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The Neighborhood Cemetery
The Lenten season can throw one a smidge out of sync with the homies. This morning it was me, not my friends with their self-inflicted headaches, who had to tell a priest all the bad things I’ve done lately: A well-worn cliche, I’m sure. With many friends indisposed and others on the road, I had to seize this cloudless Sunday morning without any superfluous Millennials slowing things down.
So I walked further Uptown for a while, past the leaking water meter I reported last week — which, it turns out, is still flowing strong. I wound up at St. Vincent de Paul Cemetery NO. 1 and spent an hour or so with some very American deadfellows.
The mausoleums had Barberas next to McCabes next to Ernstes across from Laferrieres; Perrins and Steinzes near Dufresnes, not far from the Ruizes. Buckleys, Le Blancs, Russos, and Sherlocks. And then Budenskis, Palermos, Parks and Borrmans; Farleys, Gaudets, Sullivans, Cooks; Charbonnets, Wambsgans, Wilsons; Billiots, Monroes and Millers; Myers, Miltos, Gormans, Garrigans; Hamiltons, Daspits, McClellans and Dhillons. Plus, Landrys, Lamberts, Lawlors, Lymans, Quentins, O’Callahans, Johnsons, and Jones(es). There are even Popes, Edlers, and Kings.
I found a lacrosse ball when I was walking about— compliments of the Manning Family who paid for the athletic complex next door. That kept my hands busy while I looked at names and numbers.
The Newhouses were not very lucky… Basile (June 1874 – September 1875) was the youngest interred I saw. He was one of four Newhouse children that never saw the 1880s.
The McCarrons did very well. Joseph (1812-1909) was the eldest I found, and the longest-lived, at 97. A few of his grandchildren (or great-grand maybe) would’ve seen the country go from horses and buggies, streetcars and locomotives to automobiles, commercial airliners and the space shuttle.
This is not a particularly noteworthy cemetery in the city, which is why I didn’t have to sneak in. I suppose I’m more interested than most because these bodies used to go to the same church I do, and had to confess the bad things they did in the same place I have to now. (There is probably something significant here that I don’t have the time to put poetically in a hurried post.)
Later I went downtown, which was bustling but not entirely inspiriting. But I did meet a cute French girl. She’s an au pair. That part was good. America is good. And there’s lots to do
if you don’t rely on your good-for-nothing friends who have funny last names (and nowadays funny first names) whose ancestors probably did something that you could get sore about. Sundays are good.
Published in General
Thanks for sharing your walk in the neighborhood. For me, a reminder to seek out the history around us.
Now off to Café Du Monde for some beignets.
That above-ground only fact of burial in New Orleans must make it expensive.
I like to read tombstones and other death records. Once did a day trip around Baltimore with an architect friend looking at churches. He liked the architectural details and what it said about the date built. I liked reading the names on plaques listing war dead to get a feel for the ethnic changes in the neighborhood over time.
I visited the oldest cemetery in Savannah and tried to guesstimate epidemic eras.
Several old small-town cemeteries in rural PA with Civil War veterans listing their old unit on the tombstone –25 years after the war, still the defining feature of their lives… Fun to look up the regiment to see what battles each may have been part of.
They redid the tombstones (wooden signs) in Tombstone AZ on Boot Hill for tourism reasons. Nevertheless, I felt compelled to read them all. The all-time best as everybody knows is “Here lies Les Moore/Took four slugs from a .44/No Les, no more.”
It is notable that you posted this in the middle of the night.
Yes. This cemetery was established in 1859 when the area was still Jefferson City. I’m guessing that’s partly why there are so many Germans and Scots-Irish relative to the Creoles. I only saw one Boudreaux and Charbonnet and no Batistes, Toussaints, Guidrys, Thibidouxs or Domingues.
1878 was a common death year. Bad Yellow Fever epidemic that convinced a number of wealthy citizens to form the Auxiliary Sanitary Association which lobbied to replace the privies with a sewage system.
Last spring I visited Floyd, Virginia, in hopes of locating the grave of my great-great grandfather. I knew the cemetery, pine Creek Primitive Baptist Church, thanks to findagrave.com.
Getting there was the easy part, but I had no idea where the grave was. The picture below shows only about a quarter of the graves.
After searching for about an hour, I came across a headstone with a name I recognizes as having married into the family. Nearby I found the object of my search, which had fallen over into tall grass.
Job Wells born 1799 died 1860.
I made the most of my day and was downtown for a while.
I’m intrigued that you found Sherlocks, as Sherlock is my maiden name. It’s not a common name and I was unaware of any in the New Orleans area.
Next to our family’s ancestral homestead farm is a little country church that my ancestors helped build. In the cemetery there are the original Sherlocks who settled there after arriving in New York from Ireland. One marker is particularly poignant, a tall column with a child’s name and age on each of its four sides. The dates of death are the same – the result of a fire in the farmhouse.
There were a few Sherlocks. I noticed because I’d never seen it before. I know a lot of Irish immigrated though the port, and the city had the second largest Irish population in the country for a while. A lot of them moved on eventually.