St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History

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St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History Book
St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History. Authors: Joan Weaver Becnel, Suzanne Friloux Marilyn Mayhall Richoux with contributions by Fay Walker Louque. The Donning Company Publishers. Neil Hendricks, Project Director for Donning. An official project of the St. Charles Parish Bicentennial (1807-2007) by th St. Charles Historical Foundation.

Copies of St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History are available at all public libraries and for sale at various locations throughout St. Charles Parish.


St. Charles Parish: “Parish of Plenty”

  • Third oldest settlement in Louisiana (after Natchitoches and New Orleans), older than the nation itself
  • Nestled along the banks of the Mississippi River
  • One of Louisiana’s most affluent parishes
  • Intricately linked for centuries to its religious namesake, the Ecclesiastical Parish of St. Charles Borromeo
  • Traces its heritage to both John Law’s Company of the West and the original colonists who settled the “German Coast” from 1719 to 1722, leaving many descendants who continue to live here today carrying on for generations the traditions of their ancestry!

OUR PICTORIAL HISTORY is the story of those first families, the pioneers—those courageous men, women, and children who left their countries in search of a better life, overcame profound suffering and unbelievable hardships, and persevered and prospered in a short period of time.

IT IS A STORY OF THE SETTLEMENT OF THE GERMAN COAST, referred to early in the eighteenth century colonial period as la Côté des Allemands, and their beloved leader and commandant for over 48 years, Karl Fredrick Darensbourg.

FROM THE GERMAN COAST TO THE GOLD COAST, OUR PICTORIAL HISTORY peers into the majestic and fleeting era of the plantations with all of their grandeur. From the pain and sorrow of slavery we move into the Civil War years, with their grief and tragedy, then Reconstruction and chaos as the nineteenth century ends…then to the twentieth century as we move from an agricultural to an industrial society and how our culture begins to change! Read about two significant historical finds of the twentieth century—Hanno Deiler’s exciting discovery about our German heritage and Father Paret’s 1850s journal, with accompanying watercolors.

OUR HISTORY is the story of over 150 years of Catholic Church dominance, beginning with the founding of St. Jean des Allemands Catholic Church by the Capuchin Missionaries, as set out in the Articles of John Law’s Company Charter, which provided for the building of churches and assignment of Catholic priests to serve the spiritual needs of the inhabitants, reinforced by Bienville in the colony’s Code Noir permitting the “exercises of the Roman Catholic creed only.”

THE POETRY AND ROMANCE OF OUR LEGACY LIVES ON TODAY IN OUR PARISH IN THE “MILE OF HISTORY” and beyond, where symbols of our remarkable heritage remain. We are the beneficiaries of a very unique culture evolving over nearly three centuries. St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History is an intriguing journey through the history of St. Charles Parish, the “Parish of Plenty.”


Parish of Plenty
“Parish of Plenty” created in 1807 from the County of the German Coast. Sketch by Janis Blair.

Acknowledgments

The St. Charles Historical Foundation’s idea to develop a pictorial history surfaced at the December 2003 board meeting when several members discussed the notion of producing a publication, which would capture, primarily with pictures, the history of St. Charles Parish. A proposal was developed and presented to the St. Charles Historical Foundation board. The board agreed that exploratory work should begin.

As deliberations progressed, it was decided to seek the endorsement and support of parish government. A meeting was scheduled with Parish President Albert Laque and Administrative Assistant Timothy Vial. During the course of the meeting, the St. Charles Historical Foundation members emphasized that 2007 would mark the 200th anniversary of the formation of the civil parish of St. Charles. It was determined that in addition to the pictorial history publication there should be an organized parish-wide effort to celebrate the parish bicentennial.

St. Charles Historical Foundation members proposed the formation of a bicentennial committee comprised of delegates from organizations across the parish and committed to be part of the group.

