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Chapter 45

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
History of New Orleans

by
John Kendall

published by The Lewis Publishing Company,
Chicago and New York, 1922

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 47

This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

p742 Chapter XLVI
The Annexed Towns

New Orleans, as laid out by De La Tour and Pauger, was bounded in front by the Mississippi River; in the rear, by what is now Rampart Street; on the south, by Esplanade Avenue, and on the north, by that canal, the name of which survives in the name of the principal thoroughfare of the present-day city. The tiny area thus enclosed was the "vieux carré," or, as the early inhabitants called it, the "cité." In the course of time the nascent metropolis overleaped these frontiers, and suburbs, or "fauxbourgs," sprang up both above and below. Above the canal arose the "cities" of Jefferson, Lafayette and Carrollton. Below Esplanade Street the princely estate of the Marigny family was divided into lots, and became the site of a faubourg which bore their name. The other fauxbourgs were Trémé, Declouet, Delord, Annunciations, Washington, Ste. Marie, and Nouveau Marigny. Moreover, there were several villages which grew up near the city boundaries, and which were ultimately incorporated in it. Among these were Greenville, Burtheville, Bouligny, Hurstville, Fribourg, Rickerville, Mechanicsville, Belleville, Bloomington, Freetown, Metairieville, Milneburg, Feinerville, Gentilly, Marley, Foucher and St. Johnsburg. On the opposite side of the Mississippi lay the "city" of Algiers, with its dependencies. Most of these names disappeared when the settlements which bore them were absorbed in the growing city. Some of them still occur in surveys, and real estate records; only a few, like West End and Spanish Fort, still have meaning in the life of the community. Gentilly, occupying the rear of the Third District, between the tracks of the Pontchartrain and the Northeastern railroads, still remains in a sense separate. Milneburg, too, by virtue of its situation at the terminus of the Pontchartrain Railroad, will probably continue for many years apart from the other settled region. The development which has engulfed all these entities in the single city, has taken place within the memory of persons still living.

The most important of the annexed towns was Algiers. The history of this town runs back almost as far into the past as its largest neighbor's. The site originally formed part of the King's Plantations, an immense tract of land stretching from the fort at Plaquemines all the way to the Indian village of Chetimachos (Donaldsonville) and Fort Rosalie (Natchez). LePage du Pratz, who was made superintendent of this district in 1718, stated that in his time large quantities of rice, corn and indigo were cultivated there, with the help of negroes who were imported into the colony for that purpose. Much of the produce was sold to the colonists, but a part was exported, as occasion offered, to the Spanish settlement at Pensacola. After the departure of LePage du Pratz from Louisiana, the plantation seems to have been neglected. We hear nothing of it for a long time. The negroes were sold to planters on the "German Coast," in what are now the parishes of St. James and St. Charles. It is not clear that LePage du Pratz built a settlement opposite New Orleans. It is said that Pauger, Bienville's engineer, was one of the first proprietors of what was then called Pointe St. Antoine (afterwards called p743Point Marigny), at what is today the end of Vallette Street.1 The earliest extant map of the region, drawn by M. de Serigny, and preserved in the Depot des Cartes, at Paris, dates from 1719, and shows only the French powder magazines, located at what is now the corner of Bouny and Morgan streets. Later on, in the Spanish times, these magazines seem still to have existed, at the head of the Rue de la Poudrière — Powder Street, as it came to be known. Whether there were other buildings in the vicinity before the time of O'Reilly is doubtful.

The earliest date in the history of Algiers is February 3, 1770, when that part of the King's Plantation extending from what is now Verret Street to the present boundary of the little town of McDonoghville, was deeded by the Spanish government to Luis Bonrepo. It appears that, in the previous December, the Cabildo had enacted a series of ordinances authorizing the alienation of unsettled crown lands. The governor was authorized to contract with individuals, to be known as "pobladores," to take over portions of these properties, on condition of putting them under cultivation. Bonrepo's grant was one of these. What he did to fulfil his obligation is not known. His holdings were, however, sold on December 12, 1770, to Jacques Rixner; who, on October 31, 1777, transferred the property to P. Burgaud. The latter left it to Martial LeBoeuf in his will, dated February 6, 1786. On August 9, 1805, the title of the tract of land which was subsequently occupied by the "city" of Algiers passed to Barthelemi Duverje, for a consideration of $18,000.2 Five days later Duverje disposed of a part of the estate adjoining the site of the present village of McDonoghville to Toussaint Mossy.3

A plan of the city of New Orleans and its suburbs, drawn in 1815, a certified copy of which still exists in the Archives of the Department of the Interior, in Washington, D. C., shows on the right bank of the river the plantation homes of the Duverje, LeBoeuf, and Verret families. Duverje's residence was a handsome structure of the old Colonial type, built of brick solidly laid in cement, with a row of gigantic pillars on each side, to support the galleries and the roof. It was built so substantially that even the shingles of the roof remained intact for sixty years. But for the fire which destroyed it in 1895, it would probably still be standing.4 In all likelihood the structure was erected in 1812. It was certainly in existence in 1817, as at that time a French traveler speaks of his vessel "hoisting sail opposite the Duverje plantation home, just above the powder magazines, and a short distance below the slaughter-pen,"5 or abbatoir, which then stood near Olivier Street. It was used by the original Barthelemé as a residence down to 1820. In 1869 the mansions was acquired by the parish authorities and converted into a courthouse. When, a year later, Algiers was annexed to New Orleans, the courthouse was listed among the assets transferred to the municipal government. It continued to be used as a courthouse down to the date of its destruction.

p744 The Verret property extended from Vallette Street down to the slaughter-house. It was then a sugar plantation, owned jointly by the widow of Barthelemé Duverje and Furcy Verret. Upon the death of Mme. Duverje the property was divided, Verret taking the central portion, and the Duverje heirs acquiring the upper and lower extremities. The latter later sold a portion of the upper section to Francois Vallette and Mark Thomas, and a short time after, an adjoining section measuring about 400 feet front, to the Belleville Iron Works, of which J. P. Whitney was president. The name of Belleville was given to the suburb which thus came into existence. Of the section owned by Verret the part extending from the Belleville line to the site afterwards occupied by the Morgan railroad depot was sold to a company of capitalists, by which warehouses were erected along the river, principally for the storage of salt. These were called the Brooklyn warehouses; the settlement which grew up around them was called Brooklyn. One of these warehouses was standing in 1885.

