Our Bus Driver / Guide was very knowledgeable about the NO area and in particular the Creole peoples and their culture. He very eloquently talked non-stop on the drive to and from the plantation. At one point we worried that he was not paying enough attention to his driving - but we survived!
The Laura Plantation is special as archivists discovered the memoirs of a descendant of the original Creole family who built and farmed the sugar cane (white gold they called it) crop on this plantation. Four generations of this founding Creole family worked this plantation from 1805 to 1892 - when Laura (wanting to escape the Creole plantation lifestyle) sold out to a German family. Laura's Father named the property after her in an attempt to soften her resolve to leave and entice her to remain and manage the business. It didn't work. She not only left, but she married a Protestant out of St. Louis to boot! Laura wrote her memoirs in the mid 1930's when she was 74 years old - mainly out of a desire to preserve an accurate account of Creole plantation life and culture and to clarify misconceptions prevailing at the time with the filming of "Gone With the Wind". Laura died in 1963 at the ripe old age of 102! Her memoirs were not discovered for another 30 years - but now provide valuable insight to the restoration of the original buildings that are open to the public.
|A home in the midst of swamps and marshes - as we were driving to the plantation. We saw this as we first entered the NO area as well. The beginning of 'lots of water'.|
|Interstate 10 over and above the Bayou's, swamps and marshes!|
|One of only about 8 plantations still in existence along River Road that is being restored.|
|A copper pot used during the sugar cane harvest to reduce the sugar can into marketable product!|
|A earthen vessel like what would have been used at Laura. The outside is not glazed - as this vessel would be buried in the ground - up to where the neck is glazed - and this served as a cooling vessel for food stuffs. This vessel is valued at $6,000|
|Creole family members and descendants of the founding family. They were very fortunate to have retrieved these valuable pictures along with the detailed memoirs and other artifacts gracing the prpoerty!|
|The original brick patio behind the Laura House - and in the background is where the series of kitchen buildings would have stood back in the 1800's|
|The back verandah of Laura with a shot of a Breeze door.|
|Banana trees out behind the Great House - there would have been massive gardens in its hey day - to support and feed not only the family members but the 186 slaves on the property.|
|This bell would have been used to summon the plantation workers (slaves) and family members to meals. Slave children starting at age 5 would walk up to the kitchen with a pail each to collect food to take back to their families slave cabin.|
The Creole lifestyle was very different from the American lifestyle in other Southern regions like Alabama or Tennessee. For example (sorry guys!) the business in a Creole family did not automatically pass to the eldest son but to the 'smartest' child - and at Laura - that meat 3 generations of women heading up the corporation - and they managed the business with a shrewd skill. Creole women had rights - they could do banking, sign contracts etc etc. Rights not enjoyed by women elsewhere in the country in this era.
At the height of its operation the Laura Plantation had 186 slaves. The main house served as Corporate Headquarters - and everyone who lived in the big house had to be a participating family member in the business or else move out. The Creoles worked hard and played hard. After the harvest was in and after Christmas but before Lent, they would leave the farm and move into the city (New Orleans) to their town house - and there would begin 2 to 3 months of socializing, partying, singing, eating, dancing and it would be at this time that the young women or "Debutante's" would have their coming out appearance - then the courting would start! The pictures will fill in some blanks!