Sallier Cemetery entrance gets much-needed makeover

By Special to the American Press

The entrance works to Sallier Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Calcasieu Parish, were recently refurbished.

The cemetery’s entrance, on Dr. Michael DeBakey Drive, consists of an iron grate overhanging twin brick column archways. Ada

Vincent, a neighbor of the cemetery’s, headed the project.

The grate and archways were installed about 60 years ago by heirs of Joseph Charles Sallier, for whom Lake Charles was named.

A plaque fronting one of the archways notes the Sallier donation.

Sallier, born in the Chambrey Province of Savoy, France, in 1776, was buried in the cemetery in 1834. Originally, the cemetery

was limited to Sallier heirs, but it became a community cemetery in 1884.

It has reverted back to interment of Sallier heirs only, said Mike Maneille, who is executrix of the cemetery on behalf of

the Sallier Cemetery Association.

The community donation was made by Sallier’s youngest daughter, Severine Sallier, five months before her death in November

1884. The cemetery is on a square block bordered by Debakey, Kennedy, Henry and Bellvue streets.

It is next door to Christus St. Patrick Hospital, which Maneille said “has been a great neighbor. They have made our mutual

boundary a litter-free zone and have assisted with the lawn maintenance.”

Local historian Adley Cormier said the cemetery is “the United Nations of all area cemeteries. It is the most representative

of (heritages) of all the cemeteries in our area.”

Cormier said representatives of nearly

every ethnic group that settled Southwest Louisiana are buried there

except for people

of German origin. “They had their own cemetery,” said Cormier, who

added that several Confederate veterans are interred there.

Cormier said local legend is that Sallier was a French nobleman loyal to the monarchy when the French Revolution began in

1789.

“He got caught on the wrong side and Sallier was on one of the last boats to leave France,” Cormier said. Sallier settled

here and his second wife was Catherine LeBleu, whom he married on Aug. 9, 1803. They had seven children.

Sallier Cemetery is slightly more than four acres large and still “has plenty of room,” said Maneille, but it is only accepting

Sallier descendants.

Maneille said Zeb Johnson, owner of Johnson Funeral Home, has provided grave repair and lawn maintenance free of charge for

several years.

Maneille said the “overdue facelift and renovation of the entrance” by Vincent “was an early Christmas gift to the cemetery.”

Albert Broussard, owner of Lake Area Equipment Maintenance and a certified welder, consulted on the renovation project at

no cost. He said the grate and archway is “solid iron” that will never rust through.

“That archway was fabricated and welded together piece by piece,” Broussard added. The renovation consisted of sand blasting

the iron and repainting it.