Dating in jean lafitte louisiana

Deep in the southwest corner of Louisiana lies a region once famed in American history as the "Neutral Strip. In that year Spanish General Simon Herrerra and the American General James Wilkinson of Louisiana concluded the "Neutral Ground Agreement," whereby the Strip was left unoccupied by troops and law enforcement officials of either nation, and the agreement remained in effect until Although a few legitimate land hunters settled there, the Strip soon became notorious for harboring the lawless elements and social outcasts of two nations, that ilk of humanity to whom piracy appealed and who became indispensable to the slave-trading and buccaneering activities of Jean Lafitte.

It was also destined to retain its share of Lafitte legendry and folklore for most of a century. Bounded on the west by the Sabine River and on the east by the Calcasieu the Arroyo Hondo, or "Deep River" of the Spanish , the region is noted for its many deep, cypress-lined and moss-draped bayous, its marshy lowlands, and live oak-studded "cheniers," or marsh ridges, in the coastal or southern sector, and for its pine forests and hardwood bottomlands in the northern sector.

Only a sprinkling of white settlers and slaves were living there by Elsewhere small bands of the fast-vanishing Attakapas tribe, led by Chief Calcasieu or Crying Eagle , roamed the coastal confines, along with countless alligators, deer, bears, and black panthers. By the privateers of Jean Lafitte and his predecessor, Luis de Aury, were capturing numerous Spanish slavers off the coast of Cuba. Then Lafitte learned that he could multiply his profits by marketing slaves direct to the Louisiana cotton and sugar cane planters.

Arsene LeBleu de Comarsac. By the latter had built his cabin at a point where the Calcasieu River intersected the Old Spanish Trail. After Lafitte was driven from the Island, LeBleu became a rancher and cattle buyer. He drove his herds from Texas to New Orleans via the Old Spanish Trail, and his home became a well-known way station, or "stand," for the Texas cattle drivers along the Opelousas Trail. There were other Calcasieu residents, such as Charles Sallier, Michel Pithon, or Michel Trahan of Lake Charles, who were intimately acquainted with the old pirate and furnished his crews with beef and vegetables when their ships were in the Calcasieu River.

It was their descendants who have perpetuated the legendry of Jean Lafitte in Calcasieu Parish then St. Landry almost to the present day.

The largest, Calcasieu Lake, some fifteen miles in diameter, is encountered shortly after entering the Calcasieu Pass. Today Lake Charles, La. In a traveler described the legacy that the sea rover had bequeathed to the Calcasieu region in a long article in the Galveston "Weekly News," as follows: Hackberry Island, in Calcasieu Lake, is pointed out as their naval depot, though it must have been deeper than now.

An elevation on the river is to this day called Money Hill, and is pointed out as the spot where Lafitte buried his money. For fifty years the people of the country have occasionally been digging for it, but the proprietor has stopped it.

Contraband Bayou is also pointed out as having had a depot at its head for the stowing of the goods these pirates smuggled into the country and also as a depot for the African slaves they imported. Around the turn of the century, this Acadian home, later remodeled, was believed to be the oldest residence still standing in Calcasieu Parish.

If the early inhabitants of the Strip held Jean Lafitte in high esteem, he reciprocated by showering them with luxuries of a type rarely seen on the frontier. In his journal, Lafitte made many references to the Neutral Strip and its residents, noting that "the Sabine and two other small rivers, the Calcasieu and the Mermentau, also served for transporting goods as far as Alexandria La. Upon abandoning the island commune and dividing the property in February , Lafitte wrote that "most of the families went north near the banks of the Sabine River.

A minor French aristocrat once living in the shadow of the guillotine, he and others reputedly escaped to Spain, and about engaged Jean Lafitte for a princely sum to resettle them in Louisiana. Months later, as the Barataria Bay pirate cast anchor in Lake Charles, the refugees watched in awe as dozens of Attakapas warriors scampered into dugouts, paddled out to the warship, and began scaling the gunwales.

When the frightened Sallier dashed below decks to apprise Lafitte of the hostile intent, the buccaneer replied: The last time I was here a party of them undertook a trip for me on a mission of great importance to a settlement of Acadians in the Bayou Teche country. He bartered trinkets to the Indians for the land and built his home there, of solid cypress, where it remained until the house was jacked up on log rollers and moved to Lake Charles. It would be four long years before Sallier would see the Barataria corsair again.

According to Sallier, a French agent contracted with Lafitte, following the Battle of New Orleans, to hurry to Bordeaux, France, on a top secret mission.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Waterloo, the emperor had hoped to avoid retribution by escaping to Louisiana, but when he failed to arrive at an appointed hour, Lafitte sailed away from Bordeaux without him.

