William F. Weeks
William F. Weeks, eldest son of David and Mary Weeks, was born in St. Mary Parish on the family’s Parc Perdu plantation, January 19, 1825. In 1841, with some misgivings, Mary sent William, then 16 years old, and his younger brother Alfred, to the University of Virginia at Charlottesville. An altercation with a professor led William to transfer to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1842. Soon after beginning classes at William and Mary, William wrote to his mother, January 30, 1843, “This is an admirable institution, every inducement is held out to make a young man apply himself, the indolence, which despite my good resolutions might have clung to me, but by a change of place and associates, (I flatter myself) I have shaken off the monster.” Possibly most important in his mother’s eyes, William vowed “amongst the ladies I have not an acquaintance.” William left college in November 1843 to return to Louisiana where he took over the management of the family sugar plantation in June 1844 at age 19. William, like other sugar planters, was responsible for many people and worked long hours overseeing this vast operation of people and activities, in addition to keeping up with the market and new technology.
On July 7, 1846, William married his cousin Mary Gorham Palfrey, and the young couple took up residence on the Weeks sugar plantation on Grand Cote (now known as Weeks Island) in St. Mary Parish. They had five children, only two of whom grew to adulthood, Lily, born in 1851, and Harriet, born in 1864.
During the Civil War, William took a group of slaves and went to Texas, believing that Texas would not be invaded and that “Negro property will be safe when not one is left a slave in Louisiana.” (Letter, William F. Weeks, Houston, to John Moore, DeSoto Parish, Oct 31, 1863) In January 1864the refugees received word of Mary Moore’s death but were unable to come home until after the war. William, along with Judge Moore, was named executor of his mother’s estate. After the war, William and his family made the Shadows their home, but still lived on Grand Cote Plantation during the grinding season as the family’s main cash crop, sugarcane, was grown and processed there.
William’s wife, Mary, died at the Shadows in 1888 after a lengthy illness. William died there on January 24, 1895, less than three months after the birth of his only grandchild, William Weeks Hall, son of Lily Weeks and Gilbert Hall.