April 30, 2014

The Catahoula Kid ~ Gator Invades Duck Blind

From the December 6, 1953 edition of the Monroe Morning World:

Wedding Wednesday ~ Peck-Gilbert Bridal Luncheon

From the July 8, 1946 edition of the Monroe News Star:

Barbara Jane Peck was the daughter of William Smith Peck, II and Barbara Estelle Woodward.  Her paternal grandparents were William Smith Peck and Florence Celeste Lovelace.  Her maternal grandparents were Rev. William Thomas Woodward and Rosa Jane Bacot.

Jess Carr "Sonny" Gilbert is the son of Jess Carr Gilbert and Fannie Earl Adams.  His paternal grandparents were Daniel C. Gilbert and Mary Emma Carr.

Barbara Jane Gilbert and Jess Carr "Sonny" Gilbert were married on July 10, 1946.  Two children, Barbara and Jess, were born to this marriage.

April 29, 2014

Talented Tuesday ~ Gordon Vaught, Louisiana Star Farmer of 1953

From the June 29, 1953 edition of the Monroe News Star:

Henry Gordon Vaught is the son of William L. Vaught and Eva Gordon and the grandson of Dr. Charles Judson Gordon and Mary Eva Chisum.  He married Mary Joy Miller of Sicily Island who was the daughter of Byron Kingston "B. K." Miller, Sr. and Mary Artie Garrison and the granddaughter of Edgar Eugene Garrison and Hulda Annie Francis.  Gordon and Joy had one daughter named Mary Eva.

April 28, 2014

Military Monday ~ James Durwood Camp

James Durwood Camp

Born on April 19, 1905

Son of 
James Monroe Camp and Della Martin

Died on August 6, 1949
Buried in the Catahoula Cemetery
Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tec 5
Co. K, 194th Glider Infantry
United States Army
World War II

Enlisted on March 16, 1942
Honorably Discharged on August 19, 1945

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

Tobacco Grown at Wallace Ridge in 1932

From the May 8, 1932 edition of the Monroe Morning World:

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 44

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Bushes, Briars and Weeds...
Vegetation around the Island has always been thick and especially so during late May and early June.  It looks like a scene from Central America.  
You can look outside when it’s misting rain and imagine you’re in a rain forest.  As the sun goes down late in the evenings, areas in the yards and along the fence rows are dark, dark with the thick vegetation. 
In this particular part of Louisiana the vegetation couldn’t hardly be any thicker than it is in the late Spring.  Maybe the soil itself is just right to grow this type of thick vegetation.  
The thick vegetation causes problems keeping the highways and roads clear.  Vacant lots have to be mowed regularly or within five years you’d have pretty good sized saplings growing.  After ten years you’d never know it had been a vacant lot. 
Vacant lot in Sicily Island
If you look at a map of Louisiana and the contours of the land you’ll see where the Atchafalaya River Basin extends on up from the gulf into this part of the state.  Catahoula Parish is just north of the top end of the basin.  It’s almost like there’s nothing to stop the ocean breezes from touching this part of the country.  

There have been times when I have thought I could feel that atmosphere, smell the scent of the Gulf of Mexico.  There are no barriers between the Gulf of Mexico and here on the Island. 
There are some enchanting places around the Island; little nooks, hideaways, plots, fields and meadows.  It is an island.   
As I talked about before, we are surrounded by lakes and rivers.  You can really see that we’re on an island when the water comes up high.  The Mississippi River and other bodies of water back up in here and we’re completed surrounded by water. 
Think about it this way…if you’re coming from Natchez, Mississippi and cross over into Vidalia, you drop down into the lowlands.  From the Mississippi River until you get to the bluffs of Sicily Island, the area is very low.  You then reach the plateau that comes up at least 20-25 feet higher.  

The village is on the beginning of the plateau.  The plateau goes on for about four miles until you reach the edge of the hills.  The hills continue until you reach the Ouachita River.  There are three different types of land within a four mile distance; lowlands, a plateau, and the hills.    
A view from the hills of Sicily Island
For those listening to this tape on off in the future, I want you to stop and think about how many places you have ever seen where there is such a difference in the terrain as it is here on Sicily Island.

Note:  Parts 1-43 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

April 27, 2014

Sunday's Obituary ~ Benjamin Franklin McGuffee

Monroe Morning World - June 7, 1936

Benjamin Franklin "Uncle Ben" McGuffee

Born on January 20, 1844

Son of
William H. McGuffee and Ann Eliza White

Husband of 
Georgia Ann Price

Father to
Dilly, William H., James Washington, Albert Benjamin, Alford,
Robert Franklin, Suvilla, Ellis Lee and Benjamin Irvin McGuffee

Died on June 6, 1936
Buried in Spring Ridge Cemetery
Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph taken by FindAGrave member, Tommye Price

April 26, 2014

Old Movie Clip of Catahoula Parish Courthouse and School Board Office

Below is a short video clip from one of my grandfather's old home movies back in the late 1960s or very early 1970s.  The first scene is of a few people outside the Catahoula Parish Courthouse in Harrisonburg and another nearby office.  The second scene is of a few people outside the Catahoula Parish School Board office in Jonesville.

The quality is poor but if anyone can help identify some of the people in the clip please leave a comment or email me at rootsfromthebayou@gmail.com.

I do recognize Mr. Alden Webb, Mr. York Sheppard and Mr. Ladell Sandifer outside the School Board office.

A Buck, a Boar and a Gator - 1936 Catahoula Parish Hunting Trip

Monroe News Star - December 24, 1936

Sports Center Saturday ~ Peace Named As First Football Coach, 1948

From the April 11, 1948 edition of the Monroe News Star:

Raymond Peace coached Tiger Football for twenty-seven years.

April 24, 2014

The Legend of Catahoula

The Legend of Catahoula was originally reported by Henry E. Hardtner in the Jena Times on December 16, 1906 and reprinted in October of 1927.

From the September 22, 1935 edition of the Monroe Morning World:

April 23, 2014

1933 News for Sicily Island School

From the April 19, 1933 edition of the Monroe News Star:

From the September 21, 1933 edition of the Monroe News Star:

April 21, 2014

Seal and Huff Announce Candidacies in Catahoula Parish ~ 1935

Monroe News Star - August 30, 1935

Charles Samuel Seal was the son of Marcus Anthony Seal and Mary Elizabeth Furr.  He and his wife, Lula May White, were the parents of Lily Mae, Walon Marcus, Alvin Lewis, Mildred, Albert Garrel, Elizabeth Lorelle and Charles Lee Seal.

Roy L. Huff was the son of Robert Lee Huff and Ann Hughes.  He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro, were the parents of Thelia Marie Huff.  Thelia married Albert Earl Krause, Sr.

National Register of Historic Places ~ Sargent House

Sargent House - Harrisonburg, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana (courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser)
Built in the early 1800s, the house was originally called the Weinbert House and then the Disch House. The Sargent family took ownership in 1902 and since that time it has been known as the Old Sargent House.

Wooden pegs and square nails were used in the construction of the house.  High water marks can be seen on the outside walls and scars from Federal gunboat shells are reported to be scattered throughout the house.

The house was also used as a hotel for steamboat travelers.

Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser
The Sargent House was opened for tours during the Fort Beauregard Battle Festival and battle reenactments back in November of 1984.  At that time, the Catahoula News Booster reported that the house stood 'almost unchanged' from its original construction and still had the original furnishings.

Pictured above are Earline Carter and Inez Renfrow of the Harrisonburg Woman's Club.  The Woman's Club sponsored the tours of the Sargent House in November of 1984.

Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

The Sargent House was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Historic Significance:Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer:Unknown
Architectural Style:Greek Revival
Area of Significance:Architecture
Period of Significance:1875-1899
Historic Function:Domestic
Historic Sub-function:Single Dwelling
Current Function:Recreation And Culture
Current Sub-function:Museum

Sargent House - Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

Military Monday ~ Carey Osborne Fairbanks

Carey Osborne Fairbanks

Born on March 13, 1924

Son of
Dr. Russell Usher Fairbanks and Sallie I. Knight

Brother to
Russell Usher, Jr., John Henry and Buddy Clay Fairbanks

Husband of

Father of
Carey, Jr. and Ronnie Fairbanks

Died on January 20, 1992
Buried in the Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Private First Class
United States Army
World War II

Enlisted on November 1, 1942

April 18, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past ~ Janie and Fielding Guice

Mary Janie Langston and John Fielding Guice

Parents of
John Friley, Muriel Ophelia, Herd Nathaniel, Lester Langston,
Loma Dean and Woodie Dempsey Guice

Photograph is courtesy of their grandson, DeWayne Guice.

April 17, 2014

National Register of Historic Places ~ Battleground Plantation

Battleground Plantation - Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

Located 4 miles north of Sicily Island, Battleground Plantation is the site of the last major battle between the Natchez Indians and the French. The battle occurred in January of 1731.  

The land was purchased in 1808 by William M. Smith from John Lovelace, Sr.  In December of 1828, William Smith's daughter Laminda Smith married Dr. Henry J. Peck.   Dr. Peck built the Battleground home in 1829-1830.   It is believed that the house was substantially altered to the present Greek Revival structure around 1850.

From an article on RootsWeb:
The Civil War and its aftermath brought great changes for the Pecks at Battleground.  According to family tradition, Dr. Peck and his wife spent about three years of the war away from Battleground in Cherokee County, Texas.  When the war was over they returned to Battleground, and in a letter of 1867 to former Governor Thomas O. Moore, Dr. Peck expressed his disillusionment in these words:
"I am 65 years of age and was the owner of 90 negroes before the war and a plantation of 2600 acres.  I was making 400 bales of cotton per annum.  I had 500 bales of cotton burned during the war by order of Gen. Taylor with my gin and mill.  I have had two crops of cotton eaten up since the war by caterpillars.  In short I am completely broken up and am disfranchised in consequence of having represented my district in the senate for some years since."
But Dr. Peck was planning to escape the situation:
"I will not submit to Yankee degradation any longer than I am compelled to do so under these circumstances.  I am disposed to emigrate to British Honduras.  I will be greatly obliged to you to give me a letter addressed to the authorities of that country stating my standing as an old citizen of the State of Louisiana."
Dr. Peck never carried out his plan to emigrate, however, for he stayed in Catahoula Parish until his death in 1881.  In the 1870 census, he is listed as a 67-year-old "retired physician" owning 450 acres of land worth $3300.  He also owned 2350 acres of livestock, and during the previous year the farm had yielded 200 bushels of corn and 28 bales of cotton.  The census of 1880 lists Dr. Peck as part of the household of his son, Thomas N. Peck, so he may not have been living at Battleground by that date.
According to family tradition, soon after Dr. Peck's death in 1881, the plantation was sold to a cotton brokerage firm from New Orleans, which in turn leased the land to tenant farmers.  Then, in the early 1900s, it was purchased by Charles Cornick.

De Bow's Review, vol. 12 - Dr. A. R. Kilpatrick visited the battleground site in 1851 and writes about his findings:
"...the remains of a gunlock, some gun flints, a number of ounce balls, all more or less flattened and battered, a piece of iron rod, a copper arrow-barb having a socket to fit on a large arrow, with many of the ordinary Indian flint arrow-points.  Many gun and pistol barrels, fragments of bomb shells and some cannon balls have been picked up on the same ground.  Pigs of lead, two feet long were found there in digging a ditch, and several bars of iron, which were subsequently used by Edward Lovelace in building the first gin erected on Sicily Island.  The musket balls were coated with a thick oxide, and were so plentiful that the early hunters used to resort there for a supply of lead.  A spherical ball was found, having a loop for a handle, and a rattle inside.  Its tone was very clear.  Some gentleman passing there, who had a taste for such curiosities, took it with him.  A part of a steel corn mill was also found, and part of a chain with a hook on it.  One day while fishing, Mr. Peck found the barrel of a pistol sticking in the bank on the border of this lake.  He also found some cannon balls, about eight pounders.  The Indians there in 1802-03, said there were two cannons sunk in the same lake.  The generation of Indians here at this time said they were told by their fathers that the whites and Indians had a battle there more than a hundred years before."

Battleground Plantation was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Historic Significance:Person, Event, Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer:Peck,Dr. Henry J.
Architectural Style:Gothic Revival, Greek Revival, Renaissance
Historic Person:Peck,Dr. Clarendon
Significant Year:1850
Area of Significance:Politics/Government, Architecture, Military
Period of Significance:1850-1874
Historic Function:Domestic
Historic Sub-function:Single Dwelling
Current Function:Agriculture/Subsistence, Domestic
Current Sub-function:Single Dwelling

Courtesy of Dorothy Stutson Tiser

Courtesy of RootsWeb

April 16, 2014

Wednesday's Child ~ Willie Verona Bennett

Willie Verona Bennett

Born in July of 1886

Daughter of 
Zachariah Taylor Bennett and Sarah Jane Myers

Sister to
Edward Phares, Lula Alma, Mary "Mamie" Agnes, Emma Lillian,
Minnie Leola, Zachariah Taylor, Jr., Emmett Lee, Owen "Lank" and Myrtle Bennett

Died on February 6, 1899
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

April 15, 2014

National Register of Historic Places ~ Catahoula Parish Courthouse

Catahoula Parish Courthouse in Harrisonburg, Louisiana

The original structure of this Catahoula Parish Courthouse was built between 1930 and 1931.  This was the third courthouse constructed in Catahoula Parish.  In his book, 'The History of Concordia Parish', author Robert Dabney Calhoun writes about past Catahoula Parish courthouses:
The first courthouse was built [circa 1807] at the foot or base of the hill overlooking the town, and was constructed of pine and cypress logs and covered with cypress boards.  It served its purpose for about thirty five years, when in 1842 the Police Jury awarded a contract for the construction of a brick two story building.  This building was completed in 1843 and served the community well until the present building was completed in 1931.
On August 7, 1972, the Police Jury selected a committee to look into the possibilities of constructing a new courthouse.

Police Jury members at the time were H. C. Peck, Jr., Maizie Franklin, Grover Elliott, Roscoe White and Al Boughton.  Committee members included R. Roger Reeves, Jr., A. D. Taylor, G. D. Babin, H. C. Peck, Jr. and William H. Martin.

The committee recommended renovation to the original building as well as building a new addition.  This recommendation was based on the fact that the original building was structurally sound and along with the new addition would meet the parish's needs in the most economical way.

Following the passage of a $1,350,000 bond issue by parish voters, construction work began on October 13, 1973.

On May 14, 1977, dedication ceremonies were held in Harrisonburg with Governor Edwin Edwards delivering the final speech of the day.

Rev. J. O. McNair gave the invocation and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by Clarence A. Richard, Secretary of the Police Jury.

Welcome addresses were given by Mayor Charles Myers of Harrisonburg, Mayor Lonnie Franks of Sicily Island, and Mayor G. D. Babin of Jonesville.

Other speakers included H. C. Peck, Jr., Senator Jim Brown, Congressman Jerry Huckaby, Representative Dan Richey, Judge R. P. Boyd, Sheriff Thomas L. Jackson, Clerk of Court W. A. Book and Assessor G. O. McGuffee.  The benediction was given by Rev. Oviel Kiper.

The Catahoula Parish Courthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Historic Significance:Architecture/Engineering
Architect, builder, or engineer:Tudor & Ratcliffe Construction Co., Smith, J.W., & Associates
Architectural Style:Classical Revival
Area of Significance:Architecture
Period of Significance:1925-1949
Historic Function:Government
Historic Sub-function:Courthouse
Current Function:Government
Current Sub-function:Courthouse

April 14, 2014

Military Monday ~ Benjamin F. Hughes

Benjamin F. Hughes

Born on October 27, 1839

Son of
William H. Hughes and Eliza J. Spann

Husband of Mary Hanks

Father to
William, Charles and Louis Hughes

Died on May 12, 1923
Buried in the Harrisonburg Cemetery
Harrisonburg, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Confederate States of America
15th Louisiana Infantry

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Eva Merryman.

Amanuensis Monday ~ The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 43

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Back in the late 1940s or early 1950s, we had an election.  That was an exciting time.  People coming and going to the polls.  
There were usually church groups selling refreshments and taking up money for their groups.  Mr. Oscar Krause and Mr. Harold Bird were around the polls that day.  Later
Mr. Oscar Krause
that night, Mr. Oscar told his wife, Mrs. Birdie, that he and Harold had bought sandwiches and cups of tea from the church ladies.  He said they didn’t drink the tea because it had a rag or something in it.  
That was when they first came out with the little tea bags that they put in cups and poured hot water over.  They had little strings on the bags that hung over the side of the cups.  Mr. Oscar and Mr. Harold had never seen that.  They thought somebody had left a rag or something in their cups.
It was exciting times when elections were going on.  Ballots were put in boxes and when the polls closed at 8 o’clock they’d have to count them.  If there were a lot of candidates running in a big general election, it was liable to be two or three o’clock in the morning before all the ballots had been opened and counted.  
Sometimes in a close race locally for Police Jury it would be nip and tuck.  You wouldn’t know who had won until the end of the count.  I remember in one election when Coan Knight beat Uncle Jim McLelland by two votes in a Police Jury race.  It went right on up to the last count.  
I was always there.  Eight, nine, ten years old.  My mother and daddy were interested in elections.  We hardly missed being at the polls during election time.  Lots of people would be hanging around the polls listening to them count the votes. 
I didn’t miss any elections during the late 1930s and all through the 1940s, 50s and 60s.  I grew up in a kind of political family.  I’ve been involved in politics myself. 

Sicily Island Alderman
I have been on the Town Council, served ten years on the Police Jury for this ward, served as Registrar of Voters for Catahoula Parish for thirteen and a half years and served six years as a School Board member. 

Catahoula Parish Police Jury

Catahoula Parish Registrar of Voters

Catahoula Parish School Board
I have just always been interested in politics and elections.  I’ve been through years and years of politics.  I was interested in politics even before I could vote at 21 years old.  When I was growing up you had to be 21 before you could vote.  I’d get out and talk for my candidate.
Governor Earl K. Long
In the Fall of 1940, I made a talk for Earl Long here in Sicily Island.  I just took it upon myself to do it. 

Earl Long came through here later speaking and heard about it.  They got me to get up on the microphone and make a speech. 
Then they took me on with them to Harrisonburg to make a speech.  A day or two later, they took me to Monterey to make my speech.  

Earl Long was defeated in that election for Governor but he came back in 1948 and won.  He won again in 1956.

Note:  Parts 1-42 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.