Felicity Plantation

3535 Louisiana Highway 18, Vacherie, St. James Parish, Louisiana

Built 1846, for Francois-Gabriel "Valcour" Aime (1798-1867) as a wedding present for his third daughter, Félicité Emma Aime (1823-1905), and her husband Septime Alexandre Fortier (1816-1898). The historic Felicity Plantation is located on the famed River Road on the west bank of the Mississippi River on the Acadian Coast. It was here that the French scholar, Élisée Reclus (1830-1905), was a tutor and became an active abolitionist. Since 1899, it has been the property of the Waguespack family who continue to live and farm the sugar cane there today. It has featured in 12 Years a Slave (2013) and The Skeleton Key (2005); and, the TV Series', Queen Sugar & Underground....

This house is best associated with...

Francois-Gabriel Aime III

"Valcour" Aime, of Oak Alley Plantation, St. James Parish, Louisiana


Felicite Emma Aime

Mrs Félicité Emma (Aime) Fortier


Septime Alexandre Fortier

Septime Alexandre Fortier (1816-1898), of Vacherie & New Orleans, Louisiana


Francois-Gabriel Aime was born in 1798 and was nicknamed "Valcour" in childhood by his nurse. Having been orphaned by the age of nine he was brought up in the household of his maternal grandfather, Colonel Michel Fortier II (1750-1819), of New Orleans. On reaching adulthood, Valcour became heir to a fortune of $100,000 which he used to buy plantations in St. James and then pioneered the process of sugar refining in Louisiana. In his day, Valcour Aime became the world's leading sugar producer and with an abundance of wealth at his fingertips he was well-known for his hospitality and generosity.

Felicity's Plantation & its far from Ordinary Tutor

At the time of her marriage, Felicity's father (Valcour) was reckoned to be the wealthiest man in the South and he did not hold back on any luxury when he built this house for the third of his four daughters. It has a wide central hall that leads off to high ceilinged reception rooms noted for their red Italian marble fireplaces. It is fronted by six two-story square wooden pillars, supporting a full-width balcony on the second floor.

Felicity and Septime had 14-children, eleven of whom grew up at the plantation and survived to adulthood. The tutor they employed for two-and-half years in the 1850s was none other than the distinguished writer, geographer, and political activist, Elisée Reclus (1830-1905). He was an anti-Bonapartist who fled France before coming to Louisiana. However, he did not stay long and was so disgusted with the treatment of the slaves on the Felicity Plantation that he became a staunch and proactive abolitionist. In 1855, on returning to Paris, he published his memoirs of this period of his life, "Fragment d'un voyage à Louisiane," and with it a series of anti-slavery articles.

In 1863, as the Civil War raged across America, Septime, "a refugee from his own burnt out home in St. James Parish" removed with his family from Vacherie into New Orleans where he focused on the export side of the sugar business, setting up as a wholesale grocer. They lived first at 213 Bayou Road before later moving to 409 Ursulines Road.

Revived by Folse, Beltran, & the Waguespacks

In 1873, the ravaged Felicity Plantation and its debts were principally acquired by the Bank of America. They put it up for sale when it was acquired by "expert sugar planter" Louis J. Folse and his business partner R. Beltran. Folse & Beltran successfully brought the plantation (and presumably the house) back to order. In 1898, they put the plantation up for public auction when it was sold to one Mr Rost. The following year, Louis Folse "with his esteemed family" moved to Iberville Parish and Rost flipped the 1,200-acre Felicity Plantation on to Joseph Waguespack, a relation by marriage of the Folse family.

In 1901, Waguespack merged Felicity with the St. Joseph Plantation which was also built by Valcour Aime for another of his daughters and in which Waguespack had previously held a one-third interest, along with two cousins. By uniting the two, Waguespack created the St. Joseph Planting & Manufacturing Company. Joseph is the ancestor of the Waguespack family who continues to farm at Felicity today.

The Plantation Today & as a Popular Film Location

Between Felicity and St. Joseph, aside from the two picturesque mansions, they contain a great many outbuildings that are original to the plantations: a detached kitchen, slaves quarters, blacksmith's shop, barns, a schoolhouse and carpenters shed. Although the house itself is no longer inhabited, the exterior is maintained and its outbuildings combine to make both plantations a popular filming location. Felicity has featured in the movies 12 Years a Slave (2013), All The King's Men (2006), Mudbound (2017) & The Skeleton Key (2005). It also features in the TV Series' Queen Sugar & The Underground Railroad.

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Contributed by Mark Meredith on 28/02/2019 and last updated on 03/04/2021.
Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus; Yankee Autumn in Acadiana: A Narrative of the Great Texas Overland Expedition Through Southwestern Louisiana, October-December 1863 (2005) by David C. Edmonds; The Louisiana Planter & Sugar Manufacturer (1899), Volume 22; climbingthebranches.blogspot.com


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