Monday, April 5, 2010

St. Charles Parish, 1860 by J.W. Dorr continued

      I write you from St. Charles Courthouse, where is located one of the three post-offices which the parish boasts. This "village" contains the court-house building and jail, which are of recent construction, and well and quite handsomely built of brick, and some five of six houses, one of which is occupied as a store. The settlement is twenty-nine miles from New Orleans. The other postoffices are McCutcheon's Landing, on the left bank, opposite this place, and Taylor's on the right bank, thirty-six miles from New Orleans.
      The value of real estate held by residents of the Parish of St. Charles is $1,646,900 and of non-residents $56,366. These figures are legally correct, and are one year later returns than have been published by the Auditor of the State. The value of slaves $2,053,300; of cattle, $25,200; of carriages and vehicles $8450; of capitol invested in trade $15,000. This last item is very small, for New Orleans is too near to give country dealers much chance. The few stores in the parish are nearly all scattered along the levee four or five miles apart, and are small affairs. The largest and best stocked concern that I have yet seen is that of J.B. Gassen, at Gassen's Landing and Ferry, twenty-six miles above the city. The other stores in the parish are Levert's, Bistoul's, Vial's and Labat's, all on the right bank of the river, and Boutte's back on the Opelousas Railroad. Thus, you perceive, "merchandising" is a very inferior interest in these parts.
      The area of the Parish of St. Charles is 81,413 acres, of which 45,884 acres is under cultivation, and 35,529 uncultivated. About 38,000 acres are in cane; about 6000 in corn, and three or four hundred in rice. These sre very nearly accurate, their deviation from actual fact being so trifling as to be of no general consequence. The total population of the Parish is about 5000, of whom about 900 are whites, 3719 slaves and about 200 free colored. The Parish pays about $12,000 taxes of which the mill tax, for the support of public schools, amounts to about $3800. There are three school districts in the Parish, and one school in each, and the number of educable children is about 300.                                             to be continued

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