Thursday, February 25, 2021

100 Years Ago This February 26

What was going on 100 years ago this week? CLICK HERE for a link to the St. Tammany Farmer Issue of  February 26, 1921. The link is provided by the Library of Congress and its Chronicling America service.

Click on the sample images below to see larger versions.  

Southern Hotel business dinner

Lacombe entertainment

Society news


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Garbage Bag Full of Loot

 On December 12, 1973, the News Banner ran an interesting article about a bulldozer operator finding a garbage bag in the Honey Island swamp containing several thousand dollars from a Hattiesburg bank robbery. 

Click on the article to make it bigger and easier to read.

See also:

Gold Coins Found in Honey Island Swamp

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Gibson Street Overview

Gibson Street in downtown Covington has its share of remarkable buildings and historic connections. While it may seem today in some respects like just a side street, it actually is home to a wide array of landmark locations.

The first bridge across the Bogue Falaya River coming into Covington came in on Abadie Lane and emptied its traffic out onto Gibson Street and Boston Street.

One of the first houses you'd see coming into Covington was on Gibson Street
The train tracks were another Gibson Street highlight. Trains arrived at Covington coming across the river and proceeded along Gibson Street. It was a major event for the passenger trains to come with load after load of weekend visitors and summer time residents. 
Click on the images to make them larger. 

Even the first train station was located on Gibson Street

 The hotels were on Gibson Street, along with restaurants and bars. 

One of Covington's most famous bars, the Little Napoleon, was at the corner of Gibson and Columbia. 

The Patrick Hotel was on Gibson, and later became Hebert's Cleaners

The building fell victim to the 1997 tornado
Then Hebert's Cleaners rebuilt in the same location

The train tracks down Gibson are seen in this snow picture early in the 1900's

View looking towards Columbia

The same view a little later, still with the train tracks
Gibson St. has been home to some memorable businesses
A downtown putt putt golf course 
Charlie's Bar later became Nathan's Sandwich Shop

Then Judice's 

And now Mattina Bella Restaurant

A key business on Gibson is Brooks Bike Shop. And that's because Gibson Street is now carrying the Tammany Trace Recreational Bike Trail straight into the heart of downtown Covington, where it gently curves past Rosemary's Closet and heads for the Covington Trailhead.

Over the years a number of businesses have kept Gibson St. in the forefront

Maison Nez was a popular Gibson Street business 

Now the corner of the building is occupied by Gulf Coast Lanterns

The Covington Post Office was located next to Gibson Street, with the La. Dept. of Motor Vehicles Driver's License Office right behind it. Here's a Tammany Talk column I wrote in 1972 about the daily experience of "going to the post office" on Gibson Street.
Art students from local high schools used to paint holiday greetings pictures on the windows of the post office to further enhance daily visits to the facility. 

Many Covington residents shopped at the Gibson Street A&P when it was located there.

Generations of Covington area residents have shopped at Marsolan's Feed & Seed Store on Gibson
Dependable Glass, an outstanding local store with an impressive national outreach, has its service and manufacturing facilities on Gibson  

Dependable Glass staff in June of 1979, with railroad tracks still running down the middle of Gibson Street

And with some irony, the Gibson's Department Store on the southern edge of the Bogue Falaya Plaza Mall was located on Gibson Street. 

What else is located on Gibson?

The Maritime Pilots Institute is at the corner of Gibson and New Hampshire, diagonal across from the Star Theater, which commands a rich history with Covington area residents. Also along Gibson are the popular Bogue Falaya Fitness Center, Gulf Coast Lanterns, a number of professional offices, the Artmasters Screen Printers and Promotions, the Renaissance Gifts and Cabaret Cafe (original Covington Ice House), and ending at the Bogue Falaya River with Gilsbar Inc.
Bogue Falaya Fitness

Across Gibson from Gilsbar is the tallest building in Covington, Bogue Falaya Towers
The other end of Gibson St. brings you to the St. Tammany Parish Public School System Administrative Building on Theard St.  
And all of this with Gibson St. being only six blocks long.  

