Heart of Louisiana: Leatherwood Museum

Heart of Louisiana: Leatherwood Museum

OAKDALE, La. (WVUE) - It’s always interesting to find a town’s museum, to learn why people settled there, the area’s history and what life was like a long time ago. The town of Oakdale has its Leatherwood Museum, in a two-story building that dates back to 1888.

Adagria Haddock, the museum’s director, said the building has seen many a different tenant.

“We found the date 1888 written on handwritten on the wall,” Haddock said. “We believe it was built as a railroad company house. It was actually used as a hospital, a doctor’s office. It’s been a boarding home, and then the Leatherwoods bought it. They come from Alabama and then they made it a family home.”

This land was originally home to the Coushatta people, before it became a lumber town. And after the trees were gone, the stumpers came in.

The stoppers would come with dynamite and they would put it in the ground, and they’d blow the stumps up," Haddock explained. “Then, they would load their truck up and bring it over to the processing plant. And they made turpentine from the stumps.”

Inside this museum, you’ll find items left over from an old-time company store.

“They used to make dresses out of flour sacks. You’ll see the original 49 cent price tag on the dress,” Haddock said.

There are also furnishings from a 1930’s dentist’s office. A display of local wildlife. And photographs from the Louisiana Maneuvers, the largest-ever military exercise that trained nearly a half-million soldiers just before the U.S. entered World War II.

“This is the tank stuck in the swamp, and remember what Patton said: ‘If you can take a tank through Louisiana, you take it to hell,'" Haddock said.

And from the Civil War, a letter to the wife of confederate soldier William Dunn.

“'You must kiss all the children for me, and dear wife you must not take anything hard, as all will be bright,'” Haddock said, reading from the letter.

The dining room table is furnished with blue glass dinnerware.

“When I was a little girl, my mother used to collect this, it come in the oatmeal boxes. They would put their spirits in it, take their little toddy bottle, take a drink, and then they would put the lid back on it, and put it back on the shelf, and nobody knew,” Haddock said.

And as with many small-town museums, Haddock said it’s a great way for people to learn the story of a place they might otherwise overlook.

“You know everybody has a history, everybody needs to know how they started in order to go forward. We have values that we have, we show the values and it teacher our children how to act and what to go forward with,” Haddock said.

Plus, it’s a step back in time that may rekindle a few of our own memories, of what life was like a few generations ago.

The Leatherwood Museum in Oakdale is open Wednesday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, check out their website.

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