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. 

August 25, 2015

The Great Show Visits Harrisonburg, 1861

The Independent - 3/6/1861

Dan Rice - circa 1840s

Dan Rice, owner of The Great Show, was born in Manhattan, New York in 1823.  For more information on his colorful life, click on the links below and enjoy the read.

Dan Rice Days Festival

Dan Rice Tent

Dan Rice

August 24, 2015

Military Monday - POW Vernon Carlton Released, 1953

Monroe News Star - 8/26/1953

Vernon William Carlton

Born on May 14, 1930

Son of
Edward and Vera Carlton

United States Army
Korean War
Repatriated Prisoner of War

Enlistment Date:  October 28, 1947
Release Date:  October 20, 1953

Sgt. Vernon William Carlton died on November 10, 1997.  He is buried in the Carlton Family Cemetery in Jonesville, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

National Archives  Records Administration [online database/]
Korean War Data File of American Prisoners of War [online database/]

August 23, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Olga Seal

Monroe News Star - 6/23/1977

Olga Laura Knight

Born on February 24, 1903

Daughter of
John Henry Knight and Lillie Margaret Ballad

Sister to
John Barkley, Margaret "Maggie", Sallie, Coan Ira, Rufus and
Ione Nellie "Babe" Knight

Wife of
Alvin Lewis Seal

Mother to
Ouida, Juanita, Patsy and Carolyn

Died on June 23, 1977
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

August 22, 2015

Shopping Saturday - David Marks' Store in Harrisonburg, 1857

The above advertisement was found in the September 16, 1857 edition of Harrisonburg's newspaper, The Independent.

David Marks was born on December 25, 1820 in Ingenheim, Rheinish, Bavaria, Germany.  U. S. census records for 1850 show him living in Harrisonburg with his occupation listed as merchant.

David Marks married Caroline Newman circa 1854.  Caroline was born on March 20, 1835 in Kaiserslautern, Germany.  She was the sister of Isadore and Henry Newman.

Children born to this marriage were:
Theodore David
Lewis Newman
David Marks died on September 30, 1868 and Caroline Newman Marks died on January 21, 1899.  Both are buried in the Hebrew Rest Cemetery in New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana.

August 20, 2015

Catahoula Put In Quarantine, 1936

In the Spring of 1936, residents of Catahoula Parish suffered from an influenza epidemic.  All public gatherings were prohibited until the quarantine was lifted.  

From an article appearing in the March 29, 1936 edition of the Monroe Morning World we find that not everyone agreed with the call to quarantine the parish.  Ultimately, the parish board of health ruled that an emergency existed and the entire parish was placed in quarantine.

Monroe Morning World - 3/29/1936

August 13, 2015

Harrisonburg Male and Female Academy, 1857

The Independent - 9/16/1857

The above advertisement appeared in the September 16, 1857 edition of Harrisonburg's newspaper, The Independent.

From an article published in the same paper on October 14, 1857:


The Independent - 10/14/1857
Harrisonburg Academy -- This institution was re-opened on Monday last.  The Academic course will be the same as heretofore.  In addition to the common English branches, Mathematics and Latin and Greek Languages are taught.  

In the female department, the principal has secured the services of a young lady from Baltimore, a native of the South, eminently qualified as a teacher of music.  

Having evinced a most laudable energy and incurred a heavy expense in his efforts to afford the citizens of our section of country facilities for instruction, that are certainly equal to any presented in any of the schools of the State, we certainly think the principal of this academy may reasonably claim a liberal patronage from the country around.  Boarding in private families may be obtained at reasonable rates.

As mentioned in the above article, private families did offer boarding for students who did not live near the school.  Below is an advertisement which was placed in the September 16 edition of the same newspaper.

The Independent - 9/16/1857

I have been unable to find additional information on this school.  Does anyone know where the academy was located?   When did it originally open and when did it close?  Do any of you have ancestors who attended or possibly taught at this school?

If you can provide more information, please do so in the comment section below or email me at

August 12, 2015

Wedding Wednesday - Cruse and Peck Wed, 1941

Monroe News Star - 11/23/1941

Mamie Dell Cruse weds Henry Clarendon Peck

Mamie Dell Cruse was born on March 21, 1920 to the marriage of Mamie Couey and Reginald Gordon Cruse.  She was a little over eight months old when her mother died.  Her father remarried in 1922 to Lavilla Volentine.

In 1932, Reginald Cruse moved his family from Caldwell Parish to settle in Sicily Island.  It is here where Mamie Dell met and later married Henry Clarendon Peck in November of 1941.

Clarendon Peck was born on June 21, 1919 to the marriage of William Smith Peck, II and Barbara Estelle Woodward.  

One child, Henry Clarendon, Jr., was born to this marriage.

Mamie Dell Cruse Peck died on October 25, 2002 and Henry Clarendon Peck, Sr. died on January 24, 2004.  Both are interred in the Highland Park Cemetery in Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana.

August 11, 2015

Steamboat Schedules through Harrisonburg, 1858

The Independent - 3/17/1858

The above Steamboat Cards were published in Harrisonburg's newspaper, The Independent, on March 17, 1858.

Steamboats listed and their captains:
The R. W. McRae - Len Moore, Captain
The Paul Jones - John Glenn, Captain
The Silver Moon - J. W. Moore, Captain
The Messenger - G. H. Kirk, Captain
All captains except John Glenn are listed on the historical marker, Ouachita River Steamboat Era, 1819-1927 which is located on the Ouachita River at Columbia in Caldwell Parish, Louisiana.

Columbia, Caldwell Parish, Louisiana

In 1820-1821, the first steamboat to come from the Ouachita River into Bayou Louis and up to the head of Lake Louis at Sicily Island was The Independence.

The next steamboat to travel this route was The Leopard in 1822-1823.  The following is a description of The Leopard by Dr. A. R. Kilpatrick in DeBow's Review, Vol. 12, 1852:
"This boat was rather an ungainly piece of work, with a wooden main-shaft.  She ran as far as Camden, and made about two trips of a season, and seldom made the distance from New Orleans up to Harrisonburg in less than twelve days.  Some of the old folks say, on her upward trips, they could get out and walk along the bank of the Mississippi River and keep far ahead of her.  Sometimes they would get off and dance all night at a French ball on the coast, and mount horses the next morning and soon overtake her."

Transportation, Early to mid-1800s

August 10, 2015

Military Monday - Yelverton Bondurant, Jr.

Member of The American Legion

Yelverton "Yelvie" Bondurant, Jr.

Born on January 9, 1917

Son of
Yelverton Bondurant, Sr. and Pearl Ensminger

Brother to

Husband of
Edna Farley

Father to
Yelverton, III "Sonny" and Joseph "Joe"

Died on March 2, 1990
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

United States Army
World War II

Enlisted on March 16, 1942

Yelvie, Anita, Sonny and Pearl Bondurant

Photographs are courtesy of Gail Dillard.

August 9, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Nancy "Nannie" Stringer

Monroe News Star - 6/9/1954

Nancy "Nannie" Jane Albritton

Born in 1866

Daughter of 
Benjamin Albritton and Martha Conklin

Wife of
William Otto Stringer

Mother of
Emma Idell, Walter William, Cordye, William A. "Bill", Allie,
Gertrude and Nina

Died on June 9, 1954
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

August 8, 2015

Shopping Saturday - Fleishman & Conn Store in Harrisonburg, 1855

Harrisonburg Independent - 6/28/1855

The above advertisement comes from recently found copies of The Independent which was published in Harrisonburg during the 1850s and 1860s.

Seen below is the front page heading of what appears to be one of the first editions.

August 3, 2015

Military Monday - John William Johnson

Monroe Morning World - 5/18/1952

John William Johnson

Born on September 4, 1922

Son of 
Walter L. Johnson and Mary Katherine "Kate" Stutson

Brother to
Clarence Bertram, Irma, Clifford, Emmet Elsworth, Walter Herbert, Robert Earl,
George and Hewitt Johnson

Husband of
Tommie Louise Terry

From the National Archives and Records Administration:
Major Johnson was the pilot of a F4U-4B Corsair fighter with the Marine Fighter Squadron 212, Marine Air Group 12, 1st Marine Air Wing.  
On April 23, 1952, while on a combat mission, his aircraft crashed into its target and exploded.
Distinquished Flying Cross
Air Medal with 2 Gold Stars
Purple Heart
Combat Action Ribbon
Korean Service Medal
United Nations Service Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Republic of Korea War Service Medal

National Archives and Records Administration.  U. S., Korean War Casualties, 1950-1957
Online database through

August 1, 2015

Sports Center Saturday - Sicily Island High Participates in Ruston Rally, 1933

Monroe News Star - 4/21/1933

Four members of the 1933 Sicily Island High School track team participated in a north Louisiana high school track rally in Ruston, Louisiana.

Ernest Roberts (Half Mile Run) was the son of Jeff Franklin Roberts and Emma Idell Stringer.  He married Mae Golmon and was the father of Ronnie, Tommy, James, Larry and Joe.  His siblings were Roy, Lorene, J. W., Frances, Dessie, Edith, Buddy and Emma Jean.

Yelvie Bondurant (Shot Put) was the son of Yelverton Bondurant, Sr. and Pearl Ensminger.  He married Edna Farley and was the father of Yelverton, III "Sonny" and Joseph "Joe."  His sister was Anita Bondurant Oliphant.

Cecil Blair (Javelin and High Hurdles) was the son of Homer Franklin Blair and Hersie Pearson. His cousin, Buddy Blair, was also a great athlete.

Sheffield Robinson (Mile Run),  I have been unable to find census records or any other documentation on Sheffield Robinson that connects him to Sicily Island.   If anyone has information on him, please leave a comment below or email me at