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C. W. GOODYEAR
BUFFALO, NEW YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1950, BY
C. W. GOODYEAR
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
WM. J. KELLER, INC.
BUFFALO, N. Y.
IN MEMORY OF
ELLA CALKINS SULLIVAN
ELLA CONGER GOODYEAR
As the recollections and research that went into this story got under way, it
became obvious that there wasn't room for everything. It is admitted in all
candor and without wishing to offend anyone that there have been omissions,
particularly in mentioning all who have played important parts in the
development of Bogalusa. The author has tried to relate only the facts and
occurrences of the earlier days of the Magic City of the Deep South which seemed
to be of general interest.
To those of the older generation who read the story, the happenings may seem like only yesterday. It is hoped that a sense of surprise and discovery will be given to the readers who are too young to remember the era.
C. W. G.
Ce sont toujours les aventuriers qui font de grandes choses.
(They are always the adventurers who make large things.)
THIS is a story of an empire carved in wood. Mostly, it is a story of the men
who did the carving; so, mostly, it is the Goodyear Story.
They came late, these men dreaming the urgent, restless dreams of accomplishment and of pyramiding wealth. They were long finding their new and abundant virgin forest treasure, though its southernmost boundary was scarcely fifty miles from New Orleans. The southeastern Louisiana country where they found it had, in the beginning, been Choctaw country. The Choctaw Indians, hostile and shrewd, had guarded it long and well and, when they left, they left it as they had found it -- a forest wilderness of magnificent expanse, its riches waiting to be tapped.
Here there had been game. And the Choctaws had taken from its plenty. Here there were swift-moving streams and rivers; slow-moving bayous flanked by moss-draped oaks and by cypress trees, their trunks bulging to the height of a man before tapering into even growth. And from these waters, the Choctaws head taken fish.
But there was more. Merchantable timber. Thousands of acres of longleaf yellow pine. It was there even until this century. Who before had counted its treasure? Who had yet recognized the full measure of its riches?
At first, except for the ripples made by jumping fish or the splash of an alligator sliding on its belly into the dark waters, the bayous wound serenely and undisturbed toward the Gulf of Mexico. Later some of that serenity vanished. The westward migration of the Choctaws and the arrival of the earliest settlers overlapped, violently more often than not. Even after the Louisiana Legislature created Washington Parish in the heart of this forest domain, the Choctaws still were terrorizing prospective pioneers as fast as they appeared on the scene.
Governor Claiborne more than once wondered whether their hostility possibly was encouraged by the English and the Spaniards. A few hardy settlers did come for a hundred different reasons, and some of them stayed. But they changed the land little. Still other pioneers of another sort who
came much later found the forests almost as they had been in the days of the
Forests of pine blanketed the land for miles in every direction. Part of the deep green foliage turned brown in the winters and fell to the ground, making a thick carpet of pine needles that smothered the underbrush. Travel by horseback or wagon was impeded only by an occasional fallen tree. Here, then, was untouched, exposed wealth like gold above ground. It was ripe for plucking; and, as was inevitable, it was plucked.
There had been many settlements of Choctaws in southeastern Louisiana. One of them was an encampment along a creek called Bogue Lusa (Dark Waters). Bogue Lusa Creek flowed eastward into Pearl River through that part of the land which in 1819 became the Parish* of Washington, lying hard against the boundary which is the end of the State of Louisiana and the beginning of the State of Mississippi.
In the autumn of 1905, there was a second encampment along Bogue Lusa Creek long after the Choctaws had moved to the Oklahoma reservation. This time it was white men come from a great distance who rode all day in surreys through the pine forests from the hamlet of Mandeville, directly across the shallow waters of Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. This time it was adventurers from the North led by the Goodyear brothers, Frank and Charles, already past middle age.
The rainy season was over so their horses did not bog crossing Bogue Chitto Swamp in the Pearl River watershed. At the end of a ride which started before daybreak, these tired adventurers swam in Bogue Lusa Creek and then pitched their tents along its banks. Where they slept, Panfilo de Narvaez and his band of gold-seekers on one of the earliest expeditions of white men had, in 1528, skirmished with the Choctaws, not without heavy losses. Where they slept, the flags of many lands had flown: the fleur-de-lis of France, the Union Jack, the banner of Castile and Aragon, and for seventy-four days the blue-and-silver Lone Star of the Florida Republic of 1810.
While this territory was under the banner of Castile and Aragon and was called West Florida, the Spanish had offered land grants. There were a few early settlers, some of Spanish blood, who were willing to risk the
*The parishes of Louisiana are analogous to the counties of other states. Many maintain that the parish of today had its origin in the Spanish ecclesiastical subdivisions.
challenge of the redskins. Later there were those of English origin who began
migrating from the Atlantic Seaboard when France ceded West Florida to England.
Most of these pioneers came from the Carolinas and Virginia by way of Kentucky
and Tennesee (sic).
And there were others, some of obscure origin, who wandered in and squatted on the land without rights of ownership. There were among these frontiermen refugees from justice, men who chose to live in a wilderness beyond reach of the law rather than risk their necks in a hangman's noose. There were nomadic families in search of new homes outside the boundaries of civilization.
The United States later recognized the early land grants as well as the acreage which had been taken over without formal title by the pioneers. These areas were generally of irregular shape and were near streams where clear water was accessible. Shallow and artesian wells were unknown to them. The parcels of land which the early settlers acquired without consideration usually comprised about 640 acres and were listed in the land records of the government as "headrights." As an inducement to further settlement of the parishes, homestead rights to 160 acres were granted by the United States Government. After five years, the settler became the owner. In 1880, the government offered to sell its holdings in what at this time was rural Louisiana for $1.25 an acre. Despite these efforts to attract new settlers, the number of inhabitants in Washington Parish increased mostly by the growth of family trees rather than by a population influx. There was no large migration into the parish like that of the Acadians from Nova Scotia into the Teche country of southwestern Louisiana, land of the legend of Evangeline.
In fact there was little in the wilderness of Washington Parish to encourage immigration. There were no railroads to transport the natural resources of the land for great distances and there were no nearby industrial centers for ready markets. The better families, those who were destined ultimately to play a part in the development of the land of their birth or of their choice, made the best of what they had.
Transportation was crude, either by horseback or ox-drawn wagons. The produce of the land was hauled to scanty markets in Franklinton, the parish seat, or to Covington in St. Tammany Parish, thirty miles away. Occasionally, cattle were driven overland on the hoof to Lake Pontchar-
train and forced to swim across the Rigolets and Chef Monteur to New Orleans.
There was little money in circulation, and few people in the parish at the turn
of the century lived in more than simple abundance.
The second encampment on the banks of Bogue Lusa Creek in the autumn of 1905 was to change all this; it was to mark the beginning of a new era, a new way of life, in the Parish of Washington.
THE courthouse square in Franklinton is like many courthouse squares. It has a monument. This is rather pretentious, with a plaque which is an eternal reminder of a once-rampant violence in the parish and a tribute to those who abhorred its lawlessness. The inscription on the plaque reads:
TO COMMEMORATE THE CONSERVATIVE AND PATRIOTIC SPIRIT OF
THE PEOPLE OF WASHINGTON PARISH, LOUISIANA, WHO AMIDST
THE MOST TRYING CIRCUMSTANCES MAINTAINED AND UPHELD THE
SUPREMACY AND MAJESTY OF THE LAW.
FAITH IN GOD, RESPECT FOR CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY AND AL-
LEGIANCE TO OUR GOVERNMENT HAS EVER BEEN, IS NOW, AND WILL
EVER BE THE VERY FOUNDATION OF OUR PEACE, HAPPINESS AND
OUR CITIZENSHIP IS DEDICATED ANEW TO THE ENFORCEMENT
OF THE LAW OF THE LAND. THE SACRIFICE OF OUR BROTHERS
WHOSE LIVES WERE GIVEN FOR THE WELFARE OF OUR COUNTRY
SHALL NOT BE IN VAIN.
There were times when it must have seemed that those who lived outside the law
outnumbered the good parish citizens who "upheld the supremacy and majesty of
the law." It seemed so when the Goodyear brothers first knew Washington Parish.
It was so long before they were there.
Once a witness under suspicion as an accomplice in a felony shot to death Joe Reid, the prosecuting attorney, as he descended the outside stairs from the second-floor courtroom where the defendant had been sentenced for stealing cattle. Such breaches of the law were not uncommon
Washington Parish Courthouse
in the parish. A man indicted for a misdemeanor burned the courthouse to the
ground in 1897 so that any evidence against him would be destroyed. At that time
all written court proceedings dating back to 1826 were destroyed, so that today
it is only commonly accepted hearsay that no white man in Washington Parish ever
was convicted of the murder of a Negro until the twentieth century.
The monument in the Franklin courthouse square was erected specifically to honor the memory of two native-born sons of the parish, both officers of the law and both shot, their bodies trampled into the mud of Betsy's Creek swamp and covered with a dead cow. When the suspects were taken into custody and "persuaded" to confess only after their broad posteriors were exposed over a log, an angry mob gathered outside the parish jail. There were moments when it seemed that the surging crowd would take the law into its own hands. It was dissuaded, not without effort.
At the trial, the jury had been out only a few minutes when the foreman pronounced to the court the verdict of guilty. Thereupon the judge condemned the prisoners to "hang by the neck until they shall be dead." There was a muffled sound in the courtroom and among the hundreds who stood outside. But there was none of the chilling doubt that often accompanies man's deliberate killing in the name of justice.
The defendants, who clandestinely had the sympathy of the lawless element of the parish, appealed the case to the State supreme court on the grounds that the confessions were illegally obtained and should not have been admitted in evidence. The employment of a capable criminal lawyer in their behalf indicated that funds were being supplied by some unknown source.
The supreme court affirmed the verdicts of the lower court. But only one of the defendants was sentenced to hang. The other was committed to the State penitentiary for life, but he was stabbed through the heart by another convict and died after he had served only five years.
Many of the natives who were taking the law into their own hands were of obscure origin. Intermarriage among some of them had produced degeneracy. Clayeaters in certain sections were not uncommon. The ravages of the hookworm were widespread. Little value was placed on human life, except one's own. Shooting seldom was in the open but rather from am-
Natives of Washington Parish
bush. Shotguns and knives were the most frequently used weapons. Fist fights
A fratricide in a lawless clan was typical of the violent deaths that often stemmed from family quarrels. Two brothers who had been avoiding each other for some time met by chance at a political gathering. One of the brothers suggested that they be friends. Thereupon they stepped behind the meeting house to settle their differences amicably and drink in celebration of their reconciliation.
As the elder of the two tossed back his head to drink from a jug of "white lightnin'," the other drew his knife and slashed his brother's throat from ear to ear. The jurors who heard the case unanimously found the brother not guilty on the grounds of self-defense. Obviously every juror had decided that his own life would be safer with an acquittal than a conviction.
The judge himself appeared relieved at the verdict, but he made sure that his six-shooter was concealed under his coat for a quick draw as lie left the courthouse.
There were mass family feuds. As a rule these grew out of sharp controversies over cattle branding, rivalry over political control, and petty squabbles. One of the most notorious of these quarrels was between two factions of a large family which today exerts considerable influence in the parish. The feud and its "killin's" reached such intensity that several members of the clan out of sheer fear moved elsewhere to seek peace and security.
So sensational was one of these violent family quarrels that it came to the attention of a New Orleans newspaper. This is the account of it carried in the columns of the Bulletin:
News was received by the Bulletin of a premeditated murder which had just
occurred in Washington Parish. A man named Hiram Adams resided in the Parish
some thirty miles from Covington and a younger brother lived with him. There
also lived in the Parish three other brothers. Hiram and the eldest of his
brothers got into litigation which engendered ill feeling; other parties
espoused the cause of the elder brother, and Hiram's property had several times
been clandestinely injured.
He in turn would sue the parties and thus a state of mutual annoyance and
Fielding and Nick: some of the Adams family
irritation was kept up. On the previous Wednesday, Hiram was in the immediate neighborhood of his own house; he saw a band of fifteen persons approach him armed with double-barreled shotguns and rifles. He was sitting on the fence when they came up and his younger brother stood near him. A man named Jess Craff, who seemed to act as leader of the gang, asked Hiram if he knew what they came for. He replied that he did not unless it was to murder him. Craff said they came for that very purpose. Joe, the younger brother, denounced the gang as a band of midnight murderers, when the mob instantly leveled their weapons on the two brothers and fired, both being killed instantly. A woman who kept house for the two brothers, with her son, a boy of fifteen years, who were in the house and witnessed the killing, ran for their lives. They were fired at but escaped. Among the attacking party were three nephews of the murdered men. The murderers then withdrew to a place of rendezvous, where they organized for systematic defiance of the constituted authorities. The remains of the murdered men were interred by the two brothers who had taken no part in the broils which Hiram and the elder brother participated in. It was stated that the surviving brothers had applied to Judge Richardson for a warrant of apprehension but he refused to grant it, giving his reason fear of the murderers.
Had the editor of the Bulletin ventured into that section of the parish, remote
from New Orleans, he undoubtedly would have been taking his life into his own
There was violence of still another sort in Washington Parish. Many of the former slaves, taking advantage of their new freedom after the Civil War, banded together in small settlements in the South. One of these was a scant two-hour ride by horseback north from Bogue Lusa Creek. As late as 1903, it was a scene of a mass killing, stemming from the alleged attempt by a "bad nigger" named Lott to murder a white woman. Lott was tied to a tree and burned. Not yet satisfied, the infuriated whites waited until there was a gathering of Negroes in Live Oak Church. A gun shot began a massacre in a racial conflict still known as the Ball Town Riot. When the smoke cleared, fifteen Negroes lay dead.
Washington Parish even had its own Jesse James. His name was Eugene Bunch. He was a schoolteacher whose avocation was train-robbing. Those who knew Bunch remember him as a soft-spoken man with a large black mustache, blue eyes, and the manners of an educated gentleman. Except for the two months when he taught children who came from far and wide on foot or horseback, he followed sporadically the more lucrative
Professor Young and his pupils in front of Lee's Creek schoolhouse.
Professor Young (in doorway) followed Eugene Bunch as schoolteacher.
profession of holding up trains. His double life was a secret well kept, and he
was the terror of crews and passengers on trains between the deep South and the
Ostensibly for the purpose of living near the school at Lee's Creek, the quiet-mannered schoolteacher stayed much of the time at the home of one Leon Pounds at Walnut Bluff on the Pearl River. Actually, the Pounds' home was one of his more convenient hideouts. He could slip across Pearl River on the ferry at Poole's Bluff, or in his own dugout, and be back before daylight after gathering his loot.
During the winter of 1892, the stage was set for one of Bunch's big hauls. A southbound train on the New Orleans Northeastern Railroad with several passengers and a shipment of currency bound for New Orleans was scheduled to stop near McNeil, Mississippi, at a certain hour. When it did, Bunch was there, alone, to climb aboard. The armed mail and express agents were relieved of their pistols and as many sacks of money as Bunch could conveniently carry away. The crew and passengers were then lined up outside for the holdup. As this fabulous schoolteacher-train robber went through their pockets, he unwittingly dropped a scrap of paper which a passenger hastily pressed into the mud with his heel. Bunch slipped away into the darkness toward the Pearl River swamplands, but his identity at last had been revealed. On the paper he had dropped was written the time of arrival of the train at McNeil and the names of Bunch and Leon Pounds. As he took inventory of the loot in his hideout, Bunch became aware of the missing slip of paper. Taking no chances, he fled to a more remote hideout.
In a few days, notices offering a $3,000 reward for Bunch, dead or alive, were posted in the towns of northern Louisiana and Mississippi. The $3,000 was too tempting an offer for one of Bunch's accomplices, Colonel Hapgood, who shot the schoolteaching bandit in the back as he slept on a bed of pine needles in Muster Ground Swamp. Thus ended Bunch's spectacular career, in the damp darkness of a December night in 1892.
His confederates now began to talk freely, something they had not dared to do while he was alive. Bunch, they said, had come from Texas. He had decided on a train-robbing career after what he considered an injustice done by the railroad. It had compensated him inadequately, so he thought, for his cattle which had been killed by trains. Furthermore, the
railroad had condemned land through his Texas ranch for a right of way which it
obtained for a small settlement and on which oil was later discovered.
To him any railroad was his debtor, and he dedicated his life to obtaining payment in full.
To his associates, and to parish natives who knew him less intimately, Bunch was a fearless, unerring marksman who shunned taking advantage of his marksmanship except in self-defense.
"Once I seen him pull his .45 quicker than a mule can let out with his hind legs, and shoot two birds through the head at the same time," an old native recalls. "High in the tree they was, too."
One of his own confederates revealed how Bunch and his gang obtained information on railroad shipments of currency. Bunch had learned telegraphy. By keeping slyly alert at railroad stations, he heard the telegraphic messages on valuable consignments being sent through by mail and express. Occasionally, though, he held up trains which carried only routine mail and express, not only to keep his own hand well practiced, but to put the railroad officials off guard. The passengers, he could be certain, carried enough money and jewelry on their persons to make any holdup worth the effort.
Progress in enforcing law and order in Washington Parish was painfully slow, but there were those who devoted their lives to it. One who exercised considerable influence in ultimately shaping a law-abiding parish was Delos R. Johnson, a native son born on a headright twelve miles south of Franklinton. Johnson became a State senator, and was urged to run for the United States Senate and for the Governorship of Louisiana. He declined, preferring to practice his profession as a crusading lawyer in his own native parish.
Another healthy influence in the parish was Judge Joe Ard, whom the law-abiding natives, bucking considerable opposition, succeeded in having appointed justice of the peace in the 1890's. Judge Ard seldom resorted to the strong arm of the law, and few cases went to final judgement (sic) in his court. When a suit was filed, it was the judge's habit to ride horseback to the defendant's home, arrange for a meeting with the plaintiff, and then tell both parties to settle their differences. Usually they did. Most of the duties of Judge Ard's office were performed under the spreading branches
Judge Joe Ard’s home
of an oak tree or on the porch of his home. This also was the setting for the
marriages of many country folks living in the vicinity of Bogue Lusa Creek
The roll of honor of others who loyally served the land of their birth or where they settled as pioneers, is too long to record in these pages.
The Parish of Washington was the cradle of Protestant religion in Louisiana. It was in the Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church, built of logs on Bogue Chitto River in 1812, that "the first message of salvation through our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, was brought to the souls in the darkness of Washington Parish." From the beginning, the church had a struggle for its very existence. One of its earliest parsons, the Reverend B. E. Chaney, was arrested and confined in a prison cell until he promised to cease preaching the Gospel.
At a crescent-shaped bend of Bogue Chitto River there is today a stone marker on the site of the Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church, long since destroyed by the ravages of time and neglect. Country folks from far and wide listened to the address of the Reverend Doctor John Henry Smith as he officiated at the ceremony when this simple memorial was dedicated. When Doctor Smith said during his talk, "So this afternoon we want to look back to the days of our Baptist fathers to see from whence and how far we have come," the brethren from the settlement along the eastern waters of Bogue Lusa Creek realized that the spirituality which their community church at Lee's Creek had slowly spread among their homes was born many decades ago in the Half Moon Bluff Baptist Church.
The congregation of the church at Lee's Creek was composed of footwashing Baptists until the end of the nineteenth century when the Reverend W. F. McGehee was called to the pulpit to spread the Gospel. Parson McGehee was a missionary Baptist. His daughter, Mrs. Y. R. Nichols, recalls riding to church in a buggy with her father to protect him as they drove through the woods. The natives who did not take kindly to religion were less inclined to shoot at the preacher when there was a child by his side. Father and daughter often returned home from church with a shoat or two in the buggy and a stubborn heifer lagging behind, tied to the rear axle. Gifts of this kind were frequently received by the minister from parishioners who had little to offer when the collection plates were passed.
UNTIL the early twentieth century, no man ever came to claim ownership of the
forests of stately pine which spilled out of Washington Parish into other
southeastern Louisiana parishes and on into Mississippi. But it was only natural
that the natives felt at least an inherent proprietary interest in the miles of
forestlands around their homes. Trees were felled at will for logs and firewood.
Razorback hogs and sorry-looking cattle roamed at large over the free ranges.
With most of the crude necessities of life at the very doors of their homes, the existence of the natives, such as it was, was an easy one. The temperate climate reduced clothing requirements to a minimum. Patent medicines were cure-alls for every kind of "misery." White Mule was distilled easily from corn; and corn and white mule were plentiful.
Franklinton was the only village in the parish within a day's ride on horseback or by wagon. Here were a courthouse, a jail, a cotton gin, a pecker-wood sawmill, and one or two stores. Few took the trouble to go there except on missions of sheer necessity. Distances were either "right smart" or "just a piece," and in neither case were they any great barrier to the natives; but few went even to the village except to exchange something they had for enough cash to buy calico and seeds.
Inhabitants in some parts of the parish had never seen a train, though there was a railroad thirty miles to the south in St. Tammany Parish. This was the East Louisiana Railroad, later purchased by Northern capitalists who planned to use it as part of a line which would parallel the Illinois Central on the west through undeveloped country. The East Louisiana ran for about fifteen miles between Pearl River Junction and Covington, not far from the northern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. The combination freight-and-passenger trains made a round trip three times a week but the superintendent more often than not revised the timetable on spur-of-themoment (sic) decisions, and several days might pass without anyone seeing the black smoke of the wood-burning locomotive. When there were passengers,
they rode on the rear platform of a decrepit coach from which they could better
leap to safety when the train left the rails.
Most Northerners had looked upon the Pelican State as a vast swamp infested with malaria and yellow fever: an area where only water-soaked cypress trees and crocodiles could survive. Those who went to Louisiana generally saw little more than New Orleans, where they took in the sights of the quaint city with its French influence and sometimes looked aghast at the Mississippi, swollen by the flood waters of its tributaries, flowing at eye level past the foot of Canal Street behind the levee. The alluvial lands, only fifty feet above tidewater along the Mississippi and Red rivers and comprising one third the area of Louisiana, were assumed to be the yardstick by which the topography of the entire state could be measured. Actually, the northern, northwestern, and extreme eastern sections are part of a rolling coastal plain that borders the alluvial bottoms.
Long undisturbed by outsiders along Pearl River near the mouth of Bogue Lusa Creek was a thinly populated community quite sufficient unto itself. The rolling, forested areas, well above flood level, had attracted the better class of settlers. In most other sections of Washington Parish illiteracy was the rule rather than the exception, and the landowners were less enterprising, more resentful of interference from outsiders.
It is reasonable that one should wonder why Washington Parish had remained a wilderness until the beginning of the twentieth century. Before then, the changes which had occurred had been so gradual that they were hardly noticeable. A few scattered schoolhouses, churches, Masonic lodges, and an occasional dwelling of more substantial construction with painted siding and glass windows which had been built by prosperous natives were about the only indications that civilization was not completely dormant.
The only trunk lines operating between the coastal area of the Deep South and the North were the Illinois Central and the New Orleans Northeastern railroads. Where these two carriers paralleled each other as they passed west and east of the Parish respectively, the distance apart approximated eighty miles. Unimproved country roads which were frequently made impassable for the antiquated horse-, mule-, and ox-drawn vehicles by torrential rains contributed to the isolation of the region.
It has often been asked how a vast forest situated a short distance
from a large city like New Orleans could remain undeveloped for such a long
period. The dense annual growth rings of the longleaf yellow pine trees showed
that they had been standing for an average of more than a hundred years. It
should be remembered that the economy of the Deep South, backward as it was, met
with adversity for some time following the Civil War. The carpetbaggers further
hampered recovery by taking advantage of the unsettled conditions and political
corruption. The wealth of Louisiana was concentrated in comparatively few
citizens of New Orleans and in planters who made fortunes with slave labor from
growing cotton and sugar cane. The emancipation of the Negroes suddenly deprived
the South of its principal means of income.
The spacious and elaborate ante-bellum plantation homes, with their slave quarters, in the fertile delta country along the Mississippi River from Natchez to New Orleans which have either gone to rack and ruin through neglect or have been restored to attract thousands of visitors every year are monuments to the kingdom of cotton and sugar, the tradition of black slavery and white gentility, to the heyday of the Deep South.
Burying the hatchet of bitterness and resentment on the part of the Southerners toward the Yankees was a slow process. Brotherly love for their neighbors in the North did not manifest itself until several years after the reconstruction period. Such an aloof attitude of Louisianians (sic) in wanting to work out their own destiny did not encourage outside capital and enterprise for industrial and agrarian expansion.
This was the country into which the Goodyear brothers came. They found the natives living in two different types of houses that are still lived in half a century later. The single-story farmhouse with mud chimney and roof of hand-hewed cypress shingles was the most common. Crude as these were, they were picturesque silhouetted against the green background of swaying pines. Strangers wondered how these flimsy broad-roofed houses withstood the local tornadoes and hurricanes sweeping inland from the Gulf of Mexico.
"Hell, they blow right through 'em," explained one native. And his explanation seemed logical enough.
Usually there was a porch which the natives called a "gallery." Off this was a hallway from which, on both sides, were entrances to bedrooms
Mrs. J. M. McGehee in front of her Washington Parish home near
Ben's Ford where she lived for over fifty years.
and to the kitchen. In the kitchen, meals were cooked over an open fire, and
here the family huddled before blazing logs on damp, wintry days. A crude picket
fence around a grassless yard was too low to keep the chickens from wandering
into the house. Bird houses on top of sapling pole: were nesting places for
martins, which scared away the chicken hawks.
Another typical parish house was somewhat more pretentious. These were the homes built on posts about twelve feet above the ground. The abundant space beneath was surrounded by a stockade which in the early days protected the women and children while the men with muskets held attacking Choctaws at bay, firing from the more strategic upper level.
One of the earliest of these old homes still stands near Bogue Lusa Creek. It was built in 1805 by a Baptist preacher named Ford who migrated from South Carolina to preach the Gospel and till the fertile river-bottom land. He found so few who subscribed to religion that he was not long convincing himself that he could best serve the Lord by farming his plantation, for he was an enterprising man. With the help of slaves he raised sugar cane, cotton, and corn. His huge pine logs were hauled to nearby Pearl River and floated many miles to a sawmill. Ford's descendants still occupy the home he built.
It was in this house that General Andrew Jackson stayed for two weeks in 1814 when his troops were delayed by floodwaters during their march to New Orleans to engage the British. Jackson was at first an unwelcome guest in the Ford home and was permitted to stay only on the condition that he abstain from profanity and seek the help of the Lord in saving his soul.
In its early days, Washington Parish was unfriendly to all strangers, looking suspiciously upon them as "furriners." When General Jackson and his men crossed Bogue Lusa Creek at Ben's Ford, in the War of 1812, parish settlers kept their guns loaded. There was watchful waiting until the din of marching troops faded away in the distance. Then, as their suspicions melted away, some of the natives themselves joined Jackson's troops at Madisonville on Lake Pontchartrain in time to cross with him by packet boat to New Orleans.
This reserve of the natives gave way slightly as travelers were more frequently seen in the parish countryside. Peddlers on foot and in one-horse buggies came to sell their wares, and their footsteps could be traced
Entrance to Preacher Ford's home
Preacher Ford's home
Mrs. Willie Rankin, a direct descendant, stands on the gallery.
Bedroom of Preacher Ford's house where Andrew Jackson slept.
by the lightning rods, sewing machines, and ornate household articles never before dreamed of that appeared in the natives' homes. Traveling merchants later had stores of their own in the villages of the parish. The names of their sons and grandsons now are emblazoned in neon signs across the fronts of large stores.
Uncle Jimmy Whalen in a forest of longleaf yellow pine.
SEVERAL strangers, there for a purpose other than peddling merchandise, began to
appear on the Washington Parish scene in the late 1890's. Curious natives
watched them walk through miles of woods, stopping frequently to gaze skyward
along the trunks of the pines, hurriedly count trees in every direction as far
as the eye could see, and jot down figures in their notebooks. One of these
timber cruisers was Jim Whalen.
His shock of auburn hair, his handsome weatherbeaten face, and his Gaelic accent soon became familiar to the natives in the parish which was to be home to him for the rest of his life. Until then, wherever he had hung his hat had been home to Jim Whalen. For years, he had been associated with J. D. Lacey & Company, timber estimators and agents who had been engaged to purchase extensive timberlands for Northern capitalists. Such a project was a large undertaking, and Jim Whalen as chief estimator helped set the stage for what was to be a successful business venture.
Slow to anger, he was nonetheless quick on the draw. He took an unassuming pride in his membership, evidence of expert marksmanship, in the Daniel Boone Club of Wisconsin, his native state. But, knowing the ambush-fighting technique of many of the natives, he felt safer with the reputation that he roamed the forests unarmed.
The compass and maps that he carried in a musette bag hanging from a shoulder strap seldom were referred to when he was in doubt about his bearings in the woods. To him the sun, the prevailing winds, the lay of the land, and other omens of nature were unfailing guides.
His job for the Northern lumber interests was so well done that he was the first man on the payroll of the company when it was incorporated to develop commercially these thousands of acres of virgin timber. Soon known by everyone in this Louisiana timber country as Uncle Jimmy, he worked for the company until he received his pension and retired to live in the parish until his death.
One of Jim Whalen's companions in his Louisiana timber-cruising
Tom Pigott in 1946 at the age of seventy-six.
days was Tom Pigott, a man who, as Jim would say, "could locate a section corner
like a bird dog spots a covey of quail." Jim could estimate the log scale of
timber in a well-defined area without any help, but it required a native son of
the Louisiana soil with surveying experience to locate the many tracts of
timberland that had been purchased by the Northerners. That was a large order to
fill and Tom Pigott is the man who filled it.
Tom was born and reared in the parish. His adolescent life was not unlike that of others in the wilderness of remote Louisana (sic). As he grew older, he sought a better way of life than was common to most parish natives of that time. The short sessions of the country school had not been enough to satisfy his longing for learning, so he took correspondence courses, including the study of surveying. In 1896, he was appointed parish surveyor. This led a few years later to his employment from time to time by the new owners of the timberlands.
In these timberlands were large areas patented by the Government. They had not been surveyed for years, and the stubs marking the section corners were hard to find under the thick layer of pine needles. Many of the witness trees had long since disappeared. Tom Pigott made the job of surveying easier than it might have been otherwise. Jim Whelan (sic) often watched in amazement as his friend measured a section boundary line while riding horseback. It was not until long afterward that Tom told how he did that. He had trained his horse to walk with an even stride so that he could determine distances by counting the number of paces of his mount.
Another early timber visitor was J. D. Lacey, and it was not long until he, too, was no stranger in the parish. For it was he who purchased small areas of timberland held by the natives. Most of these landowners placed little value on their undeveloped property as long as they had enough cleared land for crops, a garden, and a house to live in. The transfer of a large holding of timberland for "two bits" an acre and the sale of an entire section of 640 acres for a yoke of oxen and a rifle were fresh in the minds of the landowners. Mr. Lacey's offer to pay as much as $25 an acre was breathtaking. One landowner, Marshall Richardson, was so pleased with the $8,000 Lacey paid him for 430 acres that he named his next son Lacey Richardson.
Most of the land that became the forest empire of the New York and
Pennsylvania interests was bought from absentee owners who had purchased it as a
speculative investment when the Government offered it to the public in the
1880's at $1.25 an acre. These early buyers were satisfied that the Government
price was a fair bargain and had never bothered to have the standing timber
estimated, except by casual horseback cruises. Seldom were there any
difficulties for the new owners in determining the validity of these land
titles. This was not true, however, of some of the smaller tracts. In several
instances, cloudy titles had to be clarified later by litigation and by
obtaining releases in consideration of additional payments.
News spread rapidly when the Northerners began their purchases of timberlands in the Parish. Something in the air portended great changes. There was constant speculation about what this man Lacey intended to do with the thousands of acres of pine trees he was buying. It would take a hundred sawmills like the one in Franklinton and as many years to turn all those trees into lumber. There weren't enough oxen in the whole State of Louisiana to haul the logs to the mills. Who would buy the millions of feet of lumber and how could it be shipped without any railroad nearby? Certainly not even those Yankees had enough money to buy so many acres. Lacey must be acting as agent for a lot of wealthy Northerners.
The interest of the natives was intensified when surveyors began laying out a line almost due north from the little village of Slidell, settled years before by enterprising immigrants from Switzerland on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. Gossip now was rife that a railroad would be built along the Pearl River Valley to connect with the main line of the Illinois Central at Jackson, Mississippi. Some of the natives had bright visions of a new life when the longleaf yellow pines would be turned into gold above ground. The probability of black gold beneath the surface of the land was not even thought of. Still other natives resented what they thought was an encroachment of their rights by outsiders and shut themselves off from strangers more than ever.
Not a few were adamant in declining to sell their holdings, and a spring day in 1905 found Mr. Lacey back in Washington Parish trying to buy land he needed from owners who had refused to sell on his previous visits. One who caused him the most concern was shrewd Le Roy Pearce. The fact that his acreage was surrounded by land Lacey already had
bought put Pearce in a favorable trading position. Both of them knew it. The
situation appeared hopeless, but Lacey drove his sleek black stallion to the
Pearce homestead that March day with anything but a faint heart. He had been
involved in difficult land deals before, and there was an air of confidence
about him as he alighted from his buggy after handing the reins to Manuel, his
colored boy. Le Roy was out calling his hogs, a morning ritual that had been his
long before he married Julia Josephine Adams and purchased several hundred acres
of land in Washington Parish.
Le Roy was the best hog-caller in the parish. About noon, his sonorous bellow would become louder. This would mean that he was on his way home for his dinner. During the anxious moments that Lacey awaited Le Roy's return, he chatted with Mrs. Pearce as she busied herself about her immaculate household. At the moment, her interest was centered on a family photograph that had just been taken by an itinerant photographer. Mrs. Pearce couldn't quite decide whether the long jacket she wore in the picture was prettier than her daughter Barbara's. They had bought their dresses the week before in Franklinton, where the latest styles were displayed in front of the general store on dummies with full bosoms and bustles. She was sure of one thing -- Le Roy wasn't at his best in the picture. She had cut his beard the day before and its shortness betrayed the absence of a necktie.
Barbara and her husband Ed Keaton stopped by as Mrs. Pearce was commenting on the particulars of the picture. They wanted to see the ornament of artificial flowers under a glass cover that a traveling salesman had told them he had sold Mrs. Pearce the day before.
"That sure is pretty," Barbara said.
The others looked at it and "allowed" it was, but Mrs. Pearce said that Le Roy couldn't understand why they wanted to buy imitation flowers when the bushes around the house were filled with real ones.
Outside the house the gardenia shrubs, which the natives called "stink bushes," were studded with buds nearly ready to burst into lush white bloom. Purple wisteria hung from the roof of the gallery. A profusion of other native flowers made this home radiant with spring color. From the fence rows came the melodious whistle of bobwhite quail calling their mates. A colored woman stooped over an iron kettle in which the week's
The Le Roy Pearce family
laundry boiled and bubbled. She paused now and then to smear her teeth with
Mr. Lacey contemplated the serenity and unpretentious well-being of the surroundings and doubted whether any of what he saw was conducive to a selling mood on the part of the owner. His thoughts were interrupted as Le Roy trudged up the path that led to the house. Mr. Lacey walked to the gate to meet him.
"Sure am mighty glad to have you back again," Le Roy greeted him cordially.
"Glad to be here," Lacey replied, considering the best time to approach the subject he wanted most to settle. He decided to wait until after dinner, which he hoped would have a mellowing effect on Le Roy.
Wearing a red bandanna and shuffling over the rough board floor in her bare feet, Canary, the colored woman, dished up fried chicken, grits, yams, and biscuits covered with cane syrup. Everyone was too busy eating to bother with more than perfunctory conversation.
Ed Keaton and Barbara still were there. Ed had been away from home for two weeks, hauling logs and floating them down Pearl River to the Poitevant and Favre sawmill at Logtown. When Le Roy had finished eating, he turned to his son-in-law and asked how he had made out selling his logs. Ed, with an air of affluence, pushed back his chair, lit a cigar, and answered:
"I reckon I did right well. They paid me higher prices for the logs than I ever got before. You know, Papa, that timber of yours is goin' to be worth a heap of money 'fore long."
Le Roy nodded, stroking his beard. Mr. Lacey was about to change the subject when Canary began to clear away the dishes, a signal for everyone to leave the table. Le Roy and Mr. Lacey walked from the table and sat in rocking chairs on the gallery for their noonday siesta. They talked about hogs, crops, and politics. No longer was there the formality of these two men addressing each other as Mr. Lacey and Mr. Pearce; now it was Jim and Le Roy. The subject had not been broached by either of them, but Jim Lacey had reached the conclusion that Le Roy's timberlands could be bought only at an exorbitant price, a price he tried to justify to his own satisfaction during a lull in the conversation. Certainly the value of the land should not be measured only by the standing timber,
he mused. The area was well situated on high ground along a flowing stream. It
could be put to good use after the trees were cut. Lacey decided that it was now
time to get down to the business for which he came. Turning to Le Roy he said:
"Le Roy, you know, of course, exactly why I am here today."
"No, I ain't got no idea."
"I came here to buy your timberlands and you know it," said Lacey bluntly.
Le Roy was equally blunt, impressing on Jim that he had no intention of selling. Just that morning, he said, he had met Fielding Adams riding through the woods looking for his milch cow. They had sat on a log and talked for "quite a spell." Fielding had told him how he had "heared" some Yankees were "fixin' " to build a railroad along the west side of Pearl River. Fielding had told him still more. A man from the railroad some day would be riding around with a roll of money as big as your fist to pay the farmers fancy prices for the cattle and hogs that would be killed by trains. Le Roy told Jim what a fine thing the railroad would be for the country folks in Washington and St. Tammany Parishes. He was sure the railroad would go through his property and that he would get a big price for the right of way.
Besides, he could ship his hogs to New Orleans instead of hauling them to Franklinton by wagon where the price was two bits a head less. And the overripe timber on his land could be made into charcoal and sold by the carload in New Orleans where the French families preferred it for cooking. Le Roy and Mrs. Pearce never had been to Mardi Gras. With passenger trains running by their home, they could go. No, he didn't want to sell his timberlands and he wouldn't know what to do with the money if he did. All he needed at the moment was a horse like the stallion Jim had driven up from Mandeville. Le Roy had just bought a new surrey from a mail-order house. Julia had wanted one with rubber tires and a fringe around the top, but Le Roy hadn't been able to translate the value of these newfangled accessories into terms of the extra fifteen dollars they would have cost. Moving his chair nearer to Lacey, he confided in a low voice:
"You know, Jim, women are always wantin' something different. The last time Julia drove to Franklinton, she come back with a pair of button shoes with high heels and fancy toes."
By this time it was too late for Lacey to return to Mandeville before dark. The
two men strolled out to the barnyard. Le Roy had his evening chores to do, and
Lacey wanted to tell Manuel to unharness the stallion and put him in a stall for
the night. Le Roy stopped working and watched intently as the prancing horse was
led to the barn. Later, while they were waiting in the house for the evening
meal, Manuel brought in Jim's shiny alligator-skin satchel and left it just
inside the door. Le Roy eyed it enviously.
After the women of the house had retired for the night, Lacey walked over to his satchel and took out a bottle with a label marked "Old Forester, 100 proof, 10 years old." By the time he had pulled the cork, Le Roy was back from the kitchen with two glasses. Le Roy poured himself a drink up to the level of his three fingers.
"That sure is mighty fine liquor," he said, smacking his lips after the first sip. "A whole lot better than that white mule I make when Julia ain't around."
Jim brought water in a dipper from the wooden bucket on the porch and filled his own glass with whiskey and water. When there was scarcely a jigger of whiskey left in the bottle, Le Roy allowed it was time for them to go to bed if Jim was to get an early start in the morning. Stealthily and unsteadily, they walked toward their bedrooms, Le Roy whispering:
"See you in the morning, Uncle Le Roy," replied Jim.
Manuel had hitched up the stallion the next morning and was waiting in the buggy for the day-long ride to Mandeville as Lacey thanked Mrs. Pearce for her hospitality. Le Roy took his arm and led him aside.
"Jim, I've decided to sell after all if your price is right and if you'll promise not to fence in the land for five years so my hogs'll have a free range. And if you'll loan me your stallion when my mare comes in heat and if you'll leave your alligator-skin satchel."
Lacey lost not a moment emptying the contents of his satchel into a cotton sack in the back of the buggy. The satchel had served its purpose well, and he had four more exactly like it. He scribbled on a piece of paper the address where he could be reached when the mare was ready to be bred and handed Le Roy ten one-hundred-dollar bills to clinch the purchase transaction. The offer he made Le Roy was the highest price he paid
for any of the timberlands he acquired in Washington Parish as agent for the
Northern lumber interests.
It was a short ride to Lee's Creek post office, the forwarding address Lacey had given his office in New Orleans. He was expecting an important letter from the North. The postmaster, Captain M. G. Williams, did not disappoint him, handing him several letters including one sent by insured, registered mail and postmarked Buffalo, New York. It was the first letter of its kind that ever passed through Lee's Creek post office. Captain Williams was impressed by this, as he was by the blooded stallion Lacey drove and the spectacles that hung from the lapel of his coat by a gold chain.
Lacey stayed to chat awhile with the postmaster, learning that he had served with distinction in the War Between the States and recently had been called to Baton Rouge for an interview with the Governor. Captain Williams told him that during the course of his conversation at the Executive Mansion, the Governor had mentioned being in the North not long ago and meeting a lawyer from Harrisburg, Marlin E. Olmsted, a power in Pennsylvania politics. Olmsted had told the Governor that he was attorney for interests in New York State and Pennsylvania who were going to spend huge sums of money developing eastern Louisiana along the Pearl River Valley. This had added new fuel to the rumors long rampant in the parish. All that week, he told Mr. Lacey, parish folks, stopping for their mail, had talked about the railroad that was going to be built and the cattle the trains would kill.
Lacey, meanwhile, had been anxiously waiting an opportunity to read the letter from Buffalo. Back in the buggy, he hastily tore open the envelope and found this message:
GREAT SOUTHERN LUMBER COMPANY
BUFFALO, N. Y.
March 8, 1905
Mr. J. D. Lacey, President
J. D. Lacey & Co.
Hibernia Bank Bldg.
New Orleans, La.
Complying with your request of February 26th, we enclose herewith by insured, registered mail our check in the amount of $1,250,000.00 to reimburse you for the more recent purchase of timberlands which you have made as our agent.
My brother, Frank, writes from his winter home on Jekyll Island, where he is making his annual visit to get away from the wretched weather which we have up here at this time of the year, that he was fortunate in meeting James J. Hill, who with George F. Baker, J. P. Morgan and other financiers were wont to gather in the clubhouse in the late afternoons for their customary drinks of Scotch and soda. Apparently Mr. Hill was very much interested in our plans for building a railroad from Lake Pontchartrain to Jackson, Mississippi. Advice from an empire builder like James J. Hill, who has achieved such outstanding success in developing the Northwest, did not go unheeded, with the result that we have decided to construct our railroad with long tangents straight up the Pearl River Valley through the heart of our timberlands. During your wanderings in Washington and St. Tammany Parishes you may have run across the surveying crew which has already started to lay out the line. We have organized a separate company to build the railroad with the corporate name of Crescent City Construction Company. Mr. J. F. Coleman of New Orleans has been engaged as chief engineer in charge of the work.
We are anxious to go South as soon as possible to select a site for the sawmill and town. On account of the Mississippi laws, which we find are definitely unfavorable to corporations, we have about reached the conclusion that a location in Louisiana would be preferable. You wrote that it will probably take four more months to perfect all of the titles to the lands which we have bought so I suggest we arrange to meet you in the Deep South next September.
I hope that your supply of alligator skin bags is holding out and that the stallion, which you bought in Kentucky, has come up to your expectations.
C. W. GOODYEAR
It had taken a man like Lacey to visualize and call attention to the
possibilities of converting these vast forest lands of Louisiana and Mississippi
into gold above ground. The opportune time to interest Northern capital in such
an enterprise seemed to present itself at the turn of the twentieth century when
several lumbermen in the North were approaching the end of their sawmill
operations due to the depletion of standing timber.
Lacey started his business career as a traveling salesman for a manufacturer of embalming fluids. He realized that this had its merits as a dependable livelihood because the demand did not fluctuate as was often the case with other commodities and its use was not likely to be adversely affected by business depressions, but he was not satisfied for long in making only enough money to meet his living expenses.
What young Lacey saw primarily while traveling the countryside with his horse and buggy were trees. Between the towns, where he sold his wares to funeral parlors, there were large areas of virgin-pine timber most of the way on both sides of the road. He himself did not have sufficient capital to start a lumber business, but it occurred to him that he might purchase timberlands as agent for prospective buyers. After familiarizing himself with several large tracts of timber, he inserted an advertisement in the American Lumberman: "J. D. Lacey, Timber Estimator and Agent for Timberlands." Soon after it appeared, he was on his way North to see the Goodyears and others.
With the meager savings from his salary and commissions as a salesman of embalming fluids, Lacey was able to tide himself over until he could close several timber transactions. During the years that followed, he accumulated considerable wealth as agent in buying enormous blocks of timber in the South and on the Pacific Coast. But he never lost his knack of being at ease with prince or pauper -- in a cutaway coat and top hat at some affair of state or sitting on a split-rail fence in his shirtsleeves negotiating a land deal with a native of Washington Parish. He neither tried to pull himself up with his own bootstraps nor to lower himself to the level of those who were below his own social stratum.
SLEEPING under mosquito netting on cots in the backwoods of Louisiana was hardly
in keeping with the style to which Frank and Charles Goodyear had become
accustomed in their Northern homes. They were up by the time the rising sun cast
its first shadows through the pines along Bogue Lusa Creek on an early September
morning in 1905.
"This is my idea of paradise," said Will Sullivan. "Just look at all those wonderful trees. I figure we have enough timber to keep a sawmill operating day and night for twenty-five years. I can hardly wait to start building the plant."
"If you don't watch out, Will, you'll be talking yourself out of a job," interrupted Frank. "You know we haven't decided who is going to manage the business for us here in the South."
Will smiled. "I suppose, then, I'm fired before I'm hired," he said.
A Canadian by birth and an Irishman by descent, Will Sullivan had come up the hard way. Half an index finger on his right hand never let him forget his first trade as a carpenter. This led to a small contracting business. With the money he earned from building a church at Queenstown, Ontario -- still a landmark on the river below Niagara Falls -- he crossed the border and attended Bryant and Stratton Business School in Buffalo.
At the completion of his business course, he was employed as an inspector by a hardwood lumber company. The Goodyear brothers met him while traveling on the train from Buffalo to their Pennsylvania sawmills. Favorably impressed with his obvious ability and ambition, they hired him for their own lumber operations. With his bride, Elizabeth Calkins, Will settled down in a house almost within stone's throw of the Goodyears' sawmill in Austin, Pennsylvania. A short time later, he and Dan Collins, who had been superintendent of the sawmill for several years, proposed that they take over the lumber operations, including the logging of the timber, on a contract basis. By accepting the proposal, Charles and Frank were relieved of many of the details of their expanding business.
When they decided to develop their new timber holdings in Louisiana and
Mississippi, the Goodyear brothers, no longer young men, were faced with the
problem of finding a competent manager of the properties who would be a virtual
partner in the business. There was some doubt at first as to whether Will
Sullivan was big enough for the job. Creating in a wilderness a city for 15,000
people and building the largest sawmill in the world was a far more complex
undertaking than running a comparatively small and well-established lumber
operation in Pennsylvania. The Goodyear brothers had brought Sullivan on their
trip South to look over the newly acquired forest empire. Also in the party were
Jim Lacey, Jim Whalen, Tom Pigott, J. F. Coleman, a civil engineer, and Charley
James who had a financial interest in the venture.
"We've got a full day's work ahead of us, so we'd better get an early start," said Frank, eager as always, to get down to business.
Charles led the way, sitting in the front seat of a surrey behind a pair of rawboned, undersized horses. Wondering whether the animals could survive another day's drive, he turned to the driver and remarked, "You have small horses here in the South, don't you? You know, in the North where I live they're much larger."
"I reckon they have to be big horses where you come from," said the driver, eying Charles's big frame and his 225 pounds.
Just then, a strange voice was heard in the distance, echoing through the pines.
"What in the world is that?" someone asked.
"Why that's my old friend, Uncle Le Roy Pearce, who sold us most of the land around here," replied Lacey. "He's walking through the woods calling his hogs. You know, he's the best hog-caller in the parish. Le Roy will be back at his home around noontime and we'll stop in and see him. He'll want to give us something to eat. Le Roy is friendly to Yankees since I gave him all that money for his land."
The men first drove in an easterly direction toward Pearl River. Having heard much about the Louisiana swamps, the Goodyears wanted to see for themselves that the location of a city and sawmill would be well above flood-water level. The highest water marks on the cypress trees in the lowlands convinced them that there was no danger of floods backing up to the proposed site. By the time they had looked over Richardson's
Landing as a potential water-transportation terminus from the Gulf of Mexico,
should the Government ever dredge Pearl River to a navigable depth, and after
seeing the location of the railroad that was to be built, there were no
objections to Jim Lacey's suggestion that they head for Le Roy's house. It was
midday. It was hot. Everyone in the party was hungry.
When the surreys drew up in front of the Pearce home, Le Roy and his friend Fielding Adams were sitting on the front porch. They had just returned from their morning ride through the woods. Their ponies, tied to the picket fence, still were saddled and dripping with sweat.
"I declare, if it ain't my old friend, Jim Lacey," said Le Roy, hurrying to the gate to greet the visitors. "What in the world are you doing here again? Jim, I'm mighty glad to see you. You all come up and rest on the gallery before we sit down to dinner. We got plenty of chicken, greens, and the best yams you ever et."
The names of F. H. and C. W. Goodyear had become generally known throughout Washington Parish by this time and were mentioned with some awe. Certainly Le Roy Pearce never dreamed that he would meet the two industrialists from the North, much less have them as guests in his house.
Mrs. Pearce came out on the gallery and greeted her unexpected visitors.
"I sure am glad to have you folks for dinner," she said.
Turning in his chair toward his wife, Le Roy said: "Julie, we got nine hungry men out here. You better kill some more chickens and get about a peck of yams out of the root cellar."
"You all must have got a right early start to drive up from Mandeville and be here by noontime," said Fielding, who had been watching the strangers with interest.
"No, said Tom Pigott. "We came up yesterday and camped last night along Bogue Lusa Creek, a piece east of Ben's Ford."
"So, that's where the smoke came from," said Le Roy. "I saw it when I started out to call my hogs this morning. I thought it was them surveyors who are layin' out the railroad. Well, you all must spend the night here. We can divide the party. Fielding, you got the best house. You take the Misters Goodyear, Mr. James, and Mr. Sullivan. Uncle Jimmy
and Tom Pigott are used to putting up here for the night, and Mr. Coleman can
sleep in our company bedroom."
That was hardly an invitation to be considered lightly by the Yankees, who had been dreading another night sleeping on cots in tents.
Mrs. Pearce interrupted her husband to call out that the chicken was about ready and that Canary had the food on the table. The men went to the back porch where they passed around a cake of soap and washed in buckets of rain water. Then they followed Le Roy in to the table.
No one spoke for awhile. They were all too busy eating the chicken that Canary had cooked in traditional Southern style. Finally, Le Roy's curiosity got the better of him. Why was Lacey back again and, this time, with these men from the North? They already owned all the merchantable timber in the parish. Stroking his beard and turning to Frank, who sat next to him, he spoke out in a loud voice:
"Mr. Goodyear, we are mighty glad to have you all with us. But I ain't got no idea why you came all the way up here from Lake Pontchartrain. I reckon it ain't just to pay us a visit. Big businessmen like you ain't got no time to mess around with folks way back here in the country."
Frank sat back in his chair.
"Mr. Pearce, we are here to select a location for a sawmill and a town we propose to build. As far as we have looked, the area around here along both sides of Bogue Lusa Creek would be suitable for a large lumber operation such as we have in mind. That would include the land we bought from you and from the Richardsons, the Adams farm, the Hunt headright, and one or two smaller parcels of land.
"This should be a healthy place to live in. There's good drainage. Mr. Coleman tells us you can get a fine flow of water by drilling an artesian well a couple of thousand feet almost anywhere in this part of the parish.
"We have considered a site north of here in Mississippi at a place called Ten Mile, but the laws of Mississippi aren't favorable to a corporation. They limit real-property holdings to a million dollars. Our investment in the South will exceed that figure by many times. So the idea of a mill and town in Mississippi has been abandoned. That's about all I have to say right now."
Mrs. Pearce had been busy in the kitchen helping Canary, but she came to the doorway while Frank talked. He sounded different than the
country people she knew and he used words she didn't always understand. When
Frank spoke about spending millions of dollars, she looked at Le Roy with an
expression that belied her suspicion. She saw that Le Roy was looking at her
with the same expression. They had both heard big talk before from traveling
salesmen. They were thinking of the lightning rods they had bought from one of
them. A short time after the rods were put on the hay barn, it was struck by
lightning and burned to the ground. Then there were the wax flowers under the
glass cover, which they had bought from Sears, Roebuck. They were so pretty
until they melted when the hot weather came.
But Will Sullivan thought Frank was too modest and restrained in telling about the mill and the town. When he could no longer curb his enthusiasm, he jumped up and stood behind his chair, exclaiming:
"We're going to build the biggest sawmill in the world right here. It'll have a capacity of a million feet of lumber every twenty-four hours. It'll run day and night for twenty-five maybe thirty years. The logs will be skidded by machinery and then hauled by the trainload to the sawmill. This means we'll be building a mile of railroad track every day. We won't be using any oxen to do the logging, except perhaps where there are small scattered tracts of timber.
"The town we build will be one of the largest in Louisiana. There'll be modern homes and schools. There'll be a hospital and banks. There'll be jobs for everyone in Washington Parish. Why, this wilderness will be turned into one of the most prosperous parts of Louisiana before you know it. That's what we're going to do here, Mr. Pearce.
"When we leave here, we're going North to order the machinery and equipment. I'll be back down South in six months to start construction. The town will grow like a mushroom. We will be sawing logs and shipping a train of fifty cars of lumber every day three years from now."
Charles leaned across the table while Will talked. He whispered to Frank:
"We might just as well make up our minds that Sullivan is hired to manage our properties here in the South. I guess you just can't keep a good Irishman down."
What Will said sounded incredible to Le Roy. He began to wonder whether he had been paid enough for his land after all. Finally he spoke:
"I sure do hope you all will do these things you tell about and that you'll do
it right here in Washington Parish. When I sold my land, Jim Lacey promised that
I wouldn't be fenced in to keep my hogs out of the timber for five years. I
reckon we won't have no fallin' out about that, whatever happens. But there'll
be some ornery folks who will be tryin' to cause a heap of trouble when you
start cutting down the timber. They just don't like to have furriners change the
way they live. Country folks like me and Fielding, we'll do what we can to help
There was still much land to be seen, some toward Franklinton near the Sheridan homestead and more north of Bogue Lusa Creek. Frank again was anxious to get started.
Back where they had pitched camp the night before, Jim Whalen and Tom Pigott
packed the tents, cots, and cooking utensils in the back of the surreys. The
others watched Jim Lacey trace the course of the long day's trip on a map he
spread out on the ground.
"Charles and I have been talking things over," Frank said, "and as far as we're concerned, we're satisfied that the area around here couldn't be better for the kind of a sawmill and town we have in mind. If there are any different opinions, we'd like to know what they are." Turning to Sullivan, he continued: "Will, as General Manager of the Great Southern Lumber Company, how do you feel about it?"
"Well, I'm mighty glad to know that I'm not fired after all, said Will, grinning from ear to ear. This is an ideal location for the largest sawmill in the world. I couldn't be more pleased. All I want to do is to work the rest of my life for the Goodyears, and live and die right here in this paradise."
Le Roy Pearce and Fielding Adams were waiting on the galleries of their homes when their weary visitors returned and stepped down from the surreys.
"Hope you all have a good rest," said Mrs. Adams soon after supper when she led her guests to the bedrooms, a candle in each hand. The feather beds, bare wooden floors, and a roof overhead seemed luxurious after the tents they had slept in the night before.
The next morning, they ate an early breakfast by candlelight and left
Mr. and Mrs. Fielding Adams
for Lake Pontchartrain. Jim Whalen and Tom Piggott stayed behind to survey the
site for the town that was to take its name from Bogue Lusa Creek and become
Bogalusa, Louisiana. Before nightfall the rest of the party was in Mandeville in
time to catch the old ferry on its last trip of the day across Lake
Pontchartrain to New Orleans. The colored doorman at the St. Charles Hotel in
New Orleans welcomed the adventurers back to civilization.
Next day the Goodyear brothers, Charley James, and Will Sullivan called on several of the leading businessmen, bankers, and lawyers. In the evening they were guests for dinner at Antoine's in the French Quarter, where oysters Rockefeller, broiled pompano in paper bags, and crepes Suzette were the piéces de resistance, before taking the train for the North in Frank's private car, the "Sinnamahoning."
The pioneers were going home, the biggest job in their lives about to start. Neither Frank nor Charles was to live to see his dreams come true. Neither was to hear the drone of the largest sawmill in the world. The child of their creation grew into a rich maturity, guided not by them but by the generations which followed.
CHARLES Waterhouse Goodyear was fifty-six and Frank Henry Goodyear was fifty-two
when the brothers invested nine million dollars in their fifteen-million-dollar
venture in Louisiana and Mississippi. Earnings accumulated from lumber and coal
enterprises in Pennsylvania provided the necessary funds.
Another three million dollars of capital stock was subscribed by the Hamlins and the Crarys, Pennsylvania capitalists, and by Charles I. James, scion of an aristocratic Maryland family. James had been associated before with the Goodyears in their northern hemlock lumber operations, which by this time were approaching depletion. An issue of 6 per cent first-mortgage bonds was the source of what other funds were needed to finance the purchase of timberlands, construct plant facilities, provide houses for employees, and develop a city that was to be a home to 15,000 people.
But the Great Southern Lumber Company, from its beginning to its end years later, was essentially a Goodyear family enterprise.
Like many of their contemporaries of comparable industrial achievement and stature, the two brothers who founded this fabulous lumber empire started life with meager beginnings. They were born in a rural settlement near Cortland, New York. Their father, Bradley Goodyear, was a country doctor. A poignant memory that never left them was the sound of sleigh bells waking them in the darkness of a winter's night as their father hurried to an expectant mother or drove for miles in a blizzard to prescribe a hot mustard foot bath for a hysterical patient who feared that death was imminent.
Practicing his profession among families of modest means, often without compensation at all, Dr. Goodyear never was able financially to provide his sons with educational advantages beyond those which were available in the public schools. The white one-room rural schoolhouse where they obtained their elementary education was typical of hundreds
F. H. Goodyear
C. W. Goodyear
of others which in this period dotted the countryside of New York State. Here
there was the usual ritual to inspire youthful patriotism. That, of course, was
the raising of the Stars and Stripes before morning classes to the accompaniment
of childish voices singing the national anthem. Here, always within reach of the
schoolmistress, was the willow switch with which stern discipline was
Both of the Goodyear boys inherited a few traits in common from their mother, but otherwise their characters, personalities, and appearances were completely unlike. Like their mother, both were ambitious to succeed, impulsive with quick tempers, generous with their worldly goods and tolerant of the frailties of others. Unlike their father, the brothers were stockily built. A later tendency toward obesity was allowed to take its course in unrestrained gastronomy and with as little exercise as possible. Athletics did not become popular until late in their lives. Among women of their day, voluptuous bosoms and well-rounded buttocks were considered necessities of pulchritude. Among men, a protruding stomach was a mark of enviable distinction. At middle age, both of the brothers weighed well over 200 pounds.
The urge to do great things could not long be satisfied in their native New York State village. Frank was the first to leave home. Still in his teens, he had an insatiable desire to make money that was to stay with him all the years of his life. Coupled with that consuming ambition were abundant energy and keen business sense. With his worldly possessions packed in a small satchel and $100 borrowed from his father, young Frank boarded the train for Looneyville on the outskirts of Buffalo. It was here that he began what was to be a spectacular business career, as a $35 a month employee of Robert Looney, founder of the town which honored his name.
Years after, a member of the family tried to locate Looneyville on a map of New York State. He learned that its name had been changed to Wende several years ago by an almost unanimous vote of the townsfolk.
Robert Looney had a profitable business logging timber from several acres of land he had bought at a low price. He sold ties and cordwood for fuel to the railroads. His business was growing when Frank Goodyear went to work for him, but Robert Looney was getting along in years. Frank promptly set about convincing the aging lumberman that he was the man to shoulder responsibility. In a remarkably short time he had
mastered the details and was running the business while still in his early
twenties. He also found time to court and marry his employer's daughter,
The urge to search out greater opportunities soon made itself felt. In 1872, Frank Goodyear and his young wife moved to Buffalo. Frank was only twenty-two, but, financed by Elbridge Gerry Spaulding, a leading citizen of Buffalo who was nationally known as the "Father of Greenbacks," he set up a lumber-and-coal business of his own. Mr. Spaulding must have been much impressed with Frank's business acumen, for generosity was not one of the old gentleman's characteristics. The wealthy Mr. Spaulding made a practice of walking to his office to save the five-cent fare in a horse-drawn street car, and it was his custom to read the penny newspaper as it lay on the newsstand. The fact that Frank sold Mr. Spaulding the idea of financing a business scheme was evidence of a talent that was to make him an outstanding industrialist of his time.
In a few years, Frank Goodyear liquidated his indebtedness and built up a lumber-and-coal business that provided capital for investing in even larger and more profitable enterprises. By this time he knew the lumber business was to be his life, and the idea appealed to him. He was impatient to expand his interests; he felt bridled and restrained. When finally he heard that a large tract of virgin hemlock timber in Potter County, Pennsylvania, might be had at a reasonable price, he could hardly wait to see it. He took the first train to Keating Summit, a flag station on the very edge of the timberlands.
Alone he climbed, almost ran, to the top of a mountain, where his eyes scanned thousands of acres of hemlock trees that had scarcely known the stroke of a woodsman's ax. He looked at it longingly for hours and when he came back down the mountain, his decision was made. In a few years he owned and operated fifteen sawmills in northern Pennsylvania. He made their management a one-man job at which he worked night and day. And at the age of thirty-seven, he broke under the strain of his own intense nervous energy. He was stopped for the first time in his life, but not for long.
Charles Goodyear was cut from a different cloth, of a more versatile pattern. There was ambition, but it was less compelling than that which possessed his brother Frank. A professional career rather than business
success appealed to him as a young man. During his summers, as a youth, he
worked on a farm and in a tannery to pay for an education in the academies at
Wyoming, Cortland, and East Aurora in western New York. He was a talented orator
and was one of the finest debaters in the schools he attended. For awhile he
taught school before he, too, went to Buffalo to study law.
In 1871, when he was twenty-six years old, he was admitted to the bar in New York State and hung out his own shingle. From the start of his career he attracted attention as a young lawyer, and later succeeded Grover Cleveland as a senior partner in Buffalo's leading law firm when Cleveland gave up his practice to enter politics. With his brilliant personality, distinguished physical appearance, and oratorical ability it was not surprising that Charles Goodyear, too, should dabble in politics.
In 1876, he was appointed Assistant District Attorney in Erie County. Later he was District Attorney. After one important and sensational trial, a Buffalo newspaper commented: "No case that has been before the courts in many a day has been so cleverly handled as by Mr. Charles W. Goodyear."
Public life was beginning to attract Charles Goodyear more and more. His close friendship with Grover Cleveland also was an incentive to a growing interest in politics. In 1882, he was elected County Chairman of the Democratic Committee. In this first position of political leadership, he won his spurs. He played an important role in the nomination and the election of Grover Cleveland as Governor of New York State.
Years later, a boom was started for the candidacy of Charles Goodyear in the gubernatorial campaign of 1904. He declined at the outset, but his political backers were persistent and a "Goodyear for Governor" movement gained momentum. Typical of the pressure that was being brought to bear on his nomination was the following letter from Cleveland to an influential friend:
Princeton, N. J.
June 17, 1904
I have just received your letter and the clipping enclosed. It is a delight to
me to learn that there is a movement on foot looking to the nomination of
Charles W. Goodyear for Governor of New York. As a Democrat, still much in-
terested in the grand supremacy of my old state, I should look upon Mr.
Goodyear's nomination as the wisest and best that could possibly be made. I
will not omit saying that he is one of my best and most intimate friends, and that
his selection would be a great personal satisfaction to me; but I will at the same
time deny that my friendship for him leads me to place an exaggerated estimate
upon the moral, intellectual and political traits of his character, which certainly
ought to make him an ideal candidate.
Yours very truly,
Charles and Ella Goodyear
Letters from other prominent men with political influence began to pour in. One was from the Secretary of War, Daniel S. Lamont, who wrote to Mr. Goodyear: "We can swing the nomination for you without a doubt and you will be elected." Charles did not take seriously the campaign on his behalf until posters and buttons booming him for Governor began to be circulated. By this time he had many irons in the fire. The lumber operations in Pennsylvania, although curtailed because the standing timber was rapidly being depleted, had several years to run. Much of his time was taken by the business of acquiring timberlands in the South. The new operating company, the Great Southern Lumber Company, had been incorporated and its organization was in the making. Besides, the poor health of his brother and partner had added to Charles's burdens.
Finally, notices appeared in the press announcing the categorical refusal of Charles W. Goodyear to accept the nomination for Governor. That marked his retirement from political life, and it was a disappointment to him long after.
As a young lawyer, Charles Goodyear had little time for other than his profession during the first seven years that he lived in Buffalo as a bachelor. His social life was limited to week-end parties. At one of these in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ogden P. Letchworth on Niagara Street, Charles met Ella Portia Conger. It was love at first sight, and the two were married on March 23, 1876. The young Charles Goodyears were a distinguished couple. Ella was handsome, with charm and poise.
A white New England-type country house in the village of Collins Centre, about
thirty miles from Buffalo, was the birthplace of Ella Con-
ger on August 30, 1853. She was not one to be contented long in a rural
community. Her unrest was expressed in a letter she wrote while a young girl to
a friend: "I am getting most crazy for the holidays to come. Won't we have fun!
You can't begin to think how I want to see you. Oh dear! there is nothing like
being buried alive in the ruins of Pompeii where you can never see your
The generosity of her father, a well-to-do country banker, made it possible for her to have the best education that could be had at that time and to study music. Ella attended the Buffalo Female Academy (now the Buffalo Seminary) and was graduated in 1873. Later she went to Brooklyn to study singing. Discriminating friends were lavish in their praises of her talents. Ella visualized herself behind the footlights of an opera house, bowing to the applause of enthusiastic audiences.
Instead, with her formal education completed, Ella returned to Collins Centre where she worked in her father's banking office and learned the rudiments of finance. Singing in a church choir helped to pass the time, but Ella soon became dissatisfied with life in a village. Back in Buffalo, she made her modest debut as a soprano in the quartet of St. Paul's Cathedral. Dwarfed by towering office buildings, the Cathedral still stands impressively in the downtown business section.
Marriage ended Ella's singing career. She retained an active interest in music until the later years of her life, but she sang only at informal gatherings. Her home and family crowded out her dreams as a prima donna.
When Ella was married, her father gave her as a wedding present, money to build what was then a pretentious residence at 723 Delaware Avenue, across the street from Westminster Church, in the section where the elite of Buffalo's prominent citizens were beginning to erect their homes.
During the first eight years of her marriage Ella gave birth to three sons and a daughter -- Anson Conger, Esther Permelia, Charles Waterhouse, Jr., and Bradley. With her large home and growing family, her time was full.
Ella was never without the necessities and most of the luxuries that make up fine living. Security marked her life but it was not always free of difficulties and anxieties. The Civil War, the Spanish-American War,
Ella gave birth to three sons and a daughter.
World War I: Charley, Conger, and Bailey
The left wing of this hospital, in Austin, Pa., was
the home where
Ella and the children spent several summers.
The Goodyear sawmill in Austin, Pennsylvania
World War I, and the first part of World War II occurred during her lifetime.
Her three sons served overseas in the first Great War and her worries came to a
glorious ending when she watched, from a window of the Genesee Hotel, the 106th
Field Artillery march up Main Street with Bradley leading as commanding officer.
The regiment's homecoming from the battlefields of France received a rousing
welcome of the cheering crowds on both sides of the street.
The position of Ella's husband in the community was well established and he was a successful, prominent lawyer. But he was beginning to realize that the legal profession never would assure him more than a comfortable living, and Charles Goodyear needed more than that.
In 1887, Charles became his brother's partner in the already established lumber business. Frank again had cracked under the strain of excessive work and had gone to Europe. Charles took over, assuming the responsibility of running a large lumber enterprise. As a lawyer he frequently had been associated with the affairs of corporations, so that he was not long adjusting himself to the problems attached to his new vocation. He spent most of his time in Pennsylvania, actively managing the business from the logging of timber to the final processing of lumber.
So that she might be with her husband as much as possible and help him in his new business career, Ella and the children spent several summers in an ugly frame house on a hillside overlooking a sawmill in Austin, Pennsylvania, a typical lumber village not unlike the Western frontier towns of earlier days. The droning of the buzz saws in the mill, the whistles and exhaust steam of the locomotives hauling trains of logs, were incessant day and night. The Goodyear youngsters galloped their ponies over hilly dirt roads and fished for brook trout in the bubbling mountain streams. Ella often said, years later, that the summers in Pennsylvania were the happiest times of her life. But that, perhaps, was in retrospect.
ALL during the Gay Nineties, Charles and Frank rode on the crest of the wave.
They were approaching middle age. Their business was running smoothly and
profitably. Frank had a million dollars on deposit in the bank and a fortune
besides in stocks and bonds, but his ambition to make still more money never
lessened until the last year of his life. Already he had dreamed of another
lumber operation when the supply of hemlock timber in Pennsylvania was
exhausted. He knew there were almost boundless tracts of virgin yellow pine in
the Deep South. The urge to build the largest sawmill in the world grew as Frank
studied the glowing reports of timber cruisers in Louisiana and Mississippi.
It was the golden age, too, for Ella and Charles. The children were old enough to be left in the care of competent nurses and faithful servants. The Goodyears traveled and became more socially prominent. There were frequent trips to New York City for the theater, the opera, or to delight their epicurean appetites at noted restaurants. Ella's letters were filled with ecstatic references to Sir Henry Irving and Ellen Terry in a Shakespearian revival; to Melba, who was appearing in grand opera as Lucia. Charles, too, wrote of a gay evening when he, Ella and Postmaster General and Mrs. Wilson S. Bissell dined at Delmonico's before seeing Weber and Fields and Lillian Russell, who were the hit on the Broadway stage for several years.
There were few places attractive to travelers that they did not visit at one time or another. On one trip through the South they boarded an antiquated boat at New Orleans which might have been one of the sternwheelers that Mark Twain piloted before the Civil War, and leisurely wound their way up the Mississippi River as far as Memphis. While on long journeys to the West Coast or across Canada, they traveled in a private railroad car with friends or with the children during summer vacations. For a lark, in 1897, they left the private car in Vancouver and took passage on a steamer through the Archipelago along the coast of
British Columbia as far north as the Yukon. The rickety old boat was loaded with
hopeful prospectors headed for the Klondike.
Trips abroad to continental Europe, the Mediterranean, and the British Isles became annual junkets -- sometimes with such definite objectives as the Passion Play at Oberammergau and the Paris Exhibition. In 1899, all the family went abroad. Ella and Charles thought that the children had reached ages at which they would be interested in seeing the sights of the Old World. The high spots of the trip for the two younger boys were kissing the Blarney Stone during a coaching jaunt through Ireland, climbing the Eiffel Tower and going through the morgue in Paris, boating on the Thames River, and the visit to the palatial summer home of Buffalo friends on the Isle of Wight where they were introduced to the game of cricket. Esther was bored generally except when she and her mother restocked their wardrobes in Paris while Charles took the baths in Bad Nauheim. Conger, the eldest of the Goodyear boys, had as little as possible to do with the rest of the family and was particularly annoyed with his precocious younger brothers. That summer he preferred the company of his classmates who had gone abroad after graduating in the spring from Yale.
At home in Buffalo, too, there was social life for the Goodyears. The Delaware Avenue house had been enlarged and was the scene of lavish dinner parties. Ella and Charles were the guests on several occasions of President and Mrs. Cleveland at diplomatic receptions and informal White House dinners. After one of these, Ella wrote to a friend: "After dinner we went upstairs. The President took off his dress coat and had a nice smoke as we sat around and visited. After a time, the President had calls and was excused. Just before retiring we went into our room. Mrs. Cleveland was with us and we had some ginger ale."
As the children grew older, Ella decided that the city was no place for them during summer vacations. The family spent several summers on Cape Cod, where a spacious house was rented in the Wianno colony. Horses, carriages, dogs, household effects, along with bags and baggage, were shipped from Buffalo to the Cape in railroad boxcars at the opening of the season.
But Charles seldom permitted outside activities to interfere with business. He felt that about a month of each year was as long as he could
Ella in one of the dresses that she wore when she
and Charles were guests
of President and Mrs. Grover Cleveland in the White House.
be away. He had a strong sense of his obligations as a citizen, too, taking an
active part in the civic affairs of Buffalo. He was a trustee of the State
Normal School. He helped organize and was a director of the Pan-American
Exposition. In 1899, he was president of the Buffalo Club, an office which had
been held previously by such prominent Buffalonians as Millard Fillmore, Grover
Cleveland, and Wilson S. Bissell.
Charles's attitude toward his children was largely "live and let live," but he often tried to impress on them that only a useful life was worth living. A short time before his death he said to his namesake: "I will not leave my sons much money, but they will inherit a substantial interest in vast timberlands which they can develop and which will make them better men by so doing."
He took a keen interest in the welfare and education of his children, all three of his sons being Yale graduates. Esther attended schools in Maryland, Bryn Mawr, and Paris. In France she took lessons from a famous driving and riding master, and after her return to Buffalo always was in the ribbons at the Country Club horse shows. She was a striking figure in her smart cabriolet drawn by a perfectly matched pair of high-stepping hackneys and with a footman in the rumble seat.
Early in the new century, Charles and Frank Goodyear saw the beginning of the end of their Pennsylvania lumber business. Liquidation was inevitable. What to do with their money became a new problem for the Goodyear brothers. A meager return of 6 per cent from gilt-edge corporate bonds or 4 per cent on bank deposits satisfied neither of them. They found the solution to their dilemma in the timberlands of the Deep South. They decided to put a large part of their eggs in one basket and then watch the basket. Both had seen hard times come and go. They had seen the price of lumber dip below the cost of manufacture, but they had never known of a recession in the market value of merchantable trees. Another investment in timber ready to be manufactured into lumber seemed to them to be prudent foresight. And they were right.
When J. D. Lacey & Company was engaged to purchase the thousands of acres of yellow pine in Louisiana and Mississippi, it was the intention of F.H. and C.W., as the brothers were generally referred to by business associates, to hold the property as a nest egg to be sold at a profit during their declining years. What an absurd idea that was! The Goodyears were
Esther at one of the Country Club horse shows.
only underestimating their own temperaments. Making money from the production of
lumber was still in their blood. So they carried on in Louisiana what they had
started in Pennsylvania, but on an even greater scale.
Frank, the business dynamo, undoubtedly influenced his brother, who at first was reluctant to start an undertaking that involved hard work and worry in a wilderness more than a thousand miles from home. Frank clung stubbornly to his objective of constantly supplementing his already sizable holdings. He never really rested. Even when he went away for a change or relaxation, business was mixed with pleasure. He joined the Jekyll Island Club off the coast of Georgia in which no applicant for membership was considered unless he was a magnate, the head of his own business, and socially acceptable. He built a home near the club house and his favorite pastime was talking with such men as Pierpont Morgan, George F. Baker, James H. Hill, W. K. Vanderbilt, and Jay Gould. Their conversations drifted inevitably to business and finance.
Charles's eldest son, Conger, already was serving his apprenticeship in the lumber business in Pennsylvania. In a few years, young Charley and Bradley would finish their schooling. Perhaps it was the hope that he would have the help of some of his sons that influenced Charles to yield to Frank's determination to build a lumber operation larger than had ever been heard of before.
While Frank and Charles were hard at work on plans to develop their Southern timberlands, Ella was going over blueprints with an architect for a new home that was to be built in "Millionaires' Row" on Delaware Avenue. Ella and Charles had decided that their old residence was inadequate, both for a large family and for entertaining in the style they preferred. The new home at 888 Delaware Avenue was completed in the fall of 1903. The architecture of the house was of the French Renaissance period. Most of the furniture was custom-made by cabinetmakers in Boston according to designs that were popular during different eras in England and Europe.
It was in this house, with its many spacious rooms and high ceilings, that Ella and Charles spent the remaining years of their lives and it was here the both died, Charles in 1911 and Ella in 1940.
Not to be outdone by his brother, Frank built a handsome sandstone mansion on Delaware Avenue. It was the finest home in the city of Buffalo.
The Charles Goodyear home in "Millionaire's Row," 888 Delaware Avenue.
The terrace was a favorite place of Madam Goodyear's.
The stable at 888 Delaware Avenue
Frank was able to enjoy its luxuries for only a short time, for it was here that
he died in 1907. The machinery of a high-strung temperament became worn out with
worry and work within a few months after he returned from the South in 1905 when
the site for the sawmill and town was decided upon in Washington Parish. Frank
never recovered, but persisted in keeping in touch with the business until the
The home of Charles and Ella was only a short distance from Frank's elaborate house and it was the scene of many brilliant social affairs and family gatherings. In later years, it was not unusual for twenty-five children and grandchildren to sit down together at a Sunday or holiday dinner. A large garden party on the well-manicured lawn at the rear of the house became an annual summer event. When King Albert, Queen Elizabeth, and Prince Leopold of Belgium visited Buffalo in 1919, they were the guests of Madam Goodyear, as Ella came to be known in the society in which she moved.
Ella treated the fifteen servants in her ménage almost like members of the family. Traditionally, they all came on Christmas day and received gifts after a buffet supper. When she died at the age of eighty-seven, six of Ella's servants had to their credit a total of one hundred and ninety-five years of faithful service.
A well-appointed stable which was built at the same time as the new Delaware Avenue residence was short-lived. It was soon razed and the foundation left for the walls of a sunken garden. The string of driving and saddle horses, the patent-leather monogrammed harnesses, the glistening array of carriages and sleighs all were disposed of to make way for automobiles of early vintage.
Andrew, the faithful family coachman, reluctantly stepped down from the driver's box of the piquant victoria with its calash top. Instead of holding the reins and a silver-mounted whip behind a pair of spirited horses as he drove Madam Goodyear on an afternoon ride through the Park, Andrew became the chauffeur of a two-cylinder automobile. But he never could accustom himself to the odor of gasoline and preferred the aroma of sweating horses. James, the footman for many years, donned blue jeans instead of shining top boots and cream-white buckskin breeches when he was demoted ignominiously to the position of houseman.
