terrebonne parish

Old Gibson Post Office?

According to the real estate listing, this building used to be the post office in Gibson:

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It certainly looks old!

I only remember the brick post office on Carroll Street. Now the post office is across the bayou near the school.

By the way, this property could be yours for $58,000. It needs a lot of work.

I’m always curious about buildings that have what appear to be doorways on the upper level. Maybe there used to be a balcony there? Or did they prop up a ladder? Inquiring minds …

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Fun facts about Louisiana, terrebonne parish

Finding family history on Facebook

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A modern day photo of the fabulous town of Rodney, Mississippi.

First, I’ll warn you that what I’m about to share could result in an addiction.

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I’m slightly obsessed with this photo of little Arcola Alston and her mother from Rodney History and Preservation Society’s Facebook page. I think it’s the hats. 

I regularly fall down a rabbit hole with two Facebook groups. One is the Bayou History Center Inc., which shares photos and stories from south Louisiana, including Lafourche, St. Mary and Terrebonne parishes. The other is a preservation group dedicated to the ghost town of Rodney, Miss.

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Someone kindly posted this photo on the Bayou History Center’s Facebook page. It’s of a general store that once stood in Gibson. It closed in 1961. During its lifetime, it also was the Greyhound Bus Station. Look at the shadow of the photographer with the huge camera. 
I can explain my fascination with the Bayou History Center’s content since I was born in Thibodaux. I have no ties to Rodney other than a slight obsession with the place. Rodney almost became the capitol of Mississippi. It lost by a few votes. It also used to have newspapers, an opera house, stores and a thriving population. It’s even said that Zachary Taylor was paying social calls in Rodney when he found out he had been elected president of the United States. After the river shifted course, Rodney dwindled away. All that’s left today are a few churches, a heck of an old country store (no longer open), abandoned homes and deer camps. You should visit if you get a chance though! We visited for my birthday a few years ago.

 

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This was a prisoner of war camp in Thibodaux during World War II. During the war, captured German soldiers would be brought to Louisiana and put to work in the fields to replace American soldiers who were overseas fighting. Also from the Bayou History Center Inc.

Both sites can suck me in for hours. What can I say? I love old photos. Rodney’s site is searchable. Bayou History Center’s site isn’t. Hint. Hint.

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First Communion in 1931 at St. Patrick in Gibson. In my memory, the church windows were stained glass that wouldn’t have opened so they must have updated the windows at some point. 

The great thing about these sites is people will dig up old photos that you didn’t even know existed and post them. They’ll post stories about photos that are shared. It’s oral history without the audio.

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How often I sat fidgeting inside St. Patrick Catholic Church in Gibson through Mass. The stairs lead to the organ loft. 

I’m sharing some photos (hope the sites don’t mind) and links to the groups. But I warned you! They’re addictive.

 

 

terrebonne parish

A tenant farm experiment in Terrebonne Parish

I love old photos. They’re such a wonderful glimpse into the past.

The other day, I happily spent some time browsing through the Library of Congress’ photos of Terrebonne Parish in 1940. Granted, few of the photos contain identifications so you don’t know who’s photographed. But they’re still wonderful images.

There’s something even more interesting about these photos. They showcase the federal government’s attempt to prop up a collapsing sharecropping system in Terrebonne Parish by turning plantation land into tenant farms.

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This one’s simply labeled as “Cajun children” near Schriever.
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This young man carried water in a cart to men working in the fields.  This was also taken near Schriever.
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A home nurse making a visit to a house in Terrebonne Project. I am fairly certain that this house still is standing.
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More kids near Schriever.
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Here’s a mother and her children.

Here’s the complete set of photos: https://www.loc.gov/item/2017804593/ 

I noticed something as I read the captions. The photos contain one key identification. They’re identified as being taken in or near the Terrebonne Project.

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School attended by the children of Terrebonne Farms.

I had no idea what that was so I did a little digging. It turns out that the Terrebonne Project was actually Terrebonne Farms, a settlement that grew out of the New Deal. I’ve driven through Terrebonne Farms my whole life without knowing what it was.

Lexington_Herald_1940-04-29_6.pngIn the 1930s, the federal government established an experimental farm in Terrebonne Parish. The government bought four sugarcane plantations – Julia, Waubun, St. George and Isle of Cuba – with the idea of creating small farms that would used by practical farmers. Whatever a practical farmer is.

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The families of Terrebonne Farms included Benoits, Bergerons, Naquins and Waguespacks.

Really, the small farms were a new spin on sharecropping and a solution to failing plantations. Farmers worked big chunks of land cooperatively while also tending to individual farms. Each family received six acres: two acres for a frame house and four acres for the individual farm. By 1940, the farms totaled 40 families.

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Here’s the selection of house choices on Terrebonne Farms.

The federal government really set you up with a pretty house and a nice little bit of farmland.

Mr. and Mrs. Henry Blanchard later told a researcher that they had a baby in a blanket and $8 when they joined Terrebonne Farms. Mrs. Beady Roddy recalls her amazement at living in a brand new house. The wives were given cooking lessons.

I don’t believe the families actually owned the individual farms during the experiment. At least not at first. It seems that the government held onto ownership. So it was 40 acres and a mule without a deed.

World War II seems to have brought an end to the experiment.

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I think this house – on Main Project Road – might be a Terrebonne Farms’ house.

Here’s a really great account of what happened to the farms: http://dawesland.blogspot.com/.  It sounds like families were allowed to purchase them after World War II when the federal government got out of the tenant farming business.

If you’ve driven on Main Project Road on the outskirts of Thibodaux, then you’ve driven through this piece of history. Project is a leftover term from the Terrebonne Project or Terrebonne Farms. How about that?

 

 

Newspaper articles, terrebonne parish

House of Seven Sisters

7tjweyhyt5ern1bnwh3wwqHere’s the last contribution from my grandmother’s attic. This is from the Dec. 31, 1972, edition of “The Houma Daily Courier & The Terrebonne Press.”

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Sheriff Field is at left in this photo.

A house in Houma at the corner of Goode and School is known as the House of Seven Sisters because seven sisters grew up there. Catchy, huh?

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Odelia Chauvin Field brought seven girls into the world.

Sheriff John H. Field and his wife, Odelia Chauvin, were the parents of these many girls:

  1. Sarah who married William Wright
  2. Josephine who married Tom Sherburne and later Andre F. Chanfreau
  3. Eunice who married Francis Grinage and later Ozeme Trahan
  4. Mamie who married E. W. Condon
  5. Maria who died of yellow fever
  6. Eliza who married Mr. Gagne
  7. Elizabeth who married James Edmond Foolkes.

The House of Seven Sisters began as a four room cottage with a single floor. It’s survived at least two fires. Elizabeth moved in with her family after her husband died.

And … it’s still there! Granted, it’s surrounded by ugly government buildings. Ah, progress.

 

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Newspaper articles, terrebonne parish

Secrets of Gibson

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An old house in Gibson.

My cousin and I were reminiscing about Gibson the other day. She grew up there, across the street from our grandmother. I spent a lot of time there as well. In our childhood, Gibson had a country store, a post office, a church, a library and lots of little old ladies who sat on their front porches and spoke Cajun French. Everything was within walking distance. We dearly miss the Gibson of our childhood.

I even blogged about the town here: http://mrgandmissb.blogspot.com/2017/09/a-louisiana-town-with-tigers-on-gold.html

So I perked up when I saw a history of Gibson in my grandmother’s newspaper trove.

TIGERVILLE: Gibson was known as Tigerville (bobcats in the woods) until the Civil War when it was renamed Gibson for U.S. Sen. Randal L. Gibson.

MOUNDS: I had no idea that there are Indian mounds in Gibson. Apparently a bomb shelter was built in one of them during the Cuban Scare (whatever that was). Two are located on the south side of State Highway 20.

CIVIL WAR: Federal troops camped where the school is now. Dog tags later were found on the site. The soldiers used the Methodist Church as a hospital. At the time, the church was only a few years old.

Newspaper articles, terrebonne parish

Residence Plantation

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This home was built on Residence Plantation in the 1840s and housed Robert Ruffin Barrow, his wife Volumnia Washington Hunley and their children Volumnia Roberta and Robert Ruffin Jr. It was demolished in 1898 and rebuilt. 

Robert Ruffin Barrow was in Terrebonne Parish by 1830. Fast forward 30 years and he owned 21,256 acres.

His plantations included Residence, Roberta Grove, Honduras, Caillou Grove, Myrtle Grove, Crescent Farm and Point Farm.