June 30, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 48

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

I just had a good long visit with Sidney Collins and got him on tape.  He’s getting to be an old timer now.  His birthday is in November.  He’ll soon be 81 and he still gets around good.  Drives his little Ford tractor and has a big garden. 
Sidney Collins
Sidney has chickens and a couple of hogs that he raises to kill in the winter time.  He cooks for himself and knows how to preserve all different kinds of food.  He also has one of the few tater punks left around here. 
We talked about the panthers and coyotes that folks have heard and seen around here.  I’ve heard that panthers have been spotted and heard on the Rock Road.  There used to be a big swamp down there.  Sidney says he’s heard panthers back in that part of the country.
Mary Smith Rusing
My cousin, Mary Rushing, lives on Hwy 8 right outside of town going towards Harrisonburg.  There’s a black church that sits in behind her house called St. Paul’s.  It has been there for years and years.  There are woods and thickets behind the church and Mary swears she’s heard panthers back in that area. 
Sidney said he hears coyotes all the time.  The coyotes are just all over this country.  A few days ago I heard some early one morning and I live inside the Village.  They were yipping and every now and then one would howl.  My dogs were going crazy.  I believe those coyotes were inside the Village, too.  If they weren’t, they were right at the edge of the Peck pasture over by the school.
Sidney’s sister Ollie lives right down the road from him.  She’s about 87 years old.  She’s got arthritis and doesn’t get around as good as Sidney.  Ollie is Kelso Moore’s widow.  I need to make the time to go out and visit Ollie.  I haven’t seen her in over a year. 
Sidney’s wife has been dead for a long time.  Her name was Julia.  He remarried about four or five years ago to an Arnette but they didn’t stay together long.
I believe Ollie told me that the Collins family moved here in the late teens or early 1920s.  Ollie and Sidney had a brother named Martin.  Everybody called him Bud.  He was a little younger than Ollie but older than Sidney.  They had a half-brother and a half-sister through their mother.  The brother’s name was Elijah but everyone called him Colonel.  He must be 76 or 77.  Their half-sister was Chris.  She is at least 75 years old. 
Sidney’s got a good many children.  I know he has a son that lives up in Monroe and is retired out of the army.  One of his daughters lives in Chicago and another lives in Washington, D. C.  Sidney goes off to visit them every now and then. 
Sidney Collins is a good citizen and he always has been.  He doesn’t get out and cut-up, drink and gamble.  Never has.  He’s always been a hard worker and believes people should work for what they need and want.
Sidney and John Gary are good buddies.  John Gary must be around 74 years old.  I don’t remember them being friends in times past but in the last several years they’ve kind of buddied-up.  I call them the “Gold Dust Twins.”  Both are good people and they are my friends.

Note:  Parts 1-47 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of this blog.

Military Monday - John Alton Loomis

John Alton Loomis

Born on October 12, 1919

Son of
Charles Henry Loomis and Clara Ethel Sanders

Brother to
Wade, Kermit, Robert Earl, Oletta Wilma, George, Charles Allen,
Virginia, Lawrence and Gene Loomis

Husband to
Helen Elizabeth Hayden

Died on December 14, 1969
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana


67 Armored Recon Regiment
United States Army
World War II

June 29, 2014

Sentimental Sunday - La Grace du Ciel

La GrĂ¢ce du Ciel is a French interpretation of Amazing Grace written by David E. Marcantel and performed below by Les Amies Louisianaises, a Southwest Louisiana singing group.

h/t Louisiana Heart and Home

Sunday's Obituary - Enos Jackson

Monroe News Star - 1/29/1969

Enos Jackson

Born on March 28, 1898

Husband of
Lela Jayne Tarver

Father of
Wendell, Helen Louise and Thomas Louis "Sonny" Jackson

Died on January 27, 1969
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisisna

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

June 28, 2014

June 27, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past - Aubrey L. Brooks

Aubrey Leonidas Brooks

Son of
Rev. Leonidas Hill Brooks and Lillie Eloise Randall

Brother to
Kerfoot Graves, Ann Hasseltine, John Madison, Julian Dodd,
Richard Shadrack and Paul Elkins Brooks

Husband of
Thelma Mitchell

Father to
Pat, Craig and Nan Brooks

Aubrey Brooks served the Catahoula Parish school system for forty-two years.  His first ten years of service were spent as a teacher, principal, coach and supervisor.   He served as the Catahoula Parish Superintendent of Education for the remaining thirty-two years. 

