Andrea Dimitry

Andrea Dimitry (January 1775 – March 1, 1852) was a Greek refugee who migrated to New Orleans. He was a merchant and hero in the War of 1812. He married Marianne Céleste Dragon a Greek creole woman with dark skin. Marianne Céleste Dragon was the subject of a famous portrait painted by José Salazar. He fought in the Battle of New Orleans with Major General and future President Andrew Jackson. He was also a slave owner.[1][2][3] His son was creole author and educator Alexander Dimitry.

Early lifeEdit

Andrea Dimitry was born on the Island of Hydra. He was the son of Nicholas Dimitry and Euphrosine Antonia. The original family name was Andrea Drussakis Dimitrios Apolocorum. The family was originally from Ancient Macedonia. The family abandoned their farms and herds after Macedonia was conquered by the Ottoman Empire. The family eventually settled in Hydra. The family name Drussakis is common on the island. Hydra was the victim of heavy tariffs and taxes. The Ottoman government limited free trade. Only Ottoman vessels were permitted in the region. A plague struck the island in 1792. A large portion of the inhabitants were killed and many people moved away. Andrea left the island around this time.[4]

 
Lieutenant Michel Dragon 1810

After a long voyage and traveling all over the world Andrea eventually settled in the Spanish French New Orleans. He arrived in New Orleans in the 1790s. He met a prominent Greek man named Lieutenant Michel Dragon also known as Don Miguel Dragon the Greek version is Drakos. Dragon immigrated to New Orleans around 1760. Dragon was a soldier in the French Colonial Army. Around 1764, when the Spanish took control of the Louisiana Territory. Dragon received a commission in the Spanish militia. The American Revolution began and under Bernardo de Gálvez, Lieutenant Dragon served France and the United States of America in the war against Britain. They defeated the British at the siege of Pensacola (1781) and conquered West Florida. For his service, he attained the rank second lieutenant and received a Royal Appointment in 1792. He had a relationship with a woman who was born to a slave. Her name was Francoise Chauvin Beaulieu de Monpliaisir she had dark skin. Their daughter Marianne Celeste was born in 1877 she was creole. Andrea met Dragon when he arrived in New Orleans. Andrea married his daughter Marianne Celeste in 1799, she was listed as white on the marriage certificate. The acquisition of the territory of Louisiana by the United States from France took place in 1803. The family was officially American.[5][6][7]

Life in AmericaEdit

 
Marianne Celeste Dragon 1795

Andrea and Marianne Celeste had ten creole children including educator and author Alexander Dimitry. In the 1805 New Orleans City Directory, Michel Dragon and his wife resided at 60 Rue de Chartres. Andrea Dimitry lived next door at 58 Rue de Chartres. The Street bordered Jackson Square in the French Quarter.[8] The War of 1812 broke out and Andrea joined as a private and assisted Captain Frio Delabostris company, second cavaliers, Louisiana Militia. He participated in the Battle of New Orleans assisting General Andrew Jackson. He became an American hero and local legend.[9]

In 1811, the U.S. Territory of Orleans experienced the largest slave revolt in American history about thirty miles outside of New Orleans. As a result, American slaveowners pressured the Louisiana free colored population. Free people of color had to abide by strict rules in the local region and lost the freedoms they had been previously allotted.[10]

William C. C. Claiborne reduced the number of free men of color in the militia. He set special curfews for people of color. He made free people of color carry special passes. They had to be identified differently in public records. Thus began the creole other class. White southerners were afraid the free people of color would work with abolitionists.[11]

The 1830s were problematic for slave owners in Louisiana race distinction was more important than legal status many free people of color left the area to go to the North, Haiti, Latin America, and France. While others worked very hard to pass as white. This is why it was very important for Andrea's wife Marianne Celeste to be listed as white, even tho she had dark skin. They had to adapt to the new conditions and government.[12]

Andrea Dimitry owned a store and Marianne Celeste inherited tracts of land. They also owned slaves in New Orleans. Some of the slaves were named, Augustin, Betsey, Dolly, Helaine, Marianne, Morin, Pheaby, and Victoire. Their ethnicities ranged from Jamaican, African, and Creole. Andrea began to sell off the land and slaves by the late 1820s. The final slave on record was Irene and her mulatto son Gustave. Andrea's creole son Alexander Dimitry was highly educated. Alexander and some of his siblings attended Georgetown University.[13][14][15]

By the age of ten, he was educated by private tutors, Alexander was fluent in classical Greek and Latin. He spoke English, French, Greek, Italian, and Spanish. He eventually mastered eleven languages. At fifteen years old Alexander entered Georgetown University in Washington, D. C., he graduated in 1826 with high honors. Andrea spared no expense educating his children. His children were elite upper-class creoles.[16]

Alexander married Mary Powell Mills. Mills was the daughter of Robert Mills a distinguished architect. He was from Charleston, South Carolina, and the designer of the Washington Monument. His father-in-law eventually became an abolitionist. The couple married in Washington D.C. on April 5, 1835. They had ten children. Alexander became the first superintendent of schools in Louisiana. He was also the first person of color to hold this position.[17]

