Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana (Paperback)

Finding Octave: The Untold Story of Two Creole Families and Slavery in Louisiana By Nick Douglas Cover Image
Ask a Bookseller about this title


With a flash of recognition, the author meets the gaze of his ancestor in a sepia-toned photo. Knowing next to nothing about this man, his great-great-grandfather Octave, he follows two families that lead to his own. On a journey stretching from Haiti to India, and back to the 16th century, the author's adventures strangely echo those of his ancestors. Finding Octave reveals an American history erased and forgotten, even by descendants of those who lived it. It tells of ancestors who influenced the flowering of jazz, the birth of the 15th Amendment, the love life of an empress and the legacy of Simon Bolivar-and a landmark battle to overturn segregation. And it tells the story of Octave Pavageau, the stylish, French-speaking father of eight whose heritage led to both hurtful elitism and path-breaking activism. In Finding Octave, we find Basil Crocker, mathematician, builder, and dandy. A master swordsman in a time of increasing white hostility and attacks, Crocker became New Orleans' most sought-after fencing instructor. Emile Angeletty, a black Catholic in Mississippi, resisted a Church plan to segregate worshippers. He and other Catholics started the Holy Family Parish in Natchez, and upheld more tolerant practices. Adele Pavageau was a New Orleans land magnate, Octave's aunt, and an international businesswoman.This is not another American history of black slaves and dominant whites. Finding Octave finds an America where "free people of color"-unfettered blacks, Indians and Creoles-had power and wealth that whites struggled to claim as their own. In this pre-Civil War America, blacks negotiated their own freedom from slavery. Some chose to be slaveholders themselves. Confronting the terrible truth about slavery within his family, the author uncovers an American secret. Born of the harmony of different worlds and peoples, Octave's Creole legacy is a source of enduring strength. His relatives were confident world citizens, and proud of their ancestry. They travelled widely, conducted international trade, and defined themselves as black, white or Creole as it suited them. They gravitated to city life, forming collaborative urban networks that infused New Orleans with artistic innovators, dynamic entrepreneurs, an array of social services, and crusades for social change. Join the author of Finding Octave to discover "the vigor, heart and tenacity of my ancestors and other people of color, the vitality and determination essential to what America still can be.

About the Author

Nick Douglas is an MBA with a background in international business. He grew up in a multi-generational Creole home in Oakland, California. He is a contributor to the AFROPUNK blog where he writes a regular feature called "Know Your Black History."

Product Details
ISBN: 9781493522088
ISBN-10: 1493522086
Publisher: Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: November 13th, 2013
Pages: 330
Language: English