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Chapter 43

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of New Orleans

by
John Kendall

published by The Lewis Publishing Company,
Chicago and New York, 1922

The text is in the public domain.

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and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 45

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p698 Chapter XLIV
The Churches

No attempt to deal even cursorily with the history of New Orleans would be justified if it omitted an account of the rise and progress of the Catholic Church in the Mississippi Valley. From the day when the cross was first planted on this virgin soil, down to the present, its work has gone steadily forward. Out of what was originally the ecclesiastical province of Louisiana have been carved eight archbishoprics and sixty bishoprics. Churches and schools have arisen in every direction, while upwards of seventy cathedrals have been erected in what was a short time ago, as history reckons such matters, a wilderness almost unknown to man.

At the founding of New Orleans Bienville's first care was to make proper provision for a church. The territory where he was at work had already been placed under the spiritual authority of the Bishop of Quebec. This official designated Father Bruno, a Capuchin, to go to Louisiana. With two companions, Father Bruno long ministered to the infant community. In 1724 the Jesuits came to the colony. Bienville provided them with a home and lands at the expense of the Mississippi Company. Their estate lay just above the little city. Here they cultivated indigo, the myrtle wax tree, and, probably, sugar cane. The expulsion of the Jesuits in 1763 was due to a decree issued by the French Government. It was enforced with great severity. After the withdrawal of this order, the Capuchins cared for the spiritual needs of the colony, under the direction of Father Dagobert, a priest around whose memory many local legends have grown up.

With the cession of Louisiana to Spain, the province was transferred to the bishopric of Santiago de Cuba. At the head of this See was at that time the celebrated Doctor Echevarría. Realizing the necessity of an ecclesiastical official resident in New Orleans Bishop Echevarría obtained from the Holy See authority to appoint an auxiliary bishop who would not only have charge of religious matters in New Orleans, but look after the missions on the Mississippi, in Upper Louisiana, Mobile, Natchez, Pensacola, and St. Augustine. In prosecution of this plan, the Pope divided the diocese of Santiago de Cuba, and created the bishopric of St. Christopher of Havana, Louisiana, and the Floridas. In 1781 the Rt. Rev. José de Tres Palacios was installed as first bishop of the new diocese. Father Cirilo de Barcelona was appointed his auxiliary, and sent to New Orleans in charge of the administration of the diocese in Louisiana and the two Floridas. Thus the province became part of the diocese of Havana, which it continued to be down to April 25, 1793, when the territory was again divided, and the independent See of New Orleans was erected.

In the interval Bishop Cirilo had had a most successful administration. He was consecrated in the Cathedral at Havana in 1781, and proceeded immediately to his charge. By 1785, under his fostering care, the parish church in New Orleans was served by a parish priest and four assistants; and there were resident priests at Terre-aux‑Boeufs, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. James, Ascension, St. Gabriel's, Iberville, p700Point Coupee, the Attakapas, Opelousas, Natchitoches,º Natchez, St. Louis, St. Genevieve, and at St. Bernard, or Manchac (Galveston). It may be mentioned also as of interest that in 1786 Bishop Cirilo issued a pastoral attacking the custom cherished by the negroes of New Orleans, of assembling on Sunday afternoons, in what was afterwards called Congo Square (the Beauregard Square of today), to dance the "bamboula" and celebrate heathen rites of various kinds, relics of their life in Africa. The spiritual condition of the negroes gave considerable anxiety to the Spanish Government, if we may judge from the fact that in 1789 King Charles issued a decree requiring that on every plantation where there were slaves, there should be a chapel for their use. It is not clear what arrangement was made to supply these chapel with the proper ministers; probably, the nearest priest visited the spot from time to time and officiated there at more or less fixed intervals.

On November 25, 1785, Bishop Cirilo appointed as parish priest in New Orleans Father Antonio Ildefonso Moreno y Arce, one of six Capuchin priests who had come to the colony in 1779. Father Antonio, or Père Antonio de Sedella, as he is best known, had a stormy career in New Orleans. He it was who attempted to introduce into Louisiana the Inquisition, in 1789, and was expelled in consequence by Governor Miro. Later, as elsewhere related in this work, he returned to the city, and by works of humility and devotion, established himself securely in the affections of his parishioners, and died, venerated almost as a saint, in 1829.1

The See created as a result of the division of the diocese of Havana, in 1793, embraced an immense territory. It was bounded on the north by the Canadian line, and on the south by the diocese of Linares and Durango, in Mexico. On the east its frontier coincided with that of the diocese of Baltimore. On the west it was bounded by the Rocky Mountains and the Rio Perdido. Its official designation was, the bishopric of St. Louis of New Orleans. The first incumbent was Louis de Peñalver y Cárdenas. Bishop Peñalver arrived in New Orleans on July 17, 1795. His administration, however, covered but seven years. In 1802 he was promoted to the archbishopric of Guatemala, and four years later, to that of Havana, where he died. Pending the appointment of his successor the affairs of the diocese were entrusted to the Rev. Father Hasset, administrator, and the Very Rev. Patrick Walsh, vicar general. The former was in bad health. He addressed a communication to Bishop Carroll of Baltimore, in April, 1804, asking permission to retire to a more invigorating climate; and upon receiving permission to that effect, left Father Walsh alone to act as administrator, a post which he discharged with credit till his death, on August 22, 1806. In the meantime a successor to Bishop Peñalver had been found in the person of the Rt. Rev. Francisco Porro y Peinade, but his death in Rome, on the eve of his departure to take possession of the See, left the diocese still without an official head. Bishop Porro never set foot in Louisiana, and his appointment coming at a time when negotiations were under way for the transfer of Louisiana to the United States, it was, perhaps, fortunate in every way that he was never in a position to take charge of the diocese.

The affairs of the diocese were cared for by a variety of temporary expedients after the transfer of the province to the United States, from 1803, down to the year 1815. Father Walsh passed away, as already p701stated, in 1806. He was laid to rest in the old chapel of the Ursuline convent, in the street which bears the name of those good sisters. His death left the government of the province in the hands of the Rev. Father Sibourd. Bishop Carroll, acting under a papal decree of September 1, 1805, assumed the administration until such time as a new bishop might be appointed. He dispatched the Very Rev. M. Olivier to New Orleans to represent him locally. Father Olivier relieved Father Sibourd as administrator, and continued in charge till August 18, 1812. In the meantime the Holy See had communicated to Bishop Carroll a request to send to New Orleans some priest, whom he knew to be well qualified, to have the title of administrator apostolic, and the rights of an ordinary, to "continue to exercise this office only at the good will of the Holy See and according to instructions to be forwarded by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith." The man selected for this responsible post was the Rev. William Dubourg. On his arrival in New Orleans the new apostolic administrator was well received by father Antonio (Père Antoine) and the remainder of the clergy, and set to work with great zeal to regulate the affairs of his charge. He immediately identified himself with the American cause, in the great conflict then raging between the United States and Great Britain; and when requested by Gen. Andrew Jackson to hold public prayers for the victory of American arms, in January, 1815, complied devoutly and patriotically. After the battle of January 8 he officiated at the Te Deum celebrated in the Cathedral in gratitude for the signal success which Heaven had vouchsafed.

On September 24, 1815, the See of New Orleans, which had remained vacant for a decade, was at last filled by the elevation of Father Dubourg. He was consecrated on that date in Rome, whither he had gone to solicit aid for the diocese. Another important incident of this visit to Europe was, that at the solicitation of the new bishop the Vincentian or Lazarist Fathers agreed to come to Louisiana to open here a theological seminary. They located in St. Louis, founding what has since grown into the great Kenrick Seminary. At this time, also, Bishop Dubourg organized in France a little society, at Lyons, which undertook to make weekly payments towards the support of his missions in the new world. From this tiny beginning has since grown the mighty Society for the Propagation of the Faith. As was to be expected from so zealous and single-hearted a prelate, Bishop Dubourg, on his return to Louisiana, occupied himself with the opening of schools and colleges. At the request of the Secretary of War of the United States, he also established important Indian missions, which he put under the control of the Jesuit fathers.

On March 25, 1824, in the church at Donaldsonville, La., Rev. Joseph Rosati was consecrated as bishop coadjutor to Bishop Dubourg. Bishop Rosati took up his residence at St. Louis. In the latter part of that year Bishop Dubourg was transferred to the archbishopric of Besançon, in France, where he died a few years later. His promotion brought Bishop Rosati to New Orleans as head of the diocese. His administration lasted only three years. In 1827 the vast area till then attached to the bishopric of New Orleans was divided and the See of St. Louis was created out of its northern extremity. Bishop Rosati was made the first bishop of St. Louis. He was succeeded in New Orleans by another Lazarist, the Rt. Rev. Leo de Neckeré. Bishop Neckeré died in 1833, in the fourth year of his administration, as a result of fatigue and illness brought on in the course of his ministrations to his flock in the great epidemic of that year.

p702 The territory under the jurisdiction of the bishop of New Orleans was further curtailed in 1824 and 1825; in the former year the Prefecture Apostolic of Alabama was established, and in the following year, along with the Floridas, advanced to the rank of a Vicariate Apostolic. The Rev. Michael Portier was made first bishop of the new jurisdiction. He was consecrated in the cathedral at New Orleans on August 29, 1825. In 1829 the diocese of Mobile was created. In 1827 the See of Natchez was erected, with Rev. John J. Chanche as first bishop.

On the death of Bishop Neckeré the Rev. Anthony Neanjean was selected by Rome to fill the vacancy, but he declined the honor. The Rev. Anthony Blanc, who, in conjunction with the Rev. Father Ladavière, had been in charge of the diocese, was then appointed. Bishop Blanc was consecrated in the St. Louis Cathedral on November 2, 1835. The most important feature of his administration was the recall of the Jesuits to Louisiana. Nearly seventy-five years had elapsed since their expulsion from the diocese. They not only dedicated themselves to the ministry, but in 1837 opened a college at Grand Couteau, the first of a large number of educational enterprises undertaken by the order in the years immediately following their arrival in Louisiana. In 1835 Bishop Blanc laid the foundation stone of St. Patrick's Church, the first church for English-speaking Catholics erected in New Orleans. In 1838 the Lazarist Fathers opened a seminary in New Orleans. In 1843 the diocese of Little Rock was created out of territory included in the jurisdiction of New Orleans. The Rev. Andrew Byrne, D.D., was consecrated its first bishop. Four years later another See, that of Galveston, was created, with the Rev. J. M. Odin as its first bishop.

The Seventh Council of Baltimore addressed to his Holiness the Pope a recommendation that the Diocese of New Orleans be advanced to metropolitan rank. On July 19, 1850, therefore, Pope Pius IX created the Archdiocese of New Orleans, and appointed Bishop Blanc to be its first incumbent. Under his jurisdiction were placed not only his own See of New Orleans, but those of Mobile, Natchez, Little Rock and Galveston. Archbishop Blanc received the pallium in the St. Louis Cathedral on February 16, 1856, at the hands of Bishop Portier of Mobile. But New Orleans' first archbishop was not spared long to enjoy his honors. He passed away suddenly in that city on June 20, 1860. He was succeeded by Rt. Rev. Bishop John Mary Odin, appointed on February 15, 1861 Bishop Odin was then serving as bishop of Galveston. Although a native of France, he had received his education in the United States and was ordained at St. Louis in 1824. His service in New Orleans was marked by the same conscientious and devoted labor that had characterized his work in Texas. He established a number of charitable and benevolent institutions. Under his care the number of churches increased so rapidly that he was compelled to make a special trip to Europe to procure priests to take charge of the new parishes. In 1869 he went to Rome to attend the Ecumenical Council of that year. While in attendance he grew so feeble that he was compelled to retire to his native town, Ambierle, in France, where he died on May 25, 1870, aged 69. An interesting fact connected with Archbishop Odin's administration which should not be omitted here, was the establishment of the "Morning Star." The diocese had at one time possessed a good paper, but it was published in the French language. It was called Le Propagateur Catholique, and for a time was edited by Father Napoleon Joseph Perché, who afterwards p703became archbishop of New Orleans. It went out of existence about the time of the beginning of Civil war. The "Morning Star" was established in September, 1867, and has been published regularly ever since. The Rev. Richard Kane was the first editor, and the Thomas G. Rapier, afterwards manager of the New Orleans Picayune, became the business manager. In 1870 Father Abraham Ryan, the famous poet, became editor, but resigned in 1873.

In 1870 Father Perché was named coadjutor to Archbishop Odin, and on May 25, after having served in the lesser office only twenty-four days, succeeded to the archiepiscopal dignity. He was in his 65th year, and most of his religious carer had been passed in New Orleans, where he settled in 1836 as almoner of the Ursuline Convent. Difficulties with the wardens of the cathedral over the management of church property, which had occurred from time to time under previous bishops, rose during Archbishop Perché's time, but although litigation ensued, the archbishop was successful in effecting a compromise which left behind it no ill feeling. It was during his rule that the Carmelite nuns were established in the diocese. Twenty churches and chapels were built; the priesthood was extensively recruited; two Catholic colleges, one at Thibodaux and the other at St. Mary's, were founded; several academies for girls, and a number of parochial schools were opened and an asylum was founded in New Orleans for aged colored women, of which the Little Sisters of the Poor took charge. Pope Leo XIII, who greatly admired the sermons of this eloquent prelate, called him "the Bossuet of the American Church." Archbishop Perché died in New Orleans December 28, 1883.

His successor was Francis Xavier Leray, who had in 1877 been appointed bishop of Natchitoches, and, in December, 1879, coadjutor to Archbishop Perché. On Sunday, January 25, 1883,a Archbishop Leray received the pallium in the St. Louis Cathedral from the hands of Archbishop Gibbons of Baltimore. Archbishop Leray was a native of France and was born in 1825. He died on September 23, 1887, at his native town of Chateau-Giron,º while there on a visit. Between his death and the appointment of his successor there was an interregnum of several months. During this time the affairs of the archdiocese were administered by the Rev. A. G. Rouxel.º On August 7, 1888, Francis Janssens, who was then serving as bishop of Natchez, was promoted to the vacant See. He was invested with the pallium in the St. Louis Cathedral on May 8, 1889, by Cardinal Gibbons, this being the first time in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States that a ceremony of this description had been performed by a cardinal. Archbishop Janssens was a native of Holland, but at the time when he was called to the archbishopric of New Orleans had spent over twenty years in America. His administration was characterized by the uniform good feeling which prevailed and the steady progress which was made by the church in all her charitable and educational enterprises. In the spring of 1897 Archbishop Janssens left New Orleans to visit his home in Holland, but died of heart failure on June 19, 1897, while on his way at once New York.

His successor was a man whose name is written high in the history of the American church. Placide Louis Chapelle, a native of France, was archbishop of Santa Fe when, in November, 1897, he was appointed archbishop of New Orleans. On September 16, 1898, Archbishop Chapelle was appointed apostolic delegate in Cuba and Porto Rico, and a p704year later received a similar appointment for the Philippine Islands. His task was to reorganize the church in these places under the American rule. He accomplished this difficult and delicate mission in each case with signal success. On account of his frequent absences from New Orleans in the performance of these duties, it was necessary to provide him with an assistant. Accordingly the Rev. Gustav A. Rouxel was appointed auxiliary archbishop. On August 9, 1905, Archbishop Chapelle fell a victim to the yellow fever.

