Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Atchafalaya Heritage , Swamp Lingo of the Commercial Fisherman, Hunters and Trappers

Know Atchafalaya Heritage 

Understand the  Lingo
of the  Commercial Fisherman, Hunters, and Trappers

The Bayous, streams/waterways, canals, and sloughs are the Veins of the  Atchafalaya.

Part of every young commercial fisherman's, trapper and hunters heritage in the Atchafalaya Basin is learning the lingo used by the old swampers to describe certain areas of the swamp.  It goes without saying that the lower Atchafalaya Basin in total is just a large network of integrated waterways.

However,  sometimes the swampers will identify smaller networks of integrated waterways and use a special term and or name to group the waterways into one name.

These smaller networks of integrated waterways usually develop a name that may be different from some of the individual waterways and/or less specific in the network.  Typically it is a short way to make a general reference to an area.

Thus, when a term like, I passed through the  ‘Cutoff’  is spoken other fishermen immediately know where / what they are talking about.

There are many of these named smaller networks of integrated waterways areas in the Atchafalaya, known to the swampers. L.O.L. but not known to United  States Geological  Service, responsible for maps in the  Atchafalaya and or to the weekend warriors who travel the Spillway.

In the  Bayou Pigeon – Grand  Lake  Vector of the basin. Right off the bat, I can think of “The Road”, The  “Cutoff”, “The Reed”, “Gilmore Road”, “The  Skiddy”, etc..

Location of  Study Area - Bayou  Pigeon  Sector

This is a  description/history about one of those areas, known as ‘The Cutoff” inside the Bayou Pigeon sector. Known only to the few who remember, old Bayou Pigeon...

1892 – 1906 Map of  Grand  Lake - Bayou Pigeon Vector of the  Atchafalaya  Basin 

Note: No man-made canals  are identified in that time period …only random natural waterways

1935 USGS 15' Pigeon quadrangle  map

Close up of 1935 USGS 15' Pigeon quadrangle  map Study Area

1960's  USGS 15' Pigeon Quadrangle  Map  highlighting  the Study Area of this posting

Commonly  accepted/understood Route of  Turkey Bayou by local commercial fishermen

In summary; Know the Heritage, 'The  Cutoff ' in 2017

All constructive comments, corrections well accepted.  Legrange@cox.net

Inherit, preserve and protect the  Atchafalaya. You cannot preserve and protect what you don't know.

Enjoy ! 

Monday, September 18, 2017

October is Atchafalaya month, Celebrate the Atchafalaya


Whereas, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area is one of 49 nationally distinctive heritage areas designated by the United States Congress;

Whereas, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area contains the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest river swamp in America;

Whereas, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area encompasses 14 parishes reflecting the unique culture evolving from life in the Atchafalaya Basin;

Whereas, the Atchafalaya Basin is considered the most productive swamp in the world and contributes substantially to the economy of Louisiana;

Whereas, the Atchafalaya Basin houses important wetlands that serve as buffers during storm surges;

Whereas, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area offers exceptional opportunities for education and recreation;

Whereas the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area encourages and promote recreational and educational activities during October to raise awareness of the valuable resources located within the Area;

Therefore, we do hereby proclaim October 2017,  Celebrate the Atchafalaya month.

Know  Atchafalaya  Heritage

The Atchafalaya Basin is Part of the Mississippi River Geomorphology

The Atchafalaya River Basin lies at the very bottom of the Mississippi Watershed. The Atchafalaya River Basin is a sub component of the Mississippi Alluvial Valley
(MAV) ecosystem

Geomorphology is the study of landforms, their processes, form, and sediments at the surface of the Earth.  River basin s have a particularly geomorphology, Tributaries, Alluvial Valley, Deltaic plain and a receiving basin.  Just remember, water runs downhill and you will be alright.

The Mississippi River, with its sand and silt, has created most of Louisiana. The Mississippi floodplain is more than 100 miles wide. The Atchafalaya Basin lies at the very bottom of the Mississippi Watershed. It is part of the Mississippi’s lower river deltaic plain.

Located in south-central Louisiana, the Atchafalaya River Basin extends from the confluence of the Mississippi, Red and Atchafalaya rivers, near Simmesport, to the Gulf of Mexico near Morgan City. Situated in the heart of this natural basin is the 833,000-acre Atchafalaya Basin Floodway. The floodway is about 15 miles wide and confined by the East and West Atchafalaya Basin Protection levees.

Location Of  Atchafalaya  Basin

Limits of Geomorphic Atchafalaya Basin

Natural Atchafalaya Basin to the Atchafalaya Natural Heritage Area
- Atchafalaya Floodway to Natural Atchafalaya Basin

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area to Atchafalaya Floodway

The Atchafalaya Basin is the largest contiguous wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south-central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge.


Officially, the State of Louisiana pronounces Atchafalaya – (ah-chafa-laya) It is the English version of a Choctaw Indian word “hacha falaia,” which means long river.

The pronunciation of Atchafalaya is somewhat troublesome because it is the French spelling of an Indian word. In French "ch" is pronounced as "sh" is in English. Thus "tch" is used in French to denote the English "ch" sound. Therefore, some linguist say correct pronunciation of Atchafalaya is as though it were spelled "acha falaya.“

The Atchafalaya Basin is one of the nation’s last great river swamps. It is also a principle floodway of the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project. The New Orleans District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, maintains 449 miles of federal levees, 14 pumping stations, 15 drainage structures and four navigation locks.  Their job is overseeing the basin and ensure it is able to remove flood waters and keep basin channels open for commercial barges and small boats.