One old Napoleonic warrior who reputedly also escaped on that voyage was Michel Pithon, who had fought for France in every battle from Austerlitz in , Moscow in , to the Battle of Paris in Again in , Pithon fought in the Texas Army for some months, later rearing a large family at Lake Charles during his old age, where he also died at age ninety-seven in Early in September, , Sallier was startled one morning to see a "strange, clipper-built schooner," bearing a massive spread of canvas, glide up the river to the Barb shellbank and cast anchors overboard.

He was apprehensive at first, for a large complement of men scurried about the decks, where the muzzles of twelve brass ship cannons frowned their metallic belligerence. Soon two men came ashore, one a heavy-set man with a brace of musket pistols in his belt, and the other "a tall, dark man with a black mustache" and carrying a sword in hilt.

It was a happy reunion for Sallier and a few of the other transplanted "aristocrats," who quickly supplied Lafitte with tons of fresh vegetables and beef, and later reveled for a week, gorging on the best of French brandies, wines, and Spanish cigars, aboard the pirate ship. But Lafitte was as unpredictable as he was close-mouthed, and one morning Sallier awoke to find that the buccaneers had sailed away. Many months elapsed before Sallier saw the corsair ship in the Calcasieu again. This time Lafitte sailed north to Lake Charles, where his crew encamped for several weeks on the high bluff where later the H.

Drew Lumber Company sawmill was built. Again his crew buried a large sea chest on the shores of the lake. While half of the pirates moved slave coffles and contraband booty overland to Opelousas and Natchitoches, the remainder scurried about for provisions of corn and beef, painted and caulked the hull of their ship, and repaired guns, rigging, and sails.

Relying on the brand of cat-and-mouse tactics that only pirates employed so well, the buccaneer schooner hoisted reserve sails and headed for the open sea. There Lafitte waited for darkness, then circled the cutter, and blanketed by fog, sailed into the Pass the following morning, leaving his pursuer baffled.

True to his tendency to act on sudden impulse, the pirates broke camp one morning and sailed away so abruptly that Lafitte left his favorite slave cook, Catalon, asleep on the shore. Sallier took charge of the young Negro for several months, and when Lafitte returned to the Calcasieu at a latter date, Sallier bought the slave for the price of two sides of beef. There was another ex-slave named Wash who died at Lake Charles in at age Born in Africa, Wash was one of the slaves who as a young man had been sold by Lafitte on Galveston Island.

Wash deserted his former owner in Kentucky and made his way south to Louisiana, where he attached himself to a new master. One such tale related that Lafitte, whose ship was laden with booty from a particularly successful expedition, once entered the Calcasieu River while under pursuit by a large American frigate.

The rest built a clamshell fort, moved the guns ashore, and then they sank their leaky ship, with a portion of its decks still awash, nearby in the river. Time passed, the American frigate sailed away, and the buccaneers returned to Galveston Island on a new schooner purchased at Lake Charles. Oldtimers of that vicinity believed that the old Acadians eventually returned and claimed their treasure, for in later years, beneath a curiously-marked cypress tree, a fresh excavation was found, the bottom of which was still filled with rust and imprints where the two sea chests had formerly lain buried.

If during the last years of his life, the ex-slave Wash became as close-mouthed as a pirate, it was because of a murder he claimed he had witnessed. These gentlemen went to where the court house now stands and stuck a curious looking instrument into the ground.

It looked like a broomstick, and had a sharp iron point to make it go into the ground easy. On the other end was a curious little contrivance that looked like a watch, only it was a lot bigger, and had a little finger inside that never wanted to keep still.

Finally at last it pointed them to a big green knoll right on the banks of Contraband Bayou. Then the gentlemen knew that was the right place, and right there, about three feet under the ground, was an iron chest, three feet long and two feet wide, with a whole lot of gold inside.

Well, they got two sacks of gold and tied the ends together, and threw them across the back of one of the horses, and came away and camped near my house. He saw where some digging had been going on. That scared him awful and he went and told a white gentleman.

The two of them went back and dragged the bottom of the bayou, underneath where the darky saw the flies, and brought up the body of the other man, with an iron bake oven tied around his neck. They buried him on the green knoll where the money was found. People were afraid to open their mouths those days unless it was to eat.

From time to time the writer has been asked if this or that particular Lafitte legend were true. Yes, they were nearly all "true" to the extent that they were originated by people who knew Lafitte or some of his men, or at least claimed that they did.

Jean Lafitte left Southwest Louisiana a rich legacy of legends! Unless otherwise indicated, the material published on this site is copyrighted by William T. Like us on Facebook:

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Total 2 comments.
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