, spaced out to fit an optical viewer. The user looked in the viewer and saw the image in three dimensions. Like the modern-day Viewmaster system, these 3-D cards attracted buyers across the world. Lilienthal created a number of image series. His studio at 121 Canal Street (old address system) sold the stereograph cards. He expanded that into newsstands and drugstores. Lilienthal’s studio produced a range of photography. He did portraits, outdoor contract work, etc. While that sort of work was usually one-offs, as any modern photographer does, the stereographs created a repeating revenue stream.
This particular stereo became part of the Rowles Stereograph Collection. Grant Rowles was a photographer and collector of stereo cards. Louisiana State Museum curates the collection. Fun stuff!
NOPSI 934 and 935 were Canal Line Arch roofs in the 1960s.
NOPSI 934 and 935 at the Cemeteries Terminal, 17-Feb-1960. Photographer unknown. Thanks to Aaron for the find.
Canal Line Arch Roofs
900-series streetcars operating as Canal Line arch roofs, 17-February-1960. I can’t make out the ads on either streetcar; if you can, let me know! NOPSI 934 and 935 sit at the Cemeteries Terminal. Tennessee Williams mentions the “cemeteries” in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” While Williams employs a bit of artistic license, connecting Elysian Fields to the cemeteries, this is the real-life basis.
Perley A. Thomas streetcars
The arch roof design dates back to 1915. New Orleans Railway and Light Company (NORwy&Lt) acquired several from the Southern Car Company. Perley Thomas designed the streetcars. New Orleanians liked them. The streetcars offered decent seating and lots of windows for ventilation. Thomas opened his own streetcar company in High Point, NC. He took the arch roof design with him. NORwy&Lt’s successor company, New Orleans Public Service, Incorporated (NOPSI) purchased two production runs of the arch roofs. They ordered the 800-series in 1923. NOPSI worked with Thomas, changing aspects of the design. That produced the 900 series. So, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, three generations of arch roofs operated in the city. The original 400s, then the 800s and 900s.
NOPSI kept 35 of the 900 series when they discontinued streetcar service on Canal in 1964.
The streetcar tracks at Canal Street and City Park Avenue underwent numerous changes over the years. After the West End line converted to bus service, the city cut the streetcar tracks back. Instead of turning left upon reaching City Park Avenue, the Canal line arch roofs terminated on Canal Street. They stopped in between Cypress Grove Cemetery and Odd Fellows Rest.
NOPSI designed this iteration of the terminal with two tracks and a double crossover. This is similar to the terminal built at S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne Avenues uptown. When NOPSI discontinued belt service on the St. Charles, Tulane switched to buses. St. Charles ended at S. Claiborne. That location remains the line’s endpoint today.
Back on Canal Street, the line used this terminal until 1964. When NORTA restored streetcar service on Canal in 2004, they built a single-track terminal. This was meant to be temporary. The line now ends in the 5500 block of Canal Boulevard, between Greenwood and St. Patrick No. 3 cemeteries.
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Maunsel White, Irishman, planter, and veteran of the Battle of New Orleans, is the subject of our first pod of 2017.
Beyond Bourbon Street by Mark Bologna
Guest Starring on Podcasts!
Our first pod for 2017! We’re behind a bit, because @NOLAHistoryGuy started out the year doing a guest segment on another podcast. It was fun to sit and chat with Mark Bologna of Beyond Bourbon Street about the Battle of New Orleans. Mark is @BeyondBourbonST on Twitter – note the “ST” for “Street” in Mark’s Twitter handle and website.
After attending a wonderful talk by Mr. Winston Hu of the University of New Orleans Department of History (my old stomping ground as an undergrad) on the history of Chinese people in New Orleans, I went out to Cypress Grove Cemetery to photograph the “Chinese Tomb” that Hu discussed.
(editor’s note: Let’s be honest here, walking through Cypress Grove isn’t a huge sacrifice for me, since I park on Canal Street by the cemetery, then walk over to Banks Street, to go to Wakin’ Bakin’ for breakfast, coffee, and writing time.)
Maunsel White, 1851
Maunsel White and Cemetery Exploration
White family tomb in Cypress Grove Cemetery, on Canal Street
As I walked through Cypress Grove, I came across a mausoleum with “Maunsel White” carved in the top. There was a small bronze plaque at the base of the mausoleum, indicating that the senior White was a veteran of the War of 1812. I remembered the name, that he was one of Jackson’s officers on 8-Jan-1815. I shot a bunch of photos, then made a note to do an article on him for my cemetery website. Then I looked him up, and realized he was part of the bigger story of the Battle of New Orleans. Not to steal the thunder from what Mark and I chatted about on his pod, I decided that talking about White would be a good complementary discussion.
Plaque on Maunsel White’s tomb
So, have a listen to White, and his involvement in the days following the Battle of New Orleans. Be sure to add Beyond Bourbon Street’s pod to your playlist, and recommend it to your friends.