Andrea's eldest daughter Euphrosyne Dimitry married Paul Pandely in New Orleans in 1822. Paul was the son of Nicholas Pandeli a Greek who immigrated to England and married Elizabeth English. Elizabeth was a member of the English royal family the House of Stuart. They had four children.[18]

Euphrosyne and Paul's creole son George ran for political office in New Orleans around 1854. His political opponent used his grandmother Marianne Celeste's African ethnicity as slander. This led to his immediate disqualification from holding office. Around this time Alexander Dimitry also vacated his position as superintendent. The family was extremely politically connected and they sued the opponent for slander and won.[19][20] Alexander later became the first person of color to represent the United States as ambassador to Costa Rica and Nicaragua.[21][22][23]

Marianne vs. AndreaEdit

 
Portrait of Andrea Dimitry

Marianne Celeste inherited a sizable fortune from her father. Don Miguel Dragon owned 1000 acres and dozens of slaves. He officially married her mother Francoise Chauvin Beaulieu de Monpliaisir in 1815. Seven years before they passed away. In February 1834, Marianne took Andrea to court for mismanaging the family assets. She won a settlement of $27,000 close to 1 million dollars adjusted for 2021 inflation. By May, she sold off the remaining assets. This lawsuit is remarkable because the court sided with a woman of color. There is a possibility Andrea was having an affair with Irene a 29-year-old slave. She was sold along with her mulatto son Gustave. He was 10 years old. The two were sold as part of the legal proceedings. There is no record that Andrea and Marianne obtained a divorce. Marianne was fifty-seven and Andrea was fifty-nine.[24][25][26]

Death and LegacyEdit

Andrea died in 1852 he was 77 years old. He was given a veteran's funeral. A special military detachment of the Washington Artillery appeared at the family's cottage. Several military officers and civilians gathered and many people from New Orleans attended his service. The military fired cannons, muskets and a band played in his honor. At the time there was a Greek vessel in New Orleans and the officers and crew in the port attended the funeral and the flags of the vessel were suspended half-mast. His wife and soul mate died four years later in 1856, she was about 78 years old.[27]

Andrea and Marianne Céleste had ten children: Euphrosine, Mannella Airnée, Alexander, Constantine Andrea, John Baptiste Miguel Dracos, Clino Angelica, Marie Francesca Athenais, Nicholas Dimitry, Mathilde Elizabeth Theophainie, and Antonie Marie. Seventy percent of the creole children married foreigners. The ethnicities were Greek, French and Italian.[28] They were all Greek-American creole.

Andrea Dimitry's, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and in-laws, were an elite New Orleans family. They became a highly politically connected Greek-American creole family.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Louise Pecquet du Bellet" Some Prominent Virginia Families Vol. 4 Lynchburg, VA: J.P. Bell Company Inc. 1907: p. 188
  2. ^ Kendall, John Smith (1922). History of New Orleans Volume 3. Chicago And New York: The Lewis Publishing Company. p. 1104.
  3. ^ Steve Frangos (June 12, 2018). "First Greek Couple of North America: Andrea Dimitry and Marianne Celeste Dragon". Ethinkos Kirikas The National Herald. Retrieved April 17, 2021. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 167
  5. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 167
  6. ^ Kendall, John Smith, 1922. pp. 1104-1105
  7. ^ "Editorial Staff" Louisiana State Museum Collections José Francisco Xavier de Salazar Y Mendoza Louisiana Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism 2019
  8. ^ Fragos 2018
  9. ^ Kendall, John Smith, 1922. pp. 1103
  10. ^ "Editorial Staff" Louisiana's Territorial Period, 1803-1812 LSU Libraries 2021
  11. ^ LSU Libraries 2021.Transition: Louisiana's Territorial Period, 1803-1812
  12. ^ LSU Libraries 2021.Transition: Louisiana's Territorial Period, 1803-1812
  13. ^ "Cour De Paroisse" (PDF). The Courier (New Orleans, Louisiana ), p. 3. Digital Academic Research Archives. April 3, 1834. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  14. ^ Fragos 2018
  15. ^ "Gwendolyn Hall" Afro Louisiana History and Genealogy 1719-1820 The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2021
  16. ^ Kendall, John Smith, 1922. pp. 1104-1105
  17. ^ Kendall, John Smith, 1922. pp. 1104-1105
  18. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 170
  19. ^ "End of A Remarkable Trial" (PDF). New Albany Daily Ledger Vol. 5 No. 1378 (New Albany Indiana), p. 2. Digital Academic Research Archives. February 23, 1875. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  20. ^ "Buchanan Scrubbing the Ohio Democracy" (PDF). Weekly Ohio State Journal Vol. 49 No. 24 (Columbus Ohio), p. 2. Digital Academic Research Archives. September 26, 1859. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  21. ^ Kendall, John Smith, 1922. pp. 1104-1105
  22. ^ "William Chambers" Things as They are in America Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Company 1854: p. 357
  23. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 170
  24. ^ Fragos 2018
  25. ^ Cour De Paroisse April 3, 1834. p. 2
  26. ^ "Cour De Paroisse" (PDF). The Courier (New Orleans, Louisiana ), p. 3. Digital Academic Research Archives. February 25, 1834. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  27. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 165
  28. ^ Pecquet du Bellet,Louise, 1907. Vol. 4 p. 165