Thursday, October 18, 2018

Pousser Des bêtes, Lost History of the Atchafalaya

Louisiana Cattle Drives in the Atchafalaya Heritage Area

By Cliff LeGrange  with  Stella Carlin Tanoos

Cattle crossing  stream  somewhere on the  Colette  Trail… Sketched by  A.R. Waud; From the Alfred and William Waud Collection; The Waud Collection presents a visually fascinating history of America in the mid-19th century, covering subjects as diverse as the reconstructed South and the townships that dotted both banks of the nation's largest river system.

Louisiana was claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682. Louisiana volleyed between the French and the Spanish rule during the 17 Th century. In 1697, the French crown sent the explorers Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and his brother Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville to explore the region of the lower Mississippi River to encourage trade and to plant a French colony. The city La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.

17 th  Century Opelousas - Attakapas Region 1601 - 1700

Roving tribes of Native Americans, (Appalousa, Attakapas, and Chitimacha) had hunting camps and/or small villages on the many streams and lakes in the Atchafalaya Basin area. The natural alluvial ridges along the bayous would sustain the small settlements from annual spring flooding.

As early as 1680’s, French trappers from Canada, (Courier du Bois) had come down the Mississippi River to Louisiana. It was not long before the trappers/woodsman crossed the vast swamp between the Mississippi River and the Bayou Teche, from east to west to trade with the Indians of the vast prairie area west of the Bayou Teche. 

According to legend, the first white settler to the Opelousas, LA. the area was Michel de Birotte, Courier du Bois who came around 1690. 

The Courier du Bois established a Trading Post at the headwaters of the Bayou Teche and at the time an unnamed stream that flowed into the Atchafalaya River (Bayou Courtableau). The Courier Du Bois exchanged European merchandise for pelts, bear oil, and even horses.  

It appears that rumors that the Attakapas Indian tribe of the area were cannibals caused settlers only momentary hesitation

Excerpt of early map of the Location of the Opelousas post to Bayou Courtableau and the Atchafalaya River

18 Century Opelousas Region - 1701- 1800 

Opelousas takes its name from the Native American tribe Appalousa, who had occupied the area before European contact. In 1719, the French sent the first military to the Territory, when Ensign Nicolas Chauvin de la Frénière and two others were sent to patrol the area.   

Poste des Opelousas - 1720

In 1720 the French colonial government established the Poste des Opelousas near the headwaters of Teche as a major trading organization for the developing area. The French encouraged immigration to Opelousas Post. as they were interested in the vast prairie region west of the Atchafalaya Basin. 
By the early 1730s, French Courier du Bois were exploring the prairie region west of the Atchafalaya Basin to study the possibility of establishing a strategic trading point in the area to counter the Spanish presence to the west.  

By 1738 French traders were dealing regularly" with Indians of the region.
In December 1738, two French entrepreneurs, Jean-Joseph Le Kintrek dit Dupont, a former jailer at New Orleans, and Joseph Blanpain, established a partnership that created an Indian trading venture in the area, which lasted until 1744.  Le Kintrek is "the first European settler in the Opelousas post."  

The Indian trade proved to be profitable, and other traders followed, including André Massé and Jacques-Guillaume Courtableau, Le Kintrek's son-in-law. Both of which established cattle ranches along the Bayou Teche, where an off chute of the Bayou Teche flowed to the Atchafalaya River. The stream between became known as Bayou Courtableau, after Jacques-Guillaume Courtableau.

Le Poste Des Attkapas  À La Louisiane 1763

The Opelousas post was so successful that the French officially established the Attakapas District (St Martinville) to control trade in the lower Teche area and to expand the trade with the Indians of the open prairies area. 

The official “Poste des Attakapas (St. Martinville), located thirty miles below Opelousas, was established in 1763, though like the Opelousas settlement, the Attakapas had resident settlers that dated from an earlier time.

18 century Settlement in Opelousas - Attakapas Region 

A Vacherie 

From the French word, Vache for Cow, a Vacherie is a Cajun French term for cattle fields. 
Cattle were brought to the New World by the Spanish soon after 1492. The term black cattle appears several times in descriptions of the cattle on the Teche, it is an archaic term of that time, and it refers to range cattle, i.e. free roaming,  not to beasts of a certain color. 

The cattle of the Teche Vacherie’s were longhorns which were about half-wild, easily adaptable to almost any climate and native grasses. These cattle differed from those in the old world, their long horns which are generally about two and a half feet long, with their long shanks and feet, when seen from a distance, they look more like deer than like cows and oxen their usual red-brown color add to the illusion.

The high alluvial ridges of the Bayou Teche, seasonal flooded meadows between the ridges and bluffs on the west side of the Teche provided a natural range for raising livestock.

By early 1760’s most of the vast country of Opelousas - Attakapas region was taken up by only four or five Vacherie’s, very spread out and quite large, with absentee landowners and some were very poorly cared for. The prairie grasses were tall, and the cattle could roam au large, no fences confining them. Branding took the place of fences.

