Cammie Henry and Social Networking Wednesday, Nov 24 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches


Cammie" Garrett Henry (1871-1948) of Melrose, Louisiana



We frequently make the mistake of thinking that all things new are really new and that we are more advanced than those who came before us. We are wrong to do so. For example, take the case of social networking.  A social network makes it possible for people to connect online with others who share interests and activities and to interact. Facebook, MySpace and Linkedin are examples.


Long before any of these social networks became so popular, Aunt Cammie (Henry), to her younger friends, had an impressive social network. After the death of her husband, John H. Henry, Cammie picked up her life and work with even additional fervor. She reached out from Melrose. If she discovered something that was unclear for her, she determined to find the answer.


  • sought out the owners of estates.
  • reached out to schoolteachers or the Government.
  • asked who knew about Bank’s Red River campaign
  • inquired how could it be determined when a courthouse had burned
  • followed-up when a newspaper story appeared. She would write to a relative of the person mentioned, suggesting that he send additional information to her.
  • insured that each entry in her books or scrapbooks would generate others.  The clippings, letters and included annotations scratched along in the margins.

 Harnett T. Kane in Plantation Parade: The Grand Manner in Louisiana, 1945, writes:

“Word of her interest got about. People wrote to her now, seeking information or offering it. Cammie became known as a breathing repository of information.

She received at least fifty messages a day for forty years. Not many people have that many posts on their wall for Facebook.  People who knew her only through her loose handwriting would introduce others to her by letter thus starting a chain of correspondence. Cammie frequently spent half of her day to keep up with this part of her work. She considered it time well spent for it allowed her to stay in contact with her sources (ergo “social networking”).

Thank you Aunt Cammie. You did all of us a wonderful service in preserving the history and culture of Melrose, the Cane River area and Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana. You “friended us all”.

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The Metoyers of Yucca (Melrose) Plantation In Natchitoches, Louisiana Tuesday, Nov 9 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches (APHN)


Along one area of Cane River, a long ridge bordered by several streams and streamlets, there developed a particular concentration –Isle Brevelle. It evolved into a small rural France. The Creole people of Isle Brevelle grew crops and served one another as artisans, shoemakers, woodworkers, incomparable cooks and farmers. A few families rose among their fellows- the Metoyers, the Roques and the Silves. Harnet T. Lane in Plantation Parade, states:

“No name became more resplendent among its fellows than that of the Metoyers”.

The head man of Isle Brevelle was generally recognized as Augustin Metoyer–Grand-père.  Augustin was affectionately known as the “Big Father” of his community.


Along a turn in the river where the soil lay rich and thick, Grand-père chose a site for his house. It was a simple heavily timbered structure of brick and mud between posts with an overhanging roof.  In the 1830s, Augustin shifted the command of his properties to his son Louis Metoyer. A finer house was contructed that architects of a later generation would pronounce a minor masterpiece, admirable in style and material.

Kane describes this house in these terms:

¨It was a low structure, broad but close to the earth, the openings entirely free of ornament, a plain gallery railing at the upper level, the timbers uncovered at the ceilings-the whole built to last.¨

From the gallery rail the family could “catch the sheen of the waters through clumps of spiked Spanish daggers (an evergreen shrub). That vista gave the name to the plantation–Yucca. Yucca (now know as Melrose) was completed in 1833.” The family lived here in the peaceful seculsion of this harmonious setting. Augustine often received callers, lent his house to the missionaries for their services until he eventually decided to provide the church with a building on Isle Brevelle. It was in July of 1829 that Father Jean Baptiste Blanc dedicated this structure to the glory of his God.

Of all his numerous accomplishments, Grandpere appeared prouder of this act than of anything he had done. Today, a full length portrait of Augustin Metoyer hangs in the St. Augustin Catholic Church. This thriving and vibrant Catholic Church, while not the original structure, serves the Creole Community and others of Isle Brevelle today and is a lasting testimony to a most remarkable man.¨



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St. Augustin Catholic Church, Melrose


Melrose Plantation, 1833

Big House, Melrose Plantation

Cane River, Isle Brevelle

Cammie (Carmelite) Garret a Louisiana Phenomenon Monday, Nov 1 2010 

Posted by Doyle Bailey for

The Association for the Preservation of Historic Natchitoches

You will more likely recognize Cammie (Carmelite) Garret as Cammie Henry. Harnett T. Kane in Plantation Parade, 1945, New York, refers to her as “a Louisiana phenomenon“.

Friends of John H. Henry may have warned him that if he married Cammie he would be getting a “pepper- pot, that horror among horrors, a female with opinions”. He kept asking and finally Cammie nodded her head.

Cammie, with her usual throughness:

  • fitted herself into her new job working with her husband living at one of the houses along the Cane River
  • filled the cradles and her scrapbooks (five children, some sources say seven,  and countless scrapbooks)
  • read voraciously, watched after her mother, Leudivine Erwin Garret, her husband and the babies

Now she experienced isolation. Even a trip to Natchitoches, the nearest town, was a day’s journey even in the best weather. Occasionally Cammie would pass old Yucca plantation and would frown over its decay. Yucca was John H. Henry’s most profitable holding. He was forced to make daily trips back and forth and was away from the family a lot. Finally Cammie told him this “absentee business”  would’t do. She meant to be where he was and that is exactly what she did.

An old memiorandum notes that “We came to live here (Yucca, later Melrose Plantation) on November 1, 1899”. The windows were broken, all was mildew and cobwebs. Cammie swept down mud-daubers nests, chased out pigeons and called for additional paint and lumber. Thus was begun a saga that would last for decades, the details of which must be the subject of subsequent posts about this Louisiana phenomenon of Melrose Plantation, Natchitoches, Louisiana.

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Melrose Plantation, 1833

Big House, Melrose Plantation

Cammie" Garrett Henry (1871-1948) of Melrose, Louisiana