Friday, January 31, 2020

100 Years Ago This January 31

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  January 31, 1920. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.

Courthouse Trees

Covington Airport proposed. It may sound "funny" but sending freight and carrying passengers by airplanes did, in fact, come to be a normal routine. 

Fair Association Charter

The Flu Epidemic

The Hip Theater, Mandeville

Visit To Houlton's Uneedus Farm

Road Improvements Throughout the Area

Society News

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Sunset at Nose Park

Here are some recent sunset pictures taken at Nose Park in Covington. Click on the images to make them larger. 

See also:

1st Avenue Park: Now Known As "Nose"

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Slidell Women's Club Celebrates 1971 Carnival

In 1971 the Slidell Women's Civic Club held its annual Krewe of Slidellians event, featuring a circus theme. Here is a picture of the main participants from 49 years ago along with some pages from the program for the evening. It was a gala affair, and dozens of people were named as having a part in the activity. Click on the images to make the print larger.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Pirates: Part Two -The King of Honey Island

Here's more detailed information on that infamous St. Tammany pirate known as The King of Honey Island. Situated in the extreme southeast corner of St. Tammany parish, Honey Island Swamp has had quite a reputation, both for wildlife and for pirates.

 This account of the activities of the infamous pirate Pierre Rameau was written by Edwina Grace Damonte Fredricks nearly 100 years ago. It was found in the Louisiana Digital Archives as a transcription project of the Works Progress Administration.

Pierre Rameau "The King of Honey Island" Emerges From the Dim Past

By Edwina Fredricks

The domain of the king of Honey Island has been until recently a hideout for fugitives from the law. Few know what its depths contain. A man who wished to disappear could lose himself in the Honey Island swamp as completely as if he had journeyed to the Brazilian jungle. With a gun, a fishing pole, a pirogue and a dog he could lead a primitive existence and be able to protect himself from the panther, bobcat, wild hog, Louisiana brown bear and snakes which inhabit this great swamp.

But the swamp awakens at nightfall, and the fear-ridden man who seeks concealment there will wish himself back in his prison cell or even stretched at the end of a rope. Strange cries will assail his ears- the screech owl, the specter-like query of the hoot owl, the croak of the bullfrog and tree frog and the blood-chilling scream of the panther.

Now, as in the old days, sections along the river and certain spots of high land are inhabited, but with this difference: The inhabitants of today are industrious and honest folk who fish, hunt and raise live stock for a living.

A white ribbon of concrete highway cuts through the center of the swamp, further violating one of the last great havens for wildlife still existing in Louisiana. Motorists, hurrying to and from the Gulf Coast along this highway, give scarcely a thought to the mystery that lies beyond their vision, and few realize that within this swamp once flourished one of the most daring and successful robber bands that ever operated in America.

The Best Known Pirates

Who has not heard of Jean and Pierre Lafitte, their daring piracy, the price put upon their heads by Governor Claiborne, and their subsequent pardon, granted for their assistance in the defense of New Orleans against Sir Edward Packenham's British soldiers? The Lafittes had many historians and as a consequence few people realize that the Lafittes formed but a small part of the number of daring, cruel, lawless men who operated in and around New Orleans in the 1800s.

Pierre Rameau, one of the most daring and colorful robbers in the history of American outlawry, flourished in the same years that the Lafittes were accomplishing their successful depredations on ships in the Gulf of Mexico.

Had the engagement between the forces of General Andrew Jackson and General Edward Packenham resulted in a British victory, the name of Rameau would have outshone that of the Lafittes in dark luster; for Rameau rendered the same type of service to the British that the Lafitte furnished Jackson.

Born In Scotland

A dashing, handsome fellow, born Kirk McCullough in Scotland, Rameau practiced his profession of robber and slave thief in Mississippi, Alabama and the Carolinas, bringing his lot into New Orleans for disposal. His base of operations and hide-out was on Honey Island and his band was known as the Chats-Huants (the Screech Owls).

In the swamps and along the lonely trails he was Pierre Rameau, but to the wealthy merchants and politicians in now Orleans he was "Colonel Loring," a cultured gentleman and soldier whose mysterious comings and goings were not investigated so long as their dealings with him were so profitable. He danced at the most exclusive balls of the wealthy Creoles and many a timid heart fluttered at the attentions of the handsome officer 'just home from a trip to his mines in Mexico!"

Louisiana, at this time, was a fledgling state, and the victim of a malady recurrent in its history. Lawlessness had insinuated itself into business and government. Anglo-Americans were cordially despised by the Latin Creoles, and four men cared to help the Americans fight their war with the British.

It was not until General Andrew Jackson, a typical Anglo-American came to rule the city with his rough, resolute and imperious will, that the heyday of the pirate and robber drew to a close, and the male populace of New Orleans was fused, in the host of defensive battle, into a city of American patriots.

Battle of New Orleans Challenges The Pirates

The careers of Rameau and the Lafittes reached their zenith in the decade prior to the Battle of New Orleans. In this historic event, Rameau met dishonor and death; Jean Lafitte and his band were honored as patriots. But, professionally, all found the ways to easy wealth closed or unprofitable and vanished from the American scene.

From Barataria Bay on one side to Honey Island on the other, New Orleans was hedged in with a cordon of outlaws. Rameau and the Lafittes divided the coast between them; to the westward of the Mississippi were the slave baracoons and outposts of the Lafittes. Eastward, along the bay of Saint Louis, Pearl River and in the heart of Honey Island, the mysterious Rameau operated. 

