Henry Marshall was one of the thousands of young men who left their homes in South Carolina and moved west during the decades before the Civil War. He wanted land—lots of it—rich land which would also attract his friends and, as he hoped, would “make a society.” He spent three years looking all across the South at established cotton plantations that were for sale and at raw undeveloped land suitable for becoming plantations before making up his mind in late 1835. The place he finally selected was the wild Red River Country in the northwest corner of Louisiana. It was virtually unoccupied; the Caddo Indians, who for centuries had made it their home, had just that year sold out to the United States and were moving to the adjoining nation of Texas. And the town of Shreveport, which would become the area’s metropolis, still existed only in the minds of a few speculators.


Marshall and his family left a detailed record—in their own worlds—of their migrating from the South Carolina Piedmont to Louisiana and their making a home in the frontier wilderness. The record is found in the collection of several hundred letters and related papers which form the basis of this book. In it is chronicled the family’s everyday life—their house, foods, social life, education, recreation, religion, travels, relations with their negroes, illnesses, births and deaths from the 1830s to the Civil War.


The big house that Henry Marshall built on his plantation, Land’s End, was a tourist attraction in recent years before being destroyed by fire in 1989.