LAKE CHARLES STREET NAMES

 

by

 

Lloyd G. Barras

  

 (transcribed by Leora White, 2008)

 

Dedication:  In memory of Papa, the late Henry Gaudet, and our ancestor historians.

 

(Note: The official title of this book is Lake Charles Street Names and Other Memorabilia of the Lake City. The "Other Memorabilia" has not been transcribed/included here but may be seen in the book in the Special Collections of the McNeese Archives Department.)

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 

            I will not attempt to name the many individuals who throughout the years have given me information about the history of Lake Charles and area.  To them I extend a blanket note of thanks.

 

            But there are four to whom I extend special gratitude, Jim Beam and Walter Farque of the Lake Charles American Press, Nola Mae Ross, author of Pioneers of Calcasieu Parish, Volumes I, II and III, and one other, John Ruysenaars without whose assistance with the word processor, typing and proofreading, this book would definitely not be. 

 

Lloyd G. Barras
August 28, 1992

 

FOREWORD

 

            Street names have become a living history in towns and cities across America, and Lake Charles is no exception.  Pujo, Barbe, Bilbo, Drew, Gill, Goos, Kirby, Kirkman, Lyons, Moss, Ryan, and Shattuck are some of those street names which are also the names of pioneer families who settled in the southwestern corner of Louisiana.

 

            Residents and visitors take those street names for granted as they travel through the city for business or pleasure, and seldom have the time or inclination to look behind the names.  Now comes a compilation of those street names and the history they tell.  The work is by Lloyd Barras, a longtime resident with a passion for history who has had many of her writing published in the Lake Charles American Press.  Mrs. Barras is the author of Early Homes of Lake Charles.

 

            Many of those street histories appeared previously in the American Press in a column on street names written by Mrs. Barras.  They are reprinted here along with pictures of some of the streets and photographs of the pioneers who make those street names famous.  Also included are street histories which are being published for the first time. . . .

 

          This publication would not have been possible without the cooperation of numerous individuals who provided Mrs. Barras with materials she reproduced and with and with the historical background and photographs which help tell a complete story.  Some information came from as far away as California and Salt Lake City, Utah. . . .

 

            Although Lake Charles is relatively young compared to many cities in Louisiana and in the United States, it has a colorful history dating back many prior to the city’s incorporation in 1867.  Readers of Lake Charles Street Names and Other Memorabilia of the Lake City will find the publication an excellent vehicle for recapturing some of that glorious past.

 

JIM BEAM

Editor

Lake Charles American Press  

 

CONTENTS     

 

Title Page

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Foreword

Contents

Streets:

 

            Barbe

            Battle Row (Railroad Avenue)

            Bilbo

            Broad

            Bryan

            Chavanne

            Clement

            Continuation

            Contraband

            Deesport

            Division

            Dolby

            Drew

            Eddy

            Elms

            Enterprise Boulevard

            Fifth

            Fitzenriter (Fitzenrieter)

            Ford

            Foster

            Fournet

            Gill

            Goos

            Haskell

            Hodges

            Lyons

            McNeese

            Moss

            Kirby

            Kirkman

            Knapp

            Mayo

            Name Changes

            North and South Court

            Perkins

            Pithon

            Poe

            Powell

            Prater

            Pujo

            Reid

            Ryan

            Sallier

            Scott

            Shattuck

            Shell Beach

            Touchy

            Vincent

            Watkins

            White

            Winterhaler (Winterhalter)

           

Women’s Street Names  

Big Places and Little Streets

Home Names

The Great Fire

 

BARBE STREET

 

            The first Barbe to come to Lake Charles was Charvais (spelled Charvey here) who came as a young man to Galveston, Texas where his cousin, a Bishop Odin, was.  The young man was told one day by the captain of a schooner docked in Galveston, that a store in Rose Bluff needed a clerk.  This brought the young man to Lake Charles.

 

            He worked for Amede Pujo in the store, sometimes referred to as a trading post, until he was 25 years of age.  He then married Pujo’s daughter, Clara.

           

            During the Civil War, Barbe worked in a hospital in New Orleans.  After the war, when he returned to Lake Charles he acquired the home place on Shell Beach Drive from his wife’s aunt, Dalila LeBleu Sallier.

           

            The Barbes had 10 children, eight of whom were born in the home on Shell Beach Drive, a home still standing and still in the family.

 

            Barbe Elementary School is on property sold by the Charvey Barbe heirs to the school board and the school was named for him

 

            One of the sons, Judge Alfred M. Barbe, was a trustee of the Drew Estate, which donated the equipment needed for vocational training and Barbe High School was named for him.

 

            There are also a street and a court carrying the name Barbe.

  

BATTLE ROW

 

            Battle Row was a familiar name for the section of Railroad Avenue south of the Southern Pacific Railroad and running from Kirkman to Reid streets.  The street itself was so named because it ran along the side of the railroad.

 

            The section called Battle Row was given this name because of the many fights which took place within and without the many saloons with dimly lit interiors and sawdust floors, constructed one right after the other.  Treville Bernard’s Place, a combination boarding house and saloon which was later called Railroad House marked the beginning of the row of drinking places.  Around 1884 the owner was charged with running a gambling joint.  His license was cancelled and he was fined the minimum $200.  Two months later he was pardoned by the governor and re-opened the placed.  Around 1893 the proprietor was someone else who must have also operated what must have been the first employment agency.  Joseph George was another of the saloon owners.  His place was Railroad Exchange. 

 

            Temperance Leagues and societies became popular as reform groups and ministers organized a Preachers’ Union, but their efforts to do something about the riotous saloons had little success.  In 1894 a group of citizens appealed to the City Council to do something about liquor violations and to prohibit saloons in residential areas.

 

            A request was also made to abolish houses of ill repute which, although a section in that area was reserved for these buildings, had gone up elsewhere. Anti-gambling ordinances were passed and saloons were to be closed on Sundays, but the laws were seldom enforced.  If the front doors were closed, side and rear ones were open and business continued as usual. 

 

            A resolution to abolish houses of ill repute was made, but voted down.  It was said some women of the houses knew too much.  It was also believed saloons were tolerated and even encouraged because during the 1890’s the city’s budget was supplemented with collections through illegal taxes. 

 

            In 1903 licenses were raised to $1,000 to discourage opening and running saloons, but 25 licenses were issued in one day.  In one month 92 arrests, including some for disorderly conduct, fighting and drunkenness, were made.  The following month there were 102 arrests, but the saloons continued business as usual. 

 

            The council seemed at that time to sway from one course of action to another, the course dependent upon the pressure of the businessmen.  An example of this was the ordinance condemning the Lake Charles Opera House as unsafe; a few days later another ordinance was passed to nullify the first.  Another example was the ordinance issued to close sewers and then repealed when owners persuaded the council the action was not fair. 

 

            Not all of Railroad Avenue had saloons.  C. B. Caraway of Florida who the Farmers’ Union had a store there; Nick Keller had the O.K. Shoe Store and an M. Shochet had a store.

 

            Joseph Martin opened a lunch room where one could, when the passenger train went through Lake Charles, get sandwiches and then get back on the train in a brief period of time.  The owner of the lunch room was the first to charge as much as ten cents for a cup of coffee.  His place became famous and later received the name South Pacific Lunch Room. 

 

            A $10,000 passenger depot constructed at the tracks about midway between Hodges and Bilbo streets was completed in 1894.  Some of the old buildings along the avenue both on the south side and the north remain today, mere ghosts of their former selves and silent witnesses of the quarrels, fights, murders and many drunk persons. 

 

                        

BILBO STREET

 

            Bilbo Street was named for Thomas Bilbo who came to Lake Charles with his wife and children from Jackson County, Miss. in 1832.  He had a Spanish Land Grant which embraced what is now all lands from Division Street to Calcasieu River and from Hodges Street west to the lake. 

 

            The orange trees he planted the year he arrived gave a yield of 10,000 oranges a year.  The 1884 freeze retarded the growth and production for a few years. 

 

            Part of the tract of land covered the site of old Camp Atkinson on the lake and at first the family lived in the old mess hall of the camp.  The site became the Bilbo Cemetery and in 1840 the first burial was the youngest of the Bilbo children, an eight-year-old daughter.  The second was the oldest son, John, and the third was his father who died in 1846.  The father had left a large estate of land and slaves. His will, carefully written out, provided well for his wife and each of the six children in addition to the minor children of the deceased son. 

 

            Bilbo was the town’s first alderman.  His son Joseph L. took an active part in the history of the town after the death of his father.

 

            The street bearing the Bilbo name ran from Kirby Street to Division Street until 1886 when it was extended one block to Pine Street. From then on, the street grew more rapidly.  It took longer to improve its general condition.  As late as 1903 it was bad enough that a transfer wagon drawn by large horses became stuck in a mud hole on the block between Broad and Division streets.  The wagon had to be unloaded before it could be pulled out.

 

 

 

 

 

BROAD STREET

 

            Broad Street received its name because it was the widest street in the town in the late 1800’s.   Until the 1930’s tall palm trees lined both sides of the street from Bilbo Street to Louisiana Avenue.  Today it runs in an almost true east-west direction, but prior to 1890 it was angled in a northeast direction from Kirkman Street to Kayouchee Coulee.  Around 1890 the Town Council authorized the mayor to make an exchange of land with Mrs. Marial H. Clement to straighten the street.  Before this was done, some of the owners of the property along the street from Common to Ford streets laid their own sidewalks when the council had concluded the previous year, 1879, that the building of the sidewalks was too expensive.

 

            The board council recommended a causeway be built across the “marsh” on Broad Street near Kayouchee Coulee where the water formed a small lake where ducks could be hunted in the winter.  The causeway was to be 13 feet wide at the top and 21 feet at the bottom with the culvert in the center two and one-half feet deep, three feet wide and 21 feet long.  John Costello agreed to do the work for $45.00 and was awarded the contract.

 

            Around that time Mrs. Emma B. Guilory offered 50 acres of land on the north side of Broad Street for $4.00 an acre.  Needless to say, such an offer was not repeated.

 

            The street had several distinctions.  It was the first to have lights.  It shared with Ryan Street the distinction of having the first brick-building - the First National Bank erected at the corner of these two streets.  A number of other important buildings were also on the street in the downtown area.  The Watkins Loan and Mortgage Co. was constructed at the corner of Broad and Hodges streets in 1884 and described as ornamental with mouldings which had been built at Drew’s Mill.  The building burned the following year from fire originating from a defective chimney.

 

            There was no insurance on the property and the city in sympathy held a public meeting in the courthouse the following week to form a committee to make expressions of regret and draft a set of resolutions for this purpose.  Stephen D. Reads was chairman and a Mrs. Poe was secretary. Committeemen were George Wells, James W. Bryan, William Hutchins and Jerry O’Brien.

 

  

 

BRYAN STREET

 

            An influential pioneer in the early days of Lake Charles had a post office, a street and a creek named for him.  The post office in West Lake was known as Bryan, Louisiana, but it no longer carries that name.  The street called Bryan no longer exists.  It was a three-block street lying north of Railroad Avenue and between what is now North Kirkman and North Bank streets. Bryan Creek was in the center of the west central section of the city in an area just south of Sallier Street, but the location cannot be found on current maps.

 

            James W. Bryan was born in Calcasieu Parish and was the first mayor of the town.  He served with the Confederacy as captain and commander of a regiment during the siege of Vicksburg.  He returned to Lake Charles in 1868.

 

            His general merchandise store was the first in town and stood at the corner of Ryan Street and the public square.  It was established by Bryan in 1869.  Later Stephen D. Clements went business with him and the store became known as J. W. Bryan and Co. 

 

            Bryan purchased the old frame courthouse for $465 and had it moved to the corner of Ryan and Kirby streets. Parts of the building were used for offices and part was used for a tin shop.  For a short time, the printing facilities of the Weekly Echo, a newspaper, were housed in the building.  Bryan was the paper’s first editor.

 

            He was treasurer of the Fire Co. No. 1; a charter officer of the Calcasieu Bank and charter treasurer of the American Legion of Honor.  He was also president of the Police Jury in 1887.  He ran independently for alderman and won the post.  He was on a committee for the building of a canning factory and on the committee to draw up the by-laws of the organization. 

 

            At one time he was owner of a boat called Nettie.  His company was the first to ship to Galveston rice cleaned by Bryan and Sons Rice Mill.   The rice brought five and one-half to six and one-fourth cents per pound.

 

            Bryan also taught school and around 1876 he served on a committee for recommendations for improving living conditions in Lake Charles, such as cleaning ditches and building and repairing bridges.  Evidently the committee was not too successful because some few years later there appeared the following in the local newspaper:

 

There is a hole in the gutter in front of the Echo office that would put to shame an artesian well borer.  After rains the stagnant water stands for days in this place and is used by the numerous hogs which roam our streets at will, as a place to wallow.

 

When in the name of humanity will steps be taken to remedy such evils and provide at least, some sanitary precautions against such nuisances?

 

CHAVANNE STREET

 

            Chavanne Street, running one block from Ryan Street east to Hodges was named for Francis Chavanne, a native of Orange, Texas.  His father was E.J. Chavanne who came to New Orleans from that country in 1858.  From there the family moved to Orange, then to Niblett's Bluff and in 1875 to Lake Charles.

 

            Francis was six years old when his family moved to Calcasieu Parish.  In Lake Charles he worked in his father’s general store at Ryan and Broad streets.  It was a two-story building with the upper floor serving as living quarters until the family moved into a two-story home at the corner of Broad and Moss streets. 

           

            In 1884, he left his father’s business and began his own, a bakery which he operated until 1889 then sold the business to re-enter the mercantile establishment when his father died.  Six years later he disposed of this business and went to Kentucky and then to Indiana with the intention of finding a place to establish a business.  Not finding any he liked better than Lake Charles, he returned to this city and for the following four years worked in a store his mother owned. 

 

            When he left that business, he again went into the bakery business where along with the pastries and bread, he carried a full line of groceries.  His next endeavor was in real estate – rental and abstract – with offices in the Haskell building on Ryan Street.  He made a specialty of city property and in 1905 had an extensive listing of business and residential properties, factory sites and also acreage in all parts of the parish.  He negotiated loans, paid taxes for non-residents and looked after property for parties residing in other sections. 

 

            At that time, he was the largest taxpayer of any individual real estate agency in Calcasieu Parish and was considered “one of the best posted men on reality values in the state.”  His own home was beautifully situated among trees and shrubbery on the entire block of 11th and Hodges.  He was well known for his devotion to Lake Charles and his endeavor in encouraging the beautifying of the city and expanding of the industries. 

 

            At one time, Chavanne was assistant secretary of the board of directors of the Lake Charles Homestead and Loan Association.  The real estate agent was also active in fraternal circles.  He was a member of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Free Masonry of the Texas Consistory No. 1 of Galveston, Texas, the Lake Charles Lodge No. 185, F&AM and the Lake Chapter No. 147 R.A.M.  

   

CLEMENT STREET

           

            The name Clement carried by a local street is associated with early history of Lake Charles through the pioneer resident, Stephen Henry Clement, his wife, Talisma Lyons Clement and their son, Dr. Elisha Lyons Clement.  There was also Duff S. Clement, brother of Dr. Elisha.

 

            The Clement brothers operated a lumber company, a grocery store which carried farm implements, and Clement’s Wharf.

