August 10, 2009

Road Trip - Longstreet, LA

When last I left you, our load to Idaho had been canceled and we were stranded in Arkansas till Monday morning. Well its Monday morning and we are waiting our turn to load in Pine Bluff, going somewhere in Oklahoma.
Deciding not to sit in De Witt, AR all weekend, we went ahead and drove to Pine Bluff, rented a car, and went on a road trip. Now one might think, "but they go on road trips daily for a living." But its not the same. Road trips are spontaneous ventures out into unknown places, generally in vehicles that can be parked in tight places, make U turns easily, etc. We went on a road trip, our first in several years.
The car:

The girls in the car:

We had to take them, so we got a rental that had two keys, and when we'd leave the car, we left it running and locked it. So they chilled in the AC, while the two of us swam our way through the dense humidity of Louisiana in August.

We drove about 220 miles south to Longstreet, LA. Its just south of Shreveport, and pretty close to the Texas line. Malcolm's grandfather grew up here, so we went to find his old home place and the ancestors that are buried there. In its day, Longstreet had several cotton gins, mercantiles, and service stations. Today, its pretty much reduced to a post office, convenience store/cafe, and the city hall.

I'm just going to hit a few highlights here, as I took over 100 pictures.
Longstreet, LA:

The cemetery

Malcolm's great grand-father and great-great grandparents are buried here, along with a few other relatives.

Frank and Priscillar Johnson, his great-great grandparents

We also found the old home place. This was originally a 40 acre cotton farm, with the house and barns being built by Malcolm's great grandfather. The house burned back in the 60's, but the barn is still there, though leaning badly. Malcolm said we'd probably be the last family members to see it standing.

This corner housed the school where his grandfather went. It was torn down years ago, but the old bell is still there, as well as the swing set.

We also drove north to the town of Keachi. Malcolm's great-great grandmother was raised in this house, just west of town. The house was built around 1850. We went to the door to ask permission to take a picture, and the wonderful lady who lives there now gave us a tour of the house. Its in wonderful condition, so well cared for and loved, and decorated in period pieces and styles appropriate for the era. It was an unexpected and delightful treat!

In the 1980's the house was struck by a tornado and pushed off its foundation. The roof was torn off and the west side of the house was badly damaged, but it's been restored and is absolutly beautiful. It origianally had 4 rooms and a detached kitchen. They have very tactfully closed in the back porch adding a bathroom, den, and office and connecting the kitchen to the main house. It was so well done, one wouldn't know it wasn't original, except for the windows inside the house.

She directed us to the gentleman who lives here, in town, who knew lots about the community and its people. He's in the process of restoring this house. There are a number of buildings in Keachi that are in incredible condition, just waiting for someone to come love them and return them to their former glory. It was a very special little town.
A church, and the ladies college that it started. Malcolm's great-grandmother went to school here.

Saturday evening we drove south to Natchitoches, which was the closest hotel without going back to Shreveport, and stayed the night. Then Sunday morning we drove to Marthaville, LA. His grandfather's mother grew up here, and was supposedly buried here along with his sister. We walked and walked through that cemetery, but couldn't find them. We also tryed to contact his grandfather's cousin who still lived there, but she wasn't home. Later that evening, when we had already headed back north, she called and told us where the graves were at. We must have walked right over them several times, and were disappointed that we had missed them. Emma June said she had pictures from the family, so next time we can stop down there we're going to find the graves, and also visit June and see pictures, as well as the old home place there.
Leaving Marthaville feeling discouraged, we drove to Belmont where another relative had been. I think it was someone on his grandfather's mother's side, but I can't think what the exact relation was. This gentleman passed away a few years ago, but his children are still maintaining the home place. It was a very pretty and peaceful place with the house, two small barns, and the large yard nestled into the woods. There was no one there, but a neighbor who directed us to the place had nothing but praise for the couple that had lived her. Wish we could have met them.

From Belmont we swung back through Longstreet for one more look and a few more pictures we wanted, and then headed back north into Arkansas and work. It was a rewarding and fulfilling weekend. We had a lot of fun exploring, meeting people, and seeing some of Malcolm's heritage. We came away with a lot.

We are absolutely eaten up with chiggers from snooping around in one of the cemeteries. Malcolm's suffering more than me, having about 10 times as many bites as I do. And I was attacked by mosquitoes in Keachi. But aside from our itchiness, we also came away with lots of memories and over 100 pictures to share with family. I do hope we get to go back by and meet that cousin in Marthaville sometime.

Families are so spread out these days, stretched from one end of the country to another. So it was special to be able to take advantage of our canceled load and utilize the time to visit a place in our families past that contained so much history.


The Allens said...

What an awesome trip!

Valerie said...

So glad you two got to take that adventure! It's fun to go hunting and find connections to past relatives and one's own history. Thanks for sharing.

Ed said...

Great post! So much history there I'm glad ya had the time for a nice road trip, I'm stuck in SLC waiting for a part for my truck...:-)

Sharon Tachenko said...

Such a melancholy and sweet post, Saraht! . . . Melancholy to see the final outcome of one's life-investment. . . "moths and rust" - and sweet because you guys took the time to go and do this for Papa! It's not just ANYONE who would drive 10 hours to suffer the heat, humidity, and chiggers so that you could give such a sweet gift! You guys are precious - and I love you all the more for it! It means so much to Papa. . .
Malcolm, you have a precious wife! You should treasure her - and I know you do!
Love to you both!

Sonya said...

I enjoyed your pictures and looking at the history information about each. I know I will enjoy your blog.

Meagan said...

Glad you got to take a little road trip! Looks really cool... and the pictures! :-)

Jennifer said...

What a fantastic road trip!! I enjoy researching family history. I was working on ours several years back. I plan to get back into now that Logan's in school.
I'm glad you guys had the chance to take this trip.