Worker’s House

Indigo kettle
 Early de Bore sugar kettle

Sugar cane was grown in Southeast Asia in New Guinea and Taiwan, later being introduced to Arabia via traders from India and China. The plants grew particularly well along the Nile in Egypt. Crusaders brought it to Europe and grew well in the islands of Sicily, Crete, Cyprus and on the southern mainland of Spain. 

Columbus introduced sugar cane to the western hemisphere where Spanish conquistadors found ideal natural conditions: Caribbean temperatures average more than 75 degrees throughout the year, there is considerable sunshine and more than sixty inches of rain fall each year. It would not be until 1790s when Etienne de Bore would improve the way the sugar was crystallized. This would make it better for shipping on longer voyages and start a sugarcane revolution for the south.

Unfortunately, as early growers found, killing frosts cover Louisiana in December and January, halting the maturation of the cane and forcing growers to replant a third of their acreage every year. Harvest time starts in autumn and mills release smells of molasses and bagasse in the air. Louisiana has certain advantages that make up for the uncooperative weather. In an area encompassing roughly 640,000 acres of Mississippi Deltaic Plain, the Louisiana sugar bowl contains rich alluvial deposits of mixed clay and sand which enable planters to produce higher yields of cane per acre than those anywhere in the world.

The first signs of mosaic disease appeared in Puerto Rico around 1912 and spread to the southern part of the United States. The disease would cause stunted growth and discolored light green mosaic patterns in the leaves that would eventually lead to the death of cells in the plant. The disease was spread through the sap that would get on the mechanical equipment farmers used and the mill equipment. In the 1920s the Mosaic Disease stuck Louisiana and took a toll on the sugar cane industry causing many sugar mills to shut down.

Many sugar cane mills lost their business. Only 54 of 200 mills remained open. The way most planters overcame this disease was by getting more viral resistant varieties of sugarcane. These new types of plants along with technological improvements in equipment, chemical applications and better ways of drainage have improved the yields in both sugar per ton of cane, and tons of cane per acre.

Farm bell
The Farm bell at Volumnia Farm

Farm bells were used as a form of communication: to call workers to and from work, or for alarms in case of emergencies, notification of deaths, births and marriages.

The bell rang five times a day for ten minutes: one hour before sunrise to wake the workers up and then again at sunrise to begin the work day; at 12 noon and 1pm for an hour lunch break, and then an hour before dark to end the work day. On the farm there was a six day work week, with Sunday being the only day off.

A constant rapid ringing was an alarm of a fire or some other serious danger. A slow consistent ringing was for a death of someone on the farm. Finally, a steady medium ringing was usually a sign of a marriage, births or some other joyous occasion.

A clam shells road at Volumnia Farm
A clam shells road at Volumnia Farm

No rocks of any kind are found naturally within a hundreds miles of Volumnia Farm, but sea shells (La Coquille) were found in abundance in the coastal waters and marshes nearby. Therefore shells were used in construction in place of rocks.

Seashells were normally used in cement by burning shells to create quicklime then mixing it water and either ash, sand, Spanish moss or in this case other clam shells. Historically the Moors brought it to Spain and from there the Spaniards brought the idea to the Americas in the 16 th century which can be seen in Florida as well. Clam shells were used to make it stronger because there are no stones or rocks that are natural to the area.

There is a line of clam shell mounds from east to west in the marshes across Terrebonne Parish (called Indian middens) that were built by native Americans hundreds of years ago before Columbus. Clams were a very important part of the diet of early Native American inhabitants of the Parish and so much clams was consumed that over centuries large islands made of clam shells were common.

Some of the shell islands in the marshes across the Parish were four or five acres in area raising seven feet above the marsh and thirty feet deep, indicating that the native Americans occupied the mounds for centuries to accumulate such a large quantity of shells. Canals were dug through the marsh to mine and transport the clam shells in the area to be used for construction material on roads and wherever rocks would normally be used.

I don’t think that people considered the archaeological importance of these mounds, because they were also the burial site of the people and contained many ancient artifacts. A fair number of the mounds are still intact and fortunately now protected and preserved by law.

Oysters grow in abundance in the waters of Terrebonne Parish and are consumed in great quantities by the local people. And clam shells mined at the indian middens oyster shells (La coquille des huidre) were also used for construction.

1924 Wincroft four-burner gas stove
1924 Wincroft four-burner gas stove

1924 Stove

This is a 1924 Wincroft four burner gas stove. At that time gas was starting to replace coal as a resource to heat and cook food.

A wooden washing machine
Circa 1898 Washing Machine

The climax model wooden washing machine was probably an experimental branch by Fuley & Williams Mtg. Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio to expand from there production of sewing equipment. This one in particular uses less moving parts of similar designs.

The grist mill
The grist mill

The ecology in Terrebonne Parish was not conducive to most grain crops such as wheat and rice and the only grain crop that was easily grown and very productive in the 1800’s was corn.

Volumnia Farm has a grist mill on the farm that is now almost 200 years old and was used during the 1800’s to make corn flower, corn meal, and grist. Corn bread or grist were eaten at every meal and were as a principal part of the diet as rice and bread are today.

The Dutch used the wind powered wind mills to turn the stones and in New England water-powered wheels were used but in South Louisiana in the 1800’s horses and mules were used to turn the stones.

Mill stones always come in pairs, called the bed stone or bottom stone that does not turn, and the runner stone that turns on the top. The stones have groves cut into them and the grain is feed into the center. The runner stone turns and the grain is cut between the two stones and the groves slowly move the grain outward.

About 1840 Bartholomew Barrow of Aston Villa built a bigger and newer grist mill and gave the old millstones (the ones that are at Volumnia Farm) to his son R.R.Barrow. The grist mill at the Farm is said to have operated until the late 1800’s when new more modern cast iron farm mills became available, were simpler and easier to operate, and were turned by a steam engine. In 1911 a large one-cylinder gas engine ran several different mills used to make grist and cattle feed.

The inverted gas light
1912 Humphrey inverted arc gas light at Residence. The company is still in operation.

This is a Humphrey inverted arc gas lamp that was used in the Volumnia Farm home circa 1912.

The pipe sticking out of the ceiling in the sitting room is what remains of their use.

The Humphrey Company is still in business to this day.


This Ironrite Model 85 Ironer was produced at Mt. Clemens, Michigan. It was supposed to make ironing for women and men easier than the regular iron that is used today. However, it was bulkier and the process of making sure the clothes went in properly was a hassle.

Gun Rack
Gun Rack

This gun rack was hand made by Wilson Gaidry III when he was 10 yrs old. Mr. Gaidry hunts, traps, fishes and produces most of his own food for him and his family.

Mt. Washington Ice Cream Maker
Mt. Washington Ice Cream Maker
  • Started by Thomas Sands who owned the White Mountain Freezer Company in Laconia, New Hampshire in 1872.
  • 3 quarts bucket with turner.
  • The ingredients for making ice cream is cream, sugar, salt, ice and any other ingredients to make the desired flavor such as chocolate, strawberries vanilla or bananas.
Kraft Foods
Kraft Foods
  • J.L. Kraft started his company in 1903 purchasing cheese and reselling it in Chicago. Four of his brothers would later join him to help him with his business.
  • In 1915 he found a way to process cheese and sold them in tin cans. Later supplied cheese to the U.S. government during WWI and during WWII. He would later acquire Velveeta, Philadelphia cream cheese, Miracle Whip.

This horse saddle is constructed first using wood to create the frame or “tree” which then has leather molded to the frame. This helps to provide a more comfortable ride for the rider, but also provide spinal comfort for the horse to increase it’s longevity of use.

This hand carved sailboat was carved by Wilson Gaidry III in his youth that at one time had sails. He would take the boat out sailing with his friends.

  • Gangway Smudge Pot Red Rusty Roadside Distress K-D Lamp 
  • Uses Kerosene
  • Cincinnati, Ohio USA 
  • Vintage Roadside Assistance
  • The company’s name lasted from 1892-1904 when it changed its name to Cheek-Neal Coffee Co. 
  • The company would go on to make coffee to the Maxwell House Hotel located on 4th Avenue and Church Street. 
  • In 1928 Maxwell House Coffee was born.
  • Started in Milwaukee in 1863 by Phillip D. Armour and John Plankinton as a meat packing company. However, they sold every kind of product made from animals.
  • One of their most well known products today is Dial soap which became popular in the 1950s.
  • Today they are still in business selling potted meat.  
  • Jacob Ney (1848-1915) invented the “hay elevator” in 1879 using the pulley system and is responsible for hay equipment.
  • He owned 25% of his company and gave his holdings to his father Valentin Ney in 1884.
  • The factory was located on High Street S.W. and his brother’s company Valentine L. Ney Co. which sold hay tools.
  • 1970s Edison Comfort Sensor 
  • 324029H Wood Grain Brown
  • Features concealed heating elements, cool-to-touch case, and auto shut-off.
  • Used to heat the entire room and has a built in thermostat.

Lanterns have been used throughout history since at least the Iron Age. kerosene lamps were roughly invented in the 1850s.

There are three types of kerosene lamps: flat-wick, central-draught (tubular round wick) and mantle lamp. (Example of central-draught on top self second to last)

There are three types of kerosene lanterns all using flat wicks:

  • Dead flame– has an open top and does not have metal rings around it for safety. (Example first three on top shelf and mantle over fireplace)
  • Hot-blasts– invented 1869, a protected tubular lantern allows the wind to be a fuel source instead of extinguishing it and byproducts are redirected inside. (Example far right on top shelf.)
  • Cold-blasts– invented 1873, a protected tubular lantern with an improved venting system that acts like a filtered chimney. (Example first three on top second shelf) 
  • The supposed origin of the Dame-jean comes from the word damagan, a type of wicker basket around a glass jar that was used during the Crusades in Egypt. 
  • Used in the late 1700s and early 1800s for storing liquids.
  • The French of the era used it to contain oil, olive oil, vinegar or a thin wine called piquette which was made from the pomace of pressed grapes. 
  • Invented in 1900 and became popular for soldiers in WWI and WWII. 
  • Uses alchohaul, ethanol, methanol and other ingredients to create a flame that burns for two hours.