Seven Brothers Oak (Lastrapes Oak)

Washington, Louisiana

Lastrapes Oak

Seven Brothers Oak (Lastrapes Oak) - November 2007

The Seven Brothers Oak is located west of Washington, Louisiana on Hwy. 103.  The mailbox at the entrance to the old Lastrapes homestead is #398.  The large live oak is well-maintained in the open space fronting the road.

Referred to as the “Seven Sisters” by the Live Oak Society‘s founder, Dr. Edwin Lewis Stephens, in an article published in the Louisiana Conservation Review (April 1934)–and not to be confused with the Live Oak Society’s current President, the Seven Sisters Oak, in St. Tammany parish–the old oak is best known today as the “Seven Brothers Oak” and is listed as the “Lastrapes” oak on the Society’s Top 100 list.  The Seven Brothers Oak is the seventh tree listed in Dr. Stephens’ article and is #9 on the Live Oak Society’s registry.

The tree’s girth (circumference) was reported in two sections by Dr. Stephens in 1934 (27’3” and 26’4”), due to the configuration of the multi-trunk system.  One section of the system (the larger measurement) had a severed trunk.

The trunk section measurements on Nov. 11, 2007 were:

32’3”      Section nearest to the road (including the severed trunk)
28’11”    Section nearest to the fence

History:  There is more than one story about this particular tree (or group of trees)[1].  On our expedition, the person who currently maintains the tree and grounds of the Lastrapes homestead explained that it had been planted and named for the seven Lastrapes brothers who had left home to fight in the Civil War.  In another variation of the story, described in Ethelyn Orso’s Louisiana Live Oak Lore, the birth of his seventh son prompted Jean Henri Lastrapes to request that seven oaks be planted; the workers arrived late in the day with the seedlings and temporarily put them in one container (or hole).  The business of the days that followed in the cotton fields distracted the workers from ever completing the planting task—and thus the trees grew together, sharing the close proximity of their original planting site.

Photo Notes: The skies were alternately sunny and cloudy, as the afternoon thunderheads passed by; so Bill had some wonderful light to photograph the various aspects of the old oak in black & white with his view camera, while Cyndi photographed the nearby cottage.  Although timeworn and no longer in use, the structure seemed content to remain as it was, in the company of its venerable friend.

Cyndi’s Nature Notes:  A frequent visitor to the live oak, a golden silk orb-weaver spider (Nephilia clavipes), also known as the “banana spider”, had created a web amongst the lower branches of the tree.

Banana Spider

Golden Silk Orb-Weaver - C.L. Nelson 2007


[1]Orso, Ethelyn G; Louisiana Live Oak Lore (pg. 77-78); The Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Southwestern Louisiana; Lafayette, LA 1992.


41 thoughts on “Seven Brothers Oak (Lastrapes Oak)

  1. I enjoyed reading your piece on the Lastrapes oak, which was planted by
    my grandmother’s great-grandfather. One correction: it is not located on
    103, west of Washington, but rather, on 10/182, about one mile south of
    Washington.

    • Hey that’s my Grandpa as well !

      My late father and I (Chris) spent the years 2003-2005 taking care of the property.

      Since I moved to Texas in 2006,sadly I haven’t returned.

      Was thinking about it today and saw your comment !

      Take care !
      Chris Lastrapes

      • As my mother, (deceased 1996) Mildred Lastrapes Landry, was a descendent. I visited the site yesterday. I am curious as to who owns it today. It is not being maintained as vines, weeds other shrubby is surrounding it.

      • Ellen, my understanding was that the site of the Lastrapes Oak was being cared for by the city of Washington, LA. Though that’s not confirmed. I’ll see what I can find out and reply again later. – WG

      • Ellen, I was in Washington last week and visited the Lastrapes Oak to re-photograph it. I see what you mean about its maintenance — there are shrubs growing up around the tree trunks. The grass is being cut regularly, but the shrubs and vines are not being cut back.

