A Creole Plantation, Vacherie, LA
Prior to the Civil War, more than half of America’s millionaires lived between New Orleans and Natchez, along the Mississippi River.
Many plantation homes have been destroyed, but also many were saved. This Laura Plantation house was built in 1805, but according to my tour guide the plantation itself predates the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Laura was a five thousand hectare sugar plantation, with a six kilometer road lined with sixty-nine slave cabins, six of which remain. Laura was a functioning plantation into the twentieth century, with some slave cabins occupied as recently as 1977.
The life of a slave changed significantly after the French sold the territory. The French had rules, one of which was that nobody was allowed to work on Sunday. If work was required, the slave would be paid.
In French Louisiana, only Catholics were permitted to have slaves, and all slaves had to raised Catholic. Saves had to be provided with food, shelter and clothing, and could be punished, even severely.
When the US took over Louisiana, slaves lost any slight protections that they had.
It was here, at Laura Plantation, that the west African folktales of Compair Lapin were first recorded, in the 1870’s, to be known in English as B’rer Rabbit.
Tours of the home and grounds are available daily, in both English and French.
Here’s a YouTube video showing a tour of the Laura Plantation from 2012.