Save the Tombs Cemetery Tour!
A re-enactment tour of the cemetery featuring several of the tombs in the graveyard. Tour will begin at the front gate of the Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church Cemetery. This historic graveyard dates back into the 1800's and possibly earlier. In it rests many of the prominent citizens of the city of Donaldsonville. The cemetery serves as a resting place for members of Ascension of Our Lord Catholic Church, St. Catherine of Sienna Catholic Church and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Smoke Bend. A number of Donaldsonville’s former residents will be portrayed. This event is planned just before All Saints Day on October 30, 2021. It will be held immediately following the 4:00 pm vigil mass and will be getting dark. Please bring your flashlights!
Tickets can be purchased at the Ascension of our Lord Church Office or by contacting Margaret Canella at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price of admission is $20.00. Payments can be made by cash, checks or VENMO.
1. To fund the preservation of the Joseph and Anne Bujol Landry tomb and as funds permit, the many other deteriorated tombs in the Ascension of Our Lord Cemetery in Donaldsonville, La. The Joseph Landry Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Learn more at www.landryfoundation.com
2. To promote awareness of Donaldsonville’s rich and diverse family heritage
3. To increase tourism footprint and thus bring business to local businesses
The Joseph Landry Foundation was formed in 2008 by heirs of Joseph Landry and Anne Bujol. After many years of work, we are almost ready to begin the preservation work on the tomb. We also plan to do preservation work on some of the other deteriorating tombs, funds permitting.
After a series of conversations with Emily Ford and Nick Black to name a few, we have arrived at a point where our ability to begin work looms near. They have steered us toward this fund raising event. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts!
Emily Ford has a full time job working for the City of New Orleans as the superintendent of cemeteries and is owner of Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, LLC. Emily says: “I have been an admirer of the Landry tomb in Donaldsonville for years and years. It is a masterpiece on its own, but even more so considering its time period. Even in New Orleans cemeteries we don't have much that survives from before the 1850s.”
Nick Black has been steeped in New Orleans culture. He is a graduate of Brother Martin High School and went on to study art and art history at Nicholls State University. Following a four year program, Nick attended North Kent College (London) to receive his diploma in Marine Surveying and Restoration. Being born and raised in the Greater New Orleans area he grew up appreciating the unique traditions and architecture of the Crescent City. He especially learned, early in life, the distinctive designs of our city’s cemeteries.
As a kid Nick would go to the cemeteries at the foot of Canal Street to help his father and grandfather maintain the family tomb. It is this value for the continuation of family traditions, and honoring those who have gone before us, that guided him to develop a business that helps to restore and renew a cultural treasure unique to New Orleans. With a background in art and art history Nick’s talents lie in the period correct renewal of family tombs, whether it be a simple cleaning or more detailed inscription work and repair, he seeks perfection and considers it an honor to help re-establish the former glory of these reverent places.
Nick Black is a native of New Orleans and the owner of NOLA Cemetery Renewal. New Orleans & Louisiana has a rich tradition in celebrating the lives of the deceased. A tradition that now dates back centuries. Thousands of tombs encompass the 45 cemeteries in New Orleans. As years go by we remember our loved ones by visiting their final resting place. Whether this is on All Saints Day, Easter or just passing through it is the respect we show that honors those who are in a better place.
For many, the time eventually comes where we are unable to reach these resting sites until it is our own time to enter there. When this occurs, the next generation is looked upon to attend these places and honor them as we once did.
Time has an effect on all material things. In New Orleans & Louisiana we all know how extreme our climate may be. Cemeteries are not immune from this. Although tombs, now more often constructed from stone may be left unattended longer than other structures, eventually they will deconstruct if not intervened. Unfortunately there are many graves in our city where families are no longer present. For some, just the task of getting to the cemetery may be a chore. Replacing flowers, painting or carrying out a repair is then put on the list of things to do which sometimes never happens. For this, Nola Cemetery Renewal is here to help. We are honored to take part in helping you to preserve your loved ones grave. In doing so he treats each job as if it were for his own family.
Edward Fernand Landry
Born: December 1858
Died: March 29, 1909
Contributed by Shannon Sizemore 3-28-17
Marie Anne Nisida Landry
Died: June 21, 1983
(I wonder if the tomb carver was dyslexic - this is one marked 6/21/38??? C2???)
Contributed by Shannon Sizemore 3-28-17
Shell Hits Landry Tomb & Fathers Stucke & Tichitoli buried in Landry Tomb
The Donaldsonville Chief November 7, 1885
Contributed by Shannon Sizemore 3-28-17
Advocate staff photo by ADAM LAU Jimmy Safford, Margie LeBlanc and Margaret Safford Canella, from left, peer into the historic Joseph Landry Tomb in Donaldsonville's Ascension Catholic Cemetery on April 11. The three visited after a public meeting discussing the preservation and restoration of the tomb, which was built in 1845 and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Tomb tells story of early Louisiana family, contributions
By Darlene Denstorff River Parishes Bureau April 17, 2012
Margaret Safford Canella carefully opened the rusting metal gate and peeked inside the dark interior of the Joseph Landry family tomb, which sits at the edge of the Ascension Catholic Cemetery. She pointed out broken name plaques, crumbling interior bricks and the lack of mortar between large granite blocks used to build the tomb. However, Claire Safford said, she was pleased to find the overgrown weeds there the last time she visited seem to “be under control.”
Preservation of the tomb, commissioned by former Lt. Gov. Trasimond Landry, is the next order of business for the family foundation formed to care for the tomb, which was built in 1845 for the Joseph Landry family. Born in 1752 in Grand Pre Nova Scotia , Joseph Landry was among the Acadians deported by the British in 1755, Landry family descendants say. At age 17, Landry obtained a Spanish land grant and cleared land in Donaldsonville for his plantation. He was appointed the first commandant of the area by the Spanish government and later served in the Revolutionary War. Landry’s son, Trasimond, served as the state’s first lieutenant governor after the Constitution of 1845, according to Joseph Landry Foundation members.
The tomb, which towers over most of the other above-ground structures in the cemetery, is on the National Register of Historic Places. It sits next to a tomb dedicated to Civil War soldiers. The aging stone name plaques, some written in French, are difficult to read and many lie broken on the ground. With the help of her French-speaking mother (Claire Safford), Margaret Safford Canella tried to decipher the writings on one of the plaques, which was dated 1837. The exercise piqued her curiosity about just who is buried in the tomb.
Claire Safford knows Joseph Landry and his wife, Anne Bujol, and their son Trasimond are buried in the tomb. She said she assumes Landry’s other 13 children are among those buried in the 24 vaults inside the tomb. “After that, we’re just not sure,” she said as she and other family members posed for photos at the tomb on Wednesday. “The church or cemetery records are not complete.” Cemetery supervisor Anthony Marcello said the church did not start keeping plot numbers until 1977, so burials before that date are not tied to a specific tomb in the records.
Canella, her mother and other Landry relatives visited the tomb after a recent meeting of the Joseph Landry Foundation, which was formed in 2008 to preserve and restore the tomb. They’re hoping renewed interest in Louisiana’s history during the state’s 200th birthday celebration will result in other Landry descendants joining the group’s efforts to preserve the massive tomb.
Preservation of tombs like the Landry structure are important because “they contain the history of a community,” according to Angie Green, executive director of Save Our Cemeteries, a preservation group in New Orleans. Once gone, she said, they can never be replaced. “A cemetery represents the kept history of a locality,” she said. Once gone, Green said, old tombs can never be replaced.
Landry descendant Mary Ellen Stinski, the newly elected president of the family foundation, said the historical significance of the tomb starts with Joseph Landry, who served as a Louisiana senator and representative. His son, Trasimond Landry, had the tomb built and moved his father’s remains there, Stinski said.
In documents filed by the Louisiana Office of Tourism asking the tomb be added to the National Register of Historic Places, it is described as a “two-stage monument with two Doric pilasters on each face and a massive diagonally set pier on each corner.” Four large urns sit atop the tomb, and on the second stage of the monument sits a granite cube with a four-plaster temple front on each face. “The Landry Tomb is significant on the state level in the area of architecture as one of the most outstanding extant examples of antebellum Louisiana funerary architecture,” the document said. According to Stinski’s research, the monument, which is more than 20 feet tall, was designed by James Dalkin, who also designed the Old State Capitol Building in Baton Rouge.
Stinski, who lives in Iowa , said the tomb “was a fitting tribute to an outstanding American family” and deserves continued attention. Stinksi invited preservationist Mike Trinkley, president of the Chicora Foundation in North Carolina, to recommend ways to preserve the tomb. She presented an overview of his 2009 recommendations during the recent foundation meeting. Trinkley recommended the group follow historical preservation standards set forth by the secretary of the Department of Interior in Washington , D.C. , which “emphasize retaining the historic materials of property, and only intervening for the purpose of stabilizing, consolidating and conserving that which is necessary to maintain the integrity of the structure,” Stinski said in her presentation