Monday, July 31, 2017

Names of People Drafted in World War I

A special edition of the St. Tammany Farmer was published on July 31, 1917, with the names of residents who were available to be drafted into military service for World War I, which had just started.

HERE IS A LINK to that edition provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service. 

Farm Bureau Queen - 1973

In 1973 Dayle Simonson was crowned the Farm Bureau Queen for St. Tammany Parish. Here is the article and pictures from 44 years ago. Click on the images to make them larger.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Parish Fair Queen - 1925

 In 1925, Miss Hazel Dickson was named Queen of the St. Tammany Parish Fair.

Click on photo below for enlarged version. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The SSA Graduating Class of 1936

This group photograph shows the 1936 graduation class of St. Scholastica Academy in Covington. Click on the image for a larger version. 

Source: Annette Douglas Lee on the 
Historic/Vintage Madisonville Facebook page

Friday, July 28, 2017

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week?

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of July 28, 1917. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the images below to see a larger version of the picture.

Some items of interest from the July 28, 1917, edition:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Madisonvillle Cemetery

For hundreds of years, the Madisonville Cemetery has been the final resting place for those who lived in the Madisonville area. Several large oak trees grace the corners of the property, and the many graves, some with large headstones, some with small, tell the story of the people who came, started families, helped make Madisonville what it is today, then passed on.

Here are some pictures. Click on the images to make them larger.

The Town of Madisonville recently gained legal ownership of the cemetery after some debate over who actually owned the property.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Madisonville Map 2017

I just finished drawing the new pictorial cartoon map of Madisonville  for 2017.

 Here is a video showing the various stages it went through over the past several days.

Click on the image above to start the video.

The map was featured on the Spud McConnell show during an interview with AG Crowe. 

To see the video, CLICK HERE.

The Fenwick Sanitarium

St. Tammany Parish has been home to a number of rest homes, resorts, hotels, cottages and other health-restoring retreats. One of the more famous ones in Covington was the Fenwick Sanitarium. The word sanitarium today doesn't quite mean the same thing it did 100 years ago.

Click on the images for larger more readable version.

An ad from the Times Picayune 1919

In 1925 the Fenwick Sanitarium burned to the ground. Labelled "the most disastrous fire Covington has had for some time," an article in the Farmer stated that the fire occurred just before noon on Saturday, April 11. It was discovered while all the residents had gathered for dinner and "by the time the alarm was given it had gained such headway that it could not be subdued."

Only part of the furniture on the ground floor was saved. "The Fenwick Sanitarium was considered to be one of the best in the South. It is not known just what arrangments will be made for its reconstruction or its new quarters. The patients are at this time being cared for at various quarters, as could best be arranged," according to the article. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Speech Details The Life of John Wharton Collins

On June 10, 1988, the great-great grandson of John Wharton Collins, the founder of the City of Covington, addressed the St. Tammany Historical Society at its annual dinner held at the Abita Quail Farm. 

 Thomas Wharton Collens

The speaker, Thomas Wharton Collens, detailed his great great grandfather's life, especially during the time he settled in St. Tammany Parish and became involved in developing the Covington area. 

He stated that John Wharton Collins was the son of Thomas Wharton. Thomas Wharton was an orphan at the age of 14 (in the year 1745), who was subsequently raised by his father's half-sister. 

"Through the efforts of a General Fletcher, at the age of 17 Thomas Wharton  was put into the army as a coronet, the lowest commissioned officer in the calvary. He went to India; spent time with Sir Robert Clyde as part of his army when there was an unofficial war going on (at that time) between trading companies of France, Great Britain, and the Dutch," Collens reported.

The young Thomas Wharton fought in several important battles in India, but after eight years he went to Scotland and joined a new calvary unit. When the Seven Years War started, he went to Hanover and fought in the Battle of Minden. He also helped capture Havana, Cuba, in 1761.