James Hubert Blenk, although a native of Bavaria, was a resident of New Orleans during nearly the whole of his life. He was brought to this city by his parents when he was but eight years of age. His parents were Protestants, but the son became a member of the Catholic church when twelve years of age and was ordained a priest in 1885. After a distinguished career as an educator, first in Ireland and then in Louisiana, he was appointed to the rectorate of the Holy Name of Mary Church in the Fifth District (Algiers). When Archbishop Chapelle was appointed apostolic delegate to Cuba and Porto Rico he selected Father Blenk to be auditor of the delegation. He was required to give particular attention to the complicated question of church property in those islands. So well did he perform the tasks committed to him that when it became necessary to appoint a bishop for the new American See of Porto Rico, he was recommended for that post. He was confirmed bishop on April 21, 1899.

On April 20, 1906, he was selected to succeed Archbishop Chapelle as archbishop of New Orleans. He was enthroned in the St. Louis Cathedral on July 1, 1906. He at once confirmed the Rt. Rev. G. A. Rouxel as auxiliary bishop and named the Rt. Rev. J. M. Laval vicar-general. The pallium was conferred upon Archbishop Blenk by Cardinal Gibbons in the St. Louis Cathedral on April 24, 1907. His administration was characterized by a deep interest in the work of the Federation of Catholic Societies, of the Catholic Educational Association and in the cause of education in general. Many splendid schools and churches were erected under his auspices in the country sections of the diocese. A diocesan school board was formed to co-operate in this work. A preparatory seminary was founded and the first steps taken towards the establishment of a major or theological seminary. In his solicitude for the spiritual and educational betterment of his colored parishioners he not only instituted in the country a parish distinctly for them, but called to labor in the diocese the Josephite Fathers, the Fathers of the Holy Ghost and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, in addition to the priests and societies already engaged in that important work. In the latter part of his administration Archbishop Blenk perceiving that the growth of the diocese had attained a point where a further division should be instituted, recommended the establishment of the See of Lafayette. This recommendation was not carried out until after his death. This sad event took place on April 20, 1917, as a result of a long illness, brought on by unremitting labor. He was interred in the vaults of the St. Louis Cathedral beside his predecessors in the See.

Pending the appointment of a successor to Archbishop Blenk the diocese was administered by the chancellor, Father Jeanmard. On January 25, 1918, the Rt. Rev. John William Shaw, then serving as bishop of San Antonio, was promoted to the vacant archbishopric. Archbishop Shaw has continued his predecessor's labors on behalf of education, p705and particularly by raising a fund of over $1,000,000 has made sure the realization of a project long agitated by Catholic educators, the establishment of a great seminary and New Orleans for the education of young men for the priesthood.

At the present time the Archdiocese of New Orleans embraces the suffragan Sees of Mobile, Little Rock, Natchez, Galveston and Alexandria, the establishment of which has already been noted. The following Sees are also included: San Antonio, erected in 1874; Dallas, erected in 1890; Corpus Christi, erected in 1912; Oklahoma, 1905, and Lafayette, 1918. In 1918 there were in the archdiocese 148 churches and 126 missions with churches and 22 mission stations with chapels. There are, besides the Diocesan Preparatory Seminary already spoken of, a Dominican seminary, where young men are trained for the missionary work of that order. There are in New Orleans eight Catholic orphanages, an infant asylum, three hospitals, three houses for the aged poor, the House of the Good Shepherd, devoted to the care of wayward women and girls; the Hotel Dieu, a great private hospital, connected with which is the Burguiere Memorial Home for Incurables, recently erected at a cost of $50,000. The work of the Sisters Charity in the New Orleans Charity Hospital is well known. The Louisiana Retreat for the Insane is likewise a Catholic institution. Catholic philanthropy is responsible for the St. Vincent Home for Workingmen, established at Jackson Square a few years ago; and the Hope Haven Industrial Farm, one of the most important movements undertaken for social service in the archdiocese. Mention should also be made of the Catholic Woman's Club. In practically every church will be found a Holy Name Society, a League of the Sacred Heart, a Conference of St. Vincent de Paul, altar and sanctuary societies and sodalities of the Blessed Virgin for males and females, young and old. The Total Abstinence Society has branches in many parishes. It is impossible in this place to enumerate all the organizations through which the Catholic religious enterprise expresses itself at the present moment, but the foregoing brief list will give some idea of the variety and importance of the work of the church in recent years.2

In this connection it may be of interest to append an outline of the history of the St. Louis Cathedral. The present structure is the third which has stood upon the site. In 1718 Bienville erected the first of these buildings. It was a rude structure of boards, roofed with "latanier" (palmetto). Père Charlevoix, in his description of the infant city, penned in 1722, refers to it as "half of a sorry storehouse, which they agreed to lend to the Lord of the place, but when He had taken possession thereof they turned Him out to dwell under a tent." This primitive structure was blown down in the hurricane which swept over the city in the following year. In 1725 Bienville built the second church, a substantial brick edifice, which defied the wind and rain for sixty-four years, and was then destroyed by fire in the great conflagration of Good Friday, March 21, 1788, whereby nearly the entire city was destroyed. The disaster was so general that for a time it seemed impossible to raise funds with which to rebuild the church. It was at this juncture that Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas, a local magnate, member of the Cabildo, p706offered to rebuild it at his own expense, on the sole condition that, when he died, a mass should be offered once a week in perpetuity for the repose of his soul. The work was executed at a cost of $50,000. The cornerstone of the new church was laid in 1789 and the building was completed in 1794. The institution of the bishopric of New Orleans, in 1793, carried with it the elevation of the church to cathedral rank. While awaiting the arrival of the new bishop, the Rt. Rev. Luis Peñalver y Cárdenas, the building was dedicated.

(p699)

[image ALT: A photograph of a model, seen from the long side, of a small rectangular building with a symmetrically pitched roof and six square windows. It is a reconstruction, found in the Louisiana State Museum, of the first church built in Louisiana.]

Model of the First Church Erected in Louisiana, 1718, in the Louisiana State Museum

An interesting account of the building of the cathedral is preserved in the archives of the cathedral, from which it appears that Don Andrés not only erected the cathedral, but also the chapel of the convent of the Ursuline nuns, a school for young girls, the Charity Hospital and its chapel, and gave ground to serve as a site for a leper's home, that terrible disease being very prevalent in the city. "A fire having destroyed the parochial church on the 21st of March, 1788, the grief of the people made him conceive the vast project — worthy of his great heart — of rebuilding this sanctuary at his own expense. The edifice was begun in March, 1789, and in spite of a thousand obstacles, Don Almonester succeeded within five years in giving it the perfection, grandeur, solidity and beauty which we now admire. Finally, the parish being unable, through lack of funds, to decorate the interior in a manner worthy of a cathedral, he took upon himself the expense of building a gallery on each side of the nave and providing a beautiful balustrade for the choir, together with a main altar, on which the workmen were engaged when on the 8th of December another terrible fire broke out and destroyed the temporary chapel. The blessed sacrament was hastily carried to the convent of the Ursulines, and the ornamentation of the main altar was hastily completed to receive our Lord, so that the people might with the more facility assist at the performance of the mass. The new edifice was blessed on the day and in the year mentioned [December 23, 1794 — the date of the entry from which the present quotation is taken] in the presence of the ecclesiastical and civil authorities of this city. At the opening of the ceremony our illustrious benefactor presented the keys of the church to the governor, who then handed them over to me [Joaquin de Portilla — who wrote and signed the record]. Immediately afterwards Don Patricio Walsh, an Irish priest, chaplain of the Royal Hospital, foreign vicar, ecclesiastical judge of the province for the bishop of Havana (the bishop of Louisiana not having yet taken possession) blessed the church. The holy sacrifice of the mass followed the blessing, and these magnificent ceremonies filled with joy the hearts of all the faithful. The next day, December 24, the clergy assembled in the monastery of the Ursulines, to which the blessed sacrament had been carried after the fire of December 8. The governor with all the notable personages of the city also met therein. A procession was formed and the blessed sacrament was carried with the greatest solemnity to the new church, in which I sang the first mass and preached the first sermon today. After the Benediction of the blessed sacrament the ceremony was closed by the chanting of the Te Deum for the greater glory of God, and this was followed by loud salutes of artillery. It is, then, just that the people and the ministers of the church should render perpetual gratitude to the illustrious and noble benefactor, Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas, p707and it is to prevent his works from falling into oblivion that I mention his name here ad perpetuam Dei memoriam."3