 

            Dr. Clement was born in Lake Charles in 1875 and received his college education at Tulane University in New Orleans.  On the 25th anniversary of his practice he was presented with an honorary degree for the half-century of service rendered to this section of Louisiana.

 

            It was a custom at the time he became a doctor for members of the medical profession to wear top hats and Prince Albert boots as a badge of their profession.  The young man decided he would not be part of what he considered supercilious tradition.  Consequently, it is said he was one of the first doctors to wear a business suit while conducting his practice. 

 

            After receiving his degree Dr. Clement returned to Lake Charles to set up his practice.  Because of the illness of a fellow doctor, he was called to Sulphur to care for the former’s patients. Other towns in which the doctor served were DeQuincy, Starks, Merryville and Hackberry.

 

            Horses were still the main means of transportation and the doctor’s horses for this purpose were always of a superior breed.  Among the horses he owned were a Hamilton Standard, an Arabian and a polo mare.  Game was plentiful then and Dr. Clement usually took his hunting dog and a gun with him as he rode through woods and prairies to administer to the ill.  He invariably returned with wild turkey, quail or other game fowl.

 

            After practicing some six years in Sulphur, he returned to Lake Charles and shortly after this, took a three and one-half month course at the New York Post Graduate Hospital.  Local practice was resumed after his return to Lake Charles.  He also held the position of coroner for 20 years, was an honorary member of St. Patrick and Memorial hospitals and parish, state and national medical associations and a member of a Masonic Lodge.  He died at age 77 in 1953.

 

            Clement Street lies one block north of Broad Street and runs east and west between Kirkman Street and Louisiana Avenue.

 

CONTINUATION STREETS

 

            Some streets appear to be a continuation of others, but under different names.

 

            Jackson Street, believed to be named for Stonewall Jackson, becomes Gallaugher Street, named for an attorney of the early days.

 

            Hutchins was named for William Hutchins who owned the old Mount Hope Mill on the lake front; a continuation of that street is Fournet Street, named for Judge Gabriel A. Fournet who served many years as district judge.

           

            Mount Hope, named for the old mill which later became part of Bradley-Ramsey Lumber Company, has its continuation as Opelousas Street, a busy thoroughfare, the old Highway 90 which led to the city of Opelousas.

 

            Because of the mills in the area, there was no unemployment problem; some of the larger mills hired about 200 men.  Some were “flatheads” a nickname for the men who cut the timber, sawyers and saw filers.  Flatheads worked from 4 a.m. to dark.  They could make between five and ten dollars per day.  Sawmill hours then were from daylight to dark and these hours applied to the office as well.

           

            At the beginning of the 20th century, there were 21 sawmills in and around Lake Charles. 

 


 

 

 

 

CONTRABAND LANE

 

            Contraband Bayou was at one time known as Sand Bayou.  The name was changed in preference to the current name of the body of water which winds through the southwest part of the city and merges with the waters of the lake and Calcasieu River.

 

            Just south of Prien Lake Road is a one-block long street running from Lake Street to the bayou.  It carries the name Contraband Lane obviously for the same reason the bayou has its current name.  It was here and in other places along the bayou shores and the lake that the partially legendary pirate Jean LaFitte is said to have unloaded his cargoes of contraband goods.  It is also claimed Charles Sallier became one of his land agents.  The banks of the bayou have been searched again and again but no treasures, as well as is known, were ever found.

 

            Around 1888 a party of 11 left Lake Charles to treasure hunt near a lake in Cameron.  Some of the party members had been treasure hunting for 20 years and spent thousands of dollars in this effort.  They claimed a tall, white “something” moved in the distance and led them by means of a light toward the spot where treasure was buried, but before they reached the place, the light faded away and the searchers could not find the place.

 

            North of Contraband Lane there is a place in the water where some years ago, it was claimed by a number of persons that the top of one of LaFitte’s schooners could be seen when the tide was low.  There are many more stories connected with the pirate and his “contraband goods” and in a diary which is supposed to have been written by LaFitte, mention is made of his visits here. 

 

            Many of the excavations along Contraband Bayou no longer exist. And whether the bayou and short street hold any of the contraband goods may never be known, but both the bayou and the street still carry the name “Contraband.” 

 

DEESPORT STREET

 

            Deesport Street is some distance from the original sawmill “town” called Deesport.  The three acres of the original Deesport were along the Calcasieu River next to the dock property.  The only building in the community was a sawmill called Yankee Mill because it was constructed by men from Vermont around 1868.  In that year the mill was seized and sold in a sheriff’s sale.  It became the property of Lemuel C. Dees – hence the name Deesport.

 

            The street, presumably named for the same Dees, is a few blocks north of Prien Lake Road.  It runs west from Lake Street for about 1.5 blocks, then terminates in a dead-end.

 

            In 1872, the mill was sold but Dees became owner of another mill in the community.  Co-owner was William D. Mearns, a retired postmaster.

 

            By 1885 the community around the mills was large and active enough to have a combined school and Methodist church built at the expense of Dees.  An article in the local newspaper announced a social was being held for the benefit of the Deesport Sabbath School. 

 

            Dees also had a profitable orange orchard in the community.  The Dees and Mearns Sawmill was later moved upstream and Dees bought out the interest of the latter.  He later sold the business to Perkins and Company.

 

            Dees was the first to have a street sprinkler, a home-made one operated some way with the use of a horse walking around the sprinkler.

 

            Two other men with the family name of Dees were Garland M. and Elly H.  The former had a two-story store on Broad Street and at one time he had the contract for the mail from the post office to Louisiana Western Depot.  He also worked as agent for the first sawmill in Deesport.

 

            Elly H. Dees held some Calcasieu Parish office around 1887.

 

DIVISION STREET

 

            Thomas Bilbo sold the south end of the Bilbo estate to Jacob Ryan which gave him the title to all of that portion of the town which became the business section.  This transaction was followed by a deed from the widow of Bilbo to Ryan which included all the land from the current Division Street south to Pujo Street and from Hodges Street west to the lake front.

 

                        Division Street was made and got its name from being the dividing line between the property of the two men.  It also at that time marked the north boundary line of the town corporation.  The street gradually grew in length and reached Kirkman Street.  It continued east of Kirkman Street in two directions, one slightly north of the first Division Street which received the name North Division.  The one south was given the name South Division.  The three names remain today.

 

            The first Division Street was one of those to receive the rail tracks for the mule-drawn street cars.  All three streets became important residential sections with this part of town growing sooner than the south section.

 

             The foot of the first Division was an unlucky spot.  It was here Ryan had a small shingle mill and later a combined shingle and rice mill.  It burned down, was rebuilt, then burned again.  Then it was closed because of financial trouble.  George Ryan, son of Jacob Ryan, then took over, repaired the mills and began operation.  He had no better luck – for the third time, the mill burned down.  It was never rebuilt.

 

 

DOLBY STREET

 

            Both a street and a school were named for a pioneer educator of Lake Charles, Professor O. S. Dolby.  Dolby Elementary School and Dolby Street are in the south part of the city in University Place.

 

            The school opened for the 1953-54 school term with 474 students and 15 teachers.

 

            Professor Dolby was born in 1858 in Lucus County, Ohio but most of his life prior to coming to Lake Charles was in Michigan where he moved with his parents when he was eight years old. 

 

            He taught school for four year in Michigan and in 1888 came to Louisiana.  He was a professor in Mt. Lebanon University until the fall of 1889 at which time he came to Lake Charles. He established his own private school which was one of more than 30 such educational institutions at that time.

 

            Some of these were Lake Charles Seminary, Lake Charles Male and Female Institution, Mrs. Harrington’s School, Lake Charles Male and Female Academy, Glendale Academy, Lake Charles Common School, one opened by Mrs. M. A. McClelland and her daughter, one operated by Mrs. Theodule Landry, the Myrtle Kennedia Institute and St. Charles Academy.

 

            One new source has Prof.  Dolby listed as being a principal in a public school with a Miss Crossman and a Miss Jenkins as second assistants.

 

            The educator resigned and entered the real estate business which proved a successful venture.  In 1895 he became president of the Riverside Land and Irrigation Company, Ltd. located near Jennings.  The irrigation plant operated by the company was said to be the largest in the south.

 

DREW STREET

 

            Harrison C. Drew whose efforts are still benefiting the city, came to Lake Charles from Galveston, Texas in 1878.  Drew Street and Drew Park were both named after him and it is believed Harrison Street is also in his honor.  The Drew Street which ran through the center of the Drew Mills located on the lake front no longer exists.  There is another Drew Street north of Broad Street and running from Moss to Kirkman streets.  An early map shows that at one time the street went all the way to Enterprise Boulevard.

 

            Drew was born in Maine, but spent his youth in Massachusetts, then went to Harris and Colorado counties in Texas in 1859.  He was a lumber merchant in Galveston until his move to Lake Charles.  Around 1878 his saw mill was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, but shut down for some time before beginning operations again around 1881.

 

            The City council gave him the right-of-way for constructing, owning and operating a street railway, operated by horses, mules and steam power.  They were to go at no greater speed then six miles an hour.  Drew agreed to keep the street crossings and bridges in good repair for 25 years with the town having the option to buy the mode of transportation at the expiration of the time.  Neither he nor his associates were allowed to charge more than five cents to and from the depot and the parties involved were to begin building within 18 months.  However, this enterprise never materialized.

 

            In 1892 Drew sold his lumber industries and went into the rice business, purchasing about 14,000 acres of what was termed waste land.  He had a canal constructed through it and by 1905 he was considered on of the largest individual rice growers in the United States with more than 8,000 of the acreage yielding rice.

 

            He was one of the organizers of the Calcasieu National Bank and president of the charter stockholders, one of four members of the Lake Charles Lumber and Shingle Co. and a charter member of Calcasieu, Vernon and Shreveport Railroad which hauled logs from the pine woods to West Lake and Lockport.  Other activities were charter membership of Lake Charles College, a delegate to the Water Ways Convention in Memphis, Tennessee, proprietor of Drew Sash and Blind Co., and vice president of Calcasieu Artesian Well Co.   In 1898 he was a member of the constitutional convention and in 1900 became state senator.  He was re-elected to this post when his first term expired. 

 

            After his death, which occurred in 1916 after and illness of about three years during which time he was seldom seen in public, his will revealed his concern and attachment for Lake Charles.  The will was “The most magnificent bequest ever bestowed upon the public in southwest Louisiana,” according to a story in a local newspaper.  After providing for a few legacies and leaving one-half of his estate to his wife, the will provided “…. all residue of his estate shall be used for the establishment of an institution of manual training in the city of Lake Charles for the purpose of teaching the youth of both sexes of the city of Lake Charles.”

 

            The estate included lands in Lake Charles and Galveston and in Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron, St. Mary and Sabine parishes.  The principal item was the Choupique Plantation on Bayou Choupique which included a pumping plant, canals and over 10,000 acres of land.

 

            Prior to his death, he had presented to the city, land adjoining Fourth Ward School to be used for a public park.

 

            The newspaper account related, “Mr. Drew was modest and self-effacing.  He shunned publicity and preferred to do good in the simplest and most retiring way.”  

 

 

EDDY STREET

 

            There were a number of men in the early days of the city with the surname of Eddy.

 

            There were Henry H., one of the incorporators of Calcasieu Bank; and H. R. Eddy who was president around 1896 of the Vinton Colony, a large group of settlers who came here from Vinton, Ohio and met once annually at a social and elected officers for the year. 

 

            Another one was Captain Bret Eddy of Company K who called out his command to patrol the area after the fire of 1910 and to guard the many properties left on the sidewalks and on the street.

 

            There were also H. S. Eddy and J.C. Eddy.  One of these was involved in the Eddy-Porridge Subdivision in 1894.

 

            Eddy Street, named for one or more of these, runs between Ernest Street and June Street.

 

 

ELMS STREET

           

            George O. Elms, a surveyor in the early days of Lake Charles, came to Louisiana from Canada and settled in Opelousas before moving to Lake Charles where he remained for the rest of his life. 

 

            The old Elms home was on the lake front.  The street carrying his name runs north and south from 18th to South Ryan streets.  At one time it was called Brittain Street.

 

            He and his wife, the former Mary Elizabeth Barker, were married in 1870.  Mrs. Elms died in 1898. 

 

            The couple had 12 children.  One son Henry (referred to by some as Harry), developed galloping consumption and with his wife and small son Henry went to El Paso.  The climate there was known to be of help for this illness.  Mr. Elms died in that city.  His wife, the former Stella Beadle, a registered nurse, and the son Henry returned to Lake Charles. 

 

            The only two individuals of the George O. Elms family in the city now are Henry whose wife is the former Mary Louise Haymark, and their son, Tommy Elms. 

 

 

 

ENTERPRISE BOULEVARD

 

            Enterprise Boulevard, originally named for the Gray family, is the only street known of in Louisiana that is named for an organization. 

 

            The boulevard runs north and south.  In the north it dead ends just north of Gieffers Street, then it extends south until a few blocks south of the 210 Overpass when it curves to the west and loses its identity as it merges into and becomes absorbed by Louisiana Avenue.

 

            The club was organized November 23, 1898 and was the first civic women’s club.  Among its early projects were the beautification of Orange Grove Cemetery, (now Graceland) and the placement of a water trough for horses at the court house square.

 

            In 1901 club members were made custodians of seven and one-half acres on South Ryan Street for a park, the current Drew Park.

 

 

 

FIFTH STREET

 

            Fifth Street was formerly Richard Street, so named for one of the Richard men prominent in community affairs in the early days of Lake Charles.  The name was changed, some residents were told, for the sake of numerical order in the east-west streets of the city.

 

            One of the most active Richards was Charles M. who came to Lake Charles from Opelousas in 1881.  He worked as deputy clerk of district court for one year after which he was appointed parish assessor by the then Governor Nichols.  He was re-appointed in 1883 by the governor and then appointed to a third term by Congressman Foster.

 

            Richard was a charter president of the Lake Charles Homestead and Loan Association, president of Lake Charles Steam Fire Co. and secretary-treasurer of the Hoo-Hoo Race and Fair Association.  He was also a Master Mason and a member of Lodge No. 26, K of K.

 

            A statement for which he was well-known was “Louisiana is the best state in the union and Lake Charles is the best city.”  His musical talent resulted in his election to the RKR Concert Band and leader of the Lake City Brass Band which, the local paper stated, “…. made rapid improvements under young Charles Richard.”  He was one of the three-man committee for a Masquerade and Fancy Dress Ball at which the RKR Band played.

 

            Another Richard, A. S., came to Lake Charles from St. Landry Parish around 1873.  He attended public schools until he was 16 years of age, then went to Richmond, Kentucky where he attended Center University.  In 1892 he was traveling agent in Texas for the Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. of California.  Later during the year he returned to Lake Charles and purchased an interest in the Elly H. Dees Insurance Agency with Captain O. L. Smith.  Around 1891 the agency and the N. E. Insurance Agency consolidated to become the Smith, Richard and Company firm. 

 

            A third Richard was Julien, one of the incorporators of the Lake Charles and Orange, Texas Railroad Co.  He also managed the Star Hotel and at another time was owner and manager of the Richard House, which was also a hotel.

 

            One of his community activities was as financial recorder of a temperance council, several of which were organized in early Lake Charles and which for some time were extremely popular community groups. 

 

            There is a Richard Street running a few blocks east from Ernest Street just north of Prien Lake Road.

 

FITZENRITER (FITZENREITER) ROAD

 

            In 1890 Charles Fitzenriter and his wife, Barbara, settled on the Calcasieu River on the road that was to carry his name.

