Louisiana is a state in the Deep South region of the South Central United States. It is the 25th most populous of the 50 United States. Louisiana is bordered by the state of Texas to the west, Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, the Gulf of Mexico to the south. A large part of its eastern boundary is demarcated by the Mississippi River. Louisiana is the only U. S. state with political subdivisions termed parishes. The state's capital is Baton Rouge, its largest city is New Orleans. Much of the state's lands were formed from sediment washed down the Mississippi River, leaving enormous deltas and vast areas of coastal marsh and swamp; these contain a rich southern biota. There are many species of tree frogs, fish such as sturgeon and paddlefish. In more elevated areas, fire is a natural process in the landscape, has produced extensive areas of longleaf pine forest and wet savannas; these support an exceptionally large number of plant species, including many species of terrestrial orchids and carnivorous plants.
Louisiana has more Native American tribes than any other southern state, including four that are federally recognized, ten that are state recognized, four that have not received recognition. Some Louisiana urban environments have a multicultural, multilingual heritage, being so influenced by a mixture of 18th-century French, Spanish, Native American, African cultures that they are considered to be exceptional in the US. Before the American purchase of the territory in 1803, present-day Louisiana State had been both a French colony and for a brief period a Spanish one. In addition, colonists imported numerous African people as slaves in the 18th century. Many came from peoples of the same region of West Africa. In the post-Civil War environment, Anglo-Americans increased the pressure for Anglicization, in 1921, English was for a time made the sole language of instruction in Louisiana schools before a policy of multilingualism was revived in 1974. There has never been an official language in Louisiana, the state constitution enumerates "the right of the people to preserve and promote their respective historic and cultural origins."
Louisiana was named after Louis XIV, King of France from 1643 to 1715. When René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle claimed the territory drained by the Mississippi River for France, he named it La Louisiane; the suffix -ana is a Latin suffix that can refer to "information relating to a particular individual, subject, or place." Thus Louis + ana carries the idea of "related to Louis." Once part of the French Colonial Empire, the Louisiana Territory stretched from present-day Mobile Bay to just north of the present-day Canada–United States border, including a small part of what is now the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The Gulf of Mexico did not exist 250 million years ago when there was but one supercontinent, Pangea; as Pangea split apart, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico opened. Louisiana developed, over millions of years, from water into land, from north to south; the oldest rocks are exposed in areas such as the Kisatchie National Forest. The oldest rocks date back to the early Cenozoic Era, some 60 million years ago.
The history of the formation of these rocks can be found in D. Spearing's Roadside Geology of Louisiana; the youngest parts of the state were formed during the last 12,000 years as successive deltas of the Mississippi River: the Maringouin, Teche, St. Bernard, the modern Mississippi, now the Atchafalaya; the sediments were carried from north to south by the Mississippi River. In between the Tertiary rocks of the north, the new sediments along the coast, is a vast belt known as the Pleistocene Terraces, their age and distribution can be related to the rise and fall of sea levels during past ice ages. In general, the northern terraces have had sufficient time for rivers to cut deep channels, while the newer terraces tend to be much flatter. Salt domes are found in Louisiana, their origin can be traced back to the early Gulf of Mexico, when the shallow ocean had high rates of evaporation. There are several hundred salt domes in the state. Salt domes are important not only as a source of salt. Louisiana is bordered to the west by Texas.
The state may properly be divided into two parts, the uplands of the north, the alluvial along the coast. The alluvial region includes low swamp lands, coastal marshlands and beaches, barrier islands that cover about 20,000 square miles; this area lies principally along the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River, which traverses the state from north to south for a distance of about 600 mi ) and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The breadth of the alluvial region along the Mississippi is from 10 to 60 miles, along the other rivers, the alluvial region averages about 10 miles across; the Mississippi River flows along a ridge formed by its own natural deposits, from which the lands decline toward a river beyond at an average fall of six feet per mile. The alluvial lands along other streams present similar features; the higher and contiguous hill lands of the north and northwestern part of the state have an area of more than 25,000 square miles. They consist of prairie and woodl
Melrose Plantation known as Yucca Plantation, is a National Historic Landmark in Natchitoches Parish in north central Louisiana. This is one of the largest plantations in the United States built for free blacks; the land was granted to Louis Metoyer, who had the "Big House" built beginning about 1832. He was a son of Marie Therese Coincoin, a former slave who became a wealthy businesswoman in the area, Claude Thomas Pierre Métoyer; the house was completed in 1833 after Louis' death by his son Jean Baptiste Louis Metoyer. The Metoyers were free people of color for four generations before the American Civil War; the Association for Preservation of Historic Natchitoches owns the plantation and provides guided tours. Some early twentieth-century traditions associated with the plantation, such as its first owner and origins of architectural style, have been disproved by historic research since the 1970s. An archaeological excavation begun in 2001 has revealed more evidence about the early history of the site, its owners and construction.
