Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Christmas Present from Sam Booksh

On December 25, 1875 Belle received a Christmas present from Samuel Walker Booksh.
Carte de Visite album c 1870
It was a little leather photo album for the small calling card sized photos known as Carte de Visite which were made from 1854 to 1905. They were most popular in the 1860s.

 This album was made by 
  A. J. Holman & Co. of Philadelphia.

On the first page Sam has written:

Miss Belle Tisdale
From her .....
Sam'l W. Booksh
Dec. 25/75

This is the earliest mention of Sam Booksh in Belle's papers.  They must have met when she was staying with her Grandma and Grandpa Pratt in East Baton Rouge Parish. His family lived across the Mississippi River in Grosse Tete, Iberville Parish.  Perhaps he was her beaux and from his inscription it seems he wanted to be more, maybe her fiance. Was this part of a marriage proposal?  They married in April 1878, a little more than two years later.

The first carte de visite in the album is not a photo but  a reproduction of a romantic painting titled Tender Chord. 

When I first saw the album it was filled with photos. Grandpa Booksh was able to identify most of them for me. Many were of Sam's brothers, his sister and other relatives. Was this his way of bringing her into his family?

The photo of Sam in the album bears a striking resemblance to my brother. It has been enhanced by the photographer, A. D. Lytle. No doubt Sam's blonde hair and blue eyes were under exposed. In the family we have titled this one "I wish I had a penciled-in moustache."

Samuel Walker Booksh   1853-1930

The back of the photo has the inscription:
Miss Belle Tisdale
From her friend
Saml. W. Booksh

and the word "rememberence" written just
above the photographer's name.

Samuel Booksh was born on the 4th of July 1853 in Grosse Tete, Iberville Parish, Louisiana, son of Charles Booksh, 1808-1886, and Marie Eliza Elizabeth Leonard, 1819-1897. He was the eighth of ten children, nine boys and one girl. He married Arabella Maria Tisdale on 23 April 1878. They moved from Grosse Tete to New Orleans in 1893. He died 3 November 1930 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Another photo in the album is of a more casually
posed Sam with his older brother Thomas Claiborne
Booksh, 1846-1902.                                                                             

Thomas Claiborne and Samuel Walker Booksh, c1875    

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Letter from Robert Tisdale to his mother 1875

On November 18, 1875 Belle's little brother Robert wrote a letter to their mother, Eliza Pratt Tisdale. He was 9 years old and staying with his aunt Frances Pratt Anthoine and her husband Henry. He is just learning to write with a dip pen and does a very good job.

Letter from Robert Raphael Tisdale to his mother Eliza Helen Pratt dated November 18, 1875 with note on reverse by Henry Anthoine, husband of Francis Pratt.
Copy of 8” x 6 1/2” page of stationery written in ink on both sides, email from Peter Tisdale. Location of original unknown. Transcribed exactly as written.

His Uncle Henry adds a note on the back of the sheet:

Page 1
Printed letterhead with drawing of fruits and nuts
Office of Tramontana & Co.
Wholesale Dealers and Importers of
Nos. 7 & 11 Front and 10 & 14 Fulton Sts.,

New Orleans, November 18th 1875
Dear Mama
I have just received your letter and was very glad to get it, Aunt France Uncle Henry and I went to the Circus last night, I saw all the Animals, there was five Elephants, one Dromedry, Lions, Tigers, Hyenes, and a grat meney other Animals, there was also two little Boys onli five years age acted on the Trapeze injoyed [crossed out] I enjoyed it all vey much, and wish you was heare to see it too. I cant tell you all I saw, but it was all beautiful.
Uncle henry b [crossed out] Henry bought me a new Coat and Hat for Sundays, he is also teaching me how to write, and I hope next time I write to do better than this time,
Kiss Lee, Marion and Harry for me, and write soon a gain, give my love to Willie,
I remain your loving Son
Robert R. Tisdale
Page 2

My dear Sister-in Law
I take pleasure to hand you a specimen, or rather an essay of your son's ability in penmanship. This is the first number of the edition, and of course can't be expected much; though he has been going to school for some time.
I am confident , his present teacher will do better. He is the uncle of your son and you will confer a good favor to him (the teacher) by calling him so; at least, when you speak to Robert, as he recognise me, as Uncle Henry, not Mr. Henry. ___
Between us however you can continue to call me any thing you choose, I am indifferent. ___
Hoping this may find you all well
I am yours respectfully
Henry Anthoine

Henry Anthoine c 1870

It's hard to tell from his note whether Henry was trying to be humorous or sarcastic. From this carte de visite of the dapper Mr. Anthoine it looks like it might be either. The photo was taken in Trieste, not far from Venice, Italy, perhaps in 1873 when he applied for a passport.


