Norbert Rillieux Henriette Delille

Mildred Martinez

Martinez Nursery School

Roy E. Glapion Jr.
 Rosette Rochon Marie Laveau
Roque's Garage  

Norbert Rillieux  

.....was born on March 17, 1806 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Norbert was born a free man, although his mother was a slave. His father was a wealthy White engineer involved in the cotton industry. As a child Norbert was educated in the Catholic school system in New Orleans but was sent to Paris, France for advanced schooling. He studied at the L'Ecole Centrale and at age 24 became an instructor of applied mechanics at the school. Eventually Rillieux returned home to his father's plantation which was now also being used to process and refine sugar.

Sugarcane had become the dominant crop within Louisiana, but the sugar refining process employed at that time was extremely dangerous and very inefficient. Known as the "Jamaica Train", the process called for sugarcane to be boiled in huge open kettles and then strained to allow the juice to be separated from the cane. The juice was then evaporated by boiling it at extreme temperatures, resulting in granules being left over in the form of sugar. The danger stemmed from the fact that workers were forced to transport the boiling juice from one one kettle to another, chancing the possibility of of suffering sever burns. It was also a very costly process considering the large amount of fuel needed to heat the various kettles.

During the 1830s, France witnessed the introduction of the steam-operated single pan vacuum . The vacuum pan was enclosed in an area with air of the air removed (this was necessary because liquids can boil at a lower temperature in the absence of air than with air present, thus costing less.) Rillieux decided to improve greatly on this efficiency by including a second and later a third pan, with each getting heating by its predecessor.

 In 1833, Rillieux was approached by a New Orleans sugar manufacturer named Edmund Forstall. Because numerous sugar producers had received complaints about product quality, Forstall persuaded Norbert to become the Chief Engineer of the Louisiana Sugar Refinery. Unfortunately, almost as soon as Norbert took the job, an intense feud developed between Forstall and his father, Vincent Rillieux. Out of loyalty to his father, Norbert left his position with the company. A few years later, Norbert was hired by Theodore Packwood to improve his Myrtle Grove Plantation refinery. In doing so he employed his triple evaporation pan system which he patented in 1843. It was an enormous success and revolutionized the sugar refining industry improving efficiency, quality and safety.

In the 1850s, New Orleans was suffering from an outbreak of Yellow Fever, caused by disease-carrying mosquitos. Rillieux devised an elaborate plan for eliminating the outbreak by draining the swamplands surrounding the city and improving the existing sewer system, thus removing the breeding ground for the insects and therefore the ability for them to pass on the disease. Unfortunately, Edmund Forstall, Norbert's former employer was a member of the state legislature and spoke out against the plan. Forstall was able to turn sentiment against Rillieux and the plan was rejected. Disgusted will the racism prevalent in the south as well as the frustration of local politics Rillieux eventually left New Orleans and moved back to France (ironically, after a number of years in which time the Yellow Fever continued to devastate New Orleans, the state legislature was forced to implement an almost identical plan introduced by white engineers.

After returning to France, Rillieux spent much of his time creating new inventions and defending his patents as well as traveling abroad. Rillieux died on October 8, 1894 and left behind a legacy of having revolutionized the sugar industry and therefore changing the way the world would eat.

Henriette Delille

Henriette Delille was born in 1813 in New Orleans to Jean Baptiste Delille-Sarpy and Pouponne Dias. Her mother was a quandroon and the mistress of her father, who was an aristocrat. Henriette's great great grandmother, Nanette, was a slave. Henriette was trained from an early age, like most young quandroon women during this time, to be conversant in French literature, to have a refined taste in music and to be able to dance gracefully.


Henriette's mother taught her nursing skills and how to prepare medicines from herbs. As a teenager, Henriette's lifestlye included going to balls in New Orleans for the purpose of meeting members of the aristocracy. The quandroon women were expected to become mistresses of the aristocracy. In 1824, Henriette pursued a course different from the one expected of her. During a ball, she was introduced to a French nun named Sister St. Marthe Fontier. This was the first member of a religious community that Henriette had met. She was impressed by Sister St. Marthe's dedication to God and her vows and acts of charity. Sister St. Marthe was a member of the Dames Hospitlier, a French religious order. She had purchased land on Barracks Street with the assistance of the free people of color in New Orleans. She opened a Catholic school for young girls in this building and it had become the nucleus for missionary activities among Negroes, bound and free. During the night Sr. St. Marthe taught classes in morals and faith to adults and during the day, the young girls were given religious instruction. In order to secure more teachers to help her, Sister St. Marthe trained young colored girls to become teachers. As a result, Henriette began to teach at the Catholic school when she was fourteen years old.


Henriette become consumed by her work. In addition to teaching, she visited the sick and the elderly and helped to feed the poor of the city. For Henriette, prayer was a necessity in her life. She often went to the Ursuline Convent's chapel to offer daily devotions. Henriette's family tried to persuade her to give up her work and pursue finding a member of the aristocracy to fall in love with. However, Henriette chose celibacy instead. Henriette's family was passing as white and did not like Henriette's recognition of her mixed ancestry and her association with blacks in the City. Henriette refused to stop her work and her mother had a nervous breakdown. A curator was appointed to handle her mother's accounts and in 1835, he signed a Civil Court document declaring Henriette to be of legal age.


When Henriette was declared to be of legal age, she sold all her property and began to found a community of Negro nuns with the assistance of a French woman, Marie Jeanne Aliquot. On November 21, 1836, Aliquot, Henriette and eight other colored women became the Sisters of the Presentation. They cared for the sick and poor and taught the freedmen. Their motto was "to be of one heart and one soul."


In 1837, Father Etienne Rousselon came to New Orleans from France to take charge of the chapel next to the school founded by Sister St. Marthe. Father Rousselon obtained permission for Henriette Delille to found a religious community of Negro nuns. Henriette and her companions raised money for the new Catholic church, which was completed in 1842. The community was changed from the Sisters of the Presentation to the Sisters of the Holy Family.


Within a few years, Henriette had opened a home for the aged, the sick, and the poor who had nowhere else to go. She was later able to purchase a home, which she used as a community center where slaves and free black people came to socialize and learn the Christian faith. The religious community found creative ways to keep money coming in, holding lotteries and fairs. Her sister Cecilia, by this time the mistress of a rich Austrian businessman, introduced her to many wealthy people who gave generously to her cause. That the Sisters of the Holy Family accomplished so much in a time of tremendous obstacles is even more impressive when one considers that for the first seven years there were only three of them.

    Although Delille had always suffered from poor health, she refused to slow down so long as there were souls who needed her ministry. Finally, worn out by her work, Henriette died on November 17, 1862. In her obituary it was written, "The crowd gathered for her funeral testified by its sorrow how keenly felt was the loss of her who for the love of Christ had made herself the humble servant of slaves."Sister Audrey Marie Detiege 1927-1989: Biographer of Henriette Delille

    Last fall, the American bishops voted unanimously to endorse "the appropriateness and timeliness" of Mother Henriette's cause for sainthood. After a formal biography is submitted, the Vatican will appoint historians and theologians to review it for thoroughness and accuracy. If everything is in order, then a study must be written on the virtues Delille possessed. If the Vatican's Congregation for the Cause of Saints and the pope approve, then she could be called "Venerable."

    At this point, the Church would place the material aside and wait for a sign from God that its decision was correct: At least two miracles - such as a cure for a disease for which no medical explanation is possible - are required. If canonized, Henriette Delille will be the first native-born Black American saint.


After over 150 years, the Sisters of the Holy Family still carry on Henriette Delille's tradition of dedication to God and charitable endeavors. Today, there are over 190 Sisters of the Holy Family who teach, care for the elderly in their nursing homes and retirement centers, and run free schools for disadvantaged children. The Sisters have missions in Louisiana California, Texas, Washington, D.C. and Belize Central America.



NOTE From Doctor Mark Guidry:


Because of the tragedy surrounding Hurricane Katrina, the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans have been displaced.

The Sisters are in three locations, but their headquarters – where Sister Thibodeaux & Sister Doris are located is as follows:


Sisters of the Holy Family

Maryhill Renewal Center

600 Maryhill Road

Pineville, Louisiana  71360-4162



If you would like to submit a financial donation, please send to the address above and make out the check to “Sisters of the Holy Family.”   This will help them a lot in needs for clothing, food, medications, housing, etc.   Also, please keep them in your prayers and send your love.    They have received permission from the bishop to house as many Sisters as possible (limited to about 28, I think) at Maryhill for as long as they need it, which appears to be months.


These are the Sisters in the Catholic order founded by Mother Henriette Delille, free woman of color, who lived during pre-Civil War days in New Orleans and devoted her entire life to caring for the poor, orphaned, abandoned, aged, slaves, and the forgotten.  Mother Deliile is attributed to miracles and her cause for canonization was submitted to Rome this summer, through the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston where a miracle occurred.


