Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Another Look At The Sugar Plantations Of Bayou Pigeon, LA.

Antebellum  Era - Sugar Cane Plantations at  the  confluence of  Little Bayou  Pigeon  and  Grand  River 

In Chapter 5 of the Bayou  Pigeon book you read  that there  were  working Sugar Plantations at Bayou Pigeon prior to the Civil War. Real people lived and worked there.  These folks  relatively speaking were wealthy people for the times, records indicate  they built  Sugar Plantations,  built homes   and owned black slaves.  

The  map  below provides the  Physical property  records  of the sugar-growing plantations in T 11 S, R 11 E near Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

1859 Map of the Parishes of Pointc Coupee, West Baton Rouge, and Iberville, Including Parts of the Parishes of St. Martin and Ascension, Louisiana. Sarony, Major, and Knapp, New York.

There were four working Sugar Plantation’s,  at the  confluence of  Bayou  Pigeon  and  Grand River.

The  Justillien Michel plantation, George Mitchelltree Plantation, Laughlin, Down  Home Plantation, George Bollinger, Plantation 

The  map  provide the property details of the sugar-growing plantations in T11 S, R11 E near Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

Only Known Photographs of the old plantation  homes of  the Antebellum period at Grand River / Little Bayou Pigeon including the Palfrey Plantation Home  below  Pumpkin point  on Grand  River.

The  Riggs  Family of  New  Iberia

The  Riggs Family of  New Iberia was  connected to all the  first Planters at  Bayou  Pigeon  / Grand  River.

Mary Reynolds  Riggs the wife  of  Eli Riggs inherited property he had purchased in Iberville Parish on Little Bayou Pigeon,  when  Eli Passed.

A John Mitcheltree was married to Elizabeth Riggs, daughter of  Eli Riggs and Mary Reynolds Riggs.

John and Elizabeth Riggs Mitchelltree and  Mary  Riggs,  another daughter of  Eli  Riggs and her husband Granville Clifford Laughlin   inherited from  Mary Reynolds  Riggs the wife  of  Eli Riggs his property in Iberville Parish on Little Bayou Pigeon, when she passed.

They split the property, Grandville Clifford Laughlin taking the property on the east side of Grand River at Little Bayou Pigeon confluence and John Mitchelltree to the property on the west side.

John Mitchelltree died in 1850 and his brother George Mitchelltree  and his wife Matilda  bought his property in the succession.

G.C. Laughlin was the tract's sole proprietor of his tract prior to 1858.  After 1858 it was Laughlin  and  Nettleton.  When the Nettleton  came in is not known.  But it is known he was the overseer of Laughlin Tract.

Adjacent to and below George Mitcheltree on Grand River was the plantation of George Bollinger.

 Researching the US census of 1850, we verify that Jasper Gall, George Mitcheltree, and  john  Laughlin lived  at the confluence of Little Bayou Pigeon and Grand River.

George Mitchelltree real estate was valued at $2000.  That was a significant amount of money in 1850.

1850 US Census, La. Iberville Parish Ward 

Justillien  Michel Plantation  -

Justillien Michel purchased his property  from Jasper Gall,  who was married to Frances Riggs, another daughter of  Eli Riggs, c 1858. There is no known Documentation of Justillen   Michel building  a  Plantation  house  on his farm.

The George Mitchelltree Plantation  and  Home

The  Civil war essentially  destroyed the plantations  at Bayou  Pigeon  / Grand River.  Union  soldiers  destroyed the crops , seed and farm equipment.

Mathilda  Mitchelltree  died in 1866 and George Mitchelltree  died in 1868. There adopted children, Henry Dale and  Ann Blockley inherited the property.  The Black slaves  had left the swamp and by 1870  the plantation houses  at Bayou pigeon were basically abandoned.

Court  Document Sheriff's  sale of  Mitchelltree  Property in  1875 

Official transcript  of sheriff’s sale of  the George Mitcheltree Plantation for failure to pay property taxes. This property was inherited by the adopted child  Ann Blockley or Boschle in 1866-1868 and obviously  she was unable to pay the property taxes.

This is the only known record of what building and structures were on the Mitcheltree property during the era of the sugar plantations.

Note the location of the graveyard, main dwelling and the sugar house. The cemetery was probably destroyed in the construction of the modern Atchafalaya Floodway East Protection Levee.

Stan Routh illustration  of the George Mitcheltree 
and Laughlin & Nettleton Plantations in 1859  

The Mitcheltree layout  is based  on written records from 1875 Iberville  Parish Sheriffs sale.  Since the property was  sold for lack of payment of property taxes, all non moveables went  with sale..

In 1895 Nestor Michel bought  parts of the old George Mitchelltree plantation from  F.B. Williams  Cypress. His purchase contained all the buildings and dwellings on the property which included the George Mitcheltree Plantation  house.

Iberville  Parish Court record 1895

The  house became the Nestor & Clementine House which was the most prominent dwelling in Bayou Pigeon at the time.

Nestor lived in this house with second wife Clementine Berthelot, until they divorced in 1924.

Justillen Michel, Nestor's  father lived there  with Nestor and Clementine.

Clementine lived in the home until her death in 1947. The house was demolished sometime after her death in 1947.

The picture above  shows the Mitcheltree / Michel Plantation house in the background.

