Information sought in theft of Ernest Gaines historical marker

Staff Report

Authorities are seeking information on who may have stolen the plaque for the Louisiana historical marker at “The Miss Jane Pittman Oak,” a tribute to the late author Ernest Gaines.

The plaque was reported missing Oct. 26.

A memorial marker to author Ernest Gaines at the Miss Jane Pittman Oak on La. 416 is missing.

A reward will be given for the arrest, conviction and return of the plaque, according to the Pointe Coupee Historical Society.

The plaque is in front of a 400-year-old live oak in Glynn.

Gaines was one of the most celebrated authors in 20th century American literature.

The Oscar native’s literary works include the 1983 novel “A Gathering of Old Men” and “A Lesson Before Dying,” a 1993 novel for which he won the National Humanities Medal.

Gaines, who died in Oscar in November 2019, was perhaps best known for “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” a 1971 novel on the struggles of African Americans, as told by its narrator, a woman named Jane Pittman.

Gaines walked past that oak countless times during his childhood. It symbolized the life and experiences he gained in his childhood along the paths and fields, which included the gigantic oak.

It was those memories that fueled Gaines’s creativity and literary skills that enabled him to create fictional characters, such as Pittman, who represented real-life experiences and struggles of African Americans. Gaines never lost his love for Pointe Coupee Parish, even after he moved to California during his adulthood, said Cheylon Wells, director, and archivist of the Ernest J. Gaines Center at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.