Thursday, April 11, 2013

Heard Of The "Casket Women"...?

The role that women played in all of the colonies in the world is often overlooked. Not just the English, but the French as well had plenty of men, but shared a shortage of women to complete the successful colonization of new territories!

Some very creative measures were needed to bring women to the new colonies, thus helping to build the backbone of any successful endeavor of this kind...the family!

Pelican Girls and Casket Girls

When the French controlled the Gulf of Mexico territory containing Louisiana, they had a problem—too many men. The male settlers included soldiers, farmers, and tradesmen. Valuable assets, of course, but as all governments of the time understood, a really successful and lucrative colony needed families, not just single men. To do that, the men needed wives. It comes as no surprise that most men involved eagerly agreed with the idea.

However, finding ladies willing to marry a stranger and endure the rough frontier with their husbands for the rest of their lives wasn’t easy. Beginning in 1704, the Compagnie des Indes (Company of the Indies) which held the monopoly on trade in the area decided to send 20 young and virtuous French women aged 14-18 to Louisiana via the ship Le Pélican. These “Pelican girls” were snapped up by men desperate for marital bliss and/or the generous dowry and other benefits subsidized by the King.

Other shipments of volunteer brides occurred periodically. Many were orphans, some less than respectable from houses of correction. Perhaps the most famous were the seventy-eight upstanding “casket girls” or filles à la cassette, named after the small caskets (like suitcases) that carried their belongings. Upon arrival, they were popped into the newly built Ursuline convent in New Orleans and supervised by the nuns until they found husbands. Today, claiming a “casket girl” as an ancestress is a matter of pride for native Louisianans.

Despite the pressure put on new arrivals, not all girls chose to marry. Some entered convents, received the education denied their secular sisters, and became nuns. But most women married, many were widowed, and if they survived the hardships of childbirth and frontier life, they often prospered due to generous inheritance laws.

I guess it's true that women have always had a very strong influence on the development of any city, state, or country! We probably would be better off not forgetting that!

Better have our coffee inside this morning. The rain came back and that's good for the roses, but bad for the patio sitting!


Gorges Smythe said...

Sort of like mail-order brides!

Chickenmom said...

Ah, what would men without us! Seriously though, not enough credit is given to these women who opened up the frontier. Good ones, bad ones all made a difference.
Coffee inside today is fine - we finally had rain last evening. Jo and I get the chocolate, but I'll bring some tasty fancy ones for all the rest of my friends!

Phyllis (N/W Jersey)

linda m said...

Very interesting article. What would we do without women? Still raining here so coffee inside sounds good to me.

Sixbears said...

When the ladies were shipped to Quebec, the men tried to get the plump ones. They didn't think the thin ones would survive the winters.

JO said...

See Women are tough no doubt about it. Men need women. LOL

Coffee inside is good I thing winter has returned here.

John said...

Very interesting. I didn't get this comment made on your CCC post. we have buildings around here that were built by the CCC. They still stand. I think one is an old schoolhouse across the road from our house. I will check on that and post a picture if it was built then.

BBC said...

Some hitched up with native women.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
Exactly what I was thinking!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Phyllis...
Reminds me of the old saying "Takes two to tango" for some reason!

All were needed, that's for sure!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda...
A very important asset , that's for sure! In fact, they still are!

The sun is trying to shine here, and that's a good thing!

Many thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Sixbears...
I can understand that kind of reasoning! Made the cold nights more endurable, I imagine!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Jo...
You don't have to tell me, I'm a believer!

Good sweater weather, that's for sure!

Thanks for coming by today!

Hey John...
Most of those older buildings made from stone were certainly built to last!

I'd like to see the pictures, for sure!

Thanks for the visit today!

HermitJim said...

Hey BBC...
That worked out pretty good, I reckon!

Thanks for coming by this morning!