May 27, 2016

Sicily Island Graduates of 1942

The following was reported in the Monroe Morning World on May 31, 1942:

Graduation Held by Sicily Island
Monroe Morning World

13 Members Of Senior Class Receive Diplomas At Commencement Exercises

SICILY ISLAND, May 30 -- (Special)

Thirteen graduates of Sicily Island High School received their diplomas at the graduation exercise held Thursday night in the school gymnasium.

The baccalaureate sermon was delivered by Rev. Harold Teer of the Methodist church in the school gymnasium.  Special music was in charge of Mr. E. Chapman with the anthem sung by the fifth and sixth grades.

Honor students were Miss Ouida Seal, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. L. Seal, valedictorian, and Miss Margie Bird, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eldred Bird, salutatorian. Miss Seal was also winner of the American Legion award to the outstanding girl in the senior class, while Aaron Charles Bowman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Homer Bowman, won the Legion award for the outstanding boy in the same class.

Winners of scholarships were Miss Ouida Seal, Louisiana State University; Miss Helen Moss, Louisiana State Normal; Miss Wanda Cooper, Louisiana Tech; Miss Margie Bird, Louisiana College; Miss Louise Stringer and Miss Dorothy Tarver, Business and Commerical College; and Edgar Garrison, Southwestern Louisiana Institute.

Other candidates for graduation were Misses Erin Wright, Eva Broome, Jima Lea Stubbs, Bernie Hinton and Charles Bourke.

May 22, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Sophie Lee Crawford Haley

Concordia Sentinel - 10/9/2002

Sophie Lee Crawford

Born on October 24, 1910

Daughter of
Samuel Cooke Crawford and Rachel Victoria Seal

Sister to 
William Marcus "Dub", Franklin Adolphus "Bud", Eva Dell, Margaret, Addie Bell,
Ernestine, John Henry, Flora Kathryn, Anna Forest "Dot", Samuel Victor and Helen Maxine

Wife of
Claude Benton Haley

Mother to
Charles Michael Haley

Died on October 8, 2002
Buried in Highland Park Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

Tombstone photograph was taken by FindAGrave member, Dorothy S Tiser.

May 18, 2016

Wedding Wednesday - Knights Celebrate 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1947

John Henry Knight and Lillie Margaret Ballard Knight - 1947
Courtesy of Carolyn Seal Barbay and Deadra Doucet Bourke

John Henry Knight was born on August 14, 1871 to the marriage of William Bryant Knight and Sarah "Sallie" Myers.  He and his family moved from their home in Mississippi to Texas before coming to Louisiana and settling in the Sicily Island area.

Lillie Margaret Ballard was born on April 11, 1876 to the marriage of Oliver Goldsmith Ballard and Margaret Sargent Ballard.  

John and Lillie were married on December 5, 1897.  

John Henry Knight and Lillie Margaret Ballard Knight
Courtesy of Carolyn Seal Barbay and Deadra Doucet Bourke

The following children were born to this marriage:
John Barkley (1898-1977) m. Ursula Dupoint
Margaret "Maggie" (1899-1984)
Sallie Ione (1901-1977) m. Dr. Russell Usher Fairbanks
Olga Laura (1903-1977) m. Alvin Lewis Seal
Coan Ira, Sr. (1905-1977) m. Nora Louise Dennis
Rufus (1907-1966) m. Willie Evans
Ione Nellie "Babe" (1915-1994)
John Henry Knight died on January 30, 1956 and Lillie Margaret Ballard Knight died on April 5, 1960.  Both are buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery near Sicily Island.

Special thanks to Carolyn Seal Barbay and Deadra Doucet Bourke for allowing me to share their family photographs.

May 16, 2016

Military Monday - Sicily Island Buddy Quartet in Air Corps, 1942

From the July 26, 1942 edition of the Monroe Morning World:


Four Lifelong Friends Join U. S. Forces At Same Time Here

Four fine, patriotic Sicily Island youths trooped into Sergeant McNemar's office in the Monroe post office building last Tuesday afternoon, hot and tired, and informed him that they were ready to go.  

He talked to them informally for several minutes and then inquired as to which branch of the service they would like to enlist for, at which point one of the young men spoke up and said, "Well, Sergeant, down at Sicily Island the folks all say that you are an honest man and that you stick to your word and that you do everything possible to please the people who come to your office so we are going to leave it up to you, big boy."

The recruiter quickly sized each of them up and said that the air forces would be indeed glad to have them, and that he believed each of them would be a decided asset to the air forces and to apply for that branch of service when they arrived at the reception center at Camp Beauregard.

Monroe Morning World
The four young men mentioned are:  Charles David Bourke, 20, son of Mrs. Ida Bourke, who was so anxious to enlist that he forgot to get his mother's written consent, but a long-distance telephone call from McNemar soon remedied that situation, and within an hour he had her telegraphic consent; Charles Clinton Cloy, 20, son of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Horace Cloy; William Harmon Randall, 21, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Calvin Randall; and Edsel Girard Thurman, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Rastus Lee Thurman.

All four of these splendid young fellows were born and reared at Sicily Island, attended the same schools and churches, and have been lifelong pals and friends, and now that they had reached young manhood, they decided that they wanted to continue their close companionship and enlist together in the same branch of the service.

At noon on Thursday, these four boys were back to see Sergeant McNemar, with their pre-enlistment papers completed, their releases from the draft board, and were ready to set out on the great adventure of their lives.

The sergeant said later that he knew the people of Sicily Island, who had seen these boys grow up into the peak of their splendid young manhood, are indeed proud of them, and that he feels that each of them will go a long way in the army.

May 15, 2016

Sunday's Obituary - Anita Bondurant Oliphant

Concordia Sentinel - 5/18/1995

Anita Bondurant

Courtesy of Gail Dillard

Born on August 20, 1905

Daughter of
Yelverton Bondurant, Sr. and Pearl Ensminger

Sister to
Yelverton Bondurant, Jr.

Wife of
Ransom B. Oliphant

Died on May 14, 1995
Buried in the Old Pine Hill Cemetery
Sicily Island, Catahoula Parish, Louisiana

May 14, 2016

Sports Center Saturday - Tiger Football Field Named in Honor of Coach, 1981

Concordia Sentinel - 10/8/1981

J. R. Peace Football Field - 2010

The following article appeared in the October 8, 1981 edition of the Concordia Sentinel:

J. R. Peace Football Field - Alexandria Town Talk, 8/10/2013

Sicily Island Football - The Beginning

May 13, 2016

Pre-Civil War Quilt Found in Sicily Island

From an article published in the Concordia Sentinel on November 30, 1994:


Pre-Civil War quilt found in Sicily Island

A very old quilt, pre-dating the Civil War, was found recently by Mrs. David (Theresa) Stafford IV, of Sicily Island, between the springs of a bed which had been passed down through the Stafford Family.

Concordia Sentinel - 11/30/1994

No one seems to know the exact route this quilt has taken before surfacing some 136 years since it was made.

The pattern seems to be what today might be called a friendship quilt, where each person who makes a square signs his name.

Although many of the names are illegible, some are still quite clear.

The names, hometowns and dates which are readable include:  Mrs. L. O. Lovelace of Sicily Island; Mrs. Bettie B. Peck of Sicily Island; Mrs. W. L. Ditto, December 20, 1858; G. Holstein, October 26, 1858; Carrie, October, 1848; and Jane, December 1858.

This quilt with its authentic signatures and dates bespeaks the early history of Sicily Island, for the Lovelace brothers are reputed to be the first permanent settlers on the island.

The two brothers arrived in 1776, secured a Spanish land grant and built their first home, a crude log structure near the heart of a lake.  That lake is still occasionally referred to as Lake Lovelace.

By 1798 John Lovelace had built a better home for his family, which today is known as Ferry Place.  He reared 12 children, all of whom lived on the island.

Eventually a grandson, also named John Lovelace, inherited the property and lived there with his wife, Louisa Holstein.  They both died in 1826, leaving behind a son, another John Lovelace.

This third John Lovelace was married to Patience Kirkland, daughter of Zachariah Kirkland.

Zachariah Kirkland lived at Pine Hill Plantation which he bought from John Bowie (brother of Jim Bowie) in 1825.

John and Patience had three daughters, Florence Celeste, who married William Smith Peck I; Amy, who married Capt. Dave Stafford; and Harriet, who never married.

Although there are many descendants of the original Lovelace brothers living in Sicily Island today, there were very few male heirs, so Lovelace as a last name has disappeared from the area.

Lovelace descendants include Peck, Holstein, Enright, Stafford, Peniston, York, Krause, Doniphan and others.


There are only two names that I can confirm, Mrs. Bettie B. Peck and Mrs. W. L. Ditto.

Mrs. Bettie B. Peck was Elizabeth Bettie Smith.  She was born on December 31, 1839 and died on October 7, 1871.  Per the Peck family Bible, Bettie married John Gilman Peck, Sr. on December 9, 1857.  She and her husband are buried in the Old Peck Cemetery near Sicily Island.

