HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS IN NEW ORLEANS

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<ul><li><p>North Carolina Office of Archives and History</p><p>HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS IN NEW ORLEANSAuthor(s): John S. KendallSource: The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 7, No. 4 (October, 1930), pp. 463-476Published by: North Carolina Office of Archives and HistoryStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23515093 .Accessed: 10/06/2014 12:35</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>North Carolina Office of Archives and History is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extendaccess to The North Carolina Historical Review.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=ncoahhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/23515093?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS IN NEW ORLEANS </p><p>By John S. Kendall </p><p>In spite of the ravages of the Civil War and Reconstruction, and </p><p>the carelessness and ignorance .of state and city officials since then, the primary material for a history of Louisiana is still to he found </p><p>in New Orleans in considerable quantity. Part of this exists in the </p><p>archives at the City Hall, part in the State Museum, housed in the </p><p>Cabildo, on Jackson Square; part in the custody of the Louisiana </p><p>State Historical Society, quartered on the top-floor of the same </p><p>edifice ; and the remainder in private collections not easily accessible </p><p>to the student. It is regrettable that Tulane University, the logical </p><p>agency for the collection of this matter, has been prevented by a lack </p><p>of funds from taking part in the work. No service more useful to </p><p>the community could be done than for some wealthy individual to </p><p>endow a department of Louisiana History at this institution, with the </p><p>express object of bringing together, in one easily accessible spot, in </p><p>original or in copy, the documents, etc., on which the inevitable re </p><p>writing of the history of the State must be based. </p><p>The most important group of manuscripts in New Orleans at </p><p>the present time is the collection of legal documents in the custody of the State Museum. These are the records of the French colonial </p><p>Superior Council and the Spanish colonial judicial records. They are housed in a building adjoining the Cabildo, generously presented to the Museum by the late W. R. Irby. Here, under the direction of </p><p>Henry P. Dart, archivist of the Louisiana Historical Society, a </p><p>calendar of these documents is being prepared, the French by Mrs. </p><p>H. H. Cruzat, and the Spanish by Miss Laura Porteus. This work </p><p>of cataloguing and indexing these papers has been in progress for </p><p>many years. It was begun in the early part of the present century, under the auspices of the Historical Society, and carried on until a </p><p>lack of funds interrupted it. In 1920 it was resumed with means </p><p>contributed by Mr. Irby, at which time Mr. Dart was put in charge. Under Mr. Dart's direction the scope of the work was extended, and </p><p>the Spanish records were brought under examination for the first </p><p>time. </p><p>[463] </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>464 The North Carolina Historical Review </p><p>Mr. Irby's gift was by its terms recognized to be insufficient. It </p><p>was, in fact, intended merely to give the work an impetus, in the </p><p>hope that in this way attention could be attracted to it, and further </p><p>assistance, either from other private benefactors or from the State, would provide for its completion. The Irby gift was exhausted in </p><p>1925. The State Museum thereupon came to the rescue, and it </p><p>seems now, under its auspices, this difficult and enormous labor will </p><p>not again be interrupted. The publication of the calendar of this collection of documents </p><p>was begun under the direction of Miss Grace King, in the Louisiana </p><p>Historical Quarterly in November, 1916, and then continued in </p><p>January, 1917, in accordance with the enlightened policy of its </p><p>then editor, the late John Dymond. It has been continued on a more </p><p>elaborate scale since the death of Mr. Dymond, in 1922, when he was </p><p>succeeded in the editorial control of this magazine by Mr. Dart. </p><p>The French calendar lias thus been printed down to and including </p><p>June, 1743. The remaining twenty-five years of the French colonial </p><p>era have also been indexed, though partially. This was done by Wil </p><p>liam Price, who had charge of the work prior to the date when Mrs. </p><p>Cruzat and Miss Porteus were enlisted therefor. At the time when </p><p>Mr. Price undertook the task, it was expected that only an index to </p><p>the subject matter would be necessary; but as the work proceeded, it </p><p>was seen that, in order to be of