The Life Changing Event

"At this point, he returned to England and an event occurred that changed his life entirely," Collens explained. His sister Sarah was molested by a military officer and after the ordeal she retired to a quiet English village. When Thomas Wharton found out about it some time later, his sister had already died, and he challenged his sister's betrayer to mortal combat, a duel. 

When news of the duel got out Wharton was advised to resign from the military and leave England. With the help of General Fletcher, he re-located to the West Indies in 1763, becoming the private secretary to the Governor.

"That date was also the end of the Seven Years War," Collens stated," and as a result of the treaty Spain ceded all of her North American territories to England, including the territory starting at the western part of the Florida panhandle, the present states of Alabama and Mississippi, as well as that part of Louisiana east of the Mississippi River and north of Lake Pontchartrain, Bayou Manchac and the Amite RIver." Thus what was to become St. Tammany Parish became known as British West Florida with its headquarters in Pensacola.

 Wharton Comes Back To America

In 1767,  the Governor for whom Wharton was working was called back to England, and Wharton accompanied him as far as Philadelphia, where he parted company and decided to begin using the last name of Collins, his mother's maiden name.  Reasons for the name change are vague, but he evidently used the name Wharton-Collins (hyphenated). There was also the fact that the first governor of Pennsylvania was named Thomas Wharton, and he possibly wanted to avoid confusion. "Nevertheless, he did this and hereafter was called Collins," declared the historical society speaker. 

In Philadelphia he went to work as a clerk in the Customs House, but in 1775, the Revolutionary War started and he was assigned as a Chief Clerk for a General Thomas Mifflod (?), who was Quartermaster General. In the next few years he was accused a couple of times of working with the British to undermine the new United States, but due to lack of evidence and his wife's appeals to General George Washington, he was pardoned and retained his job with the Adjutant General's ofice. 

The war ended in 1783, Britain lost, and Spain, as an ally to the Americans, got back West Florida, re-locating the headquarters of the "Tchefuncte District" away from Pensacola to Baton Rouge. 

John's Father Dies

Thomas Wharton Collins, the father of John Wharton Collins, then moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, in 1788. He died
in March of 1790 at the age of 58, leaving a widow and seven children destitute. Mrs. Collins took her family back to New York and three years later she died. Shortly afterwards her oldest daughter, Sarah, married a Mr. WIlliam Gibson from Scotland. (One of their 13 children was John Gibson who has a street named after him in Covington.)

The first of the Collins family to come to Louisiana was William Wharton Collins who was 15 when his mother died. He eventually became a captain who sailed between England and New Orleans.

The founder of Covington, John Wharton Collins, was 11  years of age when his mother died in New York, and he was raised by the Gibsons, his sister and her husband. "He came to New Orleans at the age of 18 in the year 1800 and eventually opened a merchantile establishment on Magazine Street," Collens stated. 

The West Florida Rebellion

"In 1803, at the time of the Louisiana Purchase, there was some controversy over whether the Florida Parishes area was actually part of the Purchase," Collens explained. "We thought that it should be included, but France did not think it did." The issue continued without resolution for some time. 

After William Wharton Collins staked out 600 acres below the Vadon Plantation in New Orleans, John Wharton Collins and his two younger sisters Lydia and Maria joined him at that location. However, in 1810, John Wharton Collins went across Lake Pontchartrain and claimed some property that was between the Tchefuncte River and property owned by James Drule.

That same year came the West Florida Rebellion, a sort of "banana-republic" revolution that sought to end, once and for all, the confusion about the legal status of the Florida Parishes. The rebellion consisted of some people becoming dissatisfied with Spanish rule, rounding up an army "per se" and taking the capitol at Baton Rouge, suffering no losses themselves. A few Spaniards were killed, however. The newcomers raised the flag of the "Republic of West Florida," a single white star on a field of blue. "The next three months they did everything a country would do," Collens said. "They had a Declaration of Independence; they had a Constitution; they elected senators and representatives; and they elected a governor."

