(Mss. 2465)


Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2003

Revised 2011


SUMMARY .................................................................................................................................... 3
BIOGRAPHICAL/HISTORICAL NOTE ...................................................................................... 4
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE ................................................................................................... 4
INDEX TERMS .............................................................................................................................. 5
CONTAINER LIST ........................................................................................................................ 6
APPENDIX ..................................................................................................................................... 7

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103 items, 3 printed volumes

Geographic locations.

Jackson, Louisiana; Anacapri, Italy

Inclusive dates.

1846-1966, undated

Bulk dates.



English, Italian, French


Planter and physician of Jackson, Louisiana, and owner of property in Anacapri, Italy. Letters concern the education of John MacKowen and his brothers in New England schools, MacKowen's Confederate service during the Civil War, letters to MacKowen in French and Italian from friends in Europe, and correspondence and legal documents, mostly in Italian, relative to MacKowen’s ownership of the Blue Grotto on the Island of Capri.

Restrictions on access.

If microfilm is available, photocopies must be made from microfilm.

Related collections.

John McKowen Papers, Mss. 1353

John McKowen Papers, Mss. 1209

Elrie Robinson Collection. California Gold Rush Research Materials, Mss. 1369

McKowen-Lilley-Stirling Family Papers, Mss. 4356


Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


John Clay MacKowen Papers, Mss. 2465, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

Stack locations.

E:54; OS:M


John Clay MacKowen (1842-1902), an Irish American and son of John McKowen (1812-1871) of Castle Dawson, Ireland, and Mary Ann Langford of Woodville, Mississippi, was a planter and physician of Jackson, Louisiana. His siblings include Sarah Elizabeth McKowen Pipes, Alexander McKowen, William R. McKowen, and Thomas Chalmers McKowen. Both John and Alexander fought in the Confederate Army during the Civil War; Alexander was killed at Vicksburg. John was a lieutenant colonel in the 15th Louisiana Cavalry Regiment. He assisted in the capture of General Neal Dow at Port Hudson.

John Clay MacKowen graduated from Dartmouth College in 1866, became a doctor, and practiced medicine in Jackson, Louisiana, where he was appointed to the Board of Administrators of the Insane Asylum on February 28, 1866.

Beginning in the 1870s, MacKowen spent much of his time in Anacapri, Italy, where he owned a property called the Blue Grotto and had an illegitimate daughter, Giulia, who later married Giovanni Maresca. MacKowen died in 1901 when, during a return visit to Clinton, Louisiana, he was shot by a neighbor.


Letters and related items (1846-1896) concern the education of John C. MacKowen and his brothers in New England schools; MacKowen's Confederate military activities during the Civil War (1862-1864); deaths from cholera in Baton Rouge (October 18, 1866); and the education of African Americans in Louisiana by plantation ladies. Of note is a letter from William McKowen to his brother mentioning the secession of Louisiana and Mississippi (January 29, 1861) as well as a letter to William McKowen from Evan Harris discussing Reconstruction in Louisiana, contemplating what it means to be an American after the Civil War and commenting on the sad state of affairs in the South (November 29, 1867). Other papers (1897-1903) include letters to John C. MacKowen from friends in Ireland, France, and Italy. One letter from William Brown discusses politics and trade in Belfast (December 18, 1868). A number of letters, in Italian, concern MacKowen's ownership of the Blue Grotto property in Anacapri, sanitation in Anacapri, conflicts with local authorities, and MacKowen’s daughter, Giulia [see Appendix for more details of foreign language correspondence].

Printed materials include newspaper clippings (1851-1862) and pamphlets: "Catalogue of the officers and students of Dartmouth College" (1860), "Per il Sig. Giovanni Romano, imputato di falsa testimonianza in danno di Giovanni Mc Kowen" (1897), and "Centenary College of Louisiana" (ca. 1905).


African Americans--Education--Louisiana.

Blue Grotto (Italy)

Capri Island (Italy)--Sanitation.

Illegitimate children--Italy.

Ireland--Economic conditions.

Louisiana--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.

MacKowen, John C. (John Clay), 1842-1901.



Plantation life--Louisiana.

Reconstruction (U.S. history, 1865-1877)--Louisiana.