        I spoke to Frank Thibodaux, arborist with Bob’s Tree Preservation in Scott — he and his dad are familiar with the Lastrapes Oak. He said he believes the property is owned by one of the Lastrapes family in New Orleans. I suspect they just hire a local landscaper / grass cutter to cut the grass on the property, and that person is overlooking cutting back the shrubs around the trunks. You’d need to reach out to whoever owns the property to ask them to get the shrubs trimmed back. Or else get a group of the local Lastrapes family members to meet one weekend and have a family tree-care gathering — which could be fun. And a new family tradition.

        Otherwise the tree is looking good. — Best, Bill

    • Bradford,
      Paul Lastrapes died in 2005. You must have misunderstood him. His sons (I’m one of them) were born in the 1960s. The tree was planted in the early 1800s.
      Cordially,
      Paul

  2. Bob Thibidoux, of Bob’s Tree Preservation Service did a lot of work on the Seven Brothers, back around early 2001. Mulching, injection of root nutrients, pruning of dead wood.

  3. Jean Henri Lastrapes was my Great (x9) Grandfather. I would like to stay in contact with anybody who knows more information.

    Brad King

  4. Jean Henri Lastrapes is also a relative on my mother’s side. Our family actually has an oil portrait of Jean Henri that is very impressive. Have seen the tree and it is impressive. Few buildings left on property. Museum in Washington LA has some good information and pictures on property. Met some relatives who live in Baton Rouge. Geneaology compiled is impressive.

  5. Thanks William! Pete, would it be possible to post a pic of the oil painting?? Also, I just moved to New Orleans. If anybody has any exact directions to the place I would love to check it out on a weekend.

    • The painting was in the possession of my aunt Marie until she died around 2001. Her son Henry now has it. I have no idea how my family got the painting. I believe that my great grandmother (Marie Lastrapes) took it with her when she moved from Louisiana to Virginia in the 1880’s. I will see if he can get a picture of it.

      Have you seen the detailed faily genealogy that members of the family prepared?

      • Hey Pete, I have only seen the detailed geneology that my dad (David King formerly David Lastrapes) has. He lives in Natchitoches. It begins with Jean Henri coming over from France but I can’t remember the others. It’s been a couple years since he showed me. I’m very interested in looking at the family geneology and any other relevant material anybody has. Thanks for the info!

  6. I visited the tree today. Still beautiful. In the late 50’s I visited a school friend who lived there. I believe her name was Beverly Guidry. She may have been related to Margie Carrier. Would like any info. on that. Thanks.

    • Hi, Thelma. My brother called to tell me about your post. It was absolutely amazing to hear a name I’ve not thought of for many years. Would love to hear from you.
      I was just in Washington a few days ago attending the High Tea sponsored by the Ladies Garden Club. It was a lovely affair which is put on yearly as a fund raiser.

    • Hi John,
      Great to see another member of the Lastrapes family here. Thanks for visiting; the family’s been a great source of additional information about the tree and history.
      Best, Bill & Cyndi

  7. A very interesting history of the tree. Being a direct descendant and namesake of Jean Henri, but living in Jacksonville, FL, I would be very interested in getting any recent pictures of the tree as well as any current information on its condition and the property as well. I get home to Baton Rouge occasionally, but not to St. Landry Parish. Thanks -jhlastrapes@yahoo.com.

  8. Patricia Lastrapes-Bertrand
    February 6< 2014
    I also am a direct descendent of Jean Henri Lastrapes. My grandfather Andre Joseph Lastrapes raised me. I have always enjoyed the information he gave me about his family.

    • Patsy, Wow! I saw the tree for the first time yesterday. Amazing!!! Really wish I could buy the property as it needs a lot of tender care right now.

  9. I grew up in the old house next to the oak tree, I spent many a day climbing up and down each and every limb. It brings back lots of fond memories. It was a retreat; an escape from overbearing older sisters. LOL

    • Hi Ernest,
      My name is Lynn. My mother in law, who is 75 years old, is great grand daughter to Selina Guidry, wife of Henry Lastrapes, mother to Robert Elmer Lastrapes b.1897 d.1928 .
      I am digging into the family tree just for knowledge. Can you offer any help?
      Thank you!

