On December 15, Cane River Creole National Historical Park hosted the grand opening of the newly furnished slave/tenant cabin. Former Oakland resident and National Park Volunteer, Elvin Shields led the effort to furnish the cabin as it would have looked during the mid-twentieth century when he and his family lived on the plantation.
Elvin and his wife Betty led the ribbon cutting ceremony in front of a large crowd that included local politicians, dignitaries, and members of Oakland’s founding family, the Prud’hommes. According to Ranger Tim Van Cleave, “The cabin has come to life again, thanks to Elvin”.
Elvin was born on Melrose Plantation in 1948 and moved to Oakland Plantation in 1954 where he lived until 1962. After serving in Vietnam, Elvin married his sweetheart Betty Robinson and would would eventually go on to serve as a Supervisory Mechanical Engineer for the National Guard Bureau Army Installations at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
Since his retirement Elvin has volunteered at the National Park, sharing his childhood experiences with school groups and visitors of all ages. Elvin specializes in demonstrating the toy-making techniques used by his siblings and other plantation kids.
Due to Elvin's efforts, Oakland's Slave/Tenant cabin is one of the only examples of a plantation cabin, which has been furnished to the mid-twentieth century period, by a former resident.