Introduction to Delta Pieces: Northeast Louisiana Folklife

Map: Cultural Micro-Regions of the Delta, Northeast Louisiana

The Louisiana Delta: Land of Rivers

Working in the Delta

Making Music in the Delta

Telling Stories in the Delta

Delta Archival Materials

Reflections on the Delta


By Hiram Ford "Pete" Gregory, III

Editor's Note: In the early 1990s, Pete Gregory wrote these personal reflections about Northeast Louisiana's Delta and they are published with minimal editing. Also see his Musings on the Louisiana Delta from a Native Son.


As one came into the "hills" near Bastrop or along the Macon Ridge, small farms replaced plantations. Similarly, along the backswamps on Black or Boeuf River, small landholders were the rule. People lived on their own "places" there, too. "Places" was the term most often heard and "places" were not named as plantations were. They were referred to by their owner's family name. Usually, they consisted of a house, barn, smokehouse, shed and/or outdoor privy. The "Jones Place" and "Hampton Place" were typical toponyms. In Franklin Parish, these "places" formed a neighborhood, usually consisting of an extended family group. These neighborhoods were usually interconnected by lanes or roads. Some of these were named, but most were not.

Each house place had a "stamp" in the front where cattle and horses once preferred to sleep. Today they are the parking place for pickup trucks. A "place" usually had some acreage—40 to 160 acres. Somehow the acreage was gradually lost until it dwindled down to three to five acres, with only an old couple in their eighties still on the old "home place." Kids and grandchildren came home less and less. When the corporate farms came, the old "places" were bought and sold until the large landholdings completely subsumed them. Not many are left today.

The old men would come back in the summers from Texas. One, polished up and urban, came from "San Antone"; the other, older and still full of country ways, came from Nacogdoches. They were my grandfather's stepbrother's boys, the old man's nephews. We were always glad to see them. They'd come in, stay in the boys' room of our house, normally my room since my stepbrother had gone off to school at the university. I'd visit, paddle the boat when they went fishing, and try to encourage them by telling tales. It usually worked, and at the supper table they'd all begin. The stories were about family and explained why these old people had moved off and abandoned the "home place. " I remember how it was.

Hiram F. "Pete" Gregory is an anthropologist at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Dayna Lee, his former student, served as regional folklorist for northwest Louisiana and now is an independent anthropologist based in New Orleans. This article was written for the Delta Folklife Project as part of Northeast Louisiana's Delta.