Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Vessels of the Tchefuncte Past

Here's a link to a video by Rusty Burns showing photographs detailing the history of the Tchefuncte River, Madisonville and the large number of boats that visited the area over 100 years ago. 

CLICK HERE to view the video. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Bayou Lacombe Highlights

A few years back the Bayou Lacombe Chamber of Commerce put out an informational brochure about the community and its points of interest. Here is some of the information on that brochure. Click on the images of the articles for a larger view. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

There's Art in Lemane Photography

One of the first articles I wrote  in Covington was about Art Lemane and his photography business. It was an eye-opener for me, and many others, I hope, regarding the seriousness and challenge of wedding photography. 

Here is the article.

There's ART in Lemane Photography
COVINGTON— When Art Lemane was a teenager just getting into the photography game, one of his first jobs was to take pictures of a beautiful garden on the corner of Tyler and 17th Streets.

Little did he think at that time he would be returning to build a modern professional photographic studio at that same location years later.

But his new studio does sit squarely in the middle of what used to be one of the most complete botanical gardens in town, and in many respects, still is. Art took care to keep as many trees as possible when he built the new studio, despite advice from some friends who suggested a parking lot in front.

"Trees are more important than car parking lots," he said, "especially in a town like Covington."

He and his wife Gail now operate their business from the one story brick building there, although the official grand opening isn't scheduled for another several days.

The building offers him the darkroom he's always dreamed of and a shooting studio that is nearest to ideal as a photographer could ask. He moved into the place from a small building on 21st Avenue that limited his ability to create.

Art and Gail are happy in their new studio and chances are he can be found in his new darkroom going through his newly established color processing while his wife com­piles the finished products into attractive frames and scrap­books.

It all began when Art was 12 years old and got his hands on a second hand box camera. This was during World War II when film was rationed, so he was more or less forced to be sure pictures were going to be good before he took them. Soon after that he obtained his own processing kit and was off in the technical side of the photo business, too.

At Covington High School, he was on the annual staff as photographer and even freelanced for the local newspaper.

Once in the Navy, however, he attended their photo school, doing a great deal of aerial work. When he got out of the Navy, he went into the photography business part time, working for the bank also. It was in 1955 when he got his first business license.

The first studio was in the Lemane bedroom, converted for photo use, and eventually a special room was added on to accommodate the studio work.  The room was built with the thought that if the photo work proved successful, the studio would be kept, and if it proved insufficient, then the room could be converted into a family room.

But the boom was on. From his house he went to 21st Avenue and from that into the new studio which has been in the planning stage for the past year and was recently completed.

Art's wife keeps up with photography, too, having been involved with the hobby long before she met Art. When they both lived in Metairie, they occupied houses only a block or so apart and their parents knew each other well. But it was only after Art returned from the Navy that they met, found a common interest in photography and married, that being in 1957.

The Lemanes now have four daughters and three sons as well as several pets.
Art keeps himself busy doing primarily wedding photography and portraits. His experiences at weddings range from the curious to the hilarious, for as the photographer, he has to strive to be as inconspicuous as possible while getting up close enough to get all the right shots.

Photographing weddings is a science all in itself, he feels. Timing is important, he said, knowing just the right moment to snap the shutter is the life and death issue in photography. When a wedding party is stiffly posed and looking deadpan, Art  usually tries to cheer the group up with some unexpected remark to make them crack up. In a very brief instant, everyone is wearing a natural smile and that is when the shutter clicks.

"Sometimes my timing is off," Art admits, "and the pictures reflect it. The trick in taking pictures is knowing what's going to happen before it happens."

For instance, one of the traditional wedding pictures is a full length shot of the bride and groom kissing as they stand on the church steps after the wed­ding. In one wedding, Art lined them up, focused his camera, made the proper adjustments and snapped the picture. Immediately after the kiss, however, the couple looked at each other and embraced in a truly spontaneous hug. Art caught it on film, however, because he had anticipated it, played in closer, refocused and snapped the shutter at the right time.

Various things that have happened to his embarrassment included the time he wore new shoes while photographing a wedding. They squeaked, and it just happened to be one of the quietest ceremonies he had ever been to.

He tries to use natural light when possible during the weddings, since flashes from his flashgun tends to disturb some people. Some ministers insist on the avoidance of flash, also.

One of the toughest problems in photographing weddings is getting everyone together for the formal pictures after the ceremony. He has lost more than one bridesmaid in the rush to get to the reception. "It takes a great deal of organization to coordinate everyone in a wedding party," he said.

His motto comes in handy in times like those, however. It is "Be reasonable—do it my way."

One of his remarks designed to crack up stone-faced wedding parties is "Look at my wife. . and laugh." It's a ploy Gail can understand, if not appreciate. Another is his looking into the viewfinder, halfway smiling and say, "This looks pretty good. . considering what I've got to work with." That if bound to bring some puzzled looks, then a smile or two or three.

"Anyone can work a camera and take pictures," he said, "but the business of photography is 60 percent psychological. Everyone has a key to being natural. If they are uncomfortable and stiff while I'm taking their picture, it's not going to come off well. Once I find their key, however, I can take a good natural shot."

He told of an old man who refused to cooperate while having his portrait taken. He remained stiff and straight-faced. It was only when Art brought the conversation around to trains that the man's face brightened. He had been a railroad engineer, he began, and he continued to tell Art about his life on the train lines.

Once his key had been found and his interest diverted away from the camera, Art obtained a series of truly meaningful portraits. Art's second love is railroading, anyway, and the portrait session proved to be quite a good time for both of them.

"You've got to keep your mind on two levels while taking portraits," he said. "You have to keep an eye out for the artistic while making sure you're being technically sound."

The problems in photography come on both levels, also.

"Sometimes everything goes wrong," he said. "I was on my way to one wedding when I found the bridge out and had to go another way, throwing me late. When I got there I found out my flash unit wasn't working and while driving back to get another flash, I got a bee locked in the car with me and that was no fun."

As a matter of fact, sometime before a wedding Art is almost as nervous as the groom. It's quite a responsibility, Gail said, to know that parents and relatives and the couple themselves are relying on you to capture a photographic record of the happiest event in their lives.

"I have to concentrate quite a bit when I'm photographing a wedding," Art said. "Sometimes after three hours of such demanding activity as sneaking around taking ceremony shots and then lining up so many people, I am exhausted."

It all boils down to caring about the couple being married. "You have to care," Gail said. "You have to know that these pictures will be looked at forty to fifty years from now and will become more important as time goes on."

"Photography is primarily working for the future," Art commented.

One of the pressures of weddings is that if something isn't right, he can't come back the next day and take them all  over again. He has to be right the first time, and that is where caring about the folks being photographed comes into play.

"The photographer becomes a part of the family for that one special occasion. He joins the festivity, enjoys the goings on and captures the spirit of the occasion on film," Gail said. "We love people in general, and that's what it takes."

The essence of a professional, Art believes, is that he gives 100 percent of his ability at all times. Taking pictures is very rewarding; some people are able to appreciate his work, others are not, but every picture of merit is someone's treasure, he feels.

What is his favorite kind of picture? "The picture I'm taking at the moment," he says. "Each picture is a favorite in its own right."

Some of his proudest pictures include brides bathed in natural sunlight dressed in their finest wedding gowns. "Sunrise Over Galilee" is his favorite land­scape shot.

Now with his brand new studio to play with, Art finds new fun in photography. Asked to describe  his new place in a nutshell, he replied, "I think it's a whiz."

His darkroom comes complete with two enlargers, a special homebuilt fiberglass photosink and a lighting system that is controlled from any of several stations. The darkroom even has a special water chiller that cools tap water down to the proper temperature for processing color film, a new field that Art is doing well in.

