History

"More than 200 years have passed since the establishment of St. Tammany Parish, but there were people here before that, and it bore other names. It has been part of Spain, France, England, Spain again, the Republic of West Florida — when it was known as St. Ferdinand and Union— the united States, the Confederate States of America and, finally, the United States of America again.  Although one of the largest parishes in the state, it is only about a quarter of its original size. When originally created, it included all of Washington Parish and Tangipahoa Parish to the Tangipahoa River."  -Frederick S. Ellis, St. Tammany, a Bicentennial Celebration

History of St. Tammany Parish

Taken from "The Florida Parish Chronicles" episode entitled "St. Tammany Parish: Overcoming the Obstacles to Prosperity", produced by the Southeastern Channel and airing on Channel 18. Episode written by Dr. Sam Hyde, Director of the Center for Southeast Studies."

When one looks at St. Tammany Parish Louisiana today, it is difficult to visualize the troubled historical background that has characterized development in this territory along the northshore of Lake Pontchartrain. From Slidell to Covington the region is alive with the progressive development that has transformed the region from a neglected backwater to among the most prosperous areas of the state. The St. Tammany of today, which some regard as New Orleans north, was not always a model of progress. Indeed it can be argued that St. Tammany snatched success from the jaws of despair.

Like the surrounding regions of the Florida parishes, St. Tammany's pre-history was characterized by several phases of indigenous Native American development. The original nomadic hunters who traversed the region in the decades following the last ice age gave way to a more sedentary mound building culture as life changed from the constant hunt for large paleolithic animals to reliance on the types of wildlife we recognize today. With the mound building culture came not only the great temple mounds which can still be found in certain areas of the modern region, but also more productive farming techniques that allowed for permanency in residence.

By the time the first French explorers intruded into the region, the legendary petites nations of Muskegon peoples were firmly established in the area. Included among these tribes were the Bayougoula who resided along the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain - surviving by relying on seafood harvested from the lakes, the Acolapissa who lived primarily along the Pearl River, and the comparatively large Houma who often served as the dominant tribal group in thearea. Evidence exists to suggest that the Chitimacha also resided in the region at times amid the shifting territories common to the tribes of the period.

As European settlement advanced along the eastern seaboard, more numerous tribes began to migrate west in search of territories free from the European intrusion. Among the tribes that eventually migrated to, or through, St. Tammany were the Biloxi, Koasati, and most importantly - the Choctaw.

The first European contact with the region we know as St. Tammany came with the explorations of Pierre le Moyne, Sieur de Iberville. In March of 1699, after finally determining that he had indeed relocated the great Mississippi River claimed for France by his predecessor in exploration La Salle, Iberville divided his party into two groups sending the larger portion, under the direction of his brother Bienville, down the Mississippi while he attempted the challenging east fork of the Mississippi known today as Bayou Manchac.

Iberville's diversion was prompted by his desire to make the upper reaches of the Mississippi more accessible. In pre-steam engine times, and before the arrival of horse and mule teams, ships were forced to move up the great river through the tedious process of throwing an anchor forward and then pulling the ship up to it before repeating the process. Iberville's venture into Bayou Manchac, which was briefly known as the Iberville River, was an effort to identify a pass to the Gulf of Mexico that would avoid the dangerous and swift currents at the mouth of the Mississippi.

After successfully traversing the Bayou, Iberville followed the Amite River into the two large lakes which he named Maurepas and Pontchartrain for his principal financial backers the French minister of marine and his son. On the first night of his voyage to the lakes Iberville recorded in his journal, "The place where I am is one of the prettiest I have seen, fine level ground bare of canes. The land north of the lakes is a country of pine trees mixed with hard woods. The soil is sandy and many tracks of buffalo and deer can be seen." As he continued seeking the outlet to the Gulf, Iberville exited into Lake Pontchartrain via South Pass eventually, according to tradition, making camp at Goose Point about 30 miles from Pass Manchac and 12 miles from the Rigolets. Iberville offered a less than flattering first European appraisal of St. Tammany Parish proclaiming "the water of the lake is too brackish to drink, we camped on a treeless, grassy point, pretty bad, having no water to drink and many mosquitoes, which are terrible little animals to people who are in need of rest." Ultimately Iberville concluded that the land of St. Tammany was too low to accommodate settlement - one can only imagine what he would think were he to see the region today.

By 1725 a regular commerce in foodstuffs (primarily meat) had developed between the Acolapissa in ST. Tammany and the emerging city at New Orleans. Among the first permanent white residents of ST. Tammany was Pierre Brou who recorded himself as a resident of the Colapissas. The French crown encouraged the residents to secure naval stores (tar, pitch, turpentine and resin) from the forests and the great virgin pine stands of St. Tammany offered a bounty. By the late 1730s enterprising businessmen such as Claude Vignon, known as Lacombe, had established tar works and other ventures to provide the naval stores.

Slave labor was imported into the region to work at these emerging enterprises. Not surprisingly, many of the slaves chose to run away rather than endure the hard work associated with such ventures. By the 1740s, the dense forests and swampy regions of the northshore had established a reputation as a haven for runaway slaves.

Other than these small efforts at economic development, the French period did not herald much progress in the territory. The French defeat in the Seven Years War marked the arrival of a new order in the region. As part of the Treaty of Paris, in 1763 Britain secured control of all of West Florida. In an effort to encourage migration to the area the British offered substantive land grants to settlers willing to locate there. With the outbreak of rebellion in the Atlantic colonies in 1775, the trickle of setters migrating to West Florida increased substantially. Among the new arrivees were scores of British loyalists escaping persecution at the hands of the American rebels. West Florida served as an important refuge for these people as one of the closest locations that remained outside the control of the Americans and St. Tammany received its fair share of new arrivals. Most of these settlers secured land grants near Bayou Castein, or near the Pearl River and adjoining regions of the lake front.

With the exception of Bernardo de Galvez's expedition up the Mississippi River in support of the American rebels, history records that little activity occurred in what is now St. Tammany during the Revolution. There was, nonetheless, some activity in the lakes near St. Tammany. To prevent the British from reinforcing Baton Rouge it was necessary for the Spanish to secure control of the lakes. Britain maintained one armed sloop in Lake Pontchartrain appropriately named the "West Florida." In September 1779 a patched together ship of war commanded by Captain William Pickles engaged the West Florida and in a sharp and violent firefight captured her - ensuring that Glavez's expedition need fear no British reinforcements from Pensacola.

By 1783 Britain was forced to accept defeat in the American Revolution - the resulting treaty transferred all of the territory captured by Galvez to Spain. St. Tammany now entered her third territorial period under Spanish governance. It was during the Spanish period that marked development arrived in St. Tammany. Like their British predecessors, the Spanish were eager to encourage settlement in the territory - they accordingly offered large land grants to those wishing to settle in the territory. Among the newcomers were increasing numbers of British loyalists who now found themselves at the mercy of the American victors along the seaboard and sought refuge in any region not controlled by the United States. West Florida served as one of the closest territories that remained outside American control.

The potential for both progress and disaster soon proved apparent during the Spanish period. The growth of settlement to the north in the Mississippi territory proved a impetus for development as market trails, many built upon older native American trade paths, soon traversed St. Tammany en route to the South's one great metropolis at New Orleans. Development proved especially promising near present day Madisonville, which would soon emerge as an important terminus for cattle drives and other commodities transported overland and loaded onto schooners for transport to New Orleans. The increasing commerce naturally attracted increasing numbers of settlers determined to establish commercial enterprises along the market trails.

But Spanish control also proved problematic in St. Tammany. Essentially, the Spanish exercised no realistic authority over the territory. Spain employed no police force in the region and, although they tried to keep a small garrison on the north shore, concerns for the security of New Orleans ensured troops would be based there only temporarily at best. Such a situation proved attractive to scores of desperadoes and army deserters who fled to the region in order to avoid more established systems of justice in neighboring American controlled regions. By the eve of the Louisiana Purchase a condition of near anarchy prevailed in St. Tammany as thieves and desperadoes roamed the territory virtually free from molestation by the law. The prevailing circumstances led the first American governor of Louisiana William C. C. Claiborne to comment, "civil authority remains weak and lax in West Florida especially in the region near the Pearl River, where the influence of the law is scarcely felt."

