Posts Tagged With: Acadians

ERATH, LOUISIANA

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Yesterday, we drove to the small town of Erath, pronounced ee-rath, to visit their museum. A wonderful website intrigued us and off we went. We had an amusing introduction because the museum wasn’t open. We called all of the volunteers listed on a bronze plaque, obviously printed with high hopes, and only one was a working number with a message machine.  The City Hall claimed they had nothing to do with it. The cafe number was good, and an employee pointed to a paper-sign as the right number to call, and it, too, was disconnected. We kind of chomped at the bit and Jim called back to City Hall and asked to speak to the Mayor. The secretary there finally located someone to come and open the doors. I KNOW what it is like in a small town where the barber puts a “gone fishing” sign on his door, or the little museum run by volunteers has a sign, “Sorry, Gerta is sick today.”

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Erath is the home of D.L. Menard, the musician we had just seen in concert at Eunice (back a few blogs).

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There were a lot of pictures of Menard and this tapestry of Hank Williams, obviously a very popular figure in the South Land.

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Other notable characters from Erath?  Several jockeys. I managed to get pictures of pictures of two of them.

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In fact, there are some really great things in this museum, but it is so poorly presented, one cannot hope to find it without help. Volunteers uneducated in acessioning and display can’t be faulted. Putting it kindly, it is a mess. They are funded by the University and someone should have helped them put it together.

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Artifacts are jumbled together. Hundreds of pictures, 3 X 5,’s are framed and you can’t possibly make sense of them or read what is written beneath them unless they are on a table or low on the walls. The walls are literally wallpapered with these photos.

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Artifacts cover other artifacts until confusion reigns. The best pictures should have been blown up. Small ones filed in a rolodex fashion for people to read through or not. Well, now that I’ve complained, I must get to the meat of why this museum is worth visiting, if you are in the area.

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Warren A Perrin, a local attorney, made a petition to Queen Elizabeth to apologize to the Acadian People for running them off their land and forcing them to move from Canada. Many people died as a result.  To everyone’s surprise, the queen agreed. A copy of the proclamation in English and French is above. Double click it to view what is written.

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The ceremony and deliverance of the proclamation was held in Nova Scotia, where the Acadians had settled. On the right is the Queen’s Representative, dressed in clothing similar in style to clothing Queen Elizabeth wears. A very proud moment for Perrin and his delegation and a very important document for the Acadian population of Southern Louisiana.

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I always look for an item I’ve never seen before and I found it. But, it is unidentified, the black studded tool at the bottom of the picture. If anyone out there knows what it is, let me know.

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This case was for a storekeeper selling needles. The type of needle is described and pictured on the lid. The customer could then choose a small tube of needles with a wooden “thimble” cap. Something else I’d never seen before.

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I remember buying needles in packages like this. Even those are a thing of the past.

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An interesting weapons case. Notice the skull on the pistol upper left corner. And the jawbone of an animal knife-front

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This carving depicting the Acadians gathering together to leave their chosen homeland in Nova Scotia was given to the museum by Evangeline Parrish.

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And as usual in this country, the ravages of hurricanes and flooding. The museum had to toss 3,000 artifacts damaged by Ike.

Politics

There is much to see here if you have the time and a ladder. Here, a 1930’s photo men taking bets on a cockfight.  I love the hats. Almost every man wore a hat in those days. We headed home and watched the sunset. I watched it while riding my bike.

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ST. MARTINSVILLE, LOUISIANA

From Mary’s desk.

Many of the 10,000 deported Acadians, (shortened by use to Cajuns)  found their way to St. Martinsville, Louisiana. The State established a Memorial to them and Evangeline, an Acadian by the name of Emmaline LaBiche. Her story is told in a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called Evangeline.


The tree above is called the Evangeline Tree, supposedly where Emma LaBiche met her long separated love after the deportation. And, supposedly the most photographed tree in the world. Hmmm! I live by Calaveras Big Trees State Park and I’m doubting that “factoid.”

The garden above holds a replica of the deportation cross erected in Nova Scotia, the coats of arms of the initial families that rekindled life here, and a wall of names of all the families and their decendants that settled here. Jim and I both looked for our known family names  since we both have French Canadian ancestors. I found several from my geneology.

The St. Martinsville Catholic Church is on the National Historic Registry, unchanged and unique. Its hold over the community again makes one glad that our forefathers saw fit to separate church and state.

This site also houses an African American Museum that tells the history of slavery and accomplishments of people of color during the 1800’s.

This musical instrument was made of cowhide and common twine. Enslaved people were encouraged to sing and chant to form some sense of community and stave off fear of their predicament as they were herded like animals to their destination.

Most enslaved Africans were sold by other Africans dealing in human flesh and came from the West Coast of Africa in what is now known as Senegal. The slavers from France had the lowest mortality rate on their ships;  the Brits, the highest.  Since 2001 France has commemorated the abolition of slavery on May 10th each year.  A group called the Shackles Of Memory Alliance are attempting to get other countries to do the same and honor the 15 million Africans sold into slavery.

Before the Civil War, free people of color enjoyed many of the rights of whites. They worked hard, bought plantations, (in some cases owned slaves of their own, but more often to free relatives and friends.) They operated their own businesses and regularly won judgements against whites in court.  After the Civil war, all of those rights disappeared for “elite” people of color. Laws on the books from then to the 1960’s repressed all people of culture.

The town of New Iberia has an old historic Rice Mill that we also visited. More about it tomorrow.

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