I am related to Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) and a direct descendant of Robert the Bruce, Templar King, as well as the Stewarts of the time from my matriarchal lineage. My family tree branched to New Orleans, this French territory, in the 1720’s bringing along their Pict, Scottish, German and French heritage (to name a few). It seems even a little Native American made it in through the Pointe Coupee, Plaquemines area of Louisiana when my ancestors first arrived in Louisiana. They later moved to the plantation areas of White Castle, Donaldsonville, St. Gabriel, and Iberville, the Ascension and Orleans Parish areas around River Road.
They meandered closer to New Orleans as the years passed, moving from plantations to their town houses in the city proper. My great grandmother and great, great nanny and “Memi” lived on St. Anne between Rampart (Love) and Burgundy street late 1880’s. Just across the street from the famed Marie Laveau cottage. Memi knew her well. Nanny had five children who were all delivered at home by a local midwife. Marie Laveau was a local midwife and she very well might have had a hand in birthing some of my ancestors. It may have been Marie Laveau III by that point in 1895 but it’s possible at least one of the trinity was involved.
My grandma told me about Marie Laveau. She remembered her with awe and fear. She was only a little girl when her grandma told her, but she told the tales and passed them down to us. Grandma grew up and made voodoo dolls, gave us ritual baths filled with Florida water and made sure the bottoms of the trees were painted white (well, grandpa did that ).
My German, French and Italian blood comes from my grandfather’s side of the family: the Plaquemines’ Trosclair’s. Originally, “Troxler” from the European area pf Alsace/Lorraine. They lived on both sides of the German/French border and made landfall in Louisiana in 1718, in the River parish of St. James and Ascension. Eventually moving across the river to the Bayou Goula, White Castle and Plaquemines areas. Commerce and trade up the river put their town houses in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is interesting that genealogical searches have revealed that both sides of my family had business connections or lived next door to each other since the 1700’s! It seems that even the descendants of some of their slaves during colonial times were still connected in the 20th century too. I recall “Peters,” a wonderful old black man who my grandma was always praising. I knew him as a child and he was still working for my grandparents. It turns out he was a descendant of family slaves from early 1800’s. He must have come from my grandma’s side, for the French/German end were not much on owning slaves. The American Thompson family branch owned the most slaves in the White Castle/Donaldsonville area in the day.
Much to my grandma’s chagrin, my momma married a Yankee! That added Irish, English and Polish to the brew. Interestingly enough the “Millan” side are related to Robert E. Lee, George Washington and many other leaders of our country. I heard that “Yankee” thing throughout my childhood, nut never as much as when I went college in New York. I didn’t understand why something that happened so long ago still weighed so heavily on grandma’s mind. I do now thanks, in part, to the voices from the past spirits whispering in my ear. The history taught in most american schools do not shed the light on the southern side, or rather, Creole version of the Civil War.Even many of the New Orleans history books I had as a child were written from the American viewpoint.
However, family remembrances of early 20th century issues and newly acquired academic knowledge of the Creole plight I understand more of the big picture and Thank , Grandma!for making me look up phrases like ” The Northern Aggression” as grandma called it . These things had a profound effect on the history of New Orleans, perhaps not just in the way you might think. For example: Did you know Americans even made the language of French illegal to speak here in the early 20th century?
Later As a child, I passed ghost stories along in the night to my friends. We used our New Orleans cemeteries as playgrounds. I became one with swamp magic, trees and nature spirits that were whispering in my ear. My mother was a St. Joesph nun before she married my dad. I came from a rich Catholic background, yet Voodoo was infused within many of our customs. By the time I was in high school I was leading ghost hunts for the neighborhood gang to some of the same places I go to now. During my college years I escaped to New York and escorted many back here to the hidden side of my spirited home and, after many careers in the public eye, I found my true calling. The spirit world and New Orleans is home.