 

            He planted citrus fruit trees on 15 acres and called his orchard “Tangisuma.”  He had satsumas, tangerines, lime and grapefruit. 

 

            In a battle with nature, the orchard lost.  There was a freeze with very much snow in 1895 and a hurricane, then another freeze later.

 

            Fitzenriter Road runs east and west and in Goosport from the Calcasieu River near Perkins Ferry Park, then across the Southern Pacific Railroad, across Goosport and dead ends east just before it reaches English Bayou.

 

 

 

FORD STREET

 

            Before Protestant churches were constructed, religious services for some of the denominations were handled by circuit riders who went from place to place.  One such rider was a Baptist preacher, the Rev. I. B. Ford, who conducted prayer meetings and wedding services in a tent formed by branches of bushes arranged over cypress trees cut and stuck into the ground.  Such outdoor services were called “bush arbor” gatherings.

 

            It was for this preacher, Ford Street was named.  Prior to this name, it was know as German Street because of the many German  families living in that area.

 

            At one gathering of these Germans in an amateur entertainment at Fricke’s Opera House, the local paper remarked the “… Gathering of Germans enables us to say that we have among us one of the most valuable accessions in our population.” 

 

            The Zum Deutcher Theater and Ball was put on by “German friends.”  Included in the performances were renditions of Mueller and Schultze; Die Belden Bummer Bon Berlin by Hi. Mueller, Hi. Stonewall and Fr. Jena Hansen and Fil Fi. Mathis.  The concluding piece was Der taufel ist Los, a one-act pantomime by Herr Echard, Mueller, Sterling, Winterhaler, Fr. Jena Hansen and Fil Hi Mathis.  Following this a grand ball was held.

 

            For these Germans, for whom the street was originally named, was a German-English School conducted by the Rev. M. E. Blam, pastor of the German M. E. Church.  He taught in the German department and John I. Bell taught in the English department.

 

            When the street was made, huge pine trees had to be cut down and uprooted.  The land was donated by Rodgers Wright who offered three feet of the east ends of the corners of Kirby and Pujo streets plus 50 feet if the city would remunerate for the other 18 feet then in use for the public as a main thoroughfare for both Kirby and Pujo streets.  The public, it seems, used private land for a street before the street was actually constructed and opened for public use.

 

            When the street underwent a change in name is not known, but an 1895 map shows both German and Ford names were used.  The few blocks from Sallier Street to Sixth Street was Ford and from Kirby Street to the railroad was German and the four blocks north of the railroad to the river was St. Joseph.  Today this north section, one block shorter now, is North Ford Street and the rest of the street is named just Ford.  But there is an additional section, a one-block street between Sixth and Cleveland streets and lying east of Ford which is called East Ford Street.

 

FOSTER STREET

 

            Foster Street is four blocks long with two blocks running from Woodruff Street north to South Ryan Street.  After making an offset to the west, the street continues north of South Ryan to Lake Street.  When first constructed only the two blocks from South Ryan to the lake were called Foster.  The other two blocks were Carland Street. Sometime after 1895 Carland was changed to Foster.

 

            It was named for Dennis M. Foster, one of the earliest settlers from the northeast.  Foster was born in Maine and at the outbreak of the War Between the States, became a private in the federal army and served with the Army of the Potomac.  Later he was transferred to Gen. Bank’s command and took part in the Red River campaign.  When he left the service, he was in New Orleans with the rank of major.

 

            After a brief visit to his northern home, he returned to New Orleans and engaged in cotton planting along the Mississippi River.  In 1869 he came to Lake Charles and entered the log and lumber business in the city and elsewhere in Calcasieu Parish until he as appointed postmaster.  Before his term expired, he sent in his resignation but headquarters in Washington, D. C. would not accept it; therefore he completed his term after moving the post office to the William Meyer building on Pujo Street.

 

             After this work, Foster went into the real estate business and became a well-known agent with a specialty in timber lands.  He was said to have had the longest list of valuable properties in the state.

 

            Foster was also one of the charter shareholders of the Lake Charles Hoop and Stave Factory; president of the Farmer’s Union and secretary of the Mason lodge.  He was one of five aldermen elected on the Independent or Citizens Ticket in the 1880s.

 

            There were two other Fosters early local newspapers mention, Sim and Murphy J.  The former was co-owner of a merchandise business, Rigmaiden and Foster and the later was one of five candidates for senate around 1888.  He also worked at the Lake Charles newspaper, Echo, when Thad Mayo became editor.

 

            If or how any of these Fosters were related to each other is not known.

 

FOURNET STREET

 

            Fournet Street in Goosport in 1895 was about five blocks shorter than it is now.  At that time, the west portion was Hutchins Street which, after a break with buildings and empty lots, began again for one block and then became Fournet Street.  The street as Fournet continued to the end of the city limits several blocks beyond First Avenue.

 

            Today Fournet Street runs from North Bilbo Street to Kirkman Street, then picks up again at North Louisiana Avenue and continues to Prater Street.

 

            Two prominent men, a father and son, bore the name of Fournet.  The father, Gabriel A., was the eldest of a family of nine children.  He lived in St. Martinville until he left to attend Georgetown College in Washington D. C.   He graduated in 1861. 

 

            When the Yellow Jacket Battalion was formed in 1862, he joined as major and shortly after was promoted to lieutenant colonel and served the Trans-Mississippi Department.  He left this service in 1865 and began a study of law under Col. A. DeBlanc.

 

            During this time, he was deputy clerk of court in St. Martinville  and editor of the newspaper Courier of the Teche.  He was admitted to the bar in New Orleans in 1866 and began the practice of law with a partner under the firm name Gary and Fournet.

 

            He was elected parish judge in 1870 and re-elected two years later.  He resumed his law practice in St. Martinville.  Prior to his election as judge he had served as mayor, replacing the elected mayor who could not complete his term.  He moved from there to Lake Charles, where in 1892, he was elected district judge. 

 

            The judge was one of the charter share holders of the Bank of Calcasieu and an officer of the 100F Anchor Lodge organized around that time.

 

            His son Joseph G. Fournet attended school in Lake Charles and in 1886 entered Tulane University where he graduated in 1889.  The following year, he taught French and English in Cameron and in 1891 began a year’s study of law under Capt. D. B. Gorham.

 

            Following this, he entered Tulane Law School and graduated in 1893, after which he returned to Lake Charles and opened his own office.  Within one year, he was elected city attorney, a position he filled for one year.

 

            In 1895 he became partners with another attorney, R. P. O’Bryan with offices in the O’Bryan building.  The local newspaper described the young man and his partner as “perfectly reliable, prompt and courteous” and stated they “handled their full share of the legal business of Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.” 

 

 

GILL STREET

 

            Although gun play was sometimes used to settle disputes, two prominent old timers chose an extremely different way to settle their difficulties.

 

            The two men, William E. Gill and Dr. Erastus J. Lyons, chose mutual friends as “arbitrators" and all parties published the results in the local newspaper.

 

            It was for Gill that the two-block street (the former South Court Street) running east and west between Ryan Street and Lake Shore Drive was named.  There was another Gill of prominence in the town and he may well have shared in the decision to give the street the name of Gill.

 

            The published results of the settling of the dispute stated:  “Having made assertions and using bad language while in the heat of passion, derogatory to the character of Hon. William E. Gill, I hereby withdraw all assertions and take this method of declaring that I recognize Hon. William E. Gill as a gentleman and am satisfied with the arbitration of mutual friends selected for the purpose. (signed) E. J. Lyons.”

 

            Beneath this ran the following:  “I accept the above explanation of Dr. E. J. Lyons and declare myself as satisfied with the decision of the mutual friends selected for us for that purpose. (signed)  William E. Gill.”

 

            And from the mutual friends was this, “We, the undersigned committee selected by Dr. E. J. Lyons and Hon. William E. Gill to arbitrate a controversy existing between them, after having patiently heard both, do hereby make the following decision:

 

“The are both to blame for the causes that led to the misunderstanding and once a small break having been made through the intermeddling of others, it was forced to an open rupture that seemed impossible to heal, but thanks to the magnanimity of both gentlemen and the censor of Dr. E. J. Lyons, a satisfactory adjustment has been made without any reflection on the honor or integrity of either of the gentlemen.  We regret exceedingly the occurrence of a controversy …. (signed)  S.A. Fairchild, W. W. Smart, John Gray, J. W. Bryan, David J. Reid, Thad Mayo, Dosite Vincent.”

 

            William E. Gill was as representative for the state.  The other Gill was Hardy C. who wavered from good to bad luck again and again, beginning with the time he was not yet one year old.

 

            At that time, he almost choked to death while crossing the Mississippi River with his parents from his native Mississippi state.  After entering Louisiana, he was revived and consequently claimed both states as his places of birth, he later reported.  He was a lieutenant at the age of 18 in the War Between the States, was promoted to captain and later taken prisoner and confined at Fort Delaware until the close of the war.  Following the war, he went into partnership business in Bagdad but sold out after a few years.  He had a store in town and sold that, then had another business “Gill Enterprises” with two and one-half miles of railroad in Marsh Bayou.  His business was bought out by one company and he sold the railroad to another company.

 

            He ran a livery stable in town which burned down so he operated his other stable on Pithon Coulee.  He sold that and moved to Texas but after one year, he and his family returned to Lake Charles.  During the course of these years, his steamer burned, his horse reportedly committed suicide by deliberately walking into the lake and lying down in the shallow water where he drowned.  Gill had a pair of matching ponies which he let out one night and found them next morning with their tails cut off and bleeding from the small portion of the tail left on each.

 

            He advertised that if the person who took his six-shooter from the counter of his store in the piney woods and left the box, would return the gun, he could have the box and maybe a pair of shoes in it.

 

            A post office in the area was named for Gill.  He was an alderman in 1880 and the president of the Lake Charles Fire Co. that year.  Later he ran for sheriff and lost and in 1892 he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of the clerk of district court, a post he kept for 14 years.  Around 1902 he was president of the Lake Charles National Bank, was largely interested in real estate and was considered one of the “most popular and progressive citizens in the city.” 

 

GOOS STREET

 

            Goos Street, named for Captain Daniel Goos, runs from Broad Street to Interstate 10; begins again two blocks south of Opelousas Street and continues north to Fitzenreiter Road.

 

            A pre-1900 map of the city shows the northern section of the city as Goosport, named for the early settler, but does not show any street bearing his name.  It is not known just when the street Goos was named.

 

            The captain was born on the island of Schlesweg-Holstein.  At age 20 he came to America, remained for a short time in Philadelphia, Pa. then moved to New Orleans, where he met and married Katherine Moeling of that city. He came to Lake Charles with his family, goods and servants in the fall of 1855 and settled in the northern part of the city which became Goosport.

 

            His charitableness began with the Indians who called him “The Good Man" and who learned no one departed from the large Goos mansion hungry.

 

            He had a lumber mill and during the War Between the States, he added a corn mill and distributed to those in need, meal and grits manufactured there and beef from cattle he had slaughtered.

 

            The captain’s fleet of schooners became blockade runners.  When two boats of wounded and sick men of both the north and south were brought to Lake Charles, some residents objected to the landing of the sick federal men, but the physician would not have the ill men separated.  Captain Goos had every man –Yankee or Rebel – taken to his home where a long cool room was leaned and whitewashed and beds were placed in rows.  There, friends and foe lay side by side and were cared for by Mrs. Goos and the other women of the house.  When the men could be moved, it was the captain’s money which paid for their transportation.

 

            In 1872 the population of Lake Charles was increased when Captain Goos brought to the city about 50 German immigrants.

 

            A special event in the small town of Lake Charles was a dinner party given by the captain on his 54th birthday.  One of the guests who signed his name Calcasieu wrote the following which appeared in the local newspaper. 

 

Mr. Editor:  Together with some dozen others, I had the pleasure of attending last Thursday, a dinner party given by our old and universally respected citizen….

 

The dinner, the wines, the cigars, the music by his accomplished daughter and the general hospitality and friendly feeling which gave this so much relish, made the occasion one of the happiest of my life and that was the verdict of all the guests.

 

A visit by the entire party after dinner to the Captain’s monstrous saw mill with its six saws in motion cutting logs, sawing slabs … afforded us much interest and impressed us more than ever with the sense of dignity of labor.  This mill is said to be one of the best in America.

 

After dark, the Negroes were treated to the best of whiskey and each in turn gave a toast in honor of the day.  Some of these toasts were decidedly original and some of them could not be equaled.

 

One of the Negroes named Henderson spoke nearly as follows: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I am not accustomed to giving toast and you have taken me off my guard, but I’ll do the best I can, according to my mind. 

 

Here’s health and happiness, neither riches or poverty, but a sufficiency of the good things of life to make it happy.  Tip Towe and down she goes, to my lips and down she slips.'

 

            Captain Goos died in 1898 leaving a large tract of land which ran from the Calcasieu River south to Louisiana Western Railroad, east of and adjoining Nix and Lyons subdivision.  This tract became Moeling subdivision bearing the names of his wife and some of the dozen children they had. 

 

            His generosity continues even today.  The catalog at McNeese State University lists as one of the scholarships available at the university the following:  “Goosport Graveport Endowment, all descendants of Daniel Goos are entitled to receive $75 per month while attending McNeese State University and maintaining averages necessary for graduation…”

 

HASKELL STREET

 

            Captain William H. Haskell came to Lake Charles from Lowell, Mass. and opened a tavern called Haskell House. 

 

            The street bearing the name Haskell, running from north to south between Broad Street and Railroad Avenue, was named for this early settler.

 

            Haskell House, also referred to as Haskell Hall, was a stopping place for the stage coach which came every third day from New Iberia.  A May Day Festival was held in the building in 1875 and the selected queen, Lilly Dade, became the wife of Frank C. Haskell, son of the owner of Haskell House.

 

            In the early part of 1879, T. Adams, a general manager of Louisiana Western Railroad, opened his headquarters in Haskell Hall.  The building was also used as a site for a mass meeting by local residents who gathered to make resolutions of protest against the matter of convicts being hired to work on the railroads.  Meeting with them was a representative of the state penitentiary.

 

            Captain Haskell opened a variety store just below Haskell House.  It was a convenient place for residents to leave work for others. One could even leave orders for workers, according to this ad run in a local newspaper in 1882:  “Tobe Armstrong and Jonas Hill, expert whitewashing, leave orders at William H. Haskell’s Store on Ryan Street.”

 

            The captain had another son, also called William who was associated with a Levingston in a business which advertised as contractors, carpenters and builders.  They constructed many of the fine homes and other buildings in the city.  When William, better known as Billy, left the partnership, he became deputy clerk of court and recorder.

 

            Captain Haskell had an unpleasant experience while bathing in the lake one day.  He was attacked by an alligator that caught him by the neck and badly “skinned” him.  He managed to get away and recovered. 

 

HODGES STREET

           

            In 1876 Hodges Street was known as Charles Street.  Just when the name changed is not known, but it became Hodges for Jim Hodges whose wife, Marie Riddle, had purchased the property from Jacob Ryan.  The purchase, made in 1856, was for six acres running from Hodges Street west and lying north of Pujo Street.  Hodges built a large two-story home facing the street which carried his name.  The home was later purchased by J. Lawrence Ryan who turned the house to face Pujo Street.

 

            Hodges had store in partnership with Jacob Ryan north of the public square and about 40 feet from the water’s edge.

