The Church in Louisiana and Florida, 1513-1815
Explanation of the Calendar
Description of the Collection
The initial step in the program of publishing manuscripts having a significant relevance to American History was taken in 1950 when President Truman directed the National Historical Publications Commission to draw up a plan for making such material readily available for scholarly use. The Commission's Report was submitted to President Eisenhower in 1954 and, in the succeeding decade, the Commission encouraged the editing and publishing of various collections, including the Jefferson Papers, the Adams Papers, and the Franklin Papers.
In 1963 the Commission recommended to President Kennedy a ten-year program of publication to be financed by the Federal Government as well as by private sources. The Report, stressing the importance of a citizenry well instructed in American History, recommended the increased use of microfilm as a means of making available, as inexpensively as possible, significant source material. In 1964 Congress enacted legislation authorizing the Commission's grant program and the first funds were allocated for the support of projects deemed worthy of approval by the Commission. Early in 1965 the Commission approved a grant to the University of Notre Dame Archives. The project was commenced in June, 1965.
In the task of preparing the Records of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas for microfilming we have been aided by Mr. Norman Leslie Smith III, Mr. Charles Gensheimer, Mrs. Janet Ubelhart, and Miss Mercedes Muenz. A debt of gratitude is owed to Dr. Oliver W. Holmes, to the National Historical Publications Commission, and especially to Mr. Fred Shelley of that Commision for his wise counsel and encouragement. The information acquired at the Frebruary, 1966, meeting at the National Archives in Washington D.C. of representatives from institutions preparing microfilm publications under grant from the Commission has been invaluable.
Lawrence J. Bradley, LL.B., M.A.
Notre Dame, Indiana
The proposed See, however, never actually materialized, and the Fransiscan, Juan Suarez, who had been chosen to be its bishop, perished while accompanying the ill-fated de Narvaez expedition to the area. Following the failure of De Soto's expedition (1539-1543), Spain made no further effort to conquer and colonize the lands bordering the Mississippi. Instead, she confined her efforts to Florida and the southwest.
The French, solidly established in Canada by the mid-seventeenth century, soon began to encroach upon the territory to the south which had been claimed initially by Spain. After La Salle and his party reached the mouth of the Mississippi in 1682, Louisiana became definitely French territory. Here, as in the Spanish domains, Church and State were bound closely together with the French monarch exercising considerable control over and bearing considerable responsibility for ecclesiastical affairs. After an initial attempt to establish an independent Viciariate Apostolic for the area failed because of the opposition of Bishop St. Vallier of Quebec, Louisiana in 1688 was recognized formally as belonging within the Diocese of Quebec.
In 1699 the priests of the Seminary of Quebec, an outgrowth of the Seminary of Foreign Missions at Paris, began their priestly labors in the area. They were soon joined by the Jesuits. In 1712 Louisiana became a proprietary colony under the wealthy Antoine Crozat who had obtained a fifteen-year lease from the French crown. Finding the venture to be unprofitable, Crozat relinquished his lease in 1717. The colony then reverted to the French crown which turned it over to John Law's Company of the West. The obligation of providing for the religious needs of the territory, which included the nomination and maintenance of priests as well as the building of churches, devolved upon Law's Company.
Actual ecclesiastical supervision over the territory continued to be exercised by remote control through a local vicar general. Although a Frech Capuchin, Louis-Francois Duplessis de Mornay, was chosen coadjutor to Bishop St. Vallier of Quebec in 1713 and, as such, entrusted with the care of Louisiana, he never visted the colony. In 1717 Spain showed a renewed interest in the westen part of the territory and a mission, staffed by Spanish Franciscans, was established at Los Adayes, twenty-one miles from Natchitoches. In 1720 French Carmelites were introduced into the territory but they were soon replaced by French Capuchins from the Province of Champagne under an agreement between the Company of the West, the Capuchins, and Bishop de Mornay. The Capuchins were to serve the French posts in the territory while the Jesuits were to continue serving the Indian missions.
Unfortunately, years of friction ensued between the two missionary groups until the eventual suppression of the Jesuits in the colony in 1763 following their suppression in France. In 1727 a band of French Ursuline Nuns arrived in New Orleans where they established a convent and a school for girls and began the task of attending to the Royal Hospital. In 1731 the colony again changed hands as the Company of the West relinquished its lease and returned it to the direst supervision of the French crown. There it remained until it was ceded to Spain by the secret treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762. The actual transfer, however, was not completed until 1769 when Spanish forces Captain-General Alexander O'Reily succeeded in putting down a rebellion of a segment of the French population.
Meanwhile, Florida, which from the time of its discovery had remained Spanish territory, was passing into the hands of England, having been ceded to her by the Treaty of Paris in 1763. There, St. Augustine had been founded in 1565 and missionary activity had been undertaken first by secular clergy, then by Jesuits, and finally by Franciscans. Although the Franciscans had succeeded in establishing a number of flourishing missions among the Indians, these were dealt a blow from which they never recovered by the destructive English raids of 1702-1704 led by onetime Governor James Moore of Carolina. In 1709 Dionisio Resino was named auxiliary to the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, the diocese to which Florida belonged, and entrusted with the care of Florida. After three weeks' residence in the territory he was so disheartened by the conditions prevailing there that he returned to Cuba.
In 1735 Francisco de San Buenaventura y Tejada, appointed auxiliary to the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba in 1731, finally arrived in Florida. When he was translated to the See of Yucatan in 1745, Pedro Ponce y Carrasco was named his successor but did not sail to Florida until nine years later. Once there, he remained only nine months. In 1762-1763, on the eve of its cession to England, the territory received an impromptu episcopal visitation by Bishop Pedro Augustin Morrell of Santiago de Cuba as he was returning from English captivity by Charleston, South Carolina.
While acquiring Florida from Spain, England in 1763 also acquired from France a thin strip of territory extending westward along the Gulf to the Mississippi. By a royal proclamation of the same year two royal colonies were formed of the territory thus acquired: East Florida, which extended west to the Charrahoochee River and had St. Augustine as its capital, and West Florida, which extended west from the Chattahoochee River to the Mississippi and had Pensacola as its capital. Although the British sovereign pledged to allow Catholics freedom of worship insofar as the laws of Great Britain permitted, a wholesale exodus of the Spanish population took place, and as a result Catholicism all but disappeared from the area. A small revival came five years later when Andrew Turnbull, a Scottish physician turned colonizer, established a plantation composed largely of Catholic Minorcans at New Smyrna on the Atlantic coast, seventy-four miles south of St. Augustine.
Before long the territory was once again in Spanish hands. In 1779 Spain officially threw in her lot with the American revolutionaries and attacked British West Florida. Mobile fell to her in 1780 and Pensacola in 1781. The remainder of the Floridas was returned to her by treaty in 1783. Once again under the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba, the Church in the territory was confronted with a twofold task: the reduction of Spaniards, Minorcans and French to ecclesiastical unity under the Spanish Patronato Real and the conversion of Anglo-American settlers. While Bishop Santiago Joseph de Hechavarria y Elguezua of Santiago de Cuba was primarily responsible for ecclesiastical affairs in these remote areas of his diocese, the actual supervision was entrusted to two vicarios, Father Thomas Hassett, an Irish priest from Spain, who was sent to reside at St. Augustine and care for East Florida, and Father Cirilo Sieni de Barcelona who resided in New Orleans and was charged with the care of the joint province of Louisiana - West Florida.
By this time, the Spanish authorities had come to recognize the need for a resident bishop on the mainland. A proposal was drawn up for the appointment of an auxiliary to the Bishop of Santiago de Cuba to reside in New Orleans. The plan was approved by Rome and in 1781 King Charles III of Spain asked Bishop Hechavarria to propose Father Cirilo for the post. Although Cirilo was officially notified of this appointment on July 18, 1782, bulls were not issued by Pope Pius VI until June 6, 1784, and Cirilo's consecration did not take place until March 6, 1785.
Meanwhile, it had become evident that the administrative work of the vast Diocese of Santiago de Cuba was too great a burden for its bishop. Eventually, by a consistorial decree of September 10,1787, that diocese was split in two and the new Diocese of St. Christopher, with its episcopal seat at Havana, was erected. The mainland territories of Louisiana and the Floridas were placed under its jurisdiction. Bishop Felipe Joseph Trespalacios of Puerto Rico was transferred to the new diocese and Bishop Cirilo became his auxiliary. Subsequent events, marred by friction between the two bishops, soon demonstrated the unfeasibleness of such a division of authority. By 1791 King Charles IV had decided upon a further division of the Diocese of St. Christopher. Rome was consulted and on April 25, 1793, Pope Pius VI issued a bull establishing the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas. Auxiliary Bishop Cirilo was recalled and Luis Ignacio Maria de Penalver y Cardenas, a forty-four-year-old native of Havana, was named bishop.
Consecrated at Havana on April 25, 1795, Bishop Penalver arrived in New Orleans on July 17 and took formal possession of his See on July 24. He was confronted immediately with a multitude of distressing problems. A general spirit of indifference and even scorn for religion, fostered in part by the spread of Voltairianism and revolutionary ideologies from France, combined with the perennial shortage of priests, the distinct aversion of the French population for everything Spanish, and the deeply rooted moral abuses that had developed under pioneer colonial conditions to burden the bishop during his six-year administration of the diocese. Eventually, even his great zeal could no longer sustain him in the face of such appalling conditions and he petitioned the king for a change to some other diocese. His request was granted. On July 29, 1801, Rome formally announced his appointment to the Archdiocese of Guatemala. Envisioning only a brief interval before the arrival of a successor, he appointed Father Thomas Hassett administrator and Father Patrick Walsh assistant administrator before leaving Louisiana in November of that same year.
Events were to prove Penalver's prognostication wrong and to undermine the arrangements he had made for the interim administration of the vacant See. Louisiana was to be without a bishop for the next fourteen years. Although Francisco Porro y Peinado, a Spanish Minim, was selected for the post early in 1801, rumors of the impending transfer of Louisiana from Spain to France caused him to delay his departure. Eventually in 1803, before he had ever formally taken possession of the diocese, he was transferred to the Diocese of Tarazona in Spain. The unexpected duration of the period of administration and the complications created by the retrocession of the Louisiana Territory to France and its subesequent sale to the United States in 1803, which brought to an abrupt end the close relationship that had existed between Church and State, combined to create for Father Hassett unexpected difficulties, not the least of which was an end to the financial subsidies which the state had granted to the Church under both the Spanish and French regimes.
The situation worsened upon the death of Hassett in 1804. Although Father Walsh then claimed authority by virtue of his appointment as assistant administrator, his claim was disputed by Father Anthonio de Sedella, the Capuchin rector of the Cathedral, who unfortunately had a substantial popular following. Likewise, in 1806 Bishop Juan Jose Dias de Espada of Havana disputed Walsh's authority in Florida which had remained Spanish territory. Although Rome in 1806 had authorized Bishop John Carroll of Baltimore to assume temporary supervision of the vacant See, the extent of his jursidiction was not specifically spelled out, and as a result it was not clear whether Florida was included in the territory entrusted to him. The Bishop of Havana continued to exercise jurisdiction over Florida, and in Louisiana the authority of the administrators appointed by Carroll continued to be challenged by Father Sedella and his followers. Finally, in 1815 Louis-Guillaume-Valentin DuBourg, who had been acting as administrator, was named bishop. Although even his authority was contested at times by Sedella and although the question of Florida remained unsettled until the transfer of the territory to the United States in 1821, the diocese once again had a bishop.
More specifically relating to the Church in Louisiana are Roger Baudier's The Catholic Church in Louisiana (New Orleans, 1939), Jean Delanglez's The French Jesuits in Lower Louisiana (1700-1763) (Loyola University of New Orleans, 1935) and Charles Edwards O'Neill's Church and State in French Colonial Louisiana: Policy and Politics to 1732 (Yale University Press, 1966), all of which contain extensive bibliographies citing both published and archival sources. A special supplement to Catholic Action of the South, XI (July 29, 1943), no. 35, edited by Roger Baudier and published in celebration of the sesquicentennial of the Diocese of New Orleans, has been very helpful and informative.
The history of Catholicism in Florida has been traced recently in Michael V. Gannon's The Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida 1513-1870 (University of Florida Press, 1965). An earlier but still very useful account of a more limited period of that history os Michael J. Curley's Church and State in the Spanish Floridas (1783-1822) (Catholic University of America Press, 1940). Both Gannon and Curley also supply extensive bibliographies.
Finally, among the many useful secular histories are Alcee Fortier's four-volume History of Louisiana (Paris, 1904), Henry E. Chamber's three-volume History of Louisiana (American Historical Society, 1925), and Caroline Mays Brevard's two-volume History of Florida from the Treaty of 1763 (The Florida State Historical Society, 1924).
To the manuscript collection, in which he hoped to include all the existing diocesan archives as well as the papers of outstanding Catholic clergymen and laymen, he gave the designation "Catholic Archives of America." Prominent clergymen such as Archbishop William Henry Elder of Cincinnati, Archbishop Francis Janssens of New Orleans, and Father Ignatius Horstmann of Philidelphia, and laymen like Martin I.J. Griffin, editor of the American Catholic Historical Researches, and John Gilmary Shea, the pioneering historian of the Catholic Church in the United States, lent their active and very helpful assistance. Thousands upon thousands of items which have been a boon to historians were acquired.
