Tuesday, March 28, 2023

St. Paul's Graduating Class Circa 1916

 One of the first graduation classes at St. Paul's College in Covington was this group, with the photo taken around 1916. Click on the image to make it larger. 

Monday, March 27, 2023

Abita School Group 100 Years Ago

 This is a group photograph of the teachers, students and others associated with the Abita Springs School a hundred years ago. 

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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Madisonville F.H.A. Group Pictures

 Photographs found in the St. Tammany Tribune showing members, officers, and parents associated with the Madisonville Junior High Future Homemakers of America in 1961.

Mandeville Lakefront Fountain

 A water fountain on the Mandeville lakefront, with Lake Pontchartrain and the causeway in the background. 

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Abita Elementary Mardi Gras Parade

 In 2011 the students and teachers of Abita Springs Elementary School held a Mardi Gras parade. Here are some photographs from that event. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

J.E. Walters - Bridge Builder

 In a special edition of the St. Tammany Farmer newspaper published on August 31, 1956, J.E. Walters was given credit for the swift completion of the construction on the world's longest concrete span bridge. Here is the article. Click on the images to make them larger. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Captain Weaver - A Covington Legend

Captain Henry Thomas Weaver was one of Covington's most revered citizens for it was through his efforts to build and maintain the area's access across the lake to New Orleans, both for passengers and cargo, that Covington became a major trade center. His life story, his family, his business enterprises, and his dogged determination to serve the Covington and Madisonville areas is told in the following account, provided by the St. Tammany Historical Society.  

In the mid-1990's the St. Tammany Historical Society awarded a grant to Russell Barnes of Biloxi, MS, for research involving the history of the lake trade on Lake Pontchartrain and along the Gulf Coast. In 1999, some 24 years ago, the results of that research was published in the society's "The Millennial Gazette." Here is the article that was published, accompanied by its photographs.

Pontchartrain Lake Trade and the Steamboat Josie

By Russell Barnes

Covington's heritage is deeply rooted in the maritime freight trade that once supported its economy and way of life. The schooners and steamboats that regularly called at Covington's Old Landing were the backbone of the lake trade that once functioned as an important socio-economic connection between St. Tammany Parish and the rest of Lake Pontchartrain.

In the 1880s, a local observer said that St. Tammany Parish was "naturally a water route. The towns are easily and quickly reached by steamers from the city."' Indeed, the schooners and steamboats brought not only food and supplies, but also visitors, news and mail to the various communities around Lake Pontchartrain. The schooners and the men who sailed the lake helped to weld the cultural links between their communities and the larger world around them.

Maritime Legacy: Captain Weaver

Standing tall amidst this relatively small and rather exclusive cadre of sailors was a schooner captain named Henry Thomas Grace Weaver of Covington. Weaver was one of the most notable sailors on the North Shore during the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. He was the contemporary of veteran schooner captains such as Victor Fauria and John Milloit, both of whom were also experienced North Shore schooner masters in their own right.

Although his birthplace is unknown, Captain Weaver was born in 1850. By the early 1880s, he was a regular participant in the lake trade between Covington and New Orleans. Not much is known of Weaver's personal life during this time, except that he maintained a constant presence on the Lake, while he and his wife Mary lived with their children in a house in Covington, overlooking the Bogue Falaya river. Mary Weaver died on February 26, 1888, leaving captain Weaver with two children, Charles and Rebecca.'

Schooner Two Sons

The earliest evidence of Weaver's presence in the lake trade is in the early 1880s. On October 27, 1881, Captain Weaver bought the schooner Two Sons, a six year old lake schooner originally built in Madisonville by Louis Baham. She measured almost 60 feet in length  and 27 tons. He bought the schooner from a man named Bartholome Farragut.

For ten years, Weaver mastered the Two Sons, making regular voyages from the Old Landing at Covington to the canals at New Orleans. She carried sand and bricks from the Tchefuncte and Bayou Lacombe, as well as cotton, sand and bricks from Covington.

She made weekly trips to New Orleans with these cargos, returning with groceries, dry goods and finished goods for various stores and customers along the way.

The Two Sons left Covington every Friday at 4 p.m. and left the New Basin canal at New Orleans every Wednesday afternoon at 2 p.m. to return to Covington. Weaver charged the standard freight rates: 30 cents per bale of cotton, 15 cents per dry barrel and 10 cents per sack of produce. Until the fall of 1886, she made stops at Mandeville, but thereafter Weaver concentrated his trade at the rapidly growing town of Madisonville.

Although the lake trade flourished during the 1880's, the year1889 marked a new beginning for Captain Weaver. He survived the personal tragedy of his first wife's passing and began looking forward to the future.

In December 1889, he married his second wife, Josie Frederick, of Covington. His new found marital bliss was the perfect backdrop for his most ambitious business endeavor to date.

Schooner Josie Weaver

In the summer of 1891, Weaver contracted with Madisonville boat builder Louis Cardone for the construction of a new freight schooner of 40 tons. She was nearly 70 feet long on deck and measured 5 feet deep in her cargo hold.5 In early August 1891, the new schooner was ready for launching. 

Named for his new bride, Josie Weaver, the new schooner was built at a cost of $2,500. To help pay for the new schooner, Weaver signed over the aging Two Sons to Louis Cardone. Although he gave up the Two Sons, the deal was a good one. Throughout the 1890s, the Josie Weaver became one of the most recognized sights on the lake, making weekly journeys from Covington to New Orleans.

During the 1890s, the Josie Weaver sailed exclusively between Covington and New Orleans, carrying cargos of sand, cotton, tar, rosin, turpentine and clay to New Orleans. On one trip to New Orleans in November 1899, she carried 52 bales of cotton, 126 barrels of rosin, 26 barrels of turpentine, 250 barrels of sand and 25 barrels of clay. On her return voyages to Covington, she carried anything that could be loaded onto a schooner.

