Among the early descriptions of southern Louisiana before there were all-weather roads, passable to buggies and wagons at all times of year, is a book written in 1891 by Thomas W. Poole, then the Louisiana commissioner of immigration. The title, "Some Late Words about Louisiana," used "late" to mean "recent."
Pool aimed to inform potential settlers and investors of the advantages they could expect in different parts of the state.
A section of the book covered Assumption, Lafourche and Terrebonne:
"These parishes lie west of the Mississippi, extending from near Donaldsonville to the Gulf of Mexico. The Bayou Lafourche, which flows out of the Mississippi river at Donaldsonville, passes through the entire length of Assumption and Lafourche to the Gulf, about one hundred miles to the southeast.
"South and west is Terrebonne, extending along the Gulf of Mexico from Timbalier Bay on the east to Atchafalaya Bay on the west, a distance of over seventy miles. It has for its northern and eastern boundaries Lafourche and a portion of Assumption, while on the west it is bounded by St. Mary and the Atchafalaya Bay and river.
"It covers about 1584 square miles, originally settled by Acadians about 1765. A large portion of the land lying along the gulf is sea marsh, and, therefore, not available for agricultural purposes unless properly drained. In the northern portion of the parish, however, will be found a very superior quality of alluvial soil, wonderful in its productive capacities, and extensively cultivated. In the vicinity of Houma, the earth is about eleven feet above tide water, and by means of numerous bayous is readily drained.
"The arable land of these parishes is all alluvial. A part is sandy loam, another black stiff soil with no sand, and a combination of these two. The sandy soil is lighter and more easily worked; but, the stiff land ripens cane earlier and is more adapted to rice culture. The mixed soil combines the good qualities of both.
"The prevailing religion the Roman Catholic; but churches of all denominations, as well as public and private schools, are established in every village. The people of this section are generally intelligent, educated and refined. All classes are kind and hospitable.
"Bayou Lafourche is navigable for about seven months in the year for steamboats and all species of water craft. By it stone, coal, fire-brick, hoop-poles, sand, lime, lumber from the West, are landed in front of the various sugar plantations and towns; also rafts of saw logs are landed at the saw mills, floated from the swamps of upper Louisiana and Mississippi.
"By the stream, either on steamboats during high water, or by flat-boats in low water, a large amount of the sugar machinery, etc., necessary in the culture of sugar, and merchandise, is brought to the different landings, and the crops made are transported to market. From the seashore, by means of luggers, oysters, game, fish, melons, oranges, etc., are brought to the railroad stations for reshipment to the New Orleans market, or peddled along the bayou to the residents.
"Bayou des Allemands is a beautiful stream, rising near Donaldsonville, and emptying into Lake Salvador, where it is lost in the numerous bays and outlets extending to the Gulf of Mexico. It is navigable for steamboats drawing four feet of water, and through it many of the products of Lafourche find an outlet to market. This bayou drains all that section of the country found between Bayou Lafourche and the Mississippi river as far down as the parish of St. Charles.
"Bayou Blue flows from Thibodaux to the Gulf, and from Lake Fields down could be rendered navigable. Bayous Chicbey, Choupic, Malogay and Grand Bayou, and various others, serve as drains to the country. Lake Fields, in the rear of Lockport, and Lake Long in its rear, are beautiful bodies of water, noted for their excellent fish -- such as cat, sac-a-lait, perch, buffalo, etc.
"Lake Salvador is a magnificent body of water north of Lockport, and is the entrance to one of the most charming body of lakes that lead into the Gulf at Grand Pass, that can be found on the globe. Lake Allemands is a large body of water between Lafourche and St. James. These lakes are supplied with fish and crabs at all seasons, and during the hunting seasons are favorite resting places for the immense flocks of poule-d'eau and ducks, that come down from the colder climes of the north. Many of the inhabitants actually clothe and feed their families from the proceeds derived from the fowl yards, and in the spring, boxes of eggs constitute the principal down freights of steam packets."
The next section of the chapter explores more of the details of the economy of the region. Later.
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