Spanish Influence

Crespo Sworn In
Joaquin Crespo, having “behaved as a man of good moral character, attached to the constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same…” is sworn in as a citizen of the United States. The document was signed in 1896 by Crespo; Judge Rost, owner of Rost Plantation; and Clerk of Court John B. Martin. (Photo courtesy of Billy and Sidney Crespo)

Joaquin Crespo arrived in New Orleans from Spain via Ellis Island in 1872. He worked at odd jobs and saved his money. On his travels along the muddy River Road on the east bank he was taken with a parcel of land in the present day St. Rose area. Joaquin purchased the parcel and built his home, which became Crespo Plantation. He married Elmire Becnel and they had a son and daughter. Joaquin was unable to speak English well and consequently, his son Sidney assisted in ordering lumber from the Lutcher Moore Lumber Company.

After Elmire’s death, Joaquin married Malvina Songy and they had eight children. A devout Catholic, Joaquin constructed a chapel on his property and asked a priest from Kenner to conduct services. He donated a flock of sheep to the St. Charles Church (Little Red Church) to help control the growth of grass and weeds. Joaquin also donated land for the first St. Rose School for whites and the first colored school in Free Town (St. Rose).

St. Charles Parish named the street alongside of the St. Rose School Crespo Avenue in honor of Joaquin Crespo. He overcame very modest beginnings to become a successful sugar cane planter on the Mississippi River.

Crespo Plantation
Crespo Plantation once occupied the present site of IMTT on River Road in St. Rose. Owner Joaquin Joseph Crespo (hand on hip) is pictured with family and friends. (Photo courtesy of Billy and Sidney Crespo)

International Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT) now owns the property where Crespo Plantation once stood. Two rows of pecan trees are still visible and considered by some family members to be those that once lined the road leading to the main house.

Joaquin Joseph Crespo
Joaquin Joseph Crespo, b. 1854—d.1916, interred in the St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery. (Photos courtesy of Billy and Sidney Crespo)
Malvina Songy Crespo
Malvina Songy Crespo, b. 1868—d.1914, interred in the St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery. (Photos courtesy of Billy and Sidney Crespo)

Other Spanish names in St. Charles Parish included Lopez, Acosta, Gonzales, Rodrigue, Truxillo, Morales, Medina, Cortez, Sanchez, Torres, and Perez.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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