Other areas of service included membership on the AASA Executive Council of Louisiana Teachers Association, two terms as president of the Fifth District School Superintendents Association, and membership in the Sicily Island Rotary Club.

Follow Friday - Prune Picker

The featured blog for this Friday's 'Follow Friday' post is Prune Picker.

Blog owner Chuck Monson is a native of California and is retired from the oil exploration and production business.  Chuck now lives in Ruston, Louisiana and uses his blog to tell his life story which spans over eighty years.

He began his blog in April of 2010 and now has over 220,000 pageviews.  

Why he loves to blog...
"I like putting pictures and text together in a way that is hopefully interesting to others and that will be interesting to me in the future.  It is also putting my memories down on paper."

Prune Picker is a blog for all.  Whether your interests are genealogy, history, RVing or you simply enjoy following the everyday life of someone such as Chuck Monson, you will enjoy many of the his stories and photographs.  You will also find that he has a great sense of humor.

Thank you Prune Picker for a great blog.  Keep on bloggin'!

Family Recipe Friday - Cucumber Chunk Sweet Pickles

From the kitchen of Harrisonburg resident, Miss Anne Trunzler:

June 26, 2014

Thriller Thursday - Earthquake in South Louisiana, 1842

The Indianapolis Indiana Journal reported the following on June 15, 1842:


The St. Martinsville Creole states that "on Saturday last, the 7th inst at about 3 o'clock, P. M. an earthquake, which lasted two or three seconds, was felt in that parish.  A respectable inhabitant of Catahoula, who was angling at that time, in company with some ladies, on the banks of the lake, told us that as soon as the shock was felt, they were all struck by a kind of giddiness, and that one of the ladies fell down in a swoon.  He also assured us that the lake rose, during the space of two minutes, to more than six feet.  Several inhabitants along the banks of Bayou Teche affirm the unaccountable elevation of that river at about the same time.  We suppose that this extraordinary ascension of the waters was but the result of the commotion caused by the phenomenon.  One of our friends, who arrived from Opelousa yesterday, told us that the shock was also felt in that part of the country.  From the delcaration of the oldest inhabitants of this parish, this would be the second earthquake felt in Attakapas."

Note:  The Catahoula mentioned in this article is a community in south Louisiana; not to be confused with Catahoula Parish in central Louisiana.

June 25, 2014

Law and Order - Catahoula Parish, 1889

From an article that appeared in the October 31, 1889 edition of the Brazil Register in Brazil, Indiana:


The Better class of citizens of Catahoula Parish, La., Organizing for the Protection of Negro Laborers Against Lawless Night Riders.
New Orleans, Oct. 25. - The Times-Democrat Trinity (La.) special says:  A number of the best citizens of this section of Catahoula Parish have decided to organize a vigilance committee for the protection of the negro laborers of the parish against nightly raids of armed bands of white and colored men who have been visiting the various plantations and searching by armed force the houses of laborers, threatening and attempting the lives of the tenants, and shooting at them on the public highways while in the pursuit of their daily vocations, to the detriment of the public good and the scandal of the people of the parish.  An indignation meeting will be held at Jonesville next Tuesday to adopt means for the protection of the people against these armed bands.

