Freedmen’s Bureau

Site 6

In 1865, the United States Congress approved creation of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands to help former slaves in their transition to life in freedom. The Freedmen’s Bureau had several responsibilities: 1) to mediate between plantation owners and laborers to negotiate labor contracts for the freedmen; 2) to offer charitable aid and rations to the destitute; 3) to carry out jurisdiction over any civil cases involving freedmen; and 4) to open schools for freedmen, offering the education so long denied them in slavery.

Freedmen’s Bureau officials were active in Natchitoches between 1865 and 1868, in those early, critical post-war years. According to local tradition, the Freedmen’s Bureau office was located on the ground floor of the Prudhomme family townhouse on the corner of Jefferson and Touline.

The New Inn Hotel, once the Prudhomme family townhouse. Photographed by Arthur Babb, ca. 1926. Arthur Babb Sketchbook, Melrose Collection, CHRC

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