St. Charles Parish as it Used to Be

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Numa Zeringue - Image
Numa Jr. and his wife Evelyn Delaune donated their home and property in historic Red Church subdivision at the corner of South Destrehan and Church Street to St. Charles Borromeo. In 2017 it is used as the school’s parking lot. Photo courtesy Chip Zeringue.

Published in the St. Charles Herald, February 16, 1978. This is one of a ten-part set of reprints from the short-lived Goodhope News published from 1929 to 1930.

Plantations have given place to industries

By Numa Zeringue

(Editor’s Note: Mr. Zeringue, one of the parish‘s oldest residents, has written his recollections of St. Charles in bygone days for the Goodhope News.)

I came from Ama, Louisiana, at the age of nine to clerk in L. M. Soniat’s store on the Modoc plantation, remaining in Mr. Soniat’s employ twelve years. In 1872 I bought a little flat boat, in front of the Red Church on the batture, keeping store in same for three years. In 1875 I built the Mamzelle Store occupied at present, the same building having undergone no repairs, excepting the roof. The lumber is still in fairly good condition.

At that time for laborers’ fees were $12 per month, their rations included. Some of the planters paid the hands half cash, and the balance at the end of the year.

The Fairview, formerly called the Frellsen plantation, was then cultivated in cane with a small roller sugar mill. Patterson plantation, with the sugar house, belonged to St. Martin and Peret. The St. Rose plantation now, used to belong to Louis Louque, also with the sugar house. The old Delord Sarpy plantation at present is owned by the Carlson Oil Refinery at St. Rose.

The old Labranche, called at present Pecan Grove, also the sugar house, is now owned by Italians and other parties. The Modoc plantation, formerly owned by the Widow Soniat, was sold to different parties at the same time the rice mill was erected on that place.

Destrehan plantation, at present owned by the Mexican Petroleum Corporation, formerly was a large sugar plantation owned by Judge Emile Rost.

The Ormond plantation at present, which formerly belonged to the McCutcheon Brothers, with a large sugar plantation, was sold to unknown parties a few years ago. The Victoria plantation, belonging to Emile Soniat, was cultivated in cane, and was sold to different parties. Leon Sarpy (the Prospect) a large sugar cane plantation with a large sugar house, at present belongs to the General American Tank Storage and Terminal Company and the Goodhope Realty Corporation.

The Diamond plantation at present, formerly belonging to T.J. Sellers, is now owned by the Godchaux Company. The Phil Kenner plantation was also a large sugar plantation and now belongs to the Godchaux Compny. All those plantations at that time yielded from thirty-five to fifty tons to the acre, with their small mills extracting three quarters of the juice from the sugar cane. The other quarter went for bagasse. At that time the plantations employed from twenty-five to thirty-five men to put the cane on the carrier.

At the age of thirty-two I married Marie Mayronne and have six sones and three daughters, as follows: Oswald, Numa Jr., Noble, Frank, Hampden and George; Emily (Mrs. W. McKee), Edith and Nora. Two of my sons are married: Oswald’s wife was formerly Andrea Savoy and Numa Jr.’s, Evelyn Delaune.

Now, at the age of seventy-five, I want to give a piece of advice to all young men of the parish: that is to be straight-forward to everyone and I am sure they will thereby get along in this world.