Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Burns Family Portrait - 1963

On July 4, 1963, in the midst of the Covington Sesquicentennial Celebration, the Burns Family Union decided to gather on the porch at 317 North Columbia Street and have their picture taken by noted Covington photographer Art Lemane

Eighty-two Burns family members from throughout the area gathered at the home of Miss Hester Burns in front of which the Sesquicentennial Parade would pass by. 

Click on the photo below to see a larger image.

See also:

Mrs. James Clifton Burns Biography  

Burns Furniture Ad 1930 

The 1973 Louisiana Constitutional Convention

Blackwell Recalls Early Life In Covington

Life In Covington - The 1910's  

Mothers Club Started Long Line of PTO Activity 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

When Lyon High School Was Built, 1929

Excitement was running high in 1929 as the new two-story brick high school building was nearing completion on Jefferson Avenue. This was not the building being used by the school board administrative office now, that one was built in 1913.

This was the one on the site of where William Pitcher Junior High today, the one that burned down in 1974. Many of us today attended school there, graduated from there, and remember its hallways, classrooms and gymnasium.

The new school was to be named Lyon High, in honor of Superintendent Elmer E. Lyon. The older brick building was to be used for grammar school grades. 

On May 25, 1929, the St. Tammany Farmer ran an extensive article describing the new building and its modern features. Considering that only a few decades earlier all schools were independent community-based one room frame buildings, the fact that Covington was going to have two two-story brick buildings for educational activities was quite a feather in local citizens' caps. 

The parishwide school system itself wasn't organized until 1901, so considerable progress had been made by 1929. The school was quite ahead of its time in many respects. 

Here's the text of the article that appeared in the Farmer.

May 25, 1929

 Contractors Now Putting On Final Touches And Soon Deliver To Board   


Detailed Description Of The Building Is Furnished By Superintendent Lyon 

The magnificent new Lyon High School in Covington is now nearing completion and within a few weeks the contractors, G. L. , Whitaker & Son, will turn the building over to the school for formal acceptance.

This handsome new structure is the result of the consolidation of Wards 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 into Consolidated School District No. 1. High school students from these wards will be entitled to all the benefits this fine new school has to offer, and these benefits are second to none in the state.

A representative of The Farmer visited our new high school recently and found the building nearing completion. This building, when finished will have twenty classrooms four rooms given up entirely to steel, lockers in which students will lock their hats, books, dinner boxes or anything of that nature. Besides regular classrooms and locker rooms,  there is a large room for manual training, a manual training teacher's office and a room for mechanical drawing.

Each floor has three sanitary bubbler drinking fountains. On the ground floor there are twp toilet rooms for boys and two for girls. One of these is connected with a shower bathroom, five for boys and three for girls. The boy's shower bathroom is connected with a dressing room containing fifty-two steel lockers. . The girls' dressing room has sixty-four lockers. The toilets and shower baths are finished with tile floors and white ivory tiles walls.

On the right wing of the second floor is located the infirmary, or doctor's office. This room will be given up entirely  for physical examinations. A private toilet and dressing room is connected with this office. The room will be, equipped with an electric water heater to heat water for sterilizing purposes, also a doctors reclining chair, white steel cabinets on the wall containing such articles as bandages, medicated cotton, toothache drops, liniment ,and other first-aid equipment. . Besides the steel lockers located in the locker rooms there will be 141 recessed or built-in lockers in the halls or corridors.

The study hall is more than twice the size of the old study hall and will seat somewhere in the neighborhood of three hundred pupils.


The chemical and physical laboratories occupy the first front half of the entire length of the old building, and they are separated by apparatus and darkrooms. The chemical laboratory will have a case containing equipment for biological science and four-student chemistry tables sufficient to accommodate a class of thirty.   

The physics laboratory will contain fifteen two-student physics tables with swinging chairs attached so arranged that all of the students will face he instructor's desk at the end of the room.

Commercial and Banking Department

The commercial and banking department in the left wing of the second story and will be thoroughly equipped for bookkeeping, shorthand, typewriting and banking.

Our representative learned from Superintendent Lyon that the plan so far would encourage the students to start savings accounts and each individual account must be kept by the banking department and all funds raised for the athletic association, entertainments, box parties, candy sales, etc., must go through through this banking department. Of course the actual cash will be deposited in the banks of the town.

Home Economics

This department consists of the sewing room, fitting room, cooking laboratory, dining room, bathroom and bedroom. The sewing room is especially well provided with light and ventilation. Two large skylights and the regular windows besides breeze windows on the hall or corridor side and also breeze window leading into the gymnasium leaves nothing to want in these two respects.

From the bedroom there is a built-in wardrobe and in the bathroom a built-in linen closet, each equipped with the proper shelves. The floor and walls of the bathroom are finished with tile and as good as any residence. The bathroom and dining room will be equipped with the usual modern equipment for such rooms.

In the cooking laboratory are four double-drainboard white porcelain sinks. There will be five or more of the usual cooking tables each provided with an electrical hot-plate and besides an electric stove will be placed along the wall. Running hot water in each of the sinks is provided by an oil-burning water heater. This heater is of modern type and approved by the Fire Prevention bureau. 

In the Sewing room we forgot to mention the built-in ironing board with electric iron, the built-in book-case in the corner of the room, the display case at the end of the fitting room with light from a skylight where dresses may be tried on and fitted. In another room opening out of the sewing room are cases with cabinets for the unfinished sewing to be kept from day to day.

In the cooking laboratory one entire side of this room is taken up with cabinets for groceries, brooms, and mops, etc.


In the end of the left wing on the first floor may be found the cafeteria. The main dining room of the cafeteria will seat in the neighborhood of 150, and adjoining this is the large and spacious kitchen where hot meals will be prepared for children coming from out of town.

Principal's Office

The principal's office will be on the left of the main entrance in the space which was occupied as the dining room, and opening out of that will be a large room used for teachers' rest room and student council activities.

Boiler Room

The boiler room has been very much increased in size until it now occupies the space originally given up to the old boiler room, the boy's shower bath room and the principal's office and waiting room.   


One must see in order to appreciate the gymnasium and all of its possibilities. It is 114 feet long by 56 feet wide. Around the entire room is a gallery eight feet wide and on the outer edge of this gallery an 'iron' railing. Leading to the gallery are two pairs of stairways at each end of the building. It is expected that the gymnasium will be thoroughly well equipped with the principal modern and up-to-date gymnasium apparatus.

Two practice courts for basket ball will run crosswise the room, and one for match games will run lengthwise. Every  possible care is being taken in the preparation of the floor. It is made up of the following: Four inches of cement at the bottom. On top of this is two inches of cinders and cement in which are placed 2x2 creosoted strips.

Over these creosoted strips will be two layers of felt paper and on this paper will be laid one of the most beautiful maple floors to be seen. This floor will be treated with the best preparations known to the trade after it has been thoroughly smoothed by a sanding machine.

We are told by Superintendent Lyon that the four floors in the' home economics department will be sanded, oiled and waxed, and that part of the training to be given to the girls of the domestic science course will be that of keeping these floors well waxed and polished.
The outside front view shows a two-story building 224 feet long instead of the old building 117 feet long. Over the main entrance is the large tower in which will be placed the clock and chimes to be donated by our fellow-townsman, John Haller, in memory of his father and mother.

Other Buildings

Directly back of the main building may be found the new teachers' home which will accommodate ten teachers besides servants room. This building is thoroughly well equipped by the school board; provided with sanitary plumbing and running hot and cold water in both kitchen and bathroom. 

This building has been occupied this year by five teachers who speak in the loudest terms of this plan of accommodation. They have had their own telephone and radio outfit. On the other quarter of the square are two small cottages to be rented to people not connected with the school, and just back and beyond these three cottages comes the large and beautiful athletic field, 600 feet long and 300 feet wide.

The grading of this field has just been completed by Eugene Esquinance & Son,. and all who are interested may feel highly proud of it. In fact, we do not hesitate in stating that we doubt if there  is any high school in a town of this size with a better school plant than our Consolidated School District No. 1 will have when we take into consideration the main building with its gymnasium, manual training room, commercial department, home economics department; cafeteria, library, study hall, laboratories, etc., and, speaking of library, we forgot to mention the large library with bookshelves on two sides of the room to be found in the right wing of the second story. This room will seat some forty-odd pupils, and will be thoroughly equipped with modern furniture found in up-to-date libraries.

St. Tammany Farmer
May 25, 1929

Although the new school built in 1929 was called "Lyon High" after Superintendent Elmer E. Lyon, the name had to be changed not long afterwards because the state passed a law that said public buildings could not be named after persons still living. So it was changed to Covington High School.

Later another school, an elementary school, was named Lyon Elementary to honor the parish's first Superintendent. 

There was a special legislative exemption to the Living Person/Public Structure law when Covington was successful in naming its new football stadium Jack Salter Stadium in honor of high school coaching legend Jack Salter. 

See also:
Covington High School Hit By Fire - 1974


Monday, April 6, 2020

The History of St. Paul's School

In 1968, Brother Ephrem Hebert F.C.S., compiled a history of St. Paul's School. It was called "The Saint Paul Story." The following article was written by Christi Simoneaux, Public Relations Director for Saint Paul's School, using information from Brother Hebert's research.

Click on the images to make them larger. 

The History of St. Paul's School

The beginning...

 At the turn of the century, the burden of education in St. Tammany Parish fell on a few private school teachers who earned a meager living giving lessons in the humanities. Exemplified in August 1899, a St. Tammany Farmer editorial complained, "What we need is a first class high school."

Dr. Brandt V. B. Dixon, president of New Orleans' Newcomb College for Women, purchased a tract of land in Covington and sent his son, William A. Dixon, to establish a preparatory school for boys and girls who could later attend Tulane and Newcomb. On October 1, 1900, Dixon Academy began operation with 99 pupils (5 boarders, the rest day students).

The octagonal gym, built in 1906, is the only building from the original campus that still stands today. Recently extensively renovated, it now serves as Saint Paul's Alumni Memorial Theater.

The school...

Highly respected in its early years, Dixon Academy's enrollment dropped drastically in 1908, causing the school the close in 1909. The Dominicans sought to purchase the property, but were thwarted by the Benedictines at St. Joseph's Preparatory Seminary. Convincing Archbishop Blenk not to allow two religious orders to operate motherhouses within five miles of each other, they purchased the property themselves and in September 1911, reopened the school as St. Paul's College with approximately 70 boarders and 30 day students.

St. Paul's College quickly became well known and respected both in the community and throughout south Louisiana. However, in 1915, conflicts arose between the priests at the college and those at the abbey, which eventually lead to the decision to sell the school. At the 1918 commencement ceremony, it was announced that the school would be leased to the Christian Brothers for the next five years.

The Brothers of the Christian Schools... 

The coming of the Christian Brothers has been described as nothing short of heroic. To escape religious persecution, nineteen Brothers of the order founded by St. John Baptist de la Salle, voluntarily left their homeland of France in 1904 and moved to Mexico where they soon had a flourishing school system. When the territory became overrun with Mexican bandits, they again chose exile, this time to the U.S. 

Due to the popularity of the Benedictines, they came secretly to St. Paul's so as not to inflame the citizens.

They had little money, few supplies, and less food, but were rich in dedication and determination. Their commitment soon won over the students, their parents, and the citizens of the community. As Brother Ephram describes in The Saint Paul Story, "They were carpenters, painters, plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, as well as janitors and yardmen. They truly became, in the words of Paul, all things to all men."

The tradition... Saint Paul's schooling became somewhat of a family tradition, for locals and boarders alike. Names like Pechon, Mutter, Baldwin, McMurray, Blossman, Badeaux, Champagne, Kentzel, Poole, and Villere continue to be found on the list of graduates. This year's graduating class boasted the 4th generation of Heintz family SPS graduates, from Lawrence T. Heintz, Sr. '21, to L.T. Heintz, Jr. '45, Frederick Heintz, Sr. `75, and finally Frederick Heintz, Jr. '99.

Still under the administration and traditions of the Christian Brothers, St. Paul's School, as it is now called, continues to operate the only boarding and day school in Louisiana. The ratio of boarders to day students has fluctuated throughout the years. Of the 700+ students registered for the 1999-2000 school year, 46 are enrolled in the resident program. 

The boarders come to Covington from throughout Louisiana, the southern states and various parts of the world—many from Spanish speaking countries, due in part to the school's continued relationship with the LaSallian school systems in Mexico and Central America.

Student Band - 1920's

1921 Graduation Ceremonies Audience

Literary Society 1930

1938 St. Paul's Grammar School Students

Mother's Club 1948 

See also:

St. Paul's School Fire 1981

Historical Photos From St. Paul's High School for Boys

St. Paul's Track Meet Photo From 1914

Aerial Photos of St Pauls School Campus

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Slidell's Country Music Fiddlin' Festival

In 1976 Slidell held its Country Music Fiddlin' Festival with Justin Wilson as a guest celebrity. Here is an article about the event. Click on the image to make it larger. 

Name Change Game

 Just when you thought you were driving down Gerard Street in Mandeville, the city council discovered in 2005 that it was actually "Girod Street" as originally recorded. Since it was the main thoroughfare through old town, a quick legal action and a few dozen street signs later, it was Girod Street once again. Street maps, business letterheads and business cards had to be changed to reflect the return to Girod.

The spelling of Girod Street had apparently been changed by a sign painter thirty years earlier. According to an article in the Times Picayune, the street was named in honor of Nicholas Girod, the fifth mayor of New Orleans, who once hatched a scheme to rescue deposed French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte from exile and bring him to the Mandeville area.

Girod Street was found mentioned in city documents from 1909 and shown on a 1925 map. Other changes in street names in Mandeville included Adear Street, which was changed back to the original "Adair" and Wilkinson Street which had been misspelled on two street signs.

Times (and Placenames) They Are A'Changing

Washington Parish was originally part of St. Tammany Parish, as was the portion of Tangipahoa Parish east of the Tangipahoa River. Then suddenly in 1819 by legislative edict St. Tammany shrunk to 50 percent of its original size, and Washington Parish came into existence. Someone who was living in Franklinton was no longer in St. Tammany Parish, but in Washington Parish instead. Franklinton did become the parish seat of Washington Parish in 1821, so there's a plus.

How often do names of streets, cities and entire parishes change? In the early days, pretty often it seems.  Let's turn again to the writings of Polly Morris, who, in 1976, explored even more intriguing instances of name changes and the havoc it caused with existing maps and public documents. Here is the text of her article.

St. Tammany Has Had More Names Than You Can Count

By Polly Morris

Just imagine that you are living in Pig's Eye in 1840.

You have shivered through a severe winter, wishing you had settled at the other end of the Mississippi River where the sun always shines, An old traveler comes upriver and offers you a tattered map and a battered bit of paper at a bargain price

Sight unseen, you buy a parcel of land, and set out for the Sunny Southland and your own property in St James, District of St. Ferdinand.

You consult the map frequently as you float downstream. When you stop for supplies at Chickasaw you learn it is now Memphis, Tenn. On down the river, Walnut Hills has been changed to Vicksburg, and Nouvelle Orleans is New Orleans. You ask about St James and the District of St Ferdinand and are told there is no such place.

Trick or trade

In all probability you will angrily assume that the old traveler tricked you. But if you are a trusting soul, you will persist in the search for St. James. You will ask about old land grants and later records. Finally you find St. James buried under a heap off history, having undergone two name changes since the old traveler purchased the property back in 1804.

By the time you get a clear title to your property it is 1841. You ask for a loan and the cold-eyed banker refuses. You have lied about your last residence There is no Pig's Eye. It will be years, if ever, before you know it became St. Paul shortly after you left.

Nations and Situations

Name changes in St Tammany Parish are quite confusing to those who research public records. The area was bounced around like a football between France, England, Spain, and the United States. At  times it was believed to be part of the Louisiana Purchase, of Mississippi    of Florida. Or a part of the short-lived Republic of West Florida. Known as the District of St Ferdinand it was later to be named St Tammany after a Delaware Indian Chief, who was not a real saint and had probably never heard of Louisiana.

The oldest town is believed to have begun as Couquiville named by French trappers who had a landing there. The English shortened it to Cokie Bank, and later named Madisonville, honoring the 4th President of the United States.

Abita Springs

Abita Springs has had three different names, with numerous spellings of Abita, lbetab, Eubetab, Abeka, Abeta and AbiTAW are said to have been derived from a Choctaw princess, and early settler or the Choctaw word for fountain. At one time it was Bossier City because a Captain John Bossier began a resort of health spa close to the springs. It was also known as Christy Springs because a Col. William Christy who made its waters famous.

Lacombe, too, has had several names for the settlement that straggled along the Bayou Lacombe.  The first concentrations of population were Camp Lomee and Buchuwa, both Indian Villages. As most of the homes and estates were along the bayou, the area in general was called Bayou Lacombe, which was named after a Frenchman named LaCombe.

The first resemblance to a real town came in the early 1900's when John H Davis laid out a subdivision named Lacombe Park. The town outgrew the subdivision and came to be known
merely as Lacombe.  Unfortunately the very distinctive capital C is seldom used. Also unfortunate was the misspelling, either through ignorance or laziness, of the last word of the bayou. The C was omitted, and it looked as though it rhymed more with Tom or Mom than with home.


Covington has had three names. In 1803 a New Orleans creole named Drieux laid out the town of St. James. Later the entire town of 4 buildings was sold for $2,300 to John Wharton Collins who renamed it Wharton because of his famous English ancestors. Eventually it was re-renamed Covington after a Natchez hero of the War of 1812. Some said it was named after an excellent Kentucky whiskey that enjoyed popularity at that time. Collins said the new name had come about through politics.

Slidell and Folsom, named respectively after a patriot and a president's wife, have not suffered a name change. Nor has Mandeville except for a slight variation. When its founder Bernard de Marigny, advertised it, he called it the Quartier de Mandeville.

Public Records No Longer Simple

Times have changed since the 1800's but place names have not suffered in recent times, for "suffer" is an apt word for it. In the horse and buggy days, men had few legal documents or public records to be corrected in the changeover. The government was not smothering the citizens under a mountain of red tape. The post office was not suffocating under stacks of solicited and unsolicited mail.  And the telephone operator knew everyone in town.

There was no social security of welfare or income taxes. And a horse and his rider did not have to be licensed. If a traveler today tried to find a missing town on a road map, or was told by a telephone operator that there was no listing for such a town ot even had to mail change-of-address cards, he would plead to keep Pig's Eye, Cokie Bank, or Polecat Curve just as they are.

Published in the News Banner, April 14, 1976

End of Polly Morris Article

On the Tammany Family blog I have already posted a 1930 highway map of Louisiana put out by the state highway department. The highway numbers of almost all the secondary state highways have been changed over the years, resulting in a series of historic state maps with the wrong highway numbers. 

Travelers have not only faced the stigma of changed placenames but also the problem of changed highway numbers.

At least the locally-given names of secondary highways tend to remain the same, Turnpike Road, Military Road, Bennett Bridge Road, etc. Let's hope they keep putting the locally-given names on the roadways on future printed maps.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Sully Artist/Architect Lived in Covington

The Sully family has produced some excellent artists. While Gilbert Stuart is credited for painting several well-known portraits of the Father of Our  Country, George Washington, when duplicate copies of his work were requested he called upon his friend and fellow artist Thomas Sully  to help him make copies of the more popular ones so they could be placed in public buildings throughout the young nation.

The name Sully thus became well-known as an important artist. His nephew and his nephew's son later became recognized artists and architects in their own right, and they both lived in Covington for years.

Since the Sully family name was now associated with paintings of George Washington, Thomas Sully's brother Chester decided to name his son after the famous American president. George Washington Sully, the son of Chester and Ann Hendree Sully, was born in Virginia in 1816, and the family moved to the West Florida territory shortly thereafter.The young G.W. Sully slowly developed his artistic skills, following in the footsteps of his famous uncle Thomas.

G. W. Sully became known for his artwork depicting local Native American tribesmen in West Florida. He eventually moved to New Orleans and became a cotton broker, all the while keeping up his painting efforts on the side. The Louisiana Sully created a variety of landscapes and pictures of sailing vessels. 

A George Washington Sully painting

 In 1862, G.W. Sully moved his family to Covington and he continued painting local buildings, landscapes and waterscapes.  According to Todd Valois, a parish historian in the 1990's, "In his younger days in West Florida, G.W. Sully painted many water scenes showing boats and rivers in the area. He had a keen eye for landscapes; his work still is regarded as some of the best amateur work of the time."

"The University of West Florida at Pensacola has many of his works on permanent display, as does the Tulane University architectural archives in New Orleans, which were donated after he moved to the city."

According to Valois, G.W. Sully married Harriet Green, and they had a son
on Nov. 24, 1855, and they named Thomas in honor of his famous uncle. The family moved to Covington because "the cotton market had collapsed, so Sully spent much of his time painting the scenes of the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte Rivers," Valois stated.

Their young son Thomas would grow up in Covington and become a widely-recognized and respected architect in New Orleans and elsewhere.

"The Sullys built a home on the corner of Rutland and New Hampshire Streets in Covington," Valois commented, adding that the four lots were the site of a brick house, carriage house, stables and garden, all of which were rendered through Sully's artistic talent. The property has, over the years, become known as the Galatas home.

While G. W. Sully and his wife both died in Covington on July 23, 1890, due to unstated illness, his memory lives on through his many works of art which can be found in collections throughout the nation.

View of the Steam Paper Mill in rear of the Lower Cotton Press, New Orleans, by George Washington Sully

According to the University of Miami Library, "His surviving work consists primarily of sketches made as a young man living in a variety of towns on the west coast of Florida.  It is not known whether Sully took lessons in art from his more famous uncle, Thomas Sully, or if he had any formal education at all. From his surviving work, we know Sully visited Bermuda in 1829, and from then until 1833, he lived in the Panhandle region of northwest Florida."

Here are two samples of his landscapes:

His Son, The Renowned Architect

The son born to George Washington Sully was named Thomas in honor of his well-known great uncle. Thomas Sully was around seven years old when he and his parents moved to Covington. 

He went on to become a renowned Southern architect as well as a respected Captain and sailor. A Southern Yacht Club sailing competition was named the Sully Cup in his honor. 

According to Valois, "The son's architectural firm was called Sully, Burton and Stone Co., and it designed a number of well-known structures such as the third St. Tammany Parish courthouse in 1896 (see below) and the Abita Springs pavilion in 1887" (which has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.)

Click on the images to make them larger.  

Largely a self-trained architect based in New Orleans, Louisiana, Thomas designed many large residences on Upper St. Charles Avenue, such as the Picard House, and public buildings in New Orleans and in other cities as well.

 After he studied architecture in the office of Lahnour and Wheelock in Austin, Texas, and with the firm of H.R. Marshall and J. Morgan Slade in New York City, he opened his New Orleans office in 1881 at the age of 26. He married the former Mary Eugenia Rocchi in 1884, and the couple had one daughter.

Among his designs were the Hennen Maritime Building, the original Whitney Building, Milliken Memorial Hospital, and the St. Charles Hotel, all in New Orleans; the Vicksburg Hotel in Vicksburg, Mississippi; the Shreveport (Caddo Parish) Charity Hospital (formerly called "Confederate Memorial Medical Center" and currently known as the "LSU Medical Center"), and the Caffery Sugar Mill near Franklin in St. Mary Parish. 

Thomas Sully designed this building in 1893

Thomas Sully was also a "captain" and designer of sailing vessels. Two articles from 1890 indicated his growing reputation for boat architecture. Interesting, since his father was well-known for his paintings of sailing ships.  

 Thomas Sully, the architect, was a member of the Boston Club, the Elks, and the Southern Yacht Club. He died on March 14, 1939. 

Here are a number of other articles from the St. Tammany Farmer telling the contributions and activities of G.W. Sully and his son Thomas, the architect. 

Thomas Sully, at right, fishing on his boat, the Helen. 

Other buildings designed by Architect Thomas Sully

See also: