The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

doubly glad

with 5 comments

“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

– photo by Mitch Waxman

After the “anxious band” posting a couple of weeks ago, an email was received from none other than the Historian of Old St. Pat’s Cathedral- Jim Garrity. Mr. Garrity’s message was gladly accepted, as he offered the key to unlock the mystery of who the enigmatic monument described was dedicated to.

First- it was Jeanne Du Lux and John P. Ferrie inscribed upon the stone, names which were familiar to one such as Mr. Garrity, whose expertise on the subject of the 19th century Irish experience in New York City will be questioned only by madmen and fools.

With the help of Mr. Garrity’s sound advice and excellent tomb stone deciphering skills, the story is now clear.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“With these provisions of the code in force Jeanne Du Lux a woman of French extraction died November 15th, 1854 at an advanced age in the city of New York intestate leaving a large personal estate to be administered and distributed according to the laws of the place of her domicile.”

That’s from 1871’s “Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, Volume 80” (courtesy google books).

So’s this-

“Within a month of her decease John Pierre Ferrie applied to the surrogate of the county of New York for letters of administration on her estate claiming them on the ground that he was her only child and therefore her sole heir at law and next of kin.

This application was opposed… During the pendency of these proceedings, Benoit Julien Caujolle Bert Barthelemy Canjolle, and Mauretta Elie, with their respective wives, appeared before the surrogate and asked to be heard alleging that they were the next of kin and for that reason entitled to intervene in the matter of the administration and to share upon the distribution of the estate and asking to receive their distributive share of the same.”

– photo by Mitch Waxman

It seems that Mr. Ferrie had to assert and prove his rights as heir in several high profile cases, included defending himself in his native France. The French Consulate and New York State ruled in his favor, but appeals elevated the dispute all the way to the Supreme Court.

At question was his status as having been born a bastard.

In the end, the bastard won, and is buried with his mom beneath an opulent monument that has carried both of their portraits for more than a century. You never know what you’re going to find at Calvary Cemetery in Queens- and sometimes- the things that you do find, you should ask a smart friend about. Thanks Jim!

from 1867’s New York Daily Tribune, courtesy

DeLux Ferrie

5 Responses

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  1. Un bâtard? . . . ooo-la-la-la-la!

    Interesting that she was from France. Just how much French immigration landed in these parts of NYC? You rarely hear of French immigration here, oui?

    georgetheatheist . . . doublement heureux

    February 25, 2013 at 10:06 am

  2. Thank you, Mitch! Finding identities of long-disappeared folks kind of goes with the territory I choose to travel.


    February 28, 2013 at 1:08 am

  3. As an aside, there were quite a few immigrants from France here in New York City during the early years of the Republic. Many of the headstones in the graveyard surrounding Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral (ones that are still readable, anyway) have undeniably French names engraved upon them. In addition, some French citizens that owned plantations in Haiti escaped to New York following the slave revolts, ultimately deciding to reside here in New York after losing most of their fortunes (and some of their family members) as a result of the slave revolts.

    The church of St. Vincent De Paul was funded by the French immigrant population of early New York City, who were largely Roman Catholic. Conversely, John Jay was a descendant of Protestant Frenchmen and an American Patriot, so there were French Protestants here in New York, too – from our colonial days.


    February 28, 2013 at 1:28 am

  4. Thank you for the acknowledgment, Mitch – it was my pleasure to help you with this mystery!


    February 28, 2013 at 1:55 am

  5. […] This column, decorated and inscribed with iconography denoting the burial place of a Roman Catholic Priest, has stood here in section 3 since 1861. It adjoins two other monuments recently described at this, your Newtown Pentacle- the Connell obelisk from “whispered warnings,” and what turned out to be the Jeanne Du Lux and John P. Ferrie monument from “anxious band” and “doubly glad.” […]

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