In 2008, the state included Melrose Plantation among the first 26 sites on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. Real estate broker Robert Andrew Wolf, Jr. of Alexandria and his partner, John Wasson designed the current Melrose Plantation structure. They sold the building in 1970. Wolf was a past president of the Alexandria-Pineville Board of Realtors and in 1984 was named "Realtor of the Year". In 1974, the National Park Service described the site as follows, based on historical knowledge at the time: Established in the late 18th century by Marie Therese Coincoin, a former slave who became a wealthy businesswoman, the grounds of Yucca Plantation contain what may well be the oldest buildings of African design built by Blacks, for the use of Blacks, in the country; the Africa House, a unique, nearly square structure with an umbrella-like roof which extends some 10 feet beyond the exterior walls on all four sides, may be of direct African derivation. Buildings include the main house, the Yucca House, the Ghana House, the Africa House, plus some outbuildings.
The plantation was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974. Since the 1970s, additional documentary evidence has been found that disproves the asserted identity of the founder. In addition, no evidence has been found to support the tradition that the property was named Yucca Plantation. Early twentieth-century owners named the extant buildings as part of promoting the plantation as a cultural center. A 2002 study of Creole building practices showed that there was no evidence of African traditions in the architecture; the so-called Ghana House is a simple log cabin type common in the area. Africa House has been shown to be of design and building techniques similar to French rural structures of the time. Historical investigations from the 1970s, together with an archaeological investigation that began at Melrose Plantation in 2001, have uncovered evidence that both confirm some aspects and challenge other elements of local tradition about the complex. Research shows conclusively, through original contemporary records, that the core tract of 911 acres was granted in 1796 to Coincoin's second son, Louis Metoyer, not to Coincoin.
As the children of a French-American father and African mother and his siblings were considered multiracial "Créoles of color." Similar to the Metoyer siblings, many multiracial Creoles became educated property owners in New Orleans and the Cane River and Campti areas of Natchitoches. Although not freed by his white father until 1802, Metoyer evaded Louisiana's Code Noir that prohibited enslaved men from being granted land; this was due to his father's wealth and standing. Contrary to the 1970s-era assessment of the property, which dated the construction of Louis Metoyer's first residence to the mid-1790s, review of three land surveys of 1813 show that Louis Metoyer's residence was south of the Red River, it was at the eastern edge of the plantation settled by his elder brother Augustin Metoyer. The archeology study of European ceramic ware at the Yucca House site south of the river suggests it was first occupied after 1810. Augustin Metoyer and his brother Louis were notable for founding and building the St. Augustine Parish Church in Natchez, the first in the state built by free people of color.
The plantation is significant for its long occupancy by the Metoyer family, prominent in Isle Brevelle, a strong center of the "Creoles of color" community. Construction began on the "Big House" at Melrose before the 11 March 1832 death of Louis Metoyer, his son Jean Baptiste Louis Metoyer completed the construction in 1833. At J. B. L.'s death in 1838, his $112,761 estate was divided between his young widow Marie-Susanne "Susette" Metoyer and a minor son, neither with any experience in financial matters. Amid the financial depression that followed the Panic of 1837, the mother and son fell into debt. After the mother emancipated the teenaged Théophile Louis Metoyer from the disabilities of minority, creditors filed a series of lawsuits; the Louis Metoyer Plantation went on the auction block. On 22 March 1847, the Louis Metoyer plantation was struck off at $8,340 to the highest bidder, the French Créole brothers Hypolite Hertzog and Henry Hertzog—with the latter acting as agent for his sister Jeanne Fanny Bossier.
