Today in New Orleans History

October 15

Milneburg Joys

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 Brigadier General Francis T. Nicholls Loses his Arm
in Civil War Battle

October 15, 1862

Portrait from the Law Library of Louisiana
Attorney, soldier, governor, and jurist Francis Tillou Nicholls was born in Donaldsonville on August 20, 1834. Educated at  Jefferson Academy in New Orleans and a  1855 graduate of  the  U. S. Military Academy at West Point, he served in the war against the Seminoles. After resigning commission in the army in 1856 he began the practice of law in Napoleonville. During the Civil War he served as captain and lieutenant colonel, K.F.S., Eighth Louisiana Infantry In 1862 he was appointed colonel of the Fifteenth Louisiana Regiment.  As a brigadier general, commanding the Second Louisiana Brigade, he lost left arm at the first Winchester battle on October 15, 1862.  He later lost his leg at the second battle of Fredericksburg. After the war, he resumed his law practice.
Elected governor in 1876 and again in 1888. During his first administration he worked to rid the state of carpetbag rule. During his second administration he was instrumental in defeating the Louisiana Lottery Company which was struggling to obtain an extension of its charter. Appointed by President Grover Cleveland to the Board of Visitors for West Point. In 1892 appointed chief justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court. Died, Ridgefield Plantation, January 4, 1912; interred St. John's Episcopal Cemetery, Thibodaux, La.  From 

From 1913 to about 1950, a vocational school at 3649 Laurel Street in New Orleans was named for Nicholls. It opened as the Francis T. Nicholls Industrial School for Girls, and offered secondary vocational training, concentrating on apparel manufacturing. The school was later renamed Nicholls Vocational School for Girls, and then Nicholls Evening Vocational School.

In 1940, the public Francis T. Nicholls High School, was opened at 3820 St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans. In the late 1990s the high school was renamed for former slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. During the 1960s, the school was integrated and the mascot Rebel was changed to the current mascot Bobcat.

Governor Nicholls Street in New Orleans as well as the Governor Nicholls Street Wharf is named for him.

The public Nicholls State University (originally Francis T. Nicholls Junior College), founded in 1948  is also named in his honor.  (Wiki) 

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October 15, 2009 – President Obama traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana, to visit areas still recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

The Port of New Orleans Erato St. Cruise Terminal and Parking Garage Complex opened on October 15, 2006.

The Cabildo, Touro Synagogue, the Vieux Carre Historic District, the Chalmette National Cemetery and battlefield, the George Washington Cable House (1313 8th Street in the Garden District), and the Ursuline Convent were added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. 

Celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, and cookbook author Emeril John Lagasse was born on October 15, 1959.  A regional James Beard Award winner, he is perhaps most known for his Food Network shows Emeril Live and Essence of Emeril as well as catchphrases such as “Kick it up a notch!” and “Bam!”.   The "Emeril Empire" of media, products and restaurants generates an estimated $150 million annually in revenue.

Allen Joseph Ecuyer, born in New Orleans on October 15, 1937,  was a three-year starter who played guard for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish from 1956-1958 and was a first team All-American in 1957 and co-captain of the 1958 team.  He played in the CFL (Canadian Football League) from 1959 to 1967 and the Edmonton Eskimos from 1959 to 1965, the Toronto Argonauts in 1966, and the Montreal Alouettes in 1967. Ecuyer won a West All-Star position at linebacker in his professional rookie season in 1959. He later became a vice president of investments with Prudential Securities.  He died on April 28, 2012.

Construction of Tulane Gym began in 1931 with funds earned from the football team's appearance in the 1932 Rose Bowl, and as a result it was known for many years around campus as "Rose Bowl Gym."  It Opened on October 15, 1933. During World War II, the building housed V-12 students, and in 1975 it was the site of President Gerald Ford's speech announcing the end of US involvement in the Vietnam War.  The Fieldhouse is the on-campus home of the Tulane Green Wave men's and women's basketball teams and the women's volleyball team, and it is the 9th-oldest active basketball venue in the nation. Tulane Gym was the home of the New Orleans Buccaneers for their 1969-70 season. In 1988 the university remodelled and refurbished the then 55-year-old structure, timed to coincide with the return of the men's basketball program from its three-season dormancy in the wake of a point shaving scandal involving future NBA player John "Hot Rod" Williams. Upon completion in 1989, Tulane Gym was renamed "Avron B. Fogelman Arena" in honor of the Memphis businessman and Tulane alumnus whose donations funded the project.Fogelman Arena has played host to the Conference USA Women's Basketball Tournament twice, in 1999 and 2009.  Immediately after the 2011–12 basketball season,  a major, two-phase renovation of the arena was made possible with funds provided by longtime supporters Bob and Kate Devlin. Phase One, including new lighting, ticket booths, chair-back seats, concrete supports, contoured bench seating, concessions, team shop, and club areas, was completed in time for the 2012–13 basketball season. Additionally the acoustical ceiling was removed to reveal the original red wood ceiling and steel structure. The newly renovated multi-purpose 3,600-seat Devlin Fieldhouse opened on November 9, 2012, with a women's basketball game versus the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.

