(Transcribed by Leora White, January 2007)



























August, 1935




 Economic and Social Developments of Calcasieu Parish,  

Louisiana, 1840-1912


(Note: This transcription was taken from the typescript made by Grace Ulmer and the printed version in The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, vol. 32, no. 3, July 1949. When there were discrepancies between the two versions, we chose the most correct as we knew it to be.)


            The history of Calcasieu began in the closing years of the eighteenth century when the disputed land between the Sabine and Rio Hondo (or Calcasieu) Rivers was under Spanish jurisdiction.  In 1806 United States and Spanish authorities, by agreement, neutralized this territory pending official settlement. During the ensuring fourteen years it filled up with desperadoes and a few settlers form the eastern states.  It had no government and was known generally as “No Man’s Land.” Practically the whole of this strip had been given out in Spanish grants, a fact that resulted later in innumerable conflicts between the Spanish and the United States claims.

            The parish takes its name from the river which was named for an Attakapas Indian chief, Katkosh Yok (Crying Eagle).  In 1840 the Louisiana legislature, upon the request of the settlers, created the parish of Calcasieu with the seat of government at Marion.  The area of the parish was 2,000,000 acres.  It is a combination of plains, prairies, pine hills and marshes.  The parish is covered by a network of tiny streams; they all flow into the Calcasieu, which empties into the Gulf of Mexico. 


            Climate, soil and land have contributed to the agricultural success of the parish.  Diversified farming was carried on extensively, especially after the immigration of thrifty farmers from the North and laying of the first railroad in 1880.  Corn, cotton, sugar cane, potatoes, hay, vegetable, and fruits were produced, though by far the outstanding crop was rice.


            The early methods of travel were on horse-back over blazed trails or by boat on the streams.  The only real road of which Calcasieu could boast, in ante-bellum times, was the Old Spanish Trail.  It was complimentary to the wisdom of those old pioneers who blazed the original trail to observe how closely state engineers in modern times have followed this trail.  During the Civil War, the necessity of supplying soldiers with provisions and ammunition resulted in building a military road.  In 1887 the first public road was built, and by 1911 there were 117 miles of improved roads.


            Until the building of the Louisiana Western Railroad in 1880, now a link of the Southern Pacific, Calcasieu was without railroads. About ten years later the necessity for more transportation facilities was felt, and a period of somewhat extensive railroad construction was inaugurated (1893-1903).


Sixty percent of Calcasieu was pine forests, but it was not until 1880 that their value was recognized by northern lumbermen, who began to invest capital, and introduce modern methods of sawmilling.  With the development of lumber came the naval stores, producing turpentine, rosin, and pine oil which was a source of wealth of Calcasieu.


            Sulphur was found twelve miles from Lake Charles.  The first produced was in 1894, though little was done until 1900 when Mr. Frasch operated the mines. From this time production continually increased until 1905, when the center of the world Sulphur industry was changed from Sicily to Sulphur, Louisiana.  Another mineral of importance in Calcasieu was oil.  In the “Mamou” region near Jennings, oil was discovered in 1901; but by 1908 it was realized that this field was not promising.  The oil fields at Welsh also proved unsuccessful but at Vinton the oil situation in 1910 had a promising future with an output of 12,000 barrels a day.


            The parish had a mixed population consisting of Creoles, Acadians, Americans from half a dozen different states and a few Indians.  In 1840 2,057 people resided in Calcasieu but with the development in agriculture and the lumber industry and the coming of railroads, settlers came from everywhere to Calcasieu which had in  1910 a total population of 62,767.  With these developments also came the growth of towns; Lake Charles, Jennings, Welsh and DeRidder being among the largest.


            Social life in the parish changed with the times.  Log-rollings, preaching, with dinner on the ground, square dances, ice cream suppers gave way to Mardi Gras celebrations, church festivals, boating parties, gun clubs and balloon and airplane meetings.  Prior to the coming of John McNeese in 1861 education in Calcasieu had made very little progress; there were few teachers, small salaries and limited number of poorly equipped buildings.  But these were gradually replaced and by 1911 there were several state approved high schools with an average term of nine months, and elementary schools were showing the same development.   A library established at Lake Charles in 1901 reveals the fact that the people were eager for educational improvements.  Newspapers reflect the growth of a people in an educational way, for as early as 1855 the Calcasieu Press had been established to be followed by the Calcasieu Gazette (1858) Echo (1868) The Weekly American and Lake Charles Daily Press (1895), and the Lake Charles American Press (1910).


            The outstanding religious denominations were Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, and Lutheran.  They had a practical as well as a spiritual value for an orphanage was sponsored by the Baptists and St. Patrick’s sanitarium by the Catholics.


            Calcasieu seems to have been unusually blessed in natural resources and in the thrifty type of immigrant it drew into itself.  In agriculture, mining, lumbering, transportation and education it has taken its place in the front ranks among the parishes of Louisiana.




            As we see our beautiful towns, and note the squares of built-up houses, the factories, the mills, and the ceaseless hum of industry where the bulk of a busy population gains a livelihood, it is difficult to believe that less than a century ago these blooming prairies, grand old forests, and enchanting water courses were the possession of wandering savages and formed a part of a vast wilderness. (1)


            Here the immigrant pitched his tent and found a spot on the banks of the Calcasieu or near some lake of sparkling water, beneath the shade of the tall monarchs of the forests, the long-leaf pines, where the untamed children of nature had so long roamed unmolested, where the Indian engaged in the wild pleasure of his fancy. (2) Such was the beginning of Calcasieu Parish.


            The history of Calcasieu began in the closing years of the eighteenth century when the tract between the Rio Hondo and Sabine River, called for years the neutral strip, was under Spanish jurisdiction. (3)  The boundary between Spanish Texas and Louisiana was in dispute with the Calcasieu, or Rio Hondo, and the Sabine, representing the rival contentions of Spain and the United States.  In 1806 General Wilkinson and the Spanish General Herrena entered into an agreement which neutralized this territory, pending official settlement. This country soon filled up with desperadoes from the eastern states until it became a notorious refuge for outlaws, and for fourteen years this section had no effective government and was spoken of as “No Man’s Land.” (4)


           Early settlers sought the unoccupied lands, covered with magnificent forest, where they could build homes.  Many of them brought their families, and despite the lawlessness which prevailed in the neutral strip, they cast their lot here, and with a few primitive tools erected houses and cleared land for the cultivation of crops.  A few brought their slaves, but as a rule the pioneers were people of small means and had to depend on themselves for their labor.  Practically the entire neutral strip was given out in Spanish grants, but some were of doubtful legality. The Spaniards were very generously (sic) and gave lands to persons who had rendered military or other services to the king.  But these grants were not approved by the United States until after abundant proof of their legality had been furnished.  One method of  established (sic) a Spanish claim consisted of the claimant pulling grass or digging holes in the ground.  Many tracts of land included in these grants were occupied by settlers who built homes and reared families on them long before a valid title was established.  In the course of time many thousand acres reverted to the government and came into the possession of settlers under the homestead laws. (5)  A large number of these first immigrants settled on what was known as Rio Hondo lands, the original title to which was based on a Spanish grant.


            Some of the early settlers were Charles Sallier, for whom Lake Charles was named; Jacob Ryan; Reese Perkins, who settled on the east side of the river; others who settled on the west side of the river were Hiram Curs, Dempay Iles, and Elias Blount. (6)


            The earliest written account that we find is: “Rio Hondo Claims 280.”  The report is dated November 1, 1824, and was communicated to the senate January 31, 1825.  The claims were along the bayous from Natchitoches to Hackberry, but the date when they were settled is unknown. (7)


            Several questions were asked and answered concerning this land, among them being, “What were the limits of the late neutral territory as considered by the ancient authorities of Texas and Louisiana?”


Answer of Samuel Davenport: “The neutral ground comprehended all the tract of country lying east of the Sabine River and west of Culeashue, Bayou Kisachey, the branch of the Red River from the Kesachey up to the mouth of Bayou Don Manuel, Lake Terre Noir and Aroya Honda south of the northeast boundary of the state of Louisiana.”


Answer of Joseph Mora:  “I have no other knowledge of the neutral ground as to boundaries but from the Rio Hondo to Sabine River.”


Answer of Gregoir Mora:  “In the year 1794 and 1795, I collected the titles of all the inhabitants who lived or had stock west of the Calcasieu River, of Bayou Kisachey or Bayou Manuel and Rio Hondo and South of Red River, which were at that time within the jurisdiction of Nacodoches and on the line of Providence of Louisiana.” (8)


            In these reports, it is interesting to note the various spellings of the name Calcasieu, Culkeshue, Culcashue, Quelqueshue, Culeashue, Calcashue.


            Rio Hondo lost its original Indian name and acquired that of Quelqueshue, which was later simplified to Calcasieu.  Tradition says that Calcasieu is also an Indian word meaning “deep river.” (9)  An authority on philology states that the river was named for an Attakapas Indian chief, Katkosh Yok (Crying Eagle), which was later given a French form. (10)  A questionable story relates that certain men assembled to change the name of Rio Hondo, reached an impasse, and finally a Frenchmen, who was tired of discussing the subject, suggested: “Oh, name it Quelquechose,” which means “anything” or “something” in French.  An unorthographic Irishman at the meeting wrote the name “Caleasieu.” (11)


            The name of Jean Lafitte, the famous smuggler, is closely connected with the early history of Calcasieu Parish, and forms one of its romantic pages.  There is not a river or lake in this section but has its thrilling story of mysterious visits of this sea rover. The river and its chain of lakes became Lafitte’s stronghold. His vessels sailed districts where, hid from the eye of the law, they discharged cargoes of jewels and Spanish gold.


            As these early settlers of Calcasieu were looking for places where political troubles were unknown, most of the selected claims lay some distance from the water’s edge.  However, one settler, Charles, settled on the shell bank where the first landing was made.  After obtaining this land from the Indians, he built a house which remained until 1841, when it was removed to its present site, and the Barbe house was erected in its stead.


            For several years nothing of interest happened to these settlers but one day a thrill of excitement was felt by Charles Sallier.  A strange Clipper-built schooner carrying an enormous spread of canvas and several brass cannon sailed up the river and dropped anchor in the lake.   Two men left the boat and went to Sallier’s house.  One of them, tall, dark and very distinguished looking, made arrangements for a daily supply of fresh meat and vegetables.  After their arrangements were made, the commander brought wines and candies to his boat.  These settlers enjoyed the hospitality of the captain. He entertained them frequently while his boat was at Shell Bank.  This was the first appearance of Jean Lafitte in Calcasieu; afterwards he became a great friend of the people, and as the years passed he would return at irregular intervals and remain for weeks, should the United States war vessels be patrolling the coast.  This pirate had many narrow escapes and suddenly set sail and was heard of no more in this locality.  The deep, silent Calcasieu and its tributaries hold the secrets of Lafitte. (12)


            When the first permanent Anglo-Saxon settler established a home west of the Calcasieu, the eight parishes comprising the seventh congressional district were known as St. Landry. The Parish seat was at Opelousas, and all the territory between the Sabine and Opelousas was either a wilderness or an open prairie.  There were many Indians, but they gave the settlers very little trouble.  There were known to be four villages - one just south of Sugartown, near the house of G. J. Young, one just north of the W. B. Wellborn home; one near the mouth of Anacco, and one on the Frazar farm at Merryville, just across the road from the present Merryville High School. (13)


            Of these settlers who came here to make their homes and who now have descendants in the parish, tradition says that Saddler Johnson was among the first.  Being a saddler by trade, he was called Saddler Johnson.  He built a shack on the bluff of Whiskey-Chitto Creek. (14)


            Tradition says that the first permanent Anglo-Saxon settlement west of Calcasieu River was made in the vicinity of Sugartown about 1825.  The next settlement was made in what is known as Big Woods settlement, by the Smarts, Perkins, Cowards, and others about 1832.


            This parish, like most of the others in southwest Louisiana, has a mixed population, consisting of Creoles, Acadians, Americans from half a dozen or more different states, and a few Indians. (15)  Among the Indians in the region, from an unknown origin, has sprung a race of people of mixed ancestry, known as Red Bones. (16)  They are generally believed to be a mixture of white, Indian, and Negro.  Martin “Pop” Ryan, a pioneer settler, told his niece, Annie Ryan, that Red Bones near his mill on Prien Lake never mingled with nor married Negroes.  He believed they were descendants of early Spanish and Indians of the Southwest.  Bristow Hutchins, another old settler, said their bones were blood-red instead of white after death, hence then the name. (17)


            These few settlers were spread over a large section of country and found it inconvenient, on account of long distance, roads and means of travel, to go to Opelousas, the parish seat, to attend court and to vote.  For these reasons they determined upon the formation of a parish of their own, and with this end in view submitted to the legislature an act to create a new parish to be called Calcasieu.  The act was adopted on March 24, 1840. Thus came into being the new parish of Calcasieu.


            Section 1 of the act reads as follows:  “That all territory in the Parish of St. Landry, within the following boundaries, to wit: commencing at the mouth of the River Mermentau, thence up said river to the mouth of Bayou Nez Pique, thence up said bayou to the mouth of Cedar Creek, thence due north to the dividing line between the Parishes of St. Landry and Rapides, thence along said line to the Sabine River, thence down the said  river to the mouth, thence along the sea coast to the place of beginning, shall form and constitute the parish of Calcasieu.” (18)


            The police jury members of the new parish met at the residence of Arsene LeBleu on August 24, 1840, for the purpose of considering local affairs of the new parish and to pass such laws, ordinances, and regulations as would be most expedient for the good order of Calcasieu.  James B. Wood was acting clerk, and the following were members of the police jury: (19)  First ward, David Simmons; second ward, Alexander Hebert; third ward, Michel Pithon; fourth ward, Henry Moss; fifth ward, Rees Perkins; sixth ward, Thomas Williams.


            The parish embraces a total area of nearly 2,000,000 acres; it is larger than either the state of Rhode Island or Delaware and larger than the Kingdom of Belgium. (20) 

           The surface of the parish is partly covered with open plains, with which makes good grazing pasture for cattle, as they are covered nearly the entire year with grasses.(21)  Early Calcasieu was known as the cattle country.  From the census reports of 1840, we see that it had 11,594 horses and mules, 13,577 cattle, 552 sheep and 5,564 swine. (22)


            Over two-thirds of this area is timber, mostly long-leaf yellow pine. (23)   The northwest part of the parish is pine flats and pine hills; the eastern half is upland and prairies; some marsh land  and cypress swamps are along the center of the southern boundary.(24) The following kinds of trees are found in Calcasieu: hickory, most of the oaks, two kinds of elms, ash, maple magnolia, sassafras, bay, wild peach, rosebud, dogwood, pine, poplar, chinquapin, elder, chinaberry, willow, sweet or red gum, black gum, black jack, sand jack, beach ironwood, persimmon, walnut, cherry, huckleberry, cypress, holly, sloe, and perhaps many others.(25)


            Although the soil is possibly not so fertile as that of some of Louisiana’s other parishes, with proper drainage and cultivation it can be made to produce almost any kind of crops. (26)  A complete analysis of the virgin prairie soil will show the value of the land; mechanical analysis: organic matter, 2.50 percent; gravel, 50.; coarse sand, 30; medium sand, 20, fine sand, 6.42; very fine sand, 33.36; silt, 50,40; clay, 6.002; total soluble salt, .54; combination calcium sulphate, 2,42; sodium chloride, 49.50; sodium carbonate, 3.11; potassium chloride, 3.11; calcium chloride, 1903; magnesium chloride, 32.53.  Fertilizer constituents are: humus, 6.29 percent; potash, .494; phosphoric acid, .158; nitrogen, .115. (sic) (27)   The dense woodlands have been transformed into fields for the cultivation of crops which will furnish food.  In the Census Report of 1840 the vast majority of workers were included under the general heading, agriculture. There were 534. (28)


The crops of greatest production were Indian corn, 16,670 bushels; potatoes, 6,387 bushels; rice 200 pounds; cotton gathered, 45,600 pounds; and sugar, 6,000 pounds.


Calcasieu is a delightful place in which to live.  It has the most even climate in the South, no winter blizzards nor long summers.  The Gulf breeze in winter makes the climate warm and in summer most refreshing.  The average temperature is from forty degrees to seventy degrees in winter, and eighty degrees to ninety-six in summer. (29) 

           The parish is covered by a network of tiny streams, all of which flow into the Calcasieu which empties into the Gulf of Mexico about fifty miles away.  The large streams have interesting names and memorialize some incident or family in early Calcasieu history.  Some of the principal streams are Calcasieu and Houston Rivers; Beckworth, Hickory, Whiskey-Chitto, Bundricks, Ten Miles, Six Miles, Barnes, Sugar and Dry Creeks; Bayoue Serpent, Schoupique, Dindle, Lacassine, and English.  All of these except the Lacassine flow into the Calcasieu, which furnishes an outlet to the Gulf of Mexico, flowing twelve miles west of the mouth of the Mermentau River into the sea by a mouth three hundred yards wide. (30)  The longest branch of the Calcasieu River rises in the parish of Natchitoches, in thirty-one degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, and very nearly south of the town of Natchitoches. Another short branch of the Calcasieu rises in the Prairie Llana Coucon and flows south about seventy-five miles and unites with the main stream in nearly a western direction from the Church of St. Landry in Opelousas.  A third branch rises thirty-one degrees north latitude, runs south thirty miles and falls into the west side of the main river twenty miles below the second branch.  These three branches make the Calcasieu River.  There is a peculiarity perceivable in this river that distinguishes it from any other in Louisiana, or perhaps in the world.  Its water with a very few exceptions enters from the right bank. (31)


Although the federal census had been taken in Louisiana since 1810, the first census that lists Calcasieu Parish as a single unit is in 1840.  This census placed the total population at 2,057 which included slaves.  There were 482 slaves, 226 free colored, and 1,349 with whites. (32)


The census report shows that only three men were listed as being employed in manufacturing, with only $650 capital invested. (33)  This proves that most of the manufacturing was done at home.  The women carried on the spinning and weaving, and the men the work such as tanning leather, making wagons, etc. (34) The pioneer stores were very few.  Census reports show that in 1840 Calcasieu had four retail, dry goods, grocery, and other stores. (35)  These were not filled with ready-made clothing, as we have today, but the necessities of life such as calico, flour, salt, etc.  In 1840 there were only two schools in the parish and the total number of twenty-eight pupils made up the attendance of both.   There were one hundred and fifty-one illiterates.  It is an indication of the quality of stock that peopled the area that there was only one person who could be listed under the heading of criminal or insane. (36)


The first record book opened in the parish was 1840, a very small book which contained all the transactions of the parish; only four deeds of land were listed.


The early houses in Calcasieu were constructed of pine logs.  An excellent example of this is the old Barritine home near the DeRidder highway, built about 1840, parts of which can be seen today.  It is built of round logs, notched at the ends to fit together, the spaces between being filled with mud and straw to keep out the wind and cold.  The chimney was made of mud.  An interesting feature was the “dog trot” through the center of the house, for the use of the dog in bad weather.  It also provided a very cool place for the family to sit in warm weather. (37)  This home is typical of the early ones built in this section.


There were no railroads in early Calcasieu: the chief trading posts were on the rivers.  A great many of these early settlers went to market only once a year, and returned with supplies for the home.  Schooners and ox teams were the only means of transportation.


Rich, undeveloped resources of American life lay in this great imperial Calcasieu, and it was the work of the settlers to hasten their development.




            Calcasieu is a farmer’s land.  I use the word farmer to mean a man who lives by the soil - an independent, out-of-doors man, who turns the wealth of the soil into rice, corn, hay, or fruits. He is the one necessary man; he is the basic of industry, of society.  Commerce, manufacture, and the growth of cities must rest upon the land for support.

            Happiness is dependent upon success, and success in agriculture depends upon three things; climate, soil, and water; these three are nature’s gifts to Calcasieu Parish.

Diversified Farming

The parish is adapted to diversified farming.  This implies a rotation of, as well as a variety of, crops; and upon a judicious system of rotation largely depends (sic) the annual yield and the value of one’s capital, which in this case is the land. (1)


In the early nineteenth century the Calcasieu farmer was satisfied with a small farm.  The census report of 1840 shows 534 people classed under the general heading of agriculture.  The leading crop of 1840 was corn; 16,670 bushels were produced.  Early Calcasieu was a cattle country; therefore, the production of corn was essential.  In the following decade this crop showed a decided increase and was recorded in 1850 at 44,360 bushels.  In 1860 the production of corn more than doubled (91,295 bushels).  The shrinkage in agriculture occasioned by the Civil War is evident in the census report of 1870, when the amount of corn produced in Calcasieu was 39,950 bushels.  Following this, however, a steady increase in this crop is recorded, the production in 1910 reaching 315,576 bushels.


Although cotton was the leading crop of Louisiana, it did not play an important role in the agricultural history of Calcasieu, for only a small portion was entirely suitable for its production. The census report of 1840 records 111 bales. The ensuring decade showed a slight rise, but in the 1850’s the production increased more than five fold, reaching 640 bales in 1860.  The reports of 1870 and 1880 record a steady but small decrease, but in 1890 the amount produced is listed at 1,152 bales, and thereafter a steady increase can be noted.


An industry that came into being with the advent of the railroad was that of market gardening.  Early vegetables for northern markets could be grown successfully once the transportation problems had been solved.  In 1870 the recorded value (in the census report) was only 140 and in 1880 $912.  But with the laying of the railroad in the 1880’s and the immigration of thrifty northerners, the value of market gardening, including small fruits, jumped to $55,026 by 1890.  By 1910 market gardening alone was $325,724.


The value of Calcasieu orchard product in general was listed at $75 in 1860.  By 1900 this amount had increased to $18,360.  In the period immediately following (1901-1902) the Long-Bell Lumber Company undertook to transform 455 acres of cut-over timber land from a non-productive to a high productive state.  Within a few years the seemingly barren-looking piece of soil was turned into a veritable bower of fruit trees and was furnishing fruits and vegetables for a wide territory.  The project was located on a section of land between Bon Ami and DeRidder.  On this farm were orange trees, fig orchards, pearch (sic) and pecan orchards, plum trees, Japanese persimmons, and other fruits.  By 1911 there were 34,000 growing fruit trees. (2)

            Since 1899 there have been several small orange orchards started, all from the introduction of new varieties, more particularly the Satsuma grafted on the trifoliata stock, claimed to give greater hardiness and resistance to low temperatures; also there were cultivated the sprouts that grew up form the stumps of the native trees which were of several varieties, without name, probably from the Mediterranean.   The fruits of some are smaller than others and have thinner rinds and fewer seeds.  The Louisiana orange is capable of withstanding a temperature as low as fifteen degrees above zero, provided the cold is preceded by weather that is cool enough and moist enough to season or prepare the tree for a rapid falling to a low temperature.  Dr. A. J. Perkins stated that he planted the Jaffa, Besset Boone, Parson Brown, and Ruby in 1905, and by November of the following year he gathered oranges from some of these trees.  Dr. Perking had two thousand trees, the first of which were sent out in March, 1905, and if successful in 1911, he expected to $3.00 per tree. (3)


The production of sugar cane had never been of outstanding importance in Calcasieu.  In 1840, only 6 hogsheads of sugar were made but in 1850 this amount had increased to 460 hogsheads and 18,160 gallons of molasses.  During the 1850’s which marked the high tide of cotton production before which all other products gave way, a decided decrease in sugar is to be noted, for only 34 hogsheads were refined in 1860, and 2,810 gallons of molasses were made.  From this time on a steady decrease in the production of refined sugar is apparent, though the output of molasses increased until 1910 it reached 114,163 gallons.

Tobacco production in Calcasieu showed very little growth.  In 1860, 1,149 pounds were produced; in 1880, 2,910 pounds; in 1890, 160 pounds; 1900, 4,750 pounds.  This was used principally for home consumption.


Potatoes were produced early in the history of Calcasieu.  By the time of the Civil War the amount produced *(1860) was 42,940 bushels of which the greater part was sweet potatoes.  During the 1860’s the production decreased, as it did in every other crop.  The immigration of the northerners during the 1880’s however, marked a turning point in the potato industry, for experimenting in the production of Irish potatoes was begun, and by 1890 the combined production was listed at 171,795 bushels.  In 1910 this amount had reached 315,576 bushels.


There are three reasons why diversified farming is profitable. (4)   First, it is the only plan that can stand the test of common sense and reason and is backed by actual results.  Second, it is the only plan by which the fertility of the farm can be maintained or improved.  Third, and most important of all, it is the only plan that really, truly, and in the full meaning of the term makes a home of a farm.


To all nations rice is the special symbol of good luck and good fortune.  From the lonely Oriental who sends his deceased relatives to the shades equipped with a goodly supply of cereal, to the guest at a fashionable occidental wedding who showers rice upon the presumably happy pair, all share in the belief that rice is a sign of good fortune.  There is no mystery in the superstition of the Orientals regarding it; the success or failure of the crop means life or death to them. 

            The first attempt to raise rice was made in the Virginia colony about 1647, but the climate was not suitable.  In 1694 an English vessel bound from Madagascar to Liverpool put into Charleston, South Carolina for repairs.  The captain presented a package of rough rice to the worthy resident, Thomas Smith, suggesting that the seed might be successfully grown in the Carolinas.  Smith planted it in his garden, cultivated it, and from this crop sprang an industry that has flourished in the Carolinas and Georgia for more than two hundred years.  By 1839 the cultivation of rice was rather widely distributed throughout the United States, but the states of Georgia, the Carolinas, and Louisiana were the important producing states. (5)   In the years from 1845 to 1860, the states of North and South Carolina and Georgia were at their highest point of production, and after the Civil War these states began to decrease in production; the new areas in the West, particularly in Louisiana, supplanted them in importance. (6)

            The rice planter was usually a middle-class farmer.  He was a man of little wealth and little education.  Because of lack of funds he was not able to install sufficient machinery for the cultivation of rice or properly to prepare it for market. 