real value, its scope in each section </p><p>would have to be broadened, and it now includes a succinct statement </p><p>of the contents of each recorda statement necessarily succinct, or </p><p>the vast number of these papers would make the completion of the </p><p>undertaking something not to be looked for within the present </p><p>generation. The Spanish Index, or Calendar, has likewise been printed in the </p><p>Quarterly, beginning with the number for January, 1923. This </p><p>record, which now forms a feature of each issue of this magazine, has been carried as far as May, 1776. The remaining twenty-seven years of the Spanish period have still to be compiled. </p><p>It is not too much to say that the investigation of these records, as far as it has gone, has changed our ideas regarding the colonial </p><p>history of Louisiana, and made necessary the eventual retelling of </p><p>many chapters of the story. This is especially true of the Spanish time. The Spanish records begin with some scraps of material </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Histokical Collections in New Oeleans 465 </p><p>relative to the legal investigation of the personal affairs of the </p><p>Intendent Foucault, initiated shortly after the arrival of Governor </p><p>O'Reilly, in 1769. There is, however, nothing regarding the prose cution of Lafrenire and his associates, accused of rebellion against the Spanish government; these men were tried before special tribu </p><p>nals, created for the purpose, and the original proces-verbals of the </p><p>proceedings are extant in France and Spain. The first document in the Louisiana State Museum collection, </p><p>in the Spanish section, is the original oath of allegiance of the </p><p>inhabitants of Pointe Coupee and Fausse Rivire (two old Louisiana </p><p>settlements), dated September 10, 1769. Then follow numbers of </p><p>notarial acts, found among the court records, some sewed together in paper covers and arranged in strict chronological order. These </p><p>documents were evidently overlooked when, years ago, the French </p><p>and Spanish notarial acts of the colonial period were bound and </p><p>turned over to the custodian of Notarial Records of the Parish of </p><p>Orleans, and archived by him at the new court building, in New </p><p>Orleans. </p><p>It is impossible in the narrow limits of the present article to </p><p>enumerate a tithe of the documents already available in the Spanish section of the Calendar, but we may instance a few, as showing in </p><p>a general way the nature of the material thus being made available. </p><p>There is, for example, a conventional special mortgage by authentic </p><p>act, dated February 27, 1787, based upon a security on real estate </p><p>created by a contract before a Notary Public. This is of value as </p><p>showing that, even at this early date, the essential forms of mortgage in Louisiana were the same as those of any similar instrument in </p><p>1930. We have also the complete documentation of the trial of Mary </p><p>Glass, for murder, in 1780, interesting because the crime was com </p><p>mitted in "English Pointe Coupee in the District of Baton Rouge," after the capture of Baton Rouge by Glvez, but while the English officers were still permitted to exercise their functions. The last </p><p>document in the set describes the execution of Mary Glass, who, </p><p>by the way, was a "free quadroon" from the "North of the Caro </p><p>linas." She was hanged in the public square in New Orleans July </p><p>26, 1781, before "a considerable concourse of people." Another interesting document is the record of a case involving the </p><p>use of torture in criminal proceedings in Louisiana in 1771. This </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>466 The North Carolina Historical Review </p><p>is from the files of the Governor's Court, and is entitled "The </p><p>Criminal Proceedings officially Brought to Find the Aggressor who </p><p>killed Juan Baptiste Cezaire Lebreton, on the night of May 31 just </p><p>passed, by the discharge of a gun." It established under the signa ture of the judge and the prosecuting officers that the rack was used </p><p>to extract a confession from two Negro slaves upon whom suspicion had fallen. </p><p>A considerable portion of the Spanish records, of course, deals </p><p>with matters of minor interestwills filed for probate, suits for </p><p>debts, etc. Some of these, however, in spite of the relatively unim </p><p>portant character of the subject, have interest and value as illustrating </p><p>points in Spanish legal procedure, often of significance for the proper </p><p>interpretation of questions in fields of historical inquiry quite other </p><p>than the legal. One of these, selected quite at random from the col </p><p>lection, but indicative of the nature of the material, is a suit for </p><p>debt brought in the Governor's Court in 1770, which establishes the </p><p>usage when the