House History, schools, terrebonne parish

Plantation Schools

More from my grandmother’s attic.

This comes from the “Houma Daily Courier” on Oct. 8, 1972. It’s an interesting look at small schools of yesteryear.

I’ll include the article at the very end. It’s long and not terribly interesting. It’s more fun to look at the pictures.


























Here’s the article:

“Did you know .. that these pictures are some of the one room schools that dotted our parish landscape on the plantations about 75 to 100 years ago and produced some Terrebonnians to be proud of?

That Henry J. Ellender taught in one of these plantation cabins on Hope Farm Plantation until a larger building was built which served a dual purpose: school room in the day time and a dance hall on the weekends?

The young Henry J. had just finished his course of study at Soule Business College in New Orleans in 1902, when he started teaching at Hope Farm. He taught there 15 years. Then during the depression in the late 1920s, he taught again on lower Terrebonne. Dr. Henry T. Ellender – the dentist, boat builder and great fisherman – and his famous brother, Dr. Rudolphe Ellender – for whom the Eye Clinic was named – are some of this early teacher’s illustrious children of which there were eight or nine.

The late Senator Allen J. Ellender, a cousin to the above mentioned family, and his late brother Claude, the brilliant attorney, went to school to Professor Henry as did Nelo Hebert, who is still hale and hearty and one of Bourg’s most successful businessmen.

Mr. Nelo told of an earlier one room schoolhouse at Canal Belanger, now called Bourg, that was just across the street from where Stanley Boudreaux’s filling station is today. The little house has been remodeled and restored to the extent that one cannot recognize it as the former little schoolhouse. It is occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Collins today.

In those early days some of the teachers were Mrs. Willie Hebert; a Mrs. Hornsby; Mrs. Zie Glyn, who taught Nelo Hebert and others; and Miss Ella Trahan, who had come home to Houma from school in Mississippi after the death of her father in 1890, taught school at Canal Belanger (Bourg), then married Allen A. Sanders, a young sugar planter from Montegut. His father, James Monroe Sanders, had come from Canton, Mississippi, just before the Civil War.

Lotti, Mrs. John Gazzo, and Mae, Mrs. Randolph A. Bazet, were born of this union and raised on the beautiful shores of Bayou Terrebonne at Magenta Plantation.

Pointe-aux-Chien, a winding and small bayou just before one reaches Montegut, had for one of its first teachers another Ellender cousin, Thomas Ellender. Many other teachers followed; eventually so did a larger school.

At this time, Montegut had a three room, public school, private tutors and governesses. Then came John “Bud” Wallis, who taught at the Indian school at Point au-Barre’ from about 1900 to 1915, when a storm practically wiped out the Indian settlement. Mr. Wallis was a cousin of Mr. Claude “Skipper” Wallis, Terrebonne’s oldest living Republican.

We are not at the end of the one room schools on Bayou Terrebonne yet. At Madison Canal on the lower bayou, E. Clarence Wurzlow, father of E. C. Wurzlow Jr., taught school during the 1880s and in addition to becoming Clerk of the District Court was a recognized natural scientist, particularly as relates to botany, ornithology and entomology.

That Mr. and Mrs. Emile J. Naquin had a beautiful young daughter, Leah Naquin, who taught in one of the most famous of these one room schoolhouses (I think it was called Babin School). It was on a dusty road between Ellendale and Bull Run Plantations on Bayou Black. She later married Felix J. Hebert, and they became the parents of none other than our much loved and admired U.S. Congressman F. Edward Hebert.

You know Miss Maude LeBlanc rode up to Bayou Cane with the mailman every morning, then walked home in the afternoon. She also has many school stories to tell of the one room schoolhouses. This year Miss Maude received the most coveted award of “Louisiana’s Teacher of the Year” for she taught for many years all over the parish.

In the following paragraphs are listed a few names I gathered from the Chacahoula area. Miss Marie Daigle and Mrs. Henry Bernard were teachers at the Cedar Grove School.