The land lying above Verret Street was eventually acquired by a Madame Gosselin, who in 1834 sold the upper portion, between Verret and Olivier streets, to J. B. Olivier, son-in‑law of the original Duverje. The lower section was purchased about the same time by the same company which established the Brooklyn warehouses. In compliment to Francois Vallette, a member of this company, the street which had hitherto been known as Gosselin was now renamed Vallette, a name which it still bears.

Furcy Verret dug a canal in 1814 to drain the plantation owned jointly by him and Madame Duverje. This waterway was for many years a feature of the vicinity. It connected with the Mississippi by locks and was much used by smugglers and fishermen coming up from the Barataria region to go to New Orleans. Among the former were Lafitte, Dominique You and others of the so‑called "pirates"º of Barataria, who used the canal as a channel of communication between their settlements at Grand Terre, Chenière Caminada and Barataria. The canal was eventually disposed of for $20,000 to the group of capitalists who bought the Gosselin property. It ceased to be useful about the time of the Civil war, and then gradually was allowed to fill up and has now disappeared. Originally, a square redoubt mounting two four-pounders stood at the Algiers end of this waterway. This tiny fortress commanded the approaches both by land and water. It was erected soon after the transfer of Louisiana to the Americans, possibly when Claiborne was expecting the British invasion, between 1812 and 1815, and probably antedated the canal. It was at this point that General Morgan succeeded in rallying his men, after their disastrous retreat from the battlefield below Tunisburg, on January 8, 1815. During the earlier stages of the battle Morgan had his headquarters at the Cazalar plantation residence at Tunisburg. In the hurried withdrawal from Cazalar's the British succeeded in taking the flag which was afterwards hung up in Whitehall, with the inscription, "Taken at the Battle of New Orleans."6 It is probable that in the vicinity of the old redoubt the re-enforcements sent by General Jackson under Humbert effected a junction with Morgan. All trace of the redoubt has disappeared, p745although as late as 1896 a fragment of brick wall was still pointed out as marking the spot where it had once stood.

Above the Verret canal was the property inherited by Mrs. Franklin Wharton from her father, Barthelméº Duverje. She sold it to the purchasers of the canal for $20,000. Next stood the residence of Mme. Barthelmé Duverje, occupied by her in 1834. This property was acquired about that time by Mme. Mace, a well-known New Orleans modiste, whose establishment at the corner of Chartres and Customhouse was one of the landmarks of the city. The not-less‑celebrated Olympe, a modiste of a later date, was a graduate of Mme. Mace's institution. The property of J. B. Olivier was situated below the Verret estate. Olivier's handsome home fronted on the public road. During the Civil war the Federals took possession of this building and used it as a hospital for negroes. When taken over the building was completely and handsomely furnished; when returned to its owner, it had been stripped of every portable object, and all its outhouses were in a state of ruin. The ground in the rear of these had been used as a cemetery for negro soldiers, some 1,500 of whom were interred here. The remains were subsequently exhumed and removed to the National Cemetery at Chalmette.

Algiers figured in various ways in the stirring drama of Civil war times. Here it was that Raphael Semmes assumed command of the celebrated blockade runner Sumter, on April 22, 1861. On the 3d of June he formally placed the vessel in commission. On that occasion the Confederate colors were for the first time displayed over a sea-going vessel. The ceremony took place off the foot of Lavergne Street. The identical flag used on this occasion was subsequently transferred to the Alabama, and went down with her in the fight with the Kearsarge off Cherbourg in 1864. By a singular coincidence the last Confederate naval flag ever actually used afloat was lost with the Webb, when that vessel was destroyed to prevent capture by the Federal ships, within sight of the lower part of Algiers, after her memorable trip past the city four years after Semmes had first given his pennant to the breeze.7 Mention should also be made of another Civil war incident of which Algiers was the scene. It took place on the site of the old Belleville Hotel — which replaced the Hughes Hotel, one of the earliest hostelries opened in Algiers. It was at the Hughes Hotel that Capt. John G. Breshwood of the revenue cutter McClelland, received the famous dispatch of Secretary Dix, "If anyone attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot."

Algiers was early noted for its dry docks and ship building enterprises. The first shipways were established in 1819, by Andre Seguin, a native of France, on the bend of the river opposite the French Market, at the head of the street afterwards called by his name. Seguin bought the site from the Duverje heirs. This was the first parcel of land which they parted with. Seguin's establishment was acquired by François Vallette, in 1837, and operated by him as a ship and spar yard. Later he sold it to James Bass, who turned it into a saw mill. At the close of the Civil war the property was owned by Vail & Follette, who revived the shipbuilding business there. Part of the plant was subsequently acquired by Olsen & Lawson, and later by Cothrell, Brady & McLellan. p746When the last named firm gave up the site it ceased to be used for its original purposes.

The first drydock in Algiers was established in 1837 or 1838. It was built in Paducah, Ky., and floated down the Mississippi to Algiers. It was owned and operated by the New Orleans Floating Drydock Company. The dock was a small affair. It was intended to accommodate river steamboats only. The second dock brought to Algiers was built in 1839 at Pearlington, Miss., and towed around to the mouth of the river and thence upstream to Algiers. It was the first Algiers dock intended to accommodate ocean-going craft. The first vessel of this sort which used it was the Suffolk, and for that reason the dock became known as the Suffolk dock. It was owned by Bailey & Marcy. Both of these two primitive docks were moored near the Seguin shipyard. The Suffolk dock underwent various changes of ownership, and in 1852 was purchased by the firm of Hyde & Mackie, by whom it was removed to Gretna, where it continued in use for some time. Marcy, a member of the original firm, built in 1842 the first dock ever constructed in Algiers. This was larger than either of its predecessors. In 1846 the Louisiana Dry Dock No. 1 was opened at Belleville, as a part of the general scheme of expansion engineered by the proprietors of the Belleville Iron Works. It sunk in 1849. This company built two other docks in 1848 and 1852. They were sunk in 1862 on the approach of the Federal fleet, to save them from capture. In 1855 the Crescent dock was established. This dock is memorable because it was there that the little merchant steamer Havana was altered into the commerce destroyer Sumter. At the Algiers dockyards were also built other Confederate vessels, notably the McRae and the Manassas. The Gulf Line dock, established in 1857, was purchased by the Confederate government and converted into a floating battery. The same was done also with another smaller dock, the Atlantic, built at the same time. The list of ante-bellum docks may be completed by mentioning the great dock, 300 feet long, built in Algiers — the largest ever constructed there — at a cost of $450,000, for use in Havana, Cuba. This great structure was still in use in the Cuban port in 1885. At the outbreak of the Civil war there were twelve docks in all in operation in Algiers.

The war did not wholly interrupt this lucrative business. Some of the docks sunk at the time the city fell into the hands of the Federals were raised. Others were built, as, for instance, the Star dock, opened in 1867, and the Ocean dry dock, both constructed out of the hulls of steamboats dismantled for the purpose. The next dock opened in this era was the Good Intent, built in 1865 and 1866. The Vallette dock was built in 1866, and the Marine dry dock in 1871. One of the finest docks ever built in Algiers, the Louisiana, was launched in 1872 and accidentally destroyed in 1881. The changing conditions of commerce in New Orleans, particularly the growth in size of the ships frequenting the port, has affected the prosperity of the Algiers docks. The Johnson Iron Works, the Jahncke docks and the immense dock at the United States Naval Station have sprung up within the last twenty years and have today a virtual monopoly of the business.

Several attempts have been made to establish a navy yard in Algiers. The United States Government purchased a site in 1856. This was situated "half a mile below the Morgan depot," approximately in the situation where the present naval station is located. The property was p747acquired from Bienaimé Dupeire. Although Congress made an appropriation for the purpose, nothing seems ever to have been done. The ground was gradually invaded by negroes, who on payment of a small rental were suffered to cultivate it in truck gardens. In 1901, largely through the efforts of Congressman Adolph Meyer, the Government was induced to locate here the largest dock then in existence in the United States. As it was of relatively little value without a navy yard, the latter was authorized a year or two later and gradually constructed thereafter. The dock is available for merchant vessels which cannot be accommodated elsewhere in the port.

Algiers has suffered its share of disasters. Although the highest point on the Mississippi south of Baton Rouge, it has been several times inundated by high water on the river. This happened notably in 1855, as a result of the Bell crevasse, and in 1884, following the Davis crevasse. The latter submerged the entire rear portion of the city and the rest of the town was only saved from a similar visitation by the hasty construction of a "protection" levee a few blocks back from the river. The effect of the river current, perpetually eroding the bank at Algiers Point, has also been unfortunate. As early as 1844 an early and rapid rise in the river caused a considerable portion of the bank to cave in, carrying away the club house of the rowing club, and thus interfering for years thereafter with the evolution of what had previously been a popular pastime. In 1867 another serious landslide occurred, involving the destruction of a schooner which stood, nearly complete, on the ways. In 1894 the station house of the Grand Isle Railroad was engulfed, and in 1920 a similar disaster involved the ferry landing. Scientific methods adopted by the United States Government for the protection of the harbor of New Orleans have, however, minimized these accidents and made their repetition improbable.8

Financially, too, Algiers has suffered. The failure of the New Orleans, Opelousas & Great Western Railroad in 1869 as a result of its merciless exploitation during the Civil war, involved many consequences unfortunate for the town. The property was, however, acquired by Charles Morgan, and then by the Southern Pacific, by which it was built up into a great system. Its plant, including car shops, foundries, etc., were long notable features of the town and added in no small way to its prosperity. In 1895 a great fire swept over the most important part of the place. Over 200 homes were destroyed, leaving many families homeless and destitute and involving a loss of over $600,000. This was the fire in which the Duverje mansions perished. As often happens in such cases, what then seemed a terrible disaster proved, in the long run, a blessing. Algiers was rebuilt rapidly and on handsomer lines than before. Today no trace of the fire is discoverable in the spacious streets and attractive buildings of this interesting part of New Orleans.

The expansion of New Orleans in the early decades of the nineteenth century was southwardly and westwardly, up the Mississippi. Hence, small communities, eventually absorbed by the ever-expanding city, sprang up along the river bank, in the vicinity of Delord Street, at Felicity Road, above First Street, in the neighborhood of Toledano and p748finally at Upperline Street. These settlements, in their order above Canal, were known as Delord, Annunciation (also called Nuns, or Religieuses), Delassize, Lafayette City, Bouligny, Rickerville, Burtheville, Hurstville, Foucher and Greenville. Above Greenville lay Carrollton. Of these the most important was Lafayette City, which was annexed to New Orleans in 1852. Long before that date New Orleans had spread up to the lower boundary of Lafayette. There was nothing to distinguish one municipality from the other except an imagine line at Felicity Street. Originally, the boundaries of Lafayette were a line between Philip and First streets on the north and Toledano Street on the south, but the addition of the Faubourg Delassize in 1844 brought the lower frontier down to Felicity Road. Felicity Road was at first a dirt road between two plantations and received its name because of the perfect accord which prevailed between the owners of the adjoining estates on the subject of their boundaries. Lafayette extended back from the river all the way to Metairie Road, and theoretically, even beyond, but this rear section was never built up.9

The corporate existence of Lafayette covered nineteen years. When the Parish of Jefferson was formed out of the Parish of Orleans, in 1825, the suburbs of Annunciation, Lafayette and Livaudais were mere little scattered settlements on the edge of the river. But in 1833, however, they had grown so much as to suggest the desirability of consolidation. On April 1 of that year, therefore, the State Legislature passed an act combining the three into the City of Lafayette. Provision was made for the government of the new city by a Board of Council, composed of seven persons, each of whom was required to own in the corporation limits land of the value of $500 or more. This board was empowered to elect its own president, but in most respects the municipality continued subordinate to the parish authorities. The president of the board was commissioned a justice of the peace by the governor of the state, but his authority extended only to criminal cases. As justice his salary was $600, paid by the municipality. The board had authority to impose taxes, particularly upon occupations, and upon such water craft as remained within the corporation limits for more than one day.10 In 1843 the act of incorporation was amended to provide for an elective council and a mayor. These were to be chosen once in every two years. The council thereafter consisted of six members. Under the constitution of 1845, which reorganized the judicial system of the state, the Parish of Jefferson became the Third Judicial District, the seat of which was established in Lafayette. J. Calvitt Clark was appointed judge and served until Lafayette was incorporated into the City of New Orleans. In 1849 the number of children in Lafayette of educable age was 2,900, of whom 1,456 were boys. By the census of 1850 the little city had a population of 14,190, of whom 13 per cent were negroes.

The town presented curious contrasts. The rear part around Chestnut, Prytania and Nyades (St. Charles Avenue) was occupied by the charming residences of well-to‑do merchants. Their mansions, surrounded by exquisite gardens, gave this quarter the air of opulence and good taste which caused this section of New Orleans long to be known as the p749Garden District. On the other hand, along the river front, particularly in the region known as Bulls' Head, were numerous private slaughter houses. Butchers in those days had the right to slaughter meat on their own premises. The pens where the cattle destined to market were kept after their arrival from Texas were located at the foot of St. Mary's Street. Few of the streets were paved, and those were laid with plank. From Tchoupitoulas Street back to St. Andrew, Josephine, First, Eighth and Ninth streets were thus equipped. The sidewalks for the most part consisted of two planks, laid parallel with the street and raised a few inches from the ground. Brick sidewalks were not unknown, but they were found only in a few neighborhoods, especially in the wealthier section near St. Charles. Communication with New Orleans was maintained by omnibus lines. There were lines on Tchoupitoulas and Magazine which ran down into New Orleans; one on Prytania, which, however, terminated at Felicity Road, and later on, one on Apollo, as Carondelet Street was called. On Jackson Street there was a railroad on which ran two-story cars drawn by mules harnessed tandem. On Nyades the dummy line which operated between Lee Circle and Carrollton offered still another means of getting downtown.

The first market was established on Jackson Street, between Rousseau and Tchoupitoulas. The Magazine and Ninth Street markets were established soon after. The Soraparu Street Market was being planned when Lafayette became part of its expanding neighbor city. The religious interests of the community were cared for by various denominations, including the Catholic, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Methodist and Jewish. The first named were represented by the Redemptorist Fathers, who settled early in Lafayette, establishing the remarkable group of churches and charitable institutions at Josephine and Constance streets. There was one newspaper, the Louisiana Statesman, edited by J. F. H. Claiborne and J. G. Fanning and published by the latter at an office on Jackson Street, near Rousseau. There were no banks in the little city, but its business was considerable and lucrative. The arrangements for sewage and drainage were primitive. When the river was sufficiently high a stream of water from it was allowed to enter the gutters which flanked every thoroughfare and they were cleaned; but otherwise no attempt seems to have been made to attend to what, at a later date, is considered a very essential condition of public health. In 1849 James H. Caldwell proposed to introduce gas as a street illuminant in place of the system of oil lamps which had till then been deemed adequate. There is no record of this proposition having been accepted, but a tradition is to the effect that Caldwell did obtain a contract and did install a gas system.11

The growth of Lafayette was due to the steady stream of immigration which was attracted to it, especially people of Irish and German birth. Their thrift soon made Lafayette an active competitor of the larger city, from which it principally received the overflow of business. "It was a thriving, growing, busy place, with wharves and shipping, cotton presses, slaughter houses and business establishments and offices of all kinds."12 The identity of interests of the two adjacent communities led, as has been said, to their consolidation in 1852. By the act of consolidation the City of Lafayette became the Fourth District of New Orleans. It was p750divided into two wards, known as the Tenth and Eleventh wards of the city.13 But, curiously, though Lafayette thus became part of New Orleans, it continued to form part of Jefferson Parish. The Legislature was, as a matter of fact, unwilling or incompetent to alter parish boundaries, and it was not till a new state constitution was adopted later in that year that this anomalous condition was rectified.14

The annexation of Carrollton, which took place in 1875, gave New Orleans much of the area which it occupies today. This part of the city occupies what was originally a plantation owned by Chauvin de la Frenière, the leader of the revolt of the colonists against the Spaniards, who was shot by O'Reilly in 1769. After his death it passed through various hands, and was granted by the Spanish government in 1795 to Jean Baptiste Macarty. This grant was confirmed by the American Congress in 1823. The Macarty mansion stood in the vicinity of the foot of Clinton Street. It was long ago destroyed by the caving in of the river bank at this point. Macarty subsequently disposed of the upper portion of his estate to Ludgère Fortier. An undivided half interest in the remainder, comprising all the territory from the Foucher tract to the Protection levee, and from the river to the New Canal, was bought in 1833 by the Canal and Banking Company. The company paid $130,000 for the property, but by selling off the slaves and improvements the net investment was reduced to $85,000. This land was thereupon laid off into lots and sold at an enormous profit. The town as thus planned was named Carrollton, in honor of General Carroll of Kentucky,a who had commanded a division in the American army at the Battle of New Orleans. Carroll's Kentuckians, who helped materially in winning that victory, camped in 1814 in the neighborhood of Clinton and Adams streets; the name was therefore highly appropriate.

The plan of the new town was drawn by Charles F. Zimpel, a German surveyor, after whom one of the streets was named. Interested in the development of Carrollton at this early date were Laurent Millaudon, who owned a plantation abutting on the street which is called after him; Samuel Kohn, and John Slidell. The first house was built in Carrollton in 1834 by Samuel Short, whose memory is likewise perpetuated in the name of one of the prettiest streets in this part of New Orleans. Others who built about this time were Charles Huso, James McIntyre and William Jones. Huso's residence stood at the corner of Levee and Short streets. The house was in good repair down to the Civil war, when it was destroyed. The sites of the other buildings lay beyond the present line of the levee, and are therefore now under water.

The sale of the Carrollton lots inaugurated the period of wild speculation in New Orleans real estate which preceded the panic of 1837. Those who purchased from the Canal Bank re-sold in many instances at twice, ten, even a hundred times what they had paid. Some of the lots, lying in the rear of the new town, were in the swamp and derived their value solely from the fact that they were less than five miles from Canal Street, and therefore in a region which, it was confidently expected, would, within ten years, support a population of 1,000,000 people.15 The p751panic of 1837 put an end to these fantastic operations, and ushered in a period of saner and more durable prosperity.

Carrollton was incorporated in 1845. The charter provided for a mayor and a council of six members. The first mayor was John Hampson. The first council was composed of Dr. John Bein, George B. Mason, Jacob Goldstein, Solomon Cohn, Atwater C. Ives and Francesº C. Zeller. The other officers of the municipality were a comptroller, treasurer, surveyor and "commissary of streets," or street commissioner. To those positions were elected respectively Chauncey C. Porter, James Gilbert, Levi A. Heaton and Benjamin F. Blake. From this time down to the date when Carrollton became part of New Orleans, the mayors were, in the order of their election: Timoleon LeSassier, Henry Mithoff, John Hampson (second term), Henry Mithoff (second term), Edward Meegel, Dr. John L. Donellan, Henry M. Gograve,º Benjamin Mason, Archibald S. Ferth, Samuel Pursell, Frances C. Zeller, Theodore Meeks, Dewitt F. Bisbee, Zwinglius McKay and Albert G. Brice. Mr. Porter continued to be comptroller practically throughout the corporate existence of the town. W. H. Williams became city surveyor in 1853 and served till 1876.

Carrollton was in communication with New Orleans and the intervening settlements both by a road, which ran along what is now St. Charles Avenue, and a street car system, which paralleled the road. The latter was in operation in 1835. It was one of the first railroads built in the United States, its only predecessors, so far as known, being the Pontchartrain Railroad, and a line in New York. Laurent Millaudon was one of the first presidents of this road. Its charter permitted it to extend up to Baton Rouge, but no attempt was ever made to extend it beyond Carrollton. Steam "dummies" were used on this road from 1845 till almost the end of the century, when they were replaced by electric power. At the head of St. Charles Avenue stood the picturesque, battlemented station of the road, which remained in use down to 1896, when it was torn down to make way for the present levee. Adjoining this structure were the Carrollton Gardens, an ante-bellum resort of great fame, which came into existence in 1836 and likewise disappeared when the necessity arose for building the new levee. The hotel, which stood in the midst of the flower beds and shady oaks, was burned in 1841, but immediately rebuilt. In this building Thackeray, the novelist, was banquetted during his visit to the city in 1855; and so also was the French general, Boulanger, nearly thirty years later. In this vicinity, too, was the steamboat landing. The levee near the Gardens was set with rows of "china ball" trees, and it was a favorite diversion of New Orleans in the early '80s to ride up to Carrollton, dine at the hotel and stroll in the twilight along this pleasant promenade. Among the early managers of the hotel were Martel Paulet and Daniel Hickok.

The shell road on Carrollton Avenue leading to New Orleans was made in 1870 under the administration of Mayor Meegel. This road was projected as early as 1839. In January of that year the city council of New Orleans had under consideration a plan to open a shell road "from Carrollton to the Canal Company's new road," where it was to connect with a similar road leading from Canal Street out to the Metairie race course. But nothing seems to have been done till the enterprise of the thriving little suburb carried out this improvement. St. Charles Avenue remained an unpaved road down to recent years, and the present asphalt p752pavement was laid throughout its length in the present century. Carrollton Avenue was laid out in 1846, and sidewalks were added in 1850. In 1871, under Mayor Bisbee, the paving of the sidewalks was begun generally throughout Carrollton. Gas was introduced in 1872 by a main connected with the Sixth District plant. Fire wells were introduced in 1874, although a fire department had existed as early as 1849, when Henry Deibel was elected its first foreman. The first church was the Methodist Episcopal. It was erected in 1843, on the east side of Jefferson Street, near Third. The first Catholic Church was built in 1847, on Cambronne Street, between Second and Burthe. A second Catholic church was erected in 1870, at the corner of Cambronne and Burthe. The first German Protestant church was established in 1849, on Zimpel Street. The first Presbyterian church dates from 1855. It stood on Burdette Street, between Hampson and Second. The Catholic Orphan Asylum was founded in 1845. The first newspaper in Carrollton appeared in 1849, from the press of Peter Soulier. It was The Carrollton Star, and the editorial offices were at Levee and Cambronne streets. This publication died a natural death in the midst of the Civil war turmoils, but its publisher, migrating to Gretna, on the opposite side of the Mississippi, revived it under the name of the Jefferson Sentinel. A second newspaper, the Louisiana Register, kept the people of Carrollton informed regarding current events in 1868. Its editor was Amos S. Collins. The first dry goods store was owned by Christian Winter. It was opened in 1836 at the corner of Monroe and Zimpel streets. Solomon Cohn established a rope walk about the same time.

Among the early settlers were Pierre Soniat, Amos S. Collins and Francis Shuler. The first brick house in Carrollton, known as the Stringer Place, was erected in 1836, in the square bounded by St. Charles, Pearl, Burdette and Adams. In that year, also, a number of residences were erected by the railroad company. They were situated on the west side of Dublin Street, near Hampson Street. In 1836, also, Francis Babin, F. C. Zeller and Levi S. Heaton, all later prominent in the affairs of the little city, settled in Carrollton. Frederick Kern and Herman Thieler settled there in 1837; William Mithof, who had previously visited Carrollton as an assistant to Zimpel in making the first surveys of the town, made his home there in 1839; George Wills, in 1837; Christopher Kerner, in 1840; Wanderlein Herrle, in 1841; Frederick Fischer, in 1839; Trubert Bosch, in 1837; Jacob Roesch, in 1839; Henry Gogreve,º in 1840; Henry Deibel, in 1837; Simon Oesterly, in 1837; Frederick Brown, in 1838; William Mayo, in 1840; Mrs. Elizabeth Augustine, in 1838; Henry Jurgens, in 1837; Gottlieb Bubeck, in 1838; Enoch B. Robinson, in 1839; Gabriel Spahr, in 1837; John Coleman, in 1841; Jacob Clausen, in 1838; and Samuel Pursell, in 1839. Judge Brice settled in Carrollton after the Civil war. Judge Pardee, afterwards a distinguished member of the United States bench, was for many years also a resident of Carrollton. Before the Civil war the celebrated lawyer, Christian Roselius, made his home on Carrollton Avenue, not far from St. Charles Avenue.

A public school system was established in Carrollton in 1845. The first school was built in that year at the corner of Dublin and Hampson streets. Ten years later a larger building was erected for the same purposes at Jefferson and Washington streets. A central high school followed in 1858. The high school, however, was unsuccessful. It was p753abandoned for lack of patronage. A second high school was erected in 1867, but was also given up for similar reasons. The secondary schools, however, prospered. There were, moreover, a number of private schools which were well patronized, particularly those under the superintendence of the Catholic Church and of the German Protestants. The old courthouse on Carrollton Avenue is now the McDonogh School No. 23.

