Plaquemine is an Indian word for persimmon. Brulee refers to land cleared by burning away cane and underbrush.
The first Plaquemine Brulee settlement was probably just west of what is now Church Point.
It was an area settled first by Protestants, and Methodists built the first church in the area in 1820.
The settlement was probably visited by a Methodist missionary as early as 1805. The Rev. Elisha Bowman was assigned to the district that year.
In early descriptions, all of the settlers along the bayou, from the northeast corner of the parish to its junction with Bayou des Cannes near Mermentau, were said to be "of Plaquemine Brulee."
Eventually there were too many settlers along the stream and the first Plaquemine Brulee settlement became known as Lower Plaquemine Brulee and the area around what is now Church Point was called Upper Plaquemine Brulee.
The Rev. Daniel Devinne, another early Methodist circuit rider came to the area in 1820.
"We built a church in Plaquemine Brulee," he wrote in his autobiography, "the first Protestant edifice in the beautiful country of the Opelousas."
This was also the first church established in what is now Acadia Parish. Jesuit missionaries did not begin visiting the area until 1837.
Devinne described the first church as "about twenty-four by thirty-six feet, and on the Spanish model, roof largely projecting, and walls of wattle plaster, white-washed on both sides; the outer walls of which gave the church, at a distance, a very fine appearance."
A church for black people was established at Plaquemine Brulee in 1870. This was the Maryland Chapel, Christian Episcopal Church, built on an acre of land given by Mrs. Jesse Clark. This church building also served as the first public school for blacks in what is now Acadia Parish.
A post office was established at Plaquemine Brulee in 1838, but had its name changed on Nov. 12, 1890, to Branch, for Branch Hayes, a grandson of Bosman Hayes, the first merchant of Plaquemine Brulee.
Legal notices and advertisements in early newspapers indicate that there were several businesses operating at Plaquemine Brulee before the Civil War.
The Opelousas Gazette of April 9, 1842 advertised that a Plaquemine Brulee hide tanning establishment would be sold at public auction. The tanyard was said to be "in complete order, having 30 vats ... and ... all necessary buildings."
An ad in the Oct. 2 issue of the St. Landry Democrat for the Foreman & Duson store named C.W. Foreman and W.W. Duson as partners in the business.
The firm dealt in "dry goods, clothing, boots and shoes, hardware, tinware, crockery, notions, groceries, provisions, &c., &c., &c."
The advertisement also invited readers to market their produce with the firm, including "all country produce, such as cotton, sugar, molasses, rice, wool, hides, chickens, eggs, (and) split lumber, such as pieux and shingles."
One of the largest landowners in the neighborhood was Bosman Hayes , Jr., who was killed by outlaws in 1864.
According to family tradition, he. owned a white mare which he would let nobody else ride. One night he heard a disturbance at the stable where the mare was kept. He got his shotgun and went to investigate. The night was clear and moonlit after a rainy day. Clothes had been left on a clothesline to dry.
He saw two men leading his mare away. Hayes shot one of the men. The other was hidden by a bed sheet on the line. He shot Hayes and killed him on his own back porch.
A man identified in old records only as Joannesse had a narrow strip of land down the bayou from the Plaquemine Brulee settlement.
William Henry Perrin's "Southwest Louisiana Historical and Biographical" reported that "Joseph Cheasson (Chiasson), alias Joannes, died several years ago in this parish at the advanced age of nearly one hundred and thirty years. When he was one hundred and fifteen years old he moved to Texas, and [returned] after living in that state several years."
You can contact Jim Bradshaw at email@example.com or P.O. Box 1121, Washington LA 70589.