Thursday, February 28, 2019

Folsom Map in the 1920's

In conjunction with Folsom's Centennial Celebration, a map of the town as it appeared in the 1920's was produced with the help of Vera Jenkins. Click below to view the map.

To view a larger version, CLICK HERE and then click again on the map that appears.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

1922 Bus Schedule

Here is the bus schedule for St. Tammany towns and vicinity for December, 1922. Click on the image to make it larger. 

A 1920's bus, not necessarily St. Tammany, though

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

History of Covington

From an article in the 1982 edition of the Greater Covington Chamber of Commerce annual magazine comes this concise history of the town of Covington:

The history of the establishment of St. Tammany Parish and the City of Covington is inextricably interwoven in the account of the acquisition of the Louisiana territory. Originally the area now known as St. Tammany was a part of the Biloxi District of the Louisiana province. 

When France lost all of her territory on the American Continent to England, the British designated the area of part of the Manchac District of British West Florida.

Following the American revolution when the Spanish forces at New Orleans joined with the American colonies, the St. Tammany Parish area was taken over by Spain and called the Chiffonta District of Feliciana. It remained as such for some thirty five years. Following the Louisiana purchase by the United States in 1803, the inhabitants of Spanish West Florida rebelled and in 1808 petitioned the United States for admittance into the Union.

In 1810 this territory was annexed to the United States, and Feliciana was divided into three parishes, Feliciana, St. Helena and St. Tammany.

The Parish seat was established at Claiborne, opposite Covington, on the Bogue Falaya River. After ten years, the Parish Seat was moved to Covington by the Legislature and the present courthouse was established in 1838.

Covington was founded by John Wharton Collins, a New Orleans merchant, who migrated from Philadelphia soon after the Louisiana Purchase. Collins purchased the original town site of some 1600 acres lyinc in the forks of the Tchefuncte and Bogue Falaya Rivers from Jacques Drieux who had acquired the land by grant from the Spanish government. 

The purchase was completed by notarial act on May 16. 1813 before M. dc Armas, Notary Public of New Orleans. It conveyed 40 arpents front, 40 arpents deep on the other side of Lake Pontchartrain in the Bogue Falaya District, and fronting on said Bayou, being four miles from the confluence of the bayou, and River Tchefuncte, about fifteen miles from Lake Pontchartrain, and containing 1600 arpents by accession.

Collins immediately subdivided a portion of the site into streets and lots, calling his development the Division of St. John of Wharton. Other divisions of the town were St. Albert, St. Mary, Sumner, St. Williams, Gilmore, St. Anne, Good Government, St. George, Gratitude and St. Thomas. 

The Legislature granted the community a charter on March 11, 1816 and changed the name from Wharton to Covington in honor of General Leonard A. Covington, a hero of the War of 1812.

Monday, February 25, 2019

St. Tammany's 11 Historic Bridges

In 2015 the La. Dept. of Transportation and Development published a 224-page report on the "historic bridges" of Louisiana. Eleven of those named were located in St. Tammany Parish. 

The report was entitled "Crossing the Bayou: Louisiana's Historic Bridges." Here are some text excerpts and photographs from that report. The portion of the document that deals with bridge types and St. Tammany bridges can be read as a PDF File by CLICKING HERE.

The "historic" bridges of St. Tammany parish are listed beginning on page 175 of the document.

A map of historic bridges of interest in St. Tammany Parish  

According to the report, the 11 bridges are the following:

U.S. 190 bridge over Bayou Lacombe in Lacombe
U.S. 90 bridge West Pearl River between Rigolets and Pearlington
U.S. 90 bridge over Middle Middle Pearl River
U.S. 90 bridge over West Middle Pearl River
U.S. 90 bridge over East Pearl River at Pearlington
U.S. 90 bridge over East Middle Pearl River
U.S. 11 bridge (overpass) over train tracks north of Slidell
La. 36 bridge (overpass) over abandoned train tracks west of Hickory
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bascule Drawbridge
Belle Terre Blvd. bridge over drainage canal in Mandeville

From the report:

"Louisiana’s historic bridges are an important part of the state’s transportation and cultural history. With approximately 40 percent of all wetlands in the United States and nearly 4,000 miles of navigable waterways, Louisiana’s engineering history, maritime heritage, and important industries like fishing and oil refining are linked historically to the bridges that cross our rivers, bayous, channels, and canals to facilitate transportation. 

St. Tammany has eleven bridges of historic preservation interest, according to the state highway department's "Crossing the Bayou: Louisiana's Historic Bridges" report. 

Louisiana has more wetlands than any other state. It contains 11,000 square miles of flood-plain; 7,800 miles of coastal swamps, marshes, and estuarine waters; countless streams, lakes, canals, spillways, and artificial waterways; and is traversed by five major navigable rivers.

Bridges are important connections in Louisiana’s transportation history and engineering heritage, spanning the state’s many bodies of water. Historically, the development of bridges in Louisiana was highly influenced by two important factors that remain relevant to this day. 

First, the state’s topography and environment created difficult conditions for bridge designers and builders. The state’s abundant waterways and unstable soil, particularly in southern areas, posed great challenges to bridge construction. 

Second, the state’s bridge history is closely tied to the development of road networks throughout the twentieth century. Creating and facilitating a reliable transportation system led to the construction of several uncommon bridge types and variations customized for certain site conditions unique to Louisiana.

Few bridges were built in Louisiana prior to the twentieth century. Steamboats and ferries utilized the state’s network of waterways to provide transportation. Interest in improved roads began in the late nineteenth century and rapidly accelerated with the introduction of the automobile around the turn of the twentieth century. Known as the Good Roads Movement, this interest was driven by public demand for better road conditions and a more efficient road network."

Here are a few photos of St. Tammany bridges from the report.

The total number of bridges in St. Tammany Parish is 355, according to TRIP, a national transportation research group. 

See also:

Lake Pontchartrain Causeway

Pearl River Gateway To The Mississippi Gulf Coast

Bridgehunter: Bridges of St. Tammany

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The History of Folsom

Twelve miles north of Covington is the Village of Folsom, surrounded by thoroughbred horse farms and plant nurseries, a crossroads of commerce, and home to two spirited schools.

Though a relatively new St. Tammany town, its history is unique. It began as an end-of-the-line railroad town, where timber and lumber were the chief resource and product. As it grew, bricks and tung oil were added to its exports.

Aerial Photo of Folsom - 1975, by Ron Barthet
Click on images to make them larger.

I visited the town library branch earlier this week, and they were very gracious in sharing their scrapbooks full of information about the community, the issue files of its two newspapers, the numerous clippings from Covington newspapers over the years, and most of all, its comprehensive body of documents gathered during the village's Centennial Celebration 15 years ago in 2004.

The library offered so much information, in fact, that I would suggest that anyone interested in the history of Folsom should just clear their schedule for a few hours and go there to peruse the scrapbooks, picture albums, and history reports. 

