(The oldest oaks in the large grove at 4535 LA Highway 308 date back possibly to the late 1700s, when the land was yet undeveloped. By the way, the offices and visitor’s center of the Bayou Lafourche Area Convention and Visitors Bureau are right across Bayou Lafourche from the New Hope Plantation Oaks at 4484 LA. Hwy. 1. Stop in for a visit!)
Around 1818, three American brothers from Bertie County, North Carolina, moved to Louisiana with hopes of making a fortune in the agricultural industry. Dr. Whitmell Hill Pugh (1781-1834), Augustin Pugh (1783-1853), with their half-brother Thomas Pugh (1796-1852) initially immigrated to Bayou Teche near Franklin, where they lived for a year. Dissatisfied with their prospects on Bayou Teche, the brothers moved closer to New Orleans and settled along Bayou Lafourche.
Whitmell, the oldest brother, purchased a tract of land 18 miles below Thibodaux from Thibodaux businessman and plantation owner William Fields (one of the former owners of Rienzi Plantation). He named his new home, New Hope Plantation, to express his intent that his family would prosper in this new location. Some of the oaks on the property possibly date back to this period when New Hope was established.
The Pugh brothers and their families did eventually prosper, becoming one of the wealthiest families along Bayou Lafourche and in Louisiana. Between the three brothers and their growing families, by the 1860s, the Pughs owned 13 plantations and were part owners of five more in Lafourche and Assumption Parishes – close to 10,000 acres of plantation land. Because of this, the family was the source of a local riddle, “Why is Bayou Lafourche like the aisle of a church? Because there are Pughs on both sides.”
Whitmell Pugh died in 1834 and his son William Whitmell Hill Pugh took over his father’s estate. William eventually sold New Hope to his uncle Augustin and moved closer to his family’s properties in Assumption Parish where he established Woodlawn Plantation. After the Civil War, the Pugh family plantations quickly declined. Much of the land was sold and eventually, the grand plantation homes faded away and were lost. Thomas Pugh’s Madewood Plantation near Napoleonville is the last surviving — it’s now a National Historic Landmark.
New Hope Plantation and its grove of ancient oaks changed hands several times over the years. The home on the property now was built in the last 20 years. Within the last 10 years, the property was purchased by Gulf Offshore Logistics where it built its current corporate offices.
The Lafourche Live Oak Tour was created through the generous support of Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou Tourism. For more information on Lafourche Parish events and activities, visit their website at LACajunBayou.com.