The Economic Development of the Tallulah Territory
A Thesis Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University & Agricultural & Mechanical College
And in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in the Department of Economics
Robert L. Moncrief - B.A. Louisiana Polytechnic Institute 1928
Submitted by Marilyn Bedgood of Tallulah, LA
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to Dr. Stephen A. Caldwell, of the Department of Economics, under whose supervision this thesis has been written. His criticisms and helpful advice have been of invaluable assistance to me.
Appreciation is also extended to Mr. James A. MacMillan of the Louisiana State University Library, and to my wife, Eileen Moncrief, for many helpful suggestions and for typing the entire manuscript.
MADISON COORDINATOR’S NOTE: To see the footnotes click on the footnote number and the reference will appear. Click again on the same footnote number to return to your place in the article.
The Tallulah Territory, lying between the Mississippi River and the Macon Hills, is an area in the delta of Northeast Louisiana. The fertile lands of this area were known to Spanish and French hunters long before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, though there were few settlements made until after 1830. Between 1830 and the Civil War several factors contributed to the rapid development of this section. Steamboats were offering good means of transportation. Cotton planters of the Southeastern States were abandoning their worn out farms and moving westward in search of more fertile lands. Low prices for cotton during the depression following the panic of 1837 greatly accelerated this movement. These and other factors caused immigrants to buy lands and build homes in the Louisiana Delta.
The prosperity of the Tallulah Territory was at its height when the outbreak of the Civil War brought it to an abrupt end. The whole economic system fell to pieces.
Decreases in population have occurred in three different periods since 1860. These decreases have been due to the following: The Civil War and its aftermath, depressions, yellow fever epidemics, the cotton boll weevil, and floods. Since 1920 there has been a steady increase in population.
Protection from Mississippi River floods has always been of paramount importance to the development of the Tallulah Territory. The first levees were built by planters whose lands lay along the river front. Later, when higher levees became necessary, a levee board was created and vested with the power to levy taxes on all property in the district. Money was also made available through appropriations by Congress, but floods continued to destroy farms and property. After the flood of 1927 levee building was undertaken by the Federal Government and a new system was completed. Engineers agree, however, that spillways will be needed to protect the delta from the greatest floods.
Early development of the Tallulah Territory was, to a great extent, dependent upon water transportation. Steamboats were put into operation on the many navigable streams of this area, and several small towns were located at steamboat landings. Railroads eventually replaced the steamboat as a freight carrier.
The Tallulah Territory is predominately agricultural; cotton is by far the most important crop. Before the Civil War this was the most important cotton producing area of Louisiana. For several years after the war lack of labor made it almost impossible for planters to grow cotton at a profit. In 1907, when the boll weevil first made its appearance in the delta of Northeast Louisiana, many farmers gave up cotton growing and planted other crops. For several years rice was grown in increasing quantities. As planters learned more about control of the boll weevil they turned once more to the production of cotton. Oats, corn and other crops are grown profitably, but cotton remains the most important crop.
Lumbering is the most important manufacturing industry of the Tallulah Territory. One manufacturing plant, which employs seven hundred men, produces veneer, plywood, material for boxes and hardwood lumber. Much of its product is exported to foreign countries. Most of the other manufacturing industries of the Tallulah Territory have been developed in relation to the needs of agriculture.
The economic development of a country or territory depends upon its natural resources and its people. The early settlers of the Tallulah territory were neither better or worse than other pioneers who founded towns and cities in the vast expanse of the Louisiana Purchase.
The Tallulah territory is an area in the delta of Northeast Louisiana lying between the Mississippi River and Bayou Macon. It does not conform to political boundaries, though it is partly determined by natural ones. Its natural boundaries are the Mississippi River on the east and Macon Hills on the west. The area includes all of Madison Parish, the southern part of East Carroll, and the northern part of Tensas. It is the trade area of Tallulah, the parish seat of Madison. Most of the area is within a circle with a radius of 25 miles from Tallulah, though the town is a distributing point for such things as tractors and farming implements up to a distance of 50 miles or more.
The history of this region goes back to 1682, when. LaSalle descended the Mississippi River. This French explorer and his party of adventurers probably did little more than touch along the shore of the river which now forms the eastern boundary of what is now East Carroll, Madison and Tensas Parishes.
After the coming of LaSalle, more than a century elapsed before any attempt was made by white men to settle on or near this section.
In 1786 a permanent post was established by the Spanish government near the present city of Monroe. The first commandant at this post brought with him a few families of hunters.
Don Estevan Miro, at that time, Governor of Louisiana Territory, named the fort in Monroe in honor of himself. This place, Fort Miro, became a shipping point from which hunters sent their pelts, bear oil and tallow to the markets at New Orleans, La.
The Tallulah territory, as well as most of Northeast Louisiana, fell under the jurisdiction of the commander in Monroe. But the territorial limits of his jurisdiction were not precisely known or defined. This however was a matter of small importance since the population was extremely thin. A census of Ouachita, taken in 1769, shows the total number of inhabitants to be 110. The Tallulah Territory was a part of Ouachita and its inhabitants, therefore, must have been very few. A census of 1788 showed that the population of the Ouachita region had grown to 232 persons, about half of whom were slaves.
Baron De Bastrop, in accordance with a contract, which he had made with the Spanish Governor, brought several families to this region in 1797. This date represents the time when a serious effort to populate the Ouachita territory was begun. Spain wished to establish a buffer against Americans who might desire to settle on the west bank of the Mississippi.
The Spanish, in 1791, had built Fort Nogales. The English called it Walnut Hills where Vicksburg now stands. In 1795 a treaty between the United States and Spain gave the fort to the United States and permitted free navigation of the Mississippi River. The Spanish, however, neither withdrew from the fort nor permitted free navigation of the river. It was the refusal of the latter that caused the people of Kentucky and Tennessee to inform the United States that if she could not enforce the terms of the treaty, they would take matters into their own hands. The people were interested in the free navigation of the Mississippi because at that time transportation facilities were too insufficient for them to carry their exports to the Atlantic Seaboard.
Spain, hoping to add Kentucky to her domain, designed to play upon the desire for free navigation. Free use of the Mississippi was offered as a lure for the purpose of leading Kentucky to Spain. On the other hand if the free navigation failed to attract, it was made so that the people of Kentucky would be forced to see their dependence upon Spain.
By 1797 it had become apparent to the Spanish authorities that they would in time have to own up to the terms of the treaty with the United States. With the possibility of the Americans in possession of the east bank of the Mississippi, from Vicksburg to the newly established boundary line, the need of placing a population buffer upon the west bank of the river, opposite Vicksburg, became an obsession with the Spanish authorities. The rapid settlement of the East bank of the river might mean further encroachments upon the lands beyond by aggressive adventurers who might in time direct these activities against Spain's rich mines in Mexico.
But the low lands along the west bank of the Mississippi were considered unstable as sites for settlers. So the buffer line was located further back, on the higher lands bordering the Ouachita. Here Baron de Bastrop brought Irish, German and French families from Point Coupee and other settlements on the banks of the Mississippi River. A few Spaniards were scattered among them. They could not be called cultivators of the soil for the growing of small fields of corn was the extent of their agricultural pursuits.
These early people gradually extended their hunting expeditions eastward toward the Mississippi. They acquired a knowledge of the smaller streams, the Tensas River and Bayou Macon, and the territory drained by them. As these pioneers became more familiar with the land, a few of them established permanent homes on the banks of the navigable streams. This movement eastward from the Ouachita region came about slowly and it eventually met the more rapid westward movement from the southeastern states.
At this time there were no Indians claiming a right to the soil in the Tallulah territory. None but small parties of hunters of the Choctaw or Tensas nations were met with. There were no fields or patches of corn, no wigwams were to be seen, nothing but the rude camps of the hunters were occasionally discovered in the forest. No doubt some Indian Nations had inhabited this territory long before the discovery of America. The existence of early Indians is evidenced by numerous mounds from which have been dug pottery and human bones.
The first settlements on the Tensas River were made as early as 1802 or 1803. At this time a few settlements were made along the west bank of the Mississippi in the vicinity of Walnut Hills (Vicksburg). The earliest landowners recorded in Madison Parish were Robert Coderan and John Barney, who took up land in 1803. They were followed by James Douglas, Gibson Bettis and Elijah Clarke.
Early in 1808 after the United States had taken possession of this territory, a settlement was made on Bayou Vidal, now the boundary between Madison and Tensas parishes. This land was obtained from the Civil Commandant Joseph Vidal, for whom the Bayou was named. The possession of this territory by the U. S. Government encouraged more Americans to move in.
The first settlements were made on the rivers which furnished the only good means of transportation. The land of these early river settlements soon began to increase in value. Man considered that the first lands in the rear were not intended for cultivation and possessed little value except as hunting grounds and as reservoirs which were necessary to hold the floods of the Mississippi River.
By 1811 and 1812 there were several residents on the Tensas River but in 1813 and 1815 high water submerged all this land and drove away all the settlers except those at one point near the mouth of Little Tensas.
Before 1812 only a few settlements were to be found on the west bank (of the Mississippi River) between the Red and the Arkansas River, and they were thinly scattered from Red River to the mouth of the Yazoo.
The expenses of these early settlers were very small. The men spent much of their time in the woods hunting. Wild game supplied the daily food the year around. The meat of bear, deer and turkey was to be had in abundance. In the streams and lakes were plenty of fish. Bear oil was used in place of lard and butter and the skins were used for many domestic purposes. The men adapted their dress to their pursuits and manner of life. Their clothes such as the hunting shirt, leggings and moccasins, hats and caps, were made of the skins of animals.
They sometimes engaged in rafting timber down the streams to Natchez and New Orleans. Several men would club together, build a raft or flat boat, and float their goods down stream, sell them, purchase supplies and work their way back. Sometimes the boat and all were sold for cash and the men walked home.
In 1812 several settlements had been made along the west and very low levees had been constructed for protection against the floods. The country back from the River had not been settled. From 1828 to 1834 there were only 3 or 4 settlements back from the Mississippi in what is now Madison parish.
There were two on Walnut Bayou, and one or two on the Tensas River. One of the houses built in 1832 still stands on Crescent Plantation near Tallulah. Before 1806 there were very few permanent settlements on the Tensas River between its mouth and its source.
It was between the years 1836 and 1845 that the principal emigration to this section set in. It was invited by the defenses made on the Mississippi River for protection, and the exemption of the country from overflow for several years.
The crisis of 1837, followed by a general depression, brought increasing numbers of persons into Tallulah territory. Financial failure and unemployment in the older regions of the country drew these people to seek new lands.
The decline in cotton prices caused planters on the worn out lands of the Southeastern states to look for more fertile soil in which they might grow cotton at a profit.
The increase in population along the river, and the poor means of transportation in the interior, brought about a demand for a division of the larger parcels into smaller ones. By an act of State Legislature in 1832 Carroll Parish was created from parts of Ouachita and Concordia Parishes. Most of the early settlements of the newly created parish were made along the Mississippi River near Lake Providence by emigrants from the older states of the adjacent territory of Mississippi.
In 1839 the Parish of Madison was created by the State Legislature. It began at Shipps Bayou on he Mississippi River and extended north to the line of Carroll Parish. Its western boundary was Big Creek and it embraced parts of the present parishes of Richland and Franklin. But the next year the size of Madison was reduced in two ways; the north end was given to Carroll and all of that part lying west of Bayou Macon was added to Richland and Franklin. Several years later, in 1861, all the land lying south of Bayou Vidal was taken from Madison and given to Tensas. Since this date no changes have been made in the area and contour of Madison Parish.
In 1840 the first steamboat ascended the Tensas River. Within a few years regular steamboat service was established and maintained except during dry summer months when the river was too low for navigation. These early steamboats offered much better transportation and encouraged more rapid settlement of land on the navigable streams and bayous. The alluvial lands along these waterways were extremely fertile. Many planters in Georgia, Virginia, Kentucky and the Carolinas left their families behind and came to the shores of the Mississippi. Some came overland in wagons, bringing their families and their slaves with them; others flowed down the river in flatboats, bringing their money in ready gold. The following is quoted from the first newspaper printed in Madison Parish:
"Emigration is pouring into our borders from Maine to Mississippi. Georgia and the Carolinas have their colony -- Maryland, and Virginia their colony -- Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Mississippi their colonies. Many of these left their worn out hills and fearful pious homes for Texas, they wend their way on to north Louisiana, to Carroll, Madison and Concordia and seeing the rich alluvial lands they stay."
The newcomers cleared away the heavy forests and planted the new ground in the favored crop then, as now -- cotton. They cleared all the lands fronting the water courses (which are the highest and most desirable lands for cultivation in this region) to form a continuous line of plantations along the streams.
The first parish seat of Madison was established at Richmond on the banks of Roundaway Bayou, two miles south of the present town of Tallulah. Richmond grew into a flourishing little town and became the most important trade center in this territory. It was on the only direct route between Vicksburg and Monroe, and much of its trade was with the stream of immigrants moving westward through the town, said the Richmond Journal in 1846:
"The amount of immigration into the parish has been very great of late years. Steadily the timber goes down and prosperously the cotton and grain stalks rise up in its place."
Other important towns in the Tallulah Territory at this time were Milliken's Bend in the northern part of Madison Parish and New Carthage in the southern part. Both were thriving towns but they were eventually destroyed by the shifting channel of the Mississippi.
Louisiana was now entering into the period of its greatest prosperity. For twenty years before the Civil War Louisiana was considered the richest of the southern states in per capita wealth. From 1850 to 1860 plantation owners reaped fortunes from the fertile soil of the delta and the current of the Mississippi carried their produce to the levee at New Orleans. Steamboats made their way upstream to Natchez and Vicksburg, as well as to towns and villages along the smaller navigable streams. The full force of the westward movement was sweeping across the country. Men were growing rich through speculation. Money was pouring into the country. Merchants and businessmen were ready and willing to finance the landowners along the river. Beautiful homes were built and great plantations came into existence.
The Tallulah Territory received its share of this prosperity. Splendid crops of cotton were raised and shipped down the river to New Orleans at the low freight rate of one dollar per bale. Good prices for cotton prevailed and land values rose. In 1850 the best plantations could be purchased for $80 an acre. In 1858 some of these lands were assess at $40 per acre and could not be purchased for less than $75 per acre.
The panic of 1857 brought financial ruin to many parts of the United States yet the prosperity of the Louisiana delta continued unchecked.
Wealthy planters began building mansions to take the place of the simple homes of the pioneers. This was a period when men thought in large figures. Fortunes were sometimes made in three or four years. This was not, however, a country for poor men. Fertile lands, slave labor and a ready market brought quick results but capital was necessary in order to make a fortune quickly.
But this era of prosperity was not to continue indefinitely. It was at its peak when the outbreak of the Civil War brought it to an abrupt end. The whole economic scheme fell to pieces because of the loss of slave labor and the inability of planters to sell their crops.
During the first two years of the war no fighting was done in the Tallulah Territory. Planters continued to grow cotton but an effective blockade of southern ports soon made it difficult to export.
In 1863 Federal armies under Grant and Sherman landed at Milliken's Bend and eventually overran the entire territory. During his campaign against Vicksburg, Grant tried to turn the waters of the Mississippi into Walnut Bayou in order to establish communication with his forces at New Carthage, a few miles down the river. The chief of engineers had reported that a route through Walnut and Roundaway Bayous into Bayou Vidal could be used when the river was at flood stage. With the use of three dredge boats a short canal was dug and the route quickly put into use. One small steamer and a number of barges were taken through but the river began to fall about the middle of April and some of the vessels were left stranded in the mud. In the course of time their hulls fell away by decay and the canal became filled and almost obliterated by overflow deposit.
