Fr. Joseph Paret Arrives on German Coast – 1848

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Little Red Church

Little Red Church

"Little Red Church, built in 1806, has been standing now on the 1770 Spanish land grant for 112 years as a landmark for travelers on the Mississippi River. The church was without a pastor for forty-two years due to the 1877 fire, which destroyed the rectory, and the 1890 interdiction brought about by charter and warden conflicts with the archdiocese. But all ..." Read More


An indigo processor. (Courtesy of The Historic New Orleans Collection. Acc. No. 1979.128)

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"Indigo, the main crop of German Coast settlers for many years, had been brought to the colony from the West Indies in the 1700s. This tropical plant produced a lasting blue dye important to the European textile industry and the blue color remains very popular even today in cotton denim fabric of blue jeans. However, today almost..." Read More


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Fr. Paret’s Watercolors & Journal – 1859

"At the time of discovery of the Paret watercolors, in a proposal to publish the 1859 paintings, Louisiana State University (LSU) Art Museum Director Pat Bacot said the Paret paintings were “the most important single group of landscape paintings done before the Civil War in Louisiana. Nothing is comparable to them. Yet, these paintings have never been displayed in Louisiana. His paintings were subsequently published by LSU Press. His journal..." Read More


Grave marker of Thomas Loughan, located in St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery. In Memory of THOMAS LOUGHAN; a native of Co. Galway, Parish of Kilbegnett, IRELAND; Died Oct. 20, 1853, aged 27 years. (Photo courtesy of Marilyn Mayhall Richoux)

1853 Yellow Fever Epidemic

"The 1853 Yellow Fever Epidemic — Over one hundred burials took place at St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery alone in 1853. It is assumed that most of these deaths were caused by the yellow fever epidemic. General Richard Taylor of Fashion Plantation lost two sons during the epidemic. German Coast residents later learned that screening and oiling of cisterns deterred the breeding of mosquitoes and helped to prevent the dreaded disease. The last yellow fever epidemic was in 1909...." Read More


 

New Red Church Pastor—Father Paret Reveals Early Life on the Mississippi River

A pproaching the middle of the nineteenth century, life was good and prosperous for most people in St. Charles Parish. St. Charles was a wealthy sugar parish. At that time, Louisiana supplied the nation with over half of all sugar in American markets—the second most important agricultural crop of the nation. St. Charles had an abundance of sugar plantations lining the Mississippi River— over fifty. For most St. Charles citizens, it was a leisurely lifestyle, where gentlemen of the German Coast wore top hats and waistcoats and rode with wives and daughters in their buggies along River Road surveying their own and other plantation estates or visiting neighbors. Often they might travel alone on horseback. Young people spent their days hunting, fishing, boating, swimming, or racing their horses on River Road. Many of the women were aristocrats appearing in public in hoop skirts, shawls, bonnets, and sometimes using parasols—all in keeping with their wealthy southern lifestyle.

Father Joseph Paret     It was at this time in parish history that the Little Red Church welcomed a new pastor, Fr. Joseph Michel Paret. Fr. Paret was born in 1807 in the small village of Pélussin, France, and was sent to the Louisiana missions in 1847 by the Catholic Church. In 1848, he arrived at Little Red Church to serve the spiritual needs of his parishioners in the midst of an agricultural economy that was thriving. Fr. Paret would serve at Red Church twenty-one years, leaving in 1869. He would witness firsthand an exceptional period in the parish history , when great sugar plantations were prospering and later the profound consequences of the Civil War were occurring. In 1853, in the midst of the state’s worst yellow fever epidemic, Fr. Paret wrote long and detailed letters to his family back home in France, titling the collection of correspondence, My American Journal (Mon Journal d’Amerique). About 1858 or thereabout, Fr. Paret traveled by steamboat to New Orleans where he purchased a sketchbook in a Chartres Street stationery store near the St. Louis Cathedral. In the coming months and years he began painting watercolors of Red Church, the presbytery, and plantations across the parish, all showing daily life in St. Charles. In all, Fr. Paret painted fifty-three watercolors. It is easy to determine from these watercolors that St. Charles Parish was indeed very prosperous. In 1869, the watercolors went back to France with Fr. Paret when he returned home. The watercolors and journal eventually became the property of his brother August Paret and his descendants. Over one hundred years later, the sketchbook and journal were found in an old trunk in Pélussin, France.

 

     Thanks to Fr. Paret, one is able to travel back in time, to glimpse the history, to view life as it was in St. Charles. The following is only a small part of the series of fifty-three watercolors painted on the pages of an ordinary sketchpad so many years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

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Red Church, March 20, 1859. by Fr. Paret The Ormond Plantation by Fr. Paret

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Copyright © This text is copyright material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

 


Cite this Entry

MLA Style

Becnel, Joan Weaver, Suzanne Friloux, and Marilyn Mayhall Richoux. "Exploration and Discovery
(1542-1647)." Museum. History of St. Charles . St. Charles Museum and Historical Association,
29 2012. Web. 30 Nov 2012. <http://museum.historyofstcharlesparish.org>.

APA Style

Becnel, Joan Weaver, Suzanne Friloux, and Marilyn Mayhall Richoux. "Exploration and Discovery
(1542-1647)." Museum. History of St. Charles . St. Charles Museum and Historical Association,
29 2012. Web. 30 Nov 2012. <http://museum.historyofstcharlesparish.org>.

Chicago Style

Becnel, Joan Weaver, Suzanne Friloux, and Marilyn Mayhall Richoux. "Exploration and Discovery
(1542-1647)." Museum. History of St. Charles . St. Charles Museum and Historical Association,
29 2012. Web. 30 Nov 2012. <http://museum.historyofstcharlesparish.org>.

*  These articles and more are taken from a book published by the authors entitled St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History.


 

 

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