Leighton Plantation Oaks

(The Leighton Plantation Oaks are located at 1801-1811 LA Hwy. 1 (St. Mary Street) about 2.5 miles north of downtown Thibodaux. The oaks are on the property between Leighton Road and Leighton Quarters Road. Turn onto Leighton Quarters Road to get the best view of the trees. The oaks range in age and size, the oldest and largest dating back to the early 1800s. There is a historic marker to Leonidas Polk at the St. Johns Episcopal Church in Thibodaux, and another (small and on the roadside) about a hundred feet north of the Leighton Quarters Road on the west side of Hwy 1.)

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Oaks in front of current home at Leighton

There is a story that 22 of the oaks at Leighton Plantation belonged to the King of Spain in the late 1700s. As the story goes, the land grant for the property contained a stipulation that the King of Spain (Charles IV) could claim these “Royal Oaks” whenever he needed them for construction and repair of his royal navy. At the time, Spain was at war with England (1796–1808), and the wood from Louisiana’s live oaks was known worldwide to be strong enough to deflect an English cannonball.

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Leighton Oaks and back entry road to home

In the early 1800s, Leighton Plantation was owned by Leonidas Polk (April 10, 1806 – June 14, 1864), an Episcopal Bishop and American Confederate General. Polk was a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point (1827). After graduation from West Point, he received special permission to resign his new commission in the U.S. Army and attend the Virginia Theological Seminary where he was ordained as an Episcopal priest. He went on to become Missionary Bishop of the Southwest in 1838 and was elected Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana in 1841.

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Oak grove behind home, Leighton Plantation

Bishop Polk established Leighton Plantation to be closer to his work as he frequently traveled between Thibodaux and New Orleans where he administered the Louisiana Episcopal Diocese from Christ Cathedral, New Orleans’ first Protestant Episcopalian church. During his tenure as bishop, he personally established St. Johns Episcopal Church in Thibodaux, Christ Church in Napoleonville, the Church of the Ascension in Donaldsonville, the Church of the Holy Communion in Plaquemine, and Trinity Church in Natchitoches. Through his crusading evangelical efforts, the Protestant Episcopal religion made a significant foothold in the predominantly Roman Catholic Louisiana.

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Historic roadside marker for Leonidas Polk

Bishop Polk strongly believed in states’ rights and that the South was a “distinct cultural entity.” So after Louisiana seceded from the union in January of 1861 and the Civil War began, he resigned as Bishop of Louisiana and took command of Confederate forces in western Tennessee. His most notable contribution to the Army of Tennessee was his calm ability to inspire confidence and religious beliefs, earning him the nickname, the “Fighting Bishop.” Polk was killed in battle June 1864 at Pine Mountain, Georgia.

This is a mirror post from the Lafourche Live Oak Tour – which is created through the generous support of the Bayou Lafourche Convention & Visitors Bureau. View more of this blog site and share it with friends at www.liveoaktour.com.

Khi Oak and Theriot Plantation

(Khi Oak and Theriot Plantation Home are located at 3266 LA Hwy. 308 – 3 miles north of Raceland (toward Thibodaux) on LA Hwy. 308, or 12.5 miles from Thibodaux driving south. The Khi Oak is likely to be the largest oak on the property – which is the oak in the right foreground of the below photo.)

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The Theriot Plantation Home was built in 1891 by Alexander L. Theriot (pronounced tear-ee-oh). He was the son of Paul Justilien Theriot, who owned several plantations in the area, including the Home Place and Scudday Plantations. The Theriot home replaced an older residence at the location that was destroyed by fire.

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Khi Oaks and front gate of Theriot Plantation

There’s a bit of mystery associated with the name, Khi Oak.  A study of the home and property done by the Lafourche Heritage Society stated that it’s unclear whether the Wilsons intended the name “Khi Oak” to represent the entire grove of oaks on the property of just a single oak. All that’s known today is that William W. and Melva Wilson purchased the plantation home in 1971 and registered one oak with the Live Oak Society named “Khi Oak” with a size, at the time, of 18 ft. 7 in. in girth. Though, they also erected a wrought-iron gate at the entrance to their home that reads “Khi Oak.”

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Oaks and Theriot Plantation Home, view from north front corner

According to the Wilsons’ son, his parents came up with the name “Khi” oak from the name of his college fraternity. However, the Greek letter in question would be “Chi,” the 22nd letter of the Greek alphabet. It is also pronounced “Ki” with a long “i” like sky. So the Khi Oak name was possibly a simple misspelling. Whatever the case, there is a beautiful group of oaks surrounding the historic Theriot Home, and the home has been carefully restored by the current owners.

This post is from the Lafourche Live Oak Tour – which is created through the generous support of the Bayou Lafourche Convention & Visitors Bureau. View more of this blog site and share it with friends at www.liveoaktour.com.