Sunday, December 07, 2014

Found Treasures and Other Curiosities: Olivier Family Tree

As mentioned before, my dad’s family has been in New Orleans as long as there’s been a New Orleans. And over the generations, to put it mildly, a lot of family stuff has accumulated. As a child, I would come to New Orleans and visit my grandparents and stay in their big old houseup on Esplanade in Mid-City. The house was a crammed-full of a jumble of grand old antiques and every day a bric-a-brac. And the house was laid out crazy, all over-sliced into little rooms and halls. A trove of multi-generational treasures and cruft and everything in between.

And when my grandparents passed, all that stuff went to the half of the house where Annou lived, and the other half was rented out. So the already overstuffed contents of the full house became essentially warehoused on the one side, mounds of things with “goat trails” through them. If there was a show called Southern Gothic Hoarders, this house would have been its premiere episode. Annou had carved out a couple of rooms,s amidst the horde, as her own personal apartment (though her rooms were pretty crowded too). But the rest of the rooms were just dusty heaps of the things, great and small.

Our once large New Orleans family has shrunk to a small one, and I am the only grandchild, so I always knew that someday, I would be heir to this legacy of stuff. And with Annou’s passing, so it has become. And Sarah and I spend our weekends, digging through the stuff, trying to make sense of it all.

And so a series! “Found Treasures (’n’ Stuff)”. I’ll post some of the more eye-catching or odd of the items we go through. First up, the Olivier family tree:


This is more at the "gem" end of the gems-curiosities-weird-odds-'n'-ends spectrum, and it may be a tough act to follow, but it's a good place to start. It was made by my grandmother (Daidy to me; Claire to the adult world), around 1970, documenting the Olivier side of the New Orleans family, from the span of 1750 to 1878 (very specific). It's actually a tracing of a more ornate tree that someone else did earlier. (I'll show that later.) I kind of like her traced version. It is certainly one of the more beautiful things we have found, and it's utterly fascinating. (I'm not sure how well you can see them — maybe if you click on it — but the names alone are amazing.)

1 The house itself is a curious entity, apparently an old 1860s structure that dramatically grew and morphed in the 1920s into approximately the structure that it is today. 

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