In the midst of luxury, Charles Goodyear often sensed the coming of
One hundred and ninety-five years of faithful service
a violent change in the pattern of living, years away though it was to be. Once,
from New York, he wrote to his mother and, dwelling at length on the
inequalities of life and the basis on which society was organized, he mentioned
the sale of a silver table service for $78,000, a small rug for $3,000, a
diamond for $8,000. He asked some questions and made a prophetic observation:
"How long will this state of affairs last and what kind of a revolution will it bring? Will it be peaceful or violent? None of us will live to see it but it will come. Some better division of the comforts and luxuries of life will be made. But not in our day. And so we may as well ask in the language of Boss Tweed, `What are we going to do about it?' And let it pass."
He wrote that letter in 1890.
Change. None of us will live to see it, he prophesied. And he didn't. Ella did, and she remained unperturbed through it all. Matriarch that she was, Ella continued to be the magnetic hub of a large family of forty-three children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Nor did this prolific family tree cease to spread its branches after her death. All but one of the progeny of Charles Waterhouse and Ella Conger Goodyear still live. A grandson, Bradley Goodyear, Jr., gave his life as a combat pilot in World War II.
The family tree continued to spread its branches.
WITHIN five months after the selection of the townsite in Washington Parish, the
organization of the Great Southern Lumber Company and plans for the construction
of the huge sawmill and the creation of a new city in Louisiana were well
advanced. At the first meeting of the Board of Directors, Frank Goodyear was
elected president and Charles Goodyear vice-president. Charles I. James became
second vice-president and F. A. Lehr secretary and treasurer. All, except James,
had been active in the management of the Goodyear enterprises in the North. As
promised, Will Sullivan was made general manager of lumber operations in the
South. A. Conger Goodyear, Charles's son, was appointed purchasing agent and was
the first of the younger generation of Goodyears to become identified with the
family business interests.
From the beginning Sullivan had a mental blueprint, supported by a wealth of data in the notebook he always carried in his pocket, of the sawmill plant that was to be designed to turn out a million feet of lumber every twenty-four hours. This was at the start of the machine age, and Will visualized ingenious improvements in manufacturing practices that could be applied to the mechanization of lumber operations.
Why not, he reasoned, bring in the whole tree, except for the tops and branches, and cut it up into logs with a circular saw at the mill rather than by hand in the woods? After the trees were felled in the forests, they could be skidded by portable steam skidders with 1000-foot draglines, loaded on specially built cars, and hauled by rail to the mill. This not only would reduce handling costs but would make possible the cutting of logs into proper lengths to promptly fill orders on hand and avoid the accumulation of excessive inventories of lumber. Will suggested the idea to the skidder manufacturers. They thought it possible but they were far from impressed.
Sullivan's pencil sketches of the sawmill drew little encouragement from the engineers who had designed plants for lumber operations from coast to coast. Supplying such a mill as Will envisioned would require cut
ting about a hundred acres of densely growing, mature yellow pine tree every
day. The magnitude of such a logging operation and the conversion of so much
timber into lumber in a single sawmill seemed to them preposterous. They were,
they said, unable to conceive of a wooden building large enough to house all of
the machinery that would be necessary. It would have to be twice the size of any
mill yet built. Yes, it might be possible to turn out fifty carloads of lumber a
day if there were enough saws. But there was the problem of power to operate the
machinery, and the difficulty of handling lumber in any such volume when it
emerged from the mill. Frankly, they said, the whole idea was fantastic.
Sullivan seldom let his Irish temper get the best of him, but he did at a meeting in Buffalo with the machinery manufacturers and engineering consultants which was attended by the Goodyear brothers.
"You just submit plans for the layout of a mill that will manufacture a million feet of lumber a day," he almost shouted. "I'll do the rest. With the large trees we have," he went on, "the mill will cut mostly timbers. One of the rigs should be able to saw logs up to seventy feet long. We expect to export a considerable quantity of lumber, mostly to England for shipbuilding, to Germany, Africa, and Japan.
"It has never been done before, I know," he told them, "but I plan to build the mill of steel construction. And there will be no trouble in handling the lumber at the end of the mill, as you seem to fear. We will do it efficiently by maintaining the same directional flow of the lumber during its various stages of manufacture until it finally is loaded on railroad cars for shipment. Sorters and automatic stackers will reduce handling to a minimum. As for power, one Corliss high-pressure steam engine will furnish all that is necessary to operate the sawmill machinery. We're going to need a drive belt, of course. And it'll be so big it will require the hides from seven hundred twenty steers to make it. A belt of this size has never been made before, you say. And you are right. But I have the guarantee of a manufacturerer (sic) that it can be made and that it will stand up with only minor repairs for five years."
The Goodyears listened. It was their policy to keep an active finger in the pie but to delegate authority and responsibility to subordinates to whom they gave full credit for accomplishment and who were treated as partners in the business, not hirelings. With one or two exceptions,
those who were placed in important positions came up through the rank of their
At the end of the long day's meeting, the plans for the sawmill plan were approved. Elated, Will took the train back to his Pennsylvania home in Austin. He could hardly wait to tell his wife about the meeting and to talk over plans for moving to the paradise he had found in Louisiana.
The Goodyears left Sullivan to perfect the plans for the mill and prepare the requisitions for the vast amount of machinery, equipment, and materials so that inquiries could be sent out by Conger for competitive quotations. Frank and Charles, meanwhile, turned their attention to finances and to the plans for a city that was eventually to house 15,000 people.
The bond issue for the railroad, which had been incorporated as a common carrier under the name of the New Orleans Great Northern Railroad Company, and the first-mortgage debentures for the Great Southern Lumber Company, were floated without difficulty. After this initial financing, neither company needed additional outside capital to carry on its business.
Harvey Murdock, who had planned several real-estate developments on Long Island and in the environs of New York City, was engaged to draft plans for the city of Bogalusa. The idea of a lumber town being laid out systematically by a landscape architect was unheard of. Generally, such a town more nearly resembled a mining community in the West where the streets grew out of original wagon roads and cowpaths. But it was never the intention of the builders of Bogalusa to create what would become a ghost town after sawmill operations came to an end with the exhaustion of the timber supply.
The plans for the city were studied carefully by the Goodyears, who suggested many changes, additions, and omissions in the preliminary sketches. The final draft of Murdock's map showed three residential areas; a business section; plots for public buildings, such as a city hall, a hospital, and schools; and several parks, the largest of which was to be called Goodyear Park.
Bogue Lusa Creek divided the townsite. To the south of the creek, the Company proposed to build 850 homes to be rented to employees.
In this same area, a tract of about 150 acres was reserved for the sawmill plant
and log pond, so situated as to separate the residential section from the
colored quarters. This was done in an attempt to avert racial conflicts as much
as possible. There had been lynchings of Negroes in the Parish, and probably 40
per cent of the city's population would be colored.
The lots on the north side of the creek were to be sold to those who would build their own homes. There was also to be a cemetery and a golf course on the outskirts of this subdivision. The whole plan was considered remarkable in its conception of what later was to be called "The Magic City of the South."
After completion of the map for the townsite, architects from New Orleans were called in. There were to be two- and four-room bungalows in the colored quarters and four-, six-, and eight-room houses for the white employees. Plans were submitted and finally passed on for an elaborate office building, hospital, company commissary, schools, a resort type of hotel, and more pretentious homes for the general manager and the heads of departments.
By February, 1906, five months after the Goodyear party had first camped along Bogue Lusa Creek, contracts had been let for the sawmill buildings and machinery and for the excavation of the 27-acre log pond. Competitive bids had been scanned and orders placed for such miscellaneous items as locomotives, logging cars, rails, skidders, and a portable sawmill.
Will Sullivan, champing at the bit, was ready to return to Washington Parish a month earlier than he had promised Le Roy Pearce he would be back. Driving up from Covington over much the same route that he had traveled the previous September, Will reached Bogue Lusa Creek before nightfall and here on the same site where he had camped with the Goodyear brothers he lived in a tent for several months.
With carpenters, such as they were, recruited from Franklinton and the countryside, a colony of tents with wooden floors was erected almost overnight. A crude frame building for a mess hall, kitchen, office, and a few bedrooms was the first to go up on the new townsite. Appropriately enough, it was called the Magnolia Hotel. A magnolia tree had been left standing on the site of the building to continue its growth through the roof of the mess hall.
Colony of tents on Bogue Lusa Creek
On the bed of Bogue Lusa Creek lay an almost inexhaustible supply of sand and
gravel for concrete foundations ready to be dredged by suction pumps. But
structural progress at the outset was beset by difficulties which had been
anticipated and were unavoidable. The small, unreliable "pecker wood" sawmill at
Franklinton was far from adequate and could not possibly supply enough lumber to
keep up with large-scale construction. Thus it was necessary to transport by ox
teams everything that was required. The only contact with the outside world was
by mail through the post office at Lee's Creek, three miles away. Often it was a
week before letters moved out by train for the North.
After much delay, caravans of eight-wheel wagons drawn by teams of oxen started to haul in machinery and equipment. Not long after, a small sawmill was turning out lumber from the pine trees that were cut down to clear the site for the town. Sand and gravel were being pumped from Bogue Lusa Creek. Construction work at last was under way.
The first buildings to go up were crude shacks to house the workmen who were being recruited as fast as living quarters were made available. There was also a two-story office building of rough-sawed boards and battens with a dormitory on the second floor for Sullivan, the office force, and the civil engineers. A sign over its entrance, "Blarney Castle," gave it an ironic distinction. Temporary storage sheds for machinery, equipment, and materials; a boarding house; a mule barn and corral; and even a jail mushroomed into being.
Efforts were made to induce New Orleans merchants to erect and operate a general store, but they were apathetic and showed complete lack of interest. They shared the feeling common in Louisiana that the so-called Magic City, if such it was to be, surely would be short-lived.
Sullivan, characteristically undaunted by such skepticism, decided that the Company would operate its own commissary. A temporary building for a store was started and an order placed for a stock of merchandise before authority for these expenditures was received from Buffalo. From a meager beginning, gross sales rose to over $1,000,000 with net profits as much as $125,000 a year.
Three months after Will returned to Washington Parish, the timber had been logged from the building sites and the stumps blasted by dynamite from their tenacious taproots. Pouring of concrete for the foundations
Blarney Castle was later used for a restaurant.
The first Company commissary
of the sawmill plant and dwellings had begun. Hundreds of mules pulling scrapers
trudged along, grading streets and excavating the log pond.
But Sullivan was impatient with the progress, or lack of it, in the extension of the railroad tracks. Construction work for the mill was being delayed until structural steel and brick could be brought in by rail. Finally, the first freight train arrived in Bogalusa. From then on the building program hummed.
Day and night, there was an insistent clatter of pneumatic hammers riveting the steel columns and girders for the framework of the plant buildings. Even before the brick walls of the power house were completed, machinery and boilers were being set on their foundations. The scene in this vast clearing was in marked contrast to the virgin forest which surrounded it.
Already, Bogalusa was being talked about, though in terms that were far from laudatory. There was, for instance, a light opera playing in New Orleans in which the prisoner was offered the choice of being condemned to death or exiled to Bogalusa for the remaining years of his life. Unhesitatingly he ruled out the second choice as a fate worse than death, and accepted the first.
Was Bogalusa the name of a disease? asked a quiz in the columns of a New Orleans newspaper.
None of this disturbed Will Sullivan. In fact he liked it. There was some of the showman in Sullivan, and he thrived on having something he was doing talked about. But his was an enthusiasm and self-assurance untinged with braggadocio or egoism.
This was Bogalusa, belittled and berated, as it was first known by Charles Goodyear, Jr., son of one of its founders, when he went South to begin at the bottom of the lumber business after graduating from Yale University. Young Goodyear left the train from the North at Jackson, Mississippi, in September, 1906, and was met by A. W. Maxwell, recently appointed land agent for the Great Southern Lumber Company.
Riding in a buggy drawn by a pair of native horses, they drove for two weeks through the thousands of acres of the Company's timber holdings between the northern boundary of Mississippi and the central part of Louisiana, stopping nights at typical farm houses at the end of a day's journey. Arriving in Bogalusa, Charley moved into Blarney Castle. It was
all very different from the life and environment to which he was accustomed. He
was like a fish out of water the first few days, wandering around in the midst
of hectic building activity and marveling at what was being accomplished.
During these first few days, young Goodyear met Jack Cassidy, who was foreman of the crews clearing the land for the townsite. Jack had come South from Pennsylvania, where he had worked in the logging operations under Will Sullivan. With his powerful physique and tireless energy, Cassidy was to play an important role in the development of the Great Southern Lumber Company.
Three days after young Charley arrived in Bogalusa, he was told to report at seven o'clock the next morning in Mr. Sullivan's office. This marked the beginning of a friendship and business association that was to last until Will's death twenty-three years later.
"I'm very glad a Goodyear is here to take an active part in the development of this new enterprise," Will told him. "I'm looking forward to my association with another generation of the family and I hope it will be as happy as with your father and Uncle Frank. I guess you've had enough time to look around and get your bearings. Tomorrow morning, you'll start your first job. That will be building wooden sidewalks."
Will scribbled a note and handed it to Charley.
"Give this to Jack Cassidy, who will let you have five colored men from his gang and will tell you where you can locate tools, lumber, and nails. Work starts here at six in the morning and ends at six in the evening. A half-hour off for lunch. Hand into the office every day a report on how much sidewalk you've built and the names and payroll numbers of the men in your crew. Drop in and see me any time."
THE goal had been set to begin sawmill operations by the fall of 1907. To meet
that objective, construction was pushed at an accelerated pace. Framework of
hundreds of company houses began to dot the townsite along unpaved streets. The
building of a hospital, a workingmen's hotel, the Pine Tree Inn, a large company
store, schools for white and colored children, a two-story stucco office, and
spacious homes for key operating personnel emphasized the permanence of the
During the construction period, Bogalusa attracted a floating population that was a heterogeneous mixture. People drifted in from nearby parishes and from more remote places. Italians comprised most of the foreign element. Many of the steel construction workers, bricklayers, millwrights, and other skilled labor were recruited from the North. Except for a few, the married men left their wives and families behind when they moved to Bogalusa.
There were desperate characters, in search of easy money in a new town. Saloons and gambling hangouts sprang up in an area which became known as Richardson Town on the outskirts of Bogalusa.
Natives from nearby settlements frequently rode their ponies into town, looking for trouble. Revolver shots were often exchanged and sometimes there were "killins." The lynching of a Negro, who perhaps was innocent of any wrongdoing, caused greater tenseness in the relations between the whites and colored. Bogalusa became "the toughest town in the country."
Sullivan was alarmed. But in his own quick, sure way he took steps to cope with a growing problem of lawlessness and violence. Bogalusa got its first police force of deputy sheriffs. They were tough, fearless, two-gun men who neither sought trouble nor ran away from it. One of them was cold-eyed Wylie Magee, a respected parish native. He was quick on the draw and a deadly shot from the hip.
Another was Bob Carson, a 250-pounder from Mississippi, whose
Top: Otto Strattman, corral boss and deputy sheriff
Bottom: Deputy sheriffs Mizell, Magee, and Pearce
shoulder holster under his coat carried a fair-sized arsenal when trouble was
brewing. Bob's reputation of being able to carry "more lead in his body, and
still keep going, than any goddamned pistol-toter in the South" followed him to
Washington Parish. This he proved in Bogalusa when a gang of natives drifted in
on a Saturday night to shoot up the town. Purposely, he shot wild while he
fearlessly closed in to attack the gang with the butts of his revolvers and the
barrels of a sawed-off shotgun.
Single-handed and with several bullets in his own shoulder, Bob arrested all of the marauding natives but one who was able to take off through the woods. The three he put in the jail bore evidence of the hand-to-hand fight. The eyes of one had almost been gouged out by the thrust of Bob's double-barreled shotgun. The company doctor removed the bullets from Carson's torso and he was back on the job in a couple of days.
As soon as he could get a house in the colored quarters, where trouble generally started, Bob sent for his wife. This unwittingly brought tragedy upon himself.
The story that went the rounds in Bogalusa was that Carson had already been in several shooting scrapes. There was one in particular with a desperate character who vowed that he would get his revenge some day. Bob never doubted that he would try but felt it would never be out in the open, so that he was always on his guard. Revolvers and a shotgun were kept within reach where he slept. One night as it started to rain, Mrs. Carson got out of bed in their one-story house to close the window. Aroused from sleep by sounds in the room, Bob reached for his gun and fired at the dim outline of a figure in the darkness. His wife fell dead. Carson was indicted for murder but the jury's verdict was accidental death.
Among other deputy sheriffs who were on Bogalusa's police force were Tom Mizell, Avarice Pearce, and Jake Broomfield before he took up dentistry as a profession. Otto Strattman, lanky, raw-boned corral boss, was deputized to handle trouble with the mule skinners. This generally happened on pay day over a crap game. Nick Catalano, a stocky Italian, was on the police force to quell any disturbances among his countrymen who had settled in Bogalusa.
It was during the construction period that Bogalusa had its only lynching. A Negro, suspected of assaulting a white woman, was led through
Crossing Bogue Chitto River
the streets with a rope around his neck. Shortly after, his body, riddled with
bullets, hung from an oak tree outside the town.
Tension between whites and colored had been running high, forecasting trouble. The deputy sheriffs knew that mob psychology in racial conflicts would be aggravated by interference. For generations, Southerners had taken the law into their own hands. Vengeance generally followed their exaggerated sense of personal honor. The lynching and the growing doubt as to the guilt of the Negro brought upon Bogalusa a notoriety that momentarily deterred the better class of workers from settling in the community with their families.
"This must not happen again," Sullivan told Wylie Magee. "I have found an Englishman, living in Mississippi, who has a pair of bloodhounds. He charges two hundred and fifty dollars if they are called out and five hundred dollars if they run down the Negro guilty of the crime. He has never been known to get the wrong man. This will assure the people that every possible effort will be made to catch the culprit and that he will be punished according to law."
On more than one occasion afterward, there was a gruesome sight of bloodhounds picking up the scent at the scene of a crime and then, straining at their leashes, leading the hunt. When a fugitive was apprehended, he was lined up with several other colored men. The bloodhounds were released. Invariably, they rushed toward the suspect as though to tear him to pieces.
This identification was acceptable as court evidence and as a just basis for a jury's pronouncement of guilt.
During these early days of construction, there was little opportunity for amusement and diversion after six working days of long hours. Some fished in the creeks which flowed into Pearl River. Young Charley and Dr. Sims, the Company physician, jointly owned a pointer and spent much of what leisure time they had in shooting quail. For most, loafing and frequenting the Richardson Town saloons were the popular after-hours pastimes.
In the fall of 1906, Sullivan's wife closed the house in Austin, Pennsylvania, and moved to the hotel in Mandeville. Except when high water made the Bogue Chitto swamp impassable, she drove to Bogalusa to spend weekends. Her delightful personality and cheerfulness endeared her to
The first passenger train arrives in Bogalusa.
everyone. From the beginning of her visits to her death, Elizabeth Sullivan was
known as the "Mother of Bogalusa." After the monotony of the boarding house
meals during the week, the office force eagerly awaited the delicious Sunday
dinners that were cooked by Mrs. Sullivan. When the first eight-room Company
house was completed, the Sullivan family moved in. There they lived until their
own home of colonial architecture was built along Bogue Lusa Creek.
The Goodyear brothers kept in as close touch as possible with their Southern enterprise. Frank was confined by illness to his new Buffalo home, where he lived for only eight months before his death. Thus, much of the responsibility during the construction period fell on his brother Charles's shoulders. He made frequent trips to Bogalusa. Just having one of the big bosses come down from the North speeded the work. Charles knew how to handle men like Tom Shea, who had the contract for excavating the log pond. When Charles told him once that he hadn't dug enough dirt to make his own grave since he had been South, Tom lost his Irish temper. "I guess to be a good contractor, you've got to be a first-class son of a bitch," said Tom. "Well, Tom, you ought to be a top-notch contractor," Charles replied. But when Tom saw Charles boarding his private car for the return trip North, he chuckled and told him: "Don't worry, C. W. That (sic) damned log pond will be finished and filled with water long before Will Sullivan is ready to start hauling logs to the mill." Tom Shea made good his promise.
By the end of 1906, construction work actually was ahead of schedule. Bogalusa no longer was ridiculed as a Yankee's folly. Instead, the newspapers published glowing accounts of the Magic City and the marvelous developments in the wilderness of Washington Parish.
The population had grown to 8,000. Hardly a day passed that did not mark an event of local historic importance. Almost everyone turned out for the arrival of the first passenger train. A week later a circus came to town. There was the day when frightened horses and mules got out of hand as a Model T Ford chugged through the muddy streets.
Enough mail was moving in and out of Bogalusa to warrant a local post office.
Being cramped for space, the Company office was moved from Blarney
The office force on the steps of the Colonial Hotel.
Castle to temporary quarters in the Colonial Hotel which had been built for
One of the Company houses was converted into a hospital.
That Will Sullivan was boss of the town was unquestioned. A salesman, ruffled because he had to await Sullivan's return late in the afternoon, said to him when he finally managed to see him in his office: "I've been in this town almost a day and I've already found out that it is a one-man town."
"I'm surprised it took you that long to find out," said Sullivan.
Bogalusa went through a transition period as the sawmill plant neared completion. As construction crews finished their work, they moved on. So did the floating population. A permanent operating personnel was being organized.
The accounting office was transferred from Buffalo to Bogalusa. Handsome white-haired G. C. Ligon was appointed auditor, and M. L. Wuescher became his chief clerk. J. K. Breeden was made assistant treasurer under the competent, faithful Fred Lehr. Jack Cassidy was promoted to foreman at the first logging camp. George Hart, a friend of Cassidy's when he was a lumberjack working for the Goodyears in Pennsylvania, was put in charge of logging with ox teams the scattered areas of timber and the trees that had been blown down by tornadoes. Young Charley Goodyear, whom Sullivan treated fairly but without favoritism, was given greater responsibility. Having mastered his first job of building sidewalks, he was put in charge of construction of houses in the colored quarters. He made frequent trips to the small sawmill to see that the carpenters were supplied with lumber. This gave him the opportunity to gain his first working knowledge of the manufacture of lumber. Charley soon was placed in full charge of the mill.
It was about this time that a young Vermonter, just out of Dartmouth College, first appeared on the scene at Bogalusa. He was Dan Cushing who, starting as paymaster, was to be invaluable to the Company in executive positions of much responsibility. When a shrewd trader was needed to put over and clinch a deal, Dan Cushing usually was the man for the job. Dan later married an attractive Mississippi girl, Floyd Willoughby, and built a beautiful home in North Bogalusa.
Logging timber blown down by tornado.
Though still adolescent, Bogalusa by the fall of 1907 had become the Magic City
of the South in fact as well as in name.
The sawing of the first log in the big mill was eagerly awaited. Will Sullivan was anxious to show how wrong were the skeptics who doubted that a sawmill with a capacity of a million feet could work. The wheels of the machinery were turned and tested. Smoke was pouring from the battery of boilers. Electricity was being generated in the power house. The big moment was at hand.
There was a formal announcement that the sawmill would begin operating on November 15th. Then came a telegram from Buffalo, bringing a disheartening message: DEFER INDEFINITELY STARTING THE MILL. LETTER FOLLOWING.
The panic of 1907 had just begun. At first, there was a money crisis. Deposits in banks were frozen. Withdrawals of funds to meet payrolls and other operating expenses were restricted. Industries across the land were shutting down plants. The national economy approached a state of chaos.
It seemed hardly the moment for the Great Southern Lumber Company to begin its long-awaited operations. But, with the small amount of money the Company could take out of its deposits in several banks, everything possible was done to give employment where it was needed most. The clerks, foremen, saw filers, sawyers, setters, edgermen, trimmermen, and other skilled workers, who had moved their families to Bogalusa, soon exhausted their savings. These were the employees who were hit hardest.
No rent was charged for the Company houses. It was not unusual to see white-collar men and skilled workers digging ditches and doing other manual labor to provide the essentials of living for their families.
No sooner had the dark clouds of the monetary crisis passed, early in 1908, than a business depression swept the country. Commodity prices declined to levels which often were below the cost of manufacture. The wheels of industry turned slowly or not at all. The lumber market became lethargic as new construction was halted.
In the spring, the Goodyears decided to proceed with the building program already well under way in Bogalusa. It would at least give employment to hundreds of idle men who were in real want.
Within six months, the Company's building program -- schools,
Pine Tree Inn
Office building of the Great Southern Lumber Company
The home of Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Sullivan on Bogue Lusa Creek.
houses for the heads of departments, the Pine Tree Inn, a modern hospital, a
two-story office building, and a general store -- was completed. The time grew
nearer when a decision on whether the sawmill should be started or not must be
made. The recovery from the depression was slow and spotty. The selling price of
lumber had risen only to about the cost of manufacture. Charles Goodyear, who
had been elected president after the death of his brother Frank in 1907, called
a meeting of the directors of the Company.
"Labor is plentiful," he told the Board in Buffalo. Manufacturing costs never will be lower than they are now. I know of no better place to invest some of our cash than in a large inventory of lumber that can be sold at a handsome profit when business is normal again. I'm in favor of starting the mill as soon as possible."
No one dissented. Will Sullivan was called into the meeting. He had come North to be available should any of the Directors want to discuss matters with him.
"Will," Charles told him, "it has been decided not to delay any longer the manufacture of lumber in Bogalusa. When can you start the sawmill?"
Excited though he was, it took Will but a moment to answer: "In two weeks the mill will be running. That will be on September 15th. I can't tell you how pleased I am with the decision that has been reached here today. Fine business."
SULLIVAN was, perhaps, a little sanguine in promising the Directors of the
Company that the sawmill would be ready to start manufacturing lumber by
mid-September. But at that, he missed his mark by only a few weeks. There had
been much to do. Belts had to be replaced on the pulleys. As a precaution after
a year of idleness, the machinery again was turned over and tested. The sawmill
superintendent wanted to be sure that there would be a full crew when operations
commenced, and some of the sawyers and other skilled workers had left Bogalusa
to seek employment elsewhere. These men were notified that their jobs now
Finally, bulletins were posted in the town announcing that the mill would start at 9 o'clock on the morning of October 17, 1908. From the siren of the power house, at the appointed hour, came a mighty blast. Crowds gathered on the overhead runway in the mill from which could be seen every step in the manufacture of lumber.
This historic event in the life of Bogalusa was attended by townspeople and by the officers and directors of the Company, save one. Charles W. Goodyear, President of the Great Southern Lumber Company, was conspicuous by his absence. Failing health prevented his participation in the climax of the building of this great new business enterprise. But his sons Conger and Charley were there. There were many visitors, including newspaper men and representatives of trade journals, who came from different parts of the country to watch the spectacle.
