Adrien Rouquette

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Adrien Rouquette

Adrien Rouquette (February 26, 1813–July 15, 1887) was a writer and a Catholic missionary among the Choctaw Native Americans.

Biography[edit]

Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette was born February 26, 1813, in New Orleans, Louisiana, the third of five surviving children.[1] His father, Dominique, had emigrated to New Orleans from Fleurance, France, in 1800, where he soon married a Creole woman named Louise Cousin.[1] By marriage, the Rouquette family was then connected not only to the Cousin family but also the Carrière family, two of the biggest landowning families in Louisiana.[2] Dominique fought under the command of General Andrew Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans and, four years later, committed suicide by drowning in the Mississippi River.[3]

Following his father's suicide, Rouquette moved with his family to the Bayou St. John area, just outside New Orleans.[3] Here in his youth, he became interested in the Choctaws who lived on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. He later recalled, with much hyperbole, that by 1820 "there were more Indians in the city than there were whites or negroes".[4] He and his siblings would play games together and, as Rouquette's older brother later recalled, it was a "golden age of life", and referred fondly the "free and happy years of my half savage childhood".[3]

Rouquette was sent as a young man to study at Transylvania University in Kentucky; while there, he heard of his mother's death.[2] In 1829 he was sent to France and finished his collegiate studies in Paris, Nantes, and Rennes, earning his baccalaureate in 1833. He returned to New Orleans, and spent much time alone or among his Choctaw friends. Later he returned to Paris to study law, but preferred literature, and returned to Louisiana. In 1842 he made a third visit to France, where he published his first poetic essay, Les Savannes, which was well received. Between 1829 and 1846, Rouquette made five separate trips from New Orleans to France.[5]

The writings of the Rouquette family were soon well-known both in Louisiana and in France; in addition to Adrien's writings, his older brother François-Dominique published a book of poetry, as did his younger brother Térence.[6] In Louisiana, Rouquette soon became editor of Le Propagateur Catholique. Before long he was ordained as a Catholic priest. Assigned to duty at the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, he served for fourteen years as a priest in the city, then suddenly, in 1859, he severed all connection to it.

He then made his home for twenty-nine years as a missionary with the Choctaws. He anticipated that other enlightened Christians would join him to escape modern commercialism but, failing that, he established a mission community among the several thousand Choctaws then living in the forests beside Lake Pontchartrain.[2] He eventually built five cabin chapels to sleep in, write, and conduct Mass. By 1859, he was accepted as an honorary member and granted the name Chahta-Ima, meaning "Like a Choctaw", which he began to use in his professional life.[2] He lived among the tribe on the banks of Bayou Lacombe until his death in 1887.[4]

Special Collections & Archives at Loyola University New Orleans preserves a small collection of writings by Rouquette and his brother, author and poet François Dominique.[7]

Publications[edit]

  • Les Savanes (1841)[8]
  • La Thébiade de L'Amérique
  • Wild Flowers: Sacred Poetry (1848)[8]
  • L'Antoniade, ou la solitude avec Dieu (1860)[8]
  • La Nouvelle Atala (1879)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Fertel, Rien. Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014: 34. ISBN 978-0-8071-5823-4
  2. ^ a b c d Michaelides, Chris. "The Tree of the Choctaws: Live Oakes in the Sacred Poetry of Father Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette" in Mapping the Catholic Cultural Landscape, Sister Paula Jean Miller and Richard Fossey, editors. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004: 44. ISBN 0-7425-3183-X
  3. ^ a b c Fertel, Rien. Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014: 35. ISBN 978-0-8071-5823-4
  4. ^ a b Usner, Daniel H. Jr. American Indians in the Lower Mississippi Valley: Social and Economic Histories. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998: 122. ISBN 0-8032-4556-4
  5. ^ Fertel, Rien. Imagining the Creole City: The Rise of Literary Culture in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2014: 33. ISBN 978-0-8071-5823-4
  6. ^ Michaelides, Chris. "The Tree of the Choctaws: Live Oakes in the Sacred Poetry of Father Adrien Emmanuel Rouquette" in Mapping the Catholic Cultural Landscape, Sister Paula Jean Miller and Richard Fossey, editors. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2004: 43–44. ISBN 0-7425-3183-X
  7. ^ "François Dominique and Adrien Rouquette Clippings Finding Aid" (PDF). Special Collections & Archives, J. Edgar & Louise S. Monroe Library, Loyola University New Orleans. Retrieved 17 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b c Ludwig, Richard M., and Clifford A. Nault, Jr., Annals of American Literature: 1602–1983. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainHerbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Adrien Rouquette". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.

External links[edit]