November 26 , 2008

Eyes of an Eagle

Jean-Pierre Cenac, Patriarch: An Illustrated History of Early Houma-Terrebonne


In the year 1860, Jean-Pierre Cenac sailed from the sophisticated French city of Bordeaux to begin his new life in the city with the second busiest port of debarkation in the U.S. Two years before, he had descended the Pyrenees to Bordeaux from his home village of Barbazan-Debat, a terrain in direct contrast to the flatlands of Louisiana. He arrived in 1860, just when the U.S. Civil War began with the secession of the Southern states, and in New Orleans, just where there would be placed a prime military target as the war developed.

Neither Creole nor Acadian, Pierre took his chances in the rural parish of Terrebonne on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Pierre's resolute nature, unflagging work ethic, steadfast determination, and farsighted vision earned him a place of respect he could never have imagined when he left his native country. How he forged his place in this new landscape echoes the life journeys of countless immigrants – yet remains uniquely his own. His story and his family's story exemplify the experiences of many nineteenth century immigrants to Louisiana and the experiences of their twentieth century descendants.

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