Julia Street with Poydras the Parrot
A MONTHLY PURSUIT OF ANSWERS TO ETERNAL QUESTIONS
Is there a marker, a park or any other indication of where the Battle of New Orleans was actually fought? As important as the event was I haven’t found anyone who knows whether any type of commemoration is given to the location.
Though Chalmette is the best known site, The Battle of New Orleans was actually fought at several locations below New Orleans, on both sides of the river. An American battery in Lower Algiers wasn’t preserved but the National Park at Chalmette most certainly includes major battle-related sites. One of these, the Rodriguez Canal, is the only surviving originally constructed feature of the battlefield. General Pakenham, who died on the field of battle, did so within the confines of the National Park. Once a year, on Jan. 8, visitors gather at Chalmette to watch a re-enactment of the battle. All in all, there’s more than a little bit of historic recognition happening in Chalmette, so I’m a little bewildered that you seem not to have heard of the park or the anniversary festivities held there each January.
As we approach the Battle of New Orleans bicentennial, new details and questions about the battlefield and its geography continue to emerge, thanks to new technology and continuing archaeological study. The National Park Service has made available at its Web site an in-depth study, “The Search for the Lost Riverfront.” Detailing historical and archaeological investigations at the Chalmette Battlefield, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, the 2009 report was prepared for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New Orleans District and may be viewed or downloaded at: www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/jela/lost_riverfront/index.htm.
Dear Ms. Street,
At the Café Du Monde on Veterans Boulevard there’s a picture taken of a street in the French Market. It shows that the street is made with cement blocks. Do you know where these blocks came from?
Paul & Shirley Laudumiey
Uniformly sized paving stones were first used in New Orleans in the early 19th century but weren’t used for local street paving when the French Quarter was young. Many different paving materials have been used in New Orleans but, in colonial times and in the first part of the 19th century, residents slogged though the mud or walked on wood planks or flatboat gunwales.
Long before the city first attempted to pave streets for vehicular traffic, it had a significant pothole problem. Cabildo records report that, in August 1798, the local government decided it might be a good idea to think about filling potholes and beautifying the street corners. The Cabildo decreed that the city would cheaply buy all ballast brought on incoming vessels and use the stones, which provide extra weight to help steady ships at sea, for paving and roadside beautification. Although ballast was one form of early paving used in the French Quarter, not all old New Orleans paving stones originated as ballast; some cobblestones and square blocks were quarried in the North and Northeast specifically for use as paving material and were installed well after the colonial period.
On Valentine’s Day I was taken out to dinner at Tujague’s on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. I remember my parents used to eat there when they were young and lived in the French Quarter, and I wanted to revisit their favorite place. The dinner was excellent but I found it queer that they serve coffee in water glasses.
Later in the week, I visited my 91-year-old aunt and told her about my dining experience at Tujague’s. One of the first things she asked was if they still serve coffee in water glasses. Do you know why? I figure there has to be a small story behind it. Please see if you can get it and end our curiosity.
Although it’s a Tujague’s tradition to serve coffee in glasses, the custom of serving coffee in glasses rather than porcelain or stoneware cups isn’t unique to New Orleans or to this venerable local restaurant. Espresso and Turkish coffee, for instance, are both very dark and concentrated drinks that are often served in little glasses.
Guillaume Tujague, a native of Mazerolles, France, was a successful butcher before he entered the restaurant trade and founded Tujague’s, which he ran with his wife, Marie Abadie Tujague. When Guillaume passed away in 1912, one of the couple’s sons, Albert, was president of the Loubat Glassware and Cork Company. I wonder if there may have been a connection between the founder’s son’s employment by a major local glassware company and the restaurant’s use of coffee glasses?
Dear Julia and Poydras,
My name is Carol Cooter Jumper; yes, I was a Cooter and married a Jumper and you can tell Poydras to quit chuckling! I am, however, writing about another name in my family, my grandmother Susie Tebault of the W.G. Tebault family of New Orleans. The Tebault family owned and operated a store on Royal Street (The W.G. Tebault Store), which was located across the street from the Monteleone Hotel many years ago. My father, Richard M. Cooter Sr., son of Susie Tebault Cooter, would work at the store during the summers. The Hurwitz-Mintz store is now operated from this location.
My question is: Whatever happened to the bronze plaque that was set in the sidewalk commemorating the Tebault Store? I always “visited” it when I was in New Orleans. Then a few years ago, it disappeared and looks like the sidewalk was overlaid with flagstone or something similar. Could you tell me if this plaque was saved or if there are any photos of it? I would be forever grateful for any light you and Poydras may shed on this little mystery.
Carol C. Jumper
Carol, Poydras was shocked that you knew he was chuckling. His is trying to maintain his composure but wants to know if ,when you subscribe to Cox Communications, you get Jumper cable?
It seems most likely that the city removed the marker when it placed new flagstones along Royal Street sidewalks.
Insofar as this paving project wasn’t recently undertaken, the odds of obtaining from the city any information about a bronze plaque that may have been salvaged from a French Quarter sidewalk is unlikely at best. It is also possible the plaque met the fate of many bronze historic markers throughout the city that were stolen and sold as scrap.
W. G. Tebault’s Royal Street location seems to have been exceptionally unlucky. No less than three major fires occurred at that site, in 24-year intervals, 1860 to 1908. Newspaper accounts of the 1908 blaze recount a raging fire that showered embers onto onlookers, including an unidentified woman whose feathered hat caught on fire. A gentleman briskly slapped the woman on the head in an effort to extinguish the smoldering feathers but the woman, unaware her hat was burning, at first believed her rescuer was attempting to mug her.
Tebault’s stores and stock had also been destroyed in late June 1884, in a major fire that consumed the nearby Solaris’ grocery and other buildings in the area. An 1860 fire, originating in the Sampson brothers’ furniture store, destroyed the four-story building that previously occupied the same location. Two men were crushed by a falling wall; the body of J. Hines, Second Assistant Foreman of Mechanics Company No. 6, was never recovered.
I found a large concrete sign in City Park that says “Reilly’s Shamrock Island.” It is in a wilderness area and it’s broken in half. It is approximately 3-feet-by-5-feet-by-4-inches, and it’s all concrete, including the letters which are raised approximately 8-inches.
I have never heard of this place and got no hits when I Googled it. Any ideas?
New Orleans, LA
City Park’s wilderness area is the Couturie Forest, dedicated in 1938 to the memory of Rene Couturie. Park islands in that general area includes Goat Island and Scout Island, but this is the first I have heard of Reilly’s Shamrock Island.
(Poydras claims it traces back to the days when leprechauns used to inhabit the park.) Fronting on Harrison Avenue the Couturie Forest is a 33-acre preserve and is home to one of the largest surviving collections of mature mixed hardwoods. Originally a community arboretum, a place where trees and other plants are raised for scientific and education purposes, the area suffered from decades of neglect and degenerated into an illegal refuse dump. Cleaned up in 2001 and enhanced with walking trails, an observation deck, amphitheater and education stations, the restored forest was heavily damaged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A major renovation and replanting is currently in progress within the urban wilderness that is home to more than 100 species of birds.