The Hertzogs and Bossier operated a cotton plantation, in partnership, until 1880. Like most planters of the region in the wake of the American Civil War and Reconstruction, they struggled financially and were able to do little to impr
Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana
Natchitoches Parish is a parish located in the U. S. state of Louisiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 39,566; the parish seat is Natchitoches. The parish was formed in 1805; the Natchitoches, LA Micropolitan Statistical Area includes all of Natchitoches Parish. This is the heart of the Cane River Louisiana Creole community, free people of color of mixed-race descent who settled here in the antebellum period, their descendants continue to be Catholic and many are still French speaking. The Cane River National Heritage Area includes the parish. Among the numerous significant historic sites in the parish is the St. Augustine Parish Church, a destination on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail, founded in 2008. Including extensive outbuildings at Magnolia and Oakland plantations, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park interprets the history and culture of the Louisiana Creoles, it is on the Heritage Trail. Natchitoches Parish was created by the act of April 10, 1805 that divided the Territory of Orleans into twelve parishes, including Orleans, Iberville and Natchitoches.
The parish boundaries were much larger than now defined, but were reduced as new parishes were organized following population increases in the state. The parishes of Caddo, Bossier, Webster, DeSoto, Jackson, Red River and Grant were formed from Natchitoches' enormous territory. Natchitoches Parish has had fifteen border revisions, making it second only to Ouachita parish in number of boundary revisions. During the antebellum period, numerous large cotton plantations were developed in this area, worked by enslaved African Americans; the parish population was majority enslaved by the time of the Civil War. There was a large mixed-race population of free Creoles of color. Among the institutions they founded was the St. Augustine Parish Church, built in 1829, it is a destination on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail. In May 1861 free men of color in the area known as Isle Brevelle began to organize two militia companies. Other free men of color of Campti and that area enlisted in the Confederate Army in the war, it is believed were accepted into a predominately white company because of their longstanding acceptance in the community.
Many of the free people of color were related to longtime white families in the parish, who acknowledged them. After the war, during Reconstruction and after, there was white violence against freedmen and their sympathizers blacks in the aftermath of emancipation and establishing a free labor system. Most planters continued to rely on cotton as a commodity crop, although the market declined, adding to area problems. In the late 19th century, a timber industry developed in some areas. Since the late 20th century, the parish has developed considerable heritage tourism, it attracts people for fishing and other sports, including spring training on Cane River Lake by several university teams. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, the parish has a total area of 1,299 square miles, of which 1,252 square miles is land and 47 square miles is water, it is the fourth-largest parish by land area in Louisiana. The primary groundwater resources of Natchitoches Parish, from near surface to deepest, include the Red River alluvial, upland terrace and Carrizo-Wilcox aquifers.
As of the 2010 United States Census, there were 39,566 people residing in the parish. 54.3% were White, 41.4% Black or African American, 1.0% Native American, 0.3% Asian, 0.9% of some other race and 2.1% of two or more races. 1.9% were Hispanic or Latino. As of the census of 2000, there were 39,080 people, 14,263 households, 9,499 families residing in the parish; the population density was 31 people per square mile. There were 16,890 housing units at an average density of 14 per square mile; the racial makeup of the parish was 57.85% White, 38.43% Black or African American, 1.08% Native American, 0.44% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.92% from other races, 1.27% from two or more races. 1.45% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race. There were 14,263 households out of which 33.00% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.30% were married couples living together, 17.70% had a female householder with no husband present, 33.40% were non-families. 27.10% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.90% had someone living alone, 65 years of age or older.
The average household size was 2.56 and the average family size was 3.14. In the parish the population was spread out with 26.00% under the age of 18, 17.90% from 18 to 24, 24.30% from 25 to 44, 19.70% from 45 to 64, 12.10% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 30 years. For every 100 females there were 90.60 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.80 males. The median income for a household in the parish was $25,722, the median income for a family was $32,816. Males had a median income of $29,388 versus $19,234 for females; the per capita income for the parish was $13,743. About 20.90% of families and 26.50% of the population were below the poverty line, including 32.70% of those under age 18 and 19.00% of those age 65 or over. Until the late 20th century, Natchitoches Parish was reliably Democratic in most competitive elections, but the party affiliations have changed and, like much of the rest of the South, have a distinct ethnic and demographic character. Since African Americans achieved certain gains under civil rights legislation and have been enabled to vote again since the late 1960s, they have supported the Democratic Party.
