Contents and Arrangement

James Cosgrove Petition to the Sixth District Court of New Orleans Against Benjamin F. Butler, 1862 December 23-26

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


The collection consists of several small groups of papers regarding slavery, the American Civil War, and related legal matters in New Orleans, Louisiana, primarily in the 19th century. Assembled by collector Felix Limongi, many of the papers originate from the law firm Durant & Hornor during the time it was based on Carondelet Street in New Orleans. The collection sheds light on black families and black familial enslavement in 19th century Louisiana, as well as on Reconstruction-era legal cases over property seized by the Union Army during the Civil War.

One group of papers (1805-1864) consists of the estate records of Marie Claire Chabert (1769-1847). Chabert was an African American woman who was enslaved by Don Bartolomeo Le Breton and later purchased and manumitted by Jacques Tisserand (a free black man who was formerly enslaved on the same plantation), and went on to own property in the Faubourg Ste. Marie neighborhood of New Orleans from the 1810s to the 1840s. The records, which include deeds of manumission, bills of sale, purchase and tax receipts, wills, and other legal and financial documents, pertain to Chabert's own manumission, her activities managing the estate of Tisserand which he bequeathed to her, her acquisition of land, and her efforts to purchase and manumit her own family members, including several nieces and her husband Michel Bouligny.

Durant & Hornor papers (1854-1872) consist of correspondence and documents of Philadelphia-born attorneys Thomas Jefferson Durant (1817-1882) and Charles West Hornor (1813-1905) that date to the early Reconstruction period. Most of this material regards various Civil War claims and cases of civilians against the Union Army to recover property or receive damages. Of note is a group of correspondence pertaining to a case brought by James Cosgrove against Benjamin F. Butler (1818-1893) over the seizure of property from his store.

There are also some miscellaneous correspondence and documents about early Louisiana history collected by Limonge, including letters from William C. C. Claiborne (1775-1817), Edmund Pendleton Gaines (1777–1849), Henry Clay (1777-1852), and Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), as well as manuscripts by Charles René Bougués (1722) and General V. Beaufort (1802), broadsides, and printed documents reporting on events in Louisiana.

This collection was formerly referred to as the "Louisiana Slavery and Civil War Collection."

Collection History

Custodial History:

Mr. Gest acquired the collection from Felix Limongi. Limongi acquired many of the papers from the offices of the New Orleans law firm Durant & Hornor, though he may have added some material from other sources. A note left by Limongi states that he came across the Marie Claire Chabert records sometime before March 1926 while collecting postage stamps, though it is unclear from available documentation if he also acquired them via Durant & Hornor.

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were separated from the collection during 2018 reprocessing.

Access & Use

Access Restrictions:

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions for Reproduction and Use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

James Cosgrove Petition to the Sixth District Court of New Orleans Against Benjamin F. Butler; Felix Limongi Collection of Louisiana Slavery and Civil War Materials, C0033, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
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