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Schwegmann Family Tomb Report

Schwegmann Family Tomb Report

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Historic Structures Report for Schwegmann Family Tomb in St. Roch Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, Louisiana for Studio in Building Preservation Spring 2010, Master in Preservation Studies, Tulane School of Architecture
Historic Structures Report for Schwegmann Family Tomb in St. Roch Cemetery No. 1, New Orleans, Louisiana for Studio in Building Preservation Spring 2010, Master in Preservation Studies, Tulane School of Architecture

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Schwegmann Family Tomb

St. Roch Cemetery No. 1 New Orleans, Louisiana

Anthony DelRosario Studio in Building Preservation Professors Gene Cizek, Mark Thomas, Heather Knight Master in Preservation Studies Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

St. Roch Cemetery No. 1 is located at 1725 St. Roch Avenue in the New Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. The cemetery was started by Father Peter Leonard Thevis when his largely German Catholic congregation at Holy Trinity Church was spared from the yellow fever epidemic after having prayed for intervention from St. Roch, one of the “Fourteen Holy Helpers” and was reported to have performed cures of the plague during the 14th century. Father Thevis designed the cemetery after Campo Santo dei Tedeschi in Rome and the cemetery opened in 1874. He also designed a chapel as a shrine to St. Roch and constructed it with the help of his congregation. A second part of the cemetery opened in 1895. The Schwegmann Family Tomb (Figs. 1 & 2) can be found in St. Roch Cemetery No. 1. The tomb is in plot numbers 8 and 9 in Square C on St. Bonifice Walk. The tomb is adjacent to the Screwmen’s Benevolent Association Society Tomb. The Schwegmann Family Tomb is a pediment tomb which, according to Dead Space : Defining the New Orleans Creole Cemetery : St. Louis Cemetery No. 1: Guidelines for Preservation & Restoration, is “a multiple vault tomb whose height is greater than its width and whose top is surmounted by an integrated front gable end pediment or flat, triangular or segmented design.” The tomb is constructed of Dorian Gray granite according to the specifications from the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company contract with the family. Three variations of the granite are on the tomb: rusticated, polished, and flame cut. The granite probably came from the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company stone quarry in Stone Mountain, Georgia. According to the tomb contract found in the company records, the specifications state that the “Granite is to be set on a full bed of Mortar [sic], composed of Portland cement, and
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

clean sharp sand, and along the outer edge, sheet lead, set in a careful and workman like manner, plumb and straight.” The original mortar has been replaced with neoprene or rubberized caulk. The specifications also state that “All granite work to be solid piece and to have the proper drip all the way aroung [sic].” Professor Knight noticed the drip edge (Fig. 3) when she happened to look up at me while on top of the tomb taking measurements. The drip edge keeps rain water from eroding the side of the tomb by causing the running water to drip about two inches from the sides. Other than some slight discoloration of the polished granite on the door and pilasters, the Schwegmann Tomb is in great shape and is maintained through Perpetual Care Program with the Archdiocese of New Orleans paid by the George August Schwegmann family. The tomb has settled slightly in the back so that it leans back about one degree off vertical. A number of North German tribes used the word "schwegman" which apparently descended from antiquity. As used by the Jutes, the word "schweg" means axe. The modern English word "wedge" is derived from it. (Lauler) The Schwegmann Tomb is the burial place of seven members of the family: patriarch Garret Schwegmann (Fig. 4); his wife Mary Henke (Fig. 5); four of their five children George August (Fig. 7), John William (Fig. 8), Mary, and Theresa; and George August’s wife Annie Emmer. This Schwegmann family can be traced back to John Gerhrd (Garret/George/Gerald) Schwegmann’s arrival in Louisiana on October 29, 1860, according to Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at New Orleans, Louisiana, 1820-1902 (Ancestry.com) (Fig. 6). The passenger list notes that the port of departure was Bremerhaven, Germany, that the ship name was Senator Iken, and that the port of arrival was New Orleans. According to a family tree on Ancestry.com constructed by
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

one of Garret’s great-granddaughters, Garret’s older brother Bernh came to New Orleans from Germany on February 13, 1881. They had a sister Catherine who remained in Germany. In 1969, grandson John G. Schwegmann wrote a series of three articles for The Times-Picayune entitled “Just Like Meeting an Old Friend” which he expanded to a fourteen part series in 1978. In the first of the expanded series, John G. related a short biography of his grandfather, John George (Garret) Schwegmann, who was born August 2, 1839 in Osnabruck, Hanover, Germany. After arriving in New Orleans, Garret, a carpenter by trade, took a job cleaning privies. He enlisted in the Union Army – Company “D” of the Second Regiment, Louisiana Infantry – on August 29, 1862. He was wounded in battle at Marksville, Louisiana in May 1864 and was honorably discharged in September 1865. After the war, Garret worked as a butter clerk at a grocery run by two German brothers, Ferdinand and Henry Henke. On April 27, 1869, Garret married one of the Henke’s sisters, Mary. The ceremony was performed by Father Thevis at Holy Trinity Church. Garret Schwegmann opened his own counter service grocery store in 1869 after apprenticing under the Henke brothers. In the years following, Garret and Mary had five children: George August in 1870, Henry J. in 1873, Mary in 1876, Theresa in 1879, and John William (John G.’s father) in 1883. According to John G., Garret would sell the grocery business and take the family to California then return and begin business again. In 1891 after a five year non-compete clause with F. B. Thriffiley, he established a grocery at 901 Piety Street at the corner of Burgundy Street (Fig. 11), with the family's living quarters above the store. Once of age, the sons worked in the family business.
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Garret and George August had a falling out over Garret’s excessive drinking and George went to work for Mr. Olstein at the corner of Poydras and Baronne. In 1895 after several years of estrangement, George heard that his father was thinking of selling the family store. When George met with Garret about possible purchase, Garret was unaware that it was his own son. After realizing, he offered to sell the store for a lower price but George would not buy it for a penny less. Garret died in New Orleans on November 23, 1924 and his wife Mary Henke died October 8, 1923. According to John G., mothers would bring their daughters to the shop in search of an “outstanding grocery clerk.” George August met his wife Annie Emmer in this manner and married her on February 16, 1898. George and Annie lived at 912 Pauline Street with their two sons Leo Benjamin and George August, Jr. Leo attended Loyola University and remained in New Orleans. George, Jr. attended law school at Georgetown and remained in Washington, D. C. where he was chief of the union catalog division of the Library of Congress. George, Sr. died October 10, 1959 and his wife Annie died July 15, 1916, becoming the first to be entombed in the Schwegmann Family Tomb. Henry joined his brother George in the grocery business in 1895. Within five years, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he married Katherine Dietrich and had six children and opened a saloon called Schwegmann's Cafe. Theresa Schwegmann was married twice. In 1906, she married Charles Henry Uter who died only two years later. She later married G. A. Newald. Theresa died October 2, 1966. Mary Schwegmann never married and died on August 12, 1942.

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

John William joined his brother George in the grocery business in 1898. (Ancestry.com) On June 19, 1909, John W. married Marie Margaretha Frey (Fig. 9) who was the daughter of Anton Frey who ran a meat stall in the French Market for over fifty years. John W. and Marie had six children: John G. in 1911, Anthony Joseph in 1913, Paul G. in 1914, Odilea Marie (Mrs. Charles Thomas Acquistapace) in 1915, Francis August in 1919, and Marguerite (Mrs. Oneil Barrios). Francis died of cancer in lymph glands in 1940 and is entombed in the Frey Family Tomb (Fig. 10) with his mother Marie who died on Mardi Gras day 1932. The Frey Family Tomb is also in St. Roch Cemetery No. 1 and is near the Schwegmann Family Tomb. In 1939, John W. rented the business from George, Sr. when he became ill. Later that year John W. revolutionized grocery shopping in New Orleans by making the store self-service. Also that year, son John G. joined John W. in the grocery business. In 1946, John G. left the small family store, while brother Anthony stayed at 901 Piety Street, and joined with his brother Paul to open the first Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market at Elysian Fields Avenue and St. Claude Avenue. John W. eventually sold the store at 901 Piety Street in 1950 and joined his three sons in the super market business becoming an active partner in the chain’s latest store on Airline Highway (Fig. 17). John W. died August 29, 1955. Under John G., the Schwegmann operation grew to eighteen stores including the world’s largest super market at the time in 1957. Schwegmann stores revolutionized the way people shopped with innovations such as in-store banks and gas pumps in the parking lot. In addition to these, John G. led the fight for trade rights such as opposing a law requiring a minimum mark up on alcohol and opposing milk price-fixing. This
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

brush with the legal system led to an unsuccessful race for a Jefferson Parish seat in the state Senate. After an unsuccessful campaign in 1959 for the Jefferson Parish presidency, he won a seat in the state House in 1961. Seven years later, he was elected to the state Senate, and in 1975, he was elected to the Public Service Commission. John G. died in 1995 before the Schwegmann business was sold in 1997 by his son John F. Schwegmann. John G. Schwegmann is entombed in Metairie Cemetery in a large granite tomb (Fig. 19) designed by the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company.

Gathering Research Materials
Research of tomb began with Google where the tomb’s inscription was found at http://files.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans/cemeteries/roch/1/square-c/10-boniface/t-008009.txt which had copyright info of http://usgwarchives.org/la/lafiles.htm and lead to http://www.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans.htm and to http://www.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans/cemroch.htm. Also via Google John G. Schwegmann’s obituary was found at http://files.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans/newspapers/00000145.txt which lead to searching New Orleans Public Library for other obituaries in Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index at http://nutrias.org/~nopl/obits/obits.htm. Information from here was used to find copies of obituaries of all of those in the tomb in

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

The Times-Picayune via a database called America's Historical Newspapers and via microfillm at Tulane. In the index, names of immediate relatives not interred in the tomb were also found - Henry Schwegmann, Marie Frey, and Charles Uter - and found obituaries. The obituary for Theresa's second husband, G. A. Newald, could not be found. At the Latter library, Ancestry.Com Library Edition was used to find a copy of the arrival passenger list for John Gerhrd Schwegmann. Also found were copies of several of the original documents used on http://www.usgwarchives.org/la/orleans.htm. At the Louisiana Division of New Orleans Public Library, the vertical file on Schwegmann stores was requested which was very useful. It contained copies of a series of three articles written by John G. July 28, August 1, and August 4, 1969, entitled "Just Like Meeting an Old Friend." The vertical file also contained copies of some of the articles that were rerun in 1978 with additional information as a fourteen part series on Wednesdays from June 28 to September 27. The rest of the series was found on microfilm at Tulane. The New Orleans Public Library website was searched where found pictures of 901 Piety Street from 1978 were found in the Mark J. Cooper Collection. The Tulane library catalog was searched with keywords Germans and New Orleans which provided some books and a DVD called German New Orleans, a WYES production from 2004. Screenshots from the DVD were taken. The DVD mentioned German Albert Weiblen who was a tomb and memorial builder. The documentary showed Weiblen's tomb (Fig. 18) in Metairie Cemetery which looked very similar to the
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Schwegmann tomb. Google was searched for Albert Weiblen and information was found that the Southeastern Architectural Archives (SEAA) at Tulane had an exhibit in 2007. Kevin Williams of SEAA was consulted to ask if he thought that Weiblen had created the tomb. He thought so and found the tomb contract signed by G. A. Schwegmann in the Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company Office Records. At Special Collections in Jones Hall, the vertical file for Schwegmann store was requested and was found to contain transparencies of two of the screenshots from the DVD. They had some information typed below picture. The author signed up for a fourteen day trial with Ancestry.com and was able to find Garret Schwegmann’s great-granddaughter, Nancy Lauler. Mrs. Lauler was contacted to ask for access to her family tree which provided extremely useful information. She was also very pleased with the information that was provided to her by the author. Jody Rome at the Archdiocese of New Orleans Cemeteries was contacted to inquire about the date of construction of the tomb. Unfortunately their database did not have that information. Also the Tulane library catalog was searched for "St Roch" and found to contain Life of Saint Roch : Followed by an Historical Notice on the Pilgrimage to St. Roch's Shrine, Campo Santo Cemetery, New Orleans, La. The Tulane library catalog was searched for "St Roch's" and found to contain St. Roch's Campo Santo and Worldfamed Shrine. These two books were accessed in Jones Hall and photographed to make PDFs for the class. The Tulane library catalog was searched for "Saint Roch"
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

and found to contain A Christmas Masque of Saint Roch, Père Dagobert and Throwing the Wanga. In the catalog record, a link to Google books with the full text was found.

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Sources Albert Weiblen Marble and Granite Company Records. Collection 39, Southeastern Architectural Archive. Jones Hall. Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118. Ancestry.com Library Edition. Milton H. Latter Memorial Branch. New Orleans Public Library. New Orleans, LA 70115. Dead Space : Defining the New Orleans Creole cemetery : St. Louis Cemetery No. 1: Guidelines for Preservation & Restoration. Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, Graduate School of Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania, 2002. Florence, Robert, and Mason Florence. New Orleans Cemeteries: Life in the Cities of the Dead. Batture Press, 1997. German New Orleans. Greater New Orleans Educational Television Foundation, 2004. Huber, Leonard Victor, Mary Louise Christovich, Peggy McDowell, Betsy Swanson, Edith Elliott Long, Bernard Lemann, and Doyle Gertjejansen. New Orleans Architecture, Volume III: The Cemeteries. Pelican Publishing, 1974. Lauler, Nancy. Schwegmann Family Tree. Ancestry.com. Louisiana Archives. USGen Web Project. http://usgwarchives.org/la/lafiles.htm. Merrill, Ellen C. Germans of Louisiana. Pelican Publishing, 2005. Obituaries. The Times-Picayune. Various years. America's Historical Newspapers. Online database. Tulane University.

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Obituaries. The Times-Picayune. Various years. Microfilm. Tulane University. Schwegmann Vertical File. Louisiana Division. New Orleans Public Library. New Orleans, LA 70112. Schwegmann Vertical File. Louisiana Research Collection. Jones Hall. Tulane University. New Orleans, LA 70118. Schwegmann, John G. “Just Like Meeting an Old Friend” fourteen part series. The Times-Picayune. June 28 to September 27, 1978. Where New Orleans Shopped. Greater New Orleans Educational Television Foundation, 2002.

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 1: Schwegmann tomb, east elevation

Figure 2: Schwegmann tomb, southeast corner

Figure 3: Drip edge on Schwegmann family tomb

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 4: Garret (John Gerhrd) Schwegmann

Figure 5: Mary Henke with Henry and John W.

Figure 6: passenger list with John Gerhrd Schwegmann’s arrival in 1860

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 7: George August Schwegmann

Figure 8: John William Schwegmann

Figure 9: Marie Frey, wife of John W. Schwegmann

Figure 10: Frey family tomb in St. Roch

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 11: drawing of 901 Piety

Figure 12: Deluxe Bell Super Market at 901 Piety in 1978

Figure 13: 901 Piety in 2010
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Schwegmann Brothers (sons of John William Schwegmann) Figures 14, 15, & 16: John G., Paul, and Anthony Schwegmann

Figure 17: Schwegmann Brothers Giant Super Market on Airline Highway

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 18: Albert Weiblen tomb in Metairie Cemetery

Figure 19: John G. Schwegmann tomb in Metairie Cemetery

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Figure 20: Drawing of east elevation

Figure 21: Drawing of south elevation

Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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PRST 6510 - Studio in Building Preservation – G. Cizek, M. Thomas, H. Knight – Feb. 12, 2010

Image Credits
Figure 1 – photograph by the author Figure 2 – photograph by the author Figure 3 – photograph by the author Figure 4 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 5 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 6 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 7 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 8 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 9 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 10 – photograph by the author Figure 11 – Screenshot from Germans of New Orleans Figure 12 – Marc J. Cooper Collection New Orleans Public Library, <http://nutrias.org/~nopl/photos/cooper/cooper.htm> Figure 13 – photograph by the author Figure 14 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 15 – photograph provided by Randy Schwegmann, son of Paul Schwegmann Figure 16 – Ancestry.com, <http://ancestry.com> Figure 17 – Charles Franck, LOUISiana Digital Library, <http://www.louisianadigitallibrary.org/u?/CLF,3991> Figure 18 – Screenshot from Germans of New Orleans Figure 19 – Aleta Obrien, <https://plus.google.com/photos/113070628309306971861/albums/5354445 366832013057/5354460335621721554> Figure 20 – drawing by the author Figure 21 – drawing by the author
Anthony DelRosario – Master in Preservation Studies - Tulane School of Architecture

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