Unlike the Lafittes, who never pretended to be anything better than dealers in stolen goods, Rameau sought the society of persons of influence and culture, and played the part of a fine gentleman so well that he became a great favorite at balls and soirees.

Swamp Trails The Most Dangerous

We must remember that in those days there were no roads, no trains. A traveler came to New Orleans along narrow trails; or, if he lived along the Gulf coast, he made the trip by sailboat through Lakes Borgne and Pontchartrain. The best defined trail led from the west shore of the Bay of Saint Louis in a direction somewhat west of North through a wild country to the wilder region of the upper Pearl River.

This trail, which was known as the Blackwolf trail, had been a highway for the Indians as far back as tradition went, a road which led from their hunting grounds to tho breezy bluffs of the gulf, where they spent the hot season bathing, fishing, eating, smoking. But since the coming of the white man, the highway had been put to other uses: soldiers, horses and cannon; caravans of settlers, oxen, mules.

Little trails, meandering and less distinct, came into the Blackwolf trail on its way to the gulf, and he was an alert and experienced woodsman who could go among those entangling paths without bewilderment. In those days all of the ways of the wood were ways of danger.

Self-reliant freebooters rode beneath the pines and wide-sproading oaks. Treacherous and savage as were the Indians, they feared the "riders" and were glad to slink away whenever these cavaliers made their appearance.

Pearl River, as far up as Honey Island, afforded a waterway by which vessels could bear the plunder of the "riders" to New Orleans, by way of the Rigolets and Lake Pontchartrain. No small part of the traffic of the city at that time of lax government and corrupted politicians came from this and similar sources. 

New Orleans Surrounded by Pirates

With the Lafittes on one side and the confreres of Pierre Rameau on the other, New Orleans was fed by streams of ill-gotten wealth.

Scrutiny of Rameau's methods reveals that he and his Chats-Haunts did their boldest and most remunerative work at a long distance from their head­quarters on Honey Island. While it is true that no traveler or settler was entirely safe in its vicinity, this band obtained the greater part of their booty and slaves from Alabama, Tennessee and the Carolinas. 

This policy greatly aided wealthy and influential men in New Orleans to offer Rameau protection so long as the civil and military government was almost paralyzed in Louisiana, and those very protectors controlled, directly or indirectly, the government itself.

Politically powerful friends of Pierre Rameau exerted themselves to have "Colonel Loring" attached to Jackson's staff when that officer prepared for the defense of New Orleans against the British, and fortified their recommendation with the statement that "Loring" knew the whole country as a sailor-pilot knows his chart and was, besides, an officer of varied and successful experience in the service. General Jackson denied the request, and Rameau, returning to New Orleans from no one knows where, was just in time to be informed of Jackson's peremptory refusal.

"I do not need more staff officers or more officers of any kind," said the general. "If 'Colonel Loring' desires to fight for New Orleans, let him report to me at once with a gun."

Learning of the Lafitte's rejection of the British general's offer of pay to lead the attacking force to a strategic position against Jackson's army, Rameau communicated with the enemy and found no difficulty in obtaining the favor of General Packenham, who recognized him as one who had done him a great and dangerous service years before. Moreover Rameau brought with him perfect maps and drawing of all American defenses and full descriptions and reports of all the troops under Jackson and the probable order of their distribution.

Wounded During the Battle

Rameau was critically wounded in the Battle of New Orleans and fled the battlefield. Wounded in the body and in both arms, he still had the use of his feet and made his way to the nearby plantation home of a Creole friend whose wife and family had been sent there for safekeeping in the erroneous belief that the British would attack from another direction. 

Battle of New Orleans. Image from a  recent history book

There Rameau was pursued by a former associate named Vasseur, who had suffered at his hand in earlier days and who left the pursuit of the fleeing British to others and bent his steps in the direction taken by Rameau to settle his personal grudge.

Entering the parlor of the plantation home where Rameau was being attended by the ladies, Vasseur, in his wild wrath, draw a dagger and sprang at Rameau, shrieking, "Die, Pierre Rameau, die, die!" But Pierre Rameau had heard such commands before.

"Fool," was all he said; and raising with the promptness of a steel spring, he kicked the little man through the open doorway.

Vasseur arose, put his hands to his crushed chest, tottered for a few paces and sank to the earth, still in death. Rameau turned and passed through the house without a word and was soon lost in the depths of the wood.

There his body was discovered and brought to New Orleans by one of his Creole associates and interred in a heavy brick tomb under a spreading oak.  His grave for a time bore a tablet with a simple description, the words with which this article began:

"The domain of the king of Honey Island has been until recently a hideout for fugitives from the law. Few know what its depths contain. A man who wished to disappear could lose himself in the Honey Island swamp as completely as if he had journeyed to the Brazilian jungle. With a gun, a fishing pole, a pirogue and a dog he could lead a primitive existence and be able to protect himself from the panther, bobcat, wild hog, Louisiana brown bear and snakes which inhabit this great swamp.

"But the swamp awakens at nightfall, and the fear-ridden man who seeks concealment there will wish himself back in his prison cell or even stretched at the end of a rope. Strange cries will assail his ears- the screech owl, the specter-like query of the hoot owl, the croak of the bullfrog and tree frog and the blood-chilling scream of the panther.

"Now, as in the old days, sections along the river and certain spots of high land are inhabited, but with this difference: The inhabitants of today are industrious and honest folk who fish, hunt and raise live stock for a living.

"A white ribbon of concrete highway cuts through the center of the swamp, further violating one of the last great havens for wildlife still existing in Louisiana. Motorists, hurrying to and from the Gulf Coast along this highway, give scarcely a thought to the mystery that lies beyond their vision, and few realize that within this swamp once flourished one of the most daring and successful robber bands that ever operated in America.

