Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Bon jour, kids,
That's French for "good day." I just recently visited Louisiana. In a small part of Louisiana, some people still speak a kind of French. Here's why.
French people settled at the mouth of the Mississippi River and founded the city of New Orleans. This was in the early 1700s when there was no United States. (There were English colonies on the east coast of the country but other countries claimed different parts of the continent.)
There were also French people who settled in the northeast -- in what would become Canada. Then the French and the English had a war over who would claim the territory. The English won and they kicked the French out of their homes.
They had called their area Acadia and they were called Acadians. Many of them knew that there were French people in the south -- in what is now Louisiana. So they moved to that area. Now we call those people Cajuns -- an easier way of pronouncing Acadians.
I learned all this when I visited a historic park called Vermilionville. You can go there and learn about how the Cajuns lived, what they ate, what their houses looked like -- lots of things!
Here are some of the things I saw:
This is La Maison Broussard. Maison means house in French. It is the oldest house in the village. It was built in 1790 - that's over 200 years ago. It was moved here from its original location.
This little building was built in the 1830s and was used as the schoolhouse for the children of the plantation owner.
This little church looks like the kind of churches people in the area went to in the late 1700s. There was only one kind of church -- everyone was Catholic. Now, of course, there are all kinds of churches. Louisiana is not divided into counties like Oklahoma and other states. They have parishes -- these were originally church divisions.
I got to ride across this little bayou (a slow creek or river or, sometimes, just a marshy lake). It was like a big raft. Men pulled it across the water by pulling on heavy ropes.
I liked listening to Cajun music. This man is playing an accordion. One of his friends played the guitar and another played the violin.
I got to taste some gumbo. It's sort of a soup or stew made from broth, chicken, sausage, peppers, onion, celery and green peppers. It was really good.
Vermilionville was a very nice place. It is built on the edge of Bayou Vermilion. I thought this was a pretty picture.