Several Haydel Men found on Militia list in St John the Baptist Parish, 1 Jun 1778.

It would be three years trying to locate documented proof of service for three German Coast of Louisiana ancestors of mine, who lived in the parish known today as St John the Baptist, about 30 miles outside the city of New Orleans, La. All three ancestors, according to their death records are said to have been buried in unmarked graves in the St John the Baptist Cemetery in St John the Baptist Parish. 

While visiting the Whitney plantation in 2016, I spoke with the director of research, Dr. Ibrahima Seck. I shared with him, some of my revolutionary war ancestral research concerning several ancestors who lived in St John the Baptist Parish.  I shared how excited it was about my discovery and the recent approval of them as Patriots of the American Revolution, because of finding documented proof of service for having served under the command of the Spanish Colonial Louisiana, Governor, and General Bernardo de Galvez. 

Dr. Seck has written extensively about the Heidel,(Haydel) family and the Whitney Plantation in his book Bouki Fait Gombo. However, he was not aware of any involvement by any Haydel men during this time in Louisiana’s Colonial history.  I mentioned seeing several of the Haydel men also listed in that same document and what that could mean for them and their descendants.

Taking a closer look at a blog post, I wrote in 2015, we can now understand the significance of this document, the 1778 Militia list for St. John the Baptist parish, and also how it too, relates to several of the Heidel (Haydel) men titled: Three More Colonial Louisiana Ancestors Approved By the SAR.  

Galvez March, Conquest of Baton Rouge, 1779 by Augusto Ferre-Dalmau.

I also mentioned the significance of documenting these ancestors, many from the surrounding areas of St John the Baptist, St Charles, St James, and a few others parish militia groups who joined in when Bernardo de Galvez marched on through en route to his first battle at Baton Rouge.

If you aren’t familiar with this aspect of the historical narrative of the War of Independence, I invite you to view here below: Spanish Support and Participation in the American Revolution: I showed Dr. Seck, the names of several Haydel and Becnel men (marked in red) on the same militia list dated 1 Jun 1778, as my direct ancestors (marked in blue). I asked Dr. Seck if he knew of the final resting place of the two former builders/owners of the Habitation Haydel, now Whitney Plantation (Jean Jacques Haydel and the Evergreen Plantations (Christophe Haydel) who both lived in St John the Baptist Parish. (double click to enlarge militia list below) 

(Militia list with several Haydel Men named are in red)

These men listed above would remain members of the second company of Militia in St John the Baptist Parish in support of and during the entire time Louisiana, under the command of Spanish Colonial Governor and General Bernardo de Gálvez, who with 1,400 men, took to the field in the fall of 1779 and defeated the British in battles at Manchac 7 Sept 1779, Baton Rouge and Natchez (21 Sept 1779).  On March 14, 1780, after a month-long siege with land and sea forces, Gálvez, with over 2,000 men, captured the British stronghold of Fort Charlotte at Mobile 1781. The climax of the Gulf Coast campaign occurred the following year when Gálvez directed a joint land-sea attack on Pensacola, the British capital of West Florida. He commanded more than 7,000 men in the two-month siege of Fort George in Pensacola before its capture on 10 May 1781

Habitation Haydel, The Whitney Plantation

                      Evergreen Plantation

Dr. Seck said, Jean Jacque Haydel, the original builder/owner of the Habitation Haydel, now called Whitney Plantation was buried in St John the Baptist Cemetery and he also believed, Christophe Haydel, and Mathias Haydel were also buried there too. 

Since my three ancestors were according to their death records, buried in St John the Baptist Cemetery, Dr. Seck, suggested, we drive over and to the cemetery to visit the gravesite of Jean Jacques Haydel.  The cemetery located adjacent to church at 2361 Highway 18 (River Road), Edgard, LA.

St John the Baptist Church and Cemetery, St John The Baptist Parish, La.

According to a brief history: “St. John the Baptist Catholic Church is one of the oldest church cemeteries in Louisiana. On 21 Feb 1770, Spanish Governor O’Reilly issued an order of expropriation for 4 arpents (almost 4 acres) of land from Jacque Dubroc to build a church on the west bank of the Mississippi to serve the people of the Second German Coast in what is now the civil parish of St. John the Baptist. Most of the residents of the Second German Coast were of German or Acadian ancestry. The church served the east and west bank of the civil parish until the formation of St. Peter Catholic Church at Reserve on the east bank in 1864. Burials in the St. John the Baptist Catholic Church cemetery began shortly after the first church was erected. After the formation of St. Peter Catholic Church, some of those families continued to be interred in Edgard until 1870 and in some cases later if there was a family tomb. Many famous people have been buried here, i.e. John Slidell’s family tomb and the wife of P. G. T Beauregard. St. John the Baptist Catholic Church cemetery remains an active cemetery today”.

On our drive over to the cemetery, Dr. Seck mentioned, the original cemetery was reduced in size over the years, as the Mississippi river and levels system overtook part of the older parts of the cemetery, and there was a likelihood, that the gravesites of my three ancestors, may no longer exist and was probably washed away by the river.  Here are a few pictures were taken while visiting the St John the Baptist cemetery:

There it was, the tomb of the original owner/builder of the Haydel/ Whitney Plantation, Jean Jacques Haydel. Except for some minor repairs needed on some missing cement plaster, the site was in relatively good condition. The inscribed on the tombstone was his name, Jean Jacque Haydel ” Godfather of the Church” 1744-1826.

Here we have proof of service and a burial site of Jean Jacques Haydel. He is listed as Jacobo Haydel on the 1 Jun 1778, St John the Baptist parish militia list as Sargent Jacobo Haydel. see below

I was a little concerned about the reference to a Sargent Jacobo Haydel and wondered if this was the same Jean Jacques Haydel.  I looked through the names of all the sons of the progenitor of the Haydel family, Ambroise Haydel, and none were referred to in any other documents, I came across as Jacobo Haydel. 
So I research to see, if Jacques was a variant of Jacob and found according to Wikipedia, Jacques as given name James is derived from Iacomus, a variant of Iacobus. As a first name, Jacques is often phonetically converted to English as Jacob, Jake (from Jacob), or Jack. Jack, from Jankin, is usually a diminutive of John but can also be used as a short form for many names derived from Jacob like Jacques.
I also knew that Jean Jacques Haydel’s, mother Anna Marguerite Schoff’s father was named Jacob Schoff  (also spelled Schaaf) and it is plausible, that the recorder who wrote down the names of the men mustered on  1 Jun 1778, took the liberty of spelling, Jean Jacques Haydel as Jacobo Haydel.
We can see clearly in other instances where the recorder of the militia muster list also phonetically spelled other Haydel men names differently too ( Mathias Haydel is seen spelled Matias Heydel, Christophe Haydel is seen spelled Xtof Heidel, Nicolas Haydel is seen spelled Nicolas Haydel, and George Haydel is Jorge Heidel).  None of the other Haydel men listed on the muster were found in marked tombs during my visit this day, however, according to each of their, St John the Baptist church baptism records, they are all said to be buried in the St John the Baptist Parish Cemetery.
All of these Haydel men are ancestors to both Victor Theophile Haydel and Marie Celeste Becnel and their descendants. Now descendants have proof of service of their ancestor’s participation under the command of the Spanish Colonial Louisiana Governor and General Bernardo de Galvez.

Any descendant who can link their family’s ancestry to one of the children of Victor Haydel and Marie Celeste Becnel Haydel can now link themselves to individual Haydel ancestors who were on the militia service of 1 Jun 1778, under the command of the Spanish Colonial Governor-General Bernardo de Galvez and his support during the American Revolution. 

Now I invite you to view this video and remember, “it was a white Haydel man who fathered the mixed-race son named Victor Haydel” and now provides him, (Victor Haydel) and his descendants with an even great legacy and ancestral connection to Louisiana’s participation and support in the War of Independence. 

