The Ghost in Pirates Alley Thursday, Mar 26 2009 

The First Wedding In Pirates Alley New Orleans

The tradition of being married in Pirates Alley in the French Quarter is clouded in secrecy and varies as who tells the tale. One is never sure who was actually the first to get married there but this tale as told to me often during my life is a sure as any tale of pirates, ghosts, and love. Back in the days of the Pirates of Barataria many young men from many places joined in to make a fortune. Called “smugglers” by some, hated by Spain, used by France but admired by Americans as an independent lot who at times would help the poor and ill treated.

I am told one Reginald Hicks, who began as a mere cabin boy on an English ship was taken by some pirates and raised by them. Only a lad in his early teens when captured ultimately raised himself to a first mate of a pirate ship by the time of the War of 1812. He was trusted by all his pirate brethren and their leader Jean Lafitte. He was known to go along with several other men to met with General Jackson to aid the Americans in the Battle of New Orleans, mostly as “cannoneers” as they were very good shots.
Of course Master Hicks was a good looking young man having many a lass looking at him but in his heart was none other but a beautiful Creole French girl, Marie Angel Beauchamp. She too had only thoughts of him and whenever he came into the City they would steal off into the night, keeping their love a secret as it was not permissible for a young  Creole Catholic girl to be seeing a Pirate of English extraction.

As things would happen on Master Hicks’ visit to meet with General Jackson he learned that his Marie was expecting their child. He being raised as an English gentleman his first decade of life did not want to leave the city without getting married. His child would have a father and his love would not be scorned for having a child without a husband. All evening they searched in vain for a priest to marry them but most required that they both be Catholic, others would not think of doing a ceremony on such short notice. Eventually they had two options, simply jumping a broom down in Barataria or seeking out a German born baker in the jail who was also an ordained Protestant minister. Master Hicks did not want to take Marie to Barataria which meant she would have to stay and may never see her family and friends in the city again.  So they very early in the morning made their way to the Cabildo and asked the jail’s warden if they could speak with the German Minister. He would only allow them to see him through the iron gate facing Orleans Alley. But right there and then they were married. Soon gathered many early arriving workers and some visitors who witnessed the first wedding in Pirates Alley. Documents drawn and signed by a Notary on his way to file others for record at the Cabildo and all present signed making the marriage both Civil and Religious.
Here again the story varies as exactly what happened. What happened to Master Reginald Hicks remains a mystery, some say he was killed in the Battle of New Orleans and seeks out his lovely Marie nightly in Pirates Alley today as a spirit. Others say he and Marie left for Galveston with Pirate Lafitte after Louisiana was sold to America. But if you go to Pirates Alley early in the morning on the right day of the right month you can hear laughter and celebration and wedding bells and a cold breeze passes you by. Could it be the ghost of Master Hicks seeking his bride?

Believe as you may.

Today couples can still get married in Pirates Alley  by a German Protestant wedding officiant. For more in formation visit his web page at:

JK Schwehm at Fig Street.
Copyright 2003 [Fig Street, LLC]. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 25,2009 by the author

Tooker’s Camp on the Pearl River by Indian Village Landing Thursday, Mar 26 2009 

 For  several years I canoed along the Pearl River and often put in the river at the landing in Indian Village. It was close to a part of the swamp with many camps and a good spot to put out turtle traps. I took several photographs with the intention of painting things as I saw them. One of the main attractions was “Tooker’s Camp”. Tooker was a colorful fellow with a made up hot tub on his front porch and a stop sign. Of that collection of photos I got around to painting his camp but made it up as a starry night with a fried egg moon. The painting is sold as prints, cards, tiles, and many gift items. Recently the entire area was featured in a musical video by Sheryl Crow.  I have more photos of the swamp and a lot of stories I’ll get around too one day posting the stories and maybe even finishing the paintings.

