We are currently near New Orleans in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, where Barbara’s brother lives. We went to our first Mardi Gras parade here in Mandeville, a suburb of New Orleans. There are about 50 different parades – most in the suburbs, very family oriented. We are going into New Orleans later for three more parades (one right after the other on the same route). Each has a theme and they are getting more and more elaborate as we near actual Mardi Gras day on Fat Tuesday, 2/28/17.
Our first Mardi Gras parade was in the pouring rain.
It did not dampen the spirits of the parade participants
Or of the spectators
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. However, Mardi Gras is only one day. The rest is called Carnival Season, which starts 12 days after Christmas, January 6th, and goes to Fat Tuesday. (For fabulous prizes, does anyone know the significance of the twelfth day after Christmas?)
Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and part of eastern Texas.
In 1703 French settlers in Mobile, Alabama, established the first organized Mardi Gras celebration tradition in what was to become the United States. The first mystic society, or krewe, was formed in Mobile in 1711, the Boeuf Gras Society. It was these secret societies that first organized the parades. Today, these independent societies (no longer secret, by law) sponsor the floats of the parades. The first Mardi Gras parade held in New Orleans took place in 1837.
You would not believe what Barbara had to do to get those breads.
Ponchatoula, Louisiana, was originally established as a mining camp in 1820, incorporating as a town on February 12, 1861. William Akers was the first mayor and is credited with founding the town, establishing it on land he purchased from the Federal government in 1832. Ponchatoula is a name signifying “falling hair” or “hanging hair”. It was the Indians’ way of expressing the beauty of the location, with much Spanish moss hanging from the trees.
Because of it’s close proximity to New Orleans and this being Mardi Gras season, we will be staying here a month. Come by and see us.
Vidalia, Louisiana to Ponchatoula, Louisiana 138.7 miles
Frogmore Plantation, in what is now called Feriday, Louisiana, was built on an enviable plot of real estate. A farmer named Daniel Morris built the farm along an early wagon trail that stretched from Natchez, Mississippi to Natchitoches—a city that, at 300 years old is Louisiana’s oldest. The trade route eventually led to the Camino Real in Texas, and all of this interstate travel meant that Frogmore’s cotton was easy to ship across the South and beyond. By the time the Civil War came to Louisiana, the once-tiny plantation had grown to a massive 2,640 acres.The plantation is named after Frogmore, England.
Today it is still a working cotton plantation, with a section kept as it looked in 1815. Barbara was tasked with picking cotton, but she didn’t meet her quota, and I had to leave her.
We traveled from Vicksburg, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana on Route 61, the blues road, named for the fact that it was the road taken by many artists going north from New Orleans to Memphis.
Our campground is on the Mississippi River in Vidalia, Louisiana, which is across the river from Natchez, Mississippi.
. We walked along the river bank watching the barges going up and down the river.
Vidalia was founded April 21, 1798 by Don José Vidal, when he received a land grant from the Spanish Governor. This territory was under Spanish rule, before the United States acquired it in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.
Askew’s Landing, Mississippi to Vidalia, Louisiana 96.6 miles.
The battle of Vicksburg is unique in that during the 47 day siege, May 19 to July 4, 1863, of the 100 skirmishes the union was only successful in taking one hill, which they were not able to keep. The Union Army, led by General Ulysses S. Grant, could not take the city of Vicksburg by force because the city was bordered by the Mississippi River on the west and by 300 foot bluffs on the remaining sides. However, Grant was able to cut off all supplies to the city.
Grant’s counterpart and defender of the city was General John C. Pemberton. (See day 272). On July 4, 1863, Pemberton surrendered 2,166 officers and 27,230 men, 172 cannon, and almost 60,000 muskets and rifles to Grant. This combined with the battle of Gettysburg, being fought also July 1-3, 1863, irrevocably turned the tide of the Civil War in the Union’s favor.
Interesting note: Following the surrender on July 4, 1863, the city did not celebrate Independence Day for 82 years. It appears Mississippi is a sore loser, as their state flag still displays the stars and bars.
We toured by car and walking the 16 mile loop of the Vicksburg Battlefield. Markers were placed at the location of each encounter, blue for Union, red for Confederates.
Also on the battlefield was The Cairo, a Union ironclad warship that engaged the Confederates on the Mississippi and surrounding rivers. Contrary to my high school memory, that there were only two ironclads during the Civil War, there were hundreds. This gunboat was sunk on December 12, 1862 at 11:52 AM by a mine on the Yazoo River, north of Vicksburg. This was the first sinking of a vessel by a mine. The mine was manually operated electronically by soldiers hidden on the banks of the river.
Quire: Does anyone know why the South is referred to as Dixie?
We are now in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In 1814 Newit Vick, a Virginia born methodist minister, erected a log cabin for worship here which he called “Open Woods”. Vick was the first methodist minister in this part of the country, and before his death in 1819 of yellow fever he purchased 612 acres of land, which he laid out as a town. To honor his death this town was named Vicksburg. It was incorporated on January 29, 1825.
While John C. Pemberton invented Coca Cola in 1886 (see day 259), it was a candy merchant in Vicksburg, Mississippi who came up with the idea to bottle the soda fountain drink and ship it outside Vicksburg. Joseph A. Biedenharn, born December 13, 1866, was a confectioner who in the summer of 1894 came up with the idea of bottling the soda fountain drink Coca-Cola at his wholesale candy company building in Vicksburg, Mississippi. The bottles at the top where the originals. When the stopper was pulled, it gave a popping sound, hence the name soda pop.
An interesting note: In 1925 Joseph and his son, Malcolm Biedenharn, purchased a crop-dusting business. They added eighteen planes, making it the largest privately owned fleet in the world. That company eventually developed as Delta Air Lines.
We stayed at the Bridgeport Plantation, now an RV Park. Located near the Big Black River, the plantation was established by Duklet Askew in 1859. He and his brother traveled from North Carolina to Mississippi searching for land to build a cotton plantation. Duklet bought 2,000 acres northeast of Edwards Mississippi, along the old Bridgeport Road. He began by clearing more than 500 acres, farmed cotton, and built and operated a ferry across the Big Black River. Some time later, he built a cotton gin and operated a general store close to the ferry on the Big Black River. The park is now operated by Dan Askew.
John Clifford Pemberton, born August 10, 1814, was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Seminole Wars and the Mexican–American War. He served as a Confederate general during the Civil War and was noted for his defeat and surrender in the critical Siege of Vicksburg in the summer of 1863. On May 17, 1863, Pemberton’s 4th brigade, commanded by Col. Reynolds, and portions of Grant’s 15th Corps, commanded by Gen. William T. Sherman, fought here, at our campsite, as Confederate forces retreated from their Champion Hill defeat. Subsequent skirmishing took place near here on June 13, 1863 when a Confederate cavalry force challenged the union picket guarding Grant’s eastern line.
I think I just put my lawn chair where General Sherman had his latrine.