He's especially proud of his new large studio with its neutral gray carpet running along the floor and up the wall. Now he can take pictures of the largest family group with a background that just doesn't exist. He also  installed a large picture window in the studio so he could utilize natural light when he wanted to, one of his favorite techniques.

The best part of all about the studio is the view from the window. It is a lush garden scene, the same garden that he photographed back when he was a teenager with a box camera. He has plans for that garden; it will make an outstanding backdrop for truly natural outdoor portraits.

So Art Lemane is back in his garden, pursuing his ability in photography to its limits. It is a pursuit he will enjoy.


Here are the actual newspaper feature pages. Just CLICK ON THE IMAGES below for a larger, more readable version.

Art and Gail Lemane

Also in 1972, Pathways Magazine ran an article on Art Lemane. Click on the image of the article below to enlarge it to a more readable size. 

Art died in December of 2016 after a lifetime career of capturing important memorable moments on film for thousands of families throughout St. Tammany Parish. Here is a link to his obituary. 

An advertisement from 1972

 An Art Lemane photograph of his daughter
Kappa Alpha Sweetheart Lynda Lemane

Art and Gail Lemane in 2010

Sunday, August 28, 2016

John Wharton Collins Chronology

According to notes I found in my files about the founding of Covington, here are some facts, said to be historically authenticated, about John Wharton Collins. 

In 1803 Jacques Dreux, a New Orleans Creole, received a Spanish grant on the Bogue Falia River 40 arpents (riverfront) by 40 arpents deep.

On Sept. 11, 1811, John Wharton Collins married Marie Elizabeth Tabiteau at St. Louis Cathedral.  A son, Thomas Wharton Collins, was born to them on June 23, 1812. He became a journalist and newspaper owner (Source: Time Picayune files)

On May 16, 1813,  Dreux sold his town with its claim of four citizens to Collins for $2300.00. The community was named Wharton, in honor of Collins' grandfather John Wharton.

During 1814 to 1815, John Wharton Collins served as Captain in Morgan's 4th Regiment, La. Militia. He took part in the Battle of New Orleans, January 1815 (West Bank).

On February 28, 1816, a bill was introduced in the state Legislature to change the name of Wharton to that of Covington. The bill passed and was enacted into law on March 11, 1816. Covington was named for General Leonard A. Covington , who had commanded the troops at St. Francisville and Baton Rouge when the West Florida revolt was settled.

A year later, in 1817, due to failing health, Collins wrote out his  will. He was confined to bed by September and then died on December 26, 1817, at the age of 29. He was buried in a lead coffin in Covington cemetery No. 1 (in the section opposite the old city hall) at the corner of Columbia and Kirkland Streets in an unmarked grave. (Receipt for coffin is in Courthouse Files)

A tombstone monument does note that Collins is buried in the Covington cemetery. 

For more information about Collins, CLICK HERE.

History of the St. Tammany Farmer Newspaper

The St. Tammany Farmer weekly newspaper began back in the fall of 1874, some 144 years ago. Here is a history of the Covington area publication. 

For the "early history" of the newspaper, click on the 1905 article below.

From the 1905 booklet: St. Tammany Parish, Its Resources, Enterprises. As a Health, Summer and Winter Resort. Pubished by J. S. Glass (The Southern Manufacturer) New Orleans, LA. 

The St. Tammany Farmer, the official journal of St. Tammany Parish government as well as the school board, was founded in 1874 by George Ingram, a Scotsman who came to New Orleans in 1855 and to Covington in 1866.

The front page of the issue dated February 13, 1875, describes The Farmer as “a weekly journal devoted to Agriculture, Railroads, Commerce, Manufactures, and Education.” Subscriptions were $2 per year and paid “invariably in advance.” It is assumed that Ingram’s desire to promote St. Tammany’s agricultural interests was the inspiration for The Farmer’s agrarian-themed name.
Death of George Ingram
In the December 4, 1875, issue of the Amite City Democrat newspaper, this news item recalls the death of the editor of the St. Tammany Farmer. 

