Wednesday, February 21, 2024

A Visit to the Oakland Plantation, Natchez, LA

Martha and I drove the hour or so from our campsite to Natchez, LA by the Cane River where the Oakland Plantation is located.

The plantation is part of the Cane River Creole National Historical Park.  Established in 1821, its history is of course involved with the enslavement of people to work the cotton fields.

The Oakland Plantation was a "working plantation"; in other words, not an ostentatious building ala the images produced by Hollywood's idea of Southern Plantations.

We lucked out in that we encountered one of the four rangers assigned to this park and Megan said she had time to give us a tour of the main house.   Normally, they only "guarantee" one or two daily tours on weekends; due to staffing issues.

Here's some of the photos I took while we toured the inside of the house.  Note: The park service tried to set things up to reflect living "back in the day" but the Prudhomme Family that lived there did so till the late 1990s I believe.

So, though I did take a lot of pictures, most depict furnishings of more modern times than when enslavement was a way of life for the South.

I thought at first: that's a strange spot for the family crest

The back of "shoo-fly" fan...

Picture the Prud'homme family at the dinner table while on the back wall, a young enslaved boy pulled on the rope that caused the "shoo-fly" to generate a breeze over the table.  Definitely a different time.

There were also two trap doors, one of which I was able to picture below, that enslaved servants used to access certain areas/do their duties without "being seen" in the family areas.

I guess the above was just a carry-over from the way old English houses were built back then, with servant entrances and such.

We also were shown the underside of the house, which was built on support columns not for floods but to provide for air movement under the house in hot weather.

We got to see the "room" where the enslaved nanny lived so she could be available 24x7 to the family's children's needs:

Yep, we all had to wear hard hats while under the house

We parted from our guide, Ranger Megan at this point as more folks had shown up for her to give the tour to at this point.

We wandered about the property:

Martha with a Japanese Tulip Tree in the background
while standing on the wraparound porch

The view of the main gate from what used to be
the front door of the house.

Looking back towards the plantation house from
near the main gate area.

The company/general store.

The plantation's Overseer's house

I think there were of course more of the below shacks where the enslaved lived and later on, freed slaves/tenants lived and worked the land after the Civil War.

The below pic of the interior of the shack pictured above represents conditions way after the Civil War; when a tenant farmer lived there.

The roadside or front view of the General Store,
note the fuel pumps out front.

Here's what you saw when you got out of your carriage
and stood at the plantation's main gate.

The canopy of Oaks was very impressive and beautiful

Once we finished touring the plantation, we drove to the nearby town of Nachitoches for lunch at the "Merci Beaucoup".  It's apparently known for Creole cooking.  I had the sausage and chicken gumbo and Martha had the fried shrimp.

After lunch, a visit to the oldest General Store in Louisiana:

There was, a little bit of include
displays of more vintage offerings:

We returned to the campground by 4PM I think and just rested the remainder of the day.  Though the day had started out overcast, it would turn sunny and warm with a high of 78!

We return to Texas tomorrow to visit a college friend of mine as we start making our way west towards El Paso, TX.


Oz said...

Old plantations are really run to tour. I haven't toured any in Louisiana yet. I love the photo of the big oak trees. Oak trees make great shade, reminds me of growing up on the farm.

redlegsrides said...

The oaks were magnificent, Oz, and yes the shade they provided was nice.

SonjaM said...

Love the trees and the different scenery. Interesting history with the old plantation, when slavery seemed the accepted normal thing to do. Glad these days are over. Thanks for the tour. Cheers, Sonja

redlegsrides said...

You're welcome, SonjaM. Thanks for commenting.