The liberality of the builder was recognized by the Spanish king, who in letters patent dated August 14, 1794, conferred on Don Andrés the right to occupy the second most prominent seat in the church, immediately after that of the Intendant of the province, who was the vice-royal patron. He was also to receive the kiss of peace during the celebration of mass. Don Andrés died in 1798 and was interred before one of the side altars of the stately edifice which his generosity had erected. In the restoration undertaken in the middle of last century, this grave was covered by a new floor and the present gravestone, with its long Spanish inscription, was laid. Only recently the original tablet was discovered. This has been removed to a place in the State Museum, where it may be seen today. The memory of the pious founder is recalled every Saturday, when the bells of the cathedral ring to remind all hearers of the join in supplications for the repose of the good man's soul. Just as the marriage of Don Andrés to the accomplished Louise de la Ronde had been celebrated in the old church destroyed in 1788, so, in the early part of the following century, their daughter, Micaela, was joined in matrimony in the new building to Baron Pontalba.

In 1850 the collapse of a tower led to extensive restorations, in the course of which it seems very likely that the whole church was remodeled and enlarged. It was at that time that the present facade was built. In 1892, in conjunction with the celebration of the centennial of its foundation, Archbishop Janssens caused the cathedral to be repaired. The interior was then frescoed elaborately by Humbrecht. The celebration of the centennial took place with great pomp, the governor of the state and many civic and military dignitaries attending. There were present also Cardinal Gibbons, eight archbishops, thirty-two bishops and 400 priests, representing the various archdioceses and dioceses carved out of the ancient area of the Bishopric of Louisiana. On April 25, 1909, some miscreant placed a dynamite bomb in the cathedral, and the result explosion not only shattered the window glass, but the galleries were badly injured. Only by a species of miracle did the venerable edifice survive this dastardly outrage. Through the efforts of Father Laval, then rector of the cathedral, a fund was raised and the damage was repaired. It is proper that the injuries then inflicted, coupled with the effects of the great hurricane of September, 1915, as well as the changes in the water level of the city resulting from the installation of the new drainage system, were responsible for the collapse of the foundation in 1916. An examination of the building then showed that it was unsafe. After the Easter services in that year Archbishop Blenk was compelled to close the venerable building. Steps were at once taken to raise money with which to restore it; but the campaign was unsuccessful, and the strenuous labor connected with it, as well as the disappointment in which it resulted, are believed to have hastened the end of the beloved prelate. Happily, at this juncture an anonymous benefactor appeared and offered to pay for the restorations that had become necessary. This offer was accepted. Under the direction of the Very Rev. Jules B. Jeanmard, then in charge of the affairs of the diocese, the p708work was pushed rapidly to a conclusion, and a twelvemonth later the building was pronounced fit for use.

The cathedral was for many years the center of the life of the community. Either in the existing building or in the other structures which have adorned the site, all the long line of French and Spanish governors have worshipped. There Unzaga, Galvez, Miro, Carondelet and Gayoso de Lemos were married. In the present building was celebrated the Te Deum for the victory of Jackson over the British in 1815. Here worshipped the French prince who afterwards became King Louis Philippe of France; his brother, the Duc de Montpensier; the Count de Beaujolais, the Marquis de Lafayette and Emperor Pedro II of Brazil, who, with his consort and his grandson, the Comte d'Eu, visited New Orleans in 1876. Cardinals Gibbons, Satolli, Martinelli and Falconio have pontificated at its altar. Within its walls have been consecrated nearly all the bishops and archbishops who have ruled the See; and Bishop Portier of Mobile; Bishops Martin, Durier and Van Der Ven of Natchitoches (now Alexandria); Bishop Heslin of Natchez; Bishops Rouzelº and Laval, auxiliary bishops of New Orleans, and Archbishop Bernada of Santiago de Cuba. Within the sanctuary lie buried Archbishops Blanc, Odin, Perché, Leray, Janssens, Chapelle and Blenk, and Bishops de Neckeré and Rouzel. Besides Don Andrés Almonester y Rojas, Philip de Marigny and several other members of the Marigny family, long prominent in the city, are also interred within the sacred precincts.4

The other principal Catholic churches in the city, with the dates of their foundation, are: Church of the Immaculate Conception (Jesuits'), 1848; St. Alphonsus' Church, 1858; St. Patrick's Church, 1833 (present structure, 1837); St. Mary's Assumption Church, 1845; St. Joseph's Church, 1841 (present structure begun 1871); Church of Notre Dame de Bon Secours, 1858; Church of the Annunciation, 1846; Church of St. Vincent de Paul, 1839; St. Teresa's Church, 1850; Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, 1892 (present structure 1919); Church of Holy Name of Mary, 1859; Holy Trinity Church, 1870; Church of the Mater Dolorosa, 1874; Church of the Nativity, 1899; St. Stephen's Church, 1849 (present structure, 1851); Ursuline Chapel, on Ursuline Street, 1829; St. Cecelia'sº Church, 1896; St. Augustine's Church, 1841; Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 1874; Church of St. Anthony of Padua, 1822; Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel, 1887; Church of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, 1871; St. Boniface's Church, 1869; St. Francis de Sales Church, 1873; St. Henry's Church, 1856; St. John the Baptist Church, 1851 (present edifice, 1869); St. Mary's Church, on Chartres Street, 1835; St. Maurice's Church, 1844; St. Michael's Church, 1872; St. Peter's and St. Paul's, 1849 (present structure, 1861); St. Rose de Lima Church, 1859; St. Roch's Chapel, 1871.


[image ALT: An engraving of a small church in the Gothic style, with a square three-story tower over the front door, surmounted by a tall steeple. It is a view of Christ Church on Canal Street in New Orleans.]

Christ Church on Canal Street

There is record of the settlement in New Orleans of "a number of Protestants" in 1793.5 The first Protestant church, however, was not established till 1805. This was Christ Church. Some account of the circumstances connected with the organization of this church has been given elsewhere in this volume.b Protestant services were held for the first time in its history on Sunday, July 15, 1805. The story of Protestant p709missionary enterprise in Louisiana, however, considerably antedates that event. The honor of having sent the first Protestant preachers into what is now the State of Louisiana is disputed by the Baptist and the Methodist Episcopal Churches. The former claims that the Rev. Joseph Willis, a mulatto and native of South Carolina, preached at Vermillionville as early as 1798. But on account of the prejudice excited by his color he was able to remain but a short time in the colony. About the time of the transfer of Louisiana to the United States he returned and was successful in establishing a church at Bayou Chicot, in what is now the Parish of St. Landry. There is nothing to show that he or any other Baptist clergyman visited New Orleans at this early date. The first Methodist preacher in Louisiana was the eccentric Lorenzo Dow, who paid a visit to Northern Louisiana between 1803 and 1804, and according to his own report preached at various points in the Attakapas. The conference of 1804 appointed the Rev. E. W. Bowman to Opelousas and the Revs. Nathan Barnes and Thomas Lasley to the Natchez district. Bowman, on his way to his appointment, passed through New Orleans and made an unsuccessful effort to organize a church in this city. The number of Protestants was, however, too small and their divisions into sects too definite to permit him to carry out his intention. He appears to have been kindly received by the inhabitants and even to have been entertained at the homes of Catholic citizens.6 The Protestants in New Orleans, however, increased in number rapidly after the cession, and early in 1805 met for worship at a private residence. A vote was taken as to which congregation they should affiliate on June 16, 1805, and p710a majority decided in favor of the Episcopalian. This was the beginning of Christ Church. The first rector, Rev. Philander Chase, served from 1805 to 1811. There was then an interval when the congregation was without a pastor. In 1814 the Rev. James Hull of Belfast, Ireland, accepted the charge. The work of raising funds for a house of worship was undertaken by this worthy man, and a building was erected in 1816 on Canal Street, at the corner of Bourbon. Mr. Hull died in 1833; a few months after his death the church was sold and demolished and the building of a new and larger building, made necessary by the continual growth of the congregation, was undertaken at the corner of Canal and Dauphine, on a site donated for the purpose by the municipality. This building cost $50,000. It remained in use till 1886, when the encroachments of business upon the neighborhood made a further removal desirable. The building was sold and demolished. The congregation in 1887 occupied its present home on St. Charles Avenue, corner of Sixth, which is also used as the pro-Cathedral. Christ Church has had a long line of distinguished rectors, among them the Rev. J. A. Fox, who served till 1835; Rev. J. T. Wheat, 1835‑1837; Rev. N. S. Wheaton, 1837‑1844; Rev. F. L. Hawks, 1844‑1849; Rev. Edmund Neville, 1849‑1851; Rev. William T. Leacock, 1851‑1861, 1864‑1886;º Rev. A. I. Drysdale, 1882‑1886; Rev. Davis Sessums, 1887‑1891. Recent rectors have been the Revs. Quincy Ewing, F. I. Paradise, F. H. Coyle, W. W. Howe and Charles D. Wells.7

Christ Church is, in reality, the mother-church of Protestantism in New Orleans. When the Presbyterians felt strong enough to have a church of their own, they left the congregation. Mr. Hull, who was then the rector, contributed $300 out of his salary of $1,200 to help build the First Presbyterian Church. In Christ Church, the French Protestants also worshipped for a time. It is also, in large measure, the mother-church of the Episcopalian diocese of Louisiana. The second Episcopalian Church in Louisiana was consecrated in 1828 at St. Francisville by Bishop Kemper, the first missionary bishop in America. On January 8, 1830, Bishop Brownwell, of Connecticut, arrived in New Orleans on the steamer "Tigress." He consecrated the little octagonal church on January 10, and on the following Sunday the first confirmation was held, with sixty-four candidates, all adults. In the same month the first convention was held, Christ Church being represented by Mr. Hull, and Grace Church, St. Francisville, by Mr. Bowman. It was at this convention that it was proposed to form a southwestern diocese, to consist of the states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. This idea took shape when the Rev. Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Leonidas Polk, rector of St. Peter's Church, Columbia, Tennessee, was elected by the general convention missionary bishop of Arkansas; and the first Diocesan Council of Louisiana, meeting in Christ Church on January 16, 1838, by resolution placed the diocese under his personal charge.8 Bishop Polk accepted, and began his duties March 18, 1839. His administration was very successful. Churches were erected in many towns, and the number of communicants showed a steady increase. Bishop Polk accepted a commission in the Confederate army on April 28, 1861, and was killed at Pine Mountain, June 13, 1864. The four years of the Civil war were years p711of great disaster to the Episcopalian Church in Louisiana. Only twenty-six church buildings remained intact in the state when the war ended, and services were regularly conducted in but twenty-two.c

In May, 1866, the Rev. Joseph Pere Bell Wilmer was elected second bishop of Louisiana. His administration lasted till 1874. During this time he doubled the number of churches in the diocese, and more than doubled the number of clergymen. The council of 1879 elected Rev. John Nicholas Galleher to be his successor. At that time Doctor Galleher was serving as rector of Trinity Church. His health failed within a short time, and it became necessary to provide him with an assistant. In June, 1891, Rev. Davis Sessums, rector of Trinity, was consecrated assistant bishop, and when in the following December, Bishop Wilmer laid down his pastoral staff forever, Bishop Sessums was chosen to be his successor. He still continues at the head of the diocese.

After Christ Church, the Episcopalian churches in New Orleans historically most important are: Trinity, the Free Church of the Annunciation, St. Anna's, St. George's, St. Paul's, St. John's, and Grace Church. Trinity Church stands on Jackson Avenue, at the corner of Coliseum Street. It was founded in 1847, with six communicants, and the Rev. Mr. Ranney in charge. The parish was incorporated in the same year. Mr. Ranney resigned within a few months, and his work was carried on by Mr. Charles P. Clark, licensed as a lay reader. Mr. Clark was instrumental in collecting sufficient funds to purchase the three lots at the corner of Second and Oak streets, on which the first church was erected. The first vestrymen were W. M. Goodrich, Ferdinand Rodeald, C. P. Clark, A. P. Phelps, W. M. Vaught, J. F. Thorpe, and Daniel Dewees. The parish was admitted into the union May 3, 1848. The first rector was the Rev. Alexander Dobbs. In 1851 the site of the present church was purchased, and the present edifice was occupied in April of the following year. The other rectors of the church have been: Rev. O. Flagg, 1853‑1854; Rev. Henry M. Pierce, June-December, 1854; Leonidas Polk, 1855‑1860; Rev. Fletcher J. Hawley, 1860‑1862; Rev. L. Y. Jessup, 1862‑1864; Rev. Anthony Vallas, April-September, 1864; Rev. John Percival, 1864‑1865; Rev. J. W. Beckwith, 1865‑1868; Rev. J. N. Galleger,º 1868‑1871; Rev. S. S. Harris, 1871‑1875; Rev. Hugh Miller Thompson, 1876‑1883; Rev. R. A. Holland, 1883‑1886; Rev. R. H. McKim, 1886‑1888; Rev. W. A. Snively, 1889‑1892; Rev. C. C. Kramer, 1892; Rev. Thomas F. Gailor, Rev. C. Hains, and Rev. Wm. Cross, 1893; Rev. Beverly Warner, 1893‑1910; Rev. R. S. Copeland, 1910.

The Free Church of the Annunciation was incorporated by an act of the Louisiana State Legislature March 25, 1844. An election of vestrymen held July 31, 1844, at the office of Thomas Sloo, corner Hevia and St. Charles streets, was the first step towards the organization of the church. The first vestrymen were: Thomas Sloo, Jr., E. W. Briggs, Benjamin Lowndes, W. S. Brown, Joseph Callender, C. B. Black, and J. P. McMillan. In 1844 Rev. Nathaniel Ogden Preston was elected first rector. The first services were held in a room "16 by 80 feet, being part of the building known as a soap factory, on the corner of Race and Pacanier (Chippewa) streets." In 1845 the church gave its adhesion to the diocese, and Benjamin Lowndes was elected its first delegate to the diocesan convention. In the same year part of the lots on the corner of Range and Chippewa streets were purchased by Paul Tulane, and plans were adopted for a Gothic church to cost $8,250. The church p712was completed in March, 1846. In 1855 Mr. Preston resigned, and was succeeded as rector by Rev. Charles F. Rodenstein, in 1855, as temporary appointee, and in 1856, as pastor. During his term the church was made a free church with the object of making it a missionary church. On April 19, 1858, the edifice was destroyed by fire. It was decided to remove to a new site before building again. The present location at the corner of Camp and Race was selected, and purchased in 1860 for $6,500, cash. The outbreak of the Civil war, however, occasioned a long period of inactivity in the parish, and it was not till 1866 that the project of building was revived. In the meantime, the parish, after having practically disappeared during the war, had been revived through the efforts of Mrs. W. S. Brown. The first services held after the war were celebrated in the building in the rear of the Methodist Church on the corner of Felicity and Chestnut streets. In 1865 the Rev. John Percival was called to the rectorship, and the congregation began worshipping in an old blacksmith shop, on Prytania Street, near Jackson. In 1866, however, better quarters were secured by the purchase of the Methodist school building on Chestnut Street. This building was subsequently moved to the lots owned by the congregation on Camp and Race. The present structure was erected there in 1873 at a cost of $13,450. After the death of Doctor Percival, the church was served by Revs. J. B. Whaling, John T. Foster, and Frank Poole Johnson.

