Frenchman’s Bend

I made a preliminary visit to the Frenchman’s Bend mound site last week along with Dr. Joe Saunders.  These are the closest mounds to my house in Monroe and they are some of the oldest anywhere.  Research that Joe did years ago dated the mounds to be more than 5000 years old which places them squarely in the Middle Archaic period.

There are at least 5 mounds in the complex which were most likely built adjacent to a natural embankment or ridge.  Bayou Desiard is nearby which would have provided the early residents with fish, snails and mussels to eat.

When Joe first investigated the site it was covered in cotton fields and dense woods.  Bulldozers were at work leveling the land for a new housing development and golf course.  This ancient site was very fortunate that the developer, Bishop Johnston, was sympathetic to the idea of saving it and altered his plans to protect it as much as possible.

So what we are left with now is an ancient mound site that is surrounded by beautiful homes and a golf course.  It is so surreal to stand atop one of the mounds and speak to golfers as they drive by in their carts.  Or listen as they swear at the putt that drifted off-line.

Inside the clubhouse is a small display of artifacts that were discovered during the initial excavation.  There are projectile points, fire cracked rock, a bannerstone and both snail and mussel shells.  There are also a few pictures from the excavation, one of which shows several old post holes from a structure that was once there.

I hope the residents understand the value of this sacred place but I wonder if they are beginning to take it for granted.  Someone had dumped a pile of old potting soil on one mound.  Another was being used as a repository for fallen limbs and brush.  But otherwise they were untouched except for the lines of ants marching across.  And probably the occasional errant golf ball.

Frenchman’s Bend, Mound A

About Jenny Ellerbe

I am a photographer living, and working, in northeastern Louisiana.
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