The traces of another and greater undertaking of this kind is Grant's Canal near the present town of Delta. Grant tried to solve the problem of getting his army, guns and supplies below Vicksburg by changing the course of the Mississippi River and floating them through the new channel. To that end he excavated an immense canal across the base of a point which projected from the west toward Vicksburg. At that time the tip of the peninsula was separated from Vicksburg by only the channel of the river which was comparatively narrow there. Vessels passing down the Mississippi were directly under the Confederate guns on the bluffs of the east shore.
Grant's Canal was made both wide and deep for its entire length of several miles. At that time it was considered a mighty undertaking and attracted more than nationwide attention. Two powerful dredges were put into operation to hasten the work of four thousand men, but the Confederate guns across the river drove them out. Grant expected the rising water of the river to complete the cut-off, but eddies formed and caused water to enter both ends of the canal. There was no current and instead of scooping out a deeper channel the river deposited more earth. In his memoirs Grant said he realized that the plan was a failure but he ordered the work continued because he believed idleness to be bad for the morale of his men.
Grant at last changed his plans, and while diverting the foe with his apparent efforts to change the course of the river, he slipped his fleet of transports past the Vicksburg fort at night with few casualties. His armies were marched across Madison and Tensas Parishes to meet the transports at Hard Times Landing.
The canal may be plainly seen where Highway 80 crosses it near Delta, but more than half its length has been carried away by the shifting channel of the Mississippi. What Grant failed to accomplish, with all his resources, the river did of its own accord thirteen years later, when, in 1876, it cut across the point of land, leaving hundreds of acres of Madison Parish on the opposite side of the river.
During the latter half of the Civil War the Tallulah Territory was ruthlessly foraged upon by both the Federal and Confederate armies. This resulted in great destruction of property and magnificent estates. Homes were burned, railroads torn up and levees cut, cattle were stolen and crops destroyed. During the first part of the campaign against Vicksburg the Tallulah Territory did much toward supplying the Confederate army with cattle and other food supplies. The capture of Richmond, however, cut off the transportation of these supplies down Roundaway Bayou. The Federal troops took the town and left not a house to mark the site of Madison's first capitol. After the war the parish seat was moved to Delta, and later, in 1882; it was removed to Tallulah, where it has remained to the present time.
The following account of the capture of Richmond was taken from a report made by General McClernand of the United States Army:
"On March 29, (1863) I ordered General Osterhaus to send forward a detachment of infantry, artillery, and cavalry, to surprise and capture Richmond, the capitol of Madison Parish, Louisiana.
"On the morning of the 30th, Colonel Bennett, with the sixty-ninth Indiana, a section of artillery, and a detachment of the second Illinois cavalry, took up the line of march in execution of this order. By 2 p.m. he had marched twelve miles over a miry road, and reached the bank of Roundaway Bayou, opposite Richmond.
"Artillery first and infantry next opened fire on the small force garrisoning the town, and immediately dislodged it. A portion of the cavalry, dismounting from their horses, sprang into small boats brought along on the wagons, and paddling them across the bayou with the buts of their carbines, hastened to occupy the town. Hot pursuit of the fugitive enemy was soon after made by another portion of the cavalry, who swam their horses over the bayou. Seven of the enemy were wounded, four of whom fell into our hands.
"This spirited and successful attack was consummated under my own observation, and effectively cut off the wanted supplies transported through Richmond from the rich tracts traversed by the Tensas River and Bayou Macon to Vicksburg."
As the Union army gradually took possession of the country many homes wee deserted, slaves ran away, the river flooded through broken levees and most of the great plantations were abandoned.
The destructiveness of the war in the Tallulah Territory was probably no greater than it was in many other sections overrun by the armies, but the following is quoted from Sherman's Memoirs to show the wanton destruction of homes and property by the Federal Army on its march from Milliken's Bend across Madison and Tensas Parishes.32
"Our route lay by Richmond and Roundaway Bayou; then following Bayou Vidal, we struck the Mississippi River at Perkins Plantation. Thence the route followed Lake St. Joseph to a plantation called Hard Times, about five miles above Grand Gulf.
"The road was more or less occupied by wagons and detachments belonging to McPherson's corps; still we marched rapidly and reached Hard Times on the 5th of May. Along the Bayou or Lake St. Joseph were many fine cotton plantations, and I recall that of Mr. Bowie, brother-in-law of Hon. Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore.
"The house was very handsome with a fine extensive grass plot in front. We entered the yard, and walked to the house. On the front porch, I found a magnificent grand piano, with several satin covered arm chairs, in one of which sat a union soldier--with his feet on the keys of the piano, and his musket and knapsack lying on the porch ....I started him in a hurry s to overtake his command.
"The house was tenantless, and had been completely ransacked; articles of dress and books were strewn about and a handsome boudoir, with mirror front, had been cast down, striking a French bedstead, shivering the glass. The library was extensive, with a fine collection of books; and hanging on the wall were two full length portraits of Reverdy Johnson and his wife--one of the most beautiful ladies of our country - with whom I had been acquainted in Washington at the time of General Taylor's administration.
"Behind the mansion was the usual row of double cabins called the quarters. There I found an old negro (a family servant) with several women, whom I sent to the home to put things in order; telling the old man that other troops would follow, and that he must stand on the porch to tell any officers who came along, that the property belonged to Mr. Bowie, who was a brother-in-law of our friend Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Baltimore, asking them to see that no further harm was done.
"Soon after we left the house, I saw some negroes carrying away furniture which manifestly belonged to the house, and compelled them to carry it back. After reaching camp that night at Hard Times, I sent a wagon to Bowie's plantation, to bring up to Dr. Hollingsworth's house the two portraits for safe keeping; but before the wagon had reached Bowie's, the house was burned whether some of our men, or by negroes, I have never learned."
The war itself was destructive but the period beginning with the close of the conflict in 1865, and terminating with the withdrawal of the Federal troops in April, 1877, is the darkest page in the history of the Tallulah Territory. It was a time of political strife and misrule--a time when the government was in the hands of the reconstructionists, and the illiterate negroes, who were unable to cope with the responsibility thrust upon them.
During and immediately after the war the Tallulah Territory suffered a great decrease in its population. In 1860 Madison Parish had 14,137 inhabitants but ten years later it had a population of only 8,600. There are several reasons for this great decrease; mortality due directly to the war itself, families being moved to places of safety during the conflict, and a high death rate among the negroes. When it became evident that the Federal armies would occupy the entire territory many residents fled to the western part of Louisiana and to Texas for safety.
Many never returned to stay. The greatest decrease in the number of inhabitants was due to the loss of negroes who made up 80 per cent of the population. In their ignorance and wild hopes of sudden freedom they did not know how to take care of themselves. Many died from epidemics of communicable diseases and lack of proper food. Said the Carroll Record of 1869:
"The young men and youths, who suddenly became masters of themselves, died away in large numbers from imprudence and want, soon after the surrender. For instance, those at the camp just across the river; and again we all know how fatal the smallpox was to the negro, in the year 1866. Disease and want have taken away the generation of the old and those who die. The increase does not keep pace with the decrease."
It was confidently believed that after the war an enormous emigration from the northern states would pour rapidly into the Tallulah Territory. This did not occur. They were kept away by the social, economic and political disorders brought about by a great war and the process of reconstruction. The failure of the cotton crops in 1865-66 and 67 had also much to do with this.
In the decade 1870 to 1880 the population of the Tallulah Territory made a substantial increase. In Madison Parish alone the increase was from 8,600 to 13,906, or more that 60 per cent during the ten year period. This increase in population was due primarily to the following: change in state government, depression, and better means of transportation. It was during this period that the state began once more to offer a stable government, and encouraged the development of commerce and industries. Land was cheap, though it was beginning to increase in value and prices of farm products were relatively high. The nationwide panic of 1873 saw a decline in the general price level, and an increase in the number of people moving to the Delta. Transportation was made easier in the Tallulah Territory by the rebuilding of the railroad, which had completely torn up during the conflict.
Not until 1890 did the population of this area reach the figure shown by the census of 1860. Published statements of money to be made in cotton growing brought new farmers to this territory. The staple crop could be raised near the river and it required little cost for transportation. It was compact in volume and always in demand in the world markets. It brought good prices while the bulky grains of the west, raised far in the interior, suffered declines in price and caused a corresponding increase in the number of immigrants moving southward. During this period cotton farmers were in a relatively prosperous condition.
From 1890 to 1910 there was a steady decrease in the population of the Tallulah Territory. At the end of this twenty-year period the number of people living in Madison Parish was nearly four thousand less than the number in 1890. The following table of figures shows the population of Madison Parish from 1840 to 1930:
Year Number Year Number
1840 5,142 1890 14,135
1850 8,773 1900 12,322
1860 14,133 1910 10,676
1870 8,600 1920 10,829
1880 13,906 1930 14,829
These figures indicate the economic, social and political conditions of this region at the different periods. The main causes of the great decrease in population from 1890 to 1910 were: depression, low prices for cotton, yellow fever and the boll weevil.
The nationwide depression of 1895-97 and the resulting losses incurred by cotton growers, on account of low prices for their cotton, forced many farmers to forfeit their lands. Their plantations fell into the hands of the merchants and corporations. It was during this period that one foreign corporation bought and obtained control of almost half of Madison Parish. The former landowners either remained on the land to become tenants or they moved elsewhere to establish homes.
In 1905 a yellow fever epidemic levied a tragic toll of lives, though it was practically confined to the town of Tallulah and its vicinity. Before the end of the summer the town became so generally infested that the health authorities ordered its evacuation. Residents, not ill with the fever, were taken away on relief trains which stopped outside the town to take them aboard. All normal train service through the place had already been suspended.
When the boll weevil reached the Tallulah Territory, in 1907, many farmers lost their lands. Laborers, who formerly worked in the cotton fields, were forced to seek employment in other places. Something of the condition is shown by an article written on a plantation near Tallulah in 1909.
"Along the bayou is a row of white cottages, each with two rooms and a long porch, the cabins of the negroes who till the soil. These cabins stretch for miles and miles, for I am on one of the large plantations-many of them are tenantless now, for the terror of the boll weevil is over the land.
"Last year the negroes made a wretched crop of cotton. This year no one will loan them anything on the prospect of their cotton crop. This spring they were hungry indeed. Many have left the country."
Not until after the World War did the population of the Tallulah Territory begin to show a substantial increase. Partial control of the boll weevil, and high prices for cotton brought many farmers and negro laborers to this area during the ten year period from 1920 to 1930.
Since 1950 an increasing number of workers has been needed in newly established industries. These workers have come mainly from Arkansas and Mississippi. Farmers from several northern states, especially Minnesota and Iowa apparently seeking a milder climate and fertile lands, have recently bought small farms in the Tallulah Territory.
The fertile delta lands of the Tallulah Territory are practically all below the surface of the water of the Mississippi River during flood stage. For this reason the first object of the early settlers was to secure themselves from inundation during high stages of the river. The history of the levees is, therefore, intimately connected with that of the settlement of the country.
The building of levees in this area began with the first permanent settlements on the Mississippi River. As a means of economy they were built on the highest ground, which is near the riverbank. The land in the delta slopes back from the river; the fall in some places is as much as eight or ten feet for the first mile. Building the levees on the banks of the river sometimes proved to be false economy, for during high water the banks frequently caved and lone lines of levees were washed away.
Levees had been in use on the lower Mississippi near New Orleans for almost a century before the first ones were built in the Tallulah Territory. They were extended to keep pace with the establishment and growth of settlements along the lower river. Each planter was required to complete the levee along his own riverfront. In 1812, when Louisiana was admitted to the union, settlements in Northeast Louisiana did not form a continuous line along the riverbank. For this reason the early levees in the Tallulah Territory were inferior, disjoined piles of earth which offered poor protection to the country. Frequent floods ruined land and crops, and discouraged any who otherwise would have made their homes in this region. By 1836, however, many improvements had been made and by 1844 levees had been extended to form a continuous line from the mouth of Red River to the Arkansas boundary.
During this period the population the Tallulah Territory increased rapidly. The early settlers back from the river contributed nothing, however, toward building the levees. The riparian, or front proprietors were required to keep up the levees at their own expense. The following notice appeared in a Madison Paper in 1843:
"Riparian proprietors in Madison Parish are hereby notified to commence immediately, and make new levees across their entire front, every particular as the law directs. If levees are not commenced on the 15th of Dec., or in a sufficient state of forwardness so as to justify their completion by the last of January next, will be offered for sale."
These levees were required by law to have a twenty foot base and to be at least four feet high on the highest ridges. In the low lands they had to be built much higher in order to reach the level required on the ridges.
By 1852 the levees in this area had been built to a height of about ten feet and they offered better protection than ever before. A stream of immigrants continued to pour into the territory and land values rose rapidly. A report made in 1852 shows something of the condition of the levees at that time:
"The interior of Madison and Carroll is pretty richly settled, the lands are rich and fertile, the garden spot of the cotton growing region. They are protected by a line of levees on the Mississippi River, miles of which require to be at least 10 feet high and from 50 to 80 feet base."
The floods of 1849 and 1850 broke the levees in many places and caused great damage in this region as well as to the whole lower Mississippi Valley. National interest was aroused and in response to a plea for Federal aid the Swamp Land Act was passed in 1850. By this act Louisiana was granted all unsold overflowed lands within her boundaries in order to provide funds for reclaiming the districts subject to overflow. Offices were organized to promote the sale of these lands and commissioners were appointed to see after the location and construction of better levees. Because of differences in laws governing levee construction, of differences between parishes, and a total lack of cooperation, little effective protection was secured from the proceeds of the sale.
The riparian proprietors purchased these lands for $1.25 per acre. They were permitted to purchase as much land in the rear as they had in front at this price but they were supposed to build, and keep in good condition, the levee along the front of their property. Years before, when the levees were but low banks of earth, levee construction was not an unusually hard task for the river front plantation owners. Later, when they had to be built and maintained at a high level, it became an almost impossible task without help from other property owners.
The building of levees was, until 1859, under the general supervision of the Board of Swamp Land Commissioners, though directly conducted by the riparian proprietors. When the parish did any work on the levees, it was lawful for the Police Jury to sue the person for whose account the work or repairs were made in order to obtain reimbursement. This resulted in many planters losing their farms and the riparian proprietors began to demand that the legislature change the law that required them to keep up the levee solely at their expense. They pointed out that to sell out one man for the purpose of erecting an embankment for the protection of a hundred or a thousand others, without asking them to contribute in proportion to the amount of property they had protected by it, was unjust.
As early as 1844 there were many who believed that the people back from the river should help in building the levees, said the editor of the Richmond Compiler of that date:
"The people in the river parishes should be taxed sufficiently to keep up the levees. Until this is done, we despair of ever seeing good levees kept up on the banks of the river. It is folly to think of keeping up levees by solely taxing the lands of the river proprietors. In many instances the lands are not worth the cost of the levees. The back settlers are undoubtedly deeply interested in this subject. If the river water is kept within its proper channels, their lands at hen protected and rescued."
The practice of compelling the landowners fronting the river to build and maintain the levees had its origin in the old Spanish laws. Spain made grants along the Mississippi and other navigable streams in Louisiana on the condition that the grantee should keep up sufficient levees to protect the land from inundation. These regulations remained the same under the laws of France up to the treaty in 1803 when Louisiana was ceded to the United States. In the terms of this treaty the Spanish and French grants were changed by Congress.
Under the laws of the United States the land owner fronting the river could not be forced to keep up the levee. This, however, was not, generally understood for in 1807, when the first levee law was passed by the territorial government, the legislature undertook to enforce the building of levees by the front proprietors. It was taken for granted that there was an obligation resting upon those next to the river to do the work. This was the basis of the action of the State Legislature which continued, either directly or indirectly through the Police Juries, to force the riparian proprietor to keep up a levee on his front, and if he failed to do it, to sell him out for the benefit of the public.
This legislation was based on the assumption that there was an obligation on the part of the proprietors to keep up the levees. When this was the governing principle in the early action of the legislature, there were few if any inhabitants in the inundated district except on the banks of the Mississippi River and some of the larger streams. They had generally selected the highest points and the levees were usually small and erected at very little cost.
Under such circumstances is the early settlement of Louisiana; the riparian proprietor received most of the benefit from building the levee along his riverfront. But as the interior became more thickly settled, the higher protecting levees were demanded, it became more generally believed that everyone in the overflowed district should contribute toward flood control. To require the front proprietor to build levees 10 feet high and from 50 to 80 feet base at his own expense often meant confiscation of his land and property. In many instances all the land owned by him would not sell for enough to build half the levee.
The people of Tensas Parish were the first to put into practice the principle that those back from the Mississippi reaped the benefit from levees built along the river and should help maintain them. As a result, Tensas had the best levees north of the mouth of Red River. It became famous for its well-protected lands and its fine cotton plantations. Madison and Carroll Parishes later recognized this principle and taxes were levied on all the people in the district for levee construction. This tax was at first objected to by some landowners back from the river but in time they too came to see that the levee problem was one which individual enterprise alone could not solve.
In 1850 Congress appropriated $50,000.00 for a survey of the Mississippi Delta for the purpose of determining the most practical plan of securing it from inundation. This work, started in 1851 by corps of engineers, was later suspended until 1857 and it was not until 1861 that the final report was submitted.
This report discussed the following plans for protection: a system of cut-offs, the diversion of tributaries, a system of headwater reservoirs and outlets as alternatives for levees. Its conclusions were, however, that no advantage could be derived from diverting tributaries or construction reservoirs; that the plan of cut-offs and new or enlarged outlets to the Gulf was too costly and too dangerous to be attempted; and that levees alone could be relied upon for protecting this section from flood. It noted, however, the possibility of reducing levee heights in the Tallulah Territory by constructing, near Lake Providence, an outlet leading to Tensas and Black Rivers.
From this survey it was estimated that a completed system, assuming that no levee already existed, would cost about $26,000,000.00 at @ 20¢ per cubic yard. The high water of 1858 was considered the greatest flood covered by the investigation and its crest was adopted as a plan of reference for levee construction.
In 1859 Madison and Carroll Parishes formed a levee board and put their resources together for the common protection against floods. Taxes were levied on land and cotton, bonds were issued and $400,000.00 was borrowed from foreign capitalists. Good levees were built and the number of plantations increased rapidly. The outbreak of the Civil War interrupted this building program and not one dollar of the principle or interest on the money borrowed from sources was ever repaid.
From 1850 to the beginning of the Civil War many private levees were built around plantations back from the Mississippi River. Slave labor was used to build them along the Tensas River and the west bank of Roundaway Bayou. Many of these private levees may still be seen in Madison and Tensas Parishes but they are no longer used or needed. The closing of the natural outlets along the west bank of the Mississippi River makes them unnecessary. They have been greatly reduced in height by erosion and in many places forests have grown over them.
During the war the Tallulah Territory was, for months, overrun by the Federal armies. The levees were cut and destroyed in many placed to aid military activities, and for many years, following the war, the people had little money with which to rebuild them. As a result of this neglect the delta was overflowed year after year, crops were destroyed and land values were reduced to a few dollars per acre. Many plantation owners abandoned their once productive farms and moved away. The following is quoted from an article written about the declining land values of this territory in 1866:
"Many fine plantations may be purchased for sum much below the cost of the buildings erected upon them and highly improved estate at less than half the price of wild lands in the same vicinity four years ago."
In 1860 real estate and other property in Madison Parish was assessed at more than thirteen million dollars. Immediately after the war, and for many years thereafter, the financial condition of property owners caused a vast depreciation in these figures. The following table shows the assessed value of the taxable property in Madison Parish before and after the Civil War for the years named.
1855 7,474,481 1868 981,947
1857 8,975,730 1872 2,699,660
1859 10,327,840 1875 1,976,200
1860 13,908,958 1877 2,173,805
The chief reason for this great depreciation in taxable wealth was the dilapidated condition of the levees.
In 1867 there occurred the highest flood known in the Tallulah Territory up to that time. From Milliken's Bend to Vicksburg the swift current carried away long lines of levees which had cost thousands of dollars to build. A Board of Public Works, established in 1868, took up the task of rebuilding and for a time pushed it vigorously. But it was almost impossible to complete the system within the next three years and another disastrous flood came in 1871.
A three mill tax, to raise money for levee purposes, was put on all property but it was insufficient to provide complete protection. Due to the lack of money extensive breaks in the levee line were left open, and the surrounding country was subjected to annual overflow. The result was general abandonment of plantations, loss of property, and a general decrease in taxable wealth. Overflows from open breaks occurred in 1874, 1875 and 1876.
Many breaks occurring in these early levees were due to lack of proper preparation of the foundation. Exploration ditches, to disclose the presence of buried logs, were not used at that time. Stumps and fallen logs were often left in levees by contractors who wished to cheapen the cost of construction. When they decayed weak places developed which were sometimes responsible for serious breaks. These defects were due mainly to lack of proper supervision. Levees were allowed to grow up in weeds and trees which prevented them from becoming sodded with Bermuda (grass). In many places the levees were used as public roads. Tenant houses and gardens were sometimes situated on top of them. Years later laws were passed to prevent the levees from being used for such purposes.
In 1876 the neck of land, near the town of Delta in Madison Parish, caved into the river. Water at once poured through the opening, tearing away the banks and completely changing the course of the river so that it no longer flowed in front of Vicksburg. A great sand bar was thrown up at the front door of Delta, and the former steamboat landing to the town could no longer be used. The landing was changed to the upper end of Grant's Canal but this once thriving town lost its importance as a shipping point on the river. Six years later the parish seat of Madison was moved from Delta to Tallulah.
In 1874 an act of Congress appointed a joint civil and military commission to make a full report upon the best system of permanent reclamation and redemption of the delta lands from inundation. This report was based upon the results of the engineer's report of 1861 and recommended a general system of higher and stronger levees. But no appropriation was made with which to build such levees.
The Mississippi River Commission was erected in 1878. In its first report to the Secretary of War in 1880 it advocated, as the best means of securing the needed improvement in its navigation, a plan which would concentrate the waters of the river. It proposed to prevent the caving and erosion of the banks and protect the levees by revetment.
The first appropriation for the improvement of the Mississippi River, in accordance with the plans of the commission, was made in March 1881. With the money thus appropriated work was continued for several years. This work brought out the fact that bank revetment was of supreme importance in controlling the river. Although the Commission in its report of 1800 had recommended levees as a means of protection against floods, Congress was unwilling to expend government funds in protecting the land of private owners. The first appropriation act contained the proviso that no part of the money appropriated should be used in the repair or construction of levees or for any purpose except as a means of improving the river for navigation. The appropriation act of 1882 provided that no part of the appropriation should be expended in building levees unless in the judgment of the Commission it should be done as a part of its plan to aid in the navigation of the river. Under the strict prohibitive clause in the act of 1881 no part of the appropriation was allotted to levees. But under the act of 1882 a large part was used in building levees. From that time on the policy of allotting money for levee purposes was followed, but it was not until 1890 that the prohibitive clause was removed.
By 1885, partly because of Federal aid, modest improvements had been made in the levee protecting the Tallulah Territory. It was an earth embankment with an eight-foot crown but with practically no free board above the flood of 1882. It contained 31,000 cubic yards per mile. As the levee lines gradually became more complete and floodwaters were more and more confined to the channel of the river, it became necessary to make the levee higher and increase the width of its base. In 1896 the levee guarding Madison and East Carroll Parishes contained 103,000 cubic yards per mile. Years later, in 1930, it contained more than 300,000 cubic yards per mile.
Rebuilding the levees along the banks of the Mississippi River in this immediate area was not the only problem that confronted those who had an interest in the agricultural and commercial development of the Territory. Because of the vast amount of water permitted to come upon this area from Arkansas, where very poor levees or no levees at all had been built, the construction of Mississippi River levees in Madison and East Carroll Parishes was almost futile. There could be no complete system that would offer satisfactory protection unless the counties of Southeast Arkansas built levees to join those of Northeast Louisiana. It became evident that the people of the Tallulah Territory would either have to make themselves entirely independent of Arkansas or there would have to be cooperation of the two states, with the control of the levees under the same power.
The first could be accomplished by building an immense levee across the northern border of Louisiana from the banks of the Mississippi westward to the hills. Yet this would be a gigantic undertaking. The second could be accomplished by the Federal Government taking the matter in hand and building the whole line of levees from Missouri to the Gulf. This was proposed to Congress time after time, but for many years it gave no evidence that it would act favorably on the matter. In 1884, however, Congress appropriated two and a half million dollars to be spent upon levees and improvements for navigation. The Mississippi River Commission then announced its intention of building a solid line of levees from the mouth of Red River to Helena, Arkansas.
The building of this levee did not become an accomplished fact, however, until several years later.
Several floods occurring between 1880 and 1893 led many to believe that the jetties, recently completed by James B. Eads at the mouth of the Mississippi, prevented the proper outlet of flood waters. They believed that the frequent overflows, even this far above the mouth of the river, were partly caused by the jetties, and that there was a well planned scheme to discourage the people of the delta in order that their lands might be bought at low prices. This belief is shown by a quotation from a Lake Providence newspaper of 1893.
"Why should intelligent men allow the mouth of the river to be closed? Was it for the purpose of elevating the flood waters high enough against our levees to more effectively destroy planting interests and reduce the present owners in want and beggary, and by so doing foreign capital would the sooner step in and take possession of our land?"
It is needless to say that there was little or nothing to justify such beliefs and accusations. Time has proved the great worth of the jetties and engineers agree that they do not cause floods in the delta.
In 1886 the Fifth Louisiana Levee District was formed. It included the four river parishes of East Carroll, Madison, Tensas and Concordia. By an act of the Legislature a Board of Commissioners, consisting of two members from each parish, was erected for the district. The president was chosen from the members of the Board and a secretary was appointed by the Commissioners.
The Board of Commissioners was vested with the power to levy taxes on all property for levee purposes. A five mill ad valorem tax was levied on all taxable property within the district, and five cents per acre was levied on all protected land. Later it was found necessary to raise more funds. By special acts of the Legislature the Board was authorized to assess special forced contributions on all produce such as cotton, corn, oats and hay, and on each mile of railroad in the district.
The Fifth Louisiana District Levee Board, after it's organization, did much to carry on the long fight for Federal aid in building the levee About this time the railroads began definitely to replace the steamboats as commerce carriers. The economic importance of river borne commerce began to wane. Congress began to realize that the most serious problem of the delta was flood control. Money was appropriated to help the local districts build their levees. By 1887 more than a million dollars had been spent by the Federal government in the Fifth Louisiana Levee District under the supervision of United States Engineers.
Inspired by the appropriations made by Congress, the people of the Tallulah Territory set about the work of building better levees with renewed earnestness and enthusiasm. Civil engineers were employed by the Levee Board to cooperate with the engineers of the army, and for every dollar appropriated by Congress the local district contributed two.
The levees were not built high enough, however, to withstand the greatest floods because the cost was considered too great. And another flood occurred in 1892, Practically all the land of the Tallulah Territory was inundated. The beginning of that year many confident declarations had been made by the engineers in regard to the strength of the recently completed system. When breaks came in those supposedly strong levees they did much to shake the faith of the inhabitants in this kind of protection.
In 1897 another flood occurred which destroyed much property and washed away sections of uncompleted levees. The loss to the riparian proprietors was tremendous. In places sand washed upon their fertile plantations, and in others caving banks took away many acres of their farms. Federal aid was available, however, and the greatest activity ever witnessed on the levees followed. The wide breaks, made by the last flood, were closed and the whole line strengthened. In 1898, for the first time in the history of the levees, a flood reaching the height of 49 feet was carried to the Gulf without a single break.
For five years the levees successfully held back the waters of the Mississippi, but in 1903 another great flood came, and the levees were again broken in many places. But the work already done seemed to demonstrate, more clearly than before, that a completed system, high enough and strong enough, would give immunity from floods to the whole delta.
For nine years after the overflow of 1903 no floods came. This respite was not, however, as fortunate for the inhabitants of this area as one might suppose. Unfortunately for them, the conclusion seemed to be reached that no further assistance was needed for the building and strengthening of levees. Allotments for that purpose, front funds provided for the Mississippi River Commission by Congress, grew less and less. In 1911 only $100,000 was allotted by the Commission for levees out of the appropriation for the river of $2,000,000.
Then the flood of 1912 came. The destruction of property was greater than ever before. The Commission reported that $41,000,000 in property had been actually destroyed by the flood. Around this appalling catastrophe, Congress appropriated $4,000,000 to be used in building levees. But half of this was spent rebuilding levees which had been washed away, and all the money contributed by the levee districts was devoted to the same purpose.
One reason for floods such as that of 1912 was that most of the forests in the upper Mississippi Valley had been cleared from the land, allowing the water to rush down to the river more quickly. Another reason lay in the fact that extensive drainage systems had been constructed throughout the Middle West and there were no reservoirs to hold the water. Thus the process by which the country above was relieved was that by which the country below was ruined.
After every major flood there has been abandonment of farms and a decline in land values. What happened after the flood of 1912 was no exception to the rule. Most of the crops were destroyed, and the landowners were unable to pay taxes. This had far reaching results and made it almost impossible for the Levee Board to obtain funds with which to begin the work of rebuilding the levees. To meet this emergency the Fifth Louisiana Levee Board issued bonds to the amount of $500,000 with interest at 5 per cent. In 1917 the Board was authorized to issue $1,000,000 forty-fifty year bonds bearing 5 per cent interest. These bonds were issued for the purpose of obtaining money for levee construction in cooperation with the United States Through the Mississippi River Commission.
In 1917 Congress passed a National Flood Control Act in which it was stipulated that each Congress be authorized to appropriate money for levee building, channel improvement, and revetment of caving banks, on the condition that each local organization should contribute not less than one-third of the amount allotted to that particular district. In view of this act it became necessary for the Fifth Louisiana District Levee Board to raise more money. In 1925 a special election was called for the purpose of authorizing the levying of an additional 5-mill tax to run from 1925 to 1926. This election carried.
The flood of 1927 was the worst ever to occur in the Tallulah Territory. Water from breaks in the Arkansas River system rushed down upon this area and joined with floodwaters from the Cabin Teele break in the northern part of Madison Parish. The entire district was covered to a depth of from six inches to ten feet. A later rise coming through this crevasse kept the water over the lands until late in July; consequently no crops were made in a great part of the territory. A New York Times reporter writing about the flood in the Tallulah Territory in July 1927, said:
"The desolation between Delta Point and Tallulah is a picture not easily overdrawn. The ruin extends on both sides of the Illinois Central tracks and the roofs of homes, barns and other buildings are everywhere. In places the water is so deep that it is lapping at the lower branches of giant trees and is within two or three feet of the wire supports of telephone and telegraph poles.
"This zone of more than 100,000 acres will not produce any crops this year. The recession will not be complete for probably a month of longer and it is now weeks too late to plant cotton and the time limit for corn is about reached."
The damage done by the flood in Madison Parish alone has been estimated as follows:
Personal Property $397,365
Homes & Buildings 317,313
Implements, etc. 10,000
Conveyances, automobiles, etc 6,780
Plantation & District drainage 727,000
Plantation roads and bridges 144,000
Lumber &. Sawmill machinery equip. 91,967
Streets and sidewalks 19,200
Electric Light Plant 1,000
Misc. Logs and timber down 122,000
After this last great flood Congress appropriated millions of dollars for a completely new system of levees. In many places the line was moved back from the river in order that it might not be endangered by caving banks. During the eight years from 1928 and 1936 the United States Government has spent more than $17,947.000 on levees in the Fifth Louisiana District alone.
