Friday, August 31, 2018

Sharp History

Over the past 60 years Donald J. Sharp has been researching the history of southeast Louisiana, from the early families of New Orleans to the towns, cemeteries and Native Americans of St. Tammany Parish.

His research has filled two-dozen 3-ring binder volumes with notes, pictures, maps, and illustrations centered on key components of area history, with considerable focus on the "Tchefuncte River Corridor."

That geographic area, from the mouth of the Tchefuncte River, including Lewisburg, Mandeville and portions of Tangipahoa Parish, all the way past Covington, has proven to be an incredibly rich resource for understanding how things came to be, the family connections, the military inter-actions, and especially the commerce and industry that helped keep it all going.

A few years ago Sharp published, with co-author Anita R. Campeau, a book entitled, "The History of Mandeville," a 360-page overview of the Mandeville area from the American Revolution to Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville.

That book, available from Amazon, features chapter titles such as "The English Colonial Period," "The Revolutionary War Upheaval in British West Florida," and "The Battle of Lake Pontchartrain."

The West Florida Rebellion of 1810 is covered in detail in the work, as well as the key individuals (many with last names still prevalent today) who helped St. Tammany become a  a part of the United States. He tells about the U.S. gunboats that came up the Tchefuncte River in 1806 to help bring order to southeast Louisiana under the command of Joseph Bainbridge and John Rush. The gunboats anchored in the river in front of the Baham family's cabin, he said.

 This historical marker in Springfield, LA, says that La. Hwy. 22 was part of the "El Camino Real" (King's Highway) Spanish transportation system.

Sharp's eye for family ties, plus his willingness to spend long hours in the records room of the St. Tammany Parish Courthouse in Covington, produced a considerable treasure trove of historical and genealogical information. He was aided in the effort by Bertha Neff, the parish archivist, who helped track down the family legal papers, land grant records, and any other variety of documentation that Sharp needed in his quest for accurate accounts of who did what when.

Sharp was a founding member of the St. Tammany Parish Historical Society in 1972, and he hopes that current ongoing efforts to get the group back up and running are successful.
In fact, Sharp says that back in 1969, he first mentioned the need for such a historical society while he was visiting with Harvey and Melba Colvin in Mandeville. They were all doing research on different aspects of the rather unique history of the area and decided that a group effort to preserve all that history would be worthwhile.
 Dr. Harvey Colvin and Melba Colvin

"The Jefferson Parish historical society had just organized a year earlier," Sharp said. The Colvins agreed that such a group would not only be appropriate for St. Tammany, but a necessity given the interest and broad scope of topics that needed to be researched, verified and documented.

Sharp has some very interesting information about the Tchefuncte River lighthouse, and he has come to think that the lighthouse at Mobile Bay may have been one of the first lighthouses in the country.

Southeastern Louisiana University has received donations of many of his books, plus some of his work has been made available in its Center for Southeast Louisiana Studies, including numerous recorded interviews with key St. Tammany history researchers over the past several decades. His blending of genealogical charts and historical information helps fill in many of the connections of who was related to who and maybe that was why they did what they did.

He began his first serious efforts at researching history in the early 1960's. He met with Zachariah "Cutsie" Sharp of the Mandeville Ford Agency, and then with Edgar "Old Pelican" Sharp also of Mandeville. This led to the meeting with the Colvins. Clerk of Court Robert "Bob" Fitzmorris introduced him to Mrs. Neff, and the course was set. He has also worked with noted local historians Norma Core and Adrian Schwartz, both of Covington. 

His life story is quite interesting. He graduated high school in New Orleans, joined the Army for 18 months to get a free college education, and then was off to Japan with the military. After he got out of the Army, he was accepted into a pre-med program at Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. "I wanted to be a doctor, but then my brother talked me into joining him going to college at Colorado State in Denver," he said. "I jumped on a bus and three days later found myself in Denver."

The college in Denver turned out to be a teacher's college, so he began work to become a physical education teacher. He worked for a while at a grocery store in Wyoming, got a job offer to be a teacher and coach at a Jackson Hole, Wyoming, school, but he wanted to "see the world" so instead he worked for a while in Idaho and then California where he ran into a fellow who had a job teaching in Spain. "What are you talking about," Sharp asked him, and he found out the guy was working as an assistant principal for the Department of Defense in Europe. When the opportunity came along to get the same kind of teaching assignment, he jumped at the chance. 

 "So the next fall, I'm sitting in a bull ring in Spain with Ernest Hemingway sitting in front of me a couple of rows down," Sharp explained. Two years later he was working in Germany. While in Europe he visited the Russian Opera in Moscow, saw Pope John the 23rd in Rome, went to Hitler's "Eagle's Nest," and drove to Oslo, Norway, and many other points of interest throughout Europe.

When he returned from overseas, he got a job teaching and school administration in Metairie, and helped start John Quincy Adams High School. From there he made the move to St. Tammany Parish and began teaching here.

Later, Don's experience as a teacher around the world led him to take advantage of a special two-week teacher's program in Hungary, a country where he had never been. He wore a cowboy hat while on that assignment; the students loved it. 

 On other trips he has done research on Mandeville history in London and worked with other locations in Europe where he was able to find some of the earliest French and Spanish archives, good places to find out about St. Tammany's earliest movers and shakers.

Don has a new website where he is publishing some of his research. CLICK HERE to go to his website, or type in ""

Thursday, August 30, 2018

100 years ago this week

What was going on 100 years ago this week?

Schools open Monday, teachers listed; motorline trolley sold to St. Louis firm;  notes from Ramsay community; new school building bids sought for Pearl River; and Society News.

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer of August 31, 1918. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.

Schoen Middle School Honor Councils - 1993

The following pictures show the 1993 Honor Councils at Schoen Middle School, some 25 years ago. Click on the images to make them larger.

Getting Turned Around In Abita

Long before there was a traffic circle in Abita Springs, people would get turned around whenever they went there. This is because coming from Covington, the highway to Abita takes a gentle turn southward before you get there. It is such a gentle turn, you don't even notice it. 

Then once again, before you reach the town, the  highway takes another slight turn to the south, also nothing that would make you think you were changing the direction you were driving that much. Then sure enough, just after your cross the river the highway once again takes a slight turn to the left, and you find yourself driving into Abita Springs from the north. 

Keeping your compass directions straight in your head is not always easy when driving curvy roads that follow winding bayous. But you don't expect to lose a sense of direction when driving on straight roads. 

I must have gone to Abita dozens of times from Covington thinking that when I was driving into the town past the school I was driving west to east. Instead, in actuality, I was traveling from north to south past the school because of the slight curves in the road. This caused some problems, as the following Tammany Talk column from 1973 explains:

Click on the text above to make it larger and more readable.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Covington Junior High Girls Basketball- 1962

This group portrait features the Girls Basketball Team at Covington Junior High in 1962.  Click on the image to make it larger. 

Chinchilla Fur A Promising Business

Interest in raising chinchillas and rabbits for their fur was at a high peak in 1929, as St. Tammany Parish breeders organized. Click on the image to make it larger. 

See also:

Chinchilla Business Now Established

Monday, August 27, 2018

Vintage Court

A recent visit to the Vintage Court special event venue on Hwy. 25 north of Covington revealed one of the most massive oak trees. Here are some pictures of the giant oak located in the patio on the north side of the Vintage Court building, which used to be the church at St. Gertrude's Convent. 

Click on the images to make them larger. 

See also:

St. Tammany Loves Oak Trees

Reunion Group Makes Plans

Members of the Covington High graduating class of 1968 (some 50 years ago) met at Abita Roasting in Covington Monday morning to further develop plans for their 50th year reunion. 

Here's a picture. Just click on it to make it larger.

The reunion festivities are scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 22, at Vintage Court north of Covington. Efforts will also be made to attend and be recognized at the Friday night CHS Football Game. 

Sally Lee Core: Outstanding Athlete

In 1936 Lyon High student athlete Sally Lee Core was getting quite a bit of attention in the sports press about her sports abilities. Click on the images to make them larger. 

She even made the December 27, 1936, issue of the Syracuse -American newspaper.

Sally Lee Core

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Covington High Students - 1918

Two groups of students at Covington High School posed for these photograph in 1918, one hundred years ago. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Fire Department Honors Newell Frosch

This article and picture appeared in the St. Tammany News Banner 28 years ago. Click on the image to make it larger. 

See also:

Frosch Barber Shop

Friday, August 24, 2018

100 years ago this week

What was going on 100 years ago this week?

CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer of August 24, 1918. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Where Did The Name Lacombe Come From?

In the mid-1970's Polly Morris wrote an article about how the community of Lacombe possibly got its name. 

Click on the article below to make it larger and more readable.

Lacombe has its own museum, two schools, a couple of churches, a VFW Post and its own volunteer fire department.  

An early picture of students at Chahta-Ima Elementary School