About Henry Anthoine

Henry was born July 12, 1835 in Venice, Italy, according to  his 1873 passport application. He arrived in the United States in 1855. He first appears in relation to the Pratt family in February 1867 when he signs as a witness to the marriage of Kate McCaughey and T. H. Durr. She was the daughter of Frances Pratt and the deceased William McCaughhey. That same year Henry is listed in the New Orleans City Directory as a clerk at 333 Conti Street. In 1868 he is naturalized as a citizen of the U. S. 

In the 1870 census he is listed as a bookkeeper in Ward 3 of New Orleans with wife Francis Antoine and her daughter Kate McCoy, a seamstress. 

In the 1880 census Henry, Francis and Kate, now a widow, are living at 249 Treme Street. He is a Bookkeeper, according to the 1879 City Directory, for S. Oteri & Bro. In the 1890 City Directory Henry is a bookkeeper for Abramovich Brothers & Patrovich.

I can't find Henry in the 1900 Census, but Frances is listed as Francis McCoy at 1028 St. Andrew Street, New Orleans, in the home of her daughter Kate McCoy, a trained nurse, and Kate's 18 year old daughter Olive McCoy. Both Frances and Kate are listed as widows. I do find Henry Anthoine in the 1891, 1902 and 1903 City Directories so I don't think he was dead in 1900.  Frances died 14 September 1903.

Friday, June 23, 2017

More About William S. Pike

William S. Pike c1870
Williaim Spencer Pike c1870
from Bergeron collection in the
Pike Family Tree of Kathryn Bobb
on ancestry.com

Pike, Brother & Co.
and William S. Pike listings
1870 New Orleans City Directory

In his last letters to Belle and Frank, Benjamin Franklin Tisdale was very critical of his boss, Bill Pike. They had a long history together dating back to their time in Baton Rouge in the 1840s. B. F. Tisdale's marriage to his first wife, Maria Pike, took place at William Pike's home on August 25, 1846. Maria is referred to in a Baton Rouge Gazette wedding announcement as “the youngest daughter of the late James M. Pike of Lexington, Ky.” William Pike named his oldest son James Pike, leading me to believe that William may have been Maria's older brother. B. F. Tisdale and William Pike were also members of the same Masonic Lodge in Baton Rouge. Maria died in September 1849 so they would have had three years of family contact.

Just a few months after B. F.'s letter to Belle in October 1874, William Pike suffered a stroke. On January 6, 1875 The New Orleans Times reported:

Serious Illness of Mr. W. S. Pike.
   While in attendance upon his business on Monday, Mr. W. S. Pike, the well known banker, was suddenly stricken with paralysis, and rendered so helpless that he was at once conveyed by carriage to his residence. Medical assistance was called and although the unfortunate gentleman continued to be the object of watchful care and experienced treatment, he grew no better. During the night of Monday his situation was regarded as extremely critical, and on Tuesday morning his physicians were unable to report any improved change.
   A representative of the TIMES called late last evening at the residence of Mr. Pike. His attending physicians, Drs. Staile and Choppin were absent at the time, but Dr. J. H. Pike stated that he considered the condition of his father much improved, and that the physicians above referred to were of the same opinion. Mr. Pike was sensible and cognizant of all that was going on around him, articulated more readily and swallowed with less difficulty than in the morning and night previous. One half of Mr. Pike's body (the right side) is paralyzed.
[New Orleans Times (New Orleans, La.) Wednesday, January 6, 1875, Volume XII, Issue 6524, Page 6. Source GenealogyBank.com]