Most white conservatives have left that
Cane River Lake
Cane River Lake is a 35 mi oxbow lake formed from a portion of the Red River in Natchitoches Parish, United States. It runs throughout the Natchitoches' historic district to the south and is famous for the numerous plantations Melrose being located on or near its banks; the lake was publicized between 1966 and 1979 by the nationally known outdoorsman Grits Gresham, host of ABC's The American Sportsman and author of numerous books and columns on hunting and guns. The American historian, Henry C. Dethloff, grew up on Cane River and as a youth swam the entire width of the stream underwater. Cane River National Heritage Area Cane River Creole National Historical Park Marathon Rowing Championship Cane River Lake History Cane River Creole National Park
Natchitoches is a small city and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish, United States. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the indigenous Natchitoches people; the City of Natchitoches was not incorporated until after Louisiana had become a state, on February 5, 1819. It is the oldest permanent settlement in the region. Natchitoches' sister city is Texas, it is the location of Northwestern State University. Natchitoches was established in 1714 by French explorer Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, it is the oldest permanent European settlement within the borders of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Natchitoches was founded as a French outpost on the Red River for trade with Spanish-controlled Mexico; the post was established near a village of Natchitoches Indians. Early settlers were French Catholic creoles. French creoles acquired lands that were developed in the antebellum years as cotton-producing Magnolia Plantation and Oakland Plantation.
Each is designated as a National Historic Landmark. After the United States' Louisiana Purchase of 1803, migration into the territory increased from the US. Natchitoches grew along with the population in the parish; the Americans were of English and Scots-Irish ancestry and of Protestant faith. They developed several cotton plantations along the Red River. Numerous enslaved African Americans were brought to the area through the domestic slave trade to work the cotton, provide all other skills on these plantations, generating the revenues for the wealthy planters before the Civil War. In the 1820s and early 1830s, Natchitoches served as a freight transfer point for cotton shipped from parts of east Texas. Cotton shippers used a land route crossing the Sabine River to Natchitoches, where the freight was transferred to boats, floated down the Red River to New Orleans; when the course of the Red River shifted, it bypassed Natchitoches and cut off its lucrative connection with the Mississippi River.
A 33-mile oxbow lake was left in the river's previous location. This became known as Cane River Lake. During the Civil War, Natchitoches was set on fire by Union soldiers who retreated through the town after their failed attempt to capture Shreveport. Confederate cavalry pursued the fleeing soldiers and arrived in time to help extinguish the flames before the town was destroyed. Alexandria was destroyed by Union troops in 1864, but both Union and Confederate troops were responsible for damaging plantations along the river during the war, including Magnolia and Oakland. In the spring of 1863, Confederate General Richard Taylor and his men passed through Natchitoches en route to Shreveport. Andrew W. Hyatt, one of Taylor's line officers, wrote in his diary: "reaching the banks of Cane River.... We are now on a regular race from the enemy, are bound for Grand Ecore...." Three days on May 11, 1863, Hyatt penned: "We have now retreated 280 miles. Natchitoches is quite a'town,' and the galleries were crowded with pretty women, who waved us a kind reception as we passed through town."Around Natchitoches and its environs, 12,556 bales of Confederate cotton were stored.
A match factory opened in the city during the war. The residents of Natchitoches engaged in fund-raising activities to relieve the destitute during the war. Historian John D. Winters observed, "Eggnog parties and other social affairs during the Christmas holiday season lifted the morale of civilians as well as that of the soldiers." As the parish seat, Natchitoches suffered from the decline in agricultural population through the mid-20th century, grew at a markedly lower rate after 1960. The mechanization of agriculture had reduced the number of workers needed, many moved to cities for jobs. By the early 1970s, the town's businesses were declining, along with many area farms, buildings were boarded up. In the mid-1970s, Mayor Bobby DeBlieux and other preservationists believed that attracting tourists to the area, based on its historic assets of nearly intact plantations and numerous historic buildings, could be a key to attracting visitors, reviving the town, stimulating new businesses. Over the years, he worked with a variety of landowners and local people to gain support for designating an historic district in the city.
He supported making a national park out of the working area of Magnolia Plantation, which had many surviving outbuildings from the 19th century, from Oakland Plantation, both downriver in the parish. By the end of the 20th century, the mile-long French colonial area of downtown, which lies along Cane Lake, was designated as a National Historic District. Many buildings were adapted as antique shops and souvenir emporiums. To accommodate tourists, the town had the most in the state. By 2018, that number had increased to 50; the plantation country surrounds Cane River Lake. The markedly intact downriver Magnolia and Oakland plantations were designated as National Historic Landmarks, are part of what has been developed as the Cane River Creole National Historical Park, authorized in 1994, with the support of US Senator J. Bennett Johnston, he was a cousin by marriage of Betty Hertzog, the last of the family to live in the great house at Magnolia. Tours and interpretive programs at both sites continue to attract visitors as they grapple with telling the difficult history of slavery and its aftermath at the plantations.
