December 14, 2015

Military Monday - Howard Louis Smith

Howard Louis Smith

Born on January 9, 1919

Son of
Isom Smith and Otis McNair

Brother to

Died on July 23, 1998
Buried in the Highland Park Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Staff Sergeant
United States Army Air Corps
Enlisted on June 14, 1941

Monroe Morning World - 6/15/1941

The above newspaper clipping shows Howard Louis Smith (Standing; 1st from the left) with other men from Northeast Louisiana who had enlisted in the Army Air Corps at Barksdale field in June of 1941.  Also shown in the photograph is their Staff Sergeant from the Monroe Army Recruiting office, Harold B. McNemar.

December 6, 2015

Memories of Gartrop Castle and Solving the Mystery of an Old Photograph

The Baron Von Gartrop Castle near Huenxe, Germany

The following information was provided by Howard Wynn, son of O. G. Wynn, Jr., in the hopes of capturing and sharing his father's memories of Gartrop Castle during World War II and the search which began in 2006 to locate the castle and uncover the mystery of an old photograph.

Information on O. G. Wynn, Jr. and how he came to be at Gartrop Castle during World War II can be found in an earlier post, Military Monday - O. G. Wynn, Jr.

Sergeant Major O. G. Wynn, Jr.
Wesel had been bombed out and the German soldiers had left the town to position themselves in the country side.  Some of them were hiding in a farmhouse by a railroad track near the edge of the field.

Sergeant Major Wynn saw them firing at him and his fellow soldiers and directed small arms fire at the doors and windows of the house.  That fire cowered the Germans while the Americans ran down a narrow trail and found cover behind the railroad embankment.

The German army retreated and the American command assigned Sergeant Major Wynn the occupation of Gartrop Castle, near the town of Huenxe, which was about the size of Natchez and only a few miles from Wesel.

Life settled down as much as it would immediately after combat, and Colonel T. S. Gunby, originally from Monroe and now part of the occupation, took a few pictures one afternoon with his camera.  Colonel Gunby took many pictures during the war, most of them done in a hurry, and none of them developed until he came back to the United States because there were few operating film laboratories in Europe while the war was going on.

Both soldiers became friends during the war.  They came home and restarted their lives in different parts of the country.  Sometime during the late '40s or early '50s, Gunby got around to developing all of his old rolls of film.  He sent Wynn some pictures of the castle that they had occupied.  Some pictures showed the castle itself, some showed details of the castle.  One picture showed a little girl with some ponies.  Wynn put the pictures in a safe place and life went on.

Eventually World War II passed into history and years put the memories of the pictures into perspective. Finally, in the year 2006, the family started asking questions.  Who lived in the castle?  Who was the little girl?  What were the people in that area of Germany like?

Wynn's son knew enough German to find out.  Working together, he and his son began searching for the castle and the little girl who had walked the ponies around it so long ago.  What would they find?

After some looking at declassified military documents from the time, they located the railroad track.  This map from the World War II era showed a bend in the track and where glider number 3 landed.  They used Google internet satellite maps to find the field where the glider landed.  Wynn studied the satellite photo. He looked at the map.  The field was still an open field.  He saw the farmhouse, still there after over sixty years, turned in the same position that it was in relation to the railroad track.  The trail still led to the track through the woods.  The railroad bed still showed the same turn in the track.  He had found the place where his glider had landed.

The next part of the job was finding the castle.  He had remembered the castle's name--Gartrop Castle. Was it still there?  Was the little girl with the ponies still living there as an older person?

Wynn and his son went back to the internet.  They were on the local level now, and all of their work had to be done in German.  Slowly they collected a series of articles in German that related a rather sad outcome for Castle Gartrop, as its name would be phrased in Germany.  Life around the castle had changed and the agricultural economy that had supported it and its owners no longer existed.

The castle was abandoned at the time they found it, and the residents of Huenxe feared that the landmark would deteriorate to a point past restoration.  During that time someone had bought the castle, hoping to restore it.  There was now a website for the castle, but they could not get in touch with a real person. Finally, they searched the Town of Huenxe's website.  In an obscure corner of a back page the site listed a small office, the Bureau of Landmark Preservation.  They composed a German language email and sent it off.

