(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Saturday, January 05, 2013 7:40 PM
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.
Posted By: Kathy Jesse On: 8/31/2014
Title: ARE YOU FOR REAL?
Apparently you havent seen this cemetary...I was there in Aug 2014 and it is in deplorable condition...Apparently nobody cares..some of the headstones have toppled over and some of the vaults have been broken into, The grass has been mowed but that's about it.