Troubled by the absence of effective authority in the region and eager to seize control of valuable lands in the area, in 1804 a group of disgruntled settlers in the Mississippi Territory launched an abortive uprising to overthrow Spanish authority. Though the first effort was unsuccessful, by 1810 rebellion was again brewing in West Florida. Most of the support for the West Florida rebels was concentrated in the Feliciana District. In the district of Tangipahoa and Chifoncte, which included St. Tammany, little overt evidence of support for the rebels proved evident. When a delegation from the Feliciana district called for a convention to discuss the regions relationship to Spain, the delegate from the Chifoncte district was William Cooper, a former British loyalist from North Carolina and a staunch Spanish loyalist. Like most of his neighbors, Cooper opposed the later actions of the West Florida rebels even going so far as to organize a militia company to support the Spanish. But the power of the revolt proved unstoppable - for his efforts in support of the existing government Cooper was branded a traitor, his home and all outbuildings were burned and, before order was restored in the region, he was murdered by the rebels. Whether willingly or not, St. Tammany found itself a part of the West Florida Revolt - the region was included in the territory that formed the original Lone Star Republic.

After enduring for only 74 days, the fledgling Republic of West Florida was annexed by the United States. The Americans quickly made their presence known and the strategic location of the territory was highlighted when the British sought to capture New Orleans during the War of 1812. St. Tammany played a crucial role in the fighting during that conflict as Andrew Jackson marched south to defend New Orleans cutting a new trail through the region that would later emerge as the Jackson Military Road. Fighting also erupted in the waters off ST. Tammany as Thomas ap Catesby Jones tiny naval flotilla engaged the British in Lake Borgne near the Rigolets as they advanced against New Orleans.

American control did not herald the emergence of prosperity in the region. The soil of St. Tammany proved poor in comparison to the fertile bluffs along the Mississippi. Initial effort to grow the great cash crop of the South, cotton, proved unsuccessful until a Siamese black seed variety of cotton was introduced from the Caribbean that finally allowed the cotton economy and accompanying slave system to expand into St. Tammany and Washington parishes. Despite such advances, by 1850 St. Tammany ranked 40th in per capita wealth among Louisiana's 47 parishes.

Like much of the remainder of the South, the Civil War period proved devastating for St. Tammany parish. Union raiders prowled the territory as Confederate cavalry desperately sought to maintain control over crucial river ports, especially Madisonville and the crucial entrance to Lake Pontchartrain near modern day Slidell. By early 1862 Federal Order number 100, which was designed to starve the region into submission was proving effective. Local residents groaned under the burden of ceaseless warfare that destroyed crops and livestock and the added dilemma of scores of refugees from New Orleans who were forced out of the city for refusing to take the oath of allegiance to the Federal government. These refugees were literally dumped on the north shore with little more than the clothes on the back. Local resident Annette Koch lamented, "there is hardly enough food to go around for those of us already here, the new arrivals are certain to soon starve." By the summer of 1864 Federal authorities curtailed incursions into the interior of St. Tammany Parish due to repeated reports that there was little left to destroy. Adding to the prevailing misery in the region were the scores of deserters from both armies who found refuge in the Pearl River swamps. Desperate to survive themselves, these renegades preyed upon the people of the region murdering and stealing with impunity and generally adding to the despair of war.

While the war may have represented a low point in the history of ST. Tammany - the problems destined to confront the region were far from over. After enduring a painful period of Reconstruction, characterized by corrupt governance and widespread violence that would leave a painful legacy in the area, in 1877 St. Tammany found itself forced to confront a shattered economy, war ravaged infrastructure, and painful wounds associated with nearly 20 years of sustained violence. The overthrow of the Carpetbagger government of Louisiana created a power vacuum that revealed a series of simmering problems destined to confront the residents of St. Tammany Parish. Like many areas of the rapidly advancing frontier of America, the expansion of democracy had been restrained in St. Tammany. Residents had become accustomed to governance at the hands of powerful others. The tragedy of defeat in war and the painful consequences of seeking to rebuild with no possibility of assistance from the Federal government, caused many in the region to acknowledge the mistake of blind adherence to the powerful pre-war elite. In the regional elections of 1878-79, local residents rejected the authority of their pre-war masters and instead elected new men to office. But the suspicions of the war and Reconstruction era remained - many had come to believe that violence solved problems permanently. Like the surrounding parishes of Washington and Tangipahoa, St. Tammany descended into a dark chapter where anarchy reigned and feuding served as a primary means of societal regulation.