Wedding Wednesday - Abrahm and Holloman

The following announcement appeared in the April 21, 1922 edition of the Tensas Gazette:


Mrs. Helen Abrahm announces the marriage of her daughter, Pauline, to Mr. Howell J. Holloman, of Harrisonburg, Louisiana, on April 4, 1922.
The above notice came as a most pleasant surprise to the many friends of the bride in this her native parish.  She is the youngest daughter of the late Mr. Chas. Abrahm and Mrs. Helen Jacoby Abrahm, who now live in New Orleans.  Miss Pauline served as a member of the faculty of the Harrisonburg High School 1920-21 session where she met Mr. Holloman, their friendship ripening into love and love culminating in happy marriage.  Mrs. Pauline is now teaching a Kaplin, La., but will make her home in Harrisonburg after close of school.  She is a most lovable and accomplished young lady and her friends will rejoice in her happiness.
The groom comes from one of the oldest and most noted families in North Louisiana, and the name Holloman has ever been prominent in the social and political life of Catahoula parish and has given to that parish some of its best brain and brawn---a parish noted for its wealth and intellect.
The Gazette joins the many friends of the happy bride in this parish where she was born and reared, in wishing her and hers all the happiness in life.

Wednesday's Child - Nina Lee Bennett

Nina Lee Bennett

Born in 1909

Daughter of
Emmett Lee Bennett and Georgia Myrtle Higgins

Sister to
Ethel Louise, Laura Myrtle, Willard Emmett,
Leela and Bonnie Bennett

Died in 1910
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

June 24, 2014

Talented Tuesday - B. K. Miller, Jr.

Born in 1938 to the marriage of Byron Kingston "B. K." Miller, Sr. and Mary Artie Garrison, "Little B. K." became a star athlete on the football field at Sicily Island High School.

In an article in the October 17, 1954 edition of the Monroe Morning World where Coach Raymond Peace referred to him as "Mr. Outside", the sports writer described B. K.'s athletic abilities as follows:
"Miller is a squirming twisting runner that refuses to be knocked off his feet and can find a hole or make his own.  He is also dangerous on kickoff and punt returns and is an adept pass receiver.  A junior, he'll be back to haunt opponents next fall too."

Following his high school graduation, B. K., Jr. attended Louisiana Tech in Ruston where he played on the Louisiana Tech football team.

While his athletic abilities no doubt brought pride and touched the lives of folks on the Island, it would be his future vocation that would touch many more lives...for a much greater purpose.

From an article appearing in the December 11, 1960 edition of the Monroe Morning World:


B. K. Miller, Jr. of Sicily Island will be ordained to full ministry by the First Baptist Church here at 2:30 p.m., December 18.

He was licensed to ministry by the Temple Baptist Church of Ruston while he was a student at Louisiana Tech.  At present he is serving as pastor of Norris Hill Baptist Church near here and also attending the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Serving as the presbytery at the ceremonies will be the Rev. Carleton Vance, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Wisner; Clarence Young, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Winnsboro; Carl DeLatte, pastor of the Pine Hill Baptist Church of Sicily Island, and James C. Houston, pastor of the church here.

Miller was active in athletics while at Louisiana Tech, and played on the football team.  He served as minister of music at a number of state churches during revival meetings.

Reverend B. K. Miller retired in 2001 after serving in the ministry for over fifty years.  He continues to serve as an interim pastor for local churches in the Ruston, Louisiana area.

He is known for beginning his sermons with funny jokes and stories and recently compiled them in a book called, "300 Church-Tested Funny Jokes and Stories."  The News Star featured a story entitled 'Holy Humor' on Rev. B. K. Miller in their Lifestyle section on May 30, 2014.

