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Reconstruction Period Research Forum

Freedmen's Bureau , LA - Rost Home Colony

Some of the richest genealogical records are contained in the various registers of the Bureaus' experimental Freedmen's colonies. There were at least three such colonies in Louisiana - Bragg (Lafourche), McHatton (East Baton Rouge), Sparks (Jefferson) and ROST (St. Charles). The ROST Home Colony was one of the Bureau's most successful experiments.

The colony was set up on the former properties of Judge Pierre Rost, who moved onto his wife's family estate. His father-in-law, Jean Noel Destrehan, for whom Destrehan Plantation was known, married the daughter of the original owner, Monsieur Robin deLogny. deLogny moved into the home in the late 1700's.
Judge Pierre Rost was an official in the Confederacy and in exile in Europe when this plantation was confiscated. From 1865 through 1866, it was used to house a self contained colony of freedmen, complete with a hospital, schools, colony store and police force. Rost Home Colony was born a success. Then, Judge Rost returned with a full pardon from President Johnson and demands for the return of his property.¹

Rost Colony's original population may have been local parish freedmen, however, as other colonies were closed (or property returned to the now pardoned confederate owners), its residents came from other parishes and states.
Detailed records were kept of all freedmen arriving or leaving the colony. Former owner names were also recorded, as well as family members and relationships. The following example is from Prologue ¹, a NARA quarterly publication.

The Johnson family arrived at Rost Home Colony on March 20, 1865, and were entered into the registers under the numbers 574589. Fountain Johnson, age 41, was listed first, followed by Thomas (age 35), Louisa (36), Horace (31) and Sarah (30) Johnson. After the names of the related adults follow the names of their children, ranging in age from one month to twelve years. Fountain had been hired as a laborer at the Rost Home Colony. Several family entries down on the page and later on the same day, six more names appear with the last name Johnson. In the departures section at the end of each register, the names of departing freedmen are listed with a departure number. Above the departure number is another number that cross-indexes the name with an arrival number. Under the name Fountain Johnson, the family members are all listed; however, after the column listing each individual's sex is a column listing the family relation of each member (husband, wife, son, daughter, etc.). Furthermore, the column also reveals that the two Johnson families that arrived on March 20, 1865, are indeed related. The "remarks" column of departures often lists reasons for departure and occasionally the intended destination. The Johnson family departed Rost Home Colony October 10, 1865, because the family's working members had their contracts terminated (due to the closing of the colony).

Occasionally whites also visited the colony for assistance. Hanson Medley and his family departed the Rost Colony on July 20, 1865. In the "remarks" column for the entire family is a note stating that Hanson was "a white man with [a] colored family discharged to return to their homes in Florida." ²

Although Rost Home Colony was in existence for a short time, the resulting records are rich in genealogical information.

Rost Home Colony
--- Arrivals and Departures (Feb 1865-Jul 1866)
--- Records of Births and Deaths
--- Register of Applications for Laborers
--- Register of Sick and Wounded Refugees and Freedmen
--- Accounts of Rations and Clothing Issued at Rost home Colony, Parish of St. Charles, by J.W. Horton (1865)³

¹Knight, Michael F., "The Rost Home Colony, St. Charles Parish, Louisiana." Prologue, Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 2001): 214-220, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

²Microfilm Publication M1027, "Records of the Assistant Commissioner for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1865-1869", Record Group 105, National Archives Microfilm Publications, NARA, Washington, D.C.

³Pamphlet Describing Microfilm Publication M1905, "Records of the Field Offices for the State of Louisiana, Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, 1863-1872", Record Group 105, National Archives Microfilm Publications, NARA, Washington, D.C.

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Freedmen's Bureau , LA - Rost Home Colony

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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