They have a copy of the special section put out by the St. Tammany Farmer back in 2004 to help mark the 100 years anniversary of the town, as well as collections of the ongoing weekly columns by local writers chronicling the hopes and dreams, trials and tribulations, and family connections of prominent citizens from all walks of life.

Folsom has had its share of famous folks and local politicians, artists, librarians, and others. There was even a book written about the town to commemorate the Centennial, and a pictorial map of the village that I drew up to suggest what the town looked like 100 years before. 

The hard cover history book written by Davice Bice (2004). The Village of Folsom, Louisiana: A Centennial Celebration.Heritage Publishing Consultants, Inc, Clanton, AL

The pictorial map of Folsom as it was in 1903

An extensive history of the Village of Folsom was compiled for the community's "Comprehensive Master Plan: Vision 2030" published in 2010 by Villavaso & Associates, LLC

Here is the text of that document's history section:

Incorporation of Folsom

By 1880, the area that is now the Village of Folsom was occupied by several  families.    As  recorded  in the 1880  United  State  Census, adults  in  Folsom were  listed  either  as  farmers  or  a  housewives.  At the time St. Tammany continued to be mostly virgin forestland and land used for cultivating crops.  The parish was traversed by trading routes, including Holmesville Road, which were dirt roads that were maintained by the  St. Tammany Police  Jury. 

Police  Juries  were  the form  of  local  governmental  the  time  and  semi-annual  meetings were  held  in  January  and  July.    Often,  the  Jury would wait  3-4 days before  a  quorum  was  present  to  begin  the  meetings,  and  meetings would last up to six days. 

Land in the area   was   available   for   homesteading under the Recovery and  Reclaims  Acts  of  1855 and  1857,  averaging  about $1.25  per  acre.  Between  1868  and  1886,  over  3,200  new  acres  of land  were  homesteaded,  in  1887  another  2,500  acres  of  land,  and between 1888 and 1897, another 4,000 acres of  land   was homesteaded  in the  Folsom  area.   

Amidst  this  growth  in  new landowners, Native American tribes still lived and traded.  It  was  in  1904,  when  George  M.  Fendlason  and  his  brother  Hines Norman  filed for  a  plat  of  survey,  that  Folsom  became  a  village, which became known for  its  towering pines  and  its  rolling  hills.    Folsom  earned  its  name  from  President Grover Cleveland’s wife, Frances Folsom Cleveland, an icon for working  women  at  the  time.    

One  of  the  first  lots  was  sold  in Folsom in November 1904.  In 1881, work began on the Northshore’s railroad.  Completed in 1887, this  railroad  connected  New  Orleans  to  St. Tammany Parish, including Slidell, Lacombe, Mandeville, and Abita Springs.  By 1888, Covington was connected and by 1905, the East Louisiana Railroad had laid  tracks  down  and  built  a  depot  on  what  is  now  Railroad Avenue in Folsom. 

During  this  time,  the  principle  crops of  the area were  cane, cotton, rice, and  corn,  but  through  the  railroad and  with  the  abundance  of local  pine,  Folsom  was  also  known  as  a  logging  community. 

 In 1885,  eggs  cost  20  cents  a  dozen,  coffee  20  cents  a  pound,  cheese 10 cents a pound, and haircuts 20 cents.

By 1908, as reported by the St.  Tammany  Farmer,  the  Village  had  grown  to  include  several prosperous merchants, including a general merchandise store, drug store,   a  barbershop,   a   meat   market,   a   brick   company,   a   gin company,  and  what  was  said  to  be  one  of  the  best  hotels  in the area.

 In  1915,  the  Village  of  Folsom  was  incorporated,  however  Folsom did  not  have  enough  revenue  to operate  as  an incorporated  village between 1928 and 1947. 

Folsom was re-incorporated in 1947, and it was then that Folsom’s municipal government was established with William P. Dyess becoming the first mayor and Hayden Lavinghouse the first policeman. 

The Louisiana State Tobacco Tax of 1947 provided the much needed tax revenue for the Village. 

By  1938,  the  New  Orleans  Great  Northern  Railroad,  successor  to the   East   Louisiana   Railroad,   had   ceased  operating   the   railway through  Folsom.    Although the  right  of  way had  been dedicated  to public use in 1904, the rail company sold its land in the right of way.  

 Between  1938  and  1967,  Railroad  Avenue  was  occupied  by  various single-family homes.  It was not until 1964, when the Village filed a lawsuit  to determine  rightful  ownership  of  this  right  of  way  that Railroad  Avenue  returned  to  the  Village.    It  is  now  home  to  the police station and library.  In  1950,  St.  Tammany  Parish  had  a  total  population  of  26,988.  

Click here for Folsom Aerial View - 1954

Regional Growth and Folsom, 1950s –2000

It was in the 1960's that St. Tammany Parish began to see moderate growth  from  NewOrleans  residents  moving  to  the Northshore.  Until  that time,  the  parish  had  been  largely  sheltered  from  rapid growth, allowing its municipalities the ability to maintain their ways of  life  and  regional  cultures  well  into  the  20th century.    Growth  in the western and northern areas of the parish in the 1960s, including in Folsom, was less dominated by commuters from the Southshore. 

In  the  1970s,  growth  on  the  Northshore  really  took  hold.    Despite this growth in the southern and eastern areas, Folsom has remained a quaint and small town.  Folsom  established  its  first  Zoning  Commission  in  the  mid-1970s.  The  commission,  whose  purpose  it  was  to  protect  property values, created  a  300-foot  commercial  zone  along  both  sides  of  Highways 25 and 40.

History of the Local Economy

Climate  and  soil  have  always  been  the  backbone  of  Folsom’s economy  and  it  is  from  these  local  virtues  that   the people  of Folsom  have  found  established  their  high  quality  of  life  and  small town  atmosphere.    The  land  in  Folsom  was  first  farmed. 

With  the arrival  of  railroad,  lumber,  tar,  and  turpentine  became  the  locally exported products.  This was then replaced by tung nut farming and finally,   the   growth   of   the   local   plant   nurseries.  Horse   farms compliment   the   nursery   economy   in   Folsom   and   these two industries are what Folsom is known for today.

The virgin forests surrounding Folsom originally initiated interest in the timber industry in the early 20th century.  In 1902, the Greenlaw Lumber Company, Ltd. was established in Covington and operated as  a  mill,  manufacturer,  and  distributer  of  lumber,  with  business connections   to   operating   mercantile   and   shipping   businesses.  Other  local  lumber  mills,  turpentine,  and  tar  companies  included Jones  and  Picket,  Ltd.  (est.  1903),  Frederick  and  Joseph  Salmen’s lumber   company,   Holliday   and   Ray,   Covington   Naval   Stores Company,   the   Frederick   and   Singletary   Company,   and   Great Southern Lumber.  

