I just spent an extended weekend in New Orleans and, name fiend that I am, spent far too much of my time there, apart from my friend’s wedding activities, in the search for names. Whenever I travel to a new place, I head to a bookstore to research local names (in Bilbao, Spain, for example, I scored a great two-volume compendium of Spanish/Basque names), the same way I implore friends going to, say, Amsterdam, to bring back a book on Dutch names. So I thought it would be a snap to find a book or two on Cajun or Creole names, but no such luck–after forays around the French Quarter and the Garden District, I came up empty.
But since I couldn’t come back nameless, I thought about another potential source of interesting old names–the cemetery–recalling how Pam has unearthed some really great Colonial treasures in New England graveyards. And so I spent an hour or so in the famous and fascinating Saint Louis cemetery #1 in the middle of the city, a huge, crowded, rambling 18th century repository of crumbling above-ground tombs (luckily spared by Katrina), trying to decipher the often faded and chipped inscriptions–a rich mix of French, Spanish and English names. Here are a few that I unearthed (sorry about that):