"The St. Tammany Farmer, published at Covington, comes to us this week draped in mourning for the death of its able editor, Mr. George Ingram, the founder of that paper.

"The Farmer says: Mr. Ingram was a native of Scotland and was a resident of this country over 20 years, coming to New Orleans in 1855, where, with the exception of short intervals, he resided until he came to Covington in 1866.

"Mr. Ingram was possessed of all the thrift and energy peculiar to his nation, and in casting his lot with our people, he labored with all his untiring energy for the best interests of the community, being engaged in a number of great enterprises, which the present unfortunate condition of the South, along prevented their being brought to a successful issue.

"Through his efforts a Town Council was appointed and under his administration, streets, bridges, and improvements appeared everywhere as if by magic. In all his enterprises, self was forgotten in the interests of the community, and he was the first to offer the hand of fellowship to those who come to cast their lot among us.

"In his house, he was ever an indulgent father and kind husband. Society ever acknowledged him as an honorable, upright gentleman, a true and sincere friend.

"In business, his integrity was unquestioned, and he was a considerate employer, ever looking to the interests of others."
Ownership Changes, Kentzel Named Editor
After Ingram died in 1875, by October 1878 ownership of the paper had passed to W. C. Morgan, a prominent resident of Covington and a descendant of David B. Morgan, a general in the War of 1812 and an influential early settler of St. Tammany Parish. 

Morgan’s tenure was short,  since one month later the masthead listed J. E. Smith (founder of a well-known local hardware business) as proprietor and W. G. Kentzel as editor.

W.G. Kentzel, a native of Philadelphia, PA was born in 1847 and attended the public school there. At the age of 13 he started in to learn the printing business. For 17 years he worked as a compositor on various morning papers throughout the West and the South.

He then spent five years on the Galveston, TX, News. It was in that city that he met Susie V. Smith of Covington, LA., whom he married in October of 1873. In November of 1878, he took charge of the Farmer and for a few years did all the typesetting, press work, etc. in addition to his editorial duties.

His office at first was in his kitchen building. Over the course of time, he purchased a lot and built a small box house for his office. Since that time, he has been adding to his building and office plant, until now he has a large office building, fine improved presses, and a complete assortment of news and job type and can boast of one of the finest country printing offices in the State.

In 1905, he was assisted in his office by his two eldest sons, William and Edward Kentzel. Under the management of editor Kentzel, the Farmer steadily progressed.

Besides editing and publishing the Farmer, Mr. Kentzel for over 26 years held the positions of Secretary of the Police Jury and Secretary for the town council of Covinton. He was a stockholder in the Covington Bank and the Ice Co., and was prominent in fraternal circles. The Farmer was still advertised as devoted to the material advance of the agricultural, manufacturing and commercial interests of the parish.

The following is the narrative history of the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper, re-printed from the St. Tammany Farmer webpage.

St. Tammany Farmer Newspaper History

Compiled in 2014
More than 142 years of continuous publication – from the last days of Civil War reconstruction to the 21st century – is an achievement few newspapers can claim, but The Farmer has been St. Tammany’s hometown newspaper since 1874, when it was founded by George Ingram, a Scotsman who came to New Orleans in 1855 and to Covington in 1866.

The front page of the issue dated February 13, 1875, describes The Farmer as “a weekly journal devoted to Agriculture, Railroads, Commerce, Manufactures, and Education.” Subscriptions were $2 per year and paid “invariably in advance.” It is assumed that Ingram’s desire to promote St. Tammany’s agricultural interests was the inspiration for The Farmer’s agrarian-themed name.

Ingram died in 1875, and by October 1878 ownership of the paper had passed to W. C. Morgan, a prominent resident of Covington and a descendant of David B. Morgan, a general in the War of 1812 and an influential early settler of St. Tammany Parish. Morgan’s tenure was short, since one month later the masthead listed J. E. Smith (founder of a well-known local hardware business) as proprietor and W. G. Kentzel as editor.

