Mermentau, Louisiana

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Mermentau is a village in Acadia Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 721 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Crowley Micropolitan Statistical Area.

Contents

History

In the last quarter of the 18th century, there was an Attakapas chief Nementou. On April 16, 1784, he sold land on Bayou Plaqumine Brûlée to Antoin Blanc for $100. Nementou is later mentioned as chief of a village on a river with the same name. Eventually, through a clerical error, Nementou became Mementou and this was then corrupted into Mermentau through confusion with the French word mer, which means "sea." [1]

The Mermentau area was once reputedly a refuge for smugglers. It was a crossing point for brave travelers on the Old Spanish Trail, but had such a bad reputation that until the Louisiana Purchase no one would go there to see how many people there were.

John Landreth was a surveyor who was sent from Washington D.C. in 1818 to look for timber in Acadiana that could be harvested for the use of building Navy ships. He kept a journal and had this to say: "...these places, particularly the Mermentau and Calcasieu are the harbours and Dens of the most abandoned wretches of the human race... smugglers and Pirates who go about the coast of the Gulph (sic) of vessels of a small draught of water and rob and plunder without distinction every vessel of every nation they meet and are able to conquer and put to death every soul they find on board without respect of persons age or sex and then their unlawful plunder they carry all through the country and sell at a very low rate and find plenty of purchasers." [2]

Early Settlement

During the Civil War and the years immediately after it there were widespread reports of bushwhackers, robbers, and other fugitives hiding in the Mermentau woods and tales of hidden treasures in the area. According to one of the stories, a man named Frank Quebedeaux once found an iron pot filled with coins. The cache had been hidden between four copal trees that had grown close together.

One of the earliest known settlers was John Webb, an English seaman who came in 1827. It is said that Webb was a member of the crew of Admiral Horatio Nelson's flagship at the famous Battle of Trafalgar (Oct. l, 1805) in which the British defeated French and Spanish fleets but during which Nelson was killed. Webb lived in an area that came to be known as Webb's Cove, near the junction of the Mermentau River and Bayou Queue de Tortue. Cornelius Duson McNaughton who was running from the law in Quebec joined Webb there about 1837.

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