Descendants Honor Enslaved Ancestor with Tree-Planting

Updated: Nov 18, 2019

Nearly two hundred years after his sale to Laura Plantation, Anthony Brown is Remembered

November 14, 2019 (Wallace, LA) - Nearly two hundred years after the sale of Anthony Brown to Laura Plantation in Vacherie, LA, his descendants commemorated his arrival to the River Parishes with a tree planting ceremony at the Fee-Fo-Lay Cafe. On November 7th, cafe owners Jo and Joy Banner along with 20 additional Brown descendants celebrated the poignant event with a blessing, songs and sharing of Brown family memories handed down through generations.

“I’ve always been proud call the Mississippi River as part of my home,” says Joy Banner the great great grand-daughter of Anthony Brown. “But I think how sad it must have been for Anthony who was forced to leave his home, family and friends in North Carolina for this one.” The Banners felt it was necessary to recognize Anthony’s plight as an enslaved man and ultimate settlement in the River Parishes. “We wanted to take a moment to remember Anthony and for others to recognize the toll of plantation country on real lives.” Banner continues. Unfortunately Anthony’s story is all too common as one million enslaved people were located from the upper South down to the lower South including the River Parishes.

Even with the harsh reality of slavery, gratitude was at the center of the tree-planting.

The touching ceremony began with an introduction by Joy who explained details regarding Anthony’s sale to the Duparc-Locoul brothers on November 6th, 1829. The brothers purchased Anthony as a field hand for what is now known as Laura Plantation. As with most enslaved people, not much information was recorded about him other than his height and purchase price of $650. Anthony was sold 6 times by the time he was 21 years old. He later adopted the surname of Brown. “It’s bittersweet to see Anthony’s name on a sales document,” says Joy,”but I’m happy we have at least some information about him. Many Aftrican-Americans don’t have even that.”

The service continued with the planting of a Brushbottle tree and a special blessing by Father Matthew Mccaughey. Al Dickerson later sang “How Great Thou Art” moving some in attendance to tears. “The blessing by Fr. Matt and the singing Mr. Dickerson made this experience unforgettable for me,” said Jo.

The Banners plan to incorporate more events such as the tree ceremony into their business model. “We call this descendant engaged tourism, where descendants of the plantations particularly the enslaved, are intimately involved in the telling of their own history,” says Jo. She says the thousands of visitors to her cafe prove the power of the concept. “The success of our cafe as well as nearby Whitney Plantation proves tourists are seeking authentic voices rather than glossy marketing campaigns.”

For more information about the Fee-Fo-Lay Cafe, contact Jo Banner at or 225-206-1993.

About the Author

Jo Banner is the owner and operator of the Fee-Fo-Lay Cafe located at 5593 Highway 18, Wallace La. Jo brings her combined passion for Louisiana, history, and of course her family to life at her charming cafe.

As a descendant of those enslaved to the local plantations (Whitney and Laura) Jo presents a unique view point often lacking in Louisiana's tourism industry. She is strong supporter for ethical tourism, where local communities are actively engaged in the telling of their own history.

When she's not her cafe, you can find her walking the levee, line dancing, or enjoying time with her family and friends.

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