An Open Letter
Welcome to the VillereFamily.com website and all it has to offer. This undertaking began in 2016 as the City of New Orleans was approaching its 300th Anniversary; amidst all the celebrations that were planned for 2018, it occurred to me that we should also memorialize the Villeré Family’s presence in New Orleans for that same 300 years, and we began planning our celebration.
On October 20 – 21, 2018, we held “Villere300”, a weekend of family events. It began with a Symposium hosted by The Historic New Orleans Collection on Saturday morning, where experts on the family’s history and other events in which the family was intertwined gave in-depth presentations, most notably the Revolt of 1768 and the Battle of New Orleans. Over 150 Villeré descendants and interested students of history were in attendance, followed by a Reception at The Collection’s historic Merieult House. On Sunday, approximately 85 of us boarded the steamboat Creole Queen for a trip downriver to the site of the Villeré Plantation and Chalmette Battlefield, where the Battle of New Orleans was fought in January 1815, with lectures by historians delivered on both legs of the cruise. Videos of the Symposium and the Reception can be found under the Symposium tab above.
After the Villere’300 Family Weekend, it occurred to me that the age of digitization would allow us to aggregate many important documents, papers, and portraits, with links to both Villeré family archives at The Historic New Orleans Collection, as well as many important letters and papers from the late historian Sidney Villeré that reside in the Special Collection of the Howard-Tilton Library at Tulane University. Sidney had enlisted his cousin Ernest Villeré to serve as his patron while he undertook exhaustive and detailed research into the history of the Villeré family throughout the 1960s and 70s. This effort culminated in the most complete work on the Villeré family, his book titled “Jacques Philippe Villeré – First Native-Born Governor of Louisiana” which was published by The Historic New Orleans Collection in 1981, and appears on this site in digital form.
After the publication of that scholarly work in 1981, the digital age emerged a decade later, and information became more readily available on the Internet. After the Villeré 300 Family Weekend, and noting how well-received it was, I felt it was time to create a digital record of all things Villeré. This included an exhaustive effort at creating a family tree which you will find the link to on this site. We plan to keep adding more in the months and years to come as family members provide us with other documents and papers, as well as family portraits and other images key to our history. It will be a permanent record of our family’s rich heritage.
The Villere’300 Family Weekend in 2018 and this website could not have happened without our now-official family historian, Shane Lief, and our genealogist, Boris X Martin Quijano, two experts I employed to undertake the research and who toiled for hundreds of hours on this effort. In addition, family members Rhett Ortego and Quinn Ford added immeasurably to the process, and I thank all of the above for their considerable efforts. I must also acknowledge the contribution of William de Marigny Hyland and his vast knowledge he shared with us, and also thank the Special Collection of the Howard-Tilton Library at Tulane University for their openness and assistance to Shane. But most notably, I extend a deep thanks to Daniel Hammer and the entire team at The Historic New Orleans Collection for all of their cooperation, from the hosting of the Villeré 300 Symposium and Reception in 2018, to allowing their Villeré archives to be made available to us.
This has been a labor of love for me over the past four years, and it is my gift and legacy to the Villeré Family. It is ours for the ages.