On January 8, 1875 The New Orleans Times reported that Bill Pike had died and published a long biographical sketch:
A Good Man Gone – Universal Regret.
Biographical Sketch.
   When it was known yesterday forenoon that, after not three days of illness, Wm. S. Pike had breathed his last, there went forth everywhere, in social as well as in business circles, instantaneous expression of the sincerest regret. So sudden and unexpected a termination of a life, so full of activity and of good works, and promising so many years of usefulness, was a severe shock to the entire community.
   Mr. Pike was a native of Lexington, Ky., was born in 1821, and on Tuesday, the 5th of January, the day after he was so suddenly stricken down at his post, he was fifty-three years of age.
His father was a large real estate agent in Lexington; served several sessions in the Kentucky Legislature, and was a prominent, respected and influential citizen.
After his death his son, the subject of our notice, then about ten years old, left the paternal home and came to New Orleans determined, though so young and inexperienced, to earn his own livelihood.
Comes South.
   He soon found employment here; and for several years served as a clerk with the late John Watt, and other merchants of high standing and extensive business. He then entered upon the active life of the steamboatmen of those early days, filling the responsible duties, now of clerk and now of pilot, and always with credit and success. Should any of our old time citizens remember the steamboat Daniel Webster, it will interest them also to know that Mr. Pike was one of her officers.
At Baton Rouge.
   In 1839, Mr. Pike settled down in Baton Rouge, with which town and its vicinity he was ever after so intimately connected, that his death will be the cause of grief in every household. For fourteen years he successfully managed an extensive and remunerative grocery and produce business in Baton Rouge, and was, besides, prominently connected with every public enterprise calculated to benefit the community.
   In 1853 he accepted the appointment of cashier of the Baton Rouge branch of the Louisiana State Bank, and fulfilled its duties until the war. Meantime, for several years, he was one of the lessees of the State Penitentiary in conjunction with that well known gentleman, Mr. McHatton.
If we mistake not, Mr. Pike remained in or near Baton Rouge during the war. He was at one time imprisoned by Gen. Butler, but was released after awhile, as even that hero of many victories could not bend the prisoner to his purposes.
Comes to New Orleans.
   In 1864, just before the close of the war, Mr. Pike removed to New Orleans, where, in partnership with the late Messrs. J. M. Lapeyre and Alexander Brother, he established the private banking house whose standing and usefulness are so prominently and honorable linked with the history of our city during the last ten years.
   Mr. Lapeyre, one of our oldest and most influential financiers, retired a few years ago from active business, full of years and honors, and died soon after. Mr. Brother, a gentleman of equal honorable repute and long experience in our business circles, was lost to the firm by death. Mr. Geo. A. Pike, formerly proprietor and editor of the Baton Rouge Gazette, and of late years a banker in Shreveport, thus remained the sole partner of his brother here.
Howard Association.
   Soon after he became a resident of our city Mr. Pike was admitted to the Howard Association, and, every season of sickness and distress that called for the services of that far-famed organization, he was one of its most zealous, self-sacrificing and efficient members.
   He promptly took an active, intelligent and liberal share in all enterprises, whether of a strictly business character or of a lighter and more ephemeral description, that promised to benefit the city and State. Thus, whilst foremost in well digested projects to develop our railroad and steamship connections and open up new fields for mercantile action, the Mystick Krewe of Comus, the King of the Carnival, and other notable “merry men,” found in this quiet, sedate and thorough business man not only a generous contributor to the funds so largely drawn on to fit out their brilliant masquerades, but even a genial and zealous participant in them, in his own person. 
[William Pike was Rex, King of the Carnival, for Mardi Gras 1874.]
Railroads, etc.
   One of the important enterprises that owed its renewed vitality and assured success to Mr. Pike's prudent management and clear-sighted liberality, is the Baton Rouge and Grosse Tete Railroad, which may yet be an important part of a trunk line between this city and Shreveport. He was also the President of the new Metairie Cemetery Association, and to that, and the proposed New Orleans and Western Texas Railroad, he of late devoted much time and attention.
Last Hours.
   For all the long years that he led so busy and responsible a career, Mr. Pike enjoyed uninterrupted good health. It was only of late that this constant, trying mental toil commenced to tell on our old friend's strong physique. A feeling of general debility should have warned him that he was no longer young, and that he needed not to apply himself so assiduously to the many avocations and trusts in his charge. But such veterans, in business as in war, persistently stand to their posts to the last; and so they die in harness.
   It was a striking evidence of the high esteem in which this quiet, modest man was held by his brother merchants, that on the very evening of the afternoon on which he was carried home from his banking house, never to enter its familiar halls again, the Chamber of Commerce by a unanimous vote, elected him for their President, to succeed one of the ablest presiding officers that body has had for many years.
The Survivors.
   We learn that the business of the bank will continue as usual under the supervision of Mr. Geo. A. Pike and of Mr. John H. Pike, the eldest son of the deceased, and cashier of the New Orleans National Bank. He is a fine young man, and is evidently conscious of the great duty devolving on him of sustaining the repute of a name so long and so much honored.
   The universal exclamation yesterday, when the news became general of Mr. Pike's death, was: “What a loss to the community!” That best exhibits his place in the public esteem, confidence and affection.
[New Orleans Times (New Orleans, La.) Friday, January 8, 1875, Volume XII, Issue 6526, Page 8. Source GenealogyBank.com]

The Sunday, January 10, 1875 paper carried his obituary:

PIKE- On Thursday morning, January 7, 1875, at 7:49 o'clock, William S. Pike, aged 54 years, a native of Lexington, Ky., and a resident of this state for forty years.
   The funeral will take place from his residence, No. 173 Camp street. His friends are respectfully invited to attend at 10 o'clock Sunday Morning, 10th inst.
Grand Secretary's Office, Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana, Free and Accepted Masons-Grand Lodge Hall, New Orleans, Jan. 9, 1875-The officers and members of the M. W. Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana, F. and A. M., are notified to meet in the Grand Lodge Hall. Sunday morning, the 10th inst., at 9:30 o'clock, for the purpose of attending the obsequies of our late R. W. Brother and Grand Treasurer, WILLIAM STEPHEN PIKE. (Officers of Lodges will wear official regalia.) Masonic bodies of which he was a member, are specially invited. Dark clothing respectfully recommended. By order:
Grand Secretary.
[New Orleans Times (New Orleans, La.) Wednesday, January 10, 1875, Volume XII, Issue 6528, Page 4. Source GenealogyBank.com. There were also obituaries in the New York Herald and the Galveston Daily News.]

That article was followed by similar invitations for members of other Masonic and civic groups.

On Monday, January 11, 1875 the New Orleans Times published a story on the funeral:

The Funeral of the Late William S. Pike.
   Yesterday dawned one of the most disagreeable days that has been experienced in this city for years past; a cold rain set in, freezing as it fell, and by 10 o'clock New Orleans was clothed in a mantle of ice. This did not have the effect of preventing a large concourse of the friends of the late Wm. S. Pike from assembling at his residence, No. 173 Camp street, to pay their last sad tribute of respect to him, who in life was an exemplary citizen, a firm friend, and an honest man.
   Mr. Pike breathed his last at twenty minutes to eight o'clock on the morning of the 7th instant, and for the exceedingly long time which his interment was deferred, his body was in an excellent state of preservation.
   In the parlor his body lay, encased in a metallic coffin, beautifully chased with silver; the highest skill of art being brought to bear in the construction of the metallic shell.
Through a thick glass Mr. Pike's body could be seen, and as each friend would for the last time gaze upon his form lyng before them stark and cold in the embrance [sic] of death, through the tears which unbidden came, they would murmur “that death had no terrors for him, but as if in quiet repose, contented and happy, Mr. Pike's spirit had flown; the mortal has assumed the immortal.” Floral offerings were thickly strewn around the coffin, their delicate perfume like sweet incense impregnating the atmosphere.
   At about nine o'clock the Reverend Father Hubert, of the Jesuits' Church, arrived at the residence, and in the solemn and impressive ceremonies of the Catholic faith, performed the last rites.
After the Reverend Father's departure the officers of the Grand Lodge of Louisiana, of which Mr. Pike was Grand Treasurer, Jacques deMolay No. 2, K. T., and of Marion Lodge No. 68, took charge of the remains.
   The rain continued unceasingly to fall, but nevertheless the members of the following organizations came to their deceased friend and brother's residence to participate in the funeral cortege; Grand Lodge of Louisiana, Free and Accepted Masons; Grand Chapter of Louisiana, Royal Arch Masons; Marion Lodge No. 68 F. and A. M.; Knights Templar--Indivisible Friends Commandary No. 1, Jacques deMolay No. 2, Orleans Commandary No. 3; Steam Fire Engine Company No. 2 and delegations from the Fire Department, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the ladies of the Crescent City Relief Association.
   The entire funeral was under the control and charge of Mr. Jos. H. DeGrange, Grand Marshal, the whole line of escort being under the immediate command of Sir Jos. P. Hornor, P. E. G. Commander of the State.
   At 11 o'clock the escort of the three Commanderies Knights Templar, under command of Sir Knight Berry Russell, E. C., Indivisible Friends; Sir Knight Harvy Cree, E. C. , Jacques deMolay No. 2, and Sir Knight John W. Madden, E. C., Orleans Commandery No. 3, headed by a band of music, marched to their deceased brother's late home. A short time after their arrival, the mortal remains of their late brother was tenderly conveyed to the hearse by the following pall bearers:
Banking interests--S. H. Kennedy.
Insurance interests--Harmon Doane.
Chamber of Commerce--Joseph Bowling.
Cotton Exchange--John Phelps.
Knights Commandery--Joseph P. Hornor.
Fire Department--Fred'k Camerden.
Mechanics' and Agricultural Fair Association--I. N. Marks.
Howard Association--E. F. Schmidt.
Allen Monumental Association--Col. John M. Sandidge.
Lee Monumental Association--Amilear Fortier.
Pickwick Club--Lafayette Folger.
Boston Club--John H. New.
Metairie Cemetery Association and
Louisiana Jockey Club--Colonel Gus A.Breux.
King's Own--J. J. Mellon.
Citizens at large--C. A. Whitney.
Steamboat interests--Capt. John J. Brown.
St. John's Rowing Club--E. B. Musgrove.
Masonic pall bearers--Samuel M. Todd, P.G.M.; J.Q.A. Fellows, P.G.M.
Grand Chapter--T. F. Hedges, Harmon Doane.
Jacques deMolay Commandry[sic]--Sir D. W. C. Peck, Sir E. A. Yorke.
Marion Lodge--H. M. Buckley, P. M.; John Chaffe, P. M.
   The Sir Knights standing with uncovered heads 'neath the sleet and hail that fell, preserving the strictest military discipline.
   The procession then took the line of march, and to the solemn strains of music walked opposite the deceased's bank on Camp street, where they entered the carriages provided for them and proceeded to the new Metairie Cemetary. [sic]
At the Cemetary [sic]
the solemn procession proceeded to the temporary vaults, where the deceased gentleman was interred, pending the completion of his family tomb. At the grave the funeral ceremonies were conducted by Sir Knight John G. Fleming, D. Y. G. M. Thus has ended the life of one whose career on earth has been characterized by honesty and integrity, who was esteemed as a friend, fond parent and husband, and as one possessed of all those attributes of character which endear the friendships of earth.
[New Orleans Times (New Orleans, La.) Wednesday, January 11, 1875, Volume XII, Issue 6529, Page 2. Source GenealogyBank.com]

I wonder if B. F. Tisdale attended the funeral.

None of the newspaper accounts mention Pike's widow, Mariana Huguet Pike. William and Mariana married 21 Oct 1843 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and had five children, James, John, William, Emma and Gertrude. Mariana died December 13,1904 and is buried in the Pike family tomb at Metairie Cemetery.

Pike Family Tomb, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans, Louisiana

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Letter from Papa to Belle

l874 letter from B. F. Tisdale to Belle Tisdale
Original 9" x 11" thin paper with light blue lines, manuscript writing in ink on both sides with bleed through from back, condition good, original in possession of
V. B. Zimmerman. Transcribed exactly as written.

This 1874 letter to Belle from her Pa was the most difficult to transcribe because of the heavy bleed through of the ink. I used photo editing software to adjust the contrast and brightness and was able to improve  it somewhat.
Edited portion of page 1 of 1874 letter from B. F. Tisdale to Belle Tisdale

Page 1
Will answer Frank

Octo 22 1874                            

My Dear Belle.         We got Your and Franks letter and Were Well pleased to Know that our dear Children were Well, as also the kind relatives at Kushla. As for us I mean myself – and old ['Ma?]
[“Banch”?] we have nothing to Say Save and except that under Gods Prov[iden]ce We are at least well. Thus far we have had bread and butter enough to eat how long [term?] this will be so I Know not. Mr [Sheppen?] Left us today and as a consequence “Bill Pike” was a “hornet” all day. Oh if I Could only leave him at once and forever, it would a release like that of the Prisoner of Chillon, or Eurydicé from Hell. Today, he Would have made me laugh, but that the tears of anger & Mortification drowned the laughter and turned the ludicrous into the Melodramatic, for indeed I Could have stabbed him where he stood, so exasperated he made me. But poor child this is not interesting to You – Nor indeed to anyone. I Smell of brimstone. Mr. [Majer?] or his Ghost I don't clearly Know which took dinner at our house on Sunday. He Came – He saw- he left. He Was there Just ¾ of an hour. I had no Chance to talk to him at all, even if I had Wanted to & I did not Care to - for he Seemed annoyed about Something – and my “bald dysjointed chat”, as 