Unfortunately, Edwards had not the time, nor the money, nor the health necessary to bring his project to completion. Although the collection has been augmented under successors, Father Paul J. Foik, C.S.C., and Father Thomas T. McAvoy, C.S.C., the present Archivist of the University of Notre Dame, the ambitious scheme for an official American Catholic archives had to be given up in 1918 when Canon Law was changed so as to require each bishop to maintain his own archives.
The Records of the Diocese of Louisiana and the Floridas (1576-1803), subject of this microfilm publication, are part of a larger group of papers pertaining to the Archdiocese of New Orleans down to 1897. The collection was acquired in the 1890's by Edwards through the generosity of Archbishop Janssens. Everything for the period in question, except photostatic copies made for use in the Notre Dame Archives and duplicates of a few items, has been filmed. The material relating to the period after 1803 has not been filmed because there are restrictions upon its use. It may be consulted, however, at the Archives with the permission of the Archivist.
Although the first two items in the collections are dated 1576 and 1633, respectively, and there are a number of items for the period from 1708 to 1783, the great bulk of material pertains to the years 1786 through 1803. Consulted until now mainly by historians of the Catholic Church, it should prove useful also to secular historians because of the close connection between Church and State which existed during both the French and Spanish colonial regimes in Louisiana and Florida. Photostatic copies of all the items in the collection, as well as photostatic copies of the calendars for those portions that have already been calendared, are in possession of the New Orleans Archdiocesan Archives.
According to a tradition, most of the papers of Bishop Penalver, as well as those of his successor, Bishop DuBourg, were destroyed during the Civil War. Bricked up in a chimney for safekeeping when New Orleans was threatened by Union troops, it was discovered later that someone had neglected to close the chimney at the top and that, consequently, rain had poured in and turned the papers into a mass of pulp. Whether copies of at least some of the items thus lost have survived in the dossiers pertaining to Penalver's administration of the diocese or whether the papers destroyed were personal papers or official papers which dealt with other matters is not known.
In addition to this collection in the University of Notre Dame Archives, there are numerous other collections both in the United States and in foreign countries which pertain to the ecclesiastical as well as to the secular history of colonial Louisiana and Florida. Although far too numerous to list here, references to these collections may be found in Philip M. Hamer's Guide to Archives and Manuscripts in the United States (Yale University Press, 1961), the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, Roger Baudier's The Catholic Church in Louisiana (New Orleans, 1939), Jean Delanglez's The French Jesuits in Lower Louisiana (1700-1763) (Loyola University of New Orleans, 1935), Charles Edwards O'Neill's Church and State in French Colonial Louisiana: Policy and Politics to 1732 (Yale University Press, 1966), Caroline Mays Brevard's two-volume History of Florida from the Treaty of 1763 (Florida State Historical Society, 1934), Michael V. Gannon's The Cross in the Sand: The Early Catholic Church in Florida 1513-1870 (University of Florida Press, 1965), and Michael J. Curley's Church and State in the Spanish Floridas (1783-1822) (Catholic University of America Press, 1940). The Florida State Historical Society has published in several volumes a number of manuscripts and documents pertaining to the history of their State. Documents edited by Manuel Serrano y Sanz and pertaining to both Florida and Louisiana may be found in Documentos Historicos de la Florida y la Luisiana Siglos XVI al XVIII (Madrid, 1912). For Louisiana itself there are James Alexander Robertson's two-volume edition, Louisiana under the Rule of Spain, France, and the United States 1785-1807 (Cleveland, 1911), and a recently published collection of items edited by Jack D.L. Holmes, Documentos Ineditos para la Historia de la Luisiana 1792-1810 (Madrid, 1963), which forms volume XV in the Coleccion Chimalistac de Libros y Documentos acerca de la Nueva Espana.
In a number of instances particular documents are so badly mildewed, water-stained or faded that it has been impossible, without risking the complete destruction of certain documents, even to separate various pages for filming. Under these circumstances targets have been used to explain the difficulty, the calendars for the items in question have then been filmed and, finally, whenever possible, the items themselves have been filmed, taking particular care to secure as readable an image as circumstances permit. In referring to the calendars the user is cautioned that they were prepared as an aid to research not as a substitute for the documents themselves, and that, consequently, the University of Notre Dame Archives does not guarantee their accuracy.
Since the particular dates of various items often do not appear on the face of the items themselves and since documents of various dates are often filmed together under one date because calendared under that date, targets bearing the date under which they were calendared have been prepared and filmed before each such item or group. Items dated only by month and year appear at the beginning of that month. Items dated only by year appear at the beginning of that year. In addition, an alphabetical list, which appears both in this Guide and on the first roll of microfilm and which includes the names of the authors of the various items to be found in the collection as well as the names of particular persons or places under which various dossiers have been calendared, has been prepared as part of the present microfilm project. This list, used in conjunction with the calendars which have been filmed on the first roll of microfilm and the date targets which appear before each item or group of items, should enable the researcher to locate quickly any particular item of interest.