St. Anna's Church, on Esplanade Avenue, between Marais and Villeré, was erected in 1869 at a cost of $100,000, donated by Dr. W. N. Mercer. The original edifice was burned in 1876 and replaced by the present edifice. St. George's Church, situated on St. Charles Avenue and Cadiz Street, was formed by the union of Emanuel and St. Mark's churches, in 1864. The first church building stood at the corner of Pitt and Napoleon avenues. The present church dates from 1899. Among the rectors have been Rev. H. C. Duncan, 1864‑1875; Rev. B. T. H. Maycock, 1875‑1877; Rev. George R. Upton, 1877‑1882; Rev. John Philson, S. M. Wiggins, A. Kenny Hall, A. J. Tardy, Doctor Knapp and J. W. Moore. St. Paul's Church owes its existence to the Rev. J. T. Wheat. Appointed a missionary to the upper portion of New Orleans in 1835, he succeeded in bringing about the organization of St. Paul's in the following year. The congregation first worshipped in a school building on Tivoli (Lee) Circle. Later, a warehouse on Julia Street was utilized for the purpose, and still later, a building on Camp Street. The first vestrymen were John Messinger, J. H. B. Morton, Augustin Slaughter, John G. Grayson, and Thomas N. Morgan. The subscription to build a church was started in 1837, and the amount of $40,000 had been pledged, when the financial panic of that year put an end to the project, some of the heaviest subscribers being bankrupted, and unable to meet their engagements. In the following year Mr. Goodrich revived the plan, and in 1839 a permanent edifice was completed at the corner of Camp and Bartholomew streets. The need for a new building was so strongly felt by 1853 that steps were taken to erect a church on the site where the present church stands. The building occupied in the following year was, however, burned in 1891; when the handsome granite structure now used by the congregation was built. During the Civil war Rev. Elijah Guion was in charge of the church. He was succeeded in 1868 by Rev. William F. Adams, afterwards bishop of New Mexico and Arizona, who resigned a few years later, and was replaced by the p713Rev. H. H. Waters. Doctor Waters' long service as rector was the most important feature of the history of this church.

St. John's Church, which dates from 1871, was established at the corner of Third and Annunciation. Its first rector was the Rev. Dr. Harrison. Grace Church dates from 1886. Trinity Chapel, an off-shoot of St. Paul's and of Trinity, came into existence in 1870. In 1884 the property was made over to the bishop of the diocese, and in the following year the Rev. A. Gordon Bakewell took charge. His long connection with this church was terminated in 1920, when he died at a very advanced age.

The second Protestant church to secure a foothold in New Orleans was the Baptist. The church had already established itself in Louisiana — at Franklin, in St. Mary's Parish, in 1812, and at Bayou Boeuf, in 1816. In 1817 the Rev. James Reynoldson was sent to New Orleans as a missionary by the Home Mission Board of the Baptist Triennial Convention. He was welcomed by Cornelius Paulding, a merchant who had settled in New Orleans in 1813, and who was a Baptist. He preached and taught school in the "long room" of Mr. Paulding's home, on Dorsière Street, between Canal and Customhouse. He succeeded in organizing a church, over which the Rev. Mr. Davis was called to preside in 1820. Davis baptized the first additions to the church in the Mississippi, in front of the Customhouse, in the presence of a large crowd, many of whom had never witnessed before a ceremony of this description. At this time the church numbered forty-eight members, of whom sixteen were white. After his departure the congregation dispersed. It was not until 1826, when the Rev. William Rondeau, of England, took charge, that the scattered members were collected and the church re-organized. Mr. Rondeau also removed at the end of a year. During his short ministry he baptized two new members. In 1833 Mr. Paulding built a church for the congregation on St. Charles Street, on the site now occupied by the Soulé Commercial College. Here the Rev. Pharcellus Church officiated as pastor in 1834 and 1835. After his departure, except for the labors of the Rev. P. W. Robert, of South Carolina, who spent a short time in the City of Lafayette (now the Fourth District), the Baptist Church seems to have virtually disappeared from New Orleans.

In 1842, however, the Missionary Board of the Triennial Conference sent the Rev. Russell Holman, of Kentucky, to New Orleans. He was a missionary, but found time to gather together the scattered members and for two years he held services in the upper story of a building at "66" Julia Street, between Magazine and Camp streets. In 1843, while some visiting ministers were present in the city, a presbytery of Baptist elders met on December 28 and re-organized the church with ten members. In April, 1844, the church was strong enough to feel justified in calling the Rev. Isaac T. Hinton, of St. Louis, to serve as pastor. Mr. Hinton arrived in January, 1845. During his pastorate the church was incorporated (March 5, 1845). Funds were also collected with which to erect a church. Three lots were purchased on St. Charles Street, between Julia and St. Joseph. A building was erected thereon in 1846 at a cost of $4,000. The membership rose to 122. In 1847 Mr. Hinton fell a victim of the yellow fever. He was succeeded by the Rev. T. G. Freeman, who served only a few months in 1848; Rev. Charles Raymond, from May, 1848, to December, 1849; Rev. Serano Taylor, from February, p7141850 to April, 1851. Mr. Paulding died in 1851, leaving directions that the St. Charles Street building should be sold and the proceeds presented to a new congregation which he hoped would be formed in order to receive the legacy. This led to a re-organization of the church, and the sale of the St. Charles Street Church as a result of litigation under the sheriff's hammer. The property was bought by Judah Touro for $9,000, which was two-thirds of the appraisement.

The congregation worshipped in a room in the Carrollton Railroad depot, at the corner of Baronne and Perdido streets, in 1853 and 1854, with the Rev. W. C. Duncan as pastor. The total membership was now 181, less losses by death or removal of seventy-five or eighty. On June 21, 1854, nine members asked for letters of dismissal, in order to organize the Coliseum Place Baptist Church, of which Mr. Duncan became pastor. The congregation of the First Church worshipped with Coliseum Place congregation from this date till 1860. In that year it resumed its separate existence, occupying rented quarters in the Bible House, on Camp Street, near Girod. The ministers were, in 1860, Rev. Alex Sutherland and Rev. D. R. Haynes. In July, 1861, it purchased the old Lafayette High School, at the corner of Magazine and Second streets, and fitted this up as a church; but the breaking out of the Civil war affected the congregation very injuriously and in 1862 not more than twenty members remained enrolled. In 1863 this little group of faithful was re-enforced by a small contingent from the Coliseum Baptist Church and the Rev. J. C. Carpenter was called to the pastorate. Under him it increased largely. At his departure in 1870, the Rev. J. M. Lewis took charge. From 1873 to 1878 there was no regular pastor. The Rev. M. C. Cole then took charge, since whose time the succession of pastors has been regular and admirable. In 1892 the church was destroyed by fire. A disused theater on Magazine Street, near Washington Avenue, was purchased and served as a home for the congregation till 1908, when the handsome new church at the corner of St. Charles Avenue and Delachaise Street, erected largely through the exertions of the Rev. C. V. Edwards (who became pastor in 1899 and served nearly ten years), was ready for occupancy.9

The Coliseum Place Baptist Church, as above stated, was organized in 1854 as an offshoot of the First Church. The building was completed and occupied in that year. It was displaced by a larger and more elegant edifice, completed in 1873. Among the early pastors were the Revs. E. G. Taylor, N. W. Wilson, J. B. Lowry, S. Landrum, B. W. Bussey, and D. G. Whittingill.

The Valance Street Baptist Church, at the corner of Valance and Magazine streets, was organized in 1885, through the exertions of the Rev. C. F. Gregory.

