Troy Plantation was established by Isaac Johnson, an Englishman from Liverpool who had partnered with John Mills, Bayou Sara founder, in a sawmill venture in the Natchez District before being flooded out and moving south to Feliciana. It was on Johnson’s Troy Plantation that much of the substantive planning for the West Florida Rebellion would take place. Isaac’s son John H. Johnson, who developed the town of St. Francisville, was one of the leaders of the revolt along with John Mills; he was a lawyer and planter, later a state legislator, sheriff and judge, whose son Isaac would be the 13th governor of Louisiana. John H. Johnson’s brother, Major Isaac Johnson, was head of the mounted troop of dragoons who captured the Spanish fort in Baton Rouge.
Today only a superb classical wellhouse remains of the original Troy, for in the 1880s as then-owner Dr. I.U. Ball was returning by steamboat from a trip to New Orleans, he saw smoke rising on shore and exclaimed “Troy is burning,” and so it was. But the plans for the rebellion had come to fruition in 1810.
Directions to Troy Gardens south of St. Francisville on US 61, turn right at Hemingbough sign, 9908 LA Hwy 965 on your left.
EGYPT PLANTATION (ROSALE)
Egypt Plantation was part of the immense property holdings of Alexander Stirling, who by land grant and purchase acquired roughly 10 square miles after arriving in America from North Britain in the late 1770s. An 1806 visitor described Stirling as “an old Scotchman, plain and blunt in his manners, but possessed of an immense fortune.”
Historic newspaper accounts mention a June 23, 1810, general meeting of 500 like-minded inhabitants of the four districts forming the province of New Feliciana, held at the plantation of the late Mr. Stirling near St. Francisville, during which John Rhea, John H. Johnson, William Barrow and John Mills, “esquires, all men of respectability and influence in this country,” were deputized to meet and take into consideration “the peculiar state of the country,” setting in motion the events that would culminate in the independent West Florida Republic.
“Stirling’s Old Plantation” became the property of Alexander Stirling’s tenth child, a daughter named Ann. When she married Dr. Martin Luther Haynie, practicing physician who served as Surgeon General and Commander of the Provost Guard for the West Florida Republic, permission for the wedding was granted by her brother because she was a minor, apparently only 14. The property passed into the Barrow family in 1845 and remained so through the retirement years of General Robert H. Barrow, who had capped a long and distinguished worldwide military career by serving as Commandant of the US Marine Corps, then returned to his roots at Rosale. When the main house burned, an 1832 school house was moved to the original site, where it now surveys an expanse of rolling hills set with ponds and hundreds of live oaks.
Directions: north of St. Francisville on US Highway 61.
HIGHLAND AND WOODLAND PLANTATIONS
In the late 1790s, widowed Olivia Ruffin Barrow and her extensive family left their home in North Carolina and journeyed south by covered wagon and riverboat, bringing along trunks of family treasures, skilled slaves and fine household furnishings. Taking up a large Spanish land grant along the banks of Little Bayou Sara, the Barrows began a family empire that saw the establishment of many of the parish’s finest plantations. Construction of the original Barrow home was supervised by Olivia’s son and principle heir, William Barrow III, in the opening years of the 19th century. With stately, simple Federal lines, spacious rooms and a rare Palladian window upstairs, the house was built primarily of materials grown or produced on the place. By 1808 William Barrow had not only a handsome home but also over 400 acres of cotton under cultivation.
Within the next two years, he would also serve as a respected leader of the West Florida Rebellion, representative of the substantial Anglo-American planters who’d trickled down from the East Coast following the American Revolution. With other leaders he wrote to President Madison that the state of the country “required some reform in the mode of administering justice and defense and safety of the people,” as the residents of West Florida adopted resolutions “to assert the independence of the country at a moment when treachery and every malignant passion were employed to accomplish their ruin.”
In 1832 his son Bennett Barrow planted the beautiful grove of more than 150 live oaks surrounding the house, and his diary, published as Plantation Life in the Florida Parishes, 1836-1846, provides interesting historical insights into the daily life of a working plantation. The plantation has remained in the family ever since.
Just beyond the original Highland house on Barrow lands is another one, a grand mid-1800s Greek Revival structure called Woodland Plantation that was saved from destruction via a remarkable journey across the Mississippi River to the ancestral lands of the present owner, a journey across hundreds of miles. John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, said there was something heroic about a couple who would move an old house 300 miles (refraining from adding, something a little crazy, too!), but Woodland has been returned to its original glory by one of William Barrow’s descendants. David Norwood is also the talented artist who designed the Republic Park’s striking obelisk crowned by a single star to commemorate the Republic of West Florida.
Directions: north on US 61, turn onto Tunica Trace (LA 66), left on Highland Road.
Highland - 8386 Highland Rd.
Woodland - 7764 Highland Rd.
Visit the Historical Society Museum for more fascinating information.
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