With the proof of service (STJB, 1 Jun 1778 militia list), an ancestral chart from any designated Haydel militiamen,  descendants who can provide documentation that will show a direct lineal descent from one of the children of Victor Theophile Haydel and Marie Celeste Bencel, should now consider seeking membership in the National Society Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) and Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR)

Until the Lion has his or her own storyteller, the Hunter will always have the best part of the story“~ African Proverb

My Visit to Habitation Haydel, the Whitney Plantation, in Wallace Louisiana


Mr. John Cummings,
owner and visionary of the Whitney Plantation.
Photo Credit: Whitney Plantation

I had the pleasure of visiting the Habitation Haydel, known today as the Whitney Plantation, several years ago after meeting Mr. John Cummings, the owner and visionary behind this amazing project. He invited me to see what he was planning to do with the property he had purchased.

Since that meeting, Cummings and his staff have turned the sprawling site into a living museum, dedicated to those whose lives helped build this place. Their enslavement fueled the wealth and prosperity of the Haydel family.

Got Proof Front Cover 9-29-14-1

Michael Nolden Henderson

I was excited and curious to visit the Whitney Plantation because I had earlier traced part of my ancestry back to an eighth-generation great-grandmother, a French immigrant named Ann Marie Schoff, daughter of Hans Jacob Schoff and Marianne Foltzlouer. Ann’s sister Marguerite Schoff was the wife of the progenitor of the Haydel family, Ambroise Heidel. Mr. Cummings has built on the property several memorials dedicated to the over 100,000 slaves who were researched, compiled, and documented in Dr. Gwendylon Midlo Hall’s Louisiana slave and free database. Many of them lived on Habitation Haydel, the Whitney Plantation.

Over the years, this database has helped me identify and document several of my enslaved Louisiana ancestors who lived during the French and Spanish periods in Louisiana’s history. One such person was Agnes, an enslaved woman born in 1758 in St. Charles Parish. By 1779 she had gained her freedom with the assistance of her French consort, Mathieu Devaux dit Platillo. Agnes and Mathieu are my fourth-generation great-grandparents. Their story, along with my personal research journey, was told in my memoir, Got Proof! My Genealogical Journey Through the Use of Documentation (The Write Image 2013).

During my visit to the Whitney Plantation, I was hoping to locate the name of Agnes and any of her enslaved family members on the site’s memorial wall. On this particular sunny day in late April 2015, I returned to see what had become of Mr. Cummings’ grand vision for the place now called the Whitney Plantation.

As I drove up to the entrance of the plantation, I started to sense that Cummings’ vision, spoken of many years earlier, had finally been realized. I prepared myself to step back in time and learn a few new things about slavery in Louisiana.

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Michael Nolden Henderson and Dr. Ibrahima Seck
Photo Credit- Anita R. Henderson

As I approached the visitor’s center, I was met by Dr. Ibrahima Seck, the Director of Research at the Whitney Plantation. I first met Dr. Seck in 2010 while attending a Louisiana Creole genealogy research conference in New Orleans. In fact, I was introduced to him by Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, who had worked with him to develop the Louisiana Slave and Free Database. I was pleased to see Dr. Seck that day because I wanted to bring him up to date on my ancestral findings, connections to several members of the Haydel family, and several of the enslaved persons hopefully included on the stone memorial walls on the property.

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The Antioch Baptist Church
Photo Credit -MNH

Dr. Seck and I sat for a few minutes, while I showed him some of my ancestral family pedigree charts linking me as a descendant to the Schoff and Haydel families. He also shared with me some of his research, which has been published in his book, BOUKI FAIT GOMBO: A History of the Slave Community of the Habitation Haydel (Whitney Plantation) Louisiana 1750-1860. After our short conversation, we agreed to connect later that afternoon following my tour of the plantation. As I began the guided tour with several other visitors, I immediately knew we were in for a different perspective about slavery in Lousiana, particularly plantation slavery at the Whitney.

Our first stop was at the Antioch Baptist Church that had been moved from another location and brought to the Whitney as part of a preservation effort. The building had a musty smell and featured several life-sized figures depicting the enslaved children who would have lived on the plantation.

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Slave memorial wall of some of those who actually lived on Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit – Michael N. Henderson

Next to the church is a large granite memorial wall dedicated to the many enslaved individuals documented as having lived on the Haydel Plantation during the Antebellum period.