Koepp Lumber Mill

In  the  early  1900s,  many  of  the  local  residents were  subsistence farmers, growing what they needed to clothe and feed themselves, including  crops  such  as  cotton,  corn,  cane,  strawberries,  grapes, and  tomatoes. Local  families  helped  each  other  in  their  fields picking cotton and strawberries and cane was processed into syrup.  

Turpentine,  made  from  the  sap  of  the  pine  trees  that  were  so abundant  in  the  area,  also  created  the  need  for  local  turpentine mills  to  be  developed,  with  this  industry  dying  down  in  the  1930s.

 In  the  1940s,  the  pine  tree  limbs  left  by  lumber  companies  were gathered and used to make tar in the local tar kilns.  Some  sought  work  in  other  nearby  towns  and  in  the  City  of  New Orleans.    Domestic  work  and  sewing  jobs  were   often  held  by women to supplement the family income.  Land cleared for lumber around Folsom provided grazing land for cattle and sheep.

A  short,  but  important  industry  in  the  history  of  Folsom  was  the tung oil industry, a key ingredient in lacquer, paints, and varnishes.  This industry  came to Folsom via  the US government in anticipation of WWII, because the oil was used in the paints used on naval  ships.    In  the  local  climate,  the  nuts  thrived  and  tung  oil became  a  short, but  major business between  1945 and  1965.   Tung farms  in  Folsom  spurred  the  development  of  processing  plants  in nearby   towns,   including   Bogalusa   and   Franklinton.     

Although relatively   short   lived,   this   industry   was   important   enough   for Folsom’s economy that it inspired a Tung Oil Festival and Beatrice “Sally” Core was the first Tung Oil Queen.  Winter freezes from 1955   to   1959,   lower   cost   imports   from   Argentina,   and   the development   of   acrylics   delivered   a   blow   to   this   economy   in Folsom.  One  of  the  largest  tung  oil  land  holders,  Louis  Chenel  of Normandy  Farms, converted his  1,000   acres   to  housing development, foreshadowing the influx of retirees to the area. 

Landscape Nurseries

Throughout  this  varied  economic  history  tied  to  the  land,  there have always been nursery businesses in Folsom.  Magee’s Folsom Nursery,  Evergreen  Nursery,  Midway  Nursery,  Mizell  Nursery,  and Holly Point  Nursery,  all  owned  by brothers  Dallas  and  Price  Magee and  various  family  members,  were  the  first  nurseries  in  Folsom. 

The  heritage  of nurseries has been passed down since.  Jim’s Nursery,  Hillside  Nursery,  Yates  Nursery,  Brumfield  Nursery,  Burris Nursery, McKee’s Nursery, and Green Thumb Nursery are just some of  the  nurseries  that  have  contributed  to  the  heritage.

Folsom Area Nurseries in 1975
“The industry had two major advantages in the Folsom area" according to Clarence  Mizell.  "Soil  and  faithful  workers  made  the  business successful.”

Local   resident   and   owner   of   Savannah Spring Nursery in the 1980s, Robert “Buddy” Lee developed the “Encore Azalea” which is sold worldwide.   Folsom’s nurseries have had an impact nationwide.  Floyd Magee, the  son  of  Dallas  Magee,  first  sold  nursery  products  by  mail  order and provided Montgomery Ward with all of its catalogue sales.  The “Weeping Yupon” tree was also developed in Folsom. 

Local nursery owners Jack and Doris Yates Magee sold plants to Sears for resale and to Phillips Petroleum for landscaping around gas stations.   Folsom   continues   to   be   the   center   of the   nursery businesses in Louisiana.  In October 2003, Folsom hosted the South East Louisiana Nursery Association meetings for the second time. 

Young Thoroughbreds

In addition, thoroughbred  racehorses  and  equestrian  activities play  another critical role  in Folsom’s economy.  According to local resident Jimmy  Erwin,  good  local  drainage,  north  of  Bennett  Bridge  Road, provides solid footing for training horses.  

It was Jimmy Erwin’s father Andrew “Red” Erwin, the first president of the  Louisiana Thoroughbred  Association,  who  was  instrumental  in  bringing  the horse business to Folsom by developing the first horse farm on land defunct  from  the  tung  oil  industry. 

The Broken R Ranch

In  1958,  he  opened  Broken  R Ranch. Erwin,  with  State  Senator  B.B.  “Sixty”  Rayburn  was influential  in  getting  the  Louisiana  Legislature  to  create  incentives through  the Louisiana agricultural  program  for  breeding thoroughbreds in Louisiana.  Races at the New Orleans Fairgrounds and  at  Louisiana  Downs  in  Lafayette  have  supplemental  purses for Louisiana   bred   horses   and   each   racetrack   must   have   three Louisiana bred horse races each day.

Local horse farms have contributed greatly to Folsom’s economy, employing   local   residents   and   becoming   known   for   their   fine training.    A  stable  fire  in  1966 caused  the  Broken  R.  Ranch  to rebuild  and  upgrade  their  stables  to  ones  with  open  sides  to  allow breezes  in  to  lessen  the  summer  heat.    

Other  ideas  brought to Folsom  and  cultivated  as  part  of  the  local  horse  culture  included rehabilitation  pools  and  horse  training  centers  where  horses  could be housed over longer periods of time and thus be able to get used to  other  horses  and  the  track  on  which  they  trained.    

Each  owner who bought shares in the training center was allowed to build their own  twenty-stall  barn  and  local  trainers  and  jockeys  are  readily available.  The  largest  horse  training  facility  in  Folsom  and  the  largest  full service  thoroughbred farm in  Louisiana  is  the  300-acre  Clear  Creek Stud  Farm.  Owner  of  the  farm  Val  Murrell’s  granddaughter expressed that life on the farm was “like a picture postcard and I’m in it.”

Clear Creek also serves as a rehabilitation center for injured thoroughbreds, with numerous full and part time employees taking care of injured horses.   As  with  the  nurseries  influence  and  exportation  across  the  United States, Folsom’s horse industry play an important role nationwide in  thoroughbred  culture.   

In  addition  to  the  thoroughbred  culture, Folsom  is  known  for  its  equestrian  industry,  with  show  horses  and jumpers raised locally.  

The New Orleans Polo Club is active in the area. Click here for a link to its website. 

Folsom Today

Folsom  today  is  dotted  with  small  businesses  along  Hwy  25.  J.C. Pittman’s  store  and  gas  station  is  no  longer  there,  but  Gus’ Restaurant  and  a  New  Orleans  style  bakery  have  become  local staples. 

Most  residents in  Folsom  have  long  family  roots  here.    Today, continuing in its tradition of valuing open space and a connection to the   land,  Folsom  is   known  for  its   thriving   plant  nurseries   and beautiful  horse  farms.   

The  countryside  outside  of  Folsom  is  home to  exotic animal  farms,  including  emu  and  ostrich,  and  reserves, including  the  Global  Wildlife  Center  in  Tangipahoa  Parish,  which sits on  land once  used  by the  lumber  industry. The  Global  Wildlife Center is a major educational facility and critical in the preservation of various species.  

 This was the end of the Comprehensive Plan: Vision 2030 history narrative.

In an April, 1986,  history class report entitled "The Founding Fathers of Folsom," Pat Carr wrote that while the Folsom area is "not very densely populated,  but is presently showing a great increase." She attributed that growth in population to an increase of influence by New Orleans landowners. At that time, the village had a new "supermarket" and even a few subdivisions.

"Hopefully, this will not destroy the friendly country atmosphere that Folsom has always had," she said.

Here is an excerpt from her account:

Norman Feldlason was one of the homesteaders of the area around Folsom.   His family was one of many that came to the Florida Parishes in the 19th century from the Carolinas and Georgia. His parents, John Fendlason and Katie McLain, were married in South Carolina in 1830. Five years later, in 1835, they moved west with their children, Daniel,  Margaret and John Jr.,  and with Katie expecting her fourth child, Flora.

On October 15th, 1841, she bore twins, Elizabeth and Norman. In the winter of 1845-46 the Fendlasons moved to Taylor Creek, a tributary of the Tchefuncte River and in present day Tangipahoa Parish above Louisiana Highway 16. The family farmed here that year and in 1847 John got a job working at Harper's Saw Mill. 

In 1881 Faye Carr, Norman's great granddaughter,  found the old Fendlason cemetery where John and Katie are buried. Located deep in the woods along Taylor Creek, it is small and has only a couple of graves.

Norman married Mary Core on November 15,  1860.   She was from the Covington area, and they built a house in Alma a few miles west of what is today Folsom.   He was very active in the community.   He served in the War of the Confederacy, was a member of the Police Jury, as well as a member of the Parish School Board. From 1894 to 1898 he was Superintendent of Education for St. Tammany Parish.

Norman and Mary had four children. The last two were Hines Norman, born November 12, 1872, and George Martin, born September 1,  1875.    George married Nettie Rogers on January 17,  1895, and Hines married Neva Rogers,  Nettie's sister,  on March 6, 1898.

These two brothers were very influencial in the area. George and Hines did a lot of buying and selling of land and timber rights.    They were also involved in many other business ventures, including being partners in a turpentine business in the late 1800's. The Naval stores industry was an important part of the economy of St. Tammany Parish as far back as the 1730's. The abundance of pine trees provided sap needed to make tar, pitch and resin.    These products were used on the hulls of wooden ships to keep them from leaking.

End Of The Line Right-of-Way

In 1901 the Fendlason brothers sold all of their interests in their turpentine business to a larger company, Holiday and Ray. The Fendlasons had realized that the Greenlaw Lumber Company was planning a railroad and had bought land where the tracks would terminate. They sold a right-of-way for the railroad to Greenlaw in 1902.

Norman Fendlason in 1902 built a heart of pine home near this right-of-way. It still stands today and is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Wilde, who planned to completely restore the home.

Seeing that the railroad could unify the community, the Fendlason brothers had an area surveyed for streets and lots and on June 8, 1904, they dedicated the new town of Folsom at the Covington courthouse.   Grover Cleveland was President of the Untied States at that time, and George Fendlason admired him greatly.   Cleveland had married Francis Folsom, at 21 the youngest first lady in the White House.    George is said to have named the town after her.

George sold lots in the town and the population grew very rapidly. Paul Verger had established a Post Office in 1892 at the 11 mile house. When the railroad came through it was combined with the Alma Post Office.   Mr. Verger went in a partnership with the Fendlason brothers.    George ran the general store and Paul ran the Post Office out of the same building.   

Fendlason and Verger became the largest mercantile business in Folsom, selling dry goods, groceries, hardware, all kinds of furniture, saddlery, farming and hunting supplies and many other necessities. There were several other businesses including a drug store,  a barber shop and other retail stores.  George built a hotel and livery stable and was mayor of the town for a long time.

With access to the railroad the new lumber companies opened up.    Folsom Export Lumber Company,  Inc. specialized in exporting high quality lumber to the German and British markets overseas. Other new industries were the brick and cotton market of New Orleans.   The Fendlason and Son Brick Company and the Folsom Gin Company were shipping out bricks and cotton to New Orleans in 1908.

This was a form of reciprocal trade comparable to other big cities and rural areas.    St. Tammany supplied food and raw materials, and New Orleans industries built furniture and fashioned clothing, some of which was shipped back to the north shore.

The deep pine forests were finally cleared to a point where the lumber companies began to fail, and the spur to Folsom was eventually abandoned and the tracks taken up.   Tung nut trees we grown on the cleared areas for the oil but did not last after the petroleum industry got going. Today Folsom is the center of a growing plant nursery industry.

The Fendlason family believed in hard work and totally abstaining from all intoxicants.   There are no Fendlasons left in Folsom but old folks in the town still remember them.    Norman Fendlason died October 8, 1937, at the age of 95 years, outliving his wife and all of his children.    George had gone to work for the state Highway Commission in Amite and died September 27, 1934.    Hines died January 19, 1930.    They are buried in the Fendlason Cemetery at Alma,  a few miles west of Folsom.

All of the other descendants no matter where they are, hold a special place in their heart for Folsom. I know because I am one of them. Hines Norman Fendlason was my mother's grandfather.

And thus ended Pat Carr's 1986 history report on the Founding Fathers of Folsom. 

Folsom's Original Library Building

A Plaque Honoring the Founder of the Folsom Branch Library
Ella Odetha Pittman
"Aunt Decie" 

The library branch today

See also:

Parish Library's History of Folsom

A map of Folsom in the 1920's

Village of Folsom Master Plan, 2010

Village of Folsom Website, About Us  

Folsom Oath of Office

 Folsom School Photos

 Folsom Village Officials Group Portraits

Other Folsom Pictorial Maps

Folsom in 1987

Folsom in 1995

See also:

The History of St. John The Baptist Catholic Church

Saturday, February 23, 2019

J.C. Pittman Memorial Fire Station Dedicated

Thirty-seven years ago, in 1982, the J. C. Pittman Memorial Fire Station was dedicated in Folsom. A newspaper article covering the event and giving detailed biographical information about J. C. Pittman featured the following photo and text. Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 

Folsom Fire Station Dedicated

FOLSOM — The Village of Folsom paid homage to one of its favorite sons Sunday afternoon when the Folsom Volunteer Fire Department's fire station was dedicated to the memory of J.C. Pittman.

Pittman, who passed away last year, was one of Folsom's leading citizens. He was also one of the men who helped build the Folsom Volunteer Fire Department, and actually had a hand in building the first fire truck owned by the department.

About 100 villagers turned out Sunday afternoon to honor the late fire chief, to inspect the three fire engines that make up the present department's firefighting machinery, and to reminisce about the man keynote speaker Brady Fitzsimmons characterized as "a soldier, a scholar, a family man, and a statesman."