 

            Hodges Street, like others of the early days of Lake Charles, was low and frequently under water in many places.  Around 1882 about 200 feet of the street south of the Iris Street intersection was graded; ditches were dug and a bridge was built at the intersection.  It was evidently not helpful everywhere because in 1907 one of the residents near the street stated he could no longer stand to have the drainage of Hodges Street running through his lot and that the street must be graded.  This was some years after the street was opened for public use. 

 

            In 1877 the Town Council appointed George H. Wells, James W. Bryan and J. Kirkman as a committee to call on William H. Haskell and others interested in property in the neighborhood of his residence bordering on Hodges Street to secure the public use of the street.  A notable building, Nason Villa was constructed on the street near Division Street.  It was built for Robert H. Nason of Michigan who in 1893 petitioned the City Council to open up this section of Hodges to allow entrance from Division Street.  At the end of Division, along the side of Hodges, was a high board fence and someone had knocked off some of the boards so pedestrians could go through.  The council complied with the request.

 

            The efforts at opening the street in the south part of town which necessitated building a bridge over Pithon Coulee was not as immediately successful.  The cost would total over $600 so this project was postponed.  By 1895 the street was from the corporation limits (Sallier Street) to Railroad Avenue.  The two blocks north of the avenue were called Canal Street.  Today this section is North Hodges. 

 

 

 

LYONS STREET

 

            Lyons Street in Goosport was named after Dr. Erastus J. Lyons, the first native-born son of Calcasieu Parish to graduate from the old medical school in New Orleans. 

 

            He was born in the Big Woods community in 1839 and attended school in Jasper, Texas before going to New Orleans for training as a physician.  Following this, he served as an assistant surgeon in the Confederate Army during the War Between the States.  In 1864 the local paper ran the following notice:  “Dr. E. J. Lyons, who resides in Big Woods, is detailed as a physician and obligated not to charge the families of officers and soldiers absent in the army more than the customary rates before the war in said locality and if his charges are extortionate to others, his detail will be revoked.  (Signed) Gus Breaux, Colonel G. D.  Engineers of Calcasieu Parish.”   

 

            After the war, Dr. Lyons moved to Lake Charles where he purchased a home on Pujo Street near the lake front.  He served several times as a member of the City Council and at one time, was parish health officer.  The doctor was noted for his frequent use of hot toddies as stimulants for both patient and doctor.  He also had the singular distinction of wearing gloves, a rare thing at that time for this area.  He was also a charter member of the Physicians of Lake Charles Medical Society. 

 

            His son David was an alderman who also became a doctor and later was chosen city physician.  He also served as city sanitation inspector. 

 

            Other Lyons in or near Lake Charles were D. Burns Lyons who raffled his horse at Kaufman’s and Block’s  Store and who served as a constable; Gus Lyons whose wife broke her leg when she stepped down to the cistern at the home of Thomas J. Lyons and an O. S. Lyons who had a barroom.

 

            There were also Dr. Augustus Lyons, who served as parish health officer, was inspector of weights and measures and had a butcher shop, and Dr. Samuel M. Lyons who practiced medicine in Sulphur and whose three sons became doctors.  Another Lyons was Dr. George S. Lyons who at one time was the only doctor between Lake Charles and DeRidder and the Sabine River.  He was skilled in obstetrics and in 50 years delivered over 5,000 babies.  He was also the town’s only dentist for the first 20 years of the century.

        

MCNEESE STREET

 

            An illness sent him south to Texas.  A depression brought him to Louisiana.  And the near-complete loss of all his capital put him into the teaching profession.

 

            His success in that profession was such that the local state university carries his name and so does McNeese Street the east side of which cuts through the university property and continues east to Louisiana 14.  The west section of the street continues to Nelson Road. 

 

            John McNeese was from Baltimore, Maryland, but left his home in 1866 for West Texas.  He had served four years in the First and Second Maryland Infantry.  The two enlisted terms gave him a case of insipient consumption, threatening him with the same kind of untimely death that had taken the lives of his parents and younger brother.

 

            The Texas cowboy storekeeper was prosperous and popular, the latter resulting in his election as county court clerk of Menard County.  But the panic of 1873 forced him to give up his mercantile business and to resign as county court clerk. 

 

            With five other men, began the long trip from the Texas town, some 150 miles northwest of San Antonio, Texas, for the New Orleans cattle market where the men planned to sell their cattle.

 

            Ironically, the hot, dry atmosphere of the western plains which arrested his illness is what caused the death of his cattle.  Water holes were dried up and the land was parched.  When the men and their nearly starved cattle reached the Sabine area, the cattle ate cane leaves and stalks which were in abundance and from three to twelve feet high.

 

            Most of the cattle died.  The rest were sold when the men reached Lake Charles.  It was then John McNeese began his teaching career for a livelihood.  He taught singing and penmanship and soon became known as Professor McNeese.

           

            Prior to teaching in Lake Charles, he taught in Mermentau, then in his own school, and in Dry Creek.  He left the teaching profession to enter Tulane School of Law in the fall of 1886.  In the spring of the following year, he was admitted to the bar.

           

            He was made secretary of a committee to organize high schools and later was elected to the examining board to qualify teachers.  He served as principal of the Lake Charles Common School.

 

            He was next elected Calcasieu Parish School superintendent in 1888.  His office for this work was in his home on Common Street.  He was re-elected every four years until he was 70 years old and unable to continue the duties of office.  He died less than a year later.

 

            McNeese is referred to as a pioneer of education in the state and the father of the educational development of the state.  The latter tribute was because of the system of reports which he had worked out for his schools.  His system of organization and supervision was used as a model throughout the state and copied by many of the parishes.

 

            The professor was also originator of the use of property taxes as a source of revenue for the public schools.  With the increased revenues McNeese was able to import college and university graduates for his principals and teachers, setting an example followed by other parishes of the state.

 

 

 

 

MOSS STREET

 

            There were a number of prominent men with the surname of Moss in the formative years of the city.

 

            The first of whom mention is made in old news accounts are Henry Moss and Johnson Moss.  The former was authorized to let a contract for the building of a courthouse and jail and the latter was the first elected sheriff of Calcasieu Parish.  Another very early Moss was Joseph Valentine Moss, justice of the peace for Ward 3, clerk of court at Marion and clerk of the police jury.  But the most active of the men bearing the name Moss seems to have been Abram H. Moss and considering the many properties he bought and sold around Moss Street, it is assumed by the “old timers” of  the city, that the street was named for him.

 

            Abram Moss opened a school around 1869 in the center of the block bounded by Kirby, Pujo, Bilbo and Kirby streets, and a few years later he is listed as a public school teacher.  In 1873 he was mayor and that same year he was elected alderman. The following year he was re-elected alderman and he also went into the merchandising business. His store was the Cheap Cash Store.  Other retail businesses in which he was involved were Moss and Riddick Co. in the Moss Building; Olatz-Moss Mill in Bagdad; Bryan and Co.; and a general merchandise and liquor store in partnership with Joseph Rosteet.

 

            Education again claimed his attention in 1880 when he was appointed to a committee to organize a high school.

 

            He bought 12 acres of land from D. J. Reid and had constructed a large home facing Hodges Street.  He later sold this.  In 1882 the versatile pioneer went to New Orleans for a winter course of lectures, then went north for a post graduate course.

 

            Other important men with the name Moss were Paul O. Moss, secretary of the Lake Charles Ice, Light and Water Works; Clement D. Moss, an attorney in partnership with Arsene P. Pujo, and a Captain Ben Moss.  He was the captain of the tug boat Edna.  When it exploded he was thrown 150 feet.  He was groaning in pain when he was found, but the mixture of turf, mud and water on which he landed had cushioned his fall and he lived.

 

            Moss Street runs from Kirby Street north to Calcasieu River with the section from Railroad Avenue to the river carrying the prefix North.  At one time this section was called Bonaparte.

 

            In 1878, he left his business and many children in the hands of his wife and attended Louisiana Medical College in New Orleans for the required five-month course to become a doctor. For the next 12 years, until his health failed, he served in Lake Charles as Dr. Moss.

 

 


 

KIRBY STREET

 

            In the early days some of the streets and property lines were laid with so little accuracy that it was often difficult to know what property belonged to whom.  Such was the case with Kirby Street. 

 

            In 1877 word was sent by Mayor William Meyer from the Town Council to James Howard and his wife Mary E. Kirby Howard that part of the land on which they were building was the street and they were to “… desist from making any further improvements.”  The local newspaper made note later that Howard “…speaks of moving the Howard House…” from the corner.  The building which was to be used as a hotel was two stories high and had 11 rooms.

 

            The property in question was the north side of Kirby Street and the southeast corner of Bilbo Street.  Howard built another hotel back of this one, at the corner of Bilbo and Pujo streets in 1887.  Listed as being operated by Mrs. Howard, the two-story building was 80 feet long and 70 feet wide and had 28 rooms, some of which were “large sample” rooms for traveling salesmen.

 

            The street in which the Howards had been building was named for Samuel Adams Kirby, father of Mrs. Howard and a descendant of an early United States president. He came to Lake Charles from Vermont.  He lived in a plantation on property he had purchased from Michael Pithon and which ran from Kirby Street to Pithon Coulee and from Hodges Street to the lake.  He also owned the Kirby Lumber Co. whose several mills were shut down in the early 1900s when the price of lumber dropped abruptly.

 

            When the settlers of the town met to begin the formation of a local government, Kirby was named the first attorney, although at first he did more farming than legal transacting.

 

            Kirby Street was the main street leading to Ryan Street and the town, although in 1890 it was not open beyond Louisiana Avenue.  One of the recommendations of the council at a meeting in 1886 was to give “...attention to two very bad places” on Kirby Street which needed “….ditching and filling and a bridge.”

 

KIRKMAN STREET

 

            The first doctor who performed an appendectomy in Lake Charles was Dr. William Kirkman and it was for him that Kirkman Street was named.

 

            He offered his services on terms of one-half cash or available security at the time of service and the balance at the expiration of one year. The “available security” on one occasion was peaches - when the crop was harvested and at one time it was sweet potatoes.

 

            The doctor was a native of Kirkmansville, Kentucky, a town named for his ancestors.  At age 16, he was a soldier in the Mexican War.  Later he studied medicine in New Orleans and then came to Lake Charles around 1858.  He was a state senator around 1875.  He was a member of the City Council and was once fined five dollars for missing a meeting.  The doctor with two other men was owner of a silver mine in Colorado.  The yield per ton of mining was 2,267 ounces of silver. 

 

            One of the last transactions in 1869 was a sale of four acres of land at the end of Kirkman Street near the Louisiana Western Railroad, which later became Southern Pacific.  The acreage was sold by Joseph Bilbo to Adolph Pujo, and aged, freed slave.  After Pujo’s purchase, he built a large board fence around the small area on which he lived.  He farmed the rest of his land with two yoke of oxen which he used for plowing and also pulling his wagon to town when he went shopping.  He never rode in the wagon or in anything else, except for the few times he sat sideways between the front and rear axle of the wagon.  He often walked faster than the animals and when too far in advance, he stopped, popped the lash of his long whip and waited for the animals to catch up. 

           

            Pujo’s four acres of land blocked Kirkman Street on the north and for many years the only way people could get to the railroad was to go through the hole made in the board fence when the plank was pulled loose.  The city was forced to buy a right-of-way through Pujo’s property so Kirkman Street could be opened to continue north.  The city made the last payment of $147.55 at the spring session of the City Council in 1889.  However, the street was not continued until 1893. 

 

            The aged owner of the land died in 1890 and when his estate was opened, it showed the original lines of his property unchanged -  he had kept his land even after selling the right-of-way through it.

 

            The extension of Kirkman Street gives it the distinction of being the longest street in the city.  Originally, the extension beyond the railroad track was called St. Andrew Street; it is now North Kirkman.  The street bisects the city from south to north running in a straight line from McNeese in the south to the banks of Calcasieu River in the north. 

 

KNAPP STREET

 

            In the winter of 1885 Dr. Seaman A. Knapp moved from Ames, Ohio to Lake Charles to take part in the large development enterprise of the North American Land and Timber Company.  A street running east to west from Goos to Jake streets bears his name.

 

            Dr. Knapp had been president of Iowa State College.  When he moved to this city, he was employed as assistant manager of the 1,500,000 acres of land which the American representative of the English Land and Timber Company had purchased in Southwest Louisiana. 

 

            The Iowa newcomer lived at the corner of Pujo and Common streets.  He was a practical and experimental agriculturalist and one of the two things he was sent to do was to find out what crops could be profitably grown in this region.  Second, as a man of renown among farmers of the Middle West, he was to assist in attracting a desirable class of settlers to this section. 

 

            His fulfillment of the first role gained for him the merit of being called “father of the rice industry in Louisiana.”  His second purpose was accomplished when every nine of ten residents of Southwest Louisiana were farmers induced to settle here from the Middle West.

           

            Because so many from Vinton, Iowa came to his area and because Dr. Knapp had for some years lived with his family in Vinton, Iowa, in the course of developing land in this area, he surveyed and plotted a town in 1888 and gave it the name Vinton. He also plotted another town and gave to it the name Iowa.  Both towns retained these names.

 

            Through Dr. Knapp’s experimental effort, there developed a method of raising rice with the use of modern machinery.  In 1891 he aided in establishing a rice mill here after interesting New York capitalists in the venture.  The mill, owned by a firm called Lake Charles Rice Milling Company, was the first in the state outside New Orleans.  The mill established the cash system of selling rice; up to that time, all rice was toll-milled.

 

            Dr. Knapp, who was born in Schroom, Essex County, New York was also known as the founder and builder of the Farmer’s Cooperative Demonstration Work which had its official beginning in 1903.

 

            In other areas of the economy he helped establish the Calcasieu National Bank and served as its first president for two years.  He was instrumental in obtaining a $300,000 appropriation from the federal government for jetties at Calcasieu Pass.  He also organized and promoted agricultural clubs which resulted in the current 4-H clubs.

 

            Dr. Knapp left Lake Charles around 1897 for Washington D. C. where he was an employee of the U. S. Department of Agriculture until the time of his death in 1911. 

 

            In 1937 one of two arches between buildings in Washington was dedicated to Dr. Knapp, the “father” of  farm extension who was also described by the federal agricultural department as one of the “two outstanding figures in American agriculture.”  Among those attending the dedication of the arch and the unveiling of a memorial tablet was his son, Major S. Arthur Knapp of Lake Charles.

 

 

MAYO STREET

 

            In North Lake Charles, a one-block street running north and south caries the name Mayo, a name long associated with land abstracts in this city. 

 

            The first of the men with this surname was Thad Mayo, the son of a New Englander named William Mayo who came to South Louisiana early in life.  Thad was born in Washington, Louisiana but reared in Plaquemine.  When his father died the 14-year-old boy went to New Orleans where he worked as a clerk until 1851.

 

            That year he moved to Opelousas and worked in a drugstore to learn the business.  Four years later he opened his own drugstore.  The venture ended quickly when his business burned down and he did not have insurance to cover the loss.

 

            In 1875 he was employed in a civil engineering company but this, too, did not last long.  Later that year, he moved to Calcasieu Parish and taught school in Hickory Flats.  During the war he served in the 17th Louisiana Regiment Infantry.  At the end of the war he returned to the drugstore business in Opelousas, but this time it was in partnership with his brother and of a longer duration than his first attempt in that field.  He remained there until 1872 when he moved to Lake Charles and operated the Lake House.  He also built and sailed the schooner named Lottie Mayo.  After he sold the schooner, he became a clerk in the Ryan and Geary saw mill.

