Morris Smith Thursday, Aug 8 2013 

There is a tendency, because of who wrote what, to concentrate on the women in the history of Esperanza.  Julie, seen as the driving force behind the house’s creation, tends to overshadow her husband Morris.  This is unfortunate, since it is clear from her letters that they were definitely partners.  Furthermore, Morris was a consummate businessman and active in the business politics of New Orleans from the 1850’s through the 1890’s.  The New Orleans chapter of the family’s history is largely opaque, and we know very little about it or about Morris’ various businesses.

Here is part of a description of him written by his daughter Fanny Morris Smith:

“My father was an important member of the number (the Boston Club, which was the New Orleans club through which many northern businessmen maintained contacts). His opinions on business matters were sought far and wide. I am proud to write that when the Mafia undertook to seize and loot the city by terror of assassination he was one of the men who decided to hang the proved murders. Always M.W. Smith & Co., Cyrus Yale & Co., Seymore & Stevens, stood for absolute rectitude in their business dealings.*

My father and mother were both readers. Their tastes were so similar that he often brought back from New Orleans the book she had purchased in New Hartford…He was very sensitive; absolutely without a sense of humour; fond of his family; my mother’s lover till she died; a man whose inner life never was told except to my mother.”

*The Yales and Seymours were close friends and business partners with Morris.  It was the Yale family that first introduced Julie and Morris to the Esperanza area; as they owned the neighbouring house.

84 Canal Street, New Orleans Saturday, Apr 13 2013 

I have periodically mentioned the New Orleans connection. Morris Smith’s other headquarters were located in New Orleans from the late 1840’s through the 1890’s. Subsidiary stores were in Tennessee and Kentucky. Hartford seems to have been the only New England store.*
Morris never owned a house in New Orleans, when the girls joined him down there they took rooms; but otherwise he stayed either with his partners or at the office itself.
This is the only known picture of Morris’ store, the date is unknown:

It Does Not look like that anymore!

*I have yet to do any research on the company, which is a pity as the little I know is fascinating. For all I know there is loads of information somewhere, but not here.

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