June 23, 2014

Amanuensis Monday - The Stories That Should Be Told, Part 47

The following transcription is from a series of recordings my father made in the early 1990s:
Gravel operations in the hills...
Back in the early and mid-1930s we had a pretty big gravel operation out in the Sicily Island hills.  Gifford-Hill operated a gravel washing plant.  A lot of the local people worked there and a lot of people drove dump trucks that hauled pit run, sand, wash rock and dirt.
We had a dummy line railroad that was a spur off of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.  The dummy line ran about three miles out to the hills.  They had a little steam locomotive and some open box cars that belonged to the Missouri Pacific.  The box cars would be dropped off near the gravel plant to be loaded with gravel before being taken back to the main line and picked up by the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
About the time WWII started, Gifford-Hill shut down.  It was believed that they felt they had gotten the best of the gravel.  In the years since, there have been gravel companies and washing plants that continue to get more gravel from the Sicily Island hills.
Mr. Reggie Cruse, who had a sawmill, got into the gravel business and started the Sicily Island Gravel Company.  Asa Kiper from Wisner went into the gravel business.  Roscoe Slay was involved in the gravel business.  Buddy Chisum has been in the gravel business for years. 
Mr. Cruse sold the Sicily Island Gravel Company to Asa Kiper, Buddy Chisum and William Feltus.  Marvin Nolen was the superintendent out at the gravel pit.  I was a bookkeeper for them for a couple of years.  Marvin and Buddy owned some gravel trucks.  Lynn Evans had gravel trucks that hauled out of the gravel pit.  Between the people working at the gravel company and all the trucking companies and drivers, the gravel business provided many, many jobs.
Besides the jobs in the school system, the next biggest industry would be the gravel business. 
Charles McNair worked for Gifford-Hill back in the 1930s.  He was the son of John G. McNair and cousin Jessie Chisum.  His brothers and sisters were Eva, Son, Jack, Kitty, Nell, and Bit.
He continued to work for Gifford-Hill down below Alexandria near Turkey Creek.  He moved on from there to Kinder, Louisiana where he retired after working for Gifford-Hill for many years.  Charles married Wanda Peniston, Mr. John Peniston’s child from his first marriage to Beatrice Munn.
Several people left Sicily Island to work for Gifford-Hill but didn’t stay with them.  I think Chisum “Son”  McNair and Big Emmett Chisum worked for them at Turkey Creek. 
Charles, Son and Big Emmett walked that dummy line every morning to work at the gravel washing plant in the hills of Sicily Island.  They walked three miles to work and three miles home every day.
Some of the children of the employees who moved to Sicily Island in 1935-1936 to work for Gifford-Hill were the Dumain twin girls.  They were in my third grade class.  They had an older sister and brother named Cecil.  There was also Doc Melton’s daughter.  Doc was the engineer on the locomotive for the dummy line.
Many of the people who drove the gravel trucks are still driving today.  Back in the early years there were 3 yard dump trucks and then there were 5 yard dump trucks.  Some trucks could haul 10 and 12 yards. 
Now there are trucks that can haul 25 yards of gravel.  Kiper’s in Wisner and a man in Harrisonburg still have the little 5 yard trucks.  Those smaller trucks were handy when you needed a load of gravel in your yard or driveway.  The bigger trucks were so heavy that unless there had been a drought, they would sink down in the ground and rut up the area.
Getting to the gravel...
First they’d have to push the trees and saplings off.  Then they would use a bulldozer to push the overburden off.  The bulldozers would start on the side of a hill and work back and forth. 
Once they hit gravel they could tell by sight how much gravel was there and how far from the top of the hill the gravel was located.  Sometimes they would go down through 20, 30 or 40 feet of dirt before they hit the gravel bed.  Other times they would only have to go down through about 10 or 12 feet of dirt before hitting the strata of gravel.  Once they got into the gravel, they would bring in the drag-lines with buckets on the end of them to scoop out the gravel. 
There is no doubt that Gifford-Hill made a big mistake when they left here in the late 1930s-early 40s because they believed they had gotten the best of the gravel.
Now, perhaps, the best of the gravel is gone. 
Water Source...
Water used to separate the dirt from the gravel came from the hollows out in the hills.  The gravel company would take bulldozers and drag-lines and dam up the water in the hollows and it would accumulate into ponds.  They would place culverts at certain depths in the levees to keep the dams from blowing out or overflowing. 
I remember one time when one of those dams broke after a heavy rain.  That water came gushing down out of those hills, down to the hillside on the Bend road and just covered some people’s property.  It just ruined the property by leaving behind two or three feet of sand on top of the ground where they farmed. 
The hills prior to the gravel operations...
Up until the time when gravel companies like Gifford-Hill moved in, the hills of Sicily Island were practically untouched.  There were no roads in the hills.  The only people who went in the hills were people who had cattle or hogs running loose in there.  Some people deer hunted on the edge of the hills.  There were places in those hills where very few white settlers had ever stepped foot.
I can’t even imagine the Indians being way back in those hills.  It was virgin timber and forest up until the gravel companies started going deeper into the hills.  There are still places where very few people have been.  No telling what was there or what may still be there.
Wildlife in the hills...
Over the years, people have reported seeing bears and panthers in the Sicily Island hills.  If there was ever a place where bears and panthers could survive and thrive it would be in the Sicily Island Hills.  Bobcats were all over the place.  I’ve seen them out there in the past.  I’ve even seen tracks of a mama bobcat and her babies.  Coyotes and Armadillos were not seen in these parts until the 1940s and 50s but now they are all over the place, not just in the hills.
Several years ago, the State of Louisiana purchased a lot of the land in the hills and turned it into a Wildlife Management Area.  