 

            In 1876 he became deputy clerk for Asa Ryan.  Two years later when Ryan died, Mayo was appointed to serve Ryan’s unexpired term as clerk of district court.  The following year he was elected to the post and re-elected twice.

 

            During this time Mayo made a complete set of abstract books for Calcasieu Parish.  In 1892 he declined to run again for clerk of court and established an office for his own abstract business.  He also engaged in real estate and was owner of extensive lands in the city and in the parish.

 

            His office was at the corner of Ryan and North Court streets.  He kept complete abstracts of all records pertaining to real estate and which were filed in the clerk’s office. 

 

            Another Mayo of prominence in early Lake Charles history was Thad’s nephew, Augustus Mixer Mayo.  His second name was his mother’s maiden surname.  He was born in St. Landry Parish and lived in Opelousas until 1867, when he left for schooling in St. Louis.  Upon completion of a four-year course, he moved to Lake Charles.

 

            At the request of his uncle, he became his deputy and remained with this work until he went into the real estate, notary public and title abstract businesses.  The abstract business was established in 1887 and in 1903 it was incorporated under the name Mayo-Knapp Abstract Company.  The offices were in the Von Phul & Gordon building where they had fireproof vaults for the protection of their records.

 

            Augustus was a member of the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church South.  He served as secretary of the Sunday School until 1892 when he became superintendent of the department.

 

            In 1890 he was made president of the Calcasieu-Cameron Sunday School association.  He was also worshipful master of Lake Charles Masonic Lodge No. 165 F&AM and was later appointed representative of Grand Lodge of Manitoba.

 

            One of his civic duties was with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for which he was the first president.  The group was organized in 1890 and reported abuses of children to the Police Jury which took proper action.

 

 

NAME CHANGES

 

            There are many more streets in Lake Charles with interesting histories, but it would be impossible to write about all of them.  Some have had the names changed and it is possible not all changes are reflected in these stories.  But a change of name does not affect the original history of the street or the one for whom it was named.

 

            An ordinance was proposed to change the names of a considerable number of streets.  Some residents opposed any changes giving reasons from tradition to sentiment.  A five-member committee was appointed to find streets with confusing names, which was the reason given for wanting the changes.

 

            The committee worked one year on these, then made its recommendation to then mayor T. C. Price and commissioners W. T. McInnis and Lucien Moss.  Some 200 name changes were adopted. But this did not always clear up the confusion because the changes were not all noted on maps, street signs and /or plats in the offices of the clerk of court and parish assessor.

 

            One example is Louisiana Street.  Sections of the street were Ackerman Street, Sunset Avenue and Louisiana Avenue.  The official name is Louisiana Street, but current maps and street signs show the north side as Louisiana Street and the south as Louisiana Avenue.

 

            Center Street was a drive, a street and a road.  They are now all streets named Summitt, Colletta and Cross, respectively.  There is also a Center Street leading south from West College.

 

            Griffin and School streets were both known as Alabama.  There is now no Alabama, and Griffin and School are now separate streets.  Bank Street was Rock Street and Enterprise Boulevard was Gray Street.

 

            Nix, Hutchins and Gallaugher streets are now Franklin, Fournet and Jackson, respectively.  Opelousas Street was once Mount Hope Street.  Eighth and Ninth streets were Midway and Pearl Harbor streets and Legion and Tenth streets were Guam and Wake Boulevard, respectively.

 

            Some streets went through many changes such as Hodges, once know as Charles, Broussard, Canal, Blaske, Laura and South Hodges.  All were scratched in favor of one name - Hodges Street.

 

            Two very important streets in the early days of the city were two dirt lanes running parallel with and north and south of the Public Square, also called the Court Square.  The one on the north was North Court Street and the other was South Court Street.  The names were given for geographical reasons.  South Court was also called “Broadway” and it is assumed this name was only for prominence.  Both streets had their names changed. North Court is now West Kirby and the south street is Gill Street. 

 

            The square between these streets was a parallelogram measuring 60 yards at the front and running back east or about east two and one-half acres.

 

            The courthouse faced the lake and the jail was “….at a suitable distance in the back of the courthouse in a direct line.”  These regulations also stated the buildings were to be erected in as “….good a condition as they were at the old seat of justice” from where they were moved and maintained with private donations.  This information is in the abstract showing the donation of the land for the public buildings and public streets. 

 

            North Court had at its east corner Jim Bryan’s Store.  Then there was a small recorder’s room where the city council met and at the foot of the street near the lake was another store, owned by Jacob Ryan and later by the Pujo brothers.

           

            South Court Street flourished with many small homes, offices of lawyers and the building for the newspaper, Echo.  At he foot of this street was the LeFranc Wharf and in front of this was a store owned by W. L. Hutchins.

 

            These two streets were silent witnesses of the heavy activity on the square which included everything from a gathering of the town’s residents to discuss anything; to murder; to holding public hangings and even the sale of human beings.

 

            One of the worst things on the square seems to have been the jail which merited this write-up in a local paper;

 

… a shapeless and unsightly structure.  It is a subject of wonder to everyone, even a casual visitor, why it was ever built and where it is and it is still more wonderous why the citizens of Lake Charles suffer it to remain there … its gloomy aspect and its ugly frame, strangely symbolic of the darkness and deformity of the crime it conceals behind its sweltering walls.

 

The unbearable stench which rises from it and pervades the whole atmosphere around it and particularly on a hot summer day, is sufficiently violent to nauseate the whole neighborhood.  It is boxed up almost as tight as a patent tin can and its unfortunate inmates are doomed, in anticipation to expiate their misdeeds by serious inroads to their bodily health. It is a monument of primitive bad taste to point of structural design.  It lacks ventilation; it receives no light from any quarter of the heavens; it is unsafe and expensive to the parish and it is the immediate cause of the depreciation of property in proximity to it.

 

            After this “stir-up” the jail was demolished and prisoners were taken to Opelousas for safe keeping until another jail was constructed.  Evidently other buildings around the busy streets were neglected and  in the early 1880s a move was started to have the “crooked shanties” - meat markets and coffee shops - behind the Court Square on the lake demolished.

 

 

PERKINS STREET

 

            According to an early map of Lake Charles, Perkins Street seems to have been the current Eddy Street, leading east from Ernest Street and lying a few blocks north of Prien Lake Road.  There is no Perkins Street in the city now.  There is one in Sulphur and one in Westlake.

 

            There was also a Perkins Alley, which ran into South Ryan Street, but just where is not known.  Perkins Grove was about 40 acres extending from Ryan Street to the lake.  With 400 orange trees and 25 acres in cultivation, it was offered for sale in the late 1880s but was not at that time purchased.  The area is now a subdivision known as Margaret Place.

 

            There were several men with the surname of Perkins and these places mentioned above could have been named for any or all of them.  One of these was C. T. Perkins, proprietor of a leading transfer and dray line with offices on Broad Street.  He did a general line of hauling and transferring, calling for and delivering baggage from train to train.

 

            Another Perkins was A. J. who started a lumber mill in 1873 which was later incorporated as Perkins and Miller Lumber Co., Ltd.  It became one of the most complete lumber manufacturing plants of the south.  This Perkins was also a co-owner with Miller of a large mercantile store.  In 1881 Perkins was with the firm Moore, Perkins and Co.   He was responsible for the construction of the Calcasieu and Vernon, the first railroad built in the area to transport timber. 

 

            Two of the early Perkins were both doctors - Dr. Albert J. and Dr. Dosite Samuel.  Dr. A. J. Perkins was born about seven miles north of Lake Charles.  He came to the town in 1888 after graduating from Medical School of Tulane University in New Orleans.  Prior to that he graduated from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas with second honors and a gold medal for the best work in drawing and painting.  This became his hobby.

 

            A few months after he was in Lake Charles, he was elected coroner for the parish and held this post for several terms.  He was also appointed surgeon-in-chief for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  Offices for the physician-surgeon were on Pujo Street.  His great-grandfather was Rees Perkins, the first justice of the peace in Calcasieu Parish.

 

            Dr. Dosite Samuel Perkins was born in Rose Bluff.  He, too, attended the Georgetown University and then Tulane Medical School, and graduated in 1889.  He studied pharmacy and served as assistant to a New Orleans specialist in antiseptic surgery.

           

            He served as president of the Calcasieu Board of Health for four years.  Most of his practice seems to have been in Sulphur where he was that city’s first mayor.

           

            One history account gives an Allen J. Perkins as the “father of Westlake” because in 1888 he caused the 160 acres in the Northeast Quarter of Section 35, Township 95 to be subdivided and designated the town of Westlake.  Originally the town was called West Lake Charles but postal authorities ruled to omit the designation as east or west so the town became known as Westlake all in one word. 

 

            He was also listed with W. B. Norris as the operator of a lumber mill on the banks of the river.  A ferry boat Hazel which operated from the foot of Perkins Street in Westlake to the foot of Pujo Street in Lake Charles served as the link with each other until the construction of a bridge just south of Westlake in 1916.

 

            Many individuals used the name of the town in two words West Lake, instead of one word.

 

 

 

PITHON STREET

 

            A street, coulee and an alley were named for Michael Pithon, one of the earliest of Lake Charles settlers.  The alley, no longer in existence, ran froM north to south through where the former jail stood until a new one elsewhere in the city was constructed. 

 

            A “For Sale” ad in 1876 in a local newspaper read, “A residence and lot, situated on the corner of Public Square and Pithon’s Alley … 38 feet front by 98 feet (more or less) on said Alley …. In addition to outhouses there are a number of bearing orange trees …” 

 

            Pithon was a soldier of Napoleon and fled to America for safety.  He first went to New Orleans and then came to Lake Charles and bought land from an Indian.  The price, according to descendents of early settlers who heard it from their parents, was a blanket, and a bottle of whiskey.  Legend or fact?  No one seems to positively know.  One abstract lists 167.20 acres which were homesteaded by Pithon.

 

            The pioneer settler was one of two commissioners appointed in 1852 to move the seat of justice from the town of Marion to Lake Charles. 

 

            After the war Pithon told his slave Wash Pithon that he was free, but he would take care of him.   He built him a home on the corner of Ryan Street and Wilson Avenue.  Later Wash built a house at the end of North Court Street.  The house extended TO the lake.  He also had a restaurant and dance hall for Negroes.

 

            Another Piton of early days was an A. C. Pithon who was co-owner of Lake City Salon (Saloon?).  He and his wife lost two of their children, Zora and Medora, 10 and 12 years of age, respectively, through a water accident.  The little girls were in the pilot house with the captain of the mail boat Ramos when it was struck by a violent squall and thrown on the beam end after which it sank quickly in about 30 feet of water.  The captain broke open the door of the pilot house and took the girls out, holding each by the hand.  After getting on a float, the children clung to him in fright, their arms around his neck.  They dragged him twice under the water and the second time, their arms fell away and they sank.  Efforts by both the captain and the engineer to find them were futile.  Both little girls drowned.

 

POE STREET

 

            Poe Street is three blocks long running east and west and appearing rather insignificant in the northeast section of the city map.  But the one for whom it was named was an influential figure in the early days of the city.

           

            John Poe was born in Calcasieu Parish and lived most of his life in Lake Charles.  He was orphaned at the age of 12 and reared by his uncle Thad Mayo.  His first employment was in a sawmill and from then on, the greater portion of his interest remained in the lumber business. 

 

            He first owned a mercantile business in Bagdad which specialized in buggies.  He sold out in 1891 to enter the shingle business.  While retaining the latter he returned to the mercantile business and was the senior member of Poe and Bahel Co.

           

            His shingle mill was at north end of Ryan Street on the Calcasieu River.   It was connected by switches with two railways. Trade lines extended into Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri.  His mill ran regularly and put out cypress shingles exclusively.  It had a capacity of 10 million shingles per year.  The best machinery was used in the mill and the company was said to be one of the strongest in the city.

 

            At one time, Poe advertised as a sign painter and gold, lead and bronze worker.  He was also a rice buyer.  He was active in city and parish affairs.  He served on the City Council for several terms, was clerk of registration for the parish and served once as constable and ran for mayor in 1901. 

 

            Poe was also a member of the Calcasieu Parish School Board and was on the examining board for qualifying teachers.  The stage also interested him.  He was secretary of the Lake Charles Minstrel Troupe and played one of the leading roles in a theatrical held in Magnolia Hall.

 

            He was senior warden of a Masonic Lodge, secretary of the Hook and Ladder Co. and secretary of a baseball club.  In 1900 he went by train to Galveston, Texas on business.  The train on which he was, was washed off the track by the hurricane that killed an estimated 8,000 persons.  He was not hurt.

 

            With five other men Poe went to Opelousas one summer in answer to a summons to serve on the jury.  The men made what was then a long trip only to find out when they got there that they were one week too early.

 

POWELL STREET

 

            When Lake Charles was in its infancy, J. C. Powell became one of its residents and one of the most prominent men in the development of the lumber business and of the city. 

 

            A street bearing the name Powell runs from the Country Club Road north several blocks and then dead ends.  Powell’s home was at the corner of Hodges and Broad streets.  He also had rent houses. 

 

            His involvement in the lumber industry was first as operator of the Drew Lumber Co.  Later he became an associate under the firm name Drew and Powell and under the latter’s sole ownership; the lumber business carried the name Powell Lumber Co.  It was located on Calcasieu River in the northern part of the city.  Logs from the pine forests were floated down the river to the mill.  The mill had rail connections with all railroads leading into the city and lumber could be loaded at any point at the mill.

 

            Powell was also owner of a steamboat for transporting lumber to Calcasieu Pass for coastwise shipments.  He kept a complete stock of all grades of lumber on hand.  The 15 acres on which the mill and yard were located held rough and dressed lumber from the well-known Calcasieu long leaf yellow pine forests. 

 

            Powell was most interested in pine lumber and was owner of a 10-year supply with his mill running to its full capacity.  In 1888 the capacity of the mill was 30,000 board-feet per day and this nearly doubled by the end of the century.  His logging facilities were equipped with steel trams and modern loaders and skidders.

 

            There was also a planing mill for working up the finer grades of timber and it had a capacity of 40,000 feet per day in the early 1900s.

 

            Powell was also purchaser of logs which came to market in Lake Charles and much of his own timber was held in reserve.

 

            The pioneer lumber dealer was also a director and one of the largest stockholders in Calcasieu National Bank and he never lost interest in the economical and social development of the city.

 

 

 

PRATER STREET

 

            One of the early families of Lake Charles who contributed to the growth of the city had the surname Prater, a name carried by a North Lake Charles street.  The street runs north from Mill Street and dead ends just beyond Fitzenreiter Road. 

 

            J. N. Prater was co-owner of the Loyd-Prater Grocery Co. considered in 1905 to be one of the youngest wholesale houses in this section of the state.  It was also one of the largest and commanded a patronage in excess of some of the older concerns.  The company came into existence in 1898 when it was incorporated for $20,000.  Loyd-Prater Co. succeeded the old grocery firm of Loyd and Fox and also took over the patronage of the firm.  The business outgrew the expectations of the incorporators and at a meeting of the stockholders, it was found necessary to increase the capital stock from $20,000 to $65,000.  Of this amount $55,000 was immediately paid out, making the company the largest grocery establishment in Southwest Louisiana.  It handled everything known to the grocery trade.  A large force of salesmen served the entire southwestern part of the state from the Sabine River on the west to Lafayette on the east.

 

            For a number of years, the bulk of the trade had been going to New Orleans and to Houston, Texas but the new owners turned this back to Lake Charles which they considered the logical supply point for this section of the state.   Sales rooms were on West Division Street.  There was also a warehouse on the side of the KCS Railway which gave to the firm a combined space of over 14,000 square feet.

 

            Prater was president of the company and C. B. Loyd was vice president and general manager.  The president’s son, C. H. Prater, was secretary and treasurer, positions he accepted soon after completing high school.  Others on the board were M. O. LeBleu, Ambrose LeBleu, J. R. Tabor and A. F. Bolton. 

 

            The elder Prater also conducted one of the largest grocery retail stores in the city.  The company was called Messrs. Williams and Prater.  The large, well-stocked store was on Ryan Street.  Williams was the senior member and had formerly been connected with another wholesale grocery company.  The promptness in filling and delivering orders, the quality of the goods furnished and the moderate prices asked aided in the success of the second Prater venture.

 

PUJO STREET

 

            There were two Pujo brothers, Amede and Paul, in the early days of Lake Charles and it is assumed Pujo Street was named for both.

 

            They came from Tarber, France to New Orleans around 1835 and 10 years later, came to Lake Charles.  They were in business together in a merchandise store and also sold lumber.  They were married to LeBleu sisters.

 

            Amede had a large colonial house on the river which could be seen clearly and Paul lived on the old Jacob Ryan place, his home hidden by trees.  The area was called Rose Bluff after Rose, one of  Amede’s two daughters.  The current Citgo Service now occupies what was Rose Bluff.

 

            Paul had two sons, Paschall, who according to old newspaper accounts was killed by a man from Texas, and Arsene P. Pujo who became a congressman.  There were also two daughters.

 

            Paul was appointed to see about building a courthouse in 1872.  He also served as postmaster, but resigned in 1874.  His congressman son was noted for his work in obtaining Calcasieu Pass.  He was involved in a hunting accident which resulted in the death of an attorney friend, Joseph C. Gibbs.  The two men with Ben Chadwell went duck hunting on horseback and a few miles from Cameron, Pujo and Gibbs both dismounted to kill a jacksnipe.  When they remounted their horses, Pujo reloaded his gun and the cartridge exploded hitting Gibbs who fell from his horse.  Help from Cameron came and the injured man was taken back to Lake Charles by steamer but died before reaching the city.

 

            At he end of Pujo Street was Pujo Wharf, a popular place where many steamers landed.  A pot office was built on the street at the request of Mrs. J. D. Leveque after she was appointed postmistress.  Wooden culverts and curbing, and sidewalks were put down in the 1890s and the street was graded and put in “excellent condition.” 

 

            In 1901 Congressman Pujo was given a brilliant, successful and enjoyable banquet at the Majestic Hotel, according to local newspaper accounts.  The event featured a brass band during the meal served with … “vintages of Old France.”  The menu was printed in the local paper as follows:  “Martini cocktails, olives, lemon soup, celery, baked shad, tartar sauce, Saratoga chips, white wine, filet of tenderloin beef with mushroom sauce, French peas, claret punch and cigarettes; fried spring chicken, asparagus tips on toast, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise dressing, crackers, Roquefort cheese, coffee, cream de menthe and cigars.” 

 

REID STREET

 

            In 1861 David John Reid homesteaded a 40-acre-track north of Broad Street with Kirkman Street on the north and Louisiana Avenue on the east.  This became one of the Reid additions and included areas called Clement Place and Central Place.  The acreage was known as Reid’s Pasture and the street in that area was named Reid Street for the homesteader of the property.

 

            In 1891 a petition was submitted to the city council for the extension of Reid Street to Railroad Avenue. The council appointed a committee composed of John Brooks, John Munday and Robert King to call on property owners for an agreement for this work.  The principal owner was T. Bernard who wanted $2,000 for a 50-foot street and $500 for a 28-foot alley.  The committee considered this an exorbitant price and decided not to contact any other owner.  Some agreement must have been reached within the next few years because an 1895 map shows the street running from what is now Sixth Street north to the railroad.  Today the street is the same at the north but at the south, it continues to Seventh Street.

 

            David J. Reid became sheriff, the first of many men with his surname to serve as sheriff in the following years. From the position of sheriff, he went to that of parish judge and remained so until his death.

 

            It has been related that he became sheriff because of an accident.  He was standing by Sheriff Johnson Moss when the latter’s pistol discharged and Reid was accidentally shot in the foot.  A campaign began then to elect him sheriff.  In 1863, this Reid with two other men established the newspaper Weekly Echo.  He became sole owner of the paper in 1895.

 

            Another Reid of prominence in the early days of the city was Alex L.  He served as parish assessor, town alderman and captain of the Calcasieu Rifles.  He also served as mayor and around 1888, he delivered an extensive message to the town council concerning the condition of the city. 

 

            His message stated the city was almost without lights or water, the former making the streets dangerous for one to walk down them at night.  That danger was not from another life, “I am proud to say we have had no midnight assassins,” he said.  The danger was in stumbling over some object or walking across a broken bridge. 

 

            The lack of water was to the extent that in case of fire the city was in danger of “being swept out of existence in the twinkling of an eye.”

 

            The mayor found the police force insufficient and suggested appointing four policemen at a salary not to exceed $50.00 per month.  If the laws were strictly enforced and the necessary fines collected, this would almost balance the extra money put out for the increase of the force.   Abandonment of the old system of street work and the use of a road machine, a strict enforcement of the collection of city taxes of which he had a delinquent list of over $3,000 and a revision of the tax laws put in pamphlet form and distributed throughout town for the benefit of the people were other recommendations contained in his letter.

 

            He concluded with the hope the council would be “wide awake in the interest of your constituents.  Let it be your object of endeavor not only to look after the needs of our people but pride yourselves in elevating your little city by the lake out of the mud and make her the shining light of Southwest Louisiana. 

 

            Previously the mayor had ordered that no policeman enter a saloon while on duty unless called for because of a disturbance in case of disorder would be prosecuted.

 

 

 

RYAN STREET

 

            The feet of horses were sunk deep in the slimy black mud of the road and the wagon wheels were as deeply immersed.  A man stood in the middle of the road and while other men worked to insert rough board beneath the wagon wheels, he predicted, “Some day this road will be paved.  It will be the main street of our town.” 

 

            The man was Jacob Ryan and the short muddy lane on which he stood was Ryan Street, named for the man who was later given the title “Father of the Town.” It was through his potato and turnip farm that fences were cut down and the street laid. 

 

            When Ryan measured his land, he used a chain and it is said the chain caught on a bitterroot weed where the Muller’s store building now stands, causing irregularity in the line of the street. 

 

            It was the first street actually made within the town.  It must have been laid out not too long after Ryan and S. A. Kirby moved the courthouse from the parish site of Marion to Lake Charles. 

 

            Ryan and Kirby donated the public square upon which to erect the courthouse when it was moved, according to a deed made May 21, 1853 because the original act of donation was lost. 

           

            Ryan Street was at first closed off at both ends and in 1874 the City Council asked that the street be opened up beyond Iris Street at the south and especially towards the north end.  In 1888 the business district lengthened to a distance of three blocks with the residential section centered around the main street with the poor dwellings around the saw mills.

 

            As late as 1890 Ryan Street was hardly more than a country road.  The only approach to any building was in front of the United States Hotel.  There a few planks made it possible for carriages to bring their passengers to the walk in front of the hotel.  Passengers from the trains were brought to Ryan Street by cutting across lots and winding their way around to avoid the mud holes.  Deer trotted across the street; pigs uprooted sidewalks which were so narrow one had to walk single file until the City Council deemed it necessary to give specific measurements for the wood walks.  A cow walked into a doctor’s office and horses roamed freely.  Merchants had a hard time keeping cows out of their stores.

           

            First the street was paved with cypress slabs laid across and close together.  Sometimes several slabs thick were needed over the soft places.  Next, came the brick work in 1907 from Pithon Coulee to Division Street.  A bridge was built on Ryan Street over the coulee to connect the south part and later that year sidewalks of planks were put down.

 

            Ryan Street now extends south to McNeese Street and north to Calcasieu River.  Formerly the section from Sallier to McNeese streets was South Ryan Street.  Where Ryan branches off at Seventh Street, to the southwest and curves around to meet Lake Street, it was called South Street and is today South Ryan Street.

 

            The man for whom the street was named was the son of Jacob Ryan, although the junior and senior suffixes were not used.  He was born at Perry’s Bridge on Vermillion River and had two brothers and 11 sisters.  One brother, his twin, and one sister died as babies and another sister when she was just a few years old.  Ryan was one year old when in 1817 the family moved to the prairies of West Calcasieu River.  From there he came to Lake Charles around 1832.

 

            He and one other man owned farms which covered what is now downtown Lake Charles and much of what were the city limits of the 1930s.   Anyone wishing to purchase a lot could buy from Ryan on time with easy payments.  Choice commercial lots on Ryan Streets were $50.00 and residential ones were even cheaper.


            Jacob Ryan, the Father of the Town, was also the first sheriff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SALLIER STREET

 

            Sallier Street was named for Charles Sallier, reported the first white settler on the lake.  Legend indicates the massive old oak known as Sallier’s Oak which is located on the north side of the street at the corner of Sallier and Ethel streets and back of the Imperial Calcasieu Museum was planted by Sallier.  The site on which it stands was also the site on which stood the cabin home for some of the Salliers.

 

            The street was more like a wagon trail and was some distance from the original limits of the town when it was incorporated.  Most of the homes along the street near the west end were small ones for mill workers.  An 1895 map shows the street as the south corporation limit of the town then.  In 1890 the street was graded and ready for the laying of the rail tracks of the Kansas City, Watkins and Gulf Railroad.  Two years later an invitation was sent to Lake Charles from Alexandria to “celebrate the driving of the Golden Spike binding together with bands of steel the Gulf Port City and the Central Queen City.”

 

            Miss Severine Sallier, who died in 1884, is said to have lived on the old Sallier place near the oak tree.  The Salliers are reported to have owned all the property north of Sallier Street to Fifth Street and east to west from Hodges Street to Lake Street. 

 

            The name Sallier is woven with legendary, although fascinating tales.  There has been controversy over the spelling of the name, the origin of the first Sallier, who lived here and what happened to some of the properties.  The disappearance of the first Sallier is also disputable.  The most popular story is that he mounted his horse, plunged into the Calcasieu River, headed west and was never seen or heard from again.  One descendant prefers this more romantic tale - Sallier was jealous of the pirate Jean LaFitte.  When LaFitte, Sallier and his wife were in the yard, Sallier shot at the pirate.  Mrs. Sallier fell, although she had not been hit.  Her husband thought he had hit her and in sorrow mounted his horse, plunged into the river and was never seen again. Sallier is reported to have been land agent for LaFitte and distributed his pirate goods for him.  These tales and others have been handed down through the years.

 

            Nevertheless, the street, the lake and the city have been given the name Charles in honor of Charles Sallier.  The Sallier settlement became the Sallier Subdivision and some of the Salliers did live on Sallier Street.

 

SCOTT STREET

 

            Ten dollars, energy and determination were what J. E. Scott had when he came to Lake Charles from North Dakota around 1893 to found a business.  He did so well in his furniture business that two of his brothers joined him.

 

            They expanded to open a branch in another city and even ventured into three additional enterprises and a street was given their surname. 

 

            Scott Street, the length of which is no comparable measure for their achievement and contribution to Lake Charles, lies south of Sallier Street.  It is one and one-half blocks in length, running east from Common Street and dead ending just east of Hodges Street. 

 

            The first brother to come to the city opened a second-hand furniture store on Broad Street.  One and one-half years later the business became Scott Brothers Furniture Co., Ltd. with his brothers C. E. and E. M. Scott joining him.

 

            Eight years after the business had been started, the store occupied a total of 20,000 square feet and was said to be the largest in the city.  The main building was a two-story brick structure at a new location, 208 Pujo Street.  It measured 30 by 100 feet and had elevator service. 

 

            Displayed over the spacious flooring was every type of furniture from the ordinary to the elaborate.  The brothers by then were also handling crockery, glassware and picture frames and were the only agents in the city for the Wheeler and Wilson, and New Royal sewing machines.

 

            The branch opened was in Jennings in their own two-story brick building, 32 by 140 feet.  E. M. Scott managed this store.

 

            Another business venture of the Scott brothers was in a new brick, 21-by-130 foot building on Ryan Street.  J. L. Bowman, a graduate of a school of embalming in Nashville, Tennessee was in charge.  He also handled all funeral directions.  Another undertaking department with a graduate embalmer was also maintained in Jennings.  The company was said to be the first and only one which received the undertaking supplies in car lots.

 

            In connection with the work, the brothers organized a Mutual Funeral Association.  Membership was over 600 and carried benefits to some 3,000 persons.  Fees for membership were 10 cents, 15 cents and 20 cents depending on the type of membership and provided for funeral services ranging from $50.00 to $100.00.  There were three hearses for different ages and usages.

 

            The second-hand furniture store which was the first venture had a repairing department added to it and facilities for the business were moved to stand opposite the Pujo Street Company. 

 

 

 

SHATTUCK STREET

 

            Shattuck Street runs from Broad Street north to Railroad Avenue as South Shattuck and from the railroad to Woodring Street and North Shattuck.  At one time the street area, before the street was named, marked the east corporation line of the city.

 

            The street bears the name of the Shattuck brothers, Simeon O. and Benjamin.  They came to Lake Charles from Vermont. 

 

            They became owners of a portable sawmill in West Lake.  They later moved the mill to Calcasieu River near the foot of Hodges Street and added a shingle mill. 

 

            Benjamin was elected chaplain of the Lake Charles Council, United Friends of Temperance and gave several talks for the group.  Little else is known of him. 

 

            His brother was the more active of the two.  He was with the Norris and Shattuck Shingle Mill in West Lake.  At this time he was elected representative and re-elected twice, giving him six years in this office.  During these years he was selected delegate to the Western Waterway Convention in New Orleans. 

 

            Other civic activities were vice president of the Pelican Hook and Ladder Company, alderman for the city and editor of the newspaper, Echo.  He was one of the incorporators of the Lake Charles Driving Park and an officer in the Apollo Lodge K of H and a charter officer of the 100F Anchor Lodge.

 

            Simeon was also a Sir Knight of the Lake City Division No. 6 Uniform Rank of the K of P and one of the speakers at the installation of officers in 1893 at a banquet prepared by Pierre Theaux and held in the Lake House. 

 

            Music was by Toce and Hill and the menu was “Soup, Julien Grace, Wine, Haute Saiterne; Fish, Red Snapper Court Bouillion; Wine, Chateau Julein; Roast Dressed Turkey; Wine, Chateau; Lettuce; Dessert, Oranges, Apples, Bananas, Raisins, and Nuts, Champagne Coulet; Coffee.” 

 

            Simeon Shattuck was also a teacher in private schools and for a time conducted his own school.  On one occasion he said that he had lived all the way from the north to the south and no state presented so many natural advantages of soil and climate as Louisiana.

 

SHELL BEACH DRIVE

 

            Years ago near the south end of Shell Beach Drive was a large mound of shells which formed a natural barrier between the lake and the dusty lane the street was then.  This mound was the reason for giving the street its name.  After a rain or heavy wind, the shells loosened and fell away, exposing Indian skeletons which caused residents to believe the site was an old Indian burial ground.

 

            In 1877, the Board of Lake Charles ordered wooden culverts and curbing be put on the lake front in front of Pujo’s Store.  The slabbing for this was from Ryan and Geary Mill and work had to be suspended when the mill stopped cutting. 

 

            In 1881 a levee was put up from Drew’s Mill at the west end of Alvin Street and ran north to Griffith Bayou, then continued to what was Allen J. Perkins’ home.   The levee existed until the road was built. 

 

            A plank road was constructed on top of the levee from Perkins’ home to the bayou and a small foot bridge crossed the bayou at Drew’s property. 

 

            The Lake Charles Echo ran an article in 1886 calling attention to the poor condition of the lake front “… the most important feature of our natural surroundings.”  The article suggested the  “…destruction of decaying vegetable matter which is being added to every day, contrary to every sanitation law…” and “… arrangement to prevent the caving of the eastern shore…”  The erosion increased the area of shallow water; the article stated the “…area of that part was left exposed to the sun, thus augmenting the flow of poisonous gases and still further endangering the health of the town." 

 

            In 1888 “Lover’s Retreat” was completed on the road.  This was a long winding bridge over Pithon Coulee where it emptied into the lake.  It began at the foot of Clarence Street and ran through dense cypress forest with the bridge sills nailed from tree to tree and the hand rails nailed to the trees.

 

            Some years later Shell Beach Drive assumed more importance with the erection of Shell Beach Casino, described by the local paper as the coolest and most pleasant spot in the city to “pass” a pleasant evening.

 

            In cooperation, the street car company assured the casino manager that cars would be run every 15 minutes without fail so those going or coming may not have to wait for transportation either way.

 

            One of the local community organizations, The Enterprise Club, was instrumental in the beautification of the lake front and improvements on Shell Beach Drive. 

 

 

 

 

TOUCHY STREET

 

            Around 1859, Victor Touchy purchased a strip of land running from Ryan Street to Hodges Street and lying between Kirby and Iris streets.  It was one acre deep and six acres long.  Touchy had his home constructed in the middle of the tract.  The one-story home was completely hidden from view by the many orange trees surrounding it.

 

            From his nursery he sold thousands of young trees of Louisiana sweet oranges.

 

            Touchy Street runs two blocks in and east and west directions in west Lake Charles and one block from Shell Beach Drive.

 

            Around 1879 Touchy and A. C. Pithon purchased the Lake City Saloon from Joseph George. The building and business had been sold by George to Martin A. Medicis who kept it only four days before selling it back to George who then sold it to Touchy and his partner.

 

            Touchy was French and was known for his peculiarity of signing his surname first and then his given name with the two separated with a comma. 

 

            His son Cassius had a two-story home constructed near Louisiana Western Depot around 1886.  That same year Cassius and Albert Rosteet went by buggy to Lacassine on business and took their guns with them in case any game appeared.  On the way back when they were some 12 miles from Lake Charles the horse became frightened and shied to one side causing the wheels of the buggy to lock.  Touchy got down and attempted to calm the horse and straighten the buggy.

 

            The animal was unmanageable and reared back.  Touchy was concerned over Rosteet still in the buggy and suggested his friend jump out.  He did and the gun accidentally discharged and wounded him seriously.  Touchy went to a ranch about two miles away and sent someone to stay with Rosteet while he went for a doctor.  These attempts to aid his friend were futile.  The young man died from the many gunshot wounds.

 

            Cassius Touchy served as a member of a sheriff’s posse to find a man involved in a fatal shooting and he participated in stage performances held at Magnolia Club

 

            An L. V. Touchy is also mentioned as an early settler in Lake Charles.

 

VINCENT STREET

 

            Vincent Street is two blocks long running east and west.  It is just east of Claire Gardens and runs parallel to and midway between U.S. 90 and East Broad Street.  There is also a Vincent Road in the southwest section of the city and runs a few blocks off Big Lake Road. A few miles south of Lake Charles is an area called Vincent Settlement.

 

            A number of men bearing the surname Vincent are mentioned in early local newspaper accounts, but the two of whom much has been written are Dosite Vincent and Aladin Vincent.  There is also a Pierre Vincent, a son-in-law of Jacob Ryan, whose children were taught with those of Ryan and Henry Moss in Ryan’s home when he lived in Rose Bluff near Bayou D'Inde.

 

            Dosite Vincent was born in Vincent Settlement in 1847 and the brother, Aladin, was born in 1849 on Bayou Guy.  The older one was engaged in stock raising until 1877 at which time he moved to Lake Charles and established a meat market.  He operated this for one year, and then returned to his stock ranch until 1883.  At that time he moved back to Lake Charles.

 

            For about two years he managed the Lyons House, a hotel on Ryan Street and at the same time operated another meat market he had established.  He sold these interests and went into the grocery business.  His store was on North Ryan Street.

 

            In 1877 this Vincent was elected secretary of the Police Jury and re-elected twice.  During his terms of office, he never missed a meeting and was never delayed with the minutes of the meetings.

 

            Aladin Vincent was 10 years old when his parents moved to East Texas.  He remained in that state until 1866 when he moved back to Louisiana.  That year he married Acema Perry and they began their life together with their one possession, a pony. 

 

            He “ran stock” for two years and then relieved the telegraph operator at Sassafras Island.  He had learned the trade by just hanging around in the office.  His relief work was supposed to be for 30 days but lasted five and one-half years. 

 

            During this time, he obtained the education denied him in his younger years. 

           

            By 1895, he, his wife and their son were living on 8,000 acres of land a few miles from Vinton.  He was a member of the Police Jury and prominently identified with the rice industry in the state.  He was also a state representative for three years and then became a state senator. 

 

WATKINS STREET

 

            “…the personification of a true and tried business man … quite, taciturn, unobtrusive …” was the description given by a New Orleans paper of the 1880s in an article about J. B. Watkins for whom the local Watkins Street was named.  The street runs from South Ryan Street to Lake Street. 

 

            The article stated the land purchases by Watkins who came to Lake Charles around 1882 from Lawrence, Kansas, amounted to $473,000.  Some of the land dealings were once investigated by a committee appointed by legislature with Senator Charles P. Hampton as chairman.  Members of the committee were Senator Coffrey, Representative Martin of Lafayette and S. O. Shattuck of Calcasieu Parish.  It was decided to visit a portion of the land connected with alleged fraud.

 

            Watkins gave the use of his steam yacht, the Xantho with Captain John S. Hawkins in command.  Accompanying them were Thomas Kleinpeter, parish surveyor; William Mayer, D. J. Reid, William D. Mearns and James Kinder.

           

            Petitions were circulated with signers stating they favored development of the country and did not appreciate any attempt to place obstacles in the way of advancement.  The question of fraudulent action was based on whether the lands were really state lands subject to overflow.  The matter was settled satisfactorily and all guilt was removed from Watkins. 

 

            Sometime later, he sold all his lands in Cameron Parish for $203,525.

 

            The early settler did much on his own to publicize Lake Charles and area places.  He entertained 21 editors representing large newspapers from Boston, Massachusetts to San Francisco, California.  He spent over $1,000.00 on one cent postage stamps to distribute thousands of pamphlets and circulars advertising the advantages and resources of  the area. 

 

            He encouraged the settling of farmers by offering the first 10 applicants who would meet his conditions 160 or 320 acres or the south half of any section of land owned by the company, North American Land and Timber Company, Ltd. of which he was manager, and not less then two or more miles from a railroad station for $5.00 an acre.

 

            The purchaser could take up to 11 years to pay.  As soon as the applicant had settled upon and improved the land, Watkins furnished the material to fence the remainder of the land and furnished him with 25 mares, 20 cows, 10 brood sows and 50 ewes and also provided for breeding of improved males, for one-half the issue.

 

            Other conditions were that the applicant must be an experienced, energetic farmer, honest, industrious and temperate, worth $1,000.00 or more and have plenty help in his own family to do all the work.  It is not known how many or if any one availed himself of this odd opportunity.

 

            In addition to his lands, Watkins at one time owned the steamer Ramos, a mail contract and cattle ranches.  During the freeze of 1886 he lost 500 head of cattle on the prairies.

 

            Watkins was the first manager of the land company and served from 1882 to 1896.  He was also one of the incorporators   of the St. Louis, Watkins and Gulf Railroad which connected with major lines in Alexandria.

 

            In the article in the New Orleans paper about Watkins, it was stated people should not be surprised if the name Calcasieu Parish were changed to Watkins Parish, because of the efforts of this early settler which were a benefit to the entire parish, not just the city which has a street named for him. 

 

 

 

 

WHITE STREET

 

             William Thomas White and his family moved to Lake Charles from McComb, Mississippi in 1890.  He had been in the furniture business prior to the move to this city.  He opened the White Furniture Company, Ltd. with ample capital for a complete stock of furniture, carpet and matting.  His son, James Louis (J. L.) was in business with his father.

 

            The salesrooms were located at 725 Ryan Street and the stock was of various styles and prices to satisfy the taste of all classes of people.  The merchants asked the customers’ opinion of the quality of the merchandise and the prices requested for each item. 

 

            The display in the store featured furniture for every room of the house and if a customer were furnishing a new home, the merchants laid the carpets and placed all furniture by the time the customer was ready to move in.

 

            Another son, Leon Charles (L.C.) White, born in 1889 purchased the business from his father around 1914 when the father retired and he and J. L. moved to Houston.  During the depression, L.C. closed the store, but reopened it in the 1930s. 

 

 

            A granddaughter of the elder White, Mrs. Polly Anna Dietz, remembers the second location of the furniture store was on Common Street.  She also remembers her farther using his big furniture delivery truck for hayrides for the orphans of the Louisiana Baptist Children’s Home which had been moved here from Monroe.

 

            L.C. White and his family lived at 1013 Pujo Street.  Mrs. Dietz remembers the home had the usual high porch with the steps in the center, before her mother had it remodeled.  The home was purchased by L.C. White from his aunt.  The family lived there until Mrs. White’s death in 1980, and Mrs. Dietz sold the home the following year.  Her father and twin sister had died in 1964. 

 

            The interest of the Whites in the civic affairs of Lake Charles was evidenced after the old Williams Opera House was condemned as unsafe and closed.  J. L. White obtained a lease from Mathilde Miller in 1910 for the building of new theater in the 800 block of Ryan Street.  Over 100 firms and individuals contributed in amount of $10.00 to $450.00.  The new building was the Arcade Theater.

 

            The street bearing the name White runs north and south, crossing Winterhaler (Winterhalter) Street in Goosport and comes to a dead end about one block south of Winterhaler (Winterhalter).  North of that street it extends about one block to Interstate 10. 

 

 

WINTERHALTER STREET

 

            Winterhaler or Winterhalter Street is spelled with the “t” on the map but without this letter in other sources.

 

            He, Charles H. Winterhalter, was a mayor of Lake Charles in the early 1900s.  His major opponent in 1905 was William E. Petterson.  Both were running on a platform of progressive government and improvement to the city.  Before the election, the city council had made several improvements which helped Winterhalter’s campaign.  Even then, he won by only 14 votes.

 

            In 1907, when city assessments were over $3,532, 000.00, there were eight miles of street railing, 500 miles of bayou and river navigation which connected the city with many major cities.  There were also nine sawmills, three rice mills and three banks with capital and surplus of $500,000.00.  The mayor beat his opponent by 200 votes in the primary and 150 in the actual election. 

 

            In 1902, he was one of the men involved in forming companies to develop the oil industry.  Previously, he had served as secretary of the Pleasure Park Association when it was organized around 1894.

 

            Winterhaler Street lies in Goosport, just north of Lawrence Street and runs east from First Avenue to Carr Street.

 

 

 

WOMEN’S STREET NAMES

 

            There are not nearly as many streets named for women as there are for men nor is there as much known about them.  Nevertheless, they are worth noting.  Some of these are as follow: 

 

            Iris Street, running east and west in downtown Lake Charles was named for Iris Pithon Peake, daughter of Michael Pithon and wife of George Peake.

 

            Helen Street, also running east and west is in a quite residential section in the St. Patrick Hospital area.  It was named for Helen Knapp Fay, wife of Oliver J. Fay and daughter of Dr. S. A. Knapp.

 

            There was a Rachael Street near Sallier Cemetery on South Ryan Street, named for Rachael Ford, but it no longer exists.

 

            Both Ann and Lawrence streets, north of Broad in the downtown area were named for Ann Lawrence, wife of Thomas Bilbo.

 

            Touchy Street was named for Doris Pithon and the nearby street, Henry, was named for her son, Henry H. Touchy.

 

            Ethel Street, running from South Ryan Street to Sallier Street, was named for Ethel Burton, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. H. Burton.  For several years he was a civil engineer and surveyor for that section of the city.

 

            The one-block street from Cleveland Street to Sixth Street which carried the name Stella, was named for Stella Williams, married to Joseph Basque.  It does not seem to exist today.

 

            Mary Street, now with the name Gill, was named for Mary Kirby Bunker, daughter of Samuel Kirby. There is a Mary Street in Goosport.

 

            There were also Weincke Street, between South Ryan and East streets, named for Malvina Sallier Weincke, wife of Thomas Weincke, and a Pearl Street in the St. Patrick Hospital area for Pearl Moss Vincent, wife of Ray Vincent and daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Moss.

 

            Running east and west between Westwood and Alvin streets is Woodruff Street, named for Mary Woodruff Knapp, wife of Dr. Herman Knapp.

 

            Robert J. Cessford, an early resident, had Cessford Street in North Lake Charles named for him and Martha Street in that area was named for his wife, the former Martha Nix.

 

BIG PLACES AND LITTLE STREETS

 

            One place to honor someone is Margaret Place, named for Mrs. Margaret Perkins, wife of Allen J. Perkins. 

 

            The Perkins home faced the lake and many residents took Sunday afternoon walks and photographed the many picturesque scenes.

 

            Perkins Grove, named for Allen Perkins, faced Ryan Street.  The property was used by the community for May Day celebrations, Fourth of July festivities with bands and speeches, barbecues and also for mass meetings.

 

            Walnut Grove, now the Lake Charles Dock property, was given this name because of the many huge walnut trees entwined with muscadine vines.  Families often picnicked there and children enjoyed swinging from the strong muscadine vines.

 

            In contrast in size, there was Ward’s Alley, no longer in existence, which ran from Pujo and North Court streets.  It was named for Daniel S. Ward.

 

            Park Avenue extends from Ryan Street to Shell Beach Drive and was originally Line Avenue.  It marked the dividing line between the properties of Mrs. Cora McCain and those of Allen J. Perkins.

 

            Wilson Avenue formerly called Allen Avenue, runs from South Ryan to the lake.  Griffith Street in that vicinity was named for Griffith Bayou and runs parallel with the lake.  The bayou was named for one of the early settlers and owner of an old mill.

 

            Mudgett Street, no longer in existence, honored Isaac N. Mudgett.  Another Isaac was Isaac Toomer, who was honored with Toomer Street being named for him.  The family was very active in social and industrial activities.

 

            Hamilton Street was named for Freeman Hamilton who homesteaded a 40-acre tract. The one-block street runs from Shattuck Street to the railroad. Nearby Blake Street was named for Mingo Blake.

