“Taken to the Grave: Lesser Known Tombs in the St. Louis Cemeteries”

Very excited for my upcoming lecture for Save Our Cemeteries on Tuesday, November 10th at Lake Lawn Cemetery, 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd, 6:30pm.

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I will be discussing nine relatively unknown (but fascinating) graves from St. Louis 1 -3. Pirates, piano players, and painters!

I will also be showing dozens of photographs that do not appear in my book “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans” and reading from various primary sources.

I will be signing copies of my book afterward!

Event Details are HERE!

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All Saints’ Day in New Orleans

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of walking around St. Louis No. 3 with the lovely Poppy Tooker to talk about the cemetery for her fabulous radio show Louisiana Eats. Poppy’s love of New Orleans extends outside of the kitchen and her passionate and vibrant personality is apparent in everything she does.

On our stroll, we talked about a variety of subjects, but one of the main topics we discussed was All Saints’ Day.

I discuss All Saints’ Day in my new book Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans, but of course I never really have enough room to write about EVERYTHING (word count is always an issue for me). So in honor of All Saints’ Day, here are a few extra things about the holiday.

Headline from 1894.

Headline from 1894.

It was also known as La Toussaint. French Creoles called it that, a term that was common until almost the middle of the twentieth century.

An ad in French and English from 1866.

An ad in French and English from 1866. 

It was a fashion show. It was the first day when “La robe de la Toussaint” was worn by women and children. They wore dark clothes made in the finest materials they could afford. The Times-Picayune wrote about in 1951. “With the cemeteries serving as open-air style shows, the same festive air prevailed which nowadays is reserved for Easter Sunday.”

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A photograph from 1951.

A photograph from 1951.

 New Orleans encouraged visitors and non-Catholics to take part.

 We reiterate the invitation we yesterday gave to strangers to visit the Catholic Cemetery to-day [St. Louis No. 1]; and as it may be interesting to some of our readers, we shall here publish some observations that we inserted in our private scrap book a year or two since.

To a stranger, there are few objects more striking than the mode of interment practiced in this city. Actual inhumation is rarely seen. When it is attempted, the ground is sometimes so saturated with water, that the most revolting scenes are connected with the last sad duties which the living performs for his departed comrade. Hence the customary manner of burial is to deposit the corpse in a tomb raised above the surface of the ground.

The Catholic Cemetery is a fine illustration. At the same time, it constitutes a diversified monument, not only of the virtues of the dead, but the classic taste of the living. In its very appearance, it is a “City of the Dead.” Its streets, intersecting each other at right angles; the neat little edifices constructed for the last home of humanity; here and there overtopping its neighbors, and glittering with the rich gildings of the crucifix or with some magnificent escutcheon; the splendid railing which encloses some of these mansions, and the willow trees, scattered over the ground; all these together with the surrounding wall, unite in impressing one with the idea of a miniature city.

The handsome shelled pavements, the neatness even of the most humble tombs, and the great variety of pursuit and of nativity, as indicated by the epitaphs, renders this cemetery an attractive resort at any time. Here you may walk for hours, sympathizing with Hervey [James Hervey] in all the florid beauty of his “Meditations” [“Meditations Among the Tombs”]; and in a thousand circumstances, you can find even richer themes for reflection than those suggested to his mind.

All Saints Day (Nov. 1), is observed at this place with great éclat. It is several years since we first beheld the scenes usual on this festival. Never shall we forget them. The thought that then, fifteen, or twenty thousand people, leaving their occupations to spend a day in company with the remains of beloved associates or relatives – to cherish the remembrance of their virtues, and to decorate their tombs with garlands and evergreens – presented before us the affections of the human heart in an aspect they had never assumed before. It was a species of beauty of which we had indeed heard – we had read of it in the pages of inspiration, and in the philosophy of heathen sages; but never had out perceptions grasped even the outline. It was reserved for the simple, the unostentatious, the affecting incidents of All Saints Day, to delineate, in brilliant colors, the features of a great truth as eminent for its beauty as it is important in its relations. – The Daily Picayune. November 1, 1838.

An article from 1842.

An article from 1842.

 It was a time to take collections up for orphanages. Typically, orphans were dressed up and trotted out to stand in front of the gates. Nuns and orphans were positioned at almost every gate holding wooden plates for visitors to drop money into. Sometimes the children rang a bell or beat the plate with a stick to attract attention. Benevolent Society Tombs also took offerings usually for specific orphanages. They would borrow an orphan or two to stand by their tombs for greater effect.

Letter to the editor from 1872.

Letter to the editor from 1872.

 It was a popular time for peddlers and vendors who set up outside of the cemetery gates. “L’estomac mulatte,” a flat ginger cake dented on the sides and sometimes covered with white or pink icing was a popular treat – so were pecan pralines, “calas,” a rice cake, apples, popcorn, and candy. Balloons and toy skeletons on strings were sold. Florists were booming as were saloons where men usually retreated to enjoy “La Biere Creole,” a Creole beer made from the juice and pulp of pineapple.

peddlers Killing a lizard was hazardous. Children were warned not to kill lizards in a cemetery or they would be dead in a year. According to the superstition if they did it on All Saints’ Day it would bring their end much quicker.

An illustration from 1894.

An illustration from 1894.

You can hear my interview with Poppy Tooker HERE.

Poppy and I standing in front of Jean Galatoire's grave.

Poppy and I standing in front of Jean Galatoire’s grave.

Enjoy and Happy All Saints’ Day!

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Tales from the Crypt & Deep Sea: Marie Laveau’s Tomb and the Evening Star

I am VERY excited about my lecture “Tales from the Crypt & Deep Sea: Marie Laveau’s Tomb and the Evening Star” at the Louisiana Humanities Center (938 Lafayette St) this Thursday, October 29, 2015 from 6pm to 8pm.

Here are 10 reasons why you need to go to this amazing lecture.

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1. Because it coincides with the release of my article on the sinking of the Evening Star for Louisiana Cultural Vistas. I  discovered the Evening Star when I was researching James Gallier for my first book Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names. Numerous accounts mentioned that he died in the 1866 shipwreck but there was no other explanation. After doing some digging and realizing that nothing was written about it – I hit the archives. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the ship contained the notable and the notorious. When the ship left New York harbor on September 29, 1886 it contained dozens of prostitutes handpicked by some of the New Orleans’ most powerful madams, a French Opera Troupe, and a Circus Company. The ship sank in a hurricane with only a few dozen surviving. Some of those survivors drifted in the open sea for five days, many who died and were tossed to the sharks. It was later revealed that the Evening Star employed “scab labor,” many with no experience who worked just for their ticket. But others claim that the ship sank not because of the hurricane or inexperienced crew but that God sank it because it was “loaded down with iniquity.” 99% of this article comes from primary sources. I submitted it to Louisiana Cultural Vistas last July but because it was WAY over its word count, they held on to it until they had room. I elected to wait instead of making major cuts. I am extremely proud of this article and thrilled it is now available.

Long  has a degree in studio art and did the cover for her books on Laveau and Lalaurie.

Long has a degree in studio art and did the cover for her books on Laveau and Lalaurie.

2. I will be doing this lecture with Carolyn Morrow Long! She is the author of Spiritual Merchants: Religion, Magic, and Commerce (2001), A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau (2006), and Madame Lalaurie, Mistress of the Haunted House (2012). This year she won first place in the Press Club of New Orleans Excellence in Journalism for her article about the Cracker Jack Hoodoo Store that was published in the Spring 2014 edition of Louisiana Cultural Vistas. She has a degree in studio art and did the cover for her books on Laveau and Lalaurie. Her work is reproduced as cards and prints, which are for sale at several venues in town. Her research on Delphine LaLaurie (LCV article) and Marie Laveau (LCV article) is invaluable. I was very fortunate to have her check my work on Marie Laveau for my new book Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans. Although we have become email friends I am excited to meet her for the first time and beyond excited to be sharing a billing with her.

Marie Laveau's grave 2013.

Marie Laveau’s grave 2013.

3. You can catch us on TV! Carolyn and I will be on WWL TV tomorrow morning (October 29th) at 8am talking about the lecture.

4. There will be FREE pineapple-cilantro margaritas at the lecture from El Gato Negro!

5. There will be FREE chips and salsa at the lecture from Hola Nola Foods!

6. There will be door prizes including door  a complimentary walking tour for two from Haunted History Tours and a mousepad and drink covers decorated in skulls from Martin Welch Art, LLC — fitting mementos of an evening that promises to be both mind-expanding and spine-tingling.

7. A spooky centerpiece from Southern Costume Company will adorn the table.

8. You can also win a signed copy of A New Orleans Voudou Priestess: The Legend and Reality of Marie Laveau and  Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans.

9. Carolyn Morrow Long will be signing copies of her book.

10. I will be signing copies of my books!

The cover of my new book!

The cover of my new book!

WHAT MORE CAN YOU ASK FOR? Hope you can make it out! It’s going to be a fantastic time!!

P.S. AND IT IS FREE!

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Book Signing at 1850 House

In case you can’t make my Book Release Party, Saturday, October 21, at Treo from 6pm to 9pm, I will be signing copies of my book at the 1850 House that day from 1pm to 3pm.

1850 House in beautiful Jackson Square!

1850 House in beautiful Jackson Square!

 

 

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Dual Book Release Party!

My new book Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans is almost here! It will officially be available October 19th. WOO-HOO!

The Book Release Party is Saturday, October 24th from 6pm to 9pm at Treo located at 3835 Tulane Ave.

Treo is an art gallery and tapas bar and restaurant owned by my friends Pauline and Stephen Patterson who also own one of the best neighborhood bars in the city – Finn McCool’s Irish Pub. Pauline and Stephen contribute so much to this city and I am thrilled to have my book release party at their fabulous business.

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This book focuses on the biographies of people buried in St. Louis No. 1, St. Louis No. 2, and St. Louis No. 3. I feel like sometimes that people get lost in the grandeur of the cemeteries and forget to remember that real people are buried inside their walls. People who left a footprint on New Orleans – big or small. I hope it brings a greater appreciation for our city’s cemeteries. I will post more photos and bio on individuals I had to trim or cut from the book.

Outtakes are always fun!

An added bonus of this event is it will be a dual book release party! My dear friend Maggy Baccinelli’s book comes out the same day!

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Her book New Orleans Neighborhoods focuses on history, culture, and residents’ stories in an exploration of neighborhood identities from the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain. It was exciting learning about all of the research that went into her book – she could write a book about some of her adventures! My favorite was when she mopped floors just to get an interview! 

I am so happy that after months and months of walks around Audubon Park together, phone calls, text messages, impromptu meetings to talk/vent/complain about our books that we will finally be able to hold them in our hands. Together!

Event Invitation.

Come one, come all! We will have the courtyard for our festivities. Some music, some drink specials, and, of course, BOOKS!

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Yes, these two people actually wrote books.

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September Art Market

Art Market Season!

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I have been so busy finishing up my two books that I have not had time to do any art markets this year. I am excited to get back in the swing of things! Plus, I will be debuting new work from my book “Stories from the St. Louis Cemeteries of New Orleans” that is due out October 19th.

I am very proud of this book – contains approximately 75 photographs – narrowed down from about 12,000.

Anyway, Saturday, September 26th. 10AM  to 4PM in Palmer Park, at the corner of S. Carrollton and S. Claiborne. I will be in the yellow section – No. 13.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 1.04.39 PMHope to see some of y’all out!

 

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Gardening for the Homebrewer!

My very talented, very beautiful, and very fabulous sister, Wendy Tweten, just published a book! Gardening for the Homebrewer: Grow and Process Plants for Making Beer, Wine, Gruit, Cider, Perry, and More.

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This book would have been wonderful during Prohibition!!

Pick it up. It’s a great book, with beautiful photographs and loads of good information!

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Better Late Than Never – Prohibition Lecture Today!

I have been so busy finishing my next two books and working on this lecture that I have not had time to promote it. But here it is – just in case.

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I will be delivering a lecture on New Orleans’ Snake Charmers: Female Bootleggers for the 3rd annual Downriver: Mighty Mississippi River Festival 2015. September 12, 2015 from 2pm to 3pm.

Discover New Orleans women who fought for, rebelled against, and eventually reformed prohibition.

Discover what happens when Carrie Nation visits Storyville

Discover what happens when Carrie Nation visits Storyville

 

Learn about the Flower Mission, Carrie Nation’s visit to New Orleans, “the wickedst but most hospitable city” in the South, and the pretty redheaded coed who ran one of the most popular speakeasies in the city.

Learn about the exciting exploits of Rum Queen Gertrude Lythgoe

Learn about the exciting exploits of Rum Queen Gertrude Lythgoe

Local actors Kerry Cahill and Steve Spehar do dramatic readings from newspaper articles, court transcripts, interviews, and letters.

Free and open to the public. The U.S. Mint, 400 Esplanade. 3rd Floor.

Hope to see y’all there!

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Let’s Rename New Orleans

I strongly approve of renaming the racist Lee Circle and tearing down the Robert E. Lee statue. I have complied a brief list of other streets, statues, institutions and buildings that also need to go.

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First off, let’s rename the city New Orleans! Since the city was named after the Duke of Orleans, who had numerous affairs, rumors of murder and incestuous relations with his daughter… He also won the family farting contest and could fart “like a flute,” but to be fair that could be viewed as a positive… But I am most certain that he was probably an elitist and a racist. The name has got to go.

Let’s tear down the Margaret Haughery statue, honoring the woman who worked tirelessly for the city’s orphans and donated thousands to them, because she owned slaves.

Let’s deem any business that uses Marie Laveau’s name as racist because she owned slaves.

Let’s rename the historic Faubourg Treme, the first U.S. residential neighborhood for free blacks (and listed on the National Register of Historic Places) because it was named after Claude Treme, who shot and killed a slave.

Let’s rename Faubourg Marigny because it was named after Bernard Marigny, who despite offering low interest rates to free people of color, owned slaves. And rumor has it his first wife has an absolute “beast” to her slaves. Let’s also eliminate all of the streets he named to be on the safe side.

Let’s rename Wilkinson Street because it was named after James Wilkinson, a traitor and a spy for Spain.

Let’s rename Milneburg (as well as the streets named after Milne) because Alexander Milne, who also gave hundreds of thousands to orphanages, also owned slaves (although he emancipated some and even bought them houses). But he owned slaves – so he’s got to go.

Let’s rename Poydras Street because Julien Poydras owned slaves (although he bequeathed freedom to over 700 slaves and donated heavily to Charity Hospital, asylums, and orphanages) – sorry, he’s out.

Let’s rename General Ogden – he was involved in the White League.

Let’s also eliminate all streets named after planation owners and their families – the list is huge but a good place to start is Bartholomew, Caffin (who also briefly owned the LaLaurie Mansion – before the atrocities, but nevertheless), Delachaise, Foucher, Burthe, Antonine, Dufossat, Valmont, Bellecastle, Robert, Soniat, Avart, Egania, Lizardi, Hurst, Roman, Eleanore, Joseph, Millaudon, Peniston, Poeyfarre, Villere, Clark, Toledano…

For obvious reasons, let’s also get rid of the street names Jefferson (after Thomas Jefferson), Jefferson Davis, and Jackson Avenue (as well as Jackson Square).

The Ursuline nuns owned slaves – let’s tear down their convent and wipe them from the history books as well. Those women have got to go.

Let’s rename Lafitte Street after the pirate Jean Lafitte– come on, who knows how many men he killed, women he raped, and slaves he traded. Let’s also boycott the bar.

Let’s rename Hennessey Street after Police Chief David C. Hennessy, this guy obviously hated Italians.

I am not sure if Isaac Delgado or Judah Touro owned slaves, but probably. They were wealthy merchants and landowners during their time. To be on the safe side let’s rename Delgado Street as well as the community college and rename Touro Hospital and the street. Touro gave thousands of dollars to the New Orleans Public Library but it is not named after him. Phew. But best to get rid of everything their name is attached to, besides, they were Jewish.

Let’s rename Howard Street after Charles T. Howard– he brought gambling to Louisiana and was totally corrupt.

Let’s rename Camp Street – it was originally called “Campo de Negro” where slaves were bought to be sold.

We should probably rename Race Street because even though it was named after a planned racetrack – way too controversial.

Let’s rename Sophie Wright – she was a cripple and probably a virgin since she never married and you know what that means (LESBIAN)!

Let’s rename all of the Muses Streets and anything after Greek mythology – PAGANS!

Let’s rename Magazine Street because many historians believe it was named for magasin a poudre (ammunition warehouse) and I am totally against guns.

How about renaming everything after numbers? Of course, forsaking number 13 and 69 for obvious reasons.

I would suggest naming a street after black Creole Alexander Aristide Mary, who fought against the Separate Car Act and for the rights of blacks during Reconstruction, but… he killed himself and is obviously going to hell.

This is just a small and modest list. I know there are hundreds of others that need to be renamed, changed, torn down, but if anything comes out of this for God’s sake – LET’S RENAME NEW ORLEANS!!

 

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The Bolden Bar June 6th

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I will be at the Bolden Bar in the New Orleans Jazz Market on Saturday, June 6th from 5pm to 8pm. 1436 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. I will be selling and signing copies of my book “Hope & New Orleans: A History of Crescent City Street Names.” First editions are almost gone!

I will also be selling some of my photographs, including never-before-seen photographs from my upcoming book on cemeteries in New Orleans called “An Eternity Above Ground.” This book will be out October, 2015 from the History Press. Artist Lyla Crawford-Levis will also be there!

Hope to see y’all out!

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