Monday, October 5, 2020

History of Folsom Research Paper

On March 4, 1973, Gary B. Jenkins produced a history of Folsom in a term paper for Dr. Dudley S. Johnson, SLU History Department in Hammond. It was entitled "Folsom, Louisiana, A Wilderness Town."

He shared a copy of the final term paper with Mrs. Amos Neff, the St. Tammany Parish Archivist, and that copy was recently found among her papers. The history research project has been scanned and may be found at the following link.

CLICK HERE to see the term paper in PDF form


An early map of Folsom included in the research paper

 Here are portions of the text from the first few pages of that research project.

"The story begins with the Indians and the Spanish. In the area of northwestern St. Tammany Parish, the few Indians that lived there hunted animals and did a little farming. The entire region was a part of West Florida under the Spanish. In 1803, the United States bought Louisiana from France. This did not include that section of Louisiana east of the Mississippi and north of Lake Pontchartrain.

"West Florida was rapidly becoming settled by Americans from Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. In 1810, they revolted against the Spanish and declared that they were a republic and that they would like to become a part of the United States.

"Folsom had its beginning with the homesteaders that moved into the area during the period 1870-1900. Land was readily available to those people that had a little money and a little desire to face a new life. These people who came to St. Tammany were of a hardy stock; coming from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, occupations, nationalities, religions, and colors.

Holmesville Road

"The vast area north of Covington, to the Mississippi state line, was one of virgin forests, practically untouched by the effects of civilization. The only road of any kind that penetrated the area was the Holmesville Road, connecting Covington with the Holmes settlement in Washington Parish.

"Forests grew so tall and so abundantly, that one could ride or walk from Covington to Franklinton, a distance of approximately 22 miles without ever seeing the sun.
By 1880, several families had become well established in the area. There were at least thirteen Cores located within the second ward, at least six Fendlasons, five Yates, and 12 Garretts.

"Prior to the founding of Folsom, with its railhead, there were two post offices in the area. One was at Alma, about four miles northwest of Folsom. The other one was at Verger, about one and one-third miles south of Folsom. Paul Verger, born in 1858, was post­master at Verger. His father had come to St. Tammany by way of New Orleans and Switzerland. By presidential proclamation, Paul Verger was made postmaster in 1892.

"The post-office and store at Verger was an important stopping place for travelers on the Holmesville Road. Having only a dirt road, it was important that the road be made accessible at all times. The St. Tammany Police Jury would appoint residents to serve as overseer of the road. In 1882 Hiram Hoeze was appointed to oversee the road from the seven mile post to the fourteen mile post, covering the second ward.

"New immigrants coming to the area used this road to reach their destinations. The St. Tammany Farmer ran an ad for years that stated that immigrants with a little industry and a little money could not possibly do better than settle in St. Tammany.

"By 1895, a number of prominent names appeared as land owners in the vicinity of present day Folsom. There were several Cores, Blackwells, Bahama, and Willies.

Lumber Industry

"The production of timber and timber products was a major industry during the period 1870-1920. Northern forests were quickly being depleted and the lumber industry looked toward the South for new forests to cut. In St. Tammany, the lumber industry began around the Slidell area and progressed northward and northwestward. Large lumber camps were located in Pearl River, St. Tammany, Florenville, and Abita Springs.

"The East Louisiana Railroad built northward from Slidell towards Bogalusa. Near Pearl River, a spur was built westward to Abita Springs. Later, it was continued into Covington. Plans were made to continue this track northward to the Mississippi line.

"History is full of moments of greatness. When the Louisiana railroad seemed to be enjoying its greatest growth, it developed financial troubles.

"The New Orleans Great Northern Railroad Company was incorporated on January 19, 1905, for the purpose of constructing a line from Jackson, Mississippi, to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was to also construct a branch line on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain from Slidell to Abita Springs via Mandeville. One week later, it organized in Louisiana and purchased the East Louisiana Railroad Company. The New Orleans Great Northern was merged and consolidated with the East Louisiana, the consolidated company retained the title, "New Orleans Great Northern Railroad Company."

Greenlaw Lumber Company

"Greenlaw Lumber Company, Ltd. played an important role in the development of the Parish. In 1902, it built a standard gauge logging line in a northeasterly direction from Covington. This line proved to be very profitable and the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad built tracks over this road to Folsom.

"Most of the people in the area, of Folsom were farmers; homesteaders who were etching a living from the wilderness. They raised sheep, cattle, hogs, corn, sweet potatoes, Irish potatoes, chickens, beans, and peas. These products were carried to Covington via mule, ox, or wagon.

"Dudley Weaver operated a steamboat from Covington to New Orleans. The farmers shipped their products on Weaver's boat and Weaver in return brought what they needed from New Orleans.

"As the new railroad slowly moved northward, a number of local men began working for the company. The only equipment that the crews had were mules, slides, turning plows, and sheer human strength. The mules pulled the slides and turning plows.

The Coming Boom

"Other men saw the "boom" that was coming and took steps to gain from it. George Fendlason moved from the area of Alma, about 3.8 miles west, to the area where the railroad line was to stop. He acquired land from the Great Southern Lumber Company and Mary Core. Fendlason employed J. M. Yates, the Parish surveyor, to lay out the town of Folsom.

"Previously stated, the Greenlaw Lumber Company was very active in the area. As the railroad line moved north, Greenlaw built a spur from Ramsey, about five miles north of Covington, to Tangipahoa Parish. Greenlaw Lumber Company, Ltd. was founded by Edward A. Greenlaw of Greenlaw, a small village located northeast of Kentwood, Louisiana.

"The founder was president and James Ramsey, for whom Ramsey was named, was secretary. In November, 1.903, because of the great increase in lumber production, an amendment to the company's constitution increased the holding money from 70,000 to 100,000 dollars.

"Greenlaw Lumber Company, Ltd. was incorporated on December 4, 1902, in Covington before Joseph B. Lancaster, Notary Public. The deed read that the company was to have a ninety-nine year succession and that it was to operate a mill, manufacture and sell lumber, laths, shingles, molding, sash, doors, blinds, furniture, and wooden ware; lease, buy, and sell timber lands and other real estate; to manufacture and sell turpentine and charcoal; operate a mercantile business, build, lease, own and operate barges, lighters, sailing or steam vessels; and to construct, maintain or lease, and operate tramroads or railroads for the transportation of logs, timber, merchandise, and passengers.

"Another company that was closely connected with the lumber industry around Folsom was Jones and Pickett Limited. J. S. Jones, J. F. Pickett, Mrs. Emma Jones, and C. J. Williams chartered Jones and Pickett Limited on February 20, 1903. The company had the rights to manufacture and sale turpentine, rosin, pitch, and tar; to own naval stores and their supplies; and to be common carriers of freight
by schooners and other vessels from St. Tammany Parish to New Orleans.

"These two companies began purchasing land in the Folsom area long before the railroad was opened. On December 26, 1902, Greenlaw bought timber from John Carroll, who lived just below what was to become Folsom.   

"On February 20, 1903, the same company bought timber from James Blackwell who lived west of Folsom.    Right of ways were purchased from a number of people, several being Mary Core and Irvin Stevens in 1904.

"Jones and Pickett had operated in the area several years earlier than did Greenlaw. Land was purchased from J. S. Richardson in April, 1900, and from Irvin Stevens in early 1903.

"The products produced by the companies were carried to Covington via mule, ox, or by floating down the Bogue Falaya River during flood stage. Lands that the two companies purchased had been purchased years earlier by the sellers. Mary Core, the daughter of Jacob Core, transacted several land purchases before the turn of the century. On August 20, 1891, she purchased some land from John Carroll.

"Later, on May 3, 1895, she acquired a piece of land from Barney Brown.
Added to these lands were the lands previously purchased by her father. Jacob Core received lands, located on the Tchefuncte River, from John D. White and Elizabeth C. Carriere between 1861 and 1872.

"Still another company that was to play an important role in the development of the area was the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company, Ltd., owned by Frederick and Jacob Salmen of Slidell, Louisiana. The company had started as a mill and brickyard in Slidell, but prosperity caused it to expand northwestwardly through St. Tammany. 

The Turpentine Business

"Alexander B. Holliday and William D. Ray were dealers in the turpentine business also. They acquired rosin rights from Paul Verger; Jones and Pickett, who had purchased land from George Fendlason, Mary Core, and Willis T. Wallis. The terms usually ran fifteen dollars per 1,000 boxed for a period of two years.  Greenlaw Lumber Company sold 900 acres of turpentine timber to Holliday and Ray in 1903.

"They received one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre at the signing and were to receive another equal amount in installments. After the agreement expired, Holliday and Ray were to fill the turpentine boxes with dirt to prevent fire from killing the trees.

"Holliday and Ray had expanded on December 13, 1901, by purchasing the turpentine business of the Fendlason Brothers, George and Hines. This consisted of all equipment, land, and other real estate. The sale included four yoke of oxen, one wagon, fifty pounds of butter, 2100 pounds of corn, forty-nine barrels, forty-nine rinses, and one building. Also included in the same were 61,000 boxes already cut on lands leased from Ancil Baham, Ray McKee, William Wallis, and Alex Bennett. The total price was 3,750 dollars.

"During this time, Covington Naval Stores Company, Ltd. started large stills at Alma, Centerville, Hilton, and Folsom. They hired 225 men and controlled 12,000 acres.

"Also, Frederick and Singletary was another turpentine concern operating in the Folsom area. In 1902, it purchased land from Andrew, Eli, and Thomas Garrett. 

Prosperity Ahead

"Prosperity was coming to the area. The founders of Folsom, George and Hines Fendlason, were men with foresight. On September 25, 1902, Jones and Pickett sold their entire operation to Holliday and Ray. This consisted of hundred of acres of land that they had purchased from George Fendlason, George Millener, Beu Austory, William Core, George Cyprian, and land that they had bought from tax sales by sheriff John J. Stable.

"The equipment included all merchandise at Ten Miles Still and all of the shanties thereon. The commissary building was included along with the barn and fencing, a number of dip barrels, a large wagon, a glue shed, one dwelling house, one cooper shop, two wells, five yoke of oxen, one small commissary building, 46,000 virgin boxes, 32 yearlings, one pair of scales, one saddle, some corn, and the boxes already placed on the land of A. Baham, J. F. Pickett, A. J. Core, E. Baham, J. Baham, J. Penn, P. Richardson, George Millner, Anna Richardson, Beu Anthony, W. M. Core, John Seele, George Fendlason, and Joe Pea.33 The price was $5,319  and twenty-three cents.

"The Fendlasons had moved from Alma to the area where the railhead would terminate. They bought the land owned by Mary Core and the Great Southern Lumber Company. On June 8, 1904, the Fendlason brothers dedicated the new town of Folsom in Covington, the parish seat.

The Street Plan

"We Fendlason brothers of the Parish of St. Tammany, State of Louisiana, sole owners of the plot of land hereon shown do hereby dedicate the annexed described on this plan the same to be and remain forever. Streets and Avenues of the dimensions herein and fully shown on said plan to be devoted to those purposes and for the purpose of beautifying the town and same to be used in perpetuity for no other purpose private or public the whole in accordance with an act of dedication and establishment of servitude."

"It was signed by George M. Fendlason and passed before H. R. Warren, clerk and ex-officio Notary Public for St. Tammany.

"The streets of this new town were seventy feet wide, with the main avenue being eighty feet in width. The main thoroughfare ran north and south with the railroad in the middle. Streets running east and west were Willow, St. John, Waco, Vermont, Camp, Cleveland, Broadway, Garfield, Gordon and Jackson. North and south streets were Sabine, St. Charles, St. Claude, June, Orange, Railroad, Olive and Magnolia.

"Several years would pass before the railroad would connect Folsom with the outside world. The proposed route down Railroad Avenue and a "Y" turn-a-round were sold to the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad by George M. Fendlason on February 27, 1908. The contract called for twelve and one half feet on either side of the track. It also stipulated that if the "Y" was not used for a five year period, it would go back to the grantor. 

High Hopes

"Hopes for the new town were great. Less than one year after the dedication ceremony, Folsom had three large mercantile establishments, three small stores, a wholesale warehouse, and plans for a train depot and telegraph office.

"The legend of how the new town was called Folsom is interesting, whether it is truth or fiction. Grover Cleveland was president at the time and George Fendlason was a great admirer of his. Cleveland had just married Frances Folsom, and Fendlason named the town after her.

"The Fendlason brothers began to sell lots in their new town. Many people bought these to build homes and businesses. The first house built in Folsom was the Wallis home and it still stands today, with a little modification. Some of the others to buy early lots were Warren J. Tycer, Alfred Bailey, Seana Gassoway, Jules Barrett, N. E. Core, Anese Anthony, Benjamin Brown, J. Y. Mapes, Paul Verger, Mrs. Tullie Springs, Phillip Reed, C& L. and J. C. Seal, Enios Rodriguze, James Rogers, Theodore Boutwell, A. Toney, J. 0. Varnado, Charles Cook, Warren Thomas, Louis Husser, J. L. Pittman, Mrs. L. D. Bernard, B. M. Stevens, Uriah Keating, Galatas Baham, Manson Corkern, Louis Jenkins, and J. D. McLain.

"Folsom was now growing very rapidly. George Fendlason built the George Fendlason Hotel and a livery stable. Preparations for a new school and church were started. Once the school started, John Carroll drove the bus and Minnie Robertson taught. It went through the eighth grade and after that the students had to go to Covington."

"Other businesses were soon to develop. Fendlason and Verger opened a store. The Cantrell brothers opened a sawmill and John P. Rauch opened a turpentine plant.

"The new railroad began shipping large quantities of cotton. It considered erecting a 30,000 gallon water tank. New enterprises that were being organized were a brickyard, another sawmill and a cotton gin. Plans were in the making to locate a bank in Folsom.

"Norman Fendlason and George Fendlason were the proprietors of the largest mercantile place in town. Norman was also a very successful farmer. George was the manager of the business. The store carried an extensive stock of general merchandise, dry goods, groceries, hardware, furniture, saddlery, wagons, and farming supplies. It had a forty-foot front and was 110 feet long.

"The Fendlason Hotel was the headquarters for all commercial travelers. It was known to have a fine table, clean rooms, and marvelous service. Galleries surrounded the entire building, up and down stairs. With over 900 lots to sale, other businesses were sure to establish themselves in Folsom. One was Mrs. S. M. Gassoway, who ran the principal millinery dry goods, fancy goods, and notion store in town.

"Her husband graduated from the New Orleans School of Medicine in 1861. He served throughout the Civil War in the Confederate Army as Assistant Surgeon under General W. Adams. He sold out his interests in cotton plantations in Mississippi to invest in the growing town of Folsom. His specialty was chronic cases. Dr. Gassoway also ran the drug store.

"Another doctor that located in Folsom was Charles J. May, who received his education at the Memphis Hospital and Medical College, Tulane University, and the Mississippi Hospital at Vicksburg. He conducted a drug store in Folsom and carried a line of quality drugs and druggist sundries. In the rear of his store, he had a very elaborate operating room. 

Saw Mill and Cotton Gin

"William T. Wallis and N. E. Core had a well equipped saw mill and cotton gin near Folsom. The saw mill had a capacity of 6,000 feet daily and the cotton gin, equipped with gullet gin and presses, turned out ten bales of cotton daily. Both of these men had large farms and were contractors for heavy piling, which was shipped to be creosoted. Their business was for the local and New Orleans Market.

"George Wallis had a store in Folsom, but it went out of business. He dedicated this store to the church and the school until the new ones were built. After they were built, this store became the community center.

"The community center became the focal point for Saturday dances. However, the town of Folsom did not allow liquor to be sold. The founding fathers considered liquor a bad influence upon a man's daily work.

"Warren Willie and William Morgan would go to Washington Parish and to southern Mississippi to purchase cattle and drive them to Folsom. 

"Paul Verger, the postmaster at Verger was transferred to Folsom as soon as the railroad came. A new post office was opened at Folsom and the old one at Verger was closed. He met the boat in Covington once a week to pick up the mail. Once the railroad opened, his job was made a lot easier.

"In 1906, the Fendlason School and the First Baptist Church of Folsom were completed. In 1908, St. John's Catholic Church opened four miles west of Folsom.
South of Folsom, two and two-tenths miles, was the town of Onville. Union Naval Stores opened and the proprietor, one Mr. Hood from Georgia, had brought large numbers of Negroes with him to work in the turpentine still.

"His agent, L. T. Miles, bought boxing timber and ran the business when Hood had to go to Covington, which was quite frequent, since he was president of the St. Tammany Bank. Miles had joined Hood in Georgia after coming to the South from Pennsylvania after the Civil War.

"Just above Folsom, on the Franklinton road, the Great Southern Lumber Company opened its still. On the left of the road was the still and on the right of the road was the company's commissary.

The Trains Coming and Going

"The railroad depot and telegraph office were completed and the first train rolled into Folsom. Phillip M. Reed was the telegraph operator at the Southern Telegraph Company office.

"The freight train made one trip per day to Folsom. The passenger train made two trips per day. When the time for the train to pull in arrived, all of the town's young people rushed to the depot to see who would get off. Then, they ran to the post office to see who got mail.

"The flagman on the passenger train was Charlie Everett, who came from Maryland. A. Mr. Keys was the conductor and he was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jessie Ladner worked in the parlor car, seeing that all of the passengers were as comfortable as possible. Ed Fraser was the porter and the engineer of the train was Stephen Trasher.

"Tom Slocum, the porter on the freight train had a very unique job once the train rolled into Folsom. He would take the train around the "Y" and park it to build steam for the next morning. For miles through the thick forests, one could hear the wail of the whistle as Tom brought in the new year. He would also sound it for special occasions such as a new baby or Christmas.

"About every two weeks the train offered the citizens an excursion to New Orleans for only one dollar. It would pick its passengers up at Folsom and by the time it arrived in New Orleans, it was loaded with 300-500 people. There would be from six to twelve passenger cars making the journey."

Dry Town

"From its conception, Folsom did not have any lounges or bars. Liquor was not sold anywhere in the town. If a person wanted to legally drink, he had to go by train or horseback to Covington. The founders agreed that liquor would not allow each man to fulfill his working obligations.

"The local farmers grew their own food. Such crops as corn, cotton, sweet potatoes, beans, peas, and greens were cultivated.

"The chief method of doing business was bartering. The farmer had a nice crop of sweet potatoes and his wife needed some dress material; he would simply swap the potatoes to the store owner for the material.

"All livestock was allowed to roam the woods and raised itself. This proved to present problems when branding or market time arrived.

"The price of commodities was unbelievable. A yearling, dressing around 260 pounds, cost about six dollars. A sow with ten pigs, each weighing 40-60 pounds, was worth ten dollars. If a man had a two year old mare, he could expect two dollars in return for the animal. If the animal was three years old, regardless of weight, the going price was three dollars. Eggs were worth six to seven cents per dozen, while the chicken was worth only fifteen cents. A rooster, regardless of size or age, was worth a quarter.

"Folsom, during its rapid rise in growth, was a place of thriving businesses and booming forest industries. In spite of the brickyard, all buildings were built of heart pine, which burned very easily. This fact would later prove fatal to Folsom after the lumber industry phased out. "

More information about the history of Folsom can be found in the history file of the Folsom branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library System.

See also:

The History of St. John Catholic Church - Folsom 

The History of Folsom  Parish Library's History of Folsom

A map of Folsom in the 1920's

Village of Folsom Master Plan, 2010

Village of Folsom Website, About Us  

Folsom Oath of Office

 Folsom School Photos

 Folsom Village Officials Group Portraits 

J.C. Pittman Memorial Fire Station Dedicated 

Predictions About Folsom for the Year 2076 

Evelyn Pittman Visits Folsom Elementary 

Folsom Civic League 

On its webpage, the Village of Folsom says this about its history:

"Folsom was established in  1904 at the Alma Post Office which was located 12 miles north of Covington. George N. Fendlason, the founder, is said to have named the town after President Grover Cleveland's wife, Francis Folsom Cleveland. A depot was later built in  1905 and Folsom became a notable logging community. By 1908, the village had made such significant progress that a plan was set to begin its incorporation. Finally, on March 12, 1915, the Village of Folsom was incorporated into the State of Louisiana.
"In June of 1908 the St. Tammany Farmer, a local newspaper, reported that Folsom had several prosperous general merchandise stores, a drug store, a barbershop, a meat market, and what was said to be, "one of the best hotels you could find anywhere". Business was booming in this quiet and peaceful area. Soon, Folsom would mature into what is now referred to as "God's Country".
"Today, the town of Folsom is a community well known for its flourishing plant nurseries and beautiful horse farms. The countryside is dotted with exotic animal farms such as emu and ostrich. It's character and country charm is cherished and appreciated by residents and visitors alike."