Know the Heritage …

The Atchafalaya Basin is a term that is used in multiple contexts, a Natural Wetland Basin, a Floodway, and a Cultural Heritage Area.

Friday, February 17, 2017

How did the Cajuns find Pierre Part ?

Le bon Voisin'age (Neighborliness /  Connection)  between Bayou Pigeon, La.  & Pierre Part LA.

Even though Bayou Pigeon is in Iberville parish,   most everyone  knows the Cajun residents of Bayou Pigeon came here from Pierre Part, La.  Thus Bayou Pigeon has more  in  common with Pierre Part than with any other community in our home Iberville Parish.

Since most people know the Cajuns  are descendants of Acadians  from Nova Scotia, and the story  of the 'Grand Derangement'.   But that does  not answer  the questions of the inquiring mind, How did the Cajuns  get  to Pierre Part?

The rest of the story:

The  very first Acadians to arrive in the Louisiana territory consisted of 21 people in 4 families. 

They came in 1763,  and  settled on the west bank of the Mississippi in "the area of the vacant lands between [Nicolas] Verret's Plantation and [Jacques] Jacquelin's Cow Ranch," near the present site of Lagan, St. James Parish..  Here they created a little Nouvelle-Acadie of their own called The First Acadian Coast.   This settlement preceded the Bayou Teche Cajun settlement by at least one year.

More Acadians arrived in the immediate area  in 1765 /1766, and settled above the First Acadian Coast at  present day Donaldsonville, on Bayou Lafourche, in Ascension Parish..   This was called  the "Second Acadian Coast".  A third Acadian coast was “The Maryland Acadians,” who settled at St.. Gabriel, Iberville Parish.. 

The Acadian Coasts are  not "coasts" as one would think of the term today as land along the seashore of an ocean.  A coast  by definition is "the land near the shore“  but in this case, the shore is the land along the Mississippi River.. During the 18th and 19th centuries the term coast was used to describe the distinct settlements situated just above New Orleans along the Mississippi River's edge.. There are naturally two coasts. The left coast or left bank,  was the land located on your left-hand side if traveling down river, the east bank, and the right coast or right bank was the land located on your right-hand side if traveling down river , the west bank.  “ The Coasts,”   in this context are named for the first settlers to establish along their shores. 

These new settlers  were called 'Les petits habitants'  French  for  Small Farmers.

In August 1770, a  Spanish census …of the Acadian settlers in the district, (1 st & 2 nd)  Acadian  Coast) and counted 84 families.  

In 1777… the Spanish governor counted… 61 men, 67 women, 128 boys… 92 girls, 1,178 horned cattle, 158 horses, 80 sheep, 882 swine, 130 arms, 1 free savage, 12 goats, and 3 kid

Explanatory  note: A pieux is a board.  The earliest were hand rived were of cypress.  The Cajuns brought with them to Louisiana  many skills, incluing all  aspects of  farming. Carpentry was one of them, fencing  for the  farm was important.  The cajuns had  two kinds of pieux fences, and both are depicted in the sketch.  One was of vertical boards, and it could be a small picket fence around the house, are a very tall one around a vegetable garden (to keep out chickens).  The other pieux fence had pieux boards driven into the ground, and holes were dug into them (often with a special froe).  Then horizontal pieux were placed in the holes, as seen around the field near the house. 

After the new  USA  completed  the Louisiana Purchase, new American immigrants, began to move into the area. These Americans had money to spend on land, and they began to push / buy out  the small and poor Acadian farmers, “Les petits habitants" from the good front lands along the Mississippi River and Bayou Lafourche. 

The Bayou Lafourche Acadians did not to resist these new immigrants too much, the Americans were willing to pay a good price to the Acadians for their small farms and they distrusted the new Anglo goverment. After Grand  derangment they distrusted any goverment!  Instead of taking the money and moving or looking for better ground to the north or to the  Bayou Teche  area , the  Lafourche Basin Acadians would fall back closer to the east edge of the Atchafalaya Swamp, 

This  was  documentd by Pitot, James (Pacques-françois), Spanish Cabildo Ward Commissioner of New Orleans; 1802 -1804. He wrote a critique of Spanish rule  of  Louisiana colony - 1796 to 1802 for the  French who had taken over from the  Spanish.  This was before the Louisiana Purchase He observed that La-fourche Parish was alreadying enjoying an increased rate of growth. His description of the region reveals the changing complexion of Acadian  coast settlement along Bayou Lafourche ,as English  speaking planters began to move into the region the  'Les petits habitants' withdrew into the further reaches of the swamps”.  The  Les petits habitants recognized there was some opportunity for agriculture in the Pierre Part area, ie.,  along the narrow strips of ridge lands along the Bayous. 

The Acadian “les petits habitants”displaced  by the plantation system followed two migratory patterns; (

From the Upper Lafourche Valley to the Atchafalaya interior , ie., Pierre Part, Belle River, lower Grand River area, 4 Mile Bayou and Bayou Boeuf.  

The Lower Lafourche  Valley , to Paincourtville, Napolenville, Houma, Raceland area.

The route to Pierre Part;   

At the Village of Port Barrow on the banks of Bayou Lafourche slightly below Donalsonville, there was a  cordelle road / path,  it was either along  a  bayou  or small slough , likely to the source of  Grand  Bayou, which led to Lake Verret. 

By 1815 a small settlement of families, existed on the west banks of Lake Verret, where Bayou Pierre Part flows into the Lake Verret. These  first settlements  were placed on the *brules, surrounded by swamp.  Brules’ were  high natural ridge  cleared and burned… ‘brules” French  ‘for burnt’. 

Between 1780 and 1803 the Attakapas Canal (pronounced tuck-a-paw) was completed, ie., a  man made canal made by extending a natural bayou was connected  Lake Verret with Bayou Lafourche.  This route  also  provided a shorter route  to the lower Atchafalaya Basin ( Morgan City and the area of Bayou Teche to the west than Bayou Plaquemine.

Base Map 1863

Pierre Part / Belle River continued to grow because there was some opportunity for commercial agriculture along the narrow strips of ridge lands along lower Grand River.

It was not long however before the vast majority Acadians recognized the vast natural resources  that existed in the Atchafalaya River Basin were easier to harvest than  eking out a living farming.  They turned their livelihood to the swamps. By 1820 they were shifting their living from subsistence farming to fishing, trapping , hunting, moss picking, and logging cypress trees.  They came to be  called 'petits habitats de marecage',  Farmers of the  Swamp . 

Because of the isolation and ruggedness of the Atchafalaya Swamp this group of Cajuns became semi- isolated from  the new  Americans  and even their cousins living on the levee lands along Bayou Lafourche. They did not intermarry with other ethnic groups, therefore Pierre part, Belle River Lake  Verrett communities maintained the traditional French Acadian culture and language much longer than their cousins. 

Today, Pierre Part  is one of the small pockets of Cajun French speaking communities left in  Louisiana. 

Preserve the  Heritage...


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Here’s your sign ;

Here’s your sign ; 

This Blog posting  is  about SIGNS….  in the  Atchafalaya Basin/ Floodway  . 

For the record, polls / surveys  reveal that most people view signs  in scenic places as intrusive and that they  take  away  from the natural visual environment and beauty of the outdoors…

With that said that said  I do realize there are many legitimate  reasons  for  signs and  some are absolutely necessary ie., ‘Warning Signs ‘calling  attention  to an unexpected  waterway condition / obstruction.  

And  sometimes…if you see a  sign  it means  "Hey, buddy, you're were not here first,  somebody was  here before you , ie.,  meme,  ‘Kilroy was here’

In some cases signs, done skillfully have a great potential in contributing to the sense of  importance  / history  about a place, ie., historical markers.

The  stimulus  for this  blog post… is that I  have been noticing a lot of signs showing  up  in the Bayou Pigeon / Grand  / Lake Vector  of the Atchafalaya  Basin these days.  If you travel the Basin  from  the Bayou Pigeon public  boat launch… in the  main bayous you've probably noticed  this as well.  At times, it seems  you can see a  sign  at anytime  in your visual line of  sight.  It  makes you wonder, are all these signs  really necessary ?  

Are they  helpful, or  do they reduce the visual environment of the Atchafalaya swamp?  

I’ll let  you the readers decide  for yourself.

Thus this little history about / on signs in our area  of the  Atchafalaya  Basin 

Landowner  / Property signs 

Prior  to the 1940’s  / 50’s there were just a few signs   relative to trespassing  and  land  ownership, in the basin.  A tradition of tolerance  had developed among the landowners  for  the Swampers regarding  fishing, hunting  and trapping. Basically a  culture  had developed  in the early 1900’s  that  the landowners  allowed Swampers   to hunt, fish and trap fur wherever  they found  fish and  game . This  was primarily because the area was  isolated  and the Swampers lived on houseboats versus the land and they moved  around a lot…, ie. they were not long term Squatters. 

Most  Atchafalaya  Basin landowners  have always had signs  stating posted  / no trespassing  marking their property lines.   What does the posting of No Trespassing signs accomplish?  "Protection from Property Liability“.  Law Code requires that land owners post conspicuous signs near the primary entry points of the area that  are closed to the public.  In the  Atchafalaya  Basin they are typically small and  strategically placed.   When the signs are  high quality and well maintained  the landowners credibility  / professionalism is enhanced.

Williams Inc. – 

The  company internet web site  says, ‘Williams inc. is a privately  held company which has been operating in Louisiana since 1935. It is the successor to the F. B. Williams Lumber Company and its affiliates which began operations in 1872. Williams, Inc. and its affiliates currently manage over 85,000 acres of land located in 13 parishes in South Louisiana. The company has continued a tradition of protecting and enhancing the value of its properties by prudent and responsible management. There lands are managed as a renewable resource and some of our hunting and campsite lessees have been with us for generations.”  

My  experiences  are, with Williams Inc. that they are professional and  keep  their property lines clean, clearly visible and unobtrusive.  . Why  do I say that?  They use small, long lasting metal signs , attached  with minimum nails, ( 2, Galvanized), strategically located  for long term sustainability.  Property  corners highlighted by blue paint  at the start  and  show  the N/S, E/W  direction… of the line. Periodically on  heavily  traveled  Oil & Gas  access canals  they will have larger signs marking their property line. 