The first market house was opened for use in 1846. The second market was established by Frederick Fischer, who was authorized to pay himself for the outlay involved out of the revenues collected during the first fourteen years of its existence. The building was erected by John P. Hecker. This market was in use down to 1916.

In the construction of levees Carrollton had the co-operation of New Orleans, inasmuch as the larger city was vitally interested in the maintenance of these defenses against flood, having suffered acutely from the breaking of the levees in Carrollton in 1799 and 1816. The latter "crevasse," due to a double break in the levee, near the foot of Leonidas Street, was one of the most serious in the history of New Orleans. This danger led to the construction of a levee at the head of St. Charles Avenue, which was regarded in its time as a mammoth construction; it was situated fully 600 feet further out than the line occupied by the present mighty embankment, 25 feet high. The older levee was completed in 1876; the present one was begun after the high water of 1896 had shown the inadequacy of its predecessor. It was finished in 1916.

The movement for the annexation of Carrollton to New Orleans was started in New Orleans. It was not supported in Carrollton. At that time the municipality was out of debt, except for some bonds which had been issued for paving and sidewalks and those issued to the Jefferson City Gas Light Company. The growth of New Orleans, however, rendered annexation imperative, and the Legislature passed Act 74 of 1874, by which "all that portion of the Parish of Jefferson being and lying below the center of Upperline Street of the City of Carrollton, commencing with the Mississippi river and extending northwardly along the centº of said street to its terminus, and thence along the center of the line of the New Orleans & Carrollton Railroad to Lake Pontchartrain" — which were the boundaries of the City of Carrollton — should constitute part of New Orleans, under the title of the Seventh District. At the same time the annexed territory was divided into the Sixteenth and Seventeenth wards. These divisions still exist.16 The annexation was, however, not consummated till two years later.

Neither West End nor Spanish Fort have ever had any corporate existence apart from New Orleans. The former owes its origin to the Mexican Gulf Ship Canal Company, which, in 1871, was authorized by the State Legislature to "excavate canals and build protection levees within the limits of the Parish of Orleans."17 With the earth excavated from the canals an embankment was constructed approximately 800 feet out in Lake Pontchartrain beyond the then existing shore line. In this p754way a deep water basin would be created which would serve as a harbor for vessels and at the same time provide a low area basin for the drainage of the city. The project contemplated also the erection of extensive wharves, switch tracks and connections with the trunk railroads. The company, however, became involved and eventually, under Act 16 of 1876, the city entered into an agreement with it for the purchase of all of its rights for the sum of $30,000 in drainage warrants.18 The system of drainage of which the West End basin should have formed a part was never carried into effect. The West End property, therefore, never had any part in any drainage or levee system properly so called. The embankment was only partly built by the Mexican Gulf Company. It was completed by the city, from the Seventeenth Street Canal to the New Basin Canal, a distance of about 2,200 yards. This embankment was nearly 100 feet wide at its top and was about 8 feet above the main lake level.

In 1869 the State Legislature granted to the New Orleans & Metairie Railroad Company the right to extend its Canal Street track from the then terminus at the cemeteries to West End. As a feeder for this extension the New Orleans City & Lake Railroad, which had succeeded to the New Orleans & Metairie Company, leased from the city in 1880 for a period of thirty years the embankment above described.19 A platform approximately 400 feet square was erected on the north side of the embankment, and thereon rose a large hotel, built of wood; a restaurant building, and various structures intended to house amusements of one kind or another. The rest of the embankment was laid out as a garden, and along one side ran a shell road which was much patronized by carriages. This was known as the West End Lake Shore Park. For a long time it was very popular with pleasure seekers in the city. The lease provided that at the expiration of the contract all the improvements at West End should become the property of the city. As the time drew near, the New Orleans Railway & Light Company, which had acquired the various properties of the New Orleans City & Lake Railroad Company, sought an extension of the franchise. But the city officers would consent only under condition contemplating very extensive improvements at West end. These the company was not willing to accept. For three years the railroad was permitted to operate the resort on an annual agreement, in consideration for which the place was maintained in good order and condition. In May, 1909, the company acquired Spanish Fort and began to improve it with a view to make it a lakeside resort which would be completely under its control. In connection therewith transportation facilities had to be provided which could be most conveniently supplied by extending the West End Road along the lake shore on Adams Street. An application was made to the city council for a franchise to cover this two-mile extension of the railroad. But it was evident that the development of Spanish Fort would operate injuriously upon West End, and Mayor Behrman, realizing that the city was without funds with which to improve the latter point, took advantage of the opportunity to stipulate, as a condition of the desired concession, that the company should loan the city the sum of $175,000 over and above the percentages fixed by the city charter as compensation for the franchise. This arrangement was agreed to, and an act was passed by the State Legislature to authorize p755the loan and fix the rate of interest thereon and method of liquidation.20 The liquidation of the loan was to be effected out of the revenues from the West End Lake Shore Park.

Shortly after this act went into effect the city undertook the development of West End in accordance with a plan prepared by City Engineer W. J. Hardee in 1902. The first work was the construction of a sea wall. This was located 500 feet out in the lake, north of the old embankment, and parallel thereto. The area thus inclosed was subsequently filled in, and in this way about thirty acres was added to the park. This wall was completed in July, 1912, at a cost of $68,255.34. The fill was accomplished at an outlay of $45,152. In view of the limited area of the park, it was decided to exclude from it all amusement features, but a part of the old lagoon, or reservoir, in the rear of the original embankment, was filled in with a view to accommodate these enterprises. In this way a further area about 500 feet square has been created at the western extremity. Among the features installed within the last few years is a great "prismatic fountain," which cost $24,000. The total expenditures have been $352,000 — the amount over the sum loaned by the railroad company having been appropriated by the city out of its reserve funds dedicated to public improvements.