Transcription/Translation of email sent to the Bureau of Landmark Preservation:
Dear Dr. Blumrath:
I was excited to see the pictures of Gartrop Castle that my son uploaded from the internet. They reminded me of my wartime involvement with the castle in 1945 from about May 10 until June 15.
At that time I was serving in Division Artillery Headquarters of the 17th Airborne Division. Around May 10 our headquarters occupied the castle for location of our command post.  We had a brigadier general, a colonel and eight or ten other officers, and six or eight enlisted men. I served as Division Artillery Sergeant Major.
I do not know if any army units preceded us in occupying the castle.  There was a good deal of furniture in the building.  The walls of the main entrance hall contained dozens of deer horns, and there was a mounted boar hanging by one foot near the stairway.  There were paintings of ancestors hanging in appropriate places.  In the big hall stood two small brass muzzle loading cannons, three or four feet long, probably used for celebrations of some sort.
In the hall there were two large picture albums showing many views of the inside and outside of the buildings and grounds.  The inside was well furnished, and the outside was beautifully planted with flowers and shrubs.
On the grounds while we were there were several peacocks, some chickens, ducks and geese. In the stable was an ornate carriage and stalls for four horses.  Pictures on the wall showed four dapple gray horses.  We were told that the army had confiscated the horses.
While we were there we participated in the military government of the area, mostly watching after and helping repatriate about 20,000 Russians in the area.  Most of them, I think, came to Germany to work before the war.   
An old Russian couple and their granddaughter, 12-14 years old, lived in living quarters above the stable.  The old couple at first did not want to go back to Russia on the trains we were sending.  Our chaplain convinced them that it was the best thing to do.  They left, taking the granddaughter with them.  We soon found out that the train they were on was the last one that we would send.  Word had reached the President of the U. S. that the returnees were being sent to Siberia, possibly because the Russian government did not want these people bringing back ideas from foreign countries.
The granddaughter had become sort of a pet among the men.  She seemed to like riding her bicycle near us to hear the whistles and calls this would cause.  We all mourned her possible fate in Russia.
There was a lady who was living nearby who we assumed was the owner of the castle.  We called her the baroness.  She had a daughter (at least we assumed) about 14 or 15 who came on the grounds occasionally to tend to her four small miniature horses, sometimes hitching all four to a small wagon she had.
The water mill on the grounds was still in operation at that time, tended by a man whose quarters were in the mill building.  The small stream operating the mill did not have capacity to operate all day.  A pond had been formed upstream a bit with a gate in the damn.  When the pond was full, the gate was opened and the mill wheel connected to a generator supplied electricity to the castle.  When the mill shut down, a gasoline powered generator supplied electricity.
In the pictures uploaded from the internet there is one of the small chapel building located some distance from the castle grounds.  The picture shows the chapel apparently restored.  We saw it as somewhat dilapidated, with a rather large hole excavated under one side.  We thought the hole to do with an attempt to bury some valuables.
On the front lawn was a tall flagpole made of rough tree trunks.  We raised our flag on it.
I liked to fish, and had some fishing tackle in one of my bags.  The water in the moat looked tempting, so I got out my short rod and tried my luck.  I caught several nice pike while there. From upper story windows you could see an enormous fish, as big as a horse.  We never knew what it was.
While we were at the castle, the officers were quartered in and ate in the castle.  The kitchen was in the basement and they set up dining facilities down there.  The enlisted men were quartered in nearby houses.  Another sergeant and I stayed in the farmhouse right behind the castle.
While we were there I do not recall any of our people doing any damage or taking anything out. Our Colonel was very strict about this.  One of the men in my section spilled a bottle of drawing ink on the marble floor in the big hall.  We could not remove the stain with any material we had.  I wonder if that stain is still there.  It is on the left side entering the room from the main entrance.
I remember seeing on one of the walls, I think it was in the basement, a framed drawing in heavy lines of what seemed to be the first floor plan.  The drawing was, if I remember correctly, dated in the 1400s.  This leads me to think that the beginning of the castle was maybe 200 years earlier than the 1670 on the plaque over the front entrance.
I am glad to hear that the castle has been restored.  I will always remember it as part of my time in Germany.
Pictures sent with email