Pioneers of the Attakapas District 

 It is known that Andre Masse', Antoine Bernard Dauterive, Jacques Roman, Jacques Joseph Sorrel de Contamine, were all from the Grenoble area in France and all three came to French Louisiana and established Vacherie’s on the lower Bayou Teche. 

1740’s - Andre Masse - Lower Bayou Teche

By 1723 the French had divided Louisiana into seven districts, with the Attakapas area within the Orleans District. Each district was served by a commandant and a judge for its military and civil need.

One of the first to settle in the Attakapas area was a man named Andre Masse, a native of France, he was known as an audacious Frenchmen who rejected civilization.  He may have come to New Orleans or Mobile originally in 1722 as a lieutenant in the military but by 1731 had acquired land along the Mississippi just upstream from New Orleans. In the 1740’s he moved to the Bayou Teche, near present-day Baldwin, La. / Charenton, LA. and established cattle Vacherie. At that time Both French and Spanish the claimed ownership of Louisiana. Spain claimed ownership of all land west of the Mississippi River. They considered Masse a trespasser. He is believed to the first settler in the lower Bayou Teche. 

The Masse’ Vacherie appears to have been maintained almost exclusively by about 20 slaves (half from the Senegambia region of Africa, and half Louisiana Creoles, the children of those Senegambians).

In 1765 his name appears in a court case giving testimony that Edward Masse and Jean Antoine Bernard Dauterive, in partnership, operated a Vacherie (cattle range) on the Bayou Teche in what is now Iberia Parish on land that Andre Masse occupied. 

In 1806 Writer C.C. Robin in his book Voyage dans l'interieur de la Louisiane, wrote of the then decease Masse, “his dwelling was simple one open to the air, he slept on a bear skin stretched on boards. He was dressed head to foot in buckskin. He is eating utensils were a knife and a horn spoon hung at his belt”.

1760’s Jacques Joseph Sorrel

Jacques Joseph Sorrel, another officer of the French army came to Louisiana sometime in the 1750’s.  He was discharged in 1762 and settled in the Attakapas district a year later.  After living with Masse´ for several years, in 1768 he received a land grant about twenty-five kilometers downstream of Fausse Pointe, at what became the village of Sorrel, but for only six arpents of frontage and thirty of depth. He was a protégé´ of Masse´. Sorrel married Mademoiselles Grevemberg, a family of some wealth and involved in the cattle business at the time. However, she soon left him soon and returned to France away from the hard life in Louisiana. 

Sorrel built land claims of over 3000 acres. He helped to open the trade route through the lakes and bayous from Bayou Teche to the Mississippi River. It is believed by many historians Bayou Sorrel between Lower Grand River and Grand Lake was named after him.

Historic marker near New  Iberia, La

1765 – Jean Antoine Bernard Dauterive 

Jean Antoine Bernard Dauterive was born in Belley, about halfway between Lyon and Grenoble, the son of a military officer named Bernard Dauterive and Marie Jeanne St. Laurent. The family moved to New Orleans in 1719 for the father to assume the post of royal treasurer and by 1731 had acquired land just upstream from the city.

In the 1760’s Antoine Bernard Dauterive, retired as a Captain in the French Infantry, he then acquired additional land south of New Orleans, at Barataria. 

Prior to 1765 Dauterive also acquired some land from Andre Masse four leagues (a land measurement of eighty-four arpents, or three miles of land) on the Bayou Teche for raising cattle. He and Masse formed a partnership to manage and operate a Vacherie (cattle fields/range). 

In 1765, He acquired even larger land holdings at Bayou Goula between Bayou Plaquemine and Bayou Lafourche for the same purpose.

1765 Johannes Grevemberg 

Grevemberg arrived in Louisiana in the early 1720s to work as a laborer on a concession along the Ouachita River, changed his name to Jean Baptiste, and acquired the nickname Flamand, meaning Flemish. He began purchasing land around 1750, including the Fausse Pointe tract shown below. Grevemberg is known to have become involved in a feud with the Acadian immigrants over land ownership around Fausse Point. 

1720 – 1765 Vacherie’s around Attakapas post - Fausse Point 

Census records clearly show considerable land and cattle ownership in this area of Louisiana before the arrival of the Acadians. For the most part, early habitation in the district was inhabited only by cattle drovers. There were very few permanent settlers, the few small landowners in the area got their Attakapas lands through purchase or occupancy and use; they did not have royal concessions at that time. 

Pre-Acadian Ranches of the Middle Teche Valley.

The Middle Teche Valley

The Attakapas Post had the best habitat for cattle. Bayou Teche created both the bluff and the Teche Ridge between thirty-five hundred and twenty-five hundred years ago when carrying the combined flows of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. 

The annual high-water flow cut the bluff that marks the western edge of the Atchafalaya Basin and created broad levees, forming the Teche Ridge as a cordon of high land within the basin. To the west, Bayou Tortue and the Vermillion River drained the back swamps during low water periods.

The bluffs provided better pasture and grazing land than the swamps between the Mississippi River and eastern Atchafalaya basin. The Attakapas & Opelousas Post quickly became the primary suppliers for beef by the colonist in New Orleans.

A transect of  Teche Alluvial ridge, Andrew  Sluyter, Agricultural History · April 2012

Cattle drive (Pousser Des b̂etes)

Getting cattle to the New Orleans markets around the massive Atchafalaya Basin swamp was a major problem. With its ever-fluctuating water levels moving cattle across streams and bayous west to east was fraught with danger and risk. Ferry crossings over streams were few and far between. Shipping processed meat was out of the question, no ice.

A Drove of Texas Cattle Crossing A Stream, sketched by A.R. Waud was published in 1867 in Harper's Weekly (Oct 19, 1867  

17 century Pre Acadian Attakapas Cattle Drives –

The first cattle drives were down the Colette trail, named after Prevost dit Colette, one of the prominent families on the Bayou Teche. The route followed primitive trails down the Bayou Teche Alluvial Ridge to the Lower end Atchafalaya Basin, then following the Bayou Black natural ridges, crossing Bayou Lafourche and Bayou des Allemands to Mississippi River natural ridge to Algiers area of New Orleans.

The Colette trail – 

Start: Anywhere from Postes Des Opelousas going south, follow the Bayou Teche alluvial ridge, to present day Lake Palourde and then following the alluvial ridge of Bayou Black crossing the Bayou Lafourche around current day Raceland, LA. which may have had a ferry. After leaving the Bayou Lafourche alluvial ridge came the most difficult part of the route, crossing the Des Allemand swamp and Bayou Des Allemands and on to the Mississippi River alluvial ridge around present-day Luling, LA. Following the Mississippi River ridge with the trail drive ending at Algiers area of New Orleans on the west side of the river.  This route later became part of what was known as the Old Spanish Trail. It was a difficult and arduous journey.

Base Map – Barthelemy Lafon Map 1806 thought to be earliest map of the Teche region
Cattle Drive Trail mid 1700’s – Attakapas District Opelousas – to New Orleans

Lower Colette trail - Cattle Drive route - Bayou Teche, Bayou Black, Bayou Lafourche Bayou Des Allemands to New Orleans Excerpt from Maxfield Ludlow Map of 1815

The arrival of the Acadians in Attakapas District - 1765

The First groups of Acadian exiles to America (1764) were settled on the Mississippi River at Bayou Lafourche.  An area known as the Acadian Coast.  Those Acadians who remained along the Mississippi and Bayou Lafourche adapted to the task of adapting their agricultural practices to Louisiana's long growing season and high annual precipitation levels. They placed ever-increasing emphasis on agricultural production. 

The second group of Acadian exiles to America were sent to the Attakapas region. Some historians believe this was part of a grand plan by the new Spanish government.

Two hundred Acadian immigrants arrived in Louisiana in 1765, led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil and his older brother Alexandre. Spanish Governor Aubry received those Acadians; he believed they would die in misery if he did not do something to help them.  It happened that they were former residents of the Chignecto Isthmus area of Novia Scotia, which was a sparsely wooded region and was known as the heart of the Acadian cattle industry in Novia Scotia.

Governor Aubrey wanted to buttress the emerging cattle industry along the Teche to provide meat for New Orleans. Here was his chance. Historians say Aubrey induced Juan Antonio Dauterive, who wanted to be a major cattle producer and already owned concessions on the Teche and at Bayou Goula on the Mississippi to make a pact with new Acadians.

A win/win situation for the Governor, his interest was to expand and sustain the colony.  Help the new Acadian colonist immigrants survive, and help Juan Antonio Dauterive, become a major cattle producer in the colony like he wanted to be.

Other historians think it was just ‘fait compli’ that the Acadians ended up in the Attakapas.

The Dauterive Compact:

In April of 1765 Antoine Bernard Dauterive, Aubry, the Governor of Louisiana, the new Acadians settlers, and Andre Masse´ entered into an agreement to raise cattle on what until then had been the Masse´ Vacherie. 

Dauterive made the compact with eight Acadian “chiefs” including Joseph dit Beausoleil Broussard, Alexandre Broussard, Joseph Guilbeau, Jean Dugas, Olivier Thibodeau, Jean-Baptiste Broussard, Pierre Arseneau, and Victor Broussard. These eight leaders are thought to have been acting for their comrades that were not present at the formal meeting attended by the governor. 

Dauterive agreed to furnish five cows and one bull to each willing Acadian, once the newcomers were on the western frontier. After six years, Dauterive would get half their herds’ increases. From their shares, the Acadians would also return to Dauterive his initial investments.

With the agreement signed the second major group of Acadians to reach Louisiana made their way to the Attkapas, via boat trip up the Mississippi, to Bayou Plaquemine across the Atchafalaya Swamp to the Bayou Teche.

Acadian Settlement on the Teche 

Location of Acadian settlements
Map excerpt from… New Look at the Initial Acadian Settlement Location in the Attakapas…Donald J. Arceneaux

In May of 1765, the Acadians, led by Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil and the Acadians, arrived on the Bayou Teche. 

There was one problem, the new colonists did not settle on the ceded land of Dauterive and Masse along Bayou Teche as they had apparently agreed to do back in New Orleans. The Acadians instead decided to settle farther down Bayou Teche along the Fausse Pointe, an odd-shaped peninsula formed by an extreme oxbow of the Teche. 