However, up in Washington, D.C., when President Madison heard about the commotion, he said, "What the hell! This land belongs to the Louisiana Purchase." He issued a proclamation, told Louisiana Governor Claiborne to stop all the nonsense, and General Leonard Covington was sent to the Republic of West Florida capital in Baton Rouge where, without firing a shot, he lowered the "Bonnie Blue" flag and raised the 15-starred Stars and Stripes. The three month old republic ceased to exist and that ended the rebellion. 

"In 1811, John Wharton Collins married a young emigree from Santa Domingo,
Marie Elizabeth. She was the 16-year-old daughter of Jacques Livaudais and his wife Celeste Marigny, so this was a union of two very powerful Louisiana families," Collens said. "Celeste was the sister of Ben Marigny who founded Mandeville. They gave Collins a dowry of $2000 and the couple was  given a house on Race Street, near Magazine."

The Fateful Year of 1813

In 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state in the Union. Then, in 1813, things really began happening. William Wharton Collins got a contract from the Postmaster General to operate a mail packet across Lake Pontchartrain between the Old Spanish Fort and Madisonville. He paid $900 a year for that. 

Also, 1813 was the year John Wharton Collins purchased the Drieux property next to his, probably using the dowry money, which was exactly the same amount as the purchase price. These two pieces of property, what he already owned and what he purchased, became what we now know as Covington, Collens explained. "On July 4, 1813, John Wharton Collins filed a map with Judge James Tate, District Judge, for a town that he called Wharton. That town consisted of five districts, one of them being the Division of St. John," Collens stated.

The other divisions were named after members of his family, Saint William (after his brother), Saint  Anne (after his brother's wife), Saint George (after his brother's son), and Saint Mary (after his wife). 

Jesse Jones, Early Investor

One of the first purchasers of property in the new town was Jesse Jones (later Judge Jesse Jones.) He bought two lots, one of them being at the corner of New Hampshire and Portsmouth streets.

As 1813 ended and 1814 began, the War of 1812 began to be felt in St. Tammany Parish, said Collens. "A naval shipyard was established near Madisonville, two miles south of Covington. The Governor appointed General David Bannister Morgan as Brigadier General in the Louisiana Militia and volunteers began to enlist. John Wharton Collins volunteered and was made a captain, probably due to his merchantile experience. 

 David Bannister Morgan

General Andrew Jackson came into Louisiana  to defend New Orleans, first spending the night in Bogalusa, then passing through Wharton the next day on his way to Madisonville. An aide to General Jackson described Wharton as "a small new town with a few ordinary buildings." They spent the night in Madisonville, which was described by the aide as "small and indifferently important." 

"In any event, the next morning General Jackson and his very small party boarded Captain William Wharton Collins' mail packet, and he took them over to New Orleans, arriving on November 30, 1814. A little over a month later came the Battle of New Orleans in January of 1815, with St. Tammany residents serving mostly in the 13th Regiment, 3rd Brigade. Collins served in the 4th Regiment, however.

"They saw little, if any, action," Collens said, adding that General Jackson, in his wisdom, took his Kentucky and Tennessee riflemen who had been with him through the Indian wars, and put them in the first line of defense in Chalmette, leaving the Louisiana Militia at the rear. 

The Battle of New Orleans

Some of the Louisiana militia didn't even have guns and were not really experienced in the art of war. General Morgan was on the west bank of the Mississippi RIver, charged with defending the battery of guns which were going to be directed against Packenham on the other side of the river. 

After the end of the war, John Gibson joined his uncle John Wharton Collins in Covington. Also, John Wharton Collins' youngest sister Lydia had been married to Henry Vadon, but he died and she subsequently married Louis Hornsby, another property owner in St. Tammany Parish. So, at that time, Collens explained, the Collins family, the Vadons, Hornsbys, and William Wharton Collins owned or controlled all the land west of both rivers from Wharton all the way down to Madisonville (as well as all the ferry routes.) "They were pretty well fixed for land," Collens said.