litigants did not happen to reside in the same place. In this case, the suit was begun in New Orleans, and then sent </p><p>to the Post of Opelousas, where the Post Commander heard the plead </p><p>ings of the defendant. </p><p>Among the numerous marriage contracts, those of Juan Benoit </p><p>and Elena Montanary, dated November 17, 1770 ; of Carlos Felipe Favre Daunoy and Maria Elizabetha Destrehan, dated March 15, 1773 ; and that of Francisco Daspit and Maria Barba Zeringue, dated March 12, 1779, are typical. They either reveal curious turns of legal phraseology, or relate to old Louisiana families represented today by numerous descendants. It is interesting to note that few of the Spanish judicial records were written upon stamped paper. Elsewhere in the Spanish colonies the paper used in legal work was taxed and a stamp was affixed to each sheet, but for some reason </p><p>Louisiana was exempt from this requirement, a fact which, perhaps, accounts for the great length and sometimes wearisome detail with which the documentation of practically every proceeding was set forth. </p><p>The documents which have come down to us from the French </p><p>Superior Council are, in number, probably greater than the Spanish collections, although of no deeper interest. They begin with the year 1717. Among the very earliest are papers relative to the punish </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>Histoeical Collections in New Orleans 467 </p><p>ments visited upon offenders against the local regulations at Old </p><p>Biloxi, one culprit being "keel-hauled," apparently for having com </p><p>mitted a theft. Many of these papers shed light upon the treatment </p><p>of slaves during the French regime. A curious series of documents </p><p>has been found setting forth the complaint of the engineer Pauget, </p><p>against a certain Mme de Verteuil. Pauget ivas Bienville's chief </p><p>engineer and is credited with having laid out the city of New </p><p>Orleans. He and the lady seem to have had a difficulty, and she </p><p>scratched his face; whereupon he laid a charge against her before </p><p>the authorities. </p><p>The French records contain a number of interesting documents </p><p>regarding the massacre of 1729, including a list of the unfortunates </p><p>butchered by the Indians at Natchez. In this connection it is odd </p><p>to note that subsequent documents include the marriage contracts </p><p>of all the widows created by this sanguinary event, every one of </p><p>whom found new husbands within the year. We find in the collec </p><p>tion also an example of a very early will, that of a man named </p><p>Le Juif, drawn up by a priest in the absence of a notary. This </p><p>instrument was admitted to probate in due course. Kegarding the </p><p>Chevalier d'Arensbourg, a picturesque personality of great import ance in the early part of the French period, we have a large number </p><p>of papers dealing with practically every phase of his career in Louisi </p><p>ana; and, among other interesting items, establishing the fact that </p><p>he was a Protestant, not a Catholic, as has been erroneously </p><p>conjectured. Interest also attaches to the elaborate record of the first suit ever </p><p>brought in Louisiana for separation of bed and hoard. The defendant </p><p>was a physician, the Chevalier Manade, probably the first medical </p><p>practitioner in the colony. Mme Manade wanted her husband to </p><p>return her dowry, but he refused, on the ground that to do so would </p><p>encourage "immorality," and offer a precedent for other wives who </p><p>had wearied of the holy estate of matrimony. It seems that the lady </p><p>eventually repented of having made so much trouble, returned to </p><p>the Chevalier, and lived more or less happily with him ever after. </p><p>Other matters regarding which the French records contain much </p><p>material are the case of the French soldiers who deserted with the </p><p>intention (apparently not realized) of joining the British in North </p><p>Carolina, in 1725-28; the difficulties which arose between the Capu </p><p>This content downloaded from 194.29.185.66 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:35:22 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>468 The North Carolina Historical Review </p><p>chins and their parishioners, and, later on, between them and the </p><p>Jesuits, about 1726; the personal affairs of Father Baudoin, superior of the Jesuits in 1766; and the suit brought by Lafrenire against the Jesuits in 1763. The argument of Lafrenire in this case, which </p><p>affected the vast property owned by the order in what is now the </p><p>upper part of New Orleans, has been preserved and forms intensely </p><p>interesting reading. We may also cite briefly the record in a case in admiralty, affecting </p><p>the two-master "Snow," tried in 1741, before Salmon, Commissary of the Marine and First Judge of the Superior Council, interestin...</p></li></ul>