The origins of the Plaquemines Fruit and Oil Corporation stretch all the way back to the Spring of 1682. It was established by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle at the mouth of the Mississippi in la Basse-Louisiane.
It was here that La Salle and Company first saw the native Persimmon trees that grew in abundance alongside the lower Mississippi River. Called Piakimin by the Eastern Atakapa tribes that lived in the coastal marshes, the Persimmon tree was highly prized by the natives as a source of fruit and wood.
La Salle, being the resourceful entrepreneur of the times that he was, planted row after row of Persimmon saplings on a small bluff about forty miles upstream from the mouth of the Mississippi River. He named the site Piakimin in honor of the Native American tribe and the tree that bears it’s name.
As control of La Louisiane shifted to the Spanish in 1763, Fort San Felipe was constructed on the site of LaSalle’s Persimmon orchard. Fort San Felipe was a very rudimentary structure when compared to other Spanish forts of the period, but the fort served it’s purpose as an impediment to entry into the small port of Nueva Orleans, another forty miles north.
By 1800, the French had reacquired Louisiana and renamed Fort San Felipe to Fort St. Philip. The French made the decision to improve and expand the size of the fort due to the burgeoning importance of La Nouvelle-Orléans, now a strategic port and commercial center on the Gulf of Mexico.
From Piakimin to Plaquemines
As the Native American’s succumbed to disease and dispersion, the area around Fort San Felipe, and later Fort St. Philip, began to be populated by mostly French Creoles coming up from the Caribbean and a few Acadians – who had been deported from Canada. This is around the time that Piakimin metamorphosed into the Creole word Plaquemines.
Remember the orchard of Persimmon trees that LaSalle planted? Well the descendants of those first saplings are still here in Plaquemines Parish of South Louisiana and formed the humble beginnings of the Plaquemines Fruit and Oil Corporation.
Plaquemines Persimmon Pudding and Plaquemines Persimmon Jelly has been handcrafted for over three hundred years in la Basse-Louisiane. In 1887, we added on to our small farm with the cultivation of Creole tomatoes, satsumas and oranges. And, in 1978 we discovered oil on our land – so we’ve got that going for us too! 🙂
For more information about us, please visit our website at Plaquemines.com.