      • Someone in the Lastrapes family compiled a good genealogy of the family. Let me check and see it is posted on-line. It was a few years ago and had quite a bit of excellent detail. I am related to the Lastrapes on my mother’s side. I am not from Louisiana but I have seen the tree as well as the church.

        Pete McCoy

        Sent from my iPhone

        >

  10. My father, Paul Lastrapes Sr. (1942-2005) posted this in 2003:
    The Lastrapes genealogy dates back to 1600, in Peyrens, France. The Coat of Arms was created in 1750, and, researched in 1935 and later in 1956, is believed to be accurate.

    The Lastrapes home and surrounding 400 acres were purchased by Jean Henri Lastrapes in 1793 from J. Carriere’s widow. Today, it includes 500 acres, and remains in the continuous stewardship of the Lastrapes family.

    The landmark, “Seven Brothers Oak”, is an interesting story. Thrilled with the birth of his seventh son in 1810 Jean Henri called his workers to bring seven Oak saplings from the woods to be planted around the large one story Lastrapes home. Returning late in the afternoon, the workers were instructed to place the saplings in a hastily dug hole in front of the home, to be replanted the next day. But a cotton plantation has many chores associated with it and the replanting never took place.

    Today, five huge trunks remain in this massive Oak, a member of both the National and Louisiana Live Oak Society email cpl700600@aol.com (lower case of letter L). In June, 2001, the Lastrapes family engaged a well recognized service to trim dead wood, take soil samples, and perform other work to strengthen one of Washington’s many landmarks.

    Washington, reputed to be Louisiana’s third settlement in 1720, was an important steamboat port from 1825 to 1910. A round trip passage in the year,1855, beginning from 1 of 7 warehouses on Bayou Courtableau (“Cor-taa-blew”)to New Orleans cost $11. The trip left on Saturday, arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday. From New Orleans Thursday morning, the “J.E.Trudeau” (one of some 90 steamboats documented as having a share of similar commerce)would return with all manner of products from around the world. The cargo could then be offloaded onto a Wells Fargo Stagecoach westward along the Old Texas Road, passing through a community later incorporated as Lake Charles. Or it might leave Washington traveling north to Alexandria via oxen-drawn flatboats along a bayou which was so clean…”one could not gather a switch along it’s banks.”

    (me again)My father also did substantial genealogy research and traced descendants of John Henri back to France in the 1500s. He also found the Lastrapes Coat of Arms from France. Finally, he wrote the book, “Looking back at Washington, Louisiana,” a memoir about Washington when it thrived. Please feel free to contact me and I’ll try to find some info, although when he died, LSU contacted me for information, and I donated most of his notes/research/pictures to their state archives.

  11. Gil A. LaStrapes here, some of Gilbert A. LaStrapes Jr. Son of Gilbert Anthony “Minette” Lastrapes Sr. + Camille M. Lopez – Audie LaStrapes Thornton / Kelly. I’d like to offer a few bits of information not mentioned here. Check out LaStrapes Plantation / Stephenie Plantation / Huron Plantation, currently owned by the Kidder family. The history of the plantation and the sawmill are worth your time to explore.

    You may also be interested in : French Nobleman leaves legacy in St. Landry Parish connecting the family to an ever larger group that settled the great state of Louisiana… making their marks in history. ( LaStrapes, Bertrand & Louis Joseph Paul Antoine Garrigues de Flaugeac ) connections.

    Editor’s note: The state of Louisiana is celebrating its bicentennial. This is the eighth in a series of columns exploring St. Landry Parish history.

    Perhaps it could be said that it’s a story of a timeline thrown off course that led one of the area’s noted military servicemen to be in the right place at the right time. Some 200 years ago, a French nobleman’s survival of misfortunes brought a legacy of success to St. Landry Parish.

    The story of Louis Joseph Paul Antoine Garrigues de Flaugeac began Sept. 5, 1780, in Montfaucon, France, where he was born to Jean Charles and Marie Jeanne Sabrejon. His father was a Field Marshal and body guard to King Louis XVI.

    De Flaugeac began his military career with Napoleon’s Dragoons taking part in the Italian Campaign. After Italy, he served in the San Domingo expedition.