Page 2
Shakspeare Says – Would not interest him - There was also a Cousin or something from “Ky” Mr. “Nip” Moore – He Came down to a “State dinner” with us. Your Mother had “felix” to bring it -  [illegible] Soup – Fish - but Stake - and I Went in debt for a bottle of wine- Whether Mr. M liked it or not I dont Know, for he bounced up from the table and Shot off for the Cars in Such a hurry You would have thought he had an appointment With ___ Grant.
About the box – Send it how You please to Me at Pike Brs. Co or let me Know When You Send it if You Can & I will be on hand to get it at the depot tho this Seems to be a bad Way too – At All Events fix it Some way – So You dont bother anybody over there With it. They have enough trouble of their own Without having any of ours to grieve them. The baby is all You Could Wish him – in beauty – Sweetness – goodness  angel like & all  Kiss Frank & Give love to all. Say to Sister M I will write to her Soon if I live. Your Pa! BFT

B. F. Tisdale and his wife are living in New Orleans with their youngest children, while Mary, Belle, Frank, and possibly Willie are visiting "the kind relatives at Kushla." This is undoubtedly the Jacob Magee family. B. F. Tisdale's sister Mary Eliza married Jacob Magee in 1834 and lived in Kushla, just north of Mobile, Alabama. We visited the Magee Farm, just north of Mobile, several years ago when it was operated as a historic landmark and open to the public. (I plan a separate blog post on the visit.) 

Belle's Pa is still unhappy with his boss, Bill Pike, and his anger shows in this letter. His literary allusion to the Prisoner of Chillon refers to a 392-line narrative poem by Lord Byron, written in 1816. It chronicles the imprisonment of a Genevois monk in the Chateau de Chillon from 1532 to 1536. Eurydicé, of course, refers to the Greek myth of Orpheus trying to retrieve his wife from Hades. The Tisdale family evidently loved poetry. My father remembers his Grandma Belle quoting entire poems while the children helped with housework. One in particular he remembered was Longfellow's "The Village Blacksmith."

B. F. Tisdale appears to have carried his anger home with him. I wouldn't have wanted to be at that dinner on Sunday! I can see him staring resentfully at the steak and the bottle of wine and making sarcastic comments to the guests. (There is a family rumor that he had a drinking problem.) The cousin from Kentucky was Eliza's relative, probably a son of her aunt, Ann Elizabeth Pratt, Grandpa Pratt's sister, who married a Mr. Moore. 

The one happy note in the letter is the description of the "angel like" baby. This was Charles Hiram "Harry" Tisdale, born 30 May 1874, the last child of Eliza Pratt and Benjamin Franklin Tisdale.

Monday, April 24, 2017

1874 Letter from B. F. Tisdale to his son Frank Tisdale

September 3, 1874 Letter from B. F. Tisdale in New Orleans to his son Frank in Mobile

Original letter dated September 3, 1874 in envelope. Manuscript writing in ink on 8 1/2" x 11"
Pike, Brother and Co. stationery with faint blue lines. Good condition with some ink bleed through. In possession of Vera Booksh Zimmerman. Transcribed exactly as written.