            Rice planting began in February by digging new ditches or cleaning out old ones.  A river-front farm, usually consisting  if four acres, would have on ditch four feet wide and five feet deep, running from the river to the swamp.   A dam or gate at the rear was placed at right angles with the ditch in order that the flow could be controlled.  Back of the field a four or five foot ditch ran parallel with the river and a high bank on the outside completely enclosed the field.  A flood gate opened behind it to regulate the height of the water. (7) 

             In March oxen were used to plow the soil, which was mixed and leveled.  From the middle of March to the end of April, planting was done.  The broadcast method was used by many and was very simple.  The seeds were either broadcast or sown in trenches.  The seeds were lightly covered.   An outer gate in the trunk ditch was opened when the planting was completed, which allowed the next rise of the tide to fill the ditch and finally to cover the field.  The first flow of the water was called the sprout flow.  The water was left on until the seed sprouted.  Then the water was drawn off.  The point flow followed this, and was left on the points until the rice was three of four inches in height.  The water protected the rice from grass and rice birds.  As soon as the ground was dry enough, it was hoed.  Then the long flow remained on the rice for about a month.  After the water was drained it had another hoeing. The water was again let on for the long flow and left until time to harvest.     
             The harvesting began in September.  The rice was cut with a sickle.  One person could cut three of four rows at a time. Within a few days after cutting, it had dried and was bound in sheaves and carried to the stack yard where the sheaves were ricked. (8)  When the harvesting had been completed, the threshing began.  This was done by tossing the rice in the air or by fanning it.  The husks were removed by pounding the grains in a mortar with a light wood pestle. 

              We can see that this early method of planting and harvesting was very crude.  The cultivation of rice by the majority of planters up to the Civil War was for domestic use.  But the real birth of the industry may be said to date from 1884 when a colony of sturdy farmers from the Middle West, disheartened by the successive crop failures, and tired of the interminable, rigorous winters of the North, migrated to the prairies of southwest Louisiana.  Prior to this the cultivation of rice had been confined to the alluvial and delta lands of the state.  When these western farmers came to Louisiana, they found the natives growing rice in low spots where irrigation was more simple done, and the crop depended upon local rainfall for irrigation. 

              Among the northern immigrants that came was S. L. Cary of Iowa.  Passing through Louisiana, he became impressed with the country, as it reminded him of Iowa.  To his surprise he found cattle grazing on winter grass in a delightful climate.  At this time there was a quantity of government land and realizing the possibilities or rice culture he went to New Orleans to locate a homestead.  Being successful, he returned to Jennings, and immediately wrote for his friends to come to this state.  For several years he went north and each time returned with parties of farmers from Iowa and Illinois. (9)

             An old settler of Jennings, Mr. McFarland, suggested to Cary that of all crops raised on the prairies, rice brought the best return.  After experimenting Cary found this to be true.  He found that it took an adequate and regular supply of water.  One of his friends, Maurice Byrne of Iowa, introduced the first twine binder that was even used in rice cultivation in Louisiana. (10) 

              Immigration opened the eyes of the old residents of Calcasieu and they began to participate in the agricultural development.  These immigrants, fresh from the western wheat farms, could not be expected to tolerate a continuation of the old Calcasieu methods - the hand method of sowing must be superseded by the modern drill; the primitive sickle by the binder.  Ancient methods of threshing, such as the pounding of the grain with a club and whipping it over a barrel, were replaced by the modern steam thresher, and such old-time methods of milling as tramping the rice out by house, by a steam mill.  This, indeed, was a revolution, and the native population, strong in it’s inherit prejudice against conditions that were foreign to it, viewed with pessimism the dawn of the new era in the industry. 

               The next great era, beyond question the most important in the history of rice industry, dates from 1896, the year in which the irrigation canal was introduced by the Abbott brothers who have been a potent factor in the development of southwest Louisiana.  Rice culture with the exception of the irrigation feature differs very little form the cultivation of wheat or any other of the staple crops. Although it is thought by many that rive is grown in swampy lands, this is untrue; the lands of Calcasieu are rolling prairies, form six to twenty feet above the level of the streams. (11) 

             Unromantic figures can best relate the story of the marvelous growth of industry since the introduction of the irrigation canals.  In 1897, there was only one plant within less than ten miles of the canal.  Seven years later there were no less than eighty plants in operation, each capable of irrigating from 160 to 20,000 acres.  During the same period the number of binders had been increased from 3,000 to 10,000, while the annual crop had grown from 3,000,000 to 10,000,000 bushels, with a value to those engaged in it of over ten million dollars. 

              Most of the big canal companies have for their primary object the irrigation of their own lands or the lands of some other big rice growing corporation, although every company is willing to supply water to smaller growers.  This was generally arranged on a basis of one-fifth of the crop.         
              At the pumping plant of the company the water is lifted to an elevation of about twenty feet by a number of pumps, the largest of which has a discharge pipe forty-nine inches in diameter with a capacity of lifting from sixty to eighty thousand gallons per minute.  The power is furnished by a battery of large water tube boilers, driving two twin-cylinder engines of from five to eight hundred horsepower capacity. 

               The canal company has its own storage tanks using crude oil for the fuel which is carried in its own barges from the pipe line direct to the pumping plant.  The water is lifted from the bayou into a flume about thirty feet wide and six feet deep and 140 feet long built of the highest grade of cypress lumber in a substantial manner.  The water then flows into the main canal and is distributed through its various laterals and channels to the growing rice.  The main canal carrying from eight to fifteen feet of water from 100 to 150 feet in width, serving as a reservoir to furnish water for several days in the event the pumps are not continuously operated. This was an appreciated advantage to the farmers not possible in small canal system. (12) 

                This was an era of machinery in rice milling.  The primitive methods of pestle and mortar were first improved by making a rice receptacle out of a hollow log.  The light wood pestle was replaced by a heavy wooden pounder bound to a horizontal beam six to eight long resting on a fulcrum four to five feet from the pounder.  It was raised by stepping on the short end of the beam end and then releasing the foot. The next improvement was an “over-shot wheel” which was attached to a horizontal shaft with arms separated by a distance equal to the length of the rice pounder. (13)  Such a large increase in rice production necessitated a parallel extension of milling capacity.  The crude mills were replaced by improved ones.

               The following figures taken from the United State Census Report will show the tremendous growth of rice in Calcasieu Parish:

1840 200 pounds
1850 1,176 pounds
1860 29,360 pounds
1870 39,400 pounds
1880 338,224 pounds
1890 5,985,255 pounds
1900 32,990,143 pounds
1910 164,464,840 pounds

Acreage increase has been tremendous also:


1880 600 acres planted
1890 8,665 acres planted
1900 44, 321 acres planted
1910 141, 500 acres planted

With such growth in production of rice we see the need of rice mills.

            Of the early mills, Jacob Ryan in the middle seventies had a crude one where the town people had their rice milled.  It is said that he had very little business, because each family had its own mortar and pestle. (14)   In 1888 Thomas Hanson built a rice mill in connection with his shingle mill on the eastern shore of Lake Charles, north of Pujo Street.  Captain Hanson advertised in the August issue of the Echo 1888 “that he had just completed the rice mill and was ready to serve the public.” (15)  In December 1892, C. B. Lake and Company built a rice mill at West Lake. (16)  On January 23, 1892 the Lake Charles Milling Company, a company of New York capitalists, was chartered and built a mill in Lake Charles in 1893 on the banks of the Calcasieu River.  The Lake Charles Board of Trade paid Mr. C. A. John 10,000 for locating the mill in Lake Charles. (17)  Mr. Gustave A. John of New York City was president of the first Lake Charles Milling Company.  In 1905 the officers were Christian M. Meyer, president; John Henry Dick, vice president; Bernard Suydan, secretary; all were from New York.  The manager was R. S. Russell.   J. Alton Foster was manager of the clean rice department and Leon Viterbo was buyer of rough rice.

            When Mr. John opened his rice mill in 1893, it was freely predicted that he would fail; he did not have enough rice to run the mill a week.  But he persisted, and in time canals began to creep across the prairie lands more and more rice was planted for commercial purposes, and soon it was demonstrated that nowhere in the world was southwest Louisiana surpassed for growing rice.  This Lake Charles rice mill was said to be the largest in the United States.

              In 1911 the Lake Charles Rice Mill employed sixty people, with Mr. J. A. Foster serving as general manager and treasurer, and $20,000was annually distributed in the parish in wages.  The mill handled 200, 000 sacks of rice each sack containing 200 pounds.  The milling plant had a daily capacity of 3,500 barrels of rice, and utilized 120,000 square feet of floor space.  Their warehouse had a storage capacity of 150,000 sacks of rough rice and 25,000 sacks of cleaned rice.  A carload of rice bran, a carload of ground rice hulls, and a half carload of rice polish were manufactured every day that the mill operated. (18)

              In 1898 the Wall Rice Mill was erected, and in 1911 the Louisiana State Rice Milling Company purchased it.  This mill had a capacity of 1,200 barrels of rough rice every twenty-four hours.   Some of the brands milled were Honduras, Louisiana Pearl, Jan, Edith and Blue Rose. (19)

              To visit a modern rice mill is a unique experience.  The rice is received at the mill warehouse in sacks weighing about 180 pounds each which are unloaded from the cars by belt-conveying machinery of a character somewhat similar to that employed in the grain elevators of the West.  From the bins the rice is run through separators, which remove all foreign substance from it.   It is then fed into the center of the hulling stones, where it is revolved at the rate of 250 revolutions a minute and, through centrifugal action, through the perforated ends of the upper and lower stones, a process which removes the hull from the grain.  From these the rice is passed through the fanning machines, which remove the hull by suction.  A very ingenious German separator then turns back the unhulled grains to another set of stones, for about twenty-five percent of the rice that goes through the initial set of stones comes out unhulled.   The rice is then passed through hullers.  The huller is a cylinder within a metal case, the rice going in at one end and out the other.  This removes the oily cuticle that covers the grain, this by-product being known as rice bran.  From here the rice goes to what are known as the brushes.  The brushes are upright cylinders covered with leather, which polish the rice against the wire screen, leaving behind a white powder known as rice polish.  From the brushes the rice goes to the polishing drum, where through friction the highly polished appearance which is found in most all finished rice is obtained.  From there the rice goes to the clean rice separator, where the broken grains are separated from the whole, and the various commercial grades are separately packed. (20)

Summary of Calcasieu Agriculture, 1840-1910



Acres of Land Improved

No. of Farms or Value

Corn (bu.)



Cotton (bales)







































































































8,732 tons (raw cane)






Farmers’ Organizations

            The Department of Agriculture has inaugurated and conducts a system of farmers’ institutes in Louisiana, which are of inestimable value.  At these institutes, specialists  in agriculture come in personal contact with the farmers, delivering lectures, asking questions, and having them answered, interchanging ideas, all of which bring out the most practical and needed agricultural information. 

             The farmers of Calcasieu took advantage of the opportunity and the Agricultural   Society of Southwest Louisiana was formed in December 1896, with its domicile in Jennings. (21)  The first meeting embraced many agricultural questions and the discussions were full of interest and information.  In reading through their reports we find that the farmers of southwest Louisiana have good attendance, and these meetings are held regularly at Jennings on June 27 and at Lake Charles on July 11 of each year. (22) 

              Different societies were organized through the efforts of the Department of Farmer’s Institute.  The Fruit Growers’ Association was organized the same year. (24) The Jennings Rice Planters Association was organized in 1902. (25) 

              The Calcasieu Parish Fruit and Truck Growers Association was formed during the early part of 1910 to meet the growing demands and to combine their products and sell in car lots to the best advantage.  The organization is purely mutual in its nature, and is run by the farmers.  Its officers were selected with the thought of getting men who had a personal interest in its success, and who were willing to give some time for their own benefit and for the benefits of other members without hope of direct remuneration.  Mr. Bern M. Foster, manager of the Orange Land Company, Ltd., one of the largest land companies in the parish, and himself a truck grower, was elected president;  W. E. Cline, vice-president; R. L. Coleman, treasurer; Dr. A. J. Perkins, Professor Alexander Thomason, George Linkswiler, and A. G. Barrett were on the board of managers.   Branches of the association have been organized in nearly all parts of the parish, the Oakdale branch alone shipping out several carloads by truck.  Car shipments have gone form Singer, Edgerly, Lake Arthur, Manchester, and Lake Charles.   With Calcasieu soil and climate and progressive men like those of the Fruit and Truck Growers Association, the parish will soon have a record not to be surpassed. (26)  


Transportation and Communication

            Calcasieu was a broad, unbroken prairie, dotted here and there with droves of wild cattle, and miles and miles of deep, quiet forests.  The early roads were marked out form settlement to settlement by “blazes” on the nearest trees, and they followed the line of least resistance. 

             With so many streams of water - river, bayou, and creek - the small boat was used as a means of transportation.  

             By the nineteenth century, travel across the coast region was constantly increasing.  The natural, usually adopted, route would be along the coast line as had been the practice since very early times.  This, however, was impossible; the continuous succession of bayous, lakes, inlets and swamps forbade it. 

             Constantly searching for the shortest possible way that would still keep them on reasonably dry land; they finally by common consent and practices settled upon a regular way and that path became known as the “Old Spanish Trail.”  There were almost innumerable cut-offs and detours, some of them bearing the local name, but the “trail” became fixed.  Growing settlement and business in what afterwards became Texas increased the traffic greatly.  Lone adventurers, companies of merchants, immigrants, troops of soldiers, all made the trail busier. Then the Texas cattle industry got into the hands of active people.  They must get to New Orleans with their products.  People still living in Lake Charles tell of seeing herds of thousands of head of long-horns passing north of the lake on east to market. 
            Being originally a traditional cow path, the trail was crooked.  The coming of farms straightened it out in places, in some places substituted square corners for curves, and, in still other places, entirely obliterated them; but the trail and the track can still be seen - the broad, beaten ground where animal and human feet left their trace. 

             Long years afterwards came the state and government engineers who sought the best possible route for a great coast-to-coast highway, which happily retains the old name.  It is a real compliment to the wisdom of these trout old pioneers who blazed the original trail to observe how closely those engineers followed the old trace. 

             By an old map made by engineers of the  surveyor general’s  office in 1830, the first official map of this region, the trail entered Calcasieu Parish from about two miles northeast of Iowa; thence west, with a slight sweep to the north, it curves southward again and crosses English Bayou near Chloe.  Passing directly through the village, it swings southward about three quarters of the a mile and then in a straight line westward to the point where Ryan Street, Lake Charles, now crosses the Southern Pacific Railway tracks.  Then from this crossing of Ryan Street, it went slightly northward to the bank of the river, which it followed to the curve of the river to the north, around the big sweeping bend, and thence directly northwest to the crossing of Calcasieu where Hortman’s Ferry was afterwards operated for many years, and where rests on the west bank the cluster of homes now called Bagdad. From the river crossing it extended northwest to near the Houston River, just south of the present Kansas City Southern Railway.  It followed the south side of the Houston River about ten miles north of Edgerly and thence just north of Edgerly to Vinton in a general southwesterly direction to Niblett’s Bluff on Old River.  That long, swinging curve over to the north, instead of going straight across the pretty level prairie, was not thoughtless, as it may seem.  On a long trail the first and most vital need is for food and water.  This beautiful Houston River furnished both; that accounts for the apparently useless detour. 

             At the crossing of the Calcasieu, after the city of Lake Charles began to grow up, a ferry was maintained directly across the pretty lake from the foot of Pujo Street to West Lake.  It was called Ferry’s Wharf. 

             Upon reaching Old River at Niblett’s Bluff, the trail passed southward along Old River, over Beefridge and Bone Hill, to the head of Big Bayou, where boats and barges were used to cross the Sabine, where the traveler landed on Texas soil.  Those two manes, Beef ridge and Bone Hill, tell of the coming of the immense herds of Texas cattle which passed that way until diverted farther north to avoid the use of the boats.

             Still long years afterwards, when the state and federal engineers were seeking the most economical route for a great national highway, they kept just south of the Old Spanish Trail, passed through Lake Charles by way of  Broad Street and over Shell Beach south of the lake, across Calcasieu River and thence west.  Near Edgerly they swerved southwestward to avoid building an extra bridge over Old River. (1)  

             Because of its age the Old Spanish Trail naturally passes through the oldest established neighborhoods, past old villages and towns, by old homes, trees, churches, and other long established places.  For many years it has lain there like an extended magnet, drawing settlements and advancements by the attraction of the human presence.  It is an established institution, but not a gaudy one.  

             Calcasieu Parish was created March 24, 1840, and in the police jury records for 1857 we see that its people were interested in good roads.  The following will show this: “Every free white male citizen and able negro who has been a resident of the parish for ten days, between the ages of 16 and 45, shall be subject to road duty.” (2)  A fine of $1.00 to $2.00 a day was imposed for failure to report when called by the overseer of his agent.

             In 1862, when the federal troops captured New Orleans and blockaded the mouth of the Mississippi, Taylor’s army, then in central Louisiana, retreated from Bank’s army and it became necessary to furnish them with provisions and ammunition.  For this purpose a military road was hastily cut through the pines and hardwood thickets from Niblett’s Bluff to Alexandria.  The establishment of this road, over which many heroic Texas men marched, belongs in one of the most fascinating chapters of the twin stories of southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana.  

             The Confederate government was assisted by the following men in constructing the military road:  Rev. William Perkins of Big Woods, Alexander Frazar of Merryville, and W. J. Slayden of Singer.  They were to complete it form Niblett’s Bluff to Sugartown, where another crew would take charge.  The various sections of the road were built largely by soldiers and by what few slaves there were in the immediate territory.  Among one of the crews was Iron Davis, and uncle of C. C. Davis, former mayor of DeRidder. (3)

             Dr. John Cooper, president of the police jury in 1916, said that as far as he was able to learn about the first public road was laid in this parish in 1887, and it passed through the town of Welsh from north to the south.  Since then the question of roads has been one that had interested the people of Calcasieu continuously. 

              In 1911 there were 175 miles of improved roads comprised in the highway system.  The construction of these highways has done much to stimulate interest in road matters in the parish.  The taxpayers have been given an object lesson in what can be accomplished by the proper expenditure of money, and have shown plainly that they will not permit public officials to go back to the old methods that were in vogue before the voting of the good roads bond issue. 

               The first step after voting the road bond issue was to secure the services of a government engineer to map out the system, and make recommendations as to materials and the methods.  C. H.  Sweetser, senior engineer in the office of public roads, was given leave of absence by the government, and spent over a year in Calcasieu Parish. 

               The road system as it is constituted at present follows very closely the plan made by Mr. Sweetser.   Only a few minor changes in route were made by the police jury.  After the adoption of the plans, Mr. Sweetser was retained at a salary of $4,000 a year until his leave of absence had expired.  By this time the work of construction was well under way. 

               Following the return of Mr. Sweetser to Washington, Mr. Fred Shuts, for a couple of years, parish supervisor, was placed in charge of the road work. (4) 

               The creation of a permanent highway department assured the taxpayers that all money would be spent without waste.  With this assurance the taxpayers did not hesitate to vote more money for roads whenever they were needed.


            Work began on a railroad bed in Calcasieu Parish, now occupied by the Southern Pacific Railroad, as early as 1867, but was discontinued for a time.  In 1878 work was resumed, (5) and the people of Lake Charles were very much excited over the great achievement being made.  In the Echo, July 1879, we find the following:

                     Our dreams are coming true!  We have a locomotive in Lake Charles, which means, of course, that we have a railroad for it to run on.
                      To be sure it is only a little piece of railroad as yet, but work is progressing on it slowly but surely.

                     Captain Tom Reynolds has delivered at the railroad docks here 650 tons of steel rails brought from New York.  There have been
                     100 piles driven in the Calcasieu River for the railroad bridge. 

                     The name of the locomotive is Calcasieu No. 1.  The road will be called the Louisiana Western Railway. (6) 

            Until this Louisiana railroad was built, Calcasieu was without railroads.  When the lumberman form the north came in and saw mills developed, it was necessary to have other roads and the St. Louis, Watkins, and Gulf Railroad was built.   It is known now as the Southern Pacific Railroad and was in operation in 1893.

             In 1899 the Kansas City, Pittsburg, and Gulf Railroad, now the Kansas City Southern, was put into operation. 

             In January, 1903, construction was begun on the Lake Arthur branch of the Southern Pacific, and operations to Hayes began August 15, 1903.  Service from Hayes to Lake Arthur began December 29, 1903. 

              In October 1903, construction was begun on the Lake Charles Northern Railroad, another branch of the Southern Pacific system.  On October 25, 1905, trains were operated from Lake Charles to Fullerton.  The railroad from DeRidder to Fullerton was in operation in February 1908. (7)  

              Because of the unsurpassed railroad facilities in 1910, Calcasieu was in close touch with all of the great commercial and industrial centers of the country.  The Southern Pacific was a great system, whose ramifications extended from the Mississippi River to all parts of the Pacific Coast country, with lateral lines extending south through Mexico, and north through connections to all parts of the great West.  On the east this line made direct connections with all lines leading out of New Orleans to the Great Lakes and Atlantic seaboard states, thereby furnishing the people of this section with transportation of their products to the principal markets of the United States. 

              The Kansas City Southern Railroad furnished this section direct service to Kansas City and to lines operating form that point.    
              The St. Louis, Watkins and Gulf Railroad tapped on of the richest lumber sections in the world, and gave Calcasieu an opportunity to reach the markets in the central portion of Louisiana. (8)

Water Transportation

Prior to the coming of the Louisiana Western Railroad, Calcasieu was dependent upon water transportation.  The principal stream was the Calcasieu River, rising in the northern portion of Vernon Parish, entering the northeastern portion of Calcasieu Parish, thence flowing in a southwesterly course to Lake Charles, thence nearly south into the Gulf of Mexico.  Its main tributaries are its West Fork and Barnes Creek, and these in turn are fed by numerous stream rising in a running through the pine woods; chief among these are the Houston River, Hickory branch, Buxton’s, Beckwith, Whiskey-Chitto, Clear, Dry, Six Miles and Ten Mile Creeks.  The Calcasieu River flows through and along the edges of several lakes, one of which is Lake Charles, nearly circular in form, about two miles in diameter; and one is Big Lake, over a mile wide and about eighteen miles long. (9) 

            Most of the towns were located on the water’s edge, namely, Lake Charles, Marion, Bagdad, Rose Bluff, etc.  In the early days the schooner played an important part in transportation.  We have early stories of Jean Lafitte’s visits and descriptions of his vessel on the Calcasieu. 

            During the Civil War Captain Goos of Lake Charles was engaged in the lumber business and had a great supply of schooners.  After the federal blockade became effective, the Goos schooners were converted into blockade runners.  These schooners took out lumber and brought back flour, coffee, clothing, etc. 

            The ferry boats were helpful in transportation.  In the police jury records for 1840 we find a ferry grant to Barry and Gay. (10)  The transportation charges were:

Man or horse……………………………………………………$ .75

Oxcart or large horse wagon…………………………………….$1.50

Every gig or one-horse cart………………………………………$1.00

      Swimming stock ……………………………………………$0.04 per head

Numerous ferry grants of this nature were recorded with varying rates but with the strictest provisions.    

            An interesting ferry boat was the Evangeline.  It came in 1884 and ran between Lake Charles and West Lake.  Such ferry boats were indispensable to the citizens in their intercourse, as few bridges were erected in these early days.

             The Evangeline was succeeded by the Hazel in June, 1888.  The latter was owned by Captain A. W. Wehrt.   This steamer was the largest boat upon the Calcasieu.  It was a well-built, double hull craft, eighty-nine feet long, with a thirty-seven foot beam, and had two cabins and a lower and upper deck.  This streamer was well equipped for the transportation of heavy and package freight. (11)  It ran until it was replaced by the river bridge in 1916.  The boat was sold and taken to Baton Rouge for the river ferry service.

            A man whose thoughts first centered on an inland waterway (the Intercoastal Canal) from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico was Leon Locke of Lake Charles.  One of the means by which the Intercoastal Canal has become a canal of real water and real navigability has been the annual convention of the Interstate Water Way League of Louisiana and Texas. 

            The first convention at which the league was organized was held in the old opera house in Lake Charles in May 1906.  This league was a very active and efficient organization and will continue as such until a canal is complete.  They are fighting for river development, wharf construction and everything that will tend to bring the commerce back to the waterways, making them an adjunct to rail service and regulation of freight charges. (12)                 

Telegraphs and Telephones

            The first telegraph office in Lake Charles was the Western Union in 1870, located on the south street then called Broadway.  The operator was A. E. Work.  In 1872 Edward Vonege was an operator, and in 1879 he moved the office to the building on the west side of Bilbo Street, just south of Huber Motor Company.  The old building is still standing. (13)  Since this time the telegraph business had made steady progress and the people of Calcasieu feel that it is a big business factor in their midst.

On February 9, 1884, the Lake Charles Echo said:                                           

Telephone installation was discussed at a meeting of our town people.  William Myer (Meyer) has acquired from the patentees of the telephone apparatus the executive privilege in all parts of Calcasieu Parish.  He is now at work and early next week telephone messages can be exchanged between his drugstore, at the corner of Ryan and Pujo Streets, and A. Rigmaiden’s store at the railroad depot.  All communication by the telephone will cost only ten cents to talk five minutes. The telephone apparatus has been in use in America about ten years, but this is the first opportunity that most of the inhabitants of our town have had to use it.  It will no doubt prove a great convenience.” (14)

For a number of years this was the only telephone system the town had and was known as the Great Southern Telephone Company.

