Guilbeau

Splane House and the days of steamboat captains

Beautifully restored Splane House in Washington, Louisiana

Confession time: My only experience with the town of Washington, Louisiana, is the speeding ticket I got for going one mile over the limit. Yes, you read that correctly.

So I’ve never seen this house in person even though it’s related to my husband’s family in a rather iffy way (his grandfather’s third marriage produced Aunt Sallie – my father-in-law’s half sister – who married into the Splane family).

Louisiana is known for a lot of things. Two of them are speed traps and beautiful old homes.

The Splane House in the 1930s.

But I’m being unkind to the town of Washington. It’s the third-oldest settlement in Louisiana, and it was once a flourishing steamboat port. Sadly, the steamboats have been gone since 1900, but the beautiful homes built through that trade remain. In fact, 80% of Washington is historical homes.

The Splane family lived in the home above for nearly a century – from 1870 (possibly earlier) to 1965 – but they didn’t build it. The original owner was Amos Webb, who built the house in 1829. During his day, it was called Arlington. Webb is buried not far from the homestead.

I found this information on findagrave:

“Moundville was a laid off town before Washington was formed because it was a better steamboat landing. It had a school, church and plots of land exceeding 100 in number. A bridge allowed Bayou Boeuf people to reach the cemetery.

Once upon a time, the Splane house was located in what was known as Moundville. The “Mound” in Moundville came from the Indian mounds in the area. You’ll find Indian mounds all over Louisiana. We’ve never agreed whether they were burial mounds or just decorative.

The Splanes of Splane house were Capt. Rush Splane and his Virginia-born wife, Martha Belle Dunbar Splane. At one time, even after it changed hands, the house still held the trunk that Martha Belle took with her from Virginia to Louisiana. Or perhaps it was Capt. Splane who brought the trunk from Virginia. One newspaper article says Martha was from Virginia; another says she was from New Orleans.

The Splanes reared 11 children in that house – 9 of their own and two orphans they took in. The attic served as a schoolroom.

In 1936, a newspaper reporter visited the old home and interviewed a spinster daughter who was born in the house and would later die there. Here’s what she said:

1 thought on “Splane House and the days of steamboat captains”

  1. Very interesting about the origin of Moundville. But even more interesting is your being ticketed for the horrid infraction of driving one mph over the speed limit! Ha ha ha!

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