The brief ceremony was introduced by David Pittman, son of the late chief and present Folsom Fire Chief. Pittman, obviously moved by the events of the day, said, "We are here to talk about a man who was the chief, who was my Dad, and who I loved very much."

Rev. Bill Bryant of the Folsom Baptist Church gave the invocation and benediction for the ceremony, and Jamie Pittman led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Fitzsimmons noted that although many government buildings have plaques on the walls naming them after someone, the Folsom fire station is different because it represents "the opportunity of the village to give something back to someone who gave it so much."

Most of the people of Folsom knew Pittman well, Fitzsimmons said, adding that, "if you came late to this community, you missed something special."

The designation "soldier, scholar, family man, and statesman" was appropriate for Pittman, and not just flattery, said Fitzsimmons.

As an American soldier in the Second World War, Pittman was captured by Germans in North Africa and spent some time in a prisoner of war camp.
Pittman was a searcher and adventurer, said Fitzsimmons, an honors graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University whose thirst for knowledge was never quenched. His fascination with and love for people is evident from the collection of photographs he left displayed in Pittman's Service Station.

Because of Pittman's deep involvement with the Folsom Volunteer Fire Department, said Fitzsimmons, the dedication of the station "is a living memory and not just a plaque." He noted that when the fire department bought its first truck, a 1947 Ford, in the 1960's, Pittman was one of the men who labored to adapt the machine for fighting fires.

"This building stands as a reminder that in giving we receive," said Fitzsimmons, "in pardoning we are pardoned, in death we are born."

"When we come by this," he concluded, "we should seek to be as generous as J.C. was generous."

A proclamation dedicating the fire station to Pittman was read by Folsom Volunteer Fire Department President Robert Boh.

Special guests recognized at the ceremony included Folsom Mayor Mary Ellen Armitage, Police Chief Ronnie Holliday, Bush Fire Department Chief Ed Duhe, Bush Fire Department representative Edward Salathe, L.S.U. Fireman's Training School representative Thomas Hebert, Lee Road Fire Department Chief Austin Dawsey, and Lee Road Fire Department representative Harold Dutsch.

Also in attendance were St. Tammany Parish Civil Defense Director Ansel Kern, La. Fire Marshal's representative Will Dane, LSU Firemen's Training Instructor Pete Rotando, Madisonville Fire Department representatives Rusty Wild and Allen Bouey, La. Fire Marshal's Office Investigator Merlin Flair, Veteran's Administration representative Guy Lund, and Fire District No. 4 Superintendent Emory Esquinance.

Also at the ceremony were Pittman's mother, Mrs. Decie Pittman, his wife, Mrs. Evelyn Blackwell Pittman, and his children, David, Mrs. Ann Pittman Smith, and Miss Jane Pittman.

Friday, February 22, 2019

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 February 22, 1919. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Weddings, deaths, notes from Onville and the Audubon community...

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Wilfred J. Glockner, Covington Businessman

A long time resident of Covington, Wilfred Glockner was born in the Mandeville area on February 6, 1914. He began his successful career as an entrepreneur in the business world immediately upon his high school graduation.

He first worked in the Taxi and Drayage business with his parents, Ruth and Henry Glockner.

Shortly after marrying Elrita Gomez on June 16, 1937, what Mr. Glockner describes as the "happiest day of my life," he purchased a Service and Automotive repair business and then acquired the dealership for Packard automobiles and Reo trucks. 

In addition, the Glockners began buying rental property and later buying and selling residences. Mr. Glockner personally financed residential sales for clients unable to get financing.

When Packard ceased building automobiles, Mr. Glockner started Wilfred Glockner Construction Company where he designed and built custom homes and commercial buildings. "I have been very successful with all of my business career," he said, appreciating the opportunities presented in the growing Covington area.

"I've always been a great supporter of civic activities in my community," he went on to say. Mr. Glockner's civic contributions are many and varied. He served as a 47-year member of the Board of Directors of Citizens Bank and Trust Company and was a Commissioner on Water Board No. 3 serving Riverwood and Covington Country Club subdivisions for 20 years. In addition, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus for 45 years and the Covington Rotary Club for 47 years.

"I will always be grateful for the good education that I received at Lyon High School," he said. "It was the best Public School in the Great USA, which put me on the right path to enter the business world."

A good education and setting goals was his recipe for success. "My philosophy for a great life, be optimistic and set your goals high," he stated.

Wilfred John Glockner passed away on July 7, 2009, at the age of 95 years. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Abita Springs Businesses 1919

Here is information about two Abita Springs businesses in 1919, as published in the St. Tammany Farmer special business edition of January 11. 

Click on the image to make it larger. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Experimental Farm

In 1919 an article appeared in the Farmer telling about the Houlton Brothers Experimental Farm in Uneedus. The Houlton family was big around the Madisonville area, and there was much excitement about their large farming operation starting up in the Uneedus area, just west of Folsom. Click on the article below for more information about that endeavor.

From the description, it sounds like the experimental farm may have been in the vicinity of the current Global Wildlife Center.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Abita Springs Music History

In the mid-1980's, Dr. Karl Koenig explored Abita Springs in his book detailing the history of jazz around the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. His research found many references to musicians and bands who had either frequented Abita or were from the town.

Dr. Koenig began his review of Abita Springs music history by giving a bit of general history of the community:

Abita Springs

The Choctaw Indians gave the name to this little village by natural springs. The Choctaw name 'Ibetab okla chit'o' means 'large settlement by the fountain.' Abita Springs was officially founded as a health resort around 1853. The town was incorporated in 1912.

"Unlike Mandeville, Madisonville, and Covington, Abita Springs didn't have access to the lake front, river front or the steamers on the lake. Those travelers that came to the Springs prior to 1887 came by horse and buggy. On July 2, 1887, the first train arrived in Abita Springs. A track had been laid from the pier in Mandeville to the Springs, bringing excursionists to Abita directly from New Orleans. 

"No longer would it take five and a half hours to make the trip. The decline of Abita as a health resort was hastened with a cure for yellow fever being found during the Spanish American War (the last outbreak of yellow fever was in 1905); the other reason being that the hydropathy itself was in decline in favor of more conventional medicine.

In the July 2, 1887 St. Tammany Farmer Newspaper, an article tells of the first train arrival in Abita:

"Arrival of first train to Abita Springs .... and the echo was lost in the lively strains of the brass band in the first car; 'Goodbye My Honey, I'm Gone,' which was probably intended as a significant greeting from the iron horse to the astonished ox teams standing around. The large pavilion, not completed, dancers disappointed - ready for 4th of July excursionists." (July 2, 1887)

"Dances were held at the pavilion and the editor of the newspaper made a trip to observe the activity. He wrote a very interesting account of what he saw and heard. Was the band he heard a style of music from which jazz evolved? Were the three musicians as bad as he reports? Were these musicians of the type that did not read music but learned on their own, without the benefit of a music teacher?"

