Phil volunteered to cover a shift at the Natchitoches VA clinic on Friday, and Mom and I tagged along. It’s about as far from Abbeville as New Orleans, but north rather than east. Mom’s been there but always wanted to see it at Christmas (it’s famous throughout the south for the Christmas lights they put up along the main street and the Cane River Lake). I’ve never been there but always wanted to see it, it’s the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase–they’re celebrating 300 years next year.
American Cemetery is only a few years younger than the town, and is considered to be the oldest extant cemetery in the Louisiana Purchase.
The oldest markers are long gone, I think the oldest surviving one is from the last few years of the 18th century. But there are a lot of eroded bricks underfoot, so they’re all still down there somewhere.
Kaffie-Frederick is the oldest general store in Louisiana (that’s still in business), and they’ve been using the same cash register since 1910.
We picked Phil up for lunch and had meat pies for lunch, because what else are you going to eat in Natchitoches? There’s a restaurant in town, Laysone’s, that claims to have invented them, but that’s bullshit. That’s like claiming you invented the burrito. (It’s basically a regional variation of the empanada–people who aren’t from Louisiana always forget that we were a Spanish colony too, not just a French one.) Mom says the last time she and Phil ate there the pies were terrible, they tasted like they were made with potted meat and fried in old oil that tasted like rancid onions. So I went on Urbanspoon and found a place with good reviews, Merci Beaucoup on Church Street.
After lunch Mom and I drove down LA Highway 119. which is also the Cane River Heritage Trail.
The house at Magnolia Plantation is still privately owned and lived in by descendants of the original family that built it in the 1830s, but in 2001 they donated the land and surviving outbuildings to the National Park Service.
Melrose Plantation is of interest because it was built by free people of color.
Oakland Plantation had a general store that also served as the local post office for many years.
We stayed late enough to see all the lights come on. They even had a snow machine! I think it was some kind of soap suds.
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