Versailles, Louisiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Versailles
Unincorporated community
Country United States
State Louisiana
Parish St. Bernard Parish
Coordinates 29°56′54″N 89°57′39″W / 29.94833°N 89.96083°W / 29.94833; -89.96083Coordinates: 29°56′54″N 89°57′39″W / 29.94833°N 89.96083°W / 29.94833; -89.96083
Timezone CST (UTC-6)
 - summer (DST) CDT (UTC-5)
Location of Versailles in Louisiana
Map of USA LA.svg
Location of Louisiana in the United States

Versailles is an unincorporated community in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana. It is along the East Bank of the Mississippi River, about 3.5 miles below the lower limit of New Orleans. The community, for governmental and postal address purposes, is considered part of Chalmette and by some designations, part of neighboring Meraux. The name "Versailles", as a place designation, continues in local use.

History[edit]

Versailles was founded by a descendant of French Canadian judge and poet, René-Louis Chartier de Lotbinière, poet Alain Chartier, and explorer Jehan Denys. Major-General Pierre Denis de la Ronde (1762–1824), one of Louisiana's wealthiest plantation owners.

In 1802, Denis de La Ronde was appointed to Louisiana (New Spain)'s governing authority, the Cabildo. In 1805, during the U.S. territorial period, along with other local investors, he made plans to build Versailles along the Mississippi River and to then cut a barge canal through some dozen miles of swamp to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, where they planned to build another town, called Paris. The intended communities were named after Paris and Versailles in France and were meant to recreate the French style. Denis de La Ronde envisioned that this Versailles would overtake New Orleans in size and popularity.

However, development was waylaid by political unrest, culminating in the War of 1812. In 1814–15, then-Colonel de La Ronde commanded the Louisiana militia's Third Regiment at the Battle of New Orleans, which was fought both at his plantation (December 23, 1814, Night Battle)[1] and at the neighboring Chalmette plantation, belonging to his maternal half-brother, Ignace Martin de Lino de Chalmette (1755–1815).

Versailles remained a small town for the rest of the 19th century, with no navigable canal linking the River and the Lake until the Industrial Canal was built in New Orleans during the 20th century. Denis de La Ronde's path through the swamps fared better, eventually developing into a major artery. Paris Road remains the farthest downriver route connecting the River to the Lake in Greater New Orleans.

Like de La Ronde, de Lino was also a descendant of the Chartiers, through his paternal grandmother. Their mutual niece, Micaela Almonester, Baroness de Pontalba, later constructed the famed Pontalba Buildings in New Orleans, during the 1840s, then, in 1855, completed the Hôtel de Pontalba in Paris. All three descended from celebrated architect Ignace François Broutin.

La Ronde Plantation[edit]

Considered the most stylish plantation home in that part of Louisiana at the time; the name Versailles is mistakenly distributed, misnaming the La Ronde plantation in Old Families of Louisiana,[2] yet evidence has yet to materialize that this mansion was ever referred to as Versailles. The plantation was affectionally known as "Parnusses" to the family, a home "where lavish hospitality was dispensed,"[3], and where Pierre Denis de La Ronde planted an avenue of now famed Southern live oaks which still stand, largely intact, as the La Ronde Oaks, though, they, like the mansion they lead to from the Mississippi River, are also widely mislabeled, as Versailles Oaks or Pakenham's Oaks, the latter since General Edward Pakenham met his fatal end from battlefield injuries among Denis de La Ronde's oaks.

On December 23, 1814, General Andrew Jackson learned of the advances and position of the British encampment from Major Gabriel Villeré and Colonel Pierre Denys de La Ronde, [4][5] on whose plantation the Night Battle was largely fought.[6]

The La Ronde mansion was looted and heavily damaged by the British during the during the Battle of New Orleans, being the setting of the Night Battle, and then commandeered by the British as a field hospital.. The house burned about 70 years later, but most of the walls remained standing until the hurricane of 1915.[7] A few ruins remain visible along Highway 46 in St. Bernard Parish, as does the live oak allée that once graced the path from the Mississippi River landing to the manor house.

Denis de la Ronde House c.1866

References[edit]

  1. ^ Pierre Denis de la Ronde, fils at the Dictionary of Louisiana Biography, retrieved 10 April 2017.
  2. ^ Old Families of Louisiana, by Arthur, Stanley Clisby; Louisiana Historical Society; New Orleans, USA; 1905; p.396.
  3. ^ Old Families of Louisiana, by Arthur, Stanley Clisby; Louisiana Historical Society; New Orleans, USA; 1905; p.397.
  4. ^ Creole families of New Orleans, by King, Grace Elizabeth; Macmillan; New York, USA; 1921; p. 315: "Colonel de la Ronde, who himself had just rushed in from his command at Chef Menteur on the lake with the news of the British landing. The two officials jumped in a skiff at the river bank, crossed the stream and, seizing horses on the other side, spurred to the city where, covered with mud and breathless from their ride, they made their report to General Jackson, surrounded by his aides, that 'the British were encamped on the soil of Louisiana'! To repeat the old, old anecdote which can never be too often repeated in the estimation of Louisianians — At the close of Major Villere's narrative the General drew up his figure to its full height, and with an eye of fire and an emphatic blow with his clenched fist upon the table, swore his oath: 'By the Eternal, they shall not sleep on our soil!'...The Chalmette plantation has gained the honor of naming the great victory, but the attack and the retreat were made through the de la Ronde place; and many a gallant British officer and soldier breathed his last under the soft shade of the old oaks whose great trunks still carry the scars of cannon balls and even the balls themselves."
  5. ^ The Story of the Battle of New Orleans, by Arthur, Stanley Clisby; Louisiana Historical Society; New Orleans, USA; 1915; p.97: "Judge Walker's account continues. "The sounds ceased at the door of his headquarters and the sentinel on duty announced the arrival of three gentlemen who desired to see the General immediately, having important intelligence to communicate. 'Show them in,' ordered the General. The visitors proved to be Mr. Dussau de la Croix, Major Gabriel Villere and Colonel De la Ronde. They were stained with mud and nearly breathless with the rapidity of their ride. 'What news do you bring, gentlemen?' eagerly asked the General. 'Important, highly important!' responded Mr. de lu Croix. The British have arrived at Villere's plantation nine miles below the city and are there encamped. Here is Major Villere, who was captured by them, has escaped and will now relate his story.'"
  6. ^ The Story of the Battle of New Orleans, by Arthur, Stanley Clisby; Louisiana Historical Society; New Orleans, USA' 1915; p.123.
  7. ^ Wilson, Samuel, Jr.. Plantation Houses on the Battlefield of New Orleans. New Orleans: Louisiana Landmarks Society, 1989.

Sources[edit]

External links[edit]