The Presbyterians established themselves in New Orleans in 1817. There were members of this faith in the city at a much earlier date. At the time of the organization of Christ Church, in 1805, there is record of seven Presbyterians who voted in the election which decided the affiliation of that institution. The Connecticut Missionary Society sent the Rev. Elias Cornelius on a missionary journey through the Southwest, with special instructions to visit New Orleans. He arrived in the city on December 30, 1817. On January 22, 1818, he was joined by p715the Rev. Sylvester Larned, and their labors paved the way for the establishment of the First Presbyterian Church, the corner stone of which was laid on January 8, 1819. The building cost $70,000d and was located on St. Charles Street, between Gravier and Union, where the municipality provided a site. It was dedicated on July 4, 1819, and used as a place of worship till 1853, when it was burned, in the conflagration which included the St. Charles Hotel and many other important buildings in the new part of the city. The first pastor was the Rev. Mr. Larned, but his death after only a few months of labor, caused the Rev. Theodore Clapp, of Massachusetts, to be called to the vacant pastorate. It is perhaps incorrect to refer to Mr. Larned as pastor of this church. His work was strictly that of a missionary. There is no record of his having organized a church after the Presbyterian canons, and he was never installed into the pastoral relations by ecclesiastical authority.10 He did, however, gather a congregation and build their place of worship. His death took place in his twenty-fourth year, as a result of yellow fever. A period of eighteen months elapsed between his death and the arrival in the city of his successor, the Rev. Theodore Clapp, of Massachusetts. On finding that the church was in debt to the extent of $45,000, Clapp made its liquidation a condition of his acceptance; and this amount was paid off by a rather dubious expedient. The trustees obtained from the State Legislature a concession for a lottery, which they sold to Yates & McIntyre, a New York firm, for $25,000. The remaining $20,000 was obtained by selling the property to Judah Touro, who owned it until its destruction by fire, allowing the pew rents to be collected and used to support the minister. Touro was a personal friend and frequent benefactor of Mr. Clapp's.

The First Church was organized on November 23, 1823, with twenty-four members, of whom nine were men. Mr. Clapp's ministry was a troubled one. As early as 1824 he began to entertain doubts as to certain fundamental Presbyterian doctrines, and in 1830 he felt obliged to ask from the Presbytery of Mississippi a letter of dismissal to the Hampshire County Association of Congregational ministers of Massachusetts. This request was refused on the ground that Mr. Clapp could not be dismissed as in good and regular standing in the Presbyterian Church, when, as a matter of fact, his own declarations showed that he was not such. Instead, he was declared no longer a member of the Presbytery nor a Presbyterian clergyman, nor a member of the Presbyterian Church. A letter to this effect was sent to the First Church, but no action was taken on it until January, 1831. The various proceedings which this celebrated cause involved continued over till the following year, and resulted in January, 1833, in the ejection of Mr. Clapp from the Presbyterian Church. He had, however, endeared himself to a great many of his congregation, and they followed him into the new fields of usefulness which he traversed during the remainder of a long life in New Orleans.

Only nine members of the First Church remained to carry it on. They found themselves without a church building. The Rev. John Parker, who was in the city in the service of the American Home Mission Society, was appointed stated supply, and under his guidance, in January, 1833, the task of rebuilding the church was begun. Doctor Parker figured in a religious upheaval almost as sensational as Mr. Clapp's. While on a tour of the North, with the intention of raising funds for building a new church, he made an address on the religious conditions in New Orleans, which was garbled in the newspapers reporting it, and these inaccurate statements were fiercely resented in New Orleans. The luckless clergyman was burned in effigy, and the mayor of the city sent a message to the congregation advising "that priest" not to return to the city. Feeling ran so high that on his return Doctor Parker had to be landed below the city and make his way to his home by land, over a route where he was not expected. His congregation, however, stood staunchly by him, and together they weathered a storm which threatened for à time to wreck the existence of the church.11

The congregation worshipped in 1833 and 1834 in a warehouse on Lafayette Square, and in 1835 in a room on Julia Street. In 1835 a handsome church was completed on Lafayette Square. This building was burned in 1854. The present building was erected in 1857 at a cost of $87,000. Early pastors were: Dr. John Breckenridge, 1839‑1841; Dr. W. A. Scott, 1843‑1854; Dr. B. M. Palmer, 1856‑1902. Doctor Palmer's long ministry was the most brilliant page in the history of Presbyterianism in Louisiana. His impressive eloquence and lofty character made him an important figure in every circle of civic life. His death was the occasion of a remarkable demonstration of honor and affection, in which many other congregations besides his own took part. The First Church was almost completely destroyed in the hurricane of 1915, but was restored at an expense of nearly $100,000 with only slight modifications in the original design.

In 1840 the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church sent the Rev. Jerome Twichell as a missionary to the suburban City of Lafayette. The result of his labors was the organization there of the Lafayette Presbyterian Church. The original church stood on Fulton, between St. Andrew and Tchoupitoulas streets. In 1860 this church was burned, and in 1867 the congregation took possession of a building on Magazine Street, near Jackson Avenue. The Rev. T. R. Markham, who was pastor here from 1857 to 1894, was one of the most distinguished figures in the Protestant ministry in the South. He was followed by the Rev. S. C. Byrd, and upon his death in 1894, by the Rev. John T. Barr. Under Mr. Barr a major part of the congregation withdrew from the Presbyterian Church, South, and united itself with the northern wing of the church.

The Second Presbyterian Church was incorporated in 1845 and disbanded at the close of the Civil war. The Prytania Street Presbyterian Church was founded in 1846 as a result of an independent movement, developing out of a Sunday School started in the upper part of the city by a little group of earnest churchmen. In that year lots were purchased at the corner of Prytania and Josephine streets and a small frame building erected at a cost of $1,342. Afterwards this edifice was used as a lecture room. Rev. E. R. Beadle, brought to New Orleans by the First Church, as a city missionary, was identified with this movement from its beginning. On May 31, 1846, the church was organized by the New Orleans Presbytery, with twelve members. Its pastors have been the Rev. E. R. Beadle, Rev. Isaac Henderson, Rev. Benjamin Wayne, Rev. W. F. V. Bartlett, all of whom served for a short period only; p717Rev. R. W. Mallard, who was pastor from 1866 to 1878; Rev. James H. Nall, who served from 1879 to 1884; Rev. F. L. Ferguson, 1884 to 1890; Dr. J. W. Walden, 1892 to 1896, and Rev. Wm. McF. Alexander, from 1899 to the present time. The present handsome church was built on the site of the original building in 1901.12

The Third Presbyterian Church, now housed in a handsome building overlooking Washington Square, came into existence in March, 1847, as the result of a Sunday School established in the Third District by certain members of the First Church. The present building was erected in 1860.

Through the agency of a general committee on domestic missions, chapels were erected on Canal Street, corner of Franklin; on Thalia Street, corner of Franklin; in Jefferson City and in Carrollton. As early as 1845 the Rev. Noah F. Packard preached in the Canal Street Chapel. Out of his work arose, in 1847, the Fourth Presbyterian Church, now known as the Canal Street Church. This church stood originally at the corner of Gasquet and Liberty, but in May, 1871, this building was sold, and the congregation removed to a new building on Canal Street, corner of Derbigny. An attempt to organize a church in the Thalia Street Chapel was made as early as 1853, but was not completed, and an irregular organization only was maintained there down to 1860, when a church was formally established. The congregation erected a handsome church at the corner of Franklin and Euterpe streets. This church is now known as the Memorial Presbyterian Church. In the Bouligny Chapel, in Jefferson City, a mission was conducted from 1850 to 1860, when the Rev. Benjamin Wayne began to preach there regularly. The result of his labors was the organization of the Napoleon Avenue Church, in May, 1861. The church occupied a handsome brick building on that street in 1873. A few years ago this property was sold, and the present stately edifice, at the corner of St. Charles and Napoleon avenues, was occupied. The Carrollton Church was organized in 1855 but went out of existence in 1866, and was not revived till many years later, when it grew rapidly into the flourishing organization that now supports a commodious building on Hampson Street, corner of Burdette.

