Saturday, August 29, 2009

Emile & Honore' Morancy

from both books: "A Place to Remember", by Pinkston, and "Between the Rivers", by McKoin
Emile, Honore, and Victoria Morancy had escaped with their parents to Santo Domingo during the French Revolution. They were members of the illustrious Montmorancy family, parents who descended from French nobility. Their parents were slain by a mob during 1791 during the revolution in that country (Santo Domingo). The children were saved by a nurse, who hid them in a hogshead (a barrel) and rolled them aboard a ship owned by Stephen Girard, bound for Philadelphia. Through his kindness the children were placed with Girard's influential associates. After reaching the city of brotherly love, Emile was adopted by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the great statesman, philosopher, and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Honore was taken in by a French abbot. Both boys were educated, Emile to be a *doctor, Honore' a teacher.
Later the two brothers migrated to Millikin's Bend, where they came to be cotton planters and policticians. This location is now in Madison Parish, but was first a part of Ouachita, and for a while a part of Carroll. Most of therse early settlers had money when they came to the new land. With hard labor the slaves cleared the land with axe and saw, built canals, and cultivated the crops. Settlers purchased large tracts of land and began to live the good life they had been used to elsewhere.Dr. Emilus Morancy, trustee of public school funds in Ward 1, and his brother Honore' Perigny Morancy gave 320 acres to Reverend William H. Elder of Natchez, a Catholic Bishop. Honore' and his wife, Eliza Jane (Lowry), purchased 135 shares in the Union Bank of Louisiana created and incorporated by an act of the Legislature and approved on April 21, 1832.
Honore' Morancy, State Senator and resident of Millikin' Bend, elected to the state legislature to the present Ouachita Parish in the late 1820s. Soon afterwards, he introduced a bill to divide Ouachita Parish, which was passed in 1832. The new parish was named Carroll in honor of Emile's foster father, Lake Providence became the seat of government.
In Lake Providence Misses Mary and Carrie Jackson, late residents, whose home was at the corner of Brown and 1st Streets, were granddaughters of Honore' Morancy. Mrs. Ella Noland Bell, another resident, and her family, were descendants of Emile Morancy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Pirates of Stack Island (Lake Providence, La.)

Stories from the book "A Place to Remember", by Georgia Pinkston
After the Governor's proclamation had been issued Mason and his gang were closely hunted by the whites and Indians and, having made some narrow escapes, they crossed the Mississippi to somewhere about Lake Providence in the then Spanish territory. Whether at L. P. (Spanish side of the river) or on the nearby Stack Island (in the river), Mason was in a position to flee easily into that part of the great Spanish wilderness which today is northern Louisiana and the southern part of Arkansas. There he could not only conceal himself more effectually, but also live with some confidence that the Spanish authorities would not attempt to capture him. According to some folks Mason crossed the Mississippi River and went westward to the highlands of northwest of Vicksburg, which are known to this day as Mason (Macon) Hills, and there hid some booty money, and to the present day, continues this chronicle, many people believe that rich treasures lie buried out in the Mason Hills.
Mason spent much time at Palmyra and on Stack Island. Palmyra then, as now, was a very small settlement on the Mississippi, about 20 miles from Vicksburg. Stack Island (also known as Crow's Nest or Island No. 94) was washed away shortly after Mason's day. * It was on Stack Island, near the mouth of L. P., about 45 miles from Vicksburg, that we first hear of Mason, after organized bands began to search for him. At Stack Island laid his hand upon fate. The band robbed a traveler and found among his effects a copy of Governor Claiborne's proclamation.
Stack not long since was famed for a band of counterfeiters, horse theirves, robbers, murderers, etc., who made this part of the Mississippi a place of manufacture and deposit. From hence they would sally forth, stop boats, buy horses, flour, whiskey, etc., and pay for all in fine, new notes of the 'first water'. Their villanies (after many severe losses sustained by innocent, good men, unsuspecting the cheat) became notorious and after several years' search and pursuits of the civil law, and in some cases the "Club Law" against this band of monsters, they have at length disappeared. Dates of Mason's robbers were around 1800-1802.
Bunch, like other pirates (or criminals) flourished on the Ohio and preyed upon primitive commerce and traveled between Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and the lower Mississippi. A look-out could detect boats long before boatmen--and many travelers were thus simply and easily delivered into the hands of the banditti. The earliest travelers on Mississippi floated or propelled themselves with paddles and oars in small clumsy crafts.
The Bunch's Bend area got it's name from the pirate, where he had his headquarters in the early 1800's. These flat boats would travel downstream to New Orleans with goods, and he and his men would lay in wait to rob them. The pirates boarded the boats, killed the crewmen and took their boats and goods. If a crew was fortunate enough to get safely past the pirates to the trading post at the lake below, they thanked Providence for sparing them. Thus the lake and the settlement acquired the name Providence. Eventually a croup of Kentucky flatboat crews tited their boats together and floated past the Bend. When Bunch and his men boarded, the well-armend crews met them and slaughtered every pirate, making the river safe.
*NOTE: In 1818 Stack Island/Crow's Nest was sunk by an earthquake, or swept by the floods.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Our 1st Public Schools