The violence that consumed St. Tammany was aggravated by disputes over conflicting land claims that had long been dormant in the face of the perceived common enemies evident during the war and Reconstruction periods. Each of the colonial powers: France, Britain, Spain, and finally the Americans had offered land grants that often conflicted and overlapped. While some of the feuds that emerged centered on strictly personal disputes, others related directly to these conflicting claims. The long enduring Jolly-Cousin feud originated in a dispute over a piece of land that an ineffective legal system never properly adjudicated. The feud, which lasted more than 13 years, climaxed in 1897 with a pitched battle involving pistols, shotguns, and clubs, that left four dead and two wounded. At the turn of the twentieth century, the war weary residents of ST. Tammany longed for stability and the hope for prosperity.

The prayers for relief would soon be answered - a bright future was in store for St. Tammany. Initial efforts at recovery began with the residents themselves. The emergence of significant industrial concerns, such as the Jancke Shipyard at Madisonville, advanced lumbering and forestry policies across the parish, improved cross lake shipping concerns, and finally the tapping of the most basic natural resource - the crystal clear ground water found in St. Tammany, offered outlets to progress. As recovery efforts accelerated, residents in New Orleans who had long looked to the moss strewn oak shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain near Mandeville and Slidell as a delightful vacation refuge, now began to relocate to the northshore in large numbers. The construction of the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway accelerated the migration to St. Tammany while the construction of I-12 placed the region at the epicenter of progress.

St. Tammany today enjoys status as the most prosperous parish in Louisiana, sporting a thriving economy and one of the highest rated school systems in the state. But as with all regions that experience such rapid progress, new challenges that will soon confront St. Tammany are just emerging. Discussions are underway to consider the possibility of yet another bridge across Lake Pontchartrain - a bridge certain to further accelerate the rapid growth characterizing the region. Moreover, the issue of identity has come to fore as long term residents of ST. Tammany struggle to maintain traditions amid the mass arrival of people accustomed to potentially contrary cultural perspectives and political views. If history is any indicator of the future though, St. Tammany may very well serve as a model in confronting the obstacles to prosperity.

St. Tammany Parish Public Schools Photograph/Document Archives

Cultural Icons

Cultural Icons

A ‘Cultural Icon’ is someone who has made a major contribution to the arts (visual arts, literature, dance, music, culinary arts, sports) both within St. Tammany Parish and nationally. 

The goal is to eventually recognize all the culturally significant individuals who are from this area, or have lived a significant portion of their lives here.  The first five St. Tammany Cultural Icons are author Dr. Walker Percy, basketball great ‘Pistol’ Pete Maravich, musician Louis Prima, boxer Tony Canzoneri, and musician Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown.

Each Icon has a permanent piece of art and memorabilia hanging in the parish administrative offices in Mandeville.

We invite you to view the bios of our Icons, and visit the display at 21490 Koop Drive. These individuals are cultural treasures, and we hope you enjoy learning about their vital connection to the cultural fabric of St. Tammany Parish.

If you have a suggestion for a St. Tammany Parish Cultural Icon, please email us at arts@stpgov.org.

Supported by a grant from the Louisiana State Arts Council through the Louisiana Division of the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown

Clarence Gatemouth Brown

Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown
Musician
April 18, 1925 - September 10, 2005

Image courtesy of Inside Northside.

Musician Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown was born April 18, 1924 in Vinton, Louisiana.  He was introduced to music at an early age by his father, who was a railroad man and an aspiring musician, playing fiddle and guitar.  Gatemouth learned to play the fiddle and guitar at a young age.  This created a unique and eclectic style which defied convention.

He recorded in a number of different styles, from traditional blues, to country, Cajun and zydeco to ‘American Music-Texas Style’, which was his own version of guitar driven blues.  Brown received a Grammy Award in 1982 for his album Alright Again!  Over the course of his musical career, Gatemouth played the guitar, mandolin, drums, viola, fiddle, harmonica, and sang vocals.

Gatemouth moved to St. Tammany in the 1980s, and lived in Slidell.  Unfortunately, his house was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, and he died while living with his brother in Orange, Texas.  Clarence died on September 10, 2005, at the age of 81.  Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown is definitely a St. Tammany Parish Cultural Icon.

Tony Canzoneri

Tony Canzoneri

Tony Canzoneri
Boxer
November 6, 1908 - December 9, 1959

SDN-067912, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.

Tony Canzoneri was born in Slidell, Louisiana on November 6, 1908.  He became a professional boxer at the age of sixteen, and before the age of twenty had accomplished more in the ring than many boxers accomplish in a lifetime. 

