St Louis Cemetery No. 1

New Orleans, USA, 8th November 2014.

On this afternoon we went for a walk to St Louis Cemetery No 1 and later to Congo Square for a Gumbo Festival.

A noticeboard outside the cemetery describes it as follows:

When New Orleans was founded in 1718 burials were made on the river bank.  The first cemetery, in 1721, was on St Peter Street.  Burials were also made in the church.

The first cemetery was demolished when this cemetery, St Louis Cemetery No 1, was established by Spanish Royal decree of August 14, 1789….

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

Some of the oldest tombs lack the original surface and have no distinguishing marks.  I found interesting patterns in the patina on the wall of this one.

A few months after we were there, the cemetery was closed to the general public.  Ostensibly this was to prevent vandalism but more likely to extract money from tour companies who are still allowed to operate.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

The Barbarins were an eminent family of Jazz musicians.  Paul Barbarin was the more famous drummer but judging by the tomb, this person must have had local celebrity as well.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

An old tomb.  Perhaps an old wall plaque had fallen out.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

F. Louis Marrec, born at Morlaise, Department of Finistere, France 27 November 1797, died 14 November 1853.

His spouse Mle Justine Grousol, born in New Orleans 5 April 1809, died 24 December 1876.

Jean P Marrec (their son?), born 26 June 1832; died 4 October 1894.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

A voodoo tomb, I can’t tell you whose.  Perhaps if we had had the patience to take a guided tour but that was always unlikely.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

The triple crosses may originally have come from genuine Voodoo adherents but for the most part these are from Tour Groups pumping up their customers to try to capture a pretence of the mystique.  These days it’s called vandalism (always was, really) and may not be happening any more.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

The gris gris offerings are cute though.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

In memory of Doctor Asahel Brunson
A native of Halifax County North Carolina. Moved with his father to Tennessee in the spring of 1803. Departed this life in the army at New Orleans February 15 1815 aged 26 years 7 months and nine days.

So this means he died in the Battle of New Orleans, where the British failed to capture the city.  When they landed, New Orleans was at their mercy but they paused needlessly for several days, allowing the defenders to bring in cannon and raise defences.  Neither side was aware at the time that a peace treaty had been signed.  The battle became a major factor in Andrew Jackson’s later rise to the Presidency.  Andrew Jackson was the first Democratic President and rated by some as among the worst Presidents.  Bellicose, oppressor of Indians and a slave owner, he would have little in common with Obama.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

This stone is erected by Susannah Slaughter in memory of her late husband Thomas Slaughter, Shipmaster, who was born in the town of Beeding in Sussex, England and was drowned in the Mississippi River, May 21 1811, aged 41 years.
The high roling waves & loud blowing tempest, I have left to the living, for here I am anchor’d in peace, waiting for the return of … tide of life.
On the 22nd of Sept 1817, John Gardner (of Salem Mass.) departed this life aged about 25 years.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

The tomb of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau (c. 1794-1881), or possibly her daughter, or possibly both, or possibly neither.  Doesn’t matter really.  The major voodoo shrine.

Marie Laveau was High Priestess of Voodoo in New Orleans.  This was consistent with the matriarchal nature of the ancestral religion in West Africa.  However, New Orleans Voodoo was a unique synthesis.  Marie was also a devoted Catholic who went to church every day.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

Here is a closer look at some of the voodoo objects at the top of Marie Laveau’s tomb.  Objects and related actions are called gris-gris (grey-grey) because they represent a mixture of black and white magic.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

There are lots of Voodoo references in the cemetery.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

From the cemetery, we went to the nearby Gumbo Festival underway in Louis Armstrong Park.

Inside the park, this is also Congo Square.  From a notice board there:

Congo Square is in the “vicinity” of a spot which Houmas Indians used before the arrival of the French for celebrating their annual corn harvest and was considered sacred ground.  The gathering of enslaved African vendors in Congo Square originated as early as the late 1740s during Louisiana’s French colonial period and continued during the Spanish colonial era as one of the city’s public markets.  By 1803, Congo Square had become famous for the gatherings of enslaved Africans who drummed, danced, sang and traded on Sunday afternoons.  By 1819, these gatherings numbered as many as 500 to 600 people.  Among the most famous dances were the Bamboula, the Calinda and the Congo.  These African cultural expressions gradually developed into Mardi Gras Indian traditions, the Second line and eventually New Orleans jazz and rhythm and blues.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

However, I was somewhat disappointed with the Gumbo Festival.  Too many people, bands too far away, queues at the food vendors innumerable people long.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

And here we have Louis himself, watching over three young women in Carnival masks.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

There was even an Indian, as though Carnival was really happening.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

We then walked down Decatur Street to the bottom of Frenchmen Street.  This is near the Old US Mint, looking back up the street.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

Looking down Frenchman St.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

Marigny, near our accomodation.

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Architecture, Congo Square, French Quarter, Live Music, New Orleans, Photography, Sculpture, St Louis Cemetery No 1, Street photography, Travel, USA, Voodoo

Later in the evening we headed off for Bourbon St.  This is probably on Bourbon St, but at the non-commercial Eastern end.  Next image sequentially is Big Al Carson & the Blues Masters from the Further New Orleans Bands post, then Bourbon Street on Saturday night in the next post.

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11 comments on “St Louis Cemetery No. 1

  1. Wow what history and what a place to visit. It’s on our list.. well the city not sure I can convince the wife about the graves but would love to visit myself

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  2. Bill Chance says:

    What a nice entry. I love New Orleans – my son graduated from Tulane and still lives there (until recently he lived on Decatur, near the edge of your photo). We did take a guided tour of St. Louis #1 and, though I’m usually not a fan of touristy things, we had a great guide and it was very interesting.

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    • Murray Foote says:

      Thanks very much, Bill. I think it’s the living history that appeals to me, of the cemetery and of the whole area. We would have learned a lot more with a tour but a tour is not very compatible with having the space to take photographs.

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  3. Jane Lurie says:

    Wonderful post, Murray. New Orleans is a photographic gem and you’ve captured some interesting scenes.

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  4. Anne Marie says:

    Great pictures !

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  5. […] Marie Laveau’s tomb (?), St Louis Cemetery No 1. […]

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