Colonial Natchitoches
A Creole Community on the Louisiana-Texas Frontier
Southern History - Multicultural Studies
5.625 x 9.25, 232 pp.
4 maps., 50 tables. Bib. Index.
Pub Date: 11/07/2014
Elma Dill Russell Spencer Series in the West and Southwest
Price:        $19.95

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2008 Kemper Williams Prize for best book in Louisiana History, presented by the Louisiana Historical Association

Colonial Natchitoches

A Creole Community on the Louisiana-Texas Frontier

By H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith

Strategically located at the western edge of the Atlantic World, the French post of Natchitoches thrived during the eighteenth century as a trade hub between the well-supplied settlers and the isolated Spaniards and Indians of Texas. Its critical economic and diplomatic role made it the most important community on the Louisiana-Texas frontier during the colonial era.

Despite the community’s critical role under French and then Spanish rule, Colonial Natchitoches is the first thorough study of its society and economy. Founded in 1714, four years before New Orleans, Natchitoches developed a creole (American-born of French descent) society that dominated the Louisiana-Texas frontier.

H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith carefully demonstrate not only the persistence of this creole dominance but also how it was maintained. They examine, as well, the other ethnic cultures present in the town and relations with Indians in the surrounding area.

Through statistical analyses of birth and baptismal records, census figures, and appropriate French and Spanish archives, Burton and Smith reach surprising conclusions about the nature of society and commerce in colonial Natchitoches.

H. SOPHIE BURTON earned her doctorate in Latin American history from Texas Christian University and is the author of numerous articles on colonial Louisiana.     F. TODD SMITH, a professor of history at the University of North Texas, is the author of five books, including his latest, Louisiana and the Gulf South Frontier, 1500–1821. They both live in Dallas, Texas.

What Readers Are Saying:

"Authors H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith have crafted a remarkable definitive study of Natchitoches, Louisiana. . ."--Chronicles of Oklahoma

"This book should inspire new debate about this important historic site."--Choice

“ . . . blazes new historiographical ground by providing an in-depth community study of Natchitoches during the eighteenth century . . . . they provide a detailed economic analysis that shows that trade with Native Americans did not dominate colonial Natchitoches, challenging what some earlier studies had supposed . . . . This important study establishes interpretations and conclusions about colonial Natchitoches that will inform scholarship for decades to come.” --Journal of American History

". . . should be on the shelf of every researcher looking into colonial and frontier development."--HAHR

". . . provides the reader with a detailed picture of this frontier community in the eighteenth century. . . a valuable resource for anyone interested in the growth of plantation-based slavery in eighteenth-century America."--Journal of American Ethnic History

"Anyone interested in community formation will find this book a joy to read. . . a model local study. . . All historians of the early Deep South should put this book on their essential reading list."--American Historical Review

"This wonderful new micro history of colonial Natchitoches builds on earlier studies to . . . give us a snapshot of life on the Louisiana  frontier, one solidly based on archival research, which greatly enhances our understanding of an important chapter in Louisiana history. This is social history at its best and deserving of a place on reading lists in Louisiana history courses."--Louisiana History

“With publication of H. Sophie Burton and F. Todd Smith’s Colonial Natchitoches, the history of colonial Louisiana has taken a giant step forward. Their meticulous analysis of French and Spanish archival documentation for the social and economic components of a frontier settlement through nearly a century lays bare the fabric of its development. This study sets a standard that future histories of colonial settlements will want to follow.”--Gilbert C. Din, author, Spaniards, Planters, and Slaves

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