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 perspective is from the Basin Street side of the cemetery, looking towards the lake. The cemetery opened in 1789. The Spanish Colonial government agreed with the church that the city’s original cemetery was at capacity. That cemetery, St. Peter’s, was located inside the French Quarter. The church purchased land just north of the Quarter, built the cemetery, then later built a mortuary chapel a block away.
Family tombs and society mausoleums
This St. Louis Cemetery stereograph shows the mix of individual/family tombs and “society” mausoleums. While many families purchased plots and built tombs, many New Orleanians lacked the means to bury their loved ones. So, they pooled their resources by forming “benevolent societies.” The oldest “society” tomb in St. Louis No. 1 is for the Orleans Artillery, one of the units that defended the city at Chalmette in 1815.
The New Orleans Italian Mutual Benevolent Society mausoleum is visible towards the back of the cemetery. This is the largest structure in the cemetery. Pietro Gualdi designed the mausoleum. Construction crews completed it in 1857. Like most burial societies, members buried their family members in these tombs for a much lower cost than required to buy a ‘single” or “double” tomb.
The stereograph format displayed here reached its peak popularity in the 1880s-1890s. Publishers printed photos twice, on a small card. The stereograph user placed the card in a viewer that featured magnifying glasses for each eye. When the user held the viewer up to their face, the placement of the photos created a 3D effect. This “stereo” feature enabled users to “travel” to interesting locals like New Orleans. They imagined themselves in the scene. Additionally, once the user owned the viewer, they could subscribe to various photo packages, delivered by mail.
This particular stereograph is part of a set from an unknown publisher. It came to the Louisiana State Museum as part of the Rowles Stereograph Collection. So, Grant Rowles was an amateur photographer who also collected stereographs, as LSM explains:
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
It’s interesting that the original collection titled this photo as of the “French Cemetery.” In the context of how various ethnic groups in the city built their own cemeteries (St. Louis cemeteries for the French, St. Patrick’s for the Irish, etc.), this is accurate. So, in true New Orleans fashion, an Italian tomb dominates the “French Cemetery.”
Spanish Map 1798 is a copy image created in 1875.
“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.
“Roses for Marie” by Edward Branley
The Voodoo that Marie Laveau do
Marie Laveau. This is an older photo, from before St. Louis Cemetery #1 was restricted to tours given by licensed tour guides. The “X” marks on the tomb offended one visitor so much a couple of years ago, they painted the tomb pink, thinking it was a help. Wrong kind of paint, though, which caused thousands of dollars to be spent on restoration. I hope people continue to leave the offerings and mementos, even if they don’t mark the tomb itself.
Glapion family tomb in St. Louis #1, 1930s (WPA photo in the public domain)
This WPA photo from the 1930s shows the tomb unmarked.
“Tomb of Marie Laveau”, 1970s, unknown photographer (State Office of Tourism, in the public domain)
The tradition of the “X” marks was in full swing by the 1970s, though, as can be seen in this tourism promotion photo.