Dear Julia,
For years I’ve been fascinated by St. Patrick’s on Camp Street – first by the stately building, then by the breathtaking interior and lastly by Father James Ignatius Mullen. Aside from alleged encounters with first a Know Nothing mob in front of St. Patrick’s and years later his offer to bury General Butler and his entire Yankee Army if only given the opportunity, we know very little about this fearless, hot-tempered Irish Priest. Here are some questions I have. Anything else you can dig up will be great. Is he buried inside St. Patrick’s? If so, where?

Prior to becoming a priest, Mullen was a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. He served under Commodore Porter, Farragut’s stepfather. Did Farragut ever serve under Midshipman Mullen? Legend holds that Mullen was fearless in combat, and was frequently decorated for this fearlessness by Commodore Porter. Is there any record of this?

Hopefully you can fill in some gaps in this very interesting man’s life. He apparently had quite a life before he became a priest and didn’t slow down after ordination.

Kemper Sublette

While certainly St. Patrick’s most famous pastor, James Ignatius Mullen (1793-1866) wasn’t the congregation’s first leader. The first pastor of the first Roman Catholic parish to be established in Faubourg Ste. Marie was Rev. Adam Kindelon, a native of Ireland, who served St. Patrick’s from 1833 to ’34. Although newspaper coverage of Fr. Mullen’s death confirms that he served under Commodore David Porter, was reputed to have been fearless and was wounded during his military service. Despite Mullen’s reputation for sassing and defying Gen. Butler during the federal occupation of New Orleans, I wasn’t able to locate in The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies reports concerning the feisty priest or the fabled encounter in which he’s said to have told Gen. Butler he would happily bury any Yankee. Maybe Butler was disinclined to officially report Mullen’s scrappy retort to his superiors, but the fact that other local religious leaders, including Rev. Hedges of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, were imprisoned during wartime for refusing to offer prayers for President Lincoln, demonstrates that acts of religious defiance were not taken lightly by occupying forces. When Mullen died in 1866, at the age of 74, mourners filled St. Patrick Church to capacity, with queues spilling out onto Camp Street. Writing of Fr. Mullen’s funeral procession and wake, an unnamed correspondent for the Daily Crescent marveled at the number of people of all descriptions and faiths that gathered to recall the memory of the Northern Irish priest. Many, the correspondent learned, had come to pay respects, not to the heroic pastor who had led the congregation for 32 years, but to the quiet man who had discreetly and confidentially given them help in a time of personal need. In accordance with his own request, Fr. Mullen was laid to rest in a crypt beneath the altar.

Dear Ms. Street,
The well-known hot sauce from New Iberia, Tabasco, has a name that sounds like an acronym. Is that true? If so, what are the words that make up Tabasco?

Frank Sehrt

Unlike Lapalco, a West Bank thoroughfare named for the Louisiana’s Power And Light Company, the name of the popular South Louisiana hot sauce isn’t an acronym. It is the name of a state in southern Mexico and the name of a type of hot pepper grown there, but, imposters beware, TABASCO® is a registered trademark of the McIlhenny

Company. According to the McIlhenny Company, Edmund McIlhenny originally wanted to name his pepper sauce for Petite Anse, his family’s island property, but family members objected to their home’s name being commercialized.

Dear Julia,
I grew up in the 9th Ward very close to St. Roch playground. My father and brother worked for the Jackson Brewing Company. They would bring home, weekly, a special treat: hot tamales from Manuel’s. You could buy them on corners of Bourbon Street; they were in carts like ice cream carts. Can you tell me the history of Manuel’s and what ever happened to them? They still, to this day, are the best tamales I’ve ever had. One other unrelated question, what’s the status of the Deutsches House on Galvez?

George Dudenhefer
Corona, Calif.

Sorry, George; answering two questions costs extra. I will do it because you seem like a nice person, but your bill is in the mail.

A native of Mexico, Manuel Hernandez established his family’s Mid-City based business in 1932, when he began selling hot tamales from a pushcart parked at the corner of South Carrollton Avenue and Canal Street. In December ’62, the hot tamale business opened a storefront half a block away, at 4709 S. Carrollton Ave. Manuel Hernandez passed away in ’68, at the age of 76. Survived by his widow, four daughters, 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, Hernandez was laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery.

Manuel’s Carrollton Avenue location thrived until post-Hurricane Katrina levee failures inundated it with about six feet of water. The hot tamale factory never re-opened. Following Katrina, Hernandez’s daughter, Frances Schneider, and other family members sold the building at 4709 S. Carrollton Ave., but didn’t part with Manuel Hernandez’s original recipe or the registered trade name. Earlier this year, Schneider’s grandson, Jerry Barbin, incorporated a new company called Manuel’s Hot Tamales LLC, so I suspect the beloved local institution may be planning a comeback. Another 3rd Ward institution, Deutsches Haus’ Galvez Street clubhouse, was demolished on the afternoon of May 17, 2011, to make way for the LSU/VA hospital project. There was no fanfare and few onlookers gathered to witness its passage. The following day, a local newspaper ran a photograph of the resulting rubble, insultingly captioned “Crunch Time.” The club temporarily relocated to Metairie and will reportedly return to Mid-City in a new facility along Bayou St. John.

Dear Julia,
I am familiar with the Camp Nichols historic marker near Bayou St. John and am interested in the camp’s history. Many thanks for your assistance.

Jan M. Lugenbuhl

Dedicated in May 1884, Camp Nicholls was the second Confederate veterans’ home to be established in Louisiana.

Soon after its opening, Camp Nicholls was home to more than 300 Confederate veterans. The home, located on land in what’s now the 1700 block of Moss Street, facing Bayou St. John, remained a veterans home for more than 60 years. During and after World War II, the Louisiana National Guard built an armory and vehicle storage facility at that Camp Nicholls. The famed 141st Field Artillery, the Washington Artillery, was one of the units once based at the site. Last used as a New Orleans Police Department facility, Camp Nicholls sustained damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The site was razed in 2009, after a post-Katrina study determined surviving structures to be non-historic.

Dear Julia,
In Louis Armstrong’s autobiography, Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans, he describes Lulu White, a madam who ran a brothel called Mahogany Hall on Basin Street in Storyville and how the law eventually confiscated her mansion – furniture, diamonds, etc. – and left her destitute. I was able to find a picture on the Internet, but wondered whether there are any real photographs of Mahogany Hall or photos that show what life actually looked like on Basin Street at that time.

Jill DeGroff
West Hempstead, N.Y.

During its years as a legalized vice district, Storyville served patrons with a variety of tastes as well as a variety of budgets. Consequently, not all brothels in the area were lavishly furnished mansions. “Cribs,” offering little more than a door, a floor and a paid partner, were also typical places of assignation in the district. If you’re looking for a photographic overview of life and times in Storyville, you should probably check out Al Rose’s book, Storyville New Orleans, Being an Authentic, Illustrated Account of the Notorious Red-Light District. The book is widely available and is much easier and cheaper to obtain than the original photographs and glass plate negatives.

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