Canzoneri was impressive as a boxer because of his relentless match schedule.  He would regularly fight up to four times in one month, translating to approximately 25 fights per year.  This pace is rarely matched by current boxers. 

Canzoneri managed to win two world championships before the age of twenty.  By twenty three, he was considered pound for pound the best fighter in the world.  He fought in a total of 175 bouts, and won 144.  Tony was also the third boxer ever to win championships in three different divisions.

Due to his overall success as a fighter, Tony Canzoneri was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Tony Canzoneri is a St. Tammany Parish Cultural Icon.

"Pistol Pete" Maravich

Pistol Pete Maravich

"Pistol Pete" Maravich
Basketball Player
June 27, 1947 - January 5, 1988

Image courtesy of LSU Sports Information.

Pete Maravich was born June 22, 1947 in Aliquippa, PA.  As a boy, Pete was known to dribble 2 ½ miles to the playground and back, rain or shine. 

Maravich played basketball at LSU from 1966-1970.  During his three years with the varsity team at LSU, Maravich scored 3,667 points in 83 games, for an average of 44.2 points per game, and the all time NCAA record in both categories.  As of 2010, he still held 9 NCAA records.

Pete was the third player drafted into the NBA in 1970.  During his NBA career, Pete was a five time NBA All-Star, and averaged 24.2 points per game.  He moved to St. Tammany Parish after being drafted into the NBA, and remained here with his family.

Perhaps the biggest contribution Pete Maravich made came after his departure from professional sports, when he started a ministry talking to groups of athletes at basketball camps and churches around the country. 

Pete Maravich died on January 5, 1988 at the age of 40, while playing a game of pickup basketball.  ‘Pistol’ Pete is truly a St. Tammany Cultural Icon.
 

Dr. Walker Percy

Pistol Pete Maravich

Dr. Walker Percy
Author
May 28, 1916 - May 10, 1990

Image courtesy of the Percy Family.

Author Dr. Walker Percy was born May 28, 1916, in Birmingham, Alabama.  After the death of both his father and mother during his teen years, he moved to Mississippi with his two brothers to live with his uncle.

Percy was trained as a medical doctor, and was not until he contracted tuberculosis from performing an autopsy that he began an intense study of writings by Kierkegaard and Dostoyevsky.

In 1946, Percy married Mary Townsend, and they moved to Covington in St. Tammany Parish, where they raised their children.  His first novel, The Moviegoer, received the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962.  He wrote five other novels and several non-fiction essays, all dealing in some way with man’s search for significance in the world.

Walker Percy’s influence in the literary world has extended far beyond the borders of St. Tammany Parish.  He is very highly regarded as both a Southern writer, and a philosophical writer.  Percy truly is a St. Tammany Parish Cultural Icon.

Louis Prima

Louis Prima

Louis Prima
Musician
December 7, 1910 - August 24, 1978

Image courtesy of www.louisprima.com.

Louis Prima was born December 7, 1910 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Prima was one of  the most influential figures in American music, with a career spanning from 1930 through 1975.  He wrote “Sing, Sing, Sing” in 1936, the song that defined the swing era.
Prima’s early Italian hits were instrumental in giving rise to singers like Perry Como and Tony Bennett.  He formed his group The Witnesses in 1954 and ushered in a new sound to the Las Vegas stage with his hits “Just a Gigolo”, “Jump, Jive and Wail”, “That Old Black Magic” and many more.  His influence extended to Elvis Presley, who gave Prima credit as the source for his famous hip wiggle.

Louis Prima performed in Las Vegas with Keely Smith and later Gia Maione.  Louis and Gia were married and lived in Covington, LA and Las Vegas, NV.  Louis built Pretty Acres, a golf course in Covington, which Gia maintained after his death.  Louis Prima is a St. Tammany Parish Cultural Icon.

 

 

 
 

Flags of St. Tammany Parish

Exploration of a New World
1519, the Spanish explorer Alonso Alverez de Pineda led an expedition along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico. He discovered the mouth of a great river- in all likelihood the mighty Mississippi.

Exploration of a New World

The French Take Possession

The French Take Possession
The first explorer to travel down the Mississippi River to its mouth was Frenchman Sieur de LaSalle. In 1682, he took possession of "the country known as Louisiana," naming it in honor of his king, Louis XI V.

