Creole Literature

Creole literary
By the nineteenth century, literary figures began to focus on Cane River, particularly Kate Chopin, whose short stories often seem to have Cane River settings, and since she lived in Cloutierville, she likely was the first local colorist to fictionalize the region. The works of George Washington Cable (1883, 1884) brought Creole culture to the attention of the world, too. Eventually recoiling from fierce opposition, Cable slowed down.
The first three decades of the twentieth century saw the literary and artistic crowd move to Melrose Plantation. Mrs. Cammie Henry, doyenne of Melrose, brought writers and artists there to work. The folklorist Dorothy Scarborough visited and gave us descriptions from Melrose of race relations, material culture and music. Most notable of these was Lyle Saxon; his novel Children of Strangers focused on Creole and African-American relations on Cane River. Francois Mignon, Lyle Saxon's friend, came to Melrose to visit and remained. He left his impressions, very romanticized, of Cane River and its people: Cane River Memoires. This little work is an example of the rich mix of folklore, fact and fantasy that developed in the 1930s.
It would be the 1950s before writers discovered the Cane River Creoles again. Sister Jerome Woods, a nun in the Order of Sisters of Divine Providence, began sociological research at Isle Brevelle. In an era when sociology and anthropology shifted their interests to community studies, Sister Jerome Woods uniquely recognized the power of ethnicity in community development. Moreover, she caught the dynamics of urban migration by Creoles.
Historians Gary Mills and his wife, Elizabeth S. Mills, came to Natchitoches to do historical and genealogical research. Primarily focused on Melrose Plantation, their interests extended to the Creoles. The Mills' work, The Forgotten People: Cane River's Creoles of Color has become a standard reference on the region. In that it emphasized the role of Marie Thérèze Coincoin in the formation of the community, it broke new ground. The Creole community found its description and genealogy of great interest, and the Mills stimulated a wave of local history - from the Creole point of view - which continues. As one Creole author, Kathleen Balthazar-Heitzman noted, "The Mills made me aware of my history. That I had history."
We Know Who We Are (Unpublished manuscript) by H. F. Gregory and J. Moran pp. 9-13

Last updated: June 24, 2017