So, on Thursday, I went up to St. Francisville in West Feliciana to look for some marriage certificates at the courthouse. While there, I decided to visit a plantation house in the area. Like many others, I don’t often act as a tourist when I am at home. This is something I have been trying to change
It is a fascinating place. Built in 1835 by Daniel & Martha Barrow Turnbull for little over $13,000, it is now a state museum and is run by LSU after the last relative passed in 1950. Martha Turnbull was a noted horticulturalist and her diary has been a great source of information on the subject. Originally the plantation contained 3,455 acres, of which only over 300 still belong to the property. Around 145 slaves worked the property. This plantation, along with several other plantations Turnbull owned, meant that he was one of the richest men in not only Louisiana, but the United States.
Daniel Turnbull passed away in 1861 and his wife Martha in 1896. They had three children, of which 2 sons passed before Daniel. Their daughter and son-in-law (from another prominent family in the area) moved the plantation and raised 10 children. Many of the slaves became sharecroppers after the war.
Genealogy note – Although I am not related to the Turnbulls, I do have a connection to them in my family history. Sherwood Bonner Raby (1st cousin of my 3rd great-grandfather, Dawson B. Kinchen) was an overseer at the Bayou Grosse Tete plantation for James P. Bowman, Turnbull’s son-in-law. In LSU’s special collections at Hill Memorial Library, there is correspondence between the two over S.B. Raby’s protestation over his 1856 termination as overseer and Bowman’s complaint of Raby’s treatment of slaves.