We had the great opportunity to visit a plantation while we were in New Orleans and there were quite a few to choose from. Marisa wanted to go to the Laura Plantation because she had heard the stories told in the tours were amazing.
The plantation house isn’t as majestic looking as the house at Oak Alley but it was still impressive. It was formed and created kind of like a prefabricated house. They cut the wood and planned how the house would be built. This picture shows the numbers carved into the support structures that were used to follow the plans for building the house,
The Laura Plantation is one of a series of plantations that were started along the Mississippi river as it approached New Orleans. It’s main crop was sugar cane and it’s main source of labor were slaves.
The house was set up to take advantage of the breeze that would flow from the Mississippi. The doors could be opened in a specific way that would allow a breeze to flow through the whole house.
There were a lot of interesting family stories and it was fascinating to hear about the rise and success of the plantation and then the subsequent fall.
A lot of the stories were about the Duparc family and the dynamics of how they interacted with each other as the farm was passed from generation to generation. There were some stories about the slaves although there wasn’t as much about them because there wasn’t a lot of written history from the slaves or about them. The main information available about the slaves was the inventories that were taken when farm ownership was passed down the generations. This is a list of slaves and their values.
It was heartbreaking to hear about the treatment of the slaves. Some of them left during the Civil War to fight with the Union, only to return to the plantation after the war because they didn’t know what else to do. The plantation did really well after slavery became illegal. The main reason was because the slaves didn’t know life outside the plantation so they didn’t leave. Prior to the war all of their necessities like food and housing were paid for. After the war the plantation owners paid them a wage but they would charge rent for housing and charge exorbitant rates for food and other necessities in plantation stores which allowed them to continue with slavery. It was sad but eye opening to hear about this.
Ancestors to the saves continued to work on the plantation and live in the same housing that there grandparents live in until the 1970’s when the plantation was finally shut down. I am glad that tourism continues to support these plantations so we can see their history and try to learn from the past.