This is the only known  picture of the house. Ms. Florence Vaughn Dupre in the foreground circa 1940’s.

Ms. Joyce Percle daughter  of Adeia  Michel Percle, youngest daughter of  Nestor and Clementine and Mr. Dealis Vaughn youngest son  of Sidney Vaughn described the interior of the house.  The house  was torn down by Paul  Michel / Sidney Vaughn in 1949 .  The  sketch  below provides the layout  of the house  as they remember it in 1947 / 48  time frame.

Google Earth  Satellite  view of  Modern  day location of Susans  Point

Down Home Plantation  - Laughlin Family

Mary  Riggs and husband Granville Clifford Laughlin   inherited  the plantation  as  described above.

Granville Clifford Laughlin  passed in 1859. The Laughlin's hired Thomas Edmond Grace, a lawyer from Plaquemine to handle the succession.  Elizabeth Laughlin, called Lizze, age 19, caught the eye of the young lawyer. Thomas sought and received permission to court Lizze from her mother. Their courtship was documented in a series of letters chronicled in the Grace Family history, by Joseph McDowell Campbell.  They were married at the  Down Home Plantation… see below.

Mary  Riggs Laughlin was the great grandmother of  Mrs.  Lorraine  Dupont an Grand Dame of Plaquemine.

1860 Census Iberville Parish Ward 8 Bayou Pigeon 

Folks at the  confluence of Grand River and Bayou Pigeon starts at bottom of page with Mary Riggs Laughlin family,  page 60, line 98. George Mitcheltree Family, George Bollinger Family follow.

In the early 1870’s  The Laughlin's had abandoned the  Down Home Plantation William Hedges  bought the property.  William Hedges  lost the property  to debt.

Enter Anatole Berthelot & old  Laughlin Plantation

 Anatole acquired the  old Laughlin plantation in 1913, he purchased existing buildings  including the “Down Home”  Plantation house for $475.

Iberville  Court Document March 27, 1913

Anatole Berthelot house (the Down Home Plantation House) in the background. Circa 1930’s.  

J.C. Berthelot, grandson  of  Anatole Berthelot, J.C. at his Big  Communion, in the foreground.  

Modern  Location of  Down  Home Plantation  House

The George Bollinger Plantation

George Bollinger  established the fourth Sugar Plantation at the Grand River / Bayou Pigeon confluence. Not much is known about  Bollinger except that he did live at Grand River / Bayou Pigeon for at least 10 years (U.S. Census records) and produced  Sugar.

1860 US census  ward 8 Iberville Parish  

The Bollinger Plantation was  sold at  sheriff's sale several times and  was purchased by Nestor Michel  in 1917.  Nestor sold it to Henry Dugas, in 1929.

Leo  Landry of  Bayou Pigeon on porch of his  houseboat,  with His  spouse  and  gentleman  form Louisiana  Baptist mission.  The house in the background is  The  Bollinger Plantation  house.

 Sometime after 1929, Clebert Frioux son in law of  Anatole Berthelot  purchased a part old Bollinger plantation house

Clebert Frioux and Natalie Berthelot Frioux c  1910

The Palfrey Plantation Located  in Iberia  Parish, on  Grand  River

The Palfrey Plantation house was located ¾ miles north of Bayou Postillion on Grand River, approximately 2 miles south of the confluence of  Bayou Pigeon and Grand River,  south of Pumpkin  point.  Alcide  Clement moved his family to the property in the early 1900’s . .There, the family cultivated cotton, corn, raised hogs, chickens, geese ducks and cattle.  His family was self supporting,  they were known for  the beef, salt  pork, boudin, sausage, cracklings,  butter and milk  and periodically sold  and or bartered this with folks at  Little Bayou Pigeon . Even though located  in Iberia parish, it was synonymous with Bayou Pigeon.

Report of  Major Jesse Miller of the Union Army in 1864. 

Objective evidence of the Palfrey Plantation, and  location. The official Report of  Major Jesse Miller of the Union Army in 1864.

Alcide Clement  and Grand Dame Mary Matilda Morales  Clement

Alcide Clement  moves to the Palfrey Plantation

Alcide Clement does not appear in the 1920 US Census record in Bayou Pigeon.   Alcide  moved his family to the property once owned by Mr. Charles Palfrey in  Iberia Parish..  That  was approximately 2 miles south of the confluence of  Bayou Pigeon and Grand River in area known as Chopin Chute close to  Bayou Postillion.

There, the family cultivated cotton, corn, raised hogs, chickens, geese ducks and cattle.  His family was self supporting,  they were known for  the beef, salt  pork, boudin, sausage, cracklings,  butter and milk  and periodically sold  and or bartered this with folks at Bayou Pigeon Proper. 

 At that time the plantation was considered  a hamlet of  Bayou Pigeon.

Cliff  LeGrange  at the  Grand Dame Matilda Oaks July 2020

Grand Dame Matilda  Oaks  at  Palfrey  Plantation 

Grande Dame  Oaks
375 + years old 

Enjoy... The ghost of the past  are  speaking !

1 comment:

  1. Chachie, thank you so much for sharing this and for all you have done to keep Bayou Pigeon alive for historians and genealogists.

    Jeanne (Dupre) Breaux