The name of Miss Kattie Quinian seems linked with the Maduse School where Kader and Ringold Cocke, Emile Daigle and Freddie Louviere went to school. It was in the cane fields, just across the road from the Ringold W. Cocke plantation home.

Mr. Alcide Lasseigne taught at the Daigle school. Miss Mabel Roussell and Miss Sydney Watthus and Mr. O. J. Pellegrin were Forest Grove teachers.

Miss Marie Lajaunie and Miss Marie LeBlanc also were connected with the Daigle School. Miss Aline Lirette and Mrs. Ezelle Wallace Dillard taught either on the railroad or on Schriever Route.

Miss Georgia Connely took the train in Houma every morning from 1908-1920 to Central which was about halfway up the railroad between Houma and Schriever. Later she was transferred to Ashland Plantation’s “one room,” but commuted every day at an easier pace because Mr. Jean Caillouett, the plantation owner, gave her a car for her own transportation.

Did you know? She taught the Buquet boys among many others. The president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. A. J. Buquet Jr., has fond memories of Miss Georgia as his teacher.

That Miss Margerite Moody, today known as Mrs. Jules Daigle, taught at Sunrise in 1912. She then went on to Ashland for one year in 1913, when E. T. Brady Sr. attended that school. It is noted that Brady’s favorite pastime was climbing the flag pole. Miss Moody returned then to Chacahoula in 1914, and she then married Jules Daigle.

That Miss Ada Munson started teaching by riding a bicycle to the Residence Plantation, south of Houma every morning. Later she rode the train daily to the Bertilot one roomer near Ardoyne Plantation. It is noted that she changed schools several times: Dug Road, LaCache, where she had to board in, then her last years in Ashland.

Miss Lolita Theriot, a pretty little teacher, came onto the scene at Ashland at this time. She later married Leon Gary and became “Houma’s First Lady” during her husband’s administration of 1948 to 1962.

Way across the cane fields of Ashland, the Rauch Plantation on Little Caillou had a schoolmaster named Mr. Elfert, and the school was named the Elfert School. Boys from miles around rode their ponies to the school. Some names to remember were the Maginess boys, the Connely boys, the Edmund boy who later became a surgeon, the Gaynar boys, and so on and son on.

Way back were the days when Miss Mable Kelly got up early in the mornings and hitched up her buggy to go to the country school near Houma. Her brother, Irvin Kelly, taught at Chacahoula and then at Little Caillou, where boarding in for three weeks at a time was common practice. Miss Lillian Atkins was another teacher of this time.

That Willow Wood School on Upper Coteau had Miss Mildred Pontiff as its teacher for 21 years. For years she rode the New Orleans bus as far as the Coteau Road, and then walked the last mile to the one room schoolhouse. Later the school furnished transportation means of school buses.

When asked who were some of the children she could be most proud of, her answer was Father Jules Robichaux, who was ordained in Houma only a few years ago, Miss Valerie Duplantis, Mrs. Emile Charpentier, Miss Inez Lirette. Mrs. Johnny Stevens also went to the Upper Coteau School.

That another pretty young schoolteacher from Mississippi came to Terrebonne and later became Mrs. Stanwood Duval. She was Mamie Richardson, and she taught at Rebecca. State Senator Claude Duval and Catherine – Mrs. Harold Dean – are her Terrebonne children.

Did you know that Dr. C. F. Breaux, father of Henry Breaux (present superintendent of the Terrebonne Parish School Board), was born on Mandalay Plantation on Bayou Black. In his childhood he attended a one room plantation school known as Bonvillain School on Bonvillain Plantation. His teachers were Miss Cecilia Bonvillain and Miss Emma Bourgeois.

This little school building, which was built before the Civil War, still stands today.