The article went as follows: "Editor's trip to Abita Springs -- We paid a short visit to the pavilion where a number of young people were dancing - or trying to. We say trying to from observation; by their movements we could tell that some of them were good dancers - but the music? The band - imported from the city, consisted of a piccolo, guitar and bass viol. Shades of Paganini and Mozart. Was the music ever distracted with such a battery of discord and in harmonious sounds? Were the votaries of terpsichore ever exposed to such hardships as to time and intonation? We say no, not even by a discordant hand-organ." (July 26, 1887)

Active Town Full of Friendly People

Dr. Koenig continued his report by saying "the town of Abita Springs, from earliest accounts, was a very active town and its citizens, possessing great energy and pride, always tried to establish their town as one of the most hospitable and friendly towns. In 1887 the citizens of the town were aware of the potential Abita possessed and began working toward attracting excursionists and to "get in on the business boom." The town builds a new large dancing pavilion (June 18, 1887) and "dances are in abundance at the Long Branch (A hotel that was established in 1880 and burnt down in 1993), Frapperts, Conrads Hall, Crescent Colomos and Pelloat's House." (August 27, 1887)

Visitors flocked into Abita in the summer of 1892 according to the newspaper
s of that time, as the different hotels in Abita Springs "are rapidly filling up - Bossier House, Labats, Long Branch, Morans, Martins and Summers." The Summers House still exists, and is located on Live Oak Street. 

In 1893 there was not a town band and the Colomos Hotel hired the Covington Brass Band for a birthday party. The first mention of the Abita String Band was on July 14, 1894, in the following article from the Farmer: "Reception, July 6, at Mr. W. Gunther - serenade by Abita String Band."

Dr. Koenig then noted that in 1914, another article about the band explained that "the local band from Abita Springs playing dances, entertainments, etc. is first called the Abita String Band, then Martin's orchestra, and finally just the Abita Band.

A newly organized band will give serenades to outstanding citizens and newspaper editors so the band can receive publicity, and the Farmer editor reported on June 1, 1895, that the Abita String Band serenaded. "Abita Spring Band complimented us with a charming serenade Thursday night." The band also travelled to Covington on occasion and "discoursed sweet music in Covington last Monday

In late 1895, the Abita band played for a party and dance at Mrs. L. Clark's House. On January 2, 1897, the paper noted that the "Abita String Band treated their friends in Covington to a charming serenade Christmas Eve." On May 22, 1899, the band appeared again, this time at the Abita Dance Pavilion.

The next few years at the Springs find out-of-town bands playing at various functions including a July 20, 1901, grand entertainment and dance hosted by Fire Co. No. 2 "On July 27th is another dance with music by a New Orleans Band, music by Prof. H. Bruness of New Orleans." (July 6, 1901)

The Adams Band, a family band from New Orleans, plays a ball and entertainment in Abita, Dr. Koenig said, quoting the paper: "Abita Springs grand entertainment and ball. Mr. Fred W. Hover. The Adams Band furnished the latest music - opening the entertainment with an overture." (Sept. 28, 1901)

"The Ragans, a family living near Abita Springs with relatives in Ponchatoula, were a very musical family. The Ponchatoula branch of the family had an organized band and played for a party on Military Road on June 6, 1902. It was a surprise party at the home of Mrs. John Eberhardt. The band was accompanied by Mr. Amedee Guyol and others on the piano." 

 Eugene Morin, drummer of Abita Serenaders performing at Abita Springs, 1912-16,

Dr. Koenig said in his book that in 1892 was the first mention of Conrad's Hall when the Abita Springs Fireman have a grand entertainment and ball there (June 21, 1902). Another new hotel in town, called the Abita Springs Hotel, is opened that year, and a party travels from Covington for a dance there. Today there is only one cottage remaining, which is near Laurel and Groves Streets.

Another Farmer article states that The Ragan Brothers' Band (possibly from Ponchatoula) played a complementary ball on June 13, 1903, at the pavilion. Dr. Koenig also notes that in June of 1903 a Prof. Ricks brings a band to play for the yearly firemen's ball.

"What was life like in Abita around 1888? A visitor to Abita gave the following opinion: Breakfast at 9 ...then a ramble to the springs through the pine woods. Or if one was so inclined a quiet moment in the pavilion. At 3, Dinner, then rest and leisure or perhaps a game of croquet or music in the parlor. After supper, we have a regular pitch in for a jolly good time. . .with music and entertainments. The whole concluding with a merry country dance."

Excursion Entertainments

Dances continued in 1904 with the opening of Mutti's Hotel, according to Dr. Koenig. That hotel was located in the vicinity of Level and Warren Streets. There were frequent dances there. In another article, the paper states that Mandeville public schools have an excursion to Abita Springs and bring with them the Mandeville String Band. The band uses the bass viola player from Abita Springs.

A large excursion from the Parker/Blake Drug Co. of New Orleans chose Abita for an outing in June of 1905, and this is reported, including the name of the band that has accompanied them: "Parker/Blake Drug Co. outing at Abita Springs. After the ball game the waltzing contest was called at the pavilion. Excellent music being furnished by Sporor's City Park Band," Dr. Koenig explained.

The Abita Springs String band did play for a grand ball given at the UFBA Hall in Madisonville in December with music furnished by the Abita String Band. They next play for a ball at Pythian Hall, Dr. Koenig quotes the 1906 newspaper article by saying: "An enjoyable masquerade and fancy ball was given at Pythian Hall on Wednesday night, Feb. 21, by Mrs. Jenkins and Miss Rochenschub. There was a large attendance and all had a delightful time. The gay customers of the maskers presented an attractive scene and the dancing was continued until a late hour. The music was furnished by the Abita String Band." (March 5, 1906)

Original Dance Pavilion Collapses

"There was still a great deal of civic pride in the town of Abita and when the dancing pavilion (the original pavilion that was east of the present Sully pavilion) collapses, they unite to build another, Dr. Koenig's book stated. A new group is formed named the Abita Progressive Union to promote town pride and general welfare. An article of the time recounts: "The dancing pavilion at Abita Springs collapsed last Wednesday morning and is a total wreck. We understand that a handsome one will be erected to take its place." (July 17, 1906)

The Martin Orchestra

Dr. Koenig's book continues: "The name of Frank Martin begins to appear as the leader of an orchestra in Abita Springs. The orchestra first appears playing for the Abita Springs ladies' entertainment and dance on September 14th, 1908. Martin was the manager of one of the hotels in Abita and was a local resident. His name appears frequently in print and his groups play for many local functions. One such appearance was for the local 4th of July celebration."

Here is the news account of that event: "Abita Springs 4th of July. Martin's Abita Springs Orchestra - discoursed popular music." (July 11, 1908) The Martin Orchestra also plays for a dance for the Abita Social Club that met in the town hall that is today still being used. This was on July 18, 1908. Martin and Joseph Madden play for an informal dance at Bradley House on September 5th.

