Ownership of the Whitney Plantation
Ambroise Heidel (1702-ca.1770), the founding father of this plantation, emigrated from Germany to Louisiana with his mother and siblings in 1721. He became a modest farmer on the east bank with, at one time, a single pig for all livestock. In 1752 Ambroise bought the original land tract of this plantation and became a wealthy owner engaged in the business of indigo. In 1803, the land claim (17 arpents/40) made before the American authorities by Jean Jacques Haydel Sr. (1744-1826), the youngest son of Ambroise, included his father’s farm (11 arpents/40). He transitioned the plantation from Indigo to sugar in the early 1800s. In 1820 Jean Jacques Haydel Sr. passed the property to his sons, Marcellin (1788-1839) and Jean Jacques Jr. (1780-1863).
After the death of Marcellin Haydel, his widow, Marie Azélie Haydel (1790-1860), bought the plantation and turned it into a huge agro-industrial unit (23 arpents/70), producing up to 407,000 pounds of sugar during one grinding season. She commissioned Dominici Canova to paint the murals and the frescos, which are still adorning the interior and exterior of the main house. However, it should never be forgotten that this success story was made possible by the hard work of hundreds of enslaved people. After the Civil War (1867) the plantation was sold to Bradish Johnson of New York, who named the property after his grandson, Harry Whitney.
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Whitney Plantation In The News
Wall Street Journal:
Whitney Plantation Museum to Focus on Slavery
Why America Needs A Slavery Museum
New York Times
Building the First Slavery Museum in America
New Museum Depicts 'The Life Of A Slave From Cradle To The Tomb'
The Australian: Life
Lest we forget: Louisiana's slavery museum
BBC World Service: Outlook
Audio interview with John Cummings
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