Spanish Possession
In a secret treaty in 1762, France ceded its territory west of the Mississippi to Spain. Colonist in Louisiana didn't learn of the transfer for almost two years!

Spanish Possession

Enter The British

Enter the British
In 1763, great Britain acquired parts of Louisiana east of the Mississippi from France and Spain in the Peace of Paris that ended the French and Indian War.

Return to the French
The cost of maintaining distant colonies and worries about restless Americans who wanted to control the land led Spain to return the Louisiana territory west of the Mississippi to France in another secret treaty in
1800.

Return To The French

The Louisiana Purchase

The Louisiana Purchase
On April 30, 1803, the United States purchased the vast Louisiana territory from Napoleon for $15 million. That purchase more than doubled the size of the United States.

An Independent Territory
In 1810 colonists took control of the area east of the Mississippi River. It was part of Spain's West Florida Territory. That same year this republic joined the United States as part of the Louisiana Territory The area is still referred to as the Florida Parishes (Louisiana is divided into parishes instead of counties.) The flag is known as the "Bonnie Blue."

An Indenpendent Territory

Louisiana Becomes a State

Louisiana Becomes a State
On April 30, 1812, Louisiana became the 18th state to join the Union. William Charles Cole Claiborne was elected its first governor.

The Civil War
The longest siege in American military history took place in 1863, when Confederate troops at Port Hudson held out for 48 days. Their surrender, five days after the fall of Vicksburg, marked the end of Confederate control of the Mississippi River.

The Civil War

Union, Justice and Confidence

Union, Justice and Confidence
In 1912, the Louisiana State Legislature officially adopted the present state flag. It depicts the state bird, the Eastern Brown Pelican and the state motto: Union, Justice and Confidence.

St. Tammany Parish Flag
In 2001, the Parish President officially adopted the present parish flag. It depicts the seal of St. Tammany Parish Government on a blue background symbolizing knowledge, integrity, trust, loyalty, & confidence. The gold band represents quality, wisdom, and wealth.

St. Tammany Parish Flag

 

 

 

Businesses & Places

BUSINESSES & PLACES

The following are some of the businesses which have played significant roles in the history of St. Tammany Parish.  In addition, there are some areas of the parish listed which may not exist on a map any more, but at one time were thriving communities.  


Businesses


H.J. Smith and Sons General Store and Museum opened in 1876.  It is still open today on Columbia Street in Covington.


The St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation was created in 1981 through the united efforts of the individual chambers of commerce in the parish. 


Tulane National Primate Research Center originally opened in 1964 as the Delta Regional Primate Research Center


NASA Michoud Computer Operations Office, one of the largest high-speed electronic computer centers in the country, was established in Slidell in 1962.  It was originally a regional air traffic control building for the FAA.  The facility processed data and aided in the fabrication and testing of the Saturn I, Saturn 1B and Saturn V rockets.


Southeast Louisiana Hospital opened Oct. 6, 1952 as the third psychiatric treatment facility for the State of Louisiana.  It received its first patient on Dec. 8, 1952. 


The St. Tammany Farmer was founded in 1874 by George Ingram.  It was started as a “weekly journal devoted to Agriculture, Railroads, Commerce, Manufacturing, and Education.”  A subscription was originally sold for $2 a year. It is now just over $17 a year.



Image courtesy of Inside Northside Magazine.

St. Tammany Ice & Manufacturing Company had the largest flowing water well in the State of Louisiana.   The company also had the first generator in Covington, and was awarded the contract to provide the town of Covington with electricity in 1910.


Poole Lumber was started in Covington1945 by Lt. Weldon W. Poole, as a lumber re-manufacturing company.  Now the company sells lumber and building materials.  Poole Lumber has been in the lumber industry for four generations. 


Suella Shop was opened in the mid 1960s on Columbia Street in downtown Covington.  It was a department store owned by Kay Morse and Ella Hadley.






 

Places


The following are areas and communities which are recognized or were at one time recognized as part of St. Tammany Parish, though they are not incorporated as towns, cities or villages.


Big Branch is an area between Mandeville and Lacombe, bordering Lake Pontchartrain.  It contains Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge.


Bush is a community in the Northeastern part of St. Tammany Parish.

 

Goodbee  is an unincorporated community at the intersection of US 190 and LA Hwy 1077, west of Covington.  Goodbee has a signed exit off Interstate12.    


Hickory  is a community North of Pearl River, located at the intersection of Hwy 36 and Hwy 41. 


