The records of the Clerk of Civil District Court’s Office, which date back to the 1700s, represent the rich history of New Orleans including its surrounding parishes. Our archives can be used for property, family history, architectural, and landscaping research.
Consisting of over 5,000 Plan Book Plans and numerous attached plans, the majority of these documents depict properties found in Orleans Parish. It is not uncommon to discover acts relating to out-of-parish properties passed before notaries residing in Orleans Parish. A section of the Research Center is devoted to out-of-parish volumes ranging from 1918 to 1970.
There are many reasons why out-of-parish documents are maintained by the Orleans Parish Clerk of Civil District Court’s Office. In most cases, a party to an act was a resident of Orleans Parish. Since the early history of the country, New Orleans has served as a central hub of business and commerce.
For these out-of-parish vignettes, we showcase documents related to Jefferson, Plaquemines, and St. Bernard Parishes. The reader should keep in mind that these are just three of the parishes that are represented in the archives. Other parishes and states include but are not limited to: East Baton Rouge Parish, Livingston Parish, St. Landry Parish, St. Tammany Parish, Mississippi, and Texas.
In continuation of the out-of-parish vignette, we will explore the development of Jefferson Parish and some of the earliest established subdivisions.
Jefferson Parish was established in 1825 and named after Thomas Jefferson for his role in purchasing the Louisiana territory.1
The Plan Book Plan above created in 1850, depicts a property slated for sale in city of Lafayette, which was the Jefferson Parish seat at the time. In 1852, the city of Lafayette became a faubourg (suburb in French) of New Orleans. Other faubourgs in Jefferson Parish such as Carrollton also became part of Orleans Parish, and the final boundary of Jefferson Parish was set in 1874.1 The present-day city of Lafayette located in Southwest Louisiana is geographically unrelated to this city of Lafayette.
Metairie is considered to be the first suburb of New Orleans, bound by Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, and the city of Kenner.2
Though many areas of Jefferson Parish were developed and flourished into the suburban sprawl it is today, the focus will be on the development of Bonnabel Place.
Featured below is a site plan of the early tracts of land of Metairieville and Bath. Metairieville was bound by the property of Joseph Beaulieu and the Jefferson and Lake Pontchartrain Rail Company line.3 This plan is unsigned and undated but the Metairie Race Course is depicted in the lower left cover, which indicates that the plan was created around or after 1838 when the race course was established. The course was built along Metairie Bayou, now Metairie Road.4 The race course was later converted into the Metairie Cemetery in 1872.5
Bonnabel Place was developed as a result from Henry Bonnabel, a wealthy, French chemist, who purchased a tract of land from Hypolite De Courval in 1836.6
A few short weeks before it was sold to Henry Bonnabel, Hypolite De Courval acquired the land from Messieurs Jean Baptiste Volaut LaBarre and Francois Volaut LaBarre on June 30, 1836. The act of sale was passed before notary, Amedee Ducatel. Property belonging to LaBarre can also be seen on the left side of the attached plan above.
Executed in French, the sale of land from the LaBarres to Courval is featured below.
In 1839, Henry Bonnabel purchased another tract of land known as Bath No. 2 from Charles Jacobs. The notary, Joseph Marks, executed the act of sale, which is displayed below in its entirety for full description of the property.
Bonnabel named the other tracts of land, Bath No. 1 and 2., after the town of Bath, England.6
Bonnabel collaborated with the renowned deputy surveyor and engineer, J. A. D’Hemecourt, to map out a town on the crest of Metairie Ridge, which would eventually become Metairie Road. Local Native American tribes used Metairie Ridge, establishing it as a well-traveled road.7
“Metairie Ridge was once incorporated as a city for approximately 17 years in order to allow the area to obtain gas service. In 1927 its one and only Mayor, C.P. Aicklen, arranged for gas service to Metairie. However, less than 18 months later, Metairie Ridge was unincorporated and Metairie has existed as an unincorporated area (with gas service) ever since.”8
Written on the 1876 plan below, D’Hemecourt explains that he adjusted the limits to the tract of land on the north side of Metairie Road at the request of Mr. Bonnabel.
Three months prior to the D’Hemecourt survey, the architect, Edgar Pilie, sketched out Metairie Road on the plan below.
After Bonnabel passed away, his land was divided among his heirs. The land was partitioned, and a large portion of the property was bought by Henry Bonnabel’s son, Alfred Bonnabel.
The land stayed in the Bonnabel family for many years and was developed into subdivisions such as Ridgeway Terrace and Brockenbraugh Court. These sections can be located in the city of Metairie today.
The advertisement below includes photographs of already developed lots in Ridgeway Terrace in 1914. The advertisement is on the reverse side of the plan of Ridgeway Terrace.
Ridgeway Drive, denoted in red, is in the vicinity of Bonnabel Place today.
The Bonnabel family developed the Brockenbraugh Court tract in the 1920s.
Below is a mortgage of Brockenbraugh Court by Bonnie Laura Bonnabel Lawes in favor of Joseph Sullivan. The act was executed by the notary, Bussiere Rouen on March 23, 1923. The legal description of the property explains that Brockenbraugh Court was once considered Bath No. 2 and references the 1876 plan by D’Hemecourt. The D’Hemecourt plan is shown earlier in this blog in the discussion of Metairie Ridge. The blueprints below were annexed to this act.
Brockenbraugh Court is located within Bonnabel Place today as highlighted in red below.
Bonnabel Place was officially established in 1914.9 In 1916, Alfred Bonnabel defined, named, and delineated the boulevards and streets that he privately owned in the act. He dedicated Bonnabel Place as a subdivision “for public use and for the use and benefit of present and future owners” in an act of dedication executed by the notary, Harry Loomis. The tract of land and the streets involved are designated below in its entirety.
The following survey was attached to the act of dedication and shows the entrance to Bonnabel Place, which references its proximity to Metairie Road. Note that Alfred E. Bonnabel is the surveyor and creator of the sketch.
In the act below, Alfred Bonnabel sold certain portions of ground to Bonnie Laura Bonnabel Lawes. The legal description of the property identifies portions of ground owned by the Bonnabels. It mentions the act of sale passed before the notary, Joseph Marks when Henry Bonnabel originally acquired the land.
The following plan (and enlarged detail) was once included in the act of sale for reference. It has since been removed from the act and flattened for preservation.
Sections were later sold to Alfred’s sons, Henry J. Bonnabel and Alfred E. Bonnabel, who would eventually sell the land to the Bonnabel Land Company. The company would further develop the area. The sons would in turn buy portions of the property back from the company in 1922. Surveys of the properties sold to Henry J. Bonnabel and Alfred E. Bonnabel are shown below in a yellow wash.
Bonnabel Place was one of the first residential areas developed in Metairie, and the subdivision still exists today.
The Clerk’s Office has a rich history pertaining to Jefferson Parish. If there are any particular interests that you would like to learn more about, please contact the Clerk’s Office. We are happy to assist.