Home of old Creole family Cousin on Bayou Lacombe in Tammany Parrish, ca.1840. Photo: Owen F. Murphy, 1999
Le Tour du Iberville
The rich cultural and geographic history of the
Louisiana bayou country can be traced along the route taken by
French-Canadian Pierre le Moyne, Sieur du Iberville, who in 1699
led an expedition to explore the Mississippi River and secure the
claim of the Louisiana Territory as a French colony.
Le Tour du Iberville was an official part of the Louisiana Tricentennial
Celebration, known as "FrancoFete '99," a year-long commemoration
of the 300th anniversary of the founding of Louisiana by du
Iberville. His route extended from Mobile, Alabama, across the
Mississippi Gulf coast, up the Mississippi River to the Houmas
Native American Nation settlement at the confluence of the Red
River, and across the north shore of Lakes Maurepas and
Pontchartrain. On March 28, 1999 the Lacombe Heritage Center
celebrated the 300th anniversary of the encampment of Iberville and
four Canadians on Goose Point near the mouth of Bayou Lacombe.
The Lacombe Heritage Center is a nonprofit
organization, which was founded in 1983 to coordinate all heritage
activities of the region. It prepared this legacy documentation,
which highlights the historic and cultural heritage of St. Tammany
Parish, encompassing early southern Indians to 20th century
Creoles, using du Iberville's route as a unifying theme. The
center's goal is to initiate and coordinate a cooperative tourism
program that would promote the region's legacy through a series of
markers, monuments, museums, and activities.
The town of Lacombe is in St. Tammany Parish
(county), a community of about 8,000 people, just north of New
Orleans and covers about 900 miles. It is bordered on the east by
the state of Mississippi, and on the south by Lake Pontchartrain.
The area is known for its scenic beauty, comprising dens of pines
and majestic moss-laden oaks. Lake Pontchartrain, which is
surrounded by the city of New Orleans and northern parishes, was
the unifying environmental, historical and cultural element in the
development of colonial Louisiana along the northern Gulf of
Mexico. All rivers and bayous on the north shore drain into the
Lake Pontchartrain basin, which ties the estuarine system to the
Early journals by explorers describe the immense
terrain of this area, which was once covered with vast aquatic
prairies, huge cypress swamps, and panoramas of tall pine forests.
After defeat in the Civil War, and during Reconstruction, a
coalition of civil and military occupying forces plundered the
area, including carpetbagger corporations that clear cut huge
1,500-year-old cypresses in the Manchac Swamp and ancient
long-needle yellow pine forests. The area was left with a legacy of
erosion, subsistence, and drainage problems.
To protect and restore the natural resources, several
parks, preserves, and wildlife refuges have been established in St.
Tammany Parish during the 1900s. The Big Branch Marsh National
Wildlife Refuge was created on October 24, 1994, along the north
shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The refuge currently contains about
14,000 acres, of which 12,000 acres are marshlands and forested
wetlands. These wetlands were threatened by urban expansion from
the city of New Orleans. The Bogue Chitto National Wildlife Refuge,
which includes 40,000 acres, much of it bottlomland hardwoods, is
located in Washington and St. Tammany parishes and part of the
state of Mississippi. Other areas are being reforested as a linear
park a long an abandoned railroad line, called The Tammany Trace,
it will have 2,100 oak trees, and also bluebird houses for the
Mountain bluebird, which was nearly extinct. Other heritage
projects include the Bayou Lacombe Rural Museum, which is housed in
a restored 1913 school house, and plans for a Choctaw and Creole
Heritage and Art Museum.
By 1999, St. Tammany was the fastest growing parish
in Louisiana. Because much of the development has been unplanned,
local citizens have organized "Visions 2025" to develop a master
plan for the parish.
Documentation includes catalogs, booklets, brochures,
festival information, newspaper and magazine articles, and books
that document this legacy of St Tammany Parish. These include books
on Bayou Lacombe, the Creoles of New Orleans, the cities of
Slidell, founded in 1888 in St. Tammany Parish as a railroad town,
and Mandeville, founded in 1840 on the lake, and a history of
Also included are a video and script of the play,
Christmas in the Bayou, about missionary Adrien Rourquette
who tended to the Choctaw Indians; a book of recipes that have been
passed down through generations; a chronology on the Houma Indians;
a 19th century diary by Francois Sidone Pichon; information and
photographs of Veterans of Foreign Wars, Davis Memorial Post; a
video of the 1995 Wooden Boat Festival in Madisonville; a
collection of oral histories and stories; a map of the tour;
reunion information about the LeFrere/Cousin family; the
autobiography and family history of Morris R. Alfred; and articles
and photos regarding the area's Scottish heritage, including the
first Highland Games of Louisiana in 1999, held in Jackson, an area
that would have been along du Iberville's route, and later settled
by English, Scots, Irish and Welsh.
Originally submitted by: Mary L. Landrieu, Senator.
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.