Newspaper articles, terrebonne parish

The Wallis Family of Houma


Another genealogy story from the Oct. 8, 1972, issue of “The Houma Daily Courier”

“Dr. and Mrs. Price and daughter Mary Howard of Natchez, Miss., came to Terrebonne to make their home. After Dr. Price died, Mrs. Price had her daughter move to Philadelphia, Penn., to live with an aunt there. Mrs. Price wanted her daughter to finish her education there.

While in Philadelphia, she met Dr. Hugh Maxwell Wallis, who had studied and received his degree as doctor of medicine there.

They were married in Kent County, Chestertown, Maryland, Jan. 17, 1870 (THIS IS PROBABLY SUPPOSED TO READ 1860). A son Morley Howard was born there in Nov. of 1860.

Because of the Civil War, Dr. and Mrs. Wallis decided to come to La. Another son, Hugh Maxwell, who was born here in 1862, lived only one year.

On July 30, 1863, a third son was born and was given the name Hugh Maxwell.

The first daughter, Rosalie, was born on Jan. 11, 1866. She died ten years later of small pox.

When the Civil War was over, Dr. Wallis thought of returning to Maryland but learned that everything they had once owned there had been destroyed during the war.

Their fifth child, Ida, was born July 11, 1868. She never married but made her home here in Houma.

Granville, the sixth child, was born on the 22nd of Nov. 1870. He married Amelia and lived in New Orleans most of his life. They had two sons, Norman and Mitchell, and a daughter, Ruth.

The seventh child was Ellersley, born Nov. 27, 1872. He married Marie Clement and lived here in Houma all their lives. They had three children, Reginald (deceased), Audry and Mary Margaret.

Mary Helen Wallis, the eighth child, was born Nov. 27, 1875. She married Theophile Bazet and had four children, Hugh, Norma (deceased), Ione and Helen.

Claude H. Wallis (Skipper), the ninth child, was born Oct. 24, 1877. He married Birdie Labit and they had four children – Ouida, Meredith, Maxwell (deceased) and Claudia.

The tenth child was a daughter, Ethel Rosalie. She was born on Feb. 16, 1880. Ethel married Allen Munson and they had a son Allen and a daughter Margaret.

Percy, the 11th and last child of the Wallis’, was born Sept. 20, 1885.

Dr. Wallis lived with his family in an antebellum, while columned home on School St. where the Houma Courier Building now stands. The doctor’s office was on the corner of School and Church. Skipper can recall the days when he would go with his father on his calls throughout the parish. In those days, you didn’t go to the doctor; he went to you. The doctor had a certain day of the week to visit different sections of the parish. When he went to Gibson, the people on Bayou Black, Chacahoula and that section, would meet him in Gibson. Claude said he would tend to the horse all day. They had three horses and would alternate each day.

The favorite of the horses was Shoo Fly, the family horse. The trips were long and tiresome. The roads were dirt, and the weather, at times, very bad but Skipper can recall interesting and exciting days.

Dr. Wallis was not only M.D. but also Houma’s 11th mayor, from 1878-1882. The town was reincorporated during his administration. He was also a newspaper publisher. ‘The Terrebonne Times’ born on Church St. sometime during the McKinley era was the Republican voice of Terrebonne.

Dr. Wallis died in 1904, his son Ellersley who had been working for his father went with Joseph Menville to publish the ‘Houma Times’ on Main Street. His son Percy ran the commercial printing shop. Morley and Claude had also helped to publish the ‘Terrebonne Times.’ The editorials in the paper were written by Dr. Wallis.

Dr. Wallis’ brother-in-law, I. M. Price, was the 14th mayor of Houma. His son Hugh Maxwell Wallis Jr. was the city’s 18th and 20th mayor and later became a district judge.

Hugh Maxwell Wallis Jr., a local attorney, married Sylvia Briant. They had one daughter, Juanita, who is married to Madison Funderburk.

Morley, the eldest child, was married to Laura Moody. After her death, he married Eloise Theriot. They had one son Morley who now lives in Houston. Morley was postmaster of Houma from 1889-1895.

Claude Wallis, ‘Skipper,’ the only living child of Dr. and Mrs. Wallis was postmaster under Pres. Teddy Roosevelt and Taft from May 14, 1908, to 1916. He was the first mail delivery man in Houma. That was in 1917.

A person had to have sidewalks (wooden) in the front of his home and a number on his house in order to receive mail. Calvin Wurzlow, who was then mayor, helped greatly to get this all set up.

Claude was married to Birdie Labit on Sept. 8, 1902. Skipper and his wife, Birdie, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary this year. He will be 95 on Oct. 24th and his wife was 90 in June. They have been living at 423 Goode St. for the last 60 years. Skipper is the last of the Dr. Wallis family in Terrebonne bearing the name Wallis.



Benoit Family, Murder and mayhem, terrebonne parish

The murder of Alexis Benoit’s son

Sometimes you stumble across something truly surprising while researching your family tree.

I was looking through a newspaper index the other day when I saw an entry in the Thibodaux Sentinel for Alexis Benoit’s son. I figured this referred to one of the children of Alexis Celestin Benoit and Marie Adelaides Clement. I was right.

Looking up an 1868 edition of the Thibodaux Sentinel – a paper I didn’t even know existed – on microfilm in LSU’s special collections, I found a murder in the family tree. Fortunately (I guess), my ancestor’s son was the victim.

Here’s what the newspaper said:

“The village of Houma was the scene of a most unjustifiable murder on last Sunday afternoon about 5 o’clock.

Our informant states that two brothers named Conner who were working on the Opelousas Railroad rode into Houma during the day, one of whom became much intoxicated and whilst passing along the street fired wontonly of some person walking along ahead of him, but missed him. A few minutes after he met a Mr. Benoit and without any words struck at his face, and as Benoit warded off the blow he shot him, killing him instantly. Turning round, he fired at the third party without effect and mounted his horse and rode off.

The unfortunate victim of this tragedy was residing just out of town and had not spoken to his murderer and it is doubtful if the two knew each other at all.

Mr. Benoit was a son of Alexis Benoit of the Chackbay settlement and we hope the murderer may be arrested and suffer the penalty which such an unprovoked crime richly merits.”

The victim was Clairville Silvin Alexis Benoit. He died at age 36 in Terrebonne Parish, and I had just assumed that he died of the usual type of disease that killed people in the 1800s. I had no idea that he was shot dead on a city street by a drunk. Poor Silvin!

More from the New Orleans Commerical Bulletin:

“Mr. Sylvain Benoit was killed last Sunday evening on Main street, in front of Mr. Berger’s stable, by a young man name Cornelius O’Conner. The former was an industrious, hard-working Creole, in the employ of Mr. Pierre Portier and living near Houma, on the Wade plantation. He leaves a wife and four helpless orphans in an almost destitute condition. A subscription has since been gotten up for their benefit, and we are pleased to learn that our citizens have subscribed liberally.

We have also been informed that Mr. Michael O’Conner, an elder brother of Cornelius O’Connor, has contributed liberally to the relief of the family and given them assurance that they shall never want.

It is supposed that young O’Conner was laboring under a temporary fit of insanity. His actions a few minutes before the occurrence had attracted the attention of his friends as being very strange. He met Mr. Benoit for the first time, in the street, jostled him or pulled at him, when a scuffle ensued.

Mr. Benoit then struck him, or struck at him, when O’Conner drew his revolver and shot him. The shot entered in front, near the left side, ranged upwards and lodged near the region of the heart. He died immediately.

Some persons running up to interfere, he fired at John Bacon (clerk in Franis’ store) who made a narrow escape. His brother approached him, when he threatened to shoot him.

Before a writ could be made for his arrest, he made his escape and has not since been heard of.

A profound feeling of regret pervades the community. The brothers O’Conner were well thought of in the community, their deportment being courteous and gentlemanly. The elder brother is a master of a section of the Opelousas Railroad.

Cornelius O’Conner, we learn, was living with his brother and assisting him in his duties.”