Monday, June 28, 2010

1860 in St. John Parish

Mr. J. W. Dorr leaves St. Charles Parish and continues his trip to St. John Parish. Court House, Edgard     P. O. St. John the Baptist Parish, April, 27,1860.

Since my date yesterday at the Court-house of St. Charles parish, I have taken it easy and unraveled about fifteen miles more of the winding route of the Mississippi. The road is still pleasant, but not as delightfully so as in St. Charles parish. The planters hereabout do not seem to take quite as much pains in beautifying their homesteads, and they are rather very fine, commodious farmhouses than splendidly ornamented villas, as so many of them are in St. Charles. There are, however, some vey beautiful places in this parish. There is a much greater proportion of people of small means in this parish than in St. Charles, and more free colored; and, indeed, it is nearly twice as populous. There are a good many people along the levee who appear to rely principally on the catfishery and woodchopping for the steamboats for a livelihood, and consequently don't thrive very prosperously.

The only thing I see to object to in this parish is the dogs, their quantity and quality; but I hardly dare to say what I thinkof them, for so fashionable is it to find fault with what the papers say nowadays, that even the dogs of St. John the Baptist might get after me for libellous publication. But I will remark that if Cassius had had an idea of what the vagrom dogs of St. John are, he would never have remarked that he "had rather be a dog" "than such a Roman", for he would rather have been any sort of a Roman than such a dog. The meanest of loafing, houseless, homely, sausage-fearing city curs, would hold up his head in their company and put on city airs, justly esteeming himself a better article of dog, a more elevated type of the canine species. Perhaps, though, my feelings are embittered toward the dogs of this region, by the fact that having bought one of them for a small consideration, intending to preserve him a a rare specimen of canine worthlessness, the creature gnawed off aa halter worth more than himself with which I tied him behind my buggy, and left your correspondent in the lurch. Hence I conclude that he was of the variety known as "lurcher".

I notice, too, a peculiarity in fence making as done in this parish, but all along the river, which strikes me forcibly. This is a way the fence builders have of driving the nail through the string-piece first and into the picket afterward. Why this should be done I don't know, unless the negro carpenters on the plantations are afraid that someone will steal  the nails if they leave the heads on the outside of the fence. But the way they make the fences is none of my business. They don't belong to me.
                                                                                                          to be continued.

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