The Acadian Attakapas settlements lay on both banks of the lower Teche at what came to be called Fausse Pointe, le premier camp d'en bas, or the first place lower down; le dernier camp d'en bas, or the last place lower down. 

The authors found conflicting information as to whether the five cows and one bull were ever delivered to the Acadians as promised by the compact.  It is obvious from the maps that all the Acadians did not settle on the land of Masse and Dauterive.  It is possible that around mid-May, several Acadian families did briefly inhabit some of Dauterive and Masse’s ceded land in accord with the land exchange deal made back in New Orleans. Once on the frontier, these families may have also received cattle from Dauterive in agreement with the cattle compact made in the City. However, the author could find is no data that suggests the agreement was ever carried out in full. It is known that some of the Acadians bought some cattle from Jean-Baptiste Grevemberg.

Shortly after settling at Fausse point the Acadians and Grevemberg developed a feud,  the Acadians complained of crop damages and from the large Vacherie’s wild cattle, with the Vacherie’s claiming squatting and cattle rustling by the  Acadians.

Grevemberg complained to French officials that the newcomers were settling on his cattle-grazing Fausse Pointe peninsula land.

As it turned out Grevemberg did not have a clear title either.

The officials granted the Fausse Pointe to Grevemberg in July 1765. However, the Acadians did not / would not vacate all the west-bank land on the Fausse Pointe peninsula.  The first years were very hard on the  Acadians, a deadly epidemic took the lives of no less than 39 Acadians, they persevered through and eventually, the governor granted them land ownership.

Jean-Baptiste Semer a member of the group wrote in a letter to his father back in France…” We [the Beausoleil group] went to Attakapas with guns, powder, and shot, but as it was already the month of May, the heat being so intense, we started to work in too harsh conditions. There were six plows that worked; we had to break in the oxen [and] travel fifteen leagues [to the Opelousas post area] to get horses. Finally, we had the finest harvest, and everybody contracted fevers at the same time and nobody being in a state to help anyone else, thirty-three or thirty-four died, including the children. Those who started again wanted to go and work on their wilderness properties, and they fell ill again, but we came down [to New Orleans] in the month of February 1766 of this year and here [there in the Attakapas] we all are, thank God very well and hoping for a very fine harvest this year, with God’s help, having cleared a great deal [of land]….They have granted us six arpents to married people and four and five [arpents] to young men, so we have the advantage, my dear father[,] of being sure of our land [ownership], and of saying I have a place of my own…. A person who wants to devote himself to property and make an effort will be comfortably off in a few years…”

Acadians  receive Land Grants in Bayou Teche Area

After Spain officially took control of the colony from the French, the Spanish governor granted the Acadian Exiles over two dozen land grants. These land grants totaled over 10,000 acres.  By 1783, more Acadians arrived, and a new Spanish governor issued more land grants, raising total acreage to over 18,000 acres.

The Teche alluvial plain offered a different opportunity for Acadians of the Attakapas versus Acadians of Mississippi River / Bayou Lafourche.  The Bayou Teche Acadians developed a slightly different model for ranching than the large Vacherie’s which grazed their large feral herds on open range with no interest in cropping.

The new Acadians combined small docile herds with crops of rice and maize

Still, this model was in contrast to the pure Petite Habitant, small farmer model on Mississippi / Lafourche side of the Basin, which demanded land clearing of back swamps and, maintaining levees, none of that was required to raise cattle.

Capitalizing on the habitat/nutrition found in prairie and marsh grasses, facilitated cattle raising. supplemental feed was unnecessary local laws allowed the cattle to roam at large, no fences confining them. Fences were only used to keep cattle out of gardens. Branding took the place of fences, separating one person’s cattle from another.

The unusual herding practice of free roaming cattle  resulted in conflicts, such as additional Acadian claims for crop damages from the free-roaming cattle and the large Vacherie’s claiming cattle rustling.

But, by the end of the 1770’s the large Vacherie’s and Acadians were accepting each other’s concessions and getting along better.  It is documented that in 1773, Amant Broussard and Pierre Broussard, assisted by eight or nine drovers, began driving herds of cattle to New Orleans for the large Vacherie’s. They followed the Colette Trail.  For the rest of the 17 th century the Acadians in the  area continued  to provide a significant number of  drovers  for the large  Vacherie's in the  area as  well as their own  herds.

By 1771, the average Acadian household in the area had 22 cattle. He also had 6 horses, a luxury they hadn’t known in Acadia. By the end of the century, most Acadian ranches had increased their holdings of livestock to over 100 head. The Acadian settlers west of the Atchafalaya Basin placed ever decreasing emphasis on agricultural production and focused on livestock raising.  Cattle raising became the cash crop on the Teche.

By the end of the 1770s, the districts of Opelousas and Attakapas had an estimated 10,000 cattle and 2,000 horses.

Cattle drives from the Attakapas and Opelousas prairies remained the main source of beef in New Orleans throughout the eighteenth century, but the percentage of Acadian-owned cattle shipped to the colonial capital rose sharply as the prairie herds proliferated at an amazing rate in the 1780s and 1790s.

