Magnolia Plantation

Magnolia Overseer's House/Hospital
Historical records suggest this building originally served as a hospital for the enslaved laborers. According to oral tradition the Hertzog family moved in after the main house was burned in 1864. Overseers or farm mangers lived here from the late 1890s to the mid-1960s.

NPS Photo: A. Jones

Magnolia Plantation was established by Ambrose LeComte II (or LeCompte) and his wife Julia Buard in 1835. However, Magnolia Plantation’s early history is rooted in colonial Louisiana. In the 1750s, Jean Baptiste LeComte I received a French-era land grant on Cane River, laying the foundation for a cotton plantation unrivaled in the region.

235 enslaved persons, housed in 70 cabins, cultivated cotton and other crops. As many as 24 of the Magnolia Plantation cabins were two-room brick structures, accommodating a family or group in each of the two rooms. In 1852, Ambrose’s daughter Atala and son-in-law Matthew Hertzog took over operation of Magnolia. By 1860, the family owned more enslaved people and produced more cotton on over 6,000 acres, then anyone in the parish. The Civil War had devastating effects for the plantation. During the Red River Campaign of April 1864, retreating United States troops burned the main house.

Two room brick cabins in a field.
Built as early as 1845 by enslaved people, as many as twenty-four brick cabins once stood in the Magnolia Quarters Community. Originally each cabin housed two enslaved families.

NPS Photo: Poole

After the Civil War and through the 1960s, Magnolia Plantation maintained a successful farming operation. This success could not have been achieved without both the descendants of enslaved workers who remained and other families who came to work as tenant farmers, sharecroppers, and day laborers. Families such as LaCour, Metoyer, Moran, Rachal, Vercher, Cyriaque, Middleton, and Anthony contributed much, and their descendants remain. Their lives continued to revolve around the cabins, which were converted to single-family tenant housing after Emancipation. The cabins had vegetable and flower gardens, along with fenced in yards that enclosed chickens and other fowl. Eight cabins of the Magnolia Quarters have survived. Times were tough and life was hard. To lift their spirits the plantation residents would visit with neighbors, play cards and games, and enjoy music. Children rode horses and played baseball in local leagues. The transition from working by hand and draft animals to using machines began in the 1930s. The last day laborers moved out of the remaining cabins in the early 1970s.

The National Park Service acquired the outbuildings in 1997. The blacksmith shop, hospital/ overseer's house, tenant cabin and cotton gin barn are open daily for self-guided tours. The LeComte-Hertzog family continues to operate the privately-owned property, including the main house that was re-built in the 1890s, as a working plantation.


Last updated: February 9, 2024

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