    Most of the army would die of yellow fever, but the willful de Flaugeac survived. He was, however, wounded, captured and then sent to a British prison camp in Cuba.

    When peace was declared, the British put him on a ship to sail back to France. But a storm threw the ship off course and de Flaugeac and his comrades ended up in the Gulf of Mexico, where they were picked up by an American ship headed to New Orleans.

    In January of 1805, Garrigues met Poste de Opelousas resident Grand Louis Fontenot, who was in New Orleans on business. Fontenot encouraged de Flaugeac and his companions, Benoit Van Hille and Jean Marie De Ballion, to travel back to Opelousas and build a home and prosper on the area’s fertile soil.

    In August, de Flaugeac married Marie Louise Fontenot, daughter of Grand Louis Fontenot and Marie Joseph Fontenot. Meanwhile two other daughters of Grand Louis and Marie Joseph would marry de Flageac’s comrades. In 1815, Benoit Van Hille married Caroline Fontenot. Jean Marie De Baillion married Marie Josephe Nicette Fontenot.

    De Flaugeac settled into his new town becoming a surveyor, landowner and judge.

    He even joined Stephen W. Wikoff, George King, Eliakim Little and Benoit Vanhille as owners of the Opelousas Steamboat Company.

    When Louisiana became a state in 1812, de Flaugeac was elected a state senator from Opelousas. As a senator, he was not obliged to fight in the War of 1812, but General Andrew Jackson sought him out because he was an experienced artillery military officer.

    In the Battle of New Orleans at Chalmette, de Flaugeac took center position of the line. Research indicates that his discharge of grape shot artillery wounded and then killed British Commander Edward Packinham.

    “The account of the commander’s death coincides with Garrigues shooting him,” said Harvey Weir, descendent of de Flaugeac. Senator de Flaugeac returned to his family. He died in 1845 and is buried in St. Landry Catholic Cemetery, where his gravesite his marked with a marble table top.

    But the senator’s legacy continued. His only son, Adolph, married Clarisse Lastrapes, daughter of Jean Henri Lastrapes and Celeste Genevieve, in 1831. After his wife’s death in 1847, Adolph married Delia Webb, daughter of McLand Plantation owner Amos Webb and Charlotte Adams.

    Adolph and Delia had a daughter named Cecilia who married Clinton Bradshaw Andrus. Clinton was in the 8th Louisiana Infantry serving under Stonewall Jackson. He was captured in the Battle of Gettysburg and imprisoned in Ft. Delaware. Clinton and Cecilia had a child named Mary Delia (Doucie) Andrus who was born in 1872.

    Mary “Doucie” married Remi Morningvegh in 1896. They had four children: Hazel, Myrtle, Clinton and Remi, Jr. Hazel married Harvey James Wier from Bayou Beouf. Their grandson, Harvey James Wier, III, proudly protects the sword of General Garrigues de Flaugeac, his great-grandfather.

    Melanie Lee-Lebouef is tourism director for the city of Opelousas. Contact her at tourism@cityofopelousas

  12. I am also a direct descendent of Jean Henri Lastrapes. My grandfather was Andre Joseph Lastrapes, as was Patsy Lastrapes Bertrand. My mother was Mildred Mary Lastrapes Landry. She had three brother, Andre, Gilbert, and George (Patsy’s father). I also enjoy any information about this Historic Legend. I was born and remain living in Lafayette with my husband, Andre’, and my children and grandchildren. Hope someday to show my young grandchildren the Lastrapes Oak site.

    • Hello Ellen. My father was George Finlay Lastrapes II. I have a picture he took of me in front of the Lastrapes Oaks in 1956, when I was 9 years old. I remember him telling the family story of the oaks. Perhaps your uncle George was a cousin of my father. I believe Paul Lastrapes was a first cousin of his.

  13. I stumbled upon this website as part of my ancestry research. While not a Lastrapes descendent, I am a direct descendent through Adolph and Delia’s daughter, Adolphina, who married Charles Gibbon. Their son, Adolph J, married my great-grandmother, who I personally remember from my early childhood.

    Fascinating stuff. Thanks for making it available online.

    Steve Dollinger

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