Historic Resources in Louisiana

The state of Louisiana’s trove of history is incomparable. A vast number of the historic structures have been preserved and there is no finer example than in the City of New Orleans. If all one did was spend the days ogling the buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries that rise from the narrow cobble stone streets as monuments to French, Spanish, American and African history and culture it would be time well spent.

The parish courthouses hold amazing records many in dire need of preservation to enable access. Much work in that area has already been accomplished and is archived at excellent repositories such as the Louisiana State Archives and the Hill Memorial Library at LSU both in Baton Rouge. These are rivaled only by the Historic New Orleans Collection located in the heart of the French Quarter. There are literally dozens of other sources; it becomes just a question of time to review!!

The time here has been allocated hopefully in an equal measure between the methodical review of repository assets field work. In my estimation success requires a commitment to both.

 So very grateful am I for the support given by folks in Virginia: support that has allowed me to make this journey. I can report with a full heart that it has been well worth the effort.

Hours have been spent walking the fields of Pointe Coupee Parish noting the locations of cemeteries and searching for the names of those native Virginians. Though there undoubtedly are graves I have not yet found, an estimated two to three hundred were visited and it was most informative.

Networking is an essential component of field work and it is a requisite to go where your resources can be found. To that end, I have attended more church services in the past month -sometimes two in one morning- than in the year. I cannot say I am any closer to redemption, but it has been enlightening. And, I have been able to meet so many wonderful and interested people: sharing the story, encouraging their personal involvement and identifying a few more descendants!

I have now relocated to New Orleans. Not all work as you might imagine life in the Big Easy, but there are opportunities to further the research here and I am compelled to take advantage. To that end, I attended St. Augustine Catholic Church yesterday- a very historic congregation founded in 1842 by Free People of Color and is cited as the oldest African American Catholic parish in the nation.

The vibrant congregation today is a wonderful blend of the community it serves. The choir of voices and musical instruments felt much like a grand concert. It was inviting and uplifting and perhaps could be a source of an 1857 birth record I am seeking.

Much work yet to be done.

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