New Orleans History -- Lake Pontchartrain
Monday, June 17, 2024
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Alexander Milne

The monument to Alexander Milne, who died in 1838, is located in St. Louis II Cemetery. On the granite foundation is engraved his will in which he left much of his fortune to establish asylums in New Orleans for orphan boys and girls and to support asylums already in existence.

Milne was born in Scotland in 1742. He worked as a footman for a duke, but reportedly left for America when he was ordered to powder his red hair.

In 1790, he arrived in New Orleans where he established a hardware business. He also made a great deal of money from his brick-making business because New Orleans was in the process of rebuilding after the great fire of 1788.

Milne used his money to buy large tracts of land along Bayou St. John and on the lakefront, believing that the swampland would one day be valuable. When he died at age 94, he owned 22 miles of property along the lake extending from Jefferson Parish all the way to the Rigolets.

Milneburg, the town founded by the thrifty Scot, had as its main street Edinburgh named after the city in Milne's native land. But in 1923, the name was changed to Hibernia. He named other streets for cities as well such as Hamburg, Paris, Brussels, Havana, New Orleans, Madrid, Vienna and New York.

Milneburg was the first summer resort established on the lakefront. There were seafood restaurants, picnic grounds and pavilions where dances were regularly held. It was also the terminus of the Pontchartrain Railroad, built in 1831, which ran some five miles down Elysian Fields Avenue.

The town of Milneburg kept his name until it eventually became a part of the growing city of New Orleans.

The Milne Asylum
The Milne Asylum was established by the charitable bequest of Alexander Milne, a Scottish immigrant of New Orleans. He bequeathed money and property for the establishment of the Milne Asylums in Milneburg, one for orphan boys, the other for girls. Papers include agreements and orders of appropriations from the estate of Milne for the Milne Asylums, certificates of fees paid by the asylums for goods and services, mortgage documents, and insurance receipts. Included are a request for the admission of a foundling to the asylum, the release of a boy to the asylum by his mother, and papers related to the title of land involved in the Milne bequest.
Source: Milne Asylum papers, 1840-1856

Louisiana Leaders: Notable Women in History
Jean Gordon (1865-1932) focused her life and energies on social service while remaining involved in suffrage. Working tirelessly for over ten years to better the labor conditions of working children, her efforts were finally successful with the legislature's passage of the Child Labor Act of 1906 which also amended the state constitution to allow women to serve as factory inspectors. Jean Gordon was the first woman factory inspector in New Orleans, serving from 1907-1911. Her continued work drew her national recognition and led to the establishment of annual meetings of southern governors to discuss this issue and the passage of uniform child labor laws in southern states.

While working with children, she became aware of the plight of the mentally challenged. As the president of the Milne Asylum for Destitute Orphan Girls, she established a model home-school for the care and vocational education of the mentally handicapped. The Milne Home was a pioneer institution in Louisiana, for even though a state law had been passed in 1918 to establish an institution for the mentally handicapped, no funds were appropriated. The first Louisiana state institution did not open until 1921. Her service to society continued in many other areas including establishing day care for working mothers, directing the Louisiana State Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and legislative reform.


In 1993, Rebecca S. Carrasco published "The Gift House: Jean M. Gordon and the Making of the Milne Home, 1903-1931". Louisiana History, 1993 34(3): 309-325.
Source: Louisiana Leaders: Notable Women in History