© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Episode 766: Georgetown, Louisiana, Part One

Healy Hall, the flagship building of Georgetown University's main campus in Washington, DC.
Healy Hall, the flagship building of Georgetown University's main campus in Washington, DC.

This is part one of a two part series. Listen to part two here.

There's a running joke in Maringouin, Louisiana, a town of 1,100, that everyone is related. It's funny because, as people in Maringouin will tell you, it's true. Everyone calls each other 'cuz' or 'cousin,' and they mean it. People run into each other on the street, recognize a last name, start talking about people they know in common, then discover they're related.

For a long time, no one knew exactly why. It wasn't like there was a founding family that had moved there.

Maxine Crump, who grew up in Maringouin, always wanted to get to the bottom of the mystery. People in Maringouin were just... different from many of their neighbors. For one, there were a lot of black Catholics who didn't speak any French.

"People used to say: You're from the bayou area where a lot of people speak French. Do you? And it was like: No," she'd say. "No, none of the black people speak French." There were rumors and theories, but she never got an answer.

Then one day, Maxine got a call that answered her question about Maringouin's past.

Today on the show, we tell the story of what happens when people in this little town in Louisiana figure out how they got to Louisiana. The answer put Maringouin and thousands of other people with roots in Maringouin, at the center of a fight over how to pay a very old and very complicated debt.

Music: " Lead Me Away " and " Bad Scene ." Find us: Twitter / Facebook .

Subscribe to our show on iTunes or PocketCast .

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.