Among her freight carrying contemporaries were the Lake veterans F.M. Pippo, the Rosa A., owned by Jones & Pickett of Covington; the J.R. O'Rourke owned by L.P. Delcroix; and the St. Bartolomeo. Each of these schooners carried the same kinds of cargos as the Josie Weaver. Likewise, they charged much the same freight rates, 30 cents per bale of cotton, 15 cents per dry barrel and 10 cents per sack of produce.

Captain Weaver's home life flourished during the 1890s along with his freight business. His wife gave birth to three children during the period. His son Dudley was born in 1892, Harold was born in 1894 and daughter Norma, the apple of her father's eye, was born in 1896. During this time the family lived happily in a new house not far from the Weaver's first residence. Their prosperity allowed them to employ a servant who cooked and cleaned, and helped to take care of the children.'

Second Schooner Josie Weaver

Tragedy befell Captain Weaver's freight business around the turn of the century when the Josie Weaver burned and became a total loss. Undaunted, Captain Weaver decided to build a new schooner. He asked well-known and respected boat builder Valerian Baham to build a new schooner that was to be a "great improvement over her predecessor,-being larger in every-way," and "as trim and staunch as possible." 

The new schooner was built at a cost of $4,000 and was launched on May 11, 1901. The occasion was celebrated with the Covington brass band playing as the new schooner was christened at 2 o'clock by Miss Amanda Doerr, who broke the traditional jug of wine on the glistening bow just as she glided down the ways into the river, and said, "I christen thee Josie Weaver" Everyone toasted the new owners health and prosperity.

Just as Weaver wanted, the new Josie Weaver was larger, measuring over 75 feet in length and 50 tons. During the early 1900s, the Josie Weaver sailed out of Covington every Wednesday at 12 noon, and left the New Basin canal every Saturday at 3:30 p.m. to return to Covington.

During the early 1900s, the Weavers enjoyed a good life. Their freight business was steady and their rising prosperity enabled the family to cultivate a wide circle of friends and enjoy a lifestyle full of leisure. When his schedule permitted, Captain Weaver took his family and friends down to a camping area near the mouth of the Tchefuncte River called the "point." Here they would pass several days and sometimes weeks enjoying the quiet of the natural surroundings.

Steamer Josie

In 1908, Weaver made a daring investment. He contracted with the Oulliber Brothers Shipyard in Madisonville for a new steamboat. In early July 1908, the new steamer was finished, and shortly thereafter, she was ready for the lake trade. The new steamboat measured almost 90 feet long, 25 feet wide, and 80 tons. 

The steamboat Josie was built at a cost of $12,000. Rather than operate two boats, he got out of the schooner freight trade, selling the schooner Josie Weaver to Peter Cordona on August 14, 1908." Although she was intended to carry passengers, the Josie carried freight as well.

 From 1908 through the early 1920s, she plowed the Lake, using her 96 horsepower steam engine and eleven man crew to make weekly trips to the New Basin canal at New Orleans carrying sand, rosin, turpentine, lumber, rice, hides and other assorted farm produce. In the mid 1920s, she left the lake trade when she was sold to the Daphne Boat Co. of Daphne, AL.

Schooner William Martin

Captain Henry Thomas Grace Weaver died in 1914 at the age of 64. He left his freight business in the hands of his son Dudley Weaver, who continued to use the schooners in the lake trade through the early 1930s. The last schooner known to have been owned by the Weavers was the freight schooner William Martin, which was purchased in 1930. Dudley Weaver sold the William Martin in 1939 to Hebert Frederick of Covington.

For Henry Thomas Grace Weaver, there is a lasting historical legacy to be found in the cities and towns of St. Tammany Parish. Because maritime trade constituted the heart and soul of the economy of many communities along the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, it is to men like Captain Henry Thomas Weaver to whom we owe our greatest debt of gratitude for the economic and social links they helped to forge across the lake.

About The Author

Russell Barnes lives in Biloxi where he began his research into Gulf Coast maritime history in 1994. In 1997, he received a Master's degree in History from the University of Southern Mississippi. His master's thesis was titled "The Impact of Industrialization on Work and Culture in Biloxi Boat Building. He spent two years researching the coastal "lake trade" under a grant from the St. Tammany Historical Society.

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Chefsoiree This Sunday

 A special preview of tonight's gala Chefsoiree event was held in Bogue Falaya Park in Covington Friday night, with a number of sponsors and other guests taking part in sampling some of the food offerings and music that will be available later this Sunday evening. 

Here are some photographs of last Friday night's preview event.

The car raffle tent all set up

Getting the big tents ready

They were empty yesterday but this afternoon will fill up 

The Youth Service Bureau tent near the park pavilion

A large number of Chef's Special tents

Tables set up for eating and drinking with friends

Walker Percy's statue is wondering what's with all the tables

The Ford Bronco that will be raffled off

Friday night's musical talent was the New Orleans Piano Maniacs

Alongside the scenic Bogue Falaya River

Hors D'Oeuvres were served Friday night

The Lacombe Turkey Farm

 In 1953 the Southland Turkey Farm in Lacombe was making news. Click on the images below to read all about it. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Fair Premium Booklet 1927

 Each year the St. Tammany Parish Fair Association published a premium booklet, listing the various categories of competition in horticulture, livestock and other agricultural interests. The booklet pictured below, printed ninety-six years ago in 1927, contained dozens of advertisements from many St. Tammany businesses and services, plus a few New Orleans concerns as well.

Here are excerpts from the first half of that booklet:

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The inside front cover and title page

Satsuma Oranges a big hit

Events Schedule

Huey P. Long was running for governor