           In 1881 Lock-More and Company advertised in the Echo that the company telephone had connection with Mr. Meyers’ drugstore in Lake Charles and could be reached through that medium, if one did not care to come to Lockport.

           In November, 1891, the franchise granting the Great Southern Telephone Company the right to operate in Calcasieu was extended, and since that time this company has been of service. 

           The minutes of the council for March 25, 1895, while Pat Crowley was mayor, state that permission was given to Elly Dees to erect telephone and telegraph lines for the purpose of conveying intelligences by electricity. The office was in Lake Charles in a small cottage in the rear of Mr. Dees’ home, on the southeast corner of Hodges and Division Streets.  The telephone office faced Division Street and the telephone girl, the first in town, was Susie (Sudie) Reynolds, a very popular girl of the nineties. (15)    
          The Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph Company are at present holders of the franchise and the successor of the original company. (16) In 1907, 800 phones were in use - in 1912, over 2000. Calcasieu is destined to be one of the big links in the chain of the Cumberland business.

          There were no communication facilities between the years of 1830 and 1870; hence all the settlers on the west side of the parish got their mail at Belgrade.  Belgrade was a steamboat landing on the Texas side of the Sabine River, about fifteen miles below Merryville.  Those in the western part of the heavily pined parish received their mail either at Opelousas or Alexandria, though at most there was little mail in those times.

           Robert Jones says that a star mail route was established from Lake Charles to Petersburg by way of Sugartown during the year of 1841.  This mail came weekly.  It required three days for the mail rider to reach Petersburg and three to return. (17)

           With the development of towns, Calcasieu’s communication facilities began to grow. Some of the post offices were small enough to be located in one of the settlers’ homes; others were in small cross-road stores.  In 1904 we find Calcasieu had sixty-three post offices; (18) and to show there was steady growth, in 1910 we find seventy-five offices. (19)

            The following names were post offices in Calcasieu in 1910:

April Choupique Grant Ludington Singer
Bancroft Coverdale Guy   Merryville Starks
Baylor Creek Hayes Moeling  Sugartown
Bear   Dequincy Hecker Mossville Sulphur
Bell City Dry Creek  Iowa Mystic    Tennville
Blewett Edgerly Jacksonville  Newton  Thornwell   
Bon Ami Edna Jennings Oakdale Topsy
Bond  Elizabeth  Jaunita Oberlin Vincent
Bundick Elton  Kinder Pawnee  Vinton
Burisson Ennes  Kipling Phillips Bluff        Ward 
Calcasieu Evart Lake Arthur  Reenes  Wasey
Canton  Fenton     Lake Charles    Rice Welsh
Carlyss  Fields  LaBlanc   Roanoke   Westlake
Carson  Fulton   Longville  Seal  Woodlawn
China Gillis  Lowry   Simmons  Yelgar



Over a century ago Calcasieu Parish had no forests, for all the country lying between the Bloody River and the stream of dispute was a rolling prairie which extended from the great marsh far into the domain of the North.   However, over this large territory birds and squirrels scattered seeds of cypress, oak, and pine, from which grew a dense forest.  The pine section thus developed covered about sixty per cent of Calcasieu Parish and provided an excellent source of wealth for the white men, who were newcomers to this country.  The soil, climate and other conditions united to produce just what was needed for lumber production.

yellow pine lumber, like “sterling” on silver, has made this section famous all over the world.  Even today, if one should mention yellow pine to any lumberman, from Maine to Texas, he would at once think of Calcasieu with its thousands of acres of forest in which every tree is valuable.

            At first the lumber industry consisted merely of cutting logs, which were used in the whole piece or floated down the river to sawmills in other places.  Jacob Ryan and a few others carried on this type of industry, in favorable weather cutting five hundred feet a day.  After the logs were rolled out of the river, they were scaled and laid across a ditch deep enough to permit a man to manipulate one end of a cross-cut saw.  By means of a string and a gourd of soot taken from the chimney, a fairly straight line was drawn the length of the log and followed by the sawyers.

            When the courthouse was being built at Marion in 1840, it became necessary that lumber be provided for the doors, ceilings, facings, and floors.  Thomas M. Williamson, the first police juror of Dry Creek and Sugartown, as well as one of the first settlers of the parish, erected near the mouth of Dry Creek a sawmill, at which he cut the necessary lumber which was floated down the river to Marion.  A cross-cut saw that he used to cut the logs for the lumber is today in the pioneer’s cabin on the fair grounds at DeRidder. (1)

            According to records, there was located along the Old Town Bay on the Calcasieu River the Sittig Mill, which remained in order until 1870. (2)  Down the river some distance at Rose Bluff, near the present oil tank farm on Lot 4, Section 20-10-9, which was entered from the government by Amede Pujo in 1850, was situated another of the earliest mills, which in 1866 Amede Pujo sold to Perkins and Son for $12,000, which shows that it was quite a mill at that time. (3)

            In 1852 Jacob Ryan owned a mill located at the foot of Ryan Street, from which he supplied lumber for most of the village of Lake Charles. (4)

            In 1855 Daniel Goos came steaming up the lake and at the first shot from a twenty pound gun, which graced the bow of his vessel, every slave within hearing distance took to the woods to be followed by dogs, hogs, and everything else possessed of independent locomotion; they evidently believed that Gabriel had recovered his voice and was going to take a hand in affairs of the frontier village.  So much cheap timber looked inviting to Captain Goos, and within sixty days he had dismantled his mill at Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and had it running on the banks of the Calcasieu River.  His industry thrived and within a short time the real settlement of the country began with people from all sections coning in. (5) 

             At West Lake the heirs of the original owner, William Smith, in 1860 sold to Sennett, Chapman, and Hughes the Smith mill, which was located on a ten-acre tract on the river at the lower end of the claims.  In 1863 Chapman sold to Sennett his interest in the ten acres and the sawmill. (6) 

            Near the present location of Miss Mathilda Gray’s home on the Calcasieu River, near the bridge, L. C. Dees built prior to 1868 a mill known as the Yankee Mill. In a deed of that date it was called the “Old Saw Mill.”  The land was entered by George O. Elms in 1860, who stated in a notice in the paper of that time that he claimed all improvements on the entry. (7)

            In 1870 the A. J. Perkins mill at West Lake changed to the partnership of Perkins and Charles Miller.  In 1890 it had a capacity of from sixty to seventy thousand feet daily.  It has shown great improvements through the years.  Lumber was shipped by schooner and rail to Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Kansas. (8)  In 1905 this mill was purchased by R. Krause and W. H. Managan, Sr., who formed the corporation of Krause and Managan Lumber Company, Ltd. In the rear of the mill is a marsh place which has been filled in to a depth of eight to ten feet with sawdust and is used as a lumber yard.  It was claimed that the dampness was taken up by the sawdust and the lumber could be seasoned free from mould spots. (9)

            In 1866, at what is called Norris’s Point, W. B. Norris established the Norris mill.  When first established, it was small and supplied all the needs; but in 1872 the demand for lumber became so great that Mr. Norris tore the small mill down and erected a large double one, running two circular saws.  This was burned in 1873 and was rebuilt the same year, as business was improving steadily, and the demand on the Norris mill was becoming greater each day. In January 1888, this mill was again destroyed by fire, but within a few months another was erected in its place.  In it were installed a band saw and a finishing circular saw. The band saw is supposed to cut about two-thirds the amount of a circular saw.  In Mr. Norris’s mill the first planer was installed in 1868. (10)

            A mill called Drew’s mill was on the west side of Griffith’s Bayou.  The bridge across this bayou is west of the Paul Moss home, formerly the Perkins home, on the Lake Shore Drive.  In 1868 William Geryler made a contract with David Griffith to buy land and build a mill in Lake Charles.  In 1867 Griffith leased the mill. (11)

            There were several other mills built prior to 1875.  Smart’s mill was owned and operated by William Smart at Bagdad.  Lock’s mill located at Prien Lake near where the country club now is, was owned by Captain George Lock and Captain Daniel Goos.  When this was burned in 1878, Captain Lock built a new mill on Calcasieu River at Lockport, which later became the Lock-Moore Company. (12)  Moss Mill at Moss Lake, owned and operated by Alfred Moss, was later abandoned; Vincent’s mill at West Landing was owned by W. Vincent; and Well’s mill, Black Bayou, was owned by Governor J. Madison Wells. (13)

            Until 1878 the lumber industry was carried on in Calcasieu at the expense of “Uncle Sam.”   The lumber man ignored official letters from Washington demanding that the land from which the logs were cut and put in the river at twenty cents each be “taken up,” and a title of the ownership of the land be filed with the government.  After there were continued refusals to comply with the government official orders, a United States gun boat appeared on the river and confiscated seventy-five per cent of the logs afloat.  Proceeds of the sale went into the national treasury. (14)    The cry among the lumbermen of Calcasieu at the time was “You take our logs, and you take our food.”

            For a number of years after the close of the War, there was a period of business reconstruction in the South, a period during which the energies and resources of men were employed in holding what they had saved from the wreck and in slowly regaining something of what had been lost.  There was no pushing on into new fields of business activity.  Northern and eastern capital was slow to come to a prostrate region.  Southwest Louisiana, in common with all of the South, suffered from this stagnation.  At that time it was the frontier of the South, a region almost unknown, and inhabited only by the lumbermen in the pine regions.

            It wasn’t until after 1880 that any particular attention was attracted in this direction.  In 1883 the North American Land and Timber Company purchased a large amount of the Calcasieu land. (15)

            Mr. Mason (Nason?) was one of the first northern lumbermen to recognize the value of the Calcasieu yellow pine, and to invest his capital and energy in its manufacture into lumber.  After thirty years of experience in the lumber business in Michigan, he saw that the northern pine forests were rapidly becoming exhausted.  During that time he had built and operated four saw mills.  A journey of exploration through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida showed him no suitable opening, and he cane to Louisiana, in company with Mr. Penoyer, one of the largest manufacturers of Michigan lumber.  Calcasieu pine and the city of Lake Charles both suited these gentlemen, and they decided to invest money in Lake Charles’ milling industry.

            Another man to come in 1882 was Nathan B. Bradley, who had been engaged in the lumber business in Michigan.  He bought from the United States government thousands of acres of timber at $1.25 per acre, and from Daniel Goos he bought his mill on the river in Lake Charles and then enlarged it.  It was know as the Bradley-Ramsay mill. (16)

            One of the first northern companies to embark largely in lumber business in southwest Louisiana was the Calcasieu Lumber Company, whose mill was located on the Calcasieu River at what is now Goosport, the most prosperous suburb of Lake Charles.  Mr. Nason (Mason?) conducted this business until 1886, when the Calcasieu Lumber Company was succeeded by the Bradley-Ramsay Lumber Company.  This company was composed of some of the largest lumber manufacturers of Michigan.   W. E. Ramsay was chief executive of the company; the vice-president was N. B. Bradley of Bay City, Michigan, who never made Lake Charles his home.  Chester Brown was treasurer.  The paid-up capital of the company was $500,000.  The mills, “The Michigan Mill,” and the “Mt. Hope Mill,” were both located at Goosport.  They had a capacity for 50,000 feet with a run of eleven hours per day.  Both plants were thoroughly equipped with the latest improved machinery.  “The Michigan Mill” was supplied with power by an engine and boiler of 350 horsepower and operated one band and two circular saws.  It was supplied with edgers, trimmers, slashes, etc., and line rollers carrying the lumber to all points of the large lumber yards, and carrying the finished products direct from the saws to the cars on the river front to be loaded for shipment.  The “Mt. Hope” plant was as complete, though less extensive than the “Michigan Mill.” (17)    In 1906 the Bradley-Ramsay Company, with all of their timber land, was bought by the Long-Bell Lumber Company for the sum of $1,000,000.  (18)

            At the north end of Lake Charles stood the big saw mill buildings of the Bell-Bunker Lumber Company. A.J. Bell, of Lake Charles, formerly of New Orleans, was president; Mr. R. Jones of Houston, Texas, vice-president; C. Bunker of Lake Charles, formerly of Boston, secretary and treasurer:  and W. W.  Flanders of Lake Charles, assistant-secretary and treasurer.

            In this section of the country the Bell mill had a reputation for sawing the greater length timbers, having sawed logs over seventy feet in length.  A speed record was also established; the mill had a daily capacity of 85,000 feet, and it was known to have cut 192,000 feet a day on several occasions.  Mr. Bell used a circular saw and a monster Corliss engine of 400 horsepower.  In connection with the mill there was a complete electric light plant.

            Owing to the fact that the Bell-Bunker mill carried such a large stock of timber in its booms, a considerable boat-building industry was established in connection with the mill.  Logs that had been in the water for a long period were found to be superior for boat building.  Seventy-five barges and five tug boats were constructed at the mill.  Each barge had a capacity of 1500 bales of cotton. (19)

            The Powell Lumber Company was one of the largest lumber manufacturing concerns in Calcasieu Parish, having been established and incorporated in 1906, with a capitalization of $125,000.  This company manufactured the “Calcasieu Long Leaf Yellow Pine” lumber, making a specialty of railroad and mining timbers, and having mills for the purpose situated upon the Southern Pacific Railroad, Colorado Southern, Missouri Pacific, and Kansas City Southern Systems, with headquarters in the Viterbo Building in Lake Charles.  The mill had a daily capacity of 75,000 feet, with dry kiln, planers, etc.   The company owned a large acreage of the best long leaf pine, and had its own standard gauge railroad, twenty miles long, running into the heart of it holdings.

            In 1907 the company found it advisable to erect a mill at Edna, which had a daily cutting capacity of 100,000 feet.  Officers of the company were W. P. Weber, president; D. R. Kelly, vice-president; and George M. King, secretary and treasurer.

            The following is a list of mills and the output of lumber manufactured daily: in 1911: (20)

Name Location Daily Output
King Ryder Lumber Co. Bon Ami 3,000,000 ft.
Central Coal and Coke Co. Carson 150,000
R. I. Bernard   Dequincy    120,000
Hudson River Lumber Co.  DeRidder 100,000

Sabine Tram Company

Jaunita 75,000
Luddington Wells and
Van Shaik Lumber Company  
     Luddington  150,000
P. V. Byrne     Kinder  150,000
Industrial Lumber Co.  Pannell    75,000
Krause and Managan    Westlake   50,000
J. Bell Lumber Co.  Moeling 75,000
Longville Lumber Co.



            It would be impossible to estimate the material value of the pine forests of the section now and in the past; it is needless to state that the forests have been a source of wealth and development.  Millions of dollars have come for them and have turned into the various avenues of human requirements.

Cypress Mills

            While the gentlemen of the yellow pine fraternity have accomplished such wonders, they have no advantage over their cousins, the cypress men.  In the old days cypress was cut in anticipation of the June rise.  All through the winter days and bleak days of spring, drenched by cold rains or chilled by icy winds, the men toiled in the dark swamps, felling trees against the time of the yearly high water, when began the work of floating the logs out through creeks to the main river.  Sometimes the rise failed to come, and the timber had to lie for a whole year at the mercy of the worms, entailing heavy loss upon the owners and sometimes shutting down the shingle mills for months.  This crude method was soon improved upon, and then the shingle manufacturers were independent of rises and unaffected by droughts, for the timber was hauled out of the river by means of a pull boat anchored along the bank.  The engines alternately operated two drums; the large one carried an inch cable of steel and was used to snake out the logs from the swamps, at the same time unwinding a light wire rope from a smaller drum.  When the log splashed into the water, the main drum was ungeared.  In 1895 cypress to the amount of 5,180,000 feet was floated down the Calcasieu River and converted into 64,500,000 shingles. (21)

            One of the shingle mills was the Hanson mill.  In 1867 Jacob Ryan formed a partnership with Captain Thomas, conducting a shingle mill on the lake front where cypress shingles were made. This mill continued to operate until the early eighties, when it was burned. (22)

            James P. Geary operated a shingle mill in 1885, his plant being located on the lake shore, where the city market now stands. (23)

            On the Calcasieu River, at the north end of Ryan Street, John H. Poe operated shingle mill in 1895, which ran regularly and manufactured cypress shingle exclusively, the capacity being 20,000,000 shingles per annum.  The company owned cypress lands to supply the mill until 1903 and was not dependent upon high water to secure the logs.  These were obtained by means of a steam pull boat, which dragged them from the swamp into the river to be floated to the mill.  This mill was thoroughly equipped with the best of machinery and was connected by switches with the K. C. W. & G. and the Southern Pacific railways. Its trade over these lines extended into Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. (24)

Naval Stores

            Another milestone in the march of industrial progress was the story of the development of the turpentine industry.   In the early days the naval store man acted as the pilot for progress in his march through the South, and blazed the way for the railroad and sawmill.  Now the railways blaze the way to the turpentine, and sawmill men follow it.  In early years the friendship between the sawmill men and the naval store operator could not be compared to that of Damon and Pythias, but like the enmity that existed between the hostile Indians and the white settlers who came to drive them from the plains. The sawmill man claimed that the turpentine operator killed the usefulness of the tree for timber purposes.  That might have been true then, but since modern methods have been introduced in the turpentine business, the sawmill man and the turpentine man work hand in hand, and the sawmill man now leases his virgin forests to the naval store operators for the purpose of securing raw materials for spirits of turpentine and rosin, this affording the sawmill man additional profit on his investment.

            The turpentine industry, while comparatively new in Louisiana, was as old as the South; it was through the turpentine industry that the old southern states, the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama, were able to recuperate their fortunes lost in the Civil War.  It was the turpentine man who brought happiness to the veterans who came back home and found their plantations laid bare by the Federals.  The turpentine man leased the virgin forests, applied his ax to the tree in order to skin off the bark, and extracted the juices which were distilled into the spirits and shipped to all parts of the world.  By doing this the turpentine man placed sufficient means into the pockets of the landowner so that he could make a crop and live while the crop was making.

            How the naval store company garnered the raw material is an interesting story.  The pine trees are tapped by skimming down the bark to a depth of about three-fourths of an inch.  Buckets were used in gathering the sap at the customary time.  The time of operation of the trees, that is, gathering the sap, is three years.  This time is limited in this section of the country because of the demands of the sawmill men, who usually want to saw the tree up into timber at the end of the third year.  A pine tree will yield a profitable supply of crude gum, from which turpentine can be distilled and rosin extracted, for a number of years; that is, as high up as it can be skinned at a three-quarters of an inch depth.  It was the custom, when the turpentine man controlled the forests, to cut the bark up as high as it could possibly be reached.  Over the forests, at various distances, are placed barrels, and the raw material is placed here and then hauled to the distillery. 

            The first step taken by the workers is to place cups on all the trees to catch the flow of the gum.  In this the modern method differs from the ancient.  Under this old method the tree was cupped, that is, a deep gash was cut in the tree to catch the sap. It was this cut that the timber men objected to and claimed that it ruined the tree. 

            Between March and November is the turpentine time, and each week during this period a new streak is cut from the sap of the tree.  A streak is about three-fourths of an inch high, and one-half and inch deep.  It is very necessary to cut a new streak every week to insure the flow of the gum.  The cups fill on an average of once every three weeks, after which, the supply is gathered and hauled to the still. The crude gum produces two products, the pure spirits of pine, called turpentine, and rosin.

            A crop of boxes, as they are known to the turpentine men, consists of 10,500 trees cut for the business.  On an average a crop of boxes will yield fifty barrels of turpentine and 300 barrels of rosin averaging 280 pounds to the barrel.  In Calcasieu the average timber will yield a crop of boxes every 150 acres. (25) The distilling process is very interesting.  When the crude gum reaches the distillery plant, it is poured into a copper receptacle and changed into spirits and rosin by a process of fire and water, the heat causing the spirits of turpentine to condense and flow through a coil of copper pipe.  The spirits, being the lighter, rise higher than the water and come out of the still in a finished state.

            After the spirits have been taken out, the rosin is turned out into a separate vat and is strained through fine copper wire and cotton batting.   The temperature reached during the distilling process is 316 degrees Fahrenheit.  When the spirits come out of the distillery, they are a finished product ready for commercial and medicinal purposes. The rosin is used a great deal in the state in which it comes from the still, but a large per cent is re-distilled and made into pine oil, pine tar, and various other articles. (26)

            The Independent Naval Stores Company operates 20,000 acres of turpentine forests a year, making an average output of 7,000 barrels of turpentine and 40,000 barrels of rosin.  The products are shipped to all parts of the world.  All domestic markets are supplied.

             The foreign export trade consists of shipments to China, Japan, and all the colonies of America, including the Isle of Guam, the Philippines, Porto Rico, and Cuba.  The plants of the company are situated at Reeves, Louisiana, the headquarters to which all reports are forwarded; Gillis, on the Louisville and Nashville railroads; LeBlanc, on the Frisco system; and Kinder, on the Frisco.  In Reeves the central office of the company is located.  H. H. Gordon is president; A. Vizard, vice-president; and H. H. Long, secretary and treasurer.  The Independent Naval Stores Company was capitalized at $200,000. (27)      



            The first authentic geologic information concerning Calcasieu Parish and its sulphur deposit is a report of Hilgard’s thirty-day reconnaissance in western Louisiana in 1868. He reported the boring of two artesian wells on two small islands in the fresh-water marsh which forms the head of Bayou Choupique, a small tributary of the Calcasieu River.  One being sunk by the Louisiana Petroleum Company, had reached a depth of 1,230 feet; and another, sunk by Dr. Kirkman, 450 feet. (1)  Small quantities of oil were found in the Louisiana Oil Company well at a depth of 380 feet, but its slight value in comparison with the great sulphur deposit was at once recognized. (2)

            An expensive and disastrous attempt was made under General Jules Brady to reach this sulphur deposit by sinking an iron caisson through the gravel and quicksand, which was more than 400 feet thick.  Huge tubular sections were brought by water from France, unloaded on the west bank of the Calcasieu River below Lake Charles, in part hauled by ox teams to the “mine,” in part left on the river bank for years, till they were obtained by the Myles Salt Company for casing its salt shaft on Weeks Island.  In sinking this caisson to a depth of 110 feet, several miners were overcome by poisonous gases and finally the undertaking was abandoned. (3)   Jules Brady devoted the best years of his life to the extraction of this sulphur, spent his entire fortune and the investments of many of his friends, and died a broken-hearted man because of his lack of success.

            After the failure of the French company, the American Sulphur Company made an attempt to shaft to the sulphur deposit; and after expending approximately a million dollars they also abandoned the idea of shafting to the sulphur, as the quicksand overlying the sulphur deposit set all efforts at naught.  Then a Belgian company sought to conquer the quicksand by sinking huge iron rings to shut out the sand; but this was also unsuccessful. Finally all efforts at mining the sulphur were given up, and the land now valued in the thousands of dollars per acre, at one time was actually sold for taxes, so futile did the efforts to mine sulphur appear to be.

            A chemist, Herman Frasch, then employed by the Standard Oil Company, came south on a business trip and visited the sulphur mines.  He saw the possibilities of wealth they had, provided a method of mining could be devised.  Frasch endeavored to interest the stockholders of the Louisiana Mining Company, who at this time owned the property, in his process of liquefying the sulphur by forcing superheated water into the sulphur deposit.  They, seemingly, had no confidence in his process and declined his proposition, but offered to sell the property.  This offer was accepted, and the Union Sulphur Company was organized. (4)

            The first sulphur was produced in 1894, the total production for this first year being five tons.  Then the pumping equipment, similar to that now used for pumping oil, gave way and no more sulphur was produced until the latter part of 1895.  At this time the well was again put in shape to pump and 500 tons were produced, after which the pumping equipment again gave way and the well was shut down.  The next sulphur was obtained in 1896, when the well was finally put in shape to pump and 1,863 tons were produced.   The method of pumping sulphur, however, was changed at this time, the use of sucker rods and valves being replaced by the air lift, which eliminated the difficulties previously encountered along this line.  In 1897 the production of sulphur was 1,145 tons; in 1898, 1,835 tons, when operations were discontinued on account of the light production of sulphur and the difficulty in securing funds to continue operations. (5)

            At this time, Mr. Frasch went to Port Empedocle, Sicily, and drilled two wells between the two sulphur-producing mines, with the idea of using his process in producing sulphur, but both wells drilled were barren of sulphur, and conditions were so bad that he decided to return to Louisiana.

            In 1900, operations at the Sulphur Mine were resumed and 172 tons were produced; the following year there were 294 tons, and in 1902, 4,814 tons. (6)   By 1905 the center of the sulphur industry had been transferred to Sulphur, Louisiana. (7)   The geological report of the United States government for the year 1909 put the sulphur output of the United States at approximately 300,000 tons and ninety-eight percent of it came from the one Louisiana mine.  No single mine in the world equaled it in production.  The remarkable efficiency of Frasch’s process is shown by the fact that Geologist Bell estimated that the extraction amounted to 94.79 per cent. (8)

            The Union Sulphur Company operated in a sulphur bed that is said to average 650 feet in thickness and to lie about 1,000 feet below the surface. (9) In the course of operation 712 wells were drilled, of which only about fifty failed to strike sulphur. (10)

            The Frasch system of sinking wells was with one pipe inside another, forcing the steam and hot water down through the outer pipe and pumping the melted sulphur (held in suspension in the hot water), up through the inner pipe and pouring this into great bins sixty feet high and hundreds of feet in length and breadth, when the water drains off and the sulphur hardens instantly.  These bins are torn away and the great blocks of sulphur are broken down with light shots and loaded into open cars. (11)

            With the main problem solved, a host of subsidiary problems arose.  It was necessary to build and operate steamers to transport sulphur products by water. Louisiana sulphur was compelled to establish itself in the market to convince the skeptical purchaser of foreign sulphur that it was really sulphur, not only as good as any, but better, since it was practically free from impurities.     

            In spite of all these obstacles the company made rapid progress in the world’s sulphur market. It reduced the cost of sulphur to American consumers from twenty-five to fifty per cent.   It pays heavy taxes to the community in which it is operated and has a stimulating effect upon business. (12)

Jennings Oil Field         

            This oil field is located in Southern Louisiana near the center of T. 9 S., R. 2 W.  It is reached most conveniently by private conveyance from the village of Jennings.  It is six miles northeast of Jennings. (13)

            As to topography, the country seems monotonously flat.  Many of the five-foot contour lines are long distances apart.  Near the bayous, however, as might be expected, there are some slight declivities, but there are no bluffs, no rock exposures.   In the bayous the Gulf tides are felt, and during dry seasons the level of the streams is practically that of the Gulf.  This land is but a portion of the Gulf floor that has been raised a few feet above tide and is now slightly dissected by sluggish, meandering streams.   From the above statement it might be concluded that the region about the Jennings oil field shows no topographic features that could be properly referred to differential orogenic movements.

            A spring not many yards north of the first well in the field, Jennings Oil Company No. 1, had been known even to the earliest settlers as being somewhat remarkable in that it was apparently located on high ground and the water was always agitated by escaping gas.  As the locality showed a mound, a depression, and gas emanations, in accordance with the signs of Spindle Top, immediately upon the discovery of oil at the latter locality in January, 1901, the “Mamou” region began to be looked upon with favor.  The Jennings Oil Company procured the services of the Heywood Brothers, successful operators in the Spindle Top Field to put down the test well.  In August, 1901, it had reached “pay sand’ and was down 1,822 feet.   It gushed oil and sand spasmodically for eleven hours and then clogged up.  Though this well was not successful financially, it proved the presence of oil and gas in considerable quantities in the Mamou region. (14)

            In the history of the development left us, we note the following: (15) Southern No. 1 was soon started in the woods two miles south of the pioneer Jennings well, but though it attained, according to reports of the time, a depth of 2,600 feet, it was not a success.  The materials brought from near the bottom of the well showed no characteristic extinct species of shell and a decidedly fluviatile appearance.  Southern No. 2, close to the pioneer Jennings, was next to come in. Oil was said to be coming from a depth of 1,785 feet, though some shell shown to the writer was reported to have come from 1,800 feet.  Drillers accustomed to obtaining oil from the porous limestone at Spindle Top at first did not know how to manage the fine, incoherent sand at Jennings.  Southern No. 2 had no strainer, hence it was no wonder that it did not gush after the Spindle Top fashion.

            In March 1902, the Mamou well on the “hill” and the Crowley well, just east, were practically abandoned.  The former was then reported to have attained a depth of 2,200 feet, but the Crowley well did not exceed 1,200 feet.

            Before midsummer, 1902, Jennings No. 3, Pelican No. 1, and Home Oil Company No. 1 had been drilled along the road from the oil field in Jennings, along a supposed line of the anticline “without remunerative results.”   The Jennings field seemed to be located in a hollow.  In this “proved” field, Southern Nos. 3 and 4 were fairly successful gushers.

            Jennings No. 2 brought in by the Heywood brothers on June 28, 1902, was perhaps the first really satisfactory well in the field. Its six-inch casing was carried down 1,800 feet and great pains were taken to perfect and lower the strainer or liner to the oil sand.

            Profiting by the mistake of the Spindle Top and Sour Lake fields, those interested in the Jennings field had built a well equipped four-inch pipe line to Jennings before these successful gushers had been brought in.  In midsummer, 1902, oil was being loaded at Jennings into Southern Pacific tank cars.  The Heywood Transportation Company operated twenty-five barges and six steamers and tugs on the Mermentau River and its tributaries, and rice growers for miles around took away hundreds of barrels of oil to burn in their irrigation plants.  The prices ranged from thirty to forty cents a barrel, according to the quantity sold.

            In 1903 the proved field was extended east 1,000 feet by the Superior Oil Company, and the Crowley Company was rapidly extending its boundaries to the northeast.  A six-inch pipe line from the field to Mermentau station was completed and equipped with pumping stations, loading racks, and steel tanks, but owing to high pipe line rates the Crowley Company found it necessary to construct a four-inch line to the Eunice branch of the Southern Pacific railroad.  This was completed before the middle of 1904.  In the meantime, the famous Chicago-Jennings Well No. 2 had been brought in, giving the field over 2,000 barrels of new production and extending its bounds several hundred feet to the south.  The remarkable success of this well attributed to the fact that the superior Getty “liner” was used in it.  The fair success of the Jenkie well, still farther south, led development rapidly in that direction.  There were thirty-three producing wells in this field by February 5, 1904.

            Production from the deep (1,900 feet) sand in the southeastern part of the field was begun by the Morse Company in July, 1904.  Producers (Latreille forty-acre tract) No. 1 was a 4,000 barrel addition to the field, and extended its limits 500 feet to the southeast.  Bass and Benckenstein’s No. 1 though scarcely extending the limits of the Jennings field, set a new pace for a single well production in the field, furnishing about one-half the 28,000 barrels produced daily by the whole field in October, 1904.  In the fall of 1904, the Heywood Oil Company brought in its famous No.1 which furnished a new production of 10,000 barrels.  Early in 1905 Bass and Benckenstein completed a six-inch pipe line to Egan on the Eunice branch of the Southern Pacific, and before the middle of the year had a four-inch extension from Egan to the Atchafalaya River and were shipping by barges up and down the Mississippi.  This line is said to be fifty-four miles long.  In the fall of 1905 Bass and Benckenstein, with Mr. Carns, formed the Evangeline Oil Company of New Jersey and thereafter all their holdings were known by that designation.

            The season of 1903 was discouraging in many ways.  Most of the wells had become “pumpers” and in many wells large quantities of salt water were brought to the surface with the oil. Although somewhat more oil was produced in 1905 than in previous years, prices were such that the total value of the production was but two-thirds what it had been when the large gushers were not active.

            In 1906, however, the Heywood Oil Company brought in its No. 1 on the Crowley lease, which proved to be a spouter of the first quality, yielding 8,000 barrels daily without salt water.  This added 500 feet to the proved territory on the northeast.  The Jennings Heywood Oil Syndicate’s $100,000 plant was installed in the autumn of 1906.  In spite of decreased production from individual wells, and the large amount of salt water appearing in many, prices were somewhat more encouraging. The year marks the maximum production of the Jennings field, a trifle over 9,000,000 barrels.  The year was also marked by the completion of the Texas Company’s six-inch pipe line to Lake Charles on the Kansas City Southern.  Oil was turned into this line on March 13, and for the first time in the history of the field, oil could be shipped on a railroad other than the Southern Pacific.

            The Franklin well, three-fourths of a mile east of the field, drilled in 1906, was finally abandoned.  Though prices were on an average much better in 1907 than they had been in 1906, the increase of salt water and the necessity of finding storage for it on account of complaints of the rice growers in the surrounding country caused the cost of production to advance rapidly.

            Early in 1908 considerable activity was directed to that portion of the field lying a fourth of a mile west of the old developments and about the Eunice-Crowley lease.  This was brought about by the satisfactory results of the Nobles Company’s Well No. 1.  In general, the production of the wells was decreasing, salt water was increasing, salt water storage was again called for during the rice irrigation season, prices were depressed, and except perhaps in the Producer’s forty-acre Latreille lease, the end of production seemed fast approaching.  Perhaps the most noteworthy event of the year was the withdrawal of the Heywood Brothers from active interests in the operations of the field.  They sold out to the Gulf Refining Company for $300,000 cash and certain royalties.  The purchasers at once took active steps to develop their holdings, but up to 1911 had met with no marked success financially.    
            Therefore, we can draw the following conclusions:  that the oil in Jennings field had come up through a crevice or fault fissure and spread laterally into quaternary and miocene beds, there can be no doubt.  Though the best producing “sands” in the central portion of the field lie about 1,800 to 2,100 feet beneath the surface, others to the west, some even but 100 feet below the surface, have been filled with seepage from the central fissure.  To the east the miocene bed descends rapidly and little seepage could take place in that direction.  So far as easily attainable new production was concerned the Jennings field was not promising in 1910. (16)

Welsh Field

            This oil field is located in Section 21 and 22, T. 9 S., R. 5 W., about three miles northwest of Welsh.  In an area of 1,500 square feet twenty-one wells have been drilled since the summer of 1902; seventeen of these have produced oil sometime or other.  No one of these wells has ever been a large producer for any great period.   In 1903 production of the field was 25,166 barrels, a daily average of about sixty-nine barrels.  In August 1904, the daily average was from 300 to 400 barrels. Later production: 1905 - 10,000 barrels; 1906 - 23,996 barrels; 1907 - 47,316 barrels; 1908 - 43,976 barrels. For these six years the average was eighty-five barrels a day. (17)

Vinton Field

            The Vinton dome is about three miles southeast of Vinton.  The sink or depression in the dome, now occupied by a shallow lake, is a noteworthy feature.  As seen from a distance this is one of the most prominent domes along the Gulf Coast.  It rises conspicuously above the coastal prairie lands, and its form is certainly suggestive of unusual structural and topographic features.

            Early in the days of the great excitement at Spindle Top, which lies a short distance to the west, this dome, on account of its size and form, and its gas and “sour” water seepage, was regarded as a most likely locality for finding oil in immense quantities.  It is rumored that Mr. Vincent’s holdings of several thousand acres in this vicinity were actually bargained for at a rate of $300 an acre.  However, this transaction was never completed.

        W. B. Sharp and Edward Prather drilled on this dome in 1902, and oil was reported from the same region in that year at a depth of 280 feet.  The T. C. Stribling well, also of early date, reported that a depth of 1,000 feet was said to have been reached, though the log was complete at 454 feet only, and a heavy bed of very coarse gravel between 400 and 500 feet almost impossible of penetration with the rotary drill was found.  There was also discovered a strong artesian flow of black sulphur water from this gravel, with oil very near the surface, beneath the twenty-foot stratum of surface clay.

            In 1907 Wilkins, Zeigler, and Rowson stated a test hole on the Caffel farm, adjoining the Vincent tract, but after reaching a depth of 700 feet, abandoned the enterprise. (18)

            John Geddings Gray, a resident of Vinton, had great faith in the oil project.  In 1910 the work of drilling for oil was commenced with a view of developing the field for commercial purposes.  During this year the field did not come into prominence, as a producer, and this was not done until March 1911.

            After a few months there were forty wells, producing an average of 12,000 barrels a day, giving Mr. Gray a net income of $1,000 a day as royalty from the field. (19)

            The work of developing the Gray field near Vinton was so rapid after the first wells were brought in, and the influx of population was so rapid, that it became necessary for a large army pf carpenters to work almost night and day to supply the immediate demands for houses.  A town grew up, as if by magic, in a single night.  In honor of the pioneer developer of the field, and because it was on his land, the new oil town was named Ged, after Mr. Gray.  He was known among his wide acquaintance as “Ged.” (20)

         Of all the wells, the Gray Well No. 13, with a capacity of 2,000 barrels a day, stands at the head of the list.  The average depth of the wells in this field was 2,000 feet and the average cost of drilling a well, including the labor, was $10,000. (21)  With a payroll estimated at $10,000 a week, oil spelled prosperity for Calcasieu Parish.

            The Texas Transportation Company, one of the largest pipe line companies in the world, had offices in Ged, in charge of Mr. Powell, a district foreman.  In 1911 the Texas Pipe Line Company was laying a line at Vinton, so as to give the Ged, or Vinton, field an outlet for the large quantity of oil that was produced daily.  The oil was immediately piped, after being brought to the surface, to large tanks and shipped to nearby refineries.



            Calcasieu, like most of the other parishes in southwest Louisiana, has quite a mixed population, consisting of Acadians, Creoles, Americans from half a dozen different states, and a few Indians.  The Lake Charles Echo of October 24, 1890, says of the peopling of Calcasieu:

In the early days of America, when Spaniards were settling Louisiana and Mexico, while Texas was a wild prairie region, the land unknown on the outskirts or confines of the great colonies, one having its seat in the famed palaces of the Montezuma’s, and the other having its center in the valley of the wooded banked Father of Waters, the great continent draining Mississippi, the present region of Calcasieu was the home of a few tribes of Indians and the wild deer.  When Texas loomed up into a great country, and as the Lone Star State severed her connection with Mexico, our section remained the outskirts between Louisiana and Texas. (1)

            Calcasieu River was then known as the Rio Hondo.  The lands lying between it and the Sabine were disputed territory.  A few adventurous pioneers came into the section east of the river under what was known as Spanish grants; a few others, perhaps two hundred and fifty, settled in the western region under the so-called Rio Hondo claims. (2) This disputed land was sometimes called “No Man’s Land’ and was infested with thieves, robbers, and desperadoes from various sections of the country.  But after the United States was recognized as the owner of the territory, most of these people moved on. (3)

            Some of the earliest settlers of Calcasieu were the LeBleu’s, Charles Sallier, Reese Perkins, Jacob Ryan, all on the east side of the Calcasieu River.  West of the river were others, Joseph Cornow, Hiram Ours, Dempsy Ile, Hardy Coward and John his brother, William and Archibald Smith, Elias Blount, Joseph Clark, and John Henderson. These settled prior to 1824, in order that they might get the benefit of the Rio Hondo claims. (4)

            Martin LeBleu left France, came to Virginia, and after living there for five years he migrated westward, having married Dela Marion.  On their journey they crossed the Calcasieu River at a point six miles northeast of Lake Charles.  His wife was so delighted with this place, thinking the scenery the most beautiful she had seen, that she urged him to end his travels here.  But Martin, not yet satisfied, turned westward and came to the shore of Lake Charles, settling about six miles east of the lake on English Bayou.  There they built a log cabin, which may still be seen today. (5)

            Another interesting figure among the early settlers was Jacob Ryan, who settled here in 1817.  He was originally from Georgia, and had settled in Vermilion Parish, before moving to Calcasieu, where he lived until his death. (6)  Of those who came here to make their home and who now have descendants in this parish, Saddler Johnson was reputed to have been the first.  His trade as a saddler was responsible for his appellation.  He built a shack on the bluff of Whiskey-Chitto Creek, and later moved westward. (7)  According to tradition, the first permanent settlement west of Calcasieu was made at Sugartown in 1825.  The next was made in what is the Big Woods settlement, by the Smarts, Perkins, and others about 1832. (8)  About 1830 there came three brothers from South Carolina - P. D. Mims, L. N. Mims, and Sumter Mims.  In 1830 and 1835, about six or seven miles south of the present town of Leesville, a settlement was made at Petersburg, named for Peter Eddleman. (9)  The Welborns, McGees, Crafts, Earls, and Hickmans were responsible for the settlement on the lower Anacoco Creek about 1840. (10)

            These settlers were spread over a large section of country and found it inconvenient because of the long distance, poor roads, and slow means of travel, to go to Opelousas, the parish seat, to attend court and to vote.  For these reasons they determined to form a parish of their own, and on March 24, 1840 the parish of Calcasieu was carved from St. Landry.

            The first census report that lists Calcasieu as a separate unit was made in 1840. Little information, however, was tabulated, and that was of a general nature.  The total population, including slaves, was 2,057, and the majority of workers were classified under the heading of agriculture.  The following census of 1850 showed an increase in parish population, with a total of 3,914 inhabitants.  This census was broader in scope than that of the preceding and revealed more clearly the general character of the population.  Each person was listed with his occupation and place of birth.  This analysis revealed that by far the greater portion of the people were either small planters or farm laborers.  The professional men were increasing, as was the school population.  The major portion of the citizens were native-born Louisianaians with a sparse sprinkling of settlers from other states and from Europe.  The European born population was almost all either French or Spanish.

            From the time of the first settlement in this section until after the close of the Civil War, everything that was used, such as clothing, foods and farm implements, was made entirely at home.  Cotton mills, syrup mills, grist mills, and hide tanneries were very common.  Every farm house had its spinning wheel and a loom for weaving cloth. (11)  

            Between 1850 and 1860 the country was being rapidly settled.  In 1860, the population was listed at 5,928, and agriculture continued to be the principal source of livelihood.  A greater part of the population then heretofore gave other parts of the country as their birth places.   This was an indication that the parish’s increase was not due the birthrate alone, even though the tabulations revealed that larger families were the rule at that time.  Foreign-born population also showed an increase. 

            The local press made very few comments anent the heart-rending days of Reconstruction in this section.  Only one mention is made of the situation in the Echo, and that was at the time of Governor H. C. Warmoth’s absence from the state: “Oscar Dunn (negro), Lieutenant Governor, is Acting Governor.” (12)  There is no doubt that this Reconstruction period had its influence upon the settling of Calcasieu.  Many of the Federal soldiers settled in this territory and saw great advantages to be derived from its soil. (13)

            By 1870 the population showed a steady increase, but the first notable advance occurred in 1879, when the Southern Pacific began to lay a road bed for its line through Lake Charles.  The company’s tracks came only as far as Morgan City; the remainder of the trail to Texas had to be covered by stage-coach or by schooner around the Gulf of Mexico.  The gap between Morgan City and Houston was closed in 1880 and the first passenger train ran an excursion on April 7, 1880. (14)   Coincident with the coming of the railroads came the opening by the federal government of the public lands.   They were put on sale at $1.25 per acre, and eastern capital, not slow to see the millions in the pine forests, bought them.   The gradual development of the lumber industry brought a tide of immigration in from the North, and indeed from practically every state in the Union.   The old wooden stores on Ryan Street in Lake Charles began to give way to modern structures;  the old log cabin passed away in favor of the palatial residence; the old bunch arbor was torn down to give room for better church edifices, and the cow trails were obliterated by the surveying corps with steel rails. (15)

            In June, 1882, Nathan B. Bradley, who had been engaged in the lumber business in Michigan, came to Calcasieu and bought thousands of acres of land at $1.25 per acre, and engaged in the lumber business.

            J. B. Watkins in 1883 came from Lawrence, Kansas, and purchased from the United States and the state of Louisiana over a million acres of prairie land lying south of Lake Charles and extending to the Gulf of Mexico.  After acquiring these vast acres, he interested several capitalists in preparing it for settlement and cultivation, and initiated the first drainage and reclamation work in southwest Louisiana. He made the first attempt to interest homemakers in the lands of the section, and by his liberal advertising and unique methods, brought hundreds of new citizens here, laying the foundation for a great increase in population and wealth. (16)  Judge Wells later told the story of   J. B. Watkins expending $2,000 in one-cent stamps for sending advertising literature through the mails.  Mr. Watkins sent a boy to the post office for $1,000 of one-cent stamps.  The post-mistress, Mrs. Leveque, told him he must have misunderstood his employer; the boy returned to Mr. Watkins who sent him back to make the same request. Lake Charles could not supply such a sale of stamps and they had to be procured from New Orleans. (17)

            Between the years of 1880-1890 the census report showed a change from 12,484 to 20,176, and the lumber industry was responsible for the greater part of this growth.  Settlers came from everywhere:  Dr. Seaman Knapp from Iowa, cultured men from Virginia and the Carolinas, exiled Acadians who led a simple life, adventurers from Virginia, back-woodsmen from Mississippi, Kentucky, and Tennessee, Yankees from Maine and Ohio, and immigrants from Germany, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, Spain, France and England. (18)

            S. L. Cary, in a letter from Jennings, Louisiana, in 1895, said:  “People from the North, principally from Iowa, had acquired a block of land 5x24 miles in the vicinity of Jennings, by homestead generally, and there was yet much land about here subject to entry besides a large amount of Spanish Grants that could be bought for $1.25 to $7 per acre.” (19)  What was true of Jennings could be said of many places in Calcasieu Parish.  

            The North American Land and Timber Company was organized in 1882 and was of the utmost benefit in developing this section of the state.  The company was an English syndicate with an office in London, but was managed in Lake Charles by a most competent representative who did a great work in helping the people get good farms and homes, meanwhile making dividends for his company.  The company was originally formed to buy timber lands, but finding that the government had quite a body of land on the market, they decided to buy agricultural lands instead.  It was due to their enterprise and to the vast sums of money they expended in this section, that a great tract of rich land was reclaimed and put into cultivation, thus helping materially in the development of the parish.  From their original holdings of about 900,000 acres, 200,000 acres had been redeemed and converted into fertile farms by 1911.  This land had been sold to settlers and two towns have built up - Manchester and Holmwood, both of which are flourishing villages with schools and churches. (20)  It was the policy of the North American Land and Timber Company to redeem the land by a system of dredging and canals.  The first year after the land had been redeemed the company put it in cultivation and its worth was proved to the settler before he was given an opportunity to buy it.  By an extensive system of drainage canals, thousands of acres have been reclaimed and are now producing fine crops each year. (21)

            The percentage of gain in population in two decades shows a greater increase than for any other parish in the state.  From 1890 to 1910 the population increased from 20,176 to 62,767, approximately 211 per cent. (22)  Analysis of the census report shows that this increase is due to the large number of farmers and people moving into the parish from other countries and states, as well as a natural increase in population among the natives.  The developments in oil fields, rice, and lumber all play an important role in the growth of Calcasieu.

The following table is taken from the United States Census Reports for the years 1840 -1910:




Free White Persons

Free Colored Persons



Born out of the State

Foreign Born

Total Native Born


Indians, Chinese Japanese and others



















































































            The following chart, taken from the United States Census Report, will show the towns and their population:       






Lake Charles





















To establish a seat of justice in 1840 was an important task for the police jury; each member should designate a point which he thought would be best.  William Perkins designated the town of Lisbon on the west side of Calcasieu River; Michel Pithon, Comasque Bluff on the east side of the river.  Others suggested Marsh Bayou Bluff and Joseph Fault’s Bluff.  The voting showed that Marsh Bayou Bluff and Lisbon received the same number of votes.  There being a tie, the president gave his vote to Marsh Bayou Bluff. (1)   On December 8, 1841, the police jury resolved that the name of Marion be given to the parish seat. (2)  Old residents tell that it was named in honor of General Charles Francis Marion, “the Swamp Fox,” who fought during the Revolutionary War. (3)   A more beautiful spot could hardly have been chosen.  It is about fifteen miles from Lake Charles, where the Calcasieu  River curves in a peculiarly crooked course from the northwest, and took a sudden notion at a point about seven miles northeast of the lake to run nearly due west with a slight sweeping outward curve on the south side.  The land for a considerable distance back from the swamp was high and well drained.  In early days it was covered by longleaf pine forests. For a long stretch the highland came to the water’s edge, and we find a beautiful river bank.  Marion was used a stopping place by cattle drivers passing from Texas to New Orleans.  Boats on the river gave it cheap but slow communication with the outside world. (4)  Many inhabitants know it today as Old Town.

            Marion grew very slowly and it was proposed that the parish seat be moved to a more progressive place.   The “Old Town” people were quick to see the advantages of the settlement on the lake by Charles Sallier.  Jacob Ryan, the sheriff of the parish and a mighty figure in upholding the law, appears to have been one of the first to propose removing the parish seat from Marion to Charley’s lake.

            Mr. Ryan, aided by Samuel A. Kirby and his famous slave, Uncle George, put the courthouse on wheels and dragged it to the river’s edge.  It was then placed on a raft, the jail following, and carried down the river to the present site where the courthouse now stands. (5)  After this there was little left of Marion, and Mr. Perrin, in his Southwest Louisiana, describes it:  “The finger of time has written ‘Ichabod’ above her gates, and like ancient Rome, the spider weaves its web in her palaces, the owl sings watch songs in her towers.” (6)

Lake Charles

            The city was named for one of its very early inhabitants, Charles Sallier, whose farm was near the southeast side of the lake where the Shell Beach Drive and the Sallier cemetery are now.  In pioneer places and especially among pioneers of his blood, people are rarely given their full names in conversation, so he became Joseph Charles, or, more often, Jo Charlie, and to the wayfarers along the trail and along the coast region, Charlie’s place and Charlie’s lake were familiar words.  When the village came, they naturally accepted the name, as it was already established, and called it Lake Charles. (7)

            Charles Sallier was certainly a colonizer of more than passing talent; he was master of the territory about the lake whose edges flashed with purple water hyacinths, and whose banks furnished a somber background of southern oaks.  He developed large areas of real estate, some of which are still occupied by his descendants.  He had a plantation home, on the present Sallier Street, which more than a century ago was the regulation “Big House,” with its cluster of barns, sheds, slave cabins, and all the other surroundings of a prosperous pioneer plantation. (8)

            The industrial life was mainly trading, farming, and cattle raising.  It was a custom to go once a year to New Orleans to sell cattle and to get a few household articles, such as calico, gunpowder, and flour.

            The history of a community is so closely interwoven with the lives of the people who have made it, with their problems, struggles, joys, ambitions, and hopes.  The life of Jacob Ryan will reach past the beginning so far as Lake Charles is concerned.  He came to this parish when he was but one year old, in 1817.  He was born at Perry’s Bridge on the Vermillion River, February 14, 1816.  His father, after whom he was named, was a planter and stock raiser, who lived in Calcasieu until his death.  Jacob, Jr., known as the “Father of Lake Charles,” was the son who moved from the prairies of west Calcasieu and lived for a time in the pine woods about six miles east of the present town of Dequincy; but in 1850 he moved to Lake Charles.   Full of energy, he followed whatever occupation presented itself as honorable and lucrative - planter, stock raiser, mill owner, merchant, and contractor.  In each of these he was successful. (9)

            In 1837 Thomas Bilbo bought from James Barnett all the land from Hodges Street to Lake Front and from Pujo with some swamp land up to the river, in all 640 acres in the heart of Lake Charles, for $500.  Thomas Bilbo, who came from Canada, first spelled his name Bilbeaux, but changed to the English way of spelling.  The old homestead on the lake, two stories high, was built of unhewn logs put together in tongue and groove fashion, and contained fifteen rooms, most of them small, with a “dog run” down the center of the hallway, used by the family pets in bad weather.  Guns and deer antlers hung on its walls, and buck hide lay on the floor. 

            Bilbo and James Hodges were early merchants of Lake Charles.  In the early thirties they opened a store on what is now the southeast corner of Hodges and Beldon Streets.  They supplied the simple wants of the pioneers and engaged in trading with the Indians when they came to the village.  Bilbo died September 20, 1846.  He and Mr. Hodges were ancestors of Mrs. Molden who is the last living representative of the Bilbo family; and Mrs. Molden says that her mother told her the Indians camped along the gully that ran from Hodges to the old Bilbo home on the lake.  This is the gully that the children of early Lake Charles found such an excellent crayfish ground.  It was a long, narrow building, unpainted, save that Time had painted it a deep gray.  It survived many generations of tenants, both white and black, before it was turned into a blacksmith shop, then a garage, and finally torn down to make way for a modern building. (10)

            James Hodges some time in the late fifties built a home near the corner of Hodges and Pujo Street.  It is now the annex to the First Baptist Church.  It was in this house in 1855 that his daughter Elmira, age thirteen, was married to Joseph Bilbo, the son of his partner, and went to live in the old Bilbo home on the lake that had for many years before served, so tradition says, as a military post for United States soldiers.

            Mr. Ben Kirkman was one of James Hodges’ daughters.  There was also a son, “Bo” Hodges, who was married at the age of fourteen to the girl who was thirteen, and to this couple were born twelve children.  When he died a few years ago, he left fifty-four grandchildren.  His home is near Gillis, at Hodgeville, Louisiana. (11)

            William Hutchins came to Calcasieu in the summer of 1857, from St. Martinville, Louisiana, in three wagons drawn by six large white mules.  Prior to this move he had owned the Gazette Press in Opelousas, Louisiana, and he moved it to Lake Charles, thinking it would grow as the town grew.  When he came to Lake Charles, there were only twelve houses in the town. (12)

            Samuel Adams Kirby, a native of the state of Vermont, and a graduate of the law school of Middlebury College, Vermont, was forced South by the ravages of tuberculosis.  After he received his diploma as a lawyer, his family, acting upon the advice of physicians, sent him as far South as possible.  Equipped with a few hundred dollars and his diploma, he located in Shreveport, where he met and married Martha Caroline Dial, a seventeen year old student from a female seminary of South Carolina, who was visiting her brother in Shreveport.  Shortly after his marriage his health became so impaired that he could only deliver his speeches in a whisper.  After consulting with the celebrated doctors, Stone and Stone of New Orleans, he was ordered at once to go further South and get nearer the salt sea air. Then with his young wife and child he came directly to southwest Louisiana.  After making a purchase of one hundred and fifty acres of land from an old French settler, Michel Pichou, the land lying south of what is now Pujo Street and bordering on the  lake opening back as far as Common Street, he proceeded to build and locate a town.  He was quick to see the advantages of water facilities, for at the time huge three-masted schooners could enter through the pass at Cameron, since the mouth of the river came up to the landings near the place.

            Through his efforts in the legislature at Baton Rouge, where he did most of his law practice, Mr. Kirby was one of those to aid in bringing the courthouse from Marion to Lake Charles.  It was a double log structure, and he and Mr. Ryan assisted in the moving of the house.  It was placed on a piece of ground one hundred and twenty-nine feet by five hundred feet, which Mr. Kirby donated.

            Being very tenacious of life and longing to live as he was yet a young man, in order to improve his health he decided to get nearer the Gulf and went down the river.  Here he bought a large tract of land where Leesburg now stands, placing his negroes on his farm under an overseer by the name of Sims.  He had land cultivated, staying there as much as he could so that he might receive the benefit of the salt air, hoping thus to prolong his life.

            Through Mr. Kirby’s donations, many buildings were constructed and his efforts can be seen in Lake Charles today. (13)

            As settlers could easily see that logging could be handled more easily at Charley’s Lake, they began to move to the present site of Lake Charles.  Sawmilling became a very important part in the upbuilding of the town.  Records show that in 1857 forty acres of land between Hodges Street and Louisiana Avenue and between Lawrence and Pujo Streets were sold of $297.  That same year the Catholics purchased from S. M. Pithon the front half of the block facing Ryan Street, between Gordon’s Drugstore and filling station, on the corner, for $375. (14)   Afterwards this property was sold, and now it is a business section of the town.

            The population of Lake Charles increased as the sawmill industry grew, and by 1857 Lake Charles was ready to be incorporated.  It is frequently stated that the town was established as “Charleston,” and later changed, but the records at Washington show that a post office was established in Calcasieu County, Louisiana, under the name of Lake Charles, with John Hayes as postmaster, October 4, 1850, and has continued under that name until the present time. (15)  The act incorporating the town was signed March 16, 1867. (16)

            When the Civil War days came, there was established a camp in the northern part of the city.  Calcasieu responded to the call for arms and displayed a great deal of patriotism.  Lumber and food supplies were given to the Confederate soldiers.  Captain Goos aided in feeding the families left by the soldiers in Lake Charles.  Food was distributed when it was needed.  After the federal blockade became effective, the Goos schooners were converted into blockade runners.  These schooners took out lumber and brought back flour, coffee, and clothing. 

            Mr. Ryan tells the story of the bombardment of Lake Charles during this period.  One day Mr. Ryan’s little mill was busy turning out lumber,  when suddenly a sailing launch made its appearance on the river and took its position near the center of the lake, hoisted Old Glory, and turned loose a three-pounder at the mill.  Another shot came bouncing along after the first and with this the hands seemed to lose interest in their work.  The third shot came, and the workmen took to their prayer and lumber piles.  The Yankee boat took five shots at the mill and hit all around it, then sailed up to the wharf and in a martial tone demanded beef and potatoes.  They got both; Mr. Ryan poked from under the lumber piles two or three ash-gray darkies, and a beef was killed in double-quick time. (17)

            Another story is told of two Federal gunboats, the Granite City and the Wave, which came up Calcasieu River and were captured by Green’s Brigade.  These boats had sick and wounded men of both sides, and they were brought into Lake Charles.  Some of the people objected to the Federal men being brought into the town, but Dr. Verneulen, the physician of the boats, objected to his sick being separated.   Daniel Goos ordered every man “Yank or Rebel,” taken to Goosport where a long room with whitewashed walls, cot and bedding were supplied. (18)

            Lake Charles was never surveyed and laid out as other town sites.  Many of the streets are still crooked, having originated from old paths.

            The first city council minutes, after the city was incorporated, state: July 6, 1868; mayor, J. W. Ryan; aldermen, Dr. W. H. Kirkman, R. B. Stoddard, W. G. Kibber, J. B. Kirkman, J. L. Bilbo; July 25, 1868, first business transacted, Jacob Ryan, treasurer; John Spence, town secretary; M. J. Rosteet, town collector; Pat Fitzgerald, town constable; George H. Wells, town attorney. (19)

            Judge Wells says that when he arrived in Lake Charles about this time, there was one store, Paul Pujo’s, on the lake front at the junction of what is now Front and North, with  merchandise worth less than $100, only one sawmill was in operation; and at the first general election, April 1868, only 461 votes were cast in the entire parish, which was at that time larger than the state of Delaware and nearly as large as the state of Connecticut. (20)

            In 1852 the police jury gave permission to Jacob Ryan to build a new courthouse in Lake Charles, instead of removing the courthouse from Marion.  The new building was to be of the following dimensions and materials: length, thirty-six feet; width, thirty feet; between the floors, eleven feet; height of upper story, seven feet; two rooms twelve feet long and ten feet wide in one end of the lower story; ten windows with glass lights, twelve lights in each window 8” x 10’’; doors, windows, and shutters to be made of good cypress, hung on hinges and fastened with hooks and locks.  Floors both above and below were to be jointed but not dressed.  The outside was to be weatherboarded with cypress planks, and the inside was to be ceiled.  There were to be four windows in the upper story, with cypress shutters.  There was to be the judge’s bench, and four benches or seats for use of said courthouse. The whole was to be built and completed for the amount of the commutation tax, which was between $500 and $525. (21)  However, this courthouse was not built until 1872.

            An interesting description of the jail in Lake Charles was given as:  dimensions, twenty feet square, consisting of two stories.  The most recalcitrant prisoners were placed downstairs in cells, which resembled a dungeon.  The prisoners were admitted to the lower floor by a ladder and a trap door.  The entrance of the jail was by stairs that ran up the outside of the building.  After the deputy took them down the ladder, he would pull it up to the second floor and fasten down the trap door to prevent the escape of prisoners.  Those prisoners of less danger were placed upstairs. (22)

            Sanitation was begun early.  Records of the first organized attempt at general improvements, January 25, 1875, state that a committee be appointed whose duty it should be to inspect streets, especially with reference to drainage thereof, and report the needs to the police jury. (23)   Later, on February 19, 1879, we find the council recommending that the building of sidewalks would be too expensive and advised a causeway to be built across the marsh on Broad and Hodges Streets. (24)  This is the present location of the post office building.

            The people of Lake Charles were very pleased in 1879 with the coming of the railroad.  Steel rails had been delivered at the docks and 100 piles driven in the Calcasieu River for the railroad bridge. (25)   The dreams of a railroad seemed to be coming true.

            In the early eighties Lake Charles began to prosper.  The federal government opened the public land that sold for $1.25 per acre, and the eastern capitalists, not slow in seeing the millions in the pines, bought vast acres of the land.  In 1883 the North American Land and Timber Company purchased a large amount of land and began a systematic advertising of the country to attract immigration and capital.  Lake Charles was then a mere village, with no support other than sawmills.

            Settlers came from everywhere. The American, a weekly newspaper of sixteen pages, was established in Lake Charles.  It is impossible to estimate the work accomplished by this paper; in addition to its weekly editions, it printed many times editions of 50,000 to 100,000 copies containing special information for the inducement of immigration. (26) 

            In 1892 and 1893 the company fitted an exhibit car, filled with products from this section, and sent it through Kansas, Iowa, and Illinois, as an advertisement for this country.  The result of this enterprise was untold; hundreds of our best citizens were first attracted to Lake Charles in this way. (27)

            O. S. Dolby says that in August 1889, he awoke in Lake Charles’ old Walter Hotel, where he had been conducted in the night by the well known Caceauz, that kind-hearted, every-ready hackman, famous in his time for getting business.  At that time he describes Ryan Street as simply a country road so far as improvements and general appearance were concerned.  The only approach to a sidewalk was in front of the United States hotel at the corner of Ryan and Iris Streets, where Mr. McGintry had constructed some sixty feet of plank sidewalk.  At the corner of Ryan and Pujo Streets was the combination store of William Myer, who resided there and ran a drugstore across the corner, where Gordon’s drugstore now is.  On the corner, where the Calcasieu National Bank is now located, then stood a small wooden structure occupied by a grocery store.  Where the Rigmaiden Hotel now stands, then stood the Lyons’ Home, a hotel set back some thirty feet from the street.  The site of the present Commercial Block was then the home of Casper Schindler, and old and respected citizen.  That portion of the Kaufman building just north of the Lake City Hotel was then occupied by the home of Dr. Munday.  George Ryan was then living where the Murray-Brooks Hardware Store is now located.  Ryan Street, further north than the corner of Division, was a residence street.    A large pine stump, cut as low as it is convenient to cut a tree, was standing in the sidewalk in front of the present Chavanne building.  Some of the cross streets further north were merely opened.  At the corner of Pine and Bilbo there was a pine woods, and it is related that once a citizen was held up and robbed while on his way home one night through this lonely spot.  The Southern Pacific was the only railroad here at that time, and the depot was an old barn-like structure, a combination of freight and passenger depot, standing a little east of Kirkman Street, and passengers coming and going to or from town were carried by the hackmen.  There was little attempt to improve the streets and sidewalks.  The only sidewalk other than the above mentioned was the short stretch in front of the residences of Professors Knapp and Thomson.

            The front part of the present parish jail was then built and in use.  This was the only brick building in the city.  The building of the old Lake City Saloon by Mr. Touchy was started during the winter of the 1889-1890, and was the first brick building for commercial purposes in the city.  This was soon followed by the brick veneering on the building at the northeast corner of Ryan and Division Streets. (28)

            In 1890 a new courthouse was constructed of brick. (29)   Directly in front of the courthouse stood an old fire department house, which was also the city hall, and was moved from there soon after the building of the brick courthouse in 1890.

            In 1892 the Calcasieu Bank built its splendid structure, and L. Kaufman erected the brick building on the southeast corner of Broad and Ryan Streets.  A feature worthy of mention is the fact that the Calcasieu Bank built a building which in design and cost was ahead of the times as most people thought, but time has shown the wisdom of its management.  It set the pace for a better class of buildings.  It was the first faced with pressed bricks, and the example set by it has been followed by all builders of brick mercantile houses. (30)

            At that time four churches were in Lake Charles:  Catholic, Baptist, Methodist Episcopal South, and the Episcopal.  The Methodist Church was at the corner of Bilbo and Broad Streets.  The Baptist Church was on Pujo and Hodges, and the former church of the Episcopalians has been moved to the eastern part of the city and is now occupied as a Negro church. (31)

            In the fall of 1890 a public school building was erected at the present site of Central School, and during the same year Lake Charles College was constructed, the latter being a three-story building fifty-five by eighty-five feet. (32)

            In 1903 great industrial progress was made.  One of the largest real estate transactions was when Swift and Kirkwood sold the Calcasieu Real Estate Company the northeast corner of Ryan and Division Streets with a hundred-foot front of Ryan Street, for $23,000. (33)   Several new buildings were constructed that year, for instance, the Reams and Hollins Building and the Rigmaiden Hotel. (34)

            In the year 1905 very little progress was made. The yellow fever epidemic was sweeping over Louisiana and ruining business.   However, the depression of the year 1905 soon disappeared and Lake Charles showed steady growth.  Sewerage and paving programs were passed, the rice mills were now in running order, and more lumber was being shipped form Lake Charles than from any other city in the South. (35)   It was predicted by the president of the Hibernia Bank and Trust Company that Lake Charles would have a population of 25,000 within a period of five years. (36)  Other businessmen said it was destined to become a real city.

            During the years 1907-1909, the panic had its effects upon Lake Charles.  On April 23, 1910, the little city suffered a great loss due to a fire, which started about three-thirty one Saturday afternoon, originating in the Opera House and causing property damages of $750,000.  The people met the disaster very bravely and started rebuilding immediately.

            In twenty years the city increased its population by 8,178, or 104 percent.  The population in 1890 was 5,771; in 1910, 13,949.  The development in rice and lumber accounts for most of this growth.

            The post office records are an indication of the growth and development of any community, and the following table shows the growth of Lake Charles. (37)




Gross Receipts


Net Revenue




























































































            Sugartown, or Seventh Ward, is about twenty-five miles square, bounded south by Barnes Creek and north by Vernon Parish.  The following story is told of how Sugartown got its name.  Bob Martin, a settler, obtained a few stalks of sugar cane from St. Mary Parish.  He planted it, saved what it produced, and repeated this about three years.  When he had about an eighth of an acre of good cane, he remarked to his neighbor, Saddler Johnson, the saddle and harness maker, that if he had a way getting the juice from the cane, he would make some good syrup.  Saddler Johnson, being a skilled mechanic, said, “Bob, let’s make a mill by taking two short sections of a big gum tree and turning then with a lathe until they are uniform.  We will fit cogs into them so they can be turned with a lever, and we’ll then squeeze the juice out that way.”  This was done and a small furnace was built.  Wash kettles were used for boiling the syrup, and as neither of the men were familiar with making syrup, they permitted it to boil too long.  When the liquid cooled, they had, instead of syrup, two or three nice kettles of sugar.

            Presently, when they got up the petition for a post office, it became necessary to name the settlement.  Some one with Bob Martin’s sugar in mind, said, “Let’s name the place Sugartown.”  It has been called that ever since.  The post office was a mile from the present one in the C. B. Caraway place.  Alexandria Verne was the first postmaster. (38)   

            This territory was heavily timbered with long-leaf pine and near the creeks were found oak, beech, hickory, maple, magnolia, and other hardwoods which could be used for manufacturing furniture and farm implements.  Numerous creeks were near and were used for the lumber business.  Timber was cut, hauled to the banks, and put into the water and conveyed to the mills of Lake Charles where it was sawed. (39)

            Among the successful settlers of Sugartown was J. L. Lyons, who was engaged in the farming and lumbering business.  He owned a steam cotton gin, grist mill and sawmill combined. (40)   G. W. Cockran was another very old citizen who gave his attention to sheep raising. (41)


            In the early eighties Vinton was known as Blair, named for a family who resided in the state of Iowa and owned a large tract of land here. Later the name was changed to Vinton by Professor Knapp, being named after a town in Iowa from which a number of settlers came. (42)

            The original Old Spanish Trail did not run through the town, but passed near the Big Woods community and crossed the river at Niblett’s Bluff. The first man to open a place of business here was Mr. Melwick.  He prospered and kept adding to his establishment.  The bottom floor comprised the post office, merchandise store, saloon, and living quarters; upstairs was a large hall used for church.  It is related that when reference was made to changing the name of the town he became enraged and it preyed on his mind so that he lost complete control of his faculties, and one day in a fit of insanity he killed his wife and two children, set the building on fire, and shot himself.   The place, together with the bodies, was burned to ashes, leaving the town bare. (43)

            The first school house was built by Mark Simmons of Liberty County, Texas, about 1880; he was the first teacher.  The first public school teacher was Miss Mabel King of Iowa.  She is now Mrs. Kelly of Lake Charles, and is very prominent in the city. (44)

            Vinton has a position of commanding commercial importance, only six miles to the Sabine, navigable for three hundred miles, and with the bar at the mouth improved for the passage of ocean streamers, and nine miles of tide water on Bayou Choupique, which flows into the Calcasieu River.  North is a forest of yellow pine, where C. P. Hampton has erected a large sawmill. (45)

            In 1910 the town was incorporated, with, Mr. Alexander Perry as mayor. (46) 

            After all, it is the men who make the place.  Calcasieu Parish has produced many men who have engraved their names in the history of this section, and men who will be remembered.  One man who stands out in bold relief is John Geddings Gray.  He came from that old South Carolina stock which knows no failure, and after having once attained the pinnacle of success in his undertaking, he devoted the latter period of his life in returning to the land that gave him wealth by leading the way for others to make money, by his leadership in the erection of public buildings, and by education of the young.

            John Geddings Gray, the stock raiser, ranchman, rice and cotton planter, and oil producer, was born in Winston County, Mississippi, February 8, 1849.  He was the son of Dr. Reuben F.  and Francis Chiles Gray, both natives of South Carolina.  The Gray family became prominent before the Civil War and played an important part in it.  Hon. Henry Gray, an uncle of John Geddings Gray, played an important role in the lawmaking halls of the state of Mississippi.

            Dr. Reuben F. Gray received a thorough college education in the University of Baltimore, Maryland.  After his graduation, he studied medicine under Dr. Eli Geddings of Baltimore. After a preparatory course in reading under Dr. Geddings, the young man than entered the medical college in the city.  Between Dr. Gray and his preceptor there grew an everlasting friendship, which accounts for the name of Geddings borne by John, having been conferred as an honor on his son.

            Dr. Gray married Miss Chiles in 1839.  He practiced in South Carolina and Mississippi until 1851, when he moved to Bienville Parish, Louisiana, where John Geddings was born.  Dr. Gray then moved to St. Landry Parish.  In February 1869, the family moved to Lake Charles where Dr. Gray was greatly loved.

            John Geddings Gray, like all southern youths, received his daily education in the old-field school house, where Webster’s blue-back speller and the teacher and the rod held full sway.  He attended Soulé’s Business and Literary College.  He became interested in timber and logging operations and continued this until 1901.  The life of a timber man requires his entire attention, but Mr. Gray had time to engage in land surveying and served as clerk of the parish court. While engaged in the surveying business, his attention was directed to the possibilities of Calcasieu Parish in an agricultural way, and having faith in the fertility of the soil, he invested heavily in the lands and owned thousands of acres.  Mr. Gray moved to Vinton on a ranch a few miles southwest of the town.   On June 7, 1880, at Lake Charles he married Miss Mary F. Kirkman.

            Mr. Gray did a great work for charity.  He assisted many schools in his section - more than one school house was built by John Geddings Gray and given to the public.  Nothing gave him more pleasure than to assist some man or woman to procure an education, asking in return that they become useful to the community in which they lived.  Mr. Gray was also willing to help a congregation build a new house of worship.

            His home is a typical southern mansion with a wealth of shade trees, well-kept lawns, and a flower bed here and there to break the monotony and lend cheer to the scene.  The home and grounds have an air of southern hospitality, wide porches, and inspiring columns.  The inside is in keeping with the outside appearance - the rooms are large, airy, and beautiful.

             To supply his vast acreage with sufficient moisture and to insure irrigation for rice when needed, Mr. Gray had constructed the Sabine Canal, taking the waters from the Sabine River and turning them into a channel, harnessing them so that mankind might be fed.  This canal was several miles in length and had a gravity of twelve feet. (47)


            The little town of Iowa was named for a group of energetic and progressive men from the state of Iowa, headed by the well-known Professor Knapp, who located here in 1882 and took it upon themselves to build up and develop this country.  It was interesting to hear some of these first settlers relate their experiences in this section.  One states that the natives had never seen a wire fence and objected very much to the erection of fences, as their droves of cattle could not be driven through the prairies.  It was only after a number of years of persuasion that they gradually gave in and saw the good and the necessity of the wire fences.  One man said that when he arrived in Iowa, it was bitter cold and he was annoyed to see the natives barefooted and wearing straw hats and overcoats. (48)

            Mr. Storer, a northern man who today is spoken of in high praise, was the first storekeeper and postmaster.


            In the early eighties Miles Welsh and his family left St. Landry Parish and traveled westward for several days before they came to Calcasieu.  At a certain little prairie spot surrounded by gullies Miles Welsh thought it an ideal place for a camp.  He decided to pitch his tent, and the longer he stayed the better he like the place; and very soon began the erection of house.  The building was of logs, plastered with mud, having a mud chimney, and the windows were wooden shutters.  All the cooking was done on the fireplace, and all the furniture was homemade.  The stagecoach running from Opelousas to Lake Charles stopped at the Welsh home, and strangers were treated most courteously and given a hearty welcome as the coachman was supposed to bring in news from the outside world. (49)

            Rice was sown in small patches, reaped by hand with a sickle, threshed by hand, pounded with a pestle in a mortar, and then it was ready for cooking.

            Miles Welsh had a son, Henry, and the Welsh Family are largely responsible for the foundation and development of the town.  It was Henry Welsh who gave his name to the town. (50)

            Welsh was half a mile from the Lacassine, a wooded stream flowing south to the Gulf; and this Lacassine country, as this section was often called, was visited yearly by the different tribes of Indians, the Choctaws, Attakapas, and others.  Wild fowl and animals were here in large numbers.  The Indians called this their “hunting ground,” or, in the Choctaw language, “La Cassine.” (51)

            The town of Welsh was surveyed and platted in 1884.  In April, the Messrs. Jasinsky and Reiner of Iowa, and George D. Moore, of the same state, visited Welsh, and charmed with its location and surroundings, purchased land.

            The town was incorporated in April, 1888, and Henry Welsh was elected the first mayor, an honor appropriately conferred, he having been the founder of the town. (52)   It was he who gave the right of way through his land for the Louisiana Western Railroad and donated the land for the erection of a station with the understanding that all trains passing through were to stop.  Until recently this agreement was enforced.

            Rice and hay were the principal farm products, although sugar cane, cotton, Irish and sweet potatoes, oats and corn were grown.

            Nathaniel Prentice, planter, was born in Vermont, in February 1823.  He was engaged in farming in Wisconsin and Iowa until 1886, when he moved to Calcasieu and purchased a tract of land containing 3,700 acres, known as the “Hawkeye Ranch.”  Over 200 acres of this land were cultivated in rice, to which it was well adapted; Mr. Prentice took an active part in local affairs in Welsh. (53)   A physician to be remembered is Dr. Zawaochy.   He was born in Poland on July 25, 1828, and in 1880 located in Welsh.  He was a prominent man in the community, and took an active part in the Masonic fraternity. (54)  Another planter of Welsh was Joseph A. Anderson, born in New Jersey, September 3, 1845.  After the Civil War he came to Calcasieu and purchased a farm of 320 acres.  We have his attention to rice growing, in which he was very successful. (55)


            Twelve miles west of Lake Charles, the discovery of sulphur added materially to the development of the section to be known as Sulphur City.  In 1858 a well was sunk for oil and a sulphur dome was discovered, but it was not until 1894 that sulphur was produced, as each company in turn failed with the project.

            Sulphur City was at an early date interested in educational facilities.  The first school teacher here, in 1889, was Professor Mathews, who was followed by Miss Mollie Jenkins.  It is said that the frame building was fifteen by twenty feet and the enrollment was fifteen pupils. (56)  George Root, who had a family of fourteen children, enrolled ten of them, but a few weeks later he became dissatisfied for some reason and took the children off the register.  This practically closed the school, but after solicitation of friends, Mr. Root returned the children to their classes and saved the school.  (57)


            The most important town in the parish, outside of Lake Charles, was Jennings.  It was settled by people from the northwest, who were very enterprising and came to this section because of its farming lands. Jennings stood in the midst of a fine rice country.  The population in 1880 was only twenty-five inhabitants. (58)
            The first newspaper in this town was the Jennings Reporter, edited and published by Messrs. Cary and Son, 1889. (59)

            The question of creating a new parish in this part of Calcasieu was spoken of as early as 1885, but no serious thought was given the matter until 1886 when the people of Jennings, then a town of almost half a thousand inhabitants, petitioned the legislature to create a parish.  This showed that Jennings was growing and wished to flourish as the new parish seat.  However, this division did not come until 1912.

            The Jennings oil boom of 1900-1905 greatly influenced its growth. Many inhabitants came to “get rich quick.”  The United States Census Reports show an increase in population from 412 in 1890 to 1,539 in 1900.

            In 1897 Jennings was listed as the third class post office.  The following table will indicate its steady growth. (60)


Year Class Gross Receipts
1897  3 $1,691.70
1898   3 $2,448.61
1899   3 $2,923.86
1900 3 $3,293.61
1901 3 $4,423.80
1903 3 $8,211.28
1904 2 $8,196.03
1905  2 $8,205.83

             In reviewing the lives of some of the settlers of Jennings, we notice some interesting facts concerning the progress of the town.

            D. D. Andrews was born October 7, 1832.  His parents were natives of Calcasieu and St. Martin Parishes.  He began his early career as a planter and owned many acres of rich land, upon which he raised a variety of products and a large number of stock.  In 1890 he had on his plantation more than 300 head of cattle and 150 horses.  Mr. Andrews was also interested in the mercantile business at Jennings and Lake Arthur. (61)

            S. L. Cary was born in Boston, Erie County, New York, in 1827.  He received a good business education, and at he age of twenty-one he began a mercantile business in New York.  In 1853, Cary moved to Freeport, Illinois, and in 1883 he moved to Jennings.  He took a homestead and tree claim where the town of Jennings now is.  Interested in the cultivation of rice, he had over one hundred acres in this crop.   He was northern immigration agent for the Southern Pacific Railroad, with an office in Manchester, Iowa.  Mr. Cary was instrumental in inducing much of the immigration to Jennings, and was known as the “Joshua” of the Iowa colony, since he was the first northern settler in this location. (62)

            A. D. McFarlan may be called the founder of Jennings, as he erected the first store in the town.  He engaged in business and was very successful, being one of the largest property holders of the town.  He owned and operated a sawmill and a shingle mill with a capacity of 35,000 shingles a day.  He cultivated rice on an extensive scale, planting about 1,000 acres annually.  In local affairs he was also well known. (63)     


            Bryan, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, was established August 11, 1885, with William Perkins as postmaster.  The name of the office was changed to West Lake, Louisiana, January 31, 1889, and Frederick G. Perkins became the postmaster. (64)  This little town is situated on the west bank of the lake.

            The most prominent business places were the stores of A. J. Perkins and W. B. Morris.  Charles Miller was a prominent man of the firm of Perkins and Miller, and was a valuable citizen to the community.  He was born October 15, 1846, in Sweden, and educated in that country.  At a very early age he entered the machine shops at Stockholm.  In 1870 he came to Lake Charles and was in business with W. B. Morris.  He remained there for five years.  In 1875 he entered partnership with A. J. Perkins and they conducted a sawmill and planing mill at West Lake.  Mr. Miller was superintendent of the mill and an efficient business man. (65)

Niblett’s Bluff

            An interesting place which added to the history of Calcasieu was Niblett’s Bluff, now a small place on the Sabine River, six miles west of Vinton.  For many years it was the most important point on the Old Spanish Trail.  The trader in the very early days, in crossing the Sabine River, was inclined to pass to the south, but bad marshes obstructed the way.  Highlands lay along the old river; Sabine Island, about ten miles long and a large swamp lay in front.  The way toward the north around the island was longer, so, intent on taking the shortest way, travelers passed on boats and rough barges down the old river to Big Bayou, across the island to the main Sabine River, and landed in what is now Orange County, Texas, at Green’s Bluff.

            Later, when the Texas cattle trade came, to avoid floating the herds over the river, the cattle were driven above the island to the north and crossed the Sabine at Salem’s Ferry; about where the bluff now stands. (66)


            A pretty hamlet was on the rolling lands southeast of Prien Lake, and was used mostly for a summer resort.  It derived its name from Cyprien Duhon, an early citizen, whose nickname was Prien. (67)

Rose Bluff

            Rose Bluff, formerly a village and shipping point, was on the right bank of the Calcasieu River, and a few miles north of Moss Lake. A. Pujo built a mill on the river. When a post office was established there, he gave the place the name of Rose Bluff, for his daughter, Rose. She is now Mrs. Oliver Moss, mother of Lucius L., Guy, and Pearl Moss.(68)

Other Small Villages

            In Calcasieu Parish we find many towns and settlements bearing the names of those who founded them or were very closely connected with them.

            Gillis was a station ten miles north of Lake Charles and was so called for James Gillis, a Scotchman who was a land owner there and who operated a sawmill. (69) 

            Deesport was one of the lost towns of Calcasieu Parish.  It was the site of a large mill and village on the south bank of the Calcasieu River, a short distance west of the north approach to the Old Spanish Trail bridge, near the present home of Miss Mathilda Gray.  Quite a village sprang up about the mill, and land was platted for homes.  Then came the bridge, and the Shell Beach Drive, and the place became a “deserted village.”   Today no trace of the town or mill remains.  Its name commemorated Daniel C. Dees, the owner of the mill, and father of T. A. and Mabel Dees. (70)

            Jones’ Bluff on the east side of the Calcasieu River was the head of the navigation on the Calcasieu and was sixty-eight miles from the Gulf.  It was an important shipping point.  Its name was from Benjamin M. Jones, who came there in a very early day from Mississippi and built a sawmill on the river. (71)

            Mossville was a village five miles west of Lake Charles.  Shortly after the Civil War a village was started there, called Choat’s Prairie, for Mr. Choat, a local farmer.  Later on the railway came and the town was named Mossville. (72)

            Lockport was a town on the west side of the Calcasieu River, directly west of Lake Charles, and one mile south of the Old Spanish Trail.  Captain George Lock operated a sawmill there at a very early date, and gave it his name. (73)

            Goosport was a local and very commonly used name for this section of the city of Lake Charles.  It lay north of Opelousas Street. Daniel Goos, from Germany, came here and acquired a large tract of land on the river just above the lake.  Here he built his home on the highland near the river bank, where the Long-Bell Mill afterwards was located.  His farm, cut up into additions, was popularly called Goosport, and the name is not fanciful, for Goosport was a real port; wharves and docks and warehouses witnessed a heavy shipping business for a new country.  The first steamboat on Lake Charles was built here. (74)

            Hortman’s Ferry was on of the almost forgotten, but very important, historic spots in Calcasieu Parish.  It was located about a mile northwest of Lake Charles, and about three miles northeast of West Lake, on the north side of the letter S bend on the river, nearly one mile east of where Bagdad now stands.  It was the crossing point of the Old Spanish Trail frequented and used by the explorers and adventurers and traders between Florida and Mexico, long before American ownership and before the French hunters and trappers came.  The land at the ferry was one of the old Spanish grants which had to be settled by a commission from Washington and was later confirmed to Reese Perkins, assignee of the original grantee.  The building of the city of Lake Charles farther south and the diversion of travel caused its abandonment after the bridge to West Lake was built.  Its name was from a ferryman who owned a large tract of land there, Adam Hortman. (75)

            Bagdad was a village that was once at the ferry west of Lake Charles.  In the old days Reese Perkins operated a ferry there.  This was a great crossing place for cattle driven from Texas to New Orleans, and as many as 1,500 and 2,000 cattle crossed the ferry here in one day. (76)

            This story is told of the place.  Mr. Perkins sold the ferry and the adjoining land to James H. Buchanan.  He allowed a man by the name of Holt to lay out a town, and the two were to share in the profits.  Mr. Holt, having laid out the town, called it Lisbon, sold the lots at any price he could obtain, put the money in his pocket, and left town, leaving Mr. Buchanan to make explanations.  Even today people are known to come and ask to see Lisbon, and say they have bought a lot there. (77)  The town is no longer called Lisbon, but Bagdad.  The village never developed; a ferry, a few houses, and a shingle mill are all there are to the place.



            Those of us who live in the present often think of the years in the past as being dull and uninteresting, with little to do for amusment.   If we will only take time to examine old newspapers, or talk with someone who lived in those days, we will find an abundance of interesting material, good stories, and most of all, we will change our idea on the life in the good old days.  Of course, it is not logical to expect that people did the same things that we do today; but we must change with the times - just as many good time were had in early Calcasieu as we have today. 

            There were no society editors in the early newspapers.  The articles were scattered throughout them. In the year 1869 the first article noted was an account of a log rolling made possible by the overflow of creeks and bayous down which logs could be floated.  The article read as follows:  “There is some talk of having a log rolling in this vicinity.” (1)  Log rolling and chimney daubings sometimes were both combined.  Young men put their hand-spikes under mighty logs, each striving to put the other’s knuckles into the dirt, and occasionally stopping to allow two champions to wrestle, and then the dinner! - fresh pork, beef dumplings, chicken pie, potato cakes, sweet pot pies sprinkled with all-spice and cinnamon, and hot coffee  made in a twenty-gallon wash pot.  As a mater of course, a dance was to top of the affair.  These dances were held by the light of fat pine knots, and the music furnished by fiddlers.  The fact that these men had never played with one another mattered little, the all-important question was to get music, plenty of it, and a man with endurance.  Dancing started sometimes before sunset and was certain to last until sunrise.  Contra dances, cotillions, waltzes, and cross-the-corner reels swept steadily on to the music of Turkey-in-the-Straw, Cotton-Eyed Joe, The Old Gray Horse Came Tearing Through the Wilderness, Dinah, Get Along, Liza Jane.  The prompter of the dance was some man.  On him depended the swift movements of the dance as well as seeing that the fire did not get low.  One can hear him now, “Swing your corners, now your partners, promenade around and put on another piece of pine!” (2)

            Preaching days brought the whole community together, on foot, horse-back, and by ox-wagon; the latter was loaded with good things for the dinner on the ground.  And the sermon - no higher criticism, no new-fangled theology - Heaven was glorious and Hell was hot; and many an appeal was made below those whispering pines that was worthy of being sent singing down the ages. (3)  After preaching day these people returned to their homes feeling much benefited.

             The first wedding recorded was that of John Roe of Lake Charles and Ella Cooper of Bagdad, on December 11, 1868.  The marriage ceremony was preformed by the Reverend J. F. Shulock. (4)

            The politics of the time were very important and many entertainments were given by the members of the parties.  An example of one of these comes from an account published September 26, 1868.  The article tells of a Democratic mass meeting and a barbecue which was to be held near the Baptist Church in Big Woods, Calcasieu Parish, on Saturday, October 10, 1868.  A general invitation was extended to all, irrespective of color.  The ladies were especially invited to attend.  The affair was to be followed by the usual dance.  Special space was to be provided for the Negroes. (5)

            The abundance of lakes and rivers in the parish made it possible to have all kinds of water fetes.  Records of 1874 show that one such was held in Lake Charles on May Day.  All people having sailboats or skiffs were invited to participate.  Following the water events, a soiree was held at the home of Mr. Ryan.  No special arrangements were made for music, but as was usual in those days, anyone playing an instrument was invited to bring it and take part in the music. (6)

            One would think from accounts that the fair folk in this parish were a little vague on their dance steps, because in 1877 a dancing school was organized by Professors McClelland and LeBleu.  The classes were held in Mr. O’Brien’s hall and instruction was given in all waltzes, polkas, mazurkas, scottisches, Spanish dances, cotillions, quadrilles, and fancy dances.  The other classes met on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. (7)

            The famous old opera house was also very popular in Lake Charles at this time.  It was owned by Mr. Ficke (Fricke?).  Many enjoyable ice cream parties and receptions were held in this building.  An interesting list of plays that were given in 1880 follows:  Rip Van Winkle, East Lynn, Only a Farmer’s Daughter, The Daughter of the Regiment, and Macbeth. (8)

            Perhaps the most prominent institution in Lake Charles was the Fire Department.  It was considered quite an honor to belong and regular dues had to be met.  The first volunteer fire department was organized in 1897, and the first fire ordinance passed March 3. (9)  It was very much of a social organization.  On one occasion the company gave a grand ball at the Temperance Hall.  Quite a committee made preparations for this affair.  Some of the members were H. C. Gill, Adolph Meyer, O. T. Schindler, S. H. Clement, N. C. Fricke, and Joseph Daniel.  Those who delighted in dancing had a rare opportunity to enjoy themselves at this ball.  The purpose of the ball was to raise money, since there were so many frame buildings built that the danger from fire was becoming great. (10)

            Mardi Gras was celebrated in Calcasieu at an early date.  In 1899 we find where Lake Charles was celebrated with Mardi Gras.  The festivities were directed by L. C. Rex. (11)

            The churches gave pound parties very much like those today, but at this time the ladies’ aid societies gave necktie parties.  Before the party the young ladies would decide what dress they were going to wear and then they would make a necktie of the same material.  When they reached the party, all neckties were put in large boxes or baskets.  The gentlemen at the party would buy the ties and girl who wore a dress to mach a tie would be the partner of the tie’s owner for the evening. (12)

            The moonlight excursion on the Steamer Hazel was highly enjoyed by 125 persons from Lake Charles, Lockport, and West Lake.  The Hazel arrived at Lockport and the people were ushered to the scene of merry-making.  It was a pretty grove lighted with Japanese lanterns and fitted with tables and chairs that lured the thirsty on.  The tables were soon filled with the gay and happy throng who enjoyed the cakes, ices, etc., dispensed among them by “sweet sixteens” in virgin white. In a spacious hall near by the dancers defied the intense heat and kept time to the music furnished by a string band till the musical whistle of the Hazel warned them at one o’clock that the hour of departure was at hand.  This entertainment netted $74 for the Episcopalians. (13)

            Another attractive party was the grand pink lawn party featuring a strawberry and ice cream festival given May 1, 1889, at the home of Mrs. J. E Loxley for the purpose of raising money to paint the Episcopal Church.  The evening was beautiful and cool enough to be pleasant.  At an early hour the magnificent mansion of Mrs. Loxley and the beautiful grounds surrounding it were lighted with Japanese lanterns, making it a most attractive place.  The interior of the house was lavishly decorated with roses and pink ornaments, and the souvenir room looked for all the world as if the fairies had been there and decorated it.  Miss Gussie Goodlett was the presiding priestess and disposer of things. There was music for the grown-ups in the parlor and games for the children outdoors. Old and young participated.  Strawberry ice cream, cakes, and sugar plums were served.  Between ten and eleven o’clock a fire alarm was sounded which dispersed the crowd enjoying refreshments. (14)

            Among other church socials given were oyster suppers, (15) balloon ascensions, band concerts, (16) and barn dances. (17)  It would be tiresome to relate more.

            One of the favorite occupations then was boating.  A boat named Borealis Rex was owned by Captain Thomas R. Reynolds, proprietor of the Haskell House, and was used for delivering mail between Lake Charles and Cameron. (18)  The boat was also used on all holidays as a pleasure craft.  Parties used this boat and the papers are full of notices announcing such trips.  On Sunday, March 12, 1882, the boat caught on fire under the boiler and was completely burned.  No insurance was carried so the boat was a total loss, and the source of much pleasure to the people was destroyed. (19)

            The gentlemen seemed to have been tired of the ladies’ company about this time, for there was an account of a stag party given in West Lake on June10, 1882. (20)  Perhaps there was another reason for this change in the social circles; possibly most of the town’s belles may have been away on their summer vacations and the gentlemen had to console themselves as best they could.

            In August of 1882, a skating club was organized.  A. Mayo was president and M. M. Singleton secretary and treasurer. (21)

            And now the parish settlers were given a thrill!  A circus came to Lake Charles in October, 1883.  The company included a two-headed girl, five clowns, and represented all nations. (22)  It was quite a contrast to the colossal shows we see today, but probably afforded as much pleasure to the children.

            The fire company was still a very fashionable organization.  Their eighth anniversary was celebrated April 2, 1886.  From seven-thirty until eight-thirty in the morning a parade was given by the Hook and Ladder Company No. 1.  Immediately afterwards the public was invited to go to Meyer’s Wharf from where they would be taken to Hargrove’s Bluff on the steamer and barges.  All were invited to attend with well-filled baskets. (23)

            The christening of the new hose cart was held at the residence of W. J. Martin.  The little lady who was made the sponsor was Grace Martin.  Her name was given to the cart, and in return she was presented with a diamond ring.  The program was followed by a plentiful repast where champagne flowed freely. (24)

            The first wedding that was really written up in a big way was that of Miss Lottie Mayo, who is the present librarian in Lake Charles, and Elly H. Dees.  The ceremony took place on March 6, 1887, at the Methodist Church and was performed by the Reverend Joel T. Daves.  Mrs. Dees is the daughter of Thad Mayo, one of the most prominent citizens of the day.  In front of the altar was arranged a beautiful arch of evergreens and roses.  In the center of this beautiful creation hung the traditional wedding bell.  This bell was not the usual imitation but an honest-to-goodness one that sweetly chimed forth as the bridal party marched down the aisle.  The service was performed in the presence of a host of friends of the family.

            Following the services the whole party adjourned to Fricke’s Opera House where a huge reception was held.  The party was a gay one with loads of refreshments, and the dancing continued until the early hours of the morning.  Good wishes to this couple were extended from their hosts of friends. (25)

            Another wedding which took place that same year was that of Grant Mutersbaugh and Cora Marsh, daughter of Captain O. M. Marsh. (26)

            And then we find the wedding which created perhaps the most interest of any in the town.  On December 9, 1887, a notice was published announcing the cards were out for the wedding of Augustus M. Mayo and Minnie Knapp, daughter of S. A. Knapp.  The wedding was to take place at the South Methodist Church, Thursday evening, December 15, 1887.  A few days later the personal column showed that many friends of the affianced couple were coming to Lake to stay with friends and attend the wedding.  When the night finally came around, it was cold and very rainy.  Since there were no automobiles in those days, the people had to go in carriages.  The ceremony was performed by the Reverend Joel T. Daves. (27)

            The account of the wedding was missing from the papers, but many interesting stories are told about it.  It seems that cold as the weather was, Mrs. Mayo had carried a beautiful ivory and blue silk fan.  When she went to step into her carriage, she was so excited that she dropped the lovely article into the mud and water from which her loving husband had to fish the badly drenched article.  It is still in the possession of Mrs. Mayo, but has never been used. (28)

            An organization of great importance to the gentlemen of the town was the rod and gun club.  Prizes were given for the best shot.  Meetings were held regularly to discuss the best guns, how to catch certain fish, and similar questions so important to the men. (29)

            For several years the social events differed very little, and it is the year 1910 before anything of particular interest is noted.  Perhaps the first event which concerns people who are well known in this section of the country was the marriage of Poly LeBleu to Miss Nora DeLaune.  The affair took place March 25, 1910 (30)

            It is interesting to note the progress that can be made in one community in twenty-five years.  To us an automobile is considered an everyday necessity.  To the people of 1910 an automobile was a much desired luxury.  The leading makes of cars found in Calcasieu were Overlands and Buicks.  Among the owners were Loree Briggs, Dr. J. H. Watkins, Clem Moss, H. G. Chalkley, and J. T. Henning. (31)

            The fun was not without catastrophe, however; on August 10 the boat Irene exploded and burned, causing the death of one and several serious injuries.  Little Miss Pauline Woodring was burned to death. J. A. Landry was seriously burned, and Louis Swann was burned about the hands while attempting to rescue Miss Pearl Moss. (32)

            An airplane meet was held in 1911.  It was the first of its kind in this section of the country, and it was believed by the people that it would not be long before the airplane would become an important factor in transportation.

            With conditions much changed from the time that we first began our narrative, and with the Imperial Parish of Calcasieu divided into four parts in 1912, we drop the threads of our review of the social happenings. The social life in Lake Charles was characteristic of the life in the entire parish.



            At a very early date Calcasieu was interested in public schools.  The progress and success of the schools have been the results of a wise and progressive police jury, municipal authorities, and an energetic school board. (1)   The police jury appointed the following gentlemen administrators of public schools for Calcasieu Parish November 2, 1841; Christopher Hicks, Michel Pithou, Thomas Bilbo, James Buchanan, and William Foreman.  Again in 1843 the police jury appointed Thomas Bilbo, Colonel Hicks, Michel Pithou, Isham Reeves, and William Berody. (2)   In January 1846, the term trustees of public schools was used, William Foreman and Henry Moss being appointed by the police jury. (3)  On June 1, 1846, we find the list of trustees enlarged, including William Foreman, Thomas Bilbo, Henry Moss, James Perkins, and Henry Bendy. The parish judge was to notify trustees of public schools to meet at Marion on June 22. (4)  It was resolved that the parish tax be sixty-five percent of the state tax for 1845, and that $200 of the above amount be laid aside for public schools.

            In 1848 S. Kirby was appointed parish superintendent of public schools, and the parish was laid off into school districts as follows:

            School District No. 1 to consist of Parish Ward No. 7.
            School District No. 2 to consist of Parish Ward No. 3.
            School District No. 3 to consist of Parish Ward No. 2.
            School District No. 4 to consist of that part of Ward No. 1 commencing from the mouth of Bayou Bleu, passing by Hilaire Bullard’s old residence
            and thence to Andrew Langlois’ present residence on Hickory Flat, thence running west to the present residence of Joseph Ryan on Darbonne. (5)
            School District No. 5 to consist of the balance of Ward No. 1 which was not included in District 4.
            School District No. 6 to consist of Parish Ward No. 6.
            School District No. 7.

Appropriations of $50 to each of the wards was granted by the police jury. (6)

            The earliest annual report to the General Assembly of Louisiana, made by the state superintendent of education, in which there was a report of Calcasieu Parish, was in 1854.  There were thirteen school districts with 784 pupils attending. The amount paid teacher was $4,164.59.  This money was received from the state apportionment. (7)  During the same year Charles H. Hardy, William H. Haskell, and Samuel B. Nolby were appointed to examine teachers in the following branches: Orthography (Webster), Reading (McGuffey series), Penmanship (Dolbear’s), Geography (Olney’s), Arithmetic (Dane’s), English Grammar (Kirkham’s). (8)

            In 1857 Samuel B. Nolby and C. A. Hardy were appointed to examine teachers of pupils of public schools, the former to make examinations in English, the latter in French, and the parish treasurer was instructed not to pay the drafts of any teachers in the future unless they presented their certificates of qualification from the board; and to avoid confusion, the directors of different schools were instructed not to employ any applicant for a school unless he presented his certificate of qualification. (9)

            In the report of 1858 pupils had increased from 784 to 917.  The amount paid the teachers was less than it had been; they received $2,036.  The number of months taught was from three to five. (10)

            Examining the reports of the state superintendent to the General Assembly of Louisiana, no report was found from Calcasieu Parish public schools during the Civil War, but the Calcasieu Press, 1860, mentions the Lake Charles Seminary with D. A. Bland as principal, stating the cost of lodging with lamp furnished was $12.50 per month. (11)  The reason for very little development in the schools is to be found in the poverty of the people, the devastation caused by the War, and the civic trouble resulting from the era of reconstruction.  However, several private schools were conducted in the year 1866.  Mrs. Theodule Landry taught in a little one-room, unpainted building in Lake Charles.  Jim Ryan taught until 1867 in a building at the corner of Ryan and North Court Street.  Mrs. Dade and Mrs. Mary Kirby Howard, daughter of Samuel Kirby, also taught. (12)

            The next annual report to the state superintendent from Calcasieu was in 1871.  The parish had grown to nine school districts; twenty-three teachers were employed, and there was a four-month term of school.  The average salary for teachers was $43.50 per month. (13)

            Some of the names of the first teachers of Calcasieu on record in 1876 were: Miss Mary E. Rowe, W. B. Knight, Louis Donlange, Lise Landry, Mrs. T. E. Dade, A. Bonnoist, W. M. Dunn, C. A. Ruscue, S. W. Pierce, John Kelly, and James E. Bilbo. (14)  The report of 1877 was incomplete as compared with the 1876 report.  The enrollment given was 128; the number of teachers employed, 5, and the average salary was $25.45 with length of term 2.5 months.  The subjects taught were: Webster’s Speller, McGuffey’s Reader, Alphabet and Primer, Penmanship, Arithmetic, Geography, Grammar, and History.  This report of the treasurer was exceedingly interesting; it stated that the parish had done nothing toward raising school funds and had depended entirely on state apportionments which had not been sufficient to have a school term of adequate length. (15)

            In December 1879, W. H. Baldwin of Columbia, South Carolina, established a school known as the Sugartown Male and Female Academy, which ran ten months during the year for two years.  This was the beginning of the southwest Louisiana school system.  This school enrolled students from Rapides, Vernon, Lake Charles, Sulphur, and some places in Texas. A number of young men who were graduated from this school have made good, possibly more so than any other products of one-room schools in the state,  Some of them are Dr. S. M. Lyons of Sulphur, who served one term as assessor of Calcasieu Parish and was representative of his parish at  his death; B. H. Lyons of Leesville, who served one term in the state senate as a senator from Rapides; J. J. Hicks, who served two terms as clerk of the Vernon  court; and Dr. D. S. Perkins of Sulphur, who served one or more terms in the state legislature.

            A number of lady teachers were graduated from this school.  Previous to this no woman ever taught school in this vicinity.  Mrs. Mollie Iles of Sugartown was an assistant teacher at this school later on. (16)

            In the early eighties Calcasieu was very badly in need of schools.  In the Lake Charles Commercial we find there were five schools in the parish.  These were taught by Reverend G. C. Hyde, Lewis J. Bourges, Mrs. M. A. McClellan, Mrs. J. B. Demere, Miss Julia H. Harrington. (17)  S. O. Shattuck said that teachers came around not even semi-occasionally.  Once in a great while a school teacher made his appearance and created a mild sensation.  If he succeeded in getting enough “signers” to the school agreement, a log house was constructed at the most convenient point, so that no pupil had to walk more than three miles, which in those days was considered just a bit down the road.  Books of every sort and description were gathered together and a three months’ school would be started. (18)  Mr. Shattuck was a great force in the early school work of the parish, and he said that something had to be done about education for the children of Calcasieu.  In a speech to the school board in 1882, he said there were 3,600 children in the parish to be educated; the department of education gave only $3,000 to educate them. His plan was for the department of education to give $3,000. The police jury was allowed to levy a tax not to exceed 10 mills. It could ask for a grant of 1 mill which would mean a revenue of $1,500.  Then a special tax of 4 1/2 mills could be levied, thus raising the rest of the sum. (19)  However, no further mention of the plan is found.

            Lake Charles was realizing that she was greatly in need of schools and we find mentioned that several of the residents were willing to subscribe as much as $500 each for the erection of a graded school for boys, but nothing came of the idea. (20) 

            In 1881, “John McNeese opened his common school in the Masonic Lodge.” (21)  He is said to have done more for education than any other one man in Calcasieu.  John McNeese came to the parish from North Carolina in 1873. (22) For ten years he taught in the public schools of Calcasieu. He was secretary of the parish board in 1884. When the office of superintendent was created by the board, he was the first superintendent in 1888 and served until 1913. In the minutes of the school board for September 8, 1882, we find the following:  “On motion by C. D. Welsh, duly seconded, John McNeese was nominated for the office of parish superintendent.  On motion by Mr. John H. Poe, the nomination was closed.  Mr. McNeese was unanimously elected.” (23)  No record is found that Mr. McNeese made as superintendent until July 6, 1889, and the following report was made by the new superintendent; “There are six schools in the parish that open for six moths in the year, three that open for ten months.  There are six schools that have teachers’ salaries varying from $25 to $30 per month.  Since November 1888, there has been spent $6,740, and average of 188 months of school at an average cost of $35 per month.” (24)

            At this same school board meeting a committee of five citizens was appointed to solicit funds for the erection of a school building in Lake Charles.  The funds when collected were to be paid over to a building committee.  The president of the board was authorized to borrow $1,500 to pay for labor and material for the school board, the lot and building to be mortgaged for that amount as security. The school board did not have the authority to levy taxes directly for the support of the public schools, but the police jury, which is the governing body of the parish, was permitted to make donations to the school funds.  In the newspaper we see that the police jury donated $3,000 to the parish public school funds. (25)

            On January 4, 1890, Superintendent McNeese rendered to the board his first annual report, as follows: (26)

Number of schools taught   24
Number of schools in operation                                    13
Organized by me in operation                                       7
Number of schools organized in district having no previous benefit of public schools                 8
Number of teachers under contract                               24
Male teachers                                                              13
Female teachers                                                           11
Primary grades                                                             7
Grammar grades                                                           17
New, enrolled this term                                                 15
Teachers enrolled previously                                         45
Pupils enrolled in 24 schools                                         840
 Making for each school                                                 35
 Number of teachers and length of term:
12 schools taught 3 months                      total 36 months
2 schools taught 4 months                       total 8 months
6 schools taught 5 months total 30 months
2 schools taught 6 months, total 12 months
2 schools taught 10 months, total 20 months
Making an average of nearly 4 ½ months of each school.
Number of schools in bad condition                              4
Number of schools having room for writing                  6
Number having little or no accommodation                   14
Number of schools taught                                             63
Number of months taught                                              155
Males enrolled                                                              1,064
Females enrolled                                                           887
Total enrollment                                                            1,951
Average attendance                                                      24
Average salary                                                             $38.65
Amount spent for each schoolhouse                              $95.00
Number of log schoolhouses                                         30
Number of frame schoolhouses                                    46
Number built this year                                                  7

In 1890 it was resolved that because of the Sugartown Male and Female School and its many advantages as an educational center, that it be instituted as a school of high grade.  M. E. Shaddock was the first principal and S. J. Iles was his assistant. (27)

            Our second high school of the parish was in Lake Charles.  The proceedings of the school board in 1888 show that purchase of the city block upon which Central School now stands was made from J. B. Watkins.  The building was known as Central High School of Lake Charles.  It was a frame building, two stories high, forty feet wide and eighty feet long.  The building was completed October 23, 1889.  The following is a statement of all amounts disbursed from the beginning of the enterprise until it was completed:

Complete cost of enterprise $5,596.19
Paid for lot  $800.00
Paid for grading lot  $15.00
Paid for plans and specifications of architect $50.00
Paid contractor from Third Ward funds $1,329.00
Paid contractor loan from J. B. Watkins $1,491.95
Paid contractor from subscription funds  $526.00
Paid Bradley-Ramsay Company $1,384.19
To Balance  $5,489.19
Obligations to be met $1,500.00
Interest on same, 1 year   $180.00
Due Bradley-Ramsay Company   $1,284.19
Amount available for town council $500.00

            Professor O. S. Dolby was elected principal and Miss Crossman and Miss Jenkins elected as second assistants; before the year closed five teachers were employed. (28)

            The following table will show principals and salaries: (29)

Year Position/Name Salary
1890-91 Principal, O. S. Dolby salary, $75 per month
First assistant $30
Second assistant $40
1892-94 Principal, C. H. Bucher salary, $90
First assistant $60
Second assistant $40
1894-95 Principal, J. E. Kenny salary, $110
First assistant $75
Second assistant $70
1895-96  Principal, J. E. Kenny salary, $130
1897-98 Principal, C. G. Shaffer salary, $100-$125
1898-99 Principal, C. G. Shaffer salary, $150
1900-01 Principal, J. N. Yeager salary, $100

            The Lake Charles College deserves to be mentioned in our school history.  It is situated in the southeastern part of the city. (30)  The main building is fifty-five feet by eighty-five feet, and there are three stories, sixteen, fourteen, and twelve feet high.  The building contains fourteen rooms.  It is located in the center of a large campus.  In the southwestern corner of the campus a cottage was located for the purpose of boarding students. (31)

            The building was loaned to Dr. Hubbel by J. B. Watkins for the purpose of organizing a college. The college, with Dr. Hubbel as its president, lived through a varied and eventful career of nine years and closed it doors in 1899.  The college opened again for educational purposes October 1, 1890 (?), with a faculty of five.  There were three departments – academic, preparatory, and collegiate.  Reverend Henry L. Hubbel, D. D., the president, was a native of Connecticut, and for several years he was pastor of the Congregationalist Church at Amherst, Mass.  Reverend A. R. Jones, a graduate of Amherst College, was a professor in the college; Mr. C. W. Little, a graduate of Fox Lake Seminary, Iowa, was professor of music.  The enrollment during the first month was thirty-nine. (32)

            Professor J. T. Barrett’s school, known as the Acadia College, was destroyed by fire, and permission was given to him to reopen his school in what is known as the Old College building.  Its reopening might be characterized as the last gasp before it finally expired from the effects of the disastrous fire in 1902.  This may be recorded the death of the second college within these classic walls. (33)

            In 1903 the school board purchased the old college with its sixteen-acre campus, and moved the high school grades there. (34)

            In 1890 the parish adopted the state board of education system of grading the teachers.  All teachers making an average of 85 on examination were to receive a first-grade certificate; a grade of 75 to 84, a second-grade certificate; and a grade of 50 to 69, a third-grade certificate.

            The following reports of Superintendent McNeese to the school board will speak for themselves: (35)


Number of schools in operation 57
Number of teachers    57
Male teachers  41
Female teachers 26
Average cost of 57 schools     $120.50
Average cost per month $36.50
Enrollment of white    2,138

            Four townships held elections and voted the sixteenth section for school purposes.  Two high schools were established.
            In 1891 we find Mr. McNeese saying that the Calcasieu police jury raised their donation form $3,900 to $7,500. (36)


1891 (37)

Number of schools taught  40
Average attendance of schools 1,610
Enrollment in schools  2,075
Number of months taught   150
Average monthly salary of teachers $46.20
Number of teachers      62


Amount of funds raised:

Poll taxes 3,000
Parish donations 7,500
Lake Charles (corporation)   1,500
Jennings (corporation)   700
Welsh (corporation) 500
State apportionment  2,500
Amount of 16th Section funds spent    302


1892 (38)

Number of schools in parish-white   103
Number of schools in parish-colored 11
Total        114
Pupils enrolled - white males         2,167
Pupils enrolled - white females  1,917
Pupils enrolled - colored males 263 
Pupils enrolled - colored females  258
Teachers employed - white males      68
Teachers employed - white females   43

At the close of the year 1892 Mr. McNeese completed his first four-year term as superintendent and was reelected for an additional four-year term. (39)


1893 (40)

Number of schools in parish - white  103
Number of schools in parish - colored  17
White and colored enrollment  5,273
Teachers - white   103
Teachers - colored     17

            A fight for better schools was taken up by the newspapers.  The Lake Charles Daily American commented on the crowded building and asked that the police jury do something to relieve the crowded conditions. (41)

            The same year we find Dequincy erecting a new building of frame construction, twenty-four feet by forty feet. (42)  Gillis community had petitioned for a school, provided the people would donate the land for a site. (43)  The most important action of the board meeting in April 1899, was a declaration in favor of a central graded school for each ward of the parish, where all children of the ward who desired a more extended education than that afforded by the district schools might be taught.  These central schools were to be graded and improved in every way and many ambitious children would be afforded an education which otherwise they would miss.  The idea of central ward school for each ward or township was to be tried in Calcasieu Parish.  The police jury was to make an appropriation for an extra teaching force and a longer term. (44)

            In 1903 a committee composed of Superintendent McNeese, D. B. Gorham, and Leon Chavanne called upon J. B. Watkins, who was a prominent capitalist and promoter of the city.  When Mr. Watkins was informed that they wished to buy the old college building for the use of a high school, he set a very nominal price of $7,000 on it and thirteen acres of ground on which it was situated.  The committee immediately accepted the offer and made arrangements to loan the Lake Charles district $7,000 from the Sixteenth Section funds of the parish school monies for the purchase. These funds represented the sale price of the sixteenth section of each township, granted by the federal government to the state for school purposes.  The principal could not be spent but must be invested and the interest used.  It was a part of this principal which was loaned to Lake Charles district and was to be paid back with interest at a later date. (45)

            In the fall of 1903 for the only time in Louisiana history, the parish school superintendent was required to stand as a candidate for election to his office by the popular vote of the people. (46)  The campaign closed in January 1904.  Three men were candidates for the office. Results were as follows: (47)


John McNeese  1,275

John H. Poe

M. E. Shaddock 701

It will be seen by the results that no one of the candidates had a majority of votes, so under the Louisiana system of double primaries, the two candidates having the highest number of votes ran again in the second primary.  Mr. McNeese was elected.  The following year the power of appointing the parish superintendent was restored to the parish school board.  Mr. McNeese never ran for office again.

            The schools were facing financial difficulties and when the parish school board met in regular session January 6, 1905, Dr. D. S. Perkins, president of the board, issued a statement to the press in which he remarked that he understood the local advisory board of Lake Charles’ schools would ask the parish board for a free hand in handling the city schools.  They wished a free hand in the matter of financing the school and in the control of the teachers.   Dr. Perkins further stated that he understood that the local board had made arrangements with the banks to operate the schools until a special tax could be voted. (48)

            At the request of the city board of school directors, City Attorney Overton drafted a bill providing for complete, separate control of the school affairs of the city, to be vested in the city board.  The bill provided for a board of five members to be elected at large from the city.  All members were required to read and write the English language, and to be qualified voters of the city.  The board was to have power to elect a superintendent and to fix his salary, and the superintendent was to have the same general qualifications as a parish superintendent. (49)

            In Mr. McNeese’s annual report for 1907, he stated that Calcasieu’s progress as to schools had not kept pace with industrial development; and the money invested for school supplies had been insignificant compared with the amount invested to develop resources generally.  It was calculated that the amount of revenue from the state and poll tax was not enough to give more than one month’s school in the entire parish.  The $25,000 from the police jury had stood without increase for some years, seven or eight, though the number of school children had increased from 8,000 to 15,000; and had it not been for a compensating influence of the special tax, then amounting to $40,000, the character of the school work would not have grown in strength, because of the shortening of the term and the less valuable time of the teacher. 

            The enrollment for the year was 7,935 white, and 1,260 colored.  Nine hundred were attending private schools. (50)

            The first thing to be considered in a school system is the question of finances.  Calcasieu ranks high in this respect, which is proof of the progressive ideas of the people.  The total receipts for the fiscal year July 1, 1909, to June 30, 1910, were $259,602.69.  The disbursements for the same period were $79,426.60, leaving a balance on hand of $80,176.03.  Of the receipts $86,300.18 came from special taxes voted by the people, and of the disbursements $110,881.46 was spent for salaries of white teachers.  There were employed in the white schools thirty-nine men and 178 women teachers.

            It had been the policy of the superintendent to operate the schools on a cash basis and the balance of $80,176.03 left in hand July 1, 1910, was for the purpose of opening the schools for the session beginning September 5, 1910.  By operating on a cash basis the school system got the interest on daily deposits in the banks, which was quite an item to be considered.

            Special taxes were voted in all wards of the parish except Nos. 5 and 10, and elections were to be held in these at an early date.  There were twenty special districts in which taxes had been voted, and about half the revenues received in the parish for schools was derived from special taxes voted by the people.

            In 1911 there were seven state approved high schools, as follows: Jennings, Welsh, Lake Charles, DeRidder, Merryville, Oakdale, and Vinton.  The average length of the school session for the high school was nine months and for the elementary schools eight months. (51)

            Consolidation of schools had taken place as fast as conditions and funds permitted.   In 1911 there were twenty-four wagonettes which proved very satisfactory. 

            Corn clubs and home economics clubs were organized in the parish. (52) These facts proved that Calcasieu had made wonderful improvements in an educational way.


            One of the important factors in the educational life of the parish was the public library.  On November 4, 1901, the North American Land and Timber Company took the initiative, through A. V. Eastman, to found a public library in Lake Charles.  Mr. Carnegie provided $10,000 for the erection of a free library building, and the directors of the North American Land and Lumber Company provided the present site.  The library ordinance was passed December 3, 1901.

            In June, 1903, the library board held its first regular meeting.   A. V. Eastman was elected president of the board and Miss Verona Keener was to serve as librarian.  Miss Keener was requested by the board to go to New Orleans and spend some time as assistant librarian under Mr. Beer, librarian of the Fisk and Howard Libraries, thus familiarizing herself with the details of her position as librarian.  On August 4, 1903, Miss Keener left for the city, spending ten days in the Howard Memorial Library, three months in the Fisk Library, and one month in the Tilton Memorial Library of Tulane.

            The Carnegie Library was opened in Lake Charles on Monday, March 7, 1904 with 760 volumes cataloged.  Miss Keener was librarian until December 1909, when she resigned.  Miss Laura Dees was then elected and held the position a year, and in December 1910, sent in her resignation.  Miss Ruby Gray was then elected. 

            The first annual meeting of the board of directors of the Carnegie Library was held January 6, 1904, in Mr. Eastman’s office.  Mr. Eastman served as its president until his death in April, 1905.

            At the next regular monthly meeting, Mr. Ramsey was elected president, which position he held until April 1906, at which time he tendered his resignation as he was moving from town.  In February 1907, L. Kaufman was elected president.

            In 1911 the board of directors were L. Kaufman, president; Robert Leake, secretary and treasurer; L. H. Moss, S. T. Woodring, George Locke, Dr. T. H. Watkins, Mayor C. B. Richard, and A. P. Pujo.

            In 1911 there were 3,708 volumes cataloged in the library.  In addition to this number were the reference room volumes which consisted mainly of encyclopedias and government books.  The membership in 1904 was 840 patrons; in 1911 the enrollment was 1,804, showing that the people of Calcasieu were eager for improvement. (53)


            The earliest paper in Calcasieu Parish was the Calcasieu Press, published at Opelousas, St. Landry Parish. (54)  It was established by Judge B. A. Martel and John A. Spence in June, 1855. (55)  It expired during the Civil War.  It was published every Saturday morning and was printed partly in English and partly in French.  It was very small, only four pages. (56)

            The Calcasieu Gazette, published in Lake Charles, appeared in 1858.  The Commercial and Pictorial Directory, New Orleans, 1858-1859, lists it as being published in English and French. (57)    It was under the management of William Meyer and brother.   The office was located at the corner of Ryan and Pujo Streets on what is now the site of the Charleston Hotel. (58) 

            The Lake Charles Echo made its initial appearance on February 16, 1868.  It was published weekly on Saturdays.  It was a Democratic paper and did not appear very regularly.  It was established by Judge J. D. Reed and Louis Leveque.  After changing ownership several times, it was bought by Captain W. J. Bryan in 1871.  The French section was omitted.  In March 1890, he sold it to a stock company and the next year it was edited by W. F. Schwing. (59)  Almost all of the front page of this paper was devoted to advertising.  The ads read from top to bottom of a column, with letters placed perpendicularly, and never extending over one column in width. (60)

            The Commercial and the Patriot were also organs of political factions.  The Commercial was founded by McCormack and Company in 1881, and was a weekly, as were the Echo and the Patriot, the latter established by H. J. Winfree in the late eighties. (61)

            “A Journal Devoted to Southwest Louisiana, the Home Circle and General News” was the slogan of the Weekly American,  founded in 1885 by J. B. Watkins. The Watkins Co., land owners and owners of the Watkins’s railroad, devoted the columns to boosting the country in their own interests.  The paper was issued every Wednesday, and its editor was Z. S. Everett.  The weekly was four columns in width and averaged sixteen pages per issue; it was fifteen and one-half inches long and ten and three-fourth inches in width.

            Poetry, jokes, fillers, and serial fiction appeared on the front page, but advertising was confined to the inside.  Drawn illustrations had titles guaranteed to stir the imagination. A young folks’ department was maintained by “Uncle Al,” precursor of the 1931 editor of “Junior Lake Charles.”  Children wrote long letters to “Dear Uncle.”

            Editorials in the American sometimes covered as much as one and three-fourths pages of space.  The page also carried letters from readers.  Front-page news consisted principally of excerpts from larger papers.  There were no headlines slanting from left to right and no italic type was used. (62)

            In August 1893, the Weekly Press was established by J. F. Reed from Peoria, Illinois.  Another Illinois newspaperman, Guy Beatty, who had been a competitor of Reed’s in Peoria, came south in February 1894, and was invited to Lake Charles by Reed, to “see the town.”   As a result of this visit the two men decided to join in the publication of the Press, Reed continuing editorial control and Beatty handling the business end.  The property was owned equally by the partners.  New equipment was added, including a job printing department, and on February 4, 1895, the first issue of the Daily Press was printed.

            After about a year, Beatty sold his interest in the Press, and Reed formed a stock company; but in the fall of 1896 Reed died of pneumonia and the property was later sold to William Sterling, who in turn was succeeded by W. H. Steidley.  Following Steidley, the Press was owned and edited by Robert W. Woolley for a time; he was formerly a member of the staff of the New York World.  Eventually the Press property came into the sole control of C. A. McCoy.

            J. H. Neal, a nephew of J. B. Watkins, founder of the Weekly American, started the Daily American in 1897.  Watkins, however, retained ownership of the paper.

            Both the American and the Press were live and interesting daily papers, but proved too heavy a drain on the business community, and at no time were profitable to their owners.

            Early in 1897, after an absence of about a year in Houston, Texas, Beatty returned to edit the National Republican, the name of which was changed to the Lake Charles Tribune.  The Watkins Co. decided to sell the American in 1898.  In the fall of that year Beatty arranged the consolidation of his own Tribune with the Commercial (managed by Michael and Edward McCormack) and with the American.  The merger was completed on December 8.  Beatty was joined by William E. Krebs, a newspaperman from Monticello, Illinois, and the business was organized on a fifty-fifty basis.  The two papers issued were titled Daily American and Weekly Commercial Tribune.  Publication continued from the Daily American plant, on the site of the present Lake Charles Association of Commerce Building, Broad and Hodges Streets.  After a few months the plant moved to Ryan Street, next door to the First National Bank.

            The Echo office was burned about 1900, and the owner did not reenter business, so that the city had two papers, the American and the Press, as rivals, each printing a daily and a weekly edition.

            In 1904 Beatty sold his interests in the American to Krebs who continued as publisher and owner for the next five years.  Beatty and A. M. Jones bought the American and the Press in 1909, formed a stock company, and took in Krebs as a third member.   In the fall of 1909 the organization of the American Press was completed, and on January 1, 1910, the papers were merged under the title Lake Charles American Press. (63) 

            Reaching fifty-two communities of southwest Louisiana, the American Press has become one of the most progressive papers in the state.  As early as 1912, it was recognized for leadership.  In that year it was chosen by the Oregon School of Journalism as one of the fifty-two best country newspapers in the United States. (64)



            Baptists were the pioneers of religion in Calcasieu Parish.  They established the first church on Calcasieu River.  It was called Antioch Church in 1830, and some years afterwards it was removed to Big Woods about ten miles from the original site.

            Next came the Methodists; the first church was called Ryan’s Chapel and was located about eight miles from Lake Charles on the west fork of Calcasieu River.  After Lake Charles was laid out other denominations organized churches. (1)

            In Calcasieu the preaching day brought the whole community together, by foot, horse, or ox-wagon, and the latter was loaded with good things for the dinner on the ground.


The first Methodist Episcopal Church, South, located at the corner of Broad and Bilbo Streets, had the distinction of being the first Protestant church built in Lake Charles.  The church appeared in the minutes of the Louisiana conference of 1847 as a part of “Calcasieu circuit,” with Reverend Robert Gill, pastor.  Lake Charles circuits (2) appeared in the minutes for the first time in 1870.  The present church site was purchased in 1873 and the building of the church began that year.  In 1876 the Sunday school was formally organized and began its career of effective service.  Otis M. Marsh was the first superintendent.  Prior to this time the members met in a union Sunday school at the Masonic Lodge.  In 1880 the Lake Charles church was made a station with Reverend Silas H. Cooper as pastor.  In 1900 the church was remodeled, and on September 30, 1900, it was dedicated by Bishop Charles B. Galloway.  It was under the efficient pastorate of R. W. Tucker that the remodeling took place and the parsonage was built. (3)  All through the years the church has made steady progress and has been a vital force in the religious life of Lake Charles and the parish.


            To write the history of Calcasieu and omit the history of the Catholic Church would be like writing an American history and leaving out the Revolutionary War.  The great Roman Catholic Church, through its missionaries, the Jesuits and others, made it possible for civilization, in its march of progress, to make headway.  Hardships are not considered by the consecrated men of this church; they have blazed the way for the settlement of many sections of the country, and have played an important part in the settlement of Calcasieu. It was a band of Catholics who were expelled by the British in Canada, and who made their way through trackless forests to this section of the country.  When Calcasieu was formed, the Catholic Church was organized in the early ‘fifties.  The first property bought by the Catholics was on May 18, 1857, when the front half of the Ryan Street property was purchased for $375 from Siruis M. Pithou.  On this property the first mission church in Lake Charles was established.  The building then erected sufficed for the needs of the parish until after the Civil War; additional property was purchased from Reverend Father Raymond on February 11, 1867.  On March 30, 1869, another piece of land was bought from William Hutchins.

            From 1854 to 1890 the spiritual needs of the parish, then a part of Opelousas, received attention from the Opelousas priests.  In 1866 and 1867 Father Simon ministered to the spiritual wants of the people, receiving help at times between 1870-1879 from Father Curé.  From 1879-1886 Father Kelly was in charge of the work in the parish, with Lake Charles as his headquarters.  It was Father Kelly who brought the Catholic sisters to Lake Charles to teach in the Catholic schools, and who erected the first church.  Father Kelly was succeeded by Father Fallon, who remained in charge of the work from 1886 to 1891.  Father A. Droosaert’s parish was limited to that territory consisting of the eastern part of Calcasieu, that section east of the Watkins Railroad and south of Bayou Blue.  Father Vandinen was placed in charge of Jennings, but later he was moved to Lake Charles, where he remained from 1892 to 1902.

            In 1892 Father Cramers was sent to Lake Charles and has been the priest in charge since that time.  The limits of the parish now are the same as they were in 1892.  Besides the church in Lake Charles, there are chapels in Oakdale, Oberlin, Iowa, Sulphur and two in course of construction, one at Vinton and the other at Kinder.  The fire of 1910 destroyed the following buildings: the Presbytery, built by Father Vencence; the church built by Father Kelly; the convent which consisted of the sisters’ home and the boarding department of the school; the girls’ school, a brick building; the boys’ school; and the Catholic Knights’ Hall and the Parochial Hall. (4)


            The first Baptist church in Lake Charles was organized January 25, 1880, in the old courthouse.  Six men and eleven women, Elder Scofield, and Deacon Nathan Smart of Bagdad presided.  It was decided to take steps to erect a church building at once. (5)     

            Reverend A. P. Scofield was at that time a missionary in Lake Charles.  Membership was as follows: S. D. Read, G. M. Gossett, W. D. Jenkins, S. J. Norwood, N. P. Smart, Reverend A. P. Scofield, E. A. Woodrome; Mrs. Martha Gill, Mrs. Clara Jenkins, Mrs. Delia Bryan, Mrs. Catherine Norwood, Mrs. J. McClelland, Mrs. A. Collins, and Sarah Reed.  During that year there were added to the church six other members.  The building of the house in which to worship was considered no small undertaking, but firm in their faith and with an indomitable Christian spirit, and believing in the ultimate success of their prayerful efforts, they set about the undertaking.  It became necessary for them to excuse their pastor from duties in order that he might get out and travel in the interest of the building fund.  By the end of the year they had met with sufficient encouragement to let the contract for the building which stood for nearly a quarter century at the corner of Ryan and Iris Streets.

            During the year 1881, Reverend W. H. Robert acted as missionary to the church, but he was with the church only a short time, during which there were three members received into the church.

            The next regular pastor of the church was Reverend A. J. Jerry in 1883.  He served until September of that year, when the church was greatly saddened by his death.

            In 1884 L. C. Kellis became pastor, in 1885 Reverend D. F. Heard, and in 1886 Reverend A. P. Scofield was again called to the pastorate.

            In September 1887, Reverend Scofield resigned. In 1888 Reverend R. W. Merrill was elected, but declined.  In April G. W. Rogers was called and remained three years.  Brother Rogers was succeeded by T. G. Algred in 1892 and remained for six years.  Reverend M. M. Virgin came for a year, and in 1898 M. E. Weaver became pastor, remaining until 1904.  Then came H. H. Shell.

            On April 24, 1910, a new $30,000 building, located at the corner of Pujo and Hodges Streets, was dedicated. (6)


            Mrs. J. E. LaBesse tells the story of the women Presbyterians in Calcasieu.  Mrs. LeBesse moved to Lake Charles in 1881.   After living there for two years without hearing a sermon by a Presbyterian minister, she wrote to F. W. Lewis, who was at that time pastor of the Presbyterian Churches at Lafayette and Opelousas.  He came to Lake Charles and they looked up and called on all the Presbyterians they could find, and afterwards Mr. Lewis came and preached to them every fifth Sunday. (7)

            On April 19, 1888, Reverend Lewis and Elder L. A. Black of Opelousas organized a church of the Presbyterian faith and order in the jurisdiction of the Presbytery of Louisiana. (8)  It was composed of sixteen charter members.  Mrs. LaBesse is the only one still living. (9)

            As early as 1885 collections were being made for the erection of a building.  Mrs. LaBesse says that she collected the first dollar to buy a lot on which to build.  This lot was on Hodges Street, and was purchased from Captain Bryan.  It is said that another party wanted to obtain the lot so the Presbyterians were given only one day in which to raise the $150 for it. Judge Kearney made the first donation. (10)  On March 16, 1890, the new house of worship was erected on the corner of Hodges and Mill Streets.  Reverend C. W. Lyman took charge of the church in October, and was installed as pastor. (11)  The following list of pastors has served the church:  D. L. H. Hughes, 1899; J. Y. Allison, 1900-1910.  In 1900 the property at the corner of Broad and Ford Streets was purchased and the church moved there. (12)


            The history of the Episcopal church dates from 1885, when the Reverend E. W. Hunter, the bishop missionary, gathered the members of this church in Lake Charles and organized a mission under the name of the Good Shepherd.  The first church was located on Hodges Street between Pujo and Kirby Streets.  In 1894 the present site on Kirkman and North Division Streets was purchased. 

            In 1896 the mission was organized into an incorporated parish and began its organic life as such under the rectorship of the Reverend Joseph H. Spearing.  The clergymen officiating as ministers of the organization were the following: (13) George Davis Adams, C. D. Mock, J. E. Hammond, J. Marborne, Joseph Spearing, O. H. Borbarg, Albert H. Edrosk, John Huntley, J. W. Carter Johnson, Caleb B. K Weed.


            The history of the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church is one of great interest.  It begins with the year 1887, when a number of German immigrants from the Island of Folhr, in the North Sea, landed in Lake Charles through the influence of Captain Goos.  The necessity of a German Lutheran missionary for this section of the south was seen at once, and Reverend P. Roeman was called as a missionary.   In the spring of 1888 the St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized and Reverend S. Hoernicke installed as pastor.  Soon the congregation purchased several lots, which at that time were “piney woods,” and they began plans for a house of worship.  On December 2, 1888, their house was dedicated.  In September of the following year a parochial school was opened and a building erected for this purpose.

            The services had been held in German, but in the year 1895, English services were introduced.  We find this congregation changing pastors often, which has worked a hardship on the people.  The following list of pastors served: (14)  Reverend Hoernicke, 1888-1892; J. Kossmann, 1892-1895; Kuffle, 1895-1902.

Methodist Episcopal (North)

          The Methodist Episcopal Church (North) had its beginning in 1890, when Bishop Vincent of Chatauqua fame presided at the Louisiana conference at Shreveport, and Cyrus Armstrong King, ex-presiding elder and who at that time was serving at a large church in the southwest Kansas conference, was appointed to Lake Charles.

           Work preparatory to the organization had been done by Reverend W. H. Cline, presiding elder of the Lake Charles district, and Dr. S. A. Knapp.  These men, coming from other states and with boundless faith in Lake Charles and in the parish and its great possibilities, had a wide vision of the spiritual as well as the temporal needs of the community.  They arrived on the eve of great advancement, and organized the Methodist Episcopal Church, March 2, 1890.  Reverend Cyrus King preached his first sermon to his people at 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon, March 2, 1890.  At the close of the services the church was organized with fourteen members.  Two weeks later the Presbyterians moved into their new church and the Methodists occupied the old Masonic Hall in their stead and held services there for nearly eight years. (15)

Minor Sects

           A Christian Science Society was organized 1907, but in 1912 it was disbanded. (16)  On March 20, 1909, a Seventh Day Adventist Church was organized, but most of the members moved away, and it was not reorganized until many years later. (17)

           A social service agency was the Salvation Army Post, established in Lake Charles in 1903. (18)

           From the above statements it is not difficult to see that Calcasieu was the home of many churches and God-loving people.  The different churches have also served in a social and charitable way for the people of the parish. 

Baptist Orphanage

            The institution known as the Louisiana Baptist Orphanage is not only the pride of Calcasieu Parish, but of a host of Baptists in the state.

            In October 1903, twenty-five orphans were brought by the Louisiana Baptists to Lake Charles and located in an orphanage, with Mrs. Kate Hawkins as matron.  Prior to this the orphanage had made a humble beginning in Keachie with ten children in a borrowed building.

            The Louisiana Baptist State Convention appointed a Board of Trustees to direct the affairs of the orphanage.  The president of the Board was W. H. Managan, Sr., who served faithfully and gave generously of his time and money to build up and maintain the institution, the cost of which was approximately $800 a month, which was raised by subscription all over the state, from either individuals or churches.  The people of Lake Charles did their share in supporting the orphanage, and most of the money needed for the maintenance of this school was spent in Lake Charles. (19)

St. Patrick’s Sanitarium

            There is another institution in Calcasieu where no one who needs attention is ever turned from its doors - this is the St. Patrick’s Sanitarium.   The Catholics of Lake Charles began agitating the question of building a sanitarium in the city, so that when the poor needed attention, it could be given them, and at the same time furnish a suitable place for the care of patients by the physicians who prefer treating the sick and performing their operations in a hospital.  The result of the agitation was the establishment of a sanitarium on March 17, 1907, when the doors of the institution were opened to the public.  It was a fitting celebration of the natal day of the patron saint of the down-trodden people of Erin’s Isle that the sanitarium that bears his name should be opened on the day of his birth.

            A board of Sisters of Charity were sent to take charge of the sanitarium.  History is too full of good works of the band of devoted women to tell what they have done since coming to Lake Charles and assuming charge of the hospital.  The Sisters attend to all the nursing themselves.

            The hospital building is situated in a live oak grove on the car line to Shell Beach and is an imposing brick building of two stories.  It is arranged so that all rooms are outside ones and face a veranda which surrounds the entire building.  Each room is supplied with modern facilities.

            While no charges are made for treatment, those who are able are expected to pay.  The people of Lake Charles and Calcasieu are doing their part and everyone points with pride to the sanitarium as an attraction to the parish. (20)


Primary Sources

Public Documents and Records:

American State Papers, Public Lands, 8 vols. (Washington: Gales and Seaton, 1832-1861).

Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Records, 1840-1912.

Calcasieu Parish School Board Minutes, 1890-1912.

Reports of the State Superintendent of Education to the General Assembly of Louisiana, 1855, 1858, 1871, 1876-1912 (New Orleans and Baton Rouge). Title varies.

Reports of the State Department of Agriculture and Immigration to the General Assembly of Louisiana, 1896-1910 (Baton Rouge). Title varies.

Reports of the Postmaster-General, 1868-1910 (Washington: Government Printing Office).

United States Census Reports, 1840-1910 (Washington, D.C.).

United States Geological Survey Bulletin, Nos. 426-429 (Washington, D.C., 1910).

United States Official Postal Guide, 1904 (Washington: Government Printing Office).

Private Records:

A. M. Mayo files, Lake Charles.

Lake Charles American Press, office files.

Union Sulphur Company, office records, Sulphur, Louisiana.


Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise, May 1, 1920; January 25, 1930.

Calcasieu Press (Lake Charles), 1858, 1860.

Echo (Lake Charles), 1868-1891.

Lake Charles American, 1883-1903.

Lake Charles American Press, 1906-1934.

Lake Charles Commercial, 1881-1899.

Lake Charles Daily American, 1899, 1903-1906.

Lake Charles Daily Press, 1895, 1907.

Lake Charles Weekly American, 1885, 1889.

Times Picayune (New Orleans), July 26, 1934.

Washington Evening Star, April 2, 1925.


DeBow’s Review (New Orleans), 1846-1860.

Gulf Ports Magazine, March 1921.

Journal of Southwest Louisiana, 1911.

Special Bulletins:

Lake Charles’ Commercial and Industrial Advantages (pamphlet issued by the Passenger Department of the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1910).

Lake Charles Chamber of Commerce Bulletin, 1910.

Personal Interviews:

Mrs. Rosteet; Miss Annie Ryan; A. M. Mayo; Harry Geary; R. Krause; Mrs. A. LeBleu; Cecilia Guintard; George W. Ryan; Mary Kirby Bunker; Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires; Professor J. T. Barrett; Helen Wentz.

Scrap Books:

Miss Maude Reid; Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.


Charles E. Cary, Acting Assistant Postmaster-General, to the author, October 28, 1932.

Mrs. J. E. LaBesse to the author.

M. E. Lantz to the author.

Secondary Sources

Belisle, John G., History of Sabine Parish, Louisiana (Many, La.: Sabine Banner Press, 1912).

Darby, William, A Geographical Description of the State of Louisiana, the Southern Part of the State of Mississippi, and Territory of Alabama (New York: James Olmsted, 1817).

Fortier, Alcée, Louisiana; Comprising Sketches of Parishes, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form, 3 vols. (Century Historical Association, 1914).

Ginn, Mildred K., “A History of Rice Production in Louisiana to 1896” (M.A. Thesis, Louisiana State University, 1930).

Perrin, William Henry, Southwest Louisiana, Biographical and Historical (New Orleans:  Gulf Publishing Company, 1891).

Read, William A., Louisiana Place-Names of Indian Origin (L.S.U. Bulletin, Vol. XIX, N.S. No. 2; Baton Rouge, 1927).

Tinker, Edward Larocque, Bibliography of the French Newspapers and Periodicals of Louisiana  (Reprinted from Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society: Worcester, Mass., October, 1932).


            Grace Ulmer was born November 1, 1898, at Shubuta, Mississippi.  She attended Jones County Agriculture High School, Ellisville, Mississippi, from which she graduated in 1916.  She received her A. B. degree from Judson College, Marion, Alabama, in 1920.  She entered the Graduate School of the Louisiana State University in the summer of 1931.  She is at present teaching in the Lake Charles High School, Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she has been employed for the last fifteen years.



Chapter I


1. Perrin, W. H., Southwest Louisiana, 119.

2. Ibid.

3. Fortier, Alcée, Louisiana, I, 147.

4. Belisle, John G., History of Sabine Parish, Louisiana, 69.

5. Ibid., 66.

6. Fortier, op. cit., I, 147.

7. American State Papers, Public Lands, II, 844.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid., IV, 142.

10. Read, W. A., Louisiana Place-Names of Indian Origin, 15.

11. Interview with Mrs. Rosteet, November, 1933.  

12. Lake Charles American Press, June 25, 1911. Article by Mrs. T. H. Mandell.

13. Ibid., November 4, 1931. Article by Robert Jones.

14. Ibid.

15. Perrin, op. cit., 123.

16. Ibid.

17. Interview with Miss Annie Ryan, December, 1934.

18. Perrin, op. cit., 129-130.

19. Calcasieu Police Jury Minutes, 1841-1846, p. 1.

20. Perrin, op. cit., 120.

21. Fortier, op. cit., I, 148.

22. United States Census Report, 1840, p. 245.

23. Perrin, op. cit., 132.

24. Fortier, op. cit., I, 148.

25. Lake Charles American Press, November 8, 1906.

26. Perrin, op. cit., 120. 

27. Lake Charles American Press, Special Edition, 1916.

28. United States Census Report, 1840, p. 240.

29. Perrin, op. cit., 122.

30. Ibid., 120.

31. Darby, William, A Geographical Description of the State of Louisiana, 151.

32. United States Census Report, 1840, pp. 61-62.

33. Ibid., 245.

34. Ibid., 241.

35. Ibid.

36. Lake Charles American Press, October 8, 1934.

37. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.


Chapter II


1. Report of the State Department of Agriculture and Immigration, 1900-1901, p. 100.
2. Lake Charles American Press, June 26, 1911.
3. Ibid.
4. Report of the State Department of Agriculture and Immigration, 1900-1901, p. 103.
5. DeBow’s Review, I, (1846), 324.
6. Ginn, Mildred K., “A History of Rice Production in Louisiana to 1896” (M. A. Thesis, Louisiana State University, 1930), 10.
7. Ibid., 15.
8. Ibid., 18-19.  
9. Ibid., 34.
10. Ibid., 35.
11. Lake Charles American Press, November 9, 1916.
12. Ibid.
13. Ginn, op. cit., 40.
14. A. M. Mayo files.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid.
17. Ibid.

18. Journal of Southwest Louisiana, 1911.
19. Lake Charles American Press, Special Edition, 1916.
20. Ibid.
21. Report of the State Department of Agriculture and Immigration, 1896, pp. 405-406.
22. Ibid., 1896-1910.
23. Ibid., December, 1897, p. 526.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid., 1902, p. 181.

26. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.


Chapter III


1. Lake Charles American Press, June 29, 1932.

2. Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Records, March, 1857.

3. Beaumont Enterprise, January 25, 1930.

4. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

5. Interview with A. M. Mayo, February, 1935.

6. Echo (Lake Charles), July 2, 1879.

7. Interview with A. M. Mayo, February, 1935.

8. Lake Charles’ Commercial and Industrial Advantages (pamphlet issued by the Southern Pacific Railroad, 1910).

9. Ibid.

10. Calcasieu Police Jury Records, September 14, 1840.
11. Lake Charles’ Commercial and Industrial Advantages, 1910.
12. Lake Charles American Press, June, 28, 1916.

13. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

14. Echo (Lake Charles), February 9, 1884.

15. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

16. Ibid.

17. Beaumont Enterprise, January 25, 1930.  Article by Robert Jones.

18. United States Official Postal Guide, 1904.

19. Ibid., 1910.


Chapter IV


1. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1931. Article by Robert Jones.

2. Interview with Harry Geary, February, 1935.

3. Mayo files.

4. Lake Charles American Press, 1917.

5. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

6. Ibid.

7. A. M. Mayo files.

8. Perrin, op. cit., 157.

9. Interview with R. Krause, February, 1935.

10. Perrin, op. cit., 157.

11. A. M. Mayo files.

12. Interview with Harry Geary.

13. Ibid.

14.  Lake Charles American Press, June 9, 1928.

15. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

16. A. M. Mayo files.

17. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

18. A. M. Mayo files.

19. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

20. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

21. Ibid.

22. A. M. Mayo files.

23. Interview with Harry Geary.

24. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

25. Lake Charles American Press, June 26, 1911.

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.


Chapter V


1. United States Geological Survey, Bulletin, Nos. 426-429, p. 99.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.

4. Union Sulphur Company Office Records, Sulphur, Louisiana.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. Times Picayune (New Orleans), July 26, 1934.

8. Washington Evening Star, April 2, 1925.

9. Gulf Ports Magazine, March, 1921.

10. Washington Evening Star, April 2, 1925.

11. Gulf Ports Magazine, March, 1921.

12. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

13. United States Geological Survey, Bulletin, Nos. 426-429, pp. 50-52.

14. Ibid., 60.

15. Ibid., 60-89.

16. Ibid.

17. Ibid., 100.

18. Ibid., 103.

19. Lake Charles American Press, Special Edition, 1911.

20. Ibid.

21. Ibid.


Chapter VI

1. Perrin, op. cit., 123.

2. Ibid.

3. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1931. Article by Robert Jones.

4. Perrin, op. cit., 123-124.

5. Interview with Mrs. A. LeBleu.

6. Perrin, op. cit., 124.

7. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1931. Article by Robert Jones.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Echo (Lake Charles), October 21, 1869.  Henry Clay Warmoth was the carpetbag governor of Louisiana.

13. Lake Charles Daily Press, 1895, Special Edition.

14. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

15. Ibid.

16. Lake Charles Daily Press, 1895, Special Edition.

17. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

18. Lake Charles Daily Press, June 2, 1895.

19. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1916.

20. Lake Charles’ Commercial and Industrial Advantages, 1910.

21. Ibid.

22. Lake Charles American Press, December 10, 1911.


Chapter VII


1. Calcasieu Police Jury Minutes, 1841-1846, pp. 4-5.

2. Ibid., 61-67.

3. Lake Charles American Press, January 9, 1933.

4. Ibid.

5. Ibid., November 4, 1931.

6. Perrin, op. cit., 126.

7. Lake Charles American Press, March 24, 1933. 

8. Interview with Cecelia Guintard. 

9. Lake Charles American Press, February 1, 1917.
10. Interview with George W. Ryan, 1928.
11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Interview with Mary Kirby Bunker.

14. Lake Charles American Press, January 8, 1914.

15. Letter, Charles E. Cary, Acting Assistant Postmaster-General, to the author, October 28, 1932.

16. Perrin, op. cit., p. 150.

17. Lake Charles American Press, February 1, 1917.

18. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, June, 1895.

19. Beaumont Enterprise, May 1, 1920.

20. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

21. Calcasieu Police Jury Minutes, 1852, p. 79.

22. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

23. Calcasieu Police Jury Minutes, January 25, 1875.

24. Ibid., February 19, 1879.

25. Echo (Lake Charles), July 2, 1879.

26. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

27. Ibid.

28. Ibid.

29. Ibid.

30. Ibid.

31. Ibid.

32. Perrin, op. cit., 148.

33. Lake Charles American, January 28, 1903.

34. Ibid.

35. Ibid., July 2, 1907.

36. Lake Charles Daily Press, September 2, 1907.

37. United States Postmaster-General, Reports, 1884-1909.

38. Beaumont Enterprise, May 1, 1920.

39. Ibid.

40. Perrin, op. cit., 163.

41. Ibid., 168.

42. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1933.

43. Ibid.

44. Ibid.

45. Ibid.

46. Ibid.

47. Ibid., Special Edition, 1911.

48. Ibid., October 21, 1933.

49. Ibid.

50. Ibid.

51. Ibid.

52. Perrin, op. cit., 160.

53. Ibid., 172.

54. Ibid., 200.

55. Ibid., 138.

56. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1933.

57. Ibid.

58. Perrin, op. cit., 159.

59. Ibid.

60. United States Postmaster-General, Reports, 1887-1905.

61. Perrin, op. cit., 159.

62. Ibid., 145-146.

63. Ibid.

64. Letter from Charles E. Cary, Acting Assistant Postmaster-General, October 28, 1932.

65. Mayo files.

66. Lake Charles American Press, November 15, 1932.

67. Ibid.

68. Ibid.

69. Ibid.

70. Ibid.

71. Ibid.

72. Ibid.

73. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

74. Ibid.           

75. Lake Charles American Press, November 15, 1932.

76. Ibid.

77. Ibid.


Chapter VIII


1. Echo (Lake Charles), October 22, 1869.

2. Lake Charles American Press, September 6, 1906. Article by S. O. Shaddock.

3. Ibid., January 6, 1906.

4. Echo (Lake Charles), December 11, 1868.

5. Ibid., September 26, 1868.

6. Ibid., April 25, 1874.

7. Ibid., May 6, 1877.

8. Ibid., April 10, 1880.

9. Ibid., September 10, 1879.

10. Ibid., November 8, 1880.

11. Ibid., March 29, 1899.

12. Ibid., May 3, 1899.

13. Lake Charles Commercial, July 25, 1888.

14. Lake Charles American, May 8, 1889.

15. Ibid., December 5, 1889.

16. Echo (Lake Charles), May 2, 1891.

17. Ibid., May 22, 1891.

18. Ibid., June 17, 1881.

19. Ibid., March 20, 1882.

20. Ibid., June 15, 1882.

21. Ibid., August 18, 1882.

22. Lake Charles American, October 24, 1883.

23. Ibid., April 6, 1886.

24. Ibid

25. Lake Charles American, March 10, 1887.

26. Ibid., November 15, 1887.

27. Ibid., December 9, 1887.

28. Interview with A. M. Mayo, February, 1935.

29. Lake Charles American, September 10, 1900.

30. Lake Charles American Press, April 1, 1910.

31. Ibid., April 8, 1910.

32. Ibid., January 13, 1911


Chapter IX


1. Calcasieu Police Jury Minutes, November 2, 1841, p. 33.

2. Ibid., 1843, p. 45.

3. Ibid., January 6, 1846, p. 104.

4. Ibid., June, 1846, p. 114.

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid., 1848, p. 19.

7. Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education to the General Assembly of Louisiana, January, 1855, pp. 65-66.

8. Police Jury Minutes of Calcasieu, March, 1855, p. 114.

9. Ibid., March, 1857, p. 13.

10. Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education, 1858, pp. 13-18.

11. Calcasieu Press, October, 1860.

12. Miss Maude Reid’s Scrap Book.

13. Report of the State Superintendent of Public Education, 1871, pp. 163-180.

14. Ibid., January, 1876, pp. 107-109. 

15. Ibid., 1877, p. 24.

16. Lake Charles American Press, November 4, 1931. Article by Robert Jones.

17. Lake Charles Commercial, October 22, 1881.

18. Lake Charles American, June 2, 1906.

19. Lake Charles Commercial, June 20, 1882.

20. Ibid., August 20, 1881.

21. Ibid., October 1, 1881.

22. Interview with Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.

23. Minutes of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish, September 8, 1888.

24. Ibid., July 6, 1889.

25. Lake Charles Weekly American, April 24, 1889.

26. Minutes of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish, January 4, 1890.

27. Record of School Board Proceedings of Calcasieu Parish, 1890, pp. 74-78.

28. Minutes of the Calcasieu Parish School Board, April 5, 1890.

29. Lake Charles Daily Press, Special Edition, 1895.

30. Records of Calcasieu Parish School Board, 1890, pp. 94-100.

31. Perrin, op. cit., 147.

32. Ibid., 148.

33. Interview with Professor J. T. Barrett.

34. Interview with Helen Wentz.

35. Minutes of School Board of Calcasieu Parish, January 5, 1890.

36. Interview with Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.

37. Minutes of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish, May 31, 1891.

38. Ibid., January 5, 1893.

39. Interview with Mrs. Emma McNeese Squires.

40. Minutes of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish, 1893.

41. Lake Charles Daily American, February 8, 1899.

42. Ibid., March 13, 1899.

43. Ibid., April 14, 1899.

44. Ibid.

45. Lake Charles American, April 23, 1903.

46. Lake Charles Daily American, October 28, 1903.

47. Ibid., January 21, 1904.

48. Ibid., January 6, 1905.

49. Ibid., April 14, 1906.

50. Minutes of the School Board of Calcasieu Parish, October 17, 1907.

51. Lake Charles American Press, Special Edition, 1911.

52. Ibid.

53. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

54. Tinker, Edward Larocque, Bibliography of French Newspapers and Periodicals of Louisiana, 108.

55. Ibid.

56. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

57. Tinker, op. cit., 99.

58. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

59. Tinker, op. cit., 95.

60. Lake Charles American Press office files.

61. Ibid.

62. Ibid.

63. Ibid.

64. Ibid.


Chapter X


1. Perrin, op. cit., 146.

2. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

3. Lake Charles American Press, Southwest Louisiana Country Building Edition, 1910.

4. Ibid., June 28, 1911.

5. Echo (Lake Charles), January 31, 1880.

6. Lake Charles American Press, Southwest Louisiana Country Building Edition, 1910.

7. Letter from Mrs. J. E. LaBesse.

8. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

9. Letter from Mrs. J. E. LaBesse.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid., November 4, 1916.

15. Ibid.

16. Interview with A. M. Mayo.

17. Ibid.

18. Letter from M. E. Lantz.

19. Lake Charles American Press, June 28, 1911.

20. Ibid.

Materials in Archives and Special Collections Department do not circulate.

Library Home Page | Archives Home Page | Archives Collection Page

Copyright 2004 McNeese State University