Note:  Parts 1-46 of 'The Stories That Should Be Told' can be found in the Tags List on the right-hand side of the blog.

Military Monday - James John Spears

James John Spears

Born on August 9, 1895

Husband of
Marie "Nanny" Spears

Father to
Evelyn, Elizabeth, Lillie, Edith, Margurite
Jimmy Lee and Atwell Spears

Died on May 21, 1967
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Private First Class
United States Army
World War I

World War I Registration
World War II Registration

June 22, 2014

Sunday's Obituary - Thomas Leo Hardin, Sr.

Monroe Morning World - 7/13/1947

Thomas Leo Hardin

Born on January 7, 1877

Son of
Dr. John Calvin Hardin, Jr. and Texana Elizabeth Torrey

Brother to
Melbourn, Douglas Baker, Mary and John Calvin, III Hardin

Husband to 
Florence Meyers

Father to
Thomas Leo, Jr., Naomi, Flora, John Rollin, 
Mary and Loraine Hardin

Died on July 11, 1947
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

June 21, 2014

Catahoula Mound Dwellers - Lake Larto, 1896

From an article in the September 25, 1896 edition of the Republic City News in Republic, Kansas:

June 20, 2014

Friday's Faces From the Past - Birthday Number One

Johannah Steele Peck
Celebrating her first birthday with cousins Mary, John, Deb-Deb, David and Al

Follow Friday - Richland Roots

The featured blog for this Friday's 'Follow Friday' post is Richland Roots.

A native of Start, Louisiana, blog owner Luke J. Letlow offers up interesting stories and articles on the people and communities of Richland Parish, Louisiana.

Created in 1868, Richland Parish is located in the northeastern portion of Louisiana and is surrounded by the neighboring parishes of Morehouse, East Carroll, West Carroll, Madison, Franklin, Caldwell and Ouachita.  The parish seat is located in Rayville.

Don't miss one of Luke's older posts on Ivy Sullivan from back in January of 2012.  Most of us can look back on our youth and hometown community and remember someone like 'Uncle Ivy' who made an impact on our lives.

For a short history on the creation of Richland Parish, click on 'Brief Overview of Richland Parish History' at the top of his homepage.

Family Recipe Friday - Pecan Cookies

From the kitchen of Harrisonburg resident, Emmilee Johnson:

June 19, 2014

Thriller Thursday - Ancient Sea Serpent Bones Found in Catahoula Parish

From the December 18, 1918 edition of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana:

From the October 31, 1918 edition of the Bedford Democrat in Bedford, Indiana: