June 30, 2013

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 4

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:

Part of the village of Sicily Island used to be named Florence.  Around 1909 it changed from Florence to Sicily Island.  Two names were up.  Up before what body, I don’t know.  Policy Jury, state legislature or whoever.  They didn’t have a town council back in those days.  One name was Bluff City, the other was Sicily Island.  They chose Sicily Island.  There has always been a Sicily Island.  Even the village of Florence was a part of Sicily Island.  The story goes that the name Sicily Island came from an old Sicilian who came through this area years and years ago and it reminded him of his homeland.  
Mrs. Allena Stafford wrote a book about Sicily Island.  Her book started back in the 1890s.  I visited with that old lady in her home in Jena for several hours back in about 1980.  It was a couple of years or so before she died.  I mentioned Sicily Island and the fact that I was disappointed that it hadn’t always been Sicily Island but was once Florence.  She said it had always been Sicily Island.  The village of Florence was later named Sicily Island.

Mrs. Allena was 90 something years old when we visited.  Mrs. Allena married Dave Stafford.  Dave Stafford and old man William Peck were first cousins.  Their mothers’ maiden names were Lovelace.  Dave Stafford worked for William Peck around the cotton gin.  Allena and Dave Stafford lived on the Peck place in the old Gillis house when they were first married.  It was around 1912.  Mrs. Allena was a Hopkins. 

There’s a place or point on the Ouachita River called Stafford’s Point.  It was a steamboat landing.  Dave Stafford’s father was a steamboat captain.

I still have Mrs. Allena’s book.  It’s mostly about the 1890s that she’s writing about.  She quotes from historical records of what a beautiful place Sicily Island was.  They called it the breadbasket of this area.  Wonderful farming country.  Sicily Island was almost like a paradise back in those days.
In fact, Sicily Island, to me and others that have lived here, has always been a paradise.  I grew up here.  Every boy that grew up here can tell you that back in the 1930s and 1940s this was a Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn land.  Tom and Huck didn’t do more than we did.  They didn’t have the different things to do that we did when we were boys.  This was just a wonderful place to grow up back in the 30s and 40s.
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Military Monday ~ Thomas Becket Sprague

Thomas Becket Sprague
Born on February 16, 1833
Died on October 17, 1911
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Private, Company H, 2nd Regiment
Louisiana Cavalry

June 29, 2013

Sunday's Obituary ~ Chisum and Steele

Thomas Jefferson Chisum
Isham Alfonso Steele


Obituary – Thomas Jefferson Chisum and Isham Alfonso Steele – December 4, 1934

Sicily Island, LA ---Two of Catahoula parish’s most valuable citizens, Thomas Jefferson Chisum, 81 and Isham Alfonso Steele, 64 died here Tuesday morning.

Mr. Chisum and Mr. Steele came to Sicily Island 45 years ago from the same town in Texas to build themselves into prominence among people of this locality.

Mr. Steele, who was a nephew of Mr. Chisum, died at 3 o’clock Tuesday morning and Mr. Chisum died just three hours later.  Mr. Steele was a prominent merchant and landowner having started his career in life working in the store of his uncle and after working several years, he went in business for himself and acquired success as a business man and most valuable citizen.  He is survived by his wife, three daughters: Mrs. Bruce Edmonds, Mrs. Wesley Ogden, and Miss Juanita Steele of Sicily Island and one foster-son, Ted Steele of Houston, Texas.

Funeral services were held at the home in Sicily Island, Wednesday afternoon with Masonic ceremonies at the grave in Pine Hill cemetery where interment was made.  Rev. E. W. Day, pastor of the Methodist church here officiated.

Mr. Chisum came to Sicily Island more than 45 years ago riding horseback, driving a drove of horses which he sold after arriving here at a loss.  Mr. Chisum opened a mercantile store here a number of years after he came here and operated it until 1912 when he retired from the mercantile business.  He acquired several hundred acres of land during his climb up life’s ladder.

Mr. Chisum, as did Mr. Steele,  came here from Thornton, in Limestone County, Texas.

Mr. Chisum assisted in the organization of the Sicily Island State Bank and was vice-president of the institution at the time of his death.  Among the various enterprises in which he engaged was that of stock raising, which he took great pride in and his opinions along this line were considered authoritative.