By Sarah "Sallie" Benton Powell. Out of the book "A Place to Remember", by Pinkston
"As stated before, I was at school in Kentucky during the Civil War. When we returned home, the negro who had been liberated was dominant in politics, being upheld by the power of the Federal government.
A former slave called Judge Clay was among those in power, and held the place of superintendent of schools. My sister, who had married Major Garner, a handsome and gallant soldier of the Confederacy who had died of the wounds received at the seige of Vicksubrg, was left a widow with 1 little boy; she went to Clay and asked for a school for the white children. He replied that no one had asked for a white scholl and there was no appropriation for housing the school, and no teacher. She told him she would provide both house and teacher, which she did in the house now occupied by Mr. Roy Powell (later the home of the Marron Family), which was her home as well as school. The school was very small, gradually growing in numbers as the white people became more reconciled to their children attending "charity" schools, as it was then thought of, no one dreaming of the development of our great public school system as we have it today. This 1st school was started in 1876 or 1877, as nearly as I can remember. As the children grew, the older pupils helped by teaching the younger, as the ages of the children ranged from 6 to 20, and the teacher could not manage all, for there were very few who studied the same books. In 1878, and Episcopal minister was given charge of the public school, with my siser, Mrs. Garner, as assistant. The school grew so rapidly, by that time the School Board employed another assistant. In 1879, we had school in the old Fireman's Hall, taught by that elegant gentleman and scholar, Mr. Henry Goodrich (Harvard, "77, Phi Beta Kappa), while the new school house was *re-built. That winter we moved into the new school house where it remained until our elegant new school was built."
*NOTE: The 1st new school was blown away by a cyclone. I stood on my back gallery and saw it carried in pieces across the lake," said Sarah Benton Powell.

