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Race Track History
THE METAIRIE RACE TRACK (Questions and Answers)
QUESTION FROM: Robert Talbot (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I would like to know if someone could tell me when the famous and historical Metairie Race Track (which drew throngs of spectators and the finest horses in the antebellum days) opened?
Very truly yours, Robert Talbot
INITIAL RESPONSE TO: Robert Talbot
The present location of the Metairie Cemetery was once the location of the Metairie Race Course. There a local legend that an American who was refused membership in the Louisiana Jockey Club vowed to turn the track into a cemetery and Metairie Cemetery was chartered in 1872. It has an oval design, like a race track. The Oakland Riding Club was nearby. In 1912 it became part of the greens at New Orleans Country Club. Hopefully this information will assist you in answering your question.
Best regards, Steve Chouest
REQUEST FOR ADDITIOAL INFORMATION TO: Linda Howard
Hi Linda: I am working on a web site called www.metairie.com and I receive a lot of questions about Metairie. I am forwarding a recent question and answer about the old Metairie Race Track. Please let me know if you have the answer to this gentleman's question. If you have any comments, suggestions, or wish to contribute to our site's historical information, please let me know.
RESPONSE FROM: Linda Howard
Steve: I just visited Metairie.com! I love it! You guys have done great job of categorizing and "decorating" your home page. I was wondering if you would like to link my Jefferson Parish GenWeb page to your site? It could possibly be listed under history.
I sent an e-mail to (Jerry Freyder) the person who has been looking up info for me. He's usually pretty quick, so hopefully, I'll have an answer soon. Keep up the good work! Let me know if there's anything else I can do. Linda
SUPPLEMENTAL RESPONSE TO: Robert Talbot
Hi Robert: I'm sending some more information about the Metairie Race Track.
A gentleman named Charles T. Howard was born in Baltimore in 1832 and was a big mover in the New Orleans area in the latter part of the1800's. After fighting for the Confederacy in the Civil War, he helped passed Act 25 of 1868 establishing the controversial Louisiana Lottery Company. He was also involved in the establishment of the Fair Grounds and the Louisiana Jockey Club. He was refused admission to the Metairie Racing Club and allegedly turned the property into a cemetery. He died in 1885 when he fell from a horse at his vacation home. The cemetery was chartered in 1872. Other sources state that he was not responsible for changing the Track into a cemetery and that economic circumstances were the primary cause. (Perhaps he bragged about its demise about being refused membership?) Based on these facts, we suppose that the Metairie Race Track was probably most active in the in the mid 1800's.
Best regards, Steve Chouest
Response by Jerry Freyder (in response to Linda Howard's request)
The following is what I have on the founding of the Metairie Race Track:
1757 - In Paris, Louis Cesaire LeBreton , Councillor of the Mint, received a grant extending from the back of what is now Carrollton, all the way to Lake Pontchartrain, probably abutting the Bienville grants. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.11).
1764 - Councillor [Louis Cesaire] LeBreton applied for a confirmation of his concession that contained today's Metairie Cemetery. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.12).
1764, February 15 - Governor Jean Jacques Blaise d'Abbadie granted him land that once made up the "Ancien village of the Colapissis". As a result, he owned around 45 to 50 arpents front on the Mississippi between Sieurs des Ruisseaux and Chabert.. Since d'Abbadie granted [Louis Cesaire] Le Breton's petition some 15 months after the Secret Treaty of Fontainbleau, which transferredLouisiana to Spain on November 3, 1762, LeBreton's title could be questioned (METAIRIE, A TONGUE OF LAND TO PASTURE, page 50). (an 1885 lawsuit resulted from this fact).
1764 - LeBreton transferred his interests (in the property that included Metaire Cemetery) to Gilbert Antoine de St. Maxent. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.12).
1765 - Gilbert de St. Maxent effected an exchange of the entire tract (that he received from LeBreton in 1764) to the Capucian monks, who were in charge of the St. Louis Parish Church. They in turn sold it to Don Andres Almonaster y Roxas [who arrived in Louisiana with O'Reilly in 1769]. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.12).
1792 - The section of land on which Metairie Cemetery lies was purchased from Don Andres Almonaster by Maurice Conway [Jr.]. Conway died shortly thereafter [in 1792] and his widow [Jeanne Louise "Francoise" de Macarty died in 1787?] sold the property. Then followed a succession of sales, transfers, exchanges and consolidations too numerous to mention, until a huge acreage was acquired by the New Orleans Canal and Banking Company in 1831, for the purpose of building the New Basin Canal from Lake Pontchatrain to docks where Julia and South Rampart streets now intersect. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.12).
The above-mentioned Francoise de Macarty was a daughter of the Chevalier Barthelemy Daniel de Macarty and Marie "Francoise" Helene Pellerin. Francoise de Macarty's first husband, Jean Baptiste Cesaire LeBreton des Chapelles, was the son of Louis Cesaire LeBreton des Chapelles, the original grantee, in 1757, of the land that became Metairie Cemetery.
The information I have says Francoise de Macarty died in 1787, so I don't know who disposed of her second husband's (Conway's) assets. Francoise and Maurice Conway did not have any children. Maurice Conway, of County Limerick, Ireland, was a nephew of Alexandro O'Reilly. He came to Louisiana and started a tanning business. He purchased, in partnership with Alexander Latil, the land where "Houmas House" now stands on the Mississippi River. The original house built by them was incorporated into the existing one and can be seen from the rear of the house. 1838 - From the N. O. Canal and Banking Company the Metairie Course acquired its title, in 1838, to build a race track on Metairie Ridge. The course was organized in 1838 and quickly became the South's leading racetrack. It's growth paralled the growth of the city. New Orleans, in that period, was becoming a mercantile and shipping center, a focal point for sports and entertainment. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.13).
1848 - The track was purchased by Richard Ten Broeck, an ambitious promoter from Albany, New York. He broadened the base of the track's support by establishing a joint-stock company which purchased full control of the Metairie Course in 1851. Broeck refurbished the grandstand and built special stands for the ladies, complete with parlors where they could retire for rest between races. (METAIRIE CEMETERY, AN HISTORICAL MEMOIR p.13).
Let me know if you need more information. The book METAIRIE CEMETERY, A HISTORICAL MEMOIR was purchased at the bookstore Barnes and Noble for $14.95 but I have to confess I haven't read it completely yet. It is the best source I've found so far on Metairie Cemetery.
Regards, Jerry Freyder
Metairie.com expresses special thanks to Jerry Freyder and Linda Howard. We have established a History page as suggested by Linda, including a link to her site, Jefferson Parish GenWeb page. SMC