Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Louis Medal: Covington Businessman

 In the late 1800's (and early 1900's) Louis Lucien Medal lived and worked in Covington. A few years ago his grandson Lou Medal shared a packet of historical materials on his grandfather's many contributions to the town. He was not only active on the town council, but he also took part in a couple of business enterprises, including the Covington Broom and Manufacturing Co.

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Louis L. Medal was born in New Orleans on December 13, 1871, but moved to Covington in 1888 at the age of 17. According to 1901 issues of the St. Tammany Farmer, he became involved in his own grocery store as well as The People's Bakery. 


Louis Lucien Medal 


In 1904 the Post Office was located on Columbia Street, east side, just a few doors down from Boston Street, so the L. Medal Grocery Store was most likely on the west side of Columbia Street, next to the two story brick building at Columbia and Boston streets. 

According to his grandson, "the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper in 1902 said that Medal was a leader in the United Order of Druids, Bogue Falaya Grove, No. 21." The Druids were a very active civic organization.

In December of 1902, another article congratulated him on his marriage to Miss Medora Aucoin in New Orleans. In 1904 their only child was born, Leon L. Medal. 

"Both my grandfather Louis L. Medal and Gaston Galmiche got married in 1902," his grandson goes on to say. "Mr. Galmiche married my grandfather's sister Bertha Medal."
The "Park" Purchase
Louis Medal was active with the city's board of aldermen on many committees. One of his more interesting projects in the year 1900 was the purchase of a square of ground between Theard and Jefferson Avenues for the purpose of building a public park.
This was the city block which a few years later would become the site of the Covington city school. Then later the property was sold to the parish school board for the building of Covington High School, a three story brick building which eventually became the St. Tammany Parish Public School System's central office. 

A member of the Business Men's Progressive League

On June 27, 1905, at the age of 34 years, Louis L. Medal died. "Obituaries written about him indicated that he was evidently well known and a respected businessman in Covington. He was laid to rest in the Old Covington Cemetery where his tombstone can be found," his grandson wrote.

In his obituary it was noted that Medal "was one of the prominent young business men of Covington, being the head of the firm of L. Medal & Co., and also Manager of The People's Bakery. He was a native of New Orleans, but a resident of Covington for the past seventeen years. He was a man of fine social qualities and genial disposition and was popular with all who knew him."

The obituary went on to say that he was a past Arch, State Deputy, and Treasurer of the local United Ancient Order of Druids organization. "He also served creditably several years as a member of the Covington Board of Aldermen," it was said.

The funeral took place at St. Peter's Church and was "largely attended," with E. J. Frederick, Charles G. Kleeman, Alexander Kennedy, Ab. Blattner, B. L. Crawford and Albert Theobald serving as pallbearers.

It is believed that his grandmother and his father moved from Covington to New Orleans during the Great Depression (mid-1930's).

The People's Bakery

The People's Bakery Staff: Medal was the manager and co-owner
The location of "The People's Bakery" was on the corner of Columbia Street and Kirkland Street.  According to Todd Valois, the bakery was first owned by a young bachelor Maurice P. Planche and Gaston Galmiche for several years. In 1906 the two men divided the business into The People's Confectionary" to be run by Galmiche, with Planche to continue the bakery business which at the time was one of the town's premiere bread bakeries. 

After the death of Louis Medal, his widow sold her interests in his businesses. 

 His gravestone in the Covington cemetery