Magnolia Tree At City Park Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

  Acrylic painting on paper of a Magnolia Tree at City Park in New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina.  The tree was destroyed by the hurricane and is no longer there. This painting is an interpretation of the Van Gogh “Chestnut Tree in Bloom”. Van Gogh painted his tree in 1890, this interpretation was done in 2003 by JK Schwehm, New Orleans artist. The artist did several interpretations of Van Gogh’s paintings using local New Orleans places. The print is sold on the web and can be purchased on cards and postcards at
 Many more prints, framed, canvas, smaller sizes at Fig Street Art Studio sold on the web and in the French Quarter at Arius Tiles on St Peter St.

Mississippi Queen Under The Hill in Natchez, MS Wednesday, Mar 25 2009 

Natchez is the oldest small town on the Mississippi river. Natchez was the first capital of the Mississippi Territory in 1798. Natchez Under The Hill was a boat landing established for the boats to unload and load. It was a rough spot with bars and boatmen for many years. In 1837 the merchants of the town of Natchez made an effort to clean up the area with the help of a storm finally the rough Under The Hill area tamed down. The Mississippi Queen was built in 1976 and has cruised along the mighty Mississippi river, it has been out of service but scheduled to begin trips  again soon. The painting was done from a photo taken while the boat was docked  Under the Hill taking on supplies.
The Mississippi Queen River Boat moored at Natchez, Ms under the Hill in 1998, painted by JK Schwehm, New orleans artist.  This acrylic painting can be purchased on the web printed on paper or canvas. The original not for sale it also appears on note cards and a book cover. Prints are available at

Prints on canvas available here-

Starry Night Riverboat print
Starry Night Riverboat by figstreetstudio
Browse all the other art on zazzle

Art Sales Tumble Friday, Mar 6 2009 

Listening to MSNBC and CNBC yesterday a commentator said to cut back on unnecessary spending, save, as things will get worse. I noticed with all the talk the last few months art sales have tumbled to about 40% of what they were last year this time. I am sure things are bad as we read about GM going belly up but I never did sell big ticket items that ate gasoline like I like to eat ice cream, several gallons a minute. I always lived responsible and never owned a big SUV gas guzzler, yatch, swimming pool, or condo in Spain. Although the condo in Spain does sound like a good idea now. My retirement acount is also about half its value now, but I am sure GW will have no problems with his retirement now. It feels good to point out to my friends all those wars cost us our savings, not his.
To combat the falling art sales I have discounted deeply and hope people see that art does not cost much, does not burn gasoline, sits comfortably on a wall and causes us to relax. Something we can do as our elected officials move forward to correct the past mistakes. I am turning off MSNBC and CNBC to save electricity in my part of cutting back. Only news I am interested in is art history and painting something new.  How about a portrait of your puppy?

History of Statue At Jackson Square Wednesday, Mar 4 2009 



Some years back I read in the local paper that someone was able to take the sword off the statue of Gen. Andrew Jackson and a new one had to be made. Lucky for us the statue in Jackson Square is one of three made by an American artist and the first equestrian statue to be done in the USA. Back then I had to go to the New Orleans Public Library to find out information on Clark Mills but today it is easier to research things about art and New Orleans using the Internet. Clark Mills (1810–83 born NY) was a self trained American sculptor who completely designed and cast the statue for Lafayette Square in 1853 at Washington, DC . The statue was so remarkable that a committee in New Orleans asked him to cast another for the Place D’Arms which upon dedication in 1856 was renamed Jackson Square. Eventually a total of three were cast, the one in Washington, DC, New Orleans and another near Jackson’s birthplace in Tennessee. Like most things I paint in New Orleans I always like to know more so when I paint it I can relate to it better. Lucky for me I have been able to visit each statue and will be in Washington, DC This summer to visit art there and will stop in Lafayette Square and see the original statue again.

 Did you know that Philadelphia also has the same statue of Joan of Art as in the French Quarter?


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