type of head, etc. with me, nor any of the handwritten costume notes. Like
Salome (1828 doll), Rachel wears the shorter length typical of walking dresses
during this period. This particular outfit is a green wool walking or carriage
dress, which was an outgrowth of the redingote/pelisse made specifically for
outdoor wear without excess bulkiness. During the time there was an emphasis on
breadth at the shoulder which is evident here in the use of the fur epaulets.
She has other fur-trimmed accessories as well, including her fur muff ,
fur-trimmed boots, and fur-lined bonnet. The bonnet is also typical of the
period, with the
brim lifted and lengthened and the crown brought forward, so that the face is
more shielded than in the past.
Rachel OConnor (? 1846)
Rachel was a successful woman planter who managed a large Louisiana plantation
for over twenty years. She was 49 when she assumed management of Evergreen
Plantation in West Feliciana Parish after the deaths of her husband and son.
Both of them died of alcoholism, and she was burdened with the debts they
created for years. Despite recurring bouts of illness, she was an astute and
committed plantation manager, acquiring more land over time and caring for the
slave community with devotion. Having, as she later stated, "begun poor" in her
life, by the time of her death, she owned about a thousand acres and 75 slaves.
One hundred and fifty-eight of her letters remain with us today as a valuable
record of the time and daily life managing a plantation.
As their last name indicates, OConnor and her husband were among the many Irish
who immigrated to Louisiana and prospered during its early history. Hundreds of
thousands of Irish came into or through New Orleans from the end of the 18th
century through the first few decades of the 19th century and had an indelible
effect on the states history. Many of the early immigrants were fleeing the
failed Irish revolution of 1798, while later groups fled British persecution and
eventually the potato famine. Early figures in the colony were members of the
famous "Wild Geese", part of the Irish diaspora, including the famed Spanish
governor Alejandro O'Reilly and the opportunistic "Comte de" McNamara. During the
Civil War, the 6th Louisiana, the famous "Louisiana Tigers" brigade, was
predominantly Irish, and the 19th Louisiana was about 40% Irish. The famous
Celtic cross monument to three New York battalions of Kelly Irish Brigade was
sculpted in 1888 by an Irish immigrant from Louisiana who, ironically, had
fought in the Confederate ranks at Gettysburg.