St. Francisville's Amazing Grace
St. Francisville’s Amazing Grace
By Anne Butler
St. Francisville is a beautiful little island of English reserve and decorum in the midst of a state filled with Mardi Gras madness and Catholic confessions. It’s not French. It’s not Creole. It’s not Cajun. So it’s no wonder that the early church in St. Francisville proper, claimed by the French and settled under Spanish rule, would actually be Episcopal, Anglican Protestant to the core.
The area’s Anglo settlers in the opening years of the 1800s established extensive agricultural properties, planting first indigo and then cotton and cane. As they prospered, they chafed under what they considered corrupt Spanish rule even after the Louisiana Purchase. In the fall of 1810 they threw out the Spanish and audaciously established an independent republic, which lasted a grand total of 74 days before the area was added to the United States.
By 1827 a number of the St. Francisville area’s most prominent residents, feeling the need for organized religious guidance, came together to draft a resolution to establish an Episcopal church, which would be the second one in the state. Some had been leaders of the West Florida Rebellion; even more were just a generation down from the Revolutionary War, their fathers having participated as Tories supporting the English or fighting for independence with George Washington on the American side, and a few were even Quakers. Now they would all come together as staunch Episcopalians.