 

            Mooer Avenue was named for Ruley C. Mooer, an early settler.  Both a school and a street were named for W. O. Boston, a leader in north Lake Charles.  Gieffers Street was named for Henry Gieffers, one of the early residents of that area. 

 

            The two-block Martin Street was named for William J. Martin and O’Brien Street running from First Avenue to Shattuck Street was for Jerry O’Brien.  Both were early settlers and leaders.

 

            Ackerman Street, running one block from Opelousas to St. John, was honoring Howard Ackerman, connected with the Lake Charles Rice Milling Company.  Bauer Street from Ackerman to what was then Rock Street, was named for George Bauer, a member of the same firm.  This street became John Street.  Bauer is remembered by “old timers” as an accomplished pianist.  

 

 

 

HOME NAMES

 

Several homes in the late 1890s were given names.

 

William Loree’s home was “The Rose Cottage.” After two years here, he had 35 varieties of roses plus 36 orange trees.

 

L. U. Kinney’s home was “Sunnyside”; S.A. Knapp’s was “The Three Pines” and H. H. Eddy’s was “The Three Oaks.”

 

There is another home, “Kingwood,” that of the lake Mr. & Mrs. Voris King, which is described in a brochure reproduced here.


 

 

“KINGWOOD”

Residence of Mr. and Mrs. Voris King

Prien Lake Road

 

Builder: A. M. Mutersbaugh

Architects:  Richard Koch and Samuel Wilson, Jr.

New Orleans, Louisiana

 

ABOUT KINGWOOD  

The house was designed in the style of the Louisiana plantation house of the 1830s period and built in 1941-1942 for the lake Mr. and Mrs. Alvin O. King on a beautiful wooded site overlooking Prien Lake.  The two story red brick house has a colonnade of six plastered Doric columns across the front and a smaller two story Portico in the rear.  The elaborately detailed cornice is of wood, painted white like the rest of the exterior trim, and all the windows have green blinds in the traditional manner.  The hipped slate roof slopes out over the Portico and is pierced by several dormer windows. 

 

The plan is also traditional with the entrance hall flanked by the living room and dining room.  The entrance hall continues through an arched opening into the rear hall where a graceful circular staircase rises to the bedroom area on the second floor.  Behind the living room, to the left of the stair hall, is a paneled library and in a similar position on the right behind the dining room are the kitchen and service areas. 

 

FRONT ENTRANCE

On entering the front door you will note the massive 4” mahogany door made of Philippine mahogany.  The chandeliers in the front hall and living room and dining room are from an early French home which was dismantled and brought to New Orleans in the 1700s.  They were in New Orleans homes until they were dismantled by Rothschild in New Orleans in the late 30s.  The hall also contains two small chairs which come from the Arthur Gayle and W. P. Weber homes.  The lamps on the tables are jade from the East Indies.

 

In the center of the hall on the left is the elevator and in back the winding staircase with the banister made of African mahogany.  In the back hall is a grandfather clock which is over 150 years old and stood for many years in the Charles Fay home.  The oak floors throughout the downstairs are covered with oriental rugs which were imported by Domburion of New Orleans. 

 

LIVING ROOM

The spacious living room to the left of the front hall contains a baby grand piano which was a thirty-year wedding gift to Mrs. Alvin O. King from her husband:  a hand-carved violin made for Voris King by S. L. Cline: a Dutch rocker brought to America by Father Hassink from Holland.  It was the property of his great-grandmother and is over one hundred seventy-five years old.  The matching settee, chairs and marble top table are early Provincial styling from Neiman-Marcus.  This also has a matching breakfront which contains a small collection of items collected by Mrs. Voris King. The display case in the northwest corner of the room was a wedding gift to Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Weber, which is over one hundred years old.  It has a secret writing desk below and displayed are the crown and scepter used by Voris King in both the New Orleans and Washington Mardi Gras Balls where he served as king.  The marble mantels in both the living room and the dining room were brought from homes in France in the 1700s and were in New Orleans homes until they were dismantled by Manheim in the 30s. 

 

DINING ROOM

The massive table in the dining room is sectional with one section on the west end of the room serving as a small table.  For banquet purposes this is the center section which makes into a table for sixteen.  This table, along with sideboard came from England.  The sideboard was converted from a wine keeper from an English pub.  The silver service on it is from Tiffany’s and was a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary gift to Mrs. Alvin O. King from her husband.  The epergne on the table with the matching candle sticks was a fortieth wedding anniversary gift to Mrs. King from her husband.  The built-in china cabinet has the silver punch cups which match a large punch bowl.  They are Mexican silver made and purchased by Alvin O. King in Mexico City.  The dishes are gold leaf and were from the George M. King family home.  The picture over the mantel is a work of Yorwaski, one of the foremost water color artists in America.

 

BUTLER PANTRY AND KITCHEN

The cabinet top and table top in the butler’s pantry and kitchen are made of monel metal and the floors there, as well as in the bathrooms throughout the house, are of tile furnished by Ducros, of New Orleans.  There are many cabinets and a spacious food pantry in the kitchen as well as a door which leads to the servant’s steps which go from the basement to the attic floor.

 

BASEMENT  

In the basement is the heating - air conditioning unit which was originally put in the house when it was built.  The basement also has self-contained water and food storage which can be used as an atomic shelter.  All pipes throughout the house are copper and all wire is in aluminum conduits.  There originally was installed and inter-com phone system that is not used today.  

 

LIBRARY  

Across from the kitchen is the library which is finished in wood paneling which was sprayed with acid to give it an aging look.  The light fixture is copper which is also aged from the acid.  The mantel is hand carved from Italy which was brought to New Orleans into a home and there dismantled in the milddle 30s.  The room is furnished in red leather furniture and many of the books are from the library of Captain C. A. McCoy, one of the oldest lawyers who practiced in Lake Charles in the early 1900s and was senior law partner of Alvin O. King.  The portrait of Alvin O. King over the fireplace was painted by Charlotte Robinson.  Hung on the door is a Japanese carving and on the mantel are two busts also from Java, made of teakwood.  On the mantel are two hand made Indian vases presented to Voris King by Bishop Walton, brought back from India.  The elephants in the room are from the collection of the late Mr. Dumont of New Orleans, one of the world’s most famous elephant collectors.  On the hifi are book ends presented to Alvin O. King when he was Governor of Louisiana in 1931. Underneath the stairs is a large storage closet.  To the right is a powder room and small tile bathroom.  

 

BACK PORCH  

The entrance hall and back porch are floored with New York slate.  On the back porch is a large wooden table made of cypress cut from the ground of Kingwood.  Of special interest is the 48” wide 2” thick cypress top of this table. 

 

MASTER BEDROOM 

            Upstairs in the master bedroom the furniture is French Provincial with the exception of the cheval.  This is a handsome full length mirror which is over one hundred years old and is from the old LeBleu home. It is said that Jesse James used this mirror many times when he visited that home while passing through Lake Charles.  The two back bedrooms have an entrance to a large spacious screened porch which has a tile floor.  The master bedroom has a large tiled bath with two large closets and off of the hall to the right is a large walk-in master closet.  To the immediate north of the master bedroom is the master’s study.  In this is a desk which was owned by Mrs. Alvin O. King when she was a child, a gun rack which was presented to Voris King and which holds a number of the guns of his collection.  On the wall is a small picture which was painted by Willie Lee Voris King.  To the west of this is a small room which contained the master linen closet and in the hall stands a scale which is from the office of Dr. T. H. Watkins, one of Lake Charles’ early physicians.

 

            In the hall on the north side of the house is a Dutch chain weight alarm clock which was presented to Voris King by Father Hassink. This came from Holland and is over one hundred fifty years old.  The small chest is of camphor which came from Hong Kong and was presented to Voris King by Colonel H. G. Morris. There is a nest of tables in the hall which are hand-carved from India.  Also a teakwood chest on one of them that came from China and given to Mrs. Alvin King by Mrs. Sam Jones.  On top of this is a Fiji Island carving of the head of King Beaudeane.  The small desk in the hall is rosewood.

 

            GUEST BEDROOMS

Both the front and back bedrooms on the west side of the house are spacious and have modern French mahogany furniture. Each has two large closets with private tile baths, with the one on the south side of the house having a glassed-in needle shower.  On the top of the staircase is a large closet which contains Voris King’s gun collection which has much history as well as much value.  Each of the guns has a history in the making and developing of America.  

 

            STRUCTURE

            The home was built 4’ off the ground and not on a slab as might be supposed.  The frame is poured cement over welded steel with each of the floors being one foot thick of solid concrete.  All of the brick on the outside of the house is oversized brick which was furnished by Buck’s Brick Yard. The roof is Vermont slate furnished by Favrot Roofing Company of New Orleans.  All of the lumber in the house came from Powell Lumber Company.  The steel was furnished by Jones & Laughlin.  All of the hardware throughout the house is from Stauffer Eshelman, of New Orleans.  The millwork was done by Davidson Sash & Door Company.  The plumbing contractor was D. L. Johnson and all the electrical work was done by Mike Lanza.  The original painter on the home was L. B. Rodrigue.

 

            Construction on the home was started November 1, 1941 and was finished two years later, February 1, 1943.  The contractor was A. M. “Lonnie” Mutersbaugh and Samuel Wilson of Richard Koch and Associates were the architects.

 

            The grounds on which the home is built were purchased by George M. King in 1900 and later acquired by Alvin O. King after his death.

 

THE GREAT FIRE

 

            At about three o’clock on a Saturday afternoon, April 23, 1910 an employee of Gunn Book Store was sent outside by Mrs. Dick Gunn to burn some trash.  This small fire built by the boy is believed to be the nucleus of the most devastating fire in Lake Charles, a fire which raged for four hours and consummed 109 buildings over an area about two blocks wide and one-half mile long.

 

            Total damage from the fire was reported in the Lake Charles Daily American Press the following day, to be from $600,000 to $740,000 with only from $250,000 to $300,000 covered by insurance.

 

            A strong wind of near gale force swept over the lake and blew sparks from the trash to the Opera House next to the book store and fanned these into flames.  The boy who built the fire attempted to put it out while the manager of a soft drink stand next to the Opera House rushed into the book store to call the fire department.  His first call was to a wrong number.  The second attempt succeeded and the fire chief and fireman with two horse-drawn wagons, rushed down the brick paved street. But the fire spread so rapidly that by the time the firemen arrived flames had already leaped across Ryan Street to a meat market and the Catholic Church property.

 

            According to an eye witness, the buildings in the business district were constructed of heart-of-pine lumber with many buildings touching each other and some sharing the same wall.  With this much to feed on, the fire could not have been contained before considerable damage.  But even in the residential section where homes were farther apart flames attacked home after home.

 

            At first the fire traveled straight east but a shift in the wind sent the fire in two directions – south to the courthouse and east across Ryan and Bilbo streets, then down the length of Kirby Street.  Building after building burst into flames either from flying embers or from spontaneous combustion from the intense heat.  The fire’s irrepressible and violent freedom brought it to the Catholic cemetery on Common Street where it burned the cypress headstones.  But the cemetery was a barrier and in only one instance did the fire leap over to a house which burned down.  Firemen were preparing to dynamite the area towards which the fire advanced to deprive it from any more nourishment, but with the barrier of the cemetery and the calming down of the wind this was not necessary.

 

            In the beginning of the rampage, firemen, after stretching hose across Ryan Street, were forced because of the intense heat and heavy smoke to abandon the hose and were not even able to turn off the hydrants there.

 

 

 

            This caused a lessening of water pressure.  Adding to this difficulty was the loss of the fire house itself which went into flames along with the steam fire pump and 850 feet of hose which had been laid to dry after the hose was used to extinguish a mill fire that morning

 

            The city tax collector was on the roof of the Catholic convent watering down the shingles.  He fell off and was knocked unconscious.  He revived to find out the city hall was in grave danger so he rushed there to save what records he could before the building met with the same fate as other nearby buildings.

 

            More than 100 men were in the courthouse loading what records they could find into wagons and automobiles.  They continued to work even when the window cases of the two-story building began to smolder.  An eyewitness said the flames at that site were over 100 feet high.

 

            Another eyewitness said he was delivering something to the Mississippi-Pacific Railroad Depot when he heard a roar and turned towards Ryan Street but the smoke completely obliterated the street.  He rushed to his home, removed all the furniture from the house into the back yard, then sat on the roof with a garden hose to keep the roof wet. The fire did not reach his house and his mother said she had been wanting to give the house a complete cleaning.  Now was the time and with hired help the house was cleaned from one end to the other before any furniture was moved back into it. 

 

            Men not fighting to put out the fire were working to remove valuables from homes and stores.  However, the removal of a valuable at the Christian Church at Hodges and Iris streets proved to be an unwise endeavor.  Some men hoping to save the new piano recently purchased for the church moved it out but got only as far as across the street with it when the heat of the fire forced them to leave it and flee for their own safety.  The church was destroyed and so was the piano, but the piano was insured while it was in the church; it was not insured on the walk.  And one store manager and his assistant were so rattled they hastily filled a barrel with packages of Cracker Jacks, and ignoring the more costly articles in the store fled with the barrel.

 

            Word of the fire spread quickly to neighboring towns and out of the state.  With typical human weaknesses, such retelling was exaggerated until the Lake Charles disaster was worse than the fire of San Francisco a few years before and damage was so great that hundreds were housed in tents on the outskirts of the city.  Offers of help included the arrival of a number of firemen and a wagon from Beaumont, Texas and many telegrams of sympathy were sent to Lake Charles.

 

AFTER THE FIRE SCENES

 

FRONT VIEW OF THE COURTHOUSE

 

CITY HALL – CORNER OF KIRBY

 

CATHOLIC SCHOOL – CORNER OF RYAN AND KIRBY

 

            But outside help was not needed.  Owners of warehouses and other buildings offered free storage for salvaged articles and the Coast Guards were called in to patrol the area. 

 

            Not everyone was as charitable as these owners of available space.  A woman soon to be married, wanting to save her trousseau packed everything in a trunk which a man obligingly put in his wagon to take to safety.  The women never saw the man or the trunk again.

 

            Residents whose homes were not damaged took in the less fortunate.  The sisters and Academy boarding students where given refuge at St. Patrick’s Sanitarium until suitable temporary housing and school space were found.

 

            No one was killed in the disaster and the only injuries were to the fire chief and a few firemen.  The former twisted his leg in the beginning of the fire and limped throughout the remainder of the ordeal. 

 

            But there was loss of life.  A considerable number of canaries were in a room at the rear of the book store from where the fire originated and these were burned.  The heavy smoke was helpful for at least one problem.  According to eye witnesses mosquitoes before the fire were so bad that to deliver the mail, the carrier had to wear a mosquito bar over his head and face, long sleeves and gloves. 

 

            At the end of the fire two hotels, two churches, several boarding houses, some 30 business buildings and almost 60 residents were ashes or charred, blistered or melted remnants of themselves.

 

            Ironically, the secretary of the Louisiana Fire Prevention Bureau was in town earlier and had commended the city for its good fire department, paved streets and water supply.  The editor of the local newspaper had commented on his visit with this writing:  “Mr. Bloodworth’s benevolent desire is that we shall not find ourselves homeless some dark and stormy night and that we shall not wake up to find our selves burned alive …”

 

            One result of the catastrophe was an ordinance passed the following morning at an emergency session of the city council held in the Majestic Hotel.  This was that no temporary buildings would be allowed in the burned out area and that Lake Charles would rebuild the business district with brick and concrete.

 

 

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