During his many years of residence at Sicily Island, Mr. Chisum was a useful and public-spirited citizen, an encourager of local enterprises and a supporter of sound business institutions.

He was a charter member of Keystone Masonic Lodge here as was his nephew, Mr. Steele.  Both uncle and nephew and their families were members of the Methodist church here.

Mr. Chisum is survived by his widow, two sons, E. W. Chisum and E. D. Chisum of Sicily Island and two daughters, Mrs. C. J. Gordon and Mrs. J. G. McNair of Sicily Island.

Funeral services were held at Pine Hill church at 10 o’clock Wednesday morning with interment in Pine Hill cemetery.  Rev. E. W. Day, local Methodist pastor officiating.



June 25, 2013

Wednesday's Child ~ Daughter Festervand

Daughter of
Joe and Edna Festervand
Born on September 1, 1946
Died on September 1, 1946
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Gone so soon

June 24, 2013

Talented Tuesday ~ Joseph Raymond Peace, Sr.

Raymond Peace

Joseph Raymond Peace, Sr. was born in Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana on December 20, 1920.  He was the son of Wallace Meacham Peace and Annie Jean Horton.

Raymond graduated from Haynesville High School where he played football for the Tornadoes.  Next to his family, football would become the love of his life.

In 1948, Raymond Peace was hired as the first football coach for Sicily Island High School in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana. Later, he also served as the principal and held that position for many years.

Raymond Peace coached the Tigers for 27 years and amassed a winning record that was unmatched throughout those years.  His last year to coach the Tigers was 1975.

Raymond Peace is listed in The Louisiana High School Football Coaches 200 Win Club with the following record:
Won:  228
Lost:  58
Tied: 5
Average Win per Season:  8.8
*based on 26 years

What the record books and statistics don't show is the impact this man had on the lives of the players he coached as well as every student who passed through the halls of Sicily Island High School during his tenure.

Raymond Peace taught us the importance of discipline, perseverance, loyalty and yes, winning; whether on the field or off.

His love of the game was evident to all who knew him.

Coach Peace died on October 19, 1992. 

The memories he left behind and the many lives he touched proved the measure of the man.

June 23, 2013

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 3

 The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Annie Boxler was an old colored lady who worked for Grandma Steele for years.  She used to live in a little shotgun house right at the back end of Mr. Maurice Saltzman's lots where his home was located.  

I remember one summer night about 1933 or 1934.  I couldn't have been over six or seven years old.  It was a summer night; a moonlight night.  About midnight, Annie woke us up.  You could hear her calling.  She was calling Daddy and calling Mr. Maurice Saltzman.  She'd say "Ooooooh, Mr. Bruce.  Ooooooh, Mr. Maurice.  Somebody help me.  Somebody's breakin' in on me."  

I don't think we were really asleep.  It was one of those hot summer nights.  Back in those days you didn't have fans or air conditioners.  You just laid up there in the bed sweating, fighting mosquitoes until it cooled off and you could finally go to sleep.  I heard Mother tell Daddy, "Bruce, you ought to get up and see about Annie."  So when he got up, I hit the floor to follow him.

We were both wearing those old BVD underwear.  Daddy got his shotgun and we walked out our back door and started out through our garden towards Annie's house.  We got about midway to our garden and Daddy suddenly stopped.  He was just standing out there in the moonlight.  I didn't know why he stopped.  

About that time, a light came on in the back of Mr. Maurice's house.  We heard Mrs. Gladys and Mr. Maurice talking.  Mr. Maurice started from the back of his house going down through his backyard.  It was a long ways back there to Annie's house.  As he was walking, we could see the light from his little flashlight.  He was yelling, "I'm coming Annie!  This is Mr. Maurice.  I'm coming Annie and I've got a gun!"  I reckon he thought he was going to scare the booger off by yelling.  

Mr. Maurice got about halfway down to that old peach orchard and I saw Daddy raise his shotgun up in the air.  BAM!  Everything got just as quiet.  Mrs. Gladys hollered, "Mauuuuurice!"  We could see that little flashlight bobbing up and down as Mr. Maurice was making his way back to his house.  It was just a bobbing.  Mr. Maurice absolutely broke the track record for the 100 yard dash that night.  I mean, he was moving on!  That little light was just a bobbing and he was flying.  

I reckon if the yelling didn't scare the booger off, that shotgun blast did.
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