Friday, January 27, 2012

The Big Easy-Part Deux-Plantation Life

We visited two plantations while we were in New Orleans.  The first was a Creole plantation called Laura.  In 1804, the Frenchman, Guillaume Benjamin Demeziere Duparc, a naval officer from the America Revolution, petitioned Thomas Jefferson to receive land.  Jefferson secured Duparc's loyalty to the U.S. by granting him land along the Mississippi River.  Duparc was at the plantation for only 4 years, dying in 1808, just three years after the house was built.  The Duparc Plantation was located on unusually high ground with adjacent parcels of land and the sugar cane plantation was expanded to over 12,000 acres.

This is the front of the plantation house.  Creole homes were very colorful.

The raised basement held tools and storage.  Many of the original artifacts remain today.

These large jugs were filled with perishable items and buried in the ground up to the neck to keep the foods cool. 

The main home was built of large timbers that were placed together with tongue and groove.  No nails were ever used. 

Louisiana Creole is a blending of three different ethnic influences; West European, West African, and Native American, and it was a thriving culture before Louisiana became a part of the United States.  The Creole functioned as an elitist structure based on family ties. The Duparc daughter, Elizabeth, married into the Locoul family and it didn't take long before she was in charge.  Creole women were considered very strong and highly regarded in business matters.  Elizabeth ruled with an iron hand and no one, family or slaves, disobeyed.  Over time, the property presidency was passed on to following generations but it was always to a daughter rather than to sons, even if they were older.  Laura, born in1861, was the fourth generation Locoul to own the plantation and it was eventually named after her.  But as an adult Laura preferred to live in New Orleans so the property was sold in 1891.  

The dining room of the home.

The office from where the women ran the business.

A bedroom and birthing room.

A formal garden area for the plantation owners.

The back of the house led out to the garden.  There used to be L wings at each side of the house but they were eventually torn down. 


One of the Duparc women married a Frenchman who owned a vineyard so they started selling wine as an additional business.  Sixty thousand cases of wine were sold each year from the plantation.  Notice the edging around the plants in the garden. They used wine bottles to define the plantings.

The garden was used to grow everything including bananas.

The slave quarters included a slave infirmary, 69 cabins, communal kitchens and several wells.  Each slave cabin was occupied by two families sharing a double fireplace.  Near each cabin was a vegetable garden plus a chicken coop.  There was a ladder outside the cabin where the slaves could climb up into the attic in the winter time for more warmth.   The work was very hard and each day started at 3:30 AM.

These were some of the slave quarters.

This is what one slave family would live in.

Another view of the slave family's one room quarters.

A registry of slaves who lived on the plantation.  It lists their name, age, where they came from, their occupation, and their value.


One page of a long listing of rules on the treatment of slaves in Louisiana.

Here are some pictures of the slaves that lived and worked on this plantation.  Everyone looks very tired and sad.

Our next plantation was called Oak Alley Plantation.  In the early 1700's an unknown settler planted twenty-eight evenly spaced oak trees leading from his cottage to the Mississippi River.  In 1839, Jacques Roman, a wealthy Creole sugar cane planter lured his young bride from New Orleans to the plantation by building a spectacular mansion.  The Live Oak trees are believed to be 100 years older than the "Big House" making them three hundred years old now.

How's that for an entranceway.

The base of just one of the Live Oaks.

A formal sitting room where young beaus came to visit.

Another view of the formal sitting room.

The main hallway.

The dining room.  Notice the red contraption hanging over the table.  This was used as a fan to keep the guests cool and the bugs away.  A young slave would have to sit in a chair and pull a rope for hours while the guests dined.  He had to make sure the fan was going fast enough to cool the diners but no so fast it would blow out the candles on the table.

The main entrance from the second floor landing.

One of the bedrooms.  The mattresses were made out of horse hair and some type of plant.  After a night's sleep the bed would be lumpy so the slaves had to use the rolling pin on the bed to fluff up the mattress.  It took several hours to do each bed.  

This was the children's room where the owner's three children slept.  A maid would sit up all night to protect the children in case an animal crawled in through a window.

The master bedroom chandelier.

The master bedroom.

Another bedroom in the mansion.

A view from the front entraceway out to the road.

Some of the many formal gardens on the plantation.

After the tour they were serving mint juleps so we had to try one.
Almost as good as a Hurricane.  Honest, it was my first one..........

And that is it for New Orleans.  Even spending a week there we barely saw half of the sights so we will be coming back again.  Our next stop is Waveland, MS, right on the Gulf of Mexico.  Peace to all.

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