Find of the Week: How one man carved a new life for himself after emancipation

NEW ORLEANS -- News with a Twist has teamed up with the Historic New Orleans Collection to bring you a unique find each week from the museum's vaults.

At the turn of the 20th Century in Bayou Country, the Cypress trees were tall, long and mature, perfect material for carving Louisiana from the forest.

In 1874, a 26-year-old African American man named John Wilson was listed in the 1880 Census in Concordia Parish. It's very likely that he's the artist behind the pirogue seat shown in the video above.

"His life was not great," explained Lydia Blackmore, decorative arts curator for HNOC. "In 1880, if he was 26, he was probably born into slavery. He was emancipated after the Civil War, and he is now trying out how to figure out how to survive an adapted slavery situation of sharecropping and that sort of thing."

Watch the video to learn more about Mr. Wilson's journey.

You can see all the Historic New Orleans Collection has to offer by visiting either one of their campuses. The Royal Street campus, including The Shop at The Collection, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and on Sundays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The Chartres Street campus, including the Williams Research Center and Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art, is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Learn more about the Historic New Orleans Collection here.

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