See also:




Monday, February 22, 2021

Louisiana Avenue All Over The Place

Prior to 1917, one of Covington's busiest streets was Louisiana Avenue, a broad dirt road lined with beautiful oaks. It led from the downtown area southward towards St. Paul's and turned westward to connect up with the bridge over the Tchefuncte River that led down to Madisonville. Here's a postcard showing the thoroughfare. 

Louisiana Avenue Postcard
 As the road to Madisonville got more and more traffic, due primarily to the expanding shipyard business on the Tchefuncte River there, complaints mounted that the dirt road should be improved, with a layer of shells if possible. The man to make this possible, Walter Jahncke, lived on Louisiana Avenue in Covington, and, with an interest in keeping travel between Covington and Madisonville as smooth as possible, he called upon his shell dredging company to make the city of Covington and St. Tammany Parish an offer that they were glad to accept: for every load of shells they purchased to put on the Madisonville Road, he would donate another load of shells for the project.
Click on the image to make it larger and more readable.
Several newspaper editorials lamented the need for improving the dirt roads and saw shelling a viable alternative, especially as more and more workers at Madisonville shipyards were looking for housing in the Covington area. 
Improvements to the Madisonville Road became a priority once shipbuilding began ramping up for World War I demands.
The Covington Town Council appreciated the offer of shells
Within a year, the Madisonville Road and Louisiana Avenue were greatly improved. The city of Covington , in order to show its gratitude, renamed Louisiana Avenue "Jahncke Avenue" in honor of Walter Jahncke's family who operated the shipyard and the associated navigation company that did the shell dredging.

Another postcard, this one in color and spotlighting Jahncke Avenue
Not all of Louisiana Avenue was changed to Jahncke, however, because the route to Madisonville veered westward at around 14th Avenue, leaving the path followed by Louisiana Avenue and making a sharp turn shortly after that to head west to Filmore Street, where it turned southward to cross the wooden bridge over the Tchefuncte River that was at that location.
Click on the images to make them larger

Interestingly, a four block segment of Louisiana Avenue remains today, along the same alignment as most of Jahncke Avenue, but south of where Jahncke veers to the west and moves a block over. The current day Louisiana Avenue runs between 12th Avenue and 8th Avenue. 
Complications Arise

The matter was complicated further, about twenty years later, when the Covington City Council re-named some streets to accommodate a new post office address system. As per information from Jack Terry: "Louisiana is a complicated street. Around 1917 it was changed to Jahncke Avenue, then in 1936 Jackson St in the Division of Spring area was changed to Louisiana.  Jackson street was changed to South New Hampshire some time later.  It tends to be very confusing for anyone looking for relatives in Covington, since many of the old addresses have been changed over the years and there is very little documentation."
Excerpts from the January, 1937, minutes book, City Council of Covington

 At the January, 1937, city council meeting a resolution was offered to change the names of certain streets in the city where duplications had occurred. This needed to be done "in order to avoid confusion and hasten the delivery of mail to our city by postal carriers." The resolution said the following:

Jefferson Street, in Old Covington, which at that time ran from America Street to Jefferson Avenue, was to be changed to Jefferson Davis Street.

Madison Street, which at that time was a continuation of Theard Avenue, was to be changed to Theard Avenue from its intersection with Columbia Street all the way to Hancock Street. (19th Avenue?)

Monroe Street
and its continuation known as Independence Street in the Division of St. John, stretching from the Bogue Falaya River at the foot of Columbia Street, to Seventh Avenue beyond River Glen park, was to be changed to Wharton Street, in honor of the founder of Covington.

Washington Street, in Old Covington, which at that time ran from the Bogue Falaya River to Jefferson Avenue, was changed to Lafayette Street.

And Jackson Street, in the Division of Spring, which at that time ran from New Hampshire to River Glen Park, was changed to Louisiana Street.

That's not all of the story, however. To further complicate the matter, there's another Louisiana Avenue just west of Covington, located between Pruden Road and the Tchefuncte River, that starts at U.S. 190 and heads north.
 So if someone tells you their family lived on Louisiana Avenue in Covington, you may have to ask them which one when.