West End is, therefore, city property in the same sense that other parks and resorts are. It is under the administrative control of the West End Lake Shore Park Advisory Board. The handsome clubhouse of the Southern Yacht Club, erected in 1921, is located at West End. The bath-houses which have long been a feature of the resort came into existence in 1862, when A. Fredericks and Theodore Brunning erected there the first establishments of that description. The hurricanes of 1893 and 1915 did great damage to these structures, but they were promptly rebuilt. The improvements at West End were not completed in 1921. They will be carried on until there has been created here a magnificent pleasure ground unique in the South in the beauty of its location.

Spanish Fort,b which is likewise a pleasure resort on Lake Pontchartrain, has a history which runs back into colonial times. When Carondelet undertook to restore the fortifications of the city, he gave orders that an old brick fort which had been erected some time previously at the mouth of Bayou St. John, on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain, should be put in repair. He stationed a garrison there in 1793. At this time it was known as Fort St. Jean, or San Juan. The fortifications had a frontage of 120 feet and depth of 80, "and all that there was within its walls." It adjoined a triangular piece of land granted in 1771 to Jean Lavergne by the Spanish government through Governor Unzaga. Fort San Juan, though garrisoned, was never considered an important point in the defenses of the city. The Spaniards, however, strengthened it during the time that the British were in West Florida, in 1776. Here also troops were stationed in the War of 1812, to prevent an advance of the British through Lake Pontchartrain, or at least to observe and give warning in case such approach were attempted. A volunteer company of artillery, under Lieutenant Wagner, was sent thither in 1814, and in December General Jackson sent thither M. Plauché with his battalion. After 1815 Fort St. John enjoyed a long period of somnolence, disturbed only in the opening months of the Civil war, when a Confederate p756garrison occupied it. These forces remained for about eighteen months. In February, 1865, it was defended against the Federals by Confederate troops under Gen. Randall Gibson, in one of the very last actions of the Civil war.

Spanish Fort has a civil as well as a military history. It was already a pleasure resort of a kind in 1825. In that year the Duke of Saxe Weimar, who visited New Orleans and wrote a volume of reminiscences, stated that the fort, "which has lost its importance since the erection of Chef Menteur and Petites Coquilles," had been abandoned and a tavern was then being erected on the site. "Behind the fort," he writes, "is a public house called the Ponchartrainº Hotel, which is much frequented by persons from the city during the summer." Gambling seems to have been one of the attractions, as the duke adds: "I recognized the darling amusement of the inhabitants in a faro and roulette table." Two years before this time Harvey Elkins had obtained possession of the fort, under the terms of the act of 1819, by which the Secretary of War was empowered to sell all obsolete military reservations. He built in 1824 the hotel referred to by the ducal writer, and operated it down to his death in 1834. The property was inherited by his nephew, Samuel Elkins, who died a year later, and left his interest to sisters and brothers residing in Canada. These sold it to John Slidell, who renamed it the Spanish Fort Hotel. Subsequently it passed into the hands of the Millaudon family, who sold it in 1874 to the Canal Street, City Park & Lake Railroad. The building was in bad repair; it was rebuilt in 1874 by the railroad company. The railroad was constructed with Northern capital. A man named Brott supplied the money, and W. H. Bell, then city engineer, built the road. The company failed in 1877, and its belongings were sold to Vincent Micas, who a year or two later disposed of it to Moses Schwartz. Schwartz operated it successfully for several years, a Captain Williams being in charge of the road, with the title of superintendent.

In 1883 Spanish Fort was at its zenith as a resort. In that year a theater was built which was regarded as remarkable in its comfort and splendor. This structure was demolished in 1897. Schwartz built the casino in 1881. This was the scene of many notable events, among them a lecture by Oscar Wilde during the "esthetic's" tour of the United States. The building was partially wrecked by a storm, and then caught fire and was totally destroyed on October 14, 1906. The railroad was sold in 1896 to the East Louisiana Railroad Company. The latter corporation contemplated organizing a transfer system to connect Spanish Fort with properties owned by it in St. Tammany Parish. It was at this time that the long wharf and trestle was built out half a mile over the water to make a proper landing place for the steamer St. Charles, which plied between Spanish Fort and the resorts on the north end of Lake Pontchartrain. This boat, however, was burned at her moorings at Spanish Fort in November, 1896. Ten or twelve years later the charter of the New Orleans, Spanish Fort & Lake Railroad expired. The property was thereupon acquired by the New Orleans Terminal Company, which shortly afterwards sold it to the present owners, the New Orleans Railway Company. Since this event Spanish Fort has been revived, and has enjoyed some of its old-time popularity as a resort.

Spanish Fort possesses several interesting buildings, one of which, the lighthouse, dates from 1811. Robert Gage served as keeper of the lighthouse from 1866 till his death in 1895. He was succeeded by his p757widow, and she in her turn by her daughter, Mrs. M. E. Coteron. The pioneers of the restaurant business at Spanish Fort were the Alberti Brothers, who settled there after the Mexican War. The elder, Lorenz, was manager of the restaurant at which Thackeray enjoyed one of the numerous banquets served in his honor in 1855. General Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.Grant was entertained here at a dinner given in his honor by Dr. Choppin. In 1878, while some dredging was being done in the canal, the wreck of the tiny iron submarine torpedo boat Hunley, built in New Orleans in 1861, was discovered. This boat was never used in war. It sank in the bayou while being experimented with, causing the death of three sailors. It was, however, the prototype of the little vessel which sank the Federal battleship Housatonic in Charleston harbor in 1864. The recovered boat was long a curiosity of the Spanish Fort Gardens, but is now in the grounds of the Soldiers' Home at Camp Nicholls. One of the points of interest at Spanish Fort are three graves just outside of the old fort; nothing is known regarding them. In 1910 the fort was stripped of the few cannon left there since Civil war times and these ancient weapons were fittingly deposited in the State Museum at the Cabildo.

