Thursday, February 14, 2008

History of the Cancienne Canal and Hard Times Plantation

The following article was found at my PawPaw's house and details a brief history of the Cancienne Canal and Hard Times Plantation in south Louisiana.

Leo Seprien Cancienne started working on a plantation for laborer's wage, inherited some money, and later when the plantation was offered for sale, he bought it. It is said that when his oldest son, John, asked him what he would name his new plantation, he is said to have answered, "I've seen so much hard times working here that I should call it 'Hardtimes'."

To this day it is still called "Hardtimes Plantation," however according to maps and papers of the Southern Pacific Railroad which crosses the plantation it is called "Cancienne Plantation."

Cancienne Plantation had its own sugar mill. In 1900 sugar farmers were badly in need of some means of drainage in order to be successful with sugarcane harvest. Leo Seprien, as President of the Assumption Parish Drainage District #1, undertook to solve the drainage problem. His eldest son John supervised the work. A year in the making, the project employed 280 men using shovels, wheelbarrows, and other hand tools. They dug a canal six miles long and 50 feet wide from Bayou Lafourche to Lake Verret. It was completed in 1909 and the Government, in recognition of Leo Seprien's work, named it "Cancienne Canal." It was used by pleasure boats between Bayou Lafourche and Lake Verret.

On Cancienne Plantation, Leo Seprien built a one-room school house and asked the school board to supply the teacher to accommodate the students who were the children of "Hardtimes Plantation" and surrounding areas. This request was granted and one teacher taught five grades having a total of about 25 pupils in the one-room schoolhouse.

Map of the Cancienne Canal using Google Maps as guide:

View Larger Map

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