Today in New Orleans History

August 18

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 Lafreniere Park Evolves from the 
Louisiana Revolution of 1768
Nicholas Chauvin de Lafreniere is Arrested for Treason
August 18, 1769

 Lafreniere Park
A leader of the Louisiana Rebellion of 1768,  Nicholas Chauvin de Lafreniere was born on his family's 5000 acre plantation (some of which is now Lafreniere Park) on September 30, 1728.  In 1749 he replaced his father on the Superior Council as acting councillor assesseur.  In 1758 Louis Billouart de Kerlérec recommended him for reappointment to the council and he was sent to France as Kerlérec's personal envoy to the minister of Marine in 1759. While there he studied law and was admitted to the French bar.  On January 1, 1763 he was appointed attorney general of Louisiana, serving in that position until August 1769.  He implemented ministerial directive to expel the Jesuit order from Louisiana on July 1763 and, with Denis-Nicolas Foucault, presided over public sale of huge Jesuit estate.  La Freniere also secured legislation banning importation of slave "criminals" from other French colonies.
After Spanish governor Antonio de Ulloa attempted to establish Spanish dominion as stipulated in the Treaty of Fontainebleau in 1768, Lafreniere, along with Joseph Milhet, Jean-Baptiste Noyan, Pierre Caresse and Pierre Marquis, led an insurrection which ousted Ulloa in October 1768. Ulloa's replacement Alejandro O'Reilly was able to crush the rebellion and arrested its leaders on August 18, 1769.  They were charged with treason, tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. They were executed by a firing squad in New Orleans on October 25, 1769. The Louisiana revolution preceded the American revolution by several years.

According to A History of Louisiana (1909) by New Orleans historian Alcée Fortier:

It was found that there was no hangman in the colony, so the condemned prisoners were ordered to be shot. When the day of execution came, hundreds of people left the city. Those who could not leave went into their houses, closed the doors and windows and waited in an agony of sickening dread to hear the fatal shots. Only the tramping of soldiers broke the deathlike stillness which brooded over the crushed and helpless city. At three o’clock on a perfect October afternoon in 1769, the condemned men were led to the Spanish barracks. Lafreniere, it is said, gave the order to fire. A volley of muskets broke out on the still air, and five patriots went to their death, — the first Louisianians to give their blood for the cause of freedom.

A brief history of the LaFreniere property:

The 5000 acre land grant known as Elmwood Plantation was received from Bienville as a reward for Nicolas Chauvin de la Freniere's service to the colonization of New Orleans. At  his death the land passed to his son, Nicolas de la Freniere, fils [the son].  427 acres were used for the  multi-million dollar pari-mutual Magnolia Park Inc. Harness Racing course which opened in 1954 on Frank J. Clancy Boulevard (now Downs Boulevard).   The company built a $100,000 road (David Drive?) from Airline Highway to the track where there was parking for 5000 vehicles, seating for 2500 in the grandstand  (the dining area seated 600) and accommodations for over 20,000 people on the grounds. Barns provided spaces for 600 horses on the 227 acre track. The remaining 200 acres was later used for housing development. The harness racing season ran from September to Thanksgiving Day (when the New Orleans Fairgrounds opened each year). In 1959 the track was renamed Jefferson Downs which offered nighttime horse racing. It closed in 1965.  Lafreniere Park groundbreaking was celebrated in 1977 -- the park was dedicated and opened in 1982. Photo by Megastealer

See also Maps of New Orleans.

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On August 18, 2000 Dorothy Mae Delavallade Taylor passed away.  See August 10.

On August 18, 1988, the Republican National Convention in New Orleans nominated George H.W. Bush for President and Dan Quayle for Vice President of the United States of America.

Dentist and civil rights activist Dr. Walter Young is born on August 18, 1934 in New Orleans.

On August 18, 1909, The Atlanta Constitution reported: WAVES OF HEAT STILL RAMPANT OVER THE SOUTH -- Highest Temperatures Are Reported From the Southwestern Section. MERCURY AT FORT WORTH REACHED 111 DEGREES Cotton Growers Are Rejoicing, as They Say the Intense Heat Is Rapidly Killing the Boll Weevil---Vegetation in Louisiana Wilted Under the Scorching Heat. 108 Degrees at Some Relief at Kansas City. WAVES OF HEAT STILL RAMPANT Hottest Ever at Little Rock. 104 Degrees at Shreveport. One Death at New Orleans. 120 at Fort Worth. Hottest of Year. The Atlanta Constitution The heat wave which swept the country from coast to coast Monday is still rampant, and today new records were established. From all over the south and southwest.

D'AUNOY, Rigney, physician, educator. Born, New Orleans, August 8, 1890; son of Joseph D'Aunoy and Zelina Chrétien. Education: Tulane University, B. S., 1910; M. D., 1914. Never married. Assistant pathologist, New Orleans Dispensary, 1916-1917; assistant pathologist, Charity Hospital, 1919-1924; pathologist, 1928-1939. Instructor in Pathology and Bacteriology, Tulane, 1919-1924; professor of Pathology and Bacteriology, Louisiana State University, 1931-1938; dean, LSU Medical School, 1937. Died, New Orleans, September 17, 1941; interred St. Louis Cemetery II.  From

August 18-20th, 1888. This hurricane was considered the "severest and most extensive" to hit Louisiana since the Racer's Storm of 1837. It affected much of northern Gulf coast. In New Orleans, all electric light, telegraph, and phone wires went down that Sunday night. By Monday morning, the storm was at its height. Ninety mile an hour winds rampaged through the city. Almost the entire city was submerged. The Teche also felt the storm. Sugar houses and sheds were blown down. Franklin had many homes with roofs blown off and leveled. Two churches in Morgan city were almost demolished. Local wharves were damaged and the rice crop suffered severely. Much wind damage was noted in Plaquemine, St. James, Donaldsonville, Houma, Convent, and Tigerville (named Gibson a couple weeks later after the senior Louisiana Senator at the time).  Rain totals for southern and central Louisiana were commonly 3-4 inches. Produced 7.9" of rain in New Orleans; 14.14" that week.  Maurepas had 11.48" of rain during the same period. All this water led to extensive flooding in Mandeville. Rice, sugarcane, and cotton crops were a total loss in some areas of Southeast Louisiana. Grand Coteau lost much of it fruit crop. Several churches were completely destroyed. Steamboats and sail boats alike were driven ashore by the wind and seas, including the steamers Keokuk, W.G. Little, and Laura, which were sunk. Trees were uprooted across the area. Several people perished in the storm.  Damages totaled near $2.7 million with the worst occurring in Southeast Louisiana. Half the damage occurred to crops, with a third due to sunk coal in New Orleans harbor. (NOAA)

On August 18, 1793, a strong tropical storm hit New Orleans and destroyed unharvested crops and devastated rural sections of the province. Four merchantmen vessels were wrecked on the Mississippi; two were American ships from Philadelphia.

August 18th, 1779: A hurricane made landfall at New Orleans. At that time, Spain had declared war on Great Britain. Almost all of Governor Bernardo de Galvez' ships that were to be used to secretly seize the British post at Baton Rouge were grounded or destroyed, thus ruining his plans for invasion until the 27th. The only ship that escaped disaster was El Volante. Some of the ships were found in the middle of woods after the storm! Wind and rain began on the night of the 17th. Full violence of the storm was attained by 3 am. All houses, pirogues, barges, and boats were decimated; fields were leveled and all crops, stock, and provisions were lost. These included an American Frigate, the Morris. Galvez described the Hurricane in a Report to the King of Spain on the Manchac and Baton Rouge Campaigns dated October 16, 1779 as follows:

"...I made my preparations and decided to leave on August 22nd, with intentions to ask the individuals on the 20th to follow me; but on the 18th, such an
impetous hurricane came upon us that in less than three hours all vessels in the River had perished, the war vessels as well as the Mercantile ones,
among which there were also sunk the galliots and gun-boats that I had built for the defence of the River; many houses of the town being found
on the ground, the dwellings located at twenty leagues in the vicinity were destroyed, the trees uprooted, the men terrified, their wives and
children scattered in the deserted fields, exposed to the roughness of the weather, the grounds inundated, and in the River everything sunk, just as
well as my resources, help and hopes were all lost....."

During this storm, William Dunbar made observations that uncovered the true nature of tropical storms and hurricanes; that they had a progressive forward movement and that the winds revolved around a vortex at the center. His findings were presented to the American Philosophical Society in 1801.

Note: Cattle was brought into LA from Spanish Texas to restock the cattle destroyed by the hurricane.  Thus Spanish Texas played a major part in the American Revolution by supplying Galvez.

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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