The Queen and Crescent Limited passenger train, operated by the Southern Railway, traversed an historic route that had been established in the late 1800s called the Queen and Crescent Route, which referred to Cincinnati as the "Queen City" and New Orleans as the "Crescent City". The train began service in 1926 but was never a financial success. The Southern Railway operated the Queen and Crescent Limited from Cincinnati to New Orleans via Lexington, Kentucky, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Birmingham, Alabama and Meridian, Mississippi. It carried both coaches and Pullman sleepers and a dining car. Its road numbers on the Southern Railway were #43 (southbound) and #44 (northbound).  In the first year of operation, the train derailed on October 15, 1926, one half mile south of Williamstown, Kentucky. One engineer died and another was seriously injured. On February 4, 1947, the Queen and Crescent struck a car and killed three persons near New Orleans. The Queen and Crescent was removed from the timetable by 1949 and only a remnant remained: Southern operated Train numbers 43 and 44 between Birmingham, Alabama and Meridian, Mississippi as a local.

Born in New Orleans on November 19, 1848, Warren Easton was Louisiana's first superintendent of education from 1884 to 1888. On October 11, 1888 he was elected the first superintendent of New Orleans Public Schools.  On October 15, 1894 he inaugurated fire drills in the public schools.

On October 15, 1890, Chief-of-Police David C. Hennessy was shot, and reportedly his dying words informed a colleague that he was shot by "Dagos", an insulting term for Italians. On March 13, 1891, a group of Italian Americans on trial for the shooting were acquitted. However, a mob stormed the jail and lynched the accused and a number of other Italian-Americans. Local historians still debate whether some of those lynched were connected to the Mafia, but most agree that a number of innocent people were lynched during the Chief Hennessy Riot. The government of Italy protested, as some of those lynched were still Italian citizens, and the government of the U.S. eventually paid reparations to Italy. The lynching was the largest mass lynching in American history.

Henriette Delille Pronounces First Vows
in St. Augustine Church
October 15, 1852

A New Orleans lady, born in 1813 to a wealthy Frenchman and a quadroon free woman of color, who rejected the social norms of her times is now the first U.S. native-born African American religious leader whose cause for canonization was officially opened by the Catholic Church.  

TodayInNewOrleansHistory/HenrietteDelilleHolyCard.gifHenriette Delille's birth was the results of a placage, an extralegal "common law" system which became institutionalized in our city during the Colonial Era.  The arrangements included contracts or negotiations between white men and free women of color which stipulated the financial and/or housing arrangements for woman, the settlement of property, and, many times, paternal recognition of any children the union produced. The woman's mother usually negotiated the terms of the agreements, including the financial payment to the parent.  To our modern sensibilities, such arrangements seem arcahaic but they were acceptable in their day and provided mixed-race women with social prestige and financial security.

Dellille had been groomed for such an arrangement. Her mother taught her French literature, music, dancing, and nursing. Her mother kept an eye on Henriette when she attended many quadroon balls, which were the young women's introductions into the social world which would lead to their arranged "marriages".  An independent woman and a feminist (before the word had been coined), Delille became a social worker, educator, and a nun.  Ironically, the most popular location for hosting quadroon balls would later become the convent and school of the order of religious sisters founded by Henriette Delille.
During the 1820s, Delille and Juliette Gaudin, a young Cuban woman, began aiding slaves, orphan girls, the uneducated, the sick and the elderly people of color in New Orleans.  In 1835, at the age of 22, she sold all of her property with the intention of founding a community of  women to teach for free girls of color.  Numerous recordings in archival records at the Saint Louis Cathedral show that, at the age of 23, Henriette had begun her apostolic ministry as baptismal sponsor and witness for slaves.
On November 21, 1836, a small unrecognized congregation or order of nuns, the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, was organized. The original members consisted of Henriette, Juliette Gaudin, six other young Créole women, and a young French woman. After several failed attempts, Delille and Juliette Gaudin received permission from the diocese to begin a new religious order. Their board was composed of a director, president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer and vice-treasurer. The sisters and laypersons of this society were called upon to teach religious principles and the most important points of Christian morality.  In 1837, Father Etienne Rousselon secured formal recognition of the new congregation from the Holy See.  Sanctioned by the church, their main purpose was to care for slaves, the sick, and the poor. 

Six years later, at the urging of Jeanne Marie Aliquot (an early supporter of St. Augustine Church) and the counseling of Pere Etienne Rousselon (vica-general of the diocese), Delille and Gaudin knelt publicly at the altar of St. Augustine Church on November 21, 1842 and pledged to live in community to work for orphan girls, the uneducated, the poor, the sick and the elderly among the free people of color, thus founding the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family -- the second-oldest African-American congregation of religious women. 

In 1843, catechism classes were conducted for adults and children on St. Augustine's property at Bayou Road (now Governor Nicholls).  Delille and Gaudin were later joined by Josephine Charles; the first three novices, Delille, Gaudin and Charles, are considered the founders of the congregation. Although the primary work of the sisters was in the area of education, during her tenure as head of the order, Delille made it possible for the order to build a home for the sick, aged, and poor Black residents of the city.

By 1847 the apostolate of the three sisters was supported by an association of men and women incorporated as the Association de la Sainte Famille. Their mission was for the relief of infirm and indigent persons. They eventually acquired a building that was known as Hospice de la Societe de la Sainte Famille. Through legal incorporation and fund-raising, they erected the building on two lots situated on St. Bernard between Plauche and Villere streets. The hospice was blessed on June 10, 1849.
When Henriette’s mother died in 1848, she inherited $1,200 which she used, along with borrowed money, to arrange for the purchase of property on Bayou Road and declared this transaction to be solely for the purpose of establishing an institution for the religious education according to Catholic doctrine for persons of color.  This became the orders first "House" (convent and school) of The Sisters of the Holy Family.  But it wasn't until October 15, 1852, when Henriette, Juliette, and Josephine pronounced first vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God in St. Augustine Church before Père Rousselon, that they first wore the black habit of a religious order.
TodayInNewOrleansHistory/HolyFamilyTombStLouis2BySister_Doris_Goudeaux2008.gifHenriette Delille passed away on November 16, 1862 at the age of 50.  It is thought that her death was a result of tuberculosis.  Her funeral was held at St. Augustine church. She is buried in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.
The order she founded continued her legacy by opening a convent school on Chartres street on December 3, 1867, five years after her death. In 1880 they moved the mother house at 717 Orleans Avenue, between Bourbon and Royal streets -- the site of the Orleans Theatre, the Quadroon balls, the First District Court, and finally the Bourbon Orleans Hotel (Photo of the school.convent)
In 1883, the order opened a convent in Opelousas.  In 1875 the opened a home for aged and infirm people of color on St. Bernard Avenue between Villere and Marais streets.  An orphanage was opened on June 22, 1879 on Conti Street.  In 1892, they opened school for boys and St. John Berchman's Orphan Asylum for girls.  
At the time of her death, her order included twelve nuns. 1909, it had grown to 150 members, and operated parochial schools in New Orleans that served 1,300 students. By 1950, membership in the order peaked at 400. Her Sisters have served  the poor by operating free schools for children, nursing homes, and retirement homes in Louisiana, Texas, California, Washington, D.C., Oklahoma, Alabama, Florida, Belize, Panama, and Nigeria.
In April 1988, Mother Rose de Lima Hazeur, Superior General of the Sisters of the Holy Family. requested Archbishop Philip M. Hannan to initiate the canonization of Henriette Delille.  In 1989 the order formally opened its cause with the Vatican.  On November 10, 2006, the decree of judicial validity was issued in the investigation into the life, virtues and reputation of sanctity of  Mother Henriette Delille. She was declared venerable in 2010.
A prayer room in the rear of St. Louis Cathedral (where slaves were thought to have been baptized) was commissioned by its rector Reverend Monsignor Crosby W. Kern in her honor. 
In 2011, the City of New Orleans renamed St. Claude Street in Treme in her honor.  Henriette Delille Street now runs at what was the 1000 through 1800 blocks of St. Claude, from St. Philip Street, at the edge of Louis Armstrong Park, to Pauger Street, where St. Claude Street and McShane Place come together to form St. Claude Avenue.

The photo above was taken by Sister Doris Goudeaux in 2008 of the three founding members' tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 2.    In summing up Henreitte Delille's life and mission, Sylvia Thibodeaux, a modern Sister of the Holy Family,  told the Los Angeles Times, "She was the servant of slaves. You can't get more committed than that.


Francisco Bartolomé Porró y Reinado, O.F.M. (October 15, 1739 – January 3, 1814) was a Spanish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Louisiana and the Two Floridas (1801–1803) and Bishop of Tarazona (1803–1814).

Nicolas-Ignace de Beaubois (October 15, 1689 – January 13, 1770) was a French Jesuit priest and missionary who joined the Canadian mission in Quebec in 1719. Beaubois spent a training period in Quebec and began his spreading of religious doctrine among the Illinois Indians in 1721. On 2 Feb. 1723, at Kaskaskia, Illinois he took the vows of a Jesuit. Because of the expansion of the Mississippi valley missions, the Jesuits had made the area a distinct mission district within the diocese of Quebec and Beaubois became the superior. He immediately went to France to populate and strengthen the new jurisdiction. The Compagnie des Indes was responsible for funding the parishes and missions in the Missio Ludovisiana district and he was successful in negotiating appropriate funding for future operations. He obtained authorization for the Jesuits to open a house in New Orleans and to have a plantation near the city for supplementing their operation. Beaubois also arranged to have Ursuline nuns funded to establish a girls’ school in New Orleans. This became the first girls' school in the Mississippi valley.

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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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