They cover the contributions of blacks and Creoles of color to the community. Since the late 20th ce
Creoles of color
The Creoles of color are a historic ethnic group of Creole people that developed in the former French and Spanish colonies of Louisiana, Southern Mississippi and Northwestern Florida in what is now the United States. French colonists in Louisiana first used the term "Creole" to refer to whites born in the colony, rather than in France, it was used for slaves born in the colony. But as a group of mixed-race people developed from unions between Europeans and Native Americans, the term Creoles of color was applied to them. In some cases, white fathers would free their concubines and children, forming a class of Gens de couleur libres; the French and Spanish gave them more rights than the slaves. Mixed-race Creoles of color became identified as a distinct ethnic group, Gens de couleur libres, prior to the 19th century. During Louisiana's colonial period, Créole referred to people born in Louisiana whose ancestors had come from elsewhere; the term Créole was first used by French colonists to distinguish themselves from foreign-born settlers, as distinct from Anglo-American settlers.
Colonial documents show that the term Créole was used variously at different times to refer to white people, mixed-race people, black people, including slaves. Many Creoles of color were free, their descendants enjoyed many of the same privileges that whites did, including property ownership, formal education, service in the militia. During the antebellum period, their society was structured along class lines and they tended to marry within their group. While it was not illegal, it was a social taboo for Creoles of color to marry slaves and it was a rare occurrence; some of the wealthier and prosperous Creoles of color owned slaves themselves. Other Creoles of color, such as Thomy Lafon, used their social position to support the abolitionist cause. Another Creole of color, wealthy planter Francis E. Dumas, emancipated all of his slaves in 1863 and organized them into a company in the Second Regiment of the Louisiana Native Guards, in which he served as an officer; some historians suggest that New Orleans was the cradle of the civil rights movement in the United States, due to the earliest efforts of Creoles to integrate the military en masse.
Creoles of Color had been members of the militia for decades under both French and Spanish control of the colony of Louisiana. For example, around 80 free Creoles of Color were recruited into the militia that participated in the Battle of Baton Rouge in 1779. After the United States made the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 and acquired the large territory west of the Mississippi, the Creoles of color in New Orleans volunteered their services and pledged their loyalty to their new country, they took an oath of loyalty to William C. C. Claiborne, the Louisiana Territorial Governor appointed by President Thomas Jefferson. Months after the colony became part of the United States, Claiborne's administration was faced with a dilemma unknown in the U. S.. In a February 20, 1804 letter, Secretary of War Henry Dearborn wrote to Claiborne saying, "…it would be prudent not to increase the Corps, but to diminish, if it could be done without giving offense…" A decade the militia of color that remained volunteered to take up arms when the British began landing troops on American soil outside of New Orleans in December 1814.
This was the commencement of the Battle of New Orleans. After the Louisiana Purchase, many Creoles of color lost their favorable social status, despite their service to the militia and their social status prior to the U. S. takeover. The territory and New Orleans became the destination of many migrants from the United States, as well as new immigrants. Migrants from the South imposed their caste system. In this new caste system, all people with African ancestry or visible African features were classified as black, therefore categorized as second class citizens, regardless of their education, property ownership, or previous status in French society. Former free Creoles of Color were relegated to the ranks of emancipated slaves. With the advantage of having been better educated than the new freedmen, many Creoles of color were active in the struggle for civil rights and served in political office during Reconstruction, helping to bring freedmen into the political system. During late Reconstruction, white Democrats regained political control of state legislatures across the former Confederate states by intimidation of blacks and other Republicans at the polls.
Through the late nineteenth century, they worked to impose white supremacy under Jim Crow laws and customs. They disfranchised the majority of blacks by creating barriers to voter registration through devices such as poll taxes, literacy tests, grandfather clauses, etc. stripping African Americans, including Creoles of color, of political power. Creoles of color were among the African Americans who were limited when the U. S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, deciding that "separate but equal" accommodations were constitutional, it permitted states to impose Jim Crow rules on federal railways and interstate buses. More than a century social change had reversed much of its two-century eclipse. On June 14, 2013 Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal signed into law Act 276, creating the "prestige" license plate stating "I'm Creole", in honor of the Creoles' contributions and heritage. In the 21st century, the term Louisiana Creole people, or Creole refers to people of mixed-race and descendants of the early Catholic cult