In the interim, the book project continued to move forward. The St. Charles Historical Foundation contracted with the Donning Company Publishers. In order to finance the pictorial history project, the historical foundation initiated a fundraising campaign and all members of the community were invited to participate. A community call was issued for historically significant photographs, newspaper articles, and documents. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and extenuating circumstances in 2006 delayed the project. In August of 2006 an authors committee was formed to continue the project. The pictorial history proposal was later presented to the bicentennial committee and unanimously accepted as an official project of the bicentennial celebration. In 2008, Hurricane Gustav further delayed the book project.

Members of the newly formed authors committee decided the history of St. Charles Parish needed to be presented in more than just pictures. This publication evolved from being just a pictorial history of St. Charles to an extensive review of history as characterized by timelines, first hand accounts, and legal documents, as well as maps, charts, graphs, and photographs.

The Foundation was very fortunate to have the full support of Parish President Albert Laque; Parish Council Members Lance Marino, Clayton Faucheux II, Desmond Hilaire, Brian Fabre, Ram Ramchandran, Dickie Duhe, April Black, Barry Minnich, and Derryl Walls; Administrative Assistant Timothy Vial; and Economic Development and Tourism Director Corey Faucheux.

Special thanks to Neil Hendricks and Editors Kathy Sheridan and Anne Cordray Burns, and Tonya Hannink from the Donning Company Publishers, for their patience and guidance. Special recognition to LSU Professor Dr. Jay Edwards, artist Janis Blair, Dr. Ellen Merrill, and Editorial Assistants Winter Randall and Patricia Danflous. We appreciate the assistance of Professor Reinhart Kondert, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Center for Louisiana Studies, ULL, Gene and Pat Yoes, St. Charles Herald Guide, Leonard Gray, Triche Family, George Lorio Family, Maureen Downey, Norman Marmillion, St. Charles Parish Library System, River Road Historical Society, Nancy Robert, St. Charles Borromeo Church Staff, Rhitt Growl and St. Charles Parish Public Schools Satellite Center, Clarisse “Sis” Webb, United Way of St. Charles, Lily Galland, River Region Arts and Humanities Council, CPA Nolan Schexnayder, Gerald Zeringue, Paul Hogan, Elizabeth Simoneaux, and Verna Simoneaux.

Thanks to those parish residents who enthusiastically opened family albums and attic boxes in search of historically significant items to enhance the project.

The Foundation is grateful for past St. Charles Historical Foundation board members and advisors Darnell “Dee” Abadie, Joan Becnel, Carolyn Smith Boyd, John Campo, Rita Carlson, Joseph Catarina, Maureen Downey, Deirdre Faucheux, Suzanne “Sue” Friloux, Lorraine Gendron, Barry Guillot, Coleen Perilloux Landry, Don Paul Landry, Angela “Angie” Matherne, Michael Matherne, Gregory Miller, John Polk, Marilyn Richoux, Jara Roux, Garland Strother, Angie Wall, Harriet Williamson, Nancy Wilson, Percy Wilson, and Patrick “Pat” Yoes.

The St. Charles Historical Foundation again thanks each and every sponsor for the faith and trust placed in our project. The foundation is very grateful to all who assisted in assuring that the rich culture and tradition of St. Charles Parish would be captured and recorded for future generations.

We acknowledge and appreciate the support and assistance our family members provided during our countless hours of work: Warren and Kim Louque, Ralph Richoux, Roland Becnel and Sue’s cats.

 

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About the Book

This publication is an historical recounting and pictorial history of St. Charles Parish, which begins before the arrival of early explorers and first settlers and progresses to the 21st Century. Chronicling over three centuries of the diverse and rich culture of St. Charles Parish was a challenging and rewarding task. Our story is as deep and turbulent as the mighty Mississippi River, which continues to be the lifeblood of St. Charles Parish. The St. Charles Historical Foundation is proud to present this pictorial history as a 2007 bicentennial project albeit late in celebration of the 200th anniversary of the parish.