[Envelope with imprinted return address PIKE, BROTHER & CO. NEW ORLEANS, LA. 
Stamp corner torn off, postmarked New Orleans Sep [illegible]
Addressed to Master Frank Tisdale (Care) Messr. N. W. Perry Co. Mobile, Ala
Postmarked on back Mobile Ala., Sep 4

Folded inside the envelope is one page of stationery imprinted:
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 3rd 187 4

Dear Frank, 
I received your letter and Your Aunt's to us and am pleased to find You have the promise of Your Kind Uncle Frank to interest himself in obtaing [sic] You employment over there. Should he do So You must bend every energy to the task imposed, and only thinking of the future which is always propitious to the honest and industrious Boy, work Your way to Success. I commenced in Mobile 41 Years ago at a very Small Salary (Something more than my Board) and had I Saved a little at intervals when I Could, up to this time, I should not now be delving at my Desk in this One Horse Bank and Town, at a Salary less than enough to Support me & my Family. But retrospection Serves no Good purpose unless to profit by the lessons of the past. Endeavour [sic] to So deport yourself towards Your Elders and Superiors as to Merit their approbation, Control Your temper, let Your manners be that of a gentleman – even, Suave, Courteous, obliging- Avoid the use of bad language or Slang. In all Your reading do You not perceive the inevitable result of the practice of the

[page back]
of the Social Virtues – and that vice and immorality are the Sure Concomitants of disappointment pain that dreary animadversion of the World So hard for the proud man to bear. Many of the Tales You have read have taught You this. I Know it.
Mr. Pike has determined to quit business at once, or as Soon as he can liquidate or wind up his Bank - He has already reduced the Wages of his employees to 150-80-75. Alfred and Blane $150. Tisdale $80 – M. Duralde 75. Ernest Landry 70. How we shall live on the Stipend of $80 God knows. I am Striving to get something to do away from this Treadmill and its Owner. The Times are hard with all. The Citizens Bank Closed her doors Yesterday with $290,000 – owing Depositers [sic] alone, and a portfolio full of poor paper often renewed and Country Mortgages Worth perhaps 20%. Her Stock is Dead. It has paralyzed trade shaken all manner of Securities and is indeed a Wide spread “Calamity.” But this is yet too early for you to understand.
Give my love to Belle & kiss her for all of us. Poor Creatures – The Baby is the Sweetest and best thing in all the World – no trouble - Well as he can be, and Notices Now so much. Dont fail to give my love to all the rest and say to Uncle Frank  I will write to him soon.
This is written in [written in the right margin] a hurry and may be full of mistakes for we are upside Down. Your Aff. Father  [written in the top margin] All Join me in Love and Good Wishes.

B. F. Tisdale wrote  this letter to his son Benjamin Franklin Tisdale Jr. who would have been 14 years old at the time. It was not unusual at that time for boys to start working at such an early age. In the 1877 New Orleans City Directory Frank is listed as working as a clerk for N. D. Wetmore and living at 508 S. Rampart Street in New Orleans. "Uncle Frank" referred to in the first sentence is Marion Franklin Pratt, brother of Frank's mother, Eliza Helen Pratt Tisdale.

The baby B. F. Tisdale mentions is Charles Harry Tisdale, born 30 May 1874 in New Orleans. He was the last child of B. F. and Eliza Pratt Tisdale. Also living in New Orleans with their parents were Willie, Olivia “Lee,” Robert,and Marion Eugene.

B. F. Tisdale describes the bad economic situation in New Orleans in 1874 that has turned his world "upside down." Conditions in the rest of the United States were not much better. Triggered by the international Panic of 1873,  the financial crisis in North America and Europe lasted from 1873 until 1879, "even longer in some countries (France and Britain)." It was called The Great Depression until that name was attached to another economic downturn in the 1930s.

The political situation in New Orleans was also deteriorating. Resentment of the Radical Republicans who had seized power in the state had seethed under the surface for years. Paramilitary White Leagues were formed to oust the carpetbaggers.

Just 11 days after B. F. Tisdale wrote this letter the Battle of Liberty Place erupted at the foot of Canal Street between White League members who supported Democratic Gov. John McEnery in the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election and the Metropolitan police who were loyal to Republican Gov. William Kellogg. The White League held the State House (the old St. Louis Hotel), the Cabildo and Jackson Square for three days before Kellogg was restored to office by federal troops. (www.nola.com)

(Coincidentally the monument erected in 1891 to commemorate the battle was removed Monday, April 24, 2017 as I was typing this blog post.)

Frank Leslie's Illustrated Paper in New York reported on the Battle of Liberty Place. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Another letter from Cousin Kate

Letter from Kate Tisdale to Belle Tisdale, September 19, 1871

Pages 1 and 4

Pages 2 and 3

Letter dated September 9, 1871 from Kate Tisdale to Belle [Tisdale], written in pencil on 8” x 10” paper with black border, folded to make 4 pages, good condition. Original in possession of writer. Transcribed exactly as written. 

[Page 1]
Mobile  Sept. 19th 1871

My Dear Belle,
I know when you will see this letter you will say, “The mean witch has at last written to me.” In the first place I want you to excuse my writing with lead-pencil but my ink is so light & I am too lazy to hunt for more. at any rate I am going to do away with all ceremony with you, because you know we understand each other perfectly do we not? Richard has been here but he is now in N. O. we had a pleasant time while he was here. 
Belle you are very foolish I must say to go & fall in love with Mr. P. it shows you to be very unwomanlike & with very little pride to turn round & love a man when

[Page 2]

you have already refused him. Try to conquer that love for it bodes no good to you. I could whisper two small items in your ear that would turn your love to dislike & well as repugnance! I will tell them to you when you come over next winter, but enough of Mr. P. let us turn to pleasanter things.   1- We have got a house a very nice one & on a pleasant street.   2 - I made the acquaintance of three more beaux, very nice gentlemen to flirt & have fun and you know Belle you like those kind as well as I do, (so does quiet Marie & Mary, between you & I) I hope you still think of coming over next winter – do you not? We will have so much fun to gether – Maman has already succeeded in getting some boarders  amongst them are Mr. John Touart Mr. Guiner a Mr. Nevil

[Page 3]

who is a very pleasant young man. Last night Joe, John Touart & a Mr. Gwin spent the evening here. we played Poker until half past twelve (we commenced at half past eight) You know when we play Poker we use corn to count our stakes with, - towards eleven o'clock we commenced to cheat and the fine time we had was a caution; just as Mr. Gwin was getting up from the table to go he pick up nearly a hand-ful of corn & threw it in my face then you may be sure we all joined in, & the way the floor of the parlor was streewn with corn and the way I had to pick it up next morning was extraordinary  dont you think that was pretty behavior for grown up people? But I know you would participate in it with as much zest as I do. Let me know about what time you will leave Baton Rouge

[Page 4]

for N. O. so I count about how many weeks it will be before I will see you and Mary. Marie received Mary's letter and will answer it soon  give her my love & kisses  You must excuse this badly written as well as badly composed letter, but I have sore throat head ache and growing pains that is a catalogue is it not, Belle. I have got something to tell you very private - I have not even told it to Marie. I will tell you when I see you not before. I do not not like to trust to paper But I must stop- All send love & kisses.
Good-bye cousin                  
mine    Au revoir        
Kate Tisdale           
 More about Kate

As mentioned in my August 5, 2016 blog post, Catharina Margaretha “Kate” Tisdale was born 19 January 1853 in New Orleans, Louisiana, daughter of Bellle's uncle Nathan O. J. Tisdale and his second wife, Rosa Pailhes Roux.

This letter tells us that Kate has evidently made up with Richard, mentioned in her previous letter, and he has recently visited her in Mobile. Kate chides her cousin for falling in love with Mr. P. We  know that romance failed, perhaps because of whatever Kate whispered in Belle's ear, because Belle married Samuel Booksh in April 1878.

Kate mentions that her mother has recently taken in several boarders. “Amongst them are Mr. John Touart...” who participated in the rowdy poker game. This is interesting because in 1881 Kate married widower Louis Eugene Touart (1835-1904), who was 17 years her senior. John may have been a relative.

On the 1900 census Louis and Kate are living in Napoleonville, Mobile County, Alabama, with five of their children, Kate, Hinton, Anthony J., Clarence N., and Rupert G., and Louis's nephew Joseph. Kate is the mother of 8 children, 7 of them still living. Louis also had four children with his first wife, Isabella Bobe. One daughter was named Emma Layet Touart, so there may have been a connection to George Layet's family. 

Louis died 23 January 1904 and is buried in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery. On the 1910 census their son Max D. Touart, age 24, Doctor of Medicine, is listed as living with widowed Kate and Hinton, Anthony, Clarence, and Rupert. Son Tisdale J. Touart, age 27, Attorney at Law,  lives nearby.

In 1920 Kate is listed along with her half-sister Marie, as Lodgers with the Leslie Bride Sheldon family in Mobile. Kate lived until November 5, 1935 and is also buried in Mobile's Magnolia Cemetery.  (See my August 5, 2016 blog post for a photo of Kate Tisdale.)