When talk started about dividing St. Tammany horizonally (carving off a piece for Washington Parish),  John Wharton Collins became interested in seeing that Covington be named as parish seat for the new, more condensed St. Tammany Parish. He was in the midst of that effort when, in 1816, legislation was introduced by Senator Chacnee Sperry of Helena Parish to change the name of Wharton to Covington. 

The Name Change

That was a blow all by itself, but during the same year his brother Captain William Wharton Collins drowned during a storm on Lake Pontchartrain. John Wharton Collins also became very ill, and he was unable to recover his health. Although friends tried to prevent the name change proposal in the state legislature, it won enough votes anyway, supposedly to honor General Leonard Covington, the war hero of 1812.

In 1817, John Wharton Collins, still suffering from ill health, made his will and turned over control of his store to his employee Col. William B. Laydon. He died shortly thereafter and was buried in the Covington cemetery near the corner of Columbia and Kirkland Streets, as he had requested. Several months later, his widow Marie Livaudais Collins married John Gibson, the nephew of John Wharton Collins. They were about the same age, 21.

Following the drowning of William Wharton Collins, his widow was put in possession of the estate and named the tutor of their son George Thomas Wharton Collins. A year later she married Judge James Tate. She died in 1820.

George Thomas Wharton Collins

The historical society speaker then pointed out that although John Wharton Collins died four years after he founded the town, there were many other people who grew and developed the community from that point on. "People like Jesse Jones, who lived to the ripe old age of 93 and made many important contributions to the economic progress of Covington," he said. "The Ellises, the Penns, the Bagleys, the Morgans, and others all made many more contributions toward Covington than did John Wharton Collins."

The Ox Lots

Someone in the audience asked who had made the original sketch of the town's layout, and Mr. Collens said it was probably drawn by John Wharton Collins himself, perhaps with the assistance of David Bannister Morgan. "And of course, you all know about the ox lots," Collens stated. "You can blame my great-great grandfather for that. It was unique. There's nothing like it in Europe or any place else in the United States."

"For those of you who don't know what the ox lots are, it's very simple. In the middle of every square there was an area reserved with a 20 foot access to it for the oxen and cattle so people wouldn't have to leave their horses and everything in the street. The controversy that exists today (in 1988)  is who owns the ox lots? That's been in litigation for some time."

When asked about the different spellings of the name Collins, namely John Wharton Collins and his own name Thomas Wharton Collens, he said that when Thomas Wharton Collins, the Judge, moved to the Creole area of New Orleans and married a French woman, he spoke French socially more than he did English. "I think the spelling of the name Collins was changed to conform with the French pronunciation of Collins, and it sounds more like Collens. So everyone who descended from the Judge spelled their name Collens, and those (descendants) who came from up north (or who now live in Texas) all spell their name Collins," he concluded. 

About the Speaker

Thomas Wharton Collens was born in New Orleans, receiving his Bachelor and Law degrees from Tulane University. After graduating, he joined the United States Foreign Service and was appointed American Vice Chancellor at Leopoldville, Belgian Congo and in Mechattsa, Zaire. In 1949 he resigned from the Foreign Service but remained in Africa as District Manager for Pan American Airways.  He returned to Louisiana in 1954 and began practicing law in Baton Rouge, also founding the mortgage banking firm Herrin & Kahn. He served as president there until 1969 when it was sold.

He then moved to Key Biscayune, FL, and remained active in the mortgage banking business through 1986, after which he became a consultant.

Abita Quail Farm, the location of the speech

The information above came from a typewritten account of Collens' speech archived in the St. Tammany Parish Public Library by the St. Tammany Historical Society. A copy was provided by Jack Terry. 


Text of Land Sale Transaction

Jacques Drieux to John W. Collins (See C.O.B. A-1, folio 283)

Before me Mr. Michel de Armas, Notary Public, residing in the city of New Orleans, State of Louisiana, United States of America, and in presence of witnesses hereafter, underwritten, was present, Mr. Jacques Drieux, residing in this city, which by these, sell, deliver, and transport now and for always, with complete guaranties of troubles, mortgages, evictions, alienation and others to MR. JOHN W. COLLINS, merchant, residing in this city at present, accepting and buying for himself and heirs:

One lot of ground, measuring (40) forty arpents with a  depth of (40) forty arpents giving a surface to the square of (1600) sixteen hundred arpents. The said piece of ground situated on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain,   in the vicinity of the Bogue Falaya,and facing the bayou known as Bogue Falaya, at approximately (4) four miles from where the bayou meet the Tchefunota river, and approximately (15) fifteen miles east of said lake, sold by those presents under restrictions enumerated hereafter,and include together the buildings and dependences on the property, well known by the buyer, who declares and designates for himself, to enjoy and dispose of the property in full.

This parcel of land belonging to the vendor by grant, made December the (6) six, (1803) eighteen Hundred and three, by Dr. Juan Ventura Morales, for his Catholique Majesty, the title being in good order to which is attached the plan of said parcel of land, surveyed by Mr. Charles Trudeu, royal surveyor for said parish, which title and plan has been given to the buyer who accept same in full.

The certificate of the recorder of mortgages in this city shows that to date property is free of mortgage against the vendor.

The restriction mentioned above are: (4) four parcels of land sold previously; first parcel of land was promised to to Daniel Edwards, for the price of (100) one hundred dollars by vendor who declare to have received same. Which parcel of ground Mr. Collins agreed to give Mr. Daniel Edwards.

The second parcel of land was promised to Mr. Brooks, by his choice situated on the Bayou for the price of (100) one Hundred dollars, said receiving same.

The third parcel of land was sold to Mr. Tete, by private act of sale for a consideration of ($125) one Hundred and twenty five dollars, for which he gave one note payable in August this year, to Mr. Drieux, which note Mr. Drieux gave the buyer Mr. Collins, who will be responsible at his own risk and fortune, to enjoy and dispose as he see fit, said Collins agreeing to give said parcel of land to to. Tete,

The fourth piece of land sold by private aot of sale also, to Mr. McGee, by Mr. Drieux and situated on the Bayou, this sale being made for the consideration of (70) seventy dollars, for which Mr. McGee gave to Drieux his note, payable in June of this year, which note to. Drieux gave to Mr. Collins, who accept it on same conditions as above.

The four (4) parcels of land having a surface, approximately eaoh, of (60) sixty feet front and (120) one hundred and twenty feet depth, with the right of the buyers to take all the timber for their uses and consummation, also to enjoy the use of the well, situated on said parcels of land.

Mr. Collins promise to keep the terms of the present sale for the price of ($2300) two thousands three hundred dollars, which the vendor acknowledge having received in the following manner; (100) one hundred dollars cash, in silver and (1183.63) one thousand one hundred and eighty dollars and sixty, three cents in the form of a note for (1158.48) one thousand one hundred and fifty two dollars and forty eight cents, signed the (29) twenty nine of December (1813) one thousand eight hundred and twelve, by Robert Badon, payable on demand
of Mr. John W. Collins, at interest of 6% and ( 1016.37) one thousand and sixteen dollars and thirty seven cents, in a note signed by Renez Baam, to date payable on demand of Mr. John w. Collins, who endorse both note, Mr. Drieux, giving full receipt and Mr. Collins agree that the (200) two hundred dollars paid by Mr. Daniel Edwards and Mr. Brooks as stated above, rest with Mr. Drieux as it was taken in consideration in the price of the parcel of ground.

The vendor give to the vendee all his rights to the property above by an act done and passed at New Orleans in the presence of Mr. Felix de Armas and Michel G. B. L. Fourasy, witnesses required and residing in this city, the sixteen day of May of the year, one thousand eight hundred and thirteen (16-5-1813), the (37) thirty seventh year of the Independence of America.

Signed by the witnesses and notary after reading of act of sale. JACQUES DRIEUX, JOHN W. COLLINS, witnesses, FELIX DE ARMAS, FOURAST, MICHEL DE ARMAS, Notary Public Copies conform to original in file in my office for references. I have delivered the present signed by my hand in my office in New Orleans. MICHEL DE ARMAS, Notary Public. Truly recorded March 15th 1819.

Jesse R. Jones, Parish Judge. 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Typewriters In Their Prime

An essential business in St. Tammany Parish was Parish Typewriter Service. A visit to that store was a fascinating experience, seeing all the new typewriters, both manual and electric, the hand-cranked adding machines, calculators, ditto machines, check writing machines, mimeograph stencil machines, etc. We don't see many of those any longer, what with computers doing much of that work, but several decades ago every office and many homes had at least one typewriter and a stash of carbon paper and a couple of bottles of liquid paper. 

The Parish Typewriter Service ad from the 1946 phone book

This business was a mainstay in the community, keeping the businesses and government offices humming with typewriter repair services and the never-ending supply of typewriter ribbon. (Remember the two-color kind: red and black on the same ribbon?) This was even before photocopiers, tele-copiers, self-correcting IBM Selectrics and facsimile machines. Now having said that I know some younger folks are wondering, just what the heck is he talking about?

School System Employees in 1975

Here's a photo of a  group meeting at the central office of the St. Tammany Parish School System in 1975. 

Click on the image to make it larger. 

On the first row, from left to right, are Elaine Chelena, Beverly Richardson, Cyp Schoen, Mary Ellen Armitage, Ermine McNeely, Evelyn Jenkins, and Ronnie Pogue. On the second row are Sylvia Jourdan, Lois Montgomery, Jan Jackson, Carmen Jenkins, Ronnie Wascom, Leda Nolan, Maxine Tauzin, Dick Clanton, and Ralph Menetre.

On the third row, from left, are Dorothy Perilloux, Nancy Woods, Jerry Jackson, Marie Blackwell, Nell Letts, Adrian Hodgson and Jack Gay. On the fourth row are Sue Bankston, Jerry Cutrer, Isabell Yarborough, Dot Willems, Betty Gill (hidden), Richard Tanner, Ethel Cook and Louis Cook. 

Not pictured are Phyllis Eden, Roy Taylor, Lillie Gordon, Diane Yarborough, Frank Gennusa, Alvin Martindale, Odis Bryan, Glynn Fairburn, Delous Smith, Annie Rogers and Kay LeBlanc. 

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Racing at the Fairgrounds

New Orleans wasn't the only community having horse races at the fairgrounds. For many years, horse racing was held at the St. Tammany Parish Fairgrounds in Covington.  Here's a Farmer newspaper from August 26, 1916.

And, indeed, there was racing at the fairgrounds, as the picture below illustrates.

A Horse Race Ad from 1917

Farmer Article August 4, 1917

Below is an aerial photograph taken in 1975 that shows a portion of the oval horse race track at the Parish Fairgrounds in Covington. Columbia Street is at the top, cutting across the top right corner. In this photograph, the Covington Community Center is seen at the top right corner, and the baseball diamond north of it is still there. It has now been relplaced by the Louisiana National Guard Readiness Center.

The oval track is still visible in aerial photographs taken recently of the fairgrounds.

Friday, July 21, 2017

100 Years Ago This Week

What was going on 100 years ago this week? 

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer edition of July 21, 1917. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service. 

Click on the image below to enlarge a scan of the front page. 

Items of interest in the July 21st edition:

The new Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Slidell was dedicated a week earlier. 

The price of ice goes up.

As World War I started, St. Tammany's shipbuilders began playing a key role in the effort. In fact, better roads going to Madisonville were needed and the subject of a newspaper editorial.