Despite their success in the  Louisianan cattle industry and the  affluence it brought the  Acadians, they managed to hold on to their old  world  culture.

Acadian Drovers participate in American Revolution 

Spain became an ally of the American Colonies during the American Revolution. The Acadians didn't mind being on the side of the enemies of England and a number of them joined the Spanish militia. Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor needed beef to feed Spanish troops in New Orleans. Beef from Texas and the Attakapas was driven down the Colette trail New Orleans by Acadian drovers. Over nine thousand head of longhorn cattle were delivered to New Orleans.

This is why many of Louisiana's old families can join Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution because they are considered part of the effort for the revolutionary war.

Acadian Pousser Des b̂etes, (drive cattle) 

Faced with the difficulty of managing large herds with only the family labor pool, versus the large Vacherie’s like Masse, Sorrel, and Dauterive, with black slaves, and free people of color. The Acadians drove their surplus beef to markets whenever they were fit for sale, making for smaller cattle drives. The Colette Trail was a long push from the Opelousas Post.  Crossing the Bayou Des Allemande swamp was very difficult.

Alternative routes were developed

If going to the Natchez area, the herds were driven up the Atchafalaya River.  If destined for the Mississippi River settlements then to New Orleans, the cattle were driven across the Atchafalaya Basin.

The Atchafalaya Basin Land  Route followed the Water Route:

Source - Water Route from the Opelousas to the Mississippi in 1791- by Lyle Givens Williams

Following Bayou Courtableau, to The Atchafalaya River, pass Cow Island, on to Grand River to the intersection of Grand River /Bayou Plaquemines. This route was used from the 1770’s to early 1800’s. 

The drover’s descent through the Atchafalaya was on horseback and pirogues to drive the cattle across the Atchafalaya Basin to the east. Herds were usually small but could sometimes be 100 – 150 head. 

The animals swam or were ferried across the bayous.   How could that be?  Looking at the wild Atchafalaya River today it is hard to fathom that.  The Atchafalaya River in the 1770’s, in low water, would have been a docile stream, easy to wade across.

Corroboration / Logic of Middle Atchafalaya Basin Route

Geologic Quadrangle Map of Middle Atchafalaya Basin

18 th Century  – Waypoints / Corrals / Along the Middle route

Where Bayou Butte Larose intersects with the Atchafalaya River was used as a way station on the water route from Opelousas to the Mississippi. The inhabitants of the northwestern part of the Attakapas could use the Atchafalaya near Butte la Rose as a loading station for cattle destined for the New Orleans. The area has an elevation of 13 feet ideal for cattle pens for holding the cattle; to this day the area of the cow pens is called Cow Island

Butte  Larose  Cow  Island Cattle Drive Way Point

The Traverse Platte on Grand River in Iberville Parish

Bayou Plaquemine, from Mississippi River

The area known as Transverse Platte  on Grand river near bayou Plaquemine  was more than likely  a series of  sandbars  that transversed a natural stream flowing into The  Grand  River  at that point (like  stepping  stones). Allowing  cattle drives to cross the stream easily during  low water and become a natural way point to confluence with Grand River. 

Explanatory note:

Transverse bars form by sediment aggrading to a profile of equilibrium (Jopling, 1966) and grow by down current sedimentation. Transverse bars, assume irregular or asymmetrical patterns due to several factors that include bar-mouth cross-sectional geometry, proximity to exposed banks, adjacent currents, steadiness of flow, and basin depth distribution.

Over  time, the  annual flood pulse with high flow  and decreasing current would  start  the evolution  to a dissected state. Braiding (bar dissection) begins during decreasing discharges when the flow passing through the bar mouth becomes unable to sustain active sediment transport over the entire bar surface.

More Corroboration of Middle Atchafalaya Basin Route - Maxfield Ludlow map 1812-1815

Maxfield Ludlow Map of 1815 (field Data From 1812- 1815)

Bayou Goula / Iberville Parish Cow Pens   

The Bayou Goula on the Mississippi river was first visited by French military L., Henri De Tonty, looking for the French explorer Robert De Lasalle.   It was used as a stopping place on the Mississippi River to store supplies from the Illinois area bound for New Orleans.  A dairy farm was established at the spot in 1751.  It was further identified as cattle raising area by two different explorers in 1765, belonging to Pointe Coupee settlers.  

Dauterive Concession 1765

Dauterive, with his Attakapas Post concession, had a need shorter and easier route to move his cattle to the New Orleans Market.  The route across the middle of Atchafalaya Basin was easier than the lower end of the Collette trail. He also had a need for cattle pens from where he could rest his beeves, before shipping / moving his cattle down the river to market. Claude Trenonau de Chamfret sold to Dauterive the Bayou Goula concession on Sept. 24, 1765, an obvious solution for Dauterive.

Dauterive Bayou Goula Concession and Portage4. William Reeves , From Tally Ho to Forest Home, The History of Two Louisiana Plantations; 

More corroboration of Dauterive Bayou Goula Concession and the Portage to the Grand River, e.g.,  Civil War Map of 1863 

Portage - the carrying of boats or goods overland from one body of water to another or around an obstacle or the route followed in making such a transfer.

In 1765, with no road along Bayou Plaquemine, Dauterive had a primitive road built from the Bayou Goula cattle pens, to the confluence of Bayou Plaquemine with Grand River, a daunting task in 1765. 

It appears that most of the route would have followed the Bayou Goula ridge. Governor Charles Aubrey used the portage to send dispatches from New Orleans to the Attakapas Post. This would suggest that the road became well traveled.

Base Map = Gen Nathaniel Banks 1863 Civil Mar Map

 Acadian Drovers participate in American Revolution  - Cattle  Trails in South  Louisiana   &  the American Revolutionary War 1779,

Explanatory note:

American History  about Spain concerning the Revolutionary War needs to be updated…historians ignored Bernardo De Galvez's American spirit from his place in history for  over 200 years.   

Galvez's American Spirit and first victory of Fort Baton Rouge, discovered 200 years later, needs to  be re-discovered . George Washington recognized Galvez's victory as a deciding factory in the Revolutionary war.

This inform was almost removed  from American History because Spain didn't want official involvement in the Revolutionary war.

Spain suffering from a 7-year war with the British had a large impact. Thus  when US sent officials to Spain asking for recognition but Spain refused because of past suffering. 

Galvez who helped write the Treaty of Paris ending the Revolutionary War and surrounded the US with protection but the US did not like Spain’s response and Spain was shown in a bad-light. 

Also, Galvez incorrectly inherited this bad-light, not necessarily in written-word but the US has mostly ignored Galvez’s help and the American Spirit of Galvez was not recognized.

Some Historians are now trying to show the truth about Galvez but damage has  been done. 

Spain became an ally of the American Colonies during the American Revolution. The Acadians didn't mind being on the side of the enemies of England and a number of them joined the Spanish militia. Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish governor needed beef to feed Spanish troops in New Orleans. Beef from Texas and the Attakapas was driven down the Colette trail New Orleans by Acadian drovers. Over nine thousand head of longhorn cattle were delivered to New Orleans.

This is why many of Louisiana's old families can join Daughters of the American Revolution and Sons of the American Revolution because they are considered part of the effort for the revolutionary war.

Two years into the Revolutionary War, the Americans hunted for any advantage in their war for independence, they cultivated a daring young Spaniard as an ally: the governor of Louisiana, Bernardo de Galvez.

Moving cattle  from Texas through Louisiana  to New Orleans was an important part of United  States Revolutionary 1776 – 1779 war effort but a little known-part of Louisiana history.  

Did you know that George Washington recognized Galvez's victory as a deciding factory in the Revolutionary war.

End of an Era

The era of the cattle drives across the Across the Atchafalaya basin lasted less than 70 years, 1770- 1840.  The era of the steamboats in the basin replaced the drover’s road outlined on the Ludlow map of 1815.

Corroboration of extensive steamboat travel in the Atchafalaya Basin

The Death Nell of Cattle  Drives Era

After the Civil War, the coming of the railroads replaced the Colette trail. 

Southern Pacific railroad New Orleans to Patterson 1855, to Lafayette 1883


Livestock arrived on the banks of Bayou Teche long before 1766.  Feral horses and cattle derived from Spanish efforts to colonize Texas constituted part of the French Trade with Native Americans during the early eighteenth century. As the French and Spanish increasingly settled the Louisiana-Texas frontier, a contraband trade developed in which cattle made up part of the eastward flow. 

French-speaking pioneers arrived as early as 1745 and established cattle ranches on the Bayou Teche. Cattle became the first cash crop of the Opelousas / Attakapas region.

The challenges facing drovers as they moved cattle across the middle Atchafalaya Basin as only, we Atchafalaya Basin  Sportsman can understand were many. 

Small bayous that off chute the major stream, hundreds of sloughs, snakes and alligators, mosquitoes and thick humidity was daunting.  Lost of cows by drowning and not to be overlooked, drowning of cowboys.

Know the Heritage

1. Cattle drives started in Louisiana before the famous Cattle drives in Texas and old west.
2. The Louisiana cattle drive era started in the Atchafalaya Heritage area, by French-speaking pioneers.
3. Cattle drives (Pousser Des Betes) across the basin are really almost Lost History. How many times have you read or heard of this history? Share & Preserve the  Heritage.
4. Cattle drives were able to cross the heart of the Atchafalaya Basin because the basin was a lot drier in the 18 th century and the first part of 19 century before the Europeans started modifying the hydrology of the Mississippi River.
5. Acadians of the east and west Atchafalaya Basin (Lafourche and Teche) were thought to not have communicated very much because of the Atchafalaya Basin acting a physical barrier. But records prove, even though their folklife developed differently because of the environments they lived in, at least in the 18 and early 19 centuries they interacted frequently.
6. Bayou Names, like Bayou Courtableau, Bayou Sorrel, Lake Dauterive, and Bayou Grevemberg are named after the landowners of the Bayou Teche Vacherie’s.


1. I want to express my appreciation & thanks to Stella  Carline Tanoos for helping to gather documents and peer review for the supplement on Cattle Drives (Pousser Des bêtes, Lost History of the Atchafalaya). The information Stella provided was of great help in telling the story. 

2. Dr. Malcolm Comeaux whose research and paper Early Cattle Drives in South Louisiana
was of great help.


Sources / References:

1. Stella Carline Tanoos, Lost history of Louisiana, Louisiana Cattle drives, powerpoint presentation, unpublished, 2018
2. Tim Hebert,, Cajuns in the 17th & 18 century
3. Steven A. Cormier, Acadians in gray; Appendices,; Acadian Communities in Louisiana
4.CenturyArchaeological and Historical Studies in the White Castle Gap Revetment, Iberville Parish, Louisiana; Cultural Resources Laboratory Texas A& M University, college station, Texas 77843, January 1982; prepared for Department of the army, U.S. Army Engineer District, New Orleans, Report PD-RC-82-02
5 Donald J. Arceneaux, A New Look at the Initial Acadian Settlement Location in the Attakapas; 06-10-2015                                                                                                              6. William Reeves, From Tally Ho to Forest Home, The History of Two Louisiana Plantations; Chapter 1;                                                                                                            7. Le Poste Des Opelousas À La Louisiane;
8. Water Route from the Opelousas to the Mississippi In 1791; By Lyle Givens Williams; originally published in the Attakapas Gazette, Vol. 5-1, pg. 5, 1970. View archived document here
9. Andrew Sluyter; The Role Of Blacks In Establishing Cattle Ranching In Louisiana In The Eighteenth Century; Louisiana State University, June 27, 2017
10. Malcolm F Vidrine, William R. Fontenot, Charles M. Allen, Bruno Bosari, and Larry Allen, Prairie Cajuns and the Cajun Prairie, A history, 17 th, N.A. Prairie, Conference; 220 -224 2001
11. W. T. Block; Bellowing Cows Marked First Trail To New Orleans Reprinted from Beaumont Enterprise, about 1975, exact date unknown; also in Block, Frontier Tales of The Texas-Louisiana Borderlands, MSS, pp. 153-158, in Lamar and Tyrrell libraries.
12. Maxfield Ludlow Map, LA. State Archives, Historical Maps, 1815
13. Jim Bradshaw: Cattle Feud Had Big Impact On Louisiana History;
14. Attakapas Gazette, The Grevembergs, Early Cattle Ranchers of the Attakapas, May 14, 2011
15. Marianne Allen Corradi , Excerpts From The D’hauterive, Billaud And Allied Families Of Louisiana – Attakapas Gazette 2013/14
16. Henry L Abbot, Department of Gulf Map #8, Atchafalaya Basin, Feb. 8, 1863;
17. Jim Bradshaw, The Cradle of French Louisiana; Lafayette (LA) Daily Advertiser, July 29, 1997
18. Milton B. Newton, Jr, The Journal of John Landreth, Surveyor an Expedition to the Gulf Coast, November 15, 1818 - May 19, 1819
19. Jane Vidrine, A Man Can Stand, Yeah: Ranching Traditions in Louisiana, Folklife in Louisiana,
20.Francis  Duplessis, Plaquemine survey, Oct. 1794  Louisiana State Archives , Genealogical Society of Utah Microfilm:  1766-1929, Accession P1985-4, Reel 6.
21. Robert Taft, Artists and Illustrators of the Old West, 1850-1900 (New York, 1953), 60.
22. Waud’s depiction of the cistern and small cage for young chickens is accurate, but the house is not correct; There should be no break in the roofline.    He describes the house as a mean structure, “with windows no better than holes in the wall with shutters to close at night.”  He then slips in some very disparaging remarks about Acadians (as found in some other of his verbiage describing them in other illustrations).  He does state, however, this this scene is from “Western Louisiana.”  Harper’s Weekly, July 20, 1867, 460.
23.  Harper’s Weekly, Oct. 6, 1866, 636.
24. Harper’s Weeklly, Oct. 19, 1867, 666.
25. For example, see Lonn Taylor and Ingrid Maar, The American Cowboy (Washington, D.C. 1983), 36: see also, Donald Chipman and H. D. Joseph, Spanish Texas: 1519-1821(Austin, 2010), 218-219.
26. Lauren Post, “The Domestic Animals and Plants of French Louisiana as Mentioned in the Literature with reference to Sources, Varieties and Uses.” Louisiana Historical Quarterly, 16: 563-564.
27. There is one account of an early cattle driven from the Eunice area to New Orleans (no date given) that crossed the Atchafalaya at Simmesport. “Uncle Major’s Account of the Early Cattle Drives,” Attakapas Gazette. 15, 197.
28.  These French citizens settled north of Opelousas in the vicinity of Ville Platte, bearing names still common in Louisiana, such as Fontenot, Lagrange, Guillory, Brignac, Doucet, Bonin, and LaFleur. Carl Brasseaux, “Opelousas and the Alabama Immigrants, 1763-1766,” Attakapaas Gazette, 14, 114-17..
29.  Ralph L. Woodward, Jr. “Spanish Commercial Policy in Louisiana, 1763-1803,” Louisiana History, 44.