Jeanerette  Lumber - Robert Henry Downman:

A name most  folks in  Atchafalaya  Heritage  are not familiar  with.  I don’t  understand why, he was  listed as  one of  the 100 Eminent Lumbermen of the United States.  Mr. Downman  controlled the Jeanerette Lumber & Shingle Company, Limited, at Jeanerette, Louisiana;  the Bowie Lumber Company, Limited ; the Des Allemands Lumber Company,  The Iberia Cypress Company and the White castle Lumber & Shingle Company. “ He  was as well known  and prolific   ine the Cypress  Timber business as F.B. Williams,  who was called ‘The Cypress King” of but  he was of  a lower profile. 

My  experiences  with Jeanerette  are  similar to Williams  inc. Their property lines are marked and current. They use small, long lasting metal signs , attached  with minimum nails, ( 2, Galvanized), strategically located  for long term sustainability.  Property  corners highlighted by yellow paint  at the start  and  show  the N/S, E/W  direction… Many Oil & Gas  access canals   have there names  listed as well.

Brownell  Land Co.

The Brownell Land Company is the 21st century legacy of the Brownell family in Louisiana beginning in 1880. 

The Berwick Lumber Company consisted of a lumber and shingles mill in Berwick City, Louisiana, Charles Horace Brownell, (1865-1934) son of Charles Richard Brownell, managed the latter. Charles Russell Brownell Sr. and his wife, Anna Widmer  had one son, Dr. Charles Russell Brownell Jr.  Like his father Brownell Jr.  Managed  family business, while  also engaging in a medical practice and politics.

He was mayor of Morgan City from 1951 to 1983 and served for the State House of Representatives from 1948 to 1952. The Brownell family is known  for participation in philanthropic activities and charities. 

The  company owns land in St. Martin, St. Mary, Terrebonne, Iberia, Assumption, and Iberville Parishes. Is a  major landowner  in the Atchafalaya  Basin.

The CEO, Michael Vanover, is the son of Dr. Charles Russell Brownell Jr. and took over when Dr Brownell passed in 1989. 

My  experiences  with Brownell Land  Co.  are very positive.  they have  strong  connections with the  'Folks'  in the Atchafalaya  Heritage parishes.  They view their lessee's as  assets  and depend on them to be there eyes and ears on the property.   Mike Vanover personally makes a once year  trip through their entire landholdings.

Kyle  Peterman Management  Corp.

Is the is the descendant of the  Kyle  Lumber Co which was established in 1866.

Kyle  Lumber Company consisted of a lumber and shingles mill in Franklin, Louisiana.  Today Kyle Peterman manages  over 20,000 acres in the  Atchafalaya  Heritage  area.

Newman  Trowbridge  Jr.,  who died in a  scuba  diving  accident in 2014, was the long time  leader of  K-P Management from the early 1970's .  In my opinion, he was the  single most important person in representing Louisiana  Atchafalaya  Landowners interest in preserving  private property and at  the same time accommodating a multi use strategy to sustain / preserve the Atchafalaya Basin.

Making the  Atchafalaya a  National Park / Preserve  and closing down the land to everyone but hikers and birdwatchers is and was not a popular plan with local folks.

A. Wilbert's  sons LLC 

Located in Plaquemine, La.  has been around  since  1848.  Today they own  thousands of  acres of land in 10 Louisiana parishes located in  the  Atchafalaya heritage  area.

A. wilberts has played a  large role in preservation  of  Atchafalaya  Basin wetlands and community projects in  Iberville Parish and to the  community of  Bayou Pigeon, LA.

They maintain posted / no trespassing signs on the major bayous.

Small  Landowners:

There  are many  smaller  land companies  located in the Grand  River -  Bayou Pigeon  vector of the Atchafalaya  Floodway.

State  Lands:

The  state of Louisiana  owns thousands of  acres in the  Atchafalaya  Floodway as  well… The  Dow Chemical  Co.  donated  50,000 acres of land  to the  state in the 1970's. (the old  Schwing  Lumber co.)  They put signs  on their property as well.  There signs  are  sometimes questionable because they put  up signs on disputed  property that are  claimed by private  landowners as well.  

Oil & Gas  Industry 'Signs"

The 1940’s  saw the beginning of Oil & Gas industry in the  Atchafalaya  Basin Floodway. Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s access canal were dredged through the  swamp, Oil Wells  drilled, production facilities  and docks  constructed.  Thousands of miles of pipeline canals dredged and pipe laid.  Facilitating a  whole new era of  Swamp  signs…

Hunting Club  Signs

Starting in the late 1970’s leases  for hunting rights  began appearing in the  Atchafalaya Basin…particularly  in the Grand Lake / Bayou Pigeon vector.   Tradition and culture  since 1900’s  had developed,  that people hunted, trapped and fished where they wanted.  The Landowners  tolerated  that trespass. Even though the landowners  already had  property signs hunting  Clubs  add there own  signs.

Today it seems every inch bayou frontage is leased… Hunting club  signs are everywhere, in some cases it seems every 100 yards … and  they are made out of every  conceivable  type of material… from  plywood,  55 gal. drum lids, 5 gal bucket tops, vinyl siding, waterproof coated paper, metal , and corrugated plastic.

Recently, at the boat launch someone asked a  sport fisherman, where he caught his fish  and  he said … you know on Turkey Bayou…this guy  had no idea  where Turkey Bayou is , all he knew  there was lot of  signs  that said  Turkey Bayou…

Posted signs are just like locks,they keep good people honest…  not Outlaws.