Mrs. W. L. Ditto was Levinia Holstein.  She was born in 1835 to the marriage of David Gibson Holstein and Camilla C. Lightner.  On January 31, 1855 Levinia married William Lego Ditto, Jr. in Catahoula Parish.

The other four names are questionable.

Mrs. L. O. Lovelace 
I do not have a record of a Lovelace male with initials L. O.

G. Holstein
Numerous Holstein men shared the middle name of Gibson.
Celeste E. Hooter, daughter of Nancy Lovelace and Michael Hooter, was married to King Gibson Holstein circa 1823.  G. Holstein could stand for Mrs. K. G. Holstein.  
As mentioned above, Levinia Holstein was the daughter of David Gibson Holstein and Camilla C. Lightner, so this could possibly be Camilla aka Mrs. D. G. Holstein.

Possibly Caroline "Carrie" Narcissa Desha who was born circa 1838; making her only 10 years old when the quilt was made.  She was the first wife of David Stafford.  This could explain the quilt being handed down through the Stafford family over the years.

Possibly Jane Catherine Lovelace who was born in 1814 to the marriage of George Washington Lovelace and Sophia Dorcas Wells.  She married Benjamin Philip Cuny circa 1832.

If anyone has information on the location of the original quilt and/or the names in question, please leave a comment in the comment section below or email me at

May 11, 2016

Wedding Wednesday - Bryan and Trichel, 1934

Monroe News Star - 6/25/1934

Mamie "Kidd" Bryan was born in Sicily Island on October 12, 1913 to the marriage of Joseph Henry Bryan and Mary "Mamie" Bennett.  Her siblings included Beatrice [Denham], Clara Myrtle, and Minnie Lea [Glasgow].

Severin Edward Trichel, Jr. was born in Harrisonburg on September 5, 1905 to the marriage of Severin Edward Trichel, Sr. and Sophia Azelia Furlong.  His siblings included Joseph Mortimer, Sosthenne Alouysious, Edwin Berchman, James, Clara [Floyd], Hazel [Lanier], Leo, and Clotile [Struwe].

On June 16, 1934, Kidd and Ed were married in Sicily Island at the home of her sister, Beatrice "Bea" Bryan Denham.  

Below are photographs of the Bennett/Bryan house that were taken in 2011.

Bennett/Bryan House - 2011

Bennett/Bryan House - 2011

As a side note, in 1971 the old Bennett-Bryan house was vacant and badly in need of repair.  Bea's husband, Earl Denham, bought the old Bennett estate and began the work of renovation.  Earl died in 1973 but with the help of Kidd and Edward Trichel, renovations on the old home were completed. 

[Source:  Our Island Heritage, Vol. 3, A Book of Biographical Sketches, compiled by Sophie Crawford Haley and Mickie Farmer Smith, 1978]

May 10, 2016

Good Times at Charlie's Night Club

Courtesy of Justin Hase, great grandson of Charlie Smith

The above article was written by Jarrett Reeves and appeared in the March 3, 1986 edition of the Concordia Sentinel.

Charlie Smith's big night club at the intersection of Highway 15 and 8 in Sicily Island was where the good times were in Northeast Louisiana in the 30s and 40s.
But when the gambling was shut down in Louisiana in the 50s, the good times couldn't afford to hang on.
Charlie left for Natchez and Charlie's Place after several changes in management finally closed in the 50s.
Charlie died in Natchez in the 60s and the club has since burned to the ground.
But, back when times were hard and entertainment was not readily available, Charlie's Night Club was the place to meet friends, get a table, play a little bingo or blackjack and have a good time.
Sicily Islanders recall the bingo games on the weekends, the big name bands that came to town, the good times and Charlie himself.
Mary Smith Rushing, Charlie's niece, worked at the club.  Her father, Jim and Charlie were brothers. 
"Some of the best people in the world came to Charlie's.  That's where everyone met,"  Mary said.  "Charlie had real good bands, Glenn Miller, Otis Smith, Bud Scott.  Why, Tom Griffing who played the piano for years at the Rendezvous in Natchez was with the Bud Scott Band, and wasn't he good?  And old Louis Armstrong, he played there, too."
Mary met and married her husband, the late Homer Rushing, at Charlie's.  Homer came to Sicily Island to call the bingo games and later managed the gambling operation.
"Nobody ever made anyone gamble," Mary continued.  "Those that want to will, law or no law.  Some won't admit it, though.  It's going on today in places."
Most agree that it was John Hall, owner of a cafe in competition with Charlie Smith, that initiated the closing of the club, using the gambling as a reason.  And the church people were against the open gambling going on in town. 
In the 50s, the political climate in Louisiana was also changing with the election of a law and order governor, Robert F. Kennon.
Perry Stubbs, the parish deputy serving Sicily Island in those days, said that other than gambling being illegal, there was very little reason to close Charlie's.
"There wasn't much rough stuff there.  And if I did occasionally have to haul a few fellers to Harrisonburg to the jail, the worst part about it was trying to get them up that three flights of stairs to be jailed.  But most of the time Charlie had good bouncers to take care of anything that went on, and not much ever did."
Charlie Smith was a member of one of the leading families in Sicily Island and was kin to most everybody.  And though the church people were against the gambling operation at Charlie's, Charlie was regarded by most as a lovable character who was doing little harm.
There is also wide speculation that Charlie kept his relations with the community intact for so many years by regularly making sizable contributions to the church.
One story has it that when Charlie approached a new preacher with a wad of bills and asked him if he could accept a contribution, the preacher replied, "I'd be happy to, Charlie.  That money has been in the devil's hands too long already."
Charlie's career started with his taxi service.  When the new school teacher from Mississippi, Katherine, became his wife, Charlie got started on a more serious course -- a service station.
The next step in Charlie's career ladder was serving sandwiches and lunches at the station, which by now was also a bus station.  With each new endeavor came some sort of haphazard addition to the original station until the property at the highway junction was filled and Charlie had a full-blown night club.
Albert Krause dealt craps there as a young man.  He remembers the times well.
"I finished high school when I was just 15.  When I worked for Charlie, I was about 19.  It was during the Depression and jobs were scarce.  I worked there for $18 a week.  Sometimes we were open all night, but Charlie was always there on the job.  There was very little trouble."
"A man could take his wife there and not worry about her being bothered and young people could gather there to dance," said Mary Rushing.
"And the kitchen was good," Mary said.  "We served lunch plates, steaks, hamburgers."
After the end of World War II, Mary and Home Rushing went to Ferriday and Natchez to own and operate clubs.  But like Charlie, they couldn't make it in the night club business without gambling.
Mary and many others have fond memories of the days of Charlie's in Sicily Island.  The town isn't as big or colorful now as it was back then.  There isn't as much money passed around or as many places open to spend what money there is.
But when people in Sicily Island start remembering the 30s and Charlie's good time place, the sparkle in their eyes grows and their faces liven.
"Oh yes, I remember Charlie.  He was a likeable fellow.  Why, we'd get our set together and go there to dance and play bingo on Saturday nights.  Everybody would come from miles around and..."
Menu Cover from Charlie's

Charlie Gordon Smith was the son of James William "Buck" Smith and Mary Amelia Kendrick.  His siblings were:

Lillie Mae (1884-1885)
Kate (1886-1953) m. Charles Ballard
James William, Jr (1889-1954) m. Mary Williamson
Laura (1892-1893)
Henry Newman (1895-1900)
Henrietta "Nettie" (1898-1990) m. Marshall "Marcy" Francis
Augustus Edward "Gus" (1903-1977) m. Lila Hanks
Jack (1907-1996) m. Ella Mae Moon

Charlie with niece, Patsy on the steps of Charlie's Night Club
Patsy was the daughter of Charlie's brother, Gus
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Sally Smith Huff, daughter of Charlie's brother, Jack, provided the following information:
I do remember my Uncle Charlie and his night club.  He would put me up on a stool in front of a slot machine and give me a handful of nickels to play with.  This was in the grill.  The back rooms held the roulette, blackjack and poker tables.  I also remember crawling around under those big roulette tables...this, of course, was in the day time when the gambling was closed down.  
Uncle Charlie opened a place in Natchez called The Smoke House.  Gambling was by then illegal and this establishment was not very successful.
He was a dashing, Clark Gable type man; always dressing impeccably.  His wife, Katherine was a very elegant woman.

Charlie in South Arkansas at the home of his sister, Katie Ballard
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Katherine Benedict Smith with son, Charles Gordon, Jr. "Buddy"
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Sally Smith Huff (daughter of Charlie's brother, Jack)
Patsy Smith Jackson (daughter of Charlie's brother, Gus)
 Buddy Smith (Charlie's son)
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Charlie's brothers, Jack and Gus
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Mary Smith Rushing (daughter of Charlie's brother, Jim)
Henrietta "Nettie" Smith Francis (Charlie's sister)
Jack Smith (Charlie's brother)
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Sally Smith Huff and Mary Smith Rushing (Charlie's nieces)
Courtesy of Sally Smith Huff

Charlie's father, James William "Buck" Smith, was a brother to my great-great grandmother, Virginia "Jennie" Smith Blackman.

A special "Thank you" to Sally Smith Huff and Justin Hase for sharing information and photographs.