The French Quarters

Vieux Carré . New Orleans Louisiana

Built by Free People of Color



The French Quarters. New Orleans La.



The French Quarters near Downtown New Orleans



Vieux Carré

The French Qurters


Gens de Couleur Libres.

From planters to hairdressers, the Creoles contributed to the unique personality of New Orleans, which still attracts tourists today. When tourists and natives alike visit the french quarter, they may not realize that much of what they see and taste is due to the Creoles of Color.

The beautiful iron work on the balconies of houses and atop cemetery crypts is due to the artisans of iron work that brought this craft from Africa in colonial times. The wonderful coffee that we drink in the french Market can be traced back to an enterprising femme de couleur who formulated the idea of selling hot coffee in the market to shoppers, theatre goers and business men. Creole dishes are a main attraction to visitors to New Orleans.

The blending of spices, local produce, seafoods and meats along with African methods of cooking has produced food that is known worldwide. Cigar making techniques were brought with refugees from St.Dominque and Cuba. Cigar manufacturers such as George Alcees' and his uncle, Lucien "Lolo" Mansion, who was also a poet, employed at least 200 workers in the mid 1800's with the largest cigar manufacturing operation in New Orleans. (See Also Madame Alcees) (Portraits from the Louisiana State Museum website)

Other occupations of Creoles of Color included leather work, undertaking, teachers, composers, musicians, doctors, poets, writers, newspaper publishing, hairdressing, tailoring and other business owners. . Some femmes de couleur, women of color, were property owners either by wise business ventures or were given property by either inheritance or through placage.


While financial prosperity was common, discrimination was also. Although business was conducted between Whites and Creoles of color in public houses, they did not socialize outside of business arrangements. Striking of a white person by a free person of color could mean arrest. Free people of color could not vote, no matter how white they may have looked. Women by law were forced to cover their hair with a tignon in the early part of the 19th century.. Being clever, they soon sported elaborate headgear complete with feather and jewels. Opera and theatre going was a favorite passtime of both white and the gens de couleur, although they were not seated together.

New Orleans free people of color prospered until the time before the Civil war when the economics of New Orleans attracted "Americans". Until then New Orleans was a "European" city with European customs and mores'.

Americans brought with them a distaste for the Creole way of life. Early in the Civil war New Orleans was seized by the north making it difficult for both White and The Gens de Couleur.

By the end of the war when slaves were freed and a wave of immigrants poured into the city .Creoles of color were no longer considered a "third" race, .

Some jobs that were once held by free people of color were replaced with freed slaves or other immigrants to New Orleans such as the Irish, who would work more cheaply. The social status of the Gens de Couleur was not recognized as it had been. Although some Creoles remained prosperous after the war, many more did not.

What has happened to the Creoles since the war? Many families have remained in New Orleans and have raised generations of children still contributing to the wonderful melting pot of the present day city. As opportunities for jobs in other parts of the country became available, some families have since moved. Los Angeles and Chicago have a large Creole population. Many people with telltale French surnames have brought the culture to California. Some families moved to France where they were more accepted. Because many of these families where "white" in appearance they have passed for white and have "blended" in within New Orleans and other parts of America. Descendants of these Creoles may not know about their heritage , which is sad indeed.

The Gens de Couleur Libre have left a lasting imprint in New Orleans and a have introduced their rich culture and heritage to other parts of the country. For further research on this subject, please visit our Geneaolgoy, History Links and Publications pages. Also visit our Families page to connect with other researchers.



The Truth about the 9th Ward New Orleans La.




The Creoles and Their Culture is one of the Oldest Cultures in the New World.Arriving in the Caribbean, Brazil, Mexico and most of South America in 1519 well before the slave trade started in the New World.The only People to inhabit the New World Prior to The Creole were the Native Americans or Amerindians so labeled by Anthropologist

.The Introduction of the Creole in Louisiana begins with the founding of New Orleans in 1718 AD..the French during the establishment of the infant Colony brought a variety of People with them to keep their Colony alive..They were accompanied by Indentured Servants,Soldiers that manned the Garrison,Slaves and some free People of Color. So from day one documents confirmed their presence.. though their numbers were small at the beginning they became a dominant force in the development of Louisiana especially New Orleans ..



At one point they out numbered the Europeans more than two to one ..During the Spanish Occupation their numbers increased even more and during the Haitian Revolution in the 1790's thousands of Free People of Color fleeing the violence of the revolution settled in New Orleans bringing with them a Culture and progress that was soon to became the golden age of Our Creole History and stood as such up utill the arrival of the Americans after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803..

It was during this period that the Character of New Orleans came to life and was to be the beginning of the Creole renaissance ..The Overiding reason was that many of the slaves brough to



Louisiana came from West Africa and were already skilled in the trades..Many who came from west Africa were already skilled Black smiths, Iron workers, Craftsman of every type,Cigar makers successful Farmers, just to name a few..They brought their skills with them and used them well, to build Louisiana and New Orleans






The Culture Creators of the World Famous French Quarters

a French Quarter Icon and famous faith healer
World Famous Creole Crusine
The Cabildo..Built by Afro/Creoles

The Plaçage

The Creole Shotgun
The Birth place of Jazz..A Afro/Creole creation





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