Signs are nailed to trees, pilings,  platforms… it doesn't matter…

Memorials, Historic  Markers & Swamp Graffiti

Our Lady of the Atchafalaya
Through Your Intercession Guide all who View, Fish and Hunt , safely  through these  waters. Protect  from Unseen Logs, Stumps, Tree Limbs, Pilings and Outlaws.
Keep the Waters Clean and Swift, the  Sky Clear, that all God's Species can Swim, Jump and Fly…
God Bless our  Swamp

It seems good to mark and to remember for a little while, the place where a man died.

Not every graffiti writer is equally skilled at their task, some  are better than others… 
these guys have some creative  ability.. 

High Water Marks / Records

I consider this high water marker put up by  Alex Settoon and his daughter (Kim) in 1973  to be an Historic Marker…even though it is not your  typical state  sponsored  historical marker…it is hallowed  ground ... viewed by thousands of people since it was put up...

In 2011 original sign refurbished… and another new marker  for 2011 put up  by same daughter,  Kim Settoon Leblanc

It seems  as if  everyone wanted to get in on a sign... new  high water marks on Grand  Lake  and  Reed Canal...

Sometimes you have to mark the trail / path  for some people...

In conclusion...

The best way to preserve our history / culture / folklife is to teach it to them...and tell them to pass it on to future generations...

“I do love a good sign… Signs tell the rules, and rules keep everyone happy.”  however  when there are too many signs they become ignored…

Enjoy !

Monday, April 18, 2016

Those Damn Otters...

Those Damn Otters ;  Always Eating Our Crawfish

River otters have been causing havoc  in our Crawfish  Traps

Otters are part of the same family of animals as weasels, badgers. They have streamlined bodies that allow them to be excellent swimmers. They weigh between 11-30 pounds with the males weighing more than the females and up to 4 feet in length. Otters are dark brown with paler brown bellies. They have small eyes and ears and long tails. Their ears and noses have adapted to keep water out with valves that close when they are underwater. Otters have very noticeable whiskers that are long and white. 

Otters  are carnivores and capable of eating up to 2.5  pounds of  meat a day. 
Fish and Crawfish  are their  favorite  foods

In the  Atchafalaya  Basin, a wild otter diets varies according to what time of year it is  and what  happens to be available in the region.  While Fish  would seem to top the list most of the time.. . And Otters are very capable of catching fish anytime. 

Guess  what is  most available  in the  Atchafalaya  Basin… from March to  July… CRAWFISH…

Carlton  LeGrange holding a crawfish trap that has  been run by Mr. Otter.  Note  how it is opened  so perfectly on the trap door end. 

Since  two flue  traps  are usually set a 30 to 45 degree angle and / are leaned  up against tree with the point of the trap between the flutes touching the bottom.  Thus, the otter has a clean shot  at the back of the trap. Making it easier  for Mr. Otter.

An otter can dive  and open a crawfish trap perfectly  everytime.  I mean It is  always a  perfect  opening like the one shown. They are  professional… ie., they do it  with  speed and accuracy… better than a human…L.O.L. 

Old time  fishermen  tell me  Otters  have been known  to 'camp out'  on a crawfish trap line.  This is pretty common in crawfish  ponds, (ie., Rice fields), but in  the  Atchafalaya  Swamp  with deep water pillow type traps it is amazing.  In our case they went  right down the trap line. They, ( I assume  there  was a whole family of them)  ran hundreds of traps… I mean they did not miss one, it was uncanny.  They followed  every twist and turn  of the trap line, perfect.  

The direct loss of  the crawfish ,  the bait expense and the wasted time to reset the traps  can add up to hundreds of dollars in damages. 

Because of their status as “furbearers,” there are certain guidelines that  must be followed when dealing with these animals.  You can only take them legally in trapping  season  and  you must buy a $25 trapping license if you plan to sell the hides of the animals you catch. Trapping season runs November until March 31 each year.  If you have a problem in April, you can only live trap them legally.

Otters are much more difficult to trap than  mink, raccoon and nutria. Otters can dive as far down as 55 feet! They can also swim a 1/4 mile with only 1 breath and can stay underwater for 2 minutes.
I have been told they are only two immediate solutions to otters  running your traps. One solution is to sew a open end nylon webbing (similar to frog net)  into trap opening at the dumping  end of the crawfish trap . (Must be done during trapping season).  That way the otter swims through the mesh webbing, gets inside  the trap  and gets the crawfish  and then is unable to get back through the nylon mesh, and thus drowns.

Another , less  lethal  solution, is to lace a straight wire , about 1/8” dia. Over & under through the ¾ mesh wire ie.,  the trap door  opening.  This solution  takes a  little extra time  running the trap, but the otter usually cannot pull wire through.

Fortunately, Otters running your crawfish traps in the Atchafalaya  Swamp, ie.,   in deep water traps,  is typically an early spring  kinda thing.  The longer into season and  when you start catching several pounds of crawfish per trap, they usually move on. 

It’s a  good thing, because I was thinking , I  just might have to  do some outlawing wild Otter… just kidding !  

Like the  U.S. Marines, Savvy  Cajun Craw-fishermen  learn to Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome !

Preserve the  Heritage !

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Home Is Where The Heart Is !

In lighter moments  during  the research and writing  and promoting the Bayou Pigeon book…our team, would joke with me, you’re not from Pigeon , you’re from Baton Rouge, ie., that I was not native born.

