Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Looking for Sergeant Jones, part 2

[Please read Looking for Sergeant Jones, part 1 here. Below is part 2.]

The courthouse survived Rita and Ike. The monument survived Rita and Ike. Would I find Sgt. Jones on the list? I walked forward to get a closer look.

He was there.

I stood there for a minute and took it all in--the battle, the death, the burial, the memorial and the fact that I had this connection to it. I went up the courthouse steps to try and get a better view of Monkey Island. It was clear the ferry that used to run to the island was long gone with the hurricane and would never be back. My chance to see the burial ground was lost forever. I felt sad for a moment, then got real. The burial site of Sgt. Jones was there, but chances were that Rita's storm surge (or Audrey's before that) had displaced the remains. Monkey Island was really just a symbol now. I could see it just steps across the water, but never reach it.

When I visit a site connected to my ancestors, I always stand there for a moment and try to visualize what their lives were like. I imagine the land as it looked in their day. However, the sights and sounds of Cameron's current devastation kept interfering. It was had to get past the isolation. It was just me out there and the creaking destruction blowing in the wind.

I walked down the courthouse steps and over to another monument. This one marked the passing of Hurricane Rita:

It's message confirmed my fear for the fate of those buried on Monkey Island:

I originally went to Cameron, Louisiana with a head full of questions in search of Sgt. Jones. I left Cameron, Louisiana with a heart full of emotions.

My great-great-great grandfather and the 21 other soldiers killed on May 8, 1864 are no longer on Monkey Island. They now envelop the wetlands of the Creole Nature Trail.

Nature creates our history, but it also takes it away.

[Update: I went back to Cameron Parish in July 2010. They have rebuilt several buildings and houses. The area is looking much better, but I still don't think I'll ever get to walk on Monkey Island. --Amy]


  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous narrative. I felt the desolation and the poignancy too. One question: you said you were alone out there; was the courthouse closed down?

  2. Thanks for commenting. Your opinion means a lot. I'm glad I conveyed the feeling of the place right.

    Yes, the courthouse was closed. It was Saturday. Not sure how much of the courthouse is actually open. The basement windows are boarded up, probably still from Hurricane Ike surge.

  3. Very poignant. I've become a fan of your writing!

    "Guided by the Ancestors"

  4. Growing up 30 miles from Cameron, I can tell you that it has always felt isolated. I can't imagine what it has been like since Hurricane Rita. Because of the isolation, it has always had a special place in my heart. Sometimes it's just nice to get away.

  5. I'm glad you directed me to this post as you wrote it long before I was blogging. Excellent writing. I could feel the emotions.