|The Bishop Martin house, which sits across from the church and a block from the courthouse, was built in the 1850s.
|Links about and around Natchitoches
Cane River Heritage Area
City of Natchitoches
|Natchitoches: Pronounced Naka-dish
|Whenever you visit a town, always try to get away from the Main Street - it pays off to wander. I found this brick building, with iron shutter doors
and French iron work along a side street off of Front Street. I don't know much about the building, but it definitely stood out as vintage
|If Front Street looks familiar, that might be because you've seen the famous movie Steel Magnolias, which was filmed in Natchitoches. The
author of the play lives in a restored Creole plantation house along the Cane River Lake.
|Natchitoches is about an hour south of Shreveport on Louisiana State Highway 1, or US Interstate 49.
It also sits directly on the Camino Real, the ancient Spanish Colonial Road, which parallels LA 6.
|The American Cemetery is one of Louisiana's oldest graveyards. It sits on the original site of Fort St. Jean Baptiste, which burned in an Indian
raid. After the fort was rebuilt, the old site became the city's burial ground for non-Catholics, fallen Catholics, and Anglos. Soon, however, most
"movers and shakers" of Natchitoches were buried at the cemetery, including members of the prominent Prudhomme and Metoyer families, and
several men who fought on the American side in the revolutionary war.
The tombstone is above is of Dr. John Sibley, Caddo Indian Agent:
Dr. John Sibley
Born - May 19, 1757 Sutton, Mass.
Died - April 8, 1837 Natchitoches, LA.
Revolutionary war soldier; appointed by Thos. Jefferson 1805 Indian Agent Natchitoches; influential in U.S. Spanish boundary sipute settlement;
N.W. LA frontier development; first, senator, judge, militia colonel, historian, Natchitoches Parish owner plantations N.S.C. site; army post
physician; operated Drake salt mines.
Donated by Sibley descendants of Shreveport. April 24, 1954. Sponsored by the North LA. Historical Assn.
The American Cemetery is so old, trees tend to eat the tombstones. Can you spot this crepe myrtle's victim on the right?
|The oldest grave in the American Cemetery is that of a French noble woman who, for reasons known only to her confessor, left her home
country to seek opportunity in the New World. French graves tend to sport iron crosses.
|This now-defunct rooming house, remnant of segregated Natchitoches, exists just west of downtown on 5th Street.
|This 1927 Texas & Pacific Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places. The local historical society is currently restoring it.
|The Church of the Immaculate Conception was built in the 1850s, though the dome was completed in the 1890s.
|I guess it doesn't matter if you're the founder of the oldest town in Louisiana or not - when development comes, it'll be built right on top of you.
Louis Jucherau de St. Denis, the intrepid French-Canadian explorer, trader, governor, and original French patent holder for Natchitoches, was
buried in a crypt inside the city's original Catholic church. When the church burnt, St. Denis remained buried, and the downtown area expanded
on top of him. According to lore, St. Denis' new eternal home lies beneath this pub (circled) at the corner of Church and Front Streets.*
* Not sure if this information is accurate, though, as St. Denis died in 1744 and the basilica at Church & Front Street was built during the 1780s.
But it's a good story!
|Natchitoches is the "jewel" of the Cane River Creole National Historic Area, as the city served as the center of the French and Spanish
Louisiana life for almost a century. After the Americans purchased Louisiana in 1803, cotton became the region's staple crop, and the American
plantation system merged with the Creole culture to form unique homes and lifestyles. Oakland (pictured here), Melrose, and Magnolia
plantations have been preserved through the efforts of families, historical societies, parish officials, and the National Park System.
|Questions or comments? E-mail me: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Front Street and Cane River in the 1940s. Library of Congress.
|Store along the Cane River in 1940, Library of Congress.
|How to Get
|John Maley, an American merchant and frontiersman and filibusterer, visited Natchitoches in 1810 in an attempt to establish trade
relationships along the Red River. Here are his impressions on the French planters in Natchitoches: "some of those french
planters are very hospitable and others despise the Americans since that country was purchased by the united states which is
merely on account that they are rather doubtful that all their claims of land will be allowed them that they held under french
government I was [scouled? scorned?] times denied by them even a nights lodging even in my own blankets under their roof"
(1810, first journal, p. 192)
|Natchitoches wasn't always so genteel. Here's John Maley, the American trader, passing judgement on Natchitoches during a
visit in 1812: "lots of gambling night strolling so many ladies pf pleasure (...) all girls are copper color some are slaves and
others their own mistresses, some wealthy purchase their own mistresses... generally captivating figures but when they think
them worn out in the service they then sell them and buy others. I was credibly informed that there were but three men in all the
town that had lawfull wives" (1812, third journal, p. 3-4)