April 17, 2014

National Register of Historic Places ~ Battleground Plantation

Battleground Plantation - Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

Located 4 miles north of Sicily Island, Battleground Plantation is the site of the last major battle between the Natchez Indians and the French. The battle occurred in January of 1731.  

The land was purchased in 1808 by William M. Smith from John Lovelace, Sr.  In December of 1828, William Smith's daughter Laminda Smith married Dr. Henry J. Peck.   Dr. Peck built the Battleground home in 1829-1830.   It is believed that the house was substantially altered to the present Greek Revival structure around 1850.

From an article on RootsWeb:
The Civil War and its aftermath brought great changes for the Pecks at Battleground.  According to family tradition, Dr. Peck and his wife spent about three years of the war away from Battleground in Cherokee County, Texas.  When the war was over they returned to Battleground, and in a letter of 1867 to former Governor Thomas O. Moore, Dr. Peck expressed his disillusionment in these words:
"I am 65 years of age and was the owner of 90 negroes before the war and a plantation of 2600 acres.  I was making 400 bales of cotton per annum.  I had 500 bales of cotton burned during the war by order of Gen. Taylor with my gin and mill.  I have had two crops of cotton eaten up since the war by caterpillars.  In short I am completely broken up and am disfranchised in consequence of having represented my district in the senate for some years since."
But Dr. Peck was planning to escape the situation:
"I will not submit to Yankee degradation any longer than I am compelled to do so under these circumstances.  I am disposed to emigrate to British Honduras.  I will be greatly obliged to you to give me a letter addressed to the authorities of that country stating my standing as an old citizen of the State of Louisiana."
Dr. Peck never carried out his plan to emigrate, however, for he stayed in Catahoula Parish until his death in 1881.  In the 1870 census, he is listed as a 67-year-old "retired physician" owning 450 acres of land worth $3300.  He also owned 2350 acres of livestock, and during the previous year the farm had yielded 200 bushels of corn and 28 bales of cotton.  The census of 1880 lists Dr. Peck as part of the household of his son, Thomas N. Peck, so he may not have been living at Battleground by that date.
According to family tradition, soon after Dr. Peck's death in 1881, the plantation was sold to a cotton brokerage firm from New Orleans, which in turn leased the land to tenant farmers.  Then, in the early 1900s, it was purchased by Charles Cornick.

De Bow's Review, vol. 12 - Dr. A. R. Kilpatrick visited the battleground site in 1851 and writes about his findings:
"...the remains of a gunlock, some gun flints, a number of ounce balls, all more or less flattened and battered, a piece of iron rod, a copper arrow-barb having a socket to fit on a large arrow, with many of the ordinary Indian flint arrow-points.  Many gun and pistol barrels, fragments of bomb shells and some cannon balls have been picked up on the same ground.  Pigs of lead, two feet long were found there in digging a ditch, and several bars of iron, which were subsequently used by Edward Lovelace in building the first gin erected on Sicily Island.  The musket balls were coated with a thick oxide, and were so plentiful that the early hunters used to resort there for a supply of lead.  A spherical ball was found, having a loop for a handle, and a rattle inside.  Its tone was very clear.  Some gentleman passing there, who had a taste for such curiosities, took it with him.  A part of a steel corn mill was also found, and part of a chain with a hook on it.  One day while fishing, Mr. Peck found the barrel of a pistol sticking in the bank on the border of this lake.  He also found some cannon balls, about eight pounders.  The Indians there in 1802-03, said there were two cannons sunk in the same lake.  The generation of Indians here at this time said they were told by their fathers that the whites and Indians had a battle there more than a hundred years before."

Battleground Plantation was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Historic Significance:Person, Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer:Peck,Dr. Henry J.
Architectural Style:Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Renaissance
Historic Person:Peck,Dr. Clarendon
Significant Year:1850
Area of Significance:Politics/Government, Architecture, Military
Period of Significance:1850-1874
Historic Function:Domestic
Historic Sub-function:Single Dwelling
Current Function:Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic
Current Sub-function:Single Dwelling

Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

Courtesy of RootsWeb

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