Kentzel eventually became the paper’s owner and served as editor until his death in 1907. A book by the late Carol Jahncke, titled Mr. Kentzel’s Covington, recalls Kentzel’s years as editor of The Farmer, and includes photographs and facsimiles of advertisements and articles that appeared in his many editions.

After Kentzel died, the family continued to operate the paper for several years, with D. H. Mason serving as editor. Mason was the son of a Chicago newspaperman, and though he studied law, his ties to the newspaper industry were strong.  He became a reporter and worked at several newspapers before coming to The Farmer.

Mason became the owner of The Farmer in 1916 and moved it to its current location, at 321 N. New Hampshire St. in downtown Covington, in 1924. He used the paper to promote the idea of a bridge across Lake Pontchartrain as a way to encourage economic development and he avidly encouraged his readers to spend their money in St. Tammany, rather than at south shore businesses.

In 1911, Mason hired a young Linotype operator, Howard Keener “Nat” Goodwyn, who hailed from Colfax and was the son of the publisher of that town’s newspaper. Goodwyn soon married Anna Thomasine Frederick, daughter of Emile “Boss” Frederick, a prominent local businessman and saloon keeper, who served two years as Covington’s mayor.

Linotype machines in operation
An advertisement from 1926
Mason died in 1928, and Goodwyn bought The Farmer from his heirs. It remained in the Goodwyn family for many years, with Nat at the helm until his health began to fail in the mid 1940s. At that time his son Howard Keener Goodwyn joined the business and became The Farmer’s editor and assistant publisher.

Howard married Vera Fay Booth of Folsom in 1947 and their daughter Karen Booth Goodwyn was born in February 1949.

On December 1, 1949, while standing outside The Farmer office chatting with an acquaintance, Howard suffered a heart attack and died at age 29. Nat died two years later in 1951.


Brenda Willis, a longtime employee of the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper, told about the history of the publication at a Covington Heritage Foundation history event in 2019.

Nat’s widow Anna became the publisher of The Farmer and continued in that capacity until her death in 1984, although she was not involved in its day-to-day operation. 

The day to day operation fell to Vera, who took over management of the business. She was joined in 1957 by Anna Natalie Goodwyn Hebert, Howard’s younger sister.


 Natalie Hebert and Vera Hardman in 1976

Mandeville Mayor Paul Cordes, at right, stops in to wish the 
St. Tammany Farmer a happy 110th birthday in 1984, some 34 years ago. 

While Vera and Natalie worked side-by-side to handle the business end of the paper, a long line of editors continued The Farmer’s long-standing tradition of providing in-depth coverage of the lives and events of St. Tammany Parish.

Natalie Hebert at left, Vera Hardman at right, with Mr. and Mrs. Paul Cordes

Natalie retired in 1997, and that same year Nat’s granddaughter and Howard’s daughter, now Karen Goodwyn Courtney and the wife of William V. Courtney, became publisher of The Farmer. She had practically grown up in The Farmer’s New Hampshire Street office and began working there in the early 1990s when her young sons began school.

Setting headline type by hand

Since its founding in 1874, the newspaper has focused on the events that are the fabric of the history of St. Tammany Parish – the brickyards – the schooners that plied Lake Pontchartrain bringing goods and people to our communities –  the shipbuilding – the timber industry that came from the felling of the virgin pines that once covered the parish – the coming of the railroad and electricity and telephones – the hospitality offered to visitors who came to escape the heat of the city and to enjoy the benefits of the ozone air – the boys who went to war – the construction of the Causeway and the boom that followed ­– the opening of schools, hospitals, and businesses and the expansion of government services to meet the needs of a growing population – the devastation of storms like Betsy and Camille and Katrina and the recovery that followed.

The above history is re-printed for informational purposes from a webpage that is no longer accessible. 

