Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I have posted a blog with links to the history of Carnival in New Orleans, but I just wanted to refer readers to photos by Charles Silver of Northside Skull and Bones. African tradition in Mardi Gras Celebration often gets overlooked as just a blending in celebration of masks and throws, yet it is rich and interesting. It has its own meaning to those who participate and it spans back through the generations. Visit the links below for more and meanwhile I'm off to you know where!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ms. Pat Dupuy and "Skeletons"

Save Our Cemeteries is one of those wonderful organizations in New Orleans that preserves and promotes interest in New Orleans cemeteries. Ms. Pat Dupuy is a member and tour guide "extaordinaire" for SOC. I am thrilled that Ms. Dupuy is presenting a Lecture as part of SOC Public Lecture Series. For those of you who are in New Orleans or the surrounding area, I encourage you to visit. Ms. Dupuy will be presenting "Skeletons in Our Closets: 1850's New Orleans Personalities. Not only is she going to lecture on these very interesting New Orleanians, she has some fantastic photos of their final resting places. Ms. Dupuy has sent some of these photos to me and I will be sharing them with you. They're wonderful photos and I encourage you to take a look at them. Just scroll down below these two posts and I will be displaying several photos of hers and changing them every few days for your enjoyment.
The Lecture is Saturday March 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm at the Louisiana State Museum Arsenal (through the Cabildo) which is at 600 St. Peter Street in New Orleans. It is free for SOC members and $5 for non members. I have attended many lectures presented by SOC and I have never been disappointed.
I know that Ms. Dupuy will do a wonderful job and I'm looking forward to her presentation. Please try to make it and enjoy her beautiful photos

Collecting Cemeteries

picture taken from freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com (Vernon, La)

It isn't often that you find useful historical information about cemeteries in the local newspaper in New Orleans. I just happen to get lucky last week. The Times-Picayune ran an article about a gentleman by the name of Martin Gauthier, a retired engineer from White Castle, La. For those of you who are not familiar with him ( and I wasn't until I read the article) he is an amateur historian and his specialty is Louisiana cemeteries. Mr. Gauthier "collects cemeteries" as a hobby. He travels around the state as well as the country and locates "lost cemeteries". The article in the Times states that "part of the investigation involved researching cemetery records and eventually visiting graveyards". His real passion is finding the resting places of all of the Louisiana governor's. This is quite interesting because it seems that many of them are buried under very modest means and some of their tombs do not even indicate that they were a governor of Louisiana.
While my blog and website are dedicated to New Orleans, I felt that this information was relevant as many of the governor's were from New Orleans or the surrounding area and several are buried in New Orleans, we're just not sure where! Yet his information can be useful to many other people who are interested in cemetery history and preservation as well.
How is this useful to us? Mr. Gauthier claims that he has located 6,000 cemeteries and probably needs to locate about 1,000 more. He started a website that includes 64 parishes of Louisiana and a list of the cemeteries he has found. It also includes pictures and interesting information. Alecia P. Long, an asst. Prof. at LSU, stated in the Times article that "sites like this, even by an amateur historian, can enrich research." I suggest you check it out at www.la-cemeteries.com. I have looked through the site and was really impressed. Mr. Gauthier is a man after my own heart, he says in the article "I wish I knew more about marble, architecture, and the actual stones, but I don't,... but a cemetery can just be so pretty." How can we not agree with that?
Article appeared in the Times Picayune; written by Steve Ward of The Baton Rouge Advocate

Friday, February 13, 2009

"How & Why the Dead are Buried in "Cities"

My February Featured Article is completed: "New Orleans' Cemeteries and Burial Customs: How and Why the Dead are Buried in "Cities". It is a short, easy read, but has some really interesting facts. Check it out at neworleansnacestry.com

St. Louis No.2

Those of you who are cemetery lovers will appreciate it when I say that I am really excited about new work they are doing in St. Louis No.2. Currently, there is only one survey that I know of for St. Louis No.1 available online, which is Dead Space cml.upenn.edu. This survey has been very useful to me and my wanderings through St. Louis No.1, but I have been continually frustrated by the lack of a survey or map available to the public for St. Louis No.2 (which is a larger cemetery). Because No. 2 is set up more like a neighborhood than No.1 is, it is easier to navigate without getting lost, but that being said, without a map you can get lost and confused in a New Orleans Cemetery just as easily as getting lost in some of New Orleans neighborhoods!(for those of you that are not familiar with our cemeteries, the majority of them are laid out in city block types with street and alley names, the newer ones have street signs and stop signs; they really are mini cities.)

Saturday I attended a genealogy workshop at the New Orleans Public Library and the hostess, Ms. Barbara Trevigne, explained that she couldn't stay long after the workshop because she had to run off to do work in St. Louis No.2. That immediately caught my attention. While I wanted to tackle her as she left the room to get more information from her, I decided it would be in better taste if I simply inquired through other sources what was being done. As these things go, the information came to me by chance the following day. A very wonderful lady, Ms. Pat Dupuy, who is a member and tour guide of Save Our Cemeteries sent me an email. (she is preparing a power point presentation on New Orleans Cemeteries which she will present in March at the Cabildo. I believe it is open to the public for the modest sum of $5. I'm going to put some of her work on my website so I will be plugging it soon. It would be worthwhile to check out.)
Pat explained to me that Xavier University and other volunteers are doing a survey of St. Louis No. 2 that they hope to make available to the public. Save Our Cemeteries has been asked to help fund the project. I was elated to hear this!! Finally!!! As much as I love wandering aimlessly through St. Louis No. 2, it would be so nice to be able to easily find the tombs I am actually there looking for!
As soon as this survey is done and available I will post a link to it, or do whatever possible to make it available and easy to get to. St. Louis No.2 is a fantastic cemetery and worth visiting even if you don't have ancestors buried there. (note: don't ever visit this cemetery alone, even if you're a local; it is in a bad area!)
In the meantime, don't forget to visit my website and read my Featured Article: New Orleans' Cemeteries and Burial Customs: How and Why the Dead are Buried in "Cities". neworleansancestry.com. I will also post a blog soon with a link to Pat's info and pictures of the cemeteries as soon as I finish working on it.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Waking the Dead

I never intended that this blog be one of amusement, yet I must say that the simple fact that I am from a city that is so full of unique people and places, can turn even the most banal excursions into a humorous and adventurous episode. Once again I was proven right on this point as you will soon read. On a more serious note, I am hoping this may be useful to those of you from the area who may be interested in restoring your family's tomb or to people from other regions who have above ground tombs.
Several Archdiocesan cemeteries have signs posted stating that you must have a permit from the city in order to restore a tomb. With this in mind, my two faithful companions decided last week that since they had to visit City Hall for work related issues, they would pop into the permits office and inquire about this restoration permit. (The three of us are really determined to restore some of our ancestor's tombs and are just feeling our way around as of right now.)
Arriving at the front desk of the permit office, John and Michael asked who they needed to talk to about getting a permit to restore a tomb. "I've never had anyone ask me that before." said the man behind the desk. "I'll be right back". A few minutes later two men come out of an office and the guys explain themselves again. Those two men go back into an office for a while and come out and ask the guys to come in. They discuss the issue of a permit for tomb restoration and the permit office personel are left perplexed. They then refer the guys to the head of the department as follows. One of the men yells into the office of the head guy and says, "Hey, there's a couple o guys here who wanna wake the dead, they need to talk to you!" I'm still astounded at the level of professionalism, but you have to laugh because it's to be expected here!
The guys, for the final time, explained that they would like to restore a family tomb and were led to believe that they needed a permit. The head of the Dept. thought for a while and explained that his office was only in charge of buildings and things of that nature. "After all," he explained "buildings and such are subject to liabilities in cases where someone could get hurt if they are not constructed soundly...I mean, it's not like if you restore the tomb incorrectly your gonna hurt anyone...they're already dead!". (Mike claims that the man made the last statement a little to loud and nervously) He then chuckled. "No," he said "you don't need a permit from us...." and everyone continued to giggle and mutter in the office at how bizarre these two men were.
In the end, I don't know which party ended up really being the source of the humor. Was it that Mike and John actually had to go through so many perplexed parties just to be laughed at and told no or was it the department thinking that Mike and John were two looney toons.
Regardless, if you do decide that you would like to restore an above ground tomb, be sure to check into permits both on the city level and any private or religious party who may own the cemetery. In addition, I am told that it can be a very timely and expensive endeavor...I still think it will be worth it. Even if we do get laughed out of City Hall.
On a related note, the article on my website, neworleansancestry.com, for this month is going to focus on burial practices for above ground tombs. It is very informative and interesting. Check it out!