The Flood Control Act of 1928 provides for the building and improvement, by the Federal Government of all levees on the Mississippi River without contribution from the state or local levee districts. The local district is required, however, to furnish rights of way on the "main stem." It is also required to bear the cost of maintenance, such as minor repairs, cutting of grass and removal of weeds. In 1934 the cost of rights of way amounted to more than $77,000 in the Fifth Louisiana Levee District. Interest on bonded indebtedness amounted to more than $100,000 and all other expenses amounted to approximately $50,000.
Although levees still represent the most certain protection against floods, engineers now agree that levees ranging in height up to 40 feet or more would be necessary in the Tallulah Territory to confine the waters of an extreme flood. The present plan for protection in this area rejects such works as dangerous and impractical. It provides for levees of a height sufficient to carry ordinary floods, allowing for the escape of water in the greatest floods out of the main river through a floodway. Since the hills extend to the river on the east side, the floodway must be located through the low lands on the west side.
These low lands are divided into two basins by a low ridge, known as the "Macon Ridge”, generally paralleling the river. The north end of this ridge approaches the river near the town of Eudora, Arkansas. The proposed floodway would run from this point down the west side of the Mississippi between the Macon Ridge and Tensas River to the backwater of Red River. This spillway would be so constructed that when water in the Mississippi reached a stage of 51 feet on the Vicksburg gage, a part of the floodwaters would flow into the floodway. This surplus water would be kept within certain limits by guide levees similar to those along the main river. Such a spillway would cost millions of dollars to build, and millions more would have to be paid the landowners for flowage rights. Thousands of acres in Madison, East Carroll and Tensas Parishes would have to be used under this plan. The Overton Flood Control Act, which extended and improved the original program of the Flood Control Act of 1928, authorized the expenditure of $272,000,000 in carrying out the plan. This money is to be spent mainly in the construction of spillways. General Markham, Chief of Engineers, in his annual report for 1936 to the Secretary of War recommends the expenditure of $55,000,000 in the lower Mississippi Valley during 1927.
The spillway has been opposed by many property owners of the delta. In the Tallulah Territory they say that the land owners in the area affected by the floodway will not be paid enough for their lands. They also say that thousands of dollars worth of property will be taken off the assessment rolls and revenues for the parishes will be reduced.
Yet, as the Chief of United States Army Engineers declared recently: "Someone has to get wet and the lower part of the Mississippi Valley will continue to be in jeopardy of a repetition of the 1927 disaster unless excess waters are taken out to the west of the river."
In the early settlement of the Tallulah Territory, water transportation was of paramount importance. Since streams offered the easiest means of travel, all the first settlements were made along their banks. Nature had provided an interlacing system of rivers and bayous in this area that the pioneers used with scarcely a thought of the advantage provided by this natural asset.
In the highland areas of Louisiana the aboriginal Indians had blazed trails that followed the most feasible locations. These trails were adopted by the early settlers. The Indians who came to the Tallulah Territory on hunting expeditions, however, had no established trails. They, as well as hunters from the Ouachita and Walnut Hill settlements, used small canoes, called pirogues, for transportation on wherever possible.
The white hunters and settlers learned from the Indians how to use this type of canoe. They found it best suited to their needs, since it was at that time the only type of boat available. It was made by simply hollowing out a cypress log, pointing it at the bow and squaring it off at the stern. Though light pirogues could be driven over the sluggish waters of bayous at the rate of five or six miles an hour by a good paddler, their operation required great skill for they could be capsized with amazing ease. These boats varied greatly in size. Some were so small that they held only one man; others were large enough to carry a thousand pounds or more. The larger boats were operated on the Mississippi River for the purpose of carrying the more valuable light freight, such as fur, to the New Orleans market. Accidents were numerous, there are accounts of some of these boats, loaded with skins, turning over as many as four times in one day.
One of the first means of river transportation was rafts made from logs. Rafts proved to be clumsy and hard to handle and were soon replaced with flatboats, which in reality were glorified rafts. Flatboats were deeper in the middle than at the bow or stern and were used to float all kinds of produce down the river. Large wooden oars were used to propel and steer the boat.
The river was full of snags and sand bars, and the current was at times swift and treacherous. Flatboats were often completely wrecked as a result of their striking submerged snags or logs, or running aground on sandbars.
The Force of the current of the Mississippi River was so great that it was almost impossible to take these heavy boats upstream. Some few were laboriously towed up with towlines to the bank, while others were propelled with oars and poles. Because this practice proved to be extremely slow and expensive it was much cheaper for the traders to sell these boats’ wood in New Orleans and return by canoe. Frequently the trip upstream was made on foot or horseback. The Natchez Trace became a famous overland route, deriving its name from the fact that it followed the old Indian trails through the wilderness. Though this route was on the east bank of the Mississippi, it was used as far as Natchez by most of the traders and boatmen from the Tallulah Territory, the west side being almost impassable near the mouth of the Red River.
The chief difficulty of the flat-bottomed boat was the fact that it persisted in hugging and scraping the shore, making it difficult to hard upstream. For this reason the flatboat was largely superceded by the keelboat, which served to correct the lateral swing toward shore. By means of a rudder, the boat could be steered along a course parallel to the bank. These keelboats traveling up and down stream were the early packets of the lower Mississippi.
Trips down stream were usually made in the early spring in order to take advantage of the swift currents of the flood season. Though it took only ten or twelve days to go down stream to New Orleans from this area, it took four or five weeks to return.
The numerous bends in the river proved a decided hardship on upstream travel for keelboats. Some of them required a detour of fifty miles in order to progress five. It was necessary to take the inside curve of each bend to as to avoid the centrifugal sweep of the current. No crossing could be made without dropping back at least half a mile under the force of the current. One voyage from New Orleans to St. Louis recorded 590 of these bends - thus the travelers lost at least 195 miles by crossings.
In 1811 the first steamboat was introduced to the lower Mississippi. This boat had a carrying capacity of one hundred tons and had cost $38,000. In 1812 it entered regular service between Natchez and New Orleans, and in that year earned $20,000 on her investment. In 1818 despite the belief that steamboats could not go against the current above Natchez, the Enterprise reached Louisville after a trip of 25 days from New Orleans.
The next year another vessel built by Henry M. Shreve ascended the Mississippi. This boat defied the monopoly which had been granted to Livingston and Fulton by Louisiana. Though it has been generally thought that the monopoly was broken by the decision of Gibbons vs. Ogden in 1824, it was, in effect, broken in 1817 by Judge Hall of the U.S. District Court for the Louisiana District. By 1816 sixty steamboats were in active service on the Mississippi. By 1825 this number had been increased to one hundred and twenty-five and until the Civil War steamboats were the chief means of transportation on the Mississippi and its tributaries.
The growth of many small towns along the Mississippi River was due largely to steamboat traffic. By 1840 packet boats were making weekly trips, not only to cities along the river, but to such small towns as Milliken's Bend, Delta Point and New Carthage in the Tallulah Territory. These towns soon developed into important shipping points on the river.
Keelboats were kept in use on the smaller streams and bayous but they were used mainly as feeders for the steamboats on the larger navigable rivers.
The ability of the steamboat to go upstream made it possible for traders to take their produce to New Orleans and return without undue expense or hardship. This had a tremendous influence on the settlement and development of new lands along the lower Mississippi and its tributaries. Because of the easy means of transportation furnished by the weekly packet boats to and from New Orleans, Immigrants passing through the Tallulah Territory in the 1840's were often induced to make their homes in this area. Planters along the rivers were able not only to ship their produce to market at lower cost but they could also obtain supplies at regular intervals with greater ease.
The physical features of the Tallulah Territory present both natural facilities for, and obstacles to, water transportation. Its many navigable streams offer boating facilities, but snag boats have to be employed to keep them free of logs and fallen trees. The Mississippi River on the east, of course, has always been the important artery of commerce. Bayou Macon on the west flows southward across this area and runs into Tensas River near Sicily Island. It is navigable to the town of Floyd in West Carroll Parish. Tensas River rises near Lake Providence, flows southward, and drains practically the entire area. Almost every bayou in the Territory connects with it. It is navigable to the Illinois Central Railroad bridge at Tendal. Roundaway Bayou, flowing from near the Mississippi westward into Tensas River, drains much of Madison Parish. Before the development of better means of transportation it was traversed by boats in times of spring floods. Bayou Vidal, which forms the boundary between Madison Parish and Tensas Parish, was once an important navigable stream. A levee recently built across the upper end of this bayou cuts off much of its former water supply and renders it useless for navigation.
In 1840 planters of the Tallulah Territory were beginning to realize, to a certain extent, the importance of good means of transportation and its effect on the development of the country. Some believed that the numerous streams and bayous could be improved without great expense so that they would afford excellent internal navigation. Yet little was done to improve them. To quote from the Richmond Compiler of 1841:
"We are reminded of the situation of our bayous. Why are they not cleaned out? In point of internal improvements we are far, very far, behind our neighbors. Let a stranger visit us, or glance over our map, and even he will at once perceive the incalculable advantage which a clear and unobstructed water connection with the river, would confer upon this parish. And yet the source from whence we are to derive our greatest prosperity is neglected."
It was thought that $20,000 appropriated for the improvement of navigation on Roundaway and Tensas River would make it possible for steamboats to come to Richmond at all times of the year. Late in 1841 the Police Jury of Madison Parish passed an ordinance for the improvement of Roundaway Bayou from Richmond to the Mississippi River at New Carthage. Planters living on this bayou were to be exempt from work on the public roads and were required to place their slaves upon the bayou to remove the willows, brush, logs and stumps that impeded navigation of the stream. This ordinance provided for an open passage of sixty feet.
A canal lock was proposed at the mouth of the bayou near New Carthage, which would hold the water and afford navigation at all times. But the lock was never constructed for most of the planters believed that to hold water in the streams would prevent the proper drainage of their plantations. At that time there were no drainage canals in this area with the exception of small ditches constructed at the expense of the plantation owners.
That the Tallulah Territory could have excellent internal water transportation is brought out by a statement from De Bow's Review in 1852:
"If the bayous and streams had been properly cleaned, no country could exceed it in internal navigation. Nature placed these bayous as natural drains for the country and plan could make still more use of them."
The first steamboat came up the Tensas River in 1840. By 1843 they were making regular runs, during the winter and spring season, on Tensas to the mouth of Roundaway Bayou.
In 1844 a snag boat ascended Tensas River for the purpose of making the stream safer for steamboats. It cleaned out snags, driftwood, leaning trees from the banks of the river, and all other obstructions to navigation. The captain of this snag boat came, by way of Roundaway Bayou, to Richmond in April 1844, for the purpose of determining the probable usefulness of this bayou as a navigable stream. He reported that he was very favorably impressed, and that for not more than $2,000 the bayou could be made navigable for steamboats with a capacity up to 700 bales of cotton. The state did not appropriate money, however, for the operation of the snag boat on Roundaway. Then the most destructive flood since the settlement of the country came in 1844. It discouraged many planters who, because of the lateness of the overflow, were unable to make any crop that year. Interest in steamboat navigation seemed to lag and improvement of the bayou was put off year after year.
The state continued to make small appropriations for the improvement of navigation on Tensas River and Bayou Macon. By 1847 the state had spent more than $7,500 on these streams and steamboats were operated on them for about six months of each year.
One reason for the apparent lack of interest in improvement of internal navigation in the Tallulah Territory was the fact that the streams, as they were, offered fair means of transportation during a part of the year. When water in the bayous was deep enough, farmers put their cotton on flatboats and, with the use of long poles, floated it down to the steamboat landings on the Mississippi and Tensas Rivers.
To aid in this type of transportation a break in the Mississippi River levee near New Carthage was left open to allow sufficient water to come through for navigation of Roundaway and Vidal Bayous. Low levees along these streams kept the water from flooding near by plantations. Since the Mississippi usually stayed at flood stage from March to June each year, transportation on the bayous during that time was easy with the use of small steamers and keelboats. The break in the levee was left open for several years. Eventually planters in Tensas and Concordia Parishes complained that too much water came through upon them and the crevasse was closed.
In 1857 engineers surveyed Bayou Macon and Tensas River for the purpose of determining the possibility of making these streams navigable all the year. They reported that four locks would be needed on Tensas and Three on Bayou Macon, and that these locks would make it possible to have steamboat navigation in times of low water but in times of high water they would make the streams rise even higher.
Interior navigation of the streams in the Tallulah Territory became less important during the decade before the Civil War. This was due to the building of a railroad from Vicksburg westward through the heart of the area. During the war the railroad was completely destroyed and the bayous were again extensively used by boats. Federal armies dredged out the lower end of Roundaway Bayou and transported troops and supplies from Richmond to New Carthage by steamboats.
For several years following the war the dilapidated condition of the levees permitted water, from almost every rise in the Mississippi River, to come through and flood the bayous. Though these floods greatly retarded development of the country, they put the streams in excellent condition for steamboat navigation during a part of the year.
Before the rebuilding of the railroad through the Tallulah Territory in 1870, transportation on the bayous was of vital importance. Even after the railway was rebuilt there were periods when high water covered the tracks and prevented regular train service. At such times boats were used to bring supplies to Tallulah and carry out cotton from the plantations.
Extensive improvement of waterways in the Tallulah Territory was never undertaken, yet as late as 1913, partly because of unsatisfactory railway freight rates, a mass meeting was held in Tallulah for the purpose of discussing slack water navigation on Roundaway Bayou. It was thought that by building locks and dams at three points on the bayou, water could be kept at a sufficient depth for steamboat navigation. Engineers declared the project to be entirely practical with no danger of damaging effects and that the cost would be small. Money for the project, however, was not available, and internal water transportation was practically forgotten. Better and more rapid means of travel have been developed in its place.
The object of the Federal Barge Line is not only to furnish cheap transportation, but to cooperate with and coordinate all other forms of transportation so that the whole country might benefit. Cheap transportation creates new business and increases the prosperity of the communities served.
Though practically all early transportation in the Tallulah Territory was by water, short roads, on which freight was hauled from the nearest river landing to the plantations, soon began to appear. They began to appear between the neighboring plantations, and later spread to connect with neighboring communities. The days of fine horses and carriages, so highly prized by wealthy planters, help to bring about the development of local roads.
At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, in 1803, the only road near the Tallulah Territory was one leading from the Mississippi River, opposite Natchez, to Monroe. This road, used by Spanish and French traders from the Ouachita Region, crossed Black River near the mouth of Tensas where a ferry was kept.
Madison Parish was created in 1839, and in that year the Police Jury passed an ordinance establishing a road from Richmond to Millikens Bend on the Mississippi River.
In 1840 ordinances were passed providing for more roads. One was established to run from the mouth of Roundaway Bayou, Eastward to the Mississippi. Another was laid out to run from Tensas River, near Alligator Bayou and intersect a road along Bayou Vidal. A third road was established from Richmond across Tensas River toward Bayou Mason, and still another ran from Richmond to the Mississippi River opposite Vicksburg.
Supervisors were appointed and all hands on the plantations along the roads were subject to road duty. Every planter who owned male slaves between fifteen and fifty years of age was required to pay a road tax. He paid this tax by sending his slaves to work on the road for six days each year. This method of taxation resulted in poor organization and waste of time. Workers often lived long distances from the work to be done, they usually had improper supervision, and were provided with poor tools. A tax in money, experienced workers and the proper tools to work with might have resulted in better roads.
Men who had an interest in particular locations were often appointed as commissioners, and they laid out roads where they, themselves, would benefit most regardless of benefit to the public. This resulted in many roads being built in the wrong places to do most good and at greater expense.
The nature of those early roads is hardly conceivable to the present day motorist. They were dusty in dry weather and axle deep in mud in the wet season. They meandered in every direction to pass isolated farms, and made sudden detours to avoid natural barriers. Streams were crossed at fords, and bridges were found only at rare intervals. The editor of the Richmond Compiler described roads of the Tallulah Territory during the winter months of 1842:
"Every road that I have traveled in this parish is in wretched condition, but more particularly the road from Richmond towards Monroe as far as Tensas River----It may be said to be impassable for vehicles, and almost so for persons on horseback."
The reasons for these bad roads were: the natural condition of the soil in the delta, poor drainage, and the fact that trees were left over-hanging narrow roads keeping out the sunlight.
Wherever possible roads were built along the banks of bayous in order to secure better drainage and cheapness in construction. This permitted excellent drainage on one side but ditches with culverts to carry off the water were needed on the other, to provide drainage for both sides.
During the decade before the Civil War roads in the Tallulah Territory were somewhat improved and traversed the country in all directions. It was not until the latter part of the century, however, that through local governmental agencies bond issues were floated for the improvement and maintenance of roads. Bridges were built, drainage was improved and the more important roads were sometimes dragged.
By 1910, due to the increase in motor vehicles, Louisiana was becoming "highway conscious." In 1911 the state entered the field of highway building through the board of engineers. This was accomplished through state aid projects. In the building of these roads the state did not assume the entire responsibility but shared the cost of construction with the parish on a 50/50 basis. Specifications, designs and supervision rested with the board of engineers. State aid construction between 1911 and 1922, however, was confined almost entirely to the improvement of highways radiating from the larger cities. Since there were no cities in the Tallulah Territory, little state aid was received before 1922.
In 1913 the Police Jury of Madison reorganized the road system of the parish. A road engineer was elected to grade and map all roads and look after bridges for both Madison and East Carroll.
By 1921 motor vehicle registration was increasing so rapidly it became obvious that a centralized system for highway planning and construction was necessary. The Constitutional Convention of 1921 provided for the creation of the Louisiana Highway Commission, the establishment of a state highway system and for the construction and maintenance of state highways.
During 1923 and 1924 the Dixie Overland was completed as a gravel surfaced highway from Vicksburg through Tallulah. In 1926 highway 65, running north and south through his area, was completed.
In 1928 a more intensive highway construction schedule for Louisiana was proposed, and revenues were secured for the work by bonding the anticipated revenues of a tax on gasoline. The following year paving of the Dixie Overland Highway was begun.
In 1930 a $7,000,000.00 highway and railroad bridge was completed across the Mississippi River. This bridge joined the Tallulah Territory more closely with Vicksburg and other cities on the east side.
In 1931 highway 65 was paved from Lake Providence southward through Tallulah.
Other highways, called "Farm to Market" roads, have been constructed over practically all the Tallulah Territory in much the same manner as in other parts of the state. These gravel surfaced roads bear lighter traffic and act as feeders to the main hard surfaced highways.
Railroads have, for eighty-five years, played a significant part in the economic development of the Tallulah Territory. The nation wide depression following the panic of 1837 had been followed by conditions of general business prosperity. Agriculture, industry, and commerce were expanding and creating an urgent demand for increased transportation facilities. Planters were faced with the problem of developing as well as reducing costs of transportation. By 1850 the stage was set for a period of active railroad construction in the United States, and the delta of Northeast Louisiana shared the enthusiasm characteristic of the country at large.
Steamboats were in general use at this time on all navigable streams, and roads of various types had been constructed. Nevertheless, the transportation of crops and supplies in the interior of the Tallulah Territory remained expensive and burdensome. The building of a railroad through this area in the decade before the Civil War seemed to be the solution to the problem.
The construction of this railroad, however, was not due entirely to the efforts of the people of North Louisiana. The line was first projected in 1852 as a part of the ambitious Southern Transcontinental Rail Route. There were many schemes for a transcontinental route under discussion at that time. One was the Northern or Yellow Stone Route, another was the Central Route across Nebraska, and a third, the Southern Route, was very actively agitated by the southern statesmen. It was to extend from Charleston, S. C. to Montgomery, Ala., to Meridian and Vicksburg, Miss., thence westward through Monroe, Shreveport and northern Texas to El Paso and San Diego.
On March 11, 1852, the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad Company was incorporated to build a road westward from Vicksburg, and a convention was held at Monroe on July 5th to stimulate interest in the project. The route from Delta Point to the Louisiana Texas line had previously been surveyed by William E. Siddell, and construction was begun late in 1852 at Delta Point.
By the end of 1854 ten miles of track had been completed and the company had spent $571,000.00. Engineers at that time expressed the belief that the road would be completed to Monroe by 1858.112 It was not until 1860, however, mainly due to financial difficulties, that the first train ran through to Monroe.
The company was financed largely by business interests along the route. The annual report in 1856, to the stockholders of the company, showed more than $47,000.00 paid in for stock subscriptions from Madison parish alone. Other parishes did not subscribe so liberally, however, and by a supreme court decision, upon some grounds of informality, the subscription of Ouachita Parish for $150,000.00 was lost to the company.
In 1856, by an act of Congress, lands were granted the state of Louisiana to aid in railroad construction. Under this act the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad was entitled to thousands of acres of land, much of it lying immediately upon the line of the railway. This grant was made in the nature of a contract in which it was specified that the road should be completed to Shreveport by 1866. The disorganizing and paralyzing effect of the Civil War and final destruction of the road in 1863 prevented it being completed within the time limit, and the grant was declared forfeited.
In many places land was given the railroad by plantation owners along the route. At Delta Point ten acres of land for depot grounds and a right of way 150 feet wide was given the road. At the twenty mile station, now Tallulah, two acres for depot grounds was given. In Tensas River, Bayou Macon, and Boeuf River the right of way and depot grounds were given.
Why the railroad was not run through Richmond, then the parish seat of Madison and the most important town in this part of the country, is not definitely known. It is probable that the right of way through the fine plantations around Richmond was found to be expensive; some of the land along the route finally adopted was bought by the railway company at a cost of $50.00 per acre. But the reason, given by the people of Tallulah, why the railroad did not pass through Madison's first Capitol was told by W. M. Murphy.
"Tradition has it that the line had been surveyed to run through Richmond, over a route most favorable for its construction; then the Chief Engineer building the road met a certain lady, a charming widow, the possessor of large plantation acres; he was unmarried at the time. The railroad going through Richmond would miss her plantation by some miles.
"I the line should be changed a little to pass a few miles to the north, it would traverse her properties and greatly enhance their value. Could not such a change be considered?
"The survey through Richmond was abandoned; the road was built on a line some miles further north, running across the widow's fertile fields, and then her interest in the kind engineer suddenly and permanently waned. At this turn of fortune the railroad man, harking back in memory to a former love, established a little station, where the line crossed Brushy Bayou, and he named that station, for a sweetheart of his younger days –Tallulah - and this station was destined in later years to become the parish seat."
The road was in regular operation at the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861. The paralyzing effect of the war on business in general was reflected in the small amount of freight hauled by the railroad. In the first six months of 1861 the net profit earned amounted to only $227.69. Some of the employees of the company resigned and went into the army, but trains were kept in operation until it became evident that this Territory would be occupied by the northern forces.
The railroad suffered severely from military operations, and the entire line between Delta Point and Monroe was destroyed by the Confederate army in 1863. It was not rebuilt until 1870.
Property and franchises of the of Vicksburg, Shreveport and Texas Railroad were acquired by John T. Ludeling and associates of Monroe, who formed the Northern Louisiana and Texas Railroad Company, which the incorporated Sept.25, 1868. The road was rebuilt between Delta Point and Monroe with a track gauge of 5 feet 6 inches.
Litigation regarding the sale of the property to Ludeling arose and the United States Supreme Count, in October 1874, declared the proceedings fraudulent and the property was thrown into receivership. It was sold under foreclosure December 2, 1879 to the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroad Company. Early in 1881 the company passed into the control of the Alabama, New Orleans, Texas and Pacific Junction Railways Company. This was an English company owning a large part of what is now the Southern Railway System. Construction was begun on the line between Monroe and Shreveport the same year and it was completed in August 1884. At the same time the gauge of the road was changed from 5 feet 6 inches to the standard of 4 feet 8 1/2 inches.
The section of the railroad through the Tallulah Territory proved to be a source of expense to the owners from the start. It was imperfectly built, bridges were poorly constructed, and train wrecks were weekly occurrences. The roadbed was low, and due to the wretched condition of the levees after the Civil War, traffic was frequently interrupted by overflow.
The roadbed was raised in 1885 and trains ran even during high water. Later, when better levees had been constructed, overflows did not occur so often and trains handled practically all freight. The railway company made the mistake, however, of failing to help develop agriculture and other industries in the territory through which it operated. A more rapid development of industries would have resulted in more business for the road.
A new company was formed in March, 1889, to control the Alabama and Vicksburg and the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Companies. They remained under the same management until acquired by the Illinois Central System on June 2, 1926, when the Interstate Commerce Commission approved an agreement entered into between the Illinois Central and the Vicksburg, Shreveport and Pacific Railroads.
The control of the road by the Illinois Central has been beneficial insomuch as it provided for a better managerial set up, closer unification of the entire system, better financial structure and closer cooperation.
Another railroad, running north and south through the Tallulah Territory, was constructed by the Memphis, Helena and Louisiana Railroad Company during 1901 - 1902. The property and franchises of this company were purchased by the St. Louis, Iron Mountain and Southern Railway Company April 30, 1905. This company which operates the road at the present time. 
These two railroads have been very closely connected with the development of the Tallulah Territory. They have helped to bring many towns of North Louisiana closer together. They have given the people an outlet for their produce, and provided an easy means of securing other commodities from markets of the country.
The population of the Tallulah Territory has always been predominantly dependent upon agriculture. The small towns and villages of this area can hardly be classed as anything other than rural. Tallulah, with a population of approximately 4,000, is the only town which might be considered urban, but even here there are many farmers or plantation owners engaged in over-seeing their nearby lands.
The Tallulah Territory is an agricultural region primarily because of the natural environment. It does not have the mineral resources, raw material, or power that are usually considered essential for a manufacturing district. Its greatest natural resource is its alluvial soil formed by the countless floods of centuries, which produced a region of unsurpassed fertility.
The soil varies from a silt loam near the river to a heavy clay loam, known as buckshot clay, in the interior. The heavier types require more careful and thorough drainage and are more difficult to till than the sandy loams. With proper treatment and cultivation these soils never lose their fertility, and are capable of producing almost any crop suitable to the climate.
The agricultural pursuits of the first settlers in the Tallulah Territory were extremely limited. As the population increased and as the rewards of hunting diminished with the yearly diminution of game and fur bearing animals in the forests, cultivation of the soil gradually replaced the hunter. As time passed increasing numbers of settlers came to build homes and farms and to seek greater opportunities for their children. With the use of slave labor they cleared the highest land along the bayous and ridges, and planted it in the favored crop then, as now, cotton.
Cotton has been very closely tied up with development of the Tallulah Territory; its production was one of the factors that led to the rapid pre-Civil War settlement of this area. Until after 1830 more than half the American cotton crop was produced in the Atlantic Coast States. Cotton culture in the United States entered upon its most rapid era of expansion from 1833 to 1837 when the settlement of the Southwest was being promoted by land speculators and newly established state banks.
Cotton had been produced, in the Southeastern States, under a system that resulted in extensive exploitation of land. The crop was grown on a given tract until the fertility of that soil was practically exhausted and then a new area was cleared and planted. This wasteful system ruined many plantations in the Southeastern States and caused the need for new land. It was one of the compelling factors for migration into the Southwest.
The cheapness and richness of the land in the Tallulah Territory attracted many of the immigrants from the Southeastern States. Until the panic of 1837 high prices for cotton had caused more and more new land to be settled and put into cultivation. In that year the price of cotton fell to seven cents, and other farmers were forced to leave their worn out fields and to seek better lands on which cotton could be grown at a profit. These were some of the reasons for the rapid development of the Tallulah Territory from 1835 to the Civil War.
The demand for and the supply of cotton increased. Many planters secured more land and slaves, and planted more cotton. The ownership of a large plantation in the Tallulah Territory, as in other parts of the South, came to be the accepted criterion of social prestige. Many farmers acquired as much land and as many slaves as possible in order that they might be considered among the wealthy upper classes. This motive seems to have been especially strong among some of the early planters who, before migration, lacked the opportunity of realizing their social ambitions.
This overwhelming ambition may be seen in one of the most remarkable of those early planters, Norman Frisby, who owned a twenty-five thousand acre estate in the last bend of Tensas River in Madison and Tensas Parishes. It was his ambition to grow ten thousand bales of cotton a year at twenty cents per pound, and enough other crops to make himself independent of the outside world.
Each year after he started clearing his land his crop did increase; eventually he did produce two thousand bales, a mark then well above the average. But he was not satisfied. He told his neighbors and New Orleans commission merchants that the time would come when he would increase that production by five, and keep it there year after year.
Big houses were common to the large plantation of these days. Frisby contented himself at the beginning with a modest place which he intended to turn over eventually to his overseer. But for himself, he had visions of a three story brick building one hundred feet square, the largest and most beautiful mansion on the largest cotton farm in the world.
He began to assemble works of art from every part of the civilized world. Painters from Europe were to decorate the walls of his palace after it was completed. Here, beautiful plants were to be imported from foreign countries, and a chain of levees was to make his estate immune to high water.
He began molding and baking brick made from soil on his own land, and started the work of construction. Later, upon finding that the brick being used were inferior, he ordered his construction foreman to tear down what had been done and start over with better brick which he ordered from New Orleans.
In 1859 his mansion was still rising; he redoubled his efforts and spared no one, least of all himself. In that year heavy rainfall set in and the rivers began to rise. When it seemed that high water was coming levees were built at night by the light of bonfires, and ditches were dug in the pouring rain; no one on the plantation worked less that sixteen hours a day.
His mansion was not completed when the Civil War broke out. The price of cotton began to go up; work on the castle was stopped, and all labor put to work on the plantation. Early in 1863, when it became evident that the Union soldiers would take possession of the entire territory, Frisby's slaves began to run away. Suddenly Frisby seems to have realized that all would be lost and that his great ambition was hopeless. Gathering together his remaining slaves he left his splendid plantation and went to Texas.
Years later he returned to his overgrown lands, empty handed, vision and vitality gone. He met his death in 1870 in a quarrel over a horse.
Ruins of the mansion that was never completed may still be seen on the banks of Tensas River. Trees have grown up through piles of fallen brick, but twenty-eight artistically designed pillars, each twelve feet high and three feet square, still remain standing. They line the old foundation, each apparently in a condition as perfect as ever.
This entire plantation, typical of many other that once existed along the Tensas River, is now a wilderness overgrown with commercial timber and is owned by the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company.
Early in 1844 an Agricultural Society was formed for the purpose of stimulating interest in the improvement of agriculture in the Tallulah Territory. It helped to promote better cooperatives of farmers and aided in the marketing of their produce. This society perhaps contributed more, however, to the social life of the community than to the improvement of agriculture.
In the two decades before the Civil War the amount of cotton produced in the Tallulah Territory increased rapidly. This increase in production came in the face of declining prices for cotton and a rise in the general price level.
In 1843, mainly because many states had defaulted on their bonds, England declared a boycott on American exports. Since cotton was our greatest export it was hardest hit, and the effect was a further drop in cotton prices and failure for some producers. Yet few planters in the Tallulah Territory withdrew from production even when prices fell so low as to cause a loss to the producer. Cotton was king; and no planter, without increasing his risk, could readily turn to the production of other crops, because a plantation organized with slave labor was not only best adopted for cotton culture but was practically immobile. Negro slaves were not fitted for work that could not be closely supervised.
Cotton production in this section continued to increase, though low prices were forcing planters to other parts of the South into insolvency, mainly because of the fertility of the soil, cheapness of the land, and the comparative low cost of transportation to New Orleans. Even when the depression of 1857 caused widespread failure of business houses, banks, and planters, the delta of Northeast Louisiana seems to have been only slightly affected. Hawk says that during this period the planters of the more fertile lands derived an economic rent which enabled them to make a profit while others, cultivating less fertile soils, were operating at a loss.