See also:

Pirates in St. Tammany

Gold Coins Found in Honey Island Swamp

Honey Island Swamp Wildlife History

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Pirates In St. Tammany

Before the Pirates of the Caribbean there were the pirates of the Crescent City. The two best known pirates south of the lake were well-acquainted with St. Tammany in many ways, but one was a scoundrel and the other was a hero. 

For the details, we turn to an article written in 1976 by my favorite feature writer, Polly Morris of the News Banner. The text of her article about Pirates Jean Lafitte and Pierre Rameau follows:

By Polly Morris

In the early 1800's two tall men were well known in St Tammany. Both were famous and infamous, daring and debonaire. They both laughed at the law and left tales of buried treasure behind them.

In all the world could there never be two men so alike, yet so different. One was a blonde, the other a brunette. Both were suave, sophisticated, and "well-dressed." And they were welcomed in the best salons and drawing rooms in New Orleans. One of them was also welcome in St Tammany. The other was feared and hated.

The two men must have brushed shoulders in New Orleans but their parallel lives parted in St Tammany. Probably they discreetly avoided each other in both places. Nor could
they ever have been best friends.


Pierre Rameau had taken a French name, but he looked nothing like the swarthy Frenchmen. He was a big man with a blonde beard that had a coppery hue. His peculiar grey eyes were shadowed, by thick black brows. His real name was Kirk McCullegh. He was well-­born and well educated...and well accustomed to duplicity.

In New Orleans he was Colonel Phillip Loring who lived in a mansion in the best part of town. He was absent much of the time because he had mining interests in Mexico that demanded his attention.

During his absence from the city, he changed into different person, because he was then Pierre Rameau, the King of Honey Island, and the leader of bloody cutthroats that raided by land or by sea in four states. Rameau's fast boats, fast horses, and fearless men burned and killed and robbed to keep his coffers filled with stolen treasures and costly merchandise.


This lawless band was known as "Chats-huantes", or screech owls, for their secret signal in the swamps was the shrill wavering cry of the screech owl. In New Orleans there was also a collection of screech owls that were different from the desperados. They were reputable businessmen who met at a club called the Chats-huante so exclusive that it too was almost secret. Only these men knew that the esteemed Colonel Loring was also Pierre Rameau and they kept their secret well. Not out of loyalty but because they shared his guilt and his profits.


Despite the veneer of respectability, Pierre was pure pirate at heart. He was a merciless killer who tortured men to make them tell where their gold was hidden. He once tied the victim to a chair and set the house on fire, hoping to burn the man alive.

When Jackson came to New Orleans to defend the city against the British, the elegant Colonel Loring offered his services, expecting an honored commission in the Army. To his indignation, the doughty General was not impressed. Loring was welcome to fight, but that was all. The Colonel covered his surprise well and accepted the humble offer with apparent good grace. But under the well-fitted waistcoat beat the hot heart of the blackguard Pierre Rameau.

Once behind the lines he carefully observed the defenses and ascertained the strength of the British forces The Scotland born son of a rebel had always played a winning hand, and he always intended it to be that way. He would tell his St Tammany screech owls of his decision.

He slipped away during the night and went to Sir Edward Packenham, the British commander. He gave Packenham the plans of the "enemy" defense and joined with the British fighting forces. For once in his life, he lost. His riddled body was found the day after the battle of New Orleans. He had died fighting against the city that had admired him as one of their own.


The other tall man was welcome in St Tammany, for Jean Lafitte was a favorite everywhere. He was strikingly handsome, with hazel eyes and a silky black mustache. He was strong built, but slender and supple as a rapier. He stood over six feet tall in his highly polished boots of the softest leather, and his olive complexion made his white teeth even whiter when he smiles, which he seldom did.

Jean Lafitte

Nevertheless he was a charming person especially with the ladies. He was born, he said, in 1780 in the Basque country in St. Malo in Marseilles.  He was the son of Bourbon aristocrats or French peasants. He deliberately confused his friends, either in jest, or to cover up his past. He and his brother Pierre must have had money because they bought a blacksmith shop and operated it with slave labor. Jean was the gentleman type who was at ease in the best social circles, but Pierre preferred the tawdry waterfront taverns frequented by seamen.


Some of the seamen that Pierre met were also smugglers. They came to the blacksmith shop and met Jean. They needed a banker and an agent for their smuggled goods. Jean Lafitte agreed, because at that time smuggling was not frowned upon by the populace. Only the government officials who carefully looked the other way.

The Blacksmith Shop

From banker to boss was an understandable event, and soon Lafitte was spending about half of his time in the hideout at Barrataria. He was respected by the men, and wanted to protect them, and himself. So he immediately demanded that the loot be legal, so as not to anger the United States 'by taking American ships.' He obtained a letter of marque from the tiny Republic of Cartagena which authorized him to seize Spanish ships. This action made him and his followers into privateers, which was very acceptable at that that time.

Even the United States, which had only a small navy, had over 1,000 privateers during the Revolution.

Under Lafitte's expert guidance, the Barratarians expanded their operations, and Lafitte, as their agent, became known on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. It is said that his ships came up Bayou Lacombe, and that there was a warehouse where the First National Bank now stands.

And there was supposed to be a house in Madisonville where Lafitte spent extended visits. He is supposed to have treasures buried in an island in Lake Borgne. And no doubt, he knew Honey Island where he and Rameau never collided, either by a gentleman's agreement or because of honor among thieves.