"After this entry we read the name of the Abita Springs Band but no longer find the Martin name mentioned," Dr. Koenig reported. "It is uncertain whether he moves away, or the band is no longer called by his name and becomes known as the Abita Springs Band.

Pavilion Updates

The dance pavilion at Abita is a key landmark of the history of music performances in the area, and Dr. Koenig tracks its use through a number of newspaper reports. "The center of activity and the landmark of Abita are the springs and park where the town pavilion is located. The earliest pavilion seems to have been in place in 1887, the one spoken about earliest as not being completed in time for the 4th of July celebration.

"There is a new pavilion built and is ready for use on September 26th, 1908. The town council votes to hire a concert band to play at the pavilion and hopes to secure local talent with a competent musician from New Orleans as the leader. Another news item: "Abita Springs - New pavilion near Springs. Funds to be raised to maintain a concert band on two evenings each week, where the best local talent will be gotten together under a competent musician from New Orleans." (Sept. 26, 1908)

"An outstanding band brought in to perform in Abita Springs in 1909 is the legendary Reliance Band of Jack 'Papa' Laine. Jack Laine's place in history is firmly set. His career is legendary in the annuals of New Orleans music history. Laine sponsored and ran a number of brass bands, each one called the Reliance Band. He led one of them and put competent musicians in charge of others. He booked them as Jack Laine's Reliance Band. The particular Reliance Band that played in Abita was under the direction of Tony Giardina.

The newspaper notes "Grand entertainment and ball to be given by Abita Pleasure Club on Sat. July 24, for the benefit of the school fund. Music furnished by the famous New Orleans Reliance Orchestra, E. Garina - leader." (July 17, 1909)

There is a follow-up story the next week on the ball: "The Reliance Band also was engaged to play a benefit for the Abita Fire Department. Usually the band received a guarantee payment, the sponsors figuring that a name orchestra would draw people in and they would make money. It was also usual that if a band made a good impression and drew a large crowd, the advertisement for an upcoming dance would mention how well the band was appreciated by a past dance crowd.

"Thus is the case with the next entry: Ball at Abita Springs, Pleasure Club benefit - Abita Fire Co. Music will be furnished by the celebrated Reliance Orchestra of New Orleans. This band is a great favorite with the people and made quite a hit at the ball given by the club in July last." (August 25, 1909)

"The Reliance Band is again hired for a dance on August 28th. The next resort/excursion season of 1910 sees the Pleasure club again hiring the Reliance Band for a grand ball on June 25th: Grand ball June 25th, in Abita Springs. The Abita Pleasure Club will give a grand ball at the pavilion Sunday, June 25th. Music by Reliance Orchestra of New Orleans. (June 18, 1910)

"Again, on July 30th, the Reliance Band plays for a grand ball in Abita. The last entry for the Reliance Band in Abita Springs in on September 16, 1911, when they play for a school benefit: Dance at Abita Pavilion Saturday night, 16th, for benefit of Abita Public School. The Reliance Band of New Orleans has been engaged." (Sept. 9, 1911)

Continuing with local musical activities and celebrations, Dr. Koenig told of plans being made for a Fourth of July celebration in Abita Springs. "We read that there is a parade in the Springs and the Covington Brass Band is one of the musical participants for this activity: Abita Springs - 4th of July - About 2:00 o'clock the members of Fire Co. No. 2 headed by grand marshal J. P. Rausch and the Covington Military Band marched from their headquarters in the town hall to the pavilion...Ball in evening ended at 12:00." (July 10, 1909)"

At a New Year's Eve Party at the DePriest's home the entry lists some names that were associated with music in Abita: "New Year's Eve at DePriests' - Among those who added greatly to the enjoyment of the evening by music and song were: Theo. Zinser, A. Bagriel, Paul Cazelot, Joe Koffler, E. D. Abadie, Charlie Spitzer, Mead Fontaine, Amadee Guyol, Bud Badon, Edward Marrero, Will Connaughton, and Arthur De Labreton." (Jan. 9, 1910)

While the Reliance Band played engagements in Abita during 1910 and 1911, it was the Brown Band that was the busiest. Beginning on May 21, 1910, the Brown Band/Orchestra began playing engagements in Abita:

"Grand Ball by Abita Fire Co. No. 2 at Abita Pavilion, Saturday, May 21. Music by the Brown Orchestra." (May 7, 1910)

Here is an extended excerpt from Dr. Koenig's book: Tom Brown was the leader of the above band which would become the first New Orleans Jazz Band to play in Chicago in 1915. In 1910, Brown entered negotiations with the Abita town council about playing at the pavilion: "Abita council meeting - communication from Brown's Band was read, relative to playing music twice a week at the pavilion. Committee appointed to confer with Mr. Brown and go into a contract." (March 18, 1910)

The council and Brown reached an agreement and the band begins a long stay at the town's pavilion. Weekly ads appear in the newspaper. Brown's Band played each Wednesday and Saturday night at the pavilion along with a vaudeville show and concert.

The Ragan Band played a number of engagements in Abita: June 25, August 6, July 28, 1910, January 28th and Feb. 1, 1911.

The Mystic Club held a masquerade ball in Abita Springs on March 19, 1910, with music by the "Abita Band" that "received an encore when they played one piece." (March 19, 1910)

For the Abita Firemen's Day parade, three bands march: the Covington Band, the Abita Field Band, and the Brookhaven Military Band (May 14, 1910). This Abita Band may have been a "pick-up band" but there were enough musicians to get together a marching band for the parade. This mention of the Abita Field Band appears only once, thereby justifying the theory of a pick-up band."

Summer Season 1911

Dr. Koenig then told of the opening of the summer season 1911 in Abita and of the music and entertainment that was presented: "The opening concert and vaudeville on May 13, is a fore-runner of music and entertainment that will be at the pavilion in Abita during the summer. The music will be of the latest selections, furnished by Prof. Bentin, of New Orleans. Refreshments will be on sale. Every evening during the summer there will be free music and dancing for those who wish it." (May 13, 1911)

The Brown Band also played for other functions such as parties, house warmings, and balls: "House warming at Lamousin's. The Brown Orchestra was there and discoursed sweet music while the dancers enjoyed themselves." (March 18, 1911)

In 1912, the Brown Band still was engaged for functions in Abita. On February 3rd the band plays for a smoker at the Town Hall (part of this building is still standing - it was a two-story building with the school on top. The top floor has since been destroyed and it is now just a single story building.)On March 13, 1912, the band plays for a "grand fancy dress and masquerade ball at the town hall."

The Ragan Band receives employment at the Springs for dances on February 17, and February 24, 1912.