 

Alton  is a community located north of Slidell and south of Pearl River, off of Hwy 11


Talisheek  is a community between Abita Springs and Lacombe.


Waldheim is a community located north of Covington off of Hwy 21.


Lewisburg was founded in 1834 as a community between Mandeville and Lake Pontchartrain.



Image courtesy of www.ucmmuseum.com

White Kitchen was a community founded in 1953.  It was named after a restaurant located where US 190 and US Route 90 meet on the eastern edge of St. Tammany. 3 White Kitchen Restaurants were built by Onesime Faciane. George Allen Bowden, the chef at the White Kitchen Restaurant, made the famous White Kitchen BBQ sauce recipe. 


Jayville was a community in existence from1885 to1906.  It was a community slightly upriver and across from Madisonville.  It was originally named for a sawmill built by entrepreneur W.T. Jay.  Virgin cypress and yellow pine were milled and ferried to New Orleans from this mill.  Jay built his home near the mill. Later, the residence was called Fairview House and today it is known as Otis House.  In 1906 Charles and William Houlton bought the lumber company and mansion. Renamed company Houlton Lumbar Company. 


Houltonville was a community created when the Houltons, Charles and William, from Duluth, Minnesota bought Jay’s Sawmill and the Otis house from W.T. Jay. Houtonville had a general store, post office, schoolhouse, and 3 churches – including Penn’s Chapel.


 

 
 

People & Families

People & Families

The following are some of the important individuals and families who have contributed over the last 200 years to making St. Tammany Parish what it is today.  If you know of another important figure in our past or present, please submit an account in our Shared Memories page.

John Wharton Collins donated the land and founded the town of Wharton, which eventually became Covington. He is buried on the corner of the cemetery directly across from Covington City Hall.


John Slidell was a U.S. Representative and Senator.  He was born in New York, and married Mathilde Deslonde – a Creole beauty from St. John the Baptist Parish. After the Civil War he moved to France, where he is buried. Slidell owned property in Mandeville and Covington. The city of Slidell in St. Tammany Parish was named in his honor by his son-in-law, Baron Frederick Emile d'Erlanger.


Bernard Xavier Philippe de Marigny de Mandeville (Bernard de Marigny) was a French Creole American nobleman who was born in New Orleans. He owned the Fontainebleau Plantation, a sugar mill he named after the vast royal park, palace and forest near Paris. The word means ‘beautiful fountain water’ in French.  He later founded the town of Mandeville with some of the land he owned.  Marigny was a well known gambler, and he is thought to be responsible for bringing the game of craps to Louisiana, as well as giving it the name.  Marigny was also known for his dueling.  He is reported to have been involved in over 15 duels.


John A. Parisy  was the first veterinarian in St. Tammany Parish, in 1887.  He was primarily a horseshoer and horse doctor.  From Mr. Kentzels Covington by Carol Sanders Jahnke 

Dr. George Boudreaux compounded a diaper rash ointment in 1970.  It was derived from Dr. “Pappy” Talbot’s original recipe for his pharmacy on Covington’s 21st Street. The ointment became known as “Boudreaux’s Butt Paste”.


Image courtesy of 
Inside Northside 
Magazine.

Joseph and Audrey Champagne started an Anheuser-Busch franchise in 1957. Joel continues his parents business today. The company recently built a new operations center in Madisonville. Champagne beverage distributes Anheuser-Busch, Corona and Monster Products.


The Family has played an important role in Covington.  Carol Jahncke gathered the information for and wrote the book Mr. Kentzel's Covington Jahncke Street in Covington was named after the family that donated the shells for the road, which is now an important paved thoroughfare in old Covington. In Madisonville, the Jahncke Shipyard built ships for the US Navy during WWI.


Charles Sidney Fuhrmann was the namesake behind the current Fuhrmann Auditorium in Covington. He was a painter and writer who was very active in bringing the culture of St. Tammany Parish to the public.  There were two Fuhrmann Theaters, one in Mandeville and one in Madisonville, which advertised in The Farmer between 1946 and 1952. 


