I've been around so long that I've heard every story. But I can assure you that this one is not true.
The famous general who was defeated by Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815 did not have a son. There is also no record of his having been married either. Of course -- wink, wink -- there's no reason to believe that matrimony was necessary in order for the general to become a daddy. However, Edward Pakenham at least tried to wed. In fact, he had been rejected by Annabella Milbanke on the grounds that the "all the Pakenham family has a strong tendency to insanity." She chose instead the poet Lord Byron, and they were married just six days before the general died in battle.
That said, I can tell you that Gen. Pakenham was born in Pakenham Hall, County Westmeath, Ireland, on March 19, 1778. Not much is known about him outside of his military exploits, but his family was very old, and his sister married Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington.
The man you have asked about was the general's nephew. Charles Pakenham, the fourth son of Thomas, second Earl of Longford, was born in Dublin on Sept. 21, 1821. His aristocratic Irish Protestant family brought him up in luxury. He spent much of his childhood in Pakenham Hall in County Westmeath where, no doubt, he was entertained with stories of Uncle Ned.
Young Charles was educated at the best schools, and everyone thought he was headed for a military career as well. So he entered, at age 14, the Royal Military College at Sandhurst and soon was a captain with a future.
But then, in 1850, our young hero did something that would really shake up the Pakenhams: he left the Anglican Church and became a Catholic.
One of his sisters took him to task: "For goodness sake, Charles, get married as soon as you can or you'll end up by becoming a monk." Charles, however, turned a pious ear and shocked the family further by telling them that was exactly his intention. He had decided to become a Passionist. Uncle Arthur, the "Iron Duke," took the news a little better. "Well, Charles," he advised, "you have been a good soldier, now strive to be a good monk."
He soon left family and friends behind and was ordained a Passionist priest in September 1855, taking the name Paul Mary. He eventually returned to Dublin and built a church, but his monastic life was cut short by a "seizure of the heart," and he died in 1857 at age 35.
At Danneel Park on St. Charles Avenue and Octavia Street, there are some old brick walkways in the middle of the field. They do not appear to go anywhere. There are also some old bricks surrounding a large oak tree which also appear to have no purpose. Was there something else at that location in the past?
When Rudolph Danneel died on Feb. 4, 1906, there was a long obituary in the Daily Picayune reporting the sudden death at age 49 of the last male line in the prestigious Danneel family. We also learned that his will provided the citizens of New Orleans with both educational and recreational opportunities.
Danneel, whose residence was at 5511 St. Charles Ave, left the vacant property at the corner of Octavia Street and St. Charles Avenue to the city. Barely a year before, Henry, Rudolph's younger brother, had died. But before this, the two brothers had decided that they would leave the land for use as a park, which was developed with brick paths and decorative brick surrounds for the trees.
Rudolph also left money to build two schools: Rudolph Danneel No. 1 and No. 2.