CAJUNS, CREOLES, PIRATES AND PLANTERS
Your New Louisiana Ancestors Format
Volume 3, Number 34
LOOKING BACK: As I have told you many times before, there is more to genealogical research than just looking at old records. There is a lot of the study of American history that goes along with this research. Delving into your family heritage is a look at the very patriotic foundations of our great nation.
With Louisiana’s connection to Andrew Jackson, it is only natural to assume that many of you follow the various accounts of his patriotism as seen at the Battle of New Orleans. His statue in Jackson Square in the French Quarter is a constant reminder of his importance in our history.
Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, was born in the Waxhaws area near the border between North and South Carolina on March 15, 1767. Jackson’s parents lived in North Carolina, but historians debate on which side of the state line the birth took place. Jackson was the third child and third son of Scots-Irish parents. His father, also named Andrew, died as the result of a logging accident just a few weeks before the future president was born. Jackson’s mother, Elizabeth (Betty) Hutchison Jackson, was by all accounts a strong, independent woman. After her husband’s death, she raised her three sons at the South Carolina home of one of her sisters.
Rachel Donelson Robards Jackson was born near the Banister River, about ten miles from present-day Chatham, Virginia, in Pittsylvania County, in 1767. Her exact date of birth was not recorded at the time, but it is attributed to June, and some sources designate the date as the 15th. Her father was Colonel John Donelson, born in 1718, Somerset County, Maryland, and her mother was Rachel Stockley Donelson, born in Accomac County, Virginia, in 1730. The family heritage is Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and English.
The love story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson is one of the greatest in American history. At the time they first met, Rachel was married to a jealous and abusive husband. Their relationship on the wild American frontier is one of excitement and the result of her family’s blessing. It was the common practice of self-divorce, and they eloped.
So goes the story that New Orleans resident Patricia Brady has so lovely told in A Being So Gentle. She is a social and cultural historian who served as director of publications at The Historic New Orleans Collection for 20 years. Her other works are Martha Washington: An American Life and George Washington’s Beautiful Nelly.
The inspirational story she tells in her latest book makes for fascinating reading, and I encourage you to settle down with this book and go back in time to the wild American frontier and travel with this couple on the way to the White House. The tragedy in this story is the fact that after all the years of defending her honor after entering the national stage as a result of his success in Louisiana, Rachel passed away shortly after Andrew was elected president of the United States.
Brady has truly put together a wonderful love story, a loving tribute to a beautiful human being. This book is available at major book stores or online. It is one that you really need to add to your collection of outstanding historical books.
MORE ABOUT JACKSON: So it was after meeting Patricia Brady again at the annual Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge this past weekend that I became interested in reading and re-reading more about Andrew Jackson and his importance in Louisiana History. It reminded me that many years ago, I purchased a lot of books from the old Legacy Press when it closed down, and in this collection of books was one of the best you will ever find about the Battle of New Orleans – The Baratarians and the Battle of New Orleans With Biographical Sketches of the Veterans of the Battalion of Orleans, 1814-1815, written and compiled by Jane Lucas DeGrummond and Ronald R. Morazan.
Jane Lucas DeGrummond was well known for many historical works and a scholarly journalist who received her Ph.D from Louisiana State University in 1946. At the time of her retirement in 1976, she was a professor of history in the field of Latin American studies at LSU. Her other scholarly works were Las Comadres de Caracas (Envoy to Caracas), Caracas Diary, and Solitude.
At the time this book was published, Ronald R. Morazan was an associate professor of history at Southern University in Baton Rouge. He also authored several scholarly articles dealing with the Spanish-Colonial period in Louisiana and a weekly newspaper column called The Louisiana Bicentennial Almanac, 1776-1777. He compiled a separate book on the soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans called Biographical Sketches of the Veterans of the Battalion of Orleans 1814-1815.
De Grummond tells the detailed story of how the army of Andrew Jackson was outnumbered two to one in the 1814 battle with the British Redcoats for control of New Orleans. Had it not been for Jean and Pierre Lafitte and other Baratarian outlaws, New Orleans may well have fallen to the British.
Her colorful yet scholarly book documents the encounters between Andrew Jackson and the British Redcoats during the War of 1812. The biographical sketches were checked and verified against the original muster rolls and payrolls. Information was extracted from original documents written in French, Spanish, and English. The biographical material also includes genealogical information about the immediate families of each soldier.
From the muster rolls and payrolls, Morazan worked with a historian’s precision and compiled the unique and detailed list of those courageous warriors who staged one of the most colorful military upsets in American history. The material appears in a separate hard-cover volume.
Both of these books are out of print, but a few may still be available. They are both the works of two outstanding Louisiana historians.
FREE SERVICE: Correspondence to this column should be directed to Damon Veach, Cajuns, Creoles, Pirates and Planters, 709 Bungalow Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70802-5337. The e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Queries and book reviews are printed as space permits, and you are encouraged to take advantage of this free service. Claitor’s Publishing can serve as a distributor for self-published genealogy titles. Go to their homepage for details on how you can obtain this excellent service.
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