Slowly, the first log came up the slip from the log pond. Suddenly it stopped on the log deck to be cut by a circular saw into proper lengths and scaled for board measure. Then down the ramp it rolled. Ben Sellers had the honor of sawing the first log. With his left hand he shoved a lever forward and then to the right, operating a steam "nigger" that loaded the log onto the carriage. With his right hand he opened the valve of the "shotgun" steam feed.
The carriage, with the "setter" and "doggers" keeping a precarious
Refuse burner, sawmill, and power house
One of the band mills and carriages in the sawmill.
foothold and balance, raced toward the band saw. There was a scream of steel
ripping into wood as the first slab was cut from the log. Three other band saws
were started. Lumber began to flow along the conveyors for transfer to the
resaws and edgers. Flitches were sent to the gang saw. Hydraulic trimmers at the
end of the mill cut the lumber into lengths of even feet. Soon a stream of
lumber was on its way to the lumber yard, timber dock, dry kilns, and planing
The crowd gaped as though seeing the achievement of the impossible. Reporters and trade journal writers edged toward Sullivan, who stood with the Directors.
"Colonel Sullivan," they asked, "we are anxious to hear what you have to say about what you and the Goodyears have accomplished in building this largest sawmill in the world."
"There it is. It works. It speaks for itself," he replied, waving his arm in a wide gesture toward the machines below on both sides of the runway. But his words were scarcely heard above the incessant din of saws and carriages as they shuttled at breakneck speed, pausing only while logs were cut into lumber by the band saws.
Thus was begun a lumber operation that was to extend over a period of thirty years, during which five billion feet of lumber were manufactured -- enough to build a half-million six-room wood frame dwellings or a solid plank sidewalk four feet wide that would circle the globe five times.
The Directors and many of the visitors stayed that night at the Pine Tree Inn, which had been opened a few weeks before the sawmill started. As the guests gathered that evening in the lobby of the hotel, there was a hum of conversation, and it was mostly talk of the mill and the town. Few could comprehend what had come to pass; that Bogalusa, with hundreds of modern buildings, had sprung from what, less than three years ago, had been a wilderness.
Gus Coughlin, who had been maître d´hôtel of a well-known hotel in New York City and who had been in charge of a famous golf club in South Carolina, was engaged to manage the Pine Tree Inn. He was given carte blanche to run the Inn the way he had been accustomed to in catering to a discriminating clientele. The meals were delicious, served by uniformed waiters. A gracious colored headwaiter greeted the guests as they entered the dining room. The principle underlying the operation of the Inn was
that the best way to reach a man's pocketbook, as well as his heart, was through
The executives of the Company well knew that the Inn could not be run profitably on such an extravagant basis. But its operating loss was more than justified as a selling and advertising expense in putting BOGALUSA BRAND lumber on the map. When purchasing agents for railroads, large industries, retail lumber yards, and exporters were in the market for sizable quantities of lumber, they invariably came to Bogalusa where there was a comfortable hotel, something seldom found in sawmill towns. They were impressed. It was a standing rule that salesmen coming to Bogalusa to solicit orders from the Great Southern Lumber Company for materials, machinery, and equipment could not be seen by heads of departments until the afternoon. This made it necessary for them to spend the night at the Inn, adding revenue and helping the advertising program. There are tricks in all trades.
On the morning after the mill began operations, the first meeting of the Directors in Bogalusa was held in Sullivan's office. In keeping with the policy of the management to have a happy and intimate corporate family, Sullivan sent for the heads of departments so that they could meet the Directors. Each had something to report about his particular work. Auditor G. C. Ligon explained how rents for the company-owned houses were collected by deductions from the payroll, but that this was sometimes difficult because the colored employees often changed jobs and worked under different names.
Ligon told the amused Directors how he finally decided to check the houses by having his chief clerk, Maurice Wuescher, and the rent agent make the rounds of the colored quarters after nightfall, when the occupants would most likely be at home.
"Wuesch, you go ahead and tell us yourself how you came out with your investigation," Ligon told his chief clerk.
Wuescher picked up the story, telling of a typical experience as they called at the negro houses where there had been trouble in collecting rent.
"Who lives here?" we asked a buxom colored woman who appeared in one
doorway. "I does," the woman answered. "I know that, but where is your hus-
band and what's his name?" I asked. She answered drowsily, telling us, "He out
gettin' some gin. His name Jim." I told her, "Yes, I know that, but what's his
last name?" "I don't guess he got another name. I just calls him Jim," she said.
We were about to give it up as a hopeless task when it occurred to me that if we
could find out the man's payroll number, a deduction for rent from his wages
could be made. "Well, then, what's his number?" I asked in desperation. We
couldn't imagine why she was counting on her fingers. Finally, she said, "I
ain't sure. ' guess hits five? I jes can't member how many husbands I'se had."
Wuescher told the Directors that they were pretty discouraged and dreaded
meeting Mr. Ligon in his office the next morning. They were relieved when they
saw that he couldn't keep a straight face as he read their report.
Before the end of 1908 there were markets again for consumer goods and heavy industrial materials. Depleted stockpiles were being replenished. The long period of construction stagnation throughout the country was at an end. These and other healthy signs indicated that prosperity was on its way back. The Great Southern Lumber Company, with its abundant low-cost inventory of lumber on hand, was prepared for good times.
There was keen competition in the sale of lumber, now that sawmills in the South and on the West Coast were resuming operations. New customers had to be created for BOGALUSA BRAND lumber in the domestic and foreign markets. This required a large and efficient sales force. Big, handsome George Townsend, a native upstate New Yorker who had had much selling experience on the road after graduating from Brown University, was made General Sales Manager. On the sales staff, too, was Cam Long, a genial gentleman from Kentucky who derived nearly as much joy from selling lumber as he did from eating, drinking mint juleps, and crapshooting. Cam became Sales Manager when George Townsend had to resign because of poor health. Adonis-like Orin Campbell had been important in the sale of lumber as Assistant Sales Manager under Cam Long. Cam died in the prime of life in 1933, and Orin took over until the end of the lumber operations. The sales representative in the East was Jack Trounce who for many years had sold lumber from the Goodyear mills in Pennsylvania.
The corporate family of the Great Southern Lumber Company, and particularly the Goodyear and Hamlin stockholders, never ceased to be generously mindful of its obligation to promote the welfare and content-
Bogalusa High School
ment of the people of Bogalusa and, in fact, the whole of Washington Parish.
They realized, too, that to attract the better class of employees there must be
educational and other advantages such as were provided elsewhere in
long-established and prosperous communities.
By the time the sawmill operations had begun, there were several schools for white and colored children. It was not long thereafter that a large brick high school was erected for the higher grades. In this building was an auditorium for student gatherings, lectures, and entertainment.
THE competition of other mercantile establishments was deliberately encouraged
in Bogalusa to offset any impression that the Company might be creating a
monopoly by forcing its employees to trade in its own Commissary. Gibbs Dorsey,
the Marx family, and the Berensons were among the pioneers who opened stores
when the business section of the town most resembled that of a Western mining
settlement. Today, modern store fronts attest to the continuing prosperity of
the city's merchants.
The Company gave its utmost consideration to the problem of community health. Artesian wells furnished ample pure running water. All the homes were furnished electricity for lighting and cooking, and most were equipped with shower baths. The residential sections were freed of mosquito breeding places by the disinfection of dwellings and the elimination of pools of stagnant water.
The Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial Hospital is another expression of the determined effort of the Goodyears to provide their employees with every facility conducive to health and happiness. The hospital was the first one within a radius of eighty miles from Bogalusa. Its benefits were extended to families living in the surrounding county as well as to local inhabitants.
Through much-needed therapeutic education the health of the people of Washington Parish was greatly improved. So prevalent was pellagra, a disease caused by ill-balanced diet, among the country people that a separate free clinic was maintained until this ravaging ailment was practically eradicated in the parish. Striking results were also achieved in the treatment and prevention of malaria and hookworm. Among other efforts of the hospital toward health education has been a clinic where mothers are taught for a nominal charge the proper care and diet for their babies.
A Nurses Home, a short distance from the hospital, has attractive recreation rooms for graduate and student nurses.
Great Southern Lumber Company commissary
Columbia Street in the early days.
Columbia Street twenty-five years later.
The Company hospital
Conspicuous for their long and outstanding services on the medical staff of the
hospital have been doctors E. E. Lafferty, J. H. Slaughter, W. A. Fleming, and
Mrs. Mattie Brock, Superintendent.
Most of the Company workers take advantage of the medical and surgical benefits offered by the hospital at a monthly charge of $2.50 for married men and their families and $1.25 for single employees.
It was largely through the sponsorship and financial support of the Great Southern Lumber Company that Washington Parish had its first country fair in the autumn of 1910. The Goodyears, believing that it would cultivate a more neighborly spirit of good will, favored Franklinton, the parish seat, rather than Bogalusa as the site of the fairgrounds. In the years that came to pass, thousands journeyed on foot, on horseback, and in vehicles of almost every description for the festive days of the annual fairs. And they were grateful to the Company for its generous attitude, not only toward Bogalusa, but to the whole of Washington Parish.
In addition to the educational, homemaking, cattle, poultry, and agricultural exhibits, programs of free gala entertainment were arranged in the open-air amphitheater for the amusement and relaxation of the crowds.
Through the years, the fair became more and more the occasion for political gatherings. The big day was when the Governor of Louisiana appeared on the outdoor platform as the principal speaker. Certainly the most colorful of these State chief executives, spellbinding his audience with flowery oratory, was the late Huey P. Long, more generally referred to as the "Kingfish."
One time when Governor Long visited the fair, the welcoming throng was much impressed as he arrived driving his own car with his stalwart bodyguard sitting in the rear seat. "There's a man of the people," remarked more than one of the cheering crowd. The weather was extremely hot and the Kingfish was thirsty. It was obvious that something disturbed him. As young Charley Goodyear handed him a bottle of Coca-Cola, he said, almost in a whisper: "That bastard of a chauffeur mighty near killed me coming over here. My head almost went through the top of the limousine when he never did slow down for a bump in the road. I kicked the nigger
The Kingfish at the Washington Parish Fair.
out of the car and left him in the woods alongside the road about ten miles out
of Baton Rouge."
The political machine created by Huey Long assumed unprecedented power in the State of Louisiana. Several of his henchmen, including the president of Louisiana State University, were sentenced and committed to the Federal prison in Atlanta. But the Kingfish's spectacular career continued to flourish. His influence became nationwide when he was elected to the United States Senate. Even Huey's Presidential aspirations had the strong support of a certain element of the voting public until the political ambitions of Senator Huey P. Long were abruptly terminated by an assassin's bullet.
During his regime as governor, Long was friendly toward the Great Southern Lumber Company, but he never sought its financial support. The vote of the citizens of Bogalusa was all he wanted and expected. Will Sullivan was boss of the town and saw to it that the governor was not disappointed.
The Company's only gift to the Kingfish was a silver tea set, sent to him and Mrs. Long as a wedding-anniversary present. This was returned promptly to the donor. Back with it came a short note: "Thanks just the same, but we already have four tea sets."
Sullivan was no neophyte in politics. He had been active in several campaigns in Pennsylvania, and they appealed to him. Now in Louisiana, he watched administrations in Baton Rouge come and in due course go. But Will always stood in good stead with the powers that be. As the tendency toward bureaucratic regimentation of business by the Government grew, Sullivan's trips to Washington became more frequent. On one visit, as he and the Senator from Louisiana stood on the steps of the Capitol and gazed admiringly along Pennsylvania toward the White House, Sullivan remarked: "Senator, that is a beautiful sight. It reminds me more of Bogalusa than anything I've ever seen." When J. Y. Sanders was governor of Louisiana, he appointed Sullivan and young Charley Goodyear members of his staff, with the rank of colonel. Neither Colonel Sullivan nor Colonel Goodyear ever attended formal functions at the Executive Mansion in Baton Rouge. Their appearance as high-ranking officers would have required them to be dressed in elaborate, costly uniforms, including cocked hat and sword.
A short time after Will and Charley were appointed members of the Governor's
staff, a minstrel show was given by the employees of Great Southern Lumber. One
of the jokes, which brought down the house with laughter, was when the
interlocutor asked the end man: "Does you know why the people of Bogalusa has
gotten so nutty?" "'Cause there is too many colonels in town."
THE keen interest and pride which the larger stockholders of Great Southern took
not only in the lumber operations but also in the well-being of the people of
Bogalusa were shown in many ways. A few years before young Frank Goodyear's
untimely and tragic death, he gave an attractive YMCA building as a fitting
memorial to his father.
Later, a beautiful YWCA building was made possible through the generosity of young Frank's sister, Florence Goodyear Daniels. The gift was in memory of Florence's mother, Josephine Looney Goodyear.
Other donations from the corporate family followed. These included a library and church organ from Ella C. Goodyear. An Episcopal church was the gift of Orlo J. Hamlin, a large stockholder and a director of the Company for many years.
Frequent trips of the Directors to Dixie showed their active interest in Bogalusa. During these visits, business was mixed with pleasure. The days were busy with meetings and inspections of the sawmill plant and logging operations. The evenings passed quickly with poker and an occasional crap game. Jack Cassidy and his brother Ed, claim agent for the railroad, generally succeeded in transferring a considerable amount of money from the North to their pocketbooks in the South. Charlie James became quite irritated once when Seymour Knox, the youngest Director, warmed the dice over a radiator during the process of cleaning out Charlie's wallet in a game.
Their business completed, some of the Directors often stayed over to play golf or shoot quail. Others returned to their homes in the North by way of New Orleans, where they would often dine at Antoine's after being cordially welcomed into the dining room with its sawdust-covered floor by Jules Alciatore, the son of the founder of this world-famous French restaurant.
Quail were abundant in Washington Parish until a network of improved roads was built in Louisiana during the lush regime of Huey P.
The Directors made frequent trips to Bogalusa. The
following appear in the picture:
Will Sullivan, Miner Crary, Maurice Wuescher, Ganson Depew, Horace Redfield, Orlo
Hamlin, Fred Lehr, Jim Whelan, F. L. Peck, Mrs. Depew, Major Hart, Walter Cooke,
Jerry Crary, Frank Goodyear, Charley Goodyear, Jack Cassidy, and Dan Cushing.
An inspection trip to the logging operations. Among
those appearing in the picture: Will
Sullivan, Charley Goodyear, George Townsend, Orlo Hamlin, Conger Goodyear, Frank
Goodyear, Jack Cassidy, Jack Trounce, and Cam Long.
Long. These new concrete highways made the habitat of the bobwhite too
accessible to New Orleans hunters, who indiscriminately depleted the coveys
without regard for game laws.
Red Bateman, a native son of the parish and chief forest ranger for the Company, always found enough quail with his well-trained pointers for a good day's hunt. Jovial Red was a crack shot. Seldom did he fail to get at least two birds on the covey rise. Conger had become an ardent sportsman, and he and Red frequently hunted together. Red usually gave him credit for killing most of the day's bag.
Once when a covey was flushed and the dogs retrieved three quail, Red said: "Good shot, Colonel." He did not realize that Conger, who thought the birds were out of range, hadn't pulled either trigger of his double-barreled shotgun.
Red's greatest thrill came later in his life when Charley invited him to New York for the World's Fair in 1939. He had never before traveled in a Pullman car and this was his first trip north of the Mason-Dixon line. He was overwhelmed by the sights at the Fair and in New York, but he became homesick. He missed the trees and the green grass of Washington Parish. He missed being slapped on the back and talked to, as he was in Bogalusa, when he walked into a store. Red was fearless roaming alone in the woods of his native land, but the congested streets and the subways of New York terrified him. He balked at leaving the hotel without Charley. Red's eyes almost popped out of his head the night he saw the famous Rockettes in the Radio City Music Hall. He thought that the girls were mighty pretty.
There were frequent visitors to Bogalusa other than Directors of the Company. Conspicuous among these was Mrs. Charles W. Goodyear, wife of one of the founders of the vast lumber enterprise. Ella Goodyear's interest in the Magic City continued long after her husband's death in 1911. Her trips South became more frequent as her sons assumed positions of greater importance in the management of the business. Conger was elected vice-president. Charley had been appointed assistant general manager under Will Sullivan a few months after the mill began the manufacture of lumber.
One of Bogalusa's outstanding events of that era was a free picnic for all of the townspeople. Mrs. Goodyear was guest of honor and gra-
ciously handed out the prizes to the winners of the different contests for men,
women, and children. The party was climaxed by a supper served outdoors to
The Fourth of July was one of the few holidays observed in Bogalusa. Independence Day in the year 1914 was of particular significance. It was then that the city was incorporated under a common-council form of government. There was no doubt who would be mayor; Will Sullivan was elected by acclamation. In the excitement, Charles F. Petrie, editor and publisher of the weekly newspaper, the Bogalusa American, shouted at the stirring conclusion of his nominating speech:
"I nominate the one and only John L. Sullivan as the first mayor of the City of Bogalusa!"
The editor's slip of the tongue drew much laughter. But it was followed by applause, prolonged and heartfelt. In all the elections that took place during his lifetime, Sullivan was named mayor without contest. He had let it be known that if there was opposition he would withdraw as a candidate for the office.
The position of the Great Southern Lumber Company was an unusual one. The management was paternalistic in its genuine interest not only in the health, comfort, and way of life but in the amusement, diversion, and athletic opportunities of the people of Bogalusa.
Two baseball diamonds, one for the white and one for the colored nines, were the scenes of spirited games. Football was generally played at night in a well-lighted stadium where rivalry between the local high school and visiting elevens was keen. Acrobatic cheerleaders and parading bands, led by prancing drum majorettes, spurred the interest of the team supporters in the grandstand.
For less strenuous exercise there was a nine-hole golf course, with an attractive clubhouse. Membership dues were sufficiently modest to be within the means of nearly all. Nor was there any class distinction among the members. A foursome, teeing off on the first hole, might include a Company executive, a mill mechanic, an office clerk, and a merchant from Columbia Road.
To promote further interest in athletics, Sullivan once persuaded the St. Louis Browns to come to Bogalusa for their spring baseball training.
For those to whom military training and horseback riding appealed,
Will Sullivan with Lee Fohl, manager of the St. Louis Browns
there was a National Guard cavalry troop and a well-equipped armory.
The YMCA and YWCA were adequately appointed with swimming pools, gymnasiums, and bowling alleys for indoor sports.
The City had three theaters which provided not only screen entertainment but occasionally amateur plays produced by Company employees usually for charitable benefits.
IN the years that followed the beginning of lumber operations in 1908, Great
Southern and the people of Bogalusa rode high, reaping the financial harvest
that accrued from a flourishing business cycle.
The Goodyears' investment in a tract of virgin timber in a triangular area running approximately seventy miles east and west and extending north one hundred and thirty miles from the shores of Lake Pontchartrain through the Florida parishes of Louisiana well into south-central Mississippi, which assured the Bogalusa mill of an adequate supply of logs, its principal raw material, for the next twenty-five years, and the foresight in building the largest sawmill in the world under one roof with the lowest unit manufacturing costs of any yellow-pine lumber operation, were paying off.
The sawmill ran day and night. BOGALUSA BRAND lumber had become popular in the domestic and foreign markets.
There were no labor troubles; there was no unemployment; nor were there any attempts to unionize employees.
Generous dividends were paid to the stockholders, even though a considerable part of the earnings was plowed back in to the business to improve operating methods and develop profitable new ventures. One of these new projects was the building of retort plants in the forests, where turpentine and rosin were distilled from the gum tapped from trees before they were cut into logs and manufactured into lumber.
The employees of the Company were paid higher salaries and wages than in any comparable industry of the South. Their living conditions were better than those found in other sawmill communities.
It was the policy of the management to try to make every man and woman in the organization feel that they were a part of the business. As a contribution toward attaining this objective, a Stock Ownership Plan was inaugurated, in which each white employee who had worked for the Company at least five years was offered the privilege of participating.
Michael J. McMahon
Pension and profit-sharing benefits for corporate employees were almost unheard
of at this time. The stockholders, although realizing that the shares of stock
to be set aside for the employees would eventually devaluate their equity
interest in the Great Southern Lumber Company by 10 per cent, unanimously
approved of the plan. The annuities which employees received in dividends after
the end of the lumber operation in Bogalusa contributed substantially, if not
entirely, to their living expenses.
To satisfy a need, shortly after the sawmill was started, for a local bank where the people could deposit their savings and to provide financial aid for those who desired to build homes of their own, the First State Bank and Trust Company and the Bogalusa Building and Loan Association were organized. Charley Goodyear became their president.
Few changes were made in the efficient operating personnel built up under Will Sullivan's able leadership. When new departments or affiliated enterprises came into being, the responsibility for supervising them was delegated by promotion of those already holding important positions. For example Jack Cassidy, a Goodyear veteran, was placed in charge of the turpentine and rosin operations, and simultaneously Guy Curtis, his chief clerk, was promoted to assistant logging superintendent. When Maurice Wuescher was appointed controller of the parent company and its different branches of operations, he was assigned the particular job of seeing that the commissary was well managed and profitably run.
Among the heads of departments there was none more conscientious and loyal than Michael J. McMahon. His long years of service with the Goodyears began in Pennsylvania and ended as Traffic Manager of their railroad and other enterprises in the South.
Mac lived in New Orleans so that he could keep in close contact with the connecting lines over which approximately a hundred carloads of freight moved in and out of Bogalusa every day, but he made frequent trips to the Magic City. Handsome, personable, and always immaculately dressed, Mac was liked by everyone. He was a gentleman of the old school. For all this, he remained a bachelor throughout his life, much to the amazement of his friends.
A few months before Mac died, he was the guest of honor at a sumptuous dinner in Conger's home on Long Island to celebrate his seventy-fifth birthday and the fiftieth anniversary of his association with the Good-
The Mother of Bogalusa
year enterprises. After many laudatory toasts, Mac was introduced as "the dean
of our enterprises." He responded by recalling, nostalgically and humorously,
happenings of the past.
There had been that night out with the Goodyear boys. Mac remembered it and told about it at the dinner. After dining and wining too much and too well in New Orleans with Conger, Charley, and Bradley, he had returned to his apartment to find his sister, who had dropped in unexpectedly for a visit. But the greeting was not cordial.
"Mac, you've been drinking," was her welcoming remark. "If the Goodyears hear about this, you'll lose your job!"
Another old-timer was John M. Gieger, who served as private secretary to three presidents and one vice-president of Great Southern before being elected Secretary and later a Director of the Company.
In the six years after the beginning of the sawmill operations, the population of prosperous Bogalusa grew to 12,000. Then in 1914 began the distant rumbling of war drums. As the ominous sounds came closer, Bogalusa was caught up in the swiftening pace of a nation preparing for conflict. The operation of the railroad was taken over by the Government. The output of the sawmill was commandeered. Millions of feet of lumber went into the construction of barracks at training camps. Carloads of sawn timber and planking for wooden hulls moved to the shipyards which sprang up overnight in the coastal regions of the South.
Bogalusa's honor roll grew long with the names of men in the armed services during World War I. Among these were the officers and men of Company G, the local National Guard cavalry troop, commanded by Captain Louie F. Guerre, superintendent of the sawmill.
Many lost their lives on the field of battle. During those war years, the Magic City had another loss at home. Elizabeth Sullivan died on July 11, 1918. The heritage she left behind has long had a strong community influence and, though most of her contemporaries are now dead, she is known still by the generations which followed her as the Mother of Bogalusa.
The following excerpt from the inscription on the monument at Mrs. Sullivan's grave in Bogalusa expresses the high esteem and devotion that its citizens in all walks of life had for this fine woman:
COMING HERE WITH HER HUSBAND WHEN THE FIRST PINE TREE
FELL TO MAKE WAY FOR BOGALUSA, HERS WAS ALWAYS THE WEL-
COMING HAND TO EVERY NEWCOMER. EVERY LIFE MUST END, BUT
HAD SHE LIVED MORE YEARS SHE COULD HAVE HAD NO BIGGER
HOLD UPON OUR HEARTS NOR COULD WE HAVE HAD A CLEARER
APPRECIATION OF THE GREATNESS OF HER CHARACTER.
Most of the young men mustered out of service now returned to Bogalusa to find
their jobs awaiting them. Some were promoted to more important positions.
Captain Louie Guerre, with his splendid record in the armed forces, remained in
military service and rose to the rank of brigadier general. Gus Chandler was his
able successor as superintendent of the sawmill until the end of the lumber
It was not long after their return from overseas that Conger and Charley resumed their active association with the Bogalusa enterprises. Conger was elected president of the Great Southern Lumber Company. Will Sullivan and Charley were the two vice-presidents. Walter P. Cooke, who had been general counsel of the Company since the death of Marlin E. Olmsted, was elected to the position of chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. Cooke, the leading citizen of his time in Buffalo, had assumed the executive responsibility of guiding the Company's affairs during the war years. His wise counsel contributed much to the success of the business in the South.
The problem of reconverting the sawmill operations to peacetime needs was a relatively simple one, and few changes had to be made. The Company was in an excellent position to profit from the boom in the national economy that was to follow in most of the ten years after the Armistice in November 1918.
THE first year of the postwar period had not yet passed when the peace of
Bogalusa was marred by a prolonged labor disturbance that flared into open
violence. The Goodyears, after almost half a century of harmonious relations
with employees, experienced for the first time serious labor trouble that halted
lumber operations for four months.
At the beginning a small group of workers, guided by outside agitators, proceeded to unionize the sawmill employees through threatening tactics. The ringleaders went from door to door among the homes of the men on the night shift, warning wives that their husbands would be badly beaten if they continued to work. Out of sheer fear, more and more men failed to report at their jobs. The mill struggled to run shorthanded, but in a few days all operations were completely discontinued.
When the groundwork was well laid, professional labor leaders moved in to direct a lawless strategy of unionization under the banner of the I.W.W., whose activities on the West Coast already were notorious. Nor was the campaign of the agitators confined to the ranks of labor. They even threatened to boycott the stores unless the merchants openly supported the movement to organize all employees of the Great Southern Lumber Company.
On the surface, everyone seemed to sponsor the cause of labor in opposition to the management; but this was mostly through fright, and a large number of workers remained mutely loyal to their employer.
Of course, there were problems in running a large lumber operation, but never during the fourteen years since Will Sullivan pitched his tent along Bogue Lusa Creek had he been faced with any unsurmountable (sic) difficulties. He was baffled and blamed himself for letting the situation get out of hand. Will decided to send a committee, selected by employees, to investigate working conditions at other lumber mills in the South. The committee's report showed that in Bogalusa living conditions were better and wages higher than in other sawmill towns.
However, this was of no avail. Neither wages nor working conditions were
involved in the dispute. Basically, it was a question of whether or not skilled
and common labor were to be organized in an outlaw union. Besides, the labor
agitators were by this time firmly entrenched. One of their next moves in a show
of strength was an attempt to cut off the city's water and electricity, but this
was thwarted. George Werkley, the master mechanic, and the plant foremen
remained at their posts. By their own manual labor they kept the boilers fired
and the pumps running.
Finally, there were well-founded rumors that Will Sullivan's life was in danger. These he ignored, and he remained at his job until the president of the Company ordered him to leave Bogalusa. Jack Cassidy, who was then Assistant General Manager, was left in charge. There was little that he could do except to see that the Company's property was protected.
One of the last efforts of the I.W.W. was organization of the Negro workers. In defiance of law and order, the president and secretary of the union marched through the streets of Bogalusa heavily armed, one on each side of Sol Dacus, leader of the colored employees.
The labor leaders had played their cards once too often. The tide of sentiment turned so that the will of law-abiding citizens prevailed. Workers had gone months without wages. Many families were destitute. Several merchants were on the verge of bankruptcy.
Then the Self Preservation and Loyalty League was organized. Headed by deputy sheriffs, several members of the League walked one evening to the headquarters of the union, in a flimsy garage on the outskirts of the city off the Company's property, with a warrant for the arrest of Sol Dacus. As the party approached the shack, Lum Williams, the union president, stepped into the doorway armed with a revolver.
One of the deputy sheriffs ordered Williams to drop his gun. In answer he raised his pistol. The deputy beat him to the draw and Lum fell to the ground, fatally shot. There was an almost simultaneous hail of gunfire from inside and outside the shack. So great was the confusion that none there remembered all that happened. When the smoke cleared, three of the labor leaders lay dead and another was so badly wounded that he died later. One member of the Self Preservation and Loyalty League was wounded. Sol Dacus was last seen fleeing toward the Pearl River swamp. He was never found, dead or alive.
All that night, a blanket of tension lay over the whole city. The streets were
empty of women and children. Men gathered here and there in small groups, none
knowing what more might yet happen. But the night passed with only minor
commotion, when the Company employee who had been the principal instigator of
the labor trouble from the very beginning was ordered to leave town.
The next morning, troops of the Regular Army arrived by special train. The streets were patrolled and all saloons were closed. That evening when Charley saw the colonel in command of the troops, he asked him to dinner. The colonel declined the invitation, saying he preferred to wait until he had completed his investigation. Two days later he sent for Charley.
"I've been here long enough to definitely make up my mind that the Great Southern Lumber Company is in the clear in this labor trouble," the colonel told him. "I'll stay here a few days longer but I'm confident there'll be no further disturbance. Most all the workers were forced into this thing out of fear for their lives, as I see it. They are loyal to the Company and want to go back to work. The same goes for the merchants and other law-abiding citizens.
"I'll be delighted to have dinner with you any evening while I'm here. Perhaps we can play some bridge."
Three days later the sawmill was running again with full crews for both the day and night tours. Bogalusa recovered quickly from its frightening ordeal, and in a week all was back to normal.
The widow of Lum Williams lost little time bringing suit in the Federal Court at New Orleans for civil damages of $50,000 against the Great Southern Lumber Company for the alleged unlawful killing of her husband. The decision of the District Court was in favor of the plaintiff, but the amount of the claim was reduced to $30,000. Litigation was continued in the Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed the decision of the Federal District Court. Thereupon, Mrs. Williams appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which affirmed the decision of the Circuit Court of Appeals. The case, famous in labor-relations annals, went back to the District Court for retrial, which never took place, and the suit was dropped.
Even as the mill hummed, Mayor Sullivan was beset by visions etched in his memory of earlier sawmill communities left deserted when the sup-
Pulp and paper mill in foreground. Sawmill in background.
Pulp and paper mill
ply of standing timber had been exhausted. To prevent the Magic City of the
South from ever becoming such a ghost town grew to be almost a fetish with him.
Out of Will Sullivan's desire that Bogalusa should survive when the great forests of the Goodyears in Louisiana and Mississippi had been felled developed one of the steps that has kept the city very much alive. During his frequent trips through the plant he was distressed by the refuse burner at the sawmill, belching its pall of black smoke. Although as much as possible of the waste from the manufacture of lumber was used for fuel in the powerhouse boilers, for making lath, moldings, and other by-products out of small pieces of wood, probably 560 cords of slabs, edgings, and trimmings were burned every day -- enough pulpwood, plus the tree tops left to rot on the ground following the logging operations, for a good-sized paper mill.
An effort to produce pulp for papermaking from southern pine by a mechanical process was a failure because the resinous pitch in the cellulose of the trees clogged the grinding stones. Then attempts were made to manufacture pulp by using a sulphate chemical process. These showed sufficient promise to influence the Directors of the Great Southern Lumber Company to authorize construction of a sixty-ton pulp and paper mill in Bogalusa. The Goodyears gambled in a new, untried field and won. Finances for building the pulp and paper mill were provided from the cash reserves of the Great Southern Lumber Company. No money had to be borrowed from outside sources for this new venture. Thus another enterprise came into being -- the Bogalusa Paper Company. And with its birth, the costly flame of the sawmill refuse burner flickered out.
This inscription was painted on the burner at the time of its demise:
EVERY DAY DURING MY LIFE OF SIXTEEN YEARS I CONSUMED 560 CORDS OF WASTE MATERIAL
OR A TOTAL OF 2,688,000 CORDS.
I COST $25,000 BUT MY FIRE HAS DESTROYED $1,344,000 WORTH OF WHAT WAS FORMERLY CONSIDERED WASTE.
THE COMPLETE UTILIZATION OF THE SAWMILL REFUSE IN THE MANUFACTURE OF PAPER HAS MY FIRE FOREVER EXTINGUISHED.
Refuse burner at sawmill
To operate a sawmill without a refuse burner along with it was unheard of until
it was done successfully in Bogalusa. The burner itself was left standing, a
monument to thrift, until it rusted and deteriorated and became unsafe. This
elimination of waste in the process of lumber manufacture attracted considerable
attention to Bogalusa. The Guaranty Trust Company of New York, one of the
country's largest financial institutions, once featured a picture of the burner
in nationally distributed magazine advertisements which called attention to the
value of savings.
The utilization of sawmill waste as a basic material in a new industry was one of the steps in a program looking toward the perpetuation of Bogalusa when, some twenty years hence, the forests in Louisiana and Mississippi would finally be depleted. But it was only one of many steps that would have to be taken to keep the Magic City of the South alive and economically healthy. The problem of perpetuating a city after its own native riches were exhausted resolved itself into two solutions, both of which at the time seemed utterly fantastic. These solutions appeared to be:
1. Transporting cheaply by water from afar logs that would be manufactured into lumber in the Bogalusa sawmill.
2. Reforestation of thousands of acres in Washington Parish that had been stripped of trees.
Luckily, the younger generation of Goodyears had inherited the venturesome spirit of the Great Southern Lumber Company's founding fathers. They met the problem, when it came.
ON the strength of rather sketchy reports that there were forests of pine timber
in Nicaragua, Honduras, and British Honduras, Charley Goodyear and Ted Olmsted
shipped out of New Orleans on a small, decrepit freighter to investigate
unexplored timberlands in the eastern coastal area of Central America. There had
been few changes in this wild region since its discovery by Columbus.
Young Olmsted was the son of the late Marlin E. Olmsted, an original stockholder of Great Southern Lumber Company and its general counsel until his death. Ted was a Harvard man who had been an outstanding oarsman on the varsity crew, had been prominent at the University socially, and had taken postgraduate work at Oxford. Upon his return to the United States, he was well fitted scholastically and otherwise for a successful business career.
He was blessed with a brilliant mind, an interesting personality, an attractive appearance, a powerful physique, self-assurance, fearlessness, and a sizable inheritance from his father. At first he led the life of a New York playboy and played polo with the elite on Long Island. But all this soon bored him. He recalled hearing his father speak of the Great Southern Lumber Company and the vast reaches of its timberlands. The very remoteness of Bogalusa appealed to his youthful spirit and wanderlust. He sent a telegram one day to Will Sullivan, inquiring about the possibility of a job.
"Come on down," Sullivan wired back. Ted took the next train South. Once there, he was struck by the idea of finding ways and means of preventing Bogalusa from becoming a ghost town. Not long after his arrival, he and Charley were off on their trip to Central America.
Conger was down at the dock to see them off. Inquisitive and apprehensive when he saw signs posted along the S.S. Virginia's gunwales reading "Don't Jump," Conger spoke to the young captain of the ship and
asked about his previous experience in sailing the Gulf of Mexico and the
"This will be my first voyage on the Virginia," the captain answered. "They tell me she was the flagship in the Russian Navy during the Russo-Japanese War, so this won't be her maiden trip. Judging from her beam, she ain't particularly seaworthy. I've never landed at a port on the east coast of Central America. All I know is that I have sailing orders to Bragman's Bluff in Nicaragua."
"Well, good luck and have a nice trip," Conger said to Charley and Ted. A few minutes later, he watched the Virginia pull away from the dock and start her winding course toward the mouth of the Mississippi.
Charley and Ted were the only passengers aboard. Their messmates were the four men in the ship's crew but, finding the obnoxious galley odors hardly conducive to good appetites and being allergic to the pitching and rolling of the ship when the sea was rough, they usually took their meals on deck. And the closer the Virginia came to the tropics, the more comfortable they found sleeping out in the open beneath skies heavy with luminous stars. They quickly accustomed themselves to the hard mattresses which they spread out on the starboard side of the pilot house that they might avoid the glistening rays of the early morning sun.
The monotony of the voyage was scarcely unbroken. Even the captain devoted more of his time to shooting craps with the men in the crew than lie did piloting his ship. Once an entire day of sailing was lost when the ship heaved to while the engine and a broken rudder cable were repaired.
Then one day Charley and Ted saw the crew working on the gear for unloading cargo and swabbing the decks for the first time. They guessed that, at last, the Nicaraguan port where they would disembark was not far off. The captain soon confirmed this, telling them that he calculated the ship would dock the following morning. That night the Virginia, steaming full speed ahead, jolted to a sudden stop. All men aboard, perhaps with the exception of the helmsman, were awakened by the lurching of the ship as its hull scraped over a reef.
"Just can't figure this out," said the captain when he appeared on deck. "According to the chart, we should be able to see the light from the lighthouse on shore that marks the boundary line between Nicaragua and Honduras."
Fortunately, the Virginia had gone aground at low tide and in a calm sea. By
daylight the tide had risen and the ship was afloat again. A few hours later the
captain, scanning the shore through his binoculars, spotted the docks at Bragman's Bluff.
They were to learn ashore that Nicaragua and Honduras were disputing their boundary line; hence both refused to operate the lighthouse until their controversy was settled.
Once on shore, Ted and Charley were halted on the dock by armed guards, unkempt in torn overalls, dirty shirts, and straw hats, who were disagreeably authoritative in their manner of questioning the visit of the two strangers. Ted had a working knowledge of the Spanish language which he had acquired at Oxford. He used it to good advantage, finally convincing the guards that he and his friend were not in Nicaragua to take sides in a revolution. Two factions, it seems, were at that moment fighting not far away, and it was apparent that another President of the Republic soon would be forced to abdicate before the expiration of his term of office. Ted talked the soldiers out of confiscating two revolvers, cartridges, and a hunting rifle, and he and Charley, carrying duffle bags packed with outfits for a two-month trip in the tropics, trudged down a dusty path to the office of the banana company.
The company doctor willingly offered to inoculate them against the more prevalent tropical diseases and then directed them to the manager's office, observing for their benefit that "No one is ever disappointed in the tropics because they don't expect anything. You might just as well throw away those ponchos you're carrying. There won't be any rain for two months.
They were cordially received by the manager. "My home is in New Orleans," he told them. "I know about Bogalusa and I want to do all that I can to help you while you're here. Now tell me why you came to Nicaragua."
Charley told him.
"Well, from what you say it will be necessary for you to venture into areas that have never been explored," the manager continued. "Little is known about the merchantable timber tributary to the east coast of Central America.
"I would suggest that you get as much information as you can before
you start out. And once you're gone, don't try to get a tan like those
beachcombers in Florida. If you do, you'll get a sunstroke before you know it.
The temperature seldom drops below 110 degrees during the dry season.
"You had better sleep in hammocks off the ground and under mosquito netting or you'll be eaten alive by insects of all kinds. When you are in the bush, always wear high boots as protection against rattlesnakes. Generally, they can't strike above the knee.
"Better have your revolvers and cartridge belts in sight when anyone is around," he went on. "These half-breed Spaniards have a lot of respect for a white man when he is armed. The Indians are more friendly and are more dependable guides than Spaniards.
"You'll find that a machete is a useful weapon for more reasons than one. You'll have to travel by burro, by dugout, and by boat. There is no other means of transportation except on an occasional narrow-gauge railroad of one of the banana companies.
"Don't go in swimming. The barracuda are more dangerous than sharks. Watch out for malaria mosquitos. They tip up on their front legs just before they sting.
"You'll find fish, oysters, coconuts, and several kinds of tropical fruit plentiful, but you'll probably live mostly on rice and canned food."
Charley, who was now forty-three, and Ted, who was fifteen years his junior, listened intently to these tips on the tropics; but they were far from discouraged and had no misgivings. On the contrary, what they had just heard whetted their adventurous spirits.
The long trek they made through Nicaragua, Honduras, and British Honduras had its many difficult moments, but these were interspersed with amusing incidents, long remembered. The results of their journey were disappointing. They had come looking for merchantable timber. What pine they found was small and pitchy; and there were large savannas barren of any trees at all, which would have made logging expensive.
For days on end, Charley and Ted rode burros overland while a guide led a third donkey packed with scanty extra clothing, hammocks, and food. Sundown meant not only the end of another long day's ride but partial relief at least from the blistering heat. In the morning the travelers were often aroused from sleep at the break of another dawn by the shrieks and chatter of monkeys in the branches of the trees.
Along the coast they found occasional clusters of adobe houses in small
settlements, where they purchased supplies from the natives or traded in
exhausted burros for fresh ones. Inland there were only widely scattered Indian
villages. And in these there were primitive huts thatched with palmetto leaves.
In one room on a dirt floor, an entire family ate and slept.
The Mosquito Indians, living along the seacoast, showed unmistakable Negroid characteristics. It was said that this mixture of Indian and Negro blood could be traced back to the days of the slave trade. When Africans were rescued from shipwrecks, the Indians allowed only the women to live. The farther that Charley and Ted went into the interior, the less evident was the Negro blood in the Indians. There was also more friendliness toward their white visitors.
In extremely remote places, Charley and Ted were the first white men the Indians had ever seen. These Mosquito red men willingly paddled dugouts for miles up the rivers for a few cigarettes or used razor blades. They watched, amused, as Charley and Ted took potshots at crocodiles dozing on the banks of the streams, or at tapirs which generally were wary enough to stay out of range. Often the Indians were told to paddle the dugout to shore so that Charley and Ted could get out and look for tracts of timber, but they were disappointed in the stands of pine they saw. Once they found evidence of an early civilization. Perhaps it was Aztec, judging from the pottery and implements they unearthed.
During the long days astride their burros, Charley and Ted talked of many things. Once, after sundown when the dim lights of a Spanish settlement could be seen in the distance, the conversation turned to horsemanship. Ted was of the equestrian school which favored a firm grip of the knees against the saddle. Charley was an advocate of riding by balance. Ted scratched a match on his pants to light a cigarette. His burro seemed tired, and the reins hung loosely on the pommel of the saddle. But suddenly the animal bolted, head down. Ted hung on with his knees until the saddle rolled under the burro's belly and he came a cropper. The donkey disappeared in the bush, never to be seen again. Ted walked three miles to the settlement where the next morning another burro, saddle, and bridle had to be bought before the journey could be resumed.
The intense heat of the sun was seldom diminished by a passing cloud.
The constancy of the glare became depressing, mentally and physically. Cocoanut
milk quenched thirst better than the tepid water. How welcome rain would be! But
it never came, not during the two months that Ted and Charley were in Central
When they reached Honduras, Caratasca Lagoon, extending far inland and surrounded by miles of impassable jungles, loomed before them as a forbidding barrier. There was no evidence of pine forests that, even if they existed, could be logged and shipped economically to the Bogalusa mill. So it was decided that they continue their trip by water along the coast of the Caribbean Sea.
It seems that there are no words expressive of thanks in the limited vocabulary of the Mosquito Indians. To them, only a fool would give away anything or pay more than was necessary. The expression on the face of the Indian who had been their guide was one of both appreciation and scorn when Charley and Ted gave him the burros, saddles, and bridles instead of a few pesos when they bid him adios.
Their trip by water was not arranged without difficulty. There was one power boat in the lagoon, and it was only after much dickering back and forth that the owner consented to take Charley and Ted to La Ceiba on the north shore of Honduras. The captain and a greasy West Indies Negro made up the crew. The small boat was without passenger accommodations, but sleeping on deck instead of in hammocks was a pleasant change and compensated for lack of comfort. The headway of the craft was sometimes retarded while Ted and Charley trolled for fish, which, with rice and canned fruit, was the daily ration. After chugging along the coast for three days, La Ceiba was reached without mishap.
From there it was but a short distance to the small colony of British Honduras. So far the two tropic timber cruisers had fared rather well under difficult circumstances, even though their search for pine forests had been fruitless. There had been really no unsurmountable (sic) obstacles encountered on the trip. Rattlesnakes and other venomous reptiles had been seen but none within striking distance. One night, army ants lightened their duffle bags by almost completely destroying the extra clothing they carried. But both were in good health, despite the unaccustomed hardships and intense heat.
At La Ceiba, they found a semblance of civilization. It was the head-
quarters of one of the United Fruit Company's largest banana plantations, and
there were comfortable homes with screened porches. There were a spacious office
building, warehouses, and docks where ocean-going ships were loaded with banana
Ted knew vaguely that a friend of his, John Mitchell, was with the United Fruit Company at one of its tropical outposts. Mitchell had been an ace fighting pilot in World War I. It was a pleasant surprise for the two weary travelers to find Mitchell assistant general manager at La Ceiba. His wife, whom Ted had known as Sis Caswell when she made her debut in Boston society, also was there. Her beauty was all the more pleasing to the eyes of Charley and Ted because she was the first white woman they had seen since leaving Bragman's Bluff six weeks before.
They lingered longer in La Ceiba than they had planned. There were three delightful days spent on a fishing trip to the offshore cays in a luxurious United Fruit Company cruiser. It was a thrilling experience and literally hundreds of pounds of fish were caught. Sea turtles, attracted by wooden decoys, were harpooned. After sundown, in shallow water, shellfish of all kinds were lured by torchlight and scooped up in nets on long poles. Interest in angling many fathoms below the surface of the sea was short-lived. The eyes and bellies of these fish, relieved of the pressure of the water, popped when they were hauled in. The edible catch was towed in a dinghy astern of the cruiser to be given to the hospital.
Homeward bound, the fishing party suddenly was overtaken by a furious tropical hurricane. The lee of the low-lying cays offered little protection as a windbreak or against the buffeting seas and, with the hold of the cruiser half-filled with water, there was danger that the craft would be blown on one of the coral beaches. Through the fury of the storm, Mrs. Mitchell was calmer than some of her shipmates.
When at last the hurricane abated and the water was pumped from the hull, port finally was reached with the boat, crew, and passengers somewhat the worse for wear.
From the manager of the United Fruit Company and Mitchell, Charley and Ted learned that it would be a waste of time scouting for large tracts of pine timber in northern Honduras which would be within economical transporting distance of the Caribbean. Within a radius of fifty miles from La Ceiba, the land had been explored by horticulturists search-
ing for areas where the soil and topography would be suitable for growing
bananas. This work still was in progress. The dense tropical vegetation made
travel so difficult that explorers frequently were completely out of contact
with civilization for a year or more at a time, living on the game they shot,
coconuts, tropical fruits, or vegetables grown by Indians.
Charley and Ted decided to move on to British Honduras as soon as possible. After purchasing a new outfit and clothing at the company commissary, they reluctantly bid goodby (sic) to the Mitchells and others who had made their stay so pleasant.
A slow-moving, dilapidated train on a narrow-gauge railroad took them as far as Puerto Cortez near the extreme north end of the Guatemala boundary line. Frequently stopping to pick up passengers, most of them poorly clad soldiers without uniforms, the train took the entire day to make the trip of about one hundred miles.
Puerto Cortez, with a population of perhaps three thousand people, was the largest settlement Charley and Ted had seen since leaving Nicaragua. The architecture of the low-lying adobe houses and mission church was typically Spanish. In the hotel, a decrepit bureau and two chairs were the only pieces of furniture in their bedroom. Hooks were placed in the two corners of the room, on which guests hung their own hammocks.
In Puerto Cortez, Charley and Ted saw the futility of making a circuitous trip through miles of jungle to British Honduras. Tedious days were spent waiting for a power boat that would take them across Honduras Bay, but none came. In desperation the two men boarded a schooner manned by a captain and crew of West Indies Negroes. The two-master's cargo was cattle. With the exception of Ted and Charley its passengers were Negroes, most of them women and children.
The captain hoped that with favorable winds he could make the crossing in twenty-four hours, but on the first day there were only feathery breezes that scarcely filled the sails. Even these died down as the flaming sun dipped below the horizon, leaving the schooner becalmed until daybreak. Then a southeast wind blew up and carried the creaking ship to the tiny port of Punta Gorda, British Honduras, by nightfall.
The thirty-six hours Ted and Charley spent aboard the schooner were the most grueling they had endured in the tropics. The stench of cattle vied with that of unclean, sweating humans sprawled on deck. There
were no toilet facilities, and many were seasick. Flies and mosquitos
swarmed over the deck where passengers ate and slept. Charley and Ted found
space forward where they could be off by themselves, but they slept little and
only nibbled at the canned food they brought with them. They had remembered to
bring thermos bottles filled with water so that they had no need to quench their
thirst with warm water from the barrels aboard ship. When the schooner docked
and they could at last go ashore, both were sick and exhausted. They found a
room in an adobe house and they were given food.
"No wonder men fall apart in the tropics," mumbled Charley as the two fell into sound slumber from which they did not awaken until noon the next day. When their host at last heard them talking, he knocked on the door and walked into the room.
"Well, I guess you fellows were dead tired when you landed last night," he said, surprising them with his unmistakable Yankee English. "That old schooner comes in quite often but that's the first time I've ever known her to carry anything but cattle and West Indians.
"I had a pretty good idea you were from the States. That's where I come from, too. Just to make sure, I asked to see your passports. I was certain you weren't some of those Internal Revenue men who come down from Washington, snooping around. They'd never travel on a schooner like that. They spend their time lolling around in rocking chairs on the porch of the hotel at Belize.
"When you need hot water for shaving, my wife will bring it to you. I know you want to clean up. It's a short walk around the point where you won't see anybody, but don't wade in the bay above your waist. There are a lot of jellyfish and stingarees just offshore. Here's some gasoline to rub on your feet after they're dry. It'll prevent chiggers from getting under your toenails. They're mighty painful when they do. After you come back, we'll have dinner. You'd better plan on staying another night to rest.
"By the way, my name is Jack Bowman. What's yours?"
Ted and Charley were amazed at the cleanliness and orderliness of the household. They were served an appetizing dinner and observed as they ate that there was no lack of the wherewithal for good living. Two neatly dressed young children sat at the table.
"We never take in boarders, you know, but we could tell when you stopped here
last night that you were up against it for a place to stay," Mrs. Bowman
remarked. "You were dirty and unshaven, but I told my husband you were all
When they had finished eating, the three men sat on the screened porch, the midday siesta being ritual here as it is elsewhere in the tropics.
Ted and Charley, having learned not to be too eager in asking questions of strangers in remote places, waited until Bowman broke the silence
"I guess it doesn't matter where a man has been or where he is," Bowman said, opening the conversation. "It's where he's going that's important. I don't want to pry into your business, but if you want to give me some idea of how you happen to be in this Godforsaken country, maybe I can help you on the rest of your trip."
Charley told him how they had traveled from Nicaragua, looking for pine timber; how they planned to see British Honduras and wind up their expedition in Belize, where they expected to catch a boat to New Orleans.
"I'll take you over this afternoon to a Spanish half-breed who furnishes horses and mules to the chicle and banana plantations and to the mahogany timber loggers," Bowman answered. "He knows the country like a book. The Colony is only fifty to seventy-five miles wide and about one hundred miles long, but I don't know much about it, except right around here. I go away so often that I like to stay here with my family when I'm ashore.
He got up to offer Charley and Ted a drink.
"I've got almost anything you want," he told them. Eight-year-old White Horse Scotch is hard to beat. I don't drink much of the stuff myself. Have to keep a level head in my business. Besides, I've seen too many strong men, who never touched a drop before they came out here, end up complete wrecks."
By this time, Ted and Charley suspected the reason their host was living in British Honduras. After a couple of drinks, Bowman confirmed their suspicions.
"I'm sure you fellows are all right," he said. "I've made good money rumrunning to the States. I know Prohibition can't last, so I expect to go back home after awhile and settle down with enough money to carry me through the rest of my life.
"I guess most people are in favor of repealing Prohibition. There certainly is
very little enforcement of the law. I hear even the President likes his nip now
and then. Why, thousands of cases of liquor are being shipped to New Orleans in
the hollow butts of mahogany logs.
"That boat you see anchored in the cove is mine. She carries several hundred cases and can do better than twenty knots with a full cargo. I've built up a nice business with some of the best people in New York. They don't care what they pay for good liquor after seeing their friends go blind on bad stuff.
"But with a wife and two children, I don't take any chances. I let some one else handle the stuff inside the three-mile limit. Guess maybe we'd better toss off one more and then see about the horses or mules for your trip."
The half-breed recommended horses because they could cover more ground in a shorter time. A guide would ride, and the outfits would be carried in sacks behind the saddles. The horseflies, which sometimes bled an animal to death, were not too bad now but Ted and Charley were warned that the rainy season was not far off. They made arrangements to leave early the next morning. The Bowmans bid them goodby (sic) and declined any pay.
On the last leg of their trip, they saw banana and chicle plantations, and mahogany logging operations, but still they saw no large tracts of pine timber.
Near the end of their third day out, Ted was seized by violent chills and fever. He shook in his saddle as the two men hastily changed their course and headed for the British Colonial Railroad, not far distant. They finally reached a remote way station and a call was put through to the railroad manager's office. In less than an hour a powerfully built, ebony-black West Indian superintendent, neatly attired in a white linen suit, arrived in a motor car on the narrow gauge tracks. Speaking in a refined British accent, he told Charley it would take at least two hours to get Ted to Belize. Although Ted weighed one hundred and ninety pounds, the West Indian giant lifted him bodily and carried him gently to the car. The expedition through Central America was over.
In Belize, Ted was put to bed in a ramshackle hotel where, alternately racked by chills and high fevers, he stayed for ten days. The local doctor,
reeking of alcohol, was hardly one to inspire confidence. Charley learned that
the commanding officer of the local Colonial garrison had spent many years in
India and other tropical countries. He was asked to come to the hotel to see
Ted. The officer instantly diagnosed Ted's illness as a case of malignant
malaria in such an advanced stage that medication was useless. He prescribed a
sedative and advised that Ted be removed from the tropics as hurriedly as
Finally a United Fruit Company freighter, with accommodations for a few passengers, anchored in the harbor. Ted was taken aboard on a stretcher. By now, he was too weak even to walk. Days later, when the freighter reached the mouth of the Mississippi, Ted was strolling on deck and eating three meals a day. Charley had sent a radiogram to Will Sullivan, telling him they had sailed from Belize and were on their way home. Will met them in New Orleans. He was shocked when he saw the change in Ted.
"What in the world happened to you?" was all that he could say.
As they motored to Bogalusa, Will was much interested in every detail of the trip to Central America but he was, of course, disappointed that there was not enough timber for a large lumber operation and that the size and quality of the pine trees did not compare with those in Louisiana and Mississippi.
Back in the Company house, Ted felt better but still tired. Pearl, who was a faithful servant of the Goodyears for many years, had a delicious dinner ready for the two men.
Sitting on the porch afterward, Ted suddenly turned to Charley and said: "My God, here we are still together after being with each other continually for more than two months. We may have been disappointed in the timber we saw, but I wouldn't have missed the trip for anything.
"Charley, there was no half-way about it. We had to come back bitter enemies or the best of friends. We did all right. Sure, we had some difficult times and that damn sun would get on anybody's nerves. Incidentally, you were certainly swell to me in Belize. It's a wonder you didn't fall apart yourself, along with that gang I heard in the hotel bar every night. I guess that's all there is to say. But I did want to tell you a little of what my feelings are now that the trip is over. You know the rest."
"Ted," Charley replied, "you can be sure I feel just as you do. You're a grand
guy. Now, how about turning in for the night. You must be tired."
Five years later Ted died of a heart attack at the age of thirty-two years. Rowing at St. Paul's School, on the Harvard varsity crew, and at Oxford had strained his heart, a condition that was further aggravated by malaria. He had been made assistant general manager of Great Southern and his death brought to an early end a promising career.
AS in all small towns, gossip was plentiful in Bogalusa. Listening in on
telephone party lines was a popular indoor sport in which many indulged. Sewing
circles, bridge, and Coca Cola parties were disguised subterfuges for what were
really buzzing mediums for the exchange of choice rumor and neighborhood news.
It was not uncommon to hear a conversation begin something like this: "I was
told not to tell and I know you won't say anything about it, but I heard . . . "
Even when two or more men were together, they conversed not always of politics
and business; for they, too, contributed their share in the interchange of
It was as gossip that the town first learned of the romance of Will Sullivan and Ella Rose Salmen. People began to talk of having seen Will motoring frequently toward Lake Pontchartrain in the afternoons and returning late in the evenings. Several times his limousine had been seen parked in Slidell, his chauffeur, Appie, sound asleep in the driver's seat. Could these all be business trips? And at such hours? Nor did the townspeople fail to observe that a white carnation adorned the lapel of Sullivan's coat more often than was his usual custom.
What else could all this mean but that the Mayor of Bogalusa was courting Ella Rose at the Salmen home in Slidell, a village on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Ella Rose was the daughter of wealthy Fritz Salmen, founder of the village of Slidell, where in the early 1880's he settled as a pioneer and started to manufacture building bricks with but one colored boy and a mule.
Preceded as it was by an abundance of gossip, the announcements in the local newspaper and in the New Orleans dailies of the engagement of Ella Rose Salmen and the Honorable William Henry Sullivan was no surprise to the people of Bogalusa. There was to be a great wedding Showman that he was, Will Sullivan was not the one to countenance a quiet ceremony nor any simple exchange of "I do's."
Weeks were spent preparing for the elaborate nuptial ceremonies that
would unite two prominent families of rural Louisiana whose pioneer backgrounds
had so much in common. Invitations were sent to hundreds in different parts of
the country. Entire communities were asked to the wedding through notices in the
local newspapers. And on the lawn of the Salmen home, remote forestland when
Fritz Salmen, an immigrant from Switzerland, had settled in the Deep South a
half-century before, was erected a circus tent for the gala wedding ceremony and
On the twenty-eighth of January, 1922 there occurred the largest wedding that the South, perhaps the entire country, had ever known. There were three ministers to perform the ceremony. There was a wedding cake four feet high, topped by a pair of exquisite French dolls in bridal array. Bands from New Orleans and Bogalusa added to the galaxy. Prepared by chefs from a leading New Orleans hotel, tons of food lay on long banquet tables.
Newsmen, photographers, and motion picture cameramen arrived even before the guests began pouring from the special trains that came from New Orleans, Bogalusa, and communities in nearby parishes. Sullivan himself paid for the railroad transportation of all the guests. School children from Bogalusa attended en masse. A large delegation came from another lumber town, Picayune, Mississippi. The Mayor of New Orleans, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and other prominent guests rubbed elbows on this festive days with laborers from the Salmen brick plant and millhands of the Great Southern Lumber Company.
Both branches of the Goodyear family were represented at the wedding. Madam Charles W. Goodyear, wife of one of the founders of Bogalusa, appeared with her sons Conger and Charley. Frank, the son of the other founder of the Magic City of the South, was there. They occupied seats of honor on the platform where Ella Rose, radiant in a beautiful wedding gown, and Will Sullivan, in a dress suit, were pronounced husband and wife by the presiding clergyman.
There were so many guests that the wedding ritual actually was performed twice. The first time was a dress rehearsal so that pictures could be taken by the still and movie photographers, who would have blocked the view of the proceedings for the thousands of visitors had there been but one ceremony.
After the wedding, bands played and there was a great feast. The
Left to right: Betty Sullivan, Jack Cassidy, Bride,
Groom, Mrs. Martin, Fred Salmen.
wedding presents, which filled a railroad boxcar when they were taken to
Bogalusa afterward, were gazed at in amazement by the throngs. The mother and
father of the bride, thinking back to their own simple wedding many years
earlier, were overwhelmed by the spectacle. Mr. Salmen was quoted in several
newspapers as saying: "Why there are enough candlesticks among the presents to
light up the whole town of Bogalusa if the current ever goes off."
That night there was a wedding supper for a mere handful of a couple of hundred close friends of the bride and groom at the Grunewald Hotel in New Orleans. The cabaret of the hotel, popularly known as the Cave, was taken over at the expense of the bridegroom for this wedding finale. A floor show from New York provided the entertainment as the guests wined, dined, and danced.
The following day almost every newspaper in the country carried first-page accounts of the Sullivan-Salmen wedding extravaganza. By this time Ella Rose and Will had departed on their honemoon (sic) in a private railroad car put at their disposal by Conger Goodyear, president of the Great Southern Lumber Company. A few days later the San Francisco papers headlined the arrival on the Pacific Coast of the honeymooners. Will Sullivan, with his finesse at its best, had staged perhaps his greatest show. Certainly it was his most colorful.
THE failure to locate large tracts of timber in Central America left unsolved
the problem of how to sustain the life of Bogalusa and its economy after the
exhaustion of the forests in Louisiana and Mississippi.
If reforestation of the denuded lands had been started from the very beginning of the lumber operations as the virgin timber was cut, there would have been no such problem. The Bogalusa mill could have run interminably, sawing second-growth trees when the virgin forests were depleted. Why, then, had there been no early reforestation? The question was asked frequently and sometimes critically.
The answer was that the land taxes which would have accrued during the thirty or forty years while the trees were growing to maturity made such an undertaking economically unsound. The idea of reforestation under proper conditions was entirely, practical, however. As early, as 1904; Henry Hardtner had begun reforesting cut-over lands in connection with his lumber operations at Urania in northern Louisiana. In the beginning, some other lumbermen had called Hardtner's project "a mad experiment." But as a thriving second growth of pines appeared among the stumps of a previous forest, they saw that it was not mad at all. Hardtner, too, was deterred from carrying on his venture on a large scale because high taxes would have made it unprofitable.
Appeals for lower assessments on reforested lands were made periodically to the various administrations at Baton Rouge, but governors and other persons of influence were deaf to pleas that taxes must be reduced or the thousands of acres of forests that were being logged every year would become unproductive wastelands. Politicans (sic) seemed loath to curry possible disfavor with their constituents by supporting legislation which would reduce the immediate revenues of the State and parishes. Their policy was the nearsighted one of letting posterity take care of itself.
As virgin timber was logged, cut-over lands of the Company were accumulating in rural Louisiana at the rate of 20,000 acres a year. Time
passed until it was too late to have a second growth of merchantable trees by
the time the last of the original forest had been manufactured into lumber.
Further attempts to have taxes reduced therefore were dropped temporarily.
With some misgivings, the Goodyears as a last resort tried to put a part of the cut-over lands to some good use by colonization. Through a promotional and advertising campaign an effort was made to attract aliens, particularly Italians, who had come to America seeking new opportunities. Land was offered at a few dollars an acre for a small down payment. An elaborate demonstration stock farm was started by importing blooded animals from other states, but the sheep died faster than they produced lambs and the cattle became emaciated by fever ticks.
As infestation of the boll weevil in Louisiana had made the raising of cotton no longer profitable, the soil seemed to be more suitable for growing vegetables and corn than any other crops. Several settlers moved in with dreams of a Utopian future. The land was there and there was plenty of it, but there were pitchy yellow-pine stumps there, too, and they were plentiful. Worse still, they had huge taproots that extended far into the ground. Extracting them cost many times more than the price paid for the land. Rainfall, averaging sixty inches a year, provided sufficient moisture; but the rain more often than not came in torrents, washing away the planted seeds. Then there were long periods of drought, the intense heat parching what was left of the growing crops.
Discouraged colonists abandoned their farms faster than others moved in. There was little left of the stock farm other than run-down buildings and equipment. The project was a dismal failure.
Perhaps some real good came of it, after all. The failure demonstrated more pointedly than words that the land and climate, as had been proven during the past hundreds of years, were conducive to growing trees, not livestock or crops on any large scale. It was a blessing in disguise which quite possibly hastened tax reductions, making reforestation economically sound.
The discovery that paper could be made from southern pine and the subsequent building of the pulp and paper mill at Bogalusa whetted the interest of the Goodyears in reforestation. Trees could be grown to pulpwood size in from fifteen to twenty years. That was also about the length
Pine cones containing seeds for planting the nursery.
of time remaining for the lumber operations. Somewhat encouraged by a changing
attitude of the State and parish tax officials, the Great Southern Lumber
Company gathered enough pine seeds for a nursery, where seedlings were grown for
planting 800 acres of wasteland the following spring. Finally, in 1924, largely
through the untiring efforts of Delos Johnson and Will Sullivan, the Louisiana
legislature passed laws permitting parishes to enter into contracts with owners
of cut-over lands. Under this arrangement a small tax was imposed on the land
itself, and a severance tax was to be levied when the trees in the reforested
area were cut. This was the go-ahead signal to reforest thousands of acres of
stump lands in Washington Parish. Much had to be done, however, before seedlings
were planted on a large scale, including a thorough study of reforestation
practices at home and abroad. The cost would be tremendous, but the future of
the paper mill and of Bogalusa depended on its success.
These laws had scarcely been passed when Conger and Charley Goodyear boarded a liner bound for Europe. In Norway, Sweden, Germany, and France they studied methods of reforestation and the manufacture of paper in general. Home again, they obtained authority from their Directors to proceed with reforestation at once.
Within a short distance from Bogalusa, Great Southern owned a hundred thousand acres of cut-over lands. On each of these acres would be planted, by hand, a thousand seedlings. Experiments disclosed that slash pines produced cellulose as good or perhaps better for making paper than the long-leaf species. Besides they grew faster, a decided advantage. It was necessary, however, to obtain slash-pine seeds from other states, mostly Georgia, as the mother trees grew sparsely in Louisiana. Millions of seedlings were propagated each spring in nurseries. A year later they were transplanted to the stump lands.
It seemed a simple enough process. When the seedlings grew into trees with diameters from six to eight inches, they were suitable for pulpwood. But there was much more to reforestation than that. It required the supervision of someone trained in a school of forestry. The man who did this job well for the Goodyears was Paul Garrison, a graduate of Michigan State and Iowa State Colleges, who entered the employ of the Great Southern Lumber Company in 1925. Under his guidance, the Company in the years that followed established the largest privately owned and hand-
Preparing the ground and planting the seed for slash-pine nursery
Nursery with 7,000,000 pine seedlings
Seven-year-old slash pines grown from seedlings planted in 1924.
Picture taken in 1936 of slash pines which were
hand planted with seedlings in 1924-1925. Paul M. Garrison, Chief Forester,
in an area where 7 cords of pulpwood to the acre have been thinned, leaving 27 cords to the acre.
planted reforestation area in the world. A dependable, perpetual supply of
pulpwood for a large paper mill seemed assured.
To Jake Johnson should also go much of the credit for the success of the undertaking. He, with Red Batemen as chief forest ranger, had charge of the first experimental plantings of seedlings and rendered yeoman service in winning the natives over to the side of forest-fire protection and control.
Once Will Sullivan and Charley Goodyear stood on a rise of ground overlooking a sweeping expanse of verdant young pines where the first five thousand acres had been planted.
"You've got to have faith," Will said, scanning the new growth that stretched out before him as far as his eyes could see.
Sullivan didn't live to see that faith justified. Charley did. His was the privilege of seeing the rebirth of the timberlands which Frank H. and Charles W. Goodyear left as a heritage to their children -- a rich, ever-productive inheritance for the future generations of the Goodyear families.
NOW that there were great areas of hand-planted reforested lands, an adequate
supply of pulpwood was assured. But there were other reasons for an even larger
expansion of the paper-mill operations in Bogalusa than had at first been
During the regime of Huey P. Long as Governor of Louisiana, hard-surface highways replaced many of the country roads that in early days had oftentimes been impassable. These highways made accessible through low-cost truck transportation a thick natural second growth of pines that covered thousands of scattered acres outside the limits to which Great Southern had previously been more or less confined. These were farm wood lots and timber lands that had been logged by small lumber companies using oxen. They had cut only trees of good quality. The inferior pines that were left standing had reseeded the surrounding acreage.
Returned from the North where he had gone to recuperate from malaria, Ted Olmsted spent several weeks making a survey on his own initiative of the area within a radius of sixty miles from Bogalusa on which there was this natural second growth of pines. He was amazed to discover that there was so much of this land and that it was available at reasonable prices.
At first Olmsted encountered only opposition when he proposed that the Company buy more land for growing pulpwood. The Goodyears, Sullivan, and Garrison argued that the reforested acreage already owned was sufficient to supply a paper mill twice the size of the one in Bogalusa at that time. Ted's persistence succeeded in obtaining from the Directors authority to purchase as much additional land as he could within a certain price limit.
He spent months negotiating with landowners and finally added several thousand acres to the Company's holdings. Most of the new land was in St. Helena, Livingston, and Washington Parishes. Soon thereafter, a horseback cruise was made of all the Company's lands in Louisiana.
One of the paper machines
The estimate showed that there was currently and potentially enough pulpwood to
operate indefinitely a paper mill with five or six times the capacity of the
Bogalusa mill at that time.
In the decade that followed the enactment of tax legislation favorable to reforestation, continuous additions and improvements were made that stepped up the output of pulp and paper in Bogalusa. Box factories and bag plants were built to convert into finished products the many millions of square feet of paper and board that rolled off six paper machines.
Even when lumber operations finally ended in 1938, there no longer was any danger of Bogalusa becoming a ghost town. The number of workers in the sawmill whose employment ceased after the last log was cut was more than made up by the increase in the payroll of the paper mill running seven days a week with three shifts. So the population of the city continued to grow and prosper as a thousand cords of pulpwood rolled into the mill every day to be made into pulp and then converted into enough paper and board four feet wide to encircle the globe every ten days.
In the lush era of the 1920's, with the sawmill and paper mill running full blast, Bogalusa reaped the harvest of the boom years that preceded the collapse of the national economy in 1929. There was steady employment with high wages for the workers. There were generous dividends for the stockholders of the Goodyear enterprises. Many new homes were built in the residential section.
In the midst of this prosperity, there occurred the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Great Southern Lumber Company. Such an occasion was worthy of a celebration. Besides, Conger had his fiftieth birthday at about the same time. So it was that on the evening of June 18, 1927, directors, close friends of the Company, and heads of departments gathered for a gala party in the Delaware Avenue home of Madam Goodyear in Buffalo.
The guests sat down for dinner at a large round table on which as a centerpiece a log stood upright surrounded by samples of the Company's manufactured products. There were many toasts with vintage champagne. Conger was presented a silver tray on which was engraved the facsimile signatures of the Directors. After gratefully acknowledging the gift, he related several amusing incidents that had happened in the business and
Dinner given in 1927 at Madam Goodyear's home in
Buffalo to celebrate the twenty-
fifth anniversary of the Great Southern Lumber Company and Conger's fiftieth birthday.
Clockwise around the table: Edward deCernea (hidden by
centerpiece), W. E. Farris, C. M. Daniels, R. H. Laftman, A. B. Watson,
W. M. Ogelsby, M. J. McMahon, J. McC. Mitchell, A. C. Goodyear, H. C. Laverack, R. H. Redfield, J. L. Kenefick, James How,
M. E. Olmsted, Jr., Bradley Goodyear, O. J. Hamlin, Ganson Depew, W. H. Sullivan, C. W. Goodyear.
briefly told about the progress that had been made during the past seven years
while he was president of the Bogalusa enterprises. The dinner was climaxed when
Taylor, who had been Madam Goodyear's faithful butler for many years, placed
with much dignity a flaming urn on the table in front of Mr. Sullivan. Thereupon
Charley arose from his chair, turned toward Will Sullivan, and said: "Mr.
Sullivan -- better known to us as Will -- it is indeed a privilege to be the
person chosen by the Board of Directors to cancel your contract for the purchase
of one thousand shares of stock in the Great Southern Lumber Company. I take
great pleasure in burning the contract in the fire before you and in presenting
to you, my dear sir, a certificate for one thousand shares of Great Southern
Lumber Company stock in the name of William Henry Sullivan." Taken completely by
surprise, Sullivan faltered for a moment before thanking the Directors for their
generous gift. Then he spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about Bogalusa, as
he always did whenever he was offered the opportunity. Will emotionally ended
his remarks by saying: "The experience that I have had with the Goodyear family
for forty-two years has been one of the greatest memories any man could have."
Scarcely ten years after this anniversary celebration, the sawmill operations came to an end, and thereafter the names of Bogalusa and Goodyear were no longer as closely interwoven as they had been for more than thirty years. In that decade there occurred many changes.
William Henry Sullivan died in January, 1929. It can truly be said of him that he was a great man. Nature combined in him integrity, ability, industry, and a fine sense of loyalty. He had his frailties, to be sure, But (sic) these only made him tolerant of the shortcomings of others, sympathetic to their troubles and understanding of their problems. And his legion of friends came from all walks of life.
Conger and Charley were confronted with the problem of selecting Sullivan's successor. The local management of the Goodyear enterprises had been largely a one-man show. During the fifteen years that Colonel Sullivan was Mayor he was unquestionably the civic leader of Bogalusa.
Jack Cassidy had resigned several years before as assistant general manager, having made a fortune, mostly from the purchase and sale of
Jack Cassidy and family in front of his home.
hardwood timber. Jack had come up the hard way from a Pennsylvania lumberjack to
president of the First State Bank and Trust Company and Bogalusa's wealthiest
citizen. Gus Chandler, superintendent of the sawmill, and Dick Laftman, who was
in charge of the paper mill, were specialists in their particular jobs. A
decision was made to divide the authority and responsibility that Sullivan had
so ably exercised. Dan Cushing was appointed manager of lumber operations, the
Goodyears having been impressed with Dan's New England acumen in many business
transactions during the previous twenty years. Laftman was assigned the
responsibility of running the paper mill. There was little opposition when Ed
Cassidy, a company man, succeeded Sullivan as Mayor.
The new managers reported either to Conger, president, or Charley, vice-president. Seldom did a month pass when one or the other of the two executive officers did not visit Bogalusa, where they stayed in the Company house. The ever-faithful Pearl was always there to cater to them with her delicious Southern cooking.
Sullivan died at the height of a spectacular career when the era of the country's greatest prosperity was at its peak. Nine months after his death, the bubble burst and the boom was over. Large fortunes literally were lost overnight. Factories were idle and many businesses failed. Unemployment reached unheard-of proportions. Skilled workmen raked leaves or worked on government projects in order to subsist. Although Bogalusa fared better than most industrial communities, Sullivan would have found it difficult to countenance the curtailments made necessary in plant operations and the reductions in the pay of employees from president on down to common laborers.
Two years after the initial collapse of the economy, there appeared some signs of business recovery. But these were short-lived. The election of 1932 definitely indicated the people's desire for a change. The inaguration (sic) in 1933 of Franklin D. Roosevelt as President and the beginning of the New Deal brought new spirit to a nation weary and discouraged. But on the heels of the inauguration came the financial panic that swept the country. Frenzied "runs" by depositors caused many banks to fail. Charley was in Bogalusa at the time and hastened to New Orleans to withdraw in currency $125,000 the Company had on deposit in one of the banks.
He hired armed guards and took the money in an automobile to Boga-
lusa, where it was held for safekeeping in the vault of the Company office
building. The following day, the bank in New Orleans closed its doors.
Depositors who bad not withdrawn their funds were eventually paid only a few
cents on the dollar.
There followed the banking holiday ordered by the new administration in Washington. Charley was concerned over the state of affairs and cabled Conger to return home from his trip abroad. Dan Cushing cracked under the strain and worry and was sent to Europe for a month's leave.
The people of Bogalusa suffered deprivations as did nearly everyone in the land. But the Goodyear enterprises in Louisiana weathered the depression, operating every year in the black.
Nor was civic progress halted in Bogalusa by the depression. The Sullivan Trade School was built, a memorial to the man who had been the idolized leader of some 15,000 people for a quarter century. A monument of stone would have been incongruous with Sullivan's vibrant personality. The cost of the building was easily defrayed by public subscription.
IN 1932, there arrived in Bogalusa the third generation of the Goodyear family
to cast his vocational lot in the Deep South. He was Charles W. Goodyear, III,
carrying on the name of his grandfather, who had dotingly called him Jim
Jeffries after the heavyweight champion. Even as a stripling, young Charlie had
been endowed with a strong body. Now, fresh out of college, he stood more than
six feet tall. His athletic activities at St. Mark's School, where he played on
the football team and on the baseball nine, and at Yale, where he rowed on the
varsity crew, had developed a muscular physique and untiring energy. He arrived
in Louisiana eager to learn every phase of the pulp and paper business.
Less than a year later, he married Mary Thompson, with whom he had grown up in Buffalo. They lived for a while in a Company house before building a colonial home on six acres bordering the golf course. Four children were born to them, all in the Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial Hospital. The eldest was christened Charles W. Goodyear, IV.
From the start of their married life in Bogalusa, Mary and Charlie participated actively in the civic and social affairs of the community, as did their children when they grew older. Mary was president of the Young Women's Christian Association for several years, an honor that invariably went to the outstanding woman of Bogalusa. For a long time, Charlie was president of the Country Club and chairman of the Red Cross fundraising campaigns for all of Washington Parish. He and Mary frequently appeared in the casts of amateur theatricals presented for various church benefits. Their three sons attended public school and played and fought with children from all walks of life. Andy, the youngest son, was accepted into Bogalusa's "Royal Family" when he was crowned King Bogue at one of the children's carnivals. His sister Mary was chosen Queen Lusa a few years later.
Charlie liked his job in the paper mill. He knew most of the employees in the plant by their first names. He played on one of the intercompany
Four generations of the Goodyear family
(C.W.G.; C.W.G., II; C.W.G., III; and C.W.G., IV.).
Plaque reads: Charles W. Goodyear, 1846 - 1911.
Andrew T. Goodyear
Mary A. Goodyear
Home of Charles W. Goodyear, III, bordering the golf course.
His father's house is less pretentious.
softball nines, which had hotly contested games during the lunch hour. By
neither superior nor subordinate was he treated as a favorite son.
Producing pulp and paper products from southern pine was something relatively new, and it was an industry in which there were constant innovations in manufacturing processes. Many young men in the Company, like Charlie, were growing up with this infant business. Among them was J. F. Gillespie. After graduating from college with a chemical engineer's degree, Gil worked in Bogalusa. This was only for a short time, as his talents were soon recognized and the Company financed his technical studies of practical papermaking in Europe. After two years in Germany and Sweden, Gil returned to Louisiana. It was not long before he was made Technical Director of the Bogalusa Paper Company. He played an important role in the development of by-products such as tall oil, a resinous liquid used mostly in soapmaking, and sulphate turpentine. His services were invaluable to the technical control of manufacturing processes that speeded production, reduced operating costs, and improved the quality of the finished products.
There were capable men with responsible positions like Ivan Magnitsky, who came up through the ranks to become manager of the box plant and bag factory. The good work that Mack did for the welfare of the community was recognized by the citizens when he was later elected Mayor of Bogalusa.
Versatile Gus Bienvenue was proficient in his vocation as general superintendent of the container division. He excelled in athletics and was always the leading actor in amateur theatricals.
There were young men in the organization, like H. J. Foil, who were native sons of Washington Parish. Better known as Booger, Foil was a country boy born on a farm near Franklinton, not far from the headright where his greatgrandfather (sic) had settled along Bogue Chitto River in 1844. Booger rose to the important position of purchasing agent. When Foil was a candidate for president of the police jury* of Washington Parish, he was elected by a large majority.
Norman D. Ott was another native son of Washington Parish. Norman came to Bogalusa in 1913 from his birthplace in Mount Herman.
*The origin and development of the police jury are interesting phases of Louisiana history. Today the police jury, with its broad legislative and administrative powers, is the most important institution in the government of the parish.
In his mild way he, too, dabbled in politics. Although he was not one of the
paper mill's operating personnel, as manager of the Company's commissary his job
carried much responsibility which he always faithfully assumed.
There were men who had learned the know-how of paper making through the hard knocks of experience such as big, jovial Dick Murray and modest Fred Augustine. Dick was in charge of the pulp mill and Fred was responsible for the operation of the paper machines. The boss of them all was Alfred Suter, superintendent of the entire plant. A gentleman of the old school and popular with everyone, Suter had been hired by Will Sullivan not long after he came to this country from Switzerland. His technical education in Germany and his practical knowledge of papermaking qualified him to head such an organization, and his opinions were respected.
While they were struggling to keep their sawmill and paper operating at a profit during the depression years of the 1930's, the Goodyears were giving thought to still other business ventures in the South. It was at this time that their attention became focused on oil -- oil that might exist in subterranean pools and oil from the fruit of trees growing above ground.
Petroleum was gushing from hundreds of wells in Texas, not far away. Surely, thought the Goodyears, there must be some of this black gold in deposits beneath the thousands of acres of land they owned in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Goodyears were not the ones to shy away from gambling on a good business risk, but they also had an inherent desire to be on the winning side. They liked to know that the margin of safety favored them with at least the probability of success.
This was a difficult if not impossible policy to adhere to in search for oil thousands of feet, perhaps miles, below the surface of the ground. They were willing to go so far as to stake the mineral rights underlying their lands, but they left to those with experience in oil wildcatting the responsibility and the cost involved in geophysical surveys and well-drilling.
In 1933 a lease agreement was made with Bennedum and Trees, from Pennsylvania, who had been lured by the discovery of petroleum in the Southwest where they had amassed large fortunes from wildcat wells. The lease, covering several hundred mineral acres in Mississippi, contained the usual royalty provision for unproven oilfields that the lessor would
receive one eighth of all oil, gas, and minerals, when and if produced, and the
lessee seven eighths.
Paul Torrey, a geologist, was engaged to represent both parties to the contract. He directed a geophysical and seismographic survey. So favorable were the findings that he recommended drilling a well at a location where exploration had shown oil-bearing sand most likely to be found. As the drill stem ground its way below the surface of the earth, eager Directors of Great Southern Lumber talked of a dinner at Antoine's in New Orleans to celebrate the discovery of oil. Bennedum and Trees already had scouts out picking up leases on every available scattered parcel of land, however small, within a mile of the well site.
But as drilling continued downward, so did the hopes of the lessor and lessee. It looked more and more as though there was no oil in commercial quantities. When a depth of 2,500 feet was reached, the drilling limit at that time, the well was abandoned as a dry hole.
But this halted only temporarily further attempts to develop the mineral rights of Great Southern Lumber. Just a few years later, several major oil companies indicated an interest in the possibility of discovering oil, not only in Mississippi, but in the Florida parishes of Louisiana. In the comparatively short time that had elapsed since the failure of earlier drilling operations, there had been rapid geologic advance in the science of locating oil deposits. New theories of the accumulation of petroleum in structural and stratigraphic traps had become an important part of oil exploration. Besides, there had been improvements in equipment and materials which made it possible to drill wells to a depth of about 10,000 feet.
In 1936, Great Southern Lumber entered into another lease agreement, this time with the huge Humble Oil and Refining Company. This time drilling produced oil, but still not in commercial quantities. The hundreds of thousands of dollars already spent in trying to find oil underlying the Company's property had perhaps not been in vain. Geologists were confident that core specimens taken during the drilling of the well in Livingston Parish indicated the existence of an oil field in that area of Louisiana. In fact, several years later, a well was brought in there that produced 200 barrels of petroleum a day. But time alone will tell whether the Goodyears were pioneers in developing riches from black gold beneath the ground as they had been in developing gold from trees above ground in the wilderness.
DURING the world-wide economic difficulties beginning with the year 1929, the
other kind of oil the Goodyears started to produce was an organic liquid
processed from the fruit of trees and called tung oil. Like petroleum, tung oil
has a history rich in mystery and adventure. Unlike petroleum, known so
universally in the various forms of its refined products, the usages of tung oil
and where it comes from are not of general information.
There is nothing new about tung oil. In fact, it was produced long before the vast quantities of petroleum stored beneath the earth's surface were known even to exist. Its use in the Orient dates back at least to the Tang Dynasty, A.D. 618-907. It was mentioned in the writings of Marco Polo, who in the thirteenth century took word of it back to Venice from China during the rule of Kubla Khan.
A strange and romantic product, tung oil for centuries was a secret of the Chinese and was produced mostly in the region of the Yangtse River where strangers were forbidden to enter. It has long had a multitude of uses.
Chinese junks, it is said, owe much of their seaworthiness to the golden-colored oil which was and still is used to calk and waterproof the hulls of these quaint sailing craft that for centuries have plied the seas. Famed Chinese lacquered wooden figures, so often seen in art museums at home and abroad, have been preserved through the ages because tung oil is the base of their protective coating. A thousand years and more before John D. Rockefeller started to ship kerosene to the Far East for artificial light, tung oil was used for illumination.
It was not until the twentieth century that shipments of tung oil became China's major source of revenue. Even as the volume of its imports into the United States grew, the versatile nature of the oil created such an expanded rate of consumption that the supply often was inadequate. At times, exports were shut off completely by civil conflicts in China. Little wonder, then, that new sources of tung oil were sought.
China had long maintained the strictest monopoly on the production of tung oil
but this hold, at long last and with difficulty, was broken. At considerable
risk of life, a small quantity of seed was smuggled from a tung grove near the
Yangtse River and brought to this country.
The Department of Agriculture had determined that tung trees could be grown successfully in the United States only within a strip of land about fifty miles wide extending from northern Florida to eastern Texas. It so happened that the lands of the Great Southern Lumber Company in Washington and St. Tammany Parishes lay within the area called the Tung Belt.
The climatic limits where tung trees would quite definitely thrive had been decided, but it was not until later that it was determined through experimental plantings and research by the Department of Agriculture what was the most suitable topography and soil. It was found that tung trees could only be grown successfully on well-drained and well-aerated sandy loam land.
In 1935, Bogalusa Tung Oil, Inc. was organized with Charley Goodyear as president and Dan Cushing as vice-president. Red Bateman, his job as chief forest ranger for Great Southern fast running out, joined the new enterprise as superintendent. There were only a few stockholders, mostly Goodyears and Hamlins. Although the venture was fraught with the uncertainties of the untried, the time seemed to be opportune for engaging in a business new to the United States but centuries old in the world's civilization. Despite the slump in the national economy at that time, the supply of tung oil was far outstripped by the demand from American manufacturers of paint, varnish, linoleum, and other products requiring a quick-drying, highly waterproofing ingredient.
Approximately three million pounds of tung oil were being consumed annually in making India ink alone. The United States Navy included tung oil in the specifications for the protective coating of its fleet. Imports of this valuable oil into this country from the Orient had reached a market value of between fifteen and twenty million dollars a year.
Unemployment was widespread here at home and common labor was plentiful at a dollar a day, probably a fifty-year low. As manual labor was the principal item of cost in the early development of a tung plantation,
the capital investment needed was exceptionally small. Land suitable for tung
orchards could be bought for around three dollars an acre.
A 12,500-acre area, nine miles long and varying from two to three miles wide, was purchased from the Great Southern Lumber Company. Except for a State highway, which advantageously about equally divided the property, the land was contiguous. The rolling terrain and soil of half the area were ideal for growing tung trees. The remaining acreage, having been logged several years before, either had an excellent second growth of longleaf pine or was suitable for grazing cattle.
The plantation took the name Money Hill. It was not a name coined by the new owners, but rather one born of regional legend. The land had the highest elevation in St. Tammany Parish, and there were tales long handed down that gold had been cached there when it was feared the British would defeat General Jackson's army at the Battle of New Orleans in 1812.
According to one of the legends of Money Hill, gold bullion had been carried first by schooner from New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain and thence by ox team to the highest land above flood waters in the parish, where it was buried for safekeeping. Still another legend tells the story of a caravan carrying the precious metal and held up by bandits who killed the guards and burned the wagons. Then, in fear of being caught, the robbers buried their treasure, hoping some day to return for it. Rusted tires of wheels, axles, and other wagon parts found in the area added the weight of realism to this legend. Until the 1930's, treasure hunters came periodically, digging holes here and there over several acres in their search for the hidden gold of Money Hill.
As the land of storied Money Hill was cleared of pine stumps and cultivated, tung seedlings, grown in nurseries from selected seeds, were planted in contours to prevent erosion. It was at this time that the Government, to lessen unemployment, was sponsoring many emergency work projects, among them the Civilian Conservation Corps. One of the CCC camps was established at Money Hill, much to the advantage of the plantation in its earliest days.
The one hundred and twenty-five young men in the camp constructed at Government expense thirty-five miles of plantation roads that made the vast expanse of orchards more accessible for maintenance and harvesting.
Money Hill Tung Plantation
They built bridges, plowed fire lanes, and erected telephone lines from the
watch tower to the homes of the fire wardens. In fact, most of the early
construction work which did not directly produce revenue for the plantation was
done at the expense of Uncle Sam.
In the early years of the plantation, too, hired labor was available at a depression wage scale which made it possible to carry out a building program at relatively low cost. Money Hill actually became a domain unto itself, with homes for employees, sheds for housing farm equipment, an office, a general store, and even a parish school. The processing plant was in Bogalusa, where the oil was crushed from tung nuts and shipped in railroad tank cars.
When the orchards came into commercial bearing, they yielded 7,000 tons of nuts, which, after being processed, produced a quick drying and highly waterproofing oil valued in a favorable market at half a million dollars. This was a sizable gross profit from a farm enterprise which netted a handsome return on the invested capital.
There was much more to growing tung trees than planting the seedlings and waiting for the orchards to mature. A fleet of tractors was kept busy cultivating the land. Winter and summer leguminous cover crops were planted between the rows of trees to provide nitrate and humus for the soil. Commercial fertilizer was applied to each of the 500,000 trees in the springtime. Constant efforts were made to improve horticultural practices.
The U. S. Department of Agriculture set up a Tung Research Bureau in Bogalusa, headed by able Dr. George Potter. It contributed much to the infant tung industry in the South. Measured by maintenance and yield, Money Hill had the highest rating of any tung plantation, and it was selected by the Tung Research Bureau for several experiments necessary to the development of this new enterprise. The characteristics of tung trees differed greatly from those of other fruit trees common to the North American continent. Unlike other orchards, for example, tung groves require no insecticide spraying. When eaten, the fruit and leaves of the trees are poisonous to insects, as they are to man and beast.
The long season for harvesting the tung fruit is generally from November to April. In these months, Money Hill is a beehive of activity. Truckloads of pickers from the nearby countryside and surrounding towns
gather the nuts by hand after they have fallen to the ground. Most of the
harvesters are women, wearing bright bandanna headgear and motley clothing. The
colorful scene is reminiscent of the old South in the days when slaves worked in
Besides the growing of tung trees and other farming activities, including a portable sawmill to manufacture lumber from timber on the plantation when it was needed for new construction and repairs, the raising of beef cattle on the 6,500 acres of reforested and pasture land slowly grew into importance from a venturesome beginning.
In 1934, after entomologists discovered that the wingless fever tick could crawl on the ground within a radius of only ten feet and lived entirely by sucking the blood of animals, the Federal Government amazingly eradicated these ravaging mites which were sapping the vitality of cattle in Louisiana. This was done by Government rangers riding horseback over the thousands of acres of free grazing lands and destroying all tick-infested cattle, for which the owners were paid reasonable prices.
But even after that, little progress was made in successfully raising quality beef cattle on a large scale in the Florida parishes of southeastern Louisiana until this was proven to be possible on Money Hill plantation.
Much time and effort were expended to determine what breed of cattle would do best in St. Tammany Parish. With the co-operation of the U. S. Department of Animal Husbandry, which was active in promoting cattle-raising in the coastal area of the South, it was found that crossbreeding a purebred Aberdeen Angus bull with a Brahman cow produced a beefy type of calf.
Brahmans, the sacred cows of India, have certain characteristics that make them adaptable to conditions in Louisiana. Being tropical animals, they can endure hot weather. They are good foragers and thus thrive better than other breeds on the native grasses. What the rangy Brahmans lack in beef quality is supplied by the short-legged and close-coupled Aberdeen Angus, a hornless animal commonly called Black Angus. The offspring of the two, except for an occasional throwback, is a jet-black, hornless calf. But the long flopping ears and the hump on the shoulder, characteristic of the mouse-colored Brahman, are not entirely lost in crossing the two breeds.
As this story is written, there are approximately a thousand head of
Donice Watts, herdsman
cattle grazing on the lands of Money Hill plantation, and the herd is continuing
Supervision and management, of course, played an important part in making successful the Money Hill cattle venture. Scarcely a day passed when Donice Watts, the herdsman, did not ride the ranges on one of the cow ponies. A mineral mixture was kept in feed troughs before the cattle at all times to make up for the mineral deficiency in the native grasses. Hay grown on the plantation and some commercial feed were fed to the cattle during two or three months in the winter when the pastures offered little nourishment. In the spring, cows with calves and those about to freshen grazed on the permanent pastures and on the succulent cover crops in the tung orchards. Strangely enough, the animals by some apparent instinct never eat the poisonous leaves of the tung trees. The breeding season was between March and August so that calves would be dropped before the hot summer weather. Periodically during fly time, the entire herd was corralled and run through a dipping vat filled with insecticide.
The roundup in the autumn is exciting and colorful. Twisting and turning on his quarter horse, which in a couple of strides can gallop at full speed, Donice with the help of cowhands cuts out the old cows and calves to be sold for slaughter. The heifer and bull calves to be kept for breeding are penned separately, branded, and inoculated against the cattle diseases most prevalent in the South.
Money Hill was primarily a moneymaking enterprise, but it was even more than that; it was the Garden of Eden to Red Bateman and the pride and delight of Charley Goodyear and Dan Cushing. Charley and Red never missed a chance to ride horseback over the rolling acres, looking at the cattle and watching the cultivating or harvesting crews working in the orchards. In the hunting season they shot quail over well-trained pointers in this sportsman's paradise, and seldom did they fail to get their limit of bobwhite. Often woodcock were flushed from the thickets. Doves were plentiful in the fall but they were wary and hard to shoot. Visitors from the North were always impressed with the plantation. Sometimes those who could ride tried their hand at roping calves from cow ponies with varying success.
Spring was the time for plantation parties at Money Hill when the tung trees
were in lush bloom more beautiful than the flowers of the dogwood. Fish fries
for the employees of the plantation became annual events. These were followed
with contests for men, women, and children. Sometimes a yearling bull was led
out and a prize given to the person coming nearest to guessing the weight of the
There was also the coronation of the Tung Blossom Queen of Louisiana, Beatrice Core. Miss Core and her ladies in waiting were daughters of St. Tammany Parish farmers. Crowds of countryfolk gathered on an Easter Sunday for the royal ceremonies which took place on a raised platform surrounded by blooming tung trees where once had been a pine forest. After the coronation a truck with a loud speaker furnished music while the guests of Money Hill ate ice cream and drank Coca-Cola.
By the following spring there was even a more colorful setting for parties at Money Hill. Charley had built a plantation house, known as Tammany House, on high ground overlooking tung orchards in every direction as far as the eye could see. Off by itself at the end of an entrance road over a mile long, Tammany House had no modern conveniences, no electricity nor telephone. Jim, the old Negro caretaker, fitted into the picture, looking after the hunting dogs and horses.
One of the parties at Tammany House, still talked about, was the time a colored quartet from New Orleans entertained the guests by singing negro spirituals while a barbecue supper was served outdoors. The singers wore overalls and had all of the appearance of being plantation hands. It was a beautiful evening with a brilliant full moon. The forty or more guests, mostly from Bogalusa, departed at a late hour. How Red Bateman would have loved it all had he lived to see Tammany House finished!
After Red's sudden and untimely death from a heart attack, it was a problem to find his successor as plantation superintendent. But the ways of the world are such that no one is completely indispensable, and in Dave Thompson the right man was chosen for the job. Dave was born and reared on a farm that almost adjoins Money Hill. He had worked several years on the plantation and in the processing plant, and he knew every phase of the business. Melvin Williams, also a native of St. Tammany Parish, was promoted from truck driver to plantation foreman. The third of the trio to whom should go much of the credit for the success of Bogalusa
The Tung Blossom Queen and her Court after the
coronation. Tung trees in bloom in
Living Room, Tammany House
F. O. (Red) Bateman
Melvin Williams and Dave Thompson
Plantation House and General Store
N. W. Pittman, bookkeeper and storekeeper
Tung Oil, Inc. is N. W. Pittman. Pitt, who first worked for the Goodyears in the
Great Southern Lumber Company's logging camps, kept the books and ran the
plantation general store.
EARLY in the year 1937, Charley Goodyear and some of his friends had motored to
Mexico. As they vacationed at Acapulco, where they spent most of the days
swimming in the Pacific Ocean and basking in the sun on long stretches of
beaches, Charley received word that plans were in the making for a merger of the
paper business in Bogalusa with the Gaylord container interests in St. Louis.
Charley could scarcely believe his eyes as he read the telegram from his brother
NEW YORK, N. Y.
20 FEB. 1937
MR. C. W. GOODYEAR, CARE RITZ HOTEL, MEXICO CITY
HAVE AGREED WITH GAYLORD ON PLAN OF CONSOLIDATION WITH PAPER
COMPANY WHICH IT WILL BE NECESSARY FOR DIRECTORS TO PASS ON AT A
MEETING TO BE HELD HERE MARCH SECOND OR THIRD TO ENABLE TO MEET
REQUIREMENTS BANKERS WHO WILL CONTRACT TO DISPOSE OF SECURITIES
OF NEW CORPORATION. BASIS OF PLAN IS CONSOLIDATION IN CORPORATION
WITH FIVE MILLION PREFERRED AND FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND SHARES OF
COMMON STOCK TO BE ISSUED TO STOCKHOLDERS OF CONSTITUENT COM-
PANIES APPROXIMATELY SIXTY-FOUR PER CENT TO BOGALUSA AND THIRTY-
SIX PER CENT TO GAYLORD. WITH OUR PROPORTION AS STOCKHOLDERS OF
GAYLORD, TOTAL FOR GREAT SOUTHERN STOCKHOLDERS WILL BE APPROXI-
MATELY SEVENTY-THREE PER CENT COMMON AND LARGER PROPORTION
PREFERRED. BANKERS WILL AGREE TO MARKET PREFERRED STOCK FOR
STOCKHOLDERS IN NEW CORPORATION UP TO TOTAL ISSUE PREFERRED AT
NINETY-SIX NET TO STOCKHOLDERS AND WILL PURCHASE FROM NEW COR-
PORATION FIFTY THOUSAND SHARES COMMON AT FIFTEEN AND ACCEPT AD-
DITIONAL FIFTY THOUSAND FROM STOCKHOLDERS AT SAME PRICE. BELIEVE
THIS EXCELLENT ARRANGEMENT FOR OUR STOCKHOLDERS. AGREEMENT
WITH BANKERS WILL BE CONTINGENT UPON OUR HAVING NEW SECURITIES
READY FOR OFFERING END OF APRIL AND TIME IS SHORT TO COMPLETE
NECESSARY LEGAL ACCOUNTING AND OTHER WORK. CAN YOU ARRANGE TO
ATTEND MEETING RETURNING TO COMPLETE YOUR VACATION IF YOU WISH
TO DO SO.
A. C. GOODYEAR
Even one versed in the intricacies of finance would have had difficulty in deciphering the wire and putting all the pieces together. But Charley sensed that it could only mean the Goodyears would be relinquishing management of their Louisiana paper business and virtually control of their Southern reforested lands, underlying which there was at least the possibility of untold wealth in oil.
Charley took the first train for New York. There he found that the groundwork for the consolidation had been started without his knowledge, even before he had left for his vacation in Mexico. Now the actual consummation of the merger was in the making. To Charley, it meant giving up a trust that had generously supported many beneficiaries for thirty years, the end of a family tradition and a sellout by the Goodyears.
A special meeting of the Board of Directors of the Great Southern Lumber Company was called to pass on the proposed plan. It was approved, but not without strong opposition, mostly from some of the older Directors who had served on the Board for many years and who represented substantial financial interests in the Bogalusa enterprises.
To be sure, the so-called Goodyear interests owned approximately 65 per cent of the capital stock of the new corporation. But by this time these holdings were scattered and divided through settlement of estates among several beneficiaries and the creation of various trusts. So 25 per cent of the outstanding shares in the hands of one Gaylord stockholder factually constituted control.
Thus the corporate life of Bogalusa Paper Co., Inc., a totally owned subsidiary of Great Southern Lumber Company, came to an end, and Gaylord Container Corporation became its successor at the beginning of an era of great prosperity in the paper business and at the tail end of the most severe economic depression in the country's history.
In April, 1938, the last of the Great Southern Lumber Company's virgin timber
was manufactured into lumber in the Bogalusa sawmill. Ben Sellers cut the first
log thirty years before and it was he who cut the last. The occasion was not a
happy one. The few who gathered in the mill to watch the finish heard in the
drone of the saws the death knell of a Goodyear lumber business that dated back
sixty-two years to the days when Frank H. Goodyear made his start in
Seven months later, the Board of Directors of the Great Southern Lumber Company assembled for its final meeting. Dan Cushing, Conger, and Charley were appointed liquidators of the Company. The treasurer submitted his report which included a statement showing that dividends averaging 15 per cent on the original investment in the capital stock of the corporation had been paid during the thirty years of its lumber operations -- this despite the money panic of 1907, the depression of the early 1920's, and the collapse of the national economy in 1929. What is more, the report showed that there had been capital distributions to the stockholders in cash and securities more than equaling their investment when the Great Southern Lumber Company was organized in 1902.
After several complimentary remarks by the Directors concerning the management of the Company, the Board unanimously adopted this resolution:
Resolved: That the Board of Directors express, and they do hereby
express, in behalf of themselves and of the Corporation, their hearty apprecia-
tion for the loyal services performed by the Messrs. A. C. Goodyear, C. W.
Goodyear and D. T. Cushing as executives for this Corporation for many
There were few complications involved in winding up the affairs of the Company.
It had been remarkably free from litigation. The apathetic attitude of the
Southerners when the New Yorkers first came to Washington Parish had early
changed to a feeling of good will. The only serious lawsuit in which the
management became involved resulted from the labor trouble in 1919.
It took almost three years for the liquidators to convert into cash for distribution to stockholders the many diversified property items rang-
Charles W. Goodyear Memorial Gateway
Bronze tablet on Memorial Gateway
THIS GATEWAY IS GIVEN
THE CITIZENS OF BOGALUSA
AS A MEMORIAL TO CHARLES
W. GOODYEAR, ONE OF THE
FOUNDERS OF THE CITY.
ON THIS TRACT OF LAND
THERE WAS A FOREST OF VIRGIN
YELLOW PINE TREES FROM
WHICH WAS CUT THE FIRST LOG
THAT WAS MANUFACTURED INTO
LUMBER AT THE SAWMILL OF
THE GREAT SOUTHERN LUMBER
COMPANY IN 1908 AND ALSO THE
LAST LOG AT THE END OF THE
LUMBER OPERATION IN 1938.
ing from typewriters to locomotives. Sawmill machinery and equipment were
dismantled, repaired, and sold piecemeal. As was learned later, carloads of
scrap iron and steel that were sold found their way to Japan a short time before
the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, presumably to be made into implements of war
From the beginning of the lumber operations, a tract of timber within sight of
the sawmill had been held as a reserve in case of an emergency that might cause
the supply of logs from remote forests to be temporarily discontinued. When the
pine trees on this area were at last cut, the liquidators were left with several
hundred acres of cut-over land bordering the golf course of the Bogalusa Country
Club. The rolling terrain made the property an ideal site for a real estate
development. Under the direction of a landscape architect, winding streets were
built and lots laid out. In a short time many beautiful residences were erected
there, mostly by key men in the paper mill organization.
The gateway at the entrance to the new subdivision was donated by Madam Goodyear in memory of her husband, one of the founders of Bogalusa. It was the last of many gifts by the Goodyears which added to the beauty of the city and the welfare of its citizens.
Although control and active management of the Louisiana enterprises had been acquired by others, to whom is left the continuation of this story, the link between Bogalusa and the second and third generations of the Goodyear family was not broken. Conger was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors and Charley was chosen First Vice-President of Gaylord Container Corporation. Charles III took over the management of Bogalusa Tung Oil, Inc. as its president in place of his father and lives on in his Bogalusa home with his family.
End of Book
"The gateway at the entrance to the new subdivision was donated by Madam
Goodyear in memory of her husband, one of the founders of Bogalusa. It was the
last of many gifts by the Goodyears which added to the beauty of the city and
the welfare of its citizens." -- page 208, Bogalusa Story (1950)
This family has again given something to their beloved City of Bogalusa, this well written book and, now, permission by David L. GOODYEAR (grandson to Charles Waterhouse GOODYEAR, the author) to post it on the Web in various formats. This book is still copyrighted. It may not be used for profit in any way.
Transcription is copyrighted (© 2002) by me, "Pat," Patricia Darlene McClendon. If you find any errors in the transcription, please contact me, [email protected].
Several version of this document (including expanded descriptions of images, as well as larger versions of the images) are located on the Bogalusa Story by C. W. Goodyear web page or at URL: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~mcclendon/Bogalusa/Bogalusa Story/
Be sure to see this section:
There are 21 chapters in this 208 pages in the book: 87 photos and 1 illustrations (GOODYEAR Family Tree - genealogy) on 85 pages; 123 pages of text; there are no Table of Contents or Index. There is also an old French Map on the inside of the front and back covers of the book, see below:
Old French map:
Directly below the left-hand
coat of arms is the site near
Pearl River of what was
to become Bogalusa
Bogalusa Story by C. W. Goodyear © 1950. This book is about ...
This 208 page book has been fully transcribed -- all photos (88 images on 84 pages) and an illustration (1 illustration on 1 page) are presented here. There is no Table of Contents and no Index.
Bogalusa - City's Photo Album - This is a great collection of postcards depicting life in Bogalusa, Louisiana.
Goodyear Mansion, 888 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, New York; Frank H. Goodyear Mausoleum (Section 23, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, New York); and Girls Study in a Home Royalty Visited. All are part of the Buffalo as an Architectural Museum and The Preservation Coalition of Erie County (New York).
Washington Parish, Louisiana History by Janice M. Berfield, 1968
Transcription Updated on January 18, 2003 at 8:10 p.m.
If you find any errors in the transcription, please contact me, [email protected].
This document is located at URL: