Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
The plot of The Grandissimes could not have occurred in any other American city, for only in New Orleans did the peculiar institution called placage exist as an established and accepted part of society. White Creole men frequently took mistresses of mixed blood, known as “quadroons” or “octoroons.” They housed these young women in their own homes on the periphery of the French Quarter and proceeded to father and rear second families. The result was a mixed population unique to New Orleans and unlike any other in the country. This type of situation is dramatically exhibited in the story of the two branches of the Grandissime family. Although Creoles tended to be secretive about their lives and distrustful of outsiders, the practice of placage was common knowledge and seems to have intrigued even as it repelled the staunchly religious Cable.
*Louisiana. When the United States acquired Louisiana from Napoleon, the territory consisted of more than one million square miles that stretched west from the Mississippi River to the Rockies and north from Mexico to the Canadian border. From this enormous area, several states were carved, including what is now the state of Louisiana.
*French Quarter. New Orleans’s old Frenchtown district, also known as the “Vieux Carre.” After 1718, the district grew up around the original settlement on the banks of the Mississippi. By 1804, the Quarter had expanded up and down the river. White Americans found themselves unwelcome in the French Quarter–a conflict dramatized in the struggle between Joseph Frowenfeld, Cable’s protagonist, and the hot-tempered young Creole men. The Americans soon moved outside the Quarter, many to an area upriver that became known as the Garden District.
At the point on the river where the Creoles landed, they set apart a square where the militia could drill. This was known as the Place d’Armes (place of arms). After the mid-twentieth century it became known as Jackson Square.
*Congo Square. Quadrangle on the outskirts of the French Quarter. It was so named because, before the Civil War, many of the slave owners in the Quarter brought their slaves to the area on Sunday afternoons for their only recreation, which consisted of singing and dancing to the music that would later evolve into jazz. Cable wrote an essay, “Dance in Place Congo,” in which he collected several of these songs.