1928 Letter from Sallie Benton Powell to School Children

This letter was written in 1928 by Sarah "Sallie" Benton Powell to the 6th grade class of Mrs. Margaret Newman.
"Dear Children of the 6th Grade:
Away back in the year 1853 there was born on a big plantation on the Mississippi River, 6 miles below Lake Providence, a baby girl who will be 75 years old on Dec. 25, so you see, this little girl was a Christmas gift. (Father Warren M. Benton, Mother Miss Royall) The plantation was called Woodstock, owned by Colonel Warren M. Benton, who was an early settler here in Louisiana; coming with his slaves from Virginia. My earliest recollection is of a big mansion house much on the order of Arlington, and a big yard whose back gate opened on a long street, with the houses of the slaves on either side, and the home of the overseer at the end. Right beside this house was the big plantation kitchen, presided over by Aunt Ailsy, one of the finest Christian characters I have ever known. She was to my childish mind the sum total of all goodness, and I never had reason to change my mind through many long years of acquaintance with her.
My mother died when I was only 9 months old, and I, with a sister 4 years older (Mary Louise Benton), fell to the care of our good and trusted slaves. My father bought a slave woman to care for me, and who gave me her entire services, and her memory is with me to this day. I gave her all my baby love, and called her "Mammy". When my sister was 6 and I only 2, we were sent to boarding school at Dr. Hagaman's Academy; a large 3 story brick house situated about where Hagaman's break now is; as small as I was, I remember sitting on a a little stool at Mrs. Hagaman's feet sucking my thumb because I had nothing else to do, I do not know just how long we stayed at the Hagaman School, but several years, I think. One weekend we were taken home as usual, when my black mammy took me in her arms crying and rocking to and fro, saying they are going to take my baby away from me, which I finally understood to mean that I was to have a new mother, which event came to pass shortly afterwards. My father had gone back to the land of his birth and married a lady from Lexington, Kentucky. It was the custom for the planter's families to go away for the summer, leaving the plantation in care of the overseer, and ours was no exception.
I distinctly remember the palatial steamboats stopping at the plantation landing, all all going aboard for our outing to some Springs, or to our old "Kentucky Home", where my grandmother still resided until she wasl 96 years old. I recall this was the time when hoopskirts were in vogue, and I, in common with all well dressed children, had one. I can see with my mind's eye 6 or 8 little tots skipping up and down the cabin of the boat flirting our hoops out behind.
Just before the beginning of the Civil War, my sister and I were placed in the Catholic Convent of Nazareth, Kentucky, where so many southern girls were educated, and where we remained, with the exception of summer vacations, until the Civil War was over. When we came back, what had been home, was now a place of desolation and despair. In the time of our absence, the enemy had destroyed my father's home, burning everything they could not take away, even to the gin, cabins and fences. My father was too old to serve in the army, and had taken his negroes to a place he owned in the hills (near what is now Oak Grove (then, Pin Oak)) but left a few trusted slaves to guard the plantation.
(See Mary Louise Benton's story "The Faithful Servant")
.... When we returned home, the negro who had been liberated was dominant in politics, being upheld by the power of the Federal government.
A former slave called Judge Clay was among those in power, and held the place of superintendent of schools. My sister, who had married Major Garner, a handsome and gallant soldier of the Confederacy who had died of the wounds received at the seige of Vicksubrg, was left a widow with 1 little boy; she went to Clay and asked for a school for the white children. He replied that no one had asked for a white scholl and there was no appropriation for housing the school, and no teacher. She told him she would provide both house and teacher, which she did in the house now occupied by Mr. Roy Powell (later the home of the Marron Family), which was her home as well as school. The school was very small, gradually growing in numbers as the white people became more reconciled to their children attending "charity" schools, as it was then thought of, no one dreaming of the development of our great public school system as we have it today. This 1st school was started in 1876 or 1877, as nearly as I can remember." ....
(see story "The 1st Public Schools", by Sallie Benton Powell)
....."Now in order show you how time has changed as to manners and customs in the long years that have intervened since the days of my youth, I will tell you of two circumstance that I recall as illustrating what I mean. The 1st public party that I was allowed to attend was given in town; I had a date, as you say, with a young man to ride into town in a buggy (if you know what that is). In those days no young lady went to public places without a chaperone. As I had no older person to go with me, my father attended me to the party, riding horseback behind the buggy, although at that time he was 75 years old, and afflicted with rheumatism. So you see how important it was thought to guard a young girl in everything she did.
Another time my sister and I were in the carriage about to start to town, my father came to the carriage and said, "my daughter, where are your gloves and veil, no lady appears in public without them"; so I had to go back to the house and adorn myself as become a lady of that time."
(s)Sallie Benton Powell
Lake Providence, La.
Dec. 7th, 1928

Matthew B. Sellers' Family at Oakland Plantation

Some information from the pages of "A Place to Remember", by Georgia Payne Pinkston
Matthew B. Sellers purchased Oakland Plantation from Wiley Taylor in 1832, "1,856 acres, cattle, farming utensils, 26 slaves, the crop and all appurtenances" for $20,000.
Matthew Sellers served as president of the Police Jury from 1854 to 1858. Mrs. Sellers, the former Elizabeth M. Cash of Philadelphia, PA., took great pride in the home-site which overlooked the calm and placid lake. There were trees of cypress, oak, pecan, and magnolia on the grounds.
Mrs. Matthew Sellers, the daughter of Thomas Cash, died in January, 1867, and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in her home town, It was after then that Matthew B. Sellers sold his beloved Oakland, probably moving to back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
A party held at Oakland in those days illustrates gracious living of the ante-bellum period. Guest from plantations and town were invited to attend a masque or character portrayal party. Mrs. Dr. Burwell was mistress of the parlor and dance room; Mrs. Frank Coleman was hostess of the supper room, Mrs. Sellers, Hostess of the home, graciously invited her guests to "freely partake of the bountiful supper..."
Some guest came dressed as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and Aaron Burr. "Never have we had the pleasure of being present at a more elegant, sociable and pleasant costume ball", one guest was hear to remark.
Many social activities occurred at the elegant residence on Oakland Plantation in pre-Civil War days. The house was described as a mansion. Surrounding the home grounds was an iron fence across the feront, or near the public lake road, and high picket fences on the sides and rear.
The plantation was fronted on the north side by the lake, on the upper or western side by Bellaggio, below, or on the south, by Jefferson Ridge owned by John S. Chambliss."
Land Patents
SELLERS, M B 05/01/1827 74 LA0860__.053
SELLERS, MATTHEW B 04/02/1829 75 LA0860__.057
SELLARS, MATTHEW B 08/01/1838 330 LA0930__.026
SELLARS, MATTHEW B 08/01/1838 404 LA0930__.027
SELLERS, MATHEW B 06/20/1837 1441 LA0880__.175
SELLERS, MATHEW B 06/15/1837 279 LA0860__.287
SELLERS, MATTHEW B 08/21/1832 331 LA0860__.124
SELLERS, MATTHEW B 08/05/1837 3408 LA0910__.223
1840 CENSUS of Carroll Parish:
Mathew B. Sellars 0000001000000 0000010000000
(He was in his 40's, she was in her 30's)
1850 CENSUS of Carroll Parish:
462 Sellers, Mathew B. 50 m U.K. planter 59250
Elizabeth 40 f PA
The following is from the local newspaper "Carroll Record" in Floyd, Louisiana:
February 18, 1867
Died, in the city of Philadelphia, on Monday, 28th of January, 1867, Elizabeth M. wife of Matthew B. Sellers, of Lake Providence, Louisiana, and daughter of the late Thomas Cash. Funeral from the residence of her sister, No. 235 South 13th Street, on Thursday morning, 31st of same month. Interment at Woodland's Cemetery.
NOTE: After his wife Elizabeth died Mathew Bacon Sellers must have moved back toward Maryland. Matthew Bacon Sellers was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 29, 1869. He was the first of four children born to Matthew B. Sellers, Sr., and Angelina Leathers (Lewis) Sellers, who was descended from families native to Kenton and Carter Counties, Kentucky.
Matthew B. Sellers, II, invent many remarkable things. He almost beat the Wright Brothers in flight, however, he did patent the 1st retractable landing gear. He died in 1932. If you want to find out more about Mathew B. Sellers II, you can visit the website:
Barbara has put together a book about him that should be coming out in November of 'o9. You can find out about it on the same website.
On February 5, 1863, Grant headquartered at Arlington Plantation while he inspected the work at Lake Providence. (Arlington was the home of General Edward Sparrow) Grant ordered other Federal troops in to help on the canals. Federal troops numbered 20,000.
General McPherson established his headquarters on Oakland Plantation on Feb. 24, 1863. (The plantation had been deserted by Dr. Matthew B. Sellers)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mrs. Elizabeth Sellers' Ruse

From "A Place to Remember", by Georgia Payne Durham Pinkston
"The troops of General McPherson and Ransum were stationed in Mrs. Seller's yard (Oakand Plantation), and Mrs. Elizabeth Sellers, who was a strong-minded , courageous woman, whose hot Southern blood made her dare and do many things, would stand on her balcony and make speeches to the soldiers whenever she had an opportunity to do so, encouraging them to desert. And as the soldiers were in rather a demoralized state, they were in a condition to be influenced by her. General Ransum, getting wind of it, wrote to her, "that if she repeated it, he would put her out of the lines." She replied: "Sir, your cause must be very weak, if you fear what a woman can do!"
On another occasion, Mrs. Sellers, standing on her balcony, saw a handful of Confederate scouts, ragged and forlorn, fleeing for their lives, pursued by a company of Kansas Jayhawkers, headed by the famous Union spy and officer, Phil Taylor (who became well-known to the citizens here after this episode). Mrs. Sellers rushed to the gate, threw up her arms, and as the column halted, asked: "Are you western men? Are you western men? Then you should never take up arms against the South. The interest of the West and South are identical and they should stand together." The officer did not perceive the ruse until the Confederates had had sufficient time to make good their escape, when he drew his sword and said, "Forward men, forward." So a woman's quickness of thought saved those scouts' lives that day."

[NOTE: In my research I found that Elizabeth was born in Pennsylvania, and died shortly after the Civil War, in 1867]

The Burning and Destruction of Kilbourne, La.

Right after the happenings of Quantrill's Raiders and the ten Federal guerrillas, a Colonel Forsham, a splendid gentleman, (for all he was a Yankee officer), polished and humane, was sent here with his regiment, under sealed orders, to avenge the death of the ten guerrillas. When he reached the Seller's place (which was Oakland Plantation), he was allowed to break the seal of his orders. After reading them, he remarked to the lady (Mrs. S. P. Bernard), "Madam, I advise you and your husband to keep out of view for many days. I shall return to the Fort and resign, for I could never execute such fearful orders."
(The Fort was at Goodrich's Landing). He did resign, but this place was filled immediately by a blood-thirsty ruffian, Major Chapin, who at the head of a Negro troop, killed many innocent people.
They went to the residence of Mrs. Holmes, who lived where is now Kilbourne, and in whose house, convelescing from illness was a young man, Charlie Collins, a soldier, a gentleman, and a man of high character. He fearing capture, ran, but when he saw he would be overtaken by those hordes of Negro soldiers, he offered to surrender. They refused and beat him to death with the butt of their guns.
The raiders then proceeded down Bayou Macon, killing whomesoever they met, and finnally reaching Floyd, which was then the county seat of Carroll Parish, where they burned the entire town and left helpbless women and children, naked and homeless, to moan in the ashes of what had been a thrifty town of comfortable homes, with every man who was able to fitght away in the army.