As our tour guide spoke briefly about the many persons listed, she mentioned two individuals who were identified as being direct ancestors to the Haydels and who were also Creoles of color. This mixed-race family is a branch of the white Haydel family of the German Coast of Louisiana, who were descendants of an enslaved woman named Anna and a white male member of the Haydel family named Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 11.20.53 PMAntoine Haydel. The male child born of this illegal relationship was named Victor Haydel. As the guide explained the family ties, I suddenly realized the missing piece in my own Haydel family research. At that moment, I Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 11.47.43 PMknew how Victor Haydel was also related to me.

My ancestral connection to the Haydel family is via two sisters, Ann Marie Schoff, and Marguerite Schoff. Marguerite Schoff married Ambroise Haydel. Together they had three daughters and seven sons: Regina, Marie Françoise, Anne Marie, Jacques, Nicolas, Mathias, Jean Christophe, Jean Georges, Jean, and Jean Jacques. Jean Jacques Haydel, their youngest son, is credited with building the Big House on the Whitney Plantation. He later passed ownership on to two of his sons. It is through the line of his brother, Mathias Haydel and his wife Marie Magdeleine Barb Huber, that the bloodline of the mixed-race enslaved child Victor Haydel can be traced back to Ambroise Haydel. See chart below; double click to enlarge:

Chart Schoff and Haydel 2a

Pedigree chart showing a common ancestral link to two sisters and where Michael Nolden Henderson is a 4th cousin, 4x removed to Victor Haydel.

Mathias had a son named Alphonse Haydel who was married to Marie Troxler. They had a son named Antoine Haydel. Antione had an illicit affair with Anna, the slave of his sister, Marie Azelie Haydel, the last Haydel owner of the property. Anna was the mother of the mixed-race son named Victor Haydel (pictured on the right side of the chart above).

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Michael Nolden Henderson standing in the doorway of one of the slave cabins
Photo Credit- Anita R. Henderson

As the tour continued, we stopped at several other buildings, including the slave prison, pigeonnier, slave quarters, kitchen, blacksmith shop, Wall of Honor, Allées Gwendolyn Midlo Hall, and The Field of Angels. I thought about those who once lived on this plantation and how challenging their day-to-day lives must have been. Knowing that I share an ancestral connection to both the white and mixed-race Haydel members who lived on this plantation gave me a deep sense of ownership of this troubled history in Louisiana.

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Michael Nolden Henderson
At the Entrance of the Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit -ARH

On this visit, I came away with a sense that Mr. Cummings’ vision has been realized. He has turned the Whitney Plantation into the first-ever museum dedicated to the lives and stories of individuals enslaved along the German Coast of Louisiana. While more projects and research are still underway, I believe this amazing educational site promises to help fill in some of the gaps in the narrative of the lives of those who worked, survived, and died as a result of plantation slavery in Louisiana.


So I hope on your next visit to New Orleans, Louisiana, you will plan some time to visit the Whitney Plantation. It will be well worth your time; it sure was well worth mine. Stay tuned for more on my discovery about Victor Haydel and his bloodline connection to the Haydel family in Louisiana. Stay tuned for more, as we come to know Anna and Victor Haydel at the Whitney Plantation.

See more photos of the Whitney Plantation below:


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Memorial dedicated to the many enslaved Children who died on the Whitney Plantation, Statue and place titled: The Field of Angels
Photo Credit – Anita R. Henderson


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Slave Jail on the Whitney Plantation


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Slave children depicted in these images throughout the old church on the Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit – Anita R. Henderson


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A little slave girl representing the many children on the Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit – Michael N. Henderson


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Several buildings and sugar pans in the back of the Big House on the Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit – Anita R. Henderson


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Robin’s Blacksmith Shop on the Whitney Plantation
Photo Credit – Anita R. Henderson


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Oak Alley front of the Whitney Plantation home
Photo Credit – ARH



Habitation Haydel, The Whitney Plantation, Wallace Louisiana
Photo Credit – Anita R. Henderson


Allees Gwendolyn Mildo Hall

Memorial dedicated to the 107,000 enslaved Africans who are documented in the Louisiana Slave and Free Database. The area is titled Allées Gwendolyn Mildo-Hall
Photo Credit – Michael N. Henderson


See more here: Getting to Know Anna and Victor at the Whitney Plantation