This was the summer of 2006.  German people take a mandatory month's vacation, and the head of the little office was gone.  Wynn and his son received an email in English a few days later from the teenage son of the civil servant who was covering the office while the chief official vacationed.  The email explained the situation about the vacation and apologized at having to ask a student to write in English.  It was then that the pair of researchers knew that they had found a friend.

Hans-Juergen, the head of the bureau, returned from his time off to find a long email from a former American soldier about the castle with some very old black and white pictures attached to it.  He quickly emailed the Wynns in German.  He thought he knew who the little girl was!

Hans-Juergen sent Wynn a big box of books and pictures about the area to help him catch up on then and now.  And at the bottom of this box was a letter typed on the long paper that European people used for correspondence.

Letter from Hans-Juergen

Transcription/Translation of the letter from Hans-Juergen to O. G. Wynn, Jr.:

An inquiry from the USA have we previously not received and therefore your letter was a surprise, and gave us great joy.

I have sent you some photos and information about Huenxe and Castle Gartrop and hope you and your family enjoy it.

I have inquired at the office of Freiherrn Egbert-Constantin von Nagell, the former owner of the castle as to whether or not he knows who the little girl with the ponies is, so far I have not heard an answer. Should I hear from him, I will let you know.

The family von Nagell sold the castle a few years ago, and the present owner is Herr Dr. Peter Blumrath.

I personally had my 60th birthday a few weeks ago, and I would like to use this occasion to thank you in the name of my family because as a younger man, you and your comrades, with great sacrifice of life, freed our land from the dictator.

It is also my great privilege to thank you and the American people that you sent C.A.R.E. packages with needed food to the German people, and to me along with that.

Hans-Juergen later spoke with Freiherrn Egbert-Constantin von Nagell and the baron told him, he would like very much to see the pictures.  Soon the pictures arrived in his office.  And yes, these pictures were of his younger sister, Mariatta.  Unfortunately, however, she had died of asthma a few months after the picture was taken.

Mariatta von Nagell

Editor's notes:

Special thanks to Howard Wynn for providing the above information and photographs and for allowing me to share this on my blog.  

The following 2014 video will take you on an aerial tour of what was once known as Castle Gartrop.  The castle is now known as Schloss Gartrop.

November 20, 2015

Here She Comes!

In Memory of Glo

Gloria Jean Johnson Krause

I am standing upon the seashore 

I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze 
and starts for the blue ocean. 

She is an object of beauty and strength. 

I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud 
just where the sea and sky come to mingle with each other.

Then someone at my side says: 

"There, she is gone!"

"Gone where?"

Gone from my sight.  That is all. 

She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side
 and she is just as able to bear her load of living freight to her destined port.

Her diminished size is in me, not in her. 

And just at the moment when someone at my side says: 

"There, she is gone!" 

There are other eyes watching her coming, 
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout: 

"Here she comes!"

~Henry Van Dyke

Godspeed, my old friend.  I'll see you later.

Photograph of Gloria and Pot was taken by Sheila Sharp Mason.

October 26, 2015

Military Monday - O. G. Wynn, Jr.

Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Jr. was born on June 12, 1918 in Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas.  He was the second of four children born to the marriage of Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Sr. and Kate Ward.  The Wynn family moved to Louisiana in the early 1920s and eventually made Sicily Island their home.  

O. G. Wynn, Jr. married Lillian Jeanette Young of Jonesville in December of 1942.  A son, James Howard, was born to this marriage.

Mr. O. G. and Mrs. Lillian were two of the most respected people in Sicily Island.  Both were faithful members of the First United Methodist Church.  Many people remember Mrs. Lillian as the Home Economics teacher at Sicily Island High School where she taught her students proper etiquette, meal preparations and the basics of sewing.