Surgeon McCormicks Narrow Escape

From "A Place to Remember", by Georgia Payne Durham Pinkston.
"One night Lieutenant Powell & Surgeon McCormick, of a Texas regiment, were riding through the woods on the land that is now owned by Mr. Walter Goodwin, when just ahead of them they heard the cry of "Halt!" and the challenge, "Who comes there?". The answer came back, "We are friends, too." Lieutenant Powell said, "We are Confederate soldiers, " and the others said "We are Confederate soldiers also. Where are you going?" Lieutenant replied "To Bill Deeson's." The other said "We will go together."
So they rode on, but the orderly who was with Powell and McCormick, becoming suspicious, lagged behind. One of the soldiers said, "My man, why don't you keep up?" He replied, "I have ridden hard today, and my horse is very tired, but I will be with you." At an opportune moment, the orderly made his escape, leaving Powell and McCormick at the mercy of ten Yankee guerrillas, for such they proved to be.
The road in those days ran right around the Arlington fence and quite close to it and just within the fence, was a thick Cherokee hedge. Just as these men rounded a corner of the fence, a shot was fired and Lieutenant Powell fell from his horse dead. Surgeon McCormick cried out, "Men, don't kill me. I have a wife and children in Texas. In my saddle bags I have $4,000.00 in gold, take it and spare my life." They agreed to do so. McCormick dismounted and precipitately fled through the thick Cherokee hedge. He heard them say, "It will never do to let that man get away." However, he did, to find himself the next morning scratched and bleeding, from contact with thorns, at 'Possum Point', which you will admit, was walking some. His effectual escape made it possible for him to narrate this little war episode.
I will say just here that those (ten) Federal guerrillas were brought here and paid by a citizen of this parish, who was a Northern sympathizer, for the protection of himself and property--a man by the name of Harris, "Horse" Harris, he was called.
Captain Joe Lee's company, belonging to the command of Quantrell, came to Lake Providence. Quantrill/Quantrelle was the famous guerrilla chieftain, whose deeds of daring and devilry made the lives of foes worth nothing when they met, and in whose ranks we find the notorious James Brothers, Jarred Younger, and others, who were the Robin Hoods of our Confederate history. Captain Joe Lee made it his business to capture all ten of these Federal guerrillas, and killed them all, one at a time, and left their bones bleaching in the sun from Hood's Lane to Bayou Macon. And there they stayed for years afterward."

The Doctor Bernard Incident

This article was written by Mrs. Annie Delony Alston,
Historian of the Edward Sparrow Chapter of U. D. C., Lake Providence, La.
"In the early stages of the war when it became known that Federal troops had been sent to this place, at a meeting of the citizens, Dr. S. P. Bernard, (father of Dr. F. R. Bernard) and Mr. Ferdinand Goodrich were appointed a committee to meet the Yankees and to ascertain their purpose and intentions.
The Federal transport landed at Hagaman (Plantation), just below town, and put off a company of a hundred or more men, who marched nto Streets now join, but which was then a cottonfield. Groups carrying walking sticks, umbrellas and some with guns gathered nearby. The angry Union officer demanded, "Before beginning our conference, I would like to ask the meaning of those armed rebels ahead of me?" Dr. Bernard explained that they were citizens in from the country in quest of news and they carried their guns as a protecti0on on the country roads. The officer ten turned to his men and siad: "I will go with this man (indicating Mr. Goodrich) and confer with those men and you keep this man (turning to Dr. Bernard), as hostage, and if I am not back in fifteen minutes, shoot him dead."
Mr. Goodrich and the officer then proceeded to approach the citizens. As they neared them, the armed Southerners drew up their guns to shoot the officer, when Mr. Goodrich stepped in front of him and said pleadingly: "Don't fire; if this officer is shot, Bernard, who is a hostage will be shot in fifteen minutes." The officer after satisfying himself that they were not troops, returned to his men, and later to his boat. So ended this incident."