Baseball Park Dancing

In almost every baseball park Dr. Koenigh found that there was a dancing pavilion where dancing was held after the baseball game. "Abita Springs - Open ball park Sunday, 24th of May. To be dancing at the pavilion. Good band will furnish music." (May 23, 1912)

The band that furnished the music for the above baseball game was the Tardo Band of New Orleans. The town continues to provide music for the excursionists and local citizens as it announces a "free dance at Abita Springs, Sunday. The famous Christian Band of New Orleans will play their popular music." (Sept. 12, 1912)

Electric Lights Arrive

Near the end of September of 1914, electric lights make their first appearance in Abita Springs, Dr. Koenig reported in his history of jazz music. The coming of electric light was announced in the paper and a band and motion pictures were scheduled for the occasion:
"Electric lights in Abita Springs. The band - an excellent band from New Orleans will be in attendance from 2 at the pavilion and from 7-8 a motion picture and there will be dancing at the pavilion until midnight." (Sept. 26, 1914)

The motion picture theater was approximately where the small pavilion is now at the main intersection of Abita Springs. Though there is mention of an Abita Spring's Band in two entries-December 5th and December 12th in 1914, there are none for 1915 and 1916. These years are part of the pre World War I years.

It is not until August of 1916 when there is an entry about a dance at the pavilion "with music by a good New Orleans Band." During the war years in almost every small town the activities slow down and little is said about social events.

Airdome Theater

Dr. Koenig goes on to relate that on April 8, 1917, the opening of the Airdome Theater in Abita was celebrated with a big dance. It is interesting to mention that one finds, in most movie theaters of this era, the appearance of a dance floor.

The Airdome advertises the addition of a dance floor: "Opening of Airdome Theater - Abita Springs, April 8th - Big Dance. Picture show has been remodeled and enlarged and a fine dancing floor added." (April 7, 1917)

Social activity in Abita Springs is seldom mentioned in 1919. On July 5th we read of a big dance with a New Orleans Orchestra in Abita Springs. This orchestra was the Stephens Orchestra, another branch of Laine's Reliance Band.

The first entry using the word "jazz" to describe a band appears in the paper on July 24, 1920.

"Big dance at Palace Theater, Abita Springs. Music by a jazz band, July 25th, Sunday." (July 24, 1920)

Segregation was in existence during this era in American history and can be seen in two separate entries, as they state whether it is a white or colored band playing: "At Abita Springs Sunday night, Sept. 26th at 8 pm - an eight piece colored jazz band will furnish music." (Sept. 29, 1921)

"Dance - ad - At Abita Springs Sunday, June 26, music furnished by a seven piece white jazz band from New Orleans." (June 5, 1921)
"Abita Springs - a six piece colored jazz band from New Orleans will furnish music." (July 9, 1921)

The pavilion at Abita and the pavilion at Sulphur Springs in Covington were in competition and we find advertisements of the Abita Pavilion in the paper weekly: "Abita Springs - same classy jazz band. Dances every Saturday." (May 21, 1921)

The year 1922 was a very active year on the North Shore. In Abita Springs there are weekly dances advertised in the paper, such as "Big Dance at Abita Springs - jazz music and a good time awaiting all." (April 8, 1922).

We find the name of the legendary Buddy Petit playing for a dance in Abita Springs on April 30th: "There will be a big dance at Abita Springs, Sunday, April 30th. A jazz band from New Orleans. Be sure and come for a good time. Music will be furnished by Buddy Petit Jazz Orchestra from New Orleans." (April 29, 1922)

Picture of Buddy Petit Band
Photo from John Preble Collection

According to Dr. Koenig, Buddy Petit begins a busy summer in Abita in 1922, but it is the band from Bogalusa that receives much of the work in 1922. There is an organized brass band in Bogalusa as well as some smaller musical groups. The paper does not state which Bogalusa band it is in these early entries but does state that the Elks Band of Bogalusa plays several engagements in 1923. Mention of the "famous Bogalusa Jazz Band" in the July 1st paper might indicate the Claude Blanchard Band, which was also playing at the pavilion in Mandeville on other night of the week.

The brass band was reorganized as the Elks Band in late summer of 1922, so it must have been Blanchard's Jazz Hounds that play in Abita for a dance on February 11, July 2nd, and Sept. 16, 1922. Buddy Petit does play one other job in Abita on July 30th. The entry is an interesting one: "Big dance at Abita Springs July 30th. O boy oh joy! There will be another big dance at Abita Springs on July 30th. Music will be furnished by Buddy Petit's Jazz Hounds." (July 22, 1922)

This ad appears in the July 29th paper. Petit seldom called his band by any name except his own but agents have called it the "Black and Tan' Band and the "Eagle" Band. This is the first I have heard it called the "Jazz Hounds." I think that the paper just wanted to name it and thought that the name "Jazz Hounds" seemed current and apropos.

"The larger Elks Brass Band of Bogalusa plays in Abita Springs on July 22, 1923, and for dancing at the pavilion on July 29th. This pavilion is the Cotton Centennial Pavilion and is still standing today. This band, formally the town band of Bogalusa, when funds were unavailable from the town, was taken over by the Elks club and played for local dances in Bogalusa and at the different fairs and occasionally dances such as the ones mentioned," Dr. Koenig explained.

"In 1924 Morgan's Spa is opened with a "fine dancing platform" and the Abita mayor, who also runs the famous Lyric Theater in New Orleans, brings his orchestra and his celebrated Minstrels to entertain at his inauguration celebration (July 19, 1924). When the rail cars were scrapped after World War I, the station in Abita that was the terminal of the rail route from Mandeville, was also destroyed. In its place was erected Morgan's Spa, with a large pool for swimming and a dance pavilion, both of which still exists and is on the property now owned by the descendants of the late Senator Allen Ellender. The property is on the southwest corner of Abita where Highway 59 turns sharp right into Level Street."

In Abita Springs, 1925 belongs to Buddy Petit. He is advertised in the paper each week and plays each Sunday and Wednesday at the Abita Pavilion. From February 15th to July 26th, Petit and his band play in Abita. There are jazz bands advertised after July 26th that could also be Petits' but no names are given. The band plays for other functions that do not occur on the nights the band is playing at the pavilion. This is probably the time that Petit lived in a one-room shack in the woods in Mandeville. (See Don Albert's interview in the Tulane Jazz Archives, New Orleans.)

Dances continued in Abita with other bands being engaged. "The Dixie Sunrise Orchestra" of New Orleans. (July 24, 1926), and "The Melody Jazz Orchestra" (April 16, 1927). The Melody Jazz Band is playing in Abita every Sunday night during the summer of 1927. While dance continue in 1928, the only band mentioned is the "Arabian Knights Band" of New Orleans. The band plays for the 14th of July (Bastille Day) in Abita.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and Abita Springs is now home to the Abita Springs Opry, a nationally-known music event with its own television program featuring roots and bluegrass music, as well as the annual "Busker" festival, which spotlights street performers who sing and play musical instruments. 

See also:

Abita Springs Busker Festival Facebook Page

Next Busker Festival is March 24, 2019 

Piney Woods Opry

WWL-TV Video On Abita Opry

Dr. Karl Koenig, Jazz Historian