In connection with the Presbyterian work in New Orleans two German churches have grown up, The First German Presbyterian Church is an offshoot of the Prytania Street Presbyterian Church, and was incorporated April 5, 1854. The Second German Presbyterian Church was established May 24, 1863. The Rev. T. O. Koelle became pastor there in 1869 and continued to serve the congregation for thirty-five years. Early in his ministry the present handsome church was erected at the corner of Claiborne and Adams streets, at a cost of over $9,000. It was dedicated March 24, 1872.

The First Methodist Church, which now occupies a commanding site on St. Charles Avenue, just above Lee Circle, has a long and eventful history. It represents the achievement of twenty years of missionary effort on the part of the brilliant men who first introduced Methodism into New Orleans. Strenuous, but futile, efforts were made to establish a Methodist Church in New Orleans between 1805 and 1813 by the Rev. William Williams, who was appointed to the work in New Orleans by the Mississippi Conference. No tangible result of his labors, nor of p718those of the Rev. Miles Harper, who was his co-laborer here in 1812, were seen until 1825, when a little congregation of twenty-five Methodists was formed, and met for worship on the second floor of a warehouse belonging to James A. Ross, in Poydras Street. Subsequently, services were conducted in a small frame building in Gravier Street, but it was not long thereafter that a permanent building was erected, at the corner of Poydras and Carondelet streets. This building was occupied till 1851, when it was destroyed by fire. Deprived by this calamity of a place of worship, the members found refuge in the depot of the Carrollton Railroad Company, on Baronne Street. Here they remained for two years. But in 1852 the Rev. J. C. Keener (afterwards bishop) was appointed pastor, and set to work energetically to collect funds with which to erect a new building. The Carondelet Street Methodist Church, for many years one of the landmarks of the city was, however, completed by his successor, Rev. J. B. Walker. The building of the church was a slow and expensive affair. Through some defect of construction, the walls spread shortly after the roof was put in place, and the structure collapsed; but the basement escaped unharmed, and there the congregation worshipped until the main structure was ready for occupancy. Doctor Walker, by a special dispensation, based on the idea that it was necessary to become acclimated in New Orleans, was permitted to remain in charge of the church for nineteen years. His ministry was interrupted, however, for some months in 1862, when his church was taken over by the United States army, and services were held there by Rev., afterwards Bishop, J. C. Newman, for the benefit of the troops. During this brief exile from their home the congregation found shelter in the Unitarian Church, of which the famous Doctor Clapp was then pastor, who placed it at their disposal. In 1905 the old church was sold, and the congregation moved to its present handsome quarters. Among the pastors of the church, since 1873, have been Revs. W. V. Tudor, Doctor Matthews, Felix Hill, C. W. Carter, B. H. Carradine, W. H. LaPrade, J. L. Pierce, E. N. Evans, F. N. Parker, J. H. Davis, J. A. Wray.13

Methodism is represented by a large number of important churches in various parts of the city. Space suffices here but to mention a few of the largest. The Moreau Street Church, which stood at the corner of Chartres and Lafayette, was established in 1840, and after half-a‑century of usefulness, was, in 1899, sold, and the congregation united itself with that of the Burgundy Street Church. The next church built was in the then suburban town of Algiers, now the Fifth District of the city. It was established in 1844. The church originally bore the name of the Good Hope Chapel, and stood on a site now covered by the waters of the Mississippi. The Felicity Street Church is chronologically the next most important congregation. It was founded in 1850. The first church was erected in that year, and used till 1887, when it was burned and rebuilt. The present structure dates from 1888. It was badly damaged by the hurricane of 1915, and when restored the original design was modified into its present appearance.

The Louisiana Avenue Church, at the corner of Magazine Street, dates from 1854, and was originally located at the corner of Laurel and Toledano. "Laurel and Toledano" was, in 1854, a very remote part of the city, accessible only by the Tchoupitoulas Street line of busses, which p719however, ran only as far as Pleasant Street. During the Civil war the little church was seized by the Federal authorities and converted into a negro school and chapel. During the exposition years 1884‑1885 the population spread rapidly over this part of the city. The need for a larger structure was apparent, and in 1884 the foundations of a new church were laid, but the work was suspended thereafter till 1891. The present handsome structure was dedicated in 1892. The Dryades Street German Church was organized in 1854, and the Burgundy Street Church in 1866. The Rayne Memorial Methodist Church was established in 1877 under the name of the St. Charles Avenue Methodist Church, but the name was changed at an early date in honor of the benefactor who made possible the erection of the present handsome building. The Carrollton Avenue Church, on the corner of Carrollton Avenue and Elm, was erected in 1885.

An important group of churches in New Orleans bear the name of Luther. The oldest congregation is probably that known as St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, which traces its history back to the summer of 1840. The first meeting was held in an engine-house on Moreau (Chartres) Street. Those present decided to continue these meetings, and from August 2 in that year services have been conducted regularly every week. The first church of this congregation was erected in 1843 at the corner of Port and Craps (Burgundy) streets. In 1855 it identified itself with the Evangelisticº Lutheran Synod of Texas. In 1874 it was transferred to the jurisdiction of the Western Synod or District. The present church dates from 1890. The other churches of this faith are of comparatively recent foundation.14

The Jewish faith is represented in New Orleans by several important synagogues. The Touro Synagogue dates from 1847 and is one of the largest, most fashionable, and important religious organizations in the city. The present building of this congregation on St. Charles Avenue and Milan, was erected in 1908, at a cost of $100,000. Temple Sinai, which is likewise the property of a prominent and wealthy congregation, was founded in 1871. Among its rabbis was Dr. J. K. Gutheim, one of the most eloquent and learned men in American Jewry. The Chevre Mikveh Israel Synagogue dates from 1872, the Gates of Prayer Synagogue from 1854, the Right Way Synagogue from 1870.15

The Congregational Church in New Orleans was established in 1833 as the result of a split in the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church. The Northern Methodists are represented by one congregation formed in 1867. The city contains a large number of other religious organizations, but they have come into existence within the last ten or fifteen years, and for that reason need not be mentioned here.


The Author's Notes:

1 Shea, "Life and Times of Archbishop Carroll," II, 548‑671.

Thayer's Note: Shea's classic work seems not to be online yet; a positive assessment of Antonio de Sedella, although addressing his virulent critics, and thus summarizing their opinions of the man, is found in "Fray Antonio de Sedella: An Appreciation", LHQ 2:24‑37.

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2 I am indebted to the Morning Star, April 6, 1918, for much of the material incorporated in the foregoing account, which has been courteously revised and corrected by Miss Marie L. Points.

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3 Quoted in Chambon, "In and Around the Old St. Louis Cathedral of New Orleans," 39‑42.

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4 Picayune, June 15, 1913.

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5 Rightor's "History of New Orleans," 483.

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6 Fortier, "Louisiana," II, 332.

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7 Picayune, November 19, 1905; Rightor, New Orleans, 496.

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8 Picayune, November 19, 1905.

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9 J. L. Furman in Picayune, July 7, 1904.

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10 Times-Democrat, August 7, 1882.

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11 Ibid.

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12 Picayune, September 28, 1913.

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13 Times-Democrat, February 23, 1905.

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14 Times Picayune, August 1, 1915.

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15 See Times Democrat, September 30, 1907.


Thayer's Notes:

a January 25, 1883 was a Thursday. The most likely correction is January 28.

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b A history of Christ Church will be given a bit further on in this chapter, pp708‑11; but the author seems to have in mind his first capsule history of the congregation, in Chapter 5.

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c Polk's career as a clergyman, including as the bishop of Arkansas, is related in some detail by Baumer, Not All Warriors, pp118‑133.

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d $70,000 in 1819 would have been a phenomenal sum, and it is very tempting to correct it, especially in view of the very many typographical errors in the printed text; the most likely correction is $7,000. The Episcopalian church building at Range and Chippewa cost $8,250 in 1846 (p711); in the same year, the Baptist church building on St. Charles Street cost $4,000 (p713). On the other hand, the Catholic cathedral cost $50,000 in 1789‑1794 (p706); and a $70,000 figure for the Presbyterian building would explain the debt discussed a little further on.


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