May 2, 2015

Flooding of the Mighty Mississippi, Part Five - The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927

1927 Flood Map

In an earlier post from November 17, 2012 I documented the impact of the flood of 1927 on Sicily Island.  

Other areas of Catahoula Parish and surrounding parishes were not as fortunate as Sicily Island during this disastrous flood.

1927 Flood Map

Louisiana Folklife contributor, Betty Jo Harris, wrote the following:
Jonesville, located in Catahoula Parish, suffered some of the worst water in the state. On 1 July, the Tensas Gazette reported, "The town of Jonesville, once the pride of Catahoula Parish and a thriving little metropolis has been stricken by the hand of the greatest river flood of all time in a manner that is truly unbelievable" (Tensas Gazette 1927b). The paper observed that the town was a veritable wreck due to the water which measured 15 feet in some areas.
From the Catahoula Parish History website we find a 1927 photograph contributed by Barbara Dener of mail being handed out an upstairs window of the Post Office/Ford House:

Jonesville, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana - 1927 Flood

From the Northeast Louisiana Historic Images Collection we find a 1927 photograph of St. Joe in nearby Tensas Parish:

St. Joe, Tensas Parish, Louisiana - 1927

GenDisasters has the following report about the 1927 flood's impact on Catahoula Parish and its neighboring parishes:


Thousands of people fled the flooded areas in search of higher ground.  Refugee camps were set up in the Catahoula communities of Harrisonburg, Rhinehart and Sicily Island.   In an article from the May 12, 1927 edition of the Miami News we learn of the outbreak of Smallpox in these camps.

Miami News - 5/12/1927

GenDisasters gives the following timeline and summary of the Flood of 1927:
The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 was the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States.
The flood began when heavy rains pounded the central basin of the Mississippi in the summer of 1926. By September, the Mississippi's tributaries in Kansas and Iowa were swollen to capacity. On New Year's Day of 1927, the Cumberland River at Nashville topped levees at 56.2 feet.
The Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles. The area was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet. The flood caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states.
The flood affected Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Arkansas was hardest hit, with 14% of its territory covered by floodwaters. By May 1927, the Mississippi River below Memphis, Tennessee, reached a width of 60 miles.
By August 1927, the flood subsided. During the disaster, 700,000 people were displaced, including 330,000 African-Americans who were moved to 154 relief camps.



*This post is part five in a series of posts in which an attempt will be made to document the history of flooding in Catahoula Parish.  Occurrences will be presented using maps, newspaper articles, photographs and reports from the State Library of Louisiana and other collections from the sources linked below each post. 

April 29, 2015

Attempted Double Assassination at Sicily Island


In an earlier post about the history and renovation of the Pine Hill Plantation House, I transcribed a newspaper article which appeared in the November 28, 1982 edition of the News-Star World.

The article mentioned a tragedy that was believed to have happened at the Pine Hill residence involving a 'Mr. Stewart'...
Mr. Stewart had come to Catahoula with the gas industry.  In the short period he was there, he gained the respect of area residents.  One ill-fated night, he escorted a young Sicily Island woman to the Pine Hill dance.  Unknown to the young couple was the fact that a local youth was in love with the girl.  He waited outside the house for them to leave the dance.  As they walked onto the front steps, Mr. Stewart was mortally wounded. The murderer mounted his horse and vanished into the night, according to one popular version of the story.  The young girl was totally innocent, that was the irony of the entire matter.
Could this 'Mr. Stewart' be the Charles Lee Stewart killed in Sicily Island in March of 1906?

New Orleans News - 3/13/1906

If this is the same 'Mr. Stewart', it appears that the murder occurred at the Tom Hardin residence and not at Pine Hill Plantation.

Thomas Leo "Tom" Hardin was the son of Dr. John Calvin Hardin whose home was located just a few miles down the road from the Pine Hill Plantation.

Hardin House

Is the Hardin house pictured above where the shooting actually occurred?

Dr. Hardin was still alive in 1906 when the shooting occurred but where he was living is in question. The article says the shooting occurred in the home of Tom Hardin.

The 1900 U.S. census shows Dr. Hardin and his wife and two of their children living at the home pictured above.  Tom had married Florence Meyers in 1898 and by 1900 one of their six children had been born.  He and his family lived about five houses down the road from his parents.

U.S. Census - 1900

At some point after the 1900 census, Dr. Hardin, his wife and two of their children moved to Harrisonburg.  The 1910 U.S. census shows Dr. Hardin and family living in Ward 7/Harrisonburg on Water Street.


U.S. Census - 1910
I have been unable to find a 1910 census record for Tom Hardin.

It is possible that Dr. Hardin and family were living in Harrisonburg in 1906 and Tom and family were living in his father's house pictured above.  Or perhaps the article was incorrect and should have stated that the shooting occurred in the home of Dr. Hardin.

From the November 3, 1906 edition of the Donaldsonville Chief we learn the fate of the young man who was arrested for the attempted double assassination:

Donaldsonville Chief - 11/3/1906

If anyone has information on where this shooting actually occurred please leave a comment below or email me at Rootsfromthebayou@gmail.com.

A note to my friend, Dawn, who currently lives in the Hardin house:  Maybe you should pay more attention to those unexplained noises you hear!


A special 'thank you' goes out to David Newland for sharing these newspaper articles with me.


April 26, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Ralph David Price

Monroe News Star - 7/25/1968

Ralph David Price

Born on June 16, 1950

Son of
James Blanchard Price, Sr. and Ara Lafaye "Faye" Slade

Brother to
James Blanchard, Jr., Larry, Doris, Maxine,
Laverne and Karen

Died on July 24, 1968
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana



Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard.




April 19, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Annie McCarty

Monroe News Star - 7/31/1969

Sarah Ann "Annie" Watson

Born on February 26, 1891

Daughter of
Wade Watson and Emma Hardin

Sister to
Jessie, Willie, Thomas, Ida, Roy, Mary, Jack and Velda

Wife of
Robert Leo McCarty

Mother to
Ethel, Charlie "Buddy", Juanita, Hazel and Robert Leo, Jr.

Died on July 29, 1969
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana



Tombstone photograph taken by FindAGrave member, Karen Klemm Pinckard.




April 15, 2015

Wednesday's Child - Thomas Jefferson Chisum, Jr.



Thomas Jefferson "T. J." Chisum, Jr.

Born on Oct 2, 1881

Son of
Thomas Jefferson Chisum, Sr. and Catherine "Kate" Smith

Brother to
Mary Eva (Gordon), Jessie (McNair), Edward Walling, Sr.
and Emmett DeWitt, Sr.

Died on August 17, 1882
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana