The Planter is a remarkable story of a boy who grew up in one of the servant’s houses that belonged to a very wealthy plantation owner in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The story starts out in Louisiana where he plays and works the fields of endless cotton, corn and beans. The setting took place approximately forty years after Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation which set the slaves free, at least on paper. For most of the slaves, there were still many hardships to endure. Peter was fortunate in being brought up on a plantation that was owned by a generous and caring man. He was also blessed with a superior genetic inheritance of his own that was later discovered from a box of papers in the mansion library by Mattie, the plantation owner’s daughter. Peter was an intelligent and observing boy who reached for the high road in life. He thoroughly enjoyed the surroundings of his childhood and playing with his peers as well as the beauty of the European architecture and the setting of the plantation along a lazy winding river. But most of all he was overwhelmed by the plants and animals that were everywhere around him. He was physically and emotionally involved with pollination and the breeding and crossbreeding of plants and animals. Peter had a hungry mind and was the first generation of his family who became educated. He learned to read in part from Mattie, and his Sunday School teacher, as well as his loving Grandma. It was by his observations and experiments that he gained a windfall that paid his way to go to a prestigious New York University and from there on to a University in Bordeaux, France to further those studies. While all of those studies were bigger than life to him, they mostly contributed to his own maturing and romantic relationships along the way, that came from inside of Peter, himself.
Having carried a pen and a small book in my shirt pocket for most of my life, I have always been a “minute man” for being ready to write down thoughts and occurrences. Many of the notes have been about appointments, incidents, names, places, bushels, yields, breeding dates and thoughts in general. Now, that I am older and semi-retired and have written an extensive autobiography of my own life, I decided to put the pen to the paper (rather, mostly, my fingers to the keyboard) for writing something for my grandchildren and for you, the reader. I wanted to write something with a good moral slant and yet very realistic as well as informational, and for fun and learning. I endeavored to do this by getting inside of the life of a boy who grew up on a Louisiana plantation in the late 1800’s and the early 1900’s. Willis A. Thoen