For more than ten years before the Civil War the Tallulah Territory was the greatest cotton producing region of Louisiana. In 1856 Madison Parish produced 48,425 bales. In 1857 Tensas ranked first among the parishes in cotton production, raising 49,900 bales. The next year Tensas produced 62,715 bales; Carroll Parish came second with 50,048; Concordia third with 49,963 and Madison fourth with 46,044 bales. Four parishes in the delta of Northeast Louisiana were for several years growing approximately one-fourth of the total cotton crop of the state.
Then came the Civil War with its paralyzing effect on agriculture and industry in general. The plantation system was uprooted, the slaves were freed, and the transportation system was practically destroyed. When the war was over, land and personal property, in the Tallulah Territory as well as throughout the South, greatly declined in taxable value. The greatest part of the most productive land was lying waste and uncultivated. Homes had been burned, livestock taken away, and farming implements destroyed.
One planter who owned land in Madison and Tensas Parishes, when his place was about to be taken possession of by Federal troops, set fire to his magnificent home and also two thousand bales of cotton rather than see them used by the northern forces.
The most difficult problem confronting the planters after the war was how to utilize ex-slaves. Very little white labor was available because of the extensive mortality during the war. Planters tried to induce foreign immigrants to come to the cotton region, but they preferred the opportunity of acquiring lands elsewhere in the United States and did not relish competition with black labor.
As a slave, under the supervision of a plantation manager, the negro had been an efficient worker, but in his ignorance, inexperience, and wild hopes of sudden freedom he was much less productive. In great numbers the negroes gathered about the towns with no intention of returning to work on the plantations. Negro women, who had been the main cotton pickers, were now opposed to going to the fields. Negroes who remained on the plantation after 1866 did not take kindly to white supervision. They objected to overseers and plantation bells which were remnants of slavery. Cotton fields were planted and the cultivation was neglected, or the crop was left unpicked in the field.
Immediately after the war planters borrowed what capital they could and tried out hired labor. But in spite of the high prices of cotton (45 cents per pound in 1866) its cultivation on large plantations was unprofitable because of the debts that had to be incurred, the heavy burden of taxation, and the lack of a dependable supply of labor. In the end, planters were forced to work out a new system for utilizing what resources they had, namely, plantations equipped with worn out implements and worked by freed negroes.
The great decline in cotton production after the war is indicated by the table given below which shows the number of bales grown in Madison Parish before and after the Civil War:
Year Bales Produced
While lack of labor and capital, and the poor condition of levees were main reasons for the small quantity of cotton produced immediately after the war, another reason lay in the fact that many owners of large plantations were forced to sell pieces of their estates, and mortgage the balance in order to equip their remaining acreage with improved implements. Thus these plantations were broken up into smaller farms and cultivated by negroes or white men who had little or no experience. Said the Carroll Record of 1869:
"The labor is much less in number and effectiveness than last year. Experience teaches us that every year takes away from the number and efficiency of the hands. The women have almost entirely left the fields-many hands who saved money from last year's crop, are this year spending in the enjoyment of ease. Of the others who saved money, some have gone to farming to themselves.
"Now these negroes, while valuable as members of society, in their sphere, do not produce as much cotton as when they worked with the large planter ....we may safely assume that for every hand who goes to himself; that his production of cotton is lowered one half."
Slowly the planters, and agriculture in general, recovered from the war and reconstruction. In 1878 the cotton crop of the entire South equaled that of 1860. Yet the crop produced in the Tallulah Territory that year was less than half the yearly average produced before the war.
Not only was much less cotton grown in this area than in the 1850's but prices remained so low that it was difficult to raise it profitably, and some planters began thinking of turning to the production of other crops. There was too much at stake, however, to quietly abandon the business and it was not easy to find a substitute for cotton. Planters began to turn their attention to the cheaper production of the staple as a solution of the problem. Strict economy intelligently practiced saved many farmers from the loss of their lands.
From 1885 to 1890 the price of cotton was relatively high and planters were in a more prosperous condition. There was an increasing demand for cotton in both Europe and the United States. Cotton exchanges had been established and the practice of buying for future delivery was apparently a steadying influence on the price. Improved means of transportation and communication developed and the handling of the crop was less burdensome.
During the last decade of the nineteenth century cotton growers of the South experienced a severe depression. The average price per pound fell from 11.5 cents in 1889 to 5.9 cents in 1894. During the next two years production decreased and prices rose to 7 and 8 cents per pound. This seemed to be a direct incentive to expansion, and in 1898 production reached 11,455,000 bales but the price dropped to 4.9 cents per pound.
The expansion of production contributed to the fall of cotton prices but the general decline during the major part of the decade must be attributed to the worldwide depression. In 1895 the United States experienced a panic which was to be one of the longest and most severe depressions in business history.
Obviously cotton growers in the Tallulah Territory could not escape the effects of the general decline in commodity prices. Practically all the planters mortgaged their farms and sons were forced to forfeit their lands. Negro laborers in the fields were paid only 40 to 50 cents per day-the lowest wage since the Civil War. The number of landowners decreased and the number of tenants increased accordingly.
In 1907 the cotton boll weevil came into the delta of Northeast Louisiana. The farmers of the Tallulah Territory were faced with ruin. In the years immediately preceding the advent of the cotton pest Madison Parish had produced an average of more than 20,000 bales of cotton annually, but in 1908 it produced only 6,500 bales-a reduction of approximately 60 per cent.
Cotton lands were abandoned and negro labor was forced to leave the plantations for lack of work The population of the Tallulah Territory decreased alarmingly during the years 1908 to 1913. Faced with what seemed to be the complete destruction of cotton as a major crop, in 1909 many farmers of this area turned their attention to the growing of rice, corn, oats and alfalfa. The majority, however, continued to plant cotton, or gave up farming entirely.
During the first few years after the boll weevil made its appearance, little was known about control of the pest. Planters became so desperate that they resorted to hand picking the weevils and punctured squares, and to burning cotton stalks in a effort to destroy as many as possible.
In 1914 the Bureau of Entomology established laboratories at Tallulah for the purpose of making experiments in an effort to find an effective means of combating the weevil. Among the methods tried was the application of poisons by airplane dusting. An airport, flying field, and a number of planes were maintained as part of the station's equipment. A force of more than a hundred workers was, for several years, employed in the laboratories and fieldwork during the cotton season. At the present time not more than twenty men are employed by the station, and the flying field is no longer used. Yet valuable information about cotton pests and the data and advice contained in the bulletins issued from there are still looked for and followed by the cotton interests of the whole country.
Gradually efforts toward control of the boll weevil had a telling effect. Dusting machines were designed at the laboratory and later put on the market by manufacturers. There are now machines to meet the requirements of all farmers. The smallest type is the "Hand Gun," and the largest is a power machine which uses a motor for blowing poison on the cotton. Airplanes are still used for dusting on some of the larger plantations but the ground machines seem to be cheaper and more effective. The poison used almost altogether is calcium arsenate.
The Tallulah Territory now produces approximately as much cotton as before the appearance of the boll weevil. The following table shows the number of bales produced in Madison Parish since 1920:
Year Bales Produced
193 6 26,000
In 1929 the average return in dollars per acre of cotton in Madison Parish was $55.90, in 1933 it fell to $15.68, and in 1924 the return per acre was $41.27.
Most of the cotton grown in the Tallulah Territory is produced under what is known as the share, or cropper system. According to this system the landlord furnishes an allotment of land, a home, seeds, mules, and implements. He gins the cotton and gives the tenant a fractional part for planting, cultivating and picking it. In the meantime the landowner usually has advanced the tenant supplies for the year. By this method the negroes are usually kept in debt, with the result that their statue is practically the same as serfdom was in the days of the manorial system in England.
Though cotton growing on most of the plantations has changed very little since the Civil War, mechanized farming in the Tallulah Territory is becoming more widespread. Planters are buying more tractors and improved farm implements than ever before. Under the present system of protective tariff, however, the sellers of such products have been able to hold up the prices for a considerable time after the price of cotton has declined. This practice throws a disproportionate burden upon all farmers who have to buy such articles.
The clamor for relief in the cotton states resulted in the Emergency Farm Relief Act of 1935. Its aim is to establish a balance between production and consumption of agricultural commodities that will restore farm prices to the level of a base period from August 1909 to July 1914. The act aims also to correct the inequality of purchasing power between farm products and other commodities.
As a result of this act the government offered to lease from 25 to 40 per cent of each cotton grower's acreage at a rental of from $6.00 to $12.00 an acre in order to reduce the area under cultivation. Cotton was plowed under and the price was increased to about 10 cents per pound. Curtailment of production and better business conditions have advanced the price to above 12 cents at the present time.
Recent improvements in agricultural implements, better selection of seed, and partial control of the boll weevil have favored better crops in this area. In 1936 the Tallulah Territory produced the largest cotton crop since the advent of the boll weevil, and the average yield per acre was greater than at any time since the Civil War. One 2700 acre tract of land in East Carroll Parish produced 3200 bales. The average yield in the entire Territory was approximately a bale per acre.
Crop diversification and the growth of other industries have added to the wealth of the country and given employment to many workers, but the production and marketing of cotton has remained the most important industry of this area. If cotton yields satisfactory returns to the producers, the merchants and banks prosper accordingly. When cotton sells at prices near or below cost of production, the entire area feels the pinch of unsatisfactory trade conditions. Despite the ravages of the boll weevil, the flooding of rich cotton lands and fluctuations in value which have caused production to vary from year to year cotton has always been, and is now, the main source of wealth to the planters of this Territory.
In 1909, when it seemed that the boll weevil would destroy the cotton industry, many planters of the Tallulah Territory planted a part of their lands in rice. At that time the price of rice was high, and the abandoned cotton fields could be rented for $5.00 per acre. Experienced rice growers came from South Louisiana, where land was rented for $7.00 and $8.00 per acre and tried rice growing in this section of the delta. In 1909 rice was planted on 1250 acres in Madison Parish and on 9000 acres in East Carroll. The total amount of rice produced that year on this acreage was 1,750,000 pounds, or an average of approximately 100 pounds per acre.
After a few years of planting, farmers found that although the soil was fertile and would yield a good crop of rice, the land was high and porous, and required more water than the fields of South Louisiana. Nearby lakes were pumped dry, and one of the major problems was how to obtain enough water. Pipe lines were run over the levee to the Mississippi River, but the power required to lift the water over the levees when the rive was low made this method of obtaining water expensive. Then since the river was never at the same level for any great length of time, it was difficult to maintain pumping equipment in one place. One planter in Madison Parish tried drilling wells for his water supply, but the wells caved and choked the pumps with sand and his crop was lost.
Approximately 2500 aces of rice were planted in Madison each year until 1915 then the acreage was gradually decreased. Planters turned again to the production of cotton. By 1922 the rice fields were practically all abandoned in favor of the staple crop. At the present time no rice is grown in the Tallulah Territory.
Though not a money crop in this area, corn is not without economic importance. It is grown in varying quantities by practically every planter in the Tallulah Territory. The production of corn was peculiarly identified with the settlement and development of the country. Not only was it commonly cultivated on every plantation and fed to domestic animals, but it usually entered into the diet of the people, both black any white. "Hoecakes," "grits," and hominy were important items of food before the Civil War, as they are even today.
The production of corn was more important to the planter before the Civil War than it is today because it was practically the only grain crop of this area. Slow means of transportation made it necessary for each planter to raise enough corn for himself. For these reasons more corn was grown in the Tallulah Territory by the early planters than is grown at the present time. For several years before the Civil War Madison Parish grew an average of approximately 400,000 bushels of corn per year. The following figures show the number of bushels produced in Madison Parish for the years named:
Year Bushels Produced
During the last twenty-five years the average yield of corn per acre in the Tallulah Territory has been from 15 to 22 bushels.
The Tallulah Territory is the greatest oat producing region of Louisiana. In 1934 more than one-fourth of the entire oat crop of the state was grown in Madison Parish. Until recently oats was a crop of minor importance in this section. It was grown very little by farmers of this area before the Civil War, and after it in small quantities. In 1890 Madison Parish produced 15,000 bushels of oats on 300 acres of land. In 1929 1,275 acres planted in oats produced 28,480 bushels, and in 1934, of the 303,534 bushels of oats threshed in the state of Louisiana, 79,050 bushels were harvested in Madison. In 1936 the estimated production in the parish was 160,000 bushels grown on 3,800 acres.
This increase in oats in the last six years is typical of the great change taking place and of the general increase in feedstuffs. While the quantity of oats grown in this area in 1936 was only about one-half the quantity of corn, the average yield per acre of oats was 40 bushels and that for corn was only 16 bushels. This is one reason for the increase in oat production and the decrease in the amount of corn grown. Oats is a surer crop than corn in the Tallulah Territory, and its production is expected to largely take the place of corn in the future.
Fruits and vegetables are not extensively grown in the Tallulah Territory. Several large pecan orchards are kept but the returns from this crop have not been entirely satisfactory. This is partly due to the great length of time required to grow trees of this nature, and the investment involved.
Dairying, cattle and sheep raising, have increased in the last five years as shown by census reports. Farmers of Madison Parish had 6,030 more cattle in 1935 than in 1930, reporting 10,612 on January 1, 1935 as compared with 4,582 on April 1, 1930. Swine increased over this period from 7,392 to 9,104, and sheep from 374 to 3,469. Mules decreased, but there was little change in the number of horses.
In 1935 there were 2,321 farms in this parish as compared with 2,457 in 1930. Croppers, however, increased in number over this five year period from 1,168 to 1,325. The average value of the land and buildings per farm was $2,179.00 in 1935 and the average size of the farms was 64.4 acres.
The large plantation and the tenant system have retarded development of agricultural lands in the Tallulah Territory. The 1935 farm census shows only 151 farm owners in the entire parish of Madison, while 2,140 were tenants. The percentage of tenancy in Madison is higher than in any other parish of the state. Ninety-two percent of the farmers grow their crops on land that is not their own. As a basis of comparison; 64 per cent of the farm population of Louisiana are tenants; 42 per cent in the entire United States, and only 10 per cent of the farmers of Denmark are tenants.
As a rule, a farm is more efficiently operated by the owner than by a tenant. Tenancy is particularly undesirable when the landowner lives at a considerable distance from the farm, and when a tenant remains on a farm for only one or two years. Under such conditions the soil of the rented farm is usually allowed to deteriorate, and the buildings and fences decay.
Under the tenant system the large plantation is still operated very much as it was fifty years ago, though improvements are being made in farm machinery and equipment. Diversification and the growing of soil building crops are receiving more attention than before. Yet the one crop system predominates and only a few planters on the large plantations grow enough feedstuff for their own use. It has been estimated that this Territory needs four times as much hay as it produces at the present time.
One foreign corporation which owns approximately 40,000 acres of land in Madison Parish, much of it is in timber, is making contracts with farmers to clear the land and put it into cultivation. The farmer agrees to clear the land for three years, rent free. At the end of the three year period he is given the privilege of buying the land on an installment basis. This plan may eventually result in a substantial increase in the percentage of farmers owning their lands.
The resettlement Administration may bring about an increase in the number of farm owners in the Tallulah Territory, as well as in other parts of the country. Recently 9,852 acres of farmland in East Carroll Parish was bought by the Resettlement Administration. This tract will eventually be divided into small farms, and modern but inexpensive houses and barns will be built for about 250 families.
Those selected for resettlement will be chosen from among low income farm families. Most of these families will be taken from this area, but others may be selected and brought in from the poorer hill lands of the state. Heads of families are to be thirty five years of age, or younger, with farming experience. Each family will have adequate farming equipment, work animals, cows and chickens. An orchard, garden and small pasture are to be parts of each farmstead.
After a trial period, on a rental basis, the resettlement families will be given a contract to buy their lands over a period of forty years; payments are to be made in annual installments of 4.5 per cent of the purchase price, including principal and interest.
If plans of the Resettlement Administration develop, more of the delta lands in the Tallulah Territory may be put into cultivation and the farm population of the area increased within the next few years. It may eventually result in an increase in the percentage of farm owners and a corresponding decrease in the percentage of tenancy.
Manufacturing in the Tallulah Territory has always been of secondary importance. In the early development of this area planting was generally considered the quickest road to fortune and to social distinction. What little manufacturing there was at that time was closely related to the products of the forest and farm.
The location and growth of manufactures in any particular place depend on several conditions or combination of conditions; namely, a supply of natural or raw materials, fuel or source of power, efficient labor, capital, and as accessible market.
The most potent factor to be considered in the location of a manufacturing plant is, perhaps, power or fuel costs. In the early development of the Tallulah Territory power was almost completely lacking, and efficient labor and capital were present only to a very limited extent. This was one of several reasons for the slow development of the area until after 1830 when the steam engine began to be used to run sawmills, cotton gins and grist mills.
While water falls and swift streams offered opportunities for manufacturing in many regions of the South long before this time, the sluggish bayous of the Tallulah Territory afforded no such power. Even the grinding of grain and the shaping of timbers for homes were done by hand. Cotton was at first ginned by hand machines, then later by horse drawn gins-the first cotton gin to be established near this area was in Ouachita Parish in 1803. It was not until several years later, however, that cotton was first raised in the Tallulah Territory. Therefore, the establishment of gins in this area did not take place until a much later date.
As more and more permanent settlements were made, homes built, and farms established, crude forms of manufacturing came into existence. Blacksmith shops were located in a few communities, and the proprietors of these shops sometimes did such work as building small boats and repairing wagons.
With the development and more general use of the steam engine, sawmills, which cut the virgin hardwood and cypress forests of this area, were established. Steam engines were admirably suited to the work of sawing lumber and they brought the first real source of power to this section. Cotton was carried to centrally located steam gins, and grain was taken to gristmills where it was crushed between two great flat, revolving stones. Slowly the population of the Tallulah Territory changed from an entirely agrarian people to a community with a portion of its people engaged in some form of manufacturing, commerce or trade.
A wagon making shop was established at Richmond in 1842. At this shop wagons and other vehicles were made to meet a small local demand, and also the demands of a stream of immigrants moving westward through the town at that time. Each of the small towns of Richmond, New Carthage and Milliken’s Bend had blacksmith shops which made small articles and repairs for farmers on the plantations. Some of the larger plantations had their own blacksmith shop, gin and gristmill.
The most important manufacturing industry, not dependent on agriculture, was lumbering. There was an increasing demand for timber over almost the entire country after 1854. This industry required inexpensive equipment and unskilled labor. Sawmills were located near navigable streams; lumber was transported on keelboats and steamboats to the towns and communities along the rivers.
In 1842 three or four sawmills were being operated in the Tallulah Territory. The most important of these mills was located on Bayou Vidal near its junction with the Mississippi River. This mill cut cypress lumber to supply a local demand at Richmond and New Carthage. Most of the lumber not sold in the local market was shipped down stream to New Orleans.
The early steam engines used to run sawmills were not capable of developing any great power or speed, therefore, the capacity of even the largest mills was only a few thousand feet per day.
The best cypress and hardwood timber was available at low cost, but transportation was expensive. Forests along the banks of navigable steams were cut first and the logs floated to the mills. Cutting and hauling logs usually had to be done in the summer and fall of the year when the swamps were dry. Horses and teams of oxen were used at this season to move timber to the mill or river bank. Years later great sawmills used railroads, tractors, trucks, and steam loaders in their logging operations.
During the Civil War all sawmills in the Tallulah Territory were taken over by the Federal forces. For a time they were operated by Union soldiers for the purpose of cutting timber to be used in building boats and barges for transporting men and supplies down the Mississippi River. Some of the mills were burned or destroyed during the conflict.
Cypress lumber seems to have been in greatest demand. Because of its lasting qualities, this wood was used for the foundation and roof of houses. In some instances the entire house was built of heart cypress. At that time much cypress timber remained untouched, and it furnished the raw material for many mills. The following is quoted from a Lake Providence paper of 1893:
"On Monday last the steamer City of Kansas, a big freight carrier, stopped at Schneider's Landing in front of town fully five hours taking on 60,000 feet of clear cypress lumber, which had been sent to the river for shipment from the new sawmill on Bayou Tensas. The lumber shipped was all, or nearly so, heart cypress of the best kind in the form of planks two inches thick, ranging from 12 to 20 feet in length.
"The cypress brake from where the trees are taken to the mill are of considerable extent and of mature growth, and in quantity sufficient to last for several years."
About the beginning of the twentieth century sawmills began cutting increased quantities of hardwood such as oak, pecan, gum, poplar, tupelo, and ash. In 1904 the largest of these hardwood mills was established two miles south of Tallulah. Around this mill, at the junction of Roundaway and Brushy Bayous, opposite the historic site of "Old Richmond", a thriving mill town came into existence. The sawmill, owned and operated by the Englewood Lumber Company of Grand Rapids, Michigan, cut oak and other hardwoods for sale to furniture manufacturers. It had a daily capacity of approximately 50,000 board feet and employed more than a hundred workers. It operated log trains and extended its main line track fifteen miles or more into the forest. Eventually this location was abandoned for lack of timber and the workers were forced to move elsewhere in search of employment.
Other sawmills were established at Mounds and Tallulah. In 1925 Madison Parish had seven sawmills with a combined daily production of more than 200,000 board feet of hardwood lumber.
The economic importance of manufacturing in the Tallulah Territory has grown rapidly since 1928. In that year the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company bought the Krus Bros. Sawmill at Tallulah, and later built a veneer plant and box factory. This company, which owned several plants in Mississippi and Arkansas, selected Tallulah for the location of a new plant because of its nearness to hardwood forests and to rail and water transportation.
During the first year of operation the Tallulah mill employed 250 men. In 1930 a veneer plant, which required 240 additional employees to operate, was completed. In 1932 the veneer plant added a plywood unit, and later a box factory. Though in November 1936, the box factory and veneer plant burned, with an estimated loss of half a million dollars, and temporarily threw four hundred men out of employment, it is rapidly being rebuilt and is at the present time again in operation. The entire plant now employs 700 workers and has a yearly payroll of approximately half a million dollars.
In the Tallulah Territory this manufacturing plant has two centers of activity; one is the mill and factory at Tallulah, and the other is a logging camp twenty miles away in the forest. With the exception of the sawmill the plant is electrically operated. Great steam turbines are used to generate electrical energy to drive motors for all the machines in the veneer plant and box factory. The company operates its own log trains on thirty five miles of railroad track. The log road consists of a permanent main line, and spurs which are projected into the forests. The spurs are moved from time to time as the timber is taken out. Much of the timber is now hauled by motor trucks.
In 1936 the sawmill cut approximately 25,000,000 board feet of lumber, and the veneer plant used 16,000,000 board feet of logs. Lumber is cut from all varieties of hardwood grown in the Tallulah Territory. These include several kinds of oak, pecan, sycamore, gum, poplar, tupelo, beech and elm. Veneer is made from trees of the same species and also from pine brought from Mississippi. Red Gum is, however, the most important of the trees used for veneer. It resembles mahogany somewhat, and is used in the manufacture of almost every kind of furniture. It is used also as an interior finish for homes. Figured red gum is used in making the most expensive furniture.
Logs to be used for veneer are thrown into vats of boiling water and allowed to soak for several hours. Then after stripping the bark from a log, it is taken to the veneering machine where sharp steel blades peel off thin sheets of wood as the log is turned. This veneer may vary in thickness, width and length. The thinnest is one twenty-eighth of an inch thick and the thickest is nine thirty-seconds of an inch.
In 1936 five hundred carloads of veneer were shipped from the Tallulah plant. Most of this went to furniture factories in Grand Rapids, Chicago, Dubuque, Los Angeles, Cape Town, South Africa, and to Monterey Mexico. The Mexican Government now prohibits the importation of Red Gum veneer into the country because of its competition with mahogany, though all other veneers may be sold there.
Veneer is not manufactured and kept in stock to await orders, as lumber is. When an order is received veneer processing the required thickness, width and length is manufactured and dried within a few days. The thinnest veneer can be dried in twenty minutes, the thickest in twenty-six hours. Dry kilns are heated with steam and are operated twenty-four hours a day, seven days each week.
Plywood is made by gluing several sheets of veneer together in such a way as to have the grain of each sheet run at right angles to the sheet next to it. This gives great strength to plywood and prevents its warping or splitting. It is used in making furniture, radios, boxes, toys, novelties, trunk racks, and floor boards for automobiles.
The American Tobacco Company is one of the heaviest purchases of plywood from the Tallulah plant. Ten carloads were recently shipped to that company in one month; each car contained enough plywood to make 150,000 cigar boxes. With the use of stains some plywood can be made to resemble cedar; much of this is sent to San Juan, Puerto Rico to be made into cigar boxes.
A lumberyard with a capacity of 18,000,000 board feet is maintained in connection with the sawmill. Hardwood lumber manufactured by this company is sold in almost every part of the United States and in many foreign countries. The greatest export trade is with England, Canada and Mexico.
Though the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company has the only plant in the Tallulah Territory engaged in the manufacture of veneer, plywood, and material for boxes, there are several other plants operating as hardwood mills. The Tendal Lumber Company, located on Tensas River twelve miles west of Tallulah, was established in 1918. The Sondheimer Lumber Company, twelve miles north of Tallulah, has been in operation for several years. Each of these sawmills has a capacity of approximately 50,000 feet of hardwood per day.
All of these lumber companies have enough timber to last for several years at their present rate of cutting, but they are doing nothing toward reforestation. Whether or not the timber supply in this area will eventually be exhausted, forcing mills to abandon their locations remains to be seen. Extensive consumption of timber with marked reduction in the remaining supply must be recognized as a possible outstanding problem of the Tallulah Territory in the future. As the timber supply diminishes, revenue derived from forest products diminishes, and the loss must be met by revenues from other sources.
The economic problem created by the complete exhaustion of timber in many parts of Louisiana has stimulated an interest in reforestation and conservation in those places. In the Tallulah Territory, however, many believe that the tremendous forest reserves and the rapid growth of hardwood trees in the delta will prevent a timber shortage in this section as long as the present area is allowed to grow timber. At the present time approximately three-fourths of the land area of the Tallulah Territory is woodland, but an influx of new farmers is causing such timbered land to be cleared and put into cultivation. This may in time result in a serious reduction of the available timber supply.
The Tallulah Territory has, by far, the largest tract of virgin hardwood timber in the state. The Singer Wild Life Preserve comprises a tract of 81,102 acres. It was purchased by the Singer Manufacturing Company in 1912 when land was cheap. At that time this company expected to use the timber in the manufacture of its machines, but later it began to make an all metal product, and some of the timber has been cut. In 1936 this great tract of timbered land was dedicated as a Wild Life Preserve by a contract between the state and the Singer Manufacturing Company.
Under this contract each party furnishes two full time game wardens, and the state furnishes additional wardens during a part of the year to prevent poaching. Such an arrangement works a mutual advantage - affording the needed protection from depredation and fire to the Singer Company, and at the same time furnishing the state a fine game preserve.
Deer, wild turkeys, and small fur bearing animals are plentiful. There are bear, wolves, coyotes, and the only panthers now found in Louisiana are in this preserve.
The tract includes several abandoned and grown up plantations, which after the Civil War, reverted to the state and were later sold to the present owners. Five hundred million feet of standing timber were recently sold by Singer, but it is not yet generally known what company was the successful bidder. If local lumber companies obtain possession of this huge tract of hardwood, their mills may continue to operate indefinitely at their present capacity.
Among other industries in the Tallulah Territory. are: a cottonseed oil mill with a capacity of seventy tons of cotton seed per day, and employing seventy-five men; two cotton compresses which handled 30,000 bales of cotton in 1936; an ice plant with a capacity of sixty tons daily; three machine shops; twenty-five cotton gins; a novelty shop; an ice cream factory; a soft drink bottling plant; and several dairies.
For the entire territory Tallulah is the distributing point for tractors, machinery, and implements to be used in levee construction, lumbering operations, and farming. There are three wholesale houses, three oil companies, eighty-seven retail establishments, and one bank doing business in Tallulah. There was one bank failure in the panic of 1933.
A $50,000.00 bond issue was recently voted by the people of Tallulah to raise money for needed improvements. The money is to be used in building a new bridge across the bayou and in purchasing a building for the town hall.
The economic development of the Tallulah Territory has been comparatively rapid in the last twenty-five years and compares favorably with that of the entire state. This growth may be seen from the fact that in 1912 Tallulah had no electric lights, running water, or other conveniences found in almost every small town today.
In 1913 a small steam generator was bought by the village of Tallulah. This plant furnished electric lights for the business section of town and was operated only three or four hours a day. It was kept in use until 1918 when an oil engine was added to the plant. Only part time service was given, however, until 1922 when electric refrigeration began to come into use with a consequent demand for full time service. In 1923 the town added another unit to its power plant and abandoned the old steam generator.
In 1925 a 120,000 p.p. generating plant was established near Monroe, and the next year high voltage lines were run through Tallulah. Two years later the Louisiana Power and Light Company bought the town plant and began supplying Tallulah with electricity and water.
Since 1930 seventy-five miles of rural electric lines have been constructed in the Tallulah Territory. Construction costs have been reduced by the use of aluminum wire with a steel core. This wire is much stronger than that formerly used and makes it possible for the poles supporting the wires to be placed farther apart. The cost of constructing a rural line is now only one-third the average cost in 1928.
This low cost of erecting rural electric lines has made it possible for many small towns and farm homes of this area to be supplied with lights and power.
In 1930 natural gas was piped to Tallulah from a newly discovered field in West Carroll Parish. This has brought another source of power to the Tallulah Territory.
It is highly improbable that the economic importance of manufacturing, or of other industries, will ever overshadow that of agriculture. Except for abundant hardwood timber and farm products, raw materials are not present in sufficient quantities to bring about any great change of industries. The greatest natural resource of this area is its fertile delta land. For this reason it is mainly an agricultural region, and it is to this industry that one should look for the greatest future development and progress. Manufacturing and other industries should develop mainly in relation to agriculture.
If the standard of living is to be bettered in the Tallulah Territory, and in other parts of the South, poverty and ignorance of the tenant population must be reduced, better opportunities made for tenants to become landowners, and higher wages paid farm labor. First consideration should be given food crops, and there should be greater efficiency in the production of cotton. Ginning and baling methods should be improved and new uses for cotton and its products stimulated. The by-products of cotton are many, and out of them there may appear a bigger and richer agricultural and industrial life for the Tallulah Territory.
Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Louisiana: The Goodspeed Publishing Co., 1892
Chambers, Henry E., A History of Louisiana, Vol. I; American Historical Society, Chicago and N.Y. 1925
Caldwell, S. A. A Banking History of Louisiana; L.S.U. Press, Baton Rouge, La. 1934
Calhoun, Robert Dabney, The History of Concordia Parish
Darby, Williams A., A Geographical Description of the State of Louisiana James Olmstead Co., N. Y., 1925
Fortier, Alcee, Louisiana; Century Historical Ass'n. 1914
Gayarré, Charles, History of Louisiana; F. F. Hansell & Bro.
Hawk, Emory W., Economic History of the South; Prentice Hall Inc., N. Y., 1934.
Herman, John Basil, Jr., A Study of the Economic Development of the Yazoo and
Mississippi Valley Railroad; L.S.U. Thesis, 1934
Jones, Eliot, Principles of Railway Transportation; McMillan Co., N. Y. 1931
Louisiana Products, New Orleans Democrat Print, N. O., 1881.
Murphy, W. M. The History of Madison Parish; La. Tech Press
Reid, Frank R., Flood Control in the Mississippi Valley; U. S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D. C., 1928
Sherman, William T., Memoirs of General Sherman; D. Appleton & Co., N. Y., 1875
Tompkins, F. H. North Louisiana; A. H. Pugh Printing Co., Cincinnati, Ohio, 1886
War of the Rebellion, Vol. XXIV, Reports, Washington, C.D. 1889
Banner Democrat, Lake Providence, La. 1892-1893 and 1897-1902
Carroll Record, Lake Providence, La., 1869
Madison Times Tallulah, La., 1884-1888
Madison journal Tallulah, La. 1912-1937
New York Times, N. Y. July 13, 1927
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. 1841-1844
Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La.
The Ouachita Telegraph, Monroe, La. 1870-1889
Times Picayune, New Orleans, La.
The Lake Republican, Lake Providence, La. 1873
The Carroll Republican, Lake Providence, La. 1875
Vicksburg Evening Post, Vicksburg, Miss.
Acts of the Louisiana Legislature, 1811-1930
Auditors Reports to the Louisiana Legislature, 1856-1869, and 1892-1893.
Louisiana Legislative Documents, This book contains reports of the state officers and Legislative Committees.
War of the Rebellion,
Annual Report V.S. and T.R.R. Co., Jan. 17, 1857
Annual Report of Commissioner of Agriculture; 1900-1901
Caldwell, S. A., The New Orleans Trade Area; L. S. U. Press, 1936
Campbell, O. W., Statistical Report Fifth La. Levee District, Tallulah, La. 1927
Eleventh Biennial Report of Department of Conservation 1932-33. Published by Department of Conservation, New Orleans, La.
Forestry in Louisiana; State Department of Conservation, New Orleans, La., Jan., 1921
Lewis, N. H., Drainage Convention Fifth La. Levee District; Mississippi Printing Co., Vicksburg, Miss. 1909
Louisiana's One Hundred Year Struggle with the Mighty Mississippi; La. Department of Agriculture and Immigration, M. D. Wilson, Commissioner, Baton Rouge, La., 1930
Louisiana, Published by Dept. Of Agriculture and Immigration, H. D. Wilson, Commissioner, Baton Rouge, La., 1926
Resolutions Fixing Tax Rates for 1919, Board of Commissioners Fifth La. Levee District, Tallulah, La.
Report of the Board of State Engineers of the State of Louisiana, From April 1, 1930 to April 1, 1932 and From April 1, 1934 to April 1, 1936.
U. S. Department of Agriculture Circular 104; office of Experiment Station, Washington, D.C. 1911.
De Bow's Review, New Orleans, La. 1836-1861 and 1866-1870
Louisiana Conservation Review, New Orleans, La.
Louisiana Historical Quarterly, New Orleans, La.
Calhoun, Robert Dabney, "The John Perkins Family of Northeast Louisiana", The Louisiana Historical Quarterly, New Orleans, La. Jan. 1936
"Flood Problem Studied by Engineers over Century," Times Picayune, New Orleans, La., Jan. 25, 1937
Marston, Bulow, W. "Tensas River Wild Life Refuge and the Cotton Planters Lost Domain.” La. Conservation Review, New Orleans, La. April 1935
Scott, Wade W. "Timber Only Crop Grown Today on what was to be Greatest Cotton Farm", Times Picayune, New Orleans, La., Nov. 15, 1936
Wing, Joseph E., Pen Pictures of Louisiana: Smith & Perkins, Memphis, Tenn. 1909
LETTERS AND MISCELLANEOUS DOCUMENTS:
Financial Statement of the Board of Commissioners of the Fifth La. Levee District for 1934, 1935, 1936.
Letter from the Chief of Engineers, "Report on Flood Control Works in the Alluvial Valley of the Mississippi River."
Letter from the Missouri Pacific Railroad Co., St. Louis, Mo. Jan. 15, 1937
Letter from the Illinois Central Railroad Co., Chicago, Ill., Jan 15, 1937
Report of the V. S. And T R.R., Jan. 16, 1860
United States Census Reports for each census year since 1830
Robert L. Moncrief was born in Ruston, Louisiana, March 6, 1904. He attended the Ruston Elementary School and High School, from which he was graduated in May 1923. His undergraduate work was done at Louisiana Polytechnic Institute from which he received the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Commerce in 1928. In the summer of 1934 he entered the graduate school of the Louisiana State University and is now a candidate for the Degree of Master of Science in Economics.
He has taught in the public schools of East Carroll, Iberville, and Madison Parishes, and is at the present time employed as commercial teacher at the Tallulah High School.
NOTE: Robert Moncrief became Principal of Tallulah High School in 1942 when the then principal M. A. Phillips was called to active duty in the U. S. Navy. He served in this capacity until his retirement in 1960. He died in 1986 and is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Tallulah.
Fortier Alcee; Louisiana, Vol. II; Atlanta Southern Historical Association, 1909, p. 122
De Bow's Review, Vol. III, 1847, New Orleans, La., p. 225
Murphy, William, The History of Madison Parish, La. La. Tech Press 1927, p. 40
Ibid, p. 42
Gayarré, Charles; History of Louisiana, Vol. III, F. F. Hausell Bros. 1903, page 215
DeBow's Review, Vol. III, 1847
Chambers, Henry E. A History of Louisiana, American Historical Society, N.Y. 1925 pp. 381-382
Vicksburg Evening Post, March 19, 1936, p. 8
De Bow's Review, Vol III, New Orleans, La. 1847. p.225.
De Bow's Review Vol. XII, 1852 New Orleans, p. 256
Biographical & Historical Memoirs of Louisiana, Vol. II The Good Shepherd Publishing Co, 1892. p. 11
Notarial Records, Madison Parish Vol. F. p. 595
DeBow's Review, Vol. XII, 1852 New Orleans p. 256
Brayden, O.D., Facts and Figures for the People of La. Republican office, New Orleans, La.
DeBow's Review, Vol. XII, 1852 New Orleans p. 256
De Bow's Review, Vol. XIV, New Orleans, p. 452
 Op. Cit.
Fortier, Alcee; Louisiana. Century Historical Assn. 1914. P. 170
Murphy, W. M. The History of Madison Parish, pp. 40-41
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. April 12, 1844
Fortier, Alcee; Louisiana. Century Historical Assn. 1914. P. 170
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. March 15, 1842
 DeBow's Review, Vol. 111. 1847. Quoted from the Richmond Journal of 1846
Steele, H. R. Louisiana Products, New Orleans Democrat 1861, p. 226
Caldwell, S. A. A Banking History of Louisiana, LSU Press, 1935, p. 69
From a paper read by William Livermore, Col U. S. Army, in 1908 The Military Historical Society of Mass., Vol. IX, p. 555
Murphy, W. M. Notes on the History of Madison Parish, La. Tech Press, Ruston, La. P. 56
War of the Rebellion, Vol. XXIV, part 1, Reports p. 139. Prepared under the direction of the Secretary of War. Washington, D. C. 1889
Sherman, William T. Memoirs of William T. Sherman, D. Appleton & Co., N. Y. 1875 p 3 19
United States Census Reports, Bureau of Census, Washington, D.C.
Carroll Record, Lake Providence, La., May 29, 1869
Louisiana Legislative Documents, 1869
United States Census Reports, Bureau of Census, Washington, D.C.
Madison Times, Tallulah, La., June 27, 1885
United States Census Reports, Bureau of Census, Washington, D.C.
The Ashley Land Co., incorporated in 1884, was a foreign corporation with its home office in Dundee, Scotland. Its purpose in the Tallulah Territory was to buy, improve and sell land. It once held several hundred thousand acres of land in this territory. It now holds about 40,000 acres.
Murphy, W.M. Notes from the History of Madison Parish, p. 56
Wing, J. E. Pen Pictures of Louisiana, Smith & Perkins, Memphis, Tenn. 1909. p.6
U. S. Department of Agriculture: Circular 104 p. 8
Richmond Compiler: Richmond, La. Dec. 1, 1845
Richmond Compiler: Richmond, La. Dec. 1, 1843
Legislative Documents. La. Engineers Reports. 1852
Reid, Frank R.: Flood Control in the Mississippi Valley, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1928, p. 540
Downes, J. H. Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La., May 31, 1844.
Legislative Documents; Louisiana, 1852
Legislative Documents; Louisiana, 1852
Reid, Frank R., Flood Control in the Mississippi Valley: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1928, p.340
Op. Cit. p. 331
Banner Democrat; Lake Providence, La. Sept, 10, 1892
Times Picayune New Orleans, La. Nov. 15, 1936. P. 7
De Bow, J.D.B: De Bow's Review, After War Series, Vol. 1, New Orleans, 1864. P. 93
These figures were taken from Auditors Reports to the Louisiana Legislature and from Legislative Documents for the years named.
Report of Engineers; La. Legislative Documents, 1871
Bragdon, O. D., Facts and Figures for the People of Louisiana Republican Office, New Orleans, 1872
Report of State Engineers; Louisiana Legislative Documents, 1877
Madison Times, Tallulah, La. July 13, 1885
Report of Board of State Engineers; Louisiana Legislative Documents. 1876
Reid, Frank R., Flood Control in the Mississippi Valley, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1928, pp 330-331
Ibid, p. 342
Ibid, p. 342-343
This information was obtained from the Secretary of the Fifth Louisiana Levee Board; Tallulah, La.
Carroll Record: Lake Providence, La. Jan. 30, 1869
Madison Times: Tallulah, La. May 24, 1884
Banner Democrat; Lake Providence, La. May 24, 1884
Statistical Report; Fifth La. Levee District, B. O. Campbell, Secretary, Tallulah, La. 1927
Banner Democrat Lake Providence, La. Oct. 15, 1892
Reid, Frank R. Flood Control in the Mississippi Valley, U. S. Government Printing Office, 1928, p. 167
Ibid. p. 168
Op. Cit. p. 169
Madison Journal, Tallulah, La. Dec. 21, 1912
Official Statement by the Board of Commissioners for the fifth La. Levee District. Sept. 10, 1917
Campbell, O. W. Statistical Report, Fifth La. Levee District, Tallulah, La. 1927
The New York Times; July 13, 1927
Campbell, O. W. Statistical Deport of the Fifth La. Levee District, Tallulah, La.
Report of the Board of State Engineers, Baton Rouge, La. April 1, 1936. p.58
Financial Statement of the Board of Commissioners of the Fifth La. Levee District; Jan. 1, 1935
General Markham: Chief of Engineers Letter, printed by U.S. War Dept. Feb. 12, 1935
Wilshin, F. F. "The Mississippi, Channel of Empire," Vicksburg Evening Post, Vicksburg, Miss. March 19, 1936
Hawk, Emory Q. Economic History of the South, Prentice Hall Inc, New York, 1934. pp. 321-322
Caldwell. S. A. The New Orleans Trade Area, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, La.1936 p.1
Hawk, Emery Q. Economic History of the South. Prentice Hall Inc., New York. 1954 p. 522
Ibid. July 19, 1842
Ibid. August 24, 1841
Ibid. February 15, 1842
De Bow's Review, New Orleans, Vol. XIV, 1853, p. 432
Richmond Compiler; Richmond, LA. March 21, 1843
Ibid April 26, 1844
Report of State Engineers, Louisiana Senate Journal, 1848
Richmond Compiler; Richmond, LA, April 4, 1844
Report of Engineers, Louisiana Legislative Documents, 1858
War of Rebellion Official Records. Vol. XXIV Reports, p. 495
Madison Times, Tallulah, La., May 24, 1884
Madison Journal, Tallulah, La. May 24, 1918
DeBow's Review. Vol. XII, 1852. New Orleans, p. 256
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. Feb. 22, 1842.
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. Jan. 26, 1844
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. Jan. 26, 1844
Ibid. Nov. 27, 1842
DeBow's Review, New Orleans, La. Vol. XIV 1853, p. 432
See The Times Picayune, New Orleans, La. Jan. 25, 1937.
Madison Journal, Tallulah, LA. Nov. 8, 1913.
Letter of Illinois Central Railroad System. Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 15, 1857
Annual Report of the Y S & T. Railroad Co. Documents of Louisiana 1856.
Madison Times, Tallulah, La. Aug. 9, 1884
Madison Times, Tallulah, La. Aug. 9, 1884
Report to Stockholders of V S. &T, RR. Sept. 29,1856
Murphy, Wm. M. The History of Madison Parish, La. Tech Press. P. 42
Report of W M. Wadley; pp 11-12, La. Legislative Documents, 1861
Letter of Illinois Central RR System, Chicago, January 15, 1937
Madison Times. Tallulah, La. Nov. 29, 1884.
Letter of Illinois Central RR System, Chicago, January 13, 1937
Letter of Missouri Pacific RR Co. St. Louis, Mo. Jan 13, 1937
Hawk, Emory Q. Economic History of the South, Prentice Hall Inc., New York. 1934, p. 325.
Scott, Wade W., "Timber Only Crop Grown Today on What Was to be the Greatest Cotton Farm." Times Picayune, New Orleans. Nov. 15, 1936.
Marston, Burlow W., "Tensas River, Wild Life Refuge and the Cotton Planters Lost Domain." Louisiana Conservation Review April 1935
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. March 29, 1844.
Caldwell, S.A. A Banking History of Louisiana. L.S.U. Press, Baton Rouge, La. 1935, p. 67
Hawk, Emory Q. Economic History of the South, Prentice Hall Inc., New York. 1954, p.256.
'John Perkins owned Somerset and Hapaka plantations consisting of 17,500 acres, part in Madison Parish and part in Tensas. He became one of the wealthiest planters of this territory. Before the war he owned 250 slaves and his plantation was valued at $600,000. This information was obtained from an article, "The Perkins Family", by Robert Calhoun, which appeared in the Louisiana Historical Quarterly, Jan. 1936.
These figures were taken from Louisiana Legislative Documents and Census Reports, for the years named.
Carroll Record, Lake Providence, La. May 29, 1869
Madison Times, Tallulah, La. Jan 23, 1886.
Hawk, Emory Q. Economic History of the South, Prentice Hall Inc., New York. 1934. P. 451
Louisiana Legislative Documents, Baton Rouge, La. 1909
Madison Journal, Tallulah, La. June 21, 1913
'These figures were taken from U.S. Census Reports for the years named. 1936 figure is estimate of Parish Agent.
U. S. Farm Census Reports, 1935
Shreveport Times, Shreveport, La. Jan. 16, 1937
Hester, C. E., Madison Parish Agent
Louisiana Legislative Documents, 1909
These figures were compiled from U. S. Census Reports and Louisiana Legislative Documents.
U S Census Report, 1935
U. S. Farm Census Reports, 1935
Estimate of C. E. Hester, Madison Parish Agent
U. S Farm Census Reports, 1935
Estimate of C. E. Hester, Madison Parish Agent
DeBow's Review Vol. III, New Orleans, 1847, p. 225
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. March 1, 1842
Richmond Compiler, Richmond, La. March 1, 1842
Hawk, Emory Q. Economic History of the South, Prentice Hall Inc., New York. 1934 p. 278
Richmond Compiler, Richmond La. Feb. 22, 1842
War of the Rebellion, Official Records, Reports Vol. 14, Washington, D.C. 1889 p. 174
Banner Democrat Lake Providence, La. April 29, 1893
This information was obtained from a former employee of the Englewood Lumber Company.
Louisiana Published by Dept. Of Agriculture and Immigration, Baton Rouge, La. 1926
Madison Journal, Tallulah, La. Sept., 1928
This information was obtained from the office of the Chicago Mill and Lumber Company, Tallulah, La.
This information was obtained from the office of the Louisiana Power and Light Co. Tallulah, La.