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Blake Pontchartrain: The Mother of Orphans 

A statue at Camp and Calliope honors Margaret Gaffney Haughery

click to enlarge This statue honors Margaret Gaffney Haughery, the Mother of Orphans, who established three orphanages in the 1800s.

Photo by Kandace Power Graves

This statue honors Margaret Gaffney Haughery, the Mother of Orphans, who established three orphanages in the 1800s.

Hey Blake,

Can you tell us about the statue of a woman and child that just says "Margaret" on it and is located at the triangle at Camp and Calliope streets?

Janees

Dear Janees,

  That statue of a woman, wearing a shawl and seated next to a child, bears just one name because the person it honors was so well known during her lifetime. Her full name was Margaret Gaffney Haughery, an Irish immigrant who became known as the "Mother of Orphans."

  Orphaned herself at age 9, she came to New Orleans from Baltimore with her husband in 1835. She gave birth to a daughter, but both her child and husband died within a year. According to a KnowLA.org profile by Tulane scholar Laura Kelley, Haughery took a job as a laundress in the St. Charles Hotel and became involved in an orphan asylum run by the Sisters of Charity. She collected donations for the orphans and purchased two dairy cows to supply milk for the them. That soon led to a small business for Haughery, who ultimately purchased 40 cows and a cart to peddle her product. She raised money to establish three orphan asylums. In 1859, Haughery acquired the D'Aquin bakery, renamed it Margaret Haughery & Co. — though it was known simply as "Margaret's" — and sold her products worldwide. She also provided bread to the local orphanages she had long supported.

  As a testament to the respect she commanded, when Haughery died in February 1882, her funeral procession included the current and previous governors of Louisiana, the mayor and archbishop of New Orleans and thousands of the city's orphans.

  The statue of her was dedicated in 1884. It was the work of sculptor Alexander Doyle, who also created the statues of Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard. The Margaret monument was reported to have been the first statue in the country erected in honor of a woman.

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