As an aid to indentification and citation, each frame on each roll has been given a specific number which will be found on the lower right-hand corner of the frame. No matter how careful the editors and filmers are, there are bound to be cases where, after a whole roll has been filmed, it becomes necessary to either add or delete a frame. Obviously, this throws off the numerical sequence of the frame numbers. To meet this difficulty we have employed the following technique: when a frame has had to be added, we have used the number of the preceding frame and added an "A" to it; when a frame has had to be deleted, the number assigned to that frame simply does not appear. While these procedures are a compromise with perfection, they are realistic in terms of the problems which unfortunately arise in microfilming, especially when the alternative might well involve several refilmings of an entire roll. Throughout the microfilm targets have been used to identify various items and point up special problems that have arisen in microfilming the collection. Targets have not been used in cases, such as for torn or stained pages, where particular defects should be readily apparent.
1576 1 1747 1 1774 1 1792 18 1633 1 1751 1 1777 1 1793 19 1708 1 1756 1 1778 2 1794 11 1719 1 1757 1 1781 1 1795 40 1720 1 1758 6 1782 1 1796 105 1726 1 1760 1 1783 1 1797 67 1732 1 1761 1 1786 15 1798 46 1735 1 1762 1 1787 17 1799 42 1736 3 1764 2 1788 24 1800 50 1737 1 1769 1 1789 30 1801 64 1739 1 1772 2 1790 48 1802 92 1740 1 1773 1 1791 1 1803 80
Items of special interest include: a printed brochure contained two letters, dated respectively 1632 and 1633, from Father Estevan de Perea, Guardian of the Province of New Mexico, to Father Fransisco de Apodaca, Commissary General of all New Spain, relative to missionary activities; a partial list under date of Dec. 13, 1737, of those killed by the Natchez Indians at Natchez and the Yazoos; two items, dated Feb. 28, 1757, and Nov. 30, 1758, respectively, relative to the finances of the Charity Hospital at New Orleans; several items, dated respectively May 6, 1786, July 6 1786, Aug. 11, 1787, and Mar. 28, 1788, relative to quests for sanctuary by fugitives from justice; a general summary, dated 1788, of the registry of persons in Louisiana, at Mobile, and at Pensacola; a letter of Mar. 28, 1788, from Father Valiniere to Father Sedella relative to religious requirements for the settlement of Americans in Spanish territory; a Nov. 6, 1789, copy of a royal decree for the establishment of a Maritime Fishing Company in Louisiana; and an Aug. 17, 1790, dossier containing various royal and papal decrees relative to a tax on ecclesiastical income. In several instances, on this and succeeding rolls, where particular documents are so badly stained, faded or deteriorated that it has been impossible to obtain a completely legible image, the applicable calendar has been also filmed before such documents.
This list contains the names of the authors of the various items to be found in the collection, as well as the names of particular persons and places under which various dossiers in the collection have been calendared. Dates have been given in the same chronological sequence in which the items themselves have been microfilmed. Where the item is dated only by month and year, it will be found at the beginning of that month. Where it is dated only by year, it will be found at the beginning of that year. In a few instances, namely in the case of enclosures and certain items which were filed and consequently have been calendared and filmed with other items, two dates have been given: first, the date of the item itself, and second, in parentheses, the date of the item with which it has been filmed. For example, Saturnino Domine's letter of March 12, 1796 is listed thus: 1796 March (encl'd in 1796 March 22, Archbishop Despuig y Dameto to Bishop Penalver y Cardenas). On the microfilm the letter will be found by referring to the date of the item in parentheses. Where the particular item is a simple letter or document, not part of a larger dossier, the date given is that of the letter or document itself. However, where the item -- in many cases merely a copy of the original -- is to be found in a larger dossier, the date given is that under which the dossier has been calendared and, consequently, filmed. In most cases this is actually the date of the last item in the particular dossier. In order to avoid any confusion that this might cause, targets bearing the date of the calendar have been filmed before each item or group of items which is the subject of a specific calendar. To locate the various items within particular dossiers more specifically, reference should be made to the calendars which have been filmed on the first roll of microfilm in the same chronological order in which the documents themselves have been filmed. By using this list in conjunction with the calendars and the date targets, the researcher should be able to locate quickly any particular items of interest.