Oakland Plantation, near Natchitoches, Louisiana, is a National Historic Landmark within The Cane River Creole National Historical Park. The park is located within the Cane River National Heritage Area in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. The area extends westward from Interstate 49 to the Red River and includes everything in between.
The roots of Oakland Plantation can be traced to Jean Pierre Phillippe Prud’homme, a second generation Frenchman from the French province of Dauphine. Born in 1673, Jean Pierre became a soldier of France assigned to the French colony of Louisiana. At the age of 52, Jean Pierre married Catherine Picard and acquired part of the land that became Bermuda Plantation, now known as Oakland Plantation, through a land grant on the Red River. Jean Pierre and Catherine became parents of seven children, including Jean Baptiste Prud’homme, father of Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme who built Bermuda Plantation in 1821.
Jean Pierre Emmanuel Prud’homme began farming the area in 1785 and received a Spanish land grant in 1789. The plantation’s first cash crops were tobacco and indigo, followed by cotton in the 1800s. The Prud’hommes were the first family west of the Mississippi River to farm cotton on a large scale. As textile mills in the north increased their demand for cotton, the use of enslaved labor increased in cotton-growing plantations such as Oakland. In this way the industrial revolution in the northern states encouraged the expansion of the plantation labor systems of the south.National Park Service
Today, nearly 60 historic buildings remain standing on the grounds of Oakland and the nearby Magnolia Plantation that’s also maintained by the National Park Service. The buildings include the main house, overseer house, plantation store, pigeonniers, slave cabin, tenant cabin and more outbuildings. All serve as vital educational resources to show visitors what plantation life was like from slavery to emancipation to sharecropping. The program also shares the history of freedmen and Creoles of color who lived and worked at Oakland and their descendants.National Park Service