Correspondence and papers, 1846-1966


Newspaper clippings, 1851-1962


Printed volumes, 1860-1905




Newspaper: The Southern Mirror (Jackson, La.) October 16, 1851; certificates appointing William McKowen administrator of the insane asylum at Jackson, La. (1878), member of the board of administrators of the insane asylum at Jackson, La. (1879), commissioner of Louisiana to the Louisville Southern Exhibition (1883); plat of land in South Eastern District, La. (undated)


Description of foreign language materials



March 31, 1897 [Italian]

Statement of John Clay MacKowen in regard to legal controversy between himself and the civil authorities of Capri. He complains that the civil government and the mayor have violated his property rights and have failed to observe Italian laws regarding hygiene and the disposal of human waste. Frustrated by their efforts to force him to leave Capri, the municipal authorities of Anacapri have denounced MacKowen for the crime of “lese Majesty,” for having practiced medicine without a degree, and for abusive words against the municipal authorities and for attempting to bribe a witness. Reports cases presented at a hearing on this controversy before the “Procuratore” of the King. MacKowen reveals that the councilor employed by the municipal authorities is actually very closely involved with them, to the point where he has been able to dominate the affairs of Anacapri. MacKowen lists the offices held by this councilor (Giovanni Romano) in the municipal government of Anacapri. Mentions problems over property experienced by a Swedish doctor named Munthe. Requests that a royal commissioner be maintained at Anacapri to correct the abuses, which have occurred under the government of the mayor and municipal councilor of Anacapri.

April 1897


Statement of John Clay MacKowen to the Commandant of the Royal Gendarmerie in Sorrento concerning a false report given against him by the Anacapri Marshall Torelli. Describes relationship between this marshal and the mayor of Anacapri; Discusses problem of total lack of provision for hygiene in Anacapri. When MacKowen protested against this lack of sanitation, he was insulted by the marshal.

June 1, 1897 [Italian]

Deposition relating circumstances in which Giovanni Romano is supposed to have attempted to bribe a witness, Filomena Celentano, during a boat crossing from Capri to Naples. Names of witnesses given, By John Clay MacKowen.

Aug. 22, 1898 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Dr. Vincenzo Cuomo, Anacapri. Sends greetings from all MacKowen’s friends in Capri, says they are hoping to receive a letter from him and that his health has improved. Reports having followed progress of Spanish-American war, of having admired the force and energy of the Americans and the resistance of the Spanish. Congratulates MacKowen as an American. Reports on visit of mutual friends, and on death of another.

July 14, 1899 [French]

Letter to MacKowen from D’Espine, Fatio & Cie., Geneva. Writer [name illegible] offers his services to assure MacKowen and his partner, Arthur Cook, of their rights and profits from the Blue Grotto on Capri, as well as from



whatever other enterprises they undertake. Says he had undertaken a study of the nature of their rights. Requests information from MacKowen on the extent of the lands, which he owns, and the people whom he can contact in order to establish MacKowen’s rights there.

July 18, 1899 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Letter concerns question of value of Grotto lands, problem of boat landing zone.

Aug. 1899 [Italian]

Copy of deed of Grotto property to Arthur King, made by Lawyer Ajello.

Sept. 15, 1899 [Italian]

Document of John Clay MacKowen stating that the property, which he has held above the Blue Grotto, is henceforth to be held absolutely in common with Arthur King. Describes extent of land. Jackson, Louisiana.

Oct. 26, 1899 [French]

Letter to MacKowen from A. Laurent Cochelet, Margency. Apologies for not having written for so long a time. Remarks on the fact that MacKowen is no longer at the head of the Council of Health in New Orleans. Mentions his own activities in Paris and in country.

Dec. 8, 1899 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Dr. Vincenzo Cuomo, Anacapri. Tells of a trip he made to Germany accompanying another man who was afflicted with a cardiac problem who went there for a cure; visited Hamburg then stayed near Frankfurt, then to Baden-Baden, where they met a member of the Krupp (munitions) family. Tells of his marriage, of his honeymoon trip to Pompeii, of having completed the construction of his house.

July 1, 1900 [French]

Letter to MacKowen from Raoul Ponroy, Chateauroux, France. Congratulates MacKowen on the marriage of his daughter Giulia and asks MacKowen to send her his good wishes. Writes of the importance of strong moral beliefs in young people, who lack the judgment of older people. It is necessary to give them a good education in moral matters in order to prevent them from falling into misery. Speaks of his family and his activities. His plans to go to Paris with his daughters to see the Exposition, the plan of his daughter to go on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, social life; comments on MacKowen’s having been made a member of the scientific “Institut National” for his role in the diagnosis of yellow fever. Mentions not having revealed to his daughters the circumstances of Giulia’s existence [being MacKowen’s illegitimate child]. Asks that he be informed if MacKowen becomes a grandfather. Describes some photographs, which he has sent MacKowen.

Aug. 7, 1900 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Dr. Vincenzo Cuomo, Anacapri. Says he is somewhat concerned because he has not received a letter from MacKowen. Asks if MacKowen’s gout has improved; reports that his wife is pregnant; comments with horror on the assassination of King Umberto.



Oct. 4, 1900 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Dr. Vincenzo Cuomo, Anacapri. Comments on MacKowen’s poor health; says he had planned to go to the Paris Exposition but the poor health of a son and of his wife prevent it. Reports that MacKowen’s daughter is happy in her marriage.

Dec. 12, 1900 [French]

Letter to MacKowen from Raoul Ponroy, Chateauroux. Wished MacKowen a happy new year. Comments on the death of the husband of MacKowen’s sister. Reports that his eldest daughter is about to make him a grandfather, and comments on her activities. Comments on some photographs which he has sent MacKowen, comments on the difficulty of hiding MacKowen’s daughter Giulia’s illegitimate origin from his daughters. Tells of hunting conditions and experiences.

Jan. 11, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Reports on procedures necessary to affect the sale of MacKowen’s property on Capri. MacKowen wishes to sell his part of the property to his partner, Arthur King.

Jan. 18, 1901

Receipts for payment of tax to register for sale MacKowen’s property in Capri on March 17, 1899 and for payment of the right to transfer this property, 2 items, Sorrento.

Jan. 18, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Dr. Vincenzo Cuomo, Anacapri. Reports having given MacKowen’s daughter his check. Hopes MacKowen’s health is improving from the gout. Sends greetings from MacKowen’s friends on Capri. Reports that his wife is suffering from her pregnancy, but will soon deliver.

Jan. 31, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from the Royal Italian Consulate in New Orleans. Reports that MacKowen’s act of restoration [?] is illegal under Italian law unless witnessed by two other people or else notarized.

March 16, 1901 [Italian]

Receipt for payment of tax on property on Capri by Giulia [MacKowen] Cimino. Sorrento.

Feb. 1, 1901 [Italian]

Document from the Registry Office in Sorrento as receipt for registration and transfer of property.

Feb. 24, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Informs MacKowen that he has registered MacKowen’s land on Capri for sale. Describes the nature and extent of those lands.

March 22, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to Signora Cimino from V. Meyeren, Capri. He asks her to send a letter from him to MacKowen, in America, giving Meyeren’s conditions for the rent of MacKowen’s house on Capri.



March 27, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Discusses legal problems concerning MacKowen’s efforts to sell his Capri property.

April 16, 1901 [Italian]

Document of mortgage issued by the “Conservazione delle Ipoteche de Napoli,” written in New Orleans, before the royal consulate of Italy. Registration of MacKowen’s property on Capri for sale and copy; 2 items.

June 13, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Giovanni Maresca, Massalubrense. Concerns activities of his wife, Giulia (MacKowen’s daughter) and their financial dealings.

June 18, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Concerns status of MacKowen’s property on Capri.

June, 1901


Letter to MacKowen from his daughter Giulia Maresca, Massalubrense. Reports on the completion of sale of some of MacKowen’s property.

Aug. 2, 1901 [Italian]

Letter to MacKowen from Pietro Ajello, Lawyer, Naples. Concerns progress of sale of MacKowen’s property.

April 2, 1902 [Italian]

Receipts to William R. McKowen for notarization of a document at the Royal Italian Consulate in New Orleans.



Sample of document to be made by William R. McKowen giving power of attorney to Maria Cimino for administration of property for Giulia Cimino [MacKowen] Maresca. Property now owned by William R. McKowen.



Document giving Maria Cimino right to sell property of William R. McKowen, the proceeds of which are to go to Giulia Maresca.

Sept. 2, 1966 [Italian]

Photocopy of document form the Commune of Anacapri, stating date and circumstances of birth of MacKowen’s daughter, Giulia Cimino, date of her death, property which she owned, address of one of her sons, and approximate value of her property,



Protest of John C. MacKowen against the violation of sanitary laws around his property in Capri, and consequent legal imbroglio with Capri authorities.



Deposition from John C. MacKowen concerning his legal difficulties with the civil authorities on Capri.



Statements by John C. MacKowen concerning his legal difficulties with the civil authorities on Capri.