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Friday, January 31, 2020
100 Years Ago This January 31
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Thursday, January 30, 2020
Sunset at Nose Park
1st Avenue Park: Now Known As "Nose"
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Slidell Women's Club Celebrates 1971 Carnival
Monday, January 27, 2020
Pirates: Part Two -The King of Honey Island
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.
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.
End of Fredricks Article
Mechanix Illustrated Article
Legends are many of the Bayou state’s buried treasure but facts prove it’s there, waiting to be taken out.
By William L. Rivers
THERE are so many legends of buried gold in Louisiana that it would seem all the would-be treasure hunter had to do was pick up a shovel and start to dig. Sadly enough all these tales aren’t true. If they were, there wouldn’t be room beneath the Bayou State for much else.
But the encouraging fact is that at least some of the many buried treasure tales are fact. Perhaps 30 all told. The problem is which 30 are worth investigating?
For example: Who can say with any degree of certainty that Jean Lafitte, pirate king of kings who made his headquarters at Grand Isle off the Gulf Coast, didn’t leave much of his loot there or along the Mississippi bluffs near Baton Rouge?
Lafitte had three islands that are still believed to be the best locales for a serious search. Besides Grand Isle (also a base for Henry Morgan) Lafitte often landed at Coca Island and $1,000,000 in gold is said to be buried on Kelso’s Island. The pirate is also believed to have left at least $11,000,000 in gold along the South Louisiana coast and in the Mississippi bluffs.
Rumors have been persistent for decades that all these would be good sites for a treasure hunt. And when author Ben Luien Burman went into the South Louisiana swamps to write a fur-trapping story, two men at Barataria Bay were pointed out to him as discoverers of part of Lafitte’s loot.
“Ain’t done a lick of work in their lives. Everybody knows it’s because they found where Lafitte’s money was buried,” Burman was told.
However, like most of the other tales, the story of Lafitte’s caches in the levees and swamps are hard to track down—largely because treasure finders are a notoriously close-mouthed lot.
But the stories can’t be dismissed easily. Lafitte wasn’t in the pirate business just to wear a cutlass and swagger. Even if it is possible that most of his loot has been discovered, scores of other finds have been made in Louisiana.
George Maher, Jr., and his father for example, are reported to have found more than $200,000 in old coins, jewelry and silverware in Louisiana with a patented machine they call the Ground Radio.
This device, an invention of the father-son team, operates via the variable induction of a magnetic field and has a strange affinity for locating buried treasure, the Mahers claim.
A farmer in Avoyelles Parish (county) who was plowing in his fields one day stumbled on an iron pot filled with 1,000 gold pieces.
In 1929, 21 Spanish doubloons were found in a load of gravel at the Louisiana and Arkansas Railroad tracks in Baton Rouge.
And a farmer named John Skinner, who lived near Ruston in North Louisiana, fell over a box which yielded nearly 1,000 gold coins while plowing his fields.
The second largest find in Louisiana history was made at Gretna by a group of men who were searching for treasure, not farming. They unearthed $65,000.
A vocal minority of Louisiana treasure seekers believed another pirate, Pierre Rameau, whose operating base on Honey Island has already paid off handsomely, is still the best locale for a search. Bordering Louisiana and Mississippi on the Pearl River, “Rameau’s Kingdom” yielded an iron chest filled with $1,000 worth of coins.
Connoisseurs of treasure tales also rank Honey Island high because latter-day pirates, fugitives from the law during the 1880′s, found the island an ideal out-of-the-way place.
In 1929, one of the richest treasure strikes in history was made on the dry bed of the Calcasieu River. The take was $75,000 in coins.
The lost world of Louisiana in Tensas Parish, pre-Civil War home of Col. Norman Frisbee on the Tensas River, is a prime inland treasure-hunting site now being explored again.
Frisbee, who lived vividly and died violently in a knife fight, laid the foundations and built the walls and pillars of a magnificent mansion eight miles up-river from Flower’s Landing. He was one of the world’s great landowners, with 52 miles of river-front and 12,000 acres planted in cotton.
When the plantation baron died, he left only the memory of a day shortly before Union soldiers came when he went into the forests near his home with two slaves and wagonload of gold.
The slaves who accompanied Frisbee were killed and none of the Tensas treasure has ever been found. Descendants of the Tensas king have scanned maps over the years. Four years ago, two young Frisbees led an expedition to the old plantation but the party was ill-equipped and only scratched the surface.