Maybe Lafitte avoided Rameau because he knew that Pierre was a cold-blooded killer, for Lafitte was a man who tried to keep out of trouble. Although he was an expert with a sword or pistol, he seldom resorted to violence. When he did it was because he deemed it necessary.

He hanged one of his men for molesting an American ship and shot another through the heart because the man said he was a pirate. But the picture of Lafitte boarding a ship with a dagger between his teeth, or making people walk the plank, is not true In fact, he was probably a poor seaman, because he stayed on shore as much as possible.

When war came to Louisiana, the British sought out the man they believed to be a pirate without principles and offered  him $30,000 and a commission to fight with them against the United States. They did not know that he was also a patriot who dearly loved his adopted country, even if he broke the laws against smuggling.

Lafitte cleverly played along with them until he learned their plans, then he went to the U. S. officials and betrayed the British and offered his services.


The reply to Lafitte's offer was a raid on Barrataria, which was fortunately quite a failure. General Jackson in Mobile scornfully called Lafitte and his men hellish bandetti, but the gentleman smuggler waited with patience. He would not sell out his adopted county, even if it rejected him.

Later the privateer met with Jackson and the General changed his mind. Perhaps he admired the boldness of a man who still strode the streets in defiance of a price on his head from the Governor. Perhaps he felt he had more courage than the dapper Colonel Loring, because he put Lafitte in charge of two important batteries. After the battle was over, Jackson changed his tune from hellish bandetti to "gentlemen of courage and fidelity."

The tale of two tall men of Tammany ends. The two who were so different. One walked boldly erect, one sneaked out to the swamps of Honey Island. One served his country, and one sold it out to the enemy. One's bullet riddled body was found on the wrong side of the ramparts of the city that respected and admired him.

But both were men who well knew St. Tammany.

That was the end of Polly Morris' article about the two pirates.

See also:

Gold Coins Found in Honey Island Swamp

 Jean Lafitte, Gentleman Pirate

 The King of Honey Island



Polly Morris joined the writing team at the Mandeville Banner in February of 1974.


Boating Auxiliary Celebrates Bicentennial

In February of 1976, this article from the News Banner told of the ceremonies and grand entertainment held by the Mandeville Boating Association Auxiliary in celebration of the American Bicentennial Year's Carnival festivities. 

This style of newspaper society writing may be a little too ornamental and wardrobe specific for some readers. 😊 Click on the images to make them larger and more readable. 


Excerpts from the article above:

The Mandeville Boating Association Auxiliary presented its Twenty-First Annual Carnival Ball at the MBAA Hall an Saturday, Feb. 21, 1976. The ballroom was transformed into a Gala Birthday Party contributing to the Bicentennial Celebration. The theme chosen was "Happy Birthday America."

The curtains parted to reveal the Captain, Mrs. Elaine Steimle, on the Portico of Monticello, as Martha Washington, the hostess of the Birthday Celebration, resplendent in a bouffant gown of Eggshell Alencon Lace and Aqua irridescent Embossed Brocade, featuring an overskirt of the aqua brocade falling in a short train. Aurora Borealis stones adorned the entire ensemble. She chose "This Land is My land" for her music.

Maids of the Court, as special guests of the party, represented women of the past who were in some way associated with the history of our Nation.

The first to appear, to the tune of "You're A Grand Old Flag," was Mrs. Pearl Smith as "Betsy Ross." Her gown of Red, White and Blue Satin, featured a fitted bodice, full hooped skirt with short train, embedded with rhinestones and white stars. Mr. Merton Smith was her duke.

Next Mrs. Myrtle Fineran, representing Abigail Adams, wife of John Quincy Adams,  entered to the sounds of "Minuet In G".wearing a Watteau gown of red embossed metallic brocade with center front of rhinestone embroidered white metallic brocade. The dress featured a flowing back and overskirt of red imported lace adorned with drop crystals and rhinestones    and her escort was Mr. Robert J Fineran.

Representing Martha Wales Jefferson, wife of Thomas Jefferson, Mrs Susie Woods appeared as the sounds of  "Swanee" were heard. Her gown featured a fitted bodice of peach crystalette over matching pole de sole with a bertha collar edged with metallic brocade ruffle. The bouffant skirt had a center panel of brocade. The overskirt of crystalette was edged with metallic brocade ruffle and roses of crystalette. She those as her duke Mr. Emilie A. Alt.

The tune of "Hello DoIIy* signified the appearance of Miss Pat DiBenedetto as Dolley Todd Madison, wife of James Madison. She was resplendent in a gown of pale blue pale de sole, featuring an off shoulder fitted bodice with leg o'mutton sleeves and full skirt. Inported blue re-embroidered lace and silver braid formed inserts on the bodice and skirt Belgian rhinestones were embedded on lace and braid. Her duke was Mr. Frank Puysu.

Mrs Lois Bellone entered to  the sounds of "Tennessee Waltz" and represented Rachel Robard Jackson, wife of Andrew Jackson. Her dress of green tissue taffeta and silver stripes was trimmed with silver leaves. and adorned with rhinestones. The dress featured a fitted square neckline bodice with fitted sleeves ending in low puffs and full hooped skirt. She was escorted by Mr. Christopher Bellone.

Appearing as Julia Gent Grant, wife of Ulysses S. Grant, was Mrs. Gail Bossier. Dressed in traditional style, the gown consisted of an off shoulder fitted bodice and overskirt of gold metallic brocade re-embroidered with brown flowers, and front insert and underskirt of candlelight pioe de sole. Large ecru imported lace ruffles adorned the neckline, puffed sleeves and skirt's hemline. Mr. Edward Bossier was her duke The musical selection was the "Blue Danube Waltz."

As the strains of "Dixie" floated throughout the Ball Room, Mrs. Jo Barbier entered, representing Varina Howell Davis, wife of Jefferson Davis. Her lavender pole de sole gown in Colonial style featured an off-shoulder fitted bodice with very full skirt. Her son Mr. Kenneth France, was selected as her duke.

The last to appear, Mrs. Zona Chatellier, entered as Madame  Anna Mathilda d'Marigny, wife of Bernard d'Marigny, to the tune of the "Mandeville Alma Mater." Her gown of pink eyelash cloth had a fitted off-shoulder bodice, bouffant skirt, silver embroidered black lace for color and skirt ruffle adorned with rhinestones. Serving as her duke was Mr. Arthur Chatellier.

As the hall resounded to the lyrics of "America the Beautiful," the Queen, Mrs. Jean Tessin, made her ap­pearance through the French doors of Monticello, representing America. She was beautifully attired in a gown of silver and white brocade studded  with Belgian rhinestones and drop crystals. The bodice was fitted and the full hoop skirt flowed gently to the floor. Her silver and white French lace collar was studded arid edged in rhinestones and drop crystals. 

The Queen's train was royal blue lame' with border of red satin and edged with white ermine fur. Dominating the center of the train was the Statute of Liberty in silver cloth and embedded with rhinestone. Thirteen silver and rhinestone stars portraying the thirteen original states rested on a field of blue. Highlighting the train was a multitude of rhinestones and aurora borealis. She wore silver gloves and carried a rhinestone scepter. Her crown featured a circle of rhinestone lattice work topped with stars. The Queen was escorted by her husband Mr. Nelson Tassin.
The Captain escorted Mrs. Peggy Jones, the 1975 Queen of Diamonds and her consort, Mr. Matthew Jones, to the royal throne to greet the Royal Couple, and join in a toast, served by Champagne Ladles, Mrs Juanita Andersen and Mrs. Ann Gordon, representing Indian Princesses These ladies wore dresses of ivory satin, adorned with multicolored sequins and trimmed with green fringe. An Indian hair style and moccasins completed their ensemble.

The former Queen was presented with the traditional red roses bouquet trimmed with red. white and blue ribbon. After the Queen and King were seated, the Krewe with their Kaptain, Mrs. Evelyn Bourcq, as the Statute of Liberty, and her husband as Uncle Sam, entertained the Court.

First, the Coachmen, Bernard F. Steimle and Fred Cham­pagne, presented the traditional Birthday Cake gaily decorated in red. white, and blue, to the Queen and King. As they approached the throne, the Court Jester Mrs. Jean Frosch popped out of the cake and amused everyone with her frolicking. Then, the Krewe, dressed as Early Settlers, Frontiersmen. Squaws and Braves, Camp Followers and Soldiers, paraded around the. floor throwing favors to the guests,


Feb. 25, 1976

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Bridge To New Orleans Sought Back in 1911

Thousands of people gathered in Mandeville on August 23, 1911, to push for the building of a bridge across the lake to New Orleans. With great fanfare and political speechmaking, the citizens, the business people and residents both new and old, clamored for the proposed bridge. The Farmer ran a huge article describing the people, politicians, and enthusiasm with which the bridge proposal was being promoted.

The bridge would include a railroad track and presenters hoped it would be started the very next year. It would take another 45 years for the actual causeway bridge to be opened for business in 1956.

Click on the images below to enlarge the 1911 article and make it readable. 

One of the paragraphs from the above.

Excerpts from the above article:

All the cars of the motor line (trolley) were not sufficient to handle the crowds from Covington that crushed in and braved the threatening rain. Abita Springs added her quota to the stream of human beings that poured Into Mandeville from all parts of the-parish.

Nearly every person of prominence from Covington and Abita Springs was present, The Covington Commercial League, hav­ing requested all the members to attend the meeting and to bring with them all who could be induced to attend.

At Mandeville, on the beach, under the broad spreading oaks with rustling branches smiling down into the water of beautiful Pontchar­train, the first pledge of fi­nancial assistance to the great project of bridging the lake was made this afternoon, and the pledge came from the loyal and enthusiastic people of St. Tammany Parish, who agreed to take $500,000 worth of the bridge bonds.

It was a mass meeting, a mass meeting participated in by the lead­ing citizens of both St. Tammany and Orleans parishes, and chief among the active workers in the endeavor to give things a definite shape were Mayor Martin Behrman of New Orleans, and Mayor A. Hartman of Mandeville. 

The executive heads of the two cities which are to be linked by the splendid cause­way show led the right sort of senti­ment, and figuratively had their coats off standing in the breach and lending the willing forces in the march of progress, which everybody present seemed infected with the spirit of advancement, and declared themselves ready to make a sacrifice to insure the bridge.

A pavilion was raised in a clump of giant oaks near the long wharf reaching out to the landing of the lake boats and the pavilion was artistically decorated with a wreath of ferns and flowers, with a liberal' showing of the national colors.

The keynote of all the speeches made at the meeting, which will go down in the history of the parish as marking an epoch in the march of progress, was co-operation. St. Tammany needs New Orleans and New Orleans needs St. Tammany. Mandeville wants to become a component part of the great city across the lake, and with the bridge built would annex itself to New Or­leans, were some of the thoughts ex­pressed.

That Mandeville means business was evident in the extensive prepara­tions for the meeting. A hardwork­ing committee, with Mayor Hartman and Chairman J. L. Lavelle as the directing spirits, was at work, but every man and woman in the beau­tiful little city was helping, and the very atmosphere seemed charged with the "up and doing" spirit.

