I am presently living in the French Quarter due to Katrina. It's interesting to be learning about the Quarter in ways I would not have before, given that I have lived here for more than 30 years. The question I have is this: In the Faubourg Marigny, Kerlerec Street's name doesn't seem to fit in with the likes of Frenchmen and Dauphine. Can you tell me whom the street was named for and why?
The street was named after Louis Billouart, Chevalier de Kerlerec, who came to Louisiana as governor of the colony in 1753. Although his 10-year term as governor was not an easy one, Kerlerec was honored by having a street named for him.
Because of Kerlerec's distinguished career in the royal navy, he was rewarded with the governorship of Louisiana. Kerlerec and his family arrived full of hope, and he reported that he was "satisfied with the Choctaw Indians. They are true to their plighted faith, and they are men who reflect more logic and precision in their reasoning than is supposed." Kerlerec knew that it was good strategy to get the locals on his side, and he did this by giving them generous gifts sent from France for trading.
Gov. Kerlerec had a rough time of it for many reasons. The first was that his colony began to be neglected by the mother country. For two years, he didn't even receive a letter from France. In fact, France admitted not sending any supplies to the colony for four years.
It was also during his administration that the French were driven from their homes in Nova Scotia by the English and later came to Louisiana.
Another problem that thwarted Kerlerec was the disagreements and fighting between the English and the French. This ended in the complete overthrow of France in the New World. With a secret treaty signed at Fountainebleau, France, in 1762, France ceded the Isle of Orleans and the rest of Louisiana west of the Mississippi River to Spain. And a few weeks later, England acquired nearby territory as well. It was years later that the colonists and the Indians found out they were living in a Spanish province instead of a French one. The Indians who objected to the change were granted land west of the Mississippi River, and Kerlerec earned from them the title of "Father of the Choctaws."
Kerlerec, however, found himself in conflict with another official of the French government, Vincent de Rochemore. The King of France recalled Kerlerec and tossed him in the Bastille where he remained for some time. In 1769, Kerlerec was exiled from Paris and went to Brittany, France, where he lived until his death on Sept. 8, 1770.Ê
While his reputation was never completely restored, letters of commendation were given to his son four years after his father's death. These letters praised Kerlerec's more than 50 years of service to his country.
My mother lived in New Orleans in the '30s and remembers going to McDonogh High School, but I saw something that suggested they weren't named after him until the 1970s. Does she have a faulty memory on that, or were there McDonogh High Schools in the late '30s.
Unless your mother went to high school in the 1830s, she does not have a faulty memory. John McDonogh was a millionaire merchant and philanthropist who signed a will on Dec. 28, 1838, in which he planned to leave half of his fortune to build schools for the white and free black children of New Orleans. McDonogh died in 1850, and New Orleans administrators established the first McDonogh School before the Civil War and McDonogh schools No. 2 through 6 during Reconstruction. About 100 years later, during the 1972-73 school year, there were 20 schools named after this generous benefactor.Ê
Before Katrina, there were two high schools in New Orleans carrying McDonogh's name: John McDonogh Senior High School on Esplanade Avenue and McDonogh #35 Senior High School on Kerlerec Street. Since the storm, McDonogh #35 has reopened, but John McDonogh remains closed.