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History of Louisisana Or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina: Containing   By: (-1775)

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First Page:

THE HISTORY OF LOUISIANA, OR OF THE WESTERN PARTS OF VIRGINIA AND CAROLINA:

Containing a DESCRIPTION of the Countries that lie on both Sides of the River Missisippi:

With an ACCOUNT of the SETTLEMENTS, INHABITANTS, SOIL, CLIMATE, AND PRODUCTS.

Translated from the FRENCH Of M. LE PAGE Du PRATZ;

With some Notes and Observations relating to our Colonies.

Foreword

Antoine Simon Le Page Du Pratz was a Dutchman, as his birth in Holland about 1695 apparently proves. He died in 1775, just where available records do not tell us, but the probabilities are that he died in France, for it is said he entered the French Army, serving with the Dragoons, and saw service in Germany. While there is some speculation about all the foregoing, there can be no speculation about the statement that on May 25, 1718 he left La Rochelle, France, in one of three ships bound for a place called Louisiana.

For M. Le Page tells us about this in a three volume work he wrote called, Histoire de la Louisiane, recognized as the authority to be consulted by all who have written on the early history of New Orleans and the Louisiana province.

Le Page, who arrived in Louisiana August 25, 1718, three months after leaving La Rochelle, spent four months at Dauphin Island before he and his men made their way to Bayou St. John where he set up a plantation. He had at last reached New Orleans, which he correctly states, "existed only in name," and had to occupy an old lodge once used by an Acolapissa Indian. The young settler, he was only about 23 at the time, after arranging his shelter tells us: "A few days afterwards I purchased from a neighbour a native female slave, so as to have a woman to cook for us. My slave and I could not speak each other's language; but I made myself understood by means of signs." This slave, a girl of the Chitimacha tribe, remained with Le Page for years, and one draws the inference that she was possessed of a vigorous personality, and was not devoid of charm or bravery. Le Page writes that when frightened by an alligator approaching his camp fire, he ran to the lodge for his gun. However, the Indian girl calmly picked up a stick and hammered the 'gator so lustily on its nose that it retreated. As Le Page arrived with his gun, ready to shoot "the monster," he tells us: "She began to smile, and said many things which I did not comprehend, but she made me understand by signs, that there was no occasion for a gun to kill such a beast."

It is unfortunate, for the purpose of sociological study, that this Indian girl appears so infrequently in the many accounts Le Page has left us in his highly interesting studies of early Louisiana and its original inhabitants. He does not even tell us the Indian girl's name.

We are told that after living on the banks of Bayou St. John for about two years, he left for the bluff lands of the Natchez country. His Indian girl decided she would go with him, as she had relatives there. Hearing of her plan, her old father offered to buy her back from Le Page. The Chitimacha girl, however, refused to leave her master, whereupon, the Indian father performed a rite of his tribe, which made her the ward of the white man a simple ceremony of joining hands.

Le Page spent eight years among the Natchez and what he wrote about them their lives, their customs, their ceremonials has been acknowledged to be the best and most accurate accounts we have of these original inhabitants of Louisiana. He has left us, in his splendid history, much information on the other Indian tribes of the lower Mississippi River country.

Antoine Simon Le Page Du Pratz tells us he spent sixteen years in Louisiana before returning to France in 1734. They were years well spent to judge by what he wrote.

As it was written and published in the French language, Le Page's history proved in many instances to be a tantalizing casket of historical treasure that could not be opened by those who had not mastered French. The original edition, published in Paris in 1758, a score of years after the author landed in New Orleans, was followed in 1763 by a two volume edition in English, and eleven years later in 1774, by a one volume edition in English, entitled: "The History of Louisiana, or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina... Continue reading book >>




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