Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Brief History of Covington

In 2012 a design manual for the Covington Historic Preservation District was prepared by Thomason and Associates Preservation Planners of Nashville, Tennessee. Part of that publication was a brief history of Covington, with a few pictures. Here they are. Click on the images to make them appear larger. 

A Covington Chronology: from the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper

July 4, 1813: John Wharton Collins, a native of Philadelphia, PA, founded the town of Wharton at the confluence of the Bogue Falaya and Tchefuncte rivers (often spelled Buck Falia and Chifoncta on maps of the time). He purchased the tract on May 13, 1813, from Jacques Dreux of New Orleans.

March 11, 1816: The Louisiana Legislature chartered the Town of Covington, replacing the name of Wharton and renaming it in honor of General Leonard Covington, who died in battle in the War of 1812.

Dec. 22, 1817: A military report shows Capt. Mill's company of the 1st Infantry Regiment stationed in or near Covington. Military historian Powell A. Casey reports that between 1817 and 1819 Covington served as a supply point for troops building the southern end of a military road that eventually stretched from Madisonville to Nashville, TN.

Dec. 27, 1817: John Wharton Collins died, probably at his wife's house in New Orleans. Later his body, sealed in a lead casket, was returned to Covington for burial.

1819: A new St. Tammany Parsish Courthouse was erected at Claiborne on the east bank of the Bogue Falaya River across from Covington. The original parish courthouse had been in Enon, but the parish seat was moved to Claiborne when Washington Parish was formed from the northern portion of St. Tammany.

June 3, 1820: The town's first school was established.

Dec. 10, 1822: John Wharton Collins' widow sold several pieces of ground in Square 25 to be used exclusively as a "burying ground" for Covington. In accordance with his wishes, her late husband was interred in what became known as Covington Cemetery No. 1. The historic cemetery now has  a handsome new iron fence and remains a tranquil spot in the heart of the community.

1823: Rev. Timothy Flint (Presbyterian) came to Covington offering services here and in Madisonville.

1829: Louisiana Governor Pierre Derbigny supported the transfer of the St. Tammany parish seat from Claiborne to Covington.

1832: The Palladium, Covington's first newspaper, established.

August 29, 1834: The first Methodist Church established in the town.

July 29, 1837: The steamer Corsair, which traveled between New Orleans and Covington, sank in the Bogue Falaya River when her boiler exploded. No lives were lost.

Oct. 27, 1839: The Picayune reported that the fever had abated in Covington, but cow stealing is practiced "to a great extent" in the community.


In 2017 a brief historical account was printed in the application for placing Bogue Falaya Park on the National Registry of Historic Places. Here is that text:

Brief History of Covington

    The town of Covington was established in 1813 on land that was donated by John Wharton Collins. The town, originally the town of Wharton, was named for his grandfather but renamed Covington is 1816 after General Leonard Covington. 

    Covington is situated within St. Tammany Parish, which has a rich history. A long history prior to European settlement, archaeological evidence suggests that native populations inhabited the land around 1600 B.C and onward. For some time, the area was dominated by the Choctaw nation, from which language many of the names of the region are based. 

    French settlers were among the first Europeans to inhabit the land, but eventually ceded to the Spanish in 1762. The area thrived with industry in the antebellum years as this area was a major port for goods to New Orleans. The town suffered during the Civil War and Reconstruction like many southern towns.

   The town’s major exports and resources in the early to mid-19th century were lumber from the ample forests in the area and brick that was produced by firing the clay that was abundant along the Bogue Falaya Riverbanks. Covington was also a major port and shipped these and other commodities to New Orleans. Eventually the city turned to its own land and cotton production. 

    At one time, Covington was a sizeable cotton producer and served as a stopping point for all goods coming from the “hinterland” to New Orleans and to the Gulf. The river was well traveled and many people began to build homes along its banks. In the mid-19th century there were four mills along the banks of the river within the boundaries of Covington. All types of boats traveled this river including paddle rafts,  schooners, leisure craft, and eventually steamboats. Covington was the largest port in southern Louisiana at one point in its history due to its waterway access to Lake Pontchartrain and eventually New Orleans. 

    At this same time, not only were goods transported from Covington via the Bogue
Falaya, but also the US Mail to New Orleans, which also offered services of delivering people. In 1940, it was 25 cents to travel from Covington to New Orleans on the steamers.


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 conforme 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.