Saturday, January 16, 2010

Bayou Teche

The following day we drove down to New Iberia to tour Shadows on the Teche. Shadows on the Teche is a beautiful plantation that was built before the Civil War. The original owners, David and Mary Weeks, owned sugar plantations. Louisiana is well known for it's sugar cane. The house is also referred to as "Bayou Teche" because it sits literally on the bayou.

Mary Weeks was something else (strong character). She endured many hardships but saw them through. Her husband, David Weeks, died on a trip to New Haven, Connecticut. This left poor Mary a young widow of 7 children. Not only was she a full time stay at home mom but she was overseeing their estate as well as running the daily operations of the sugar plantation. She had over 150 slaves working the fields/house. If you've ever been in management you'll realize how much work that must have been. Mary also had a small school house built on her property and hired tutors to teach her children. Making sure her children were given the proper education was extremely important to her.

In 1841, she married John Moore. John Moore represented St. Martin parish in the House of Representatives. Judge Moore was re-elected to Congress in 1851 and lived most of his time in Georgetown. Mary kept in contact with her husband through letters. At one point during the Civil War John Moore and the servants evacuated to Texas as they learned that the Union troops were invading Louisiana. If the Yankees were to have caught Moore and her sons they would have killed them. Mary Weeks stayed behind with only her 2 young daughters and 2 servants.

When the Union troops invaded the plantation they told her to sign a allegiance to the Union Army or they would burn down the plantation. She told them that she would not sign an allegiance nor would she allow them to burn down her house. They didn't burn it down and allowed her to remain on the second floor of the house as they took occupancy of the first floor.

Can you imagine some army coming into your home and threatening to burn it down? The same army that would kill your husband and children. And then they are stealing your food and taking whatever they want. I don't know how she did it. That must have been difficult.

Mary Weeks passed away on the morning of December 29, 1863 while the Union troops invaded her plantation. Her daughter, Hannah, wrote to John Moore, "as the graveyards were all open the fencing having been torn down by the Yankees." The Yankees were so disrespectful during the Civil War. They burned down homes of the innocent, shot and killed men & boys (civilians, not soldiers), and ransacked homes/businesses that belonged to regular people like you and me. My great relatives had a tobacco plantation in Georgia the Yankees burned to the ground. My relatives had nothing to do with the war but lost everything. Mrs. Weeks was buried in the garden cemetery. John Moore was buried next to his wife after dying on June 17, 1867at the age of 78.

We had lunch at a cute little bistro in New Iberia. This Cajun man owned the bistro and visited with us while we dined. He was so cute and the paintings behind him are his. He's a fantastic artist. The painting he is standing next to is one he did of his daughter-in-law and grandchildren. The one behind him are of all three of his children. He was absolutely tickled that I wanted his picture.


Lexilooo said...

I think that plantations are so interesting ti visit! A few years ago, Steve and I went to tour a few in VA, nearby Richmond, and I enjoyed seeing them and hearing their history. I'd definitely like to see more, and see more of the south, as I've really not seen too much yet!

Jill said...

What a beauitful home and interesting story. I love the big front porch. They just don't build houses the way they used to.

Bella Michelle said...

You have to look long and hard to find the sass and gumption of our Southern Belles and to me I love nothing better than our history because it still flows through our veins!

Tee said...

Damn Yankees. I remember going to Shadows on the Teche with my mom one sweltering summer day about 20 years ago. It had been raining (surprise!) and steam was rising off the bayou behind the house. Very other-worldly and beautiful.

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Miss Janice said...

Love the history in this story and it such a beautiful home! Damn that war!