Every once in awhile, I’ll come across the name of a town that is foreign to me while researching Louisiana newspapers.
I read about a terrible accident that happened in Trees, Louisiana, in 1919. I’d never heard of the place.
It turns out that Trees was an oil boom town in north Louisiana. It was in Caddo Parish on Caddo Lake near the Texas line. In fact, it’s still on the map (and there’s a Tree City Road) though there’s not much there nowadays.
Here’s the elementary school in 1937:
From what I can gather, Trees (really Trees City) got its name from the J.C. Trees Oil Company. The company’s headquarters was moved to Oil City in 1983 – and I mean that literally. The building that once housed the company’s headquarters now sits in Oil City.
Trees City burst into existence with the discovery of oil. Soon, tents were set up to house the oil field workers and their families. Buildings came later.
C.C. Talbot, the man whose family died, was an oil well driller. The night of the fire, the gas heater in his home exploded while the family slept. His wife woke up, roused her husband and fainted.
Poor C.C. was able to carry 5-year-old Mary Elizabeth and 6-year-old John Henry outside to safety. He went back for his wife and 8-year-old George but couldn’t get through the flames to them. Little Mary Elizabeth followed her father back into the house and died.
C.C. lived a few days and died himself from his injuries, leaving John Henry as the family’s sole survivor.
According to newspaper accounts, the Talbot family was buried in the Trees City Cemetery. I couldn’t find a listing for it online.
But I did find mentions of Trees City well into the 1970s. And then I found an obit of sorts for the town in 1986. It seems Trees City was one of those boom-and-bust towns that came and went with the oil field production.