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Henriette DeLille

Discussion in 'The Ladies Tea' started by 18thVirginia, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    When native New Orleanians meet each other someplace away from the Crescent City, they don't ask "Where did you live?", they say, "Where did you go to high school?" which allows them to get an idea of the family background of their new acquaintance. Many of these schools have a background in the 19th Century.

    Henriette Delille was a free woman of color who founded the order Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans. She was born in New Orleans in 1813 to a French father, Jean-Baptiste Lille Sarpy, and a free quadroon mother of French, Spanish and African ancestry, Marie-Josèphe "Pouponne" Díaz. Her mother was the daughter of a Spanish merchant and a free creole of color. Henriette was trained in dancing, music and a knowledge of French literature to be the common-law wife of a wealthy white man in the Louisiana system known as "placage."

    Instead, Henriette started teaching in a Catholic school at age 14 and eventually became an opponent of placage. She began to devote her life to educating and caring for the poor, despite the opposition of her mother.

    When her mother had a nervous breakdown, Henriette gained control of her assets and in 1836 founded a small religious order with seven young creole women and a french woman called Sisters of the Presentation. A local priest secured recognition of the order in 1837 and they were renamed Sisters of the Holy Family in 1842.

    Henriette died in 1862, when there were 12 members of her order. By 1909, 150 members of the order operated Catholic schools in New Orleans that taught 1,300 students.


    henriette-delille.jpg
     
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  3. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Henriette's great, great grandmother Nanette was brought from Africa as a slave. The Delille family became free because Mother Henriette's great, great grandmother, Nanette, who was from Africa and was brought to America as a slave, was freed after the death of her owner. Under the laws of Spain, a slave could demand that their owner set a price for their freedom. Great, great grandmother Nanette was able to buy her daughter, Cecile, and two of her grandchildren out of slavery.

    In the French-Spanish culture of the creoles of colour, Henriette's uncle bad become a wealthy man. Her mother had become a wealthy woman who bought and sold property and slaves. Her sister Cecile took the more traditional role for a woman of color in antebellum New Orleans, raising 3 children by a wealthy white man and inheriting property from him. Her brother married and moved to a creole community near St. Martinsville, LA. He disagreed with Mother Henriette's choice of service to the Catholic Church rather than a life of placage.

    Records indicate that Henriette sponsored slave marriages and baptisms at St. Louis Cathedral. A priest who wrote a her biography, notes that the library of the small order indicates that the Sisters of the Holy Family were a group of educated and literate women.

    Sisters_of_the_Holy_Family_Order_nun.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
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  4. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    "Henriette Delille, Servant of Slaves, Witness to the Poor," by Benedictine father Cyprian Davis chronicles the life of Mother Henriette.

    500-2.jpeg
     
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  5. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Vanessa Williams starred in a TV movie about the life of the Founder of the Holy Sisters of the Family.

     
  6. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    323x286-300x265.jpg

    The sisters located their convent in the former Orleans Ballroom. Eventually the convent was sold to a group that built the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.
     
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  7. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    In his book, Desegregating the Altar: The Josephites and the Struggle for Black Priests, Steven Ochs notes that Harriet Delille and the women of color who joined her initially were "a dramatic rejection of conventional expectations which assumed that attractive free women of color would become the concubines of wealthy white Creoles." The other free woman of color who joined Henriette Delille in starting her religious order was Juliet Gaudin.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=F9UHQMpBmK4C&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=sisters of the holy family+during the the civil war&source=bl&ots=TpAVy5RK29&sig=sr8B7RxgXsv_nH8q5lJHqso3OfY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HEUCVZ6oNZCMyATg6YDYBw&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sisters of the holy family+during the the civil war&f=false

    The Frenchwoman who devoted her life to the religious instruction of slaves was Marie Jeanne Aliquot. The Sisters of the Holy Family were finally able to make public vows in 1852 and established a school in New Orleans, St. Augustine.* They gave religious instruction to slaves and poor blacks. They also opened a facility for the elderly called Hospice of the Holy family and cared for the sick as well.

    After the War, they provided teachers for many schools for newly freed blacks throughout the South.

    *If you hear the name "St. Aug" today as a school in New Orleans, it refers to a black Catholic boys prep school established in 1951.

    Sisters of Holy Family.jpg
     
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  8. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    This is a great story- seems awfully typical of a lot of women of her background, no? I don't mean it was easy, it's been sounding more and more clear New Orleans seems to have been a little more of a singular world where cultures intermingled instead of clashing.

    Knew it would be distracting to log back in! Rats! Forgot something this morning, been worth it but gosh, always fatal- figures there would be something irresistible you left here in the form of bread crumbs, leading to a gargantuan, luminescent wedding cake.
     
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  9. Allie

    Allie Captain

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    I knew of placage but had never really read much about it. Thanks for giving me the impetus to look it up and do some reading.
     
  10. JPK Huson 1863

    JPK Huson 1863 Colonel Forum Host

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    " Steven Ochs notes that Harriet Delille and the women of color who joined her initially were "a dramatic rejection of conventional expectations which assumed that attractive free women of color would become the concubines of wealthy white Creoles." This ' feels ' like it touches on something about New Orleans across the boards we do not hear of much- but is what I was referring to when I said how singular it seemed to be. Out of the entire South, a world to itself, always been crazy about New Orleans- despite the horrific stories, that sticky side of the coin frequently preventing one from turning the thing over. Shame because there's a LOT there. Free people of color and mulattos, cultures from far elsewhere melding together independent of white folks and their ' world '. What an outrageous thought, a place where perhaps white people were not THE hub- one of them certainly, just not IT.

    I have a very close friend from Louisiana- her father's a professor at Tulane- or was, think he's retired now. She makes me laugh so hard, could be a lot of these photos. I forget her lineage, they had it traced. Mulatto? OI! They were able to do so because free blacks and mulattos, business people, French- this unbelievable tree combined through centuries to produce her. They HAD their Tree, I nagged her to join Ancestry just so I could poke around. ( Isn’t that awful? To be fair, pointed out her children will now have somewhere to check in….. ). Yes, dreadful stories in New Orleans as there must be, enslaved people trailing ankle chains through desperate centuries. Like living side-by-side in another dimension on the same planet existed this other world, riotous, unbelievably ‘ alive ‘ mix of cultures and race. It’s that New Orleans, would be wonderful to hear more of- this thread opens on one of those pages.
     
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  11. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Great thread. Thanks for posting.
     
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  12. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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  13. 18thVirginia

    18thVirginia Captain Forum Host

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    Thanks for adding the findagrave, donna.

    Also, I had forgotten that she'd been submitted for sainthood.
     
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  14. Georgia Coast

    Georgia Coast Sergeant

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    I was told by friends that they said, "What did you eat at your last meal? what should we eat at our next meal?" Just joking -- this is a great thread!
     

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