The residents of Natchitoches Parish in Northwest Louisiana haven’t been so casual about the search for a trove that is estimated at $9,000,000 to $30,000,000. For more than 30 years, fortune seekers have been sinking holes in the ground at points near old Camp Salubrity, a bivouac area during the Civil War.
Unlike Florida, which has a complicated system of permits, Louisiana is easy-going, perhaps because treasure-hunters rarely bother to let state officials know they’re looking for buried and sunken wealth on the lands and in the waters of Louisiana.
For permission to search on state lands and information about state property, the treasure-hunter should work through the office of Register of the State Land Office, Ellen By ran Moore, in Baton Rouge. General information on maps, histories of the plantations and pirates can be obtained from the Louisiana Department of Commerce and Industry in Baton Rouge.
The law that sets forth the rights of property owners runs: “Although a treasure be not of the number of things which are lost or abandoned or which never belonged to anybody, yet he who finds it on his own land or on land belonging to nobody acquires the entire ownership of it; and should such treasure be found on the land of another, one-half of it shall belong to the finder and the other half to the owner of the soil.”
At least 1,000 possible treasure sites have been rumored in Louisiana and even scholarly state historians agree that several locales offer excellent possibilities for treasure-seekers.
Where are the best sites to look for treasure ?
A planter near Hubbardville buried his money and silver plate outside the town before the Civil War; the ruins of the old fort at Barataria yielded a box containing doubloons and earrings; $300,000 is believed to have been buried at Parlange Plantation in Pointe Coupee Parish; last summer, two Tulane students took a mine detector to the barren site of Fort de la Boulaye 38 miles down the Mississippi from New Orleans—and what they found led them to believe French gold would be discovered there.
The old bed of the Red River near Dixie, the “Lost Mine of Wyndham Creek,” an Indian mound near the highway between Convent and Lutcher—all might pay dividends to anyone who makes an all-out effort to tap the fabulous buried treasure of the Bayou State.
Pirates in St. Tammany
Gold Coins Found in Honey Island Swamp
Honey Island Swamp Wildlife History
Sunday, January 26, 2020
Pirates In St. Tammany
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:
THE TALE OF TWO PIRATES
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.
REBEL AND RASCAL
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.
THE SCREECH OWLS
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.
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.
A BUSINESS PROPOSITION
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.
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 alike...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.)
The following information comes from a 1909 entry in the Louisiana Encyclopedia, published by the Southern Historical Association in Atlanta, GA, and edited by Alcee Fortier, Lit. D.
"Smugglers.—European wars, in the closing years of the 18th century, developed a class of men who had become expert in the practice of privateering, and in the early years of the 19th century privateers, claiming to operate under French letters of marque, infested the Gulf of Mexico, Spain's commerce being their object of prey.
The headquarters of these privateers were the islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique, but these islands were captured by the British in 1806, and in Feb., 1810, the privateers were driven out. They then transferred their base of operations to Barataria bay (q. v.) on the southern coast of Louisiana. a spot well suited to their purposes.
The island of Grand Terre was fortified, and on Grand Isle they built dwellings and storehouses, and even paid some attention to agriculture. About the time they were driven from their island haunts the province of Columbia declared itself to he independent of Spain, and the government of Cartagena granted letters of marque to the privateers, who then lowered the French flag and hoisted the standard of the new republic. This change was easy, as the band was composed of men of all nationalities, cosmopolitan in their notions of allegiance.
The first official notice of the acts of the "Smugglers of Barataria" in Louisiana was on Sept. 6, 1810, when Thomas E. Robertson, then secretary of the Territory of Orleans, issued a circular, announcing the arrival of two cargoes of slaves via Barataria bay, though both goods and slaves had previously been smuggled into New Orleans through Bayous Lafourche and Teche.
During the Spanish domination the officials conducted themselves as though they believed there was nothing really wrong in smuggling, and it was therefore perfectly natural that the people should take a similar view of the matter, They could buy goods more cheaply from the smugglers than elsewhere, hence they did not hesitate to give encouragement to the illicit trade.
The Baratarians now became bolder and more active in their operation. Through the Lafitte brothers, Jean and Pierre, who acted as their agents in New Orleans, orders for goods were placed with as much publicity as though they were being bought from agents of authorized and legitimate trading houses.
