Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rural Life and the Red Stick

Everyone enjoyed the pictures of the Louisiana State Capital in Baton Rouge so much that I thought I would follow-up with more pictures of the area, and in particular the Rural Life Museum. I liked the Museum because it focused on rural life that was particular to the Louisiana area. Some things appear very similar to the farming way of life we encountered in The Okefenokee Swamp but in some ways you will see a difference in how people went about their day-to-day lives. As always, click each photo for a better view.

A recreation of a shotgun house that was popular during rural period in the South. They were called shotgun houses from the saying that one could fire a shotgun through the front door and the pellets would fly cleanly through the house and out the back because the houses were narrow rectangle boxes with all the rooms in a straight line with a door on either end.

The Living or front room of the shotgun house. Over to the right you can see a portion of the dining area and light from the back door highlighting the straight line construction.

The view from the Dining area. While it appears a little rustic to our current day eyes, this dining area was rather expensive for the time.

This family might have used one of the two pictured washing machines. They both required a good deal of work to operate but were definitely a step above hand washing that was very labor intensive. Each had a crank that turned the clothes over. The washing machine to the right had a mechanical crank that allowed a horse or human to rotate the barrel body around and wash the clothes.

The family might have been involved in molasses production where sugar cane was grown on the land and then boiled in a two strain process that you see to the right. The by product is moved from bowl to bowl depending on how many times it is boiled. A third boiling takes the sugar syrup beyond simple molasses to create blackstrap molasses that you see in the jar to the right.

If they were involved in cotton production, they might have used this early form of tractor that required the introduction of coal to produce steam to power movement. If you have ever experienced a hot day in the south, I would not want to be the one feeding it.

The majority of either crop once harvested would be transported down to the Mississippi River and put on steam boats for transport all around the world. This model shows the bales of cotton and barrels of molasses carried by the steam boat.

Cotton that was not shipped might be used in local homes that used looms pictured to the left.

It seems that dying was a showy business in Louisiana compared to other areas. A family might elect a casket similar to this iron number with a viewing window for the face.

And one could really go in style with further viewing in this very elaborate hearse.

So there you have rural life in Baton Rouge or "the red stick" as JLBO hinted in his comments on another post. There is always a common theme that seems to run through rural life in the South but it is more than apparent that the French influence adds a very distinct variation in Louisiana.


  1. That casket is too cool!

  2. I think the spirit of Mark Twain is smiling :-)

    A kiss, Cherrie

  3. Ana,

    You got that right! This is Mark Twain country down by the Mississippi!

  4. I liked the washing-machines ! (but wouldn't like to be the one operating the crank...) I guess my great gran'ma would have fancied one of those, though ! As for the hearse, I'd go for something less elaborate but with more intimacy...