Ascension Parish family’s responsible for 1st ever sugar cane planter, during this Black History month the family is remembering their legacy.
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - One Ascension Parish family is responsible for the first ever sugar cane planter. During this Black History month, the family is remembering their legacy.
Hard work and persistence is what kept the Julien family going in the 60′s when they built the first ever sugar cane planter in West Ascension.
Today, cousins Leonard Julien Jr. and Wallace Julien are thinking about their days on the family farm way back in the 60′s, running the tractors on the 1100 acres of sugar cane.
“He and two of his brothers farmed around close 1,100 acres of sugar cane when I graduated from high school. In 1960, they went on as the biggest black farmers in south Louisiana at that time,” said Leonard Julien Jr.
Wallace explained, “I worked on the farm, I was coming in one day and when I came in I saw my daddy, my cousin and Mr. Stafford working on something. So, I got off the tractor, and I walked across and I asked them, ‘what are you guys doing?’”
Their fathers, Harold and Leonard Julien, had an idea, tinkering around with a way to make it easier for them to farm sugar cane. Right in West Ascension, the idea came to life on the Little Africa Plantation.
“There was a day where they brought, they had about 300 kids out there watching it, watching and demonstrating the machine. Plus a lot of farmer were there,” described Wallace.
Leonard added that, “A lot of these people were kind of in opposition to it, but in the end result, they bought it because it was economical at the time, it replaced a lot of hard work.”
The invention of the sugar cane planter changed the Julien family, helping them with their workload and strengthening their family bond. As the sons look back on the work their fathers accomplished, they hope it will send a message to the community that hard work and persistence makes a difference.
“He would tell us, you can do anything if you put your mind to it, and this is a message for young people today. Whatever you want to do, do it because God gave you a brain, and you shouldn’t waste it,” said Leonard.
“Hard work, hard work pays off. All you got to do is just hang in there and do the hard work,” said Wallace.
The Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office is working with the Julien family to restore the planter and will build an exhibit for it to be on display at a proposed museum in Donaldsonville. Another one of their planters is on display at the West Baton Rouge Museum.
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