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SLAVE REVOLT

 

March 22, 2021

JIM McCUTCHON

 

         “Slave revolt on Captain McCutchon’s plantation.”

         Those words jumped off of the page I was reading.

 

I had heard many stories about Ormond, the plantation that my ancestors had owned from 1805 to an indeterminate date after the War Between the States.

I had never heard of a slave revolt.

I knew about the Deslonde slave revolt of 1811 in which the son of the owner of the plantation next door was killed, but this reference was not about that revolt. I had to know more.

 

At the time, I was making a list of the things I wanted to learn about when I went to Baton Rouge to read through the papers of

my ancestors that are kept on file at

Hill Memorial Library on the LSU campus.

 

         Sometimes things work out in a way that I could never have planned. Shortly after reading those alarming words,

I took a train trip from New Orleans to New York for a brief visit with my grandson, Tommy McCutchon, and his wife. Then the three of us went to Rochester to spend Thanksgiving with my son,

Joe, and his wife.

 

I have to pause to

say that the train from NOLA to New York

was one of the most enjoyable trips I have ever taken.

Riding in a roomette gave me comfort and privacy,

and eating in the dining car was delightful.

 

         At the time of my visit, Tommy was working in the rare books and manuscripts division of the Columbia University library while also working on his MBA. His job coincided neatly with my planned visit to LSU. Both Columbia and LSU use the same library software.

Tommy asked me for a list of things I wanted to look at in Baton Rouge. With that information, he went on line and submitted a detailed request to LSU.

The slave revolt on Ormond was high on that list.

 

         The document I wanted was a letter from William Kenner to his brother-in-law. Most of the letter dealt with Kenner family business matters. When I came to the part I wanted, I learned why I had never heard the story. The “revolt” was not a revolt of Ormond slaves. It was a burglary of the storehouse on Ormond by four slaves from another plantation. Mr.  Kenner described the situation briefly, saying that, when Captain McCutchon confronted the men at a distance of five yards, two of them raised shotguns they had stolen from the storehouse and pulled the triggers. Fortunately, both guns misfired. The only other information was that one of the burglars had been killed, two had been arrested and the fourth had escaped

into the sugar cane.

 

From that brief sketch, I constructed an account of the affair

in my novel, adding fictional details and a fictional theory

of why my great great grandfather was not killed.

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