Thankful for History!
Wednesday, 02 November 2011 00:00

Hey fellow egg heads!

 

In last month’s post, I mentioned a gentleman, Samuel Oakey. Oakey sold the property to John Hall in 1837.

It turns out that Oakey was a colorful character. Born c. 1795 in Albany, NY to Abraham Oakey, the Deputy Treasurer for the State of New York, Oakey moved to New Orleans sometime in 1819. According to his obituary in Hunt’s Merchant Magazine and Commercial Review, Oakey was a man, “careful not to wound the feelings of those who differed from him, and yet prompt to repel insult or offensive words or conduct. . .”

Oakey held a number of jobs including dry good merchant and cotton factor. He was very active in the business community, where he served as President of the Exchange and as an officer of the Chamber of Commerce. Oakey also attended a number of commercial conventions during the 1850s and was considered an expert in Southern trade. Oakey never married.

Oakey’s nephew, Abraham Oakey Hall, future mayor of New York City from 1868 to 1872, moved from New York to New Orleans in 1846. Oakey Hall’s five-year stay acted as the foundation of his book, The Manhattaner in New Orleans, or, Phases of “Crescent City” Life, published in 1851 and dedicated to his uncle, Samuel W. Oakey, Esq. The obituary in Hunt’s Merchant Magazine reveals that Samuel Oakey substantially contributed to Oakey Hall’s education.

Information on Samuel Oakey tends to focus on his business activities and his social life. Hunt’s Merchant Magazine’s obituary for Oakey refers to Oakey’s “urbanity,” “stately politeness,” and his proverbial hospitality. Michael Rubbinaccio, in his book, Abraham Oakey Hall: New York’s Most Elegant and Controversial Mayor, describes Samuel Oakey as being a “local celebrity,” who dressed smartly and welcomed celebrities and notable visitors to New Orleans. Abraham Oakey Hall mentions his uncle “adorning” social events in the dedication of his book, The Manhattaner in New Orleans.

Hunt’s Merchant Magazine alludes to Oakey’s readiness to “repel” insults or offensive words or conduct as can be seen from the quote above. Ready indeed! In 1843, after reading a series of articles in the Vickburg Sentinel that accused New Orleans cotton brokers (Oakey among them) of bad dealing, Oakey challenged the writer, a cotton merchant by the name of Wright, to a duel. While the footnotes about Oakey found in Jefferson Davis’ papers discusses the duel, Rubbinaccio, recounting the story from Croswell Bowen’s book, The Elegant Oakey, claims that Oakey killed Wright with a rifle shot through the heart.

You can see a daguerreotype of Abraham Oakey Hall, Samuel Oakey’s nephew, here.