Manuscripts Collection
Louisiana Division
New Orleans Public Library

MS 195
John McDonogh (1779-1850)

Papers, 1838-1842
3 items

Merchant, landowner, and philanthropist.

The papers include his "olographic" will, his "Memoranda, being reflections, opinions and recommendations" to the executors of his estate, and his memorandum on real estate owned in Jefferson Parish, La. Formerly cataloged under call number LOURV 976.3 M13o.

Item one comprises three photostats, two positive and one negative, of what is identified as the "Olographic Will and Testament" of John McDonogh. These are actually photostats of an 1850 copy of McDonogh's will made after his death by the Fifth District Court. The whereabouts of the actual olographic will is unknown; it is not filed with the series of olographic wills deposited in the City Archives by the Clerk of Civil District Court in the 1970s.

Item two comprises two manuscript documents(one marked original and the other marked duplicate) written in McDonogh's hand and carrying his signature. The first sentence of the document identifies it as follows: "Memoranda, being Reflections, Opinions, and Recommendations, addressed by John McDonogh, to the Executors of his Estate, named in his last Will and Testament, and to the Commissioners, and Agents, (to be appointed by the City Councils of the city of New Orleans, and the Mayor, and City Council , of the City of Baltimore) of his General Estate; As said Memoranda, Recommendations, &c, &c, may, he hopes, be of service to them, in management of the General Estate." The twenty-page document provides detailed instructions to the executors of McDonogh's extensive estate regarding their management, lease, and sale of his real estate holdings. Interspersed throughout the memoranda are McDonogh's comments on his life and work, his suggestion that free blacks emigrate to Africa, and other observations not directly related to his real estate holdings. The document is not dated, but probably was written around the same time as McDonogh's will (in 1838). Formerly cataloged under call number LOURV 976.3 M13m.

The full text of the will and the memoranda were published in 1851 by order of the executors of the McDonogh estate. NOPL does not have a copy of that publication, but it is available online via the Making of America site.

Item three is a manuscript note written and signed by McDonogh and addressed to J. B. Volant Labarre and R. Beauvais, assessors for the Parish of Jefferson, July 25, 1842. It is described by the heading: "A note, of Real Estate, owned by John McDonogh, laying in the Parish of Jefferson," and includes brief descriptions of properties in MacDonogh (his spelling), on Bayou Barataria, and Bayou Des Familles. The document was separated from the suit record in the matter of the Police Jury of Jefferson Parish vs. McDonogh (First Judicial District Court #20,835).

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