July 2, 2008 - "The Spanish of Iberville"

They came from Spain, often by way of the Canary Islands, in the 1700s. They had names like Mendoza, Texada and Hidalgo. They settled in New Iberia, near Donaldsonville, in St. Bernard and Iberville Parishes. In St. Gabriel they built what is now the oldest still standing church in the Mississippi Valley. The Spanish gave us culture, a strong work ethic and family values.

At the Iberville Museum in Plaquemine shows a Resolution of Condolence dating from 1955: "This man died, and he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and they sent out these beautiful certificates."

"The Spanish of Iberville" celebrates this heritage in an exhibit which opens July 4th at the Iberville Museum. It's part of a series of exhibits honoring all the ethnic origins of the parish--funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jackson says, "So many people have been unaware of their families, and since these series have come about, they're learning where they came from and just how important their heritage is. It's very rewarding."

The exhibit will include rare documents and oil paintings of Bernardo de Galvez, Louisiana governor under Spanish rule from 1777 to 1786. They are on lone from the Foundation for Historical Louisiana and Secretary of State Jay Dardenne.

Museum admission will be free on Independence Day for the opening of "The Spanish of Iberville."