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Closeup of Laura Creole Heritage Site
13 May

Laura Creole Heritage Site

What is Creole?

Creole refers to the culture and lifestyle that existed in Louisiana before 1803 when the United States acquired Louisiana through the Louisiana Purchase. Creole dominated the way of life of native Louisianians until the early 20th century and its traditions are still etched into modern-day Louisiana culture. Creole is an amalgamation of western European, west African, and Native American cultures. Access to the Mississippi River was extremely important in shaping Creole culture as it served as a place for trade and cultural exchange. In Creole Louisiana, class determined social status and emphasis on family business and tradition took precedence over building a community. This was the law of the land in Creole Louisiana and due to French colonization, many other countries have similar cultural and ethnic traditions such as Haiti, Cuba, Brazil, and even Mauritius. Today, although the Creole culture is not the paramount culture in Louisiana, the Creole way of life is still felt in Louisiana cuisine, traditions, and even street names.

The Duparc-Locoul Family

The Duparc-Locoul family’s legacy starts with Guillaume Duparc, who owned a sugar farming complex which later turned into what now is the Laura Creole Heritage Site. The property was acquired in 1804, by Duparc after the American revolution. Along with the heritage site, Duparc also bought adjacent parcels of land from Acadians who were previously settled on the land. Guillame died in 1808 and ownership went to his wife Madame Nanette Duparc who also took up management of the property as well. This was extremely rare back in these days as it was scarce for a woman to manage property of this grandeur. She was the first woman in four generations to run a farm and then when she “retired,” ownership was ceded to her three children (Louis, Flagy, and Elisabeth). Elisabeth Duparc Locoul outlived her husband (Raymond Locoul) and her two brothers. She went on to reign over the family business for 47 years operating throughout the Civil War. After the Civil War, during the Reconstruction era, Elisabeth ceded ownership to her two kids Emile (Laura’s father) and Aimee. In 1870 Aimee and her children returned to France and ownership of the Duparc-Locoul property went solely to Emile. It was then that Emile had Laura (the namesake of the Laura Creole Heritage Site) and renamed the property in his daughter’s name. When Emile passed, Laura married Charles Gore and they moved to his hometown in St. Louis. This extraordinary tale about family and resilience is the complete history of the Duparc-Locoul Family and how the Laura Creole Heritage Site has been passed down throughout generations.

The Creole Family Business

Since colonial rule, Creole life has been the defining culture in the Louisiana region. Creoles believed that the purpose of family was business, and the purpose of business was to maintain family. The Laura Cultural Heritage Site is another example of family business in Creole culture. Guillame Duparc saw the opportunity to seize 12,000 acres of land in Louisiana and farm sugar which at the time was an extremely lucrative business. As the property was passed down, everyone in the family worked for the business until it was sold. Apart from the initial nuclear family, the extended family worked on the Laura property as well, this included slaves, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even close friends. With each succeeding generation, Creoles, who already owned most of the valuable real estate in Louisiana, created businesses that encompassed far-reaching networks of cousins in related occupations and in politics. The Duparcs were a prime example of Creole living in Louisiana and how family ties were everything.

The Life of Laura Locoul

Laura Locoul was born at the Laura Creole Heritage Site on December 24th, 1861. She spent her time split between the family farm and various family homes in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Laura, like most socialites in New Orleans, grew up speaking French and English. She lived comfortably with her father until he passed and she met her husband Charles Gore. After she married Gore, they subsequently moved to St. Louis, Missouri where she spent the rest of her life. While she was in St. Louis, she wrote a memoir that detailed her life and childhood in the Laura Creole Plantation Heritage Site. Now, the Laura Creole Heritage Site is open for public tours, and visitors can explore the main house, and several other buildings on the property including a slave cabin and kitchen. Overall, the Laura Creole Heritage Site is a remarkable historical property that gives the public some insight into the lives of wealthy Louisiana residents and enslaved people as well as providing a scope into Creole history and culture.

Creoles and Slavery

The Laura Creole Heritage Site opened to the public in 1994 and has been at the forefront of presenting stories about Creole culture, slavery, and the accounts of enslaved people in Louisiana. In 2017, a new exhibit titled “From the Big House to the Quarters: Slavery in Louisiana” was opened which highlighted what the lives of the enslaved people in Laura Creole Heritage Site were like. The “Registre des escales” at Laura dates from 1808 when Guillame Duparc first acquired the property. The registry includes the names of seventeen men, women, and children who all lived and worked at Laura. Over the next 52 years, until the emancipation of slavery in the United States, hundreds of enslaved people were born, sold, and acquired on the Laura property. Seeing the way that people lived during that time gives the public a keen scope into the lives of the Creoles and enslaved people.

Laura Creole Heritage Site

The Laura Creole Heritage Site is a must-see when you visit Louisiana. At the Laura Creole Heritage Site, you can take a walk through history and learn about the lives of Creole Louisianians. Moreover, you can explore the gorgeous grounds of the heritage site and go on a guided tour through the main house, farm grounds, and slave quarters. Marvel at the beautiful French Creole architecture and experience the echoes of the past as you learn about the stories of the people who called this place home. Bear witness to the resilience and strength of those who shaped Louisiana’s history and what cultivated the American South.

Laura Creole Heritage Site Tours

If you decide to visit the Laura Creole Heritage Site (and we recommend that you do), do it right with Crescent City Tours. We offer transportation to the heritage site from New Orleans, making your journey carefree and easy. With hotel pickup and drop-off, you can have some peace of mind knowing that all your transportation needs are taken care of. Use Crescent City Tours for all your transportation needs when you visit the Big Easy and make sure to check out the Laura Creole Heritage Site on a Laura Plantation tour and learn about the stories of Creole Louisianians and how they helped shape American history.

 

 

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Closeup of Laura Creole Heritage Site
Laura Creole Heritage Site

What is Creole? Creole refers to the culture and lifestyle that existed in Louisiana before 1803 when the United States acquired Louisiana through the Louisiana Purchase. Creole dominated the way of life of native Louisianians until the early 20th century and its traditions are still etched into modern-day Louisiana culture. Creole is an amalgamation of […]

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