31. It was felt that there was a military escort was necessary because of constant Apache and Comanche raids to gather cattle ,But Louisiana was far from Western Indians, and local Indians, the Caddo to the north and Atakapa to the South, were never a threat.  There was no  need for an escort, and I found no mention of another.
32. ] Odie B. Faulk, “Ranching in Spanish Texas,” The Hispanic American Historical Review, 45 (1965): 263-264.
33.  W.T. Block, “The Opelousas Trail.”, html. # 36. (Accessed May 8, 2020).
34. Jimmy Skaggs, The Cattle-Trailing Industry (Lawrence, KS, 1973, 1-12.  Ranchers were usually much too busy with branding, fencing, handling cattle, and the like, so contracted with specialists (trail drovers) to handle that part of the business.
35. Lauren Post did not know this trade and movement of cattle eastward.  I never found were he mentioned it—not in his dissertation “The Cultural Geography of the Prairies of Southwest Louisiana,”1937, U. of California, Berkeley, or in his book Cajun Sketches, (Baton Rouge, 1962: 41) where he does cite a 1799 source implying that cattle “were numerous” because a traveler met a herd of about 1000 head.  But this could have been an early herd being driven from Texas to New Orleans, as the trade opened up a year earlier and does not prove that cattle were widespread on the prairie.  Lauren’s father homesteaded on the prairies in the 1890s, may have known nothing of the early Texas cattle drives, and certainly never passed on stories to Lauren of these early cattle drives.
36. Block, “The Opelousas Trail.”
37. Ibid: Jim Bob Jackson, They Pointed Them East First (Dexter, MI, 2004).  It is often stated that Mr. White’s proper name was once “LeBlanc,” but that is incorrect.  His ancestors were from the Carolinas, where his grandfather received a land grant in 1757.  His parents migrated to Louisiana where he was born in 1798.  He married Sarah Cade, the member of a prominent family near Broussard.  The wedding was at St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in St. Martinville, so he probably spoke French and acculturated into Cajun culture.
38. (accessed June 11, 2020)
39. Frank J. Dobie, The Longhorns (New York, 1941), 81-82.  There is an account of specialists at streams who would lead small herds across rivers for the drovers.  “Uncle Major/s Account of the early Cattle Drives,” Attakapas Gazette, 15, 1980: 197-198.
40. I found another source mentioning the movement of cattle to feed Confederates, but how they crossed the Mississippi was not mentioned, see skaggs, The Cattle Trailing Industry, 61.
[41 W.T. Block, “The Opelousas Trail.”  There are accounts of cattle turning in circles in streams, and those in the middle of the swirl drowning.  At that time one or two particularly strong swimmers would swim out to the herd, get on the back of a large steer, and guide him to the desired shore, and usually the herd would follow, and the swirling herd unwound.
42. McTavish, 2013, “New World cattle show ancestry from Multiple independent domestication events,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. of America, April 9, Vol. 110, (15), 1398-1406: Verdugo, 2019, “Ancient cattle genomics, origins, and rapid turnover in the Fertile Crescent,” Science, July 12, Vol. 365 (6449 173-176.
43. John Rouse, The Criollo (Norman, Oklahoma 1977).
44. Dobie, The Longhorns, 148-47.
45 Flack, A Hunters Experience, 64-77.
46. Andrew Sluyter, Black Ranching Frontiers (New Haven, CT, 2012),91=92.
47 “Uncle Major’s Account…” 197
48. Lyle Givens Williams, Water Route from The Opelousas to The Mississippi in 1791; Originally published in the Attakapas Gazette, Vol. 5-1, pg. 5, 1970 
49. There are many copies and editions to the Ludlow map, and they are easily available, such as.
50. HCL Technical Services / Harvard College Library:
Map of the state of Louisiana with part of the state of Mississippi and Alabama Territory
Attribution by Maxfield Ludlow ; engraved by W. Charles and J.G. Warnicke. Published [Philadelphia : s.n., 1817]
51. Online version LDL/HNOC:
52. A Map of the State of Louisiana with Part of the State of Mississippi and Alabama Territory [1820 (approximate)]; LDL/The Historic New Orleans Collection/Maps from the Historic New Orleans Collection
 53. LSU Special Collections, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, G4010 1818 .L83 MCAGE. A map of the state of Louisiana with part of the state of Mississippi and Alabama Territory by Maxfield Ludlow; engraved by W. Charles and J.G. Warnicke [1818?]. 
54. Yale University Library, BEINECKE (Non-Circulating),  A map of the state of Louisiana with part of the state of Mississippi and Alabama Territory / by Maxfield Ludlow ; engraved by W. Charles and J.G. Warnicke 
55. Waugh, William F. The Houseboat Book. Chicago: Clinic, 1904.Internet Archive. Web. 13 May 2016. <https:// details/ houseboat booklog00waug> [1815?] 
57. 1864 in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana; D. Stevens, Mar 4, 2018. 
58. Smithsonian  Magazine, Erick Trickey, [January 13, 2017] The Little-Remembered Ally Who Helped America Win the American Revolutionary war.