Jean Lafitte subsequently became the chief of the Baratarians, and under his skillful leadership, his arts of finesse, the smugglers reached the zenith of their greatness in 1813. On March 15 of that year Goy. Claiborne issued a proclamation concerning the "banditti" who had on Lake Barataria "armed and equipped several vessels for the avowed purpose of cruising upon the high seas and committing depredations and piracies on the vessels of nations at peace with the United States, and carrying on an illicit trade in goods, wares and merchandise with the inhabitants of the state."
He commanded them to disperse, but the smugglers paid no heed to his proclamation. On April 7 legal proceedings were begun in the U. S. district court against Jean and Pierre Lafitte, for the violation of the revenue and neutrality laws of the United States, but, as it is a hard matter to secure a conviction where the strength of public opinion is in favor of the defendant, the prosecution was barren of results.
About this time the band became widely known as the "Pirates of Barataria." They were charged with carrying the black flag and of attacking the merchant vessels of all nations, but there was no evidence that this was true. They admitted that they were smugglers, though they persistently denied the charge of piracy, claiming that they attacked only the ships of Spain, which nation was then at war with both France and Colombia.
On June 23, 1813, a British sloop of war attacked two privateers under the lee of Cat island, but the Englishman was driven off. In October a party of revenue officers seized some smuggled goods near New Orleans. They were fired upon by a small detachment of the Baratarians and one of them was wounded. This and other highhanded proceedings drew forth from Gov. Claiborne another procla-
mation on Nov. 24, offering a reward of $500 for the capture of Jean Lafitte, who in turn offered a reward of $15,000 for Claiborne's head.
In Jan., 1814, the smugglers had another skirmish with the revenue officers, and again came out ahead. Claiborne appealed to the legislature for men and means "to disperse those desperate men on Lake Barataria. whose piracies have rendered our shores a terror to neutral flags." But the legislature refused to act. Several expeditions sent against the outlaws by the United States accomplished nothing. because the people who were in sympathy with the smugglers always managed to find means to warn them in time. One of these expeditions arrested both the Lafittes. but they effected their escape, and the writs were returned endorsed "not found."
Finally, however, public opinion began to waver, then to array itself against the Baratarians. In July of 1814, a grand jury found indictments against two captains—Johnness and Johannot—for piracies committed on the gulf, and against Pierre Lafitte as accessory. Lafitte was shortly afterward arrested and committed to jail in default of bail.
The same jury called on the people to aid in removing "the stain that had fallen on all classes of society in the minds of the good people of other states." On Sept. 2, 1814, the British brig Sophia appeared off Grand Terre and a small boat, bearing Capt. Lockyer. another naval officer, and a captain of infantry, came in to shore with a packet of papers addressed to "Mr. Lafitte, Barataria." It contained, 1st, an appeal of Col. Nicholls to the. people of Louisiana to assist in restoring the province to Spain; 2nd, a letter to Lafitte, offering him. $30,000 and a captain's commission as inducements to enter the British service; 3rd, a proclamation of Capt. Percy of the sloop Hermes; and 4th, a copy of the orders under which Lockyer was then acting.
Lockyer, with his companions and crew, was detained on the island until the following morning, when Lafitte asked for 15 days to make up his mind. Scarcely had the British emissaries left the island when Lafitte wrote to Mr. Blanque, a member of the Louisiana legislature, as follows: "Mr. Nicholas Lockyer. a British officer of high rank, delivered to me the following papers, two directed to me, a proclamation, and the admiral's instructions to that officer, all herewith enclosed. You will see from their contents the advantages I might have derived from that kind of association. I may have evaded the payment of duties to the custom house; but I have never ceased to he a good citizen; and all the offense I have committed I was forced to by certain vices in our laws.
"In short, sir, I make you the depository of the secret on which perhaps depends the tranquillity of our country: please to make use of it as your judgment may direct. I might expatiate on this proof of patriotism, but I let the fact speak for itself."
The only direct favor asked was the "amelioration of the situation of my unhappy brother," who it will he remembered was then in jail on an indictment of the grand jury. The morning after Blanque received the letter, the following advertisement appeared in one of the New Orleans papers : "A reward of S1.000 will he paid for the apprehending of Pierre Lafitte, who broke and escaped last night from the prison of the parish. Said Pierre Lafitte is about 5 feet 10 inches in height, stout made, light complexion, and somewhat cross-eyed, further description is considered unnecessary, as he is very well known in the city. *** The above reward will be paid to any person delivering the said Lafitte to the subscriber. J. H. HOLLAND, Keeper of the Prison."
The escape of Pierre Lafitte just at the time Blanque received the letter may have been merely a coincidence, but at any rate he was not recaptured. He joined his brother at Barataria. and soon after, another letter to Mr. Blanque enclosing one to Gov. Claiborne, offered the services of the Baratarians, to defend the state against the British invasion then imminent.
Claiborne called a council, consisting of Commodore Patterson, Col. Ross and Gen. Villere to consider the offer, and .Gen. Villere, commander of the Louisiana militia, was the only one who voted to accept their services. At that time an expedition against the smugglers was in preparation. It was now pushed forward with more vigor and on Sept. 16 the fleet, under Patterson. with Ross' troops on board, appeared before the entrances of Barataria bay.
After a sharp fight the "pirates" were driven from their stronghold, 3 vessels bearing the Cartagenian colors, 7 cruisers, and some contraband stores were captured and some of the band taken prisoners. The two Lafittes escaped up the Bayou Lafourehe to the German coast and warned the people there of the movements of the British.
General Andrew Jackson On The Scene
A remnant of the band gathered on Last island, some 60 miles west of Barataria, but the days of the smugglers were over. About this time Gen. Andrew Jackson appeared in New Orleans to take command of the troops for the defense of the city. Jean Lafitte sought an interview with him and again tendered the Services of himself and his men to aid in protecting the state against the British forces.
Although Jackson referred to them as "hellish banditti" he subsequently accepted the offer. and his report of the battle of New Orleans said: "Captains You and Beluche, lately commanding privateers at Barataria, with part of their former crews and many brave citizens of New Orleans, were stationed at Batteries No. 3 and 4. The general cannot avoid giving his warm approbation of the manner in which these gentlemen have uniformly conducted themselves while under his command, and of the gallantry with which they have redeemed the pledge they gave at the opening of the campaign to defend the country. The brothers Lafitte have exhibited the same courage and fidelity : and the general promises that the government shall be duly apprised of their conduct."
What a change had come over the spirit of Jackson's dream ! On Sept. 21, 1814, the Baratarians were "hellish 'banditti and pirates"; on Jan. 21, 1815, exactly four months later, they were "privateers and gentlemen." He evidently kept his promise to see that the government was duly apprised of their conduct, for on Feb. 6 President Madison issued a proclamation granting amnesty to the smugglers.
In this proclamation he said: "It has long been ascertained that many foreigners, flying from dangers of their own at home, and that some citizens, forgetful of their duty, had cooperated in forming an establishment on the island of Barataria near the mouth of the Mississippi for the purpose of clandestine and lawless trade. The government of the United States caused the establishment to be broken up and destroyed; and having obtained the means of designating the offenders of every description, it only remains to answer the demands of justice by inflicting exemplary punishment.
But it has since been represented that the offenders have manifested a sincere penitence; that they have abandoned the prosecution of the worst cause for the support of the best; and particularly that they have exhibited in the defense of New Orleans unequivocal traits of courage and fidelity. Offenders, who have refused to become associates of the enemy in war upon the most seducing terms of invitation, and who have aided to repel his hostile invasion of the territory of the United States, can no longer be considered as objects of punishment, but as objects of generous forgiveness. It has therefore been seen with great satisfaction that the general assembly of the State of Louisiana earnestly recommend these offenders to the benefit of a full pardon. * *
Every person claiming the benefit of this full pardon, in order to entitle himself thereto, shall produce a certificate in writing from the governor of the State of Louisiana, stating that such person has aided in the defense of New Orleans and adjacent country during the invasion thereof as aforesaid."
The president also recommended that all suits, indictments. and prosecutions for fines, penalties and forfeitures against persons entitled to this full pardon should be stayed or dismissed. Thus were the Barataria smugglers finally disposed of, though some of them sought other lands and there continued the calling, which seemed to have for them a strange fascination.
For a long time the islands about Barataria bay were believed by many to conceal some of the "pirates' treasure." Searching parties tried repeatedly to unearth this treasure-trove, and even yet there are some persons who believe the islands contains a portion of the smugglers' ill-gotten gains.
Pirates and Smugglers
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
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,
ST. TAMMANY NEWS-BANNER-
Feb. 25, 1976
Saturday, January 25, 2020
Bridge To New Orleans Sought Back in 1911
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
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!"
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.
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.
St. Tammany Farmer Aug. 26, 1911