The suburb of Gentilly was another settlement which was never incorporated. It really lay within the limits of the city, and disappeared when the expanding city enveloped it with streets and houses. It occupied part of what was known as Gentilly Ridge, the highest tract of land in the municipal area. Several miles of the ridge lie at an elevation of about 14 feet above the river front. It begins at the intersection of the Bayou Road, Grand Route St. John and the Gentilly Road, and extends down to Chef Menteur. Gentilly Road ran from Grand Route St. John to a point two miles below the People's Canal. In the latter part of the eighteenth and the early part of the nineteenth century plantations and brickyards lined this road on either side for much of its distance. They extended in depth on the city side to the Marigny Canal and on the lake side to the boundary of the extensive properties belonging to Alexander Milne. When the Jesuit Fathers first settled in Louisiana they selected the high land facing Bayou Sauvage for agricultural purposes. A building erected by them was still standing in 1906 near the Louisville & Nashville Railroad crossing. The Fair Grounds race course occupies a part of the old Fortin plantation. The Broad Street car barn stands in one corner of the old Gueno, or Kernion, estate. As one went down the road he passed in succession the old Howe, Martin and Bermudez brickyards, and the Angelica, Mantell, LeBeau, Darcantell,º J. B. Dejean, R. C. Smythe and Daniel Clark plantations. In later years these places fell into the hands of new owners, among them the Hopkins, Miltenberger, Blanc, Vance, Lavergne, Barret and Soyes families. The élite of New Orleans formerly frequented these old plantations. What the charm of this neighborhood was in the days before it was built over may be inferred from the "Highland" oak grove, at the corner of Gentilly Road and London Avenue, only a few squares from the Broad Street car barn. In 1906 this grove covered four blocks, and extended from the Gentilly Road to the Marigny Canal, along the tracks of the Frisco Road.

The first race course in New Orleans was located at Gentilly Road and Elysian Fields, and covered nearly 100 acres. This place was reached from the city in carriages, which bumped over the cobblestones p758on Bayou Road out to Gentilly; or in the cars of the old "Lake Pontchartrain Railway," opened in 1825, of which J. B. LeBeau was first president. It is said that when the engine got out of order on this road sails were hoisted on masts provided for this purpose, if the wind were favorable, and the trip could be completed in this unique way. Many years previously there was a market near the St. Rose de Lima Church. This was called Indian Market, because hither the Indians paddled up in their pirogues with produce, baskets, etc., to the Broad Street Canal, and thence carried their wares over to this market, where they were offered for sale.

In the same way that Gentilly gradually disappeared in the encroaching city the other settlements which formerly environed New Orleans have been surrounded and absorbed. So disappeared the Faubourg Trémé, which lay a little to the northeast, immediately outside of the old walls of the Vieux Carré. Below the city, on the lower side of Elysian Fields, was the Faubourg Marigny, and below that was the Faubourg Daunois. The suburb of Washington lay still further down the river, and behind it, stretching out towards Milneburg, were the suburbs of Frank and Darcantel. The Faubourg Declouet, which was at the lower extremity of the habited portion of the city, in 1815, spread over the territory in the vicinity of the United States barracks. In 1815 the Faubourg Declouet boasted a distillery and a powder factory. At Rampart Street the Rue des Ursulines came to an end at the wide-spreading campus of the College d'Orleans, which, with the still-extant Polar Star Lodge, stood in the Faubourg St. Claude. The Bayou St. John was sufficiently remote from the populous part of the city to be regarded in 1815 as a summer resort. Its idyllic expanses were fringed with the summer homes of prosperous New Orleans families. There, at the point where the Bayou Bridge now crosses the stream, at the foot of Esplanade Avenue, was the pretty settlement of St. John's Burgh. And finally there was the village of Milneburg, which still stands on the shore of Lake Pontchartrain at the mouth of Bayou St. John, so remote from the rest of the city that it retains its identity unimpaired. It takes its name from the eccentric Scottish millionaire, Alexander Milne. Milne believed that the air of the cypress swamps was particularly healthful. Perhaps that was why he favored the lake coast and built up the town which bore his name. Milneburg stood on a part of his domain. At one time the little town was the most fashionable of the lakeside resorts. There was in the later '60s the landing place of the Morgan "side-wheeler" which plied between Milneburg and Mobile. Later the steamer Camilia ran between Milneburg and the resorts on the northern side of Lake Pontchartrain. Adah Isaacs Menken, actress and poet, was born in Milneburg in June, 1835. The place has a claim to fame, also, as the site of some of the most noted restaurants in New Orleans, at a time when the city was noted for good eating. Among these was Boudro's, an establishment which had the honor of entertaining Thackeray, and to which the great novelist alludes in one of his books. Boudro was employed by Mme. Pontalba as chef in the household which that magnificent lady formed for Jenny Lind, when the diva was in New Orleans as her guest.


The Author's Notes:

1 Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. I, No. 3, 76.

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2 Seymour, "The Story of Algiers," 7‑19.

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3 Coleman's "Historical Sketch Book and Guide to New Orleans," 288.

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4 This building was reproduced at the World's Columbia Exposition, in Chicago, in 1893, as the Louisiana State Building.

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5 Seymour somewhat vaguely attributes this quotation to "a work in the library of the Bibliotheque Nationale at Paris." — "Story of Algiers."

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6 Seymour, The Story of Algiers," 11.

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7 Seymour, The Story of Algiers," 14, 15.

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8 Coleman's "Historical Sketch-Book," 289.

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9 Dart, "Life of John Blackstone Cotton," 5.

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10 Renshaw, "The Lost City of Lafayette," in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly, II, No. 1, pp47, 48.

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11 See Renshaw, 53.

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12 Dart, Cotton, 6.

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13 Act 72 of 1852.

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14 Renshaw, 48; Dart, 8.

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15 T. P. Thompson, "Early Financing in New Orleans," in Publications of the Louisiana Historical Society, Vol. VII, 32.

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16 The data embodied in the foregoing sketch of Carrollton is taken from an article by E. K. Pelton, in the Picayune for March 13, 1916. Pelton derived his information from an address made in 1876 by W. H. Williams on the occasion of the celebration in Carrollton of the Centennial of American Independence, at which time it was deemed appropriate to review the history of the municipality.

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17 Act 30 of 1871.

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18 Ordinance of May 26, 1876.

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19 Ordinance 6316, A. S.

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20 Act 9 of 1910.


Thayer's Notes:

a Kendall's mistake, somewhat understandable since Kentuckians played such a prominent part in the Battle of New Orleans: but General William Carroll was a distinguished son not of Kentucky but of Tennessee. My thanks go to alert reader D. Finley for catching the error; good biographical information on the soldier, later Governor of Tennessee, can be found, with further links, at J. H. Carroll's Connecting Our Kin.

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b Further detailed information is found in "Historical Data of Spanish Fort", by Joseph H. De Grange, in Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Vol. II No. 3, pp268‑271, and see my note there.


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