The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities recently announced its 2014 Humanities Awards. And Book of the Year was awarded to Livestock Brands and Marks: An Unexpected Bayou Country History 1822-1946 Pioneer Families Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, by Christopher E. Cenac, Sr. The Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities seeks to honor Louisianans who have made outstanding contributions to the study and understanding of the humanities.
Dr. Cenac’s stunningly designed book provides a comprehensive account of the nuanced world of cattle ranching, an integral part of south Louisiana culture since the beginning of European settlement. Through substantive writing, previously unpublished images and photographs of recovered artifacts, Cenac conjures insights into the lives of farmers and families in Terrebonne Parish.
Researching the original brand registration of his great-grandfather Pierre Cenac for his book Eyes of an Eagle, Dr. Christopher Cenac Sr. discovered a serendipitous trove of local history in the form of long-forgotten volumes in the Terrebonne Parish Courthouse in Houma, Louisiana. The three ledger books that emerged through the efforts of the local Clerk of Court became, in themselves, a series of capsulized glimpses into the citizenry of the area's early agrarian foundations. In extraordinary condition, these ledgers held an unprecedented set of the original livestock brands and marks of bustling bayou cattle country.
Each registration entry furnished a record of the progression of settlement of the parish, because at the dawn of the parish's founding in 1822 and for decades afterward, virtually everyone owned livestock that needed identification. The registration of a brand thus often served as the family's calling card upon making Terrebonne Parish their home.
Livestock Brands and Marks: An Unexpected Bayou Country History is designed not only to share the actual registration treasures of all 1140 brands in the brand books themselves, but also to chronicle a short history of laws governing animal identification, to document advances in forms of ownership identification, and to familiarize the reader with both ancient and more recent livestock breeds that received brands and other marks recorded in those three ledger books. 300 black-and-white and color illustrations illuminate this fascinating history.
LEH award recipients will be honored at the Humanities Awards on Saturday, March 29th, 12:30 p.m., at the Audubon Tea Room in New Orleans.