Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Lafayette Cemetery I ~ Giveaway Day 3

Of all the places I've visited, New Orleans is one of my favorites. Specifically the French Quarter. The air is thick with charm, ambiance, and history. And what would a visit to New Orleans be without a trip to at least one cemetery?

Lafayette Cemetery I is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Orleans. Built in what was once the City of Lafayette, the cemetery was officially established in 1833. The area was formerly part of the Livaudais plantation, and that square had been used for burials since 1824. In 1852, New Orleans annexed the City of Lafayette, and the graveyard became the city cemetery, the first planned cemetery in New Orleans.

Yellow fever (a mosquito born disease) struck New Orleans hard in the 1800's. In 1841, 241 victims of yellow fever were buried in Lafayette Cemetery. In 1847, 3000 people died of the disease and at least 613 were interred there. The worst outbreak occurred in 1853 with more than 8000 people succumbing to yellow fever and bodies were often left at the gates of Lafayette Cemetery.

Wall vaults, or "ovens" line the perimeter of the cemetery here. A Family would own only one (sometimes more, if they were wealthy enough) vault.

When a family member would die, the vault would be opened up and the old remains pushed to the back of the tomb and the new body interred. The name of the newly deceased would then be inscribed at the bottom of the list of names. It is not unusual to see dates spanning over 150 years on the slabs covering the vault openings.

Brigadier General Harry T. Hays of the Confederate Army is buried here.

Cemeteries and grave sites were not looked upon as dreary, morbid places back in the 1800's. Quite often an area would be planted with grass and maybe a shrub or tree would be added so that a nice 'picnic area' would be created. The Family would often pack a lunch and go spend the day there - much like we use a park today.

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More tidbits and trivia about Lafayette Cemetery I later in the week.


Sherry Byrum said...

Wonderful pictures! I left a comment on my blog about your Give Away. I didn't have a picture to use! If you want me to add one send one on over and I will put it up!! :)

Sherry Byrum said...

I like the way they put more then one person in a vault. Like they stayed together even in death!

Anonymous said...

wow, that's so interesting! I love how the old headstones were so ornate. thanks for sharing!
:) Missy

Jenny said...

Putting everyone in one vault saves a lot of room that's for sure! Did they use caskets? Or just put the remains in the vault...must have in order to put so many people in there.

AwtemNymf said...

My husband and I want to visit New Orleans so bad! We will someday! It seems so eery and mystical at the same time! So much history and I want to eat the food. I love spicy and cajun! Yummm- I can almost smell the shrimp and bouillabaisse from here! Hugs & Spooks!

Jeanne said...

Actually caskets were used. What was left of the casket would be removed from the vault and the previously deceased's remains would then be pushed to the back of the chamber.

JenW!~ said...

I saw a show about this cemetary. It's supposed to be haunted.

Jeanne said...

I think any self-respecting cemetery would have a few Haunts hanging around.... :0)

Tammy said...

WOW, you have some great photos of old stones.
Thanks for sharing..

Renee said...

Did I mention I really like your blog. Well I do.

Renee xoxo