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National park battlefield irises may mark razed Black homes

Battlefield Iris Razed Black Homes
Posted at 1:28 PM, Apr 04, 2022

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Nearly 60 years ago, a historic Black community founded as a home for people emancipated after the Civil War was demolished for a national park commemorating both the Battle of New Orleans and Civil War casualties.

Now park rangers and iris enthusiasts believe they may have found a botanical reminder — Louisiana irises and African lilies that the village’s residents may have planted.

The flowers were first noticed last spring.

The 30-home community called Fazendeville was founded around 1870 by a Black man who had been born free.

The Associated Press reported that a grocer named Jean-Pierre Fazende founded "The Village," which it was called by people who lived there.

The community was expropriated by the National Park Service in the mid-1960s because it was between the 1815 battleground and a national cemetery where thousands of Union soldiers and sailors were buried.

At first, the park service tried to buy the land, but the owners refused. Congress eventually approved expropriation and the community was demolished, the news outlet reported.

Homeowners were paid about $6,000, but homes in the area cost $16,000, a “64 Parishes” magazine published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities reported.

In later years, the park service addressed the expropriation, saying that "the choice to preserve one history sacrificed another,” the AP reported.

According to the AP, a marker commemorating the community was erected in 2010.