IRISH RESEARCH: When mention is made of the Irish in America, most people think of the great famine or even focus on the New York City and Boston immigration problems of the 1840s. Even though these are important occurrences in the history of the Irish people, Louisiana can trace its Irish heritage to the colonial period. In the 1700s, Louisiana was a safe place for many of the Protestants of Ulster. These Irish were moved from Scotland and England earlier and were known as Scots-Irish. Many of their skills were in cloth manufacturing, and with cotton being such an important crop in Louisiana, many ended up coming to New Orleans. This immigration peaked between 1770 and 1775. Many became prominent in this new location and became known as Lace Curtain Irish because they could afford lace curtains. There were also many Catholic Irish who came to Louisiana. It is evident when you think of Spain sending Irish-born Alexander O’Reilly as their second Governor General to take over the colony from the French. This was successful and resulted in groups of administrators and Irish priests coming to Catholicize New Spain. This made the new area of the south ideal for those coming to escape the hunger of that period of history. During the 1800s, New Orleans was a major port of entry into America, but it was different from the first immigrants. This one was sparked by the potato famine, and with the Mississippi River flowing through New Orleans, this opened up a means for moving into other areas of the country easily. In the census of 1850, Irish outnumbered all other groups. Margaret Varnell Clark has done a masterful job in telling the story of the Irish people in Louisiana in her book The Louisiana Irish. She tells vividly how the Irish influence touched every aspect of society and can still be felt in New Orleans and the surrounding area today. She has filled her book with historical treasures and little-publicized facts. Clark is a New Orleans native, and her research shows how the Irish shaped the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the American South. I’ve read many books and papers on the Irish, but none of these matches the documentation that this author has put into her book. This book is available at major booksellers or online for $13.95. It should be in all major Louisiana library collections. XXX LAND RECORDS: Land records offer genealogy researchers excellent sources of information on early settlers in any region of the country. Louisiana Land Titles is one of the books from Winston De Ville’s collection of publications, and it is an inventory of these records at the State Archives located on Essen Lane.
The purpose of this inventory is to serve as the initial guide to documents generated at Louisiana’s State Land Office. They are now contained in some 450 boxes and bundles at the State Archives. Many of the records are from the colonial and the territorial period or prior to 1812. The earliest are usually written in French and/or Spanish, and the later ones are in English. In a state with some of the oldest and richest land records in the country, Louisiana’s family historians have barely begun to exploit them in scholarly pursuit. Louisiana Land Titles, compiled by Ory G. Poret and John Spencer Howell, provides access to the land papers of our ancestors, adding remarkable details to cultural geography, to historical interpretation, and to skeletal genealogy. The latest edition of this book is available from Claitor’s Publishing for $26.00. It contains 58 pages and is a soft-cover edition. XXX CANADIAN PASSPORTS: Another release from Claitor’s Publishing from the De Ville collection is Edouard Z. Massicotte’s Canadian Passports, 1681-1752, which has been mentioned in this column format before and is here again in this new edition. It was published with a new index in 1975, and now appears in the new Claitor’s edition.
It was the first major reference book for research on French Canadian coureurs de bois, voyageurs, explorers, and other early frontiersmen. Many of these men have legions of descendants throughout the Mississippi Valley, the Gulf Coast, and beyond. Written in French, the index of over 1,200 names allows the researcher to locate a particular person with ease, and the brief passport entries generally follow a standard form, that is, the name of the person who requested the passport, date, his destination, number (and generally names) in the party, and other interesting and useful information. The beaver trade was usually the goal. In those early years, the destination was commonly designated simply as “the West.” That could mean the northern reaches of Canada or the lower banks of the Mississippi River. A more specific place-name is often provided too. Containing 156 pages, order from Claitor’s Publishing. The price is $31.00. XXX 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.