Friday, March 7, 2014

New Orleans Mardi Gras - Day Five

Marilyn in front of some of the 28 Virginia Live Oaks
that give Oak Alley Plantation its name.
We knew that the weather today would not be optimal but we didn't think it would be as cold, rainy and windy as it turned out.  However, we had planned on mostly indoor activity visiting some plantations about an hour outside of New Orleans.

Our first stop was at the aptly named Oak Alley Plantation.  In addition to a tour of the house, we went through a rather elaborate and realistic history of slavery on this particular sugar plantation.  The stories were very specific including one about a slave man who was given his freedom but continued to work on the plantation and saved up enough money to buy his wife when he was 70 and she was 60.  He continued to live and work on the plantation for two reasons.  There was very little opportunity for him to do anything else and their two sons continued in slavery until the end of the Civil War.  He was listed in a federal census as living on the plantation at age 100.

The Oak Alley name came from the 28 Virginia Live Oaks that predated the house (built in 1835) by over 100 years.  No one knows who planted the trees.  If there had been a previous house, there is no record of it.  In 1775 there was a reference to the trees but not a house.  By the way, house was built by a husband to lure his young wife away from New Orleans to life on a plantation.

Laura Plantation house
Our next stop was Laura Plantation which is billed as Creole plantation.  We had a very interesting and detailed tour of the house and the other buildings many of which are in the disrepair into which they had fallen.  This house was built in 1803 and was more rustic than Oak Alley.  This family had its major base of social operations in opulent town houses in New Orleans and really only conducted business on the plantation.  They showed their wealth in New Orleans but they gained their wealth through the slave economy of the plantation.

Slave quarters
In contrast to the big house, you can see one of the surviving slave cabins in which four people lived in a 15 x 15 space.  Once slavery ended, most of the those freed continued to live and work on the plantation.  They were paid a modest wage but were basically forced to spend it on buying goods and supplies from a company store.  Incredibly there were people living in these structures as late as 1977 when the plantation was sold and it was no longer possible for people to live in these buildings.

You can see more photos in the album by clicking here.

No comments:

Post a Comment