Mr. O. G. was a draftsman for the civil engineering firm of Jordan, Kaiser and Sessions in Natchez, Mississippi and earlier for Peck Lumber Company in Sicily Island.

Words such as courteous, well spoken, respectful, unassuming and polite repeatedly came to mind as I contemplated how best to describe Mr. O. G. as I and others remembered him.  

As I began to research and learn more about his life it soon became apparent that what I and many others knew about this man was only half of the story.  

World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 show Private O. G. Wynn enlisting in the United States Army on March 16, 1942.

He served in the following Army Airborne Divisions during the Second World War:

17th Airborne Division - Golden Talon / Thunder from Heaven
82nd Airborne Division - All American
101st Airborne Division - Screaming Eagle

101st Airborne

17th Airborne
82nd Airborne

He earned service stars for the following campaigns during World War II:
  • Rhineland Campaign:  Operation Market Garden - 9/15/1944 - 5/21/1945
  • Ardennes Campaign:  The Battle of the Bulge - 12/16/1944 - 1/25/1945
  • Central Europe Campaign - 3/22/1945 - 5/11/1945
  • Spearhead for Airborne Rhine Crossing:  Operation Varsity - 3/24/1945 

As part of the Spearhead for Airborne Rhine Crossing, Sergeant Major Wynn crossed the Rhine River in a glider as part of Operation Varsity.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his bravery under direct enemy fire.

Glider Troops after landing near Wesel, Germany

The following excerpt is from the January 17, 2007 edition of the Catahoula News Booster and was written by Howard Wynn about his father's memories of Operation Varsity: 
A five hundred mile column of C-47 airplanes left France on March 24, 1945, carrying the American 17th Airborne Division and the British 6th Airborne Division.  This entourage of 3,100 aircraft escorted by 1,000 fighter planes began the invasion of the German heartland across the Rhine River.
Wynn's glider, designated number 3 in its group, was a motorless craft every bit as large as the airplane that towed it.  Glider number 3 landed just after noon in a field a few miles north of Wesel, Germany, a town about the size of Monroe.  
Wesel had been bombed out and the German soldiers had left the town to position themselves in the country side.  Some of them were hiding in a farmhouse by a railroad track near the edge of the field. 
Sergeant Major Wynn saw them firing at him and his fellow soldiers and directed small arms fire at the doors and windows of the house.  That fire cowered the Germans while the Americans ran down a narrow trail and found cover behind the railroad embankment.   
The German army retreated and the American command assigned Sergeant Major Wynn the occupation of Gartrop Castle, near the town of Huenxe, which was about the size of Natchez and only a few miles from Wesel.

Operation Varsity Footage of Airborne Assault across the Rhine near Wesel, Germany:
(Glider Troops at the 3:23 mark)

O. G. Wynn was discharged from the Army as a Sergeant Major of the 101st Airborne Division.  In 1992, he published "A Soldier of the Post" in which he recorded his experiences during World War II.

Ota Gilbert "O. G." Wynn, Jr. died on June 30, 2012.  He is buried alongside his wife in the Jena Cemetery in Jena, LaSalle Parish, Louisiana.

Courteous, well spoken, respectful, unassuming and polite.  Yes, he was all of these things.   He was also courageous, valiant, loyal and brave.  

He was a soldier.

National WWII Museum
USAF [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Special thanks to Howard Wynn for allowing me to share his father's photograph and his father's memories of Operation Varsity.

A separate post is planned to continue the story of Sergeant Major Wynn's time at Gartrop Castle and the search which began in 2006 to find the castle and uncover the mystery of an old photograph.

October 21, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Henslee and Fairbanks

Joyce Marie Henslee Fairbanks

The above photograph appeared in the March 4 edition of the Monroe Morning World along with an announcement of the January 1, 1951 marriage of Joyce Marie Henslee and John Henry Fairbanks.

Joyce Marie Henslee was born to the marriage of Thomas Lester Henslee and Eva Marie Cruse.  John Henry Fairbanks was the son of Dr. Russell Usher Fairbanks and Sallie Knight.

John and Joyce Fairbanks made their home in Concordia Parish where they raised two sons and one daughter.  

John Henry Fairbanks passed away on August 19, 1985.  He is buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

October 17, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Annie Thurman

Monroe News Star - 9/4/1953

Annie Guyton

Born on April 2, 1897

Daughter of
Isaac and Martha Guyton

Wife of
Rastus Lee Thurman

Mother to
Ray Leon, Marion Dinah, Ventris Rechiel "Billy", Edsel Girard "Dinky", Freida,
Floy Newton "Tony", Mason "Sam", Lloyd Dennis "Boots", 
Cecil Mahlon "Edge" and Fay "T-Model"

Died on September 1, 1953
Buried in the Welcome Home Cemetery
Grayson, Caldwell Parish, Louisiana

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

Sports Center Saturday - Memories of Homecomings Past

Sicily Island High School Homecoming Court - 1975

Homecoming ceremonies were held yesterday at Sicily Island High School.  Memories of past homecomings prompted the posting of this particular one from forty years ago.

This photograph of the 1975 Homecoming Court appeared in the Catahoula News Booster.  Seated at the top is Queen Denise Simmons with Todd Guice (football bearer) and Nikki Roberts (crown bearer) on each side.  On the second row are (LtoR) Florida Jackson, Jessie Johnson, Carol Bowman and Dawn Seal.  On the bottom row are (LtoR) Deborah Edmonds, Rebecca Douglas, Rutha Harber, Rhonda Williamson and Helen Henry.

The selection of Homecoming Courts at Sicily Island High School was unique to the school itself.  I was never aware of any other school whose process resembled ours.  Other schools held elections where the queen and her court were selected by popular vote from the student body.  At Sicily Island, the captain of the football team was always a senior.  He had the honor of selecting the queen from the student body while the remaining senior players chose the queen's court.

In 1975, the captain of the football team was Steve Robinson.  Below is a photograph of him with his queen, Denise Simmons.

Queen Denise Simmons and Captain Steve Robinson

For those who may be interested in taking a walk down memory lane to earlier years, old home movies from Homecoming parades as far back as the 1950s can be found at Roots from the Bayou's YouTube page.

October 12, 2015

A Sketch of Business Locations in Sicily Island, 1930-1940

The above sketch gives us an idea of how the business section of Sicily Island appeared in the 1930s and early 1940s.  The sketch was drawn by Richard Guy "R. G." Price, Jr. and is displayed in First United Methodist Church.

Below is a second photograph of the sketch with transcriptions.  View this sketch as if approaching Sicily Island from the direction of Harrisonburg on LA Highway 8 East (beginning at the bottom and working your way up).
The horizontal notation along the left side of the sketch states the following:

"All forms of livestock had a free run of the town; cows, sheep, mules, horses, hogs, chickens"

  • LA Hwy 8 ends at the junction of U.S. Hwy 15.
  • Once you turned left onto U.S. Hwy 15 North, the ESSO Service Station was on the right followed by John Hall's Cafe, the Drug Store and the Motel.
  • The area showing the Shell Station and two vacant lots was on the left side of U.S. Hwy 15 North and is where the Short Stop is located today.  

Special thanks to Mr. R. G. Price for creating this sketch.  It is a wonderful piece of history which provides future generations a glimpse of Sicily Island as it was back in the 1930s and 1940s.

Richard Guy "R. G." Price, Jr.

October 11, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Richard Charles Perry

Monroe News Star - 10/25/1972

Richard Charles Perry

Born on March 9, 1904

Son of
Charles Perry and Minnie Lovett

Brother to
Ida, Leona Allie, Mary Cora, Sylvester, Ollie and Jesse Alexander

Husband of
Mary Ann Juneau

Father to
Olivia, Lela Mae, J. C., Geneva, Daisy and Mamie

Died on October 23, 1972
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

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

October 10, 2015

Sports Center Saturday - Sicily Island District 3-B Football Stars, 1955

From the December 13, 1955 edition of the Monroe News Star:


Sicily Island, Newellton, and Wisner - considered the "big three" of Class B football district three - again headed the poll for all-district selections, claiming ten of the eleven berths on the first team.  Block of Jonesville cracked the monopoly by placing Roscoe Wilson, the No. 2 scorer in the area, in the backfield.