Pray to Henriette Delille, and let the Sisters of the Holy Family know that they are not forgotten.




Mildred Martinez



Times-Picayune, The (New Orleans, LA)

July 13, 1989

Author: Kim Marie Vaz, Contributing writer


"Some people called Mildred Martinez crazy because she believed children could be taught to read before they were 6 years old.

Since 1934, she and the teachers at her kindergarten, Martinez Nursery School, have been doing just that. And now, she's added Spanish to her kindergarten curriculum


'Because I taught my children to read at the age of 5, I was called everything except a teacher,' Martinez said, recalling the early years when she started the first kindergarten for black children in New Orleans.'
 'I was not called by name, by both races,' she said. 'I was called a "crazy woman" or "that woman." They couldn't see that I was Negro trying to help all Negro children."
Not only did she help black students, many of the children she taught to read in her little school in downtown New Orleans are now city leaders. Among her students: Mayor Sidney Barthelemy, Liberty Bank President Alden McDonald and Orleans Parish School Board member Gail Glapion."
It all began in the early 1930s, after Martinez married and had her first child, Maurice. Martinez said her son played with Jewish children in her neighborhood, some of who she noticed could read better at 5 years than children she had taught in second grade. She had been forced to give up her job after she married , as married women were not allowed to continue teaching, she said."
When Maurice was 4,one of his playmates said Maurice would be attending Isidore Newman School with him the following year. "That put me on the spot," Martinez said, "because at that time no Negroes were admitted into Newman School. There was no chance that he might attend, and I knew he was going to come up with a complex. There were no kindergartens in the whole city of New Orleans, other than Newcomb College for their faculty, Newman and Kingsley House," she said. "None were available for Negro children."
One of the teachers at Newman suggested Martinez establish a kindergarten of her own with Maurice and the children of Martinez's friends. The teachers gave Martinez their curriculum and discussed it with her. She patterned her school after Newman.
The children were separated on the basis of age and sex. Basic concepts, phonic and math were emphasized. The atmosphere was charged with self-esteem. Martinez stressed that her students were the most beautiful children in the city.
The first class consisted of 15 students. They all were the valedictorian's of their graduating classes in the years that followed. Every one of the students from that class now hold key positions in their respective fields, Martinez said.
At first, she was not convinced that children should not be taught to read early, Martinez said. As a result, she selected only those she thought had the ability to take on reading and math. "They were reading better than the children at Newman School," she said. "The Newman teachers were amazed."
Martinez became a prestigious center of learning for young black children. Black professionals, black public school teachers, the children of the faculty of Dillard University, all wanted what the school had to offer.
But Martinez said many black professionals, "condemned me for teaching the others. I couldn't tell the 9th Ward child, 'Your mama is a welfare person, I can't teach you." Martinez opened her school to all children. Classes were crowded and she maintained a waiting list of more than 60 children.
Many local black educators did not accept her teaching methods, she said. Proof came when desegregation arrived, however.  When desegregations came in, the School Board was accepting applications. The children would have to be tested to get into the first integrated class," Martinez said.  Of approximately 50 children tested, five were accepted, and four of the five were from Martinez.
 "That proved whatever I was doing was needed in the city of New Orleans," she said.
Even though Kindergartens now exist in all public schools, Martinez said she still offers her students something special. "They still don't give them as much as I do," she said. "We still have a curriculum based on phonetic reading and the 45 combinations of addition and subtraction."
In addition, the curriculum includes Spanish, dance, printing and the identification of basic concepts. Children participate in the black history program at St. John Divine Baptist Church and the annual crowning of the Virgin Mary at Corpus Christi Catholic Church.
Martinez claims to be among the first to offer kindergarten graduations in the city and to sponsor Carnival activities for her students" At Carnival time, there were always pictures of little people who were kings and queens in the newspapers, but nobody had a king and a queen for Negroes. I did it to make our children feel that they were really somebody."

Roy E. Glapion Jr.

Glapion Credited with Helping Bring Zulu to the Forefront

This article is presented through the courtesy of MardiGras Unmasked website. You must read the whole article by clicking on the LINK at the bottom of this excerpt

Roy E. GlapionBreaking with the tradition of formalizing the selection of royalty at their annual pre-Mardi Gras Coronation Ball, members of the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club crowned Roy E. Glapion Jr. at his home on December 26, as the City Councilman and former Zulu president lay stricken with colon cancer. Hours before he passed away two days later, at age 64, the club, by voting unanimously not to elect a replacement king, honored one of Glapion's dying wishes: to go down in the record books as King Zulu 2000.

Known among friends as "Glap" or "Coach," he will be sorely missed not only by Zulu, an organization that benefited greatly from his leadership, but by the greater New Orleans community as well. Highlighting his legacy of public service: a 36-year career as an educator and athletic coach with the New Orleans Parish School System, followed by his election, in 1993, as District D councilman, a position he served with distinction until he entered into eternal rest. He is survived by, among others, his wife of 41 years, Joyce Smith Glapion, his mother, Mercedes Tervalon Taylor, and his children: Desiree Glapion Rogers, who is Queen Zulu 2000, and Roy A. Glapion, a Zulu member who will serve as a King's Duke in the 2000 festivities.

Glapion joined Zulu at a time of generational transition, in 1972. The club was just beginning to recover from a tumultuous period that began around 1960, after the Louisiana legislature attempted to block the desegregation of New Orleans public schools.

A coalition comprised mostly of black social clubs called for the black community to boycott Mardi Gras in 1961.Zulu maskers on float Famous for parading in blackface makeup and grass skirts, and handing out decorated coconutstraditions that began, in the early 1900s, as a form of satirical commentary on the Carnival customs and racial stereotypes of the white communitythe Zulus came under particularly heavy fire. Civil rights reformers took out an advertisementin the black community's newspaper, The Louisiana Weekly denigrating the club's Fat Tuesday procession: "...Negroes are paid by white merchants to wander through the city drinking to excess, dressed as uncivilized savages, and throwing coconuts like monkeys." The krewe ultimately resisted pressure to withdraw the parade, but had no queen that year and kept the identity of the king secret.

Carnival Historian Reid Mitchell, in his book All on a Mardi Gras Day: Episodes in the History of New Orleans Carnival, observes that as the protests continued into the mid-1960s, the Zulus underwent an identity crisis. For Mardi Gras 1965, the krewe, whose membership ranks were rapidly dwindling, gave up blackfacing and grass skirts. But this "new look" didn't sit well with some members of the old guard, and a couple of years later, the Zulus returned to the their old ways. "No more of that dignity stuff," Milton Bienameea deputy criminal sheriff for Orleans Parish and a church deacon who reigned as King Zulu in 1965announced in 1967.

Much of the leadership of the New Orleans civil rights movement was comprised of the so-called "Creole elite"
educated citizens of mixed-race descent who were raised in the Catholic faith. Born in New Orleans on December 3, 1935, Glapion was a member of the Creole elite. He attended St. Peter Claver and Xavier Preparatory, and went on to obtain a post-secondary degree from Xavier University, a certificate in Corrective Therapy from Tuskegee Institute and a master's degree in education from Southern University.


Rosette Rochon

Rosette Rochon was born around 1767 in colonial Mobile, the daughter of Pierre Rochon, a shipbuilder from a French Canadian family (possibly related to the Bienville and Iberville LeMoynes), through his mulatto slave consort Marianne, who bore him five other children. When Rosette came to a suitable age, she was freed by her father and given as placée to a Monsieur Hardy, with whom she relocated to the colony of Saint Domingue. During her sojourn there, Hardy must have died or relinquished her, for in 1797 during the Haitian Revolution, she escaped to New Orleans, where she later became the placée of Joseph Forstall.

Rochon came to speculate in real estate in the French Quarter; she eventually owned rental property, opened grocery stores, made loans, bought and sold mortgages, and owned and rented out slaves. She also traveled extensively back and forth to Haiti, where her son by Hardy had become a government official in the new republic. Her social circle in New Orleans once included Marie Laveau, Jean Lafitte, and the free black contractors and real estate developers Jean-Louis Dolliole and Joseph Dolliole. In particular, Rochon became one of the earliest investors in the Faubourg Marigny, acquiring her first lot from Bernard de Marigny in 1806. Bernard de Marigny, the Creole speculator, refused to sell the lots he was subdividing from his family plantation to anyone who spoke English. While this turned out to be a losing financial decision, Marigny felt more comfortable with the French-speaking, Catholic free people of color (having relatives, lovers and even children on this side of the color line); consequently, much of Faubourg Marigny was built by free black artisans for free people of color or for French-speaking white Creoles. Rochon remained largely illiterate dying in 1863 at the age of 96, leaving behind an estate valued at $100,000 (today, an estate worth a million dollars).

The Following Comments were submitted by Reynard Jean Paul Rochon with credits to David A. Sprinkle, who apparently has done quite a bit of research into this subject.

I just wanted to add and correct something for you. In the Rosette Rochon segment of Creole History, You list that Rosette was the daughter of Pierre Rochon; that he freed her at a suitable age and might be related to Iberville & Bienville.   Yes and no.  Rosette and all the Children of Pierre and Marriene were freed at birth very publicly in the Mobile Register, and by all accounts were COMPLETE members of Pierre's family proper. Marriene on the other hand remained a slave of Pierre until his death.  Pierre's
1st wife Catherine Paux had already died.
(This says something about the French in America as opposed to the English.-- that this would be so public. Thomas Jefferson had all those children with Sally Hemmings, but never acknowledged them even though it was widely known during his lifetime)
Also Pierre was not related to Iberville and Bienville but definitely served Louis XIV with them. Pierre's parents Charles Rochon and Henriette Colon (daughter of Catherine Exipakinoea of the Huron and Illiniwek of the Great Lakes) sailed with Henri Tonti on the
missions of discovery. Bienville convinced Charles Rochon to stay in the south instead of returning to Quebec with the a land grant of the Dog River Plantation in Mobile.

Pierre and his brother Charles Jr. took control of the plantation at the time of Charles Sr. death. Yeah ... funny how far the branches go and how connected we all are. Great site!  God bless the puffy arrogant French blood that runs through OUR veins! 
Hey take it easy, enjoyed the site.


Marie Laveau

Marie Laveau, who was known as the voodoo queen of New Orleans, died in 1881; however, she was born sometime between 1794-1801 as the daughter of a white Haitian plantation owner, Charles Leveaux, and his mixed black and Indian placée Marguerite Darcantel (or D'Arcantel). Because there were so many whites as well as free people of color in Haiti with the same names, Leveaux could also have been a free man of color who owned slaves and property as well. All three may have escaped Haiti along with thousands of other Creole whites and Creoles of color during the slave uprisings that culminated in the French colony's becoming the only independent black republic in the New World. At 17, Marie married a Creole man of color, Jacques Paris, but Paris either died, disappeared or deliberately abandoned her (some accounts also relate that he was a seaman or sailor) after she produced a daughter. Laveau was styling herself the widow Paris and was a hairdresser for white matrons (she was also reckoned to be an herbalist and yellow fever nurse) when she met Louis Christophe Duminy de Glapion and sometime during the early 1820s, they became lovers. Marie was just beginning her spectacular career as a voodoo practitioner (she would not be declared a 'queen' until about 1830), and Duminy de Glapion was a fiftyish white Creole veteran of the Battle of New Orleans with relatives on both sides of the color line. Recently, it was discovered that Duminy de Glapion was so in love with Marie, he refused to live separately from her according to racial custom. In an unusual decision, Duminy de Glapion passed as a man of color in order to live with her under respectable circumstances--thus explaining the confusion many historians have had whether he was truly white or black. Although it is popularly thought that Marie presented Duminy de Glapion with fifteen children, only five are listed in vital statistics and of these, two daughters--one the famous Marie Eucharist or Marie Laveau II--lived to adulthood. Marie Eucharist closely resembled her mother and startled many who thought that Marie Laveau had been resurrected by the black arts, or could be at two places at once, beliefs that the daughter did little to correct.

Daniel J. RoqueDaniel J. Roque, Sr.

         Most people probably drive right by Roque's (pronounced "Rock") Garage without paying too much attention to it. I have done so many times. But last October 2009, I just happened to stop. I got out of my car and walked around to the side of the building where 2 men were working on a tractor. One was Mr. Daniel J Roque, Sr., the owner of this timeless business.

      I was amazed as I studied the many antique farm implements around the garage and sleeping dormantly out in the fields rusting in colors of red, orange and green.

      On the right side of the garage, I found crude pit that is used when you have to work under a vehicle. It consisted of two heavy planks that stretched from the garage lot and elevated out over a shallow creek bed. Very clever and a lot less expensive than a modern day hydraulic car lift.

          The Roque stated that the business was started by his father, Joseph D. Roque, back in the 1930's. His father was killed in 1950, at which time, he took over the business and has operated it up to this date.

So, if you are in the area, stop and have a chat with Mr. Roque, a very friendly, Creole Gentleman.

Roque's Garage

Old Time Lift for working under vehicles.