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Woman spends decades connecting family farms in St. Landry Parish

Farming in St. Landry Parish
Posted at 3:30 AM, Mar 16, 2022

Marie Marcel has spent the last three decades buried in archives.

"It's an honor for me to be able to tell their stories based on their depositions and testimonies they've given over the years," Marcel said.

Marcel grew up in Leonville and said farming was a way of life.

"Our clothing, cotton was king," Marcel explained. "Corn, fed the animals and also fed us. Not only did it feed us, as little girls coming up we'd take the corn, pull down the shuck, and the corn would have silk hair. That was a doll for us."

Marcel said, one day, her cousin asked her a simple question. It was a question that she could not answer--she found no one could answer.

"My siblings wanted to know about my grandmother," Marcel said. "They asked what her name was and I told them I didn't know. I said, well didn't you live with grandma? They would say yes, but they didn't know her name. They would ask me if I found out grandma's name."

Marcel started to dig.

Everyday she would find herself at the St. Landry Parish Courthouse buried in records.

"I looked up at my grandfather's name because I knew his name," Marcel said. "When I looked up grandpa's name I found grandma's name and I shed tears. I was in a new world and was able to share with my brothers and sisters our grandma."

Little did Marcel know that the name would open up a whole other world. It led her down the path she is on today.

"I nearly connected my grandmother to every family in Leonville," Marcel said. "From that point it just went on and on and on. Katie, I was hooked. I couldn't set the information down. I just kept reviewing it. I went to the Federal Census, I went to, us being Catholics, the catholic records. All of that comes into play."

While Marcel's journey has taken her down many paths, all have led back to one place, St. Landry Parish and the people who helped to build it.