Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Rainbow Plantation Purchased for Italian Colonization

During the first world war, an organization by the name of Louisiana Colonization, Construction, Oil and Gas company purchased the Rainbow Plantation in the summer of 1915. Robert R. Emery was the vice president of the organization, and he secured the $40,000 purchase of the 1,000-acre property from the current owners at that time, George P. Murray and John E. Murray. The Rainbow Plantation, which was located four miles below Shreveport in South Bossier, was purchased for colonization purposes.

According to an article published in The Shreveport Journal on July 6, 1915, “The Louisiana Colonization, Construction, Oil and Gas company stock is largely owned by Italians, and the company proposes to put Italian farmers, truck gardeners and fruit growers on the land it has purchased. It is capitalized at $200,000. The officers and directors of the company are as follows: Joseph R. Tucker of Shreveport, president; Joseph Di Carlo of New Orleans, first vice president; Robert R. Emery of Shreveport, second vice president; D. Zagone, Shreveport, treasurer; A. Tingali, secretary. The directors are: J. W. Peyton, Joseph Sunseri, Frank De Fatta, Phillip Tucker, Joseph P. Glorioso, John Cordaro, Sam Ginnoni, and V. L. Campisi of Shreveport, and Joseph H. Tingali of Detroit. Messrs. Barnett & Keeney are the attorneys.

“The plantation will be divided into 20-acre tracts, each fenced and provided with a house and barn. The buyers will be supplied with horses and wagons, implements, and seed and feed for the first year.

“These tracts will be sold to Italian farmers only, and they will be given every convenience for comfortable and sanitary living. Graveled roads will be built, deep well water piped to the houses which also will be provided with gas for fuel and, eventually, with electricity.

“A school house and a church will be built this summer. The company is now erecting a building for store purposes. An experimental farm of sixty acres has been reserved and will be one of the first tracts to be put into cultivation. On it will be started everything that can be successfully grown in this climate for the instruction of farmers who come from other sections of the country, and, as its name implies, experiments will be made with profitable products unknown now to this section.

“Arrangements have been made to place twelve families on the land just as soon as possession can be had, which probably will be early in November. Permission has been secured, however, to proceed with the erection of the necessary houses at once.

“One of the farmers who will settle on the land has bought sixty acres, and will plant an up-to-date vineyard with the best varieties of Mediterranean grapes, the so-called California types. He will instal [sic] a heating plant and piping system with which to warm the ground and the air about the vines when necessary to defeat frost.

“Every building in the colony will be painted white, and the owners have already dubbed it ‘The White City.’”

In another article published in The Shreveport Times, July 7, 1915, it was reported that, “It is the belief of the company’s officers that, following the close of the war in Europe, Italian immigration to this country will be enormous, and they intend to take advantage of this circumstance to select the best of the immigrants for their colonies. They expect to buy a great deal more land in this section and treat it in the manner they are handling Rainbow Plantation.”

The reason the Italian Americans wanted to colonize during that time is most likely because they were often shunned by the dominant white culture in Louisiana, including Bossier Parish. By forming their colony, they would have a stronger sense of community, allowing them to support one another and create opportunities to improve their socio-economic status.

To learn more about the history of Rainbow Plantation and local communities in Bossier Parish, visit the Bossier Parish Libraries History Center at 2206 Beckett Street, Bossier City.

By: Amy Robertson

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