That thought is  somewhat the genesis of writing this Blog posting, not the only reason,  but one of them.

I will try  to add  some clarity  for  thought ;  Of when can someone  could / should claim…  "I’m from Bayou Pigeon" !

For the record… 

From the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary…  Native  means "one born or reared in a particular place" . You're a "native" of a place when you're born or reared there.

You're "from" a place when you live there.

With that said… 

Sometimes, I receive questions from  folks  that are too young to remember  the  End of the World Bar  and Restaurant at  Bayou Pigeon...

What was the  ‘End of the  World’? What happen to it ? Who were  / are the  LeGranges ?  There are no LeGranges actually living  at what is recognized as Bayou Pigeon proper  today.  When did they leave?  If  LeGranges  were not native to Bayou Pigeon, How did  they get  to Bayou Pigeon” ? Where are the LeGrange's  originally from?

The LeGrange (LaGrange, lah-GRONJH) Family - Creole / Cajun is our Heritage

It  is generally believed  the LeGrange family are descendants  Jean Jason de LA GRANGE who left LaRochelle, France, on May 28, 1719 landed  on the Gulf Coast of America, near Mobile, Alabama and made his way to Louisiana. Thus the LaGrange’s are descendants of French Creoles and not direct descendants of the Acadians. However, the LaGrange's settled in the Attakapas District of Louisiana,  ie., today's  Atchafalaya Heritage Area.

A French Creole family is one that came to Louisiana directly from France or from the West Indies, Alabama, or other French possessions in the Gulf/Caribbean region before 1803, the year Louisiana ceased to be a colony and became a territory of the United States.  The term "Creole" used here is a generic one (Spanish, criollo; French, créole), meaning someone "of Old World parents born upon New World soils, with no first-hand knowledge of the mother country."

An Acadian family, is one that lived in greater Acadia (present-day Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Maine, Prince Edward Island, Cape Breton Island, and parts of Newfoundland) before or during Le Grand Dérangement of the 1750s and whose members found their way to Louisiana as exiles from Nova Scotia, the English colonies of North America, or from France or the West Indies.  The first of them reached New Orleans from Georgia via Mobile in February 1764.  Explanatory note; More came from Nova Scotia and Maryland in 1765, 1766, 1767, 1768, and 1769.  A substantial number of them did not reach Spanish-controlled Louisiana until 1785.  Their years in France did not make these late comers any less Acadian than their cousins who had reached the colony 20 years before. (My wife, Diane Solar,  a natural born native of Bayou Pigeon, her mother is a  Gaudet,  one of the first documented  cajun families to arrive in LA. in 1764!) 

The LaGrange's came from  New Orleans to Opelousas, and settled  down the  Bayou  Teche corridor, Arnaudville, St Martinsville, Morgan City. E.g.., Dorothée, daughter of French Creole Jean-Baptiste Lagrange was born on Bayou Black in July 1848, (source; Acadians in Gray website)  and is  definitely the matriarch of the modern Clifford LeGrange family.

The LaGrange's are considered Cajuns, but  not  pure Acadians.  The  Acadians  frequently intermarried with the French Creole’s and other nationalities  in the area.  However, the French language and the Acadian culture quickly  became  dominate culture in the Bayou Teche Corridor / Atchafalaya  Heritage  Area. The folks that spoke  the language  and developed the traditions of the Acadians became known as  'Cajuns'.

The LaGrange’s settled in the inside the black dotted line, ie., The Bayou Teche  Corridor.  There are many LaGrange's from Arnaudville, LA. to Patterson, LA. 

Where do the Clifford  LaGrange's come from?

A modern search of  Ancestry. Com data… The Patriarch of our Clifford LeGrange family was Treville LaGrange , Source; 1880 US Census Data  - Trivil  and Elvina LaGrange.

Treville  LAGRANGE, 

He was Born in 1830…   and lived in  the Bayou Black / Gibson La. area of Terrebonne parish. He was  a veteran  of the  Civil war,  a member of the 1st Regiment Heavy Artillery (Regulars): Cos. A, B, C, D, G, I

"Acadians in Gray '

Significantly Cajun Units in the Armies of the Confederacy:

1st Regiment Heavy Artillery (Regulars): Cos. A, B, C, D, G, I
Pointe Coupee Battalion Artillery
Siege Train Battalion Heavy Artillery: Co. D
1st Battery (St. Mary Cannoneers, Cornay’s, Gordy’s)
2nd Battery (Boone’s, Thomas’s)
5th Battery (Pelican Artillery, Faries’s, Winchester’s)
5th Company, Washington Battalion Artillery (Hodgson's, Slocum's)
6th Battery (Grosse Tete Flying Artillery, West's, Yoist's)
Donaldsonville Artillery (Maurin’s, Landry’s)
King’s Battery (St. Martin Rangers, Fuller’s)
Orleans Guard Battery (Ducatel's, LeGardeur's)
Watson Battery (Beltzhoover's, Bursley's, Toledano's)

"Most of the Acadians in  Gray in the 1st Louisiana Heavy Artillery were conscripts who were assigned to the regiment in the Fall of 1862.

