Early Louisiana

Free Stuff Friday: The price of hiring a drummer in colonial Louisiana

In 1717, Captain De Lauze died just a year after being commissioned for service in Louisiana, which belonged to France at the time. De Lauze didn’t die without setting his affairs in order. He left a will, bequeathing a pot of butter to the Jesuits. The rest of his estate was to go to his sister in France, which meant debts had to be settled and possessions sold.

Fortunately for his sister in France, there was a plan in place to drum up attention for the liquidation. Literally. A man named La Croix was hired to beat his drum and advertise the estate sale. Think of La Croix as a walking, beating billboard.

We know about La Croix the Drummer because he filed a receipt with De Lauze’s estate to be compensated for his labor. The request is part of a treasure trove of colonial documents scanned and put online by the Louisiana State Museum.

Wondering how much it cost to hire a drummer in colonial Louisiana? The answer is 10 livres. A livre was the equivalent of a pound of silver.

The museum holds the records for New Orleans’s French Superior Council (1714-1769) and Spanish Judicial Records (1769-1803). They tell the story of New Orleans’ infancy. And they’re helpfully indexed in English in case you don’t read Spanish and French.

You’ll find deaths, murders, slavery and pirates in these records.

Enjoy! Here’s the handy dandy link: https://www.lacolonialdocs.org/

3 thoughts on “Free Stuff Friday: The price of hiring a drummer in colonial Louisiana”

  1. As a drummer myself, I know that I would be happy — even in 2022 — to be offered 10 pounds of silver for my services! (I just looked it up and it sounds like that would be the equivalent of about $64 today.) Maybe he had to walk around beating the drum all day long, though, in which case perhaps 10 pounds was paltry. Who knows. In any case, this was such a fun find!

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