Health and Education of the Colony

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The French government policy to provide a doctor for each settlement failed when they were unable to attract enough physicians. Priests treated diseases through prayer, novenas, and the application of reliquaries and relics. Diseases such as small pox, yellow fever, malaria, mumps, fevers, and other illnesses often became epidemic in the settlement. No regulations existed regarding wells, cisterns, or open privies. In 1736, sailor Jean Louis left the state a $2,500 bequest in his will allowing Governor Bienville to launch the charity hospital movement in Louisiana.

Education was not a priority for the average settler. Home and church schooling were very limited. Life was very difficult and all members of the family were needed and expected to work. The Catholic Church felt public education unnecessary and early on became an obstacle to any public education movement. Wealthy families sent their children abroad, but this privilege was usually reserved for family males.

This text is copyright © material by Marilyn Richoux, Joan Becnel and Suzanne Friloux, from St. Charles Parish, Louisiana: A Pictorial History, 2010.

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