Over in New Orleans, President W. H. Ker and busy members of the* Mercantile Club, one of the leading organizations of its kind in the South, were laboring hard for the movement, and Mr. Ker sent word that his club would be represented at the meeting by a working delega­tion.When Mandeville was reached, little white badges of delegates were very much in evident on the wharf. The badges were long pieces of ribbon, and bore on their face thee following 'out-and-out statement in big black letters: "The bridge across the lake by all Means, is the sentiment of the town of Mandeville. La., August 23, 1911.

Dr. A. G. Maylie, a former prominent practitioner of New Orleans, but temporally a resident of St. Tammany, was one of the first to greet Mayor Behrman and his committee upon landing, and Mr. Maylie and the Mandeville gentlemen with him led the city guests to the pavilion at the end of the wharf, where Mayor Hartman, District Attorney L. L. Morgan, Harvey E. Ellis, a well‑known banker, and others awaited to welcome them.

The crowd was gathered thick around the pavilion, although it was not yet 12 o'clock, and the meeting had been advertised for 2 o'clock in the afternoon, and Mr. Lavelle mounted the stand and informed the ladies and gentlemen that the pro­gramm would be carried out in full and bade them enjoy themselves viewing the many attractive sights of the breeze-kissed gem of the lake until the hour arrived for the speak­ing.

Automobiles and buggies were waiting, and the gentlemen from the city were taken for a short spin, and finally conveyed to Mugnier's Hotel, where a most delightful dinner was awaiting them. 

Before the dinner had run its final course, Gus Mugnier, the proprietor of the pretty hotel, came to the table, and in a most cordial speech presented Mayor Behrman with a beautiful bouquet. Mr.
Mugnier ex­pressed the patriotism that is sweeping St. Tammany like 'wild fire, and in the course of his remarks said that the bridge was needed, and that the bridge would be built. Mayor Behrman was touched "by the little mark of esteem, and made one of hie usual bright and timely replies to his cordial host.

The Committee to make the meet­ing attractive had engaged the services of William A. Braun, the well-known New Orleans musical di­rector, and Mr. Braun crossed the  lake on the Dolive with a number of his most skilled musicians. Shortly before the hour set for the meeting Conductor Braun went to work with his men of music on the speakers' stand, and the melodious strains, caused the streets leading to the lake to pour their throngs out on the green facing the decorated platform.

Mr.Morgan thanked the New Orleans papers for the support they were giving the bridge project and commended Mayor Behrman for his cooperation.

Mr. Lavelle then read the following resolution, which were adopted with a ring cheer:

In view of the fact that the ma­terial interests of the people of St. Tammany parish are so closely identified with those of the people of New Orleans, and inasmuch as there can be no great or material prosperity in our parish except through the progress of the city of New Orleans, and believing that a bridge or causeway, built across Lake Pontchartrain, from New Or­leans to some point at or near Mandeville, will be conductive to the commercial welfare of the people of New Orleans as well as ourselves and knowing that if there is a muni­cipal ownership of this lead and open the door for commerce into the city that it would induce a number of new lines of railroads to build into the city; 

and believing that this bridge should be built in con­nection with and made a part of a public belt railroad of New Orleans, provided with the proper terminals and equipment; and believing further that the revenues of the pub­lic belt and the bridge and structures could be bonded for a sum sufficient to build said bridge and the neces­sary terminals, thereby giving a new lead and open railroad for our com­merce; 

Therefore, be it resolved by the people of St. Tammany Parish, in mass meeting assembled, that we hereby indorse any practical plans presented by the people of New Or­leans for the building of this bridge, and pledge ourselves to take $500,­000 of 5 per cent of the proposed bridge bonds;

Resolved, further, That we are in hearty sympathy with and indorse the. efforts being made by the general bridge committee in furtherance of this. great project.

A. D. Preston, an attorney of New Orleans, was the next speaker. Mr. Preston spoke of the need of the bridge, and urged municipal ownership for it, and operation in connection with the Public Belt of the me­tropolis across the lake. Mr. Preston had no doubt that the money to finance the great scheme could be found.

0. W. Crawford, of the Louisiana Development League, followed, and in his emphatic way told of the pros­perity that would follow the build­ing of the bridge. He advocated re­claiming land from the lake and sell­ing it to help defray the expenses. It the people of both parishes want the bridge, the bridge will be built.

Mr. Ker, the progressive president of the Mercantile Club of New Or­leans. was received with applause. Mr. Ker thought that public subscription lists should be opened to aid the project. He argued that $250,­000 would be subscribed, and that that would prove a nucleus to work  on. "If we have that amount in the treasury," said Mr. Ker, "we can hope for much more from bond­ing the Public Belt revenues."

Mr. Ker, in conclusion, said that the Mercantile Club favored the bridge and had pledged its earnest and solid support to the project, which would prove the making of both parishes.
W. C. Lovejoy of the New Or­leans Credit Men's Association, sug­gested that everybody fall in behind the committee of fifty appointed tb formulate plans, and hold up the committee's hands.

Mr. Garland suggested the slogan for the movement, "The Bridge Must Be Built!" and urged that it be carried everywhere with the same enthusiasm that the old Romans cried, "Carthage must be destroy­ed!"  

"We are determined to build this bridge," said Mr. Garland, "and when the American people determine on anything they are not generally disappointed." Mr. Garland told of the needs of the bridge and said that if the sum of $1,500,000 was raised the rest needed could be borrowed on the bridge iself. Mr. Garland favored a direct appeal to the people of the parishes most interested, and suggested a legislative appropriation of a few thousand dollars.

Mr. Garland read letters promis­ing support from Governor J. Y. Sanders, Senator Murphy J. Foster, Congressman J. E. Ransdell, Congressman H. Garland Depre, Con­gressman R. C. Wickliffe, Congressman Albert Estopinal, Dr. I. B. Aswell and Congressman R. F. Brous­sard. When Mr. Garland concluded a little girl stepped out from the crowd and handed him a big bunch of flowers.

H. Clay Riggs, one of the hardest workers on the bridge project, was then introduced. Mr. Riggs said that the bridge proposed would be big enough to handle the traffic of the great trunk lines that are knocking at the door of New Orleans. Mr. Riggs thought it would be a good idea to bond the revenues of the Public Belt and the bridge to build great public terminals that the roads could use. 

These would do away with the corporation toll gates that are now running New Orleans and keeping business away from the port. It costs $1,800 less to deposit a shipment of lumber at ship side in Gulfport and Baton Rouge than in New Orleans, and this is due to the corporation toll gates. Private corporations must not get control of the bridge, contended Mr. Riggs, for private corporations hold the people by the throat and brandish an ax over their heads. 

Mr. Riggs gave some interesting figures, and predicted a mass meeting in Mandeville early next year at which the corner­stone of the bridge would be laid, and a mass meeting in New Orleans, in which the work on the southern shore would be started.

Mr. Barclay, of the New Orleans delegation, was the last speaker. He condemned pessimism, and told a succession of rattling good stores fit­ting for the occasion that put the people in such good humor that they were willing to mortgage their homes to help the bridge.

During the afternoon Mayor Behrman visited Rest Awhile and was shown over the well-kept institu­tion, which marks the success of one of the noblest charities ever set on foot in New Orleans and adds an­other crown to the career of the well-known philanthropist, Miss Sophie B. Wright.

Captain Woodward was one of the promoters of a plan to bridge Pontchartrain ten years ago, and as he took sound­ings and kept a log of actual dis­tances, he is considered a valuable man of interest in the present pro­ject.

St. Tammany Farmer Aug. 26, 1911

See also:

Planning to build the Causeway Started Early

Friday, January 24, 2020

100 Years Ago This January 24

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  January 24, 1920. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.

Clyde Malcolm Stanga

Patecek Ad

Pineland Spring Bottling Works

McDaniel's Millinery shop

Bogue Falaya Park To Be Rebuilt

Stevenson Brick Columns at Bogue Falaya Park

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Navy Yard Established On Tchefuncte River

Don Sharp has just posted an interesting article about the men and ships that patrolled Lake Pontchartrain and vicinity in the early 1800's. The article involves a lot of familiar names, a few extremely historic events, and even the publication of the first book on mental health. 

And it all revolves around the Navy Yard on the Tchefuncte River across from Madisonville and a little upstream. To see his blog posting, click on the link below.

Click Here to read about the Establishment of the United States Navy at New Orleans, after the Louisiana Purchase, and its Influence on West Florida


Mrs. James Clifton Burns Biography

The following biography is an abridged history of Mrs. James Clifton Burns as written by her grandson, Phillip F. Burns.This biography was requested by the Covington Business and Professional Woman's Club Bicentennial Committee in recognition of the pioneer women who left their mark on the pages of St. Tammany's history.

This biography was published in the March 21, 1976, edition of the St. Tammany News Banner newspaper. It tells the story of the Burns family and the part they played in the Presbyterian church in Covington, the first rural school in the Parish, the fair association, and the American Legion ladies' auxiliary. The article's text follows:

The Challenge of Reconstruction

North America's Civil War had ended.  The last flag and the last guidon had fallen and the years of Reconstruction had commenced when Mrs. James Clifton Burns was born. The date was January 27, 1867. To many she was known as "Rob" because she had been christened Robenia, Robenia Laidlow Edgar, named for her grandmother in Scotland.

After her marriage to James Clifton Burns she was known to her family and close friends as "Mother Burns." Robenia's father Robert Edgar, left Scotland in 1858. Upon his arrival in St Louis via New New York and Toronto he booked passage on a steamboat for New Orleans. Two years later, Robenia's mother, Margaret Orr, left Scotland for New Orleans. Robert and Margaret had been sweethearts in Scotland. They were married in New Orleans just as Louisiana was about to secede from the Union. 

The first children, Mary Jane, who was to become Mrs. Preston Burns, and Margaret, were born during the war. Robenia and her sister, Sophie and two brothers, Max and John, were born during the Reconstruction Period. When normalcy was restored to the institutions of New Orleans, Robenia, with her brothers and sisters, attended Washington Public School of the City of New Orleans.

It was in 1878, because of asthma, that poor health became a concern of Robert Edgar. As with so many New Orleanians of that era, he moved his family to seek the more healthful climate of St. Tammany Parish. 

The Move To St. Tammany

They arrived in Covington in July 1878 to find that here was a little Presbyterian Church on the corner of New Hampshire and Portsmouth Street with no minister, no ladies aid, and no congregation. Its last minister, J. C. Graham, an Evangelist, left in 1863 when all work ceased on account of the Civil War.

Because of the deprivation of educational and religious advantages, the fires of Presbyterian faith burned the brighter in the hearts of the Edgar family. It was because of the thought and energy of the Edgar family , the Sam Poole family, and the Dr. R. Randolph family that the Presbyterian Church was re-established.

It was because of these pioneer families and the great generosity of the John Ellis, Chamberlain, and later, the Haller families that made it possible for the construction of the present church and manse.

Private Academies

From the earliest days there had been in Covington Private Academies and very few public schools. In 1885 Robenia wrote to the School Board of the Parish: "Gentlemen, I hereby make application for the position of teacher in the public schools of the Parish. If a vacancy exists, I would prefer to teach in the Third Ward as I reside there; there are a great many children in this neighborhood, and I could get up quite a large school. I was educated in the public schools of New Orleans but have never been examined for a teacher's position, this being my first application.

The approval of Robenia's application by the Trustees established the first rural public school in St. Tammany Parish. It became school No. 4 in the system and was located near Barker's Ford on the Little Bogue Falaya river, becoming known as Liberty Settlement School.

The new school mistress opened classes in April and school ran for a three months term with a salary of twenty-five dollars a month. That first day of school found thirty-two children of all ages coming by wagon, horseback and on foot from from great distances through the savannahs and pine forest to the one room that was their new school. 

Family of Teachers

Robenia's interest in public education continued throughout her life and influenced the lives of her children. Three daughters, Hester, Ruth and Dorothy, became teachers in the Parish; her son Bryan, became a School Board member and for a time served as Board President. Philip, her oldest son, served on the Finance Committee of the board, and her son-in-law, the popular William Pitcher served many years as Superintendent of the St. Tammany Public School System. William Pitcher was married to Robenia's fourth daughter Margie.

Mary Jane Edgar, Robenia's sister, married Preston Burns, one of the five Burns brothers from Chubby Hill Plantation on the Big Bogue Falaya River. Robenia met and fell in love with James Clifton Burns, Preston's younger brother. After their marriage, she lived for a time at Chubby Hill Plantation where their first son, Philip McPride was born.

An 1881 Description of Chubby Hill Plantation

Established Home

Eventually the young couple established a home on their own farm: it was called "Sandy Hill." It was here that Robenia became distinguished for her vigorous understanding of the need of others, and because of her untameable spirit to eliminate need and suffering, she was often called upon by her neighbors in the surrounding countryside to travel through the dark of night to assist at the bedside of the sick or in mid-wifery at a birth or to tack in the crepe of a newly-made coffin.

This solicitous care of her neighbors developed in them a dependence which existed throughout her life. During her sixteen years in the country, she became the mother of eight children. They were Philip, Albert, Bryan, James, Ruth (Mrs. Jules Baguer), Dorothy (Mrs. Preston Prieto), Margaret (Mrs. William Pitcher) and Hester Burns. Her ninth and youngest child, Frank, was born after the family moved to Covington. 

Came To Covington For The Schools

As her family grew and the children reached school age, she became dissatisfied with the short three months school year available in their country school. In 1905, James Clifton Burns moved the family into Covington where the greater advantages of the Covington school were available. A short time later Robinia and her husband established the J. C. Burns and Company on Columbia Street.

The Burns Family Home on Columbia St.

Her life in Covington was a dynamic one. She served as Deputy Grand Matron of District No. 19 of the Order of the Eastern Star and received from her own Southern Pine Chapter No. 81 the highest honor of Live Membership as a Past Worthy Matron. Robenia held office in the early Parent Teachers Associations of both Covington Grammar and the High School. In the 1930's, she helped to organize the school soup kitchens which later developed into the lunch programs as we know today. 


She was awarded the Pioneer Club Woman's medal in 1940 by the Womans Progressive Union and was loved and honored by the Presbyterian Womans Auxiliary for her great work with the church.

Robenia's association with the Kings Daughters brought her into cooperation with Mrs. Sophie B. Wright, a prominent philanthropist of New Orleans with their work at "Rest Awhile" at Mandeville in behalf of the poor from New Orleans. 

Mrs. Burns helped organize the St. Tammany Parish Fair Association in 1909 and was instrumental in the erection of the Educational Building. For several years she had charge of the Woman's Division of the Parish Fair.

World War I

During World War I Robenia worked zealously and tirelessly with the Red Cross and the American Legion Auxiliary. Under the leadership of Mrs. Sidney Frederick and Mrs. V. A. Porteous, a state officer in the American Legion Auxiliary, ten ladies eligible for membership because of their relationship to war veterans, were called together to charter the Ladies Auxiliary of the Robert Burns Post No. 16 of the American Legion. The namesake of the post was no relation to Robenia's family. 

The charter members in addition to Mrs. Sidney Frederick, were Mrs. James Clifton Burns, her daughers Dorothy Prieto and Margie Pitcher, and her daughters-in-law, Mrs. Bryan Burns, Mrs. Albert Burns, and Mrs. Philip Burns.Also, Mrs. Preston Burns, her daughter Gladys Burns Schoen, Mrs. George Menetre, her daughter Grace and her son Ralph's wife, Mrs. Lucy Menetre. Mrs. Pauline Martindale Burns, the wife of Judge Thomas A. Burns, was also a charter member. 

President of Ladies Auxiliary

Robenia was elected President, and Mrs. Frederick was made Secretary-Treasurer. Mrs. Burns wrote, "As president, I set up an office at my home, and we have now filed about three hundred adjustment and compensation claims that have received attention and final conclusion."

She died on December 24, 1944.

The nineteen century and even in the beginning of this century, this was a frontier country, peopled by unusually energetic personalities which a frontier civilization attracts and produces. The life of Robenia Edgar Burns is a faithful reflection of the type of persons who played important parts in this formative period of this nation, helping to direct the course that some institutions have taken. It is hoped that the ideals and values that made up the spirit of Mrs. James Clifton Burns will live on in the national character forever. 

[End of B&PW Article]

See also:

Mothers Club Started Long Line of PTO Activity

 Life In Covington - The 1910's