Restoration of Uncle Jack at the Rural Life Museum

MTC recently undertook a restoration of “Uncle Jack” at the Rural Life Museum. The bronze statue was created to memorialize the accomplishments and contributions of the African-Americans in nineteenth-century Louisiana.

The statue was the brainchild of Jackson L. Bryan, who was born in Mansfield, Louisiana in 1868. Jack and his twin brother Joe played with African-Americans as children, worked with them as adults and had a close strong association with African-Americans all their lives. Jack Bryan became a successful cotton planter, mill owner and banker in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In 1926, he decided to erect a statue “dedicated to the faithful service of black people who had played an instrumental role in the building of Louisiana.”

The sculpture was erected in 1927 at the foot of Front Street in Natchitoches, Louisiana. Set in a small park, the statue became a major tourist attraction as a unique memorial to nineteenth century African-American workers. Local residents called it “Uncle Jack” for Mr. Bryan.

In 1972, LSU Chancellor Cecil G. Taylor, Director of the Ag Center Johnny Cox, and Steele Burden learned about Uncle Jack Statuethe statue’s existence. They presented Mrs. Ducournau with a plan to donate the statue to the LSU Rural Life Museum. Despite eight other requests for the statue, including one from the Smithsonian Institute, Mrs. Ducournau selected the LSU Rural Life Museum. After a long and colorful history, the sculpture was acquired by the museum from the Bryan/Ducournau family in 1974.