 

The Fritchie family has had many important figures in the Slidell area of St. Tammany Parish.  The Salmen-Fritchie House was originally built by Fritz Salmen in 1895.  Fritz was one of the founders of Slidell.  Gus Fritchie, Sr. was the first Judge of the Slidell Courthouse, and served from 1964 until his death in 1971.  His son Gus was his successor, and served until 1989.  Charles J. Fritchie, Jr. was the author of the first book on Slidell history –  Notes on Slidell History The Fritchie name has been ascribed to many landmarks in eastern St. Tammany Parish, including Fritchie Park in Slidell, Fritchie Barn in Pearl River, and Fritchie Marsh.


The Salmen family is one of Slidell’s most important families.  Fritz Salmen, who started the Salmen Brick and Lumber Company, was one of the founders of the city. He built and owned the Slidell Store Co. in the early 1880s. The original building still stands today at the corner of Front Street and Cleveland Avenue in Slidell.   The land currently known as Camp Salmen was donated by the family.  Salmen High School in Slidell was named after the family as well.


The Blossman family has been and continues to be involved in the banking industry in St. Tammany Parish.  Richard S. “Dickie” Blossman, Jr. is president and CEO of Lacombe Central Progressive Bank.  A.R. “Fred’ Blossman of Covington started the First National Bank in Covington.



Image courtesy of 
The St. Tammany 
Parish Library

The Haik family had the Haik Bar in Covington in the 1940s. Haik Park in Covington is named after this family.


The Smith family opened H.J. Smith and Sons General Store in Covington.  “Red” Smith and J. Lewis “Deed” Smith are the sons of Henry James Smith


The Houlton family played an important role in the early years of St. Tammany Parish. Charles and William Houlton were originally from Duluth, Minnesota and bought Jay’s Sawmill and the Otis House from W.T. Jay.  They were active in the lumber industry in St. Tammany in its early years.  An area of St. Tammany called Houltonville can still be seen on some maps.

Francois Cousin built an important structure near Slidell, located on Bayou Liberty. The house is a French Creole Cottage, likely built between 1778 and 1790. It is the oldest structure in St. Tammany Parish.  Cousin, born in 1745 in New Orleans, managed his father's lumber and brick making business interests in St. Tammany Parish.  The house is on the National Register of Historic Places.


Mike Williams was the first African American student athlete given a scholarship to Louisiana State University.  He attended LSU beginning in 1970 on a football scholarship.  Williams attended Covington High School before signing with LSU, where he played cornerback.  He went on to play in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers and the Los Angeles Rams.

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Pre-1810

PRE-1810

While extensive record keeping was not all that common in the pre-1800 era of St. Tammany Parish, some important events did occur in our area.  In 1699, explorer Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville located and named Lake Pontchartrain.  He was on an expedition searching for a shorter route to the Mississippi River.

 

It is well known that several Native American tribes resided in the area of St. Tammany Parish before the 1800’s.  Some of these tribes no longer exist today, and include the Bayougoula, the Acolapissa in the Pearl River area, and the Houma Indians.

 

The great fire of 1794 which destroyed much of the city of New Orleans required large numbers of bricks for the rebuilding effort.  Most bricks for the rebuilding which took place over the next few years came from locations in St. Tammany, including the Camp Salmen area and other locations in the eastern part of the parish, and the Madisonville area on the west side of the parish.

In 1800 the town of Madisonville was founded, though it was originally named Coquille.  It was renamed after President James Madison in 1810.

In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase occurred, in which the United States acquired over 828,000 square miles of the French territory Louisiana.  The area which is currently St. Tammany Parish was not originally part of the Louisiana Purchase.  Part of St. Tammany was an area under Spanish rule called the West Florida Republic.  A small portion of modern St. Tammany was actually an area of conflict between the United States and Spain.

The Parish system in the State of Louisiana was established in 1807.  Of course, Louisiana is known for being the only state in the country divided into Parishes.   The state was originally comprised of twelve counties, but changed to a system modeled after Roman Catholic Parishes.

 

The name St. Tammany Parish has interesting origins. The parish is named after a Native American given the moniker “saint” as a show of respect and admiration.  Chief Tamanend was a chief in the Lenni-Lenape tribe, and had many dealings with white European settlers in the late 17th century and early 18th century.  Due to his honesty and integrity, “Saint” Tamanend was honored with this name.  He signed treaty documents which guaranteed equality for Native Americans in areas of the colonies, which was a very significant achievement.  While many parishes in the state are named after either Native American tribes or European saints, St. Tammany has the distinction of being the only parish named after a Native American ‘saint’.

 

Some information from Dr. Hyde, The Florida Parish Chronicles