A Description of Island DeSiard

The following beautiful article was written in 1890 by a female resident of the “Island” this area is roughly where Sterlington is now. The island is bordered by the Ouachita River and Bayous Bartholomew and DeSiard.

Be warned: There is some racially insensitive language towards the end.

The Times-Democrat (New Orleans, LA) April 13, 1890, Page 13

OUR ISLAND HOME.

For The Times-Democrat.

            In the northwestern part of Louisiana, formed by the union of the bayous Bartholomew and De Siard with the waters of the Ouachita river, is situated a small island, having an area of about fifty square miles, the greater portion consisting of cleared land in a high state of cultivation.  The centre of this island is eighteen miles north of the City of Monroe, a lovely and growing town lying on the eastern and western banks of the Ouachita, and, with justice, the especial pride of North Louisiana.  Island De Siard received its name from early French settlers, and there are numerous other French names for various features of the country – such as L’eau Noir, Point des Nufs, Bayou Chovan and a very old road running from Monroe to the island was formerly called the Chemin-en-Haut, but now known as the “Pine Hill Road.”

            To a traveler on board one of the Blanks Line steamers, which for about five months during the year ply in the waters of the Ouachita along the borders of this island home, the country would be presented as follows:  For some miles after leaving Monroe the river is bordered on either side by rich overflow lands, covered with valuable timber; then the cultivated portion of the island comes in view.  Fronting the river, and running back for some distance into the interior, are large and productive cotton plantations adjoining each other, and in spring and summer they have the appearance of one vast garden clothed in raiment of living green, made more distinct by the line of waving corn, which, with its darker green, serves as a background for the verdant picture.

            As to natural advantages, such as fertility, drainage, etc., these fields are not to be surpassed by those of any other portion of Louisiana, and although good crops may be made without such assistance, the planters, who are all ambitious and progressive, have for several years past greatly increased the yield by the use of commercial fertilizers.  The other large and valuable farms of Island De Siard lie on the banks of the Bartholomew and De Siard.  Persons living on the Bartholomew have the advantage of shipping their produce direct from their homes, as the stream is navigable for some miles above the Arkansas line, but those of the De Siard are compelled to haul to the Ouachita river, a distance of three or four miles.

            There is now no complaint of the scarcity of labor, as was the case several years ago, the planters having adopted the plan of importing laborers every year from those parts of the Carolinas where the negro suffers from the actual want of bread.

            Several of the island farmers have turned their attention to stock raising, and on every side is seen some evidence of progress and improvement.

            Standing on the level and verdant lawn that fronts the low, old-fashioned house, with galleries stretching in almost every direction, which constitutes my childhood’s home; as I listen to the tinkle of “herd bells” and the lowing of the cattle as they “wend their homeward way” at even-tide, and hear the gladsome shouts from a score of happy negroes who welcome the blessed season of rest as the labors of day are ended, I bend my head in reverence to that Divine Majesty who has endowed with all good gifts this bright and beautiful land of ours, and awarded it to us as an inheritance.

                                                                        A COUNTRY GIRL.

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