Here are some photos of staff members of the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper through the years. Click on the images to make them larger.


Brenda Willis, Vera Hardman, Jean Taylor, Karen Courtney (in back row)



Jean Taylor of advertising sales and Clarence Byers.

Bob Taylor, left, served as linotype operator, composition room director, and crime scene photographer. Sue Biggers, right, worked in the composition room. 

Joyce Gulino and Diane Veazey

Murrell DeVeer and Brenda Willis

In 2012, a gathering of Farmer staff members from across the years.

Karen Courtney and Vera Hardman in 1996

This is the old letterpress that was located in the back of the Farmer office in 1976. It had been used for many years, along with a couple of linotype machines (below), to publish the newspaper. 

Linotype machines

Above is a photograph of the Farmer office at 321 N. New Hampshire Street before the exterior renovations done in the 1960's. 

A set of drawers for headline type cases

Using articles from the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper over the years, Carol Jahncke wrote a book featuring the history of Covington. It was called "Mr. Kentzel's Covington" and is available at the following link:  

In 2012, Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge provided the following version of the history of the St. Tammany Farmer to the Library of Congress "Chronicling America" project.

St. Tammany Farmer

     The town of Covington, Louisiana, is located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain approximately 40 miles from New Orleans. It was founded in 1813 and is the seat of St. Tammany Parish. Sparsely settled during the French colonial period, the area was part of the British colony of West Florida (1763-1783) and Spanish Florida (1783-1810). 

     At the time of the Civil War, most of Covington’s 500 residents were engaged in the lumber and brick trade. The products were shipped to New Orleans via the neighboring town of Madisonville, a regional center for the construction of wooden barges, tugs, and sailboats. By the 1870s, the once-rich timber resources of St. Tammany Parish were nearing depletion. 

     The construction of the East Louisiana Railroad in the 1880s facilitated the transportation of timber from outlying areas to Covington for milling and aided in the town’s recovery, as did a 22-mile rail line built across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans, which, along with a lively steamboat traffic, helped turn the North Shore into a popular vacation and weekend destination for New Orleanians seeking respite from the summer heat. Several resorts and sanitariums sprang up in Covington, and by 1909, electric streetcars were running to nearby Abita Springs, believed by some to be the site of Ponce de Leon’s fountain of youth. Sailing excursions could be taken from the lakeshore towns of Madisonville and Mandeville.

     The St. Tammany Farmer was founded in 1874 by Scottish immigrant George Ingram (ca. 1829-1875). John Edis Smith (1809-1893), an English immigrant, acquired it in 1878. His daughter Susan V. Kentzel (1855-1953) and her husband William G. Kentzel (1847-1907), a native of Philadelphia, owned and edited the paper for many years. David H. Mason, Jr. (1856-1928), son of a Chicago journalist and writer on economic policy, succeeded William Kentzel as editor and eventually became proprietor.

     Democratic in its political leanings, the St. Tammany Farmer took its motto from President Andrew Jackson: “The Blessings of Government, Like the Dews from Heaven, Should Descend Alike upon the Rich and the Poor.” The paper described itself as “a weekly journal devoted to agriculture, railroads, commerce, manufactures, and education.” 

     From the 1880s onwards, it contained advertisements for hotels, boarding houses, pleasure excursions, and other businesses associated with the local tourism industry. By the turn of the 20th century, the Farmer had expanded to eight pages and included an extensive fiction section (later removed). As early as 1906, it was bringing deforestation issues to light and calling for regulation. 

     During World War I, it reported on local Red Cross activities, war lectures, and the influenza epidemic. Its first page also carried a regular column titled “Items of Interest at Jahncke Shipyards in Madisonville,” which reported on the construction of several large vessels for the U.S. Navy. Also of interest are accounts of regattas and yacht clubs, as well as brief sketches of “Prominent People and Progressive Enterprises of St. Tammany Parish.”

A 1948 Editorial

A video of the Farmer folks over the years