Sicily Island's district champions landed four places on the first team.  Newellton and Wisner placed three each.

There were four repeaters from the 1954 team - Jerry Don Head, Newellton end; Albert Dampier, Sicily Island guard; B. K. Miller, Sicily Island back; and Roy Shiver, Wisner back.  Four second team selections last year advanced to the first team this trip.  They are Dan Chapman, Wisner end; Sam Crawford, Sicily Island guard; John Wood, Newellton tackle; and Ralph Rayburn, Wisner back; Terry Von Head, Newellton back; and Dale Hoover, Davidson of St. Joseph repeated on the second team.

Miller, Rayburn, Dampier and Jerry Head were first string nominations of all coaches participating in the poll conducted for the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.

Rounding out the No. 1 team are Lynn Evans, Sicily Island guard; and Bill Parker, Newellton center.
Joining Terry Head and Hoover on the second team were Sam Duchesne, Newellton, and Wiley Rabb, Waterproof ends; Willie Walker, Block and Billy Booth, Wisner tackles; Ernest Armstrong, Davidson and John Lang, Newellton guards; Charles Stringer, Sicily Island center; and Billy Wiggins, Sicily Island, and Jerry Clark, Newellton backs.

Miller, tagged "Mr. Sicily Island" for Coach Raymond Peace's Tigers, is the district's leading scorer with 126 points, made two touchdown runs of 95 and 98 yards, was the passing arm of the Bengals and linebacker on defense.  Miller, a senior, weighs 155 pounds, stands five-foot-ten and made the all-state team last year.

Wilson, the smallest player on the squad at 125 pounds, was the spark of the Block High team that had a 50-50 season of five wins and five losses.  The five-foot-eight sophomore ranked right behind Miller in the district scoring race with 100 points.  Shiver and Rayburn, while without too impressive scoring records, still were ramrods of a Wisner machine that compiled a season record of seven wins, one tie, and three losses, bowing only to Sicily Island in district competition.

Cream of the line appear to be Sicily Island's Dampier and Newellton's Jerry Head.  Dampier, now a senior, was an all-state guard last year.  At 195 pounds and an even six feet, Dampier is co-captain of his club and bulwark of the Tiger line.  Jerry Head, a twin brother of Newellton's back, Terry, is considered the Bears' most outstanding athlete at six-oft-one and 165 pounds.  His coach, Jimmy Johnson tags him "a natural either on offense or defense" and especially great as a pass receiver.  Against Sicily Island, Head caught passes for 86 yards, and, for the season he gained 444 yards with passes, three for touchdowns and one conversion.

Talented Tuesday - B. K. Miller, Jr.

Sentimental Sunday - Lynn and Linda

October 7, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Watson and Tarver, 1933

Monroe Morning World - 11/26/1933

Mary Ruth Watson was born on April 7, 1913 to the marriage of Aaron and Mattie Watson.  On November 16, 1933 she married Claude Lawrence Tarver who was born on October 15, 1907.  Claude was the son of Thomas Webster "Webb" Tarver and Juliette Posey.

Children born to the marriage of Ruth and Claude Tarver were Anita Claudette and Jerry Lynn.

Ruth Watson Tarver died on October 19, 1985.  Claude Tarver died on September 29, 1995.  Both are buried alongside their daughter, Claudette, in the New Pine Hill Cemetery in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

October 5, 2015

Military Monday - Bobbie Ratcliff

Bobbie Ratcliff

Born on March 17, 1927

Son of
Benjamin H. Ratcliff and Pearl Pauline Griffin

Brother to
Benny Wilson, Henry Louis, Callie Lester, Verbie Harmon and Ruby Lee

Died on July 15, 1955
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

United States Army
World War II

HQ CO, 3rd Battalion, 349th Infantry Regiment

Enlisted on May 23, 1945
Honorably Discharged on March 20, 1947

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

October 4, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Annie Garrison

MNS - 7/17/1976

Hulda Annie Francis

Born on May 15, 1890

Daughter of
Joseph Strahan Francis and Mary Etta Renfrow

Sister to
Oscar Renfrow, Eunice, Joseph Strahan, Jr., Marshall Mason "Marcy",
Mary Jane and Albert

Wife of
Edgar Eugene Garrison, Sr.

Mother to
Eunice, Mary Artie, Annie Lee, Edgar Eugene, Jr., Josephine Francis
and Clarence Alexander

Died on July 17, 1976
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

October 3, 2015

Sports Center Saturday - Tigers to Battle Basile in Playoff Game, 1955

The following article appeared in the November 30, 1955 edition of the Monroe News Star:


MNS - 11/30/1955
Sicily Islanders To Battle Basile In 'B' Playoffs

(Special)--After beating Block of Jonesville, 40-20 for their sixth straight league win without defeat and clinching the district 3-B championship for the second straight year, the Sicily Island Tigers have been working hard for their bi-district game with the Basile High Bears at Basile Friday night.

Basile won the 4-B football crown last week by defeating Cottonport, 14-7, and will face the Tigers with a fine array of backs, including Billy Fontenot, leading scorer in district four with 124 points, in addition to Clarence Weaver, hard driving fullback, and Oren Vige, an outstanding quarterback.

Coach Raymond Peace's Island Tigers will match them with all-state B. K. Miller, who scored six touchdowns in the last scheduled game against Block and is his district's leading scorer with 126 points.  Along with Miller will be such outstanding Sicily Island ball handlers as Billy Wiggins, Charles Gillespie, and Benny Frank Alford.

In the line, the Tigers' success of continuing in championship play will depend on all-state Albert Dampier, big Cook Crawford, Lynn Evans, Charles Stringer, Dean Wiggins, C. J. Richardson, Charles Enright, Harvey Ray Wells, and Tommy Wells.  All have played outstanding ball for Sicily Island this season.

The Tigers leave Sicily Island Friday morning at 8 o'clock by chartered bus for Basile.  Kickoff time that night is 8 p.m.

September 16, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Yancey and Chambers, 1936

Monroe Morning World - 6/7/1936

Luceil Hattie Chambers was born November 21, 1908 to the marriage of Edmon Clark Chambers and Lottie Arminda West.  

Record of Birth - Luceil Hattie Chambers

John Richard Yancey was born on November 16, 1907 to the marriage of Stephen Richard Yancey and Laura Morton Wood.

Luceil and John Richard Yancey were married on June 1, 1936.  

The following children born to this marriage:
Infant Daughter, b. 1940 d. 1940
John Richard, Jr., b. 1942
Stephen Clark, b. 1943 d. 2003
Cathleen Carson, b. 1945
Cynthia Luceil, b. 1947
Luceil Chambers Yancey died on February 28, 2004 and John Richard Yancey died on August 17, 1981.  Both are buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

September 14, 2015

Military Monday - Stratotanker Crash, 1958

From an article published in the February 2, 1958 edition of the Morgantown Dominion News in Morgantown, West Virginia:

MDN - 2/2/1958

Stratotanker Crash Reported
Winnsboro, La. Feb 4 (UP)

A KC 97 Stratotanker crashed in a swamp near the Catahoula Parish line tonight about 10 miles southeast of here, state police reported five men were believed to be aboard.

A Monroe, La. Civil Aeronautics Administration official said the pilot of the big tanker, used to refuel Strategic Air Command B47 and B52 planes in flight, radioed that he was losing altitude and would attempt a crash landing at Monroe Airport.

However, a pilot for a Southern Airways plane en route to New Orleans, said he saw the big tanker crash into a swamp near the Catahoula Parish line.

State police and parish deputies said it was not known if any crew members bailed out of the aircraft before it crashed.

The earlier C-97 Stratofreighter model was a cargo/transport carrier.  Boeing overhauled this earlier model to include the 'flying boom' in-flight refueling system and introduced the KC-97 in 1950.  The KC-97 allowed the United States Air Force to continue to use the heavy carrier for transport without removing the in-flight refueling system.

KC-97 / USAF Museum

The video below shows the KC-97 refueling a B47 in 1957:

I have been unable to find any other record of the reported 1958 crash near Catahoula Parish.

Please leave a comment or email me at if you remember hearing about this crash back in 1958 or if you have any information on the location of the crash, crew members' names, or fate of the crew.

Air Mobility Command Museum
USAF Museum

September 13, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Lester Harold Bird

Monroe News Star - 9/19/1975

Lester Harold Bird

Born on December 10, 1903

Son of
Elred Levi "Lee" Holloway Bird and Emma Frances Hennington

Brother to
Irene Courtney, Holloway Hennington, Grady Luke, Audley Verne, Eldred Ian,
Emma Myrtle and Hilrie Street

Husband of
Dorothy Slade

Father to
Hilda, Eva, Evelyn, Shelton Lee, Joyce Irene, Charles Dale, Kathryn, Peggy Avis,
Gloria Janette, Beverly Anita, Frances, Kenneth Wayne and Eileen

Died on September 18, 1975
Buried in the New Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

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

September 2, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Cloys Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1958

Richard Harris Cloy and Pinkie Paralee Bowman Cloy

Monroe Morning World - 5/18/1958

Children born to the marriage of Richard Harris Cloy and Pinkie Paralee Bowman were:

Mary Nellie (m. James Wilton Hair)

Richard Frank (m. Mary Ella Foley)

John Edward (m. Jacquelyn Buell)

Anna (m. 1.  John Moses Cole; 2.  Garland Lyell Furr)

Jerald Hudson (m. Mary Louise Choate)

Wallace O. - (never married) - died in WWII

Charles Clay (m. Myree Wood)

Barnie Lee (m. William Perry Stubbs)

Jarvis Roan (m. Jean Furr)

William M. "Billy" (m. Marjorie Holmes)

August 30, 2015

Flooding of the Mighty Mississippi, Part 8 - The Flood of 1950

Mississippi River at Natchez, Mississippi - 2014

Flood History on the Lower Mississippi:
The Mississippi River at New Orleans would reach its highest flood crest since the completion of the Bonnet Carre Spillway, topping out at 19.98 ft. on February 10th, ranking 7th highest stage recorded at New Orleans.  The crest at Reserve of 25.60 ft. is the 3rd highest all time.  
The Bonnet Carre Spillway had all 350 bays opened for 38 days.  Donaldsonville had 9th highest crest at 32.20 ft. on March 4th; Baton Rouge 9th highest crest at 42.98 ft. on March 4th; Red River Landing 10th highest crest at 57.19 ft. on March 4th.
I first wrote about the construction and design of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in Part 6 of this series on the flooding of the Mississippi River.  References to this spillway can also be found in Part 7.

In 1950, the impact of the overflow from the mighty river was felt in Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.  Within the state of Louisiana, Catahoula and Concordia parishes were the hardest hit.

From the February 16, 1950 edition of the Anniston Star in Anniston, Alabama:

Anniston Star - 2/16/1950

The Austin Sunday American Statesman of Austin, Texas reported the following on February 19, 1950:

Austin Sunday American Statesman - 2/19/1950

The flooding of 1950 also put the Louisiana Hog Dog back to work.

While residents of Catahoula Parish endured more flooding in the twenty years following 1950, these floods were mostly due to heavy local rainfall which resulted in the overflow of smaller, nearby rivers and lakes.

Major flooding of the Mighty Mississippi would impact Catahoula Parish again in 1973. 

*This post is part eight in a series of posts in which an attempt will be made to document the history of flooding in Catahoula Parish caused by the overflow of the Mighty Mississippi River.  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.