Summary  of  The 1st Regiment Heavy Artillery (Regulars): Companies B, C, D, E, F, H, and K

Organized in militia service on February 5, 1861. Transferred to Confederate service on March 13, 1861 Throughout the fall and winter of 1861, Companies B, C, D, E, F, H, and K served in Fort Jackson and Fort St. Philip below New Orleans. The companies at Jackson and St. Philip fought well against Union admiral David G. Farragut’s fleet during the bombardment and passage of the forts. The  unit was included in the surrender and parole of the garrisons on April 26, 1862. The officers and men captured at Jackson and St. Philip received their exchanges in the fall [1862].  A significant number of original volunteers did not rejoin the unit after the fall of New Orleans; First Commander: Paul O. HÉBERT, COL [promoted BG August 14, 1861].  After the  Civil war, in 1880  Treville  was raising his family  and working  as a farmer on  a Plantation  in  the Gibson / Bayou Black , La. area in Terrebonne  Parish.

Delma LeGrange

Delma  LaGrange, son of  Treville  LaGrange and father of  Clifford  LaGrange Sr. 
Lived in Terrebonne parish as his father… Note: Delma  LaGrange was originally spelled with prefix La not Le, as were all his children in 1910.  Explanatory Note:  Misspelling of names was quite common in Census records,  until about 1940 especially in French  South  Louisiana as the Cajuns pronounced  names totally different than  ‘English’ speakers  and were misundersood a  lot, by  Anglo American  census  workers… eg.,  Selma versus  Delma…

Why do the  Clifford  LeGranges  spell there name Le…LeGrange  versus  traditional La... prefix....ie., LaGrange

It may have started  by accident with 1920 US Census.  Note: the misspelling of the  surname,  Le… versus  La… excerpt  above.  There seems to be some  confusion / misunderstanding, ie,  where does Lespance  come from?  Anglo  speaking  Census  worker ?

How  / Why did Delma changed the spelling of his name from LaGrange to LeGrange may never be known, but by 1930, it was a done deal. (Excerpt  above).  No matter how you spell it today ...  the Clifford LeGranges are (LaGrange, lah-GRONJH)

Delma and  his  wife,  Ella  LeGrange are buried at St Patrick Catholic cemetery in Gibson, LA. After Delma's  Death  most of his children had made their way  from the Bayou Black / Gibson LA. area to Baton Rouge, LA. Ella  joined them  Baton Rouge in the mid 1930’s.

Sons of Delma and  Ella  LaGrange / LeGrange
L-R: Dennis, Clarence, Louis, Clifford, Treville, Lester & Ella LeGrange 
Photo courtesy of A V Horne

As noted…the LaGrange’s settled  in the Bayou Teche  corridor…in the picture below, note the similarities  between Emile LaGrange from Arnaudville, LA. , especially the forehead and Clifford LeGrange  Sr., pretty sure they have same ancestors…

How did the  Clifford  LeGrange's get to Bayou Pigeon…

In the late  1940’s and early 1950’s Mr. Joseph (Kollo) Daigle of  Bayou Pigeon, ( Indigo Bayou)  would bring / guide  people  from  Plaquemine / Baton Rouge ; duck hunting , fishing   and crabbing  in the waterways around  Bayou Pigeon.  One of those  early folks was Mr. Phillip ( aka, P.E.) Unbehagen, who established one of the  first campsites  at Bayou Pigeon, on A. Wilbert's property in 1946 /47 timeframe. About a  ½ mile North of  Indigo bayou between  the borrow canal and Grand River.   Myra LeGrange, daughter of  Clifford LeGrange Sr.  married Mr. P.E. Unbehagen‘s son Martin (Buddy) Unbehagen in 1947.  Soon after,  Buddy built a  camp next  to his father.  Buddy and  his new brother in law, Clifford  LeGrange Jr. became  best of  friends. Bayou Pigeon naturally draws people to engage in recreational  hunting ,fishing,  and boating. Soon after, Myra’s  sister,  Margie and  husband, Edgar Eppinnet  joined  in.  Buying a camp at Bayou Pigeon  right next door to Buddy and Myra.  They were avid  fishermen.  Bayou Pigeon became the weekend getaway  for the Clifford  LeGrange Sr.  Family.   Little  did they realize in the 1950’s , how  Bayou Pigeon, LA. would  affect their  destiny.

Places  People  Remember :

“The  End of the World “ Grocery  Store, Bar,  Dancehall & Restaurant 

In 1958 , after being caught up in a ‘reduction in force’  from the Ethyl Corp. Clifford  Jr. decided to make a career and life changing event. The purchase  of the the Indigo Inn Bar and Dance hall ( aka., the End of the World) at Bayou Pigeon, La.  At the time  the combination, Grocery Store, Bar, Dancehall  was  quite common  at Bayou Pigeon.

The original Indigo Inn;   Grocery Store, Bar  and  Dancehall ...c 1956

LeGrange's  Camp -  End of the World Bar & Restaurant

Clifford  Jr. and  spouse (Joy Vicknair LeGrange)  remodeled the old Indigo Inn in stages.  The last addition added another  combination,  to the ‘Grocery Store, Bar and Dancehall’  concept. The seafood  restaurant business, selling  what we call today ‘Swamp Seafood’.  Fried catfish,  frog legs, Boiled Crawfish, Crabs and Shrimp, crawfish bisque, and crawfish etoufee.   They developed  a  facility  for private parties on a covered outside pavilion.   

Clifford LeGrange  Sr. retired in 1960  from  the ESSO refinery in Baton Rouge and  promptly moved to Bayou Pigeon to help in the business.

