In the middle of a fall night in 1894, five men and two women, called lepers, tugged up the Mississippi River from New Orleans on a coal barge. They had been denied access to public transportation by state law. Accompanied by a physician, newspaper reporters, and provisions donated by Charity Hospital, the lepers were made as comfortable as possible during the 85-mile trip to their new home. The first glimpse revealed a decaying plantation known as Indian Camp, set on the river close to Carville in Iberville Parish. The house was uninhabitable, leaving the seven patients to begin a new life in slave cabins on a rundown farmstead that would later become a modern, innovative facility, as well as the only leprosarium on the continental United States.
Elizabeth Schexnyder, curator of the National Hansen’s Disease Museum in Carville, will continue this story at an upcoming program, History of the National Leprosarium in Carville Louisiana, at the Ascension Parish Library in Dutchtown on Tuesday, January 7, 2020 at 6:30 PM. Ms. Schexnyder will tell us the fascinating story of a place and a people who were often feared, sometimes persecuted, and always underestimated because of this misunderstood disease.