In the inserts, Clifford & Joy, with Carlton LeGrange on bike, 5 years old and Paw paw LeGrange 

To remove any  doubt  of whether I was reared  at  Bayou Pigeon.   
Indigo Bayou  Kids, 1962 !

After the flood of 1973 and   the death of a favorite son…The  End of the  World  Bar  and Restaurant was closed down.  Clifford Jr. built it himself , board by board and  as it was  on leased property he tore it down board  by board.   Was not able to sell it…

I was too young  and immature to realize  that the End of the World Bar and  Restaurant  at Bayou Pigeon was a rich story of family that embodies  the  Spirit of the  Atchafalaya  and Cajun Culture.   As the oldest son, I should have carried  the business on… I don’t know  what I was thinking .

Why Does remembering  Old Places Matter?  It’s  simple, Because  they help us remember! 

Memories survive  even when places disappear… The old place is gone, but  the memories  we  can keep  for our lives… Home is where your  heart is…means  that the place that you most  fondly remember,  no matter where you are,  will always have your heart.

The  End of the  World - Bar and Restaurant is  gone… My parents  are gone,  my siblings  now live in the city and most of  our old neighbors have passed or moved.  

 My ‘mother in law’  93 years  young,  this day, has lived  at Bayou Pigeon for 83 years and owns  house and property  there.  She and my Father in Law, Laury Solar (1924-1993) raised their family there.  Thus my wife is natural born  native  of there. Most of my  lifelong  friends  came from there.  Thus  I have I still have a family connection there.  I have a  Camp Boat, a Bateau, 3 Skiff ‘s and  a Pirogue… the  Sounds and ways of the Atchafalaya still  lure me in …   I live 20 miles  away…

Bayou Pigeon, LA. is where my heart is…

The  LeGrange Family -  Brand

From the days of the  “End of the  world’ , Clifford  LeGrange Jr. (1923-1995)  and  son after son have  embraced  the  Swamp  Seafood business;   from catching crawfish, selling them live , catering  large crawfish boils, processing crawfish tail meat and selling them boiled in a restaurant setting.  

From the  1970’s , until today,  all of his sons , and numerous grandsons at one time or  another have carried on in the Swamp seafood  lifeways and  culture.  From  Commercial  fishing, to  various  business ventures, eg.,  Cajun Boilers, Café LeGrange, Carlton’s  Seafood, Crawfish  City, Boiling Boys, Capital City Crawfish and  Atchafalaya  Crawfish Processing.

Cafe  LeGrange - 1980"s Acadian  Thru way Baton Rouge, La.

 2015 - Chachie  and  Carlton...Carrying on the Brand


Clifford J. LeGrange Sr. (Pal) hailed from the Bayou Black / Gibson Louisiana area. His father was Delma LeGrange a descendant of Jean Baptiste LaGrange. Clifford Sr. made it to Baton Rouge, after service in WWI in the Marine Corps. Where he married Margie Hicks from Iberville Parish and raised his family. He retired from Esso, the Standard Oil Co. In 1960 as a / process operator / pump mechanic. After retirement,  Clifford Sr. and his spouse Margie Hicks LeGrange soon followed their son to Bayou Pigeon and helped run the  Family business. By virtue of his cajun roots “Pal” quickly became the favorite LeGrange of the cajun folks at Bayou Pigeon. 

Clifford J LeGrange, Jr. grew up in Baton Rouge and after service in WW II married Joy Vicknair of Iberville Parish and settled in Baton Rouge. He worked in the Petro-Chemical industry in Baton Rouge. In 1958 he decided to make a career change and purchased the Indigo Inn Bar and Dance hall ( aka., the End of the World) at Bayou Pigeon, La. where he had a hunting / fishing Camp. Bayou Pigeon was a cajun fishing community on east side of the Atchafalaya Basin. Clifford converted the Bar and Dance hall to a combination ; Bar, dancehall, grocery store and seafood restaurant, with a covered Pavilion and picnic grounds. There they raised there children at Bayou Pigeon. They were Clifford III ( Chachie), Cindy, Carey, Curtiss ( Rucky) , Cherie, Clint ,Carlton , Chad (Aka Charlie). Clifford and Joy introduced a new concept to the seafood restaurant business, ie., selling Boiled Crawfish in a restaurant setting. It was there at Bayou Pigeon, that the ‘Spirit of the Atchafalaya’ and the Swamp Seafood Restaurant business became a LeGrange family life long passion.

Clifford LeGrange, III, ( Chachie, the oldest)  grew up at Bayou Pigeon,  working in the family business.  At 13 years old, he cleaned catfish, frogs and started boiling crawfish, crabs, shrimp in large batches for the restaurant. He married his Cajun bride from Bayou Pigeon, Diane Solar, in 1968 at St Joan of  Arc Catholic in Bayou Pigeon, LA . 

About the Book … In 2008 , after retiring from the  Dow Chemical Co.,  he was  motivated by how much Bayou Pigeon had influenced the lives of the LeGrange's, to  research, write and publish the book “Bayou Pigeon, LA. Spirit of the Atchafalaya ‘. It was published in 2012. The book has sold 3000 copies and won a national award from the Independent Publishers association in the pictorial / coffee table non fiction history book category

Home is Where the Heart Is ;

So  for most of you on the 'Pigeon' Facebook page and  who no longer live  at